Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pineapple Laced Turpentine Icicle Sweaters

*Up at 0700, in the car by 0800. That alone qualified as a pretty damn sucky way to start the day. At least it didn't take as long as I thought it would to get there, so by 0840 I was second in line in front of the Elgin SSA office. Fortunately, the weather was pretty mild, so it wasn't too bad standing outside while we waited for them to open the doors. At least the fresh air was helping to disperse the feeling of nausea that had been present since we left the house. Guess I was more anxious about this event than I wanted to let on. By the time the doors opened and I checked in and got my waiting number, it was all of 0900. Maybe five more minutes went by before they called my number. When I went up to the window and explained my situation, the lady pulled my record up and found that there was indeed a mismatch in the information regarding my date of birth. They had me down as being older. Not by a month, a year or a decade. By a day. By one single day. Unable to hide my puzzlement, I asked when the information had been changed and by whom. After another quick glance at her computer screen, the lady informed me that it had been wrong since my card was issued. Back in 1975. Let me repeat that, just in case you're not quite clear on the deal. For the past 35 years, my information on file with the government has been wrong. Only by one day, but still wrong. In that 35 years, I have registered with selective service, gotten Pell grants and student loans, mortgages, filed tax returns, and financed cars. And whenever I applied for these things, it was always stressed how utterly vitally critically important it was that the information I give be dead-on laser accurate. Now, after 35 years, I finally understand why it was so important for me to be that freakin accurate on everything: NO ONE WAS EVER REALLY CHECKING!!!! WTF!?!?! Even the damn IRS never checked! At least until this past Monday. For some reason they had a check-the-records bug up their butt this past Monday, but before that, apparently a duck could have filed my income taxes for me. True, the duck would be a day older than me, but apparently, no one checks these things! I mean it's a total relief that someone didn't really steal my identity and buy something like, say, John Goodman, but it seems so enormously ludicrous that this could happen-and then go on undetected-for 35 years! It's just one more thing that whittles away at my confidence in the pillars of beaurocracy that hold our country up. Or down. I'm not sure which. Sure, I can laugh at it now, because I'm so relieved, but seriously, 35 years? If the tables were turned, I really doubt the government would be so accepting of such a long lived 'oopsie'. That 35 years might be converted into an all-expenses paid vacation at a Federal resort complex, like the one in Joliet. At least I have an iron-clad excuse. I was five (or maybe 6, if you ask the government) when all this happened. If they want to try and go after someone else, all but one of the other people potentially involved in the original incident are quite dead now (at least as far as I know). Oh, and did I forget to mention that this whole process took less than 10 minutes?
See? Just makes your head hurt, eh? And you thought I was kidding when I said I should have just stayed at Frankie's...


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Absoultely Springy Kiss Implants

*I had been fairly excited at the thought of seeing the new Iron Man movie. But, the all-out advertising blitz for every remotely associated product under the sun running in an endless loop on every TV channel known to man has served to greatly dull my interest. It all began with an ad for peanut butter cups. I have a hard time trying to think of a more un-Iron Man-like product than peanut butter cups. Air freshener, maybe. Or linseed oil. Heartworm medication is pretty un-Iron Man-like too. Anyway, if nothing else, this whole nauseating wave of ridiculous promotions, placements, and tie-ins will keep me from rushing out to the theater on opening day. Or opening week. Maybe if I watch enough of the commercials, I can get the effect of seeing the movie, and manage to save myself the cost of a theater ticket.

*Amazing how even a brief walk in the woods on a nice spring day can raise one's spirits.

*The adventures in self-re-identification continue Thursday with a field trip to the SSA field office in Elgin. Whoopee. Mind you, I could mail them the form and get my information corrected, but if I chose to do that, I would have to mail them not only my ORIGINAL birth certificate (or a certified copy) but my ORIGINAL driver's license. They won't accept a copy of that. So, I will be dragging my ass out of bed tomorrow at 0730 to head into Elgin in an effort to get all this straightened out. I am also hoping that once I am actually physically there in the flesh they will be a bit more forthcoming with information on just what happened to change my info, and when it was done. Because, given the lengths that I am having to go to correct the information, someone else would have had to do the exact same thing in order to change my info in the first place. So, somewhere is a copy of some documents that some govt employee accepted that are false, but were still close enough looking to real to get past them. Not really a good feeling to know that could be the case. Another option is that someone just made a data entry error somewhere along the line, which is not any more comforting than the first option. And still another option is that someone out there is buying solid gold toilets and bales of cocaine using my name and credit. But, if they are, it has yet to show up on my credit report. Basically I have no idea what to expect out of Thursday morning, nor any real clear idea of what I need to do after that, given the range of possible outcomes. I am thinking that another mai tai is somewhere in my very near future, though.

