Archived updates from Daryl's Home Page

Journals, May 2003
Saturday, May 31, 2003 | #
They call it mellow yellow

Friday was a warm day here in New York, and warmth has been a rare bird this spring. I got out of work early because of something here they call "summer hours." I helped a friend move, did some shopping, and enjoyed the day. The terrorism alert dropped a notch, and as my coworker David says, we're feeling "mellow like code yellow." Sterling and I rented "Roger Dodger" last night, a good New York movie, though not for everyone.

A couple of notes. My mom was surprised that I didn't post something yesterday about the struggle in Philadelphia over the Boy Scouts' anti-gay policy. Regular readers know this is one of my few pet issues. The BSA's Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia agreed to add "sexual orientation" to their nondiscrimination statement, thereby going against the position of the national council. The national BSA happened to be holding a conference in Philadelphia this week, but didn't official take up their anti-gay policy. (Which, I should add, is less of a policy and more of a vague collection of statements designed to appease certain groups who would withdraw their money from the scouts if the scouts officially welcomed gays. Grrr.) Cheers to the Philadelphia scouts for standing by their principles of tolerance, friendship, and, um, brotherly love.

Also cheers to L.A.-teacher-in-training Brian, who says he's using the 50 Cent song "In Da Club" to teach a lesson about — what else? — prepositional phrases.

- Daryl

Friday, May 30, 2003 | #
Six degrees? Fuhgeddaboudit!

When meeting a new person, it's fun to play a game called "Who do we both know?" The object is to discover, as fast and in as few words as possible, an acquaintance you have in common. New Yorkers tend to be skilled at this. Here's an example of a well-played round that took place between me and the freight elevator operator at my office building.

Me (with my bike): Nine, please.
Elevator guy: Do you ride far?
Me: From Brooklyn.
Elevator guy: Where abouts?
Me: Park Slope.
Elevator guy: What street? I grew up around there.
Me: Twenty-first.
Elevator guy: And?
Me: Seventh. By the cemetery.
Elevator guy: You know that big hill then. I lived on 17th. You been there long?
Me: Since September. It's a nice neighborhood.
Elevator guy: Yeah, it's gotten a lot better in the last few years. I know that place pretty well.
Me: You know Luigi's pizza?
Elevator guy: Yeah, on 21st. Giovanni and I went to school together.
Me: That's the best pizza around! Giovanni's a good guy.
Elevator guy: He sure is.

- Daryl

Thursday, May 29, 2003 | #
It glides as softly as a cloud!

When we were home for Mother's Day, Gerritt and I for some reason started leafing through my grandparents' set of World Book Encyclopedias. In the 1969 Year Book supplement, we found an interesting entry on the Future of Transportation. According to the encyclopedia, the Future was to include such glorious innovations as moving sidewalks, "driverless taxis," and monorail.

Monorail! It reminded me of a short but interesting conversation I once had with a monorail evangelist in Harrisburg. This guy was determined to promote the idea of a regional monorail system to the local government. He carried a file full of monorail literature and was utterly steadfast in his conviction. Perhaps he had some financial interest in monorail, but more than likely he was just a rail fan. I still wonder if there is something about a monorail that makes it better than a standard elevated train or subway. The Monorail Society attempts to answer this question, and you can judge for yourself whether their argument is on the right track.

Largely because of Disney and the city of Seattle, most of us today think of a monorail as a fantastical novelty. We also owe some thanks to The Simpsons, who famously devoted an entire episode to ridiculing the monorail as a cheap relic of the 1964 Worlds Fair. And now that it is the future, by 1969 standards anyway, we know the Future of Transportation turned out to be... more highways.

- Daryl

Wednesday, May 28, 2003 | #

Several of you responded to my query over the weekend about Hooters Air. It's the cheapest way from Newark to BWI, but is it worth the embarrassment of saying "Gramma, come pick me up at the Hooters terminal"? All of you said I should go for it. Some of you implied, rightly so, that I was being too up-tight about the Hooters company in general. Some of you specifically said I should take the Hooters flight because you want me to write something entertaining about it in this journal. The best response came from soon-to-be 1st Lt. Dave Hoe, who wrote from Iraq: "Living here in the desert of a Middle Eastern Country where only the eyes of women are exposed, I recommend you take full advantage of the freedom America offers and eat as many chicken wings as you can!"

