Wednesday, April 27, 2005


red and black is the new black and red will now take a brief pause. I likely won't post again until Tuesday May 3, at which time I will have plenty to boast/lament/comment about. And in English.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

32 softly focused, brightly colored eyes

I just spent some really relaxing time in Durham. I went down to meet Karen as she was getting off work, but there was a pretty cool show at a coffeehouse a block away from her restaurant, so I went there until she got off. I feel really bad because I'm really horrible with remembering folks' names, and I ran into a group of her friends whose names of course failed me. They're all really nice people, and they make me feel welcome. I often have a little trouble with new folks, especially if it's a group of new folks, but I haven't had any problems with being alone in a group of her friends.
So we did that, then we went to some party out in the country. Yeah, I know. Like we're 23 years old or something. It was alright, but we didn't stay there very long.
We slept in, then we lazed around most of the day. I haven't had the chance to do that in a VERY long time, and on one hand I felt bad, but the weather was nasty and I really needed (and still need) some true relaxation. It's hard to notice when you're in the grind all the time, but I really was a mess.
I know I was talking this big talk about going to a Bulls game and how excited I was about that, but at gametime, it was about 50°, overcast, and windy as all get-out. So we nixed that and just lay on the couch watching these ridiculous programs on National Geographic Channel about how the Golden Gate Bridge could collapse any second now, and how if they had spent an extra nickel in the construction of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, it wouldn't have collapsed in the wake of Timothy McVeigh's Ryder bomb. That's the thing about Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channel. They love to get us all worked up about the what ifs and the holy crap, we're gonna be wiped out by a megavolcano sometime tomorrow afternoon.
Later, we went to a simple dinner with some more of her friends. A girl from her work, and that girl's husband, who is the kitchen manager at Lantern in Chapel Hill. Yeah, that's the one owned by Mac Superchunk's wife. You should go there if you get the chance. It's really tasty pan-Asian food. Quite spendy, but worth it. The four of us went to a bar for dinner, so it was simple and comforting.

I had another night like that last night, although I had to leave Durham. I was going to have to come home at some point to feed the cat, and Karen was working a special function anyway, so I had to leave Durham Monday lunchtime. Some friends called me over to their house for grilling out and playing board games. Between playing catchphrase at their house, and watching The Family Guy at Karen's house, I laughed a LOT. Something else I've denied myself over the past few months. It felt really good. Maybe getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to me. I've relaxed and I've let myself really laugh.

Tomorrow, I'm going to Charlotte to hang out with my parents for a couple of days, and then I'll hopefully head up to DC for a few days. Then I'll be ready to start thinking about working somewhere.

Today, the only thing I have to do is get my hair cut and go play some Scrabble.

Now Playing:
Versus -- Hurrah
Versus Hurrah

Saturday, April 23, 2005

"but i'm not working for you"

I know this is the second time in less than two weeks that I've quoted Superchunk's Slack Motherfucker, but that line in the post title actually has some relevance to what I'm about to say. One of those rare occurrences, I know, but please bear with me.

Yesterday, I was let go from my job. After seven years of devoted service. The owners told me that they could see that I was getting more and more burned out. They're not wrong about that. I do get burned out. Everyone does from time to time, and I think restaurant managers might get even more so. We don't get nights off, we don't get weekends off, we don't get holidays off. These are out busiest times. That, in and of itself can be a little stressful. That restaurant in particular is mega-busy and I felt a lot of pressure on my shoulders. Some of it was self-imposed, some of it I was too stubborn to let it slide off my back. I was kind of doing it to myself, but I was walking around with this Atlas-like burden. That's not healthy for anybody. I haven't been very good about allowing myself to take vacations, either. This is my hard-headed fault. I was entitled to paid leave, and I almost never took it.

So the owners were saying that they thought I was too unhappy with work. They DID NOT say that I was injuring the company in any way, though. They kept making it sound like they were doing me a favor. You know, setting me free so I can do other things with my life. Guess what? I've been doing this for 10 years now, and this is pretty much what I know how to do. I don't have any other marketable skills, and my four-year degree in Political Science is only marginally marketable.

