Sunday, November 30, 2003

ASCAP PAYMENT
Just received my forth quarter 2003 check from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). They collect songwriting fees. This quarter's payment, $1.39. Who said you can't make money in rock and roll?

Helloooooo Cleveland!

Thursday, November 27, 2003

ENTERING YEAR THREE
It was about two years ago that I stumbled onto this blog thing and started typing. I've been typing a lot less lately and at times, wondering if the instant publishing revolution is nothing more than the 8-track tape of the internet age. Does anyone care about this except the people doing it and those being paid to report on it? I don't know.

Still, I feel like the original concept of Suburban Limbo was to send a message in a bottle via the internet about life in these here Florida 'burbs. That point is still valid. We are so saturated with a media obsessed by pop stars, crime, conservative Christian ideals and the media itself, that voices of the average are rarely heard. Maybe they shouldn't be? Maybe we are all suppose to care a lot about Brittany and Madonna kissing? Maybe.

On this Second Anniversary of Suburban Limbo, I'd like to point out that I'm typing on the exact same computer I started out with - a friend's PC in Naples Florida. As we were two years ago, we're here for Thanksgiving. This year, Dad couldn't eat much - he has lost all taste for any food not sweet. But most things don't change.

BTW - interesting story unfolding at school. I have a blog for a Cinema Studies class I teach. Each week, I show a film and I ask all students to post a review online (the Members function of Blogger is perfect for this). Last week, I discovered that one girl has been plagiarising her reviews from other online reviews. She was literally cutting and pasting blocks of copy and claiming them as her own.

How did I find out? Her entries looked a bit too impressive in places. Simple sentences like My favorite person was Bill. The way everything was cut and edited really made this funny were immediately followed by way too lucid film school commentary such as It was almost a parody of film making as we know it. The trials he has to deal with are many that other low-budget filmmakers have had to deal with - there's not enough money, he owes a ton of money, can't find a cast, and production money runs short.

I took sentences that looked bogus and plugged them into Google. I found exact instances of plagiarism in every one of her 12 reviews. Often more than one instance per review. I suppose I should be happy that she went out and read reviews of the films, but that wasn't the assignment. If only she had used her powers for good instead of evil...

On Monday, I'll print out all this information neatly and bring it too the powers that be in the school. Let's see what they do. I half believe they'll try to find some excuse and ask me not to fail her. We'll see. In the meantime, I took advantage of the Comments field I've included with each post to specifically site the plagiarised text and the URL from whence it came. She's not internet savvy, so she probably won't even see it. But hopefully, other students will. This should be interesting.

For now, I'm going to read about Brittany in the latest Entertainment Weekly. Maybe there's something in there about the Madonna kiss?

Monday, November 17, 2003

WELCOME GOVERNOR
From the The Blowtorch Monkey Armada, comes this lovely little Quicktime featuring Ahnuld doing his own Lost In Translation promo spot. As with most Japanese marketing (and Ahnuld), the message is loud and incomprehensible to Westerners.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

NO TIME
I have no free time lately. Between work, family, my Father being sick and all the useless crap that occupies my brain, I come out with no time for creative thoughts. Jake appears unable to sit alone and occupy himself for five minutes. He's always throwing a ball at my head. I appreciate the attention, but today I asked Natalie, "When does that whole, only child invents imaginary friends to fill his day thing start?" We're both waiting. I guess this is why people have more than one kid - they need cheap, local playmates.

Last night, I awoke and found my brain swirling with thoughts of work, projects half-completed and ways to raise money in the face of a state that cuts school budgets while enrolling more students. I could not clear my head. I made one mental list after another, but nothing helped. When I played music, that brain time would have been occupied by thoughts of gigs and set lists and songwriting and the possibilities of what all that might bring. Now I seem consumed with accomplishing an endless assortment of tasks. Necessary, yes. But most of the creativity comes in figuring out how to get the financing and where to find the time to do it myself (my staff of one is useless and yet, can't be fired or transferred - welcome to state employment).

I need to figure out how to bring creativity back into my life. But would I enjoy it? I watched a Ricki Lee Jones concert on TV tonight. What struck me more than anything was the thought that her band - most in their 40s - still found reasons to be interested in music. I've been there and I know - a musician's world is totally another planet. How hard it must be to have kids and wives and endless lists of things to do and still remember the bass lines for a Ricki Lee Jones set. I envy them. I envy their ability to say this music thing is important. Yes, it's art and art is critical. But playing in Ricki Lee Jones' band must be akin to being the guy who holds the ball for the placekicker in football. You're crucial, but nobody know who you are and you can be replaced like that. You're a cog in the wheel of music, so you better enjoy your contribution because that enjoyment is probably all you get.