It turns out Hooter's Air is pretty worthless if you like to travel on weekends. The airline only runs Newark-Baltimore service on Mondays, and Baltimore-Newark on Wednesdays and Thursdays. All aboard Amtrak!

- Daryl

Tuesday, May 27, 2003 | #
Hey vista soul vista

My friend Doug and I just returned from a 30-mile backpacking trip along the West Rim Trail at Pine Creek Gorge, Pennsylvania. This area — which we picked because it's as far from Baltimore as it is from New York — is called the "Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania," a nickname which seems a little like calling something the "Mount Everest of Delaware." Still, we saw some beautiful vistas and a fair amount of wildlife, on a trail just challenging enough to make our feet sore but not so challenging that it knocked us flat. Yes, it rained, but we were prepared. What caught us off-guard was the porcupines.

Before we left, Doug read a web site which recommends placing moth balls underneath your vehicle when you park it overnight at the trailheads. The reason? To repel porcupines, which like to chew on engine hoses. Hmm. We were skeptical. But as we pulled into one of the parking lots, we saw an parked SUV surrounded by a force field of tiny white moth balls. We laughed. But for the rest of the trip, our thoughts rarely strayed from the vision of porcupines chomping through our brake hoses. Whenever we saw other hikers on the trail, we would ask "Have you seen any porcupines?" They always answered no. Personally, we saw deer, woodpeckers, vultures, a hawk, and an abundance of squirrels and chipmunks, plus a few porcupine quills along the trail — but no actual porcupines. When we returned to our cars, mercifully, we found no signs of sabotage. We were safe. Until next time, porcupines.

Tomorrow: Your advice on Hooters Air.

- Daryl

Friday, May 23, 2003 | #
Tioga County or bust

I'm going away on a camping trip this weekend with my friend Doug. We'll be in rural north-central Pennsylvania, hiking the West Rim Trail. I won't be posting on this web site until Tuesday. Until then, I leave you with a difficult question to ponder for the next three days. I expect my e-mail inbox to be flooded with your answers by the time I return.

I do a lot of traveling from New York to Baltimore. I usually drive, but traffic gets terrible during the summer weekends, so I've been looking into other options. One option is Amtrak, which is reliable and will take me to BWI and back for about $150. The bus is cheaper, but the Baltimore Greyhound station is neither pleasant nor convenient to my family. And then there's the plane. Here's where it gets tricky. Delta, Continental, and U.S. Airways all run shuttles from the New York airports, but they cost $190 roundtrip minimum on the weekends. However, there's a new airline that's offering Baltimore-Newark service for $59 each way. That's even cheaper than the train. That airline is Hooters. So here's the question. Is it worth giving this sleazy company my business in order to save a few bucks? Can a I trust a company known for its chicken wings to safely fly an airplane? Is it morally objectionable to promote an airline based on having Hooters girls as flight attendants? What might the other passengers be like? What would you do? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Until we meet again, have a good Memorial Day.

- Daryl

Thursday, May 22, 2003 | #
Odds and ends, misc.

It's Fleet Week, and yesterday a whole armada of naval ships sailed up the Hudson River. As each ship passed our office, people would rush to the window with the binoculars — to check out the sailors. I don't know enough about Fleet Week to fill a whole journal with it, so here are some other notes.

Ruben Studdard is the new American Idol! He's flying without wings! Go 205!

Has anybody else noticed a uptick in the use of the word "schadenfreude"? Media people are using this word to describe feelings toward the New York Times after the Jayson Blair scandal. It is a German word which means satisfaction about someone else's misfortune. This word appears in my relatively new Webster's Dictionary at work, but not in my 1970 Webster's at home. I don't think you can even say schadenfreude without sounding snooty, but there doesn't seem to be a viable English synonym.

Lastly, have you heard the song "Cameltoe" by FannyPack? I won't try to describe it, other than to say it's got a great beat you can dance to, the kids love it, and it's over-the-top raunchy. (And FannyPack are from Brooklyn.) I'm not calling it out as a "cool song" because I think by the time I find three other songs to bump it off the list, we'll all be sick of it.

