Monday, July 30, 2007

Eating and Drinking Our Way Across Niagara on the Lake

Gina has put up a detailed account, with photos, of our long weekend at Niagara on the Lake.
 
She wrote it, so I don't have to -- I'll just link instead.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

PT back in October!

Porcupine Tree's next Cleveland date: Monday, October 22, 2007 at House of Blues.
 
 
Wed 03 Oct - ORLANDO, FL, HOUSE OF BLUES
Sat 06 Oct - MEXICO CITY, METROPOLITAN THEATER
Tue 09 Oct - ASHEVILLE, ORANGE PEEL
Thu 11 Oct - RALEIGH, NC, LINCOLN THEATER
Fri 12 Oct - WASHINGTON, DC, STATE THEATER
Sat 13 Oct - NEW YORK, NY, BEACON THEATER
Mon 15 Oct - QUEBEC, SALLE ALBERT - ROUSSEAU
Tue 16 Oct - TORONTO, ON, PHOENIX
Thu 18 Oct - ALBANY, THE EGG
Fri 19 Oct - HARTFORD, CT, WEBSTER THEATER
Mon 22 Oct - CLEVELAND, OH, HOB
Tue 23 Oct - CINCINNATI, OH, BOGART'S
Wed 24 Oct - KANSAS CITY, MO, BEAMOUNT
Fri 26 Oct - NEW ORLEANS, LA, VOODOO FEST
Sat 27 Oct - HOUSTON, TX, MERIDIAN
Sun 28 Oct - DALLAS, TX, HOUSE OF BLUES
Mon 29 Oct - ATLANTA, GA, ROXY

Further dates still to be added.
 

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Becoming Real

An excerpt from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."

"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."

7/21/07

Monday, July 23, 2007

7/21/07


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Unnecessary BS

There is a sign hanging up on a stall in the mens room that states "Temporarily Out of Order -- Our Staff is Working Hard to Correct the Situation."
 
An "Out of Order" sign is helpful, as it alerts that not only is there a problem, but that someone (whoever hung up the sign) is aware of it.
 
The second part -- about our staff working hard to correct the situation -- why is that necessary?  Moreover, is it true? The problem is that the toilet stopped flushing yesterday.  I don't see anyone working hard to fix it. 
 
Likewise, a few weeks ago, one of the escalators downstairs stopped working.  A similarly worded sign was posted -- that our staff is working hard.  Really?  That escalator was down for over a week before I saw any evidence of anyone working on it.
 
Granted, someone may be working somewhere, ordering a part, waiting for its arrival, and then they will direct someone to promptly fix the problem.  I realize that won't be evident upon seeing the sign.  But the sign isn't specific either.  Working hard doing what to correct the situation?  Not that I want progress reports, but it should go without saying that they are working hard to correct the situation.  Unless they have a history of not doing so, and now need to reassure us.  In which case, get on the stick and fix the problem. 
 
Again, the "out of order" part of the sign is helpful.  The rest of it is unncessary BS. 
 

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Wedding Help

Lots of folks have been asking us what they can do to help for the upcoming wedding.
 
Well, we've got something.
 
We need music suggestions -- songs to put into an iTunes playlist to play following the ceremony and during the reception/barbeque.
 
So ... fire away!  And if you happen to have any of these songs, perhaps we can borrow them?

Drown With Me

So you have been of use

And you have been abused

 

You know you look pale today

Your lipstick has gone astray

 

You sold out and lost your looks

You gave away all your books

 

(You should drown with me)

 

Your coil has been wound up tight

Unwind it with me tonight

 

(You should drown with me)

 

Tyre tracks

Fresh on the ground

Where she will be found

Held under the water

Resting there in a stream

View from the cold water

Buried in green

Orange filter sky

 

Your drowning in family there

When will you come up for air

 

(You should drown with me)

 

Don't feel you let 'em down

Cos they have already drowned

 

(You should drown with me)
 
-- Steven Wilson

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Tuesday Talkback

A weak crop of moans this week for sure.

