May 23, 2004

I’m talking about drawing a line in the sand, dude.

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 10:58 am

Okay, this deserves an entry of its own. Mere hours after posting the last entry, I found myself waiting for my friends to pick me up. Having a few minutes to spare and almost no patience, I decided to see what was on TV. What was on TV was…a bunch of blocked channels. ESPN was blocked. The channel before ESPN was blocked. Basic cable, network TV–everything blocked, “by parental controls.” “Press Enter to un-block channels,” so I pressed enter, and it asked me for a PIN. I don’t know the PIN. Presumably, the only person who knows the PIN would be whoever set up the parental blocking. Round up the usual suspects.

I called my roommate right then and asked him for the PIN, but before he could give it to me my friends arrived. When I got home and asked him about it, he said that he had blocked it for my birthday party (six days previous, note), because, and this is as direct a quote as I can remember, he “didn’t want people ordering a lot of shit,” by which I can only assume he means a lot of channels.

This one is too much. This one needs a confrontation. (I should have confronted him then but I didn’t have the courage saved up.) First of all, his reason is total bullshit. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been at a party where people were eagerly signing up for cable channels. And plus, and this is the most important point, I ALSO PAY FOR THE CABLE. So it was my right to watch cable at my party (and the rest of the week) if I wanted to. If I invited some fictional friend who ordered another channel, I would have paid for it. If sanity prevailed, there would have been no consequences. We weren’t going to track mud all over his nice clean cable.

Basically the pattern is: he wants me to be responsible for the common areas, both financially and in terms of upkeep, but he gets annoyed whenever I take advantage of those common areas and takes whatever steps he can to keep me from doing so. And he doesn’t tell me about it, because up until now I’ve just quietly taken it. Well, enough of that. Here I go.


May 21, 2004

When we started out, I thought you were so sweet

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 5:02 pm

Things have gotten farcically bad between me and my roommate. I knew, from the beginning, that we didn’t have anything in common–maybe it was the copy of Showgirls on DVD, or maybe it was that he was a Dodger fan–but there was at least a honeymoon period, when he and his girlfriend seemed to be fascinated to be living with a grad student and TA. But the longer we’ve lived together–and, significantly I think, the more we’ve had to talk to each other–the more it’s become clear that he views me as an irritating guest who won’t take the hint and leave.

This has been clearly visible in how he reacts when I have guests over. The proximity to campus is the entire reason I’m paying so much for a single room–not just because I can’t drive, but so I can have some kind of social life. But given that it’s not hard to see that he really resents it when I have people over; it’s at the point that I look back with longing to the days when he just stone-facedly walked by us without saying hi. Outrages these days include asking us how long we’re going to be; telling me that he was going to trip over my Gamecube if I didn’t get it out of his way (this is while Joe and I were playing Gamecube); and interrupting Gamecube play to pull out the TV and disconnect his XBox, all without an “excuse me.”

It’s true that I have people over all the time. I would love for him to confront me about that, because I have what Joe called a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card: his girlfriend LIVES WITH HIM off the lease. Essentially, he has a guest at the apartment every hour of every day, most likely watching decorating shows at TLC. Now, she’s okay, and I don’t mind her being around. But as with all things between roomie and me, there is something of a double standard.

Another example: the question of mess. I am not that clean a person, I think many people will attest. I try to overcome this, but I’m not always successful. So when he asked me to be more thorough when washing dishes, I was chagrined and apologetic, and I tried to improve. That wasn’t enough; nor was getting my own dishes and cookware, apparently, because a number of kitchen components have simply disappeared. First it was the cutting board, then the baking sheet, then the strainer. Most recently, he put the blender back in its box and sealed it with duct tape. I feel like a child who got his kitchen privileges taken away.

