Monthly Archive for January, 2004

Battle Royale

whoaBat­tle Royale has one of the best plot lines (and fan fol­low­ing):

Ninth grade stu­dents are tak­en to a small iso­lat­ed island with a map, food and var­i­ous arms. They have to fight each oth­er three days long until the last one remains and are forced to wear a spe­cial col­lar which will explode when they break a rule.

The Japan­ese are an absolute­ly amaz­ing peo­ple.

Where I’ve Been…

My MapThis is a map of where I’ve vis­it­ed or lived in the Unit­ed States… This is real­ly jar­ring, because I haven’t crossed the Mis­sis­sip­pi, and I haven’t ven­tured into the heart of Dix­ie. I think that says some­thing about me, but I’m not sure what.

Res­o­lu­tion: before I turn 28, (which gives me 2 years), I want to add at least 3 states. One of them must be Cal­i­for­nia… that’s the easy one.

Florida Keys and Miami

Causeway The Cause­way

I enjoyed going through my pho­tos of our Mia­mi and the Flori­da Keys trip in ear­ly Jan­u­ary.

These pho­tos, along with my trip jour­nal, will help me to always remem­ber it…

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Flori­da Keys and Mia­mi’

On to New Hampshire

dean-kerryNH Pre­dic­tion: Dean will not win—but, he might become the Come­back Kid of 2004 with a strong 2nd place fin­ish. Where does Ker­ry go after NH?

Then again, I’ve been wrong before.

On a com­plete aside, I was up in Con­cord work­ing for Al Gore 4 years ago, hav­ing hauled sev­er­al cars-worth of Mass­a­chu­setts col­lege stu­dents in tow. See­ing the weath­er fore­cast, I don’t regret sit­ting this one out.

Dresden Dolls get signed are Negotiating

The Dresden DollsUPDATE — It seems that we jumped the gun — Aman­da from the Dolls informs us that “it’s actu­al­ly not true and we’re still in nego­ti­a­tions”. So, rumors aside, here is a quote from their band diary:

…the band has just agreed to enter into a mas­sive dis­tri­b­u­tion and pro­mo­tion deal with a large label…

SO, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Everyone’s favorite goth/punk/pop cabaret duo just got signed to Road­run­ner Records, report­ed by Jen­na

This is the for­mer all-met­al label that even­tu­al­ly put out the first (and best) Sheila Divine LP — so they’ve been good to Boston bands.

I just peeped their new video for Girl Anachro­nism, which is very cool.

Happy Chinese New Year

4702, The year of the mon­key.

iLife ’04

I ordered iLife today… a good dis­trac­tion from bor­ing work-life, and from the Dean cam­paign in gen­er­al. Sud­den­ly I’m not hang­ing on every head­line.

Jason’s write­up sounds pret­ty cool — I want to make fuzzy rock songs in Garage­band … maybe Pres­ley will sing?

Also, I’ve import­ed my 2000+ pho­tos into iPho­to, which is real­ly good at man­ag­ing pho­tos, (if not edit­ing them)… hope­ful­ly the new ver­sion will speed up the app’s response-time.

Iowa Post-Mortem

Well, my pre­dic­tions were com­plete­ly off!

I’m not sure what this means… we’ll see what hap­pens in the com­ing week. With the State of the Union and all its assort­ed dis­trac­tions, Dean might come back strong next week in New Hamp­shire.

Then again, I just saw him scream through his con­ces­sion speech, and I can’t help but offer this advice: When you’re on tele­vi­sion, speak to the peo­ple, lay out your agen­da. Don’t scream like a mon­key, try­ing to excite the 2,000 kids in front of you… cos they didn’t show up to cau­cus for you.

Iowa Predictions

I spend much of my time each day read­ing news­pa­pers and talk­ing to friends about pol­i­tics, but rarely do I post on the sub­ject. There are some excel­lent sources that focus on pol­i­tics and the race for the White house. So, the last thing this coun­try needs is anoth­er blog­ger for Dean.