"Why can't male mechanics understand when women tell them that their car is making strange noises, like gagging, snorting or whining, when you turn it on, push the gas pedal or drive." - Bedford

Let's break this sentence down to the basics. Take out the part about the car, the noises it is making, etc., and this moan is: why can't men understand women. That is the heart of the matter, isn't it?

"To the so-called classic rock radio station in this rock and roll town of ours - expand your playlist! You have thousands of songs in your library, for God's sake play them! Stop playing the same 300 songs over and over again. The format hasn't changed in 25 years. And you wonder why you are losing your audience." - Medina

Sometimes I wonder if the limited playlists of broadcast radio isn't a ploy to get us all to subscribe to satellite radio. I understand this guy's pain. But the deep tracks you seek don't test-market well. There are too many people who change the channel as soon as they hear a song they don't know.

There is this romantic myth that once upon a time, disc jockeys had all this freedom and could play anything they wanted, and that the people listening preferred that. As if there were never program managers, ratings, or for that matter, payola. There were always forces at work that limited what you might hear.

Now I am not defending the vanilla, white bread, so called classic rock stations that play the same 300 songs over and over. I don't need to hear Layla yet again. And of course, whenever Clapton records something new, they won't even touch it. At the same time, so much new music is just product. People who can't sing sold to people with tin ears. But that isn't a recent development either. Milli Vanilli sold a sound and a look that were popular -- but the guys with the look weren't the guys singing on the CD. And let's see, that was 17 years ago now. This isn't a new problem.

"I am sick and tired of Indians' baseball announcers stating that 'the tying run' or 'the winning run' is on first. This is childish wishful thinking. A run is not a run until someone crosses home plate. Grow up." - Euclid

What a dumb thing to complain about. There is so little action in baseball, that of course the announcer should describe not only everything that is happening, but how things are being set up to possibly happen. When they say the tying run is on base, they are describing not only what is happening, but what affect it will have on the score should it come to fruition. Sure, a run isn't a run till someone crosses home plate. And a baby isn't a baby till its born -- but funny how everybody is talking about the little guy before then, huh? And preparing for its arrival.

Here is my new baby.
Baby? You had a baby?
Sure, I've been pregnant the last 9 months.
Yeah, but I didn't think you'd really see that through.
Me neither. Can you help me paint a nursery?

But this childish wishful thinking that is complained about here -- this is a complaint against optimism in general. Why is it childish to hope that your team will score, especially once they've done something to improve their chances? Or more generally, to hope that if you work hard to put good things in motion, and you seem to be making progress, that you can state presently what you hope it will turn out to be?

Here is my 401k statement.
What's that for?
I plan to retire on this.
Really? Ha, we'll see. Childish wishful thinking.

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Maltus Plateau

And so on the 14th of July, for my benefit, an event was had to celebrate the vows I am about to enter with Miss Gina. Thank yous go out to Mr. Bebout and Chad (who co-hosted the event), and to those attending: Some travelled far (James and MDC), and some travelled near (Ray, B Mac, BK, Sonenshein.)

It was an evening of cold beer and grilled meat, of tales of old, of conquests relived. It was an evening of torches lit, and of rain escaped. It was not an evening of debauchery and it was not supposed to be. It was an evening of old jokes retold (e.g., what do you do with a dog with no legs?) Any minor crimes allegedly connected with the evening are strongly denied. While no one swung from the rafters, no one's marriage will end over these events, no one suffered any permanent injury, it was good company, good friends, good food and drink. Thanks again, and see you all in a few days.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Made Again

I have been here many times before
In a life I used to live
But I have never seen these streets so fresh
Washed with morning rain

I have seen this face a thousand times
Every morning of my life
But I never saw these eyes so clear
Free of doubt and pain

Like the whole world has been made again

I have been here many times before
In a life I used to live...

And it's all because you made me see
What is false and what is true
Like the inside and the outside of me
Is being made again by you

And it's all because you made me see
What is false and what is true
Like the inside and the outside of me
Has been made again by you

Like a bright new morning
Like a bright new day
I woke up from a deep sleep
I woke up from a bad dream

To a brand new morning
To a brand new day
Like the whole world has been made again
 
- John Helmer

W Loses Another Conservative

Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan has had enough of this guy too. 
Welcome to the other side, Peggy.
 
