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Whispering Sweet Transparent Lunacy

On Hot Oppressive Nights, Shine a Light and You Will See...

October 6th, 2009

New Journal.

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I guess I no longer feel like the same person I did when I started this journal. I used to change journals every year, but it's been years since I've done that. I'll miss teir_garten, but this new one promises to be hot.

contre_danse. Add it si ti piace.

April 15th, 2009

http://www.projo.com/news/content/E_Cigarettes_04-15-09_UAE0J6L_v14.273682d.html

PROVIDENCE — The last time Frank Meglio smoked a cigarette he had to plug it in and charge it. Then the 38-year-old Providence man inhaled through the white plastic cigarette-like tube, which activated a little lithium battery inside that produced a flame-like light, a smoke-like vapor and a nicotine hit.

Smoking’s gone high-tech.

Electronic cigarettes, or “e cigs” as they’re often called, have been in existence about a decade. But only recently, as tobacco cigarette prices soar, have they gained popularity, and controversy.

These products are being promoted as offering smokers the nicotine they want without the cancer-causing chemicals they don’t want. Since there’s no odor and no real smoke (just propylene glycol used in theatrical fog) or flame (just a tiny light at the tip for effect), they can be used indoors. They come in different flavors and four levels of nicotine dosages.

“Most people use it as a healthier way to smoke,” said Edwin Schwab, who works on the second floor of Providence Place at the kiosk of Smoking Everywhere, a U.S. distributor of e cigs. “It sounds absurd but it’s really true.”

What may make e cigs more appealing now than before is the recent rise in the price of cigarettes. Last week, Rhode Island raised its excise tax on cigarettes to $3.46 per pack, the highest in the country. And the federal excise tax rose from 39 cents per pack to $1.01. So a typical pack of smokes in the state now costs $8.35.

Compare that with a pack of e cigs: $2. Since they’re not cigarettes, they’re not taxed as cigarettes. They contain the drug nicotine, but aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration –– at least not yet.

The FDA reports that it is “looking into this.” And it is getting encouragement to look thoroughly and decisively. Two months ago David Gifford, the state’s health director, wrote the FDA asking it to regulate e cigs because of their nicotine content.

“We don’t support e cigarettes,” said Annemarie Beardsworth, spokeswoman for the Rhode Island Department of Health. “Nicotine is an addictive substance.”

Any product promoting withdrawal from nicotine, she maintained , should be FDA-approved. “E cigarettes are not a regulated product. There is no identification required to purchase them. With tobacco you need to be 18.”

E cigarettes sold by Smoking Everywhere, a Florida-based company, come in various flavors: apple, cherry, strawberry and chocolate, among others.

A Smoking Everywhere starter kit, which comes with a charger and five tips, with each tip the equivalent of a pack of cigarettes, costs $130. Replacement packs of five tips cost $10.

Meglio used to smoke tobacco cigarettes, a pack a day, until Jan 1. On Jan. 2 he bought a Smoking Everywhere starter kit. He hasn’t smoked a real cigarette since. And previously he had tried other products to try to stop smoking. But nothing worked for long.

“I tried the gum and ended up with hiccups and it tastes really gross. With the patch, you’re getting nicotine all day. With this, I get what I need when I want it.”

Since January, Meglio has reduced the number of times a day he uses his e cig, and reduced the nicotine dosage of his e cigs. The question is: Has he has traded one form of nicotine addiction (cigarettes) for another (e cigarettes)?

“If I don’t quit, I’m still better off than smoking,” he maintains.

Schwab, 28, who smoked for roughly a decade, stopped when he began using e cigarettes, which he now sells.

“I believed in the product so much that I wanted to work for the company,” Schwab said.

It has been four months since Schwab smoked a tobacco cigarette. A friend had given him an e cig starter kit, which he ignored for a month, until one cold and snowy night he was going out with friends and didn’t feel like smoking outside. So he gave e cigs a try.

“It seemed bizarre and gimmicky. I just thought it wouldn’t work.”

Now it’s been a month since Schwab has had an e cig, which he attributes to changing his life.

“I realized smoking was slowly taking over my life. I was up to two packs a day. I was always in my basement or outside smoking. My car stunk. My clothes stunk. I couldn’t believe I was spending all this money to make my things stink.”

The Smoking Everywhere e cigarettes are sold at mall kiosks around the country. Steve Bayonne of Providence owns the one in Providence, which has been in operation for a few months.

“Once every 10 years there is a really good product that hits the market,” Bayonne said. “I heard about this last year and decided to move forward.”

Bayonne is not a smoker; he’s a businessman. Before becoming a Smoking Everywhere distributor, he gave the product to his friends who smoked.

“They all felt better on the product instantly.”

Bayonne said e cigs are “an alternative to smoking, not a smoking cessation product.” But the problem is one of perception. E cigs are offered in nicotine dosages of high, medium, low and none. The obvious inference is it can be used as a smoking-cessation product, and smoking-cessation products must be regulated by the FDA; this is not.

More needs to be known about e cigarettes, according to Jim Beardsworth, communications director for the Warwick-based Southern New England Region of the American Cancer Society.

“There is not a lot of data out there. There have not been clinical trials on this product. I do think it’s something that deserves tremendous caution.”


What does everyone think about these?

If you smoke: Would you consider switching to e-cigarettes as an alternative means of supporting a nicotine addiction? Would you consider yourself 'better off' than smoking a cigarette because e-cigarettes are, in theory, not cancer-causing? Would you consider switching to electronic cigarettes as a viable means to quit smoking?

