Tuesday, December 28, 2004

The After-Dinner Candy Most Preferred by Indie Rock Stars

I think it was this Rolling Stone article that explained where the White Stripes got their name. When trying to conceive that unique Jack White-Meg White sound, the two decided that one common, everyday object best represented their goal: those round, red and white after-dinner mints you get at restaurants. Simple. Classic. Beloved. But not knowing the name, they simply called them — and, thus, themselves — the White Stripes. Appropriate, really. The candies jelled with the barebones rock aesthetic and the two ran with it.

A funny story: I'm at the grocery store looking at the bags of Bracch's candy. You know, the nasty, chalky stuff parents hand out at birthday parties after the kids are sufficiently rattled with the good sugar. But those same red and white candies, according to the Bracch's company, are called the Starlight Mints, a name shared by a lesser known but also wonderful indie rock band.

Two bands, one candy and essentially the same name.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Super Fan-Tast-Eek

One more.

I'm done.

Intern Clique No. One and the Mysterious Little Door

On the last day of work, I finally got to photodocument the John Malkovich door. It's a little curiosity on the stairwell that I used to get to my floor — a door that's about three-quarters the size of a typical National Geographic Society door. Some wise individual rocked my world and placed a name placard on this door. It's just like every other placard in the complex — same brown fake wood background, same font, everything — that reads "J. Malokovich's Head."

Me standing next to the door so as to emphasize it's smallitude. You can just kinda-sorta make out the text on the placard.

The other two members on the intern clique, playing about the door in the manner of monkeys. Upwardly mobile, professional monkeys that I like very much, but you have to admit they do look just like a bit like monkeys.

Thursday, December 23, 2004


Thoughts while sitting on the toilet and playing Super Mario Advance: My love of typos and mistranslations arose all the way back in childhood, during the closing credits of Super Mario Bros. 2, of which Super Mario Advance is a remake. Instead of seeing who actually made the game, you see the characters in it, including the bosses. If you avoided warping and actually played the whole game through, you'd encounter a surly crab monster, Clawgrip, as the boss of the fifth world. He's identified as such in the game's instruction manual, but the credits fall victim to that infamous Japanese-to-English problem with "R" and "L" and we instead see the text "Clawglip."

Anyway, that's not the revelation here. No, I realized that this stupid, easy-to-beat crab monster holds the unique honor of being the first and possibly only Super Mario Bros. character created specifically for American audiences. In its original form, Doki Doki Panic, the game had a different boss for this world: an albino version of the same bomb-tossing mouse that serves as boss for the first and third worlds. That was apparently considered too dull, and so Mr. Clawglip made his grand debut when Doki Doki Panic became the American Super Mario Bros. 2.

Well, it seemed noteworthy to me.

Christmas break, in case you didn't realize, means playing portable video games while using the bathroom.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Cold Set

I left late for Santa Barbara on the shortest day of the year.

The 101 was weirdly empty. No rush hour. No cops. Not much of anyone going anywhere. No one to see me pull over because the box lamp took a header en route, flipped end-over-end and suck one corner into the upholstery of my dad’s new Tahoe.

It’s a strange feeling to walk around normally well-populated places when no one’s around. As corny as it may sound, it made me feel like breaking into some cold set from a movie about me.

I’d actually forgotten to expect a deserted Isla Vista. Winter break. Quite possibly that last winter break I’ll enjoy without the obligation of a nine-to-five. The idea of pulling into the Pasado House driveway had been tying knots for the whole drive. I halfway expected a big, smoking crater, so seeing the house basically intact made me feel good, even if the backyard was littered in a way that made it looks like we were having a yard sale for all our rain-soaked cardboard.

The inside was manageably dirty, especially considering how bad it could have been. And from Monday afternoon on, I’ve pretty much been working on eliminating my presence from that house. Oddly, I didn’t even mind having to clean the living room and kitchen and backyard when Subleaser Keith saw the mess and began doubting whether the Pasado House was the right place to be living. I’ve done it so many times, it was lamely familiar to be vacuuming that same pool table green carpet.

But I empathized with the new guy. If I were him and just getting to Isla Vista, I’m not sure I’d want to live there either. Like he pointed out, the place “has potential.” It totally does. I’m sure that’s why the girls ended up there to begin with. For me, the Pasado House has more than potential. It has history.

When I think about how many people from my various intersecting social circles have actually called 6768 Pasado Road home at one point or another, I have to count with both hands. It started out with Meghan, Brie, Monique, Taryn and Shana. Jesusa and Natasha subleased. Then I moved in that summer, followed by Nate. Then we had those shithead subleasers, Drunko and Kaspar. Then Jill finally moved in. Then Cory moved in that summer while Owen and Beth subleased. Then Tristan and Glenn. Then the pasty one and the Russian potato subleaser. Then Kristen. Then Jono and Skippy. And now Subleaser Keith, who thankfully seems intent on keeping the place nice, if the present shithole d├ęcor hasn’t completely scared him off. And, somehow, I feel Hillary O’s presence as strong as anyone’s, simply because her whole living room set presently resides in the house.

In my mind, all of these people still belong there. I remember them being there. And they all still seem to receive mail there. (Admittedly, fake people such as Gilles Tanguay, Fannie Fay Silverstein, the entire Colossocorp staff and Cassidy Madison Reed also still receive a great deal of mail there.)

I can remember sitting in the living room with some assortment of some of the roommates — I can even remember who it might have been — and wondering how old that house was and if a family used to life there when the far bedroom was still an apartment and, if so, what purpose the Taryn-Moe bedroom might have had. A den? A nursery? Did some little kid grow up there?

