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Journal | Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | #
Party over oops outta time

For real, 2003 was bad news. The country went to war. The space shuttle crashed. So did the Staten Island Ferry. Johnny Cash died. So did Mister Rogers. We suffered an embarrassing power outage. The word "metrosexual" was unleashed on the world. We were introduced to Pepsi Vanilla and Sprite Remix. Jayson Blair made journalism look even worse, if that's possible. And Michael Jackson... oh my.

But casting all that aside, I had a good year. I began to feel at home in New York, and I've managed to keep my job and make some great friends. As I read over my journals from the last year, I'm struck by how much I left out. (Now's a good time to throw in my occasional disclaimer that this home page is a writing exercise I do for fun, not a diary of my life.) I hope you enjoyed reading about some of my joys and frustrations over the last year. And now, on with the countdown.

My ten favorite entries from 2003:
January 15: Dave wants to be a millionaire
February 9: Food, clothing, shelter, and stories
March 31: Hello Harrisburg
June 16: Rapid transit
June 18: Segway or the highway
August 14: Blackout '03
September 22: Dalaiwood
October 14: Simply dazzling
November 19: Me against the mucus
December 15: Spider in the hole!

See you next year.

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, December 30, 2003 | #
Holiday leftovers

Christmas Eve, I was in Baltimore and saw Tiffany and some other friends from high school. Christina was there, visiting from Australia, where she's lived since high school. She and her boyfriend, Adam, are traveling around the world, and were bound for New York next. They accepted my offer to give them a ride, and so together we battled the Sunday traffic up I-95, my car loaded down with luggage and Christmas gifts. It was good to catch up and chat about the differences between Australia and the U.S. Adam asked why Americans are always beating up on New Jersey; we did our best to explain. I corrected a few old pieces of information in their Lonely Planet USA guidebook (MoMA moved to Queens, the Airtrain is the best way to JFK) and answered their questions about the World Trade Center site.

... I went out Saturday night in Dupont Circle with Mary, plus Millie, Sabrina, Augie, and some other folks. We had drinks at a bookstore/coffee shop where a guy named Hurricane Howie played the piano and we had to get tokens from the waitstaff in order to unlock the bathrooms. ("You only need one token if you go together," the waiter told Augie and I.)

... I was happy to see my family this Christmas; everyone seems to be doing well. Sterling, however, was disappointed that Santa brought him none of the items on his gift list. (He asked for a Vespa scooter, an Italian leather sofa, an armor-plated Lincoln Navigator, and an apartment on Park Avenue.)

...Tomorrow: The best of 2003.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, December 29, 2003 | #
My mind is in the gutter

Outlined against a blue-gray December sky, the Four Horsemen rode toward Severna Park Lanes. Their names were Doug, Ben, Gerritt, and Daryl.

We sauntered into the bowling alley early Saturday afternoon, wallets bursting with Christmas cash, mouths thirsty for the chance to topple pins, guts hungry for greasy pizza. We knew the risks, but cast fear aside as we approached the counter. "Any duckpin lanes open?" we demanded. The clerk ventured a sideways glance. "Lane 15," she said. "As long as you don't mind being around children." Children? Nothing would stand between us and our mission: to challenge Maryland's oft-ignored pasttime, duckpin bowling.

Duckpin. With a diminutive bowling ball the size of a grapefruit. With pins so small they seem to be extremely far away. Shoes laced and game faces on, we walked up to the line, one by one, to challenge these tiny pins, casting the ball into bowling no-mans land, waiting for the satisfying clatter of a strike. One by one, we shrank in defeat. Even with fire in our eyes and passion in our hearts, those pins proved to be tough targets. Breaking 100 was an accomplishment.

Humbled, we retreated to Gerritt's car and drove home to eat Christmas cookies. Some day, when the winds change, we might return to challenge the mighty duckpins. Look for me at lane 15. I bowl under the name Ice Cold.

...Many more stories from the holiday in Maryland, but no time to recap them all.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, December 24, 2003 | #
O little town of Baltimore

I am leaving this morning to drive to Maryland for the weekend. Merry Christmas! The home page goes on vacation, but updates will resume on Monday.

