New Year, Old Man

You know the drill people. Too much champagne, crowded bars, singing that Olde Lang Syne song.

New Years Eve is one of those nights that always feels like it should be more fun than it actually is, one of those nights where being in a movie version of life would be preferable because in the movies the big parties are always elegant affairs with enough room to mingle and talk and the line for the bar is always just long enough to start an engaging conversation but never so long that your drink runs out.

I never see people in the movies paying a cover to get into the same bar they always go to for free in order to stand in a crush of people and wait forty-five minutes for watery gin and tonics.

Oh well.

It’s still fun.

Make your resolutions and get your stories straight because 2009 is about to end.

2010 will be along shortly.

And once the safety bar is lowered there will be no leaving the ride.

Not that kind of Viral

Virusthumb The goal of internet marketing these days is to go viral, by which it is meant that your campaign takes root and begins to sprout new branches on its own. What is not meant by this terminology is that your computer suddenly starts throwing a billion popups in your face and then a fake Windows security alert appears telling you that you need to buy a malware program that doesn’t exist.

Which is what happened to me last week.

I really wish I was able to take snapshots of the crazy ass stuff my computer was doing because a lot of it was quite hilarious. I’m not sure what the point of this virus was, apparently it needed me to click on an order form which, I guess, would then ask for my personal information? I have no idea, all it really did was fuck my computer’s shit up. If that was its intention, then kudos. If there was some ulterior motive though, like getting my credit card number, then the fact that it froze my computer seemed to undermine these efforts. And if it wanted to key-log me and steal my passwords then frolicking around in the foreground like a frog in a top hat also seemed a bit counterproductive.

I also find it entertaining that the programmers behind this madness were capable of replicating the look of Windows’ warnings perfectly. I was fooled for about half a second when the warnings started popping up because it looked so credible. Then I remembered that the program sending me warnings doesn’t actually exist on
my computer. And then I read the warnings, which did things like misspell the word “computer.”

It would appear the rules are the same whether you want to hijack people’s computers or run a small business or write a book: god is in the details.

Everything seems back to normal on my end and I’m having my web guy double check things to make sure nothing weird wriggled its way into my website.

But, my, that was a nerve wracking few days.

Holidays

x-mas-thumbThere’s cold winds on the street and snow everywhere. My bodega smells like pine trees and the saxophone player in Central Park is constantly playing Christmas music. I’ve got my family in town and I’ve eaten so many cookies my pants have stopped buttoning.

God, I love this time of year.

Happy holidays, everyone, everywhere.

Apollo Justice: The Game Where You Obsess over Women’s Underpants

A few days ago, while holiday shopping, I stumbled across some reviews for this video game, Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney:

Apollo Justice

I immediately purchased a copy.

Being a rather huge video game nerd I sort of thought I had seen all possible types of games by now: side-scrollers, first person shooters, RPG’s, RTS’s, MMORPG’s. Somehow it had never occurred to me hope for a “Lawyering” game. Clearly that was my bad. Had I known what insane delights such a game would hold in store I’d have been writing letters to the appropriate parties years ago.

At first blush, Apollo Justice is pretty straightforward. You search a scene for clues. You then pick up the clues and examine them. Finally you go to court and yell a lot and use the right clues to pick apart statements from witnesses. It’s like law *and* order.

But then, a few hours into things, something happens. The case you’re working on takes a weird turn and, presto, this piece of dialogue pops up:

genius

Well of course I am. That’s actually why I got into law in the first place.

In fact, and this is kind of a funny story, back in Law School I…wait…what the fuck did that little girl just say?

Then, sure enough, the entire case starts to revolve around panties. Everyone gets into it. The judge:

judge

The witnesses:

witness

Everyone.

It’s a freaking perv convention.

But guess what? As if obsessing over panties wasn’t an odd enough theme for the game to follow, it suddenly gets even weirder:

dimensions

Uhhh…check please!

Sufficed to say I stayed up all night playing this game and am eagerly awaiting the sequel.

A Holiday Dilemma

ugly sweater thumbMy friends and I are having a holiday party this weekend and somehow or other a small cadre of the attendees have decided to compete for the title of Ugliest Sweater.

As with a lot of things this was a wholly original idea that, as it turns out, has been done many times by everybody everywhere.

