Saturday, May 31, 2008

Luck o' the Irish

From the finally-getting-around-to-it department:

Each year on St. Patrick's Day the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks sponsors a noon concert in downtown at Pershing Square. Returning this year was Irish ex-pats (and now L.A. natives) the Young Dubliners. I missed most of their performance, mostly because I didn't realize they were playing until I wandered over during my lunch, but I did have my camera and attempted to take some shots of the band.


A group had accumulated in front of the band, but because I have a pretty good zoom I on my camera I didn't need to get too close. First I stood way back and zooming in, but as you can see from the shot below, that wasn't turning out so well.

Then I tried to find a closer spot where I could shoot over most of the people without blocking people behind me by standing on a short wall to one side.
Still not turning out that well, however.

Then I got a bit closer so I could try to get some better detailed shots of the band, but I was still off to the side, out of the way. I aimed the lens at the violinist, closest to me, focused and pressed the shutter.

Hey, don't mind me, dumbass.

This probably would have been the best shot had Captain Oblivious not stepped in front of the lens at that moment.

Through some cropping and electronic manipulation the shot on the left is acceptable. (Not great, not necessarily even good, but acceptable.) I like the shadow of his hands on his shirt. So it wasn't a complete loss.

However, to see the shots from Pershing Square that turned out better (because the subject was the fountain rather than the band), check out this posting on the photo site.

It was a hootenany

From the strolling-down-memory-lane department (we join the conversation in progress):

What year did Say Anything come out? 1989? That seems likely. It was the year Don't Tell a Soul was released, so there would have been a Replacements tour to support it.

What's that? Yeah, it is loud in here. Oh, you missed what I said first. I'm telling you about the only time in my life I won tickets from a radio station.

So, anyway, it's '89, I think. I'm the assistant manager at a comic book store by this point. (Yes, comic books. It was a pretty big deal back in those days. Now they just focus on making everything into movies. I digress.)

Anyway, it was a slow Sunday, late afternoon. I'm sitting in the back, on a raised platform from which I can see the whole store. It was just me and one cashier, sitting up front at the register. Phil, I think it was. He went on to become a comic book artist, as a matter of fact. We had the radio on, tuned to KROQ. This was back when it was still a listenable station. Eh, maybe I was just younger then. Well, of course I was younger 19 years ago, but perhaps it was simply that back then KROQ was still playing music I liked.

They played music I liked that afternoon at least.

I don't remember the name of the DJ who was on the air. On a Sunday it wouldn't be Jed the Fish—he worked weekdays. Perhaps Sluggo (Doug the Slug). It would be fitting if it were him, another Doug. Eh, whoever it was had good taste and knew his 'Mats history.

The station had a pair of tickets for the upcoming Replacements' show at the Hollywood Palladium. I don't recall if they'd gone on sale yet or not, but for whatever reason I didn't have a ticket at that point. Anyway, in a move that astounds me to this day, the DJ didn't just pick a random numbered caller to be the recipient of the tickets, but rather concocted a quiz to decide the winner.

He played the song "Within Your Reach," which had been used in Say Anything. Yeah, now you get why I asked before. It was on the soundtrack. However, to win the tickets, you had to call in and say the name of the Replacements album on which it originally appeared.

Being a pretty big 'Mats fan at this point, I knew the answer. However, I was working. And besides, I never believed I'd even get through if I tried; any previous attempts at calling in during contests always resulted in nothing more than the automated "We're sorry—all circuits are busy" message, so I held no hope that trying this time would be any different. I sat there listening to the song, continuing to work. Then after well over a minute—which ordinarily would be well past the point where a winner would be found in such matters—I picked up the phone and dialed the number.

It rang. I was surprised, but I figured, Eh, this just means they already have a winner and others have given up. It rang and rang for at least 30 seconds. By this point the song was practically over.

Then a voice answered, "This is KROQ," and before the person could even ask I blurted out the answer: "Hootenany." I said it matter-of-factly, with no rising intonation; I knew the answer, and I knew I knew it.

The person replied "That's right" with a tone of astonishment, which I interpreted as meaning he'd just sat through call after call of people with no clue. His tone probably connoted a sense of relief, just to have the contest be over finally. "You're the winner."

I wasn't on the air or anything. I didn't scream in delight. I probably said something to indicate I was happy to win, but I didn't freak out. They put me on hold, and then another voice came on and got my address so they could mail me the tickets.

