Tuesday, December 30, 2008


[EDIT: links fixed to take you to the actual site, not intra-blogger nonsense. Sorry about that]


By "we" I mean "me," and by "moving," I mean, switching to Wordpress. Blogger has done me well, but I can't shake the feeling that hanging on here is like keeping an AOL account in the era of Gmail. Yes, I know Google owns Blogger too, but just embrace the metaphor, ok?

So join me, won't you, all three loyal readers, into a journey of newness and wonder and awe and aweness and wondernew and blogenfreude at the new Inverted Soapbox, now at www.invertedsoapbox.com.

new features include:
* A wholly owned and licensed domain name! Less typing of letters means more letters you can put back into the American economy
* Shiny new layout that looks like every other Wordpress blog - no more "grandma's upholstery" background theme!
* A "top posts" feature - see for yourself what topics get the most random google search traffic from Jakarta!
* More links! Bigger blogroll! (smaller porkroll, however, sorry)
* Pingbacks - let the blogcest begin!
* Uh, probably some other features that, you know, I'll add later or something!
* Pan-asian cuisine!
* More reporting from the frontlines of vagabondage in New York City!
* Recommended hummus-related products!
* Better organization!

So check it out, if you care to....

www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com www.invertedsoapbox.com

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Rejected list: Words that Have Been Edited Out of My Stories

This is actually my first ever submission and subsequent rejection to McSweeney's, dating way back to ye olden January aught seven. I've been meaning to post this for awhile, seeing as this blog is nothing else if not a compendium failure:

Words That Have Been Edited Out of My News Stories Because, Even
Though The Average Age of Our Readership is 60, Journalists Must Write
at a Sixth Grade Level, and Other Reasons the Newspaper Industry Is In


Words that Have Inexplicably Not Been Edited Out of My Stories
Fiduciary solvency

Keller Williams to jam through New Year's Eve on Hilton Head

(The Guide, 12/26/08) Forgive the hippies. They really aren’t trying to stop you from selling your house. They simply have a deep appreciation for groovy, hip-moving, light tunes from an artist who’s best known as being a one-man jam band.

So you’ll understand why, in the early ’90s, when Keller Williams first started to become known on the scene, it was common to see fans at his shows holding still-muddy Keller Williams Realty signs, ripped from nearby lawns.

That practice has mostly abated, which is a good thing, as Williams is coming to the land of prime real estate when he plays a three-set New Year’s Eve show at the Shoreline Ballroom on Hilton Head Island. The concert will include a special all-request set and an extra-special “Grunge Grass” set featuring bluegrass covers of ’90s alternative hits from the likes of Nirvana and Alice in Chains.

But the rest will feature Williams alone on stage, using his signature method of looping his own performance on different instruments to create a bigger, multilayerd sound.

Question. What’s the deal with this all-request set?

Answer. When you buy a ticket, you’re allowed a request. We’re doing a set of just what people requested. There’s no rules, you know. The majority of the requests is stuff that I haven’t played in a long time, like off early records. Sometimes (fans) request something off the wall, something they want to hear covered. I definitely don’t do it often — maybe one or two a year, just to try to make it more interesting.

Q. How did you get started doing the looped recording?

A. It was just me wanting to go further with just what I had — me and a guitar and a microphone. I was out on tour with (the String Cheese Incident), and I started to try the loop thing. That’s when people started to respond. I guess it was me wanting to go further, create more of a dance-vibe as a solo act by pressing some sequencers. I wanted to keep it more organic, kind of create the loops myself, bring the studio to the stage. I didn’t come up with it, but I expanded it, maybe. I always wanted to have a band, but I was never able to afford it. I love playing in (a) band. The energy way surpasses my solo show, but the solo thing is kind of what I do. It’s the day job.

Q. What was your worst New Year’s?

A. Two years ago, the day before, we lost my dog, Earl, who’s been with my wife and I. It was super crushing. That was by far the worst.

Q. And the best?

A. I opened for String Cheese so many times. They know how to put on a show. They would sink so much money in New Year’s Eve: lasers, trapeze, circus performers, concepts. The band would rev up the audience so much where the energy was just incredible.

Q. Do you worry someone will buy a ticket to the show and think it’s a real estate seminar?

A. I will welcome that personally. That will by far help me out in a great way. I might even make some new friends that way too. If you’re looking at property anywhere, please let me know. I’ll be happy to set you up with a proper representative.

