Thursday, December 22, 2005

How’s my hair?

In an effort to become more professional at work, I’ve shed the t-shirts and jeans for buttoned shirts and pants. Jesus, I tuck in my shirt in the mornings too! And a belt? You betcha.

While in the past I may have viewed this as some sort of conforming to "the Man", I feel that maybe it’s time for people to start seeing me as a seasoned professional rather than the unkempt, wide-eyed newbie.

Of course all of this effort to look polished and sophisticated is moot thanks to my winter hat leaving my hair wildly matted in places and erect in others. Seriously, I look like a second-grader who was just dragged off of the tree fort at recess. I’ve braved the cold mornings hatless a few times just to avoid this situation but thanks to the NY Metro Strike, I’ve had to rely on walking the entire way to work. I feel I’ve been coping with the Northeast winter pretty well so far but leaving your head unprotected from the cold in just plain dumb. And I have my beef with the Union and the strike but that’s for another blog post altogether.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Lincoln logs

Every red blooded American knows the importance and achievements of Abraham Lincoln. We grew up listening to his heroic leadership during the dark times of our nation and the resulting steps towards a more equal and harmonious society. But somehow the true greatness of the man was always taken for granted by me. It’s just something that people easily agree to. "Yeah, yeah, he was great." But what made him such a remarkable man?

There have been countless biographies and retelling of Lincoln’s life so it’s hard to view him with any clarity. We all know about the Civil War. The Gettysburg Address. The assassination. What’s new to ponder over?

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals strives to shed new light on the President by exploring the men around Lincoln and their perspectives on him. What’s amazing is that the people Lincoln appointed to his cabinet were the men that ran against him for office. It reveals how they all disregarded him as some country hick and eventually acquired a deep respect for who he really was.

"When Lincoln won the nomination, each of his celebrated rivals believed the wrong man had been chosen... That Lincoln, after winning the presidency, made the unprecedented decision to incorporate his eminent rivals into his political family, the cabinet, was evidence of a profound self-confidence and a first indication of what would prove to others a most unexpected greatness... Every member of this administration was better known, better educated, and more experienced in public life than Lincoln. Their presence in the cabinet might have threatened to eclipse the obscure prairie lawyer from Springfield."

The book intrigued me because it’s easy to draw comparisons to our current President. I can see the parallels and the divergence of the two men who are needed to lead this nation. We’re in a time of war, deeply divided, and have a man in the Oval Office that many shrug off as an unqualified countryboy. Still, while I’m sure many people during the Civil War were afraid and uncertain of what might come, I have a feeling that more than a few could take heart in the fact that there was a good man to guide the country. I wish I could say the same for our current state of affairs.

Like Lincoln, Bush relies on his easy-going Southern manner to disarm people and make his point. But unlike Lincoln, Bush fails to impart a sense of intelligence disguised under the facade. Bush refers to "liberty" and "justice" often in his speeches, but those words sound more hollow than virtuous when he speaks them. Lincoln was reknown for his powerful and moving speeches. Analyzers often talk about how gifted speakers like Kennedy can accurately hit the right stress points of a sentence to convey the meaning and how Bush often misses those marks.

Lincoln made a bold move by surrounding himself with his rivals, men who contemptuously believed they were better than he. He wasn’t afraid of them. And he wasn’t afraid of sharing the power with them. So what of Bush? Has he opened himself up to a forum of perspectives to help him find the best way to lead the country? After returning for a second term, Powell, the only one in his cabinet that seemed to dissent from Bush’s policies, stepped down. Consequently, Bush plugged the vacancies with the trusted and loyal. Yes, that probably streamlines the process a bit, but is it better for our country?

During the country’s various wars, the nation has had the benefit of great leadership at times. Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt. But there have also been the Wilsons and Nixons that have failed to unite and guide the country in those times. Where will Bush stand in a historical perspective? And if he’s not the one to do it, will there be a Lincoln, Washington or Roosevelt ready to take the mantle?

Sorry to sound so anti-Bush, but it wasn’t always this way. I didn’t know enough about him when he first gained office so was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Now, rediscovering the actions of a far greater man serves to accentuate how Bush seems like just a spoiled child. Lincoln assumed the mantle of power with a respect and gravitas for what it meant, and I sense nothing of the sort from G.W. People are waiting for the next chance to get a new guy in the Oval Office. I guess I can be counted among those who are ready for change. More than that, I’m ready for a leader who has my respect.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Confucius say Fuck off

It’s not like speaking another language is a riveting talent. Being in New York for a few months, I hear a symphony of dialects on every street corner. But why is it when someone learns that I can speak Chinese, the dreaded question always arises: Can you teach me to say curse words? (The other equally dreaded question is: Can you say my name in Chinese? Sorry but my ancestors didn’t bother to come up with the translation for Harold.)

I guess I wouldn’t be as peeved about the question if I in fact knew any curse words in my native tongue. The reaction to my inability to dish out profanities is usually met with a look of confusion, disbelief and sometimes even a cringing look of pain that seems to be emoting a stronger reaction than if I was actually able to tell them to go fuck their mom up the ass.

How in the world can I speak another language and not know how to convey the most vital aspects of communication?!

Sorry, but my only exposure to Chinese are my elder relatives, who have enough restraint to not let the expletives fly at the dinner table; younger relatives, who only do their cursing in English; and Chinese television stations that only show, at best, PG-13 shows with no cursing allowed.

I guess I could look into the matter and flat out ask my cousins or uncles how to say asshole but I think I’m about 15 years too old to start looking into that.

So I guess I’ll rely on portraying my culture in other ways than obscenities. Hell, I’m illiterate in Chinese too so I’m probably already pretty low on the list of Ambassadors of my peoples.

And if you want to get anal about it, English is my "other" language and I know plenty of curse words in that language. All you have to do is ask nicely.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Sane on the brain

NPR covers Howard Dully’s effort to uncover the truth and reasons behind a transorbital or "ice-pick" lobotomy performed on him at the age of 12.

"If you saw me you'd never know I'd had a lobotomy," Dully says. "The only thing you'd notice is that I'm very tall and weigh about 350 pounds. But I've always felt different -- wondered if something's missing from my soul. I have no memory of the operation, and never had the courage to ask my family about it. So two years ago I set out on a journey to learn everything I could about my lobotomy."

Difficult at times to listen to, yet so compelling to hear, the story goes into the history of the transorbital lobotomy and its creator, William Freeman. The procedure started off as an attempt to cure debilitating mental illness but dissolved into a cure-all for a wide range of ailments. One woman went in to expel chronic migraines and left with the mentality of a 6 year old.

The most painful moment was when Dully, after some fifty years, finally confronted his father about why it happened and why Dully was never told that the procedure was even performed on him. His father was evasive about his role and remained detached even when a tearful Dully said that he still loved him.

Families would talk about how their loved ones were severely damaged by the procedure, while other victims questioned whether or not it scarred their souls.

The lobotomy was always something of a joke to people. I would laugh at Homer getting one in a fantasy on the Simpsons, but this was one of the most gut-wrenching things I’ve heard in a long time.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Working class hero

Hallelujah, hallelujah! Can I get some hands in the air?

After two grueling months, trudging around the streets with my portfolio, whoring myself out to whatever studio would let me in the door, I got me a design position in New York City.

Now I'll have a regular paycheck, structure, familiar environment, getting up early, staying late... wait a minute. Shit, now I wish I had taken advantage of some of my days and slacked off.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Confessions of a vacuous mind

Here’s the thing. You can get immersed in city life pretty easily. Especially New York city life. People all around you are gushing, "New York is pretty fucking great." You even catch yourself thinking "New York is pretty fucking great."

But a line has to be drawn somewhere.

How is it that a person can sit down at 6 pm on any given night and manage to fill up the next SIX HOURS watching shows about New York? Even without cable, you can surf between episodes of Friends, Seinfeld and Sex and the City, or if you’re very clever, watch five episodes in a row of Friends. All of them filled with fun, young, energetic people living the beautiful lifestyle in New York. Or TV New York. That means nothing below 42nd St. No subways. No ugly or poor people. And by no means Brooklyn.

Okay, here comes the confession: I’ve caught myself sucked into the New York lovefest marathon more than once. It’s so easy, it took me by surprise. Seeing as how we don’t have a couch, living room or desk for me to do my computer work on, I have found that I use the bed for everything: sleep, eat and work. So I have the TV on while I do other things. Just in the background, I tell myself. Then it happens. All of a sudden I’m able to formulate that Chandler uses humor as a defense mechanism to cope with psychological and sexual issues stemming from his parents’ divorce, and site several sources to defend my theory. Of course they don’t make it sound so bleak. I guess if we all had a laugh track, our problems wouldn’t seem so bad either.

