26 December 2006

sympathy for the omnislash.

Cloud Strife posing with his Buster Sword

Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII

Lest some horrendous external event comes to rain disaster in late December, my Christmas is hardly ever ruined. My mom demands a Christmas list from me every year (even though now I'm far past the age where I should be making them) and my parents rarely go off book. I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome my new ADIDAS shoes, my new soccer ball, numerous DVDs and, of course, my new video iPod. Cadbury also made out like a bandit with all kinds of chew toys, hay, treats and a slicker brush (which he tries to eat). My brother Josh, however, always has the most interesting Christmases of all.

You may notice the picture of Cloud Strife here (I know, this is yet another post making reference to a Final Fantasy game). The picture is there as a comparative tool. Josh has two unwavering interests: weaponry and video games. Josh's "poison" of choice (so to speak) is swords and he usually has some sort of ridiculous blade waiting for him beneath the great seasonal evergreen: one year he got a Braveheart replica sword and in another he received a naginata (the Japanese halberd featured in the poorly edited story I wrote, Christmas with Gouki). This year, his two loves were combined with the Buster Sword, the giant weapon Cloud has tipped on his shoulder. The replica has to be at least twenty or thirty pounds and four feet long (complete with materia slots). My parents got it off (where else?) Amazon. Without further ado, I give you motion picture of Josh holding a giant sword.

Josh carrying his Buster Sword replica, 320x240, 624KB (Quicktime)

19 December 2006

nyc: don't block the box.

There's really too much to say about New York. I came out of Penn Station and was amazed. TV does not lie to you about the grandness of this city. Nothing I hate about Atlanta exists here: trains come every couple minutes, there are plenty of places to eat that aren't bars or $15/plate or chain restaurants, and you can walk to places. This city has an identity; Atlanta is trying to steal its own from others. This city functions; Atlanta is held together by paste and socially/environmentally-apathetic developers. This city is beautiful; Atlanta tries really hard.

But what would Katie love about this place? Sure, she would like the art, the scene, the not having to travel by car everywhere. But she would be in hysterics every couple of blocks on a major thoroughfare like 5th or 6th Ave. In each intersection is a painted area designating the boundaries of its interior: the box in which the two streets meet each other. Above each of these boxes is a sign that says, "Don't block the box - Fine + 2 points." She would have to be carried I think.

12 December 2006


Cadbury, sniffing

Cadbury demands you check out his wish list at Gifthat. He expects something from each and every one of you.

You can also check out my (lamer) Amazon wish list.

08 December 2006

abrupt end of transmission -and- deleted scenes.

So I stopped writing about the production. I was boring myself with the entries and, since my blog is essentially just an opportunity for me to read my own composition, I just ended it. Also, the video didn't win due to various factors, not the least of which was that the purported "talent search" for a "credible show" was more of a "popularity contest" no matter how viable the talent was. I can't blame Yahoo! for choosing what was most popular; it's a good litmus test for how successful a show would be. It just turned out to be a different contest than I thought it was. Thanks to everyone that commented and voted.

There was plenty of good footage I couldn't include in the original version (Ian's been urging me to make a director's cut) so I thought I'd put up some deleted scenes.

This first one is the full version of the "Catch 22" segment. Sean did such a great job with this and, unfortunately, we had to cut it for time. But now his acting chops can be shown (complete with the original transition into the music video), his credit being given on a blog.

Catch 22/Count of Monte Cristo (full version), 320x240, 3.6MB

This next one is probably my favorite setup and joke of the entire shoot but I could never fit it in. For this video I also put some handy "in" and "not in" markers to let you know what made it in the final version and what didn't. From Ian's opening monologue:

Excerpt from Ian's Opening Monologue, 320x240, 2.9MB

Hopefully this isn't beating a dead horse but I think it's funny. I also think the three people that read this think so, too.

01 December 2006

web of chaos: post-release diary, pt 3 (more pro-pro)

Vote for Ian here!

Ian's video is officially entered in the Yahoo! Talent Show. Vote for it and leave a comment! You have through December 1st to do it! I'm using a lot of exclamation points!

While searching for props especially for the breakdance scene, Ian got this hot from a shop in Little 5. I'm always a little confused on what kind of hat is what but I think it's a fedora. I downloaded some Sinatra the other day so I was feeling kind of Rat-Packy and decided to try it on. Nothing but compliments. Since then, it's been a regular part of my wardrobe. I wear it around the house. I wore it all during the shoot (making it difficult to wear the headphones which may explain some of the floopy audio). I couple it with my Diesel jacket and look pretty awesome. It just goes to show you I'll do pretty much anything for positive recognition.

The scene for which we bought the hat was coming pretty close to production but, at five-ish on Tuesday evening, I quickly realized the time crunch I was going to be to tape it all. Sonny the Breakdancer wasn't going to be off work until 7pm. I told everyone involved with Dad's Garage shoot we were starting at 9 (although, since Dad's fell through and I couldn't secure another theatre, we decided to recreate it at my house) and I didn't have the phone number of everyone involved to tell them we might be a little late.

Actually, I did have the phone number for everyone except one: Becca. Becca was a good sport to help us out, especially since she got shoved in the face and pushed down to the ground take after take. At rehearsal she was pushed down to the concrete so many times it was ridiculous and I kept saying, "Again!" even though there was no way I could use the footage. And now, here I was, knowing I was going to be late at 5:00pm and could do nothing about it except try to hurry.

In the two hours we had before Sonny got off work we had to watch a small bit of Dr Phil (Katie's unguilty pleasure) before heading off to the store to pick up some ingredients for a Monte Cristo (the sandwich you see ever so briefly in the video. Sonny got off work a little early and we headed to the hotel Ian secured for us for the Breakdancing segment. Then, after arriving at the wrong hotel, we found the right one and went there.

The breakdancing scene is like many others on the Yahoo! Talent Show but our concept was this: a dude would be breakdancing for a while before Ian would break in and taunt him. The dude would challenge him and then Ian, in Michael Jackson/Ali G style, would gain a leather jacket and hat (the hat) and continue with a dance off. The dancer would fall defeated and Ian would walk out.

The shoot took dang near forever, a little over two hours (a little time dedicated to picking up Josh Campbell to help out with sound). I also laughed just about the whole time and it's the only time I was on screen, to act a fool. So if you want to see me hopping around like a doofus ... well, all you really had to do was ask.

Becca called me at some point and I somehow said we'd be back there by 9 still. We didn't leave there until about twenty after. So Becca ended up having to go to Borders to wander around while my other friends (who know me better) knew I really meant 9:30, 10:00 with my 9:00 call time.

This is getting long and is very uninteresting I think. I'll cut it short.

[to be continued ...]

30 November 2006

web of chaos: post-release diary, pt 2 (pro-pro)

Vote for Ian here!

Ian's video is officially entered in the Yahoo! Talent Show. Vote for it and leave a comment! You have through December 1st to do it! I'm using a lot of exclamation points!

I start off my mornings now checking the Talent Show site to see who made it into the "Our Faves" category and who has been featured in the intro video. All day I refresh Ian's profile to watch the total views on the video increment slowly (at last check he was at 242). "Spyder" might be a little more obsessed, taking to heart all comments, both negative and positive. "Why are people wasting their time trying to snipe our video?" he asks. "It's the freaking internet," I say. "It's what they do."

We may have been a little cocky when production started. After taking the necessary workshop I needed at school in order to check out equipment (a light kit and microphones), we convened back at my house where we started to prepare for the shoot starting later that day (Monday the 20th). Our plan was thus: get done with shooting Monday and Tuesday, edit Wednesday and Thursday, upload by Friday. That would give us the weekend for people to vote on it and still an extra week for it to be on the site.

That's when Dad's Garage fell through. I'm not sure what happened but Dana came back and essentially told me it wasn't going to happen since no one was there. So the people that were going to come over for the shoot instead came over for a rehearsal of the "Backstage" scene and I determined I would just find another location by the following night.

By not shooting those scenes at the theatre (almost half the entire content of the video), however, we had to condense all our production time to Tuesday. At the time, we didn't really sweat it. The length of the video had to come under ten minutes and most of the videos we were spoofing were no longer than thirty seconds. How long could these shoots take?