The cashier found out not by me telling him, because I was still waiting on hold, but by hearing my name announced by the DJ as the winner of the tickets. I could see him all the way from the back jump up from his chair and whoop.

Huh? Oh, yeah. "The 'Mats." That's a nickname for the band that comes from turning "Replacements" into "Placemats" (which was either derogatory or self-deprecating—or both), and then just "Mats." I forget where I first picked up on that, but amongst fans it's a pretty common method of reference, and meant respectfully.

At least I've always assumed so…

What's that? If you gotta use the restroom, go. Yeah, that was pretty much all I had to say about that.

Within Your Reach - The Replacements

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Make a new plan, Stan... er, Doug

It's good to see our friends at the Metro Transit Authority of Los Angeles using their resources to try to improve the traffic situation here in the Southland.

Case in point: Every year they require my employer to require all of us, their employees, to fill out a survey regarding our commuting habits. For a week we note when the start and end of our shifts, and how we traveled to and from the office that day (in a car with one person, in a car with two people, etc.). We note our home addresses, and the nearest major cross streets. In theory, this would allow them to try to match up people who live in the same general area and work in the same general area and commute to and from those areas at approximately the same time, and encourage those people to carpool.

And every year prior to this one, I've never heard anything more of it. I presume this is because every year in the column where one notes the travel method I put that I take a train, which means I'm not even in a vehicle that's contributing to the traffic; I'm doing the ultimate in carpooling, because I have hundreds of people in my car.

This year, however, I got an envelope from the MTA. It was customized printout, with my name specified and estimated cost data about how much the 39 miles of my commute add up to in a year (between fuel and auto wear), and how many pounds of air pollution that contributes to the atmosphere. It then listed five strangers who live anywhere from two to six miles from where I live and work in downtown who apparently got the same letter at their jobs, presumably to encourage us to get in a car together to get to work.

At first I was confused. I'm not in an automobile. I noted that. Did they go to all the trouble to amass the data but fail to include that part?

Then it occurred to me. They're trying to let me know that I should stop relying on their trains, and find some private citizen with a car who can get me to work. Perhaps they're trying to give me a heads-up that they're going out of business, and I should find alternative transportation sooner than later.

Very thoughtful on their part, I must say. But if they think I'm going to carpool with total strangers... Well, despite taking public transportation for years, I am still a native Angelino.

And besides, my mom always told me not to get in a car with a stranger.

Song lyrics du jour

We are so fragile
Advertising lies that are whiter than yours
We are so fragile
They could give us a war just to keep us amused

- Tubeway Army, "We Are So Fragile"

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Song lyrics du jour

Give me back that wig I bought you
I'm gonna let your head go bald
You keep on jivin' me, baby
You won't have no hair, no head at all

- Big Joe Turner, "S.K. Blues Pt. 1"

Face of hope

I will say this about Facebook: There's significantly fewer pictures of skanks* and debauchery than on MySpace.

Which is to say, I haven't seen any.

And I'm going to abandon any pretense of finding that sort of thing appealing. I am boring and old; I don't need to see cheap amateurish attempts at being provocative. (I have the entire internet available; I can find professional-level provocation, should I so desire.)

Because Facebook only allows one to see the pages of those who have accepted requests for "friend"ship (the quotation marks are intended only to distinguish being a "friend" in Facebook parlance from the term's off-line context, not to imply irony), all I can say with any certainty is that the people with whom I have some acquaintance (and who have Facebook accounts) either do not have skanky or debaucherous photos of themselves, or they have the sense to not put such photos on the 'net. Whether this is true of everyone on Facebook or merely of the people who are my "friend"s I lack sufficient research to say with any certainty, but I'll choose to believe it's generally true.

I prefer to believe there is a portion of society who can only take so much of the MySpace crap. I mean, besides just me.

This may only be making me feel better, but what good are beliefs if they don't make the believer feel better?


* Skanks is, I believe, merely a technical term when referring to MySpace.

(Yes, I did make up "debaucherous"; someone has to be first to try to make it into an adjective.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The horror, the horror

I admit with some shame that I have seen some episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. I've never set out to watch them, but given how much E! airs them, it's difficult to avoid if one turns on that channel at all.

But there I'm trying to distance myself from the show. I saw it. I am admitting I did. Should I be ashamed?

No. I merely am nonetheless.