I wonder how many other people in New York are living vicarious New York lives through thirty minute installments on their TV. There needs to be some sort of hotline that can be called for a van to drive up to the victim’s place and have two people come in to shake him from his sitcom coma to tell him, "You don’t have a huge apartment. You have a finite source of income. You don’t have a group of beautiful friends with nothing better to do with their days than sit around and instigate wacky adventures. Not all New Yorkers are white. New Yorkers take the subway once in a while."

And I love how Sex and the City has managed to portray every single guy as having some sort of psychological deficiency or hamartia. I’ll stop complaining now. I actually think the show is written rather well. I just hate most of the characters. Go figure that one out.

It could be worse, I guess. I’m not watching the Apprentice or anything. And I don’t really have a gripe with the shows. It’s more about feeling guilty/ashamed that I’ve fallen into the habit of watching them. As a result, I’ve made an attempt at salvaging my few remaining brain cells by getting a library card. My first checkout: Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea. We’ll see how this one pans out. Of course, if it doesn’t I can always go back to The Great Gatsby, right Matador?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Here come the non-judge

While John Roberts was sworn in as the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Bush wastes little time in proposing another replacement to the bench in Harriet Miers. It’s still early to tell what, if anything, will impede her progress to the position, but the most glaring tidbit is the fact that she’s never been a judge. With her being a long-time White House confidant, I’m guessing the Democrats will have a few more alarm bells going off this time around.

Roberts was able to make a relatively smooth entrance into the Justice Chambers due to cleanliness and ambiguity. People didn’t have much to say for or against him mostly because Roberts refused to reveal his opinion on matters such as Roe v Wade. The optimist in me will hope that this virtue will carry on when he is in power, but the alarmist in me is wondering if he’s just smart enough to keep his mouth shut until it’s too late for us to do anything.

Fortunately, history has taught us that America’s forefathers masterfully arranged the terms of a Supreme Court Justices’ tenure in a way that would free him or her of any political ties and agendas. Most conservative appointees have veered more towards the ideologic center once on the bench, and it’s hopeful that Roberts will continue the trend.

So what about Miers? It may be too early to tell, but it seems she may be prudent enough to follow Roberts’ lead and claim to be nonpartisan and free of any political agenda. Or is she just faking it?

She won’t be the first non-judge appointee but more worrisome to me is the proximity of involvement and influence Bush will have on Miers. We’ll just have to wait for a clearer scenario.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Good music, good friends, good times

What can I say? It was hot. It was crowded. It was dusty. It was hot. But I ate BBQ and Tex-Mex ’til my heart’s content. And I got to see so many of my friends. That’s what was important to me. Sure the band lineup was incredible but it was really just an excuse to make my way back into Austin to have some beer and laughs with the people I miss. I hadn’t realized how much I missed them until the date of my arrival came closer. New York and unemployment have a way of leaving very little time to be nostalgic. These people, my friends, are really why I’m here.

But the music that I did hear was pretty damn good. It was the first time that I was able to see all the biggies that I promised myself I was going to stop at nothing to see: Mates of State, Fiery Furnaces, Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, the Arcade Fire and Thievery Corporation. The Fiery Furnaces rocked. It was a testament to their ADD nature that none of the songs I recognized sounded anything like the album counterparts. Eleanor Friedberger is my new favorite rock girl. Sorry I missed Ambulance LTD, Asylum Street Spankers and Zap Mama. Martin Sexton and Rachel Yamagata were pleasant discoveries.

The group that surprised me the most was Thievery Corporation. I didn’t know if it was just going to be two guys standing at DJ tables and totally boring. But I have to say that it was quite possibly the best show in my three years of going to Austin City Limits Festivals. They had a live band, including a sitar player and different singers for EVERY song.

Like I said, good times. But considering how much I went through to get back here and the exhausting heat, this will probably be my last hike into Zilker for ACL.

The crowd.


The Fiery Furnaces.

Friends at Dog & Duck

Davy as the angel (devil?) on my shoulder

Monday, September 26, 2005

Travelocity killed the cat

The Austin City Limits Festival has come and gone in a haze of dust and alcohol, and as my time in Austin was drawing near an end, my biggest anxiety of the trip began to loom closer: picking up Gina’s cat, Rex and getting him back to New York. Not only would it be tough to feed a cat a sedative for the plane, and then stuff him into a carrier, but Rex is a flighty animal by nature. Add that to his being used to the freedom of a backyard for a few months and it means an unpleasant experience for me.

It was decided long ago that it would be better for Rex to not come along as we made our week-long exodus to New York. He’d have to endure long car rides, various hotel rooms and however long we’d have to stay at a friend’s place until we found our own. Even then there’d be the unpacking and painting for him to deal with. No, it would be so much better for him to be put through just one day of torture rather than two months of it.

On the fretful day that my host, Chad graciously accompanies me to go pick up Rex from Gina’s mom, I’m well beyond any initial anxiety and moved into suppressed dread. I had already sought the advice of Gina, other pet owners and even the internet for some secret trick that would make feeding the pill to a feline a breeze. Oh, so you just tilt his head back until his mouth practically swings open, toss the pill down his throat, stroke his neck, blow on his nose, nothing to it!

So Chad and I venture into the garage where Rex is holed up. It’s my hope that he remembers me from living together for over a year and the fact that I fed and pet him everyday. Spotting him behind a tool box, I crouch down and start calling him to come over to me. My hopes are raised when he steps out and then my hopes are quickly dashed when he completely ignores me and starts breaking for the door that we just walked through.

The next thing I know, Chad and I are both wrestling the cat into submission. Chad, who I forgot was allergic to cats, was bravely leveraging his weight onto Rex to keep him in position, while I was holding Rex’s head in one hand and using my other hand to pinch a pill in my index and thumb and pry his mouth open with my middle finger. After fifteen minutes of him trashing and growling at me, Chad and I look at each other exasperated. I let out a long breath and hold up the pill to see if Chad wants to give it a shot. He lets out a weary laugh and says "No way!" which is probably a lot more polite than how I would’ve responded if our roles were reversed.

Somehow after more thrashing, more growling and much more cussing, I manage to catch Rex by surprise and he swallows the pill. After that battle, getting him into the carrier was no problem so Chad and I celebrate our triumph with a McDonald’s breakfast.

It was my hope that Rex would immediately conk out and I wouldn’t have to stress for the rest of the trip. No such luck, he’s still darting his head around and letting out periodic meows. I deduce that A. the kitty valium is taking longer to kick in. B. the kitty valium is weaker than expected. Or C. Rex was being sneaky and kept the pill in his mouth long enough to spit it out when Chad and I weren’t looking. I’m trying to be optimistic that it’s A, worried that it’s B and really hoping that it’s not C. But it can’t be C because we held him for a while, and I stroked his throat and he did the licking his nose thing when I do the blow on his nose thing and the cat has to swallow when I do that. Right?

Well, whatever it is, all I have to do is get him past the security check, past the boarding people and onto the plane and make it through unscathed. All the while, I try to be discrete that I have a live animal in a big bag. I actually get onto the plane but while waiting for the people in front to get their bags in place, a seated woman spots Rex and coos, "Awwww! Whatcha got there?" I chime "A kitty!" in a sickeningly sweet tone to try and get on at least one person’s good side in case Rex starts wailing in flight. The woman lets out another "Awww!" and then her jovial face plummets into a suspicious glare and asks "Is she sedated?"

The plane takes off and lands in Houston without any incident. But the connecting flight to LaGuardia is delayed 90 minutes. Normally I’d just be annoyed, but today I’m more worried about any extra time I’m having to keep the cat locked up in a cramped carrier with sedatives (that he may or may not have ingested) rapidly wearing off. So I sit in the farthest corner so not to draw attention to Rex but also to keep away from the human traffic as much as possible to keep Rex calm. This provides the perfect view to observe a 40 year old man in a suit pick his nose while reading his USA Today. I crinkle my face in response as he gets his index finger past the first knuckle. I glance towards the CNN on TV just in time for him to scan around to see if he’d been caught in the act. Out of the corner of my eye, I can see that he’s satisfied that he’s in the clear and inspects his finger for any boogers. I spend the rest of the delayed time trying to get a view of his boarding pass and praying that he doesn’t wind up next to me.

As we finally board, Rex is definitely more animated. He meows at any jostling so it’s my hope that his calls get drowned out by the aircraft engines. He’s faint, but anyone near me will clearly hear him. I keep my eye on the people sitting around me hoping they pull out iPods or headphones to watch Jennifer Lopez’s hilarious dilemma in "Monster-in-Law".