If you do not smoke: Do you think that smokers who choose to switch to an electronic cigarette are making a wiser choice for their long-term health? Do you consider that the absence of tobacco in electronic cigarettes makes them 'healthier' than classic tobacco cigarettes?

Whether or not you smoke: Do you believe that this product should be regulated by the FDA? Do you believe that this product should be taxed as a cigarette, or a different drug altogether, or not at all? Do you consider this product a positive or negative influence on younger people or potential future-smokers?

March 3rd, 2009

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For the first time in what seems like years, I put down a nonfiction book in favor of something fiction. Not only that, but the subject matter - vampires, teen angst, and twisted romance - could not have been any father from the subject matter of my recent reading explorations; topics such as Iran-USA historical relations, capitalism, macroeconomics, political theory, historical works - mainly centered around WWII - and environmental studies. In retrospect, it was a complete one-eighty.

But there I was, Friday night, just after cashing my check, wandering around Newbury Comics. I actually had planned to pick up a new DVD (which I did), but naturally, I was drawn to the New Release section, which sits adjacent to the "Weekly Specials" display. My eyes wandered over all of the musical selections; oftentimes, Newbury Comics will put the entire works of an artist on sale for a week, and it's always a great bargain (that's how I got most of my REM, Pink Floyd, and David Bowie.) Of course, it was only a matter of time before I wandered even further to the right, to the display adjacent to that, where the books that were on sale were being toted.

Looking for nothing in particular, but very much interested in books lately, I came across Twilight, by Stephanie Meyer. I stopped for a second, considering my options.

I knew vaguely what the book was about. I'm typically well out of touch with the newest teen fads, and I'm hardly paying attention to what's considered to be the 'Hottest New Thing', but I do vaguely remember seeing the book around, and hearing a bit of hype; nothing particular, I was just aware, on the periphery of my mind, that there was hype. (Not to mention the fact that I'm standing in Newbury Comics, where life-sized cardboard silhouettes of the characters in the movie - the kind you saw of Obama and Palin, and often see of professional wrestlers and the like - were hanging around everywhere.) The other thing I was sure of, if only vaguely, was that it was about vampires, and the rest I presumed. I was pretty certain that whatever the book was about, if it involved pop culture and vampires, I probably wasn't going to like it. The scenes on the walls and the limited exposure I had to the movie trailer suggested some romance theme, and I was pretty certain that pop-culture + vampires + romance was going to be pretty terrible, or at the very least, not my thing.

But I was compelled to read it, namely because Will is a huge fan and incessantly recommends that I read the books (he owns all of them) and insists that I'd like them if I gave them half a chance. I'd resisted thusfar, pulling out the admittedly lame "They're not really my thing" card, which even I knew was not going to fly with Will. He'd just stare at me skeptically, as though holding back some sarcastic retort. "Anita Blake?" he would question half-mockingly, and I would look away, intent to distract myself with something that was surely not very interesting, but nowhere in his line of vision. I had borrowed the Anita Blake vampire novels from him (all seven of he ones he owned, in chronological order) and read every one of them. I had admitted that I'd enjoyed them (how else was I going to explain wanting to borrow the next in the series?) but did not admit that truly, I had loved them. The author's style was witty, cynical, and totally unrealistic when taking into account exactly what she was writing about, but it didn't matter. I had been enthralled. Why I dismissed this series so quickly even I didn't know. Maybe it was my natural aversion to anything that's hugely popular, knowing that if the masses loved it, it must be a watered-down excuse for a novel that played to angst-ridden high schoolers with too much disposable income.

Just the same, I picked up the book and flipped it over. $10.99. Fuck, I thought to myself as the realization hit that even my logical and reasonable conscious mind wasn't going to be able to stop my subconscious from convincing me to buy it, despite my reservations. At the very least, if it were expensive, my reasoning would hold some water, but at that price, I was going down, and I knew it. And even as I thought this, my sub-conscious slipped into my conscious, reasoning that if I read it, I could tell Will in confidence that I hadn't enjoyed it, knowing that he would no longer to use his, "If you haven't read it, you don't know if you're going to like it" line that he had come accustomed to throwing my way whenever it seemed we were at an impassè.

I carried the book to the counter, groaning mostly because I knew I had lost the battle before it even began. I knew the girl at the counter, whom checked me out almost every time I was here (which was every week.) She smiled, looking down at my selection.

"Oh, so you're finally giving in to the pressure?" The question was a statement, no doubt about it. My purchase had already confirmed it; there was little reason to ask save for politeness.

Great, I thought to myself. "Well, it keeps being recommended to me," I said faintly, reaching into my bag for a twenty, purposely avoiding eye contact.

I could almost sense her eyes rolling, though I still wasn't looking at her looking at her. "Who hasn't had it recommended to them? You can't escape it."

Not when you work here, I thought to myself, half-bitterly, but knowing my reaction would have been the same if I had been in her position. By this time she was holding out my change, which I took, stuffing it haphazardly in my pocket and giving a polite thanks, still trying to avoid eye contact while remaining friendly; a challenging task. I quickly left the store.

February 18th, 2009

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7897802.stm

A teacher in Italy has been suspended after some students complained that he removed a crucifix from his classroom.

Franco Coppoli, a literature teacher from Umbria, took down the crucifix in his classroom arguing that education and religion should not be mixed.

Some of his students complained and now the National Education Council has suspended Mr Coppoli for a month.

The hanging of crosses in public buildings is not compulsory in Italy but it is customary.

The case follows a decision this week by Italy's Supreme Court to quash a conviction of a judge who refused to enter courts where crucifixes were hanging.

Judge Luigi Tosti, who is Jewish, had been given a seven-month jail sentence for failing to carry out his official duties. He had earlier issued an ultimatum declaring that either he or the crosses should remain the courtroom - not both.