The thing that fascinates me is that I can't help but think that they really don't come off looking that good. Kim and the mother especially (in my opinion) seem hideously self-absorbed. It may be clever editing, but I have to imagine, by virtue of them signing on for a second season (after presumably seeing the first), that they don't mind. Or they don't see it that way.

Which is pretty much how hideously self-absorbed people would see it, I imagine.

I don't need cameras following me all the time and editing that down in 22 minute chunks to have something to be ashamed of. I have the blahg here, where I get to be solely responsible for my own undoing.

Which is almost certainly worse. I am not completely self-absorbed, and at times I think I'm even slightly self-aware, and yet here we are.

At least I'm not mocked on The Soup (the one show on E! I watch without shame). Of course, if I were, I'd undoubtedly be getting a lot more hits on the site.

It's a mixed bag, this whole having-a-shred-of-dignity thing.

(I said only "a shred.")

Song lyrics du jour

I'm not liking what I'm typing
Throw it all away
- The Monkees, "P.O. Box 9847"

Monday, May 26, 2008


I've finally gotten around to posting some more picture (from March!) on the photo site.

It's an exciting Memorial Day, remembering what I took pictures of two months ago.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Grey area

No one cares, and I admit I only see the show because my fiancée watches it and I happen to be in the room, but I find it increasingly difficult to not want to punch in the face most of the characters on Grey's Anatomy.

I suppose that's effective television. Or affective.

In my face

Last weekend I opened a Facebook account.

(Don't judge me.)

This is my first foray into the world of online social networking. I barely heard about Friendster back in its heyday. I avoided MySpace because it seemed like too much of a fad to take seriously (and this is all before it was revealed as a haven for pedophiles). Heck, for a day last year the subtitle on the blahg here I put "Doug still has no MySpace page," as though that were something to be proud of.

It wasn't so much that I held active disdain for these sites; I merely felt as though I didn't fit in with what I perceived them to be. They struck me as a way to squander a lot of time on the computer, and I was already quite handy at squandering time (both with and without the computer); I had no need for help in that area.

So, why have I now drunk the proverbial Kool-Aid?

I have no good reason, so let's move on.

With only a few days worth of experience on the site, I lack sufficient time to make any judgments about it. (I am not being sarcastic. Yeesh.) However, there is something on which I must comment regarding Facebook.

When one joins, one's contacts are searched and people with email addresses found in one's contacts who have Facebook accounts get solicitations to become one's "friend." That is the term that is used: friend. When the person receiving the solicitation accepts, a notation on one's page is added to indicate this.

"Doug is now friends with [name of person]."

This is visible to anyone who had already been added as a "friend," so others can see this.

And while I don't mind, per se, that others I know see that I have added a "friend," I cannot help but have this thought each time I see that notation: If now we're friends, what were we before? I've known this person for years, but only now is it official that we're "friends"?

My fiancée is listed as being "in a relationship" with me, and vice versa. Five years together and an engagement ring on her finger are all good and well, but because it says so on my profile page, it's somehow more legitimate? It has been consecrated by the web gods or something.

I'm sure it will get easier. At least, as soon as zombies stop biting me.

Song lyrics du jour

"If you don't have a point to make, don't sweat it"
- Fiona Apple, "Waltz (Better Than Fine)"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Guilt by sartorial association

Actual conversation Doug overheard last evening:

The place: Urban Outfitters store*, Burbank, California

The participants: A young couple (probably in their early 20s) standing near Doug

The scene: Included on a table of t-shirts are two with pseudo-political themed images on them. One reads "Barack and Roll" with a picture of Obama's face, with another next to it featuring a big cartoonish hand brass knuckles between the text "Obama Says Knock You Out." Doug is standing a few feet away as the couple looks at the shirts.

Young man (to his female companion): "Does Obama really think this will get him votes? Yeah, that's who I want running my country."

Doug's thought: Should I explain that the shirts clearly aren't endorsed by the Obama campaign but are just some fashion designer cashing in on the candidate's pop culture cachet?

[Doug then notices that the young man is dressed such that his jeans intentionally droop in the back, even though they are pulled up to the normal height in the front, revealing his striped briefs in public. (However, the stripes do match his shirt.)]

Doug's revised thought: I could go over and ask if the young man intends to vote in November. If he says "no" then I can say, "That's good," and if he says "yes" then I can simply grimace and walk away.

[Doug concludes that would be kind of dickish. Also, likely that is too subtle for the young man to grasp, and Doug walks away.]