How­ev­er, today is the Iowa cau­cus —a bizarre exer­cise that makes the Elec­toral Col­lege look down­right democratic—so I thought I’d take a few min­utes to give my take.

First, the head­lines seem to point to Dean drop­ping off dra­mat­i­cal­ly in the past weeks. I can’t deny this, by the Zog­by polls are always a bit dubi­ous. I think Dean will pre­vail.

So, here’s my pre­dic­tions:

  1. Dean – Strong orga­ni­za­tion will dri­ve turnout, but will beat Gep by only a few points. He will break 30%.
  2. Gephardt – A dis­ap­point­ing sec­ond, will mark the begin­ning of the end of his cam­paign. He should get close to 30% if the unions are out in force.
  3. Ker­ry – Looks good in lat­est polls, but doesn’t have the ground oper­a­tion of the first two. I think he’ll beat Edwards because he’s spent the most time in Iowa, but cold weath­er could keep his senior base from com­ing out. Ker­ry will break 20%.
  4. Edwards – This guy is the real “anti-Dean”, and I think his pos­i­tive mes­sage and south­ern drawl can help him con­tin­ue on after New Hamp­shire. Though he’ll fin­ish 4th, I think he’s posi­tioned bet­ter than Ker­ry mov­ing for­ward.

Is Gen­er­al Clark the wild card? He doesn’t fig­ure in Iowa, but he’s work­ing all alone in New Hap­shire…

Reality Check

There is some­thing to be said about all-inclu­sive vaca­tions! Even with a great air­fare deal, my cred­it card is at…

$1,451.71

It was worth every pen­ny, how­ev­er.

Day 5: Back to Miami

Last night was cold! I know it’s much cold­er home in Boston, but Key West shouldn’t be 50 and windy as hell! We spent our sec­ond night head­ing down to Mal­lo­ry Square for Sun­set. I was wear­ing a wool turtle­neck sweater, and was chilly.

Sad­ly, we walked around the Hilton (which basi­cal­ly took over the water­front a few years ago), but couldn’t find the Cat Man. We did catch Jeep and Mo and some tumbling/acrobatic group. Not bad, I sup­pose, but noth­ing you couldn’t get at Fanueil Hall on a Fri­day Night.

Drink­ing was again the goal, but we had such dif­fi­cul­ty find­ing good places to drink. After a drink in some sports-type bar on Duval, which had the Patri­ots play­off game on, we set­tled on Key West’s cheesy land­mark, the Hog’s Breath. The food is aver­age, the ser­vice was ter­ri­ble (we ordered din­ner in the bar), and the music can only be described as awful. D’ya like Dave Matthews or Jim­my Buf­fet? super.

So, we walked up and down Duval again, and retired around mid­night, utter­ly sober.

In the morn­ing, we took the scoot­ers for a ride again, and then returned them. Then we head­ed down Route 1, back to Mia­mi.

Meet­ing Sara in South Beach, we walked along Lin­coln Road, brows­ing the antiques and over­priced cloth­ing shops. We ate at the Nexxt Cafe — which is a bit like the Cheese­cake Fac­to­ry, only you’re stuffed into a hun­dred tables out on the side­walk where you can watch the beau­ti­ful peo­ple and ugly tourists shuf­fle by. I could tell you what I ordered, but it wasn’t real­ly mem­o­rable.

It was nice to see Sara, and escape the Total­ly Tourist ambi­ence of Key West. Sad­ly, I’m a city boy. How­ev­er, you Mia­mi folks honk your horns too much. For now rea­son. Seri­ous­ly.

Since our flight is leav­ing tomor­row at 7:25am, I think we’re going to leave here and find a cheap motel near the air­port. End of vaca­tion, and back to work!