So, it's either start from scratch in some completely different line, or go work as a line cook somewhere else. I know I already have a cooking job lined up. I could start today if I wanted to. But I don't want to start today. I'm going to take a few days to decompress, relax, think about other things, and then maybe consider some other options.

I'm kind of lost now. I don't rightly know what my next step is, but I know I need to relax for a couple of weeks. Don't worry about me. They gave me some money as a severance that'll be enough to where I wouldn't have to worry about it for quite a while.

Now Playing:
Belle and Sebastian -- Tigermilk
Belle and Sebastian Tigermilk

Friday, April 22, 2005

two characters in search of a country song


Spring is upon us. The birds are singing, the sun is shining, the grass is growing.
Our cruddy baseball team has a brand spanking new baseball stadium, and I haven't gotten out there to check it out yet. Actually, I think I've been at work for all of the home games they've played thus far. Hopefully, I'll be able to make it next Thursday for Thirsty Thursday. While I'm excited about that, I'm also pretty excited about going to Durham this coming Sunday. Karen and I are going to a Bulls game. Every year, I've been saying, "Hey, I'll go to a Bulls game this season", but I haven't been to a Bulls game since about 1982. Long before they built their new shiny stadium and got promoted to AAA. It should be a load of fun.

I was feeling kinda cruddy yesterday, so I planted my ass in front of the TV and watched movies. My Netflix rotation got all messed up, so I had to watch one of my own movies. I was pleasantly surprised when I was reminded that I had a new one in my collection. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up The Ice Storm in the $5 bin at Best Buy. Score! I've always really liked that movie, but I don't think I had seen it since it was a new release. Or maybe once on cable since then. I can never understand why that movie didn't receive more attention. It got a Golden Globe nomination for Sigourney Weaver's supporting actress role, won at BAFTA for the same, and won a Cannes award for screenplay writing. Other than that, the only nominations it got were from inconsequential entities like Mike and Steve's bitchin' film festival, Muncie Indiana. I'm just sayin'... Freakin Titanic won everything under the sun that year, and The Ice Storm is a much better film. And made on a considerably smaller budget. I read that the budget for The Ice Storm was $18 million. I don't even know how they paid the actors on that budget. Kevin Kline, Sigourney Weaver, Joan Allen, Tobey Maguire, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Katie Holmes. These are all name-brand top shelf actors. Of course this was Katie Holmes' first role. Yes, it was before we knew who Joey Potter was.

Maybe I'm being a big geek, but I noticed a pretty cool connection while watching that movie. At the very beginning, Tobey Maguire's character is reading a Fantastic Four comic, and his voiceover explaining that issue will later make a lot of sense, as it sort of gives the movie meaning.
Anyway... Fantastic Four. Marvel Comics. Created by Stan Lee. Stan Lee also created Spiderman. Spiderman was recently played by.... Tobey Maguire.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that Tobey Maguire is a comic book freak, and it isn't really a coincidence or fluke that this connection exists. However, I don't think that's the case at all. I read somewhere that he never read the Spiderman comics before playing the role, and hasn't since then.

Okay. After all that. If you haven't seen The Ice Storm in a while, or if you haven't ever seen it, do so now. Rent it tonight, or go over to Best Buy and snag it out of the $5 bin.
Okay. Enough of my rambling.

Now Playing: Stereolab -- Sound-Dust
Stereolab Sound-Dust

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Has anybody seen my glasses? I've sort of grown to prefer wearing my glasses rather than my contacts, but I haven't seen them in a couple of days.
Whichever one of you took or hid them, please give them back, or tell me where they are.

Monday, April 18, 2005

so long, #51

Sam Mills passed away today, at the age of 45 after a battle with cancer of the intestine
We, here at red and black is the new black and red, would like to observe a moment or two of silence for the loss of Sam Mills, who passed away this morning at the age of 45, after battling cancer of the intestine.

