Wednesday, July 30, 2008

From the Mouth of Mark Thorp


this friday, 8/1 , DJ L S. y'all know ellis. post-punk like nirvana, pop like madonna, old skool, new skewl... all takin the shortbus...
this saturray, 8/2, Re:sonance (dj's mike darpino & chris diamond). placebo, clutch, underworld, ladytron, damned... definitely rides the shortbus... here's their last setlist

next friday, 8/8, DJ Mob Beat. gorillaz, james brown, pixies, tribe, prince... meanderin' all over the map (yes via shortbus)...
next saturray, 8/9, Big Nick. hip hop w/ old funk & soul deep from the vaults... & this here's the master of the shortbus so come get you kiddies learned...

thanks so much for all the offers to speak to ABRA on our behalferage. turns out the investigator isn't interviewing anyone from our team 'cause there's no case against us. the hearing's september 3rd, should be good sport if anyone wants to come cheer. we gotta cheer that goes like "ya ya tequila! ya ya tequila! i amn't drunk! still jes' drinkin'!", which is a real good cheer 'cept some of the other kids don't get it. as diamond dave ravikoff would say, them other kids is "clownshoes".

shortbus does wheelies



Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hulu? Who Knew?

So I've been on TiVo's tip for a couple of years now. I've seen the Comcast DVR and the new DirectTV DVR, but the interfaces aren't as smooth and even though I don't spend a lot of time rating programs to take advantage of TiVo's higher brain functions, I still manage to get some good recommendations out of it. In fact, I almost never look at the suggestions my TiVo makes for me, but one of the few times I looked at the list I found a show called Mad Men.

While we're out here in the middle of nowhere, WifeRat and I decided to roll TV free. We didn't bring one with us and turned down the numerous offers of TV sets as well. When our young cousin came to stay with us last week I thought he was going to have a stroke when he realized we didn't have a TV.

I was talking with one of my teammates before I left town and he told me that he and his wife didn't have cable, but still watched TV over the internet. I knew that networks had started showing streams over the internet, so when I was jonesing for some TV the other night I watched a couple of episodes of 30 Rock that I had missed during the season.

Then the other day I was reading Wired (which alternates between brilliant, insipid, and a collection of press releases for the Silicon Valley flavor of the moment) and saw their "Wired, Tired, Expired" list that contained Hulu, TiVo, and Blockbuster. Blockbuster is most assuredly expired, that one I get, I haven't set foot in a video rental store in at least four years. But calling TiVo "tired" and WTF is Hulu?

Not that I live my life according to lists in magazines, but I just spent almost $1,000 on a new dual-tuner HD TiVo (upgraded with an additional 500GB of storage, natch) with a lifetime subscription less than a year ago and the technology is being declared obsolete? Fuck me gently with a chain saw.

After posting to the other blog I'm contributor on I wanted to watch some TV so I took my stinkin' ass over to Hulu. Interesting stuff, they have a lot of TV shows over there. In the Summer when shows are off the air and the entire previous season is available it seems like a good deal for the low, low cost of free. But this seems awfully forward thinking for companies like News Corp and NBC/Universal. Anybody reading this on the Hulu bandwagon?


Sunday, July 27, 2008

I'm in Fargo on Saturday Night, Here are Some Links

If TC’s stuff wasn’t always so on point I wouldn’t constantly link to him; but he is, so I do. Maybe I’ll just ask him if I can be his publicist.

And here I was thinking this kind of stuff only happened to us Black guys.

Ha, ha! Wanksta rappers get brutally clowned

Here I am stuck in Fargo for six months and the first band worth seeing (the SuperSuckers, at a small venue to boot) comes around on a weekend when I gotta head back to DC. So. Fucking. Lame.

Also harshing my mellow; the Points are playing at Memory Lanes on August 11 in the cities while I’m going to be at the lake with the whole in-law clan. I’ve been warned not to write anything about how badly a certain in-law was annoying me earlier tonight.