Day 4: Key West

Scoot­ers! What else to do in Key West? We head­ed to Moped Hos­pi­tal down the street from our Inn, and each rent­ed a scoot­er for the day. For $40 each, you get to wheel around town hel­met-less at 30 mph… quite a lot of fun, even with our lit­tle Kore­an mod­els. Every once in a while, a real motor­bike will zoom past us and put us in our place, but it feels lib­er­at­ing to be able to zip around with­out wear­ing your feet out. 30-mph feels like pret­ty fast when you’re fly­ing by bicy­clists.

We first head­ed to the grave­yard, which is an odd place. The water table is so high, and the coral rock so hard, that every­one is buried above ground in lit­tle cement box­es. There are fun­ny epi­taphs, crum­bling and new mark­ers… and we noticed, quite a lot of Mason­ic imagery. There were many of those lit­tle com­pass sym­bols, 5-petal ros­es, pen­ta­cles (5-point­ed stars) — every­where. This added a lit­tle creepy ele­ment to the walk through.

Next, we hopped onto the scoot­ers and head­ed up to Southard St. and Grin­nell St., for a Cuban Sand­wich and Cafe con Leche at the 5 Broth­ers. Pres­ley ate a Fritas Cubanas, which was some­thing like a slop­py joe with pota­to sticks and onion. Both were pret­ty tasty.

Then, on to the Souther­most Point, which is the south­ern­most point in the Con­ti­nen­tal Unit­ed States, if you don’t count the Navy yard gat­ed off to the west. It’s only 90 miles to Havana– much clos­er than Mia­mi.

Back on the scoot­ers, and we zip back up to White­head St. and Tru­man St. to vis­it the Ernest Hem­ing­way Home. This is a total­ly com­mer­cial­ized oper­a­tion that takes your $10, and herds you into the house for a guid­ed tour. Our guide was Dave, who, though com­plete­ly tak­en with his own corny puns and jokes, was utter­ly inept at deal­ing soft­ly with inquis­i­tive tourists. A mid­dle-aged woman asked what year the house was pur­chased by Hem­ing­way, to which Dave the­atri­cal­ly closed his eyes, sighed loud­ly, and snapped “1931.… Now, does any­one know where I left off?” Then he explained that you may take all the pho­tos and video that you like, but not dur­ing his tour. Upstairs, Pres­ley took out her SLR cam­era to catch two six-toed cats loung­ing on Papa’s bed, to which Dave remind­ed her that we are not to take pho­tographs dur­ing his tour, all but assur­ing that he would not be receiv­ing any tip from our wal­lets.

Still, obnox­ious­ness aside, it was inter­est­ing strolling around the grounds, watch­ing the big cats with their big paws. The cats give the estate a mag­i­cal qual­i­ty, prompt­ing Pres­ley to muse, “The Paul Revere House could use some cats…”

Day 3: On to Key West

After break­fast as Magrove Mike’s in Islam­ora­da, we start­ed head­ing west. We stopped briefly at the Bahia Hon­da State Park Beach for some sun and splash. I read, while Pres­ley napped.

Arriv­ing in Key West, we missed the Sun­set cel­e­bra­tion because I need­ed to find an Inter­net Cafe—my boss called me and told me that I had for­got­ten to sub­mit my timesheet, and if I would like to get paid, I had bet­ter do so. So, after the busi­ness was tak­en care of at the Sip­pin’ Cafe, we checked in the La Pen­sione Inn on Tru­man Ave. near Duvall Street. Appar­ent­ly Har­ry S spent some time here.

Head­ing out onto Duvall Street should be an adven­ture, but we found most of the restu­ar­ants and bars to be lack­ing in patrons—maybe it’s the time of the year. After walk­ing around for what seemed like hours, we set­tled on Caroline’s Cafe for din­ner, because you could sit out­side and drink Mar­gar­i­tas and Coro­nas while watch­ing rev­el­ers on the street. God, there are so many old peo­ple here!

