Tuesday, June 29, 2004


As I've noted in past postings, I find myself in almost constant transport from my home and Beaver County, home of the Cellar Dwellers. As I also have mentioned, traveling can lead to all sorts of adventures. Such was the case last Saturday.

I had left the triumphant improv show at the Copper dog - 4 paying customers, woohoo. It was fairly late, almost 12:30 am as I piloted my '93 Lumina - or 'The Silver Bullet' as I like to call it - through Rochester. I was almost out of Rochester when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the one sight sure to invoke terror in the mind of all motorist. I was being chased by Dan Akroyd. Just checking to see if you're paying attention. What my mirror really revealed was the flashing lights of a police officer.

Is there any more nerve racking event than being pulled over by the cops? Well, yes I guess there is. Trench warfare comes to mind. Still, getting pulled over always manages to be a good sucker punch experience. One minute you're driving along quite happily, feeling free. The next minute some guy with a mustache - they always have mustaches - is shining a flashlight in your face.

I tried to play it cool. I made a concerted effort to have all my paper work ready for the officer which was a fools errand. My glove box explodes like a party favor when opened. Papers fly everywhere. Every piece of paper work I have ever received for my car is in there. I have registrations dating back to the mid 70's. I don't know what car they belong to, but they're there. I was able to find my current registration. It was rolled in a ball under an ancient half full bag of Skittles.

I greeted the officer kindly, "Hello officer. How are you tonight. Beautiful night for a drive isn't it." I practically had to muzzle myself before I became just a little too friendly. I was half a step from saying: "Say officer, has anyone ever told you your an attractive man? You must work out." Remember, when talking to the police there is a fine line between polite and catching-a-beat-down-with-a-flashlight polite.

"You know I clocked going 50 back there," The officer said. "You were also a little erratic. You went over the double yellow and the white lines."

Crap, I thought to myself, looks like its alphabet backward time for James. But I'm sober. At least I think I'm sober. I only had 1-1.5 beers at Copper Dog. That was a couple hours ago. I couldn't be drunk. But what if they were super beers? What the hell's a super beer?

I remained quiet and tried my best too look sober, which I was. I offered him my license and registration. Always be helpful to the police when they pull you over. If you have food in the car offer it to them. "Oh," the officer said, "I also need your insurance card."

(flashback a couple of days:
my mother: James, your insurance card came in the mail.
me: Just leave it there. I'll get it.)

I didn't have my insurance card, the fine for - the officer tells me - is a 6 month suspension of your driver's license. I panic. I tell the officer I have it. I show him the most recent card freshly expired. He seems to understand. I can't tell. He's got a flashlight in my face.

"Where are you coming from?"

"The Copper Dog." I think it best not to lie. I was at a bar.

"Doing a little drinking were you?"

"Just one or two a couple hours ago. I was doing a show. I'm an actor."

"What kind of show?"

"Improv comedy. I'm a member of the Cellar Dwellers. Check out our website www.thecellardwellers.com" Did I just plug the Cellar Dwellers? Was that a good idea? The officer seemed to accept it. It was the truth.

Then, the officer went back to his cruiser.

Now, I have no idea what cops do when they take your paper work back into their car, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's nothing. They're just making you sweat. They're probably back there smoking a cigarette or brewing some coffee or shaving or playing the harmonica or doing any number of other inane pursuits while your left pondering your fate. I was sweating bullets. I needed my license. I can't afford to pay for a ticket. The ticket could be worth more than I am right now. I'd have to sell plasma just to make ends meet.

Eventually, the officer returns and a miracle happens. I swear it was a miracle. Little things like this confirm my belief in a loving God. The officer uttered those sweet, sweet little words: "I'm going to let you off with a warning." Praise God, hallelujah. I feel like singing. I feel like dancing. I want to hug the officer. I don't. It probably wouldn't have been the wisest of choices. I restrain myself. I do thank the officer and wish him a pleasant night. And then, just like that, I am free. I drive away with joy in my heart and less lead in my foot.


Thursday, June 24, 2004

Thursday Afternoon Car Chase

I was just about to spend another day bored out of my mind. I had spent the morning doing some designing, graphically of course, and had just left to visit my local Sheetz. When I got back home, Danny and I sat down with my dad to watch some Fox News over lunch. But wait... what's this? Breaking news? It's a CAR CHASE! The saving grace of any afternoon: a high speed car chase somewhere in California. Even better, it was a bank robbery and they were soaring on some freeway throwing money out of the window!