And that fact  is causing some problems. Apparently this type of event has become so popular that there’s a freaking run on Ugly Christmas Sweaters this time of year across all markets. Ebay gets flooded with them and, just as quickly, they get snatched up. The “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party” online store seemed like a good option but their shipping isn’t fast enough.

I managed to scrounge up this wonderful display of cat-hatred and yarn (notice the pom-poms)…

ugly cat sweater

…but it turns out it’s a woman’s sweater (I’m going by the extremely feminine designer name).

Which brings up another disturbing trend. If you look at Ebay or the FunTimesGuide or any general search results you start to realize that the truly awful sweaters are all women’s sweaters.

The only theory I have to explain this is that the men’s sweaters are even uglier than these and get bought up faster.

I also kind of wonder what makes a sweater one gender or the other. Some are obvious, some…like the above example…well seeing as how I might need to cross-dress in order to compete at this Ugly Sweater Party I guess I’m hoping that the lines can be blurred a bit and that sweater gender exists in a gray area.

I mean the damn thing has pom-poms!

How can I not wear it?

Middle of the Road

middle-of-the-road-thumbOver the weekend I had numerous holiday engagements and during small talk I received the question, “How’s the book going?” about a billion times. My answer was always to shrug and say, “It’s going.”

This happened so often that I started to wonder why I didn’t have a more robust answer for these people. A lot of them were readers and would no doubt appreciate some sort of tantalizing hints about what’s happening in the world of Matthew and Epp and Mary and Bartleby. But I never dropped these hints.

Here’s why.

For us authors, the middle of a book is stunningly dull. There is pretty much no sense of accomplishment as, day after day, you hit your word count and plod your way towards your ending. There is no sense of wonder as you write scene after scene that you’ve already gone over in your head enough times to make them feel repetitive and boring to you. There is no excitement in handling the characters that are so far from their conception and yet so far from their realization that they are just a hollow feeling bunch of sock puppets.

For you readers the time it takes from the beginning of a book to the end is measured in weeks if not days. For me it’s measured in months if not years. I honestly don’t know if I can remember my opening scene right now without peeking, that’s how long it’s been since I thought about it. By the middle of a book the beginning of a book is well beyond “no longer fresh in my mind.” It’s damned near forgotten.

This blows.

And yet, not two days ago, there was a very real burst of…well it wasn’t excitement as I met my word count for the day. Excitement is too strong a word. But there was a jolt of something to be sure because for a brief moment the end, that wonderful and beautiful thing, sort of seemed in sight for me. And even though estimates are awfully hard to do with word counts and expected book lengths, I sort of feel like maybe I’ve passed my halfway point.

Maybe I’ve rounded second and am on the back nine with two quarters to go. Yahtzee.

Maybe this will stop seeming like such a pointless grind in the near future.

My fingers are very much crossed.

My Guide to Spending the Holidays in New York

I have lived on the island of Manhattan for ten years now and every year there is a massive influx of tourists and visitors and merry-makers during the holidays.  People come for many reasons and to enjoy a wide variety of activities and so I’ve decided to put together some of my thoughts in order to help out all these weary pilgrims who make the journey to my fair city.

1.  STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM THE TREE:

Seriously.  Please. It’s a tree.  Yes it’s actually quite pretty and yes it’s very large but you don’t understand what you’re doing when you go visit the stupid thing. The foot traffic around Rockefeller Center creates a chain reaction that snarls traffic up in all directions. I don’t want a bus ride across the park to take two hours just because you want to see some lights.

Look.  Here is the location of the tree:

tree-location

Now here is my estimation of the area that becomes affected by congestion due to tree traffic:

tree-traffic

Please don’t go near the tree. I’m sick of telling my cab drivers to take the long way through Nicaragua to avoid traffic when I’m trying to get across town.

 

2. STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM CHINATOWN:

Chinatown isn’t known for it’s fast moving foot traffic under the best of circumstances but during this time of year it becomes another thing entirely. Somehow all of humanity stopping and pointing at the little shops that sell weird toys and disgusting fruits manages to bend time or something so that I seriously think the foot traffic actually starts to move backwards. And if you’re in a car just forget about it.

You think I’m kidding?

