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Monthly Archives: October 2008

I was in the neighborhood yesterday so I went to Petco. After I was done browsing their collection of fishes, I just kind of started walking around the store. I came to the mice and found that they were doing one of three things: eating, sleeping or running on their wheel.

That got me thinking, if these are the only three activities mice do, maybe that’s an indication of what I should be doing with my life. I mean, I’ve already got the sleeping and eating part down, but if mice exercise in captivity, isn’t that an indication that it is also best for them in the wild? Wouldn’t it be safe to assume that mice inherently know that they need to excercise? If mice only eat, sleep and go to the gym, maybe I need to eat, sleep, work and go to the gym.

If only getting ready for work and commuting to the office didn’t take 2.5 hours (.5 for shower and mouth preparation; 1 for breakfast, clothes, lunch, etc; 1 for MTA). Then add the commute home and on particularly exciting days when I work for 12 hours at those two jobs I have, that leaves: 0.0 hours for the gym. Gotta work on that.

Oh, freelancing and retail. You silly bitch of a lifestyle; money in the pocket, calories in the stomach.

I was watching Superbad last night and I realized there are a multitude of reasons why that movie is great. Allow me to indulge myself.

I think it is, in essence, a classic comedy because it contains elements of both New and Old comedy (in the Grecian sense), all appropriate for our generation and our time. Old comedy tends to revolve around phallus jokes while New comedy tends be best characterized by farces related to identity crises. The phallus jokes are pretty extensive in Superbad just as my own identity crisis is fully represented. The identity crisis of those two is fairly obvious as well: two young men, seemingly outcast, become ladies men after finding liquor. Liqour becomes a magic recipe that transforms them, only the magic doesn’t last the whole night.

I didn’t even have to finish the whole movie to conclude that I am half Seth and half Evan. I curse like a misanthropic comedian with Tourrette’s and constantly and openly discuss inappropriate things just as as often as Seth does, but I can also be just as witty as Even (though less modest, apparently) and have the same inordinate amount of respect for women (“…here’s to…here’s to respect…to the respect of women”). That is to say, as Groucho Marx once said, “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members,” and I’ve had the same level of distrust roughly since high school (c.f, colleges, clubs, extracurricular activities, etc). Years of training has taught me that if a girl decides she’s into me, it’s probably because she’s consumed absurd amounts of alcohol or other judgment-altering drugs. To hook up with her or even attempt to date her would be inconsiderate because she wasn’t in a clear state of mind when she decided she liked me. I have to respectfully decline because I don’t want to ruin her life. I also think a part of me wants to maintain the current status of my lovelife (D.O.A.) in order to write lyrics and play guitar like John Mayer. But I digest.

The movie itself constantly gives me hope, even in the face of absurd belief systems about belonging, ridiculous plans to capture girlfriends (“…we could be that mistake!”), and races against self-constructed and yet somehow nonexistent deadlines (“…by then I’ll be the Iron Chef of pounding Vajj”). They both seem to get the girl at the end and the movie presents some kind of endorsement for dating and hanging out with girls over hookups fueled by obscene amounts of cheap liqour. Thus, this movie acts as a constant source of optimism as well as a source of quality comedy harkening back to the comedy of yore all while firmly establishing itself as a model of the present.

But you don’t have to like it because I do; your maturity may have already graduated from high school. Congratulations, let’s meet back here and discuss in a couple of years.

Can you believe this? I don’t have a costume yet. Halloween is pretty much my favorite holiday (Christmas may be number one as well, though–exemplars of family values, consumerism and breaks from work abound. Also, Valentine’s Day consistently sucks) and I haven’t done anything to prepare. Well, last weekend I watched the first Saw, but that’s not saying much because I hate scary movies and that movie has absolutely nothing to do with Halloween.

The one day of the year when I get to dress up outside of dress code and express another section of a day in my life and I’ve done nothing. Usually, I’d be a pirate, Donatello, Optimus Prime, or Hugh Hefner, but this year it looks like I’ll be a buisinessman.

That sort of begs the question, then, doesn’t it? Is that the only aspect of my personality left to express? Is that all I’ve become? I was hoping there could still be some childish part of me to express but I already have pirate cuff links and a bikini tie. Perhaps I could be Jimmy Page or Tad Kubler, and show that I may no longer have the complete mentality of 10 year old, just the childish dreams of rock stardom and childish desires for illicit alcoholic beverages. Although, at 10, I think I’d only had one sip of beer and one sip of wine and was completely opposed to both.