Mills spent 12 years in the NFL as a premier linebacker, five times being named to the Pro Bowl team. He spent the last three years of his career in Carolina, where he stayed as an assistant coach up until his death. Along with Panthers' linebacker Mark Fields, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma, he served as a source of inspiration for Panthers players and fans through their run to SuperBowl XXXVIII two seasons ago.

Along with the Carolina Panthers, the New Orleans Saints, and the rest of the NFL community, we give our respectful condolences to his family and friends.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

when all my bones and muscles hurt

In the interest of making it to the Dan Chaon book reading thing on time last night, I had to take a Tajômaru showerTajomaru .
A shower so quick that the water didn't even have time to get wet.
I did figure that I might have a little trouble finding the building, and that I would have to walk through the rain, and that I might have a little trouble finding a parking space. I didn't figure into the equation that room number 284 would be on the ground floor. Go figure.
The reading was really good, and I felt a bit out of place, as everyone else who was there was from the writing MFA program. I recognized all of them from when I used to work across the street. I remembered thinking that they were (mostly) pretty full of themselves, but that many of them were nice. Not that I know very many of them personally, but the way they treated other people suggested to me that they were pretty obnoxious.
When the reading was all over, there was supposed to be a Q&A session, but somebody decided for the whole group that we didn't have any questions. Then came the book signings and the refreshments. I bought a copy of the new book, had it signed and left. I was disgusted with the amount of sycophantism in that room. "Oh, can I get you a napkin?" "Do you need another bottle of water, since yours is only half full?" "I see your shoe is untied. Shall I tie it for you?" "By the way, your book saved my life." I'm sure I've drooled over indie-rock stars in the hallway of the Cat's Cradle, but I don't do it anymore. Now that I see other people doing it, I'm sort of embarrassed for myself that I used to do that kind of shit. Perhaps I've exaggerated the fawning, but I didn't imagine it.

I'll let you know how the book goes, but for now, I will highly recommend Chaon's collections of short stories, Fitting Ends and Among the Missing.
Now playing;
Sun Kil Moon -- Ghosts of the Great Highway
Sun Kil Moon Ghosts of the Great Highway

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

i'm working but i'm not working for you

I went out yesterday and I bought some new music. I got to the record shop and I noticed that there were new records by Damon and Naomi(which was actually recommended by Xbox) and Monade. I could have easily picked both of these up and called it a day. However, in accordance with my frustrations, I opted to ignore these. I already have enough Damon and Naomi records, and as much as I like to pretend they're different, Monade is still mostly Stereolab. As you already know, I have an infinite number of Stereolab records, so one more isn't going to help me grow as a music fan or broaden my horizons or any of that good stuff. Instead, I decided to heed the suggestions made to me by Xbox. I picked up the new long players by Keren Ann and The Decemberists. I also cheated, picking up a new (allegedly super rare ) release by Rachel's. Not really a proper release as much as a single. I haven't listened to it yet.

I gave the Keren Ann record a quick listen, and I kinda dig it, in a way that's reminiscent of a bunch of stuff I already like (Autour de Lucie, Laika Múm, just to name a few). For now I'll just say that it's sweet and crafty, partially en français and from what I can tell, the girl is quite a looker. I'll give it a more thorough listen later, but I've been stuck on this Decemberists record. It isn't really in line with what I usually find incredibly compelling, but there really is something that keeps me coming back. And back. And back. I guess it doesn't really matter as long as I like it. I guess part of this has to do with the artwork in the liner notes, but this album sort of has the feel of an evening of one-act plays; they were pieced together intentionally, but they aren't really inextricably linked to one another. Each song stands on its own just fine. I don't know if that makes any sense, but that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The weather is absolutely horrid today. Two days ago it was 85º and sunny. Today it's 45º and rainy.