Religious debate

Both these incidents have re-ignited Italy's debate on crucifixes in public buildings.

The separation of church and state is set down in the post war Constitution. It is designed to give equal status to all religions.

This was further underlined by a Concordat in 1984 which ended most of the Catholic Church's privileges.

In recent years conservatives have protested about the decision of some schools to drop Christmas plays to avoid hurting the feelings of Muslim children.

Pope John Paul II was once moved to say that Christmas cribs were part of Italy's Catholic heritage.

But it seems the secular and religious sides of this society appear to be widening, with the symbolism of the crucifix becoming a focal point for division.


"Go to Italy" was just moved down the list of Things to Do about five slots.

February 13th, 2009

This is Not America

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Found this via a friend in the UK. It's a quote from Tony Blair on his speech to Barack Obama. In this particular portion of the speech, Blair was discussing his spiritual awakening and how it effected his presidency.

"I do not mean by this to blur the correct distinction between the realms of religious and political authority. In Britain we are especially mindful of this. I recall giving an address to the country at a time of crisis. I wanted to end my words with “God bless the British people”. This caused complete consternation. Emergency meetings were convened. The system was aghast. Finally, as I sat trying to defend my words, a senior civil servant said, with utter distain: 'Really, Prime Minister, this is not America you know.'"

Brilliant.

February 11th, 2009

I need movie recommendations. I've slowly been outfitting my collection with some of my favorites, but I'd like to build it up some more. And considering the depressingly few movies I've seen, I'm at a loss.

LJ: Top 5 favorite movies of all time. Post haste.

February 9th, 2009



These people really do have to be one of my favorite bands of all time. The Dresden Dolls are a Boston-based duo comprised of pianist/keyboardist/vocalist Amanda Palmer and drummer Brian Viglione. These two combine Punk Rock, Cabaret, and prose poetry with innovation, double-entendre, and Wiemar Republic imagery, complete with a performing arts troupe and 1920s Wiemar-doll get up. The group acheived fame in 2002 with their debut album, The Dresden Dolls, which soared them to monumental heights of popularity (and with a song like "Coin-Operated Boy", how could it not have?) and created an entire sub-sub-sub-sub culture among angsty teenaged girls, sexually-disoriented boys, and artfags alike. Now on their third release, the Dolls aren't quite the famous rock stars they were for a short stint, but they still are going strong, with no signs of slowing down.

No, Virginia is an album of B-sides, unreleased tracks, and hidden material following their 2006 sophomore album, Yes, Virginia. The beauty of this album is in it's break away from all of the previous styles that the Dolls have displayed. Certainly less prose-oriented than their debut, as was their follow up, but it's distinctly different than the disenfranchised, almost-political-but-entirely-too-fun-to-be-yet-another-Bush-bashing-album feel of Yes, Virginia. There's a subtle shift here; the kind of thing that foreshadows where a band is going without abandoning their roots. There's a way with which Amanda Palmer sings - a certain spittle hitting your face the way they never did before - that we simply aren't accustomed to. It's also thematically formatted, with heavy focus on social perversity and stories about outcasts, art students, starving cinematiques, insane playwrights, and general weirdos. It's Metropolis, it's Brazil!, it's Cabaret if Liza died in the end. It's provocative, it's edgy, it's risquè, it's... absolutely brilliant.

From "Dear Jenny" to "Boston",Amanda takes you on a journey through the lives of a myriad of characters. There's Mary, the struggling playwright, teased through high school who goes on to make a film based on the very things she was accused of being. There's that guy you knew (and probably still do) who looks for love on the Internet, just to be shit on spectacularly. There's even the egotistical actress and the triumphant outcast; the tortured author and the child molester. Oh, and the dysfunctional couple who race to the finish line of their relationship, leaving a trail of one-night stands in their wake. To boot, they cover The Psychedelic Furs.

The Dolls' ability to constantly evolve and reinvent themselves without abandoning their core fan base is something of note, and a refreshing break from the massive sell-out syndrome that plagues so many talented underground bands. Fame didn't ruin them, and I always feel like I'm discovering more aspects of Palmer's personality with each release. Instead of changing the style to what people expect, adore, or demand, Palmer and Viglione insist on evolving at their own pace, content to reveal parts of their perverse world one segment at a time. This album continues that tradition, satiating the masses' taste for the absurd that brought them the popularity, while simultaneously sailing right over their heads. A stunning feat.

Strikingly original and cohesive for an album of miscellaneous cut tracks, I would highly recommend it to anyone, for any reason, at any time.

February 7th, 2009

I constantly alternate between person and social fulfillment. One day I wake up and decide that I need more books, so I'll scour the $3.99 bin at Border's in search of some book, usually non-fiction, that will somehow broaden my understanding of the world. I've bought a lot of books recently.

The one I'm reading now is called Dead Certain: The Presidency of George Bush. It goes through his entire 8 year presidency, discussing at length the development of certain issues, and just generally the workings of the White House under his rule and his personal approach to things. It's neither condemning nor endorsing; illuminating, rather. Meant to be insightful rather than biased. So far, I like it a lot.

But then there are times, like last Wednesday night, when the visiting of some friends highlights my need for new wineglasses. Or movies I'll never watch because I don't really care for movies, and especially dislike watching movies alone. And then, of course, I'd like an espresso machine that I'll never use save for when I have company, but that's just the point. I'm really into entertaining at home these days, what with a living room that looks half-way decent, I find myself saying, "Yeah, let's go to my house" more and more often.

Just an observation.