- Daryl

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 | #
Good neighbors

When I arrived home last night on my bike, my neighbor Judy stopped me with some bad news. Someone had tried to break into my car while I was at work. The good news was that my car wasn't damaged and nothing was taken. Here's the story, as told by my neighbors. Ray, a guy who lives a few doors down, looked out his window at about 11 o'clock yesterday morning and saw a man trying to pry open my car window with a hook. Ray went outside and stood on his stoop until the would-be thief realized he was being watched and left. Ray went inside and called the police, but they didn't send an officer over because the suspect had already fled. Later, according to Ray, the man returned and began walking around the car, checking to see if the coast was clear. Once again, Ray went outside and stayed out until the man left. The crook left his hook jammed in my door, and Ray kept it there so I could see what had happened when I returned home. I think the guy was probably after my stereo. I'm fortunate that my neighbor was so alert. From now on, I'm going to make sure I detach the stereo faceplate and keep valuables out of my car.

- Daryl

Tuesday, May 20, 2003 | #
Know the enemy

Under cover of darkness, they crawl out of hidden spaces and unleash their terror upon the night. They are roaches. I'm lucky to have a reasonably bug-free living space, but I've seen plenty of roaches around this city, and more now in the warm weather. There are two common kinds of roaches:

The first kind (sometimes called the German Cockroach) is the creepy, inch-long brown bug often seen in kitchen sinks, cabinets and window sills. They don't move too fast, or fly, and they're easy to kill with your fingers by crushing them with a tissue or paper towel.

The second kind of roach (sometimes called the American Cockroach, Palmetto Bug, or Water Bug) is roughly the size of a Mack truck. They appear one at a time lumbering across the floor. They frighten small dogs. They have wings, armor, hairy legs, and deadly laser beams. It takes a pretty good squeeze to crush these guys, and you can definitely feel that you're squeezing the last gasp out of a living creature.

I am a friend to almost all animals, but the roach is no friend of mine. On the other hand, they make for some fascinating research, as apparent by the U-Mass Biology Department Cockroach FAQ. It contains such nuggets as: "If we do not move around too much while sleeping they might be inclined to nibble on our earlobes at night."

- Daryl

Monday, May 19, 2003 | #
Almost summer

I had a good Sunday. After church, I went to Park Slope's first street fair of the season, on Fifth Avenue. Street fairs are a key part of summer in New York. This one was over a mile long, packed with vendors, carnival rides, bands, DJs, food, drinks, and crowds. I met my friend David at a booth where he was selling his Before Brooklyn T-shirts. I met my friend Sarah and her boyfriend and walked with them for a while. I bought a bag of zepolles (hot globs of fried dough) and an iced tea. After some time at the fair, I got on my bike and dodged tourists on my way over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. Just on the other side of City Hall, I went to a crowded little shop called Tent Trails, which is supposed to be the best camping outfitter in New York City. This is a fine store, but the fact that it holds claim to be the city's best camping store is testament to how seldom New Yorkers go camping. However, they had a hat I wanted at a good price, so I bought it. On the bike ride back, I did some exploring through Brooklyn Heights and Red Hook. In Red Hook, I found what has to be the biggest collection of soccer fields I've ever seen, all packed with kids playing sports.

- Daryl

Sunday, May 18, 2003 | #

Went to see "The Matrix Reloaded" last night at the impressive new AMC Empire 25 in Times Square. Before I get to that, thanks to Tiffany for mentioning on her web site that there's a clip to watch after the ending credits finish. If you go to see this film, stick around until the end. "Reloaded" broadens the world set up by the first movie, brings us some cosmic ideas about free will, and throws in some fun homages to other movies/stories that you'll have fun spotting. But the special effects are what makes this, in my opinion, among the best action movies ever. Yeah, there's an excess of violence, including some pretty severe car wrecks, but nothing that will make you think about Columbine. I can't imagine how much time and expense went into creating some of these action scenes. I'm beginning to wonder if there is anything that can't be done with the help of computer effects. Interestingly, the Matrix story hinges on the premise that computers can be programmed to recreate an entire world unto itself. And that's what the filmmakers have done.

Oh yeah, there's also a scene in which a slice of chocolate cake is "programmed" to give a beautiful woman an orgasm.

Anybody know a recipe for cake like this?

- Daryl

Saturday, May 17, 2003 | #
Has it really been six years?