WEDDING
Because Gov Bush has hacked our school budgets, I found myself working video projection at a wedding this weekend (don't ask). The bride was lovely and it was a power event of Orlando's young elite - filled with local TV newscasters, real estate moguls, lawyers, ex-cheerleaders, bankers and more like them. Although I've dealt with these people often, I felt terribly out of place - particularly since I was there as the guy who set up the video screen. Adding to embarrassment, my white dress shirt was too small and I couldn't close the top button. Instead, I just ripped it off and forced my tie to hold everything together. Ugh.

Want a feel for the crowd attending? The bride assembled a giveaway CD of favorite songs. It included More Than A Feeling (Boston), Lady (The Little River Band) and Can't Stop Loving You (Van Halen). Many folks raved about the selection of fine tunes on the disc.

Happily, my friend Grey was in attendance and we chatted throughout. While everyone was very nice, events like these remind me of my Long Island, government worker Dad, blue collar roots. You can be an artist and get away with interaction on this level. But that day, I was just the video guy, helping myself a bit too much to the free drinks and sushi platter. Hope they didn't mind.

GEORGE WHO?
Longtime readers (are there any left?) might have noticed my recent posts don't mention politics much. Sorry if that's a disappointment, but I wholeheartedly don't care at the moment. GWB is raping this country, sending young men and women to their deaths for a variety of reasons that mostly have to do with sucking up to big business and stupid politics.
His administration is gutting 75 years of good policies from past presidents in an effort to clear laws that might in any way be considered unfriendly to corporations/donors and in three short years he has transformed the US into one of the most disliked countries on the planet - supported only by the English and flyspeck nations who seek our financial largesse.

So why don't I care? Hey, it's a democracy, you get what you deserve. You wanted this asshole, you got him. And ultimately, he's just priming the pump for a swing back in the other direction. He might even be the catalyst for a different sort of liberal wing - one that doesn't argue PC bullshit, but instead offers a cogent and opposing worldview. So I'm willing to wait him out. I've got a long view. It might be a year, it might be five years. But soon enough, he'll be gone and we'll all be better for it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

IN CASE THE MATRIX SUCKS...
Which I've heard it does, check out THE MEATRIX. This flash animation tells the truth behind corporate animal farms. The result looks shockingly like The Matrix V1. Kentucky Fried will never taste the same again.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

SATURDAY NIGHT
I was doing a little ego-surfing late last night and found The Twin/Tone Records site (my name is on a couple of the compliations they released way back when). It's a fascinating place to surf. First, the guy actually lists the sales of many releases...so you can find out the first Jayhawks record sold "1,383 vinyl copies, 1,464 cassettes and 2,876 CDs prior to the band being signed to American Records." Wow. Check out the numbers from David Thompson's solo career. He was/is the lead singer of the legendary Pere Ubu. He doesn't crack 2,000 on some records. Sad I know, but it makes me feel better good about my own pathetic CD sales.

There are lots of Quicktime videos and Replacement fans out there will discover two sets from the band recorded in September 1981 before Let It Be. The boys are a bit out of tune, but rocking nonetheless. Of course, it makes one realize how essential Bob Stinson was to that band. It doesn't matter that he was a raving loon and junkie, he kicked those songs in the ass. Westerberg is so young, he and Tommy look about the same age. A lovely flashback to the days before the machine ate those guys for lunch and recycled Westernberg's whole schtick into that guy from the Goo Goo Dolls.

Friday, November 07, 2003

A WORD FROM CB
CB from PA got this little memory run at Eschaton. Nice to see Chris remains eager to make an impression. He should have given her a CD too.

I spoke at Princeton yesterday, about my book and about the war. While walking across campus for a cup of coffee, a group of us were chatting -- at raised volume -- about the poor state of things in general and the sorry state of the president in particular. I happened to notice a young lady walking alone in front of us, glancing back, looking rather distressed. I finally realized it was Lauren Bush, the niece. I did the only honorable thing I could: started talking even louder.
BACK FROM THE ISLANDS
Natalie and I just returned from four days in St. John, attending a friend's wedding. A nice place, quiet, no televisions, no car, lovely weather, plenty of sea creatures to view when snorkeling. But I gotta say, the travel thing really wears on me. It seems no matter where one goes, if it involves a plane, you're looking at 6-10 hours travel time easy.

From home, we left at 5:30 am. Took a car to Orlando airport, plane to Puerto Rico, another plane to St. Thomas, an open-air taxi to a dock where we picked up a boat for a 35 minute cruise to St. John (a near vomit-launch with those breakers) and then another shuttle at Caneel Bay to our room. Arrived in room @ 3:30 pm. Granted, we moved up one time zone, but that's still 9 hours.

On the way home, they requested we arrive at tiny (six gates) St. Thomas airport three hours prior to departure. Three hours? Are they planning on strip searching everyone? Sadly, no. I guess they were hoping we'd spent a few more bucks on trinkets and curried chicken. I should have gone for the later, as San Juan airport has the planet's crappiest selections of eateries for a modern airport. KFC or MacDonald's needs to set up a beachhead there pronto.