How Lincoln, The New Yorker, and the Buffalo armories all relate
Last night I was thinking about my Aunt Kathleen. She's actually my grandfather's sister, so I don't know what that makes us, exactly, but she's always been Aunt Kathleen. There was nothing that specifically reminded me of her -- she just popped into my head.
This morning I learned that Aunt Kathleen had died last night.
She had been living in a nursing home in Buffalo, NY for the past few years. If she wasn't in her nineties, she was close, and various health problems had made her a frail woman unable to live on her own. My grandfather - her brother - died many years ago, and so my grandmother (Kathleen's sister-in-law) had been doing the best she could to take care of Kathleen; but my grandmother herself lives off social security, so needless to say there wasn't much Nana could do. Hence, the nursing home.
The only reason I mention all of this is to make the point that Kathleen was in the nursing home because of her physical and financial limitations. This was NOT a mentally frail woman. In fact, Kathleen is probably one of the most intelligent, quick-witted, insightful women I have ever had the pleasure to know, and she kept this distinction in her old age.
I visited Kathleen last Christmas when I was back in Buffalo. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years, and at first I was surprised/saddened to see what a tiny, hobbled person she had become. I didn't think she remembered me, either. But then we started talking, and in a forty-minute conversation she referenced the declining Buffalo economy, The New Yorker
's recent position on the presidency of George W. Bush, the reasoning behind the numerous armories located in Buffalo (you could see a beautiful brick one outside her window), a book on Mary Tod Lincoln she read three years ago, a book on Benjamin Franklin, my sister's current employment, my old roommate from New York City (where I had lived for only one year four years ago), the difficulty in getting work even with a college degree, and then quoted at length
the Lincoln-Douglas debates. No - not paraphrased - she QUOTED! - going back to correct herself once.
And all of this came in the natural flow of conversation and with logical segues. Everything she mentioned was relevent to our talk. And I'm sure there was more that I'm forgetting, but I'm not as smart as Kathleen so I didn't retain it all.
At first I thought this was just long-term memory, but The New Yorker
, Benjamin Franklin, and my sister's employment were all pieces of information she had recently picked up. Kathleen may have been a little slower, but her brain was going full-speed the whole time.
And so anyways, Aunt Kathleen died last night. She had pneumonia. Her lungs were filling up. They also think she had a heart attack that they missed. She was on a respirator, and would probably always need to be on one. And that isn't the way she wanted to live. That's what she felt when she wrote her will, and that's what she felt recently. She was too pragmatic for a respirator. She told my Nana she wanted the machine turned off. And so, my father, Nana, and cousin spent the day with her after the machine was unplugged. It was difficult. But she was happy to see them, happy to have family with her. But the fluid kept building and building in her lungs. And so then at midnight she died.
Right around the time I was thinking about her. Now I'm an agnostic who flirts more and more with atheism. This coincidence is certainly giving me pause to think. It's not shaking me, but just acting as a sort of gentle reminder to keep an open mind.
So I'm keeping an open mind. And I'm going to allow that Kathleen was saying good-bye to me. I'd like to think she was saying it was good to see me at Christmas, because I certainly enjoyed seeing her.
So Kathleen -- say hi to Papa, Fossie, and Gracie for me. I hope I'm wrong and I get to see all of you some day.
The Academy Awards
I didn't watch the Oscars (tm). I watched Chris Rock's opening, and then tuned in periodically throughout the night - usually just in time to see some "insignificant" Oscar (tm) be handed out but missing all the big ones. Anyways, here are my thoughts:
- Chris Rock was very funny. The imagery of some pimply-faced high schooler closing out his drawer at the Gap and being at minus-$73 trillion is hilarious.
- Let's limit it to 1 song per performer.
- Also, let's try and nominate some good songs. That Antonio Benderas and Santana song was just dreadful. I may regret saying this, but I missed the crappy Sting and Phil Collins songs.
- I'm glad The Aviator didn't win. I love Martin Scorsese, but this just wasn't a great movie. I hate when awards degenerate to a lifetime achievement thing (Ray Charles' recent Grammys. Friends hadn't been good for years when it won it's Emmy).
- I didn't see Million Dollar Baby, so I can't comment on it's merits.
- Settle down, Spicoli.
- The clapping for dead people still creeps me out. Even in death, movies are a popularity contest.
- Paul Giamatti really should have been nominated. Virginia Madsen, not so much (she was very good, but it wasn't substantial enough).
That is all I have. Every time I watch the Oscars (tm) I get so frustrated at the back-slapping and self-congratulatory orgy that it really is I end up seriously contemplating leaving Los Angeles and heading back to Buffalo to teach English.
But then I realize high school kids are just as bratty.