After two hours, and the start of our descent, Rex has had enough. He starts meowing continuously but we’re close enough to landing that I don’t care to apologize to anyone. I get into the terminal and it’s shocking how loud an airport is when you hear it with new ears. Aside from the jets taking off every few minutes and the dull roar of people in the background, an airport is disturbingly noisy. Luggage wheels rumble on the tile, carts with loose wheels rattle on the asphalt, baggage claim buzzers drone on, and then there’s this one child who finds a way of entertaining himself by throwing a tin can onto the tile to hear the loud clanging as it bounces and rolls around. This is irritating enough to people, but I just wondered how many times Rex recoiled in terror as the kid tossed the can again and again. We’re beyond restraining the child, the parents need to be locked up and beaten.

Now that I’m at LaGuardia, my next task is to get to the apartment in the East Village. My weariness is begging for a cab. But my responsible side is telling me that I just spend over $200 in the last three days and I don’t even have a job. So I trudge over to the shuttle bus waiting area. Twenty minutes pass and no shuttle. Meanwhile, cab after cab goes by, laughing, just laughing at me. A man in a uniform comes out and one of the waiting travelers asks if the shuttle is coming. He gives a not very reassuring "Oh, yeah. It’ll be here in five to ten minutes." I pass the next few minutes by studying to shuttle sign and notice that the shuttle stops running at 8 pm, which is in ten minutes. In my head I start calculating whether or not that means that it’ll make rounds while it’s still in mid-route and what my chances of being in mid-route are. Just then another man in a uniform walks up and asks "You all bought your tickets yet?" Everyone shakes their head. He asks everyone where they’re headed. I say "Grand Central", another asian says "Port Authority" and a guy who looks like Paul Walker from the "Fast and the Furious" says "LaGuardia". When confronted with the fact that he said "LaGuardia" he laughs and says "No wait, I meant Grand Central." The uniformed man tells us to follow him and we all do, thinking that this is another helpful attendant who found a shuttle. Instead, he leads us to an unmarked, large extended-cab van with a black guy in a bandana at the wheel.

Now I don’t think I’m being racist by pointing out that he was black, since the uniformed man was black and I didn’t mention that. It’s just that the situation was getting surreal and not a little bit sketchy. Paul Walker nervously asks "This goes to Grand Central?" The uniformed man replies "Yeah, it’s faster than the shuttle." Ding, that’s all we needed. We all climb in. The driver starts the engine and proceeds to pull out five feet and stops. The uniformed man hops out to wrangle up more suckers and we sit in the van which smells like my uncle’s car that he had in the 80’s. That stale dusty smell. The silence and stillness gives me time to look out and ponder this situation. I’m seriously ready to make a break for it by jumping out of the van. Then the actual shuttle picks up the people at the spot we were just standing at and drives off. Paul Walker and I exchange worried glances. The scene with Ving Rhames and Bruce Willis in "Pulp Fiction" all tied up pops into my head. I start hysterically wondering if we all just wandered into something strange and dangerous and hope there’s no gimp involved. I shake my head thinking "Nah, that’s crazy. Not in real life." But then I remember all the News of the Weird stories that I ever read over the years. Crazy shit still happens. I’m sure the farmer who blew off his brother’s nuts was thinking that nothing crazy would ever happen to him.

Another five minutes passes and the uniformed man comes back with another unfortunate soul. We start to move out of the parking area and I can’t decide whether or not to be ecstatic or really worried. We drive in the rain. Since I don’t know my way into Manhattan, I concentrate on timing the trip in order to calculate what cab fare would be for the next time I end up in this situation. Then Paul Walker leans toward the driver and asks "What way are you getting into Manhattan?" Everyone else in the van looks up sharply. The uniformed man is clearly annoyed and retorts "What way do you get into Manhattan? We’re going the fastest way." Rex lets out a faint whimper and I think "I feel you, buddy. I feel you."

We make our way onto the bridge and everyone is visibly relieved. The man in the rear row is on the phone and mentions that we’re about to make it to Grand Central. The asian guy looks around and asks "Grand what? I’m going to Port Authority." The driver replies "Yeah, Port Authority. Same thing." and lets out a sarcastic cackle.

We arrive at our destination and hop out as fast as possible. The asian looks confused, and starts arguing with the uniformed man. I suppose I should’ve helped the guy out. But I wasn’t even sure what train to take from where we were at, and Rex had at that point taken up to meowing again. The trains were out of the question for me and I take the luxury of a cab the rest of the way.

In the end, Rex makes it safely to our apartment and has adjusted much more quickly than we had hoped. It feels good to have him here. It makes the place feel more like home. But I’ll be damned if I ever get on a plane with a pet again.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


What with the aftermath of Katrina and various forms of injustice and dilemmas around the world, this might seem petty but I’m pretty upset that my iPod decided to dump its memory and erase all 20 gigs of music I had collected over the years.

One night it was playing merrily along while Gina and I prepared dinner and then the next morning, nothing, notta, bubkis. You’re never aware how much a blank screen can make your stomach drop until it happens to you.

My initial reaction is that this is a pretty clear sign that I should catch up with today’s technology and get the new iPod Nano, which I must admit is damn beautiful. But then that pesky thing called reality peeks in and reminds me that I’m unemployed and I just moved to New York. Grrrr. I don’t know whether to curse my geeky yet expensive obsession or the lack of financial resources in which to sustain that obsession.

Now I must take a deep breathe and try to rebuild my musical mecca. I should take a minute to ponder how to do this smarter than last time which, while thorough, probably wasn’t the most effective way to go about it. Then again, if anyone wants to donate an mp3 here or there I won’t be so quick to turn you away.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Some Linkage Lovin’

To further assimilate myself into New York, there’s a new link on the right for Crackers United. I’ve finally met most of them and they’re not all assholes. :)

Some funny rants, good music offerings and happenings around the town. It makes me feel like I’m slacking on this blog and should go incorporated with some other asians. Asian World Domination Club reinstated!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


One more piece is in place: we have an apartment in New York. Sure it was previously inhabited by heroin addicts (according to our colorful, verbose super, Eddie) and it’s pretty much infested with roaches, but it’s a place to call home.

Did I mention there were roaches? Okay, this is New York. Roaches are a fact of life. Still, why is this not a big deal to anyone else? People keep trying to get me to accept it. Similar to my move to Lubbock, when people kept telling me "Yes, it smells like cow shit, but you’ll get used to it." My response was why in the world would I want to get used to the smell of feces? If my sensory input is so kaput that I can’t discern the vile odors of manure then I’ve got bigger problems than Bessie down the road.

Alright, I grew up in suburbia. Roaches were around but they weren’t out of control in my house. So why do I have this inherent horror whenever I see one? I remember in seventh grade when I was watching TV late one night. I see a roach crawling under the TV stand. I don’t freak, but I am disturbed enough to grab a kleenex, kill it and flush it down the toilet. Turn off the TV, go to bed, forget it ever happened.

Next sighting, weeks later, another late night. I walk into the kitchen, flick the light on and there it is. A huge cockroach on the counter. It’s antennas wheeling around. I grab a sandal and inch close. Then the thing launches across the counter to the edge and dive bombs into the open trash container. That’s when I lose my shit. They look so vile, move so fast, and that scuttling sound when they move. Ugh, I’m squirming right now.

But what can you do in the city? Set a few roach traps, fog the shit out the place and pray those ultra-sound generators actually work.

The apartment has come leaps and bounds from my first impression. We painted the walls some pretty decent colors. Nevermind that we almost killed ourselves by standing on a janky stool. Our stuff is out of storage. (So long U-haul, and screw you!) We had Christian and paid some awesome Asian guys to help us move our boxes up the narrow, windy stairs. Think of doing squats on a stairmaster for three hours straight. The neighborhood is awesome. East Village is ripe for exploration.

Anyone know a good place for Dim Sum?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Feet don't fail me now

In-soles. When in New York, you are going to need some damn good in-soles. I can't believe the amount of walking I've done in this city. It's only seven miles, right? And I haven't even been anywhere near the north or south tips. But I think I've discovered my New York stride. I'm already brushing past tourists with a scowl on my face. Everyone knows that the bane of Wal-mart and grocery stores is the stragglers who take up the entire aisle. The thing is that's everywhere in New York. There's always someone in your way, whether it's a slow walker or a group who just has to walk side by side and block everyone's way. Seriously, I nearly pushed an 8 year old into the street because he was in my way.

Not that I'm jaded already or anything. I still love the streets and the subway. Not having a car or paying gas is great. I lost my 30-day MetroCard after only 7 days and called and got the rest reimbursed. Beat that Exxon! Why would you choose to sit in traffic over the trains? Okay, so the part where the weathered guy with B.O. pressed up against you isn't so fun, but nothing's perfect, right?