Oh, was I ever so young?

Filming began at 11am at the home of Sean Kiskel, who was to star in our version of the Catch 22 song, a little ditty about the stats one can find about the book Catch 22 on Amazon. The concept: Sean is trying to find the next hit Catch 22 song, stopping in frustration. Ian comes into the room, claiming the song to be old, tired and dead (by his hands). Ian then shows him "something new," leading into a short music video about The Count of Monte Cristo. That shoot went awesome. I got all kinds of coverage, I got to watch Sean fall down a lot and the stuff we shot for the music video was pretty killer. We finished a little behind on time but we still felt good.

Then we headed up to Alpharetta/Roswell for shoots at Rich's house and a local hotel. Rich's place was the site for our parody of Everybody Wants a Panda, featuring Trackside's favorite bartender, Jonathan. The point here was to interrupt Jonathan in his extolling of the non-bears with Ian's claims that he loves pandas more. Then Ian would dive into Brian's collection of stuffed pandas in nothing but a robe and sparkly boxers (that Katie picked out), rolling around and seductively singing the same song. I started running into audio problems here, mostly because I stopped directing and became a spectator. You can barely hear Ian for most of the later part of the segment, not to mention also the light changes for part of it. Stupid sun.

After that it was a wait until 7pm before our actor for the Breakdance scene was off work. Suddenly, I realized the crunch we were going to be in.

[to be continued ... ]

28 November 2006

web of chaos: post-release diary, pt 1 (pre-pro)

Vote for Ian here!

Ian's video is officially entered in the Yahoo! Talent Show. Vote for it and leave a comment! You have through December 1st to do it! I'm using a lot of exclamation points!

In that realm of time that blurs Monday and Tuesday, I tried hard to stay awake. My body was still feeling the ill effects of waking up at 3:50am for work and I was dangerously close to being up for 24 hours. My eyes started to shut on their own, my breathing was heavily supplemented by yawning and my mind started a routine akin to turning off all the lights in a factory: one by one processes started to prepare for quitting time. This bedraggled feeling was well-known to me by now since it was my entire week. Care left me; I was left with no care. Finally, I clicked export and collapsed on my bed, knowing it would take my sweet computer at least and hour to render the nearly ten minute long video.

A little background: a few years ago Ian and I were involved in a contest put on by Bluetorch to choose a new host (in the midst of MTV's VJ contest). You had to rack up a ton of votes online first (viewers voted on contestants' worthiness based on profiles and informal interview), then survive an elimination round before producing your own video. The finalists then took their video with them to California where they lived in a house with other strangers who wanted to be on TV. After being filmed for a week doing all sorts of things (like a far less extreme version of Real World vs Road Rules) and then the producers made their final decision. Ian tested really well but never officially heard any word. Bluetorch filed for bankruptcy.

On the 14th or 16th (I can't really remember anymore) I came across a similar contest put on by Yahoo! -- they call it a Talent Show. I'll spare you of the particulars but people upload whacky videos in hopes the judges will deem them worthy of the grand prize: $50,000 and a show on Yahoo!.

So here we are, doing this all over again for another company (albeit an exponentially larger, more financially stable company) with a more streamlined approach. We're older and wiser (though, as I learned throughout the shoot, a little more grandiose). And with the quality of the videos online already, how can we lose?

After seeing the ad for the Yahoo! Talent Show (pathetically) on MySpace, Ian and I started to plan out the concept: the video would start with the ending of one of his shows, complete with credits, then move on to him being a jerk backstage, a monologue describing his qualities while taunting other contestants, and then finish up with several spoofs of some uploaded videos.

Just before I discovered the contest I saw my buddy Jamie. Just coming from a shoot himself he gave me a phrase in reference to how his friends knew the lingo and generally what to do but only from what they saw on TV and in the movies. It stuck with me throughout my own directorial effort: playing Cowboys and Indians.

I (thought I) planned vigorously. I drew storyboards and compiled prop, cast and locations lists. I pulled my friends to participate, which they did generously for zero dollars and a small bit of a lunch meat platter. I called Dana, who was in the midst of moving out, to see if I could use Dad's Garage as a location (to which Dana received positive replies) and Ian found our other locations. Things were going swimmingly.

I remember reading the script/production diary for π and wondering why Darren Aronofsky said he was having such a hard time with making a movie, dealing with feelings of physical pain brought on by the stress of the production. I didn't wrap my head around the idea and, even as recently as two weeks ago, I still held that stance. Soon, at least on a smaller level, I would completely understand.

[to be continued ... ]

14 November 2006

rent the space under nick.

It behooves Dana to get out of Unit N as soon as possible so we will have her room to rent out very soon. If you need a place to sleep, here are some details:

  • 3 bed/2 bath converted loft
  • Huge general living area
  • Nestled in the party capital of Atlanta: the Virginia Cotton Docks
  • Located less than half a block from the corner of Highland and Sampson near plenty of restaurants ...
    • Johnny's Pizza
    • Roman Lily Cafe (for now)
    • Highland Bakery
    • Zuma
    • P'Cheen (Creative Loafing's pick for Best Neighborhood Bar
  • Live with two handsome devils: Nick and Garrett
  • Located in the Old Fourth Ward
  • Within walking distance from Inman Park, Cabbagetown, Sweet Auburn
  • Within Nick walking distance of: Poncey-Highlands, Midtown, Downtown, Little 5 Points, Candler Park, the Edgewood shopping district and the Virginia-Highlands.
  • $450/month + utilities

We are hoping to find someone we know a little bit first but are open to anyone (dependable) seeking shelter. Drop me a line if you're interested: thatkidnick -at- gmail.com.

10 November 2006

The Gris and the Hani?

One is Gil Grissom from CSI. The other is the prime minister of Palestine. Maybe it's my facial recognition but I think one could stunt double for the other. Think about it, Haniya. If you step down from office in order to re-establish aid to Palestine, what would you do with your time? You could do worse than putting that grimace to work in Vegas.

sono? so? no. so no.

Can we all please agree to completely ignore this trend of SoNo? Seriously.

The area south of North Ave and north of Ralph McGill (Peachtree and Piedmont only) can not dub itself a bastardization of SoHo. I mean, outside of a couple bars (O'Terrill's, Django), the Shakespeare Tavern, Chicken and Waffles, The Civic Center and a Publix, what's this area have to offer that it needs a new stupid name? Nothing. Also, do I need to remind every one that this name is completely stupid? I first saw this on a billboard for a condo development. Now I'm seeing it on the "district guides" scattered throughout downtown. It's completely ridiculous.

So, let's just all try to ignore this foolishness and, maybe, when we turn back around, the pro-SoNo residents will feel shame. My hopes are that this will fade away into nothing more than blips on the City of Atlanta's hopeless branding scheme.

Laugh with me and then ignore it forever: http://www.sonoatlanta.com.
PS: The domain has to be sonoatlanta.com to clarify that it is not one of its predecessors such of SoNo, CT (South Norfolk).

04 November 2006

because there's so much to eat.

I love to get presents. I like giving them, too, but I love to get them, especially when it's something I didn't ask for but really wanted. This might stem from my parents who showered me with affection and gifts; I joke sometimes that my mother showed her love for me by giving me treats (a behavior she still exhibits today with the advent of Amazon.com and the ability to ship). So you would think Christmas and my birthday to be the two brightest days of the year for me. I would, too. There is, however, one day that may shine just as bright or brighter. There is one day when I can eat my fill for free and still hang out and play all day. There is one day when my friends seem to unite in a common cause. That cause: chili. Ladies and gentlemen, the Cabbagetown Chomp and Stomp.

For those that have no idea what I'm talking about: Chomp and Stomp is a festival held on the first Saturday in November in Cabbagetown (that neighborhood between Oakland Cemetery, Reynoldstown, Inman Park and the Fulton Cotton Mill Lofts). The "Stomp" is pretty much for the live bluegrass music and the path of arts and crafts vendors. The "Chomp," though, is why I go. Chomp and Stomp is also a huge chili cook-off.

There are separate competitions between local restaurants and amateurs and winners get bragging rights. There were eight restaurants there this year, I think, but a ton of amateurs, all lined up down the street. $5 gets you a taste of the restaurant chili but amateur delights are free. And, since the corporate sponsored stuff is usually bland at best, it's a good deal.