I'm really into The Dresden Dolls' latest album, No, Virginia. I'm going to get a review of it up one of these days. but until then, you should all listen to it.

January 1st, 2009

I can't help but do these stupid surveys every year. I know how dumb they tend to be, but I can't resist.
Survey Under CutCollapse )
I made Jeff a mix tape the other day (a real mix tape. As in, from the 80s.)
Track Listing Behind the CutCollapse )

Speaking of musical indulgences, I received a startling gift of a $100 AmEx gift card from my boss at work, which was incredibly unexpected (and made my $10 bottle of wine I gave her look pathetic. But really, who gives co-workers $100 gift cards for Christmas?) But the first thing I did with the money was go on a small shopping spree on Half.com. I did purchase Faith and the Muse's Elyria, because I'm really sick and tired of only having The Burning Season and not being able to hear "Vervain" or "Mercyground" if I want to. I also bought Strange Boutique's The Loved One because, again, I was sick of just having the Greatest Hits, and when you've had access to a great album and then lose it, no amount of Singles collections is going to make up for it. I also got Placebo's Black Market Music for the same reason. Since the speakers on my computer shit the bed, I've been having to supplement my music collection for stuff I only had on the computer that I can no longer listen to. See? Downloading music does increase music sales. The record industry just has to figure out how to sabotage everyone in the world's computer speakers, and they'd be all set.

Also, I've been trying to get my hands on this version of "Little Drummer Boy" that the Trans-Siberian Orchesta do, but can't seem to find it anywhere. Their official site says that they didn't even do one.

December 26th, 2008

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The past two weeks at work have been hellacious, and I'm glad they are over. Between two weeks of ten hour days without respite to the stress associated with the holidays at my work in and of themselves, I am thoroughly done with Christmas, thank you very much.

Not that mine wasn't nice, because it was. I had planned to spend my first day off in three weeks lounging around doing nothing and hoping to catch up on some sleep that I had neglected over the past few weeks. I had no real plans and certainly made sure that I had no obligations, hoping to spend the day reading or cleaning or otherwise doing something that entailed being alone in some sort of peaceful atmosphere, but it was not to be.

What I did end up doing, however, was unlikely, but pleasant nonetheless. After being bombarded with phone calls from people of varying degrees of priority ranging from my relatives in Warwick whom I haven't spoken to in years suddenly deciding that it was imperative if I didn't spend the holidays with them (as though skipping out this year, after not hearing a peep out of them for the last four years of my life was somehow grossly inappropriate) to Darlene next door wondering if I wished to join them in dinner and alcohol and Rock Band, I actually opted to spend a majority of my Christmas festivities with a customer from work.

Concetta is this extremely sweet ex-schoolteacher who has been a regular customer of mine for the past couple of years. She always invites me to her house, which is quite close to my own, for Christmas dinner with her husband and daughter, whom I also know from the same instances. I never actually take her up on the offer, even though she goes out of her way to get me an iTunes gift card every year (which I can't use, but it certainly is the thought that counts) and utterly insists that I join her and her family for Christmas dinner. I suppose the reason I never actually participate is just general nervousness of being in the home of someone who is, in practicality, a complete stranger (how much of someone can you really know by serving them cheese a couple of times a week for a few years?) and in spite of her and her husband's extremely warm and somewhat hippie-esque disposition, I still feel as though I'd be intruding on something I have no business being part of. But this year, I decided to join Concetta and her family for a couple of glasses of wine and hors d'oeuvres (including the best homemade curry that I, for one, have ever had.) Though I was somewhat nervous going into the entire ordeal, I do have to say that the visit was so pleasant, I almost regretted leaving. Yes, the wine helped.

After a good homemade meal at Darlene's that included a copious amount of stuffing and even more copious amount of Rock Band (the only ones I could sing on key were the Siouxsie ones, and despite my confidence, the R.E.M. one was absolutely horrendous), I was finally able to get home and be in that solitude that I had coveted all day, only to go to bed shortly after - holiday scheduling at Venda Ravioli lasts until New Year's, and I am not looking forward to this week.

I have yet to finish sorting out my thoughts on 2008, and I suppose I will soon. Until then, you should hope to hear from me before the New Year.

December 10th, 2008

Stuff White People Like

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Do you like blogs? I like blogs. I bookmark them and receive email subscriptions from them. Here's one I thought I'd share.

Stuff White People Like

Here's an excerpt:

Stuff White People Like #177: Political Prisoners



For the most part, this list has offered ways to befriend white people one at a time. However, if you want to befriend a large number of white people at the same time, the easiest way to do it is to go to jail for political reasons.

White people love political prisoners because they are individuals who have been locked up because their beliefs or their presence stands in defiance of an unjust system. In fact, most white people would love to be locked up for their beliefs provided that they could go to a jail with private toilets, plenty of books and no rape.

Instead, white people are forced to turn those dreams of oppression into something more productive. Specifically the belief that one day their law degree, graphic design skill, or ability to attend a concert can be used to free a political prisoner.

If you happen to be this individual, then you have no further work to do. White people already like you and will provide for you financially in the form of book deals, commencement addresses, and documentaries. But do not assume that these are the only people who can benefit from their time in jail.

Political prisoners make excellent choices whenever a white person asks you to name a personal hero. If they drop an answer like “Kurt Cobain” or “Toni Morrison” you can easily trump them by offering up a name like Mumia Abu Jamal or Nelson Mandela which will show white people that you are smart, well informed, and political. Or that you own at least one Rage Against the Machine CD.

But what if you pick the wrong political prisoner? Impossible. This is because political prisoners do not exist until a famous white person has drawn attention to them. Until that point, any person who has been locked up for their beliefs is just a regular prisoner and subsequently not worthy of graffiti stencils.