I can see why there's such intense love and pride for this city. But that's the thing, this place is made up of extremes. Walking the streets or traveling the subway, you can't help but notice the polarity in everything. For someone who strives for balance, it'll be interesting to see how well I get along with this place.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

New Yokel (part II)

The exodus from Austin is over. I’m in New York. I learned that U-Haul is the devil and that every employee is disgruntled and incompetent. I also learned that New York is so overpopulated that its inhabitants decided to make it as hard as possible to get in. (See the Holland Tunnel. See also the Lincoln Tunnel.) I will say that I owned that U-Haul truck. All of a sudden, SUVs aren’t so menacing anymore. "What? You want to inch into my lane? Do I look afraid to scratch this U-Haul P.O.S.? Yeah that’s what I thought."

Even with a weekend of adjustment, it still feels like a vacation. I’m still gawking at the tall buildings and grinning at the characters on the street. Lest anyone think I’m a total tourist, I should note that I have yet to bust out any of my multiple cameras AND I was asked TWICE on the trains for directions. My reaction was a blank stare and a shrug, but that still counts.

The food so far has been awesome. Thanks to Lauren for being my guide and my gracious host. I’m sure this debt will be called in someday when she decides to move. And thanks to my buddy Chad for helping me get out of Austin. Ah friends, not just for drinking with!

Tomorrow starts a new chapter. I have a feeling that reality will set in. I have very little money and I need to find a job. Come on New York, gimme some of that lovin’.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Here I am blogging from Texarkana! The last goodbyes to coworkers, friends and family have been done. The frantic loading up of the U-Haul is completed (Many thanks Chad!). My biggest fears of having too much stuff to put into it were laid to rest (but just barely). And we’re one fourth of the way there.

A lot of pressure and stress has been lifted after the weekend but New York is still so far away that it still seems surreal to think that by the end of the week, I’ll be walking around in the city.

Everyone knows that U-Haul is the oldest and crappiest, but come on, not even a tape deck in the dash?? I was banking on being able to pop in a tape converter for my iPod to drown out the creaks and squeaks of the truck, but no luck.

Oh, and for anyone of you out on the road: If I’m in a 10ft U-Haul loaded to the brim with boxes and I can still pass your ass, you need to have your license revoked.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Miracle on Ice

After 301 days of no NHL hockey, the players association and the owners have finally settled their dispute over who gets to make more money.

Although the league is worried over whether or not it can win back the fans, and even though the season won’t start up again until October, I just have to say "Thank you, Jesus!"

I’m not a sports fanatic, but I like watching Sportscenter in bars, keeping up with Big 12 football, and watching hockey. Needless to say, this current drought has gone on long enough. It was enough to almost make me watch baseball... almost.

Good thing I had my football fix in the form of a 6 hour NCAA Xbox stint last night.

Friday, July 08, 2005

A Festivus for the Rest of Us

The schedule for this year’s Austin City Limits is finally online, so now I can have a whole two months to plan accordingly. At first glance, there appears to be no dire dilemmas suchs as the Gomez/Franz Ferdinand of yesteryear. The only one I see so far is Fiery Furnaces/Walkmen but that’s an easy choice for me. Blueberry Boats!

Although all of this seems pretty infinitesimal in relation to the attack in London yesterday. As with 9-11, it makes me wonder if, as a society and as an individual, what I devote my life and career to is really making the world a better place. Working for a non-profit education association may not be as creatively or intellectually stimulating as I’d aspire for, but it helps salve the soul somewhat. Fighting for education, or just making teachers feel better, is a just cause that makes me feel as if I’m doing something for the world.

I was always struck by a passage in Chuck Palahniuk’s Choke: "Someday I’d like to live a life based on doing good stuff instead of just not doing bad stuff." Okay, so that was amidst deplorable sexual acts and heinous scamming, but that just makes it more beautiful in contrast, right?

After wondering about how we can all still devote ourselves to celebrity magazines, video games and every other self-indulgent product out there, I realized that in some cheezy way, living our lives is a sort of resistance to the attacks of terrorism.

People obsessing over the latest performance on American Idol may not be the most virtuous form of fighting back, I’ll admit that. But yesterday’s London Underground bombing hasn’t deterred me from still planning to ditch my car and hop on a subway in New York. I think that counts for something. (Or maybe I’m just suicidally dense.)

I’m not sure how this War on Terror will play out, but while we still have the luxury of attending music festivals, planning obscenely elaborate weddings, or whatever we want to do, we just might pull through this.


I have no idea how this post dissolved into such a rant. Another case for my crippling, non-linear mental issues which were already touched upon in an earlier post.

Back on subject, although my wallet will be painfully light as it is, I hope the Fiery Furnaces find the time to play a full evening show at a venue around town. One hour shows are nice when bundled with a buffet of others, but I need something of a three-course meal here.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


The countdown to New York is well underway so now the question is what to do with the time that remains in good ole’ Austin? Holiday on a boat on the lake with some beer? Check. Lazy afternoon on a tube on the Comal with some beer? Check. Uh... now what?

Showdown and Spiderhouse are definitely on the list of things that I will need to have one last go-around to. But other than that I can’t think of any pressing thing I need to do or visit before I’m gone. I’ve seen the Capital, been to 6th and 4th Street, seen the bats at dusk. Plus the lack of urgency to fill up on culture is negated by the fact that I’m going to freaking New York. Sure I’ll miss Din Ho, but I’ll have all of Chinatown. Shopping on South Congress? Uh... Soho, anyone? Once I find my Spiderhouse replacement, I’ll be good.

Hey, if I had nostalgia for Lubbock, I’m pretty sure I will miss my Austin days. But for now, I’m all about looking ahead to what lays in store for me in the City. And that’s a good thing.

Plus, I’ll be back for Austin City Limits festival. But for now, here’s my tentative Get Austin Outta My System list (and no comment on the frequency of beer-related ones):
1. Spiderhouse
2. Showdown
3. Alamo Drafthouse
4. Dog and Duck
5. Gingerman
6. Draught House
7. Uncommon Objects
8. Din Ho
9. Brown Bar
10. Tubing the Comal (once more couldn’t hurt)
11. Run Town Lake
12. Walk through Hyde Park
13. Dolce Vita
14. Crown and Anchor
15. Steak at Eddie V’s
16. Waterloo Records
17. Book People
18. Barton Springs
19. Hula Hut
20. Salt Lick
21. Chuy’s
22. El Chile
23. Drinks at Hotel San Jose

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

New Yokel

Four more weeks and I’ll be in the Big City. There’s much to fret over until then, but there’s also a lot to be excited about. I’ve been wanting to run off from my family’s safe bubble in Dallas ever since I graduated from high school. Lubbock, while a great experience, was not exactly the cosmopolitan mecca I was looking for. And Austin is a cool place but it seems a little too familiar. It was nice since I had friends, the atmosphere was laid-back and I had a decent job but it was too easy to get complacent and comfortable.

As I head off into this new adventure, I can’t help but wonder how I’ll adjust to New York. It’ll be a shift from the relaxed Austin atmosphere, and definitely a pendulum swing from the remote Lubbock. I know the first few weeks will be an amazing immersion into a new setting bursting with culture. Let’s just hope I’ll be kind of cool about it. Will I catch myself gawking at tall buildings? Will I have to pull out my subway map and subject myself to the annoyed stares of the passing crowds?

How will New Yorkers react to a Chinese Texan? If my cousins in California are any indication, there will be much explaining of how I never had a horse and I don’t wear a cowboy hat. And if anyone tries to imagine my life like the Jackie Chan "Shang-high Noon" movie, I may have to kill someone. But I’ll have faith that the citizens of New York are too highly cultured for those gross stereotypes. Besides, I survived the quizzical looks of everyone in Lubbock, I can survive this.

So four more weeks. No job, no place to live, no money. No worries, right?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


It’s finally happened. My once capacious 20 gB iPod has been reduced to a measly 36 mB. "20 gigabytes. How would I ever find a way to use up this much space?" I once wondered. I then set out on the task of transferring my entire CD catalog onto my new sonic vault. It faithfully absorbed everything I threw at it. My mangled mess of live Radiohead recordings, the Tricky album I listened to once, the entire Beatles collection- Anthologies and all. Gone were the days of my car passanger seat littered full of CDs. Now I have a small, svelte iPod to accompany me on road trips.

Why would anyone need 3700 songs (or 10.3 days) of music at his fingertips at any given time? Who knows what life or death situation might come up wherein I’ll need to produce my copy of Matthew Sweet’s Scooby-Doo cover? Maybe someday P.Diddy will call me up asking me to supply some kick-ass party music.

I think it’s more of a novelty thing. No one needs that amount of excess, but everyone is guilty of wanting it in some form. Some guys want every bit of horsepower they can stuff into their car, others horde tools they’ll never need. I have 20 gigs of music in my pocket. Not the most masculine form of indulgence, but hey, it takes up the least amount of space.