It's prom weekend across much of the country. Time for us older kids to tell our horror stories. I skipped prom as a junior, and planned to skip it again as a senior. But at the last minute, a friend set me up with one of her friends as my date. I didn't know this girl, but it was worth a shot. I rented a cheap tux, bought a cheap corsage, and picked her up prom night with the station wagon (a Dodge Aries). At her house, her mom opened the door holding a video camera. I was mortified. After an awkward but polite exchange with her parents, I drove us to pick up two more of our friends. My date looked nice, with her hair done up and adorned with flowers. In the relative safety of a large group, we drove to dinner then to the reception hall that the school had rented. The prom committee had hired a DJ from the rap radio station, who played nothing but house music. None of us knew any of the songs. My date got distracted and abandoned me. I wandered around awkwardly (which could go without saying, since everything I did in high school was done awkwardly). Afterward, our group split up into our cars and drove to a school-sponsored all-night party at a sports gym near the school. I can't remember if my date went with me or not. But I do remember sitting with a bunch of guys who had been likewise abandoned, grimly eating Doritos and drinking Mountain Dew. Unspoken: We weren't the cool kids. We felt terrible.

Within a few weeks, we all left for college, seeing each other as a group of friends a few more times, then scattering and drifting apart. Prom is a confounding tradition, a celebration of sex and money. If I had to do it again, I would look at is as just a big party, and find some way to relax and enjoy myself. Prom is like a James Bond movie: the more you try to read into it, the less likely you are to enjoy it.

- Daryl

Friday, May 16, 2003 | #
Flood the zone

Journalists, who like nothing more than to talk about journalism, have a lot to say about Jayson Blair. He's the reporter who lied, cheated and stole his way onto the New York Times staff, and ultimately out of a job. I identify with Jayson a little bit because he's 27, he grew up near the suburbs where I grew up, he worked for his college newspaper at a university I considered attending, and he now lives just a few miles from me. It is a shame to see him crash and burn, taking some of The New York Times' reputation down with him.

Readers and news audiences are getting a good lesson in how newspapers work, and what happens when they fail. I can tell you that most newspapers don't give reporters nearly as much leeway as the Times gave Jayson. I mean, who lets their reporters expense blankets? Some people who dislike the Times predict there will be more fraud exposed at the paper and say the editor, Howell Raines, should step down. Raines' style is apparently to run an editor-driven paper (Editor to reporter: "Here's the story I want, got get it."), rather than a reporter-driven paper (Editor to reporter: "Get out there and bring me back the best story you can find."). I don't like that style, but most people realize the Times is an incredible product. No other paper is poised to take over the Times' role as the serious, general-interest national newspaper.

As for whether Jayson's race played a role in getting him so far at the Times, that misses the big part of the story. From what I've read, Jayson got as far as he did because he cheated. The most obvious question at the moment is this: What was he thinking? I mean, some reporters slip up now and then, but you just don't do what he did, regardless of whatever "personal problems" he was wrestling with. Compare his behavior to a doctor, unable to correctly diagnose a patient, who makes up a phony diagnosis and prescription. It's almost that reckless. When I worked in newspapers, I did honest work, and so did everyone I worked with, as far as I could tell. I can't really boast about my skills at covering small-town school board meetings, but I can sleep soundly at night knowing no indiscretions are going to come back to haunt me. I wonder how Jayson is sleeping these days.

- Daryl

Thursday, May 15, 2003 | #
A biker gang

Yesterday I took part in the rescheduled Bike Week commuter breakfast at the Brooklyn Bridge. Riders were invited to meet at 7:30 a.m. at Grand Army Plaza, which is at the other end of Prospect Park from where I live. I wasn't sure what I'd find when I got there. I thought about those spandex-clad speed demons on the racing bikes who zip past me as I'm huffing and puffing up the Bridge on my way to work in the mornings. I figured it would be a bunch of those guys. But no, it was a group of down-to-earth transit geeks who happen to like to ride. And they like to talk about roads. A lot. Everybody has a favorite route from the Slope to the Bridge. We followed a route that was new to me, along Carroll and President streets. It's not the fastest ride, but we crossed a bright blue one-lane bridge over the Gowanus Canal and passed a strange house that has been built inside an old oil tank. At the Brooklyn Bridge, we stopped on one of the observation platforms for a breakfast of muffins and juice. Folks from Transportation Alternatives handed out free maps, bells, blinking red lights, the works. If this ride/breakfast had gone as scheduled, our beloved borough manager Marty Markowitz would have been along. Alas, Marty Mark's funky schedule prevented him from joining us this time. But it was good trip anyway.

