Friday, December 30, 2005

2005: The Year in Dave

It's time for one of those obligatory looks back over the past year, complete with Blahprofound reflections on whatever major events happened and deep prognostications about their lasting impact. You know, like developments in the Iraq War, indictments of administration officials, deaths of beloved celebrities, natural disasters, scientific breakthroughs, and so on.

But this being my blog, I'm gonna ignore all that and focus on what's really important: the stuff that affected me in some personal way. After all, you can read about that other crap on or whatever, at least if you feel like being alternately bored and depressed.

The Good

  • Moved into a new, larger apartment that includes a cool downstairs neighbor and a yard and a nice deck for outdoor recreational activities (i.e., drinking and grilling).

  • Acquired two stray cats who have turned out to be really funny and sweet little buddies. And amazingly, I don't seem to be particularly allergic to them. They also help me feel less insane when I talk to myself, since I can pretend I'm addressing them. (Isn't that right, Sammy-wammy? What do you think, Maxy-waxy?)

  • Expanded my circle of local friends from "me" to "more than me."
The Bad
  • Had my heart broken (again) in spectacular fashion, thanks to the unexpected return of the White Whale and her stupid, cruel, and insane way of doing things. As a result, continue to feel mostly pain, anger, sorrow, and confusion inside every day, no matter how I otherwise seem.

  • Witnessed the destruction of my favorite city and spiritual home, the Solid adviceirreplaceable town of New Orleans. Worry whether it will recapture its uniqueness or if it will just become another Boringville, USA, thanks to all the government money and opportunistic morons who likely will be involved in the rebuilding effort. (Ann Arbor, of course, is already well down the path of becoming another Boringville itself.)
The Ugly
  • The United States proceeds on the fast track to becoming a scary police state. I don't really need to elaborate, do I? You've been reading the headlines, too. I don't comment on this stuff often, but that doesn't mean I'm not paying attention.
The Bottom Line

Some good things happened this year and look-on-the-bright-side and at-least-I-don't-have-cancer, etc., but overall 2005 was pretty lousy for me. True, it was a lot lousier for anyone who actually lived in New Orleans (and I've met a few of those unfortunates). Certainly, from a personal standpoint, it could have been much worse. But I finish out the year with a really bad taste in my mouth, and it's not just from cheap beer.

I think the reason is mostly due to the devastation wrought on two of my most cherished and deeply held ideas. In the back of my mind, I fell in love with this woman 10 years ago and all I got was this lousy pictureI vaguely believed when the White Whale came back into my life (and I subconsciously knew she somehow would, eventually), it would be different the second time around. We'd have a chance at something together, even if it was only the occasional mutual vacation. But I seriously underestimated her ability to continue fucking up her life and, by extension, mine. Also, in the back of my mind, I believed New Orleans would always be there, ready for a visit, waiting for whenever the time was right for me to develop a closer association with it, perhaps as a resident. Maybe the city will rebound. Maybe I will, too. Only time will tell.

Anyway, fate or karma or God or Satan had different plans for me, and I'm still trying to figure out what to do now. Never underestimate how reaching your mid-30s and still not knowing what you want to be when you grow up can bum you out.

But I probably have a special talent for finding a way to be unhappy no matter how many good things I have in my life. It's a bad tendency, but I suppose it's just the way I am. I know, things aren't so awful in the grand scheme of things. And maybe in 2006, they'll be even better.

So happy New Year. Next up will be the obligatory effort at coming up with some resolutions and goals to fail to live up to in the year ahead. I apologize in advance for the excessive introspection and promise I'll have more stupid links and stuff again soon.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

It Was Christmas Eve, Babe, in the Drunk Tank

As a public service, I offer both my readers some stuff to help them get right into the Christmas spirit(s):

Begin by playing a game of Drunk Santa.

Then play a game of Sober Santa (note: the name is a total misnomer).

Make yourself feel better, no matter how rotten your Chistmas is/was, by reading the stories from the poor bastards at My Miserable Christmas.

Give me (or some other lucky punk) the gift of the Modern Drunkard Guide to 21st Century Drinking.