I liked the the bit about peeling the W sticker off the car.  You know, I can understand why people voted for W once or twice.  I can understand wanting to vote for a conservative, or not liking Gore or Kerry.  But I don't understand the people who STILL have Bush stickers on their cars.  I look at them and wonder what it is they still like so much about this guy that they proclaim their admiration on their bumper for him even to this day. 

Thursday, July 12, 2007

from slate.com's Dear Prudence

 
Dear Prudie,
My daughter is 5 years old and has, like most girls her age, a hamper's worth of stuffed animals. While she has her favorites, she constantly wants more and usually connives to get someone (read: her grandparents) into procuring a new one every couple of weeks. The new one immediately becomes her favorite and she must sleep with it every night and haul it around half the day. My question is: Does this behavior indicate she'll be overly promiscuous as an adult, or at least unable to commit to a single partner?

—Perhaps Overly Worried Father

Dear Perhaps,
Of course that's what it indicates. You'd better start thinking now about what you're going to do when she's a young woman and throws over that big, chubby guy with the annoying laugh, Barney, for the sexually ambiguous Tinky-Winky, whom she then dumps for that moron, Elmo, who every time they come over asks you to get down on the floor and tickle him.

—Prudie

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hold Your Fire

I was thrilled to look out my window this morning and see rain.  It was not enough rain, to be sure.  Looking out now I see it has stopped raining, but the sky is gray, so here's hoping for more!  It has been so dry the last few weeks.  My lawn, everyone's lawn, looked like straw by this last weekend.  I've been watering since the weekend, so I've gotten some green back -- I hate to think what my water bill will look like. 
 
That's the funny thing about drought here.  It hasn't rained, but it isn't like we aren't next to one of the largest sources of fresh water in the world.  We aren't going to go thirsty. 
 
On the ride in, I felt strangely chipper and energized.  I had this sudden urge to play "Tai Shan" off of Hold Your Fire.  If I were to rank all Rush songs, Tai Shan would probably be in the fifth.  But I just wanted to hear it, and I sang along in the car on the ride in.
 
I then started selecting all of the deep tracks off of Hold Your Fire, like High Water, Open Secrets, Second Nature.  Hold Your Fire is almost 20 years old this year, and is probably still one of the more maligned Rush albums.  Even fans of the band complain that there is too much synth, that the sound is too clean, that it doesn't really rock.  They still debate the addition of Aimee Mann on a couple of the tracks.  But I say that even the deep tracks off of Hold Your Fire are better than most of the new album, Snakes & Arrows. 

And the lyrics really speak to me.
 
The point of a journey is not to arrive -- anything can happen!
 

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Gross and Funny!

Great for a few laughs, especially if you are a food snob:
 
No Tuesday Talkback, because the PD didn't post Monday Moaning again.

I dreamed last night of the wedding. I dreamed that I was rushing around in a panic the day of it, that nothing was ready. The details of the dream have already disappeared into the aether. But I woke up restless and stressed.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

The View from My Window

On Tuesday, I said some harsh things about the city of Cleveland, its leadership, and indeed, the leadership of the county as well.


But there is a bright side. New construction downtown, generally speaking, is a bright side. Especially when it is not to build a government building, but is to build private homes and new retail, something downtown could use more of.


So here is the view from my office window, which overlooks Phase One of The Avenue District, now under construction.


A glorious sight it is.


I'm not kidding. The blight of surface parking lots being transformed into a new neighborhood is a glorious sight -- and an inspirational one.

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Olbermann's Special Comment from July 3 "Countdown"

If you haven't seen Keith Olbermann's Special Comment from July 3 calling on Bush and Cheney to resign, you owe it to yourself to spend ten minutes to watch it.

Dreams

Last night I dreamt that I couldn't sleep, and decided to go by myself to a late night movie. I don't remember the name of the movie, but Joe Esterhaus wrote the script, and I was surprised by how good the movie was.