Just downloaded Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair the other day, can’t believe I missed this album the first go ‘round. Attention Avril, Alanis, and all of you other angst ridden grrrrls: you will never get close to doing anything this good.


Saturday, July 26, 2008

Old Picture

I was irate when I saw this and meant to post it immediately, but better late than never.

It's bad enough (not to mention really ironic) when Parking Enforcement (PE) parks illegally to give a parking ticket. In that case at least PE is doing their job, a job stealing money from District citizens, but a job that has to be done. But this numbskull was illegally parked while running into a convenience store on June 11, 2008 at about 2pm. If you're a PE supervisor who sees this, you should bust this motherfucker's ass!!!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Straight Outta Grafton

Shit, I have way too much to write about and not nearly enough time to do it. Hopefully that will change now that we've finally moved out of my in-laws spot and into our place. The next big move is to get BabyRat into daycare out here so WifeRat can finally finish her book.

We spent last weekend visiting "the Aunts", one lives in Grafton, ND and the other in East Grand Forks, MN. These are the places where white meets bread.

It's always great to see the Aunts because they're super nice, have an endless supply of cold beer, and always cook me whatever I want. No one is going to be making me seared pork belly or any kind of haute cuisine, but they make some good ass fried Walleye and do amazing things with the fresh new potatoes that are in ample supply this time of year. When I say fresh, I mean fresh like a farmer they know waves them over as they're driving past the field and gives them potatoes they just pulled from the ground. Then they take those ultra-fresh morsels and get stupid with cream, dumplings, and fresh dill; it's carb-tastic!!

This time we were up there mooching because they were supplying us with basically everything we needed for our place: beds, dressers, linens, dishes, desks, chairs, tables, and a couch. So while I was up north in addition to saving myself a ton of money on furniture I ate like a pig, had free child care in the form of various cousins and aunts, and I got to play golf too.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Fargo Field Report

I guess I should first explain that I'm not actually living in Fargo.  Right in the middle of Fargo is the Red River; on the west side of the river is Fargo, on the east side is Moorhead, Minnesota.  Collectively the two cities make up the Red River Valley and are generally known as the Fargo-Moorhead area.  We're living in a small town right next to Moorhead called Dilworth, MN, but to keep from having to explain this all the time I just say that I'm living in Fargo.

So far things have been pretty chill; I've been taking full advantage of the fact that we're staying at the in-laws place (built-in child care, woo-hoo!) and have been to the movies twice.  Yes, I'm living on the edge. 

When we got here we had no idea where we were going to live.  WifeRat was determined to live as close to her folks as possible, which means we ended up in an apartment about a five minute walk away from their house.  I'm mildly disappointed because I didn't move all the way to the middle of fucking nowhere to live in an apartment, but considering it's not quite 1200 sq ft (almost 50% larger than our place in DC) has two bathrooms, a heated garage, a balcony and only costs $790/month it's more than OK.  We looked at a 6BR farm house that was gi-normous and only $1100/month; but once we factored in fuel oil costs, the logistical nightmare of getting broadband internet, maintaining the place (I haven't cut grass in almost 15 years), and the fact that we have no furniture we decided on the apartment.  The farm house would have been dope, but for six months it wasn't worth the hassle.

Working remotely has been cool so far, but I've actually been working harder than usual.  I've got to keep my production up to justify my continued existence on the contract, so I now find myself attending more phone conferences and nonsense than before.  While I'm out here, I'm taking the opportunity to do some analysis on exactly what kind of effect the dumb ass policies and initiatives that come out of USDA headquarters have on the actual customers of USDA (farmers) and the field offices that they're supposed to be supporting.  My boss is in my corner, but we have a feeling that people aren't going to be happy with what I find out though.




Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Nick is Stepping on His Dick Again

Criminy, Nick from Murky Coffee is having a bad year. Now he's beefing with some clown named Jeff (who appears to be a bit of a dick) about Murky's various policies.

