Archive for March, 2009

My Tuxedo is Sad

Symphonic

Went to the symphony this weekend. Slightly more money than I thought, but dammit if it wasn’t a great excuse to break out my newest tuxedo.

I had to steal this photo from Mary for a few reasons:

  1. I neglected to bring my SD card with me today
  2. I haven’t uploaded the pictures from said card anywhere
  3. I wanted to post this at work and not later
  4. I am at work right now

The reason I never pulled the photos from this evening off my camera is two-fold: I meant to do it that night, but the power was out so I couldn’t use my desktop. I forgot to the next day.

I was excited about the symphony because they would have beer and I had a great excuse to break out this tuxedo I had yet not worn.

I hadn’t worn this newest one because for another list of reasons:

  1. It was purchased on Ebay but afterward I never had anything formal enough to warrant wearing it
  2. It is stylistically more classic than my pinstriped, notch-lapelled first tudexo (it features peak lapels and a double vent – my vent of choice)
  3. Said first tuxedo got more wear due to said non-classicality and the risk of damage being negligible
  4. Last time I tried it on, the pants were smaller than I remember them being

When deciding what to wear for the evening, this tux was pulled from the bowels of my closet. I went to try on the pants and realized that they did not go on all the way. The culprit: a safety-pinned note (holding the legs together thus making them impossible to separate) telling me to get the pants taken out. I pulled the note off and found that the pants fit perfectly again! I was ecstatic; my period of non-drinking has actually had an effect on my waist size in a positive way!

So I wore the tux and we had a great time at the symphony, making steak and pasta afterward and watching the Rocker (a veritable who’s who of television celebrities, I must add). ‘Twas raining when I left and visibility had decreased. It took a while to realize that the decreased visibility was also due to all the power being out within a mile radius of my house. It’s truly eerie to drive home in pitch darkness (I turned off my headlights for a moment to feel the full effect – it was neat). Arriving home, I parked in the muddiest spot, not realizing it was the muddiest spot due to the darkness like pitch that enveloped the night. Stepping out of my car, I must’ve hit a mud puddle or something. This morning, whilst brushing the dog hair off it, I discovered the interior of the pant legs caked with mud.

I’ve worn it once since my last  dry cleaning, and it’s a mess again.

It is a sad day for tuxedo wearers everywhere. Or maybe just for moi.

Mea Culpa

boom

As several bishops have been known to issue dispensations on carnivorous abstinence when St. Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday during Lent, I feel it is my duty to toss back a pint of the brown stuff in honour of our Irish brethren, though I’ve given to alcohol abstinence these forty days. (not on the Sabbath though–I’m only human!)

EST it is now officially midnight. I crack the can and pour myself a tall glass of the delicious beverage. Good things come to those who wait (the commercial tells us so), so I patiently allow the beer to settle before taking my first sip.

Heavenly. The Irish sure know what they’re doing.

That gets me thinking; they’ve got whisky too! I pour myself a shot. Excellent. Isn’t there a cream based liqueur as well? Sure, Irish Cream! Another shot. This is turning into one hell of a Saint Patrick’s Day!

. . .

Alright, so the above was just a dramatization of how this evening could’ve played out. In truth, I have sampled all three beverages, just not tonight. Having done so, I can assure you that my reaction to their delicate and complex flavours was accurately represented.

Still, one cannot accurately speak of the festivities of this “green before the green movement” holiday without making mention of the one drink that you knew had to be coming: the Irish Car Bomb.

A combination of the three drinks, the ICB – as I will henceforth abbreviate it – is a variation of the old boilermaker “cocktail” (I use quotation marks because a shot with a beer chaser isn’t really a cocktail per se). Wikipedia says a lot of things I will not rehash; I will however say this: I do not like ICBs.