Mean time, if you need a bit of goofy holiday cheer, check out the music video to "Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)" by The Darkness. Here's the web site; click on the "multimedia" button to play the video. This tune is a big hit in the U.K.

Too all of you: Have a safe and joyful holiday. Be kind to your family, don't drink and drive, and stay away from mad cows.

God bless us every one.

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, December 23, 2003 | #
Special of the day

Sunday night, as I cleaned out my freezer, I discovered a mysterious plastic tub of something orange. It looked pulpy and vaguely tomato-based. I knew it hadn't been in there very long, but I didn't remember cooking it. Could it be some kind of curry? Might it be soup? Was there a piece of chicken or fish encapsulated somewhere inside that block of frozen sauce? I was stumped. Whatever it was, it looked reasonably fresh, so I moved it to the fridge to thaw out. I figured I'd eat it for dinner Monday, assuming it was any good.

Monday night rolled around, and when I got home I put the tub of food in the microwave. While it cooked, I began to look for some rice I could boil to go with this mystery dinner. Still, it bothered me that I couldn't identify this orange food. After two minutes, I opened the microwave to unveil what was to be my dinner. Cautiously, I opened the lid and took a good whiff. It was immediately clear what I had. I'd recognize that smell anywhere.

Pumpkin pie filling.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, December 22, 2003 | #
Orange Christmas

Just in case you were starting to get complacent, the government has raised our terror threat level to orange. So, you know, start opening your mailbox slowly, and checking your boots for scorpions, or whatever it is we're supposed to do. Turning to more (ahem) uplifting terrorism-related news, have you seen the new design for the Freedom Tower to be built at the World Trade Center site? It looks like a fine building, actually. What puzzles me most is the power-generating wind turbines the architects have designed to go at the top of the building. I don't think I've ever seen a place where a windmill was designed as part of a building. I wonder if these windmills might quickly go obsolete, and leave us all snickering at them in a few decades. I do like the idea of erecting the world's tallest building here in New York, where there is a proud tradition of building the biggest stuff we can. Not all New Yorkers like this, however, for fear it this tall building will be creating a big, fat target for terrorism. (Remember, the Twin Towers were bombed in 1993, too.) I also wonder, if women were in charge of this project, what's the likelihood they would have produced a plan to build a 1,776-foot-tall spike? Enough said.

... Conspiracy theory: Could this story possibly be true?

- Daryl

Journal | Sunday, December 21, 2003 | #
Wintry mix

How does a relaxing Saturday suddenly become so busy? Well, I had to get an oil change before my drive to Maryland Wednesday. (P.S. - Anybody want to buy a Subaru?) Then I had to do my laundry. While my laundry was spinning, I made a quick trip to Eckerd to buy Christmas wrapping stuff and contact lens solution. Idiotically, I left my laundry card in the washing machine at the laundromat, so when my clothes were finished, the washer automatically deducted another $1.75 and washed them again! About that time, my friend Millie called, and we made plans to go to P.C. Richard to buy an network adaptor for her laptop computer. (The design geniuses at Gateway made a laptop case with a terrible plastic fin that sticks out and makes it impossible to plug in some laptop Ethernet cards.) Then we cooked fish for dinner and watched "Airplane!" at my place. My phone kept ringing yesterday evening for some reason. Cheryl called and invited me out to Kensington for a Christmas party at Roland and Sue's place. They actually have an apartment big enough for a real Christmas tree. How nice to see a New York apartment that feels like a real home, not like a dorm! Got to see Cheryl and Antonio and Leslie and Brian and — all the way from Akron, Ohio! — LeAnn and Clint. Busy day.

... My company is offering a program for 2004 in which we can opt to "buy" an extra week of vacation time. Effectively, this is like being allowed to take a week off unpaid, which we cannot do right now. I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to get the extra week. Hmm.