This little pissing match quickly hit Boing Boing and Consumerist and is all over local blogs like DCist and the newly minted We Love DC.

I've got nothing but love for Murky and was sad to see their Capitol Hill location go belly up, but Nick my friend you've got to get a grip. Have you considered switching to decaf?


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Winnipeg Folk Fest

So one of the many activities that I'm participating in while I'm out here in the mid-West is the Winnipeg Folk Festival. This is a big deal for my in-laws and I was told in no uncertain terms by WifeRat that I was going and I was gonna smile and act like I was excited about it too. As you may or may not have figured out from reading this blog, folk music isn't exactly my thing; occasionally listening to the Dead and CSNY while I was smoking bales of herb back in college was about as close I ever came to developing an appreciation for folk music.

However as a music lover, I can find something to like about any kind of music that's been created with some real passion and honesty. And since it's not like you have a lot of sleazy Joe Simpson or Joe Jackson type characters out there pushing their kids into a career in folk music, if nothing else you can be reasonably sure that folk acts are going to bring some real love for what they're doing to the stage and that's something I can always get with. Then once I took a look at the lineup and saw acts like Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Ray Davies, and Lee "Scratch" Perry were scheduled to play I was actually kind of excited to go to this festival.

Too bad the weather didn't cooperate . . . at all. The forecast originally called for a high of 63; no problem, throw on a sweat shirt or light jacket and keep moving right? Wrong!! When we got to the festival (being held at a park that seemed to be only slightly smaller than Yellowstone) we were greeted with gusting winds and rain. My Father-in-law (FR) was ready to throw in the towel before we even went in, but I'll be damned if I'm going to take a trip all the way to Winnipeg just to be deterred by a little rain.

Once we got into the festival we all split up. FILRat got settled in to see an act right by the entrance and my sainted Mother-in-Law (MR) volunteered to baby wrangle, which left WifeRat and I to just wander around and hang out together. Wifey and I saw a bunch of duos on stage together which was kind of cool, but there were some seriously twee motherfuckers up on that stage.

After seeing a some people play, having coffee, getting something to eat, and having a beer the wife and I both started missing BabyRat; so we headed over to the kid's tent to find her. The kid's tent was kind of cool and the highlight of the day for me. I love seeing my kid enjoy herself, her Grandma was stuffing her full of tasty crap and she was tickled by the performers.

As a parent you find yourself watching some really horrible, boring, and strange kid's show an exception to these awful kid's shows is the Backyardigans. I dig the fact that they introduce kids to different types of music. Well one of my favorite Backyardigans episodes is one called "Riding the Range" and while we were in the kid's tent, the band the Aunts and the Uncles played the song "Riding the Range" which totally made my day.


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Some Links From the Last Couple of Days

A funny web comic about a dude freaking out at the Apple Store.

Two different stories on the Root about Black men and sexual tourism in Brazil.  Interesting stuff, especially the fact that men are calling attention to gender privilege.

Ta-Nehisi Coates has too much good stuff on his blog for me to just pick one, but if forced I would link to the one where he tells the old heads to STFU already.

The copyranter calls out some foppish NYC custom clothier for its lame ass misogyny.


Saturday, July 05, 2008

On the Road, Part 2; I Hate Chicago

We left Merillville, IN about 10 am on Thursday morning with our destination for the day being Wisconsin Rapids, WI; hometown of DC friend, Butterburger (BB). BB is your typical, reserved, unemotional MidWest guy. Last year his girlfriend, the Child Bride; so named because she's only 25, 13 years younger than BB and myself; was complaining that he was "emotionally unavailable." I had to explain to her that with the Packers posting double digit wins and making a Super Bowl run in what turned out to be Brett Favre's last season, that was about as emotional as BB was ever likely to get. So when BB very nervously approached WifeRat about the possibility of us stopping by his parent's house on our way to edge of The Great White North I knew that we had to make it there to see his ancestral homestead. It was just too bad that we had to pass through Chicago on the way there.