Guinness was the first beer I truly loved. I don’t know if it was the fact that I like to hate things the masses like (light beer) or if my advanced coffee-loving palate could handle the bold flavours and dark undertones of this famed brew. Regardless, until I discovered micro-brewed stouts, this was my favourite.

Whisky, on the other hand, took quite a few years to warm up to. Jameson was the first alcohol I snuck from the parent’s liquor cabinet. It was, however, inherited from their parent’s liquor cabinet, and not in the freshest state. It wasn’t until Kelly introduced me to Bushmill’s that I realized whisky could be drunk without gagging. I’ve since graduated to Scotch, but a fifth of one of the Irish whiskys is always in my stash.

Everyone likes Irish Cream. I think.

However, contrary to what one barista/bartender may write, not everyone likes ICBs. I am one of those people.

Again, I’m not exactly sure what it is. Maybe it is the curdling of the Irish Cream in the concoction. Maybe it is the fact that you have to chug it, something I loathe doing. Maybe it is the bastardisation of three very delicious single alcoholic beverages. Or it could be, again, the fact that so many people like them and that so many of them are douches. Sorry kids; Dude-bros, Kerplowskis, New Haircut Kids, less than squiriferous chaps, whatever they’re called now, they’ll never cease to enjoy their light beer and ICBs.

For the sake of research, I made an ICB just before writing this. It was an unpleasant experience. I can handle shots, despite their sole purpose being to get you as drunk as possible as quick as possible. But ICBs seem to take that to another level of ridiculous. Plus the fact that if I want to order a pint on March 18, it is almost guaranteed the Guinness is gone.

Still, I raise the remains of my pint to you. (you didn’t think I’d use the whole thing on that bloody car bomb, did you?)

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Sláinte!

As of Late

Someone once told me, and it was likely a professor, that you should never apologize for your work before you present it to your audience. Bearing that in mind, I apologize not for the work in question, but rather for the [Live]Journalistic nature of it. If you hadn’t noticed, I haven’t written anything in a while. This is my excuse piece.

I’ve been busy. Quite busy, in fact. Two jobs have never posed such a time suck as they have this past week or so. (satellite television, too, is quite the time suck, but that will come later) There was a time when I had 20 hours a week at both SVSU and Crumbs as well as taking 12 or so credits. Furthermore, two summers ago I pulled 40 hours a week at SVSU and 20 or so at Crumbs. So I can’t really say I cannot handle having a lot on my plate. I don’t know what happened this time.

Actually, I know what happened, I just don’t know why it affected me so on this occasion. What happened was an instance of the old adage: “When it rains, it pours.” Truly, this is something that happens far too frequently in life, making this barrage of stressful occurrences even more so. Be it having three prospective dates when you are in a committed relationship, or two jobs wanting forty hours from you in the same calendar week. Obviously, the latter is along the lines of what i had to deal with.

Between my two jobs–barista/shift supervisor at Crumbs Gourmet Cookie Café and design/marketing intern at Wolverine Bank–not a whole lot is usually demanded of me in terms of my time. A good forty hours a week is actually hard to come by even combined. However, when the bank has several new product lines and three home shows that they need them rolled out before, it can be expected that half the staff of Crumbs (mostly college students) will be going on spring break–that’s a variant of Murphy’s Law, no? This situation demands 40+ hours of time from those at Crumbs not taking a spring break (read: “Me”) and a good twenty hours from the bank (up from my usual five).

Throw the sporadic social bouts with friends, the occasional dogsitting in Hemlock (a 30 minute drive from work) and my need for sleep to function and we’re left with little time for blogging.

I have, however, partaken in a few enjoyable yet brief side projects. They both involve liquor.

First, a few friends and I went to TGI Friday’s and enjoyed our first mojito, Friday’s “Ultimate Mojito.” It was heavenly. We decided to try to make our own, a rather futile affair indeed. I was not discouraged, though, and, taking my previous experience with infused liquors (jalapeño vodka and mint bourbon) to mind, I soaked the remained of our fresh mint in the rum.