Conversely, if you ever find yourself needing to end a friendship with a white person you can simply say something like “well, he’s a criminal he belongs in jail. I don’t care what the Beastie Boys have to say about it.”

End of friendship.


This makes an excellent accompaniment to my current favorite blog on the internet: Violent Acres

Good day.

November 13th, 2008

I think I've become addicted to Neem Oil and Neem products. I just used some skin gel after the shower and I have never, ever, ever had softer skin in my life. If it weren't for the price, it almost makes you want to shop at Whole Foods.
I got a blender, which means I can make my own hummus. That is indescribably exciting. Hummus, margaritas, and pesto here I come. I also have a fondue pot on load from work as this week is dubbed Kitchen Appliance Celebration WeekTM

I still don't know what I'm doing for Thanksgiving. Kristian is apparently spending it with family, which means I have to find something else to do. I want to cook an enormous feast, and I need people here to eat it. Otherwise I'm going to have a turkey sandwich with instant mashed potatoes. Maybe I'll open that can of cranberry sauce that's been sitting in my cupboard since last Thanksgiving.

So, LJ vermin, what are your plans for Thanksgiving, and what should I make first with my shiny new blender?

November 10th, 2008

Want to learn a language? Check out Livemocha.com
Live Mocha is essentially a social networking site that revolves around learning a new language, and if you ask me, is actually kind of nifty. I'm not usually one for social networking sites, but this is one that I can really get into. I've signed up for an Italian course, just to refresh memory, and then I'll do a Spanish one for the same reason before venturing off to French. But there, you can learn practically any language that's big enough to be notable, and even ones that aren't. Of course there's Spanish and German and Japanese, but also Vietnamese and Afrikaaner and Greek and Georgian. (Seriously, Georgian.)

Today marks Great Cleaning Day '08 at work. With the impending holidays and a surprise inspection from the Health Department today, I'll spend my entire day cleaning, which is actually a good method of passing the 9 hours.

Work Work Work Work Work.

November 9th, 2008

So, Livejournal informs me that I last updated this thing precisely 8 weeks ago. That, for me, is a long time. I'm going to try and sit down and write an entry right now for the sake of figuring out how much interest I still have in this thing.
I Didn't Know What I Was Getting IntoCollapse )

September 11th, 2008

My greatest accomplishment as of late? Learning all of the words to "We Didn't Start the Fire", which I can now recite by heart without the song playing. If you remember that song, you'll understand why it's an accomplishment, indeed.

August 18th, 2008

You know, funny thing is that once I made up my mind firmly, and genuinely did not want to do it anymore, quitting smoking was one of the easiest things I can ever recall doing.

Dax - smoke-free since August 15th, 2008.

August 9th, 2008

History

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August 8, 2008 will be a historical day. People will remember it as the day the Olympics kicked off for the first time in a Communist country, and the day that Russia began annexing nations to form the new Soviet Union. I hope ya'll liked the Cold War!

In other news, the dollar is doing better against the Euro and the Sterling. The pound is now worth only roughly 1.9USD, and the Euro roughly 1.5USD, though people seem to agree that this is only temporary. I wonder if we'll have another de-valuing of the British Sterling, like in the '70s. That's got to be a source of constant pride for the British. "Our currency is so strong, we had to de-value it because ya'll couldn't keep up! Bitches!"

In other news, I like Billy Joel an awful lot.

July 16th, 2008

The Legendary Pink Dots are releasing their 49023904903458349085934th album at the end of August, to be titled "Plutonium Blonde". This is exciting for various reasons.

There's lots of stuff inside my head right now; mostly regarding my love life; mainly because I'm lame. I imagine I'll sit down and sort these thoughts out right here in good ole' LiveJournal at some point in the future, but not tonight. No, not tonight. Tonight I am going to go to 80s night and dance my ass off and forget about everything and everyone for a moment in time.

But I will say this: It's funny how, after 4-years of near-celibacy and one of the bleakest love lives of anyone I know, I am suddenly in the midst of romantic lock-horn, partially because of my own reservations and partially because I have more options than I ever thought I would have.

I will also pose this question, for public consensus:
I have spent 4 years single, turning down nearly every single offer and passing up most opportunities I have been presented with, in reserve for what I deem to be a suitable person to share the current incarnation of my life with. After 4 years, is it acceptable of me to settle for less than what I've searched for?

"But I'm only half a heart away. Yes, I'm only half a heart away."

July 10th, 2008

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If anyone's looking for a really interesting analysis of this whole Iran/Israel/US crisis right now, I urge all to check out this write-up. It gives several key points as to what's going on with each of the nations' leaders. Now there's talk that Iran is going to close the Straight of Hormuz. Hey guys, you think gas is expensive now. Just wait until the lifeblood of the world's oil is off limits to anyone Iran doesn't like.

I read today also that Turkey is essentially at war with Kurdish insurgences on it's border with Iraq. Georgia is about to go to war with Russia over that breakaway province I can't pronounce, much less spell.

Oh, and Syria might have nuclear weapons, thanks to North Korea. Might. That means probably, which almost certainly means definitely.

The more I think about it, the more grateful I am that my trip to Italy this summer got canceled. Had I gone, I know I wouldn't have come back. We're on the brink of war with, like, four nations. I don't want to be here when the shit hits the fan. Even drinking wine on a beach in Greece isn't looking appealing anymore. Way too close to the middle east. That missile that Iran tested could reach Greece. No thanks.
Sweden's looking nice. Nothing ever happens there and they're isolationist enough to not have to worry about going to war. Sweet.