Perhaps, if I can find the proper equipment in time, I can dress up as a dream I’ve had and been holding onto for quite sometime. I could be a fireman or perhaps even a Stay at Home Dad.

So I realized that I’ve praised and made jokes about risotto in multiple posts and yet provided absolutely no recipe for you to understand what I’m referring to. Try this on for size:

Risotto alla Chrisese

  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/2 medium to large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cans of beef broth (approx. 4 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • dash of salt, dash of pepper
  • Parmesan and Pepper Jack (aka Hot Monterey, Monterey Jack, etc.) to taste


A lot of these measurements are educated guesses. If you need more or less of one thing or another, then by all means, fix it.

Start with a medium to large saucepan or skillet. At the very least, start with something you can cover (if you have a skillet and don’t have a lid for it, try some aluminum foil). Put your gas on high and leave it there.

Melt the butter in the olive oil and saute the chopped onion for three to five minutes. Apply liberal amounts of cayenne pepper (or 1 teaspoon if you want. pansy.) and then as much salt and pepper as your heart desires (as you can see above, I tend only to use a pinch of each). Add the rice and saute for about three minutes.

The next step probably the most essential part: Add one cup of broth at a time, stirring occasionally. Don’t add another cup until the broth has been absorbed. The stirring is really only important towards the end of each addition; that is to say, you can just let it boil until most of the broth is absorbed and start stirring to make sure it doesn’t film over and stick to the bottom of the pan. It turns out that this is actually most important and most helpful when you’ve added all four cups of broth (hard to explain but you’ll definitely see what I mean. This kind of takes some time to learn when to start stirring and when you can sit around and read Playboy).

When you’ve reached the end of the broth, keep the gas on and definitely keep stirring. This time though, the rice should start sticking to itself. I tend not to stir it more than two or three minutes after it starts sticking to itself. From my experience, the rice tends to be a little too soft and doesn’t quite taste as good when you overcook it.

Once you’ve got your ball-o-rice (not necessarily the case), you can turn off the heat and add the cheeses. This probably doesn’t matter but I always start with the Parmesan; I usually put enough on that there’s kind of a film of Parmesan over the rice. Then I add three to four slices of the pepper jack and leave it covered for about five minutes, strictly to let the cheese melt (a lot of recipes say you have to let it sit while covered to make sure it finishes cooking properly, but I don’t buy into that. What’ve I been doing for the last 30 minutes? Cooking it). Then stir it again and you’re good to go.

Serve and give yourself a pat on the back for making something more sophisticated than macaroni and cheese but equally delicious.

This recipe makes one serving of extremely filling delicious goodness. It’s the kind of full that, if this is your dinner, you will probably be skipping breakfast–if not lunch. If you’re serving this for two, I’d really only suggest vegetables and coffee on the side. Maybe a bread roll if you’re daring. I’m assuming “for two” means for a date, so I included coffee because the risotto’s so filling you’ll want to be asleep to let your stomach process it in peace. But if you’re on a date-type-thing, you’ll want to be awake to process the goodness together.

Be well, eat well and vaya con los gatos, putas.

I got to thinking while walking back from the subway yesterday. (Don’t you hate that? I constantly try to drown my thoughts out with headphones around the house and with books on the subway. It just doesn’t seem to be working.) I think the reason I’m not really into religion is partly because I don’t really understand any of them yet and because you have to subscribe to the whole religion in order to belong.

I read the Koran and understood that Muhammad gave some awesome speeches, but I’m not really sure I’d like to restrict my life to fit in. With religion, it’s sort of all or nothing. You’re either in or your out. Usually, if you agree with some basic tenets, you’re in but finding the right sect for you is all on your shoulders. Again, I’d need to know more about Islam before I could convert–the Koran contains a lot of interesting stuff but also a lot of stuff that is clearly no longer applicable (at least in America–unless I read it wrong, I’m pretty sure there was a section on polygamy).

So with Christianity, I believe there’s some sort of God. That’s all Christianity. I really only think that Jesus character was just another historical figure and I haven’t read the bible. I want to, but I’m still not going to put stock in a book that thinks the earth is a little over 5,000 years old. That’s just not what I believe. So technically, I can’t be a Christian. At the very least I can read some awesome fairy tales that everyone alludes to and finally catch the references. It’s like the Hans Christian Anderson collection before there was a Hans Christian Anderson. But with less mermaids, I guess.