The mint turned what was originally white rum into this colour

The mint turned what was originally white rum into this colour

It didn’t really improve our mojitos (we still need practice, and maybe to measure ingredients next time) but it was fun and made some tasty rum.

I mentioned the dogsitting I occasionally take on. I watch the dog and the house, this time it was from Friday until Monday. Their wifi and cell towers in the rural neighborhood are non-existent so I am forced to watch Satellite television day and night. I don’t complain. Still, that is SUCH a time suck. With so many channels, I may not be watching something I love, but damn it I’m loving the options I’ve got. Still, this visit to their house left me with a little more motivation: friends might actually make the drive out to the boondocks to visit! I must be a good host. So, I did what any other good host with a little time on his hands would do: Infused Vodka. this time, I used a commonly known recipe that Trent sent me and made Skittles Vodka.

Separated the Skittles, then Infused the Vodka. Taste the Rainbow..

Separated the Skittles, then Infused the Vodka. Taste the Rainbow..

It was easy, and it turned out delicious. Next time, I think I will either make a fifth of each colour or try some other candy. Somewhere I read Smarties work…

The long and short of it is, that’s what I’ve been up to, and I hope I wasn’t missed was missed. I like being liked.

On New Toys

So I’m sitting on my bed with a little bit of a sore back and eye strain. Tinkering with tiny toys will cause that to happen to one. The tiny toy in question? The MSI Wind U120.

msi-wind1

Obsessed with the diminutive size and monumental power of Drew and Brianna’s laptops compared to my own (they own a new EEE PC and Acer Aspire One, respectively. My laptop: a five-year-old Toshiba Satellite). Sure, ol’ Euripides and I had been through a lot. He was not only my first computer, he was the last to be named something ridiculous. I went through several total system and hard drive fails–the last occurring at a critical point in the semester, prompting me to purchase my 24” iMac–installed extra ram and even a wireless card when the technology became ubiquitous (at the time of purchase, i didn’t think I would ever need to be “unwired”).

I only had the idea to get a new computer sitting in the back of my head. For the better part of this calendar year actually. I had my toshiba for 5 years now, I knew it would eventually need replacing. Still, it continued to work and did everything I needed it to, so why splurge?

It wasn’t until I started weighing the pros and cons and doing my research that I discovered it would be beneficial:

  • My little sister, Tessa, often bogarts the family computer
  • It is tax season
  • My dad uses Turbo Tax
  • Fighting would ensue
  • I could give Tessa my old computer to prevent said fighting

That was the selfless justification. Selfishly, I’d been reading and watching videos, reading tutorials, and came to learn that iit would be fairly easy to install OS X on one of these netbooks. So I thought to myself, I enjoy tinkering and I enjoy a challenge. As a fun side project, I could try to make this little thing work perfectly. Couple that with excessive hours at work (meaning extra money that could go towards bills–no fun) and you have the formula for a new laptop.

So, after an anal retentive chart, I decided what to buy and came out with a $350 Wind with a 160GB HDD and 1 GB of RAM; this is 4 times the hard disk space my 5 year old laptop contained as well as 4 times as much RAM! For half the price! ZOMG!

I obsessively refreshed UPS.com yesterday whilst at work and rushed home at 5 p.m. to unbox (it arrived at 1:46)

Aside: had to move from my bed to my desk. Sitting typing at that angle was more than uncomfortable. It hurt.


After the exciting unbox, I set about the install. I did most of the grunt work in the week prior, while deciding exactly which computer I wanted and the experts’ opinions on the best way to get OS X on the machine.

Anybody read about this procedure before? There’s stuff all over the internet. At this point in the tutorial, however, they’ll usually say something like this:

Don’t steal. Piracy is wrong. Even though you’re using a modified version of OS X, you should buy a retail copy; support the hard workers and software engineers at Apple, Inc.