*I have had no productive studio time in the last 2 days, nor do I see the possibility of any arising in the next couple of days. And in the midst of everything else going on this week, the grocery shopping has not gotten done. Of the two of those, I am more upset about the studio time.

*I am not working this weekend, and the Kane Co Flea market is also happening, but the weather is supposed to be nothing but crap. As much as I enjoy the flea market, a lot of the fun can be removed from it by cold, rainy weather. But that would be on Sunday, most likely. I guess if the weather ends up being that bad I can skip the flea market in favor of going up to the antique stores in Rockford and Roscoe. I need to go take another look at those display cases they had for sale anyway. Saturday morning is for paperwork and the like, as usual. I'd really like to open the lounge Saturday night for whomever would like to drop by, and I just may do that depending on how things go with the SSA on Thursday. And also depending on how much the boss grumbles about the idea. I would enjoy getting in a few games of cards, though. And that mai tai. Which reminds me, I really need to check my bar stock and see what comsumables I need to stock up on.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Messy Orange Castanet Strings

*People are weird about art. Especially if it's a piece or style they don't like or 'get'. That's mostly what I would consider an interpretational issue on their part, though. You have to remember that not all styles and types of art are going to resonate with all people, and that's OK. It also seems that people are weird when they know, or even think, that a piece of art was made based on them. I think it revolves mostly around someone trying to juxtapose their self image against an artistic style that, again, they may not like or 'get'. Plus, for as much money as people spend on trying to look good, fashionable, hip, young, or whatever, they really don't like to know that someone is actually looking at them. And I mean that not in the casual sense of glancing at someone as they pass by on the street. I mean really looking at them. Most people tend to get really uncomfortable with that. But a lot of times, that's where the art is. It's there, you just have to look for it. But people get all wiggy when you look at them for to long. My solution? Just don't tell them that you're looking. This does tend to work, as long as you're not Captain Obvious about it. Anyway, that whole mess brings me at least back to reaching distance of the point I was going to try and make. Which is: I have always had trouble naming art I've made. It does seem that after putting all that work into something, you should give it a proper name. I just can't often come up with good ones. So, I usually just name it after what it was that gave me the idea in the first place, followed by a numerical identifier (i.e.: red car #27). That gives me a mental bookmark to go back to if I want to do another version of that image. The numbers just let me keep things in order of production. Not a bad way of doing things, I thought. Until I started using the people around me as inspiration for my art. Thus, the names of the pieces took on the names of those who inspired them, and the range of reactions has been unimaginable. Very positive to very negative and infinite degrees of everything in between. And another surprising thing is that I apparently only know one person with each name. Maybe the Bob or Ted or Sue that the piece was named after isn't you. Maybe you would like it to be. Or not. Feel free to ask. I may tell you. Or not.

*It has come to my attention that I may be a victim of identity theft. I am not at all happy about this. And hearing about it via the IRS is never, never, never, NEVER a good thing.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Das Uberblog

*This is blog entry #300. How weird is that?

*Apparently when the Aladdin was sold or torn down or whatever it was that happened to it, Planet Hollywood took over it's space. The Desert Passage shops simply became the Miracle Mile shops. But, since Hilo Hattie's no longer inhabits the building, I am left with nothing to say but that the whole place sucks. Miracle Mile? Not really. I can't even stretch it so far to say that it's a better than average mall. I would probably rate it higher than the Fashion Show mall, which is your basic average mall. The shops at the Forum I would have to give higher marks for overall environment, but definitely not for content. I guess I could easily say that my shopping experience on the Strip itself was far less than impressive.

*Recently seen on a friend's FB status: It is better to have loved and lost than to have ended up with a loser. I may not have the wording exactly right, but that was the general intent of the statement. I found this to be highly amusing. Then I flipped it around and wondered just how many people out there would find this to be a truism while thinking in the context of me. It was way to easy for me to think of several. That tended to make the whole statement a bit less amusing.