All three of us stopped and watched the screen. Danny started clapping in excitement. I tell ya, there is nothing that cheers me up more than some hella-sweet action that could wind up in disaster. This chase scene, which at first brought back fond memories of the O.J. chase, was going to be a good one too. There were three robbers speeding around in what appeared to be a Chrysler Pacifica, with about five cop cars following suit. What's even better is they were catching everything from helicopter cam!

The driver of this car was pretty crazy at times. He was all over the 8 lane super highway, and then he would take an exit and head into the urban areas of LA, including Compton (represent!), and then would loop around and get back on the freeway going in the other direction. Even better, he utilized the car pool lane! Not only was that smart, but it was also considerate, since he did have more than two passengers. After about fifteen minutes of driving all over LA, and after evading the police which weren't very smart, they wound up in this suburban area. The robbers pulled the car onto some lady's lawn and pulled this weird Chinese fire drill. The woman, who was a large African American, was standing on the corner screaming at the robbers... and then screaming at the cops... and then screaming at everything.

Two of the robbers gave up instantly. But the driver, who was a pretty hefty fellow wearing some O.G. football jersey, ran inside the house. There was a standoff for a little while, which was especially hilarious because this crazy woman was standing between the cops and the house, getting into the way of their pointed guns. Eventually the woman, whom I can only assume to be the driver's mother, talked the robber into coming out of the house and giving up.

Although I must say, judging from what I saw of the robbers... they didn't plan this well at all. They were all wearing normal street clothes, no suits or black ties, and none of them had masks. They obviously didn't have a good safe house, and obviously didn't have enough man power. If more robbers would just do their research and watch some movies they might get away with it once in a while.

But anyways...

What excitement! I tell ya, great car chases only happen every once in a while, much like comets or the Olympics. And just like the previously mentioned events, car chases are not to be missed. My day has been brightened because of these ridiculous robbers and their poor planning. Thank you, young vigilantes. Thank you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Avoiding existential Crisis at Wal-Mart

I had been aware for several weeks that my car was badly in need of two new tires. However, being unemployed and horribly destitute - funny how the two seem to go together - I was forced to drive the car as is. It wasn't too bad. There was a slight thrill to every car trip. I never knew when the tires would blow, possibly sending my car out of control. It's these little things which keep my life interesting. Today, thanks to a monetary donation to the Keep James Afloat Fund from my Aunt, I finally was able to buy new tires. Of course, I went to the cheapest place I could think of, Wal-Mart Supercenter. (Just let me say right now that I don't want any 'How could you support the evil, unfeeling, corporate behemoth' comments. Maybe I'll fight injustice when I get the cash - maybe - and right now Wal-Mart's being quite helpful in keeping cash in my pocket. Long live the free market.)

Upon arriving at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in lovely bucolic cranberry Pennsylvania. I was informed that it would take a little over an hour for them to get to and do the work on my car. So, I had little choice but to find a way to while away the time at Wal-Mart, there being nothing else within walking distance. This presented many problems, the chief of which being Malaise. I mean malaise in every sense of the word from boredom to the more existential sense of loss and dislocation. Wal-Mart is like a factory for these feelings, especially when I am alone there. Just looking at the people in Wal-Mart makes me feel more and more distant from my fellow man. How can I have anything in common with someone in a Dale Earnhardt jacket? How can I entertain myself for an entire hour?

I could feel it. The malaise stalking through the aisles - a black cloud ready to envelope me. I had to keep my wits about me, stay sharp. I'm not ready to embrace my malaise. I don't care to become authentic whatever that means. I read it somewhere.

I sat in the tire center waiting room for maybe 2 minutes. Just long enough to drink a cup of complimentary coffee. The waiting room was truly depressing: Colorless walls, torn vinyl chairs, 6 month old issues of better homes and gardens. One other guy was in there talking business on his cell phone. I secretly hoped he would make an inappropriate personal phone call, get in a fight with his wife or something. That would've entertained the sick part of me. But he only talked about tractor prices. I left the waiting room. The man never noted my entrance or exit.

So, I was left adrift in the consumer wasteland. I moved quickly, one aisle to the next section to section, leaving whenever I felt the first shiver of boredom or despair. I took my blood pressure. It was good. I was proud of myself for a minute as I look over the deodorant for no good reason. I played with the camcorders aiming the one attached to the TV up my nose for all walking by to enjoy.