Q: I think you will even pass at least one Keller Williams office on your way to the show.

A. I’m everywhere, man.

New Year’s Eve Extravaganza, feat. Keller Williams, Grunge Grass and DJ Moe Marsh
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31
Where: Shoreline Ballroom, 40 Folly Field Road, Hilton Head Island
Tickets: $25 in advance, $30 day of show
Information: 843-842-0358. www.shorelineballroom.com

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays, y'all

Good tidings, no matter what your holiday:

and the real reason for the season:

Monday, December 22, 2008

"First pants, THEN your shoes"

Great find of the day: real life recreations of Far Side comics. Click here to see the rest.

The phone lines are over there!

Ghostbusters 2 was apparently taking place on the stairway in the Court St. station at midnight last night.

Here's the related scene from the movie, in French, because Bill Murray in French is still Bill Murray:

Hey what? You boneheads are going to come to harass me on again? I got 3 thousand phone lines grounded here, I got about 8 million miles of cable I gotta check, you're gonna come and shake my monkey tree again?

Saturday, December 20, 2008


In recognition of Mark Felt. Here's hoping there will always be Deep Throats, and reporters to talk to them.

If nothing else for journalism, I got to talk to Ben Bradlee* in an elevator in the hotel used to spy on the Watergate, see Woodward and Bernstein speak twice, once with Ben Bradlee, and interview a guy who worked side-by-side with Deep Throat. Brushes with history are acceptable at this point.
But after the newspaper confirmed the story late Tuesday afternoon, DeLoach said he had no indication that the man who for many years occupied the office next to him was the source who helped topple President Richard Nixon.

"Under no circumstances in my opinion would he do something like this," DeLoach said of Felt before the Post's confirmation.

* What a terrible lede. Please fire this kid.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Top Ten Lists 2008: Music and Movies

Everyone's been bitching about how very "meh" a year 2008 was for music, and I am forced to agree. I think it was a long-tail year: lots of interesting new artists and quirky new sounds that caught the attention well-tuned ears throughout the intertubes, but not too many knockout champions or shoe-ins for No. 1. Idolator sums it up in reviewing Pitchfork's list today, which placed Fleet Foxes in the No. 1 spot:
I will just chalk its absurdly high placement up to "yet another reason why this year needs to be put out to pasture ASAP.
There's a bit of variation on most of the lists this year, save for a few staples. But there is something that needs to be said, so I'm going to say it: TV on the Radio can eat my ass. They're just okay . Got it? They're certainly not the new goddamned Radiohead where they can do no wrong.
Rolling Stone, Spin, and everyone else who fawned over Dear Science and Return to Cookie Mountain: please let's all just relax, take a breath, have a Fresca, and calm down. Hell, I liked "Dear Science," and the band is fine with me overall, especially if you're into listening to songs that sound like they're the intro to other songs and you like staying rivetted to the speakers as you keep waiting for the damn thing to kick in already.
They can be just okay. We forgot somewhere along the way that bands are allowed to be decent musicians without either being the second coming of Hipster Jesus or a tragedy to all sounds ever made that warrants cutting off your ears and shutting down iTunes.

That said, here's my completely unscientific, unreliable, poorly vetted, terribly thought out and ultimately indefensible list.

10.MGMT - Oracular Spectacular*

9. Lupe Fiasco - The Cool

8. Fleet Foxes - s/t

7. Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

6. Bitzen Trapper - Furr

5. Okkervil River - Stand Ins

4 Santogold - s/t

3. She and Him - Vol. 1

2. Cut Copy - In Ghost Colours

1. Vampire Weekend - s/t

I was reluctant to put VW at the top of the list, but it's hard not to argue that it's the most innovative album that came out this year, with afro-pop sounds and undeniably catchy rhythms that managed to maintain replay value even in the face of all the hype. The [ed not: as I'm typing this, they started playing Mansard Roof at Gorilla Coffee in Park Slope. Point illustrated] album is summery party music for the neo-Paul Simon set, and I don't see any problem with that. Also, the Columbia boys are helping to stem our nation's tragic dearth of songs about esoteric punctuation terms, and I think we should be grateful.