So, there, I said it too. And bought it.

oskdisc1

So please don’t hate me!

Like I said, I did all the grunt work in the weeks immediately preceding the procedure. The night prior to the arrival of my babay, I took an hour and a half and installed the iso to my 8GB flash drive so I wouldn’t have to use an external USB DVD drive. Following a video tutorial almost to the letter, my install took just under 20 minutes. I must say, I was quite surprised. I guess that dvd spin speeds still aren’t up to match usb 2.0.

Anywho, I’ve got it up and running now, with minor caveats:

Photobooth doesn’t work.

Does anyone actually use this anymore anyway? It was cool when everyone first started getting macs and had never used a webcam before, but after the first month of having it on my iMac, it got really old. I mean, I’m narcissistic, but not that much.

Sound has a temporary malfunction.

It worked off the bat with a clean install, so I suspect I’ll figure it out eventually; I do enjoy me some trouble shooting. Hell, that’s half the reason I got this machine!

Headphone jack doesn’t work, nor does mic input.

On the other hand, I never used my old laptop for listening to music; that is for which I have 2 iPods, a discman, a home stereo, an iPhone and my iMac. I’ll live.

Size comparison. Nice.

So here he is. I’ve dubbed him Tadhg after an Irish chap I met. Not only does he have the most badass name, but pronounced (with an Irish accent, of course) it sounds like “tyke” which, informally on this side of the pond, is a small child. One only has to look at this photo to see from whence that was derived.

On Laziness

a1027_bm

One of the most annoyingly pervasive trends I’ve found lately is the removal of the stigma that laziness once had. Rather than being frowned upon, it has now become so commonplace that it is the catchall excuse most commonly heard: “I was going to bring my laptop today but I was too lazy.” Too lazy to unplug it and put it in your backpack? This is a task which requires so little energy, you might actually add rather than burn calories doing it. I know that television and YouTube have destroyed our culture’s collective attention span, but this is just ludicrous.

It truly serves as a measure of the inherent laziness developing in our society. Barring the fact that sloth is one of the 7 deadly sins, it’s become so ingrained in our daily lives that one often doesn’t realize its pervasiveness. It’s become one of those phrases that has almost become a slang; we hear it so often that we will sometimes say it ourselves just because it’s so frequently uttered by others. Like poor grammar. I’ve even stopped myself on several occasions from using it.

So, here is my charge to you: PAY ATTENTION. I trust you will once or twice catch yourself saying that you didn’t do something or do not want to do something because you are “too lazy.” When this happens, take a moment to ask tyourself if you really are too lazy to do this? What is the real reason you choose not to accomplish this diminutive feat? I bet that by really thinking about it, you will have no good excuse. Then, perhaps you will actually do it, realizing that it was not that hard to begin with. Please make an effort; I implore you. For the good of yourself and society, stop making excuses and get off your lazy arse.

On Music

benfoldsWhile the blog can be viewed as “the new resume” — another way for employers to get a look at who you are and how/if you fit into the culture of the work environment — can it also relate to an aspect of dating? Could would-be suitors find your writing pedantic and thus write (sorry, intended) you off as a prospective mate? With the prevalence of this so-called “social networking” and such news items as the scandals related to sixteen year olds finding older men on MySpace, it seems that online dating and its variants have become a social norm; one of the numerous acceptable modern versions of courtship.

How many people do you know that’ve had online relationships? Or kept up a long distance relationship via their Facebook and/or e-mail? Considering the amount of personal information we make publicly available through the various avenues of the InterHighway, is it a stretch to believe that a potential companion can write you off because you mentioned that you liked the movie Labyrinth? I don’t think so.

As I was thinking about the blog as the new resume and the social network profile as the dating equivalent of a resume, I combined the two ideas; what if a girl reading my blog decided that she liked me (or didn’t!) from what I wrote? Sure, she could go to my Facebook profile and read about the movies I like, music I listen to, and what I do in my free time. However, the profile only shows a piece, a vague overview. Kind of like how a resume only briefly covers your “accomplishments” without actually going over your specific role in any given project (or like a GPA shows how well you did, but not what you did well in and why).