Next, kill someone over a case of Natural Light (thanks Verd).

And finally, enjoy the official Suds & Soliloquies Recommended Christmas Playlist, guaranteed to be 100% John Lennon and Mannheim Steamroller–free:

"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" by Frank Sinatra
"Mistletoe and Holly" by Frank Sinatra

Oh by gosh by golly, The Voice has to be part of any Christmas mix. These are two of my holiday favorites from the Chairman.

"Holly Jolly Christmas" by Burl Ives
No one has ever waited for me below the ho-ho mistletoe, but this song is a must. Kiss her once for me.

"Please Come Home for Christmas" by the Eagles
So sue me, I like this song.

"Christmas Is the Time to Say I Love You" by Billy Squier
Ditto. Billy rocks.

"I Love the Winter Weather" by Tony Bennett
Suave! Tony's one suave fucker. Here's to Tony. HERE'S TO TONY!

"Baby, It's Cold Outside" by Dean Martin
"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" by Dean Martin

Does the tune exist that couldn't be made at least 50% cooler by Dino lizarding it up? Yeah, I didn't think so. Here are a couple of holiday chestnuts, including "Rudy the red-beaked reindeer." You have to hear that one, if nothing else.

"Merry Christmas (I Don't Want to Fight Tonight)" by the Ramones
I don't think I'll get any argument about this one. But if I do, I do want to fight.

"O Come All Ye Faithful"
"O Holy Night"
"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"

Three of my favorite traditional Christmas hymns, the "O" trilogy sounds good in the hands of almost any serious, competent singer.

"The Christmas Waltz" by Robert Goulet and Carol Lawrence
What would Christmas be without Bob Goulet's authoritative baritone bellowing some holiday cheer out of your speakers? The duet version with ex-wife Carol Lawrence is best.

"The Christmas Song" by Nat King Cole
Only a communist wouldn't have this on his Christmas playlist. Probably because, you know, commies don't celebrate Christmas.

"Home for the Holidays" by Perry Como
"Silver Bells" by Perry Como

I've never heard him more relaxed.

"Father Christmas" by the Kinks
A song featuring a chorus about kicking Santa Claus's ass and taking his money that ends up with an admonishment to remember the less fortunate? Ray Davies is the man.

"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Ella Fitzgerald
"Sleigh Ride" by Ella Fitzgerald

Ella's as smooth as your favorite smooth cliche, and probably then some. This is a good pair from her to get your Christmas going.

"Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee
A cool song in moderation, but easy to overdose on. Use sparingly.

"It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" by Andy Williams
It is, because Andy said so. So quit bitching.

"Mr. Heatmiser" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
The original from the show is, of course, the best, but BBVD do a reputable job too, and it's the only version I have at the moment.

"Christmas in New Orleans" by Louis Armstrong
Probably not as merry as years past -- God bless all you Yats; we're still thinking of you.

"I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" by Yogi Yorgesson
Should be listened to exactly once each year. No more.

"White Christmas" by Bing Crosby
It's Bing. 'Nuff said.

"Fairytale of New York" by the Pogues w/ Kirsty MacColl
A hauntingly beautiful ballad about drinking, Christmas, and a failed (or failing) love affair. Shane MacGowan's slurred, raspy vocals never sounded better. Three guesses why this might be my favorite Christmas tune of all time.

So, Merry Christmas to both of you, and a drunken New Year.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Real-Life Ronnie Dobbs?

A judge has ordered that a Waterford druggie/thief/loser who's beaten up two of his past fiancees be forbidden from living with any women Can't a man control his bitch with violence?for one year and further, that he must notify any women he meets of his history of violence.

Awesome. With my six-month trial of about to expire, I've decided to use my last few weeks of paid status to see if I can get more play by changing my profile to sound like a psycho. Psychos definitely get more action than me, and this guy looks like the perfect model for the new "me."

Heartwarming Holiday Links

This video of a couple of UMich students running through the Fishbowl dressed as Pac-Man and one of the ghosts has been making the rounds. The dude playing the ghost saying "waka waka waka" cracks me up. (Had these guys even been born yet when Pac-Man was popular?)