*My score from The Attic this trip: 4 vintage Hawaiian shirts and a nice pale blue Guyabera shirt. The boss came home empty handed. I would really like to know just what kind of bar/nightclub that building was before it became the Attic. I would also like to know why they can't be in a neighborhood that was just a bit less, well, desolate. If that area is what the Las Vegas city council calls the 'arts district', I'm thinking that they should be lined up for a group dope slap. Either that or the art community in Vegas is in really sad shape.

*A question before me at the moment is whether or not to go see Iron Man 2 on opening weekend. Instinct says no. OK, maybe not instinct. My general intolerance of crowds says no.

*I can check one more Blue Man venue off of my list, since I have now seen the show at the Venetian. That also helped satisfy my concert craving for a while to come. Now, I seem to recall that when I went to see Blue Man at Briar Street in Chicago many years ago, they had earplugs for sale in the lobby. I considered this a curiosity until I saw the show and realized just how high the volume can go. I don't see earplugs for sale anymore. Doesn't bother me as I still enjoy having my guts vibrated by gigantic sounds coming from monstrous speakers, but given the age of a number of folks at the show I attended, I think they might have appreciated having that option available.

*Of course I knew about the Hala Kahiki. I never mentioned it to her because it's hell and gone from where we live and I'm pretty sure they don't serve food there. Plus, I didn't see her as having any interest in going. Therefore, I didn't mention it.

*75 degrees. That's how warm, or should I say cold, the water in the pool at Paris was. Even with an 80+ degree daytime temp, that was still pretty chilly when you got into it. Now, imagine that same pool of 75 degree water after being out of the sun for 10-12 hours. I think we can both agree that it would most likely be even more chill inducing after that amount of time. But, when I got up and looked out of our window on the 30th floor of the hotel at 7 in the morning, there, in the pool, were 2 couples who seemed to be quite intent on consummating their relationships right there in that freezing cold water. Never have I wanted to be able to open a window so badly. I couldn't cheer them on in their efforts to merge, and I couldn't even give them a round of applause when security arrived to escort them away.

*Going to meet with someone this week to go over the possibility of having them build me a website. Or, for a similar cost, I could get a nice glass display case to house some of my more precious collectibles. The jury is still out at the moment on this decision. Of course, this is all being considered in the context of not having gotten the credit card bill for the Vegas trip yet.

*Based on our recent flight experiences, I am thinking we will be flying United instead of American, if the choice to do so is available. American just didn't seem to have their game completely together, which is something that's a bit off-putting in an airline.

*It's easy to tell that you are no longer on vacation when you have just spent the day mowing the yard, restocking the fridge, cleaning the windows, and moving mountains of laundry towards the washing machine.

*The guys snapping the cards on the sidewalks of Vegas are annoying. The people who are constantly trying to pull you aside to give you a 'deal' on show tickets, nightclub passes, or whatever are also annoying. People pushing quadruple wide strollers right down the middle of the sidewalk? Annoying. I did manage to find something that effortlessly put all of these behind as it single-handedly assumed the title of Most Annoying Thing on the Sidewalks of the Las Vegas Strip. That would be roving packs of well-to-do 20-somethings that had rented power scooters because they were just too damn lazy to walk anywhere. Then, they even have the nerve to get pissed at you when you wont get out of their way. Would have liked to whack them right upside their D+G sunglasses with a nice heavy stick. I'll take the card flickers over those pretentious posers any day.

*Frankie's Tiki Room is awesome. And it is a Bar. I use the capitalized form of the word here intentionally. What makes something a Bar, you may well ask. You know you are in a Bar when it's the middle of the night, and when someone opens the door to come in everyone shields their eyes from the light that comes in with them. At that point you know you are in a Bar. Anyway, I had my first Mai Tai at Frankie's. For those of you not in the know regarding this particular concoction, it's basically a rather large glass filled with a threatening amount of various kinds of rum. And a cherry. It made all the hair on my arms stand up with each sip. And, it took over an hour's worth of sips to finish it off. The boss said she could tell that I was a bit wobbly after that one drink. Good thing I had eaten dinner right before we went. That was the first drink of that magnitude and strength that I had had in longer than I can remember. And, while I totally enjoyed basking in the atmosphere of Frankie's, the alcohol part of it was just kind of meh for me. Guess I must have completely burned out that part of my brain all those years ago. At the very least, I know I can still participate in that aspect of tiki culture, if only in a limited manner.