I leafed through the latest copy of People. They listed the 50 most eligible bachelors. Some how I managed not to make the list again this year. They must not know I'm single. The guys starring in the upcoming film 'Harold And Kumar Go to White Castle' made the list, so I have my suspicions as to the viability of said list.

I made a game out of taking the bouncy balls out of the bin and throwing them back into the top. I would throw them from all angles, from behind obstacles. I even tried it from an aisle over. I almost got thrown out from that.

I browsed the hunting rifles, asking the clerk questions like "Do you have anything that will make a deer's head explode?" or "Do you have anything for a guy trying to compensate for something, if you know what I mean?" I almost got thrown out for that.

I looked at the toys. I wished they had some out so I could give them a try but they didn't. So, I opened a bag of marbles anyway. I tried to pick up games with some kids until their parents pulled them away. I almost got thrown out for that.

I pulled a bike off the rack to give it a test ride. I almost got thrown out for that.

I climbed up on a display section to try out some of the exercise equipment. I almost got thrown out for that.

I unfolded a camping chair and rolled out a cooler next to it. Then I chose a fishing pole from sporting goods and a goofy hat from the Men's section. I spent a good five minutes pretending to drink beer and fish. I almost got thrown out for that.

Almost getting thrown out ended up being the key to my morning. Walking that fine line between harmless fun and public nuisance proved quite rewarding. Testing the limits of acceptable behavior at Wal-Mart, I think someone could write a thesis on this. It gave my morning just enough of an edge to ward off malaise. In the end, I got two new tires, at least 6 warnings, and no existential crisis. Sounds like a good morning to me.


Monday, June 21, 2004

The Fog of War

If you have ever played a videogame that deals with war or fighting against a bunch of guys, you may know of a little feature called "Fog of War." Basically this is a thick fog that appears, limiting your view to only a close proximity to yourself. It's based off of the actual term "fog of war" which is used to describe the thick fog of soot and gunpowder that fills the air after an intense battle. In videogames, it's used so you don't watch every move the enemy makes, hence creating a little surprise and challenge. I was thinking about this odd concept the other day, and I was wondering what would happen if everyone had "fog of war" in real life.

No matter what time of day it is, no matter how good your glasses are, you can only see four feet in any one direction. Everything else just looks like a gray haze. Driving would be insane. I'm sure I would run over all sorts of animals, people, and rubber sports equipment that happens to wander in front of my Cougar. Parking would also be quite the bear, as my keen "empty-spot-spotting eye" would be totally useless. As would my "hidden police officer spotting eye." That's two eyes that are gone with the wind! Then again, losing the cops would be a little easier (although I'm sure their range of sight would be a little longer than mine... law enforcement bonus).

Walking around the mall would be a tad more enjoyable, since I wouldn't have to try as hard to avoid people I don't like. I only really have to panic when they get within a few feet of me. Muggers and Jehovah's Witnesses would be harder spot and defend against, on the other hand.

But if you are going to go the way of these videogames (the ones I have in mind are Age of Empires and Dynasty Warriors) then you could also employ some scouts. Get the shmuck on a horse to go ahead and see if they have any ripe bananas at Giant Eagle. He will come back with the word, or he would even distract the Jehovah's long enough for me to run in there and get the delicious yellow fruits.

Now that I think about it a bit, I'm glad that God turned off "fog of war" in the options menu when he was creating the world... well, you can probably see that my summer has been pretty boring thus far. I've got nothing better to do than think about videogames and watch MacGyver (who is freaking awesome, by the way.)

I Kinda heart NY

I just got back from New York. That's right, the Big Apple, media capital of the world, center for culture, the city that never sleeps. At least that's what I've been told. I spent almost all my time at my grandparents house in the suburbs, and trust me, my grandparents house definitely DOES sleep. I would even go as far as saying it slumbers. It's half a step away from slipping into a coma. Bed time's 8:30 and it's strictly enforced.

