Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Overheard in Ann Arbor

Hippie dude: In many ways, the penis is more attractive. It's cleaner, it's not as moist...

Fat chick: Oh, it's not moist at all.

-- Saturday afternoon, N. Ashley St.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Stupid Beer News Roundup: Holiday Weekend Edition

The SBN has been building up for a while (thanks Verd), so as Uncle Grambo would say, I'm gonna present it to you bullet-stizz:

  • Crisis in Canada: Bars in Edmonton are running out of beer because hosers are pounding so many during the hockey playoffs.

  • Ever feel and/or behave like a drunken animal? So did these monkeys.

  • Anheuser-Busch wins the legal right to sell its crappy beer in Hungary, over the objections of the tiny Czech brewery in the town of "Budweiser."

  • This explains why I get so trashed so fast when drinking "Captain Zero," i.e., Captain Morgan and Coke Zero.

  • A clerk in Wisconsin successfully thwarts a robbery by brandishing... a beer can. Hero!

  • Some crazy bastard in Utah (is that redundant?) filled his townhouse with 70,000 cans of Coors Light. If he had been drinking real beer instead of that girly crap, he would have gotten drunk on much less and thus generated fewer dead soldiers. Just sayin'.
Enjoy your weekend, you drunken monkeys. Remember to drink irresponsibly and eat too much shrimp on the barbie.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Bodies. Graves. Why Do I Always Get Hooked Up with These Spook Details?

My brother alerted me to the fact that Paul "Kelton the Cop" Marco died this month. Here's an obituary.

Marco was fortunate enough to star in the now-legendary "Kelton Trilogy," three of Ed Wood's "best" films: Bride of the Monster, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and Night of the Ghouls.

Help God out with those spook details, Paul.

It's On

Costanza Dave: Mel 2, you didn't call me back.

Mel 2: I know, I'm sorry. I hate when people say they'll do something and then don't. I'm not usually like that. My friend Josh was supposed to come into town. I've spent the last few hours rushing around and then he never called. Now it's 9 o'clock and I'm just sitting down to dinner.

CD: He doesn't sound like much of a friend. Maybe you need some new friends. Like me.

M2: You know what, Dave? Maybe I do.

I might need to change my name to Smoove D.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I'll Be a Pickup Artist in No Time

I'm learning more about how to approach women, thanks to educational video clips like this one.

(Thanks Barry.)

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Getting into the Game

Nice Dave is dead. Retired. Finished. Costanza Dave is now in the house.

You remember that Seinfeld episode where George is having no luck with anything, so he resolves to do the opposite of what he would normally do in any situation? And presto, things start going his way?

Last night, Costanza Dave got his first phone number from a pretty girl at a bar. I, as the pickup artists say, number-closed. Oh, I cheated a little, because my friend Mel actually approached her first, after I pointed out how pretty (and by herself) she was.* But I'm just starting out, so I'm not above taking advantage of the work of others.

I'd been ingesting liquid courage and kind of acting like King Shit of Fuck Mountain all night, so after a while I went over and uttered that most stunning of all openers, "Hi." She laughingly introduced herself as "Mel 2" and we started talking.

Now, when you've been drinking, it's hard to tell if you're being as witty as you think you're being. But in any case I was feeling it. I was on. She said she was an Ann Arbor native, so I gave her shit about being a treehugger and all of that. Then we talked about owning cats. And other stuff I don't even remember.

Unfortunately, before long the bar was ready to close. I wanted to suggest going somewhere else, but it was 2am, which means there was nowhere else. She shook my hand and told me it was nice meeting me. As she prepared to leave with a male friend who had shown up, my only thought was, "No, that can't be it." What to do? Nice Dave would have just said, "Nice meeting you, too; goodbye." Screw that.

Costanza Dave: Would it be forward of me to ask for your phone number?**

Mel 2: (looking at me and laughing a little): Yes... but I'll give it to you anyway.

Wow, that was easy. And in front of some guy she was with, too. It felt very alpha male. All these years I've been too afraid to approach women in bars and other public places. And why? I now see it makes no sense to be that way. Approaching, talking to, and generating interest in girls is a skill. And like any skill, it can be learned.

The first lesson, so I've heard for years, is to be confident. I've never been confident in my life. Nor had any idea how to even begin. It seems I first had to get to the point where I am now, where I just no longer give a fuck. From there I think perhaps it is something like Pascal's Wager: If you simply begin acting confident, in time you will start to actually become confident.

