May 2003 Archives

May 30, 2003

Dream .01

This morning's waking/in-between/trying to get out of bed dream;

I am walking the wrong way backwards through a darkened museum of unusual artifacts, I pass the cafe, it is closed. I come across one (1) rather large (but not unusually large) feline type-specification animal, it is a shorter-hair model, black backed and white bellied, built strong and big-boned, alive and well. It receives a pat on the head from me and acknowledges with a pleasant expression.

"You have to put the money in the box," a small child of indeterminate gender speaks to my right ear, "Then pick a salad vegetable and she will say it."

Then it is just me and the cat, and I notice the box hanging on the wall with a large slot like a mailbox. So I put my nickel in the box and write my word on a slip of paper;


I am deliberately trying to be different by not picking "L-E-T-T-U-C-E" or "C-A-R-R-O-T", but at the same time I hope the word is not too difficult as I have never heard a cat say anything in English. Surprisingly she jumps into the mailbox and pokes her head out before slowly opening her mouth. I just have time to feel sorry for the dear obedient thing when I hear this;


Clearly I have chosen a salad vegetable too difficult for her. I understand she may just be worn out from a long run as an exhibit in this museum, and besides I get the general idea of the thing. I move on to look at some interesting stamps which seem to be alive.

The moral of this dream; Just play along and choose a recognizeable vegetable for the goddamned talking cat exhibit.

May 28, 2003


By the way, if I am going to stay on budget this month then I have three days left to somehow endure not purchasing this item.

Bloggy Google Again!

This article at The Register about blogs being removed from the Google main index has me riled.

Just when I get my own site on the internet, Google is going to make it impossible to find me?

I have no problem with the following statements;

1- "Blogs are irritating and pretentious"
2- "Generally speaking, the people who write blogs are irritating and pretentious"
3- "Blogs contain no useful information"

I do have a problem with this statement;

"Blogs should be removed from search engines."

What kind of a web search is it when pages are arbitrarily removed from the result set? Gee, I don't feel like looking at Buffy the Vampire Slayer websites, should they be removed from Google? I don't really care for Country music, can we please ignore all references to it by default when I do a web search?

Solution; rank blogs further down in the result set when there are other more robust resources available for a particular search term. You are telling me all those "Trackback" links make this impossible? Preposterous, I will not even dignify that claim (as noted in the Register article) with a response.

If your search algorithm is having a problem due to a lot of traffic on a few websites, the solution is not to ignore those websites as a "special case," the solution is to improve the algorithm. I would start by looking at handling the "general case" of "groups of websites with repetitive / recursive content." Return one result instead of all of them. There is your subroutine, now go try it out.

The Google end-user, on the other hand, should and indeed does have the means to ignore blogs in the interim; "...'and not blog.'" Done.

May 27, 2003

Marginal Obligations


Bizarre Names for Cat

Elephant Ears
Elephant Butt
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Hero of a Thousand Nations
Covert Operation
Junior Mint
The Keymaker
Late for Work
Late for Breakfast
Fab Five Freddy
Financial Burden
Inverse Vacuum

May 21, 2003

Pool Night Again

Well, I am truly a different animal when it comes to pool lately, racking up another comeback win last night against the very sporting Dennis.

2 Strategies;

-When concentration starts to wane, force myself to look at the balls on the table and find a pocket for each one.

-Visualize what the actions and expression on the face of the other player will be after they have lost the match (new strategy).

The most fun last night, though, was beating Moishe (Mo) in a side match. A very good player, he is young so his cockiness is forgiven. But he has irked so many of my pool-playing friends, it was great to rattle him a bit. I had an 8-ball break (the first ever for me) our first game, so I was all "Oh, I thought that was it, like I won and that's all, right?" But Mo was having none of that and racked up the balls for another game. I should not have beaten him as I was playing like a wounded badger (badgers are notoriously not good at pool, due to their complete lack of interest in anything not related to vole hunting), but Mo choked on a couple shots due to the narrow pockets and I ran the last 3 balls to win.

"Okay, okay, bullshit, okay, that's not a win, you want to see a win? Okay, three games for $10, the first one to win three games, right? Okay? Here, I'm racking up the balls, you're going to break, right? You're not going to break?"

No thanks, Mo, quit while I'm ahead. You have a nice night now.