But a dilemma has come forth. How do I find more room in my bulging iPod? My pack-rat mentality is surfacing. I find myself having trouble letting go of songs I’ve listened to once. I need serious help. My poor little iPod. My once gaunt little guy is now obese because I can’t let go. Even now I’m trying to figure out how to stuff some new mp3s into it’s virtual beer-belly.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Apples to Oranges

The unthinkable has occured. Steve Jobs has announced that Apple will begin using Intel chips in its computers.

Many will wonder what this means. What’s the big deal? Well, first of all, the new hardware will be completely different in structure from all current Macs. That means all new software will have to be written for the new Intel-based Macs which means that the new software won’t run on any Mac that’s been put out so far. This leads to the conclusion that all current Macs will be obsolete by 2007. And since I bought a G4 powerbook only a year ago, I’m less than happy.

This migration should ultimately be good for Apple, but it sure screws consumers for the near future. IBM, Apple’s current chip provider, has been unable to come up with a chip cool enough to run in a laptop and has yet to break the 3 gHz mark (which was promised about 2 years ago). This has caused Apple to lag behind the competition, waiting for IBM to solve its issues. If not for the iPod, Apple probably wouldn’t be sitting too pretty right now. Good thing I didn’t wait around too long for a G5 powerbook to show up. But I’m wondering what people in the market for a new Mac soon, like Gina, are going to do until late 2006. What’s the incentive to buy a Mac that won’t even be able to run Apple software in a year or two?

Apple has just pushed everyone through a tough transition to a completely new OS and the final outcome has been great, but I’m not looking forward to another period like that any time soon. I was hoping to hold on to my computer for at least 5 years. It could be worse, my Mac could be a Dell... oh wait, it just might be in a few years.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Nuclear skies

NPR kicks off a series of examinations on nuclear proliferation with a story about the current status of the U.S. and what do to about its arsenal. The notion was brought up that there hasn’t been a lot of progress since the end of the Cold War. The U.S. still holds a sizeable stockpile that carries a lot of weight when dealing with other nations. As in poker, sometimes the size of your stack counts more than what cards you’re holding. (Sorry just watched Rounders the other night.)

The story casts some interesting perspectives on how and if the U.S. should disarm completely. The fact that the U.S. keeps a cache of nuclear weapons paradoxically keeps other countries from having to develop nuclear capabilities. Allies such as Japan have not needed to resort to investing in their own nuclear weapons because it relies on the protection of a nuclear United States. So what happens if we disarm as what most people think is best? Is it going to help with the gradual deduction of warheads in the world or just open the door for other countries to establish their own nuclear programs?

The U.S. is in a tough spot. It makes me wonder how effective our politicians and their diplomacy really are. Are we just viewed as bullies who others listen to just because they don’t want to get beat up? I’ve always felt that you get more by gaining people’s respect, not their fear. It’s seems that the U.S. keeps sliding out of the respect side and resorting to the fear side. So how do we reverse that trend?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Gomezmerized, part 2

There’s no hiding that I think Gomez are a great live band. As much as I love "Here Comes the Breeze" and "Revolutionary Kind" on their albums, the live versions are ten times better. I’ve been lucky enough to find several collections of live concerts and have built up a Phishead-like collection. So when Gomez were finally able to release an offical live album that would only be sold at their concerts I was glad the rest of society would be able to hear evidence of their awesomeness. Since I had a pretty robust collection that included the concert recorded for their official release, I was not spilling over with excitement. Of course I still bought it. You know, supporting the band, having the official album art, all that.

It’s funny, in this age of p2p, iTunes, mp3, whatnot, I buy CDs as much or more than I ever did.

I listened to the live album; it was good, not great, I’ve heard better. I was disappointed to discover that half of the disc skipped and it wasn’t my player. I ripped the songs onto mp3 and had no trouble with the digital versions. "Oh well, that sucks but I can live with it."

Then I discovered that this was a problem that several other people were experiencing. Someone on a Gomez message board offered to try and trade in the defective discs when she goes to the next concert. I thought I’d give it a shot, contacted the person and mailed it to her.

Two weeks later, I receive a large, flat package at work. I open it and out falls a new copy of the live CD, a note saying that the band hopes this one works okay, and vinyl version of their latest studio album signed by each member of the band!

I was floored by this act of random generosity! It helped ease the blow of finding out that my car needed another $200 in repairs. That nightmare continues. But it was a surreal experience in karma. Everything works out.

I could only convey my gratitude with an email of repetitive thank yous and an offer to donate my liver should she need one. But she brushed it off as no big deal.

There are good people in the world. And chances are, they’re also Gomez fans.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Picture time

Here are some photos off of my Holga camera from my birthday (the day that won’t ever quit apparently):

James and Courtney

Ingrid, Davy, Beth and Brian

Hero shot

I didn’t take these, but here are a few from Design Ranch:

The Dining Lodge


Screen printing with Decoder Ring

Uh... yeah

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

It’s official

I bought my ticket to an opening day showing of the last Star Wars movie, Revenge of the Sith, which felt akin to renewing my Certificate of Geekiness. What’s worse is that I’ve seen every one of the movies on opening day (if you count the re-release of the original trilogy). A few friends and I even skipped high school to go see the re-release of the Empire Strikes Back, so I guess that makes us some kind of thug-nerd hybrid.

What is it about these movies that makes all guys like them? I’ve never met a guy who didn’t enjoy Star Wars on some level. Of course there are varying degrees of fanaticism. Okay so my girlfriend found out that I downloaded the Clone Wars cartoons to get more back story which leads up to the last movie. Much ridiculing ensued.

But like anything in life, whenever you think you’ve taken something to the ultimate level, you can always find some other soul who one-ups you. Take for example, opening night of the re-release of the first Star Wars movie. People were dressed up as characters (from Luke to very obscure characters) and acting out parts of the movie while the audience sat and waited with toy lightsabers in hand. But the most frightening sight was that someone had actually come as the Death Star. Yeah, not a character in the movie but the big planet. This guy wore a black body suit with a giant grey sphere enveloping his head. He had also glued hundreds of little x-wings and tie fighters on his person, all flying towards his globular headpiece. My friends and I, instantly dropping down on the scale of nerdiness, could only react with a slack-jawed stare. I could insert about fifty Star Wars nerd stereotype jokes here but I think that this says it all.

It’s a humbling experience, which keeps it all in perspective for me whenever I think I’ve gone too far with my obsessions, be it Gomez, Apple Computers or whatever else. I can always feel better about myself by picture the Death Star guy.

And no, I am not dressing up for the premiere next Thursday.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I said God Damn!

Austin City Limits Festival 2005

Allman Brothers
Robert Randolph
Thievery Corporation
The Arcade Fire
Franz Ferdinand
The Walkmen
The Fiery Furnaces
Mates of freakin’ State

Even if you’re not a fan of the mainstream bands, that’s a pretty impressive lineup. I’m most excited about the last two. Although I think we’re getting spoiled in Austin. Last night:
Gina: You know what would make it perfect? If Beck were playing.
Steven: What? No Gomez?

Favorite band name on the list: The Massacoustics

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Being Chinese doesn’t wiegh too heavily on my mind most days. But the wide-eyed stares from people whenever I say something to my parents always manages to bring me back down to reality. I guess I can understand the spectacle of hearing someone you know reveal his ability to speak virtual gibberish to your ears with a few random hints dropped along the way such as "car insurance" or "tax refund".

This is when you discover how paranoid people really are. "Were you talking about me? You were weren’t you? You were telling your parents what an ass you think I am right?"

Another thing that reminds me of my Asianicity is whenever I spend extended amounts of time with my family, my inner monologue reverts from English back to Chinese. It’s a weird phenomenon that puzzles even me. Granted, I don’t have the most refined thought process. It’s never a clear-cut train of thought such as "Hey pick up that Coke on the table and drink it." Actually, I wonder sometimes if I have ADD. If anyone else out there hears a jumble of voices that speak in sentence fragments then let me know and we can compare notes. On good days I’ll think that it’s a sign of genius. On bad days I’ll think it’s a sign of mental illness. Does the inconsistent language usage support one theory or the other?

Part of me is ecstatic when I catch myself thinking in Chinese, as if it’s validation that I’m truly Chinese. It was somewhat encouraging to hear my dad admit that he’s started to dream in English. Of course it could also mean that mental illness is genetic.

I thought of an alternate title for those with no Simplified Chinese vieweing capabilities: Do Asians dream of Chinese sheep?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Congrats/Condolences/Best Wishes on your Birthday/Graduation/New Baby/Death

Spending my lunch hour at Target staring down the aisles upon aisles of greeting cards reminds me of how much I loathe buying cards. I always dread the oncoming summers due to the one reason that Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and both of my parents’ birthdays are on the horizon.

Today alone I bought two graduation, one birthday and one Mother’s Day card. Damn you, Hallmark. For some reason my parents cannot get enough of greeting cards. They read them, reread them, place them on the mantle, hang them on the wall, all to my bewilderment.

