Sunday, February 21, 2010

Greetings From the Jury Reporting Room!

(from Friday)

That's right, my friends, I'm on duty today. Took the wife to the airport at 5 a.m. (!), had a nice manly breakfast of solitude at The Pantry and reported for duty right on schedule at 7:45 a.m. Everyone says if you want to get out of it, you should just say you are racist or hate everyone, etc. This is funny, but I question whether anyone would really say that to a room full of people, even if they were strangers. Also, I've seen variations of this attemped in the past and, trust me, the judges are on to it. Not only are you unlikely to get excused but the judge is probably also going to humiliate you with his/her cross examination. No thank you, I am happy to serve.

Some interesting observations in the ol' holding chamber here...Remember that episode of "Seinfeld" where Elaine and Putty are on the plane and he's just staring at the seat back in front of him? Would you like a magazine, maybe some earphones? she asks him. Nope, he's fine, he says before going back to a blank stare. I am witnessing the same phenomenon this morning. Who goes----------pause for group reporting announcement.............

STILL CLEAR! Three groups called and I am 0 for 3.

Another sidebar...Conversation just overheard:

Young Guy:
(Looking out the window)
It's not raining yet?

The skies are vaguely cloudy.

Older Guy:

Nope, but it will be by tonight.

You know, we make fun of the local news' obssession with the mystical idea of rain (STORMWATCH!), but it's really evident in the people too. If there is even the slightest possibility of a single droplet falling in the tri-county area, it's like a mental scab that people can't stop picking. I should be more interested in this today as I am wearing suede shoes.

Now where was I...Ah yes. Who the hell comes to jury duty, where you know you are likely to spend 8 hours in a room with nothing to do, without so much as a pamphlet to read? Really, you didn't think to grab a magazine, newspaper, or novella? Not a Walkman, not a videogame, nor Kindle?

Sidebar #2 (or 3?): Now the hot topic is how "ridiculous" the security measures are at the airport. They makes you take your shoes off, they take your toothpaste....If I were not so damned passive aggressive, I would chime in that it beats exploding into a giant fireball at 30,000 feet. You're right guys, it's ridiculous. And I'm sure the only reason these measures are in place are to screw with you. You know I really hate people.

Sorry. Back to the easily entertained. Some people, apparently, think of jury duty as a great way to meet people. They come here to talk. Some enthralled in chat about the weather, or the inconvenience of safety, others by abstract speculation about the process at hand. What do you think they're doing? Are they calling names at random you think? Do you think they will call anymore groups before lunch? Is this your first time? The nerve of people to be friendly and personable, right? Sorry, I didn't mean to sound like a snarky little prick.

Ya know there is a common misperception out there that the womens' low-rise jean gave way to the visible-panty-bendover phenomena or "whale tail" as its more commonly known in the case of a thong, but new evidence discovered just this morning suggests a more nuanced relationship. About an hour ago, a woman approximately 54 years of age bent over to access something in her purse. Her jeans which reached well into the lumbar region were surpasses in height by underwear stretching halfway up her back. It begs the question, If a woman were to continually raise the waist level of her pants, would the underwear only rise ever higher? What if she went so far as to wear one of those one-piece things like mechanics wear? Would the underwear swallow her head in retaliation? Apparently, the underwear-pant line relationship is quite the game of cat and mouse. I find it appropriate that such a great truth should be revealed at a courthouse.

Alright, I think that's enough for now as this laptop is probably irradiating my testes. I'm against that.

P.S. The good news about sitting in a strange room for hours on end is that it has afforded me the opportunity to really dive in to my new Nick Hornby book, "Juliet, Naked." I am loving it so far. What's more, only about a third of the way in, I can tell it's only going to get better. Do you listen to music while you read? Fiction, I mean. I can't believe it's taken me this long to get on board with this pairing. I was using Bob Dylan for this book, but the wordier songs were becoming distracting. Very well then.

Hey oh! Just got the call! Headed for the big show! Adios muchachos!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Something's Gotta Give

If NBC is going to tape delay the Olympics, then there needs to be a consensus among the rest of the media to not report results as if we have the ability to watch them live.