I don't know why I didn't post about this before, but last weekend I went to Las Vegas. In an earlier post (which I looked for in vain, so sorry, no link) I complained about Las Vegas. But, I actually had a good time this trip. Why?
THE hotel at Mandalay Bay. Guys, the hotel? Oh my God. The Hotel. Seriously, guys. THE hotel. Oh my God. Oh my god. The hotel.
From the Who Cares? File
ESPN is talking about what Randy Moss is going to have to give Jerry Porter in exchange for jersey #84 if Moss goes to the Raiders. And then they segued into other notable trades involving numbers (did you know that Steve Kline either got or gave -- I forget which now -- dinners to/from Jason Isringhausen in exchange for a number? OMG!!!).
This is exactly the cutting edge reporting I tune in to ESPN for. I think they need another channel to fit all their relevent coverage.
Damn That DJ Made My Day
Last night, in a bar called The Burgundy Room in Hollywood, the DJ played Joy Division, The Cult (twice!), Souixsie and the Banshees, The Kinks, and David Bowie. Among others. I highly suggest you going there when this DJ is playing again.
I saw Beck last night at the Henry Fonda Theater. He was great. The set wasn't very long, and the encore was only one song, but he (and the band) were amazing. Cat Power opened for him. She played alone, and sort of lost the audience early on. She was too quiet and down.
Outside the theater I say Jason Lee. This is the second time I've seen him, the first being in front of a hotel in NYC.
I can only imagine Jason Lee is blogging about seeing Kevin Lappin twice, once in LA and once in NYC, 4 years apart.
Potholes in my Street
One side-effect of all this rain we're having in Los Angeles that no one ever mentions is the gigantic potholes that have suddenly appeared everywhere. How does this happen? I get the houses sliding down hills and pools caving in and trees falling over -- that all makes sense. The cause-and-effect relationship between heavy rain and these hazards is easy to see. But potholes? Was it raining rocks? Or some other hard objects that would tear up the streets? I am confused.
That's all. There's no point to this other than I don't get it.
A List of Hockey Players Who, If They Became Porn Stars, Wouldn't Need to Change Their Names
I mean, what else am I going to get out of hockey this year? So here they are:
- Adam Oates
- Rob Ramage
- Richard Jackman
- Buck Jones
- Virgil Johnson
- Greg Hickey
- Don Johns
- Dirk Graham
- Rod Graham
- Colin Chisholm (I don't know why this one seems to work, but it does)
- Radek Bonk
- Bob Paradise
- Pete Peeters
- Paul Lawless
- Barry Long
- Troy Long
- Peter Loob
- Brad Tapper
- Joel Savage
- Reggie Savage
- Daniel Shank
Ways in which the world would be different if the Marvel superhero team the Avengers were real
1) There would be frequent peace demonstrations in front of the Avengers HQ in New York City. This would cause perpetual headaches for the NYPD. Though it would also give the NYPD something to do, seeing as the superheroes have taken over most crime-fighting.
2) America's defense budget would be huge, in order to pay for their various offices, supplies, vehicles, lycra uniforms (purchase, tailoring, and dry-cleaning) and salaries.
3) Captain America would be the darling of Fox News.
4) Thor would be viciously attacked by President Bush, right-wing media outlets, and especially the Christian-Right for being a foreigner and a pagan god.
5) Even more, the Scarlet Witch would raise the ire of the Christian Right. She'd also probably be on some INS watch lists and barred from entering the country again as the daughter of a known terrorist (Magneto).
6) Osama bin Laden would be caught and in jail.
Is closing!!! This is horrible. I mean, I don't live in NYC anymore, but still... I'm speechless. And type-less...
Freshmen in college, while more savvy and world-weary than seniors in high school, are still stupid
I recently bought Violator
by Depeche Mode. I forgot just how awesome this album is. Not a bad tune on it. I owned it when I was younger, but ended up selling it to someone for $5 my freshman year of college. What was I thinking?
Oh, right, I needed money to buy old 311 albums. If I thought "Down" was good how great must their older stuff be? Uuuuhhhh.....
I'll bet Mark McGwire is glad he's retired already. Obviously Jose Canseco isn't the most reliable of sources, but still... if you're going to asterisk Barry Bonds' records, you gotta question Mark's.
On a related topic, I was a HUGE Jose Canseco fan as a kid. What a disappointment he turned out to be.
The Grammy's (a.k.a. who the hell cares?)
I don't put much stock in the Grammy's. It seems to be a collection of the same bland acts year in and year out. The performers are undoubtedly talented, but in a very predictable way. Even last year, when OutKast won, it was an ambitious but not well-executed album that everyone lost their minds over. Stankonia is much better. Their old style is much better. And this year we had a horrible performance by J-Lo and Mark Anthony, some Dave Matthews hack win Song of the Year, a (surprise!) performance by the Black-Eyed Peas (gee, I had never heard that song before), Maroon 5 beating Kanye West for Best New Artist (I'm not a Kanye fan, but Maroon 5?!?! What?!?!) and Ray Charles get the sympathy vote.