So of course I have to send out congrats to my various cousins graduating from their respective schools. My choices were paradoxically endless (from every occasion from every relation like the Best Wishes from your Elder Cousin in Texas who you see every two years) to very very narrow (as in my only options, the pink flowery card or the cartoon poodle with diploma in paw).

Seriously, have you seen what the general public has to choose from? You can either pick: a.) the inspirational definition/message only given out by 40 year old English teachers; b.) weird pseudo-sexual allusions only given out by that creepy guy in the office; c.) flowery photo-illustrations with the gushy poem that your mom loves but leaves you feeling less than manly; or d.) the (not so) humorous message, indicating that you are so unoriginal and not funny that you had to rely on a complete stranger to write your card.

Of course there’s always the blank card, which while I appreciate the card company’s confidence to let me write my own message, I can almost hear that same company laughing off in the distance while they take my money in exchange for virtually nothing.

Eh, why is there so much effort into trying to show someone that I care? It’s not that I don’t care, but the sheer weight of trying to prove it makes me want to care so much less. And the act of not buying a card is the most extreme slap in the face you can give. "Well mom, I’m really happy that it’s your 50th birthday but I just didn’t feel like getting you a card." Who wants to bring upon themself that atomic bomb?

On a completely unrelated note, my birthday is coming up next week and I expect cards and presents from every one of my friends!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Rancho Relaxo

Unless I somehow skyrocket to design superstardom and get adulation for my genius, this past weekend will be the only time in the near future I get to hobnob with bigwigs from all over the counry.

This year’s Design Ranch was held at Camp Waldemar, which is a camp for rich girls. Very rich girls. Imagine if you will:

Rich girl: Mother, can I go to Camp Waldemar?
Mother: Well, honey, that sounds nice, but it costs $15,000 a summer to attend.
Rich girl: But moTHER! Monique’s mother said that SHE could go.
Mother: Honey, there’s a 15 year waiting list to be able to go.
Rich girl: I HATE YOU!!!!

That was my first reaction to what it might be like at the camp. But then it’s hard to harbor any ill-feelings towards such a magnificant place. It was impossible to maintain any level of stress while laying in a hammock next to the Guadalupe River. Throw in a few art workshops, food prepared by a four-star chef (he’s on staff), a few kayaks, live music everynight and a few kegs and you have yourself a good ole time.

It was also nice to such uber-successful designers shed any god-like stature and ask if the seat at your breakfast table is open. No ego, no competition, no showboating, well except for one guy. I got to screenprint with the guys who do all the concert posters for Modest Mouse, Interpol and whoever else is trendy. I was sketching out my idea for a Doozie (a koozie that holds two beers) with the principles of well-respected studios. It was satisfying to see people that were successful in design and did it by dictating what they wanted to do.

As nice as it was to relax and get pampered (well not the bunk beds intended for 14 year old girls, that sucked ass), this event helped me realize that I have some work to do in order to get to where I want to be in life.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Yeah the concert was over a week ago but I was holding off in the hope that my Holga would pull off some photo magic. No such luck so here are some by another fan with a more sophistimacated camera.

Another great concert by Gomez. I love these guys live. Here’s a taste, from another gig, but I had to share an amazing Beatles cover: Don't Let Me Down

Courtesy of RabidDog.

Ian and Tom
Courtesy of RabidDog.

Ian and Ben
Courtesy of RabidDog.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


My latest workout resulted in a few enlightening observations:

Observation 1
Never ever ever take the vacant treadmill behind the woman with fat rolling out of her tank-top arm openings.

Observation 2
I picked the one gym in the entire free world that is devoid of good looking people.

Observation 3
Most men are homophobic unless they’re in a gym locker room where they can stand next to a perfect stranger and strip with no noticeable look of anxiety or awkwardness on their face.

Monday, April 04, 2005


[Gina and Steven on their respective laptops at Spiderhouse working quietly on freelance, enjoying a bright and clear Monday afternoon.]

Gina: Hey can you help me with this bitmap image?
Steven: HOLY SHIT!!!!!!
Gina: What is it?
Steven: Joy is pregnant!
Gina: WHAT?!
Steven: Look at this email...
Gina: Wow.
Steven: Man, they don’t mess around... well, actually they do. Heh heh.
Gina: Well, can you help me with this bitmap and then I’ll let you get back to your freaking out?
Steven: Holy shit.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Idle hands are the devil’s workshop

...unless the devil decided to sit this one out and let you lay on your lazy ass all day when you could be engaged in something more appropriate for this rare beautiful Austin saturday. Here were a few of my options:

Option 1
Forego recuperating from two full days of running around at my company’s convention and volunteer to go help out my fellow coworkers who are suffering through a third day. A valiant display of initiative, but it reeks of a lack of social life.

Option 2
Work on my freelance job, update my portfolio, do the laundry, clean up the apartment, finish setting up my letterpress, make a well-balanced dinner. The most responsible option, but sometimes the thought of doing a lot of things leaves you with the desire to do none of those things.

Option 3
Watch cartoons and sleep all day with the reasoning of "But I’m tiiiiiiired!"

So how can one salvage what’s left of his dignity and his day? I’m guessing by seeing a movie with a buddy and tossing back a few brewskies while telling myself "Tomorrow, tomorrow..."

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Anyone can play synthesizers

Radiohead has headed back into the studio to work on their new album, confirming the rumors sparked by Thom Yorke’s cryptic (a.k.a. arty, a.k.a. pretentious) announcement on their message boards.

At what point did Radiohead buy into their own hype? I guess when enough people tell you that you’re the avant garde and savior of rock and roll you eventually lose touch with reality and believe them. Not that I’m not still a fan of the band, but I guess I’ve grown weary of hearing about Thom’s tortured soul and how he’s too fragile to deal with the weight of stardom. Is this for real? Then why clamor for attention by announcing things on a message board? It seems like a far cry from their No Singles, No Video, No Touring campaign for Kid A.

Here’s the part where I join that club where everyone bitches about how said band don’t sound like they used to and how we wish they would just keep making the same music forever. Not really, I’ve enjoyed every one of their albums post-OK Comupter. There’s some absolutely brilliant stuff there. It’s just watered down when I have to skip over the ambient skwaks and bleeps. There are traces in the albums, but mostly evident in their live shows, that when these guys stop trying to fuck around, they can still be the best rock band in the world.

OK Computer and the Bends, like the Beatles’ Rubber Soul and Revolver (and in my personal opinion Gomez’s Bring It On and Liquid Skin) sparked huge debates over which one was better, but reality was that both were bloody brilliant from start to finish. Every second was packed with lush, beauty sounds. They were albums that if they got fused into the CD tray in my player, I wouldn’t be complaining. But I don’t find that true with their later albums.

The beauty of OK Computer was that the band found ways to stretch the instruments they had into new sonic territories. The guitars in Subterranean Homesick Alien still seduce me today. It’s the closest thing I can think of to relate to what people thought of when they heard the distortion coming out of Hendrix’s guitar. Now they just throw in crazy machines because they make different sounds.

I’m not proclaiming the banishing of synthesizers or other instruments. Or even weird sounds. I love the boops that count off Paranoid Android, and I’m currently obsessing over the Fiery Furnaces’ Blueberry Boat.

Bottom line is that I just want Radiohead to stop justifying that different is better. If they want to insert a strange noise then make sure it’s there for a reason. Even if they don’t strap on guitars again, I’ll give them the benefit of hearing it. But don’t expect me to stick around just because people think it’s cool and progressive if I understand the latest offering from Radiohead.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I wish I may, I wish I might...

Sometimes the weight of the world is too much on a Monday morning, so I turned from my normal NPR to a lowly local talk show where each DJ was spouting off his list of things to accomplish within his lifetime and I got to thinking about my own lifelong dreams. So throwing aside factors such as monetary investment, magnitude of the goal (although nothing hokey like World Peace) or just plain implausibility, here’s my tentative list in no particular order:

1. Surf through a barrel of a wave
2. Visit Florence, Italy
3. Illustrate a children’s book
4. Buy that Corvette for my dad that he’s always wanted
5. Own a house with my own private section of the beach
6. Be featured in a design magazine (like Communication Arts)
7. Own a bar
8. Hardwire my iPod to my car
9. Paint a mural (the one I did in 6th grade doesn’t count)
10. Live in Hong Kong
11. Design my own line of graphic t-shirts

That’s all I can think of for now. Stay tuned to see if any of these get moved over to the Mission Accomplished list... but don’t hold your breath. Maybe I should beef up that list with some less lofty goals like Eat a Raspberry Danish but frankly who’s going to be impressed with that?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

A Wolf at the Door (or What’s With Wolfowitz?)