*I went through what I thought was a really neat hallway(?) at O'Hare on my way to catch my outbound flight, but I'll be damned if I can remember where it was exactly. There was multi-colored neon on the ceiling and colored panels on the walls. It was really quite cool. At least that's what I remember of it while whipping through at a near run on my way to a terminal that was apparently somewhere out in the middle of Lake Michigan.

*The CMA Awards were at the MGM the same weekend we were in Vegas. Oddly enough, the observed percentage of boots, big hats, and plate sized belt buckles didn't increase very noticeably. At least not where we were, pardner.

*Staying up till almost 2 AM working to unclog a toilet: NOT fun. Staying up till almost 2 AM working to unclog a toilet that you yourself did not clog up in the first place: REALLY not fun.

*I'm not big on gambling. I flushed a few bucks down the slot machines this trip, and that was about it. I just can't bring myself to play blackjack, or any other game, for $5 or more a hand when I know the game is already slanted against me. If they ever decide to start letting people gamble with/for Cheetos, I will be the first in line.

*Had a couple of odd things occur to me over my trip that were related to Canada, of all places. First, someone trying to get us to look at a condo called Sheri 'exotic looking' and then without missing a beat asked if she was from Canada. I have yet to figure that one out. The other brush with the Great White North was meeting a Canadian couple over breakfast one day who had hit a $100,000 slot machine payout a couple of nights before.

*Luxor seems to be slipping, changing, fading-a lot of the shops are closed, the cool Egyptian style statues are much fewer in number, and many of the fountains are dry. Not sure just why this is, unless they're trying to tone down the original theme of the place. Still, that would seem to be quite a challenge when the entire building looks like a pyramid, and there's a huge sphinx sitting out front. I guess it could just be that business has been bad for the past couple of years. Shame. I really liked that place.

*Just so we're clear here-a birthday party for a one year old is for the parents/relatives, NOT the child.

*My jumbo sized box-o-tiki arrived via FedEx on Friday, and thankfully all of the contents were intact. Therefore, I direct a tip of the hat to the folks in the business office at Paris for a packaging job well done. 30 pounds worth of tiki items moved from Las Vegas to my doorstep in a mere five days. Now that I think about that, it doesn't seem all that impressive, since I got home from Vegas in about 5 hours.

*After leaving mid 80 temps and returning to IL mid-April weather, the boss is feeling the call of the desert. I don't doubt the intensity of her feelings, but her level of commitment to such a move remains far below any actionable level at the moment.

*I get to be at work at 8 AM on Friday to be retaught something I have already been taught. For four hours. I fully intend to be quite cranky for the duration of this process.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

The gnomes....They're watching me...

*Even though I have a ton of stuff to do over the next few days, I'm still considering opening up the lounge this evening. Not that doing so would tend to have any greatly negative effect on whatever it was I needed to do, since turnout for such events has been rather low. May just serve as a nice little break in the routine. And maybe I could get a game of cards in somewhere along the way.

*On the turntable: Hall and Oates (Private Eyes), Bill Cosby (Himself), Dr. Hook (Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show), The Tubes (The Completion Backwards Principle), and the Alan Parsons Project (I Robot).

*I really shouldn't just go and wander the aisles at Michael's. Gives me too many ideas for things to do and materials I want to try. But there really is nothing like standing in front of that huge display of paints and just thinking of what you could use all those colors for.

*Back to winter around here, at least as far as the weather goes. Maybe not quite like January, but definitely like late October or mid November. Just crap, in other words. Makes it really hard to try out the recumbent bike I borrowed when riding around makes various parts of your body go numb. At least I don't have to worry that the mower is still in the shop, since the grass is frozen in place.

*Good to hear from Nik again, but conversely, DHawk seems to have gone back under cover. Maybe they're like Batman and Bruce Wayne-you can never see them together, because they're actually the same person.

*Gonna head down Peoria way for a couple of days next week to check in with Mr Crow and see how things are going. Probably just send out a general notice, should anyone else be interested in just hanging out for a bit on a Monday night.