I was reading a conspiracy website a few months ago that said World War three will erupt when Islamic extremists bomb The Vatican. It will feature the ultimate East vs. West War. I laughed then, but it isn't looking too far-fetched at this point.

July 9th, 2008

So Sunday saw the official declaration of John and I reaching "boyfriends" status. This is cool. It was a little rocky for a few days there, but we've reached the level where I think we are comfortable with the status, even if both of us are opposed to that kind of declaration. Really, the official-ness of it all is more a matter of ease of speaking. In reality, it's more shorthand for "This is John, my more-than-friend who I really like and see a lot and sleep with but am opposed to calling anything official." Sometimes practicality is stronger than the forces of defiance. Heh.

It's funny how those sorts of inter-personal relationships develop. Often you find yourself with someone totally unexpected and not in your normal realm of what you consider your "type". I've always maintained that I don't have a "type", per sè. I'm attracted to a lot of different people for a variety of different reasons, and it doesn't always make sense, even to me. However, when the concept of my "dream guy" comes up, it becomes clearer what is attractive to me in all of these different people. John, in no way, fits into the category of my "dream guy", but he and I really clicked, and I suppose that's more important. No, I know that's more important. If I keep allowing myself to second-guess and hold off for fear that something perfect will come along the moment I decide to stop looking is going to land me nowhere but single and miserable about it. At this point, I'm holding out for something that, in all actuality, probably doesn't even exist (as few dream-people do.) There's no sense in passing up something potentially great simply because this probably non-existent thing probably won't come along.

In any event, I'm here now and I'm determined to not let myself sabotage myself. He's great and he makes me happy. End of story.

So life's been moseying along quite nicely, thank you. Kristian and I are not only getting along, but getting along well. She's even started to be more social and interact more with friends I have over and generally be a lot more fun to be around. This is great news. Kristian and I were heading fast towards the point of no return, and as angry as I get sometimes, that really is the last thing I want.
I met a guy named Adrian the other night who shared a lot of the same tastes in music that I do, which was cool. He had never heard of the Legendary Pink Dots, so naturally I sent him some. This has resulted in a massive Legendary Pink Dots relapse for me. This is good because it's no longer Elton John or The Killers, but if I rant any more about LPD, someone I know is going to shoot me in the face. I can see it now. But I will say that if anyone wants any LPD sent to them, now is the best time to ask.

Oh, and is anyone else really, really worried about this?
Or this?

Mmmm. It's hot outside. I can't wait for nuclear winter!

June 30th, 2008

i don't know how much of a secret this is (probably not very much of one), but I read BBC news every single morning. I prefer BBC news to any American news broadcaster. I find that every single American news broadcaster is biased to criminal levels (with the possible exception of CNN, but they're pretty decidedly Republican and Pro-Bush; not inherently a good or bad thing, but biased nonetheless) and I will have to admit that there's nothing like getting news on American happenings from a British newscaster. (One of the sole reasons I want cable so badly is because I want the BBC channel.)

In any case, I find BBC is relatively impartial and even sort of anti-government to an extent (for being a state-run news program), and is surprisingly reliable when talking about World Events (though, contrary to American and domestic news, has biases abound.)

But as I read it every morning, I find that theres so much turmoil in the world right now. I mean, just off the top of my head, I can name three major conflicts; or what BBC progressively labels as "crises" -- Zanu-PF in Zimbabwe (dictatorship regimes FTW), Israel and Iran on the brink of war, and of course, the ever-present Darfur crisis (though people need to stop kidding themselves and call a horse a horse; it's a genocide.) If I racked my brain hard enough, I could think of dozens more, albeit smaller, "crises" (Iran's nuclear ambitions comes to mind, as does Malaysia's political meltdown; the oil crisis always tops the list, even though no one talks about the far more important food crisis; the massive earthquake that just hit Greece [I guess it has to be in China in order for it to mean anything, huh?]; Italian political corruption at record highs [though I guess that's nothing new]; and naturally, the ill-forgotten Afghanistan!)

So I ask the people of my friend's page --

In your opinion, what's the most pressing wold "crisis" right now? What keeps you lying awake at night wondering if the MAD disaster will occur while you sleep?

June 26th, 2008

It's been an interesting last few days. It seems like since Graham's 21st birthday party on Monday, things have been progressing more and more securely, and without any apparent cause. Is this what it's like to be in your 20s? Heh.

I met a boy on Monday who I hit it off with wonderfully. His name is John, and he's an English major at Rhode Island College (read: smart). He's also good looking and incredibly sweet. And once you actually get him talking, he's rather funny and insightful at the same time. He's got an incredibly abstract way of thinking (something I find incredibly sexy) and we really hit it off well. He's a bit younger than I am, at 19, though you wouldn't know it, given his miraculous maturity level. (That's not to say that a three year difference in age is very big; I know lots of couples who are nearly 10 years apart, and somehow it works for them.)
We've been hanging out steadily since Monday, and I really enjoy being around him. Sometimes I wish we had more to talk about, but it's only been three days. so I shouldn't jump to criticism just yet. The fact is actually that we have a plethora of potential conversation topics (the entire reason I even talked to him was because he was wearing a Siouxsie and the Banshees shirt at a gay bar - one that wasn't hosting a goth night!) We even have matching Siouxsie ring tones (something that was true even before we met.)

Jolly as this all sounds, my natural reservations have managed to kick in. I like him, make no mistake, but I'm always cautious when it comes to this sort of thing. I'm staunchly against making things official until it's positively pointless ad inhibiting not to. I like things to flow and evolve on their own, without shoves from "official" declarations which only serve to complicate the situation and make things seem more claustrophobic.