Tomorrow: More thoughts on Jayson Blair, Brooklyn's own self-destructing reporter.

- Daryl

Wednesday, May 14, 2003 | #
Quiet time

A few months ago, I brought home a freebie clock from work and put it up in my kitchen. It's a battery-operated plastic wall clock, and it has a pendulum that makes a quiet ticking sound as it swings. Rarely do I hear it. Usually, I have the radio or the TV on, or I have a guest, or I'm on the phone, or whatever. I've been so busy rushing around lately that I haven't had much quiet time in my apartment. Last night (after "American Idol" and "24," naturally) I decided to turn off the radio and the TV. I made some repairs to my bike. I sat on the sofa and read a book. I pet Sterling, who purred quietly. And I heard to that ticking clock for the first time in months. For some reason, I find this to be a very comforting sound. Maybe it reminds me of my grandparents' house, where there's a mechanical clock in almost every room. Maybe it's nice to concentrate on a sound that isn't a car alarm, a fire engine, or the brakes on a subway train. Or maybe it's just the silence, broken only by that soft background rhythm, that puts my mind at ease.

- Daryl

Tuesday, May 13, 2003 | #
Dear Strong Bad...

I don't think anybody knows much about Homestar Runner. Who makes it? Who is it for? What on earth is Strong Bad supposed to be? I'm getting ahead of myself. We do know that Homestar Runner is an entertaining web site of short Flash cartoons. It's updated at least once a week, and has no advertising. The site seems to have a big college following. Some of my favorites: First, Teen Girl Squad. And Strong Bad's e-mail is a good way to kill, oh, an hour or two. For starters, watch his Japanese Cartoon. It's all so strange it's hard to know what to make of it. It's clearly the work of someone with way too much time.

On an unrelated note*: Today the Treasury Department is supposed to introduce the new design for the $20 bill, coming this fall to an ATM near you.

* - Get it? Note!

- Daryl

Monday, May 12, 2003 | #
Odds and ends

I spent a nice weekend at home visiting friends and family. As always, I was as surprised by how many of you are using this home page to read about what's going on in my life. Knowing this gives me renewed enthusiasm for this project. Thank you all for reading.

To update something I mentioned last week, here's a remarkable article from yesterday's New York Times about Jayson Blair, the self-destructing reporter.

Also, I told a couple people recently that I thought the Martha Stewart made-for-TV movie was supposed to air yesterday. It's actually supposed to air on Monday the 19th. Set your VCRs.

- Daryl

Saturday, May 10, 2003 | #
It's the freakin' weekend

I'm in Maryland today and tomorrow. Happy Mother's Day.

Last night after work, we went to an Ethiopian restaurant called Ghenet. Being new to Ethiopian food, we were a little unprepared for how to eat it. Our waiter, before he served the food, brought us each a towel for cleaning our hands. We needed clean hands because the Ethiopian food is served without utensils, and we eat it by picking it up with our fingers. This is pretty messy food, too, like bean paste and stew. Fine with us. We ordered a combination dish, with some chicken, beef and assorted vegetables. It came with pieces of soft, flat bread for scooping. The meal was spicy and delicious. I probably mispronounced everything I ordered, but I am willing to be slightly embarrassed for the sake of good food.

One-sentence movie review for "Spirited Away," now on video: You're sure to like this award-winning Japanese-made Disney film if you appreciate beautiful animation, and you're on drugs.

- Daryl

Friday, May 9, 2003 | #
Hair ball

I usually trust Tom and Ben to keep me up-to-date with the latest sports gossip (you guys are great!) but both of them recently overlooked what seems like one of the biggest scandals in the history of sport.

Here it is: Rey Sanchez got his hair cut in the bullpen during a baseball game. If you've never heard of Rey Sanchez, that's because he plays for a team called the New York Mets. And if you don't understand why this is a big deal, think about what would happen if you went to work, sat down at your desk, and proceeded to get a haircut. The tabloids love this "hairgate" story because it's easy to write headlines for it. ("HAIR CLUB FOR METS," "BARBER OF SHEA-VILLE," "SHEAR NONSENSE.") The New York Post pegged one particular player — Armando Benitez — as the ballclub barber, but Benitez denies it. Might this be the Post's worst baseball error since Page Six "outed" Mike Piazza? It's a close shave.