At the behest of Brian at Mgoblog, another dude added some stuff at the end of the video to make it look like one of those college promotional spots you see during football games. What parent wouldn't want to send his kid to Michigan after seeing an ad like that?

Need help planning your next road trip? Surf over to Critiki for locations and reviews of tiki lounges throughout this great land. And that's just the beginning... Mahalo.

Anyone want to get me a Sam & Max t-shirt for Christmas? This thing is teh r0x0rz.

If you've been invited to a holiday party -- be it Christmas, New Year's, Kwaanzaaa, what-have-you -- that you just don't want to attend, use the Holiday Party Excuse Generator for an appropriate response.

Did you get the memo? Crain's Detroit Business has a TPS report cover sheet you can print and use, mmkay? (Warning: PDF file.)

Zombie Claus Makes the Ann Arbor News

But their coverage seems a little too flip for such a grisly affair.

(A scan of the entire print version is up on Mark's blog.)

Saturday, December 17, 2005

I Survived Zombie Claus 2005

Photo credit: John BairdIt took a lot of guts and wit, but I managed to dodge the zombie horde that struck downtown Ann Arbor last night. Never in my life have I been so terrified. I mostly hid like the sissy I am, but a few brave souls got close enough to take pictures and Greg even filmed some of the ghastly goings-on. (His video should be up as soon as the free hosting site we uploaded it to puts it online.) Truly a bone-chilling experience, in more ways than one.

Thanks to everyone who expressed concern and asked me if I was all right. I'm shaken, but it's nothing a few beers can't fix.

Update: Another brave videographer has posted his footage online. (Warning: It's a 145-meg file!)

Update 2: Greg's scary footage is now online here. It's a more manageable 12 megs, but is in Windows video format (.wmv).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dude, Where's My Culture?

The whole Sony BMG rootkit fiasco has given me an active interest in the broader issue of the new "culture wars" we face in the so-called Digital Age: namely, the many ways that copyright law is being expanded and abused to criminalize and control vast swaths of ordinary human behavior.

I know I'm coming very late to the party and I've a lot of catching up to do, but getting up to speed so far has been a fascinating, albeit rather depressing, exercise.

The main issue in copyright lately has been framed in terms of property vs. piracy -- i.e., you are either on the side of legitimate property owners or else you're some kind of thieving bastard, lower than dirt. That's the attitude of the big copyright holders, anyway, and apparently also of government in general, which keeps increasing the punishments for infringement to asinine levels, not to mention lengthening copyright monopolies beyond any single human lifespan.

But the larger issue, as Lawrence Lessig points out, is whether we are to enjoy a "free culture" that fosters and benefits from creative uses of shared knowledge or suffer under a "permission culture" wherein a few big corporations "own" most of the media we see and hear and spoonfeed it to the public only on those corporations' terms.

It is the classic decentralization vs. consolidation argument, here applied to culture instead of to government. Interestingly, the "conversative" public policy world, whence I come, seems to be mostly on the side of cultural consolidation. This is ironic in that the normal (and correct) conservative view is that concentration of power = bad, while diffuse and competing sources of power = good. This was largely* the view of America's founders as well.

Of course, since conservatives nominally believe in property rights, they automatically take the side of the people who sue Girl Scouts, grandmothers, and 12-year-old kids for downloading songs off the Internet. Because, you know, if you oppose "property," you must be a communist.

But what is this thing, "intellectual property"? The Cato Institute, generally regarded as libertarian (as opposed to conservative), at least knows to ask this question. But the other alleged "less government" folk are cheerleading for more laws and stiffer penalties. Is this a good idea?

No. Increasingly, Lessig argues, "the law’s role is less and less to support creativity, and more and more to protect certain industries against competition." In other words, we're talking not about copy "protection" but copy protectionism. Most conservatives used to oppose this anti-market behavior, too, correctly arguing that it's not only unjust, but it results in fewer choices for consumers and, ultimately, in harmful cartels and monopolies.