So, it's safe to say that I didn't exactly experience the thrill of New York City, despite being a mere stone's throw away. I missed the rush of the subway, the rhythm of the streets, the smell of the cabbies, but I wouldn't classify the trip as a loss. I learned all sorts of valuable things. Such as, it doesn't matter if you lose a ton of weight and everyone else thinks you look fantastic, an Italian grandmother will think you look awful. Apparently, despite being a healthy weight for my height, I'm dangerously thin. My grandmother kept looking at me as though I were a cancer patient. She would lurk in shadows waiting to pounce on me, brandishing a meatball sub like a shining sword of justice ready to plunge it into my unsuspecting mouth. I couldn't let my guard down for a second. I'd wake in the morning with inexplicable marinara on my chin and the taste of garlic on my tongue.

I also came to the realization that I can no longer really talk to my grandparents, I can only talk around them. It's not that there's some horrible generation gap separating us. My grandparents simply can't hear anymore. I'm sure that over the course of a full week they only understood maybe 20 percent of what I said. I know they have a horribly inaccurate idea of what my life is like. I just got tired of correcting them. There's only so many times I can repeat something and there's only so loud I can talk. I just let them think what they like. It's easier on all of us. Here's an actual exchange:

Grandma: So, you do plays?
Me: Well, actually it's sketch comedy.
G: What?
M: Sketch comedy?
G: What?
M: SKETCH COMEDY! Like Saturday Night Live.
G: You perform on Saturday?
M: Yeah, whatever. (I nod emphatically in surrender)
G: What part do you play?
M: I play a lot of parts?
G: What?
G: What?
M: An officer in the Queens Navy.
G: Oh, a barber, how nice.

As if that wasn't bad enough, I had to put up with the most deafeningly loud television in the free world. My grandfather sits 4 feet from the television with what's left of his hair flapping to the decibels. And he still couldn't make half the stuff out. I couldn't escape the noise of the television. If you ever want to know what Bill O'Reilly is talking about all you need to do is be within a quarter mile radius of my grandparent's house. You can't miss it. Eighties rock band Scorpions could be playing a concert in the back yard and I would never know.

So, while I missed out on the traditional New York experience. I feel that I got something much more important. I got a crash course on why I only visit my family once a year, and how much it sucks growing old.


Sunday, June 20, 2004

The magic of the internet

The other night I was sitting in my house and thinking about cartoons. For some reason the Smurfs popped in my head. Did you know they are from Belgium, like French Fries and those good waffles? Well, they are. In fact many well known cartoons are from there, the other popular one in the states was Tin Tin. You can get Smurf comics there in Flemish or Dutch. It's pretty cool.

Anyways, I got to thinking about the smurfs. And I knew that the smart one that made stuff was Handy Smurf, but I recalled one that wore glassesm which is of course the international sign for smarts. But I knew it wasn't Handy, who wore a pencil behind the ear.

So, I knew I could turn to the source of all information useless: the internet. I had faith in the fact that some person with nothing better to do had created a website that listed, with pictures, all of the smurfs. So I used google and put in Smurf List, and sure enough, there was such a list, and sublists under it. I quickly found that Brainy smurf was the one of which I was thinking. Glasses and a snooty attitude, like an associate professor.

So while some may think that the internet is good for school, which it isn't, and some may think it's only good for porn searchs, which it is. I also argue that there is a lot of useless crap out there to be known. And people seem to have webpages for it, and they pay for them and keep them updated. What sad and isolated lives we Americans lead. we can now talk instantly to people across the globe, but we won't leave the house and talk to the person next door.

Speaking of which, I have got to get outside. It's gorgeous! Right after I find some porn. Hahha

Kickin' it, father's day style,
Mike the Tall

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Talk about a Republican PARTAAAY

While some of my readers, I know, are going to cringe in disgust, I figured I would throw this out there and see if anyone's interested. I am throwing a Part for the President in July, and anyone who reads this is invited!

You may remember last April when I went to a Bush/Cheney Party in Greensburg. Well I had so much fun that I decided I wanted to throw my own party this July. There is a national party for the president day on Thursday, July 15th, and anyone involved will get a sweet conference call with VP Dick Cheney himself! It's a sweet deal.

The reason I wanted to throw one, was basically because of what I witnessed at the first party I went to. It was a fine party, very respectable, but it was definitely geared towards adults. Me, Leroy and Teddy were the youngest guys there. So I figured why not have a party aimed at younger folks, college kids and folks in their twenties. A real "party" filled with loud music (Andrew W. K., not Toby Keith), a light atmosphere with some real humor and good times. Instead of having it at a fancy hotel, I'm having it at a brand new coffee house in Rochester, PA. Instead of hiring a DJ to play stereotypical Republican country music, I'm bringing my Mac and playing some true party music (regardless of affiliation). (Assuming all goes to plan) We are going to have a conference call from the vice prez, a video tape from the president, and some other sweet activities and speeches.