May 15, 2003

Musical Chair

Typing on the blog and listening to X at the same time is difficult.

Alva from Sweden (Ja!) sings well for being 19... or just in general she sings well. We are having practice sessions at my place until she leaves town in a couple weeks. I mentioned I have a hard time doing things I'm not good at- i.e. accompaniment of a singer. It makes me want to just quit, not because I don't want to learn how to do it, but because I won't have to bear the indignity of my own incompetence. "Well how else are you going to learn?" Yep, I know, Alva.

Practice with Arctic Square hit the spot last night. I don't have the tunes comitted to memory and they are not written out, so I usually end up playing by ear. A couple times we started a tune and I thought "damn, this is a cool song, where do I recognize it from," because occasionally we goof around on Beatles covers and such. But last night about halfway through 2 songs I realized I recognized them from previous practices; they're written by Graham and Eric. This is a good sign, these tunes are great. Unfortunately Terry the Drummer wants to leave town in the fall before our "CMJ Marathon" gig (prolly at The Knitting Factory or CBGB's in October), which blows.

My favorite listening right now, to the near exclusion of all else, is Elliott Smith's Figure 8. His writing is complex and singable at the same time, also dark and depressing if you listen too close... Anyway I am pretty spoiled on his stuff at the moment. There is some irony in that this is the only album I own which is "el-stolen."0



May 13, 2003

Blind Blogging the Blind

While reconfiguring the layout for Samology it occurs to me I am colorblind and should probably hire someone to do the graphics for me.

Tj thinks my idea for "KolorKure(tm)" color-blindness curing glasses is all just a big hoax designed by me to make a fortune. That's pretty much true.

There are different kinds of colorblindness. Can you guess which kind I have?

May 12, 2003

One Beef with Google... So Far...

An interesting discussion on Slashdot about all blogs being removed from the main indexes on Google has me upset...

Sure, generally nobody wants to read my personal ramblings, but I am still a part of the web. At most, Google should include a checkbox under "preferences" to rank blogs lower than other sites if you are searching for something important (automatically save this preference in your Google cookie). By default, however, it seems obvious blogs should be included as part of a general web search.

Case in point, a few people looking for "September 11th photos" last year were directed to polaroids and blog entries on I can't imagine they were disappointed with this result.

I suppose in response to pressure from advertisers, any "other" content that doesn't have tons of banner ads and popups must be marginalized somehow.

May 9, 2003

More to Come

Well you asked for it, I am currently in the process of scanning the vacation photos in. I will probably end up interspersing them with the text, so everybody has to reread the whole thing.

But it is taking a while to crop the photos properly, so be more patient.

May 7, 2003

Jazzfest 2003 (Long Version)

Day 1, Wednesday-
Arrive New Orleans. Greet Father and M at "Creole Cottage" on Ursulines in the French Quarter. Here I will be staying for 10 days, at quite a reasonable rate, just 2 short blocks from Bourbon Street. I am told "world famous clarinetist Sammy Remington" is staying in the house across the courtyard. In back is a private pool with loads of greenery and potted flowers, tastefully arranged. Couldn't ask for better accomodations. There is a small black cat in the front courtyard which I pet, and it bites me.

Dad has a recording session with bandleader and friend Clive Wilson right away, so I head over to the studio to watch the proceedings. The recording and mixing equipment seems swank as hell in comparison to what I have been seeing during sessions with Arctic Square here in New York. I exchange a few words with Richard "Cajun Man" the sound engineer before retiring to the back room for a nap on the couch. During the lunch break we head to a nearby bar where I devour my first meal of the trip, a Fried Oyster Po'Boy (extra Tabasco for me)... Po'Boy, oh boy, it tastes good, although the accompanying bowl of Gumbo is disappointingly bland.

Tonight, Pop has a live gig at the Palm Court Cafe with Clive et al, so M and I head out for more eats at the Praline Connection establishment before catching the second set. I am eating light, a chicken salad and Diet Coke, but it hits the spot. We make it to the gig and the band sounds great, very tight due to the 2 days of intense studio work beforehand. Nina Buck, manager, hostess and wife of club owner George Buck, is in full effect, running about the place making sure everyone is happy.

