Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Great Catsby

So Catsby has been living with Sarah in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Apparently she's made very good friends with Sarah's roommate's cat, Jasper Montrose. And she clearly, has not lost an ounce of cuteness since moving to hipstertown.

Hopefully I'll be making some pizza this weekend. I mixed up a yeast starter last night, which i dropped in the fridge for use on Saturday.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

what's more fun than pizza?

There's a David Sedaris quote I like to invoke from time to time and it goes, "You either have good experiences, or good stories."

Some background info: there are five of us in the flat: Nastasja, a nice, quiet, if somewhat humorless female German grad student; Eryn, a nice, friendly event planner; Chris, a bartender/musician and is probably best described as your prototypical frat-boy; Renee, a bartender/musician and former ballet dancer who is fairly serious about his music and whom I rarely see; and the there's me. Eryn and Chris are a couple.

As some of you may know, I've had some problems with a couple of these flatmates in the past weeks since moving in--loud arguments at 5am, loud sex at 3am, loud sex at 9am, loud Gun'N'Roses at all hours, etc. Well, last night we reached a new high or low. There was a raised voice argument (not shouting just loud talking) between Chris and Eryn. The argument was punctuated every 5 to 10 minutes by a door being slammed, feet stomping down the hall to the bathroom, and another door being slammed and more loud talking in the bathroom. And then there was the return slamming, stomping, and slamming back to the bedroom, and then again back to the bathroom, etc. This went on for 20 minutes or so. Then the Gun'N'Roses started. After a few minutes of Guns'N'Roses, I finally decided to get out of bed and say something. So I walked over to their bedroom, and pound a couple of times on the door. It opened. "What the hell is going on?!? It's 5am and I'm trying to fucking sleep here." Immediately Eryn apologized, while Chris slammed the door in my face. I quickly opened the door and start to say something, but before I really get anything out Chris burst through and gives me shove, yelling at me to never enter his room, to show some respect, and threatening to kick my ass. At this point, I've a hunch that the man has tossed a few back. Eryn is trying to hold him back and stop him from kicking my ass. Chris, I should note is about my height, but he has about 20 extra pounds of muscle on me, so I'm in no hurry for this to devolve into fisticuffs. He continued yelling things like, "Do you wanna go? C'm'on lets go!" and "I'll kick your ass right now!" To which I replied, "I didn't come out here to fight, I came out here to get you to be quiet so I could get some sleep! Have some courtesy for the people in this house." He then, still shouting, said something, to the effect of, "My girlfriend hates you. You don't even say 'hello,' to her when you walk in the house. Show some respect!" His girlfriend, meanwhile, told him to "stop it," and persisted at her attempts and keep him at bay while he continued his macho-chest beating, with further assertions that I should show some respect in his house, which I countered with the fact that is not his house, but rather we're all renting the space. The pinnacle of the exchange--for me at least--occurred somewhere in the middle of this when Chris threatened to kill me in my sleep.

It's not long after this that I asked him if he's drunk, which he denied, while Eryn nodded an affirmative. I then turned and went back to my room for some rest, which I eventually received, but only briefly because the construction started up around 7:30am.

Chris has since texted me an apology. I'm not particularly afraid for my life living in this flat, but I will say, that I don't have a lot love for it and subsequently don't spend a lot of time there. I get the feeling, based on this exchange that Chris doesn't like me very much, which is fine as I don't particularly like him. However, I don't feel I've had much opportunity to offend him--with the exception of tardiness in completing a couple of house chores that he seems particularly keen on people accomplishing on time--as I'm never really around.

In any event, all signs are looking good right now that I'll become a caretaker at 128 starting sometime in April, so my time in my current flat is coming to an end (fingers crossed). I should know by Monday for sure. I'm hoping to have a conversation with Chris and Eryn sometime soon so that we can clear the air a little bit. I'm not looking to be BFFs, but it'd be nice if we got some things out in the open while we're all calm and collected.