*Also hesitant to put this on the list since we all got it back in 07, but I guess we aren't counting non-Radiohead digital releases yet.

Movies- In which I realize I didn't see nearly enough good movies this year:

1. The Dark Knight
2. Wall -E
3. Slumdog Millionaire
4. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
5 Iron Man
6. Frost/Nixon
7. Pineapple Express
8. Cloverfield
9. Zack and Miri Make a Porno

I was really tempted to call Wall-E the best movie of the year. It certainly was the most endearing love story movie since Before Sunset, and it didn't even have any damned speaking for half the film. But Dark Knight was just too jawesome to deny.

[RELATED: here's the column I wrote last year about the rules for making a top 10 list. Follow it or be subject to weeks of angry sneering glances shrouded in ironic mustache coming at you from under American Apparel hoodies.]

Big city, small town: photos from a NYC snow day

I never would have guessed how much four years in the South would completely renew my childlike glee at a big snow storm. OK, so I had off today anyway, and should have been doing other work like figuring out my life and preventing homelessness and all that minor nonsense, but there's still that part of me that can't resist screaming "SNOWDAYSNOWDAYNOSCHOOLNOSCHOOLNOSCHOOL!" and running out into the streets. So here's what New York looked like today, with surprises along the way:

30 rock:

Saw a dude proposed in the middle of the ice rink:

she said yes, obvs

Torrential snow pour:

Underground snowfall at Newkirk station:

Outside our front door:

Down Westminster St.:

Christmas trees in Park Slope:

And, of course, the weirdest part of the day, completely randomly running into WSAV reporter and Beaufort County resident Holly Bounds on 5th Ave. this afternoon.

Her and her husband are here on vacation this weekend. This all reinforces my theory about New York: Big city, small town.

It's a city of 8.2 million, but the amount of random run-ins and such I've already seen in New York City makes it seem like friggin Mayberry. Case in point: I met Barry Schwartz for dinner last September when I was home in Jersey for a little while. Walking down the street, we ran into the intern friend of J. Cribbs from the Roanoke Times, who just happened to be passing by. Then last month, I told Robin and her roommate I met someone who works for Family Circle. "Oh Jane?" her roommate said. "Yeah, I know Jane."

And to think people are scared of New York City.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sparks is gone, but the after taste is with us forever

In tribute to Sparks, and the only person in the world I know who will care, Jeff Barnes.

Under the settlement, MillerCoors agreed to end certain marketing strategies that the attorneys general contend appealed to underage youth. It will remove content on the Sparks Web site that the attorneys general said "looks like it was created by a college freshman." The company also will eliminate images that imply energy or power, such as the battery-themed symbols on Sparks cans.
The images didn't imply energy; they shoved it down your goddamn throat with bleeding fist full of nails.

Sparks -- For when Red Bull isn't enough and it's too far a drive to your meth dealer.

Best non-Jeff Barnes Sparks memory: John chugging a can of it with no hands at Mellow Mushroom trivia night on Hilton Head so we could save $5 on a $60 tab. He lost a photo finish, but it was totally worth it. He died later that night.

There's a late night bar dare waiting for you in heaven, Sparks.

Cobble Hill tea shop Bedazzled by Orlando Jones

I'm in the Tea Lounge on Court St. right now where the counter dude is talking about how Orlando Jones came in yesterday. He recounted the following conversation, as overheard by me:

Employee: Dude, should I know you?
OJ: I don't know, should you?
Employee: Dude, I think I know you from somewhere.
OJ: Yeah, we used to date
Employee: I really recognize you. Are you famous?
OJ: I don't know, am I?

Then the two employees launched an extended conversation about Orlando's D-list celebrity status (I think he's a C at least people, c'mon) and the movie Evolution, which, as you will recall, was unmemorable save for the glorious return to the limelight for Michael "Donkey Lips" Bower, who was last previously spotted in a contestant pool on Singled Out in 1995 (true story).

Was Orlando Jones here for the filming of the special Drumline episode of Gossip Girl? No, he was just going to see a movie at the cinema across the street, according to the employee. His choices were: Milk, Slumdog Millionaire, Rachel Getting Married or Bolt.

On a related note, I had pomegranate-flavored 7-up with Seagram's 7 on Saturday night. I don't remember anything being wrong with regular 7-up, but pomegranate up yours was acceptable.