- Daryl

Journal | Saturday, December 20, 2003 | #
Read the movie, watch the book

Today, we return to the "Lord of the Rings: Return of the King," the new movie I ripped apart on Thursday. After hearing from many, many people about this, I think I understand why some people love these movies and some people hate them: These movies, while flawlessly produced, do not stand on their own. They are a complement to the books. The films actually make the books better. If you've read the books, you'll understand and enjoy the movies. If you haven't read the books, like me, you'll be as lost as a hobbit in the wilderness. It's hopelessly confusing. The Lord of the Rings movies, by requiring the viewer do a little bit of advance research, reward people who take the series seriously and punish those who don't, hence the divide over people who love/hate it. This theory holds up, mostly. I did talk to a few people who said they love the movies but never read the books. They must be on drugs.

... If you're in the mood for something light, everybody loves the snow globe. (Requires Shockwave.)

... If you're in the mood for something heavy, ponder this essay on the BBC web site in which a anti-death-penalty philospher discusses the morality of executing Saddam Hussein.

- Daryl

Journal | Friday, December 19, 2003 | #
Beckham:metrosexual :: Amélie:quirkyalone

Ping! Ping! Ping! That's the sound of a new blip on the word sonar. Up periscope! The new word is: Quirkyalone. (Credit goes to Fiona for bringing this one to my attention.) The word quirkyalone describes romantic-hearted people who prefer to remain single, but who would consider entering a relationship if the absolutely perfect person came along. You can read all about quirkyalones in this essay by Sasha Cagen, a writer who coined this word and has a new book on the subject.

As for me, I can't be quirkyalone because, as the above web site clearly states, quirkyalones have vibrators. (I don't.) Begging the question: Must you be female to be quirkyalone? One answer here, and another here. I think in spirit, this is a word for girls, not boys, because boys aren't supposed to care about this sort of thing.

"Quirkyalone" (in addition to sounding a lot like the phrase "ironic flirty") reminds me of an old-fashioned word sometimes used to explain the same thing: shy. There's also something about the word "quirkyalone" that stinks of self-obsession, which is the same problem I have with the guys-only word "metrosexual". I tend to be wary of labels, believing that people are more complicated than words. Down periscope!

... Check out the construction pictures of the new Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, a project my dad's engineering company helped design.

... On tomorrow's journal: More thoughts on The Lord of the Rings, including a spectacularly obvious explanation for why some people love it and some hate it. (It's so simple, I should have thought of it immediately.) Until then, check out yesterday's journal and send me some more e-mails with your opinions.

- Daryl

Journal | Thursday, December 18, 2003 | #
Bored of the rings

I saw "Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" last night, a movie that's been getting fantastic reviews. A sweeping epic, spectacularly told, best film of the year, a monumental achievement of a golden age in American cinema. It features groundbreaking visuals and stirring dialogue like "I'm gonna bleed you like a stuck pig."

Oh, who am I kidding. I hated it. Just terrible. I know I sound like a grouch and a whiner, but I just don't get these movies. By the time the third hour of this 201-minute special effects schlock-fest rolled around, I'd had enough. I put my head down and tried to sleep. This proved impossible because, anticipating this very problem, I had been guzzling a 44-ounce Cherry Coke since the start of the film, and was too hepped up on sugar and caffeine to nod off. Instead, I drifted away in my own thoughts and worried about bills I have to pay, people I need to call, and gifts I need to wrap. In other words, the very things we go to a movie to escape from. I heard a man snoring loudly just in front of us, and some similarly bored guys behind us snickering at every mildly homoerotic reference in the movie (and there are plenty). On the good side, the movie does have some cool dragons, the scenery is gorgeous, and I like Gandolf. But I still have no idea what the plot is about. Why are they fighting? Who are the orks and what do they want? What makes the good guys good? What's that big creepy eye, and what does it have to do with Frodo's ring? How come everybody wears shoes except the hobbits? How come everybody likes this movie except me? Since I wasn't paying any attention, I have no idea how it ends. What a waste of my time.