Look, it’s his shit, and if he wants to carry it out from his room every time he cooks, that’s up to him. But this would be less ludicrous if he were actually a neat person. He puts bags of trash on the counter rather than taking them out, there’s a plate of chicken that’s been sitting in the fridge (not his fridge) for at least a month. He cooks with a Foreman grill and has been known to leave the excess fat in the dribble tray on the kitchen counter for days on end. We’re two college guys sharing an apartment, why does he find the idea that I’m not immaculate to be totally unacceptable?

Like I say, I think it gets worse the more we have to talk to each other. This has especially been the case as we’ve had to sublet the apartment; he seemed to be irritated when I tried to convince him that taking all of the furniture out of the living room would make it harder to sublet the apartment. (We finally agreed that he would leave the couch, but that’s it.) Now, we just spend the time silently moving past each other in the apartment. I am hoping for one big blowup at some point, though–preferably the day before I move out.

May 12, 2004

Exit wound in a foreign nation

Filed under: Laws and Sausages, The Old Dirty War — tomemos @ 1:35 pm

The right has already begun making asses of themselves over the horrific beheading (of course, there is no other kind) of Nick Berg. I know that conservatives must be tired of being picked on over the last week, but their ghoulishness is really sickening. It’s not just that they are finding a political meaning in a man’s death; so am I. That’s natural, his murder was a political act. What’s disgusting about the current rhetoric is that it’s specifically pitched to make us feel silly for caring about a few harmless sexual abuses and homicides at Abu Ghraib. Listening to the rhetoric, you’d think that Nick Berg was murdered by ANSWER, or by the New York Times editorial board.

Third-place asshole: This worthless blogger, who asks “Where’s the outrage?”–less than three hours, I think, after the story breaks. As if liberals were all saying, “You know, this leaves me cold.” As if liberals were saying anything at all, since we hadn’t even heard about it yet.

What’s more, how can right-wingers (which includes Joe Lieberman) stand to say, “There! See? We’re less evil than Al Qaeda!” Well, of course we are, but Al Qaeda only claims to be moral based on an insane misinterpretation of religion combined with a murderous hate. We claim to be moral based on our commitment to democracy and best intentions. And now a beheading makes us realize that we’re not that bad after all? I’m confused–aren’t liberals supposed to be the big moral relativists?

Second-Place Asshole: Senator Rick Santorum (of course!), who takes the Strengthen Our Moral Resolve angle: “If anyone wants to know what we’re fighting and why we’re fighting this war on terror, this is a good example of it.” Yes, Rick. And the Tet Offensive was a good example of why we were fighting the war in Vietnam.

Look, not for a second would I ever suggest that something this awful could be even remotely justified. But if our actions didn’t justify the murder, they certainly brought it about. Al Qaeda wasn’t in Iraq when we invaded. If we hadn’t invaded–or if we had at least had some idea what the hell we were doing–they still wouldn’t be there. As it is, this is clear evidence of how we’re basically sending people to their deaths by dumping them into a cauldron of hate and anger that we have no way of ameliorating. The lesson here: we botched the war on terror. I don’t suppose anyone thought the Middle East could be made more of a hell on earth, but you know, we found a way.

Bull Goose Asshole: Senator Pat Roberts, Republican from Kansas. You know, to beat out Santorum, he must have said something pretty bad. And he did: “Seems to me that this [Berg’s murder] underscores, in part at least, the tremendous value of interrogation and better intelligence to prevent atrocities like this.”

You can’t tell me that there isn’t a clear message here: “Don’t rag on our brave interrogators. If they had been allowed to sodomize prisoners as they saw fit, maybe one of them might have known Al Qaeda’s plan to murder a contractor.” It’s the same message we’ve been getting all week: “Just shut up and let us do what we want and it’ll all work out.” Well, fuck that. The sons- and daughters-of-bitches in Abu Ghraib weren’t gathering intelligence–they were enjoying the perks of absolute power. I don’t think that Al Qaeda needed an excuse to murder somebody, but that still isn’t a good reason to give them one.