Day 2, Thursday-
One of the few mornings I can actually consciously recall, I awake to exquisite beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde. Sammy Remington chats us up for a while before we all head out for Pakistani food with Dad's longtime friend Brian, plus the ever charming trumpet player, Duke Heitger, and some other local musicians. Duke is famously both a great musician and quite popular with the ladies. Over lunch I get to hear all the various inside dirt on the local music scene, reminding me somewhat of office politics back home at TBHC. The spicy chicken logs and chickpeas are great.

A nap and then out again at night for Egyptian treats at Mona's, cheap and good. Have the Kibby, it is spiffy. Later I witness a Palm Court Cafe Thursday night tradition with Lionel, the last remaining Ink Spot, taking the stage to sing a couple numbers.

Day 3, Friday-
Beignets in the morning again. I decide to hang out at the cottage and wait for Tj who is arriving around 2 o'clock from Minnesota. Spend the morning out in the courtyard listening to my sooper-rad portable audio setup before heading over to the Bourbon Orleans hotel where Tj's Airport Taxi will be arriving. Soon I realize the taxi is going to be late and there is nowhere to sit outside the hotel, so I smooth-talk my way past the doorman into a cozy air-conditioned seat in the lobby.

Tj arrives looking swell and we head back to the cottage to drop his things off. Dad and M are there and we all debate the pros and (mostly) cons of rushing right out to the jazzfest to catch the second half of the Bob Dylan set. Soon it is discovered Bob has another gig at a nearby stadium tomorrow night we can attend instead, so Tj and I set out into the evening air to see where the rest of the day takes us.

We don't get far before realizing Bourbon street has a lot to offer a couple of vacationing fellas; Hurricanes, Handgrenades and other not-so-deceptively potent (and expensive) beverages, "unusual" clubs, rowdy vacationers of all sorts and sizes, and vendor-supplied hot dogs to put New York City to absolute shame, not to mention a curious preoccupation with inexpensive jewelry among the young ladies. This is our kind of mecca; we are here to stay.

Around 4am, following a charming encounter with an extremely high-voiced off-duty Harlequin street-performer lady, we tumble into our beds.

Day 4, Saturday-
"We heard you guys come in last night, what was it, about 4?"

Oooh, owch... I am in no condition to respond intelligently to this question from Dad.

"Yeah, I guess."

Fortunately for everyone, Dad and M have plans to go out right away and are not forced to witness the decidedly painful aftermath of the prior evening's festivities.

It takes a while to get back on our feet, but by mid-afternoon we are out the door again in search of Bob Dylan tickets for tonight. On the way to the Tower Records Ticketmaster emporium, we sit in on the lively Dr Eric's street show, involving mostly fire-breathing tricks and stomping around on some glass. Dr Eric is a young, spiky-red-dyed-haired guy with a handlebar nosering who frequently refers to himself as "95 pounds of FURY!!!" He pulls a charmingly embarrassed biker chick into his act, as well as a somewhat larger gentlemen who later stands on Eric's stomach while the good Doctor is laying down on some glass. Neat. I tip Dr. Eric.

Two things are discovered at the Ticketmaster booth; first, Lucinda Williams will open for Dylan tonight. Tj seems happy about this. Second, a few tickets have opened up in the fourth row just minutes ago, and we can snag them for $60 each. Great squared.

Dinner; Caesar salad and some fries. The head and heart say "BBQ Oyster platter!!!" but the stomach is not going there today.

The Dylan concert is astoundingly good. I recognize only a few tunes, and Bob isn't really singing the words, but it is like Mom's quote about the Andres Segovia guitar concert; "Even though he is missing some of the notes, you know that he knows where they are supposed to be." I am hopelessly entertained by Dylan's ham-fisted yet appropriate honky-tonk piano playing display, which he has apparently been featuring almost to the exclusion of guitar in recent months. His backup band is extraordinary, it is fascinating to watch the drummer, saxophonist, 2 guitarists and electric bassist all watching Bob intently, trying to figure out where and when the next chord will sound, and finally carrying off chorus after chorus exquisitely. This must be stressful for them, since it often appears their leader is paying no attention to them, making no signals for soloists, no indication of which verse he may sing next (Tj informs me he is singing the words to the wrong song on one) or what the tempo or character of the music should be. This is not an awkward or uncomfortable experience for the audience, however; in his own way, it is clear Bob is in complete, gleeful control over every note played on that stage, and he willfully allows chaos and surprise to reign in place of any mediocre rehash of his Greatest Hits.