[Hey, apparently Orlando Jones went to College of Charleston but didn't get a degree. Who knew?]

A NYC newspaper iPod battle

An analysis of iPod art used in New York City area newspapers today to illustrate the Gov. David Patterson's proposed major tax increases, which include a 4 percent so-called "iTunes Tax" on videos or music downloaded from the internet.

1) New York Post: Jack Johnson's "Sleep Through the Static"

2) Newsday: U2's "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb," specifically the track "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own"

3) New York Daily News: Hot Chip's "The Warning"


Also, 4) New York Times: A engaging picture of Barack Obama and Joe Biden in an early education classroom.

The following can be inferred from each selection:
1) The graphics editor at the New York Post, a mid-30s tech-savvy person merely trying to get by in the print business until the economy rebounds, grabbed her iPod, hit shuffle and took a picture of the first item that came up in time to meet deadline.
2) A news editor at Newsday had a brainstorm for a front-page graphic after seeing the tax story come across the wire. But after about 50 minutes of arguments, the rest of the staff was able to talk him out of using an image of a unspooled and tangled analog tape. With deadline fast approaching, he Googled "pop music pods" and copied the first non-Britney-Spears-stomach picture that came up.
3) "Hey intern! Give me your damn iPod for a minute."

And the winner is......
The Daily News.

Bonus: Listen to Hot Chip's "Over and Over,"and watch an, um, interesting video here.

OMFG: Gossip Girl spotted in Brooklyn

Walking around Court Street yesterday before work, I kept seeing these large, rather fancy looking trailers lining the streets. At first I thought it was portable bathrooms for a nearby construction project, but then I noticed they were lining several blocks. Other guesses were that they were some sort of blood mobile, or maybe a portable STD clinic for the homeless, or perhaps, since they had fancy wooden doors attached at the entrances, some sort of roving home goods show of kitchen fixtures, Formica counter tops and bathroom sealants. I was tempted to walk in one to see what sort of public offerings were inside, but I'm still deferential to my limited knowledge of the machinations of the city. For all I know, those trailers were no big deal, no one in the neighborhood even notices them any more, and they just come by every week to offer free lube in preparation for the upcoming subway fare hike stiffie.

Way off. Turns out, they're filming Gossip Girl in the nabe this week. I stumbled across the scoop on Cobble Hill Blog. Here's some of their pictures:

This would be much more interesting if I A) had any idea who any of the people on Gossip Girl were; or 2) knew anything in the world about the show other than it seems to be another example of our culture's maddening idolatry of the lives of wealthy, spoiled douchebags and douchebaggettes.*
Here's a completely out-of-context quote I just found online:
Chuck: Archibald. Isn't it about time you ended this bromance? What happens at Yale stays at Yale.
Nate: [to Dan] Hey man, let's go.
Meeting Justin Long was way cooler.

*I'm curious -- can anyone who watches this tell me how this stacks up on the brain activity scale against the Laguna Beach/The Hills crap

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I'm living in the new San Francisco?

My first foray into Brooklyn landed me in this decent sublet in the Ditmas Park area, sharing an apartment on the third floor of a massive old Victorian style house complete with a few stained glass windows, ostentatious palatial bathrooms (with signed tiles of Don Mattingly baseball cards, for some reason), along with a reading nook and secret room in my closet that mysteriously has a refrigerator in it. The neighborhood is comfortable and relaxed, quirky in some ways, multicultural with lots of middle eastern families and Halal restaurants and such. Nearby Courtelyou Road has a lefty coffee shop, a nice food coop and a bizarre combination flower shop/bar. Even if it wasn't all that nice, it's only a month sublet anyway, but it's more than adequate.

When I tell people where I live, they usually respond with a sort of "uhh..... where?" look, which is understandable. I half-jokingly tell them it's the new new New Brooklyn. Williamsburg is so over it's hard to remember when it began, I say, and Bed-Stuy just can't get the traction. DITMAS, Y'HEAR?.

It's possible this could one day be true, of course, with the large houses that are starting to draw interest as people are priced out of the rest of Brooklyn.