Here is a shot of Chinatown in June:

Chinatown Dialogue

Just try to imagine it when it’s crowded with holiday traffic. Occasionally I like to go there and get dumplings with family this time of year. Off limits.

 

3. STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ANYWHERE I MIGHT WANT TO GO DRINKING:

There is a bar in Murray Hill called Rolf’s. This is what Rolf’s looks like (this was taken with my phone so sorry for the quality):

rolfs

You’re waiting for a punchline, aren’t you?

There isn’t one. Rolf’s is its own punchline. Around the holidays the owners go completely out of their minds and put up more decorations than, to be honest, the actual tree probably has. Rolf’s is known far and wide as the bar where Christmas goes to projectile vomit then die.

You may go to Rolf’s. The heat from the lights and the general creepiness of the dolls they hang up make it hard to last more than two beers there during the holidays.

Oh. Here are some of the dolls:

rolfs-dolls

One year some of the dolls had mustaches.

Maybe lasting two beers would be stretching it.

Feel free to crowd into this place as, even if I do go there, I won’t be staying long.

Otherwise the rest of the bars are off limits.

 

 

4. NOW THAT I THINK ABOUT IT, JUST STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM NEW YORK ENTIRELY:

Honestly. It’s closed or something. And they built a wall around the tree this year. Here look:

tree-wall

It’s bedlam.

Stay away.

If you want to you can gaze at this picture of the tree. That should satisfy:

the-tree

It really is pretty, isn’t it? And when you catch a glimpse of it as you turn the corner and look down that long alley of evergreens and statues and then walk in close to where the skating rink is and smell the chestnut vendors…

God damn it.

Okay. You can come to see the tree.

Just, you know, try and keep it down while you’re here.

 

 

 

Random Thoughts

thoughtsthumbIf I have a son I’m naming him Lephroaig.

Pancakes make bad hats.

Living in Manhattan I can claim to have seen basically any celebrity I want to and nobody can prove me wrong.

I hate symbolism.

I quit smoking cold turkey after a full-on ten year habit but I can’t stop playing World of Warcraft.

They should have some sort of amusement park attraction where you get to try and plan, then carry out, the perfect bank heist.

The size of Centrum vitamins makes it clear that they were originally designed for horses.

I’m too out of shape to play Wii sports.

The number of different passwords I use is multiplying at an alarming rate.

I really like that ad where the pothole talks to the car with the flat tire.

Chicken fried steak is a vegetable.

The board game Clue sucks. I enjoy saying this.

I can think of maybe one movie this year that should get a best picture nomination.

Salads only serve to enrage me.

When I was younger, beer used to make me do crazy things and NyQuil used to put me to sleep. Somewhere over the years that has reversed itself.

Now that, like, 98% of all thoughts get captured in some form or another I wonder how long it will be until it’s impossible to have an original idea.

Powerpoint makes me sad.

I don’t think anyone actually listens to jazz except to try and impress people.

The term, “Jump the shark,” has jumped the shark.

I think I’d be a good money launderer.

Three-quarters of the facts you read online are made up.

I don’t understand why I keep ordering Club Sandwiches from places that can’t get normal sized sandwiches right.

As an author, being in the middle of a book sucks. All you can do to move forward is type and type and type and think boring, random thoughts.

5 Television Crossover Events I Want to See

I’ve been watching a ton of The Shield recently and Michael Chiklis’ hard knocks style of street-level crime prevention and upper-level corruption creation got me thinking about who was going to step up from amongst the cast to challenge him.  I’m only on Season One, so no spoilers please, but right now he’s got the run of the kingdom with no contenders in sight.

There really was only one person that came to mind that I’d want to send in after him…and that thought led to five  other television mash-ups that I think the world needs.

So starting at number one we’ve got:

1. The Shield meets 24

mackey-bauer

Though let’s be honest, this isn’t The Shield meets 24. It’s Jack Bauer meets Vic Mackey.  It’s the perfect face off of the two toughest, gray area, not afraid to get dirty cops. And yes, Bauer isn’t so much anti-crime as he is anti-terrorist…but I don’t think it’s too big of a leap to imagine Mackey starting to import some tactical nukes or something in order to keep a case together where he nails an even bigger importer of tactical nukes. Or he could accidentally shoot Bauer’s cousin while trying to plant some evidence. I’m not picky and Mackey is accident prone, so there’s plenty of ways to write it out so that the twelfth worst day of Jack Bauer’s life revolves around another day on the streets for Vic Mackey.