I'm supposed to go check out this book reading tonight over at UNC-G. Dan Chaon is going to be there, reading from his new book, You Remind Me of Me. Although I don't own this book, his first novel, I have both of his short story collections, and I absolutely love them. It's a damn shame this guy isn't as wildly popular with the kids as someone like David Sedaris or Michael Chabon or Don Delillo. His style isn't at all like any one of those guys, but those seem to be the authors that all the hip kids talk about. Chaon ought to be included. So I'm going to brave the rain and the cold to check that out.
I had a million other thoughts I wanted to blogicize about, but I'm racing against time and the clock is heavily favored. More later.

Now playing:
The Decemberists -- Picaresque
The Decemberists Picaresque

Friday, April 08, 2005

a dead and hanging man who was kissing foreign fishes

I haven't bought a lot of new records lately. I kinda feel out of the loop in that respect. I can't keep up with all the kids. And when I really think about it, most of the stuff that I've bought lately has either been new releases from bands I've listened to for a decade (Bettie Serveert, The Wedding Present), or something else that isn't "fresh" or "new". I haven't really been able to say anything interesting when asked "What are you listening to these days?". Nobody's going to be at all interested when I say, "Oh, mostly the oeuvre of Stephin Merritt" or "Lots of My Bloody Valentine". Fucks' sake! Take a look at all of my "now playing" entries, and you'd think this was November of 1993.

That makes me a little bit sad that I can't keep up. I guess maybe this is a desperate cry for help. I need you, dear readers, to help me be cool. Please instruct me to go purchase specific records by the newest, hippest indie rockers.

After reading the excellent post by Bears Will Attack that was loosely related to this, I realized that I do have some cool, hip, new records and I just don't listen to them enough. I was definitely identifying with his their commentary about feeling the need to have every Superchunk record, or whatever. Really what you end up with is a lot of EPs and b-side collections that, frankly, aren't really that good. And you've spent hundreds of dollars just so you can say, "Yeah, I've got this one ultra-rare cd by Olivia Tremor Control". However, (and this is the excellent point illustrated by BWA) you feel vindicated when you have swum through dross to come across a gem like Death Cab for Cutie's cover of "Brand New Love". I realized I wasn't paying that John Byrd EP enough attention, so I listened to it something like 12 times in a row. Then I just decided to put that "Blacking Out the Friction/Brand New Love" medley on infinite repeat. I don't have the same kind of sentimental response to "Brand New Love" that BWA has, but I love it nonetheless. If you don't already have this EP, go scoop it up. It's only available at select record shops, but most of you go to those shops. If you can't find it, or you are "lazy or spastic", you can also order it from the Barsuk website.

Also, yesterday, I decided to go buy something brand new to me. I remember a song by Andrew Bird from Reid's mp3 jukebox. I remember liking it a lot, so I went out to scoop up Mr. Bird's excellent album "The Mysterious Production of Eggs", which I'm really enjoying. So anyway, that's what I'm looking for. More direct or indirect suggestions for stuff to buy. Preferably the direct kind.

now playing:
Me Me Me
Air Miami Me Me Me

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

UNC radio feed

If you're interested, you can hear Woody Durham's radio call of UNC's Championship game in its entirety by clicking here.

hark the sound of tar heel voices

Thousands of fans pack Franklin Street after UNC defeated Illinois 75-70 for the NCAA Championship
An estimated 45,000 UNC fans queued up at Miami Subs
packed Franklin Street, partying until well after 2:00 am

Okay, so I'm not a professional photographer,and I didn't have a helicopter, so you'll probably like the above photo, from the Raleigh News and Observer better than the ones I took, seen below.