This isn't to say that only republicans are invited. If you are someone who isn't registered, and wants to learn more about the Grand Old Party (and you are smart enough to know that there is more to us than what the news and Michael Moore portray) then come on down and give it a shot. Or if you are a democrat who wants to see what's going on, perhaps you aren't brainwashed by the MTV-culture into hating GW, or you just want to have some lively discussion, then check it out.

The GO-Party for the President is on Thursday, July 15th from 6:30pm until 9:30pm at the Blue Violet Cafe (Brighton Ave, Rochester PA). For more information, post a comment!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Hollywood, Lead Us Sheep

In these turbulent times it is important that we all remember one simple immutable truth: celebrities are better than us. They are superior to us simple folk in every conceivable way. They are better looking. They are richer. They live in unnecessary, palatial 'cribs'. They are sweeter smelling. They have entire television shows devoted to their fabulous lives. They are more well spoken. They are more intelligent. And, this must be remembered at all times above all else, their opinions are worth more than the those of the rest of us slack jawed, hamburger helper eating yokels.

So, in these fractured, contentious times let us all turn to the great oracle of Hollywood to gain guidance and understanding. They will tell us everything we will ever need to know, from what to wear to who to vote for. They will do all the thinking for the poor 'little people' of our nation. This is a good thing since regular people have such a hard time thinking. We'd all be much happier not thinking at all. After all, thinking gives regular people headaches, and we always make such a mess of ideas. Left to our devices we might do totally illogical things, like read books, express ourselves, or even vote for whoever we want. What a nightmare. Thank you Hollywood for sweet, sweet mind-numbing television to give celebrities a forum to tell us useless worms how the world works.

Now, I don't want to hear any complaints. That's just the last vestiges of your independent, but fatally flawed thought talking. Just let it slip away. Don't question celebrities. They're right. They have to be. They're celebrities. I know to us, the great unwashed masses, it may seem odd that we value someone's opinion simply because they happen to be famous and they happen to be famous simply because they are attractive, or can read someone else's words on cue, or because they have a pleasant voice. But it simply doesn't matter why someone's famous. As long as someone is famous they become our moral and intellectual superiors. That's just the way the world works. It's God's plan. Celebrities are the center of our world. We should all just recognize this and genuflect. Now, if you'll excuse me. I have to watch E!.


Sunday, June 06, 2004

Soul Plane and the Infinite Sadness

I don't know why I keep telling people this, because I'm certainly not proud of it... but I saw the movie "Soul Plane." Yeah, I know... I know. It was a dumb thing to do, but the circumstances under which I saw the film made sense at the time (although they are certainly no excuse). I had a bevy of free tickets for the Destinta theater out in Bridgeville, and they expired last week, so I had to go and use them up... I mainly saw movies that I had already seen, like "The Punisher" and "Shrek 2" and then, in a move that I can only attribute to a moment of weakness, poor timing, peer pressure, and desperation, I saw "Soul Plane."

So far, I've gotten the same reaction from everyone I've admitted this to: "Oh God, what were you thinking?!" And the answer is "I have no clue." The whole movie looked more like a train wreck from a mile away. Have you seen the trailer? It looked absolutely terrible... and I assure you, if you make the same mistake I did and actually take the time to watch the movie, your guess about the movie will be proven. It was one of the worst movies I have ever seen.

And while I could sit here and critique this movie like I would any film, wasting time on the technical flaws of the movie would be pointless. Just thinking about the content of this film would make anyone, of any race, just shake their heads. In what had the potential to be the "soulful" version of the comedy classic "Airplane!", "Soul Plane" is nothing more than a 90 minute MTV-stereotyped, racially-charged, mess of a film that makes me wish I had the comforting arm of TV's George Lopez to cry on... that's pretty bad.