This weekend: Off to Maryland.

- Daryl

Thursday, May 8, 2003 | #
Maybe you had to be there

Jess and I made a list of things that are always funny:

  • Chimpanzees smoking cigarettes
  • Talking animals
  • White people acting black
  • Guys getting hit in the crotch
  • People accidentally handcuffed together
  • Midgets. With mullets.
  • Any joke with the punch line: "Liquor? I barely know her!"
  • Pie fights
  • Anything said with an Australian accent, but especially the word "Crikey!"
  • Small children swearing
  • Robots playing hockey
  • Any joke with the punch line: "Rectum? Hell, it killed 'em!"
  • Cross-dressing
  • Mistaken identity, especially when it comes to identical twins
  • Boxing kangaroos
  • People shaking up soda cans and then giving them to other people to open
  • Switching the signs on restroom doors
  • Any celebrity being attacked by an animal
  • Any pop song sung by Kermit the Frog

- Daryl

Wednesday, May 7, 2003 | #
The "copy" desk

For the past week, we've been reading about disgraced New York Times reporter Jayson Blair. This is the guy who essentially rewrote a fine story from the San Antonio Express-News and got it published on A1 of the Times under his name, without attribution. He resigned when the paper determined that he basically coppied the whole thing, a grave ethics violation. Now it seems that Blair — a 27-year-old reporter who edited the Diamondback as a University of Maryland student, dropped out of college, and went right to the New York Times through an internship program — made some other high-profile errors as well. If you're interested, you should read this Washington City Paper story.

I think the only conclusion you can draw from this case is that Jayson Blair was a bad apple who tried to cheat his way to the top. I've never met a reporter who I think would make up a story. Whatever their other flaws, most reporters are painfully honest about their work.

- Daryl

Tuesday, May 6, 2003 | #
Love Photoshop, hate Photoshop

I was up late on a Pepsi-fueled web design binge, trying to get a web site made for my church. Nothing looks good. I hate it when this happens. I did four layouts in Photoshop before I called it quits. I think I'm just going to settle on the 4th design and do the coding tonight. Okay, I can tell you're not interested. Moving along.

Last week, I praised The Notepad, the new presidential campaign page from the The Note. Well, it was too good to be true. The Note has put the Notepad "into hiatus." The explanation? "Although it seems to be enormously popular with our readers, and at least one campaign, many of the other campaigns find churning out 200 words a day to reach Note readers to be arduous beyond belief." Boo.

Here's a sad story about a Lutheran church in Maine that belongs either on the Prarie Home Companion radio program or in a Coen brothers' movie.

- Daryl

Monday, May 5, 2003 | #
About fleas and an old man

Every Saturday and Sunday, dozens of antiques vendors set up a flea market around the intersection of 25th Street and 6th Avenue in Chelsea. We went yesterday to check it out. I was in search of a filing cabinet, which remained elusive. It was easy, though, to have fun browsing the heaps of unusual wares, much of it expensive and wonderful junk. I bought a broken chandelier for $10, dreaming that I might be able to repair it and hang it from my kitchen ceiling. Jess bought a cute skirt with a frog on it. Our friend Sarah tried on a few things but didn't buy anything. There's another flea market now open in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, on West 39th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues. I'll let you know if we get over there to check it out.

Also, I should note that I'm saddened about the death of the Old Man of the Mountain. Here's the AP report. I drove up to Franconia a few times in 2001, after I went temporarily insane and moved to New Hampshire. The Old Man was a natural wonder, a roadside curiosity, a source of state pride, and a lucrative tourist attraction. The guys who were in charge of preserving this rock formation should be fired, except that, well, they've already lost their job.

- Daryl

Sunday, May 4, 2003 | #
Change is good

Yesterday I did laundry, and cashed in one of my extra laundry computer cards for the $2 deposit, which came in the form of Sacagawea dollar coins. Eh. I met up with Jess in the afternoon and we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to the South Street Seaport, where we enjoyed some tourist-grade seafood served on plastic plates. After a stop through Central Park, we ended up Rodeo Bar, which, as far as we know, is the only country music-themed bar in the entire city. A rockabilly band called Three Bad Jacks was playing, but we couldn't see them from where we were sitting at the bar. This was the first time I'd been out in a bar here since the smoking ban went into effect. The air in this place was shockingly clear and free of smoke. That felt slightly wrong, until I realized how much easier it was to breathe and how my clothes wouldn't stink later. As we drank and talked, I put down my Sacagawea's as the tip, first one, then the other. The first coin went totally unnoticed by the bartender, but when I put the second one down later she realized what was going on and smiled. So that's my gimmick now: I'm going to leave tips with dollar coins. I imagine bartenders are the only people who are happy to see those things.