The above, as it turns out, was just a long-winded seguing into something that popped into my head last week, so please bear with me.

One could potentially cheat, having never met me, look at my Facebook profile and see my “favourite bands” et cetera, and never really question it. But then all the fun of our first meeting is gone. Furthermore, what then would be the icebreakers on a hypothetical first date? All the basics have been discovered on Facebook. Here, again, I will reference my perceived similarities of dating to job hunting; the first date is like the post-resume (Facebook Profile) interview. Here, two people take the general information they have on each other and expound upon it.  Amongst music nerds, the conversation would probably revolve around your favourite albums and artists. But they wouldn’t just list them off to each other. One might attempt to explain why their favourites have achieved that status; to show a little bit about them as a person and what affects the decisions made in music choices (and from that, perhaps, one could make assumptions and inferences about their life outlook).

In that vein, I set about trying to determine my five favourite songs. Perhaps of all time, but at the very least, those which currently hold relevance. How did I define this? First of all, I thought they would probably have to be songs I’ve listened to many times and I still can listen to without being bored through repeated listenings. This did not yield a list of five. So I set about to do it systematically and came up with the following diagram.

As an aside, Christi called my need for charts and graphs “anal” but “endearing.” I find them helpful; from budgeting to deciding what netbook to purchase, I love lists, charts and graphs. I abhor math, but I like the visual representation of things in decision-making. Otherwise, I sit and ponder for hours and hours, stressing and never concluding.

chartFor the record, most comments henceforth will relate to this image and whatever’s going through my head. Very stream-of-consciousness.

Jets to Brazil, The Hold Steady, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (I still can’t get over swing and they do it so well), Belle and Sebastian and Damien Rice are clearly at the forefront of favourites in the artist category. Aside from holding the highest number of top songs (it was too hard to weed them out!), they are the bands that I can constantly listen to without becoming sick of.

Jets to Brazil were my favourite emo band back in high school (my high school self is yelling at me to clarify: they aren’t technically “emo,” they’re “post-emo indie rock,” but I digress). To this day, their first two albums are amazing, able to be listened to straight through with nary a missed beat. Top notch in their genre and definitely something I will continue to enjoy for years to come.

Christi burned me several mix cds featuring The Hold Steady. I listened to these, not really getting it at first. Craig Finn’s style definitely took some getting used to. To be honest, I don’t even remember when I decided I liked it, but I did. I unscrupulously obtained all their albums and then realized that I enjoyed them so much that I had to own the real thing. That’s how I can gauge my liking of an artist – when I like the album so much that I cannot bear to have just a burned or downloaded copy. I now own all their albums and listen to at least one straight through every week.

I break one of my own rules with Damien Rice. Though I love to own real cds, last summer I bought 9 via iTunes’ Music Store and only own the digital copy. Often times, I forget I own the real thing and that I really did spend money on it, but there it is, registered in my name. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing Damien Rice is. I saw him live with only a vague knowledge of his music and it was probably in my top 2 concerts ever (it doesn’t hurt that I’ve only been to 5 or 6 in my life though…) The man’s a genius. And he’s Irish to boot. Can’t pick a more winning combination.

Another band that’s been with me since high school: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. At some point during the big ska phase in my life, I dabbled into a little swing. I don’t know if it was the movie Swingers or something else, but these guys still ROCK. The swing lover in me just can’t get enough of them, and I dare you to listen to them without at least tapping your foot. It’s wonderful. Sure, they’re often “simple songs, about simple things,” but they are catchy, upbeat and incredible danceable.