Joey and I went from one end of the line to the other, only taking two breaks: one because the Metalhead chili was way hot and was ruining our taste for others and the other because we needed to break it up. My buddy Sean Kiskel entered his delicious chocolate chili and, had his chili not been so popular, he would have had enough to feed the judges and win the competition. Sadly, after three batches, the people sopped up his chances. A win in my (and his) book but still.

Rescue Me! Animal Project also had a stand there for animal adoptions so Erica was definitely there. Not to mention Mark, Sarrah, Clif, Kristin, Jenn Bunn, Chris Kirksey and a young man I used to call Revans. There were plenty of others; it's like a melting pot event for all my friends.

Also present was a boy named Mercer. I'd never met Mercer previously but his mother invited me to kick a ball around with her and her son. We kicked it around for a while before his mother said, "I'll be back in like 15 minutes." So, it was Mercer and I for a while, kicking the ball back and forth to each other and to passers by. It was a lot of fun. I totally got into it.

As the sun set and the chili supply dried up, we started making our way back (also we tried to escape the clutches of Erica who was sloppy drunk from God knows how many cups of Sweetwater and tried to embarrass Joey and I to death). I looked back at the park while walking away and smiled. Kristen (from Rescue Me!, not from the recent union to Clif) said it best when she said it was my "special day." It was delicious.

By the way, the chili from Fire on the Mountain was the best of the day to me, no matter who actually won the competition.

I love Chomp and Stomp.

26 October 2006

TV not for Nick: Project MyWorld

Project MyWorld
Starring Renee Intlekofer, Shaina Fewell, and Taryn Southern
Created by Renee Intlekofer and Shaina Fewell
Monday, 6pm DirecTV Channel 101

In an awesome bit of synergy, Rupert Murdoch is spreading the oversaturated name of MySpace via one of his other holdings, DirecTV. On Channel 101, not the indie video site but the DirecTV "exclusive" station (from which certain shows are recorded automatically into the "Showcase" section if you have the DirecTV DVR), you can catch the three girls as they traipse about Europe on a mission: bringing MySpace to real life. Renee is looking for "Mr Right" by perusing MySpace profiles and meeting up with these people. Taryn is apparently along for the ride. And then there's Shaina, the rock 'n' roll brunette musician with an absent father. Yes. Anyway, she's looking for bands.

"So, oh my God, you guys." You expect this to be said before every staged confessional. And I know that most reality television confessionals are staged and done in multiple takes but at least the editors and "participants" provide the illusion. But the production values aren't on trial. It's a reality show and that genre pretty much as their style down. What horrifies me is watching these girls bounce around Europe, flitting around from guys and musicians and totally embarrassing America. No wonder everyone hates us. I know a lot of countries don't agree with our foreign policy (neither do a lot of Americans) but I would hate us, too, if I had to deal with these girls as US Ambassadors.

Yes, the girls are perpetually annoying. Yes, it's like watching a giant train wreck take place in several exotic locations. The only thing that really saves this show, however, is being able to see these places in Europe that wouldn't necessarily be shown on travel programs because they're "partying with the natives." If those milksops could be removed from the program while leaving everything else in tact, you know, like the music scene and local activities and such, this show might be okay.

I kind of look at this program like Linkin Park: the production is solid and the music isn't horrible, but then the the rapper comes in and ruins the whole gig. But since Mike Shinoda is the producer, he really kind of has free reign so you either have to take it or leave it.

I leave it.

17 October 2006

TV for Nick: Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Starring Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Bradley Whitford, D.L. Hughley
Created by Aaron Sorkin
Monday, 10pm NBC

I love TV, I mean real TV. I have a satellite but use very little of it, staying within the confines of ESPN, Comedy Central, some various other channels showing reruns of great shows, and my tried and true (and ever-expanding and contracting -- hello, CW) broadcast channels. I watch more on NBC than any other network and always have: from Seinfeld and Mad About You through (guiltily) Friends and Scrubs. I lived and died by the first couple seasons of Ed and even caught more than a few episodes of the promising but disappointing Providence. My late night is Conan and my hope for the future is the Thursday night block of My Name is Earl/The Office.

Needless to say, I caught my fair share of The West Wing but I was probably going to anyway: you see, I'm an OG Sorkin fan, back when he was on that other "_BC" with Sports Night though my exposure during its first run was somewhat limited. When Comedy Central breathed new life into the series in reruns, I was hooked on the dialogue, the situations, the intelligence. It was a coherent show looking at actual problems. They didn't waste time on the melodramatic soap opera storylines trapping most dramas nor did they sink to sit-com lows. The characters, though far more clever, eloquent and light-hearted than anyone in real life, were real and tangible. This became Aaron Sorkin's style, a style he seems to have refined in the past eight years.

Studio 60 is the grand mixture of the quick-paced, meticulous production in Sports Night (the details on that show were mind-boggling sometimes, right down to the continuity of monitors in the background) and the storyline/character/dialogue refinement cultivated during The West Wing. What we get is a series of characters we care about in situations we feel for speaking in such a way that we know isn't real life but we almost wish it were. Combine that with a cast specializing in delivery (Matthew Perry, DL Hughley, Bradley Whitford) with an immense sharpness and suddenly this show is a monster waiting to happen.

Also, I like shows that feature behind-the-scenes at a TV show. It's neat

So catch the show. It's worth watching for sure. If Monday night doesn't do it for you, record it and watch it instead of ER on Thursday. You know ER: it's that doctor show with Uncle Jesse.

01 October 2006


Cadbury among the great texts of Dante Alighieri

Cadbury, a Rabbit of Taste and Scholar

Look at this picture. It's adorable. You may also recognize this little guy from the front page video on my barely functional, perpetually under construction, stagnating site. But instead of being in one of Erica's extra rooms, this cute little guy is sitting in my locker of Dante books (locker #153). There's a reason for this and it goes thusly.

Let me preface by saying I've never really been a big fan of Erica's dog, Yogi. It's not necessarily Yogi's fault but he has a lot going against him from the beginning: (a) I'm not a dog person, (b) I don't like big animals for pets, (c) I usually don't like dogs that don't act like my family dog (now passed -- rest comfortably, Niya) and (d) I don't like animals that seem afraid of me for no reason. I'm a fairly easy-going person that moves relatively slow. But Yogi has had a rough life, living on the streets for years and, most probably, in an abusive home at some point, so he's very skittish around me. He races around the room with any slight sudden movement I make, pacing in such a way that I'm not sure if he's sizing me up or if he's so scared he's not sure where to go to be safe. He also likes to take small dumps ("nervous poo" we call it) when I come in to take care of him while Erica's on vacation.

Yogi is just one of the animals in Erica's zoo: she also has two cats, another dog (her first, Maeby), now a foster dog (Parker -- please adopt Parker), two cats (Bo and Jangles) and she used to have two rabbits (Cadbury and Smooshface). The list of importance to me of animals in the house: (1) Cadbury, (2) Bo, (3) Smooshface, (4) Maeby, (5) Jangles and a distant (6) Yogi (Parker doesn't really count since she's not really Erica's).

Smooshface was a cute rabbit with all white fur and a small, flat face (hence my clever, clever name). She was adventurous and bold, a rebel. She raced around wherever she wanted, flipping over plastic igloos with reckless abandon, pooing wherever she felt a pellet of feces was necessary, caution to the wind ... a true devil-may-care attitude. Cadbury, a normally cautious little guy, rode the wave with his roommate like so many other movie clichès featuring a more-or-less boring male protagonist and the new fly-by-the-seat-of-her-tight-pants girl in his life (see Dharma and Greg and Forces of Nature for examples). But it was certainly Smooshface's bold curiousity that would lead to her demise.

Erica was outside when Yogi found a way into the rabbit room. I imagine the rabbits both hid but Smooshface was the first to come out and check out the scene. Yogi barked wildly before attacking then mauled her so fiercely she was somewhere between catatonia and seizure when Erica found her. But she was still alive. Erica rushed to gather her things to get her to an emergency animal vet but Yogi found his way back in and finished her off.