I knew damn well what I was getting myself into. I'd already seen the first two "Lord of the Rings" movies on DVD, and I couldn't muster the patience to finish either of them. I was hoping this third installment would be better. But by the time the blessed words "The End" appeared on the movie screen, I was simply angry. I wasn't angry at my friends for inviting me, or even angry at the movie. I was angry at myself for buying into the hype. And angry that I had convinced myself that this time I would be different; that I'd be able to pay attention.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, December 17, 2003 | #
I go where the "in" crowd goes

Rule Number One for living in New York: The crowd is always right. New Yorkers are so used to mob behavior that they get good at it, and a crowd creates a collective knowledge greater than its individual members. As with birds flying south, follow the crowd and you'll get where you need to be. If you see a line, stand in it. If you wind up some place where there aren't any people, there must be something wrong; get out of there. Lately, I've been learning some exceptions to this rule. Do not follow the crowd in December, when Manhattan is packed with hoards of tourists who don't know where they're going. Tourists dilute the mob, making it less effective at spontaneous group decision-making. Yesterday, while waiting for a light to change so I could cross 34th Street, I watched a big crowd of people step forward into the crosswalk. I almost followed them, until I realized they had stepped directly in the path of a fast-moving city bus. The bus operator hit the brakes and beeped the horn, and the crowd scattered the way roaches do when you turn on a light in the kitchen. So, I propose a Corollary to New York Rule Number One: The crowd is usually right, but is less so in December, and grows more likely to be wrong the closer it is to a major attraction such as the Empire State Building. Trust the crowd — but verify.

... There's a movie being filmed this week at the Starrett-Lehigh Building in Manhattan, where my office is. The film is "Stay," described as a supernatural thriller staring Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. If I bump into Ewan in the elevator, I'll be sure to tell him I enjoyed his performance in "Big Fish," an excellent Tim Burton flick I saw on Saturday with my mom. I doubt I'll see him, though. J-Lo and Ben were doing a photo shoot at a studio in our building two weeks ago, and we saw no sign of either of them. (Though a building employee identified a black Lincoln parked out front as their car.)

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, December 16, 2003 | #
U-bet your life

A great Brooklyn product is Fox's U-Bet Chocolate Syrup. It makes a mean cup of chocolate milk, though this syrup is most commonly used for the borough's unofficial official drink, the egg cream (ingredients: seltzer, milk, chocolate). U-bet is what they use in the egg creams at Junior's, the most famous diner-style restaurant around. I can't find U-bet everywhere, but it's usually available at my Pathmark. I bought a bottle and brought it into work, where we've been using it to mix up some chocolate milk and chocolate sodas at lunch. A hit? U-bet it is.

...More today on the amazing spider hole: Andy Bowers of Slate writes an explainer on the subject. Libby Copeland writes a story about spider holes in the Washington Post's Style section. Language expert William Safire briefly mentioned the history of the spider hole in a shockingly pompous New York Times column yesterday.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, December 15, 2003 | #
Spider in the hole!

"After uncovering the spider hole, a search was conducted and Saddam Hussein was found hiding at the bottom of the hole. The spider hole is about six to eight feet deep and allows enough space for a person to lie down inside of it." - Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, allied military commander in Iraq, at a Dec. 14 news conference.

Instantly, one question lept to everyone's lips: What the dickens is a spider hole? I asked some friends on IM.

...

DarylInTheUSA: What is a spider hole?
copybabe23: they are like the tunnels spiders dig
copybabe23: duh
copybabe23: *lol*
copybabe23: hold on, maybe i can find a pic
DarylInTheUSA: You don't know either!!
copybabe23: i do
copybabe23: i know from military stuff and from studying spiders
copybabe23: i *hate* spiders

...