* * *

In happier, but less fun news, Brendan and I went out for pizza last night. It was delicious. We also had cake, which was also quite tasty.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

taken from here.

went to a protest of the iraq war in honor of its anniversary yesterday. nice day for it. indy media says this. apparently i got some sound bite on the 5 o'clock news on the national radio thing here. i'm pretty sure what i said was incoherent, but if i can find the clip, i'll post it. UPDATE: found the clip, which is here. Of course, it left me thinking to myself, do I really sound like that? Also, I'd thought I'd said, "hundreds of billions," but whatever...

if you did find the above image funny, do not read the rest of this post.

also, i saw hot fuzz last night. and with the exception of the fact that the last quarter hour was so freakin' loud some lady three rows back miscarried, and vomit shot out of my ears, it was a good time (despite the mess). this is not a problem i normally have. if my stomach acid wants to escape it more often than not is ejected orally, and perhaps if i were to laugh at an inopportune moment, nasally. but yeah, generally enjoyable--lots of bang, bang and self-aware jokes. i also appreciate the fact that british movies also have normal-looking people in them and not botoxed flexi-props. and: the movie was viewed in the company of canadians. god help me.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

who's the marketing genius who came up with that one? seriously., seriously, i want to know.

My most recent pizza:

the crust on this joint right here was made with mostly 00 flour from Italy. the biga (aka yeast starter) was made with the stone ground organic stuff that i'd used in my previous pies and fresh, compressed yeast. when kneading the dough, i mixed in more of the organic stone ground shiznit. this 00 flour, which is extra finely ground, takes longer to bake than your standard stuff to get any kind of charring. it's something related to the hydration percentage i believe. in any event, i tried double-baking this crust. i put it in for a few minutes with only the sauce on it. and after about 5 or 6 minutes, pulled it out, added cheese, oil, and basil and stuck it back in for another 7 minutes-or-so. you can see some halfway decent charring starting to form on the bottom. the problem with this is that the crust dries out and your left with a pretty crunchy cornicione. i'll have to work with this a little more.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

bert and gonzo

so this guy, alberto gonzales, right? he's, like, the attorney general of the united states. he totally admits mistakes happened in the firing of these prosecutors 'cause of their political loyalties. says he takes responsibility. then he defends the firings. he's all like, "i stand by what we did, yo's. and i take responsibility." what's that's about? what does that even mean: "i take responsibility?" what kind of action comes outta that shit? and then, like, all these democrats and a couple republicans were wanting to kick this idiot guy out 'cause he be a crazy hypocrite bitch. and i'm like, well, why did you fools give him the job to begin with? and check--he said he ain't quittin and his buddy george ain't gonna fire him over small-time shit like that anyways. so stop your bitching and get back to work.

Monday, March 12, 2007

that already didn't work

so i was watching al jazeera last night and they had some pundits talking about some pro-israel lobbying group in the US. somehow the topic veers toward the peace process between israel and palestine and one of these guys says something about working toward a "two people, two states" solution. this sounds to me a lot like separate-but-equal. to which i have to say, didn't we try that already? in the US, i mean. and--feel free to correct me if i'm wrong--i'm pretty sure it failed. miserably. if i can recall my 10th grade US history correctly, it ended up as a big blob of poop on the face of US history, 'cause y'know it wasn't a remotely fair system. and i ask you, if israel and palestine are officially split into two states, and one of them--israel--gets to keep in its possession jerusalem (which i can't imagine it wouldn't) and a whole lot of other land that palestinians used to live on (which i'm guessing is probably the better land in the region, at least the most useful in terms of agriculture) and then the palestinians get the crappy land that they've been herded onto, is that fair? is that a system of organization that is going lead to a peaceful co-existence between two historically antagonistic groups of people? what kind of palestinian would agree to that?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

from the archives

speaking of NOLA reminded me about this thing i wrote after i went down there... it's about a year old, so not all of it applies to the current situation (like, for a while the media actually started doing a half-decent job reporting on events), but a stupid amount of this i think is still true.

Oh my god! we got a bleeder,
and the media feed's beatin' her
and the government is cheatin' her
a city bleeding citizens and
too much of the nation's population
act like situation's not worth facing
don't give a fuck though say we do
we do nothing, are well-to-do, do it well
sit back and watch these folks drown in hell
while we earn cash, we're opening gashes,
slashing our own wrists by leaking out gases
denying we've become fascists
acting calm, happy as clams, innocent lambs
holidaying under a palm tree,
on a Sunday drinkin’ slurpees,
slathering on sunscreen as the tide drifts in
but what we hemorrhage in this age
fuel, oil, chemicals some sages say
will kill our kids, which should enrage us,
spur us to make a fuss
and engage the politics that
we've mislaid somewhere along the way