When we buried Smooshface I couldn't even look at the body. Erica called me at work to tell me, sobbing, of what happened. And, I kid you not, I was probably more affected by Smooshface's untimely (and gruesome) death than I was when my mom told me the family dog, our pet for ten or more years, walked into the light. When Erica relayed to me the events through tears and short-breaths I had to sit down. And the burial, in a plot behind her house beneath an old climbing tree, was emotional.

I didn't cry or anything but it was certainly sad.

I've never had a real pet of my own. I had hermit crabs for a while but it's not like they're all that snuggly and, seriously, I don't really think they understood my existence outside of the giant's presence coincided with new food and clean water. But I've never really wanted a pet. Dogs are too needy; cats are too much trouble. Both could possibly kill me. If I were going to get a pet, it was going to have to be one I could understand. I don't get dogs, unconditionally loyal and rough ... and the barking. Oh, the barking. Cats I get better but tend to be self-serving to the point of distraction. Rabbits, though. Rabbits I get.

What other animal combines the great parts of a cat (self-cleaning, quiet, adorable, trained to poo in its own little section of the world), the adventurousness of a dog while maintaining a sense of autonomy? Everytime I went to visit the Rabbits when Erica was away I understood that they would allow me to stick around but didn't really care whether I was there or not. Really, they had better things to do like sniff the floor, eat hay and gnaw on everything.

The thought of Cadbury ending up in Yogi's hideous maw was too much for me to bear so I offered Erica a new home for the small creature. And now here he is. Cadbury and I have been happy roommates for almost two weeks now. I feed him a salad of assorted vegetables each morning (which means I also have to eat more "rabbit food" since he doesn't eat nearly as much as I have to buy), make sure there's nothing horribly dangerous for him to gnaw on/jump into/knock over in my room and he's free to roam wherever he wants. I'm not sure how much he cares that I'm around (especially since he grunts at me sometimes when I invade his space -- yes, rabbits grunt ... and honk) but we get along fine. And the allergy? Well, it's there, of course, but not nearly like cats or dogs. Some OTC Clariton or a refill of my Zyrtec should do me just fine.

And sadly I've become one of those guys that talks about his pet as if the people around him care. What an equally joyous occasion for saving a life yet horrible fall from social grace and conversational content this is.

13 September 2006


I look around lately and I'm completely frustrated. So many things going on with my peers, on television ... everywhere I look I'm dissatisfied, disappointed. I didn't think the brunt was going to have to fall on me. But I'm going to have to take this business into my own hands. These other guys don't know how to act.

I have to bring Sexy back.Devo a restituire sexy.

Well, me and my buddy Just Justin.

06 September 2006

so much poopie.

I almost never close. Generally, I'm only at work in the morning hours and rarely ever am in charge of helping close the Store down. Thursday night was an exception. Thursday night was the worst night I'd ever spent there.

I was there to cover someone's shift and ended up in the roll sheet for closing duties: cleaning the men's bathroom. In the four years I've spent with the Company, I've cleaned the bathrooms about three times. But that's okay. I roll with the punches and can figure out the sure-to-be arcane process they want us to follow to do my chore. I sucked it up.

A newer girl was in charge of cleaning the women's restroom. I harkened back to just a couple hours previous when I was commenting to a work buddy how awful that general area smelled but, upon entering the men's room, I saw nothing to be disgusted by. That's when she launched out of the girl's room shrieking.

"Lord Jesus, help me," she cried. "There is no way on God's green earth ..."

I went in and opened the door to stall 1. Explosive diarrhea. Everywhere. Except in the toilet.

The rest of the closing crew came over to check it out and immediately started gagging. I was laughing too hard. Greenish-brown sludge slid down the walls and pooled behind seat and behind the bowl. It seriously projectiled out and, surprisingly, no one seemed to notice a woman scurrying out of the building covered in dookie. Because no one could make a mess like that and escape clean.

It should be noted I can smell very little. My sniffer is notoriously awful when it comes to picking up a scent and I've been questioned many times about why I love food so much when I can't even taste it. That is something to be answered at another time.

So I was the only one not gagging. The vision alone was enough to summon the previous meal but, once I regained my composure, my steel-walled stomach held its ground. As soon as I was the only one able to keep calm before the intestinal explosion, the mop was passed to me.

I probably worked at the mess for almost an hour, scrubbing and wiping, pushing brownish-green water around and bossing my weaker associates. "Bring me more mop water!" "I need a trash bag!" While I worked in one stall, the other two worked on cleaning out the "magic box" in the other only to find used tampons outside of the biohazard bag. "You hold the bag and I'll clean out the box," the girl nearly whimpered. So he held the bag at an arm's length while she scooped the contents of the box up into her begloved hand. As soon as he took a look at the material, the guy dropped the bag and dashed out of the room, nearly vomiting. I put down my poopie mop and picked up the bag, if only to stop the whining from the girl holding someone's used plug.

When 10:00 rolled around, I was told to stop cleaning. Maintenence people were going to come in the morning and I'd made good progress, cleaning about 60 - 70% of the mess. I left: traces in the brick wall, some spattering on the stall walls, a pool behind the commode and some runnoff into the next stall and around the base of the toilet. I listened to my cohorts complain about needing a raise the whole time.

About two years ago, I was sitting in a comfortable chair in my cubicle, waiting for editorial to send me stories to publish.

02 September 2006


This is a comment I posted on my buddy Kyle's blog today. Discuss.

As a person has been for a long time attracted to jeans with "destruction" (and, for nearly the same amount of time, the butt of the anti-culture's jokes) I feel I need to come up to defend my favorite pair of jeans.

My favorite pair of jeans are a pair of Lucky's, the name of the type escaping me now. But they came with bleach spots across the leg, tears in both the right knee and on the outside of the left pocket (not the pocket itself) and rips around the right pocket. They were $120 when I bought them. Now, I know what you're thinking. Why pay more for less material? And why pay more to have the remaining material shredded?

Here's the thing about these jeans: (1) they're meant to be extremely casual (you can't say they compete with Dockers or any other slacks because those are made for different things), (2) they're meant to be dress-up clothes for going out (they're not "work jeans"), and, at the risk of showing my metrosexual, (3) they fit incredibly. They are snug in the places they need to be, the material is soft yet durable and they are faded and fitted to look their best (for their condition). Diesel, Lucky, G-Star, even Ben Sherman on occasion, they all make the perfect jeans: broken in, comfortable, well-fitting and with character. The next thought that comes to mind: why not just buy a pair of cheap jeans and "destroy" them?

It's not the same. You'll never have all the criteria these jeans meet in a pair you buy sans destruction. You may get the destruction and (if you're lucky) the fit right but the durability is out the window. It's just a look and feel people can't do (easily) at home.

With that said, Mossimo (the Target Brand) has come out with some jeans lately that range from $25-35 with the same type of look (not usually as pronounced) that aren't half bad if you can find the right ones. It may take some digging but I've found a couple pairs with the right fade, destruction and fit for a lot cheaper.

But they still don't compare to that $250 pair of Diesels. Sigh.

01 September 2006

do you want a cookie?

"... we’re gonna have to be bilingual; we’re gonna have to be, and English speakers hate this!
~ 'Two languages in one head? No one can live at that speed! Good Lord, man! You’re asking the impossible!'
~~ 'But the Dutch speak four languages and smoke marijuana.'
~ 'Yes, but they’re cheating!'"

- Eddie Izzard
excerpt from Dress to Kill

My reasons for choosing Italian when taking the required language courses (instead of taking Spanish, a language I have far more experience with) was to, of course, read Dante in his native tongue. The distant secondary reason was to not sound like an American buttmunch reading from a travel guide if I ever visited Italy. But it was mostly to understand the exact words Dante committed to La Commedia and see the depth so many translators have noted before me.

And I'm getting there. I can read Italian and look up verbs I don't know, use context clues for nouns I haven't covered yet. Even though I'm still translating in my head (instead of, as my professor this semester puts it, "thinking in Italian") it's starting to clear up and the simpler words have actual meanings instead of just English equivalents. My speaking, though, leaves a lot to be desired.