In a few years, that house will be out of our chain of friends for good. Whoever lives there probably will never know about all the cool stuff that happened there — all the puke and beer and sex fluids spilled in that house and all the good stories behind each individual spillage, all senses of all virginities lost, all theme parties appropriately attended and all petty fights shouted and gossip spread and songs drunkenly sung along to and movies drunkenly fallen asleep to.

Before I left for Washington, I broke apart the wine barrel potter that had been home to this large succulent bush. As the plant got bigger, the barrel had begun to burst at the seams and I figured the plant would grow itself to death if given enough time. I dug a hole in the corner of the yard, a non-intrusive spot where I hoped people would leave it alone. It’s alive now and as healthy as ever, so if it can withstand Cory and Tristan’s neglect it can live through mostly anything, the hardy fucker. It’ll be there at least. I guess I can only hope that somebody sometime will notice it and how thick it’s trunk is and think that somebody sometime must have planted it and that that happened a long time ago.

I live downtown now.

To tie back in with that corny, trite movie-of-my-life metaphor, I guess we’ve filmed all the scenes on that set. It’s not so bad. They’re good scenes, for the most part. I guess I’m doing something else now.

(At the moment, I feel directionless and kind of scared. I had a thought while picking out what I hope would be the last of Jonna’s New Year’s Eve 2003 glitter from the bushes. I thought that if I was in a plane that was crashing into the ocean, I’d be scared but at least I’d know where I was going: towards the ocean at a fatal speed. A short future, for sure, but least I’d know.)

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Don't Smoke — But If You Do, Smoke Fictional Brands

Names of all the fictional cigarette brands I can think of.
  • Laramie (from "The Simpsons")
  • Morley (the ones the cigarette-smoking man smokes on "The X-Files")
  • Red Apple (from the QT universe)
  • El Dorado (from "Family Guy")
  • Kentucky Slims' Chicken Flavored Cigarettes (from "Futurama")
  • Dromes (from Lolita)
  • Bilsons (I think I saw this label on "Lost," which is my new televised obsession.)
I could have sworn there were more.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Drew and the Big Bronze Ram

I said I'd do it and I did do it and here it is.

National Geographic, I'll never forget you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004


I'm here and that's what's important.

I just woke up in Jessica Jessica's apartment on the lower east side. That geographical term means nothing to me, really. I have a vague knowledge that I'm on an island. Jessica tells me that "Seinfeld" took place on the upper west side and the only time the show ever went to this neck of the woods is when Kramer gets lost and has to call Jerry for help. "I'm at the corner of first and... first?! How can that be? I must be at the nexus of the universe?"

The intersection of First Street and First Avenue does in fact exist, though I haven't seen it yet.

We got in later yesterday evening, so we didn't have time to see sights, so to speak, but Jessica's neighborhood is a lot to take in anyway. She says she somehow unknowingly moved into the DP of the lower east side. There's actually a shop called Paul's Boutique here, though it's apparently named after the album and not the other way around. We ate at a geographically vague Latin bar and saw "Bad Education" and then just hung out.

I'm here and that's what's important. Adam's showering and then I'm in and then we're gonna try to hit as much of the city as possible. It's not warm but it's actually a little sunny out. I think Adam and I are going to check out Central Park soon, before it gets dark and all the weirdos go crazy.

I don't smoke, but I'm somehow compelled to have one cigarette on Jessica's fire escape.

I'm here and that's what's important.

Monday, December 6, 2004

That Tricky Fucker Called Time

Boston is cold. Boston is old. Pretty good seafood, too.

Adam and I met up with Jessica Twin last night in Cambridge, which turned out to be pretty cool. We had fondue at a bar called the Grendel's Den and then saw a kickass brass band at a pub called the Plough and the Stars. People apparently drink literary in Massachusetts. Jessica Twin showed us some spots where "Good Will Hunting" had been filmed and told us that that movie was a big reason she moved to Boston. I think that's as good a reason as any to move anywhere.

We're staying at a hostel instead of Jessica Twin's place. It's totally cool though -- American hostels blow Euro ones out of the water.

We woke up early this morning and saw Fanieul Hall, which is different from Nathaniel Hall, which doesn't exist, we learned. I like the Boston, even if it doesn't like me and tries to push me away with biting cold. There's a massive shopping area downtown wherein I experienced the most Christmasy moment of my life: a department store display of "A Christmas Story" tableus, the bell tower chiming out "Come All Ye Faithful" and the sweet smell of roasted nuts. Plus the biting cold, of course. I never realized how integral cold was to my perfect mental picture of Christmas. Now I've got to learn to Christmas without it.

I thought I could see random specks of snow all day. By the time we were walking through Boston Common, it snowed for real -- the first time I've seen snow in at least four years. There was this string of statue ducks that the city commissioned in honor of Make Way for Ducklings, which I haven't looked at since I was a kid. Adam says Holden sees them in Catcher in the Rye and wonders why they they just stand still in the park in the middle of winter. Someone has to tell him that they're statues. I don't remember that part of the book.

We had dinner at the "Cheers" Bar, which isn't really the "Cheers" bar but the Bull and Finch and then we got tired of fighting cold and saw "Closer." I spent the whole movie trying to spot locations in London that I remember from two years ago, but couldn't. (The movie, meanwhile, made painful moments seem beautiful and reminded me that I haven't had a relationship in nearly a year.)

We wandered around the cold city for a while then eventually ended up seeing a different Jude Law movie about relatonships at the Mariott movie theater. I'm starting to feel like this extended holiday with Adam is one prolonged platonic date, though I guess it could be a lot worse.

Jessica Jessica finally called back and I think things are set for New York tomorrow. She's being distant again, but maybe things will warm up a bit when we actually get there. I can't believe I'll finally get to see all that: the Statue of Liberty and the rest of the iconic bullshit I've seen on screens since I was a kid.