President Bush’s nomination of Paul Wolfowitz for the head of the World Bank is a curious one. Why appoint someone with a background in defense as the head of an organization dealing with international economic development? The fact that Wolfowitz was one of the loudest proponents of the war in Iraq should raise a few more eyebrows. The whole issue reeks of Bush taking care of his constituency.

The broader outlook is probably to create a more solid validation of the invasion to Iraq. With President of the World Bank by his side, Bush would have a much easier time funding the reconstruction of a post-war Iraq. Thus expediting the recovery and stability in the region and vindicating Bush for the war. Pretty shrewd.

So, in the end, does this help the world? Does a more stable Middle East justify any possible divergence of attention from other countries in need?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fuck tha Police

Okay I was speeding. I speed regularly. I’m clearly in the wrong. But isn’t there something about a cop giving you a ticket that just makes you hate the police so much? Isn’t there something more important they could be doing rather than camping out on the side of a road? And it’s supposed to be okay when they flash their lights in order to justify an illegal u-turn into a 7-11? Alright, that doesn’t make my wrong any more right. Just because other people do bad things doesn’t mean I can, right? I should be enlightened enough to take my medicine. Well I’m not so excuse me while I go jump off a cliff with everyone else, which is apparently leading me down into Hell.

My rage reminded me of kids who tattled on you when you were in school. You were obviously doing something wrong, but you’re anger was directed at this kid. Sitting in detention, you’re not thinking about what you did wrong or how you’d learn to do good from then on. Oh no, you sulk the whole time and cursed the kid’s name, even wished death upon him.

Now I have to dish out $150 for the ticket and sit through some boring ass defensive driving class. Thanks Mr. Policeman, love ya. The police: to protect, to serve, to piss off.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Supreme Beings de Rigueur

The Supreme Court takes on the Word of God in the Times by trying to ban the display of the ten commandments in front of government buildings. "The Bush administration, which has filed briefs urging the justices to uphold the displays in both cases..." was a statement that doesn’t surprise me. The executive branch is trying to breach both the concepts of Seperation of Church and State, and Check and Balances at the same time. The Supreme Court may be the one remaining branch trying to maintain the ideals of the U.S. without a personal agenda, but that may not last.

As much as people were upset that Bush reigns supreme for another four years, the extent of his legacy has been slow to dawn on most of the population. Bush has the frightening possibility of electing up to four justices to the Supreme Court before the end of his tenure. Examining his history and tendencies it’s safe to say there will be a significant shift in the ideology of the highest power in the judicial branch. People are concerned that there will be a regression in civil, gay and First Amendment rights. Abortion is most certainly in the front lines of the chopping block.

The country seems very polarized, yet there is not a real balance of power. The Democrats are scrambling to regroup and I don’t think too many people are worried about that. Bush will be out of the Oval Office in less than four years, and the Congress can be realigned in the next election. But what about over in the Supreme Court where the Justices have the luxury of keeping their seats indefinitely? Bush may be carving headlines with Iraq and his War on Terror, but his architecture of the Court may have the most dramatic consequences.

Monday, February 28, 2005

I’m a Laoser, not a Laover

It seems that I keep offending and pissing off people with this web blog. Who knew I’d turn into such a mudslinger? Am I the Joan Rivers of Cyberspace? Us Weekly ain’t got shit on this Laoser! I always meant for the content here to be more tongue-in-cheek but I guess I don’t have the writing chops to pull that off. I don’t need anger management. Most who know me find me to be a pretty laid back guy. But you know what they say, the lighter the picture, the darker the negative.

That said, I’ve never made it a priority to hide my intolerance for people’s bullshit. I’ll bitch and criticize who or what I feel are wrong. Yes, I think Bush is an idiot. Yes, I'm baffled by the adulation commanded by Paris Hilton. Hell yes, I hope there’s some serious bad karma waiting for people like Barry Bonds. I don’t want to hear about what you deserve and I don’t want to hear excuses about what you didn’t do. Own up to some fucking responsibility. In turn, my postings are in a public forum which leaves them open to whatever criticism dished out by anyone with the time (or pain threshold). So bring it! :) The only reason I never sent out a grand announcement along the lines of "Hey look at me and my quasi-intelligent, oh so trendy blog!" was that it was never my style to do so.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Spoil Sport

It’s not so much news anymore but I keep thinking about how Barry Bonds lashed out at the media over his use of steroids. How cares, right? Another pro athlete caught cheating, let’s move on. I think I was more surprised by the disdain Bonds had over the issue. He simply didn’t care that he had cheated. His defense was that other people (particularly the media) cheat and lie and get away with it so he should be able to as well. Who ever said it was okay to cheat? Has he heard of Enron? I hope he has that same arrogant swagger when he’s limp-dicked with man boobs.

Bonds is projected to surpass Babe Ruth in all time homers this season. He has the audacity to use race as the reason he’s being targetted. That the media is trying to protect the glorious Babe’s record. At least he can’t use the same argument when he aims for Hank Aaron, but I’m sure he’ll find some other excuse. I just hope there’s an asterisk next to that big fat number that reads “but he was a fucking juicer.”

Bonds and his demeanor just shows the ill-effects of the public’s eagerness to deify athletes and celebrities. In the age of Paparazzi, they think they’re above laws and morals. Chad Pennington of the NY Jets tried to turn the blame on the media by saying it’s a privilege to be able to report on the athletes, not a right. He and Bonds have forgotten that sports are public entertainment. They are there for the viewers. They are paid an ungodly sum of money for us to watch them run around in uniforms and toss balls around. If they want privacy or the right to use steroids, go play in a community league. When they cash that multimillion dollar check, they then answer to the millions of fans who dish out the money.

As an artist and designer, I know that when I place my work in a public forum, I open it up to public discussion and criticism. Athletes lose sight of the fact that they’re along a parallel path. No, their job is not to get a ball into the hoop; their real job is to entertain.

The NHL is also screwed. The entire season is lost because the players wont accept pay cuts or the fact that teams are bankrupt because there aren’t enough fans to see (i.e. pay) the sport. All of it goes to show that the only ones really suffering are the fans. It was nice to hear that in Canada the fans are turning their attention more towards minor and little leagues without shedding too many tears for the pros.

Fuck the NHL players. Fuck Pennington. Fuck Barry Bonds.

Before and After

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Oh Spiderhouse I hardly knew ye

Sure the new two-tier deck adds some needed tables and outlets and the new tiles in the bathroom are nice, but there’s something to be said about the old comic book lined walls and paint-chipped posts. And what’s this? A motion sensor towel dispenser in the bathroom?! Is nothing sacred anymore?

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Let’s hear it for hate!

Once in a while I’ll get bored and click the “Next Blog” button on the top right to see what others are doing with their blogs. Yesterday I discovered this which I found amusing. There’s such dedication to the animosity towards this person’s flatmate, it’s mesmerizing and not a little bit scary. Too bad the previous posts aren’t archived. But here’s a gem:

Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Yucky phone
Last night I needed to make a phone call so I went out to the living room and grabbed the phone and went back to my room.. This phone has quickdial, so I chose the pre-programmed umber and casually raised the phone to my ear. As I brought the phone to my face I smelled raspberry jam, but it was too late, it was all over the side of my face. I don't know if the jam got there by her fingers or mouth, and to tell you the truth, I don't really want to know. But she knew about it when she got home.

Today's reason my flatmate pisses me off is that she left raspberry jam smeared on the phone which subsequently ended up on my face.

I read some comments and it’s surprising how many people side with the roommate. How people defend leaving jam on a phone is beyond me. Maybe some feel self-conscious about their bad habits, but come on, who hasn’t had a roommate that annoyed or disgusted them?

My freshman year in college, I had a roommate who, on the first day, was hanging posters in our room and was standing on my pillow with his shoes on. Who knows what sort of shit he’d stepped in before: gum, dirt, dog doo. It was a stark wake-up call from my home, where we took off shoes before going inside. I think the word ‘appalled’ comes to mind.

I remember before leaving for college that I had a fear of walking in on my future roommate peeing in our sink because he didn’t want to walk down the hall to the community bathroom. Luckily that horror was never realized, but that scenario wasn’t too far off from Omar’s roommate getting drunk and peeing all over Omar’s clothes.

But that’s in the past. I think I like my current roomie a little bit more.

The Minimum is the Message

This may be my designer-nerd coming out, but I can’t stand the fact that I have to use special key combos in Blogger to enter the appropriate apostrophe symbol (’) rather than see the frequently misused footmark (').

I see that mistake everywhere and it grates me. Eh, who am I kidding? I'm guilty of footmark laziness in this very post.

i [hate] sinuses

I can’t breathe. My eyes are watering and feel like they’re going to burst. My nasal cavities feel as if cement has solidified within them. I am seriously considering stabbing myself in the face with my pen to relieve the pressure.

