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August 2000

The Drudgery Report

More drudgery, but at least the end is near. And I got to spend a few days this past weekend with my family up at my sister's house, playing with puppies, taking naps, eating yummy snacks, and collecting some more birthday booty from my Amazon Wish List. Very nice all around.

I’m now beginning that’s only a week until my birthday, and I have a buttload of work to do for the festivities, never mind all I still have to do for, well, strong. Hopefully, one of those paychecks I’m waiting for will arrive so I can afford to buy beer, snacks, and some new plywood to cover the rotting sections of the floor before all the guests arrive. And I still have to find myself an appropriately festive something to wear. I figure this is as good a time as any to relax the spending freeze I’ve been trying to honor for so long.

Don't forget, you're still invited! And, because I’m a nice guy, I’ve even decided that I ought to distribute directions, rather than letting all my pals wander around the ghetto, lost and helpless.

Music and Movies

Ah, sweet rapture! I’m sad that my friend Heather is moving to San Francisco, but I am very pleased that she left her rickety old turntable with me, because I am finally able to listen to all my records again, records which have been sitting quietly in a stack since I moved back from Boston four years ago.

Last night I satisfied a craving I’d had to listen to some Missing Persons and Japanese Whispers, my favorite Cure album. I also took David K.'s advice and reminded myself how good Bronski Beat's Age of Consent is. The highlight, though, was being able to once again hear the out-of-print soundtrack to Party Party, a British flick from the 80s that I’ve never seen, even though its soundtrack is one of the best of its era. (If you ever find this album anywhere, buy it immediately, especially for Elvis Costello's title track and Bananarama's cover of No Feelings.)

I think tonight will be time to indulge in my assortment of hard-to-find Cabaret Voltaire albums. Bliss!

Speaking of bliss, I think it's very imortant tha each and every one of you out there go and see Cecil B. Demented, the new John Waters opus. It's very fun, very mean, very twisted, and very subversive. Just delicious. John yet again does a great job of using a major Hollywood star — Melanie Griffith this time — and getting even more out of her than she probably even realizes. As you can see from Melanie's shockingly tacky web site, however, working with the King of Trash did not introduce her to the subtleties of irony.

Big Wet Kisses

Stranger, reveal thyself! someone out there is responsible for sending me the copy of Barrel Fever from my wish list, and I wish I knew who. Whoever it was, let me know because you have a big, wet kiss coming your way. You rock my world!

Speaking of world-rocking, I finally saw Rosemary's Baby last night, which was absolutely super-duper. Aside from all the great little late-60s-in-New-York period details, the movie is just another reason to worship Ruth Gordon, who had more spunk than the rest of us losers combined. I'll have to watch it again sometime, because just like a few years ago when I saw the sequel, Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby, I missed the whole middle section because I was on a date with a cute boy and, well, stuff happens... (There have actually been a whole string of fun dates in the last week. That'll probably be an interesting situation to sort out soon.)

Blow Buddies

Aw, that’s no fair. I wish I could be the one to visit Blow Buddies with Jessie. Well, I didn't make it to that particular venue when I was in San Francisco, so I don't know for sure if that’s where I would want to go, but you get my gist.

Party Hearty

Oh yeah, huge party at my place, Friday, September 8th. (Loyal fans will remember their trivia, do the math, and realize that’s the day I turn 30.) Anyone who wants to make his or her way out to the Rumpus Room is enthusiastically invited. Let's move the interaction from the digital world to the analog world, kids! In the spirit of total shamelessness, I have even started an Amazon Wish List of goodies that will make me feel happy and young. Hope to see you there, gang!

Reflections Of...

Now that it's been a year since my first online journal entry, I thought I should take a moment to pause and reflect about what I’ve gotten out of this little experiment. (Those of you who know me better will be think, and rightly so, "Pause and reflect? Day-um, Sparky must have a BUTTLOAD of work that he's procrastinating about.")

Overall, it was a good idea to start it. I’ve never been very disciplined about keeping a journal, although I’ve been partial to the idea ever since I first read Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy. The decision to post the entries on the web site has been a good motivation for me to keep writing. Not only do you people keep nagging me if I slack off, but the feedback I get encourages me to keep going. It's also been a great way to make lots of new friends, which has probably been the best part about it.

My original thought for the journal stuff was for it to be a way for people who knew me to keep up on what I was doing so I didn't have to write so many similar e-mails. As fate would have, almost no one I know reads this regularly, and it's become a tool for new people to get to know me a little better. That’s been a nice surprise, and it's helped get me over some of my inherent shyness. I’ve found myself meeting people who already know too much stupid stuff about me for me to worry about making a good (and possibly misleading) impression. Hell, this sort of shameless self-promotion has even gotten me laid a few times. God bless technology!