This may be because the only real continual education I've had (over the summer) was writing to my Italian teacher from last semester (a native Venetian) via email. And even though I'm still skeptical that what I'm writing actually makes sense (like how I said, facetiously, that if she ever needed help with English to let me know -- as if I didn't have enough trouble communicating sarcasm via the emotionless internet now I'm going to try in a language I've had a semester and three weeks of?) the time I spend on each letter decreases more and more (hopefully because I'm learning). The problem is I can't translate that writing to forming words.

My last two classes have shown a certain vulnerability I don't like in my linguistic skills: the inability to understand a person speaking at a normal speed and respond in a timely manner. Wednesday was class time devoted to Italian writers. It was like a class I'd studied my entire life for. I started rattling off names like Dante Alighieri, Guido Cavalcanti, Allesandro Manzoni ... like a 25 year-old teacher's pet. It was sickening. But then when he asked about Roman times in Italian, I couldn't understand a word he said. And even though he asked about the preminent writer from the Roman era, the man who wrote about the beginnings of Rome, the man who led my literary hero through the greatest poem ever created, I drew blank on what the heck he was saying. And then he wrote "Virgilio" on the board and suddenly everything he said made sense. I was a little embarrassed.

Today I was asked what I'm doing tonight. A simple question: "Che' cosa fai stasera?" My simple answer: "Stasera dormo." But then he asked: "Prima di dormi ..." and went off on various types of things I could be doing like eating, partying, etc. I wasn't paying attention. Instead I was using the delay to form "No, I woke up at 4 this morning to go to work." This normally would be "No, mi sono alzato a le quattro stamattina a andare a lavoro." Feeling the self-imposed pressure, I choked out something like "Mi alzo a la quattro." No. And I was corrected. It took me about five seconds to come up with the wrong answer.

You might be saying to yourself, "Nick, stop being so hard on yourself. You'll get it." But what if I don't? It took me like four or five years just to speak English. Well, to speak my own thoughts in English anyway. When I was little I exhibited echolalia. The story my mom always tells is when I would want a cookie, instead of saying, "Mom, can I have a cookie?" I would point to the counter (where the cookies were) and say, "Do you want a cookie?" in the same tone my mom would ask me. When I wasn't repeating I was (mostly) quiet. It took a speech therapist for me to finally speak correctly (and to listen better -- I still have to watch people's lips move in order to hear them 70% of the time). What if my stunted growth in Italian is due to childhood speech impediments?

Okay, maybe it's not that. I can only blame things on being part-autistic so many times before it becomes a crutch. But at least admit the possibility is still there.

I'm frustrated with how slow I'm learning. I can come up with the correct conjugations and the vocabulary, the nuts and bolts. I just can't seem to put it all together. It better come quick though. Or else Florence this summer will be very lonely.

28 August 2006

being costanza.

I have this wit and barbed sarcasm. They are weapons, the only ones I've ever been trained to use. My handling of these weapons is flawless, the delivery clean and sometimes staggered in effectiveness. They contain such sharp points the incisions themselves bear a sort of metaphysical nature, occasionally causing the victims to not only ponder the wound but the instrument itself. They are carefully crafted, tested. They are true.

Unfortunately, when a battle comes, they are slow to production.

And then I'm forced to use half-completed weapons or another form of combat, such as silence or self-deprecation.

Then, almost as a form of torture, these tools continue to roll off the production line well after the battle is over. What am I supposed to do with them now? Sit on these situationally-honed tools in the event I may employ them elsewhere? The chances of this are slim. No, these are not weapons for the future. These, dear friends, are disgraceful reminders of ineptitude.

Just like George.

18 August 2006

Is It So Hard? - iPod todo list

You would think with all the encouraged calandar and contact syncing that Apple (or anyone else for that matter) would develop software to create a todo list. Sure, you can just write a list in a TXT file and slap that on the ol' Mini but it removes the best part about a list. I want to see the items disappear. I want to do something and check it off. Instead I have to deal with a static page with no formatting. Exploration into the subject (far previous to this post) led me to the podsites but that doesn't help me with my lust for a checklist. I know I'm not helping out with the development (because I wouldn't know where to begin) but ...

... is it so hard?

12 August 2006

cracking out on the past.

I'm sitting here listening to the orchestral version of "Aerith's Theme" from Final Fantasy VII, a rush of nostalgia encouraging me to wax fondly on the mid-nineties.

To be fair (and mostly this is for Katie who, whenever I even mention a video game, feels ashamed and wonders aloud how I ever fooled her into letting me see her naked) the reason why I have the FFVII soundtrack in the first place (because my CD copies from when I was 16 are nowhere to be found) is in order back up a video project I'm working on. Lately I've been working on a "reel" of sorts. Really it's just a series of vignettes I'm putting together using my JVC Everio. In any case, the opening is of me waking up for work at 4:00am set to the opening theme of FFVII (the part of the tune just before the bombing mission). I'm even working on the logo to include the Meteor part of the game's but to read "A Day for Nick." I'm pretty excited.

But this project also comes at a time I've started playing a restored copy of Final Fantasy Tactics, another game I played incessently when I was in my teens (a game I still play probably once a year -- where else can you find a game that features Jesus as the final boss?). Last time I was up at my parents', my brother Josh and I cleaned it off (it looked like it'd been used as a coaster for the last three or four years) and now I waste a lot of free time building characters.

Sure this is time probably better spent writing, editing, coding or even playing outside (World Cup 2010 is right around the corner afterall and I have to get in shape if I'm going to take America all the way) but, instead, a mere week before my schedule ceases to be my own with school starting on the 21st, I demand my Ramza Beoulve be the best. A work buddy of mine, Jamie, and I were discussing this on the train the other day (he's picked up playing FFVII) and he gave me the same justification I've been convincing myself with: this is how we relax. These game may seem like mindless musings from an industry bent on destroying our youth but, in all seriousness, the stories in these two games (and countless others) have a lot of depth and are compounded with the nostalgia of the first time we played them. Also, it could be a lot worse for us: there's a karaoke track for Sephiroth's theme "One-Winged Angel" on this CD.

10 August 2006

passive-aggressive revenge.

I hate notes. Well, I hate the kind of notes people leave when they have something to say, some small criticism or demand, and don't have the cajones to step up and say something to your face. Oh, sure, they'll tell you it's because they didn't know if they'd see you or that it's not a big deal once they're confronted. But that's nonsense.

My roommate is notorious (in my eyes) for this. She has notes everywhere asking everything from where here HEPA filter is for her vacuum to cleaning up the living room. And I know why: the confrontation makes her nervous, a detail I can assume since whenever she owns up and tries to ask people anything that may be responded to negatively, she speaks only in interogatives, a huge pet peeve of mine. Few small things can take me from placid to annoyed faster than ending non-question statements with an ascending pitch.

Here's the thing about the notes: I live with her. She's going to see me. And I know she just cleaned up the living room but I don't need a crudely-scrawled missive telling me to keep it clean. I'm going to do my best but there are laws of entropy. It will be messy again. And you know what else: it wouldn't have been so bad if she would have just told me in person with some confidence. "Hey, can you take your pizza boxes on your way out today?" In fact, I would have been apologetic. But now my ire is raised and I feel almost vengeful. I hope the place gets messy. In fact, I hope the whole loft gets messy just after all the paper and pens/markers/pencils/chalk/charcoal in the immediate area incinerate so that, when she has to tell me the place is a sty, she has to say something in person.

She'll probably still try to write it in blood on the wall or something.

Postscript: this post is not ironic.

11 July 2006

News for Nick: 11 Jul 06

NY Times: Dr Bartha pulled from his burning house

Dr Bartha being pulled from his townhouse (How a Townhouse in N.Y. Went From Dream to Nightmare)

ah, i feel it in my bung.

For most of my cell phone using career I've been a loyal MetroPCS customer (there was a brief stint of Nextel at the precipice of their "walkie-talkie" age but not long enough to really matter). Sure, I couldn't really leave the Atlanta area lest I render my phone useless but unlimited minutes, unlimited long-distance and a flat-rate per month is a great deal. Besides, where am I going? I don't even have a car.

But my parents bought be an unlocked RAZR phone for my birthday, a phone I asked for since it was the most advanced phone Metro services. I walk into the service center Monday afternoon and ask them to switch over my service. They say no. "This isn't one of ours," he says. MetroPCS doesn't operate on SIM cards so my Unlocked Phone of Awesomeness is completely useless with my current carrier. Son of a ...