But New York magazine has already taken it a step further. In their Reasons To Love New York issue, No. 39 is: "Because Ditmas Park is the New San Francisco." Here's the blurb:

What New Yorker with a repressed slacker-hippie side hasn’t fantasized about ditching Gotham for calmer, quainter San Francisco? Some locals have been satisfying that yen by simply moving to Ditmas Park, the Victorian-packed enclave south of Prospect Park. It isn’t just that the West Coast metropolis and the west-of-Flatbush hamlet share an abundance of turn-of-the-century painted ladies (which in Ditmas now fetch up to $1.8 million and reach their height of Gothic-Oriental grandness on both sides of stately Albemarle Road). You can also see similarities in the restaurant scene: The reigning culinary draw, the Farm on Adderley (1108 Cortelyou Rd.; 718-287-3101), references Chez Panisse (okay, that’s in Berkeley, not Frisco) in its strident locavorism and mismatched plates. And Ditmas’s tiny, cozy Cinco de Mayo (1202 Cortelyou Rd.; 718-693-1022) can hold its own in the Mexican brunch department against the Mission District’s Pancho Villa Taqueria (although the latter’s burritos are admittedly better). Then there are the political echoes, with the Beat- beloved City Lights bookstore and CafĂ© Trieste intertwining at Vox Pop (1022 Cortelyou Rd.; 718-940-2084), where, on a recent Sunday, you could order a Cesar Chavez personal pizza, buy lefty tracts, and listen to a live drum circle from a group called Manhattan Samba. “The vibe there’s very San Francisco,” says local Joshua Levy, managing editor of change.org, a “social-action blog network” based in, naturally, S.F. “It’s a bunch of communists hanging out and drinking Fair Trade coffee while reading conspiracy books,” he half-jokes. Not that every Ditmas denizen embraces the comparison. Political-contribution records show that chunks of Ditmas actually lean red, notes Liena Zagare, who writes the popular Ditmas Park Blog. And Mary Kay Gallagher, a longtime Ditmas Realtor, points out that those Bay Area Victorians are mostly stuck together. “Ours are detached,” she says. “That means a driveway and a garage and a backyard.” But is it big enough to leave your heart in?
I like this area -- A group of us went to the Farm on Friday where we were served bacon-flavored vodka, a horseradish martini and a delicious vegan mushroom truffle under a soundtrack that could have come off any of our iPods.
And let me clarify that I've only been to San Fran once on an extended layover from LA back to DC, a trip where I stumbled across an absolutely impressive amount of donut shops and 99 cent porn theaters.
But Ditmas Park, you're no San Francisco. There just isn't that much here yet. The items listed in the NYMag blurb are about it so far. I envision one day someone will build a music club out here that will start attracting the hip crowds, leading to all sorts of new growth. Vox Pop has a big business plan on their Web site about how they want to become the independent alternative franchise to Starbucks, bolstered by the new era of good feelings in the Obama administration. And maybe someone will figure out how to make it significantly warmer in Ditmas in the winters, which would be nice. Even better, perhaps the producers will be swayed to film the Full House reunion next door.

Or they could open up a bunch of 99-cent porn theaters, and it would start to look like SF real fast around here.

(Photo credit: personal collection)

On Tragedies and Bad Handwriting

The biggest under reported tragedy of Sept. 11 is the toll it's taken on our nation's paperwork system.

The revelation of this overlooked portion of the horrifying attacks came during my first day working at TJ's this afternoon, sitting at a plastic table in the basement of a former bank building and trying to ignore the 80-year-old heating system making the room fit for storing only ready to eat dumplings and fidgety new hires. The very kind management guy began going over the work syllabus as I began filling out the same mountain of paperwork I've filled out for seemingly every new job, school year, major purchase or whatever for 15 years now. He stopped me just I was checking the "single" box on the NY state tax form.

"Tim, I keep it real, tell it straight," he said, leaning back from the table and laying his hands flat for emphasis. "Let me take a second to impress upon you the seriousness of completing these forms properly," he said.
Oh-kay, I said. C'mon guy, my penmanship may have all but been purged from my brain over the years in favor of rapid, sloppy note taking, but I've done these before -- it's all sense memory at this point. No dependents, not head of household. Emergency contact, still D. Donnelly, 920 Cable Avenue. SSN, direct deposit, no need for life insurance, thank you kindly.