After down­ing a few drinks with din­ner, (I had the Mahi-Mahi cooked cajun style, Pres­ley had a whole cooked chick­en, I kid you not), we decid­ed to hit a few bars. There was the Irish bar, with the vil­lage drunks (and no females), and then there was the Karaoke bar next to Crab­by Dicks, with Marie behind the bar, and Karaoke’ers belt­ing our Coun­try songs in the back. At least there were some women at this place… Pres­ley did a rous­ing ren­di­tion of Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me, though I think this crowd didn’t appre­ci­ate it as much as I did.

Day 2: Key Largo, Snorkeling & Sailing

What a busy day! We got up this morn­ing, deter­mined to go snor­kel­ing. We’ve learned one thing about Key Largo—there is utter­ly noth­ing worth doing in Key Largo besides snor­kel­ing, div­ing and out­door activ­i­ties. We rent­ed a dual kayak, and pad­dled around the man­groves in the Pen­nekamp State Park .

And, at 1:30, we took a 38’ Cata­ma­ran sail­ing out to the coral reef, strapped on some fins and masks, and plunged into the 72-degree water to look at fish. Even though 72-degrees sounds like warm water, it’s bet­ter to wear a wet-suit, though it will make you look ridicu­lous. We saw these blue and yel­low zebra fish, a foot-long rain­bow look­ing fish, and some gray bar­racu­d­as who looked una­mused. Note for future ref­er­ence: bring clothes for the sail back to shore, no mat­ter what the cabana boys say in the gray shed.

Fol­low­ing the advice of our Cap­tain (what was his name?), an old for­mer hip­pie who had been sail­ing for 22 years, Pres­ley and I head­ed for Bentley’s, south to MM 83, for din­ner. As we arrived, we noticed a man and his daugh­ter that sailed with us ear­li­er in the day—apparently they took the same advice from the Cap­tain. We chat­ted at the bar with Danielle and Mr. Bern­stein from North Car­oli­na. She is a fresh­man at Vir­ginia Tech, study­ing chem­istry, which was my first major, after­all.

When we were final­ly seat­ed, we went a lit­tle over­board (pun?), and went with 1 dozen steamed clams. Pres­ley ordered a glass of Ries­ling, and the Grassy Key Lime Yel­low­tail, and I asked for a glass of Fume Blanc from Sono­ma, and the Yel­low­tail stuffed with crab meat. mmmm… This was def­i­nite­ly the place to eat, though I think Ballyhoo’s has bet­ter food, (though, in a much more casu­al atmos­phere).

Day 1, Part II: Arriving in Key Largo

We passed through Mia­mi Beach — stop­ping briefly to eat lunch and wan­der into the shops as it rained. Peo­ple are very friend­ly here — even in Benet­ton! I made Pres­ley take off her shoes and pop into the surf… rain or no rain. One odd thing we noticed about South Beach was the copi­ous num­bers of scoot­ers motor­ing around. Very odd indeed, but it makes per­fect sense to own one here, in the sun, where the streets are rel­a­tive­ly small and slow. No hel­mets!

We then head­ed down towards the Keys, down that crowd­ed strip-mall heav­en that is Route 1. We passed by the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mia­mi, and I briefly con­sid­ered what col­lege in such a place would have meant. The strip malls thin out a bit head­ing south, but they real­ly don’t stop until you cross into the Keys, only to pick up again as you approach Key Largo. We checked into our room at the West­in Key Largo, at MM 97. It’s a beau­ti­ful resort in the mid­dle of a sub-trop­i­cal for­rest. Pres­ley remarked that it was the nicest hotel room she has stayed in.

Con­sult­ing our guide­book, The Flori­da Keys, Joy Williams guid­ed us to Ballyhoo’s, a lit­tle shack in the medi­an of the high­way near our hotel. Clear­ly not as attrac­tive to tourists, as it’s not on the water, Ballyhoo’s serves excel­lent fish. I had the fresh caught Mahi-Mahi, pre­pared Men­si­uere-style, and Pres­ley ordered the Caribbean pan-fried Scal­lops. And both were two of the most deli­cious dish­es I’ve ever tast­ed.

