big news!

Instead of falling asleep like I should be doing, I'm currently playing around with Scribus. As you may have read in these very pages months ago, Scribus is an open-source desktop design program along the lines of Quark or Pagemaker. It's just now finally available in a beta for Windows! It's still a little buggy, as is to be expected, but I'm more stoked that I probably should be at the fact that I can sit here and make a flyer in my bed. And it's not an MS Word flyer. And it's for one of the couple of shows I have coming up that I'll be telling you about . . . tomorrow.

The suspense builds.

i got a new computer!

It's a Toshiba Satellite. It's not EXTRA SPECIAL or anything, but it's brand new, and therefore does not shock me when I touch it in the wrong place and I'm not in constant fear of it breaking in half (I've been unable to close my old laptop for weeks because it would just snap if I did so).

On the agenda: downloading music, posting more pictures on here, burning more CD's because I don't have to borrow the roommates' computer to do so.

High five!


it's just a flower, people.

It's the time of year when the amaryllis starts looking like something you're a little bit embarrassed to be viewing in polite company. For your viewing pleasure:

lists/almost-springtime resolutions

I suspect it's the noncommital weather, really, that's getting to me. There are plenty of other little things (not the least of which being my very nature) that could be doing it, but I think the weather is the deciding factor. The temperature goes up a bit, it gets sunny, maybe rains a little, then it plummets again, snows a tiny bit (not enough to be exciting) and starts over, like if you put late January through mid-March through a looping pedal then sped up the loop a bunch, so that rather than transitioning once over all that time, it just kept going back and forth, over and over, with no hoping of breaking past the "spring" mark but equally dour prospects of getting a good fun winter storm.

I have plans to be healthier again, to quit with the lethargy and pessimism:

Exercise, of course. Vitamins, supplements. Force the sun to come out once in a while. Vegetables and fruit juices. Become an Olympic athlete. Write things and publish them. Come up with new ideas and follow through with them, but don't come up with too many ideas or I won't be able to. Listen to the Muppet Movie soundtrack more often. Relax. Know my limits. Quit eating sugar for the most part (I did it once, I can do it again). Find a better paying job. Drink more water.

I've always felt like this, rather than the first of the year, is the real time to set goals and stick with them.

Other suggestions welcome, although I've got my hand full already with these big plans.


walking it off, walking it on.

The last couple mornings have been perfect Pittsburgh mornings -- chilly but not frigid, sunrise coming just a little bit before I leave for work, a slight mist over Bloomfield as I walk up Friendship Ave. I've walked to work the last two mornings, yesterday because I was so bugged out about the previous night's poor sleep that I needed a walk to clear my head and today because I just wanted to listen to some damn music, and I don't really listen to my headphones much at work because I'm always afraid of people sneaking up behind me, since my computer faces the wall.

Walking to and from work, while potentially slightly fatiguing (it's about a half-hour walk at my brisk pace), is also a good time to reacquaint yourself with your town if you've strayed some. You're going slowly enough to frame shots of the streets and houses even in your own neighborhood that you don't generally notice enough to think of as beautiful. It's a good time to look out across the busway valley from pretty high up and think about how from here, if you were in one of those flying dreams, you could glide across from hilltop to hilltop and take an inventory of all the things you can spot in the chasms between.

Yesterday, I saw Liberty Ave in front of the hospital like it was in 1996, when my sister was a junior volunteer at West Penn and my mom and I would drop her off and take a walk around and maybe sit in Friendship Park. I said then that someday I wanted to live in that neighborhood, and it's ten years later, and I do. There was something refreshing about thinking about it as it was then, though -- devoid of people I know, a new, exciting place that was almost like hiding. Say what you will about home, it's usually not hiding, unless you're the Unabomber.

The restless part of the year, wherein I usually shave my beard, and often think about going somewhere else, is looming.

Tonight, French Toast and Allies at Garfield Artworks, then running home to see Sasha Cohen win the gold (right?)


i am re-enabling comments.