There was massive construction just north of where we had stopped on the southern edge of the Chicagoland area, so we got on the road and were immediately sitting still on the interstate. Dagger!

In the new and improved RatMobile there is a DVD player. I am not a fan of facilitating the couchpotato-ification of America's youth through constantly available video entertainment. So for the seven months that we've had our new whip, the DVD player had remained unused. WifeRat and I knew that during a four day cross-country trip our resolve would probably falter. So after two days on the road and hitting our first significant traffic issue, we cracked and asked BabyRat if she would like to watch one of her DVDs. BabyRat was initially baffled by the question but when I flipped down the screen, she had let out one of her patented gasps of excitement and amazement that had her paralyzed with glee for at least 30 seconds.

We make it through the traffic after about 15 minutes and then the tolls start. I swear I spent at least $20 dollars on tolls in the couple of hours I was driving through Illinois. If I had known how many tolls there were going to be, I probably would have bought one of those stupid iPasses when I hit the state line. Even with annoying traffic and exorbitant tolls, I was way more aggravated than I should have been and I realized that I was starting to get sick.

On the rare occasions when I fall ill, WifeRat gets very bossy with me because I don't take good care of myself when I'm sick. After lunch she insisted on taking over at the wheel and I let her; I took some pills and fell asleep in the back seat with BabyRat. I wake up about 90 minutes later feeling much better and get back in the pilot's chair for the remainder of the day's drive.

Wisconsin Rapids

We finally make it Wisconsin Rapids about 5:30pm and everyone is happy. I'm happy to not be driving anymore, BB is happy that we're there, WifeRat is happy 'cause she's handed a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy the minute we walk through the door and BabyRat is happy because she has been given a Big Wheel to cruise around on by BB's younger sister (we'll call her BabyButterBurger or BBB) who also happens to be in town from Seattle.

After enjoying some dill cheese curds and finishing off the last of the Genesee pounders we all head out to dinner at a little road house kind of place about 5 minutes from Casa d' Butterburger that I was shocked to discover served sweet potato fries.

After an uneventful meal, we head home and almost get hit by a train. I heard the train whistle, looked for flashing lights, gates, or something to indicate that a train was nearby and saw nothing. After crossing a few sets of tracks, I see that there is a train on the last set of tracks we have to cross less than 300 yards away. I prudently stop and immediately jump out of the RatMobile to ask BB in the car behind us why the fuck don't they have . . . something to let a person know a train is close by.

I wake up the next morning feeling like ass and apparently I looked pretty bad too, because everyone was asking if I was OK. BB's Mom is upset that we have to take off first thing in the morning and depriving her of time with BabyRat, who she fell in love with in about 9 seconds.

Petal to the Metal

It's now Friday, the 4th of July. After three days in the car already, with 8 hours of driving to go, WifeRat steps up her game; she shoves my feebly protesting ass into the back seat of the car after being escorted to the edge of town by BB and the Child Bride and proceeds to put in a monster day behind the wheel.

Most of the rest of the day is a blur, I'm intermittently baby wrangling in the back seat and having fever dreams & sweating my ass off. I manage to gag down a few bites of chicken noodle soup when we stop for lunch before BabyRat decides that she wants the soup and takes it from me by force. We make it to the in-laws place sometime in the late afternoon and after happy greetings and such, I promptly fall back asleep on the couch. I wake up long enough to eat half a steak and go back to sleep while everyone else goes to watch fireworks. Worst. 4th. Ever. But we made it to the Hinterlands.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

On the Road, Cleveland Doesn't Rock

After a few days delay (we originally planned to leave on Saturday), we finally hit the road for NoDak yesterday. The last time we drove out there, it was just WifeRat and I and we made the trip in two very long days; but 12 hour days in the car just don't work with a three year-old in the mix so we decided that we would take four days to travel out there and hopefully see something cool on the way. I'm still waiting to see something cool, but the trip has been pretty relaxing so far.