Afterwards, I was hungry, and at the foodcourt, there was a new Afghan kabob stand open. It was very busy, but I got in line. Once I got to the front of the line, the tall man immediately behind me in line tried to push me aside and order. He was tanned with a shaved head, about 6'6", wearing a blue suit. I told him I was next, but he ignored me and persisted in placing an order. The Afghan man behind the counter was confused. I told the tall man again to wait his turn and that I was next. The tall man turned to me and explained that he just got back from serving in Afghanistan, and that was why he would order next. I told him that I didn't care, that he still had to wait his turn in line. He offered to settle it outside. I ordered beef kabobs and rice, and we went outside.

Once outside, I proceeded to beat him mercilessly. He didn't really even fight back. I pulled his suit off of him and left his unconscious body outside the foodcourt entrance. I took his suit and went to Brian Kornell's.

I found myself in a dorm room that I understood to be Brian's (as opposed to the apartment he and Kathleen live in now.) Brian was seated at his computer. I told Brian what happened, and that I needed to dispose of this suit, and he seemed relatively unplussed by it. He told me about yet another new Star Wars movie coming out, and whether I'd want to see it. I was confused. Another Star Wars movie? He explained that he'd found a trailer online for it, and he showed it to me on his computer. In the trailer, it showed Anakin and Obi-Wan getting out of some jam by using microwaved fig newtons as weapons. And then he explained that in this particular movie, three main characters would die, including Porcupine Tree. In my dream, Porcupine Tree was no longer a band, but now a character in Star Wars. I asked Brian for a pair of scissors.

As he looked for the scissors I arranged the wadded up blue suit on the dorm room floor. I urinated all over it, and when I was finished, Brian handed me the scissors. I cut the suit in random pieces, and stuffed it all into a plastic bag. He gave me a ride somewhere to dispose of it. We rode back to the dorms, and had a helluva time finding a parking space. But once we did, I said goodbye to Brian and walked home.

I got home and found Gina wide awake. She wondered where I had disappeared to in the middle of the night. I was reluctant to tell her any of it, but knew I owed her an explanation. I started with the movie, and she was somewhat disappointed that I went without her. I didn't want to tell her about the man at the foodcourt or the suit. But then I woke up, and I told her all about it then.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Tuesday Talkback

Last week I called the folks at The Plain Dealer slackers for the typo in the title of Monday Moaning. This week, the PD couldn't be bothered even to upload Monday Moaning. It did run in the print edition yesterday, but I don't have it in front of me or anything, and even if I did, I wouldn't retype the moans just to talk back to them.

Instead, I'd like to take moment to talk back to this article, Fading Away.

Robert Smith's article is short, (remember his article on "Patel Hotels"?), so I'll reprint it here, permission be damned (I'll take it down if someone complains).

The news from the U.S. Census Bureau is not good for Cleveland, population 444,000, and falling. The city lost nearly 7 percent of its people from 2000 to 2006 and now ranks as America's 40th-largest city. That's down from 33rd and a world away from the 1920s, when Cleveland was the nation's fifth-largest city. Among major American cities, only New Orleans and Detroit suffered greater population losses, the Census Bureau will report today. Mark Rosentraub, dean of the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, said the numbers are alarming and demand a regionwide response. "We're not going to be able to turn this tide unless the region unifies," he said. "We need to get behind a single plan for attracting immigrants. Without them, we'll never grow."

Cleveland in the rearview

Eight cities passed Cleveland in population, including Louisville, which ballooned by merging with its home county. Record immigration helped Atlanta surge by 17 percent, and even solidly Midwest Kansas City attracted newcomers from abroad. K.C. grew by 1 percent to inch past us.
How low can we go?

Cleveland has lost about 7 percent of its population in the last six years. Mark Salling, a demographer at Cleveland State University, says the city is on course to dip below 400,000 in 2015, and below 300,000 by 2033.

Where's everybody going?

An analysis of Internal Revenue Service data shows that about half leave Cleveland for the suburbs, and the other half leave the region entirely, mostly for the sun belt.

The power of immigrants

Chicago has been losing about as many residents as Cleveland, but unlike us, it has newcomers pouring in, says Ken Johnson, a demographer at Loyola University. The Windy City settled about 170,000 immigrants between 2000 and 2006, offsetting its losses. In contrast, the entire metro region of Cleveland attracted only about 24,000 immigrants during the same span.