"I'd rather take an hour getting it right now than have them send it back and have to deal with the people in the office for weeks," he said. These forms have to be neat, he said. Don't even let your 'ys' drop below the boxes. Don't try to write over anything or cross something out. They will not trust it and they will send it back. If you use two different kinds of ink, it won't go.

Um, I said.

Yeah, he said. "Everything changed after 9/11. They really scrutinize these forms now. We've had them sent back for the tiniest thing. They're just really careful. Just take the time to do it right now and it will save us some hassle."

He was speaking most specifically of course about the I9 form, the document that proves you have a legal right to work in the United States. These forms are reviewed by Homeland Security. And no one wants to mess with the Department of Homeland Security.

I set back at it and already there were problems. I should probably write "Timothy" instead of "Tim" on these forms, management guy said, even though the former version of my name has served no purpose in my life whatsoever except to indicate parental furor or lead to duplicate document completion. I tried to squeeze the extra letters onto the forms, but it wouldn't do. A new set of forms was brought.

"Then, here," management guy said, pointing to today's date next to the signature on the I9. I had dragged my pen down the page a little too long on the 5 on "12/15/08."
"This could be anything," he said. To the trash with that one and back with a fresh form.

"Do me a favor," he said, now pointing to the second completed draft of this document, his finger resting on my birth date "9/30/1981," where apparently the "1" had sprouted too high for his liking. "You've got to just write it out real clear like this," he said, showing an elongated example of the date.

On the third try, I goofed again, accidentally drawing a line to write "NY" after my street address instead of in the designated state area. I refused to admit I was a three-times dunce, and started thinking fast. I covered by writing "Apt. 3" in the field instead. This is a completely nonsense designation as all mail in this building is piled by the front door each day. I could have written "Penthouse - Luxor Wing" and it would have had the same effect.

Would he notice? I continued and wrote out the birth date in big, slow numerals. I put the papers in his hand and hoped for the best, turning back to the handbook.

"We knew someone in the towers," he said casually, ripping my attentions away from the corporate policy on non-standard hatwear. "My wife's cousin, was in the second tower."

"She wasn't one of the survivors."

Rough stuff, I said.

A lot of people from New York or New Jersey have some story like this from that day, some more soot-covered or scarred than others, but the degrees of connection in this tightly packed area are impossible to avoid. My mom's client ran late for work in one of the towers that day, by luck avoiding a horrible fate. My old college roommate's best friend's parents went missing from their nearby offices for a day. Another friend happened to be walking to work in northern Virginia when he looked across the street and saw a plane drop from the sky and explode into the Pentagon. The experience put him in therapy and lead to a minor drug problem for a period. Still in New York, the old World Trade Center site is a big open pit, looking more like an active excavation site than a tragic landmark. On the streets, 9/11 memorial merchandise has faded from popularity over seven years, replaced largely with the calendars, framed pictures, artwork and T-shirts celebrating Obama's victory, the words Hope and Change written in big, dramatic fonts.

"All right, this looks good," he said, stashing the paperwork in his folder. "Thank you for doing that. We've just got to be real careful. Yep, 9/11 changed everything and everything. Things are just so different now."

Can't argue that. I still don't want to buy the life insurance though.

pictures via Comestiblog. More about that TJs here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

T shirt of the day

From TypeTees, via Slashfilm. I know what Santa is getting for a certain Little Georgey...

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hi I'm a Mac, and I'm soaking wet

Turns out Chris the Giant and I were in the same showing of Slumdog Millionaire last night with Justin Long, BKA the Mac guy. This accounts for my first celebrity interaction in the city (well, after Common, I guess). But more importantly, my degree of separation from Jonah Hill is now down to 1.

Here's what happened. We attended a late showing at the Angelika Theater on West Houston Street last night, amid a torrential rain storm that proved, despite what your science teachers and Jim Cantores of the world have told you for years, it can be well into the 20s and still refuse to stop raining. I went to the bathroom after the movie and when I returned, Giganti said, "Hey, I think that's the guy from the Mac ads over there. Also from Live Free or Die Hard."

Where? I asked, immediately arming my archers of skepticism to shoot down his presumptions. This had happened before of course, with Giganti once (and still adamantly to this day) making the absurd claim that he saw Lauren Ambrose drunkenly stumbling down the streets of Savannah about two years ago.