*Gotta dig out the suitcases and do all that other stuff that goes along with taking a trip. It doesn't seem to be logical that it should involve so much work and expense just to spend some time relaxing. Gotta check with the airline to see what we can carry on, if anything. Need to double check the tickets and reservations. Finding the suitcases would be a good idea, too. The list of things that need to be done in order for us to go is quite a bit longer than the list of things for us to do once we actually get there. Again, that just doesn't seem right.

*I carved my name into it, so that means it's done. One more tiki for my portfolio. First carving I've ever done in that type of wood, too. Shame I won't get to see what it will look like once that log is totally dried out. This project was another donation for a fund raising auction. That makes a grand total of 4 pieces that I have released into the wild under that pretense. Even though I don't see any money from it, I'm hoping that it will maybe increase my profile in the general public and possibly net me a few more gigs. If that doesn't sound believable or reasonable, I could just say that I am increasing my skill level and decreasing my overstock of materials.

*Bon Jovi and Kid Rock touring together? Hall and Oates on the road again? I may just have to get out this summer and go see a concert or two.


Sunday, April 4, 2010

What Motivates Parsnips?

*On the turntable: Tom Lehrer (An Evening Wasted With), Devo (New Traditionalists), Prince (Around the World In a Day), Van Halen (5150, Diver Down), Hall and Oates( Along the Red Ledge, X-Static)

*KCFM was today, and like a dope I figured that it would probably be a good show. Boy, did I miss the mark on that one. While it wasn't very crowded with buyers, it also wasn't very crowded with dealers. And, once again, it was another show quite barren of tiki items. The only thing I came away with in that regard was a little sterling silver charm bracelet charm. Interesting mostly because it's the second smallest tiki item in my collection. The other things I left with were LP's. Like I really needed more of those. LP's have kind of become like postcards for me in that if I can't find anything I really want at a show, I can always find more LP's and postcards. The one other thing I was interested in was something that was borderline illegal. I probably should have spent the $50 and picked it up, but I didn't. Maybe next show.

*While the in-laws were gone we watched the cat. Apparently when I went to feed the beast and scoop his litter, I closed the basement door. The basement is where the litter box is. The end result? The cat decided to do all his business right in the center of their bed. For two days. One ruined comforter later, and I'm guessing I won't be asked to watch the cat again.

*Listening to Prince really takes me back. Back to the land of Missed Opportunities and What Ifs. Just not somewhere I should be spending as much time as I do. But for now, it's as good a place as any to rhythmically bang my head against the wall.

*Could it be? Has DHawk returned??

*Nothing like those first warm breezes of spring swirling up under your kilt.

*Had heard some good things about the show Glee, so we decided to give it a try on DVD. After 2 discs worth of episodes, the conclusion is that for us it's just meh. I know a lot of the musical references go right past me since I stopped listening to pop music maybe 10 years ago. But even if I put that aside, there's just not much to the show. There are laugh out loud moments, but really not enough of them to make me want to sit and watch more episodes. Not to mention my less than enthusiastic feelings for musicals. So, I guess I will just file this one under "tried it-but don't really care for it".

*Question: Must classic characters be constantly updated in order to keep them in the common mind? This was what I was thinking when the Boss rented "Sherlock Holmes". I was hesitant to watch it, just because I've seen updates of other classics go horribly wrong (ie, "The Day the Earth Stood Still" and "War of the Worlds"). Not to mention I believe there is a TV show that operates along the same lines of the Sherlock Holmes character (at least I think that's the premise of The Mentalist). Anyway, it was all right. There was no real sense of mystery about the whole movie, which was a big part of the Sherlock Holmes stories. It was an action flick with a famous character pasted into it. Now, I understand that Basil Rathbone's portrayal of the character isn't for everyone, and reading the original books is a distant thought for most people. I just never saw Sherlock Holmes as an action hero. That's what made him different. But I also know that kind of thinking doesn't put asses in seats at the movie theaters. Oh, well. For what it is, it's an average action movie that will most likely do nothing to inspire anyone to track down the original works from which it sprang.

*A dimly lit restaurant can be quite a pain when there's something you're trying to look at.

*The first real thunderstorm of the season is going on outside as I write this. I find it much preferable to snow.