Answer to yesterday's music trivia question: Willie Nelson turned 70 on Wednesday.

- Daryl

Saturday, May 3, 2003 | #
Ain't no drag

I just got (Dr. Pepper) home from seeing the new (Mazda) X-Men movie, "X2." Actually, despite the product placements and confusing allusions to comic book mumbo-jumbo, it was a pretty entertaining action movie. The opening fight scene has some of the best special effects I've seen.

I said I'd write today about the new Apple iTunes Music Store, so here's the bottom line: I love it. It's a brilliant product. Here's how it works. First, you need to download the latest version of iTunes, which is free. You need a Mac running OS X, but take heart, a version for Windows is due later in the year. With the new version of iTunes, you can search through a vast online music library just as you'd look at your own computer's library of music files. When you find a song you like, you can click to play a free 30 second preview of it, then click another button to download the whole thing for a charge of 99 cents. You can buy full albums at a discount. The songs are yours; they live on your hard drive. It's simple, addictive, and pretty comprehensive. Despite the lack of Beatles, Rolling Stones and Garth Brooks tunes, it's easy to find some classic R.E.M. or Alvin and the Chipmunks recordings. On my pokey dial-up connection, it works much faster than the shady (but free) file-swapping on Limewire. In honor of James Brown's 70th birthday today (or is it?), I decided to test the iTunes store by buying "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag." The song took about 20 minutes to download in the new ACC format, and it sounds great. I can't wait to try this service with a high speed connection.

Music trivia: In addition to James Brown, what other famous musician turned 70 this week? (Answer tomorrow.)

- Daryl

Friday, May 2, 2003 | #
Duly Noted

Two interesting things happened to the Internet this week. I'll write about one today and one tomorrow. Today, the Notepad. publishes a daily journal about political news called The Note. It is an acquired taste, packed with inside jokes, pop culture references, and journalism gossip. Monday, they introduced a new feature called The Notepad. The Notepad is a page where each of the presidential campaigns for 2004 can send in a brief message to share with the readers of The Note. So far, every campaign has been sending one message every day. This is really something: A breezy, funny note from each campaign, all in one place, every day. Sometimes even the candidates themselves write for the Notepad. I'm not really political, but I do enjoy reading about politics. It's interesting to compare the different styles of these candidates, and to be ready to make an informed decision when it's time to vote in 2004.

Oh wait. Unless you live in a state which (a) actually uses a primary, and (b) has its primary early in the year, your primary vote doesn't count. (New Hampshire and South Carolina, yes, New York and Maryland, no.) Some cash-strapped states are actually planning to cancel the 2004 primary election to save money! You'd know about this if you read The Note.

Tomorrow: A better written and more interesting journal (I hope) about the new Apple online music service.

- Daryl

Thursday, May 1, 2003 | #

I've just been staying at home doing nothing, not that it matters. Not much on my mind lately. Shrug. Today was a loss. I've just been letting everything pass me by recently. I've more or less been doing nothing.

Not! Actually, the entry above comes from the Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator. It's worth a few minutes of your time. Or not. Whatever.

- Daryl

More journals:Most recent
Apr 03 . Mar 03 . Feb 03 . Jan 03 . Dec 02 . Nov 02 . Oct 02 . Sep 02 . Aug 02 . Jul 02 . Jun 02 . Apr - May 02 . Jan - Mar 02 . Jul - Dec 01

Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania photo

The Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. Photographed 05.26.03, posted 05.27.03.

Brooklyn Bridge photo

The Brooklyn Bridge. - Photographed 05.01.03, posted 05.12.03

Fire Island Lighthouse photo

Mark Handforth's "Lamppost," on display at Central Park through June 6. - Photographed 05.01.03, posted 05.08.03

Cool songs
  • "Never Leave You" - Lumidee 05.20.03
  • "Crazy In Love" - Beyonce f/ Jay-Z 05.20.03