"He just walked out the door." So we followed and to my surprise it was indeed Justin Long, hunching his shoulders into his coat as he headed out into the cold rain. So I ran up and talked to him briefly. The following conversation ensued:

Me: Hey, can I ask what you thought of the movie?
Justin Long: Yeah, sure. I thought it was really great. I really enjoyed it. It was amazing.
Me: Cool man. My name's Tim.
Justin Long: Justin, nice to meet you man. (I wonder if a lot of people probably think his name is "Mack," I thought. We shook hands).
Me: Dude, can I just say, Accepted is a totally, totally underrated movie.
Justin Long: Oh thanks man. Yeah, we worked really hard on that one so I appreciate it.
Me: It doesn't get the credit it deserves. But just know that a bunch of us out there dig it.
Justin Long: Thanks man, thanks a lot.
Me: Keep it up.
Justin Long: Sure -- thanks, take it easy Tim.

He was with some girl, very much not Drew Barrymore, though in honesty I probably still would have been more interested in talking to him even if he was with Drew Barrymore.

The weirdest part about running into him last night was that on Wednesday, I pretty much had my mind set all day on going to the Barnes and Noble in Park Slope to see John Hodgman , aka "PC," speak about his new book. But then I got a migraine and took one of those pills that are either 80 percent placebo or 100 percent concentrated Nyquil-lined opium, and passed out for two hours. But either way, those pills work blackout good.

And, FYI, Slumdog Millionaire is gigantically well done.

I was pretty disgustingly wet by time I got home last night, so much that I had to drape clothes over the space heater. But even in the worst storm, it's usually worth venturing out into the rain to see what New York has to offer that night.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Recommended track

Jay Z and Santogold -Brooklyn (We Go Had)

Put in in your ears, and not just because Brooklyn is probably cooler than where you live.

Common misunderstandings

So maybe I did get a little cocky the other night, telling people I was going to the Common album release party in Manhattan, somewhere below ground in an Upper West Side swank club you needed to know somebody and be on the guest list and offer a bid for Barack Obama's senate seat to get into. Of course, I don't actually know anyone, except for Jeff Vrabel in this case, who knows many, many people, including some who still send him invites to album release parties in Manhattan in case he wanted to fly the supersonic jet he owns (thanks to that newspaper salary) to get there from South Carolina in a few hours.

The e-mail he forwarded me said the doors opened at 9, Common would perform at 10:30. I was going by myself since they removed all the plus ones from the list (sorry Barry!) due to the huge interest, so I arrived at the fashionable mid-range time of 9:50. The place was bumping with Hot 97 banners here and there. Some dude wearing a standard Okayplayer fan outfit walked up to me and leaned in to say something.

"Am I supposed to get you a wrist band?" he asked.
"Huh?" I said. He pulled back and looked at me.
"Aren't you here with Theo?"
"Uh, no."
"Oh. I thought you were .....uh ... you look like this other guy."

That's right, I thought. All white people look alike.

The guy ended up helping me get a free drink from the bar anyway. Just as he got to the bartender, the guy on the mike announced that the event was over. "Sorry y'all, we all got early planes to catch in the morning."

The free drink service had also ended. I did some reporting and it turns out Common did a little performance starting at about 9:30, making this probably the first time in history a hip hop show has started earlier than scheduled (hear that, Kanye?). Then he rolled out. I guess I probably caught maybe the end of the performance when I first walked in but didn't even realize it. The album, Universal Mind Control, is getting slammed in reviews anyway.

I wasn't the only one who was disappointed. But I guess it's a pretty big concession to remember that at Coachella in 2006, Common was the surprise guest who came on stage with Black Star as the three of them played way past the midnight curfew and Mos kept telling Common he would have to pitch in because they were going to pay the fine.

"Wait, how much is the fine?" Common asked, possibly not joking. Then he pulled like $5 out of his wallet.

But I decided to be a paparazzi anyway Monday night as he walked by me:

The club it was held at:

It was cool to be there at least, even if it was kind of a bummer that I didn't make it in time for the performance. I thought of something though -- it's lame to see a musician in the crowd at a concert but not actually see them perform. But who is it cool to see in the crowd at a show? Actors! Blah to Common the rapper but OH MY GOD LOOK OVER THERE IT'S GREEN LANTERN!!

Or maybe I just didn't play my cards right.