From the very intoxicated row behind us come shouts of "TAMBOOURIIINE MANNN!!! YO! HEY BOB!!! You want me to go up there and kick his ass, honey!?!?? I'm going to go up there and kick his ass! TAMBOOURIIINE MAAANNNNNNN, YO!!!!!! SING IT! I'm going to kick his ass." Bob was playing a lot of newer and more obscure stuff.

Day 5, Sunday-
Sweet, sweet non-hungover Sunday. Almost makes you want to go to church.

I hit the internet cafe for some Samology updates, Tj pokes around a couple record stores.

We opt for the French Quarter Ghost Tour around 8pm. Booooooring. Our tour guide practically reads from a script, and is clearly not entirely enthusiastic about her chosen career. Despite numerous references to her "extensive research into these bizarre phenomenon in the New Orleans archives," it is eventually revealed she moved here from Iowa about 6 months ago. I am nearly forced to buy an $8 shot of Absinthe from a bar halfway through the tour just to keep my focus. The best part is a bathroom break at a quiet pub where I destroy the high score on a Stern Playboy Centerfold pinball machine, and Tj gets to freshen up with what is fast becoming his trademark beverage, a Whiskey Sour.

Feeling cheated by the tour experience, we decide to scout around for inexpensive libation. Halfway down one block I exclaim "Huzzah! Eureka and Serendipity!" It is the bar I have been seeking to revisit ever since a certain wise English lad introduced me to it last year. Apparently it is not on a corner, as I had thought, but dead in the middle of the block which is why I had trouble finding it. Flanagan's sells beer for $2 a bottle and mixed drinks for $3, and the pool table is only 50 cents instead of a dollar. Them is killer rates these days. Later in the evening I overhear the bartender girl extolling Flanagan's further virtues; "401k plan, profit sharing and better health benefits than my boyfriend who works at a hospital; why would I work anywhere else?" Wow.

A few pool games into the evening, in stroll Susan and Lari, two of the pleasantest representatives of Washington State I have had the chance to meet. Right away they are rooting for me as I proceed to vanquish cool-handed hipster Vincent with his girlfriend looking on all along. Sorry about that Vince, but I couldn't just throw the game at that particular point, you see what I am saying.

Eventually Tj and I settle down into doubles play against S and L, tossing back booze until my game starts to get a little shaky. Tj repeatedly makes asides to me regarding his unspoiled fidelity to his girlfriend back home, so we should keep things cool with the ladies. No problem for me there, so that is how we play it.

It turns out S is in the Animal Control field, she has a funny story about trying to catch a porcupine with a blanket while police officers and pedestrians are watching. Tj jokingly inquires about emus. Without missing a beat, S describes the "emu preparedness class" she attended last month. "You have to wear a bulletproof vest, particularly if you are a woman, because they bite, hard!"

Around 4:30am we all head down to the river for a walk along the docks. S and L want to show us the sculpture they found there earlier. I voice cautious appreciation for the large metal artwork which is supposed to sway with the wind but is presently quite motionless. We finally make a date to hang out again tomorrow and head home.

Day 6, Monday-
Oy, what is it about this town and headaches in the morning? Not to mention nausea.

It is a very gay diner we finally choose for breakfast. "It's Raining Men" all over my bacon-cheese omelet, but "I Will Survive," the jukebox assures us. The menu councils "if it has been 5 minutes since you sat down and the waiter still has not taken your order, please rest assured that you may be waiting another 5."

We take it easy this afternoon. Dinnertime finds us all together at Mona's again with Dad and M, Brian and his Son. I chow down on some chicken shawarma.

Later we meet up with S and L again for more pool, more drinks at Flanagan's. As the party seems to be winding down around 3am I declare, "Okay Tj, let's make this game between you and me interesting; what shall our bet be?" Tj quickly comes up with "loser jumps in the river," and I agree this sounds dandy. Tj breaks and a couple balls go into the pockets. He takes a shot, I take a shot, he takes a shot and then- "Hey, wait, where is the 8-ball?" A feeling of dread grabs me. "Look in the side of the table, see if it went in already," advises L. Sure enough, the 8 is the second ball in the trough. "Tj, how many balls did you make on the break again?" I inquire, already cringing slightly. "Two, I'm positive." Aw, Damn! Game over, he won on the first shot. I am quite impressed and also humiliated at the same time.