Of course, it remains to be seen if the number is really hers (though I feel pretty, uh, confident it is) and if so, how I will handle calling a girl I met in a bar.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the dawning of the Age of Costanza Dave.***

* I told Grr (and, on an earlier evening out, my friends Shelly and Beverly) that there is probably a market niche for girls who will hang around guys for a few hours in bars as a way to help the guys meet other girls. Not quite as escorts, but as a form of what the pickup artists call social proof. Some enterprising young lasses should set that business up.

** This was probably a bad way of going about it, since it gave her an opportunity to say no. But again, I'm just starting out and it's hard to think fast after you've had three martinis and a beer.

*** And, for the future, if Mel 2 ever Googles me and reads this: Quit hugging those trees and let's go grab a beer, eh?

Friday, May 19, 2006

I've Been Everywhere, Man... Well, Not Really

Maitri posted about this site where you plug in the states and countries you've visited and you get a swell map to demonstrate. It turns out I've been around 35% of the United States:

create your own visited states map

And a whopping 3% of the world:

create your own visited countries map

In 2007, I'm hoping to add Tanzania to the tally. That's why I'll probably end up spending the first nice day we've had in nearly two weeks (i.e., tomorrow, Saturday) proofreading some stupid book on body posture. Freelancing can be rather inconvenient and unglamorous, but airfare to Africa ain't cheap!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Hey, Presto! Instant Fiction

The lousy weather put rather a (literal) damper on the Ann Arbor Book Festival, but I got out and about nonetheless. Because what I really need is more books, I picked up a copy of Writing Ann Arbor, an anthology of essays and stories about the city, and Rabbit Punches, a short story collection by Jason Ockert, who also taught the "quickie" writing seminar I attended on Sunday.

He called the seminar "Writing the Fiction Widget," and our pre-work included writing down and bringing five distinct but unrelated sentences that came to mind beforehand. Then we passed them to someone else, who picked the two she (I was the only guy there) thought were most interesting.

After discussing the sentences, we were instructed to pick one and spend 20 minutes writing a story, or "widget" as he said, around it. Yikes. Talk about flash fiction. I came up with 249 words I entitled "Harmless." I don't think the widget quite fits the sentence it started from, but anyway, here it is:

"She was determined to have no explanation for most of her life."

The uninvited commentary issued from the guy I knew would be trouble as soon as I sat on the bar stool next to him. His dark eyes shone with alcoholic intensity as he spoke –- at first to no one in particular, then gradually to his unfortunate new audience: me.

"I always asked her about things, you know." The graying hairs of his stubble stuck out like needles. I tried to ignore him, but he went on.

"All the things she would never discuss. She hated to talk about anything personal. Anything about us."

I looked at my watch. 7:30. She was already half an hour late, and I was on my second beer; I deemed my unwanted companion harmless by the end of my first.

"She would never tell me where she went at night. Never explain the long absences. The other men. The leftover dinners she brought home. None of it."

I closed my eyes and willed Michelle to arrive soon. Harmless did not mean he wasn't annoying, but there was no other place to sit.

"We fought all the time," he continued. "But in the end, she was more determined than me." He took a long drink from his mug.

The bartender asked if I wanted a third beer, but before I could answer I felt a warm touch on my neck. I turned around and she was there, smiling.

"Where were you?" I asked.
Alcohol. Bars. Screwed up relationships. Raymond Carver I am not. But I sure seem to want to be.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Big 10,000

Congratulations to someone in Allen Park who uses Firefox (and you know who you are)! At around quarter to 8 on Friday night you became the 10,000th visitor to this blog -- well, 10,000th since I started keeping track, whenever that was. This post is your award! Aw yeah.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Ann Arbor Walkabout

On Sunday I hoofed it around the city for about three hours, taking random photos like the one below, which I creatively titled "Fuck Bush." (No, I'm not going to make any lame sex jokes about this.) The rest of the pics are in my Flickr stream.

Fuck Bush

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Spending Time in Some Tough Company

Poking around teh innernets, as one does, I discovered there was a book out of Tom Russell's correspondence with Charles Bukowski, as well as some poems, paintings, vignettes, interviews, and other Russell miscellany. Of course, I ordered it after about two seconds of thought.

It turns out it's hard to even call it a "book" due to the completely amateurish, low-tech production. It's basically a spiral-bound bunch of sheets printed off of some dude's color printer. Not even proofread very well, as there are plenty of typos. But, hey, Tom Russell signed it, man, and it's certainly interesting to anyone who likes Russell and his take on things.

I love finding connections among people and things that I like. In one of the interviews, Russell says he loves the works of Graham Greene, and that his favorite novel is The Heart of the Matter. That is a great book, though I think I like The End of the Affair a bit more. Anyway, I suppose it validates my taste to know we share an affection for Greene's stuff. Meanwhile, Russell, a literate and well read man, in addition to writing songs based on Paul Bowles stories and tossing in lyrical references to T.S. Eliot, is introducing me to other writers and musicians I didn't know about. This is how it works, or how it should work.