Day 1, Part I: Boston to Miami Beach

It’s freez­ing! tem­per­a­ture is in the teens, and we’re late out the door to Logan. Since we live clos­est to the Green line , we decide to walk over the Charles to the B-line. But, tem­per­a­ture is in the teens! I’m wear­ing a light jean jack­et with a thick wool turtle­neck sweater, a knit hat, but no gloves! Pulling my suit­case around the rotary, and onto the bridge—it’s sooo cold. And it’s almost 7am. Our flight leaves at 8:05!

Pres­ley hands me one of her gloves (for the suit­case-car­ry­ing hand), and we both bury our bare hand in a pock­et. Speed-walk­ing down across the bridge, I start to get ner­vous on time—we’re liv­ing under Orange-alert these days and Logan isn’t the eas­i­est thing to get to with­out dri­ving…

Des­per­ate mea­sures! We call Boston Cab, and have them meet us on the Boston side of the Charles. 5 min­utes lat­er, a cab pulls up, and our dri­ver throws our suit­cas­es in the trunk. I’m glad to be out of the cold.

15 min­utes later—7:15—we’re pulling up to Ter­mi­nal C, hav­ing trav­elled south­bound in the new big dig tun­nel for the first time. The fare is $22.15, thought the dri­ver says he hit the wrong but­ton and over­charges… I give him $30—far too much, but he got us there quick, and that kind of solace is worth a 50% tip.

Just made it through secu­ri­ty to board our Song Air­lines flight to Ft. Laud­erdale. As cheery and styl­ish the new Song brand­ing is, the brand doesn’t extend well into the cab­in. Sure, the seats are leather, but they’re this odd light blue col­or, and each seat has a bright accent leather—pink, green, orange. I think that it’s sup­posed to be styl­ish, but it comes off look­ing like an air­line for the Romper Room set… very Micky Mouse. Per­haps Kate Spade hasn’t put her final touch­es on yet.

Off to the Keys

Pres­ley and I are off this morn­ing to Mia­mi and the Flori­da Keys for 6 days. We’re going to vis­it Sara, and mean­der around in the Keys in search of sun, fun and the per­fect Key Lime Pie.

I’m pack­ing up the power­book and the dig­i­tal cam­era, so a trav­el­og might spurt up. Our hotel in Key Largo has wi-fi, and I’ve already looked up hotspots in Key West

X-mas in Buffalo

Ornament on the familial X-mas tree

Ornament on the familial X-mas tree

Macy and Jeremy at Spot Coffee, Elmwood Ave.

Macy and Jeremy at Spot Coffee, Elmwood Ave

Exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘X-mas in Buf­fa­lo’

New Cannon Digital Elph

Me and my new Cannon ElphSince my birth­day is so close to X-mas, peo­ple always ask me if I got short­ed on gifts grow­ing up… to which I reply, “no, not real­ly… I was an only child.”

In fact, at times, it’s a clear advan­tage, because it allows a per­son to com­bine both occa­sions into one super-gift — exhib­it A (left), my new Can­non Dig­i­tal Elph SD100, from Pres­ley. There was noth­ing more per­fect in this world that I could have received, and I wast­ed no time shoot­ing.

Dif­fer­ent indi­vid­u­als have dif­fer­ent needs from a cam­era — Mr. Powazek recent­ly got a new Can­non Dig­i­tal Rebel, which looks like one hell of a pack­age. But my needs are sim­pler… I want­ed a small dig­i­tal cam­era for the same rea­son I want­ed a 12-in power­bookMOBILITY! The most impor­tant cri­te­ria for me was the abil­i­ty to whip it out, (excuse my choice of lan­guage), and shoot from the hip at what ever cross­es my path.

Would it be nice to achieve the kind of detail and depth of field that seri­ous pho­tog­ra­phers obsess over? Absolute­ly. But, that’s some­thing I’ll let the pho­tog­ra­ph­er in the fam­i­ly wor­ry about. Thanks hon­ey.