Shortly thereafter I find that the Mississippi is actually quite warm and relaxing this time of year. There seems to be a bit of a current away from shore once I lose contact with the beach, but it is nothing a few panicky dog-paddle strokes don't fix. S snaps a few pictures while L holds valuables emptied from my pockets.

Later we stroll around Louis Armstrong Park for a while and come across the live radio broadcasting station, WWOZ I think it is. Eerie broadcasting sounds coming from inside what otherwise appears to be a vacant building.

We bid the girls goodnight and turn in. They are leaving early tomorrow morning and we are sad to see them go.

Day 7, Tuesday-
It is around this time Tj and I begin to fall into a familiar pattern;

Step 1; In the morning, try very very hard not to barf.
Step 2; When that is over, discuss possibly going later to the actual jazzfest to hear some music, or possibly visit the zoo or acquarium or go on a bayou tour.
Step 3; Finally get moving and get some breakfast.
Step 4; Decide a nap or just some reading sounds great right about now.
Step 5; Nap or do some reading.
Step 6; "Dang, it is like 6 o'clock already, now what?"
Step 7; Watch a little Star Trek Next Generation.
Step 8; Head to Bourbon street where we already know the fun is at.
Step 9; Head home around 5 or 6am.

Day 8, Wednesday-

Day 9, Thursday-
Repeat again...

Day 10, Friday-
Repeat yet again...

Hey, are we ever going to get to Jazzfest? Sometime Friday, Tj discovers he is actually leaving on Sunday, not Monday as we had thought. I rearrange my flight plans to coincide with his because I feel like it, but now it looks like we only have Saturday left to actually do anything worthwhile.

Meanwhile, interspersed throughout the week are a few moments in time worth mentioning;

- Tj and I decide to patronize "Poppy's", the other gay diner because there is more space and that very large man who seems to like me does not eat breakfast there. Why can't we just find a straight diner? Oh well.

- At various times about 27 different people point at me and go, "Hey, look at that guy, he looks like that actor guy" ... drunken pause... "er, Nicolas Cage, that's it. Hey buddy, you know you look like Nicolas Cage?" I smile and say yeah, thanks. At one point a sorority girl with a big sequined apple and the word "S-L-U-T" on her shirt qualifies that identification with the line, "Yeah, Nicolas Cage if he was 12 years old!!! HAW HAW HAW!!!" The whole bar chimes in, "HAW HAW HAW HAW HAW," oh they are really getting it on with that one, let's all just have a ball with it, SHALL WE? Slutty apple girl.

- 12-year-old Nicolas Cage receives the occasional bizarre request to "show your (you know what)" from the balconies. "No" please, with an "Absolutely not!" on top. I mean, I am not so prudish, but that is just gross.

- What appear to be 2 blonde, scantily clad Pamela Anderson clones make their way all the way down Bourbon street amidst a thronging and ever-growing mass of belligerent, anticipatory males. At one point I overhear one of the pair hollering, "That's my Mom!" and she's pointing at the other woman. Oh my God, it can't be. Tj doesn't believe it so I plow my way through to her, "Howdy, is that really your Mom there!" "Yep, it sure is!" Okay, well that is pretty weird.

- I purchase drinks for the entire balcony over some random bar. It may be that I had a crush on the waitress. "Hey, Killer!" she addresses me afterwards. Wow, that was easy.

- I determine that a skilled pinball player can win a free Handgrenade beverage about every 10 tries on the 25 cent Try Your Luck machine, much cheaper than the $7.50 advertised price behind the bar. Great.

- The worst bar pool table I have ever seen falls into several pieces while I am playing on it. I win anyway.

- Tj generously presents me with a gift of Elvis Costello's reissued Imperial Bedroom cd. Two disks of goodness.

- I proposition 2 biker chicks sitting at the bar. Tj is against this kind of logic, but I am all "Pool is more fun when you can play against girls!" Wheee!, we know this works from before, right? They turn out to be surly and uncommunicative except for "Hell no!" which is their response to our inquiring if they are in town for Jazzfest. Well, what are you here for then? "You can drink beer outside on the streets, what else?" Okay. They decide to join us for a few games anyway, though at this point perhaps we would rather they didn't.