It’s not just a matter of basic beliefs–science, evolution, what have you–but also lifestyles dictated by each religion that often prevents me from jumping on board. To go back to my Koran discussion a bit, a lot of the specifics outlined in older books that religions have been founded on were perfectly appropriate at the time–you don’t cook chicken or shellfish right, you could die. Why not ban it so people don’t die from food poisoning? I’m not sure why ham is not allowed (for both Jews and Muslims–they may disagree about everything else, but NO HAM!), though; is it because pigs wallow in mud and the meat is thus dirtied? Fish live in their own poop and we get to eat them, so something tells me we could be O.K. in the ham department.

I can’t buy into Hasidic law of dress not only because I’m not Jewish, but also because you have to buy into the whole thing (the same could easily be said for Islamic dress code, Hindi customs, etc, it’s just that the Hasids are across the street–it’s what I do know). You can’t just wear a black hat and declare yourself Hasidic. I like that they wear black coats everyday of the year but that coat wouldn’t circumsize me and make me eat kosher.

What I do buy into is magazines. Playboy, Maxim and Esquire categorize me as a man who likes boobies. Simple enough, right? Maxim has basic style guides that I don’t really buy into and an immaturity level that I do. And boobies. Playboy and Esquire give a better, much more refined idea of what is acceptable in modern fashion. Also, the impression that it’s okay to think beyond poop and boob jokes–it’s okay to enjoy literature. Rolling Stone reviews music so I can find the music I like–the music I can buy (into). Popular Science has all the crap that I don’t need but could use someday. If someone wants to build a supercomputer cooled by rabbits and spare keyboards, then I have the information. I can tell them how, but I don’t have to make every neat gadget describe in the How2.0 section. I get to choose without adhering to the whole thing.

I have all the proper information to be a dude. I can buy into whichever aspect most appeals to me, whatever makes me feel most like a man. And I try to save a lot because I gotta raise two to four kids someday, but I subscribe to the bits and pieces that make me most comfortable to be me.

Clearly, I need to study up on my religions, but parts-from-all work much better for me right now than all-or-nothing. Wow, looking back, I think I just made magazines my religion (but I guess we shouldn’t be surprised). I am such a heretic (in every religion. Yay, false idols!).

I have this theory based on a conversation I had with some random girls in some random bar like three months ago when bar hopping was still not only convenient but also regularly occurring.

I based my question on the idea that men are always afraid of committing. Those were the stereotypes that I had seen in movies (old and new) as well as in television, particularly when it came from the mouths of women (cf. Sex and the City, Desperate Housewives, et al.). I asked them if girls preferred hook-ups or dating and they unanimously agreed that they preferred hook-ups. I was thoroughly shocked and asked why. They told me that the movies I was watching were outdated and that girls are afraid of commitment. I disagreed with them strongly on the former but had an epiphany regarding the latter. My friend and I continued to discuss things with them until they decided they’d had their fun and left. So then my friend and I decided we’d had our fun and left.

But the point I’m trying to make is, it’s entirely possible that women can smell the commitment on me from miles away. I’m a complete date guy–if I can’t get to know you and be comfortable hanging out with you, why would I want to play tonsil hockey with you? I just can’t be comfortable with your tongue in my mouth if I’m not even comfortable around you. It’s basic physics.

Now, this is all conjecture, but I have the impression that I need to wait a little bit longer until girls realize that they can’t hook up with random dudes for the rest of their life. Well, that’s just shifting the blame away from my own incapabilities, but it sure has a nice ring to it.

Perhaps this is a better way to put it: I think I’ve been training to be a Stay at Home Dad for most of my life. My mom’s been teaching me to cook and has encouraged me to do whatever I like for like 22 years. Sure, she used to think that meant a career in Mathematics, but a) look what I’m doing right now and b) guess what I hate (hint: a) writing and b) all levels of mathematics beyond calculus). But it also meant playing with LEGOs and not doing drugs. I see your nerd levelĀ  and raise you one. Anyway, I like chick flicks and I like going to see art and culture in its natural habitat (museums) because I’m allergic to everything outside (except ragweed, apparently. Neat). I thoroughly enjoy meeting new people, being surrounded by people and having people visit my abode so I can be a good host. My ideal family has two to four children. I also don’t care what sex they are as long as they enjoy reading and not dating boys at an early age. I would also prefer that they have terrible looks in high school and undeniable, astonishing beauty (or a rugged exterior) after college. This way I don’t have to worry about abortions or closets until I love them as full adults, as the people they’ll be for the rest of their life. High school and college will be tough, but–by golly–they’ll earn all the unimaginable success they receive. Also, they need to be good with grammar and spelling, otherwise I will disown them. I hear Nebraska has safe haven laws or something.