It's driving me absolutely insane. If I want to actually watch the Olympics without already knowing the outcome, I have to go into a cone of silence the entire day. I can't go to even one single time. Do you have any idea how difficult this is for a red-blooded, sports-loving, American male? I believe it fits the legal definition of torture. (Insert political joke here) It's the painful. I can't follow the beginning of spring training. I can't check on breaking NBA trades. I can't even check the Olympic schedule. To safely avoid any spoiler, I must avoid sports altogether all day long. Not only that, but I can't go to any news site either. No NY Times, no msnbc, no nada. (Insert second political joke here) What am I supposed to do if I can't read about sports and world affairs, work?

I don't even know if I can have friends during the Olympics. Can I trust them not to IM, email, text, or Facebook something about the fate of the U.S. Olympians? We had one close call already and after this post, I have a feeling I will be getting spoiler messages simply out of spite.

That's it, I am moving to a secluded shack in the backwoods of Montana for the duration of the Olympiad. Of course, it will still need to have HD service.

Go for Gomez?

Anybody seen Gomez in concert? They are coming to the El Rey and since I am a fan but not a superfan (only know the last two albums and Ian Ball's solo), I am wondering if it is worth it. Help a brotha out.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Februrary in Southern California

From the shores of Malibu... the snow-capped St. Jacinto Mountains and Idyllwild.

In the words of Frank Cushman, "I'll either surf or ski." And there was a small bit of desert in between!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

My Top 10 (Non-Jazz) Rainy Day Albums

Because on a rainy day, nothing is better than jazz and it's not fair to compare...Also, greatest hits albums are not eligible.

10. Patty Griffin - 1000 Kisses

9. M. Ward - Hold Time (This album, I believe, will eventually be ranked higher, but I need to listen to it about 50 more times)

8. Wilco - Sky Blue Sky

7. James Taylor - JT

6. Mat Kearney - City of Black & White

5. Justin Townes Earle - The Good Life

4. Jackson Browne - Late For The Sky

3. Ben Folds Five - Whatever and Ever Amen

2. Nick Drake - Pink Moon

1. Counting Crows - August and Everything After

Please, friends, tell me yours.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Remember This Day, My Friends....

For it is the day we thought would never come...

The day they made donuts healthy.

I have sampled these myself, in the Pumpkin variety, and they were a delight. Today dawns a new age of eating, when one must no longer suppress one's desire for donuts.

Score on for The Veggie People.

Friday, February 05, 2010

A Man's Best Beers

Men love beer. If there were ever a stereotype that rang true, this might be the one. However, there is something to be said for the many layers of love men have for their precious porter, ale, lager, or stout. While we all have our favorites brands or styles, I believe there are times when the circumstances or setting are what makes a beer so beautiful. Men, you know what I'm talking about...

The Airport Beer - You've lugged your bag through the check-in line, you've cleared the strip search at security, you've peed and bought your magazine. It's time for a beer. Your trip has now officially begun. My best guess for why an airport beer tastes so damn good is that the air you breathe in as you take that first long sip is ripe with possibility as your journey lays before you. This is a beer that pairs perfectly with imagination as a man sitting in an airport bar feels he could be anyone, unfettered by the limitations of who he really is. The Airport Beer makes you feel mysterious, solitary, but secure. A man having an Airport Beer is a man who is going places. Minimum Airport Beers to Consume: 2.5

The Dollar Beer - It's usually a Miller Lite at room temp in a plastic mug, but the Dollar Beer is never about the taste or even the cost, really. The Dollar Beer is about the camaraderie of the guys you enjoy them with. It's about buying a round of six beers for the table and not hesitating to buy the next round too. There's no pause or ulterior thought processing about what your tab might be at that point. You can just relax, enjoy hanging out with the guys, drink all the beer you want and even have a grilled cheese, knowing your bill is not going to be more than thirty bucks. Minimum Dollar Beers to Consume: You don't count, that's the beauty of it.

The Ballgame Beer - With the exorbitant cost of this beer and the high risk of it being spilled as you or someone near you tries to catch a foul ball, it would make sense to buy insurance for The Ballgame Beer. "When trying to catch a foul ball, the last thing you should have to worry about is your beer. That's All State's stand." This is the food-pairing beer, the one that complements and is so well complemented by its partner, the hot dog, that the two become Siamese twins of taste. This is the beer that actually does quench your thirst, just like the breathless rush of euphoria of walking out of the tunnel and seeing the field for the first time. This is the beer that reminds you that no matter how long it's been, it has been too long. Minimum Ballgame Beers to Consume: 1.