My options are few: (a) find some way to return my phone (which was purchased online) and buy a MetroPCS RAZR phone or (b) find a new carrier. The problem with (a) is that getting a MetroPCS phone sort of locks me into their service until I get a new phone. So, I think to myself, maybe it's time to become a big boy and get in on one of the larger carriers. Who knows? Maybe I'll go traveling about if I know I won't be stranded without a phone somewhere.

I'm checking out the major carriers now and, seriously, I don't know how you kids do it. I've been looking at T-Mobile, Cingular, Verizon and even All-Tel. Phone carriers in the United States are all about raping the customer. You lose minutes even when people call you? That's ridiculous. I mean, ISPs gave up the "per minute" ghost way early on. How can mobile phone companies still be doing this? Is it just that people don't know a better way, haven't been able to apply the theory of flat-rates to mobile phones, therefore allowing carriers to essentially hit them with bats until prizes fall out every month?

I might be making a little much of it since I'm really not used to having a limit on my phone service. Maybe 1000 "whenever" minutes/month for $49.99 is a good deal and I wouldn't know because I really have no idea how much I talk on the phone. Do I talk for 16 hours a month? Hard to say.

So I implore you, all ye hurt-bottoms of carrier abuse, what do I do? Where do I go? Should I just try option (a) and get over it, continue in my primarily Atlanta-only existence? Or should I just bite the pillow and branch out?

29 June 2006

john williams should do my soundtrack.

Spoiler Warning: What follows is possibly a spoiler for the movie Superman Returns. I say possibly because even EW all but gave it away in their recent article. In any case, don't read it if you don't want to know.

Like many dark-haired, blue-eyed boys in the world, I have a special affinity for Superman. The sheer impossibility of his defeat (an impossibility that has tested my limits for suspending disbelief throughout the years) is attractive, his iconic status incredible and, at least for me, his strength of character standing through test after test in a world that completely doesn't understand him pull us toward the Man of Steel. Sure he's a little more hokey than say the dark brooding of Batman, the mixed-blessing conflict in Spiderman and the overt outsider plot encasing all of the X-(Wo)Men. But he's Superman. He's the standard. You can go to the jungles, find a native and show him a picture of Superman and he'll show you some thatched footie pajamas with the big diamond-and-S. I still feel today that the best illustration of this was at the end of the Batman: Dark Knight series when Miller hinted at the people regarding Superman as a religious savior. He has that level of power.

Even with all of that, the new flick interested me in a new way. To preface, my opinion of the movie is that it was good but could have been better; Bryan Singer did great but the script needed some work and, as a co-worker pointed out, for a criminal mastermind, Lex Luthor's evil plot was pretty lame (Land grab? Really?). I'm still planning on catching it again, though, this time in IMAX.

The way the new movie intrigued me (even though it was a deep perversion of the Superman mythos) is through the kid. We can only assume that Lois told her baby's daddy what's up by Supes' Jor-El-ish speech to Jason late in the movie. Why that is interesting to me? Let's look at the similarities: (1) My dad has always been told he looks just like the late Christopher Reeve and I am my father's son, (2) my dad has lived the life only a man that can be reborn in multiple ages as the same person can accomplish, (3) I'm asthmatic and was a sickly child, and (4) I had a similar haircut when I was five-ish.

If the Man of Tomorrow can have a child then, clearly, I'm the heir to a superhero throne.

I will rock that cape.

25 June 2006

what to search for when you're bored.

My friend Josh was always being bestowed with the latest cutting edge Apple products by way of his obsessed father, a man we believed to be wired into the internet in his sleep. In fact, it was him that provided us with our first dose of the internet. It was 1994 in a community called eWorld. eWorld was a lot like AOL, except more spatially-based (it porported itself to be a planet with locations). Josh and I hopped onto a very new Yahoo! and watched the cursor blink in the search box.

"Well," he asked. "What do we look up?"

The world was at our fingertips. Though burgeoning, the internet was bursting with information waiting to be taken in. But my thirteen year-old mind pumped out the first thing that came.


Yes. The first search term we looked up on the internet, a medium that would become my livelihood, was boobies.

So now, when I sit bored, watching the cursor blink in the Google search box, I think of that day. I relive it, the results being far more in numbers than the original run. But now I know better, about life and how the web works, and have to laugh.

Next time you're bored on the internet, look it up. Check out the search results and then think of all the people, in their content or in their keywords when developing pages, that have to seriously type the word "boobies."

15 June 2006

reprise talent evaluation.

B-list (or lower) celebrity panel of judges. Quirky (and sometimes abrasive) host/MC. The public being manipulated into believing they truly want to be on television only to have 85-90% of them become totally humiliated. Is it just me or does NBC's new show America's Got Talent look like a high-cost production of NBC's classic The Gong Show? The only major differences I can see: bigger audience, creatively lit in Vegas-style, and a strange Cooperation of the Gong (the three judges each have a buzzer -- the "talent" is excused after all three judges sound their buzzers).

Although David Hasselhoff does say in the commercial, "KITT, get me out of here." Points are awarded to the goofy celebrity for recognizing his own awesomeness.

08 June 2006

half a pint for the world.

I was infamously bad at soccer when I was a little. There were many times when I would just sit on the ball until another, larger kid (typically a girl) would come along and kick it from under me. The one time I was on my game I was really off: I dribbled down field and scored for the other team.

Redemption came in middle school when I found a position I was good at: goaltender (though now I recollect being relegated to the role since I was terrible at everything else). PE brought out my talents and they were proven during my 7th grade school Olympics. My team took 2nd place in soccer (after some dirty officiating) but I had a lot of blocked kicks, including a couple that elicited "oohs" from the stands. It was the first time (among few) my athletic skill was impressive to others.

After that, though, soccer fell by the wayside. My mom didn't want me to play sports because she was afraid I'd "hurt my brain" and, though I knew I'd be a great American football player, I was comfortable just watching the Packers on TV. Soccer was probably not the sport for me anyway with my ass-mar.

It's always intrigued me, though. I'll get sucked into any game on television but soccer has a certain pull on me. I could watch it for hours. Basketball and baseball bore me but soccer (and American football) are deeply captivating. If nothing else, soccer attracts me because it's something the whole world is into (you know, except us).

With that said, 2006 is a World Cup year. And I'm heeding the advice a person I don't even know expressed to a certain Heartbreaker: "Get into it!" I read the BBC World Cup form guide, Wikipedia'd World Cup 2006 and have been all over the official site and the ESPN soccernet page. I'm no expert but I know enough to enjoy it (I think). Maybe it'll be me and a bunch of hooligans at 9am trying to watch England v Paraguay. Argentina v Côte d'Ivoire (aka Ivory Coast) looks interesting. And, of course, there's Italy v US. I'm excited.

Get into it!


Also of Note:
  • I never finished Fever Pitch because I found it boring. It's the only Nick Hornby book I bought and haven't immediately read cover to cover. I did, however, see the Americanized (and pathetic) remake.
  • The US team's logo is stupid.

02 June 2006

the pep-talk that led to a new messiah.

When Vince Vaughn, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie wrapped on Mr and Mrs Smith, I wonder how they settled the partner swap (probably in a conference with no Jennifer Aniston invite). I think it all started with one pep talk.

Note: I did this in two columns so that it would (hopefully) take up less vertical space. If it becomes problematic I'll snip it up into sections or link it to my site.

On the set of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Vince Vaughn is sampling a little of everything at the craft services table as Brad Pitt walks up.

Brad: Hey, man.

Vince: Hey. Great last scene, by the way. I really felt it.

Brad: Thanks, brother.

Vince: Yeah. [shovels more food into his mouth]

Brad: Hey, take it easy there.

Vince: Huh?

Brad: What’d this food ever do to you?

Vince: I know, I’m just so hungry all of a sudden. I don’t even know why.

Brad: Well, try not to pork down too much. There are starving kids somewhere in Africa you know.

They laugh. Vaughn keeps shoveling food in his mouth.

Brad: Besides, you don’t want to end up like your fat friend Favreau.