Anyway, sometimes I smell like melted butter and eggs. I think that scares a woman off–they’re looking for men who smell like pine trees, hot steel and chainsaw exhaust (newly slaughtered cow’s blood optional) and I just can’t provide that for them. If it’s any consolation, I do tend to curse like a sailor and sometimes I sweat a lot. Musk? Does that do it for you? Gross undershirts and really nice ties? I’m not even sure I like that myself.

So, to summarize, I smell like the Cookie Monster, sweat, Enchanted, broken zygote, risotto, commitment, Valentine on the CW, grammar, nice ties and Sex and the City reruns. And girls don’t like that.

This is terribly embarrassing to admit, but I thoroughly enjoy the CW’s Valentine.

A part of me knows this is a terrible show that will be lucky to make it to its third season, but another part of me can’t stop buying into the cheese. But, then again, I literally watch each episode with my hands on my junk to make sure nothing’s receding. Even facing loss of manhood, I appear to like believing that some Greek gods that haven’t been heard from in like 2,500 years are not only still alive but also becoming mortal. It might also appealing for me to think that someone will magically show up and be forced through fate and some kitschy last-minute shenanigans to fall in love with me.

Wow–that statement is far more embarrassing than liking the show, probably because I know that’s not how romance works, I don’t really buy into fate, and I kind of don’t want someone to do this for me.

We really need to get internet for the whole apartment so I can use my computer in my room instead of sitting in the TV room so I can steal my landlady’s Wifi and watch subpar television. K, see you guys after Heroes tomorrow!!!

Yes, it’s true. I went to my first Mensa meeting. But I bet you didn’t see this one coming: it was a meeting called “Smart Bar Hopping.”

The smart kids found the bar with the best selection of beers that I’ve ever seen. 22 beers on tap and some odd bottled beers that no one counted, but I bet there was a lot. The bartender actually knew beers and there wasn’t a light beer in sight.

A dude from Sweden bought me a beer for giving him a good beer recommendation. I mean, he rewarded me with a beer that I bought and thought was good enough to recommend by later buying three, only two of which went to himself. Beer rewarded with beer. I should give into my very European genetics and live there at some point. If tonight has been any indication, the jokes are good, the beer is glorious and the girls are sparse. Well, considering the latter, I can’t go.

The one female who was a member of the group did tell me about the meetings where the girls are cute. She was fairly cute for being elderly and married, so I figured I’d take her word. More to come.

Also, interesting phenomenon: I was the youngest person there. That’s not really the weird part (particularly considering that we met at a bar), just kind of the tip of the iceberg. The other two relatively young men seemed to make a friendship with each other and no one else. I tried to talk to the both of them but it was fairly strenuous. The nicest people the whole night were all the people furthest from me in age (and the two girls there who weren’t even in Mensa). Just some of the nicest, most engaging and genuinely interested people I’ve met in a while. And everyone’s quick so the jokes are frequent and excellent.

Another interesting phenomenon: everyone expects these people to be pocket protector wearing antisocialites, but only half of them are. I’m exaggerating, but it was reassuring to find out that smart people need to be around other people. I guess what I mean is, it was nice to belong, to find out that I can do smart stuff and not sequester myself in my apartment, my room or my books. Good stuff.

So, as promised, I’m finally ready to annotate the wondrous lyrics of a Hold Steady song. I’ve selected the beautiful “Stay Positive” off of their fourth album of the same title for this go.

[Sort of half-chorus thing where only the background people sing, but sing sort of pirate-style]
(Whoa ho ho. Whoa ho ho. Whoa ho ho. Whoa ho ho.)

[Verse]
I’ve got a lot of old friends that’re getting back in touch
And it’s a pretty good feeling, yeah it feels pretty good.1
I get a lot of double takes when I’m coming round the corners.
And its mostly pretty nice its mostly pretty alright.2
‘Cause most kids give me credit for being down with it
When it was back in the day, back when things were way different.3
When the youth of today and the early seven seconds
Taught me some of life’s most valuable lessons.
[Lyrics break/Guitar jam on D]

[Verse 2]
There’s gonna come a time when the scene’ll seem less sunny
It’ll probably get druggy and the kids’ll seem too skinny.4
There’s gonna come a time when shes gonna have to go
With whoever’s gonna get her the highest.5
There’s gonna come a time when the true scene leaders
Forget where they differ and get big picture.6
‘Cause the kids at their shows, they’ll have kids of their own.7
The sing-a-long songs’ll be our scriptures.8