Best of 2003

Well, I’m late with my year­ly round-up. I’ve enjoyed read­ing what oth­er weblog­gers have writ­ten on 2003, and hope­ful­ly I’ve got some­thing to offer. Here goes:

MUSIC

Yeah Yeah YeahsI won’t bore you with my the­o­ries of cor­re­la­tion between poor eco­nom­ic prospects and qual­i­ty rock music—suffice to say, 2003 was a lousy year to look for work, but it was anoth­er excel­lent year for rock. With­out any dom­i­nant “ism” (e.g., Alter­na­tive, Rap Met­al, etc.) defin­ing what was cool, small­er bands were giv­en the chance to exper­i­ment.

  • Stel­las­tar, Stel­las­tar —The 80s are back, and I’m thank­ful for it. But to dis­miss Stel­las­tar as a Goth­ic throw­back would be a crime— Shawn Christensen’s voice is more a post-punk David Byrne, (and I love basist Aman­da Tannen’s back­up vocals). My Coco is a great tune.
  • Blur, Think Tank —Ok, enough New York bands… Let’s talk about Blur. With their sem­i­nal gui­tarist Gra­ham Cox­on gone, and the Goril­laz side project behind him, Damon Albarn and crew turned out some­thing no one expected—a melod­ic, mea­sured, mature album, with some of the best album art by Banksy that I’ve seen. I miss the mod days of Mod­ern Life, but this was a fit­ting evo­lu­tion.

FILM

Lost in TranslationSum­mer movies still baf­fle me—I nev­er saw The Hulk or X-Men 2—but there were a few inter­est­ing films sprin­kled amongst the usu­al trash this past year. There were so many I missed this year, but here are a few worth con­sid­er­ing:

  • Lost in Trans­la­tion—I start­ed a new job this year, and I work close­ly with a Japan­ese girl, whose Eng­lish skills are… well, lim­it­ed. So, this film was my favorite in 2003. I was rolling on the Cin­e­ma floor laugh­ing dur­ing the “why do they switch their Ls and Rs” con­ver­sa­tion. I’d mar­ry Scar­lett Johans­son tomor­row.
  • In Amer­i­ca—Jim Sheridan’s semi-auto­bio sto­ry of an Irish fam­i­ly mov­ing to New York after the death of their son, was about as sweet and mag­i­cal an expe­ri­ence as is pos­si­ble at the movies. I hadn’t expect­ed it to be so emo­tion­al­ly heavy, but there is redemp­tion in the end.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean—John­ny Depp as a pirate and Orlan­do Bloom with a dread­ful mous­tache. What’s not to love?
  • Angels in Amer­i­ca—I’ve nev­er seen the play, but this 2-part HBO movie was exhil­a­rat­ing, inven­tive, and gut-wrench­ing. This film tack­les the big ques­tions of faith, love and iden­ti­ty.
  • Kill Bill—Uma and Quentin were back in 2003, and despite rumors that Kill Bill was going to suck, I real­ly enjoyed watch­ing Uma slice and dice her way through her address­book. Part II is com­ing in 2004, so maybe we’ll find out who the hell Bill is any­way.

POLITICS

Howard DeanFor those of you in late-pri­ma­ry states who might not be pay­ing atten­tion, there’s a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign under­way. Nev­er in my life­time have the stakes been so high—2003 showed us ter­ror­ism, pre­emp­tive war, tax cuts, bud­get deficits, job loss, and gay mar­riage (one pos­i­tive, at least).

  • Howard Dean—Not only has Howard Dean sin­gle-hand­ed­ly hand­ed the Democ­rats their balls back, he’s re-writ­ten the cam­paign hand­book and made blog­ging an impor­tant tool in reach­ing the Grass Roots. Sil­ly estab­lish­ment pun­dits are still dis­miss­ing him as the fla­vor-of-the-week (and weak), but I think he’s going to put up one hell of a fight, and he’ll be walk­ing and talk­ing a lot more like a tra­di­tion­al can­di­date after the pri­ma­ry.
  • Noth­ing else good hap­pened in 2003. sor­ry!