At the behest of Matt, you can now comment once again, but you'll have to type the squiggly word thing. Keep it civil and intelligent, tools. Don't make me ban you again.


you and i in a little toy shop

Currently reading McPhee's The Curve of Binding Energy, a dated mid-'70s look at the first 30 or so years of nuclear energy and nuclear weaponry, during my lunch breaks. While if I were really THAT intent on learning about atomics, perhaps something more recent would be a better place to start, I choose this book because it's John McPhee, and as I've probably noted before in these pages, I'm in awe of this guy's writing. It pains me a little that he was a visiting professor in my department at Pitt (the department I was in as an undergrad, not the interlibrary loan department) only a couple years before I came here.

Regardless, what's thrilled me thus far in the book is mostly one particular passage, a quick mention of an incident during the Manhattan Project of which I had never heard any mention.

During World War II, the Japanese sent fire balloons over the Pacific and into the U.S. (and occasionally they hit Canada instead). The balloons would float over, drop to the ground and ostensibly explode on contact (though many apparently didn't explode, or exploded later). This happened quite a number of times, but the press her kept mum on it because the government didn't want the Japanese know that the balloons were working (fair enough -- it sounds like a plot out of the A-Team or something, I wouldn't think it was actually working if I was the one trying it).

One of the balloons, though, came down on the power lines at the Hanford Site of the Manhattan Project, where they were fissioning Uranium and creating Plutonium-239, and shorted out the power. It only lasted for a short time, since there were of course backup power systems in place, but for a moment, a balloon from Japan shut down a main, important component of the U.S. nuclear program.

Sort of makes you think that maybe the generals were right, and Nena was wrong, eh?


chicory dickory dock

A quick product review/plug, with special attention to Keith:

Celestial Seasonings Roastaroma Herb Tea. I know, Celestial Seasonings is stupid faux-hippie balderdash, but they tend to make good tea blends, I think. This one is made of chicory root and barley and is blended to resemble coffee, which it honestly kind of does. It's a little bit sweet (though I added a little honey and Silk Creamer.) But the point is, it's rich and hearty and naturally 100 percent caffeine-free. A good thing if you have sleep problems and/or blood sugar issues, like I have both of. Hopefully this will help me down the road toward good diet again. Maybe.

statcounter junk

First off, Statcounter doesn't log all the visits I'm getting. I know this for a fact. How does that work? Does anyone else have this issue? Am I a control freak for caring? If I were in charge, would I have authorized domestic spying too?

Does anyone use another free counter that works better than this one?

Second, I'm proud to announce that I am currently number one in the Yahoo results list when you search Garfield's Chocobites. Thanks for your support.



Sorry I haven't spoken up recently. Not that much to say, I guess? Or things to say that don't translate right on here, maybe. Regardless, I'll come up with something soon. Meanwhile, some shows I am playing, for your entertainment:

March 1 - at Garfield Artworks with Czars, Remora, Natura Nasa (Mike Tamburo and Pete Spynda and Ian Bonnet and someone else I think?) -- 8pm, probably $6 or $7 or whatever.

March 3 - at Roboto, a benefit for The Big Idea, with Fuckedupmess and Flotilla Way (first show for these foxy ladies!) -- 7pm, $5.

March 4 - at Gooski's, with Young Men's Dept, Warzone Womyn (finally!) -- Gooski's time, Gooski's price. You know. Late and cheap.

Yes, three in a week. We swore we'd never do it again. Sometimes everything comes at you at once, though.


a few random, disconnected things you might like to know:

1. Today at work I witnessed a man working on one of the elevators, on a step ladder, replacing the light bulbs inside the car. He was doing this without having the car stopped. So, the elevator continued to go up and down, and I witnessed him stopping on several floors -- the doors open, there's the ladder, with the dude on it. It was like the X-GAMES version of changing a light bulb. And when a guy on the ground floor hit the button to go up, and that car opened up, X-TREME light bulb changer told him he could get on, and asked what floor he was going to.

2. In 1863, John Wilkes Booth moved to Venango County and founded the Dramatic Oil Company. The company failed within a year, and then he went and assasinated the president a few years later. Interesting.