Toxic compound's clogging our corduroys
Toxic flood water's over our shoulders
Toxic leader won't lift a finger
Toxic atmosphere won't help either
Toxic ground is all around yo
Toxic living is all we know now
Toxic living is like the lotto
Toxic living is our motto

smell the mold on the old dry wall
call some folks to city hall
round up all y'all slackers at the mall
work for a good cause, gives you pause
to see how these lawmakers ain't drawing laws to get more cars
packed with folk gnawing at the bit to get dirt on their paws
instead we got a handful of hippies singing folk songs
but they're in it for the long haul
hauling logs off that were sitting soggy in ponds
that used to be backyards
now they're just yards of nothing at all
ain't just contaminated yards or asphalt
everything's damned—including the earth's salt
those at fault won't take the blame though we insult them,
try to make them pay, they win by default
'cause they don't need results to stash cash in their vaults
but that asphalt's bad—that jagged earth
makes you nurse the most accursed hurts,
you feel like your guts are gonna burst
and you curse the pain, the worst pain you've gained,
remains of degrading health, your sights blurred
speech slurred, driving swerved, face whiskered
'cause you're a fucking mutant cat-bird
from working in subverted dirt
but now you've learned the gospel word
put that tyvek suit on first
you gotta wear 'em in the 9th ward,
even toward the French quarter
or become some invalid
or worse end up some fucked-up retarded with a kid
because of your low class
congress won't save your ass
sure got no insurance or inheritance
or benefit from no marriage tax
breaks is the sound your house makes
and hooray for that 200 bucks babe
that FEMA gave you to get your house made
no two ways about it they shortchanged you
and the only real help they gave
was to help lead you to your grave

a bottle of bleach to erase the waste indeed
so many people waiting to get their lives cleaned
they're dreaming of times that were less mean
when they're wallets weren't as lean
and could hold in hand a tangerine
but now they need handouts
the fallout from this too big to work out
while gutting out houses, they shit in out houses
wondering how come someone would allow this
they're owed better than one of FEMA's trailers
rotting somewhere in Arkansas while they're sawing
some spruce for a ceiling, bioremediating
the oil out of the soil in some son's
school's soiled grounds, toys sittin' spoiled
and a neighbor's hounds sound off so loud,
so loud the levees may burst out another flood to flatten this town
talk about no class, no sense,
this mindless government can't save this monument to culture
all those vultures want is more moisture to get rid of those poor people,
or more poor to use as soldiers
see through the silence to what's scrawled on the wall
that shows where souls fall and says to all,
"beware what lies ahead, the lies of the past will make us dead."
families dying, bodies are lying for weeks in the streets,
in cars, under tables where they used to eat
houses like ice flows, who's under 'em? Who knows?
those roofs sliding off huts, tourists think it's a show
rummaging in the rubble of a hovel
they shovel aside a whole level of a house
and find nothing to save, not even a mouse

Saturday, March 10, 2007

FEMA Taking Hit on Sale of Surplus Trailers

[Ran across this article in the Washington Post.]

Stored in such places as the vacant land near an airfield in Hope, Ark., an industrial park in Cumberland, Md., and a warehouse in Edison, N.J., are the results of one of the federal government's costliest stumbles in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina -- tens of thousands of empty trailers. [continue reading]

It's amazing to think that this stuff still isn't resolved. I mean, it's been a year and a half since the hurricanes hit. Rebuilding is only really just starting in a number of neighborhoods. Delays in plans persist due to legal battles in indecision. From what I hear, there are still huge swaths of the city that are wastelands and virtually uninhabited. It's a real bummer that we can't get our act together down there. I urge anyone reading this who hasn't volunteered to go lend a hand. It was hard work but actually fun. It's not just help with construction or destruction that's needed. Volunteers are needed to help cook and distribute food and clothes as well and do general clean-up work and even gardening among other things. There are some links to various volunteer organizations in the upper right of this blog. Feel free to check them out.

