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.

13 May 2006

the lord, strapped to a car.

I-85 Southbound, Shallowford Road area -- 13 May 06

12 May 2006

my life as puzzle mechanics.

I'm a recovering puzzle addict. A few years ago I got hooked on a game called Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates. You become a sea-farer in an MMORPG world full of items to buy, homes to build, boats to sail and plenty of people to swashbuckle with. The twist to the game is that all the tasks, whether it be navigating a ship or swordfighting with a rival crew, are puzzle-based. Bailing water is a lot like Tetris Attack, fixing the ship floor is similar to to tangrams, and swordfighting is all kinds of Puzzle Fighter. For hours I would "sail" around this "ocean," looking for "booty" (currency taking the form of "pieces of eight"), messaging back and forth with other players (including my friend, Ian, who was just in the next room), building reputations, gaining ranks ... it was a ridiculous affair. It took me a while to ween off it. I didn't actually fully stop being involved until after the beta period was over and they started charging for the game. And even then a $5 buy-in was tempting. It was seriously one of the most addictive things I've ever played. Even with the constant terrorizing I received from Joey and Erica about being a "puzzle pirate," I played on. I can't even in good conscious give you the link to this site lest you fall prey to the devestating effect this game can have. Ah, heck, here you go.

From sudoku to The Da Vinci Code Quest on Google and all kinds of other stuff not alphabetically bookended, puzzles just deeply appeal to me. So it was only natural that once I started to watch Lost that I would attempt to solve all the clues the show's creative/marketing team leaves.

I started to watch Lost after learning Darren Aronofsky would be directing one of the last episodes of season two. Now that he's dropped out, I'm still hooked watching (I can stop any time I want). Katie on the other hand ... totally snagged.

Intriguing on a different level is the extra non-broadcast material from the show. There are sites and even books involving the people on the doomed Oceanic Flight 815 and the island itself. I don't know why I'm explaining this to you. Lost dominates the numbers on Wednesday nights. You know what I'm talking about.

So I've been stuck lately trying to uncover all the hidden secrets of the sites such as inputting the "numbers" into subLYMONal.com to get the secret code but not knowing where on the Hanso Foundation site to input it since the page I'm led to has a blank but no submit button (I'm thinking this may be a Firefox/Mac problem ... but maybe not; Win/IE users: do you have problems?). Also I'm trying to figure out why the Dharma Initiative site reads "17 -- diapause." This, of course, has led me to a brief (and almost definitely unrrelated) investigation of the Yucca moth, who has a diapause of 16 to 17 years. I know the diapause is the holdup of the actual initiative (I think) but it is an interesting coincidence. Oh, and, of course, the manuscript Sawyer was reading that Jack tossed in the fire to get the guns back, Bad Twin, is now a published novel you can find at any bookstore. It's written by Gary Troup (a nice anagram for "purgatory").

Avast! There be puzzles about!

04 May 2006

we got a winner.

(via BestWeekEver Blog)

This is a decent mash up of Toy Story 2 and Requiem for a Dream. If you can't point it out who's who (and maybe I can because I've seen Requiem A LOT):

Woody :: Harry (Jared Leto)
Buzz Lightyear :: Tyrone (Marlon Wayans)
Jessie :: Marion (Jennifer Connelly)
Bo Peep :: Sara (Ellen Burstyn)
Zurg :: Big Tim (Keith David)

But the real question is ... does this mean Jessie and Barbie are going to go "ass to ass?"

01 May 2006

that, my friend, is how they shoot you.

the glorious N

the glorious N

I don't live in the greatest part of town. Well, that might be the wrong way to put it. I live in a good part of town with: lots of restaurants; a decent proximity to school, entertainment and the occasional festival; the air of downtown while still have some quiet at night. All in all, it's not bad. But it is sort of, to use a white euphemism, "transitional." There's been stuff stolen from here (previous to my stay and before the doors automatically locked) and you'll see a crackie or two scampering beneath the street lights. So, when I hear weird things outside my door, I don't tend to open up to let it in my house.

Saturday night I went upstairs for my nightly feeding and noticed a bright light under the door. I dismissed the idea of aliens coming to abduct me when I heard people talking outside. But they were voices I didn't recognize (from strangers). There was also a series of horrible bass-ridden songs competing with their conversation. I came to the conclusion, based on my small amount of evidence, that someone's headlights were pointed straight at the front of our place and these cats were yakking it up on my pseudo-stoop.

What do you make of something like that? There's a car pointed toward your door, no one is knocking but people are talking amongst themselves outside? They're waiting for something. Or someone.

I should also mention a ridiculous part of my life. Once upon a time, in 2004, I dated a girl I probably shouldn't have and this led to one of the craziest phone interactions I've ever had with anyone in life. The girl I was "dating" (who had terrible taste in music) turned out to be a little ... how you say ... "married." The story of how this came to be is for another time but I will say this: her husband was stationed overseas and seemed pretty confident in the fact that he (who also had extremely poor taste in music) could send "Special Ops" after me (I'm a "quoting" fool today). He told me this over the phone, including things like I'd "better not sleep" and to "watch [my] back." Now, I'm a rational human being. I know that Special Ops is not going to come crashing down through my skylight any time soon. Really they have better things to do. But I'd be lying if it wasn't something in the back of my mind. If you can conceive it, it can happen.

So when I came back downstairs and heard our chained N, which hangs in front of our door, swinging as they tapped it, my mind started racing. I imagined a couple of guys blasting music and talking loudly outside my door so that I'd come outside angry and, more importantly, too frustrated to have armed myself. That's when two other guys, who'd been kneeling in front of the door the whole time with shotguns, open fire and blast me back into the table against the far wall. Fliers, bank statements and all other manner of mail fly into the air as I struggle to get my bearings, gasping for breath (they're Special Ops and they don't want me to die just yet). Mr. Mih -- this guy comes in, behalo'd by the bright Suburban headlights. He walks over to me in his best "I-love-the-smell-of-napalm-in-the-morning" saunter, puffing on the butt of a cigar. He leans over to be realize his "I did this to you" moment, a la the "Down Low" video by R. Kelly.

I'd be totally screwed! They would have the drop on me and what could I have done? Nothing. They're freaking Special Ops.

I talked to Ian later that night and relayed to him the story to which he agreed with my sentiment very scientifically. "Yes," he said. "That, of course is the scenario." When the sounds outside were gone I breathed a sigh of relief until Ian pointed out the dastardly scheme: "The noise was the red herring. They knew you wouldn't come out for that but wait until they left to survey the area for any damage or evidence to who it was. Clearly they're laying low for you to come outside."

What a ridiculous sentiment! Ha ha ha! I mean, come on!

I didn't go outside for the rest of the night.

At least the N was still there when I left the next morning.