I had such a blast in Chapel Hill watching UNC win the National Championship. Way more fun than if I had stayed in town. Of course being with Karen was a contributing factor to the enjoyment of it, but just being in the heart of all that was the greatest. When UNC won in '82, I was only 10 years old. Not old enough to enjoy it. When they won in '93, I watched the game in Greensboro, and went to Chapel Hill after the fact. This time was different. I watched every agonizing second of the game in Chapel Hill.
I discovered that the reason Karen wasn't at all worried about getting in at the bar was that she, and all the other regular patrons at that bar had spaces reserved for them. So there we sat at Orange County Social Club, on a couch. With a perfect view of the enormous projection screen. In true form, they had the sound from the tv muted, and Woody Durham's radio call going full blast. No self-respecting Tar Heel fan would do it any other way. Actually, when Felton made those final free throws to put the Heels up 5, the roar in the bar became so deafening that I didn't get to hear Woody say "And the Tar Heels have won the National Championship!" I'm sure I'll get to hear it at some point.
It was really cozy in the bar. They were really being strict about the "members only" policy, and they weren't allowing guests, which apparently didn't apply to me. Anyway, it didn't get too packed in there, and although it's clearly an indie-rocker bar, everyone was as pumped up about the game as the people in the sports bars. So, so, so much fun.
I met some of Karen's friends, all of whom seemed really cool. They were all really nice to me, anyway.

I didn't make it home until about 3:30 in the morning. Thankfully, I have the day off today, so I got to get a decent amount of sleep.

now playing:
American Football
American Football American Football

drunk Posted by Hello

drunk happy people as far as the eye can see Posted by Hello

more chaos Posted by Hello

mayhem Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 03, 2005

all i ever wanted was to be your spine

Today was really weird. Our minor-league baseball team, the A class Greensboro Grasshoppers were hosting their parent team, the Florida Marlins. Bear with me for a sec here. They just built a brand spanking new stadium to replace War Memorial Stadium, which was the oldest minor league stadium in use. The spanking new stadium is downtown, about 7 blocks from the restaurant. We figured with over 8,000 people at the game, some of them would come to our place for lunch first. It just didn't happen. We were staffed out the wazoo, and it sucked for them to have to be told to go home. "Sorry, we're just not busy enough to keep you all here". The sun was shining like a champ, and it was about 65 degrees, so you would think people would flock to our patio. However, it was windy as all hell. No outside business to speak of.
I didn't go to that ball game, but I just read up about it. Since the Major League regular season starts (for most teams) on Monday or Tuesday, the Marlins were pretty much using their everyday players. Normally in an exhibition game situation like this, they would play the scrubs or the unproven prospects, but there's no time for that at this juncture. They freakin' had their way with the home team. 21-2. I'm anxious to get out there to see a game in the beautiful new stadium, but it'll have to wait about two weeks.

Well, my Heels have made it to the Championship game, which is freakin' awesome. I'm most likely going to Chapel Hill to watch the game, which should be a total blast. I was there (albeit 10 years old)in '82 when they won, and I made the trip again in '93 when they won. It's gonna be mayhem either way. Win or lose. I can't wait.

now playing:
Are You Building a Temple in Heaven?
Butterglory Are You Building a Temple in Heaven?

Friday, April 01, 2005

2312 is the lonliest number since the number one

The numbers are in. The waiting is over. I have my first official NSA rating and ranking.

After a decent outing in my first tournament, my rating is 797. That's about where I was expecting to be. I suppose I couldn't have asked for much more. Next time, I'd like to end up in the mid 800's. There's not really an upper limit, but the #1 player is rated 2065. So I'm well below him.
My ranking is 2312. Wow! There's "only" 2311 players in the NSA who are better than I am. However, it doesn't really work that way. There's one player, for example, who is a ranked higher and is a few ratings points above me, but I beat the crap out of him twice in our tourney. Despite that, I lost to some players that he beat, including two of the top finishers in that tourney. Anyway, I get a lot of enjoyment out of playing. I know I'll never be national champ. I know I'll never even be in the top division, but I like it a lot anyway.

To sort of make an analogy, I'm sort of like a good Single A baseball player. I'll make it to the next level at some point in my career, but I'll probably never make it to the Major Leagues, or even to AAA. But I'm still better than most amateurs.

I gotta go to work now, but I'll post something interesting later.