DarylInTheUSA: So I'm asking everybody: What is a spider hole?
TheUgaBug: that's what i've been wondering
TheUgaBug: i'm assuming just a hole in the ground that isn't too deep but is narrow
DarylInTheUSA: So it's just a small hole?
TheUgaBug: yeah, that was my impression
TheUgaBug: just a hole in the ground. different from groundhog hole in that it's not long and complex
DarylInTheUSA: Hmm. Interesting.
TheUgaBug: but not a big falling-in-hole
TheUgaBug: such that something like a tunnel or trapdoor spider would inhabit
TheUgaBug: you didn't know what one was?
DarylInTheUSA: Not exactly. I'd never heard that term used before. Gopher hole, sure. Rabbit hole. Maybe even ant hole. But spider hole? Spiders build webs.
TheUgaBug: true, but often those webs are in holes
TheUgaBug: only orb spiders make those big pretty ones, the rest tend to be rather, uh, holy
TheUgaBug: or line a hole with webbing and use the webbing as more a carpet than fly paper
TheUgaBug: trapdoor spiders are pretty neat, they just use the webbing to hold dirt together for the door for their hole
TheUgaBug: then there's wolf spiders and jumping spiders, which have neither holes nor webs, but roam free, like eight legged predatory venemous buffalo
DarylInTheUSA: How do you know so much about spiders?
TheUgaBug: i'm a big arthropod fan

...

DarylInTheUSA: Question: What is a spider hole?
TimSwift79: it's a term from the Vietnam war
DarylInTheUSA: Meaning what? An underground hideout?
TimSwift79: well the Cu Chi Tunnels were crude handmade holes that spread out much like the arms of a spider
TimSwift79: I think in the case of Saddam the term isn't the most accurate to describe the hideout
TimSwift79: oh and it's also jargon in the pinball industry
TimSwift79: for a certain kind of obstacke hole
DarylInTheUSA: You just knew this??
TimSwift79: nope I goggled it to double check my answer
TimSwift79: oh also adding to the Vietnam theory
TimSwift79: The VC would dig a hole, lower into it a large clay jar (typically used to hold fresh water) and cover this with a hinged lid that was undetectable when covered correctly. The lids swung open easily and provided a bullet-proof wall with it's thick wood. But imagine the life of the VC living in the spider hole. If the jar ever broke (and even when it didn't), the hole became instantly shared with the poisonous snakes and spiders and filled with water.

...

DarylInTheUSA: Question: What is a spider hole?
Brianwaksmunski: that is not a military term. that is just another way of subtley demeaning him
Brianwaksmunski: but I get the idea its not straight down, what I've seen as the layout confuses me a bit
DarylInTheUSA: Ah, okay. I'd never heard of it, and it's not in my dictionary.
DarylInTheUSA: Tim is telling me that it's a term from the Vietnam war.
Brianwaksmunski: okay, I believe it.

...

DarylInTheUSA: So I'm asking everyone: What is a spider hole?
Gritman: the thing Sadam was hiding in?
DarylInTheUSA: Right. But what does that term mean?
Gritman: spiders like tarantulas dig holes with webs in the bottom and wait for insects to fall down in them and get trapped, then they eat them...
Gritman: I'm not sure why they chose to use that term to describe Sadam's hole though
Gritman: because it wasn't a very effective trap

- Daryl

Journal | Sunday, December 14, 2003 | #
Who invited all these tacky people?

Today's journal entry comes from my mom, who is visiting from Baltimore. - Daryl

Yesterday, my personal tour guide, Daryl, showed me the "BIG APPLE". We saw some exciting art work at MOMA, and then we went to Canal Street, along with a few other individuals from around the world. I really can't remember being in such a crowded place. It was fun and interesting, though. I once heard that if everyone in NYC came out of the buildings at once, there wouldn't be room for everyone in the streets. Well, yesterday, everyone came out of the buildings and into the streets. Add to that all the folks with money burning holes in their pockets who came from anywhere within a few hours drive to shop. The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was truly a beautiful sight. After all the walking, we saw "Big Fish". An interesting movie that leaves you wondering what it was really all about. As is the case every time I come to NY, I marvel how it all functions. And, as is the case every time I visit Daryl, I had lots of fun and saw many interesting things.

Best wishes to everyone for a peaceful, happy, and healthy Holiday.

Right now...it's snowing!! Will there be school tomorrow?