3. I have a few exciting show announcements that I'm sitting on, waiting for confirmation and/or details. But get ready, I'm stoked.

4. I'm watching moguls skiing right now. After the 1994 games in Lillehammer, I was convinced that I was fated to be a moguls skier, and I jumped in that bouncy back-and-forth manner on my trampoline for that entire spring.

recent flagrant abuses of the word "literally"

From the P-G article about the recycling truck that hit a bunch of cars yesterday:

The half-full truck -- which weighs 32,000 pounds empty -- struck the station wagon and forced it into five other vehicles parked along the 300 block of East Carson Street.

"That [vehicle] became literally a snowplow pushing the others around," Public Works Director Guy Costa said.

Now, I don't so much mind that the guy misused the word "literally" -- that's really not a grave offense, just one that brings an amusing image to one's mind, and besides, completely unrelated to his job. The real concern, to me, comes when I think about the fact that when he sees a recycling truck smashing into cars, our public works director's first thought is, "Oh! Just like a snow plow does!"


i believe in outer space

Sunday night I grew quite weary at about 10:30, and around 11:00 gave up on the Olympics and headed for bed. I flipped on the TV in my room right before bed to see if the Flying Tomato had held out for the Gold, and as I was switching around the dial, I came across, for the first time in years, Jack Horkheimer, Star Gazer. (Apparently the show used to be called "Star Hustler," but had to be changed when they went online and search engines would turn up lots of porn results for that phrase?)

Jack was always something of an enigma to us growing up because, beyond the mere fact that he was a dude with funny sweaters who walked around in outer space and talked about astronomy, he didn't seem to have a regular air schedule. Every once in a while, you would turn on the TV and there he was. Often you missed the first 2 minutes of the 5-minute broadcast and had to figure out for yourself what end of the sky Alpha Centauri was inhabiting.

Actually, he may have been -- and may still be -- on a completely regular schedule on WQED, and I just never figured it out, mostly because he's not advertised and not listed in the TV listings.

Regardless, you can stream his bizarre little starwatching lessons or get the PODCASTED (whatever that's about) through that site, but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any further merch to purchase (no t-shirts, or chain wallets, or back patches or anything).

And as always, keep looking up!


Toward an Increased Library Nerdery

Last night, watching the Olympics, my ears perked up and I became temporarily perplexed when one of the commentators made reference to how one of the skiers had the same bib number for this race as the last Olympics when he won gold. It only makes sense in my mind that once a bib number is established, it shouldn't change.


on being asked for an autograph.

This is a question for you. An assignment. If you read this and have anything to say on the subject -- anything at all -- do email me.

Have you ever been asked for an autograph? If so, how did you handle it? If not, how do you think you would, or what would be the best way?

I ask because I of course am pretty dead set against autograph culture and wouldn't really ever ask for an autograph at this point, and am generally completely uncomfortable with the notion of someone asking for mine, but it definitely happened this weekend (well, not just mine, the whole band's) and I didn't really have an approach worked out (because this is, believe it or not, not something I really expect to happen very often, and not something I had anticipated). It's all well and good to say that you wouldn't participate, but when someone is genuinely interested in you and respects you, and that's how they manifest it, it's hard to say no. One thing I've since thought of is asking that person to autograph something for me -- although that could just end up making them feel extra weird. And of course, some people will sign and then cross it out or whatever. I'm curious as to whether there's a best way of dealing with this without making an autograph-seeker feel stupid.

Please provide feedback.

Also, big ups to Carlisle and the Arts House at Dickinson. If you have a band, you should play there. Those kids rule. And big ups to the driver of the 18-wheeler I drafted behind through a good stretch of the ride home in the snow last night on the turnpike, and also to Rage Against the Machine for providing the necessary jamz for said ride, and for being true renegades of funk.


newspaper comics lessons

Have you been READING Rex Morgan lately?