Rabid copyright enforcement is also neutering the Internet. At least one commentator suggests the next target could be blogging itself. What will the future of the 'net look like? O brave new world, that--

Excuse me, is this the "blog" known as "Suds & Soliloquies"?

Er, yes.

We represent the estate of William Shakespeare. Here's a cease-and-desist letter. Your unauthorized quoting of the Bard could result in a lawsuit if you don't stop.

OK, never mind. Anyway, I'll probably write more about this stuff as I get further into Lessig's eye-opening book "Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture and Control Creativity."

I suppose now this makes me a "copyfighter."

* Forget that bastard Alexander Hamilton.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The New Ed Wood or the New Max Bialystok?

Remember the crappy movie adaptation of popular video game "House of the Dead"? It was so awful and flopped so badly, the guy responsible for it should never have been allowed to make another movie, right? But less than two years later, he made a bigger-budget, even lousier game-based movie -- "Alone in the Dark" -- that lost millions more dollars. So now this guy's finished, you say? Well, no, he's got another piece of junk out, "BloodRayne" -- and several more in the pipeline.

How is it possible that someone so monumentally inept at filmmaking keeps getting sizable budgets and moderately successful actors to produce yet more money-losing cinematic turds?

Stuart Wood over at Cinemablend speculates on the bizarre phenomenon of German "director" Uwe Boll -- and decides he's not so much the new Ed Wood as the If only I could get the rights to 'World of Warcraft' Max Bialystok, the cynical producer of "Springtime for Hitler" in Mel Brooks's "The Producers."

It's an interesting theory to be sure: using foreign tax breaks and/or subsidies to actually profit from making crappy movies. If true, it would explain a lot -- like why Uwe Boll still has a career in the movies. And it also would be, dare I say it, cynically brilliant.

(Thanks Verd.)

Skunk in a Bottle

Cool article in Science News about efforts to Build a Better Beer.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I May Weep Openly

The first Sam & Max cartoon in... 7? 8? 10? years. Welcome back, Steve Purcell, you beautiful bastard.

(Thanks Greg.)

Here Comes Zombie Claus...

How about leaving some BRAINS and milk this year?The Zombie Claus '05 extravaganza now has an official, albeit in need of copy-editing, web site. Get in touch with Mark Maynard for more details, or if you have a hankering for human flesh.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Rubbing Elbows with the Starz

Uncle Grambo of, a Detroit-oriented blog I remember to sort of glance at every couple months, is taking his fellow Detroit blogger Trent Vanegas to task for being a shamelessly self-promoting celebrity worshipper. Never heard of this Trent or his -- well, why mince words? -- rather gay-ish blog before, but this intra-city fight made me think maybe it's time for S&S to heavily promote its impressive celebrity connections. So enjoy this grainy, hideous picture of me with my close friend* Bruce "Don't Call Me Ash" Campbell. Hideous t-shirts to follow soon.

Come get some!

* Friend may not be close. Or a friend.

$anta Wants You to $ave!

A 30% off Christmas coupon for both my loyal readers. Ho, ho, ho, or whatever. Christmas shopping sucks.

Update: Here's another coupon. It's technically aimed at Waldenbooks, but should be honored at any Borders as well.

Yo, Don't Share Song Lyrics If You Like Your Kneecaps

You know it's getting bad when an Onion parody is only barely a parody. It seems that at least one player in the music biz now actually wants to put people in jail for the heinous crime of posting lyrics on the Internet. See, 'cuz that's the job of the official Music Publishers Association -- get it, punk?

What's next, the guillotine for bar bands that perform cover songs? The chair for people who sing along to their car stereos? Isn't this kind of absurdity enough for everyone to admit that copyright law is rather seriously out of whack?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Pr0n Rulz!!1

Ever want to run your own porn empire? If you have an extra $100,000 or so lying around, you can make your smutty dreams come true -- but only if you bid in the next 48 hours. You pervert.

(Verd is again the instigator. That pervert.)

Go, Grandma!

The Michigan Daily details the story of an 83-year-old grandmother bonging beer on her way to the Michigan football game vs. Indiana. Hey, even though she's from New York, she's all right in my book.