Am I making any sense?

One of my biggest fears is that my avoidance of making official declarations of exclusivity comes off as standoffish and doubtful. Even if I have no doubt that it's what I want, I may still be hesitant to state as much, just because of the level of pressure it adds; the obligation, the expectations. I suppose that's all part of these crazy things called "relationships", and I suppose that I shouldn't even consider one if I'm not ready to face those kinds of obligations and expectations. One might say that is what separates people from being "ready" for a relationship and those who are not. I suppose then, that this would place me in the former category. Suffice it to say that I'm alright with this, actually, as the issue doesn't necessarily reflect that I'm not ready for a relationship of any sort, but more than I'm not sure that I'm ready for this relationship in particular.

That, and of course the fact that I've known him three days.

But we've covered a lot of ground in three days, believe you-me. It seems that the idea of "dating" each other officially hangs in the air, and the subject will be breached soon. This is one instance where I'm actually grateful for his shyness, because I won't have to worry about him bringing it up.

Does that make me a bad person? I hope not.

Anyway, I've got a lot of sort out, I imagine.

June 23rd, 2008

A customer at work yesterday brought me a bottle of homemade Red Zinfandel that he apparently makes himself. After saying he didn't have a name for it, I dubbed it DiBiase Red Zin, being that the man's last name was DiBiase. I haven't tried it yet. I think I'm going to make a light dinner tonight with some nice Tallegio cheese and try it out. I don't think I've ever had local, homemade wine before.

Pride was a mess. I went downtown to Pride with two straight male friends from work and one of their girlfriends. (In hindsight, a terrible idea, but only hindsight is 20/20.) In reality, it wasn't as bad as I suppose it had the potential to be, but I do believe one of the guys I work with was involved in a scuffle with the police which involved breaking a car window of some sort. (He also kissed another guy, so I don't necessarily take this as representative of his normal personality.)
In the end, though, they went home and I stayed. Queue more drama (funny how that works, yeah?) This time in the form of a hysterical Dave, apparently deeply upset over being toyed with by some other boy, whom I don't know. I bought him a beer and did the best I could to cheer him up (I wasn't exactly radiant myself.) He was laughing by the end of it, though, so I suppose it worked (though that may have been the beer.)
Apparently, as well, a good friend of mine was almost raped. Almost. I'm not sure of the specifics, but that's the word i got through the grapevine. This friend of mine is not a big guy, and could easily be overpowered by someone even my size, so it's worrisome, indeed. I only wonder how it happened, though broaching such a subject is delicate, at best.

So all in all, Pride was a disappointment. I mostly ended up bouncing between the AlleyCat and the Dark Lady, occasionally stopping and talking to people, and drinking a lot of beer. It really is an cesspool of drama, and the festivities, suffice to say, are criminally over-hyped. No wonder I don't usually participate in Pride celebrations.

I'm at a point right now where I'm not exactly sure what area of my life I should be diverting most of my attention. For so long I diverted (rather shamelessly) so much attention to my love life when I shouldn't have; when there were much more pressing matters at hand (mind you, with little results.) Finally, after not focusing on my love life for so long, rather choosing to devote attention to work and friendships (with enormous success) I find myself in a position where I now have the time to focus on potential romantic interests, and BEHOLD, there aren't any. Funny how that works, yeah?
So I'm sort of stuck. All my metaphysics (I'm still a hippie at heart) say that this is the year most conducive to finding a mate (and it hasn't been entirely wrong, though it didn't exactly last as long as I'd hoped) yet there doesn't seem to be any window of opportunity for it. For chrissakes, it's the end of June; let's get on with it. Numerological forecasts suggest August would be a good time, and strongly suggests September, but I'll be damned to wait that long.

But then again, I've waited this long... Heh.

God, this month has been so productive, though. The other cheese guy at work, Dave, quit about a week ago, and it gives me the opportunity to really stand out at work - more so than I already do - and I plan on taking full advantage of it. Maybe now would be a good time to ask for a raise. I've officially been there a year as of June 3rd, making it opportune, but the end of August marks a year since my last raise, and that seems more ideal.
I got my stimulus check earlier this month, which has provided me with a copious amount of excess funds (which also allowed me to relieve some financial burdens; hopefully permanently) and I've taken great care as to where it goes.

All in all, I'm in a good place right now, if lacking direction. But I guess idleness isn't always a bad thing, especially when all other options look bleak.

June 17th, 2008

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I've recently had a string of really good days that were spent out and about with friends. Just hanging around the city and going from place to place doing... you know, whatever.

This coincides with my summer campaign to re-discover Providence. This was born out of a conversation I had with my boss about her upcoming vacation plans. When asked if she was going anywhere on her vacation this summer, she replied, "No, my husband and I are staying in town this year. We've decided that we're going to explore what Rhode Island has to offer." She then went on to compare our (her, in reality) perception of the place we live to how the Italians "trip over the Colosseum everyday on the way to work, cursing and hoping that one day they'll just tear the piece of junk down," and that we do the same thing; everybody's so fascinated with somewhere else, she's decided to take the time to explore Rhode Island and re-connect with all the wonders we have.

Not that I can share her enthusiasm for Rhode Island (I'm a devout lover of Providence, but I still cannot wrap my head around comparing The Colosseum with, say, the Providence Place Mall) I can surely understand her desire to stay local.

Indeed, I myself have embarked on a Rediscovering Providence mission this summer, which will include just, well... hanging around.
This may not seem like much, and I'll admit that it's not exactly setting the bar high, but you may be surprised at the amount of enjoyment I've gotten from Thursday and yesterday's excursions.