Assuming I'm back in the states this autumn (which I am assuming) I hope to go down and do a second stint volunteering. It's a long way off yet, but if anyone else is interested I'd love the company.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

random photos

points of light. pointy pointy light.

construction on the bypass business. not actually the bypass, but they're switching bunch of traffic patterns around (one way streets will switch direction) and also too the highway is getting a new exit ramp on this street pictured right hurrrrrr.

view from the terrace of the san francisco bath house (hipster central)
i was not drunk, but my it looks like my camera had imbibed

la casa es muy caliente. brendan's housewarming party.
latin american style.

it's a posting frenzy! i just made a handful of short posts about different stuff. life continues on earth's ozoneless underbelly. i discovered twice-weekly life-drawing sessions held at a community art space. it's relatively inexpensive. there's no critique it's just roughly an hour and a half of drawing. i haven't sketched a live model since drawing class my sophomore year. so i'm a bit out of practice, though in better shape than i expected. if you're very well behaved, i'll post a couple scans (assuming the scanners at oblong actually work... the jury's out on that).

also, i'm participating now in weekly spanish skill-share sessions and may try and take a class or two. tendinitis in my knee persists, which i discovered while clumsily hopping a fence today. i've been waking up early to do some jogging and strengthening excersizes. i thought i'd solved it, but apparently not. soccer may have to wait another week (it's been two now). luckily there are other things to keep me busy.

Had some pizza at the previously mentioned Mediterranean Warehouse. Not impressed. They won an award a few years ago. However, i found the crust to be much too soft. It was kind of like eating pizza bread. Bummer.

I got a hot tip about a place downtown. It looks kind of fancy though. I'll have to save my pennies... or ten cent pieces. Whatever.

more pizza.

made more pizza on sunday. Used uncooked tomatoes for the sauce. I rinsed them before mashing them up with, mixed with some salt and oregano. Definitely an improvement. I think my next step will be to try a twice-baked approach. Baking the crust and sauce for 5 minutes, then adding the cheese. I think the cheese is getting overcooked. It might just be that I'm using dry mozz instead of fresh wet mozz... etc., etc. It just means I'll have to try it again this weekend.

I hit up the Mediterranean Warehouse the other day and picked up a couple packs of "00" flour (finely ground) imported from Italia. Might make a difference...
Went to a protest yesterday. There are three police officers on trial for rape. Two are currently in jail, one is suspended with pay from his job. The situation is probably better described by Radio New Zealand:

Trial verdicts verdict

On 1 March, Suspended Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards and two former officers were acquitted on charges of kidnapping and indecently assaulting a woman in Rotorua between November 1983 - August 1984. The complainant was aged 16 at the time.

Following the verdicts by a jury of eight men and four women in the High Court at Auckland, it was revealed the two former policemen were convicted rapists who are still serving jail terms for the abduction and rape of a woman in Mt Maunganui in 1989.

Last year, a jury cleared the trio of 20 charges of sexual violation and indecent assault against Rotorua woman Louise Nicholas in 1986.

The jury of seven women and five men delivered its verdict on 31 March 2006 after three days of deliberations following a 2½-week trial at the High Court in Auckland.

read the dominion posts' take on the protests here and indymedia's here.

Monday, March 05, 2007

the bypass

It's where I live--a four-lane strip of asphalt that swings around two sides of the apartment I live in, which is pretty much right on the edge of downtown Wellington, an increasingly popular neighbor called Te Aro. It's been in the works since approximately 4000 B.C. and it has finally been more-or-less completed. Homes that once stood where the highway now sits were moved to nearby sites on Willis and Cuba Streets, or now are planted next to the bypass. It was supposed to knock off approximately 9 seconds off the travel time for commuters. Due to bottlenecking and generally poor traffic patterns, the changes have actually created a 20 minute delay for some commuters. Complaints have come pouring in that buses have been running late or not showing up at all.

My theory? That when they planned the highway extension way back when, there weren't nearly as many cars on the road--after all, the wheel had yet to be invented. Te Aro, Aro Valley, and Brooklyn (that's Brooklyn, Wellington and not New York) were sparsely populated by cuddly native trees and hobbits. and then did they revise their plans after the trees were replaced with roads, houses, and automobiles and the hobbits with hipsters? No, they did not. While their plan for a bypass might've worked back in the stone age, when there were no people here, it does not work now.

The problem with the bypass is that it does not in fact bypass anything. It passes through everything. That's being generous. Many would tell you that it does not allow you to pass anything at all. Let's as Mervbert here:

"Hi, Mervbert. What do you think of the new bypass?"

"I've been waiting at this light since last Thursday. I've run out of food, my boss called to fire me for not showing up this week. I've been eating cigarettes and lint for the past three days. Please help me."

"Here's a shiny nickel. It will do you no good in this godforsaken roadwork."

"God bless you, sir."

"Now go build a bicycle."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

old news new views

The Wellington Ukelele Orchestra plays the hometown crowd like their musical instrument of choice.