But the anecdote I have that completely turned me off of the Grammy's is from a few years ago. The first award handed out was "Best Female Pop Vocal." Britney Spears was up for the award. Lou Reed was the presenter. And so Lou Reed comes out on stage, and he gets this standing ovation because he's awesome and the Velvet Underground (NOT Velvet Revolver) are fantastic, and then he reads off the list of nominees.
And all I can think is, "I swear to Christ if Lou Reed has to hand Britney Spears a Grammy I'm going to shove knitting needles into my eyes and ears."
Gwen Stefani ended up winning for a No Doubt song. That's a little better than Britney Spears, but still: that's a dangerous game they're playing.
Half shark alligator, half man
Who would win the Weirdest Rapper Award:
I say Kool Keith/Dr. Octagon/Black Elvis/whoever else he is...
Recent Referrers Rules!
There's nothing more satisfying than seeing that someone has googled your name and your blog to specifically find it.
The funniest thing I've heard lately
On Loveline (yes, I listen to Loveline) Adam Carolla was complaining about a Pegasus (mythical flying horses). H said that if tiny pigeons take craps that annoy people, imagine the damage a flying horse would do. It'd punch out a windshield or dislocate your shoulder.
Then he went on for another 15 minutes complaining about Pegasuses.
I'd call Loveline a guilty pleasure except I feel no guilt in loving it.
Keep on fighting the good fight
A question for Black Francis and John Lennon (or, Frank, you may need to answer this one seeing as John isn't able)
Is the monkey that apparently has nothing to hide (along with me) the same one that's gone to heaven?
Two Holidays for the Price of None
Q: Hey, are those ashes on your forehead from church?
A: No. I was singed by a dragon at the Chinese New Year parade.
Not to dwell on the subject, but I read an article (and I can't find the link anymore) that noted that in "Get Back" McCartney kept in references to "California grass" and cross-dressing. So this is what we've come to? This is noteworthy in that it borders on being perceived as risky? What an obnoxiously dull cultural revolution we're experiencing.
Now excuse me, I'm going to Starbucks.
Apparently they'vefigured out how Goering got his cyanide
and killed himself before he was hung (hanged?) at Nuremburg.
First off, how stupid is this guard? Sneaking anything
to a prisoner makes absolutely zero sense. And second, he believed it was medicine for Goering? Really? Medicine for the guy who was due to be hanged (hung?) the next day?
Though I guess absently bringing a prisoner a cyanide pill is better than using a taser on his balls and stacking him in a pyramid while blindfolded and on a leash, and then posing for a picture with him.
During the "Hey Jude" part of McCartney's performance, did anyone else notice the not-too-subtle Pepsi swirl embedded in the "Na-na-na-na" cards that everyone in the stadium held up? I mean, that was on purpose, right?
Everyone I talk to, and everything I read, is telling me that Paul McCartney was great during the halftime show. I understand that seeing Sir Paul crank out a few Beatles tunes is much better than Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson, Aerosmith, Britney Spears, and whoever else doing the worst version of "Walk This Way" ever, but I hesitate in calling it a great performance. Granted, his voice is still very, very good for an older guy who, when young, had a great voice -- but he's so cheesy. I also find Mick Jagger to be a little ridiculous at this point, so maybe I'm just not as forgiving of the rock gods as most.
I am thankful he didn't play "Vanilla Sky" or "Freedom." So I guess there's that.
Not to be a girl...
But those Super Bowl ads sucked.
Super Bowl Recap (or, crap, the Pats won again)
1) Which sells out quicker: the Super Bowl or the Black-Eyed Peas? (ba-dum!)
2) Even more offensive than Janet Jackson's boob was Paul McCartney's performance. And you know how Jerry Rice doesn't matter anymore? Paul McCartney's kind of like the musician version of that. They must have chosen him to play the halftime show because he's the most bland act out there. I was ready to take a nap when the second half started.
3) Speaking of boring, despite the close score and the near-last-chance opportunity to win for the Eagles, this game kind of sucked.
4) Though this may be because I didn't drink.
5) Did that carpenter guy have any catches?
6) Speaking of carpenters, T.O.'s claim that his play would have non-believers believing in the miracles of God still seems a little outrageous. I mean, I didn't expect him to have the impact that he did, but I wouldn't quite say he held out his palms and let me feel the holes. Atheism it remains for me.
7) But at least Freddie Mitchell backed his talking up... oh, wait.