Finally, we come to those twee Brits, Belle and Sebastian. Not so much two people as much as, like, 8, but a great, poppy band that has everything I like in music: British accents, guitars, harmonic melodies, catchy tunes, and the occasional horn and steel drum section. Mister J.Lauck gave me much of their catalogue and I’m in the process of purchasing The Life Pursuit and Dear Catastrophe Waitress. And by the way, I remember the exact place and situation in which I was in when I heard my two favourite songs off those respective albums.

My top five albums based on being able to listen to them straight through, not skipping a track (not in any particular order):

Regarding Damien Rice’s O: 9 cannot be disregarded as a wonderful, wonderful album either. It is freaking brilliant. Still, it’s a little harder (i.e. less mellow) and can’t be played in front of your mother. Also, I often skip a few of the tracks, making it slightly less of a perfect album to me next to O.

As far as top five songs go, it is REALLY a tough choice. If there was the dreaded hypothetical (what if you could only listen to five songs ever again) then I don’t know how my choice would reflect this. This really came from months of intensive research… Ok, so I looked through my top played list, then my top rated list, cross-referenced them, loaded my favourites onto my iPhone (bearing in mind an 8 GB capacity, I had to be picky) then chose my tops from there. By no means was it even slightly scientific, and looking at them, I can’t even say that these really are my top five favourite songs. At any rate, I will try to justify this is a similarly introspective way. (Feel free to click to another website, maybe one about kittens, at this point. I am doing this for me and me alone. Cheers)

I didn’t like Belle and Sebastian until I heard Sukie in the Graveyard but I listened to If She Wants Me on repeat one car ride down to Lansing and still love it. Plus I just think B&S are great.

Fired is the best Ben Folds song ever and I am proud to say, I am the only one who knows this. Honestly, I’ve never met another person who holds this opinion. He’s never (as far as I know) played it at a show and the only YouTube videos I can find are of people covering it (ok, so maybe people do like it…). Still, I love the tempo and the style and wish he played more songs like this.

As far as the Ben Folds Five go, I had never heard the Theme from Dr. Pyser until he opened with it in Alma; I was blown away. It was the perfect high-energy song to open an awesome evening. After that, I purchased the extended of Forever and Ever Amen just to get that song. It’s even set as my alarm tone in the morning every few weeks; that’s how much I love it.

I’m finding a lot of these songs (and artists and albums even) are favourites because of where/when I first heard them. What’s Left of the Flag was one of the first Flogging Molly songs I heard, over the PA system in Best Buy. I bought the album then and there and have bought every album of theirs since. I don’t remember when I liked A Praise Chorus first, but I know it was one of the first songs I really loved off this Jimmy Eat World album. Coming from loving Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity sound, this song and album took some getting used to, but I’ll be damned if “crimson and clover/over and over” doesn’t get me every time.

This was a long-winded introspective, aimed at self-discovery. If I am to understand myself, surely my favourite music will help that. Well, it seems that all I’ve discovered is that I am eclectic and indecisive. I also discovered that, though charts are great, they do not work in every situation. huh.

So, now some questions remain:

Does not having a favourite band make me less of a person? Can I ever be happy with one job/life/routine if I can’t settle on something as unimportant as a band? Or is music so important to my life that I cannot limit my choices stylistically? Does the fact that a list did not solve my problem make me die inside? Am I still me?

These are questions I really don’t want to ponder. I just want to continue listening to music and writing meandering blogs to kill time. And so it is.

It looks like I’ve still got a lot of work cut out for me. My indecisiveness underscores my lack of female companionship; there’s not even anything on the horizon. Similar to the job market for me. Someone once said that good things happen all at once. That being said, I should probably go introspective a bit longer, focus on self-awareness before I can achieve self-fulfillment – in any area. After I’ve gotten that far, the ladies already know what I’m into.




Hello; my name is Nicolaus E. Witchger. I am a graphic designer from Saginaw, MI best known for wearing bow ties and drinking single-malt scotch, dark beer, and espresso.

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