Vince: [with mouth full] Too far, Brad. Jon is a very dear and close friend. He deserves all the food he gets.

Brad: All right, all right. Sorry, man.

Vince: If he wants to blow up and look like a Goodyear blimp, who am I to say no?

Brad: Fair enough.

Vince: Besides, I’ve always been blessed with a fast metabolism so I don’t have to worry.

Brad: [turning to the food] All right, so what do we have here?

Vince: A little bit of everything. It’s all pretty fantastic.

Brad: Cool. [picks up a plate]

There’s a brief pause. As Vince continues to nibble, Brad glances over at his supporting star then shakes his head. Finally, he gets the courage to speak.

Brad: Hey, I gotta tell you something. You have to tell me if I’m crazy or not.

Vince: Sure thing, pal. Shoot.

Brad: [leans in; quietly] I think I’m in with Jolie.

Vince: Excuse me?

Brad: I think … I, um …

Vince: You could hit that?

Brad: Maybe.

Vince: Angelina Jolie?

Brad: Yes, Angelina Jolie.

Vince: You think you could tag Angelina Jolie?

Brad: I wouldn’t put it like that but …

Vince: Well, I’m not totally surprised. I mean, you’re fucking Brad Pitt, right?

Brad: Right. But I’m not sure. It’s just speculation for right now.

Vince: Oh, right, right.

Brad: Nothing assured. But I think, if I wanted to, I could … you know …

Vince: Hit that shit?

Brad: Right.

Vince: What makes you say that?

Brad: I just get this vibe from her or something.

Vince: [looks up] Shit, here she comes.

Brad: Act cool, man.

Vince: [at normal level again] Hey, Angelina.

Angelina Jolie walks up to the table and pours herself some tea. Vince is all smiles while Brad grins meekly and nods.

Angelina: Hey, Vince.

Vince: Great scene, by the way. I really felt it.

Angelina: Thank you, Vince. You were so funny in your last scene I almost popped a vein trying not to laugh.

Vince: Thank you. That really means a lot to me.

Angelina: No problem. See you around.

Vince: Okay. [does a small wave with his free, not-holding-food hand]

Angelina: [subtly looks Brad up and down then smiles] Bye, Brad.

Brad: See you later, Angelina.

Angelina walks away.

Brad: Jesus, did you feel that?

Vince: Did I feel it? I think I may need a cigarette after that. Maybe even change my pants.

Brad: So I’m not totally crazy then?

Vince: Crazy? No, no, no, no. Did you feel that vibe coming off of her? She wants you, my friend.

Brad: Really?

Vince: She’s making the call. She’s just waiting for you to pick up. Getting the voicemail and calling back again.

Brad: Should I pick up?

Vince: Should you pick up? Are you simple? Of course, you pick it up. Do you know how hot that would be? Not only is she incredibly hot …

Brad: Incredibly hot.

Vince: I mean, there’s no question. Those lips, those tits. That tight little ham she calls an ass. Package deal.

Brad: Way hot.

Vince: Also, she’s a little crazy.

Brad: Yeah.

Vince: Completely unpredictable. I can’t even fathom a guess at what sex with her would be like. Whips, chains, outfits, possibly animals.

Brad: You think animals?

Vince: Well, maybe not animals. Or maybe animals. It’s Angelina Jolie: who the fuck knows?

Brad: Billy Bob Thornton knows.

Vince: Yeah, Slingblade hit that.

Brad: See, that makes me question the whole thing.

Vince: Why because Billy Bob “I fucked Halle Berry” Thornton was up in there?

next column

Brad: He didn’t fuck Halle Berry.

Vince: Please. Did you see Monster’s Ball? You think after that scene that they just put on their robes and said good night? Be realistic.

Brad: Anyway, we’re both ignoring the elephant in the room here.

Vince: What’s that? That Jolie would want to wear your blood around her neck, too? Because, I gotta tell you, I think that’s pretty fucking hot. I know it’s weird but it’s a little hot, too, you have to admit.

Brad: No, no. I mean I have a wife.

Vince: Oh right.

There’s another small pause.

Vince: But it’s fucking Angelina Jolie, though.

Brad: [sighs then laughs] I know.

Vince: Listen, you have to do this.

Brad: No, no, I can’t. It’s flattering but I can’t.

Vince: It’s flattering?

Brad: Yeah, it’s flattering that someone like her would be interested in me but it’s just not the right time.

Vince: Yeah, and it’s an honor just to be nominated. Horse shit, Brad. This isn’t flattering. This is divine providence.

Brad: [laughing] Divine providence?

Vince: Who else gets this opportunity, to fuck the hottest, sexiest, craziest girl in Hollywood? Shit, she’s so hot straight chicks would fall all over each other just to go to girlytown with her. I mean, this isn’t one of those party sluts spreading her legs for anyone with a trust fund or losing her virginity to someone who plays a foreign guy in Wisconsin on TV. This is Angelina Jolie.

Brad: Fucking Angelina Jolie.

Vince: Fucking A right it’s Angelina Jolie. And only a man in your position, of your caliber, of your pedigree …

Brad: Pedigree?

Vince: That’s right: pedigree. Your pedigree of looks, smarts and experience can land a girl like that. The planets are aligning, my friend, and I’m no Nostradamus but I know you only got one shot at this.

Brad: You think so?

Vince: Listen, here’s what we’re going to do …

Brad: Oh, no.

Vince: Hear me out, Bradley. The fact that you’re entertaining this at all means you’ve forsaken the wife at the prospect of Angelina Jolie.

Brad: Now, I wouldn’t say …

Vince: It’s okay, Brad. No one expects you to be Superman. And even if you were, all men have a weakness for hot sex and Angelina Jolie is like a fucking planet of kryptonite. I’m even going to do you one better: I salute you.

Brad: You salute me?

Vince: I salute you for doing your duty, for making this kind of sacrifice to chase the dream. The Dream, Brad. So here’s what we’re going to do.

Brad: [smiling, not taking Vince too seriously] What’s the plan, brother?

Vince: You raid Lara Croft’s tombs over there and I’m going to be your wingman.

Brad: My wingman?

Vince: I’ll run interference with the wife. Hopefully she won’t find out but, God forbid that she does, in that unfortunate instance, I’ll be there to help console her. Don’t worry, Daddy will take the hit for the team.

Brad: Some hit.

Vince: The point is while Jolie’s out being your bone collector, old Rachel can rest her head on someone’s shoulder. Takes the heat off you.

Brad: Wait, did you just call her Rachel?

Vince: Did I say Rachel? I meant Jennifer. Jennifer.

Brad: You totally have a crush on her Friends character.

Vince: No, I do not. That’s preposterous. That’s almost offensive.

Brad: Oh my God. You have a crush on Rachel.

Vince: All right, so what? So I sometimes disgrace myself in the shower to her in the green dress going [with “bunny quotes”] “commando.” Does that make me a bad person?

Brad: [laughing] No, I get it.

Vince: That’s right you get it. Now you get that. [points to Angelina]

Brad: I still don’t know.

Vince: [turning Brad toward him] Brad, if you don’t stick that I will never forgive myself. I’ll consider myself a failure for the rest of my life.

Brad: It’s that bad?

Vince: For all us slobs out there eating Pop-Tarts at the craft services table or in our lonely apartments plastered with posters of Lara Croft you have to do this. Do it for us. Do it for us, Brad. [takes a bite out of a strawberry Pop-Tart]

Brad: I’ll take it under consideration.

Vince: That’s all I can ask.

27 May 2006

an open letter to the atlanta summer.

Dear Atlantan Season of Summer,

First, I would like to say welcome. Your official start date isn't until June 21st but here you are, more than a month early. I like your work ethic and your moxy. Don't let human-created dates hold you back; a task is at hand and you are the abstract conceptual entity for the job. I commend you.

But what exactly is that task? We'll start with some positives.

One, I would rather be warm then cold and you bring the heat, my friend.

Two, you usher in the month of my birth. July (7th for interested parties) is special to me and I always hold a place in my heart for the warmest of months. Not only am I celebrated but I also get lots of presents. Even if I hated the hot I would still love the summer by positive reinforcement.

Three, you're a good excuse to eat ice cream all the time.