[Chorus]
(Whoa ho ho. Whoa ho ho)
We gotta stay positive9
We gotta stay positive
We gotta stay positive
We gotta stay positive

[Bridge]
When the chaperone crowned us the king and the queen,10
I knew that we’d arrived at a unified scene.11
And all those little lambs from my dreams,
Well they were there too.12
‘Cause it’s one thing to start it with a positive jam13
And it’s another thing to see it on through.14
And we couldn’t have even done this if it wasn’t for you.15

[Chorus 2]
(Whoa ho ho. Whoa ho ho.)
We gotta stay positive
We gotta stay positive
We gotta stay positive

1. The narrator (a lot like the frontman/song writer, one Mr. Craig Finn) indicates, in “Party Pit” and “Hostile, Mass.” that he left Minnesota for college (specifcally, according to Mr. Finn’s biography, Boston College–although this is not mentioned in any of the lyrics). These lines indicate that the narrator is looking back on the days leading up to the present is in a good place.

2. Finn has indicated in interviews that he never expected that this, his second band, would be the one that got not only extensive critical acclaim but also a large following. These lines again indicate a healthy state of personal mental health.

3. …because his first band was a punk band

4. Appears to refer to the current standards for hipsters in Mr. Finn’s neighborhood (Williamsburg, bitches!!!). For those of you who don’t know hipsters tend to be very skinny and wear girl jeans–but not necessarily emo-style. The idea here is that we’re all going to get older and as time goes on we do less drugs. We grow up. Also, this refers to how the scene is going to reduce its druggy nature…eventually…maybe…

5. The lyrics from the first song (“Hornets! Hornets!”) on their second album begin as follows: “She said always remember never to trust me. She said that the first night she met me. She said there’s gonna be a time when I’m gonna have to go with whoever’s gonna get me the highest.” These are the words of Hallelujah, the main character for most of that album and a recurring character on the other three.

6. From “Sweet Payne” on their first album: “…I always dream about a unified scene. There’s James King and King James and James Dean. At a table in the corner of my unified scene. They want a double order of love and respect. They said they just got back from up in hostile, Massachussetts…” So then the idea here is that, eventually, the scene doesn’t matter any more. The feuds, the arguments, all the crap will eventually become unimportant. It’s possible that the “unified scene”–and this is my own personal conjecture–could actually be when everybody is too old to give a crap. The kids and the wife always get in the way of your drugs, your tattoos and your musical disagreements.

7. This is the line that provided the insight for the conjecture above.

8. Only some of the most amazing wordplay you’ll ever hear in music these days.

9. The first song on their first album is “Positive Jam.” To summarize, the lyrics traverse the years between the twenties and the nineties, apparently with the conclusion that everything up until then sucked. After that, the song ends with: “We got to start it off with a positive jam. All the sniffling indie kids. Hold steady. All the clustered up clever kids. Hold steady. I got bored when i didn’t have a band. So i started a band. We’re gonna start it with a positive jam. Hold steady.” And of course, the second song on that album, “The Swish,” in my opinion, is nearly perfect (and exceedingly positive). Strictly for emphasis, the guitar work on “The Swish” is amazing–straight distortion except for the light Phase 90 use during the chorus. The intro is awesome, “Robbie Robertson but my friends call me Robo” is awesome, “I blew red white and blue into a tissue” is awesome, “I came right over the counter just to kiss you” is awesome, the four-note outro is awesome. Don’t just take my word for it, watch the music video on YouTube. Nearly perfect as well. All in all, that song: 9.9/10. I took away .1 for not quite understanding what is meant by the last couple of lines. Tuscan raiders? Were you working for Muslims? Anyway, yeah, so the first song is “Positive Jam.”

10. The eighth song on their third album, titled “Massive Nights,” ends with the following lyrics: “She had a gun in her mouth/ And she was shootin’ up at her dreams/ When the chaperone said that we’d/ been crowned the king and the queen.”

11. This is probably a waste of your time, but refer to numbers 6 and 7.

12. Possibly a comment about how a lot of these stories didn’t happen, that all these songs are just figments of Mr. Finn’s imagination.

13. Refer to number 9, but mostly just the first part.

14. Again indicates that this is a “Looking Back on My Life” song. See numbers 1 and 2.

15. “Dear Fans, I love you, thank you for supporting us in all our endeavors, see you on tour. Sincerely, Craig Finn and The Hold Steady”

Well, I got a call and Black Enterprise needs someone to help them with their research. Now that I have a job at a magazine, I guess I’ll shave. I mean, the job’s only through Wednesday, but I can always grow him back.