My writing has also gotten a hell of a lot better. Writing more often has made it easier for me to control my voice and sharpen my skills. The journal writing has gotten closer and closer to the way I actually speak and think, and my paying attention to that aspect has even helped me with more formal writing, which I’ve been doing more and more for work.

Why all this introspection? Well, aside from marking the anniversary of this journal, I’m also beginning preparations for my 30th Birthday Blow-Out Shindig. Yes, it's true, and you're all invited! Details to follow, but if you have any desire to boogie with Sparky in his spacious Williamsburg loft, make sure to keep your calendar free for an event on Friday, September 8. Details to follow.

Me and My Crap, God Bless Us

I get lots of compliments about my spacious loft in the 'hood and the veritable museum of crap that I keep inside of it, but my secret shame is that I usually hate being such a pack rat. There's no way that I could live in a smaller apartment even if I wanted to. I have already managed to discard truckloads of thrift-store clothes and furniture, old books, records, stacks of unused paper and art supplies, shoes that seemed cool for about a week, etc., but there always seems to be more lying around or more coming in. I get very sentimentally attached to a lot of my things, or I think that I ought to maintain my own reference library of books or source material for mix tapes or collages. I have lots of neat things, but it's a real pain in the ass.

A lot of the time, I just wish I could be one of those glamorous minimalists who can live in a modest apartment filled with nothing more than an elegant little futon, one or two achingly beautiful Eames chairs, and a thin, futuristic laptop (perched on a long, otherwise empty desk made from a slab of something interesting with spindly metal legs attached) for good measure. I want to own about 10 pieces of beautiful, versatile clothing, and 3 pair of shoes at the most. Maybe a few Polaroids of frolicsome moments pinned to the wall for decoration.

Even that laundry list seems like a lot when I look at it. The irony, though, is to have so few things would probably mean spending enough money on them that each wouldn't deteriorate immediately. I could probably sell my warehouse full of stuff here and invest in that new life. I probably wouldn't be able to afford the rent on a place nice enough that I wouldn't need to camouflage the structural defects with knick-knacks, though. The trouble is, if I got rid of everything, I would go crazy from the recurring instinct to wander over and look for the box of old photos or that old book with the crazy picture in it. Or I’d want to make someone a card with that old paper and some of the little plastic toys in that other box. Or I’d tell an anecdote that could only be illustrated by that one...Oh well, you get the idea. If I ever have the clearance sale, just promise you'll keep in touch in case I have a relapse and need access to all the toys.

Battle Below the Ground

Brainstorm! I was taking the subway into work this morning (on-site work, not the usual stay-at-home-in-my-underwear work) when I was reminded of a good idea I had a while back. This one-armed harmonica player carrying a paper coffee cup filled with change entered from the back of the car, playing the same three bars of eerily perky music over and over again. After he passed, a chubby Asian guy hawking batteries and cheap plastic toys approached from the front of the car. No one was happy about any of this, even though some change was thrown in the cup and batteries were purchased.

OK, so here's the idea: subway Face-Off 2000! It would be a video game with two missions. You'd be some classic subway merchant or panhandler — the guy with no legs on the skateboard, the Asian battery guy, the woman with the sandwiches from the homeless shelter, the deranged lunatic, the doo-wop crew, the school-candy seller, the beligerent bum, the Islamic preacher with the incense and the big mouth, the break-dance troupe, the deaf guy with the sign-language cards, the one-armed harmonica player, the mother-son mariachi duo, etc. (I swear to god I have seen all of these, repeatedly) Anyway, you'd be one of these characters, and your mission would be to make it from one end of a ten-car subway to the other. Your goal would be to get as much money as possible from the exasperated or angry commuters and the terrified tourists. Your success would depend upon the desirability of your wares or the effectiveness/pitifulness of your schpiel. Along the way, though, you would also have to dodge the police and avoid pissing off any subway riders who might get in your face. The big challenge, though, would be the Face-Off: You enter a car from one side, and have to battle for dominance of the car with another panhandler/merchant who enters from the other. You naturally would run into a few of these on the whole train, as we all do. The two of you would have to battle to the death, probably with someone getting thrown onto the tracks. You win the battle with no points if you're doing OK but your opponent flees the train at a station.

OK, that’s my idea. You read it here first and I have the documentation, so don't try anything shady. Programmers, call me! Next time, I'll tell you about Poetry slam! and stage Mother showdown!

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