- A street magician lofts a silver dollar in the air towards Tj, enthusiastically exclaiming "Catch!" Tj steps calmly out of the way and the dollar hits the ground with a "clunk" as we keep right on walking. We had caught the guy's act earlier in the day and he was kind of a belligerent moron when it came to reminding people about tips. So keep your dollar, magic moron.

-" Hey, I know where you got them shoes!" Dad warned me about this ubiquitous panhandler gag last year. You are supposed to say "What? No way!" then the guy bets you a dollar "Way!" and finally says; "You got those shoes right there on that pavement!" Woop-de-doo, I am not going to be roped in by this one... again...

- Dad tells us the story (before leaving town with M) about how he got mugged not far from the Creole Cottage a few years back. The guy asked for a light, let my Dad and his friend pass, then snuck up behind them with a gun and told them to stick'em up. The very next day Tj and I are walking down a deserted street and come across a shifty-eyed fellow sitting on a stoop. "Hey," he is sizing us up we later think, "you got a light?" "Nope," I say. We quicken our pace. Is he following us? I whisper to Tj, "I was just thinking about what my Dad said the other day," and he whispers "Yeah, me too!" Through some skillful speeding-up-and-crossing-the-street-hurriedly action we somehow arrive at the end of the block unscathed, turning onto a busier street.

- I join an actual funeral parade with around 300 other people and take some pictures along the way until we reach the cemetary.

- It is discovered there are no movie theatres, bowling alleys, cellular phone stores or video rental stores in all of the French Quarter or the Central Business District of downtown New Orleans. Don't believe me? Look it up.

- I am briefly smitten with one of the Statue Lady street performers. I guess I go for the quiet, completely motionless type.

- I try a Krispy Creme doughnut. The in-store display is much better than the doughnut.

- We are actually served within 3 minutes of sitting down at Cafe du Monde. At first I am concerned about a lack of any sort of menu list, but eventually it is learned they only have Cafe au Lait and beignets, so the only question is one of quantity. I order lots.

- I run into a guy at a bar I am sure is Dr Eric the street performer (and what appears to be his girlfriend, possibly the extravagant Micki Luv). "Nice show," I proclaim and he thanks me. Tj is not so sure it is Dr Eric.

- In a town filled with over 300 authentic, Cajun style restaurants, I order wings from a lackluster chain called "Mother Clucker's." Twice.

- A half-assed first attempt to go to the Audubon zoo results in a confrontation with a curious, obviously hastily crafted sign; "Do to zoo to do to do the zoo will be close today." No "sorry for the inconvenience" or any further explanations, just disappointment and resentment for Tj and me.

- Confused and disoriented from the heat of an unobstructed sun, we find ourselves wandering aimlessly across an active golf course in search of water. "Fore!" A sign states the golf club owners are not responsible for accidental deaths on this property, as a speeding golf cart nearly clips me before I can jump off the path.

Day 11, Saturday
Finally we make it to the zoo. It is fun to watch the white alligator being fed his weekly meal. Hot today, but also raining.

I have the Muffaletta at Maspero's. Impressive.

We pack.

Day 12, Sunday
At 4am, Tj and I are back on Bourbon street with our travel bags, making our way to the Airport Taxi pickup spot. We are both pleased to see the festivities are still in full swing- drunken partygoers shouting and carousing about, insanely loud (and mostly bad) music pouring from the clubs, the stench of vomit and beer filling the air. It is a fitting way to leave this place.

Notice anything funny? That's right, I NEVER MADE IT TO JAZZFEST. Oh well, I'll just have to try again next year.

May 4, 2003

Initial Wrapup

Top Ten Samology "New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival 2003" Highlights;

10. Swank French Quarter accommodations
9. Flanagan's pub (cheap and great)
8. Bourbon Street open until 5am...
7. ...Bedtime is coincidentally 5am
6. Catching up on old times with Teej
5. Making some new West Coast friends
4. Losing bet and having to swim in Mississippi
3. Maspero's Muffaletta sandwich
2. Bob Dylan concert

And the #1 Samology Jazz Fest 2003 highlight;

1. Had so much fun, forgot to go to actual jazz festival