It's a no-brainer I'll see him in concert any and every time he comes through here. Sez Tom:

Cut out the politically correct lingo. You cannot bullshit God. While we're at it, let's abandon partisan politics and golf lessons. So you're left foaming at the mouth, eh? Well, write a novel.
Yes. Good. On we go.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

American Craft Beer Week

The House of Representatives takes a little time off from murder, robbery, and other governmental activities to consider a resolution commending craft brewers for, among other things

promot[ing] the Nation's spirit of independence through a renaissance in hand-crafted beers like those first brought to colonial shores by European settlers and produced here by the Nation's founding fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, for the enjoyment of the citizenry
produc[ing] more than 100 distinct styles of flavorful beers, the quality and diversity of which have made the United States the envy of every beer-drinking nation in the world, thereby contributing to balanced trade by reducing American dependence on imported beers, supporting American exports, and promoting United States tourism...
Bring me your tired, your poor, your thirsty...


drunk and belligerent last night. hungover as shit today. leopolds jukebox never did play my goddam smiths. must find food now.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Springtime for Stupid Beer News

If you thought bums only fought over bottles of Thunderbird and MD 20/20, you might be interested in "Central Fla. Man Killed In Fight Over Beer." It doesn't say what kind of beer, but I'm thinking it wasn't Chimay Blue.

I thought a pint in downtown Ann Arbor could be pricey, but in Rome a glass of beer apparently could cost you $1,200. Now that's worth fighting over.

(Thanks Grr and Verd.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What Is This Thing Called Blog?

I'm talking with Alan about the idea of converting S&S into a WordPress blog. From what I can see, it sounds like a rather large and complex undertaking, at least to do it in a way that meets my exacting blog standards. See, I would never want to stick both my readers with a second-rate product.

The potential advantages of such a move seem to cut right to the heart of the two-part question, "What is a blog, and why keep one?"

It's a good question. I answered the "why" previously. Anyway, I think I did. But it still remains to consider what a blog actually is. Is it a news site? A diary? A gossip sheet? A confessional? A résumé? A way of saying, "Hey, world, look at me"?

The answer is yes. It's all of these things, and more. At different times. Which is one of the key advantages of WordPress, in my mind: the ability to create and read posts according to defined categories. I've long wished Blogger could do this, but it can't. Or doesn't, at any rate.

There are noticeable patterns to what I typically write. On days I feel newsy (which is not often), I post Stupid Beer News links (usually graciously sent in by Verd). When I'm feeling artsy (work with me here), maybe I'll post a photo. Then there are the times I'm feeling ranty, and a long diatribe against DRM or superficial women results. And so on.

Categorizing is important to me because, as Alan himself said, in a different context, "It all scrolls off the page." There's no simple way to find one of my previous gems of wisdom. Well, there's the search engine thingy, but that's just so inelegant. Also, one of my readers might be interested in pictures of Ann Arbor but not so keen on the ongoing chronicle of neglect and rejection that is my love(less) life. Categories would help ensure this purely hypothetical reader never missed a potentially Pulitzer-nominated shot.

WordPress also allows for a "recent comments" feature. Right now, if someone blunders, usually via search engine, across an old post and wants to weigh in with a comment, there's no way to ever know about it. A recent comments feature would alert me, and both of my readers, to a new comment, even if it's regarding a post from six months ago.

Those are the upsides. But I have a lot of concerns, too. Despite how it looks, I put quite a lot of effort into customizing this Blogger setup. It's probably time for a slick re-design, but so far none of the WordPress themes have really captured my imagination. I don't want the site to suddenly look completely different, or to lose any of the nifty widgets I've added. Or, worst of all, to just look ugly.

I'd like to transfer all of the three years' worth of bollocks on this blog over to the new blog, instead of just abandoning it here. Maybe, over time, go back and retroactively categorize everything too. Also, retaining comments from HaloScan would be nice. I know one guy at least wrote a script to do this, but I don't know how well it works. Then there are the issues of links, images, and alerting the thousands of other sites that link here that I have a new web address. And I worry about an increased potential for comment spam. Plus there's the idiot (me) factor: Is it easy to maintain and use once it's set up?

But Alan says to trust him. He knows servers and software and all of that stuff. I don't. I just write dumb things on the Internet. Let's kick this WordPress idea around, see where it goes.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ann Arbor Photo of the Week

This is my first attempt to blog photos via Flickr. I like the crazy perspective on this one.

Alley behind Main St.