Damn you, Austin. I never had allergy issues until I moved here. Now I’m sniffling and sneezing on a daily basis. I enviously look back on those carefree days of ignoring allergy medicine aisles and scoffing at those who needed to arm themselves with kleenex in class. So it goes I guess. Who doesn’t take for granted what they should appreciate? I’ve never heard anyone say “Man, my gall bladder fucking ROCKS!”

Alas, all I can do is retreat to a doctor’s office and load up on drugs. Histamines beware!

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

From Halo’s heart, I stab at thee

Last weekend was the demise of the Dallas house (aka Sean and Jon's, aka Jon and Mike's) so what better way to send it off in style than to gather up 15 guys and network three Xbox's in the living room and play video games until eyes are bloodshot, livers are aching and thumbs are throbbing? Is there some sort of male instinct that makes such an event so enthralling? Man used to hunt and gather, and now we hunt aliens and gather spinning ammo icons.

All this is speculative since there was a girl in the midst of all this virtual testosterone, my girl to be exact, which left me with too much shame and embarrassment to let my hands get too comfortable nestling a controller. Not that I really minded anyway. I'm not much of a gaming buff anymore and hardly miss it. Plus the small split screen TVs and the fact that the only two guys who knew how to play teamed up to slaughter everyone else made it rather unpalatable. C'mon, where's the challenge? It's like Shaq slam dunking on high school freshmen.

It's still amazing to me that a room full of single guys can so easily resist rows of bars filled with females (just a few blocks away) to play video games. I'm sure I've been guilty many times of foregoing society for a chance to get to the bonus level. But I now I wouldn't hesitate at all to spend time with my girlfriend over a night of video games or to watch football or other minor things (like much needed sleep). But hey, that's me.

Monday, January 24, 2005

My Hardest Working Muscle (it ain’t my brain)

It’s the day after my first workout at my brand new gym with my brand new trainer thanks to my brand new $500plus membership. I’m feeling aches and sores in areas that probably haven’t been stirred in ages.

Don’t think that this is just some ambitious New Year’s resolution that will only fall by the wayside as most do. This was actually in the works for months but I was holding out for more money and weighing options for the gym best suited for my On-The-Go lifestyle. I figure that the tall, lanky, heroin-addict look is out, especially since I’ve given up the last remnants of hope that I’ll be discovered by some Calvin Klein representative and made sickeningly rich and famous. C-K... ONE! See, I could so do it.

I think I’m getting tired of waiting out my metabolism, which shows no signs of slowing down, despite many prophesies by older, pot-bellied men saying "Trust me, it won’t last." I’m also weary of crooked stares and invading pinches from family members exclaiming "You too skinny!"

I’m hoping that the required one-year membership and the ridiculously small distance from work will keep me motivated. But there are so many things that make it look so much more enticing to just waste away in gaunt manner that I’ve spent years refining. I mean, did they want to make those protein shakes taste like ass? The "Great Taste!" label on the package, that actually rubs off to read "Sucker!" right? And the tiny woman trainer who easily one arms the very same dumbbell that I was grunting and sweating over, she’s supposed to make me feel better? Who needs this crap?! I mean, if they wanted people to work out so much, they wouldn’t have made Lord of the Rings a twelve hour epic, right? Right?? (Oh man, I’m not going to make it.)

Stay tuned for further adventures!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Overheard... Delaware Subs:

[Man01]: What, are you afraid of donating blood?
[Man02]: Well, I tried donating bodily fluids once, but I couldn't talk her into it.


Bushwacked, the sequel

So President Bush has been inaugurated for his second term today. I was never a fan of Bush but hadn't realised how over time I came to loathe him and his methods. Now, whenever I hear his voice I feel my eyes roll and a slight groan emits from my throat.

His inaugural address indicates a rather ambitious second term, which I'm sure gives many Americans reason to cringe. Once again Bush justifies all actions and intents with the guise of "freedom" and "liberty". I have a hard time believing that the President is practicing what he preaches. Statements such as "America will not impose our own style of government on the unwilling" somehow ring hollow to me. Especially when he later says "We will persistently clarify the choice before every ruler and every nation -- the moral choice between oppression, which is always wrong, and freedom, which is eternally right." Does the mantle of President allow a man to dictate what is right and what is freedom? Doesn't the act of imposing one's own terms of liberty paradoxically damn him of stripping others of their freedom?

To me, Bush welcomes people into a life of freedom and liberty as long as it's under the administration's definition of freedom and liberty. But I guess it's not so hard to imagine from a country created by colonialism, expanded by Manifest Destiny, and now empowered to create their Freedom Franchises. Everyone has a freedom to choose. Either assimilate or get crush by the Liberty Machine.

Okay, that's kind of dramatic. Maybe I'm just in a doomsday mood since someone freaking keyed my car!! I just got an estimate on it and it'll cost $1500! Well, insurance will pay it but it's going to be in the shop for around seven days and I'm just having terrrible karma on my VW lately. I'm already bracing myself for when I walk up to find my car stripped and on blocks.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Highly Evolved

How Magazine compares some of our cultural lifestyles as compared to 20 years ago:

ghetto blaster : iPod
low-fat : low-carb
New Coke : C2
Iran-Iraq War : Iraq War
Miami Vice : CSI:Miami
Star Search : American Idol
Spuds Mackenzie : Target dog
VP George H.W. Bush : Dubbya
Tic Tacs : Altoids
Donahue : Dr. Phil
Michael Jackson on fire : Michael Jackson under fire
"Return of the Jedi" : "Return of the Sith"
"Late Night" : "Late Show"
Air Jordans : Air Tunes
Andre the Giant : Andre 3000
Pole Position : Gran Turismo
Macintosh 128K : iMac G5
Aldus PageMaker : Adobe inDesign
Care Bears : Build-A-Bear

Cheerleaders for Saddam

I heard on NPR this morning that many organizations that aren’t pro-Bush are basically being stonewalled from the Presidential Inauguration. (Sorry, couldn’t find the link.) Seems Bush doesn’t want eggs being tossed at his limo again. Well, I can’t really say I blame him. But what was really grating to me was the response from a pro-Bush organization to justify this one-sided showing. They claim that this is President Bush’s day and that dissenting voices are not invited. That anyone not supporting the President is aligning themselves with terrorism and Saddam. That those people are “cheerleaders for Saddam”.

Wow. How’s that for deductive reasoning? I didn’t vote for Bush so I must be a Saddam-loving terrorist. I didn’t eat at Taco Bell for dinner so I must be a tree-hugging hippie.

I wouldn’t take much notice of an inauguration even if the guy I voted for won. I don’t care if some people are inclined to go live it up in a $2000 a night hotel and go listen to Bush gloat over his win. But man, those comments lit me up this morning to the point where coworkers are noticing that I’m scouling at nothing in particular at my desk. I [heart] democracy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A is for Appalled

Because of my job, I'm constantly exposed to the conservative nature of educators. It's tough trying to get through ideas and styles that aren't cliched and dated, and basically push the envelope more. But I find myself relieved that a school in New Jersey decided that it was best not to have Paris Hilton sustitute teach middle school children for an episode of The Simple Life.

The scary thing is that they even considered the proposition enough to go as far as having permission forms sent to parents. Of course the moms and dads were outraged and the school board was frightened back into thinking sensibly.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Okay Jon, two more wishes

CNN announces that it's going to cancel it's longrunning debate show, Crossfire, which causes me to shed no tears. What makes me wonder though, is how much of it had to do with the much publicized smackdown between Jon Stewart and the show's hosts. In the announcement, the CNN president even refers to Stewart and the incident.

I'm all for losing the Yell At Each Other Really Quickly pseudo-news shows, but I'm wary that it's only being done because some celebrity says so. Stewart brings up good points and even denounces that his comedy show should have any bearing or influence on real news. Yes, Jon has an agenda and is partisan, but at least I get the impression that he thinks it's wrong for us to look to him. Sadly, that's not a view shared by others. I don't need P.Diddy to tell me to vote or die, but others do. The scope of influence by these stars is scary. And people aren't hiding their desire to be led by them. Arnold is the prime example. Who knows how far he'll really go, but it's frightening to know that people want him in the Oval Office. We don't ask chefs to fix our cars. We don't look to mailmen to put out fires. But we'll let some guy who pretends to shoot aliens with big guns run California and possibly our country?

Okay, okay, the natural born citizen rule is outdated. I never for a split second in my life even had the notion of being president because of this clause. It should probably be changed. But why are people only starting up this virtuous crusade now? It was never a big issue before a big movie star wanted to do it. Remember when Janet thought it would be a good idea to show her boob to America? It just seems like celebrities can't wait to go out and make asses of themselves. And you want them to rule the world?

Between people unwaiveringly supporting Bush and people eagerly following celebrities, I feel as if there's no sensible outlet for people who are trying to seriously consider issues in and around the world. At least we now have blogs so we can bitch about it, right?