Let me start by talking about what goes on in the movie. There is this giant purple plane with hydraulics (which is probably one of the few cool aspects of the movie) and it's flying with a bunch of stereotypes... and Tom Arnold. I don't understand how any race could NOT be offended by this movie. There is one Arab on the plane, and of course there are a few 9-11 jokes to go along with him. There are four white people on the plane, they have the last name of "Honkey" and they are coming home from a vacation to "Crackerland." Come on now... and then of course the plane is filled with African Americans. And for once I agree with Spike Lee and his joints-a-plenty. This movie is most offensive towards blacks! Sure there were a few times throughout the movie that I chuckled at what was going on on screen. Perhaps it is just the overall faux pas nature of this racist piece of cinema (the lower class section of the plane gets a piece of Popeye's fried chicken for their in-flight meal), afterwards I felt a little weird about the whole movie. What kind of audience are they making this for?

Well I can tell you. It was made for the pop-culture-loving teens of this day and age. And they are eating it up. There is a reason why this awful movie is number 5 across the nation. It's the same reason that they are making a movie called "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" and a movie called "The Cook Out." Because America loves dumb shit. America loves stereotypes and humor that, when attached using electrodes to a bowl of green Jello, barely causes ripples. Now I saw this movie because I had a free ticket, and so technically they didn't make any money off of me and my buddies. But someone out there is seeing this movie, and it's not good for America or Hollywood (who is going to do nothing but continue to make this kind of crap).

So if anyone asks... I saw Soul Plane to further my knowledge of cultural studies. And because I had a free ticket.

Friday, June 04, 2004

The Times they are a changing

There is something to be said for the Cellar Dwellers' marketing and advertising practices. Perhaps those words would be "gorilla tactics" or "grassroots effort" or maybe even "word of mouth." And then there is something to be said for the Beaver County Times' treatment of the Cellar Dwellers' effort. Unfortunately, those words are a little too inappropriate for me to type on this very blog.

Anyone who lives in Beaver County knows the Times' reputation for poor reporting, a strong reliance on AP news stories, a strong liberal slant, and a lot of typos. You don't need me to complain about that. And that's not to say that they don't have good people working for them. Dave Smith is an exemplary entertainment writer, and at one point in time they had John Dessler, one of my inspirations for choosing graphic design. However, they have managed to give the Cellar Dwellers the good ol' one, two, screw at some point for almost every one of our shows for the past few months. It's at the point now, where I recommend that our fans NOT look for our shows in there because the listing is going to be wrong regardless.

Two weeks ago, we were doing an all-improv show at Thursdays Restaurant in Bridgewater. I am the guy in charge of making the fliers, press releases, and other promotional material for the group. I always make sure the press releases are perfect, and that there is no way to confuse our location, show dates or times. And yet, somehow the BCT thought we were at Dockers doing improv. We've never, in our troupe's seven year history, done a show at Dockers. But I guess that's better than nothing. Sometimes they just don't print a press release I send them, even when it's on time.

And of course I call them and let them know they are wrong every chance I get. And yet, there isn't too much we can do, since it's a free service they, and all newspapers, provide. We just have to take what we can get.

It was their screw-up today that has sent me over the edge. Learning that they can barely understand press releases printed clearly in either Courier New or Times New Roman, I faxed them the Godzillas and Generals release TWICE, both times well before the deadline for this weekend's issue. And yet somehow, through some mysterious voodoo curse or insistence on using "copy & paste" methods, they have managed to screw the Cellar Dwellers yet again. Because fresh in today's Weekender, under the comedy section (I also insist on us being placed in the Theater Section but comedy is fine too... as long as we don't wind up under Etc.), it clearly says that our show is SATURDAY, aka TOMORROW. It also says that it's scene-based improv. I just have one web-jargon abbreviation to use right now: WTF. Apparently, the BCT's A.D.H.D. has gotten the best of them again, and they just make these insane mistakes without even knowing it.

The Beaver County Times has a responsibility to their readers, advertisers, and the Arts in Beaver County to get these listings correct the first time around. No amount of "corrections" the day after will fill the seats. And for the Dwellers, the BCT is the best way for us to really get the word out about our shows. This isn't to say that you should totally ignore what they print, because 70% of the time its probably right. But I insist that if you see a Dweller listing, you check out the website, or look for a flier, or just go and find out. Our fliers and website are always correct. If you want something done right, you do it yourself. But it's apparent that when you have to rely on others, you only get what you want when you are a paying customer.