We're still major league

The city may be fading, but Greater Cleveland -- Cuyahoga, Summit, Lorain, Lake, Geauga, Portage and Ashtabula counties -- is home to 3 million people. We're the 15th-largest metro area.

By merging with Cuyahoga County, Cleveland would grow overnight to
1.3 million people, becoming America's seventh-largest city.


This deserves a more thorough response, but I'm going to write from the gut.

I have long wondered whether a metropolitan area can survive as a doughnut -- a vibrant ring of suburbia surrounding a void and decaying hole of a city. I shouldn't wonder, as that is the reality in and around Cleveland.

I have lived in the city of Cleveland, and I do not live there now. I don't think I would live there again. It is an inhospitable place, full of mostly run down neighborhoods with declining city services, and a lack of any leadership that can even articulate a vision to change it, let alone put such a vision in action. The city and its citizens are poor and dysfunctional. There has been a brain drain in this city -- some of it out of the region, but the rest of it out to the suburbs. We have poor leadership and no leadership and dumb leadership in Cleveland because it is a reflection and representation of the poor and uneducated people who still inhabit the city. The talent has moved out to where there are better homes, better schools, better police, better parks, and lower taxes. The ignorant underclass elect someone like Frank Jackson to speak for them, and is it any wonder he is mute.

One proposed solution is to increase immigration to the city. But in order to do that, you have to offer them a reason to come here: jobs. So, unless and until that happens, forget it. And if it does, it will be in spite of, not because of, the present leadership. So don't count on it.

The other proposal is to spread the decay of the city out into the burbs, by expanding Cleveland. If Cleveland were to annex all of the Cuyahoga County suburbs, it would be the seventh largest city. But would it be for long? People left Cleveland to get away from its problems. If those problems reach the burbs, the flight will resume. I want my city taxes to help my community. I don't want my local police force to be assimilated by Cleveland police. I don't want my local schools to become part of the Cleveland school district.

Proponents might say that a county-wide Cleveland would put the talent and the leadership back into the city. That we'd have a larger base of talent and voters to elect better mayors and city council. As evidence to the contrary, take a look at most of our county-wide office holders and ask yourself whether that passes the laugh test. Look at our county commissioners and ask yourself whether slimey Jimmy Dimora and Taxin' Tim Hagan represent the the kind of talent and leadership it takes to improve this region. The last commissioner turned mayor of Cleveland, Jane Campbell, oh what a fine mayor she turned out to be. And it only gets worse running down the other county offices. Our Recorder, the oft accused wife-beater Patrick J. O'Malley, or our Auditor, the smiley-on-your-gas-pumps Frank Russo, or dottering old fools Geralds McFaul and Fuerst as Sheriff and Clerk of Courts. Ask yourself how the West Side elects and reelects to Congress ineffective-at-anything-but-bankrupting-the-city-as-mayor Dennis Kucinich. And looking at all of these fine, fine office holders, anyone can see that the burbs are on their own, and need to be. For if Cleveland were to expand, it would take the whole region down with it, destroying every suburb along the way that manages to have decent schools, police that don't beat their citizens, and affordable taxes that cover services for which their residents get value. And no goddamned red light cameras.

No, Cleveland must be contained, and not allowed to spread.

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Monday, July 02, 2007

Zzzzzz

I helped Gina and Krista throw a surprise birthday party for Kat, which was great, I think.  Unfortunately, once I grilled and ate I was ready to fall asleep, and I spent most of the rest of the party half asleep or asleep.  Half drunk or drunk would be bad enough, but half asleep or asleep is somehow more rude, I think.  And if anyone thought I was being rude, I really didn't mean it -- it was nothing anyone else did or said.  The body was shutting down, despite my efforts.  I know Andy thought it was his conversation, but no, it really was just me.  Thanks to everyone for coming, and for bringing fine things to share to eat and drink, and for surprising Kat -- I think she really was surprised! 
Next time we have people over, I'll try not to do that.  I think I'll have a pot of coffee ready just to help me fight it, if I find myself slipping away.