The Handyman Beer - If tools are present, so shall be The Handyman Beer. Whether you're rebuilding an engine or struggling with a Swedish balsa wood bookcase, the one constant is this classic beer. This is the beer that makes you feel like a man. An American man. The Handyman Beer is the one that makes you think about your dad. Or your grandpa. It's the beer of classic rock or country played through the tin-sounding speakers of a beat up old boombox. This is the beer that makes even the flashlight-holding kid feel like one of the guys when he's given a sip. Always cheap, light, bitter, and out of a can, The Handyman Beer is a rite of passage and proof that every beer, even a Milwaukee's Best, has its own time and place. Minimum Handyman Beers to consume: 2.

The Brewery/Festival Beer - It's like drinking icy fresh mountain water straight from the spring. The Brewery/Festival Beer is a beer that comes with no baggage or guilt whatsoever. It's an educational experience. This is beer as art. "How do you like this one, Cornelius?" "The hops are in the forefront on this one, Alfred, but there is a surprising floral note and a toasty finish that tame it down a bit. Ultimately it tilts a may unrefined for me, old boy. I fear the only viable pairing would be Humboldt granola, the only suitable social gathering one in which Birkenstocks are predominant." And yet, there is still a place in our hearts for The Brewery/Festival Beer. This is the beer that helps a man to feel like an adult**. Minimum Brewery/Festival Beers to consume: 12 (They're just samples!)

**For better or for worse.

The Lunch Hour Beer - This is the beer that reminds even the most embedded of corporate drones that he is still and will always be his own man. They might have him by the balls from 9 to 1 and from 2 to 6, but for that precious, fleeting hour, a man can do whatever the hell he wants. Watch him have a beer with his burger. The Lunch Hour Beer reminds a man that each day is actually different from the last and that the weekend is always only a few days away. It's the beer of quiet rebellion and the beer of daydreaming, fooling the open minded man into feeling, if only for a second, that he's not working some boring job. He could be anywhere on his way to anywhere else. The Lunch Hour Beer is the archenemy of the Quizno's sub. Next time you see a long line of ugly golf shirts and baggy Dockers pouring out of Quizno's while there's ten open stools at O'Shaughnessy's next door, think of what a sad perversion of virtue that picture paints. No matter, as long as there is such a thing as bosses, The Lunch Hour Beer will endure. Minimum Lunch Beers to consume: 1*.

*Schooner, if possible.

Super Bowl Ad Previews

Why is this the hot topic dejuere for all the local news and national talk shows? Am I the only one that has no need or desire to see a preview of commercials? I know they are expensive and often funny, but, come on, they are still just commercials. I can wait.

Thursday, February 04, 2010


After watching another instantly classic "Modern Family" with my bride this evening, it occurred to me that she finds me less annoying immediately after watching this show, specifically the Phil character. So I threw it out there...
"I think after watching Phil from 'Modern Family' you appreciate me in a less annoying way."
"I think you're right."

Thank you, "Modern Family."

P.S. How great is this show? If I had to choose only one comedy I could keep watching, I can't tell you which one I would pick, "30 Rock" or "Modern Family." It's that close.


True story:

It's a Tuesday like any other. I am hard at work at my desk or hard at looking like I'm at work anyway (the line is often blurred) when I hear a loud BANG! from one of the outer offices. The woman in this office is scared to death, shouting "JESUS!" in that split second after a bang that's reached only by primal instinct. I look over and I see feathers out her window, fluttering in the air. I know what you're thinking...A bird hit the window, so what. Hardly story-worthy. But there's more...

So she gets up and looks out her window to see what it was exactly had slammed so hard into the window, but it's not a bird that she sees. It's an entire flock of birds. Their bodies litter the sidewalk below. I got up from my desk and looked out to see it for myself. You couldn't count them there were so many. I would find out the next day from the first floor tenants who picked them up that were 26 birds in total. Yet the sound was one single bang.

Twenty-six birds crash against an office window, lay dead on the ground below. It's the opening to a horror movie, is it not?

It was an eery and upsetting sight. Luckily, we were told the next day that 9 of them actually lived and had only been dazed by the impact. They were released and flew away.


There's nothing wrong. My mood is fine. The week has been a little on the long side but nothing out of the ordinary. I just have that inexplicable yearning to hop in the car and drive up the coast. No room booked for the night. No turnaround point predetermined. No destination known. Just grab some a light jacket, maybe a sleeping bag, a cooler. Just go.