Just picture it. There’d be so much skull busting taking place there would be busted skulls all up in your television’s junk.

Skulls!

Busted!!!

2. The Wire meets The Sopranos

wire-sopranos

I’ll be honest. At first I wanted Vic Mackey to investigate The Sopranos. And then maybe he could drop in on NYPD Blue, and then hit up Dexter and then bounce over to Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader to round things off. As I mentioned, I’ve been watching a lot of The Shield lately and the notion of Mackey going after the mob seemed like a winner.

But then I started thinking about The Sopranos’ style, their slower paced storytelling, their long arcs and their building of tension as well as their low-key and very out of the headlines approach to crime and I knew The Shield wasn’t the right choice. The Wire was. And McNulty, Freeman, Kia and Presbo could build one hell of a case against The First Family of New Jersey. Wiretaps and informants would abound along with tons of brooding looks at the camera and a handy helping of  dark, dark humor.

And then, as an homage to both series, the final episode would end with a tender look back at how far we’ve come in the city we love as well as a confusing as shit scene in a diner that resolves nothing.

3. Gray’s Anatomy meets A Flaming School Bus Going Off A Cliff

grays-bus

Yeah, I don’t have all the pieces of this one worked out yet. There could be like an emergency or something…or maybe a field trip. And then the whole cast gets on a bus and then it explodes while going off a cliff. Or something. I guess that’s sort of like Gray’s Anatomy meets Mythbusters?

Works for me.

I don’t like Gray’s Anatomy.

4. The Office meets Mad Men

office-mad-men-2

Back in the day, The Office was a perfect send up of middle management, office politics and English people. It’s long since strayed from its roots and gotten a bit slap-sticky for my taste, but I still think sticking these two groups of suits into the same room would be a surefire success. And if anyone is in need of some serious help with their image, it’s the Dunder Mifflin paper company. But the plot obviously isn’t the point, the point is combining the super smooth veneer of Sterling Cooper with the sweet-spot satire of The Office in order to create some sort of veneered sweet spot. It would be unstoppable. Not to mention you have some perfect match ups, which any crossover hit needs. Don Draper pitching ideas to Dwight and Jim? Sterling and Cooper mixing it up at lunch with Michael Scott? Everyone sleeping together while drunk?

Trust me here. It’s perfect.

5. Lost meets Spongebob Squarepants

spongelost

They both take place in the tropics.

They both contain a colorful cast of characters.

I have no idea what the fuck is going on in either of them.

Yahtzee.

Let me paint you a picture: one of the characters wanders into a forest where they encounter a magical bear eating some seaweed, only it turns out that this bear is the ghost of their friend and they need to sing to it so that the ocean can sleep.

That could seriously be an episode in either one of these shows. As they are. Right now.

Let’s just pile them together and get it over with. All hail Spongelost.

And maybe Patrick can get it on with Kate for sweeps week.

I’d tune in.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade Has a Lot of Balls

I wound up attending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last Thursday. It takes place down the street from me and yet I’ve managed to miss it for six years in a row.  This year I vowed to change all that.

I forgot how much I hate parades, though.

And this parade was…well here.

This is the first balloon I saw.

Ice Cream Cone

So I guess that one’s okay.  It’s ice cream. Kids like ice cream.  Fine.

Then came this.

Pikachu Ball

Awesome.  Though, again, I’ll let that one slide as I think it’s the ball from Pokeman…at least that’s what all the kids around me were screaming. You and I? You and I know that it’s just a stupid ball but apparently this ball is one of those, you know, famous balls.

Then comes this.

basketball

That one is so crappy it more or less looks like a real basketball that someone threw up in the air next to me that I snapped a picture of.  It isn’t. That was one of the balloons.

But wait. Because this came down the street soon enough.

ball

There was no reaction to this one so I’m pretty sure this particular ball is not a world famous ball.

But you know what’s more exciting than a gigantic balloon of a ball nobody cares about?

That’s right!!

twoballs

Two balls nobody cares about!!

Parades are dumb.