- Eileen

Journal | Saturday, December 13, 2003 | #
Christmas tree ethics

Two of my friends, separately, have mentioned recently that they're opposed to live Christmas trees for ethical reasons. It's wrong, they say, to kill a live thing for a decoration, then throw it away. With all respect to my friends, and with the understanding that I usually support environmental causes, this is a ridiculous notion. Consider how many forests are logged to produce the paper that goes into the books that fill our bookshelves and the newspapers and magazines we read daily. Now consider the Christmas tree farmers, who must plant and cultivate their crops for years before they can be harvested and sold. Most of the tree farmers I've met (I met lots of them while covering holiday stories for newspapers) are local, independent farmers who care very much about the environment. Cutting down a Christmas tree for a decoration is no more harmful to the environment than cutting down a cornfield for food, and no more unethical than using cut flowers as a table centerpiece.

I will concede one point here, though. Christmas trees generate an awful lot of waste. Some communities, including New York City, have tree mulching programs, which turn trees into something useful rather than letting them rot in a landfill. For those of you who prefer an artificial tree, I suggest the excellent line of Martha Stewart Everyday Holiday trees, now available at your neighborhood K-Mart retailer.

- Daryl

Journal | Friday, December 12, 2003 | #
The waiting is the hardest part

Remeber the music CD settlement from a couple of months ago? As the result of a lawsuit, CD customers were each entitled to a check for some small amount, likely to be $5 or $10. (See this journal.) All we had to do was apply online. We did, and we kicked back and waited anxiously for our windfall. Every day, with renewed excitement, we check the mailbox, hoping this will be the day our luck turns around. And every day, crushing disappointment. Has anybody gotten a check yet? Not me. The industry's web site was last updated in August, when a message appeared saying there was an appeal in progress, and the checks cannot go out until it was settled. Well, get on with it!

... A few months ago, in a step that fell slightly short of brilliant, the city of New York decided to cut back our recycling to every other week. They mass-mailed a bunch of maps and calendars that explained which week we'll should put our recyclables out for collection. Unfortunately, my building super got it all flipped around. She thinks we're on the opposite schedule. When I put my recycling out Wednesday, along with everyone else on our block, a stern letter appeared taped up in our hallway to reprimand whomever put his recycling out on the wrong day. Hrmph. I am so certain I am right that I would stake my music CD settlement check on it.

... My mom is riding the train from Baltimore this afternoon to visit me for the weekend.

- Daryl

Journal | Thursday, December 11, 2003 | #
Driving rain

I'll spare you the journal entry I wrote at 1:55 a.m. this morning (but did not post) after returning from the office holiday party. Instead, I'm going to complain briefly about alternate-side parking rules. Between now and when I go to work, I've got to find a new parking space somewhere on a non-Thursday side of the street. This will probably involve 10 or 15 minutes of driving around aimlessly in the pouring rain. Of course, I bring this fate upon myself by trying to keep a car in the city. Arrgh.

... Someone else thinks the word killographic is funny. (Thanks to Renée for the link.)

... Prime-time news: New number discovered.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, December 10, 2003 | #
Yukon Cornelius scores again

Something must have happened to television before I was born that rendered TV networks incapable of producing good Christmas specials. How else can we explain why TV runs the same old shows every year, occasionally adding some half-assed made-for-TV Christmas movie that airs once then disappears forever? Last night, I watched Burl Ives' "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" on CBS, which first aired in 1964. I hadn't seen this show in a few years, but was surprised by how good it is. The songs are cheesy and the stop-motion animation is jerky, but this cartoon is simply filled with joy. "Pull up an ice block and lend an ear," beings Ives, the singing snowman, and suddenly we're off to the north pole. I don't know the history of how "Rudolph" got made, but you can tell that the people who made it were having a great time. It's influential enough that recent films like "Monsters, Inc." and "Mars Attacks" pay homage to it. "Rudolph" introduced us to Island of Misfit Toys, a slightly subversive twist to the Santa story. The "misfits" can stand for any outcast group you wish and it still works — just like the mutants in the recent X-Men movies. Plus this cartoon is so humble, even Santa himself acknowledges that the songs are bad. "How can I eat?" he bellows. "That elf song is driving me crazy!"