(Thanks to Verd for the link.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

An Ann Arbor-centric Weekend

After work, I went over to Leopold Brothers to listen to the mayor and some other bloggers discuss local political issues. While the acoustics were dreadful, it was still interesting to sit in on this informal town hall sort of meeting. One of the things that caught my attention was when the mayor said that Google was planning on having some kind of presence in Ann Arbor. He said he doubted the company would move its headquarters here (duh), but that it definitely intended to open up some kind of shop in Tree Town. If true, that's good news for local IT nerds looking for jobs. Anyway, it was also cool to finally meet Todd Leopold and others.

I went straight from Leopold's to the Blind Pig to meet some friends at a concert -- some dude named Brendan Benson was playing. He was OK, I suppose, but I didn't want to bear his children, like I think a number of female audience members did. After the concert, my friends (who live in Canton) expressed a desire to get something to eat. It was already after 2 AM, so I suggested the obvious: the Fleetwood Diner. They had never been there, so that settled it. Of course, the Fleetwood was packed to its metal gills with the usual after-hours louts and miscreants. We lucked out and got a table by one of the front windows when some people left. Our waitress turned out to be a woman I used to live next to, which was cool -- I had no idea she worked at the Fleetwood.

Anyway, about midway through our meal some loud, belligerent guy comes crashing through the door. He's cussing and acting like a drunken moron*, so the employees behind the grill tell him to get the hell out. Some other people at the table next to us also tell him to leave, but in an even less polite way. The drunken moron then flips off everyone in the diner, says something to the effect that we're all assholes, and challenges the people at the table next to us to a fight before turning around and going back outside.

This is when things get a little confusing for me (I'd had quite a few beers myself). First, a woman at the table gets up and runs outside after the guy and they begin exchanging words. Her tablemates join her. Soon there is a lot of punching and pushing and people are banging against the flimsy Plexiglass window that is mere inches from where I'm chowing down on my gyro. Front row seats! One of the employees goes outside with a lead pipe or something, but another convinces him that's a bad idea and he comes back in. As my friends from Canton sit there appalled, one of the waitresses advises us that we might want to move away from the window. There really isn't anywhere to go, though, and anyway the next thing we know, someone gets socked back into the window and out it pops onto our table. Some more punching occurs before the police arrive to break things up. The waitress brings us some tape and we try to put the window back, but we can't quite get it to snap back in because it also broke. The people from the table next to us return from outside. The woman says she teaches in Detroit public schools and is well qualified to deal with these situations. One of the men accidentally brushes his bloody knuckles on my female friend's coat as he passes. After we pay our bill, I apologize to my friends for taking them there, even though I am still laughing about it.

More proof you need someone from out of town to visit so you have a reason to check out all the places that you live a couple blocks from. Two friends from my East Side Posse™ dropped in for a day of Christmas shopping. We started with lunch at that Thai place in Braun Court (not too bad), then dorked around the Farmer's Market and Kerrytown shops. Christmas came early for my cats, Sam & Max, as they got some toys from that pet store on Fourth Ave. Then we headed to Main St. and visited some other places I'd never been in, like Peaceable Kingdom, and moved on to ACME Mercantile before wandering down to South U. and Middle Earth. By this time, we were ready for some aperitifs, so we stopped for some mango cocktails at Shalimar on Main. Finally, dinner time at Cafe Felix, yet another place I'd never set foot in. (What is up with that ugly, incongruous painting of Charlie Brown on the window?) All in all, the best time I've had shopping in recent memory, and all I bought was a cat toy.

OK, so I actually spent most of Sunday in Allen Park. But I needed a break after all that Ann Arborific activity.

* Actually, I'm pretty sure he wasn't acting.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Ho, Ho... Brains!

Mark Maynard, along with some shadowy guy from Hawaii known only as "Kurt," are planning a Zombie Claus flash mob of some kind for Friday, December 16. All I want for Christmas is my two front lobes...

Happy Tiki Gras!

It's Tiki Gras time!Buy a cool tiki mug, help a Katrina victim. Of course, two of these will be on their way to me in January.

(Again ripped off from Boing Boing.)