For those of you who haven't: we've been following Jack, an Iraq war vet with some issues, not the least of which being his gambling addiction. There was some major tension build as we watched him play his hand of poker and at the same time saw his wife and his doctor (Rex Morgan, M.D.) scrambling to find him before it's too late (he's gambled away nearly all of the family's money)!

(There was also, I'd add quickly, a racially-charged subtext involving a Rastafarian cab driver, but that's outside of thee current point.)

So this week, it all came together as the good doctor and wife, with the help of a good barmaid, rolled up on the game, only to find Jack in shock, just having won SIX GRAND!

Of course he's going to quit NOW, because he made off with some mad loot! That's the point of this particular storyline, I think. Gambling is bad, except that if you do it anyway, it might bring you lots of money.

In other comic news, I note that this past Sunday, the narrator of The Amazing Spider-Man referred to the suicidal man who turned into West Coast Spidey as a "loser." Because people who consider suicide are losers.

It's a long way down from high-minded "Curtis" Kwanzaa fables to this stuff.


gifts given and recieved, edition 2/7/06

Today: received wonderful mixtape from Only Person Thus Far to Take Me Up On My New Year's Mixtape Trade Demand. Highlights include "American Girl," by Tom Petty, which has the distinction of having been on the first tape I ever gave my now-BFF/roommate, Ted Leo covering Lungfish's "To Whom You Were Born" (woah.) and Stevie Wonder. Also features Lifter Puller but no Hold Steady, which I was anticipating, but that's okay because I finally got a burned copy of "Separation Sunday" the other day and I'm not really as into it as I expected to be, given all the hype. I'll give it another spin though.

Gave a package of Garfield's Chocobites (see below), received in return two packets of Cranberry Emergen-C. Healthwise, at least, I made off in that deal.

Also, Carlisle, PA, we're coming your way this weekend. Not that anyone in Carlisle is reading this. Not that much of anyone is reading this lately (except that person from Japan who got here searching for the words "Modey Lemon Steelers" the other day). But yeah. Arts Haus Basement, Saturday evening, with A Day in Black and White (Mike from Navies' band, they're on Level Plane) and Harrison Bergeron and Running from Dharma (make a stupid Must-See TV and/or Karma-running-over-Dogma joke here) (or, for super Pittsburgh points, make a Dharma Sons reference) (or, if you're TOTALLY BEAT, say something about Dharma Bums) (you get the picture). It will be wonderful. Do show up.

in which i review m&m imitation products

I have this major sugar problem -- never diagnosed, but between me, my mom and my nurse sister, we've decided it's reactive hypoglycemia or something along those lines. For this reason, I shouldn't eat sweet things, like candy.

But I do, oh, I do.

I've been nursing this ugly vending machine habit at work lately, and ever since they replaced the granola bars with Snickers, I've been forced to eat something TOTALLY bad for me, instead of something that I can pretend is good because it has oats in it.

So the past two days, I've ended up eating some bad M&M imitation candies, made by other companies. I guess it's cool to eat non-M&M things because of Mars, Inc. shady dealings. But our competitors will have to try a little harder if they want to take the big guys' business. A quick overview:

- Hershey's Kissables. These are basically like M&M's only in the shape of little Hershey's Kisses instead of tiny flying saucers. Not that awesome. Sort of an awkward fit between your teeth. Also, the chocolate in the middle is sort of that super milky stuff that they make Hershey products out of, where I think the darker stuff they but in M&M's meshes better with the candy shell.

- Garfield's Chocobites. Apparently a newish product without its own website; you have to call if you want to make an order. This is by far the more intriguing of the two products -- not tasty either, mind you, but bizarre. It's a peanut M&M, essentially. They're made by an Argentinian company called Arcor. There's a "Garfield Approved - Limited edition" stamp on the package, which makes me wonder if the whole thing is planned to be short-lived, or if Garfield is pulling his endorsement soon because of the inferior quality of the candy. Other highlights include special instructions on storing the little guys (68° and 60% relative humidity, I kid you not), and a list of "Colors" in the ingredients, including "Titanium dioxide." That's one that did not make it onto the rainbow, unfortunately.


super bowl commercial review

First of a couple posts (if I get around to both) expanding upon and/or organizing thoughts already expressed on The Message Board. Please forgive me for treating ads here as something to be taken for granted and not looked at with a harshly critical eye. To be honest, I hate the fact that we look to advertising as one of our main sources of "art" or whatever you might call it in mainstream pop culture, but it's a fact right now, and I'm dealing with it as such. I'll save the paradigm-shift shit for another day.