...Language alert. Here's your new word to learn today: killographic n: The graphic depiction of brutal violence; esp: in video games.

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, December 9, 2003 | #
Shout! Out!

Today, as I ought to do more often, I bring you a roundup of what's on a few other people's web sites.

Brother Gerritt writes about snow, cars, and the word berm.

Tom actually tries to make some sense of the BCS.

Jess on fashion.

Ned enlightens us on bad-ass Chinese writers.

Millie keeps us up to date with the ACLU and her Washington Post inteview with Mary Ellen.

... On another random note, these are really good crackers! → Salsa and Cheddar Doubles Cheese Nips

- Daryl

Rockfeller Center Christmas Tree Journal | Monday, December 8, 2003 | #
O Tannenbaum

A photo taken yesterday of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. Happy holidays!

... I have a letter to the editor in the Collegian today. (Here's the story I was responding to, today's update, and more letters.)

- Daryl

Journal | Sunday, December 7, 2003 | #
Spectacular spectacular

The last time I tried to host a party in New York, the whole city was crippled by a massive power outage. When I tried again yesterday, a blizzard buried the city under a foot of snow. Still, six of my friends made it out to The Gate in Park Slope to share some drinks at something that resembled a birthday party. We had a fun time; thanks guys. Of course, I'm afraid that the next time I try invite people together, it will end up being the Great Brooklyn Fire of 2004 or something.

... My stepmom has invited me to see the Radio City Christmas Spectacular this afternoon. While I'm there, I hope to get a photo of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree to post here tomorrow.

- Daryl

Greyhound bus in the snow

Journal | Saturday, December 6, 2003 | #
In the lane snow is glistening

Here's a picture of the snow falling on the West Side Highway yesterday during lunch time. By rush hour, the city was gridlocked. I spent Friday evening at an enjoyable dinner party hosted by David "Joe" Heasty. (Menu: Eggplant parmesan, fusilli pasta, caesar salad, and pumpkin-chocolate pie.) Today, the weather service has issued a rare "blizzard warning" for this afternoon. Bring it!

... For more proof that some people just don't get it, read this story from yesterday's Collegian. Gaaah!

... Good news: My friend Pervin from London is coming to visit me in January. Yay!

- Daryl

Journal | Friday, December 5, 2003 | #
Time marches on

Who's your guess for Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2003? We could look to the world of politics first — President Bush? Gov. Dean? Gov. Schwarzenegger? Sen. Santorum? — but no one seems likely. The worlds of entertainment, science, and business don't seem to have produced any stand-out characters this year, have they? So let's consider the chance that the award might be given posthumously. Think about how many noteworthy people death has claimed 2003! We've lost Fred Rogers, Katharine Hepburn, Johnny Cash, Strom Thurmond, Bob Hope, Warren Zevon, Barry White, John Ritter, Robert Atkins, Gregory Peck, and more. Moreover, death keeps constant watch over two hugely important and seriously ill people who (let's be real here) might not make it to the end of 2003: Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II. Given this, the choice seems obvious. My suggestion for Time's Person of the Year: Death himself!

... The Grammy nominations were announced yesterday. Geek-rock hereos Fountains of Wayne are nominated for two awards, including, appallingly, Best New Artist. (Their first album came out eight years ago.)

... Winter storm warning, baby! As a public service, here's a link to the current radar map.

- Daryl

Journal | Thursday, December 4, 2003 | #
Santorum as a four-letter word

In January 2000, I had a polite encounter with U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. I spoke to him in the basement of a Lutheran church, where he was visiting a Meals-on-wheels program to donate some Florida oranges that he won in a football bet with Sen. Bob Graham. Sen. Santorum and I talked about nothing for a minute or two, I wrote down some canned quotes for the newspaper, and off he went, another unexciting politician. Lately, though, Sen. Santorum has been doing more than giving away oranges. In April, he gave an interview in which he said the Supreme Court shouldn't allow gay sex because doing so could lead to bigamy, polygamy, and incest. This remark, of course, could not stand.