* Not some place I go, um, hardly ever; I'm not saying I'm ashamed to have been there, I just feel compelled to note that in the interest of full disclosure. My fiancée had a gift card. Of course, if this young man is in any way representative of their customers, perhaps I should be kind of ashamed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Song lyrics du jour

The President is talking to us through a microphone
Like he's trying to pack his mother off to an old people's home

I know you're out there
I know you're out there somewhere
I know you're out there
When I hear the word "Democracy"
I reach for my headphones

- Robyn Hitchcock, "The President" (1986)

Friday, May 16, 2008


From the patting-myself-on-the-back department:

Last month I mentioned how I one of my photos was being considered for inclusion on Schmap interactive map.

Today I got confirmation that my photo was accepted, and is one of the shots of Wells Fargo Center featured in their brief review.

I think this is a level of fame I can handle.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jac's back

Here's a shot of some jacaranda blooms in downtown L.A., with the Bonaventure Hotel in the background.

No, it's not the return of Jacaranda-Palooza. It is, however, something rare (for me): a photo posted the same day it was taken. That's right--no waiting two months (like most of what's been put on the photo site).

Don't go thinking this is setting a precedent or anything. Enjoy nonetheless.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Nothing really matters

This past Saturday a group of us headed to a dueling piano bar to celebrate my brother-in-law's birthday. One of the songs played for him was Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody", and the pianists got him up on to the pianos to conduct the audience in our hideously off-key rendition.

I took some photos, which didn't turn out that well (egad, I hate shooting with a flash), but then with about a minute left I remembered, Hey, my camera also shoots video. Grainy video.

Then tonight I found this site where one can upload grainy video called... um, well, there's no point in mentioning some site no one heard of, but I suspect it'll get big. And I uploaded the aforementioned video so the people who were there could remember what they saw.

Approximately 60 seconds to watch. Approximately 30 minutes to upload. Now I know why I stick with still photos.

Anyone can see.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mail baggage

Some time ago I got a postcard-sized offer from GQ magazine. (Obviously my name got on to a mailing list somewhere.) And I had never thought of subscribing to GQ, but I gave it a look.

On the front it featured a glossy sticker-like image of, uh, I guess, a model. (I suppose a GQ reader would know the model's name.) And a note about a "free gym bag." Uh, okay... if only I had a gym membership...

Opening it revealed a picture of Uma Thurman in a tank top. Well, I see a theme developing in the sort of imagery they're using. And they're still hawking the free gym bag.

Well, they haven't sold me yet. But what will they do to try to sweeten the deal? Let's flip to the other flap and see...


Oh yeah. I know why I don't subscribe to GQ. I'm not a jackass.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Man, oh man

I've not yet seen Iron Man, but I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt that it's a decent film. I'll probably see it eventually. And after seeing how well it did in its opening weekend, being second only to Spider-Man, and being mentioned with the likes of X-Men, something occurred to me.

The reason that The Hulk, Ghost Rider, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, and other Marvel superhero movies didn't succeed as well at the box office and with the critics was not because they weren't that good, but for semantic reasons.

Iron MAN.

Coincidence? I think not.

It may not be too late to rename the upcoming The Incredible Hulk to The Incredible Hulk Man. That would bring in an extra 50 million in the opening weekend alone, apparently.

(This does bode well for the in-development Ant-Man project. It has the important element for a big hit: the right word in the name.)

I'm just analyzing the data and drawing the obvious conclusion. I never let an abject lack of knowledge stop me.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Mother, do you think I'm good enough?

Reader alert: If you have any faith in our government or the departments under its auspices, you are advised to skip this post. You've been warned.

I just finished reading Jenji's latest rant, which involved an obsessed postal worker hoarding her mail, getting caught doing so, being "forced" into retirement, and now somehow being reinstated in that job. (Which is fucked up, by the way.) And then I thought of a post by Ray where he mentioned a pattern of packages being sent to he and fellow UFO enthusiasts (I really should figure out the preferred term) that were mysteriously "damaged" in transit, having clearly been opened and re-sealed. (Which is also fucked up, by the way.) And while Jenji suggests an incompetent system whereby such an individual could get re-hired, Ray's conspiratorial angle suggests incompetence on the part of the individuals who are "inspecting" the packages.

In any case, the conclusion of incompetence running rampant in the USPS seems to be the case (at least, based on these separate and unrelated reports).

All I know is this: On Sunday I will be calling my mother ostensibly in honor of Mother's Day, but really it will be to see if the card I mailed got there on time. Or at all.