In any event, things have gotten so Boschesque in Iraq now that I can’t see support for the war continuing for more than a few weeks. I suppose it’s a triumph of the digital age, that it took only a year and a half, rather than four like in Vietnam, for the country to become disillusioned and realize that we’ve killed thousands of innocents and exposed the dark heart of humanity yet again. I’d like it if our next bit of progress could be that we remember this and not go to war next time, but I suppose there will always be that bug in the fucking system.

UPDATE: Here’s a special Asshole Achievement Award for Moral Equivocation, presented to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for the following comments from this MSNBC Article:

But House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, while acknowledging that the materials showed “pretty disgusting sexual acts,” said there was no need for more investigations. “The American system is working,” he said. “… Our enemies are incredibly more evil than what is depicted in the pictures.”

Well, that’s a load off my mind! Just let me know when we become more evil than our enemies. That’s when we’ll need an investigation.

May 10, 2004

We’re gonna have a party party

Filed under: General Me — tomemos @ 5:03 pm

It’s my birthday today! If you forgot, here’s the perfect opportunity to cover that up. Just phone me or e-mail me or put a happy comment on this entry.

Thoughts on being 23: A Masonic age. An in-between year, kind of non-descript. Like 22, 23 seems younger than 21. 24, on the other hand, seems very old, the true start of the mid-twenties. On the other hand, a classmate of mine told me today that 23 was a very good year for her. Guess we’ll see.

This is the first birthday that I’m milking for not one, but two (two and a half, really) birthday parties. This last weekend I went back to Berkeley and had a joint birthday dinner with my dad, then a joint birthday party with Devin. This weekend I’m throwing a picnic followed by a bunch of drinking.

I know there’s nothing very exciting in these pithy observations. But all I know is: I love my birthday.

May 7, 2004

Machina Ex Deus

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 2:58 pm

A Cistercian monastery in Wisconsin sells recycled ink cartridges to support itself, sometimes at less than half the cost of the branded products.

It’s called LaserMonks.

The internet is the wonderfullest. I know where I’m buying all my ink from now on: LaserMonks!

May 6, 2004

To elaborate

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 5:42 pm

Expanding on the previous post: It’s not just the fact that they decided to make fun of someone who is currently fighting to tell the truth about Bush’s shady actions surrounding 9/11, or that they’re making fun of him for his weight, which would be like Amnesty International criticizing Bush’s choice of ties. It’s not just that they perpetuate the idea that weight is something you’re still allowed to taunt people for publicly (see Drew’s post for a criticism of this idea).

All of these are good reasons to hate PETA right now, but what makes me really mad is the whole “Queer Eye” angle. “Veg Eye for the Fat Guy”? “Flab Five”? Weak. Five years ago, the same brainious might have gone for, “Eating meat? Is that your final answer?” It’s just a lazy, dumb way to make a lazy, dumb point. Come to that, what is their dumb point? That fat celebrities are making it seem okay to be fat? I know I’m disgusted all the time about how the media makes obesity seem glamorous and sexy.

Talking trash under your breath

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomemos @ 11:33 am

Simply unbelievable:

PETA Criticizes Moore’s Weight

See, this is why I can’t sustain an interest in the animal rights movement.

May 5, 2004

Rock got no reason, rock got no rhyme

Filed under: Music — tomemos @ 10:31 pm

Some memories from The Three-Letter Gang’s (Joe, Pat, Mia, Tom) trip to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, May 1 and 2, Indio, CA:

It was hot. The heat woke us up at 8:30 am both mornings, and that was just the beginning. Shade was precious to us, and one particular palm tree at our campsite will have a special place in my heart forever. Apparently the highs were 99° on Saturday and 103° on Sunday, but all we had to go on at the time was circumstantial evidence, like when we left a bag of sour Gummi worms in the car and later found that they had melted into a multicolored paste. It looked like a Tibetan sand painting.