Which brings us to Dan Savage, the nationally syndicated sex columnist who once tried to infect Gary Bauer with the flu. Savage, in a column a few months ago, published a suggestion to embarrass Sen. Santorum by inventing a new word — santorum — and defining it as a hitherto unnamed sexual fluid. Since then, Savage has made a game of trying to get the word santorum, and it's unappetizing definition, into everyday usage. Today, he plans to launch a web site* all about the topic, which probably will pop up on Google whenever someone searches for Sen. Santorum's name. If you want to read about the subject in more detail, here's Savage's latest column*.

* Not suitable for work computers, people with weak stomaches, or children under 24.

- Daryl

Journal | Wednesday, December 3, 2003 | #
More writing about winter

At 11 a.m. yesterday, a gust of snow suddenly blew out of New Jersey, over the Hudson River, and into Manhattan. The wind tossed it around until it coated everything like powdered sugar. (Or cocaine. Or anthrax. Okay, fine, I got no metaphor.) The dusting disappeared pretty quick, but it should have been enough to put the city in the right frame of mind for December. If not, well, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lights up at tonight at 8:55. You can see the tree this very instant on this live camera.

... I just learned that I share a birthday with affable hearthrob Clay Aiken. He is, shockingly, one year older than me.

... On Monday, I saw an airport bus on 10th Avenue with its sign proudly announcing: "Happy Valentine's Day!"

... The Park Slope Poetry Project yesterday was a fun time, though we need to get more people to show up. Ned was there, and reminded me that's he's got a new blog on his site; check it out.

- Daryl

Journal | Tuesday, December 2, 2003 | #
Seeing Si*Sé

I spent a chunk of my birthday money last night and went to a concert with Millie and Kiche. We saw Si*Sé, a bilingual Latin-rhythm pop group with a stunning lead singer named Carol C. The show was at a club in SoHo called S.O.B.'s, and we had loads of fun dancing, people-watching, and complaining about the bathroom attendants.

... If you're anywhere near Brooklyn tonight, you should stop by the first-ever installment of the Park Slope Poetry Project. It's at 7:30 at St. JME Lutheran Church on Prospect Avenue. I'll be there, and I promise I will not be reading poetry. Details here.

... And since you'll be at the poetry reading, you'll have to set your TiVo to catch "A Charlie Brown Christmas," which airs tonight at 8 on ABC.

- Daryl

Journal | Monday, December 1, 2003 | #
There's something about Maryland

Right then. So this is 24. Considering how much better 23 was than 22, this year should be stellar. I spent the final days of my 23rd year motoring around Maryland to visit friends and family over the Thanksgiving weekend. As usual, the holiday was a gluttonous battle between the forces of tryptophan and caffeine. Quality time was logged with Mary Ellen, Tim Swift, my bro G-Unit, my cousin Sandy, and of course the rest of you all who embarrass me by reading this page so loyally.

... During this trip, unlike visits in the past, I managed to steer clear of the Arundel Mills Mall. Friends tell me this mall has now become crowded to the point of uselessness, and not just on big shopping days. Routinely, every parking space fills up, and shoppers circle the mall's service road, gazing with sharp eyes for freshly open spaces like vultures in SUVs.

... To try next time I'm in Maryland: duckpin bowling.

- Daryl

Journal archive
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COOL SONGS
"A Long December" - Counting Crows - 12.31.03

"Mr. Blue Sky" - Electric Light Orchestra - 12.29.03

"Christmas Time (Don't Let The Bells End)" - The Darkness - 12.23.03

"The Chimpunk Song (Christmas Don't Be Late)" - The Chimpunks - 12.21.03

"All I Want for Christmas is You" - Mariah Carey - 12.14.03

"Jingle Bell Rock" - Bobby Helms - 12.12.03

"Feliz Navidad" - José Feliciano - 12.08.03

"Fuck It" - Eamon - 12.05.03

"1974" - Ryan Adams - 12.01.03

"Another Postcard" - Barenaked Ladies - 12.01.03