If it shows up some time in July, she could have a stalker for a mail carrier. If it shows up with the envelope opened and obviously re-sealed (with apologetic stickers), she could be under observation by some obsessive government department. And if it simply arrives on time, undamaged, that could simply indicate these outside forces are simply lying low because they now know I'm on to them.

Ignorance was so blissful. At least, I think it was. Maybe I've been brainwashed to think it was (but, due to incompetence, the brainwashing wasn't strong enough to deny me the thought of possibly having been brainwashed).


Yes, the title of today's post is from Pink Floyd.

Ruins of the republic

From the glibly-philosophical department:

If the election results from 2000 and 2004 are any indication, roughly half the people who care about who represents them in the Oval Office do not feel represented by who has been there since January of 2001. (A greater percentage apparently don't care about who represents them.)

And whether we like it or not, we are being represented by others all the time: our elected officials, those in charge at our places of employment, those who claim the same spiritual or political affiliation, people on TV and in movies, and heck, even people who simply look like us in a cosmetic way. It's not that we chose to have them represent us necessarily (and often not at all), but it's an almost certainty that there are people out there who don't know us (as individuals) and are forming an opinion about us based not on knowing us (as individuals) but generalizing from something they saw or heard about involving someone with whom we have a coincidental similarity.

So please try to be good. Even if not for your own benefit, try to not screw it up for others whom others are going to think are like you.

At least until we can get everyone on board with refraining from forming opinions about individuals until one has sufficient familiarity with the individuals to form an opinion. Then you can screw it up for yourself as much as you want.


Crap. That was screwing it up for everyone, wasn't it?

[The views expressed are not representative of anyone. Not even necessarily of the one who just wrote them.]

Monday, May 05, 2008

Following UP

As threatened in yesterday's tale of killing time in Texas, more photos taken during that two-hour layover in the terminals of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport have been posted on the photo site.

Please click over and give 'em a look if you are looking for a way to kill some time--it shouldn't take two hours (unless you want it to).

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Things to do in DFW when you're not dead

So you find yourself in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport with a two-hour layover between flights, and you aren't the sort of person who wants to sit in a bar—er, lounge—running up a tab on overpriced drinks. You don't feel inclined to waste time looking at duty-free watches and perfumes. You don't have on shoes that need shining. Obviously you'll get some overpriced bad food at some point (because as overpriced and bad as it is, it's still less expensive than and not as bad as the food you can purchase during your next flight), but that's not enough to occupy two hours, even if you drag it out by taking tiny bites. Is there nothing else to do but find a not-entirely-comfortable chair by the gate and watch the CNN feed on one of the overhead TV screens (if you're lucky enough to have a TV overhead) or read that book that you were saving for the flight?

Of course! There's the Skytrain!

DFW has five terminals and connecting them is a light-rail system running on a track that traces the perimeter of each one. (The track is elevated above the floor level of the terminals, hence the "sky" aspect, I suppose.) Each terminal has two stations, so that's a total of 10 stops. And the best part of all is that it's completely free. You can get on at one station and ride all the way around, making a complete circuit.

That will kill approximately 19 minutes.

Hence, if you really enjoy gazing out at the tarmac and runways and outlying areas of Dallas, you can ride it about six times completely around. However, the novelty is likely to wear off before then.

Okay, we're down to an hour and 40 minutes (but we'll need to allocate some time for food acquisition and consumption in there). Is there anything else?

Sure. Take the Skytrain around to terminal D. In each of the two courtyard areas adjacent to the two train stations you'll find large art pieces. Walk around and look at them. Heck, you can walk through them.
Circling. It makes sounds as you walk around.

Crystal Mountain. This merely has a small tunnel, with no other interactivity, but it's big.

When you've explored those to your liking, walk around past the gates and look down and admire the murals in the floor. That should kill at least another half hour. Then go eat.

But wherever you choose to eat, find it somewhere other than terminal C. The selections there are the worst.

You had two hours; you should have found better.


(More photos will be up on the photo site soon, in case you want to see more don't happen to be in DFW any time soon.)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Turned around

From the no-duh-Doug department:

In the outfield, when the center fielder is facing home plate, the right fielder is to his left and the left fielder is to his right.

Clearly Abner Doubleday* named everything from the perspective of the catcher, the only one on defense for whom left field is to his left and right field to his right.

It's not a pitcher's sport; it's all about the catcher.

* used possibly as a euphemism for whoever invented baseball.