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February 2000

Excuses, Excuses

I’m sorry, Joe, I know I’ve been delinquent with the updates lately, but my latest incarnation as a professional technical writer has been making it very hard for me to come home and type some more. Or at least type anything I have to think about first. I don't think I’ve mentioned it to anyone, but for the last two months or so at work I’ve been editing, writing, and typesetting a manual for a pretty elaborate piece of software for publishing directories and yellow pages. It's difficult, to say the least, when only part of the package has a GUI, and the GUI it has needs help. The rest of the system tends to skip the "G" and often dismiss the the comfort level of the "U". so, at 230 pages and counting, I’m trying to minimize the chaos and actually explain what's going on. Of course, I’m trying to learn the damn stuff at the same time, which keeps causing minor delays. Sigh...

So that’s starting to sap my energy, but at least it keeps me from griping too much about the latest round of unsuccessful attempts to capture the interest of interesting guys.

Kentucky Fried China

Memories of China: I’ve been rereading Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson's nanotechnology novel, set in the Shanghai area. One of the wackiest images that’s stayed with me from my trip to Shanghai was of a Kentucky Fried Chicken on a major street behind the shanghai Art Museum (from which we fled for a couple of hours in order to wander free around the city instead of hang out with the tour group). KFC was apparently the biggest American fast food franchise in China, and this particular branch caught my eye not only because of the wide range of chinese food also available within, but also because of the larger-than-life statue of the Colonel out front, smiling benevolently at the passersby.

This passage from Diamond Age made me smile, too:

The House of the Venerable and Inscrutable Colonel was what they called it when they were speaking Chinese. Venerable because of his goatee, white as the dogwood blossom, a badge of unimpeachable credibility in Confucian eyes. Instrutable because he had gone to his grave without divulging the secret of the Eleven Herbs and Spices. It had been the first fast-food franchise established on the Bund, many decades earlier. Judge Fang had what amounted to a private table in the corner. He had once reduced Chang to a state of catalepsis by describing an avenue in Brooklyn that was lined with fried chicken establishments for miles, all of them rip-offs of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

This reminds me something Mark and I once pondered when we went for some KFC back in our Bushwick days: When you buy spicy crispy strips, are you getting more spices, or are they swapping out some of the original eleven herbs and spices for different ones?

Valentine's Dread

I have a ton of work to do and it's late and I’m too mopey to do it. But, as with many things, there's no choice.

2000 HUGS

Happy Fuckin' Valentine's Day. sentimental type or not, I hate this day. The pressure is too great, and the reminders to depressing. Screw Cupid, the diaper-wearing freak.

Teeny Tiny Town

It's a big city, but also a tiny town. I haven't felt coincidence closing in on me like this since I lived in Boston. It's been quite a weekend for kookiness in that regard. At least one of those wacky coincidences was fortunate, but I’m gonna keep my mouth shut and my fingers crossed about that one. I believe in the "jinx effect."

I figured I might find myself a little embarrassed after posting the "Cute Web Boys" list (see below), but strangely enough it hit me from left field, rather than from the li'l cutie I expected to bring it on. I guess this is all part and parcel of being a big dork.

Not much going on, otherwise. Saw Scream 3, which was mostly OK. I had forgotten, though, how much I love Parker Posey. she is soooooooooo brilliant in her own kooky, scene-stealing way.

The new movie theaters in this town are starting to spiral out of control. They're becoming so large and surreal and disorienting. We saw the movie at the new Loews "E Walk" megaplex in the "New" Times square. Talk about the fucking mall-ification of New York! This was like an indoor version of the Universal studios Theme Park or something. The scale is just big, like you're an ant in someone's house, not big and grand and breathtaking, like Grand Central Station. It's really icky.

Wordplay

This little gem is from Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash:

Besides, interesting things happen along borders — transitions — not in the middle where everything's the same.

The book also uses the word "loglo" once in a while, which I really get a kick out of. If you've ever been to Times square, or Atlantic City, or Vegas, or Hong Kong, or anyplace with a sprawling, well-sponsored strip, you know can imagine what loglo is.

On another note, I am one pot who shouldn't be calling the kettle black, but I got a real lick of fugly.net, which I stumbled across after seeing it recommended on Mark Edward's site. It will provoke great schadenfreude (the guilt you feel for enjoying the misfortune of others).

Maniacs at Large

I managed to get a seat on a crowded L train while coming home today, so I cracked open the copy of Snow Crash I picked up again today, and happily immersed myself back in Hiro Protagonist's universe. A little while later, I glance over at the woman sitting next to me, who had been so caught up in something when I boarded the train that she never looked up when we all crowded in around her. I glanced down at the papers she was scribbling on and realized I was next to a bona fide fanatic of some sort.

Well, maybe that’s a bit extreme, but she had filled up a piece of looseleaf with the kind of scrawl usually reserved for manic rantings of the Unabomber variety. scrawled across the top in big, dark letters were the words "The Birth and Circumcision of Christ," and then every square millimeter of the page was covered in tight, messy little script, with occasional flares of larger darker phrases. she seemed to copying from — or commenting on — a ragged little booklet that was covered — COVERED — with little notes and different-colored highlighter marks. she was so intense! And suddenly she opened up the binder she was leaning on and I saw that she had at least 150 pages of similar scrawl tucked away! she was a natural born madwoman. It seemed like a Grey Gardens moment waiting to happen.

Or zinester. It all depends on how you channel it.

All Hail Brazilian Cheesebread!

All hail Brazilian cheesebread! I had a couple of drinks at Double Happiness last night with Clémence (one of my fellow survivors of the whole Fragile experience), who spent the holidays with her boyfriend (actually, now he's her fiancée) in Brasilia and Salvador. It was great to see her again, especially in a context that didn't involve staying up until 2 in the morning doing homework and cursing Chad, the lazy guy on our project team. Clémence is my personal hero this week because she brought me back the mix to make pão de queijo, the chewy Brazilian cheesebread that I like to scarf down whenever I get a chance. It's tough to get good pão de queijo here, apparently because of the kind of cheese that’s supposed to be used. But I got me some. Woo hoo!

The Critics Praise Sparky

Fame! Fortune! Well, neither, actually. But it's cool at least.

Thanks to a well-placed word or two from Jonno, Rumpus Room was picked as "site of the week" by New York's own free fag rag, HX. (Of course, the issue also came out the day before my ISP shut down my site because of a bill payment problem, but we've settled all that now.) Maybe with all the attention I'll get upgraded to a B-list fag now.

For posterity, here's the review:

Sparky's Rumpus Room
www.rumpus.org

We've been spending a lot of time in Sparky's rumpus room lately. Hopefully we're not overstaying our welcome, because this cute New York City native (yes, Staten Island does count) and self described bon vivant is a hoot to hang with. shake your booty over to Sparky's cyber-digs and browse his collection of cool street junk, get to know his pals or let lust get the best of you and ogle the random cute guys and hunky cartoon superheroes collated in his galleries. There's also the obligatory online journal, a photo album and a collection of Sparky's contributions to various 'zines and online discussion groups. The whole package is wrapped in a funky design that’s one of the best we've seen in a personal homepage. And best of all, Sparky's single. [Ain't that the truth - ed.]

Trust me, this won't go to my head. But maybe I'll get some out of it. Hee hee hee!

Freakin' February

Welcome to glorious February! Yeah, right? It's all downhill after Groundhog Day. But at least the millenial buzz is wearing off.

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