But let's cut to the chase: you're out to kill me, aren't you? You know I walk everywhere and that the nearest train stations are at least twenty minutes away. Why do you have to turn up the heat? Not only am I at the threat of heat exhaustion/stroke, I am also at risk for horrible bacne, one of the most dreaded of acnes, from sweating into my shirt and trapping it between my back and backpack. Zits on my back! How am I going to Oxy those? Ask for assistance? Gross, dude!

Sweat just pours off my dark head of hair and onto my headphones, inevitably in my ears. It's like an infection waiting to happen. I constantly look a mess (from the sweat) so I have to bring a dopp kit of toiletries, as well as a change of clothes, everywhere I go so I can look like a halfway normal person when I arrive somewhere. My ice-cold water bottle turns warm in minutes, I get stinky, wet socks, and horrible, horrible farmer's tan! Even my tan-well, near-never-burn skin is turned against me!

Spring is so nice to us and you cut it off, Summer. It's like you're a little over-anxious and somewhat high-strung, possibly a bit of a Seasonal Stage hog. And then when you start to perform you overdo it: the blistering heat, the choking humidity and what feels like an unfiltered sun bouncing off the white sidewalks and burning my eyes. What is with the punishment? I know I'm supposed to live in Hotlanta and people tell me, "You've lived here for, like, 12 years. Aren't you used to this by now?" But would it be so hard for us to be just "Mild-yet-Comfortablanta" for a summer? Are you over-compensating?

In summation, Summer -- I always look forward to you in the Winter, begging for you to come. But when you get here I start to realize what I really wanted was Spring or even Autumn. Just, please, cut me a break here, ASS.

21 May 2006

biscuits will not fly quite so high.

My stubborn fantasy for when I eventually move out of Atlanta to pursue a career I have not yet quite begun to pursue yet is my last stop in city to be at The Flying Biscuit. I was to pull the Budget/U-Haul/Ryder truck over on Clifton, snag a dozen biscuits for the road and pick up a t-shirt from one of my favorite eateries. How cool would I be sporting a shirt that only "locals" would truly understand? Part of that dream faded when Katie brought me home a free Biscuit t-shirt she got at work (and kept because it's a freaking cool shirt). But news today brought a tragic end to my future cool points.

I was on the train today when I saw and read (the subtitles for) a story most disturbing: The Flying Biscuit was bought out by Raving Brands. First the term "bought out" put fear into my heart and then "Raving Brands" nearly stopped it completely. If you're not sure who they are, the best way this collection of restaurant "concepts" can be described is as the folks who brought you "Welcome to Moe's!"

Yes, the people that own Moe's just bought out one of your favorite breakfast places. Not only did they buy it, they're going to franchise it. Everywhere.

Raving Brands also owns Planet Smoothie, Doc Green's Gourmet Salads, Shane's Rib Shack and three other restaurant concepts. It said yesterday it plans on opening 50 Flying Biscuit stores in 2007 and another 50 in 2008. The first franchises will be in metro Atlanta.

And so, I feel, an Atlanta institution is doomed to be ruined.

Upon further reflection of this during the day, I realized something: most of the Raving Brands are mediocre at best. I mean, I can do Moe's but I almost always would rather go to Willy's. I don't mind Mama Fu's but I'd just be thinking about Fried Chicken Rice Bowl at Noodle or even a meal at Doc Chey's. And Planet Smoothie? Let's just say I'd rather get a milkshake.

And then, on top of that, Biscuits everywhere? It's an interesting concept to have breakfast places in as many places as there are Moe's(es?) but can the eatery stay the same? None of the current Raving Brands have servers and one of the things that makes the Candler Park store is its neighborhood quality. It's in a freaking house (a gutted one but, in any case, it's very homey). Can that be replicated in fifty more locations? Or am I going to have to order my moon-dusted potatoes from a counter? All this is very disconcerting.

So, though it may be premature, I say "bon voyagebuon viaggio" to The Flying Biscuit. I still have the cookbook so the memories will last always, even when I eventually say, "The Biscuit's okay but I'd rather go to Ria'sLa Biscuit e' buona ma preferirei andare a Ria's. instead."

- - - - - - - - -

A small note about the WSBTV.com article: my favorite part is the last paragraph:

The original Flying Biscuit, opened in 1993, is in Atlanta's Candler Park neighborhood, not far from the slightly Bohemian Little Five Points. A second restaurant is near Piedmont Park.

L5P is "slightly" Bohemian, downgrading from "full-on" Bohemian since it's now "slightly" commercial and "slightly" the hang-out for "cool" suburban kids. Also I like how the original Candler Park location gets most of the mention between the locations while Piedmont Park's inferior nature is exemplified in words by only a blurb telling of its existence. I cry for you, Biscuit!

19 May 2006

pity, music. pity.

My friend Ian and I have never really seen eye to eye on a lot of music. We mesh more on the electronic side of things but, as far as rock goes, he pretty much hates everything I like. Anything with a melodic voice is immediately tagged with an "emo is crap," whether the music is "emo" or not.

He's up here this weekend and, on a trek to Alpharetta, we discussed (separately) the Pantera Behind the Music (amazing if you haven't seen it) and this quality of Ian not liking most of the bands I listen to nowadays. I used to listen to a lot of harder rock music. I sing Marilyn Manson in the shower (just today growling "Light a candle for the sinners; set the world on fire") but occasionally move into lighter territory at other times (later in the shower: "if you have just one // let me be that love // if you have lots of others // please let me, please let me be one" -- onelinedrawing). What happened? What changed? Was it me?

Rewind to 1997. I was at the height of being a "Mansonite," wearing the panty-hose on the arms, black jeans and band shirts even in the summer and lipsynching to the likes of Pantera, Zombie and Korn (yes, sadly, Korn -- the guys that did the "Word Up" cover). I took glee in telling people I listened to bands with names like Life of Agony and defended Manson's art. I lived and breathed hard rock (as much as I could since I lacked the musical talent to play the sound, or any sound that wasn't noise). To me there was intelligent, rational reason to listen to some of these bands. It was destiny and I felt I was in the scene forever.

So why am I here? Why do I now listen to Doves, Elbow and Snow Patrol? Why is the only band from that bygone era I still purchase CDs for Deftones?

Some of it may be that I've gotten older and don't need to thrash around as much. But I still crank Far Beyond Driven ... a lot. White/Rob Zombie are still in heavy rotation on my iPod. "Bloody Cape" is one of my favorite songs from the newer Deftones record. It can't be that my tastes have changed too dramatically. I find a lot of old Korn to be unlistenable, particularly Issues but even on their "breakout" Follow the Leader but a lot of the music still holds up. Only thing I can determine is that music is lacking.

Yeah, I'm one of those 23634764 guys that says music today sucks"la musica oggigiorno fa schifo".

Nowadays the "metal" is simplistic (unless you tread into the more underground subgenres of the scene where I fear the bands are slightly more "glamorous" with their stage shows), "rock bands" are more like "pop bands" (in fact, boy bands are using guitar licks to give their sounds credibility) and punk died in the early 1980s. It's true. We can discuss it later.

So why wouldn't I turn to the only genres still making music that says something? Yes, sometimes the lead singer for Death Cab for Cutie sounds like a girl, but the lyrics are great and the sound is tight (also, what's wrong with sounding like a girl?). Jonah Matranga may whine but his music and songwriting are exploratory. Sigur Rós and Mogwai are just powerful. It may be a little lighter but the hair on the back of my neck stands up just the same.

And, when all else fails, we can all start learning how to play the spoons.

14 May 2006

why be original?

Back in the day I made a post detailing my disappointment in others usurping my good name. The mugs of all the folks with any semblance of an online personality was upsetting, given that clearly I am the best "Nick Campbell." But Google searches for all my former online personae have become just as disappointing, particularly the "thatkidnick" monicker:

But also for ku.sama and lucian9 (but not poor, sad lifestrem1). Maybe it's punishment for trying to create cute names for myself, that my online identities get unintentionally kidnapped by lamer people. Why even try to be original anymore (with nicknames)? Maybe I should just stick to "Nick Campbell."

And to any other "thatkidnicks" or "lucian9s" that may be reading: I know the feeling is mutual.