I guess they won't get it right until we finally make the cover of the weekender. Of course, as long as there are Emmy award nominations, we don't stand a chance. Seeya tonight at the show.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

My Own Private Stonehenge

As some of you may know, I spend quite a bit of time shuttling between my home in lovely Clintonville, PA - up in Venango county - and the Cellar Dweller home base in picturesque Beaver County. In my travels I have encountered myriad wondrous and astounding things, bad weather, scary hitch hikers, an Elvis impersonator truck driver, but I have encountered only one object which completely mystifies me.

Off of route 488, somewhere between Elwood City and Portersville, there stands a statue, maybe four foot tall, of a little Mexican leading a donkey. Alone in a small clearing, with absolutely no explanation, this Mexican is forever caught in the act of leading his donkey toward God-only-knows where. It's almost as though, this Mexican along with his donkey had sprung forth from the Earth whole. It stands there implacable, as mysterious as Stonehenge, as terrifying as an Easter Island head. I have the strangest sensation that no human mind or hand played any part in its construction. This statue exist on a plane beyond human comprehension. At least it exist beyond my own comprehension, which is - I am forced to admit - quite limited.

I do have my theories. I have several, they bubble up from the percolator of my mind. I think that some ancient culture of Lawrence County could have used this statue as a calendar or possibly it held some astrological purpose. It could have fallen from space, like David Bowie did in the 70's. It could be a gift to us from the mole people who live thousands of feet beneath the Earth. My favorite explanation is that it is an idol from a long dead religion - the Valdezians. The Valdezians worshipped all things coffee - mugs, plastic stirrers, half and half, pretentious bastards at Starbucks - and this is an idol to their chief god - Juan Valdez, the bringer of the coffee. Sure I have no proof of this, but I think if I just believe in it enough it just might become so.

One of these days - when I am not driving home at some obscene time of night or running late - I will stop my car and take a closer look at this marvel of ancient engineering. If I ever have anyone else with me and a camera handy I'll take a picture with it. I'd like one with me riding the donkey in my fancy Cellar Dweller T-shirt. I just hope that I don't upset Valdez. He is a jealous god and will not stand for mocking. He can make my coffee taste horrible for the rest of my life.


Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Working on the new website

For the past month or so, Christoph and I have been meeting once or twice a week at Cafe Kolache in Beaver to work on the website. Kolache is an amazing little coffee house, something I have been clamoring for for years here in the BC. As I have mentioned, we are "hard" at work on the new site, which is going to be all in Flash. It's pretty sexy, if I do say so myself. Chris went out and got all of these books and whatnot and took this sucker on.

Of course, the two of us (along with any other Dweller who may join us) sitting in a cafe with Chris' 17-inch HP laptop aren't the most productive around. But productivity with this website isn't always our number one priority, fun is. Because if fun ain't being had, then why be had at all. That's what I say... sometimes. And so we sit there, me drawing little designs and pictures in my sketch pad, him clicking away at Action Scripts and Motion Guides, and the two of us talking about the finer things in life: politics, computers, girls, coffee, jobs, and The Tick. All things relevant to the life of two single working-guys fresh outta high school.

My coffee intake has nearly doubled thanks to working on this website. The advantage, and the main reason, of doing most of the work at the cafe is because we get a bottomless cup of coffee. So our laps are scalded by the end of the day. No, so we get all of the coffee we can muster! Trust me, I drink alot of coffee. Usually it's the dark roast (which can be anything from Kenyan, Columbian, and Cuban to J.P. Hearty, AA Kenyan, or M.C. Hammer... I wish there was an M.C. Hammer coffee) with a ton of half and half and sugar. Chris likes to get a carmel coffee thing (some of the girls there make it with whipped cream, while others skimp on the extras and just give him the coffee) and then he chases that down with some of the normal coffees. I usually go to the bathroom like three times while we are there (which is normally from 3:30 until they close at 5:30).

It would help alot more if that place had a wireless internet connection like the Copper Dog does. I mean, it's not enough that we steal their electricity by plugging the laptop into their wall, we want them to pay for internet as well! There are usually other folks in there with laptops (a good number of them have Apple iBooks... REPRESENT!) and they are all kinda put in their place by Chris' monster computer, which could probably wrestle Deep Blue and Hal at the same time. Sure those other guys were advanced in their time, but nowadays a centrino Pentium machine could whoop their butts.... sorry.

Anyways, the website is gonna rock harder than Donny Iris' love. But since he loves us as well, we kinda win on both fronts.