Our first stop was Cleveland, we stayed at an Embassy Suites downtown by Jacobs Field that kind of sucked. No doorman to take your stuff up to your room and the valet wouldn't park our trailer-laden car, but he did direct me to a legal on-street spot where I could park overnight. Maybe I'm being a prima donna, but a high-rise, downtown hotel should have a doorman. Am I wrong for thinking this?

We get to the room and WifeRat and BabyRat immediately put on their swimsuits and are heading for the pool when they decide to hit the head. The bathroom in the room smells like sour old towels, so while they go to the pool I go back downstairs to ask for another room. The staff at the desk gave us another room and comped us a couple of movies for our trouble. After humping all our junk to another room, I celebrate by diving down to the bottom of our cooler and having a shot of Grey Goose (from the freezer that we just cleaned out, what was I supposed to do leave it in DC?) and a can of PBR.

Now I have to find provisions for dinner and fortunately there is a grocery store near the hotel that, in addition to having fresh fruits and vegetables, also has 6-packs of Genesee Tallboys for $2.99 (I'm enjoying one as I type this). We feed the little one and get her to sleep and are settling down to watch a movie when I realize that I need more food. I run next door to this sports bar to grab some fried horribleness and return to find a fired up WifeRat who has been on the phone beefing with the front desk because they're charging $10 for internet access in the hotel.

Now this thing with hotels charging for internet access is a long-standing beef of mine. Hotels should do one of two things, either provide internet free of charge for their guests or, if it's such a cost burden, add the price of internet access to the price of the room. But this idiocy with adding a separate charge for internet is bullshit and must stop immediately; it really pisses me off.

We left Cleveland this morning, but not before I browbeat the morning manager into refunding my $10 for internet access. It wasn't the money, it was the principle.

We stopped today in Merrillville, IN because we didn't want to deal with downtown Chicago pulling a trailer. I'm currently in a non-descript "suite" hotel that doesn't charge for internet access. We had dinner at some Mexican joint, WifeRat had a pair of margaritas and was asleep before BabyRat.

Tomorrow we're going to Wisconsin Rapids, WI to see Butterburger's (friend from DC) ancestral homestead. Butterburger is at his folk's place for the week, so we're going to make that our destination for tomorrow and then the final push for NoDak will happen on Friday. I'll keep you posted on our progress.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Leaving Town, pt. 2

OK, so the schedule slipped on us a little bit and we're not leaving until tomorrow (actually, it's already today since it's now 1 am) morning for the big move.

Packing up all our stuff has been a good exercise for our family and has forced us to get rid of a lot of junk, although it makes me sick how much stuff we waste and hoard. I watched this thing on the Story of Stuff and originally I was kind of annoyed by the presentation.

[quickrant] I wasn't even so much irked by the message (everyone has too much stuff), but really it was the messenger that I wasn't feeling. It was just so typical; an over-educated academic that's been at leisure to navel gaze on the topic of "stuff" is now going to put up a website to preach to the world. Bollocks! [/quickrant]

But after throwing away so many pens, hair clips, food, clothes, shoes, etc. I can't help but think that I buy entirely too much shit. I'm not even talking about the environment or anything, I'm just talking about how much of my money I waste on things that I eventually just throw away. I gave away five pairs of perfectly good (at least wearable and functional) shoes that I probably spent close to $500 on when they were new, that's some seriously wasteful shit. The plan is that rather than using this as a pre-text to buy the next pair of kicks that catch my eye, I'm really going to make an effort to wait until I really need a new pair of shoes.

Then there's the stuff that you have, don't have room for, but want to keep anyway, so you end up on the storage area merry go 'round. Yes, I actually pay to keep stuff that I don't really have access to; it's a nightmare and it is my penance for being an over-consuming dickhead. Seriously, the more I think about this, the more I hate myself.

I have to stop and go to bed now.