Without further ado:

- I was pretty disappointed that there was only one King appearance. For the first two-thirds or so of the BK commercial I wasn't into it, but then when all the chorus girls were stacked up as a sandwich, and the King appeared, I will admit, I chortled.

- My impression is that Godaddy drained their advertising budget on two Super Bowl spots and couldn't afford to go out of house for the actual ad, and consequently their spot didn't really make sense at all. I get the reference, but there seemed to be no actual plot?

- The Budweiser Spots were "cute" but not that impressive. I thought the one with the zebra doing the call review a couple weeks ago (perhaps originally aired last Super Bowl?) was a lot better than the ones they showed during this game.

- The fedex spot at the beginning probably wasn't worth the amount it cost to make, but the dude getting crushed by a mammoth (or whatever) after he was fired and kicked a lizard was pretty funny.

- The Ameriquest ads in which the doctor kills a fly and says "that killed him" while the patient's family walks into the room, and the one with the man and woman on the plane were pretty good -- I liked the first one better, I guess for shock value?

- The new razor with a total of five blades is intimidating and scary, and the ad was so long and built so much suspense, we had time to guess what it was for before we were introduced to the product. I said Icy Hot, or maybe the Miami Hurricanes, others guessed Quizno's. We were all sadly mistaken.

- "Brown and Bubbly"?!?!?! Clearly an attempt at self-deprecation and in-joke style anti-advertising (like the Uncola), but one that I can't see lasting long. The first Diddy spot came around to be pretty funny, though.

- The monster/robot breeding spot for the Hummer was disgusting and incensing but, as Joe Deefer points out, completely apropos.

this weekend:

- Awesome show in Philly with amazing friends? Check.
- Totally stunning show in Pittsburgh with an even greater number of amazing friends? Check.
- Steelers Super Bowl win? Check.
- Peaceful crazy Bloomfield celebration? Check and check.

Good job, folks! Thanks!

I just wish that I had a two-hour delay from work tomorrow like the schools have.


go 'head, go steagles

Thanks, people who came out to the shows this weekend in Philly and in Pittsburgh! You all make my heart melt. I was running around like a madman trying to help make sure things went right, and I guess it paid off, since things went pretty right. Belegost killed it twice, even more so in Pittsburgh than in Philly, I think. The space in Philly was awesome, but I think the effect of Roboto being a little bit smaller, and people having to really pack in, made it feel a little more intense and vital last night. But that could be my Pittsburgh bias showing through.

We got shut down by Philly, foodwise, missing out on Govinda's AND Kingdom, because both were seemingly closed when they should've been open. We ended up eating at the other veg Chinese place a couple blocks from Kingdom, and it was okay, but a bit disappointing in that the food was eh-okay, and we were the only ones there and one of the two women working stood guard over us the whole time -- presumably just watching the door, as the other was on the phone, but it was a little disconcerting.

Also, "Go Steelers" on the electronic road work alert signs all along the turnpike, beautiful fog that was more fun when I wasn't the one driving, and Eric and Q waving terrible towels all about the place at both shows:


andys in the news, edition 2/2/06

Check out the LOCAL MEDIA HYPE!!!! for the new record:

City Paper preview

Post-Gazette local band feature thing

Both Manny and Scott did really good jobs. These two pieces probably have fewer factual errors than anything that I've read that has been written about anything I've been involved with.

Also, I'm experiencing mad deja vu right now reading the P-G piece, and it's freaking me out a little. I sometimes suspect I've already been through this entire band experience, as every time we go somewhere I feel like I've been there before even if I haven't, or I remember having a dream about the place long before I ever went there.