Thursday saw Steven, Will, and I venturing out, basically wandering around downtown until we somehow, miraculously, reached the East Side. We had lunch at the Italian café on Thayer Street called Roba Dolce (which absolutely sucked, FYI.) and hit Wayland Square for the first time since I worked at East Side Marketplace. I got a new John Irving book (Until I Find You) and had more substantial lunch at Le Petit Bistro (amazing, btw). The night was concluded with bottles of Shiraz and Riesling, and we loitered DePasquale Square at midnight, sitting around the fountain and generally being winos. By the by, Yellowtail makes a decidedly impressive Shiraz.

Yesterday saw The Great Hangover 2008 after my birthday celebrations, but I was conscious enough to hit the town with Darlene and Matt. We shopped for clothes at the "Ho Sto'" downtown, where I got new jeans that actually give me an ass, followed by a trip to WalMart, where I got sexy underwear (I had to spend my gift card somehow.) After a short stint with Delsin and Colleen, I took in karaoke with Matt and Steven (even in the thunderstorm) where I was given an unexpected but nonetheless welcome standing ovation for my rendition of "Just Like Heaven" (I think everyone was drunk.) though "Mr. Brightside" fared significantly worse.

Despite what seems like a rather dull time, it's been great fun, actually, and a refreshing break from the day-to-day drone of work-sleep-work-sleep-karaoke-work. Tonight will see more karaoke, coinciding with the much-anticipated return of Renae from the bowels of post-surgery. Perhaps I won't drink as much tonight :-)

In boy news, as if there ever is any to really discuss, a recent disappointment momentarily crippled my morale, following a string of "small victories" that may have given my ego an inflated boost. I'm grateful for it, strangely enough, as it served the dual-purpose of grounding my sense of self back down to earth while building a new bridge in the realm of friendship. Still, several prospect remain in the periphery. Dave's nice enough, if a bit flighty. I found it tacky that one of the first things he said to me was how his crush on another boy ended him in a dubiously embarrassing situation, but I kept my posture. The fact that he owns the latest Dynasty Warriors game works in his favor. Others hang in there, if only marginally. The bottom line is that I'm more interested in surrounding myself with good friends at this point than having the responsibility of any sort of relationship, contrary to my recent mentality.

Today's tarot card, the 10 of Swords, depicts fleeting success and temporary advantages and progress, and while not significant or even particularly relevant or productive, is a nice break from the norm. It reminds me to wield whatever authority I may have wisely, and to be mindful of my superiors; today is all about impressing the right people. This comes under-ridden by a somewhat disturbing image of a man pinned to the ground by 10 swords. He really must have fucked up.

This post, by the way, signifies my official return to LiveJournal, after a nearly three-month absence. That is, of course, if my wordiness and reflective moods stick around long enough each day to actually sit down and update this thing.

June 15th, 2008

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TODAY IS MY BIRFDAY!

No, but seriously, it is.

HAPPY BIRFDAY TO ME!

Now off to work.

(God, this icon is so appropriate.)

June 5th, 2008

The Fabulous World of Dax

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So, stop one on my Birthday Concert World Tour was canceled due to lack of funds. Figures. And that was only in Boston! Lisbon's out for sure! Oi.

And I've had "Island Girl" in my head all morning. it's gotten to the point where it's become annoying.

May 22nd, 2008

Remember when I said that Elton John is one of those musicians that's simply more than a musician, but an icon disliked by no one? Well, that's perfectly exemplified in this song:

Elton John - The One

So today's my day off, and I have to do work-related stuff. I have a cheese-tasting for some really high-profile people in the 903 apartments. Apparently I'm getting paid to do it, though that hasn't been made clear yet. The people hosting it are friends of my boss, so I dunno. Either way, it'll give me something to do.

I'm debating lunch. Yes. Lunch. I could go for lunch.

May 20th, 2008

So, Kristian and I have decided to join a gym. There's a 24-hour gym in Cranston that offers membership for $25 a month for one person. The great thing about this is that with that membership comes the option to bring another person whenever you go. So Kristian and I have decided to split the cost of the monthly membership and just always go together.

The gym isn't really that big, but it has essentials, like a treadmill, a stationary bike, weights, etc. I'm down for this.

It crossed my mind the other day that I want to get "in shape". I say this, and many people will laugh, because I'm 125 lbs soaking wet, but I'm totally serious. However, unlike most people who join a gym, my motivations to do so are not about losing weight, but rather being physically "fit", and toning some muscle. I'm not looking to bulk up and be a weight-lifter or anything, but a little muscle would be nice. In a way, I'm sick of being the scrawny guy.

I've also decided that I want to live the rest of my days out in a château in the south of France (Marseilles, preferably), south of Italy (maybe Augusta, or perhaps Abruzzi), or Greece. I love Greece. Why does no one talk abut Greece anymore? Greece is amazing.

Also, karaoke tonight, and I will either be singing "Crocodile Rock" or "Candle in the Wind", depending on which one I feel I could pull off better (and by that, I mean which one I'm worse at singing ;-))

May 19th, 2008

I'm going through a weird phase of alternate hatred and resigned contentment with my job. One one hand, I'm starting to really dislike it, and on the other, I realize that I don't really care enough to love or hate it, and just go about my business.

Or maybe I should clarify.

I don't really hate my job. In reality, I love my job itself, I just am starting to dislike the people i work for, and their policies and whacked bureaucracy. Or lack thereof. Or something like that.

Which brings me to my next topic:

I will be singing "Crocodile Rock" at karaoke tomorrow night.

I have no idea how those two ideas correlate.

In other news, I miss Jesse.
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