They tried to kill us. They wouldn’t let us bring water into the grounds. Mostly the festival was free of cynical exploitation, but this was an egregious enough example. They would have still sold water; no one could have carried in enough water to last them throughout the day. And it was particularly bad since they ended up running out of water at some of the stands anyway. I started measuring value in terms of $2 bottles of water.

It was kickass awesome. Embarrassing as it is, I can’t remember the last rock concert I had gone to before Coachella. Aside from They Might Be Giants–at BORDERS BOOKS–in September or October 2002, it’s just been one-man/woman bands like Mirah and Doughty. But this put me right back in the mode of looking for concerts and just generally immersing myself in music. Partly it was revisiting the excitement of concerts, partly it was feeling like some kind of disaffected indie community, or as Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips described it, “one big Coachella thing.” Without further yammering, I present Tomemos’s Coachella 2004 Awards:

Best Set: Stellastarr*. They played my favorite songs from their album, along with just enough new songs (I think two) to keep it interesting, and all with an amazing amount of energy and fun. (Runners-Up: the Pixies, Dizzee Rascal, Radiohead.)

Best Surprise: Broken Social Scene (thanks, Bret). Joe described them as a “postmodern jam band,” and I think that’s a pretty good assessment. Despite the somewhat melancholy tone of some of their music, they were in high spirits, which culminated in the guitarist proposing to his girlfriend on stage (she said yes). (Runners-Up: the Thrills, [thanks, Julie], Sahara Hotnights.)

Most Likely Album Purchase: Pixies, “Doolittle.” How I don’t have this (with “Debaser” and “Wave of Mutilation” on it) I don’t know, particularly after being reminded that they’re a 100% classic band. (Runners-up: Broken Social Scene, “You Forgot It In People”; Radiohead, “Hail to the Thief”; Air, “Moon Safari”)

Best stage show: The Flaming Lips, who (apparently) are known for this kind of crazy shit. This one featured the lead singer walking across the crowd in a big plastic bubble (we were supposed to tell people that it came from space, as per a dream he had); huge balloons bouncing through the audience; people on the sidelines in animal costumes waving flashlights, along with two people in costumes that looked like big inflatable suns; the lead singer leading us in a “Stop Bush” chant while wearing Hulk hands; and a screen behind them featuring video of a topless woman doing Karate. With all that, they only had time to do about four songs, but one of those was “Yoshimi” and that made me happy. (Runner-up: Belle and Sebastian, who brought audience members onstage to play percussion for “Roy Walker”; Radiohead, who just had great lights)

Biggest Disappointment, Band’s Fault: …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, who played badly, without any kind of enthusiasm, and who made jokes that seemed to suggest they were looking down on their audience for something. The lead singer was missing for a couple songs, even, without explanation. They played as if they weren’t competing with a bunch of other bands for our attention.

Biggest Disappointment, Organizers’ Fault: Beck. Okay, Beck was a late addition, but still, couldn’t they have managed to put him somewhere other than the smallest tent? Like, say, the main stage? The crowd stretched way outside the tent; I was so far out I could scarcely see him on my tiptoes. I stayed for one song but unfortunately it wasn’t worth it; I envy Pat, who got to see the whole thing, though he had to deal with a lot of crazy-aggressive fans.

Best Bands Missed Due to Scheduling Conflicts:Stereolab (Pixies), the Rapture (Radiohead), Bright Eyes (Dizzee Rascal), Crystal Method (Flaming Lips), Le Tigre (The Cure).

Best Bands Missed Due to Exhaustion: Junior Senior, Kraftwerk.

Other Bands That Were Quite Good, I Just Haven’t Said Anything About Them Yet: Erase Errata, the first band I saw, who opened with the only song I know of theirs (“Marathon”; thanks, Drew); Death Cab for Cutie, who sounded great but who I had to leave to find dinner; Air, who I only caught the end of but they were great.

So this was an incredible weekend. And what’s worst is, judging from the bands who have played at Coachellas past (Queens of the Stone Age, Björk, the White Stripes), we might well be back next year. In the meantime: back to adulthood!

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