8) When the Pats intercepted the Eagles with 9 seconds left and everyone went nuts, the girl standing behind me asked, "Wait. What does this mean?"
9) With exceptions, why are most people from Boston such dicks? I believe Masshole is the term. It almost makes me want to root for the Yankees.
11) Patriots and Red Sox. At least I know the Bruins won't win the Stanley Cup.
Terrell Owens... and I quote: "If you don't believe in God, if you don't believe in miracles, just watch Sunday."
Oh, okay. See, my atheism was enforced by the starving millions and devastating tsunamis and various other atrocities and hatred and hypocritical messages between religion and morals. But, if Terrell Owens plays the whole game and catches a touchdown, I can totally see myself repenting and believing.
I mean, Jesus only allegedly rose from the dead. He didn't recover from a broken ankle in 7 weeks and score in a Super Bowl.
And Another Thing!
So wait a minute, the NHL players are getting all pissy whenever people mention scab players. But then, they go and sign minor league contracts to play in the AHL and contracts to play in the UHL and ECHL and over in Europe, thus taking jobs away from other players. Hypocrites!!!
I believe Corey Hirsch, a career minor-leaguer/European league veteran goalie, made this very point. But then the NHLPA goons said, "oh, that shows a lack of understanding of the real situation."
The guy who's been in Sweden (or Finland, I forget) for the past few seasons and knows how those leagues operate and probably has friends who are now forced to play in lower-level leagues at less pay -- this guy "lacks understanding?" Huh.
So when Brandon Smith or Craig Darby or whatever career minor-leaguer thinks about playing in the NHL during a lockout (and I'm not saying these two specific players have mentioned this, but you get the point) and then Chris Chelios et al. rip them for it but go ahead and sign minor league contracts... somehow this is okay? The hilarious part is, Chris Chelios is set for life. Corey Hirsch and Brandon Smith, while making good money, are NOT set for life. They are sort of the point for all this - they need to union's support and help more than some asshole making $8M per season does.
Way to screw your "union brothers."
Hockey is Over...Almost
Here's the thing: I'm usually on the players side in these kinds of disputes. I hesitate referring to it as "labor" vs. "management" because, well, labor doesn't make millions per year. But, in any event, I usually side with the players.
Except this time.
Hockey players' salaries are escalating. Do the owners share in the blame? Of course. They were greedy and took all those entrance fees from the new teams when the league expanded. But they don't have a national tv contract, they don't have the advertising the other sports do, and the local tv contracts aren't great. And the salaries are approaching football levels.
The NHL is the sports version of Arrested Development. Hey - or even Sports Night. Great shows, but no one watches. Here in the States, besides me, there are a couple dozen people in Buffalo and Detroit, 5 guys from Saskatchewan named Gordie or Barry living in Tennessee and an entrepreneur from Burnaby, British Columbia who lives in Florida who care. NO ONE ELSE CARES. This is what hockey players don't get. Is the sport great? YES!!! I love it. But like I said, it's me and a bunch of Canadian ex-pats who feel this way. There's no money for these huge salaries.
I am (was) a RABID fan. But oh well. Thanks for caring. I really appreciate it, guys. But now I care less and less each passing minute. Who needs hockey? I've got my Sports Night and Arrested Development DVDs.
I am going to burn
I took the pope in this year's death pool. As opposed to the last 6 years, I really have a good feeling about it this time...
Del tha Automated Koala
If you're into hip-hop or not, check out Deltron 3030. It's Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Kid Koala, and Dan the Automator. How awesome is that?
Today I am the inverse of creativity.
Licence Plate Witticisms
Driving into work this morning I noticed that the car ahead of me had a license plate border that said: "Back Off! This is Quina's Baby!" At first I was ready to make fun of Quina, because it was just some crappy Geo and the "Back off" seemed a little too much.
But then I imagined a little 10-year-old Quina. All of her friends like Mary and Katie and Jennifer and Tom could easily get those tiny little souvenir license plate keychains with their names on them. But not Quina.
And now she can. Good for her.
Do yourselves a favor and check out the "Left of the Dial: Notes From the 80's Underground" CD box set put out by Rhino. It's a great compilation that plays like a really sweet mix tape. No, wait -- four really sweet mix tapes.
Wait... Where Am I?
In talking to my friends out here and reading a lot of blogs lately, it seems that a majority of people who are here really dislike Los Angeles. This majority includes myself. There are a couple people who really like it, but they were born here and have nothing to compare it to. These are people who love the OC - and by that I mean the actual place, not the show. Though, actually, some of them like the show, too, so you get a sense of the kind of people who do like Los Angeles.
This Band Could Be My Life
"I'm Lappin, I'm Lappin, I'm stone-cold Lappin." At least that's what I pretend Public Enemy's singing.