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A penny for your thoughts indeed. Around here that would be a raise.

What makes a good blog? I think thematic consistency, a little exhibitionism, and honest writing. I can promise you the last one.

Most of my posts seem to be about music or politics. Some of them are funny. But all of them would love to hear a comment from you.

Oh-- and please welcome God to the APW team. We're thrilled and humbled to serve as His earthly vessel.

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Location: NYC

I was born at a relatively young age. Growing up consumed the better part of my childhood. As a young man I chased a lot of girls. But they kept getting away. Then I got older and even slower, so I got married. I've lived in New York City almost since before I moved here. I summer in Manhattan, which is like New York City, but with more humidity.

Here's me, without baby, thinking big thoughts. (Actually, what I'm thinking is, "Hey, these aren't Pringles!") I think I look better with baby.


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A Lady Likes a Hat
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Posted by: --josh-- @ 6:54 PM  3 comments


Have you seen your mother, baby, standing in the shadows?

Unlike God, I have not yet seen the Da Vinci Code. Everyone I know who has seen it, though, seems to think it kind of blows.

Am I the only one who finds it deeply ironic that sites like this have arisen to help debunk the Da Vinci Code-- coming from people whose entire belief system is predicated upon the blindly faithful belief in the literal truth of one single book? And, that when you hold that particular "one-book" belief system, then nothing-- not science, not physical evidence, not a grasp of history-- can "debunk" your belief, because, well, its what you believe in.

Me, I accept Mary Magdeline as my Lord and Savior. I believe every word of the Da VInci Code to be the literal truth. Heck, I KNOW its the literal truth, because it says so right at the very beginning! And if I can't trust the Book to tell me whether or not it is entirely literally true-- well, the entire universe as I grasp it would shatter into a billion pieces if I even pondered that possibility.

Later tonight, I'm going to posse up with a bunch of other devout Da Vinci Code disciples, and we're going to go out and kill heretics.

Just kidding. Actually, we're going to go to Starucks for biscottis. But I had you going there...

Posted by: --josh-- @ 5:30 PM  3 comments


Groovy Tuesday
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Yes, I know it isn't Tuesday. But its a groovy Tuesday kind of day here in Gotham. If you want to know what that means, give this Swan Dive track a spin. It is today's SOD.

I like to think, its always Groovy Tuesday somewhere.

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 10:59 AM  0 comments


Thus Spake Me: May 23, 2006
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
(God's column appears in this space, at this point, pretty much whenever He feels like it.)

A lot of you have been wondering: Is God Dead? Throughout history man has grappled with this question. It always seems that the times in which you live are less Godly than the olden times. Of course, if you read the bible carefully you know it’s really a book about flooding, plagues, pestilence, famine, and the occasional doomsday prophecy. In short, kind of like modern day New Orleans, without the boobies. So it isn’t as if things have gotten slowly bleaker over the past 3500 years, despite how pessimistic you may find yourself…

Of course, the zealous few of you who are most adamant that God remains in your midst seem to have an almost sexualized fetish with end times and the destruction of mankind, which if you ask Me, is pornography of the worst kind. You seem to want everyone ELSE to die, in order to prove you’ve been right all along about your faith in Me.

Hint: you are not right. God takes no pleasure in the prospect of a fiery hell on earth, and I wonder why some of you who think you are close to Me find that notion so beguiling. Maybe, if you fetishize a fiery hell on earth, you’re actually doing the work of that other fella. The one with the fancy suit and the trident.

Has God forsaken thee? No, I never do that. When I am away, it is generally because you have forsaken Me. Sometimes, it is because I want you to be alone with your thoughts for a spell. Why might I want that? Well, you have to look inside to figure that out. That’s kind of the point, isn’t it?

Anyway, I'm here now, and I'm jazzed! am I the only one who is all a-twitter over the release of the Da Vinci Code? I’ve already seen it twice. (I hate to spoil the ending, but let’s just say: the Catholics did it.) As usual, Ron Howard pulls his punches, and almost makes a really good movie.

Of course, debunking the book has become a cottage industry. Don’t people realize that the very fact that a work of fiction seems to merit debunking proves, a priori (pun intended), that there’s something here?

Let Me separate fact from fiction for you.

You can’t use “because it says so in the bible” to prove anything. The bible is selective, biased, incomplete, and poorly translated. And arbitrary with respect to what went in and what didn’t. I never understood why the Gospel of Mary or Phillip was left out; personally I find the Gnostic stuff far more compelling than all that passion play gore and nonsense.

Jesus and Mary were married. You can trust me on this; I was there. For those of you who think if Jesus was married the bible would have said so, allow Me to make two points: (1) Actually, a Jewish rabbi at the turn of the first millennium AD who was not married would have been sufficiently unusual to have merited note, not vice versa. Quite simply: no mention of Jesus's marital status in the bible argues FOR his marriage, not against; (2) If you understood enough about the ways and customs of the time, you’d realize that the bible leaves no doubt that Jesus and Mary were married. Sure, a regular Joe reading the bible in English 2,000 years after the fact might not get it; but a Hebrew reading the original at a time roughly contemporaneous with the writing would have had no such trouble. But then, don't go by the bible. Go by Me. I danced with the bride. She was lovely.

The Holy Grail is the bloodline of Christ. Seriously, you shouldn’t need me to tell you this. You already know that the grail is the receptacle of Christ’s blood. For goodness sake, have you never heard of metaphor? Because this one couldn’t be more clear. Didn’t you ever wonder what the legend of King Arthur had to do with a grail quest, if the grail was just a golden cup? Most of Europe’s kings traced—or attempted to trace—their lineage back to Christ. The quest for the bloodline of Christ was the quest for proof of divine right to kingship. That was what made them kings, especially in medieval, Christian Europe. I mean-- duh!

Da Vinci was a prankster. Among his best religious pranks, of course, was his use of the “black art” of alchemy—in this case now known as “photography”—to make the shroud of Turin. Was that really Mary Magdalene in the Last Supper? The important thing to remember is that the painting, like Dan Brown’s book, is fiction. Da Vinci was tweaking his nose at you in that painting, daring you to make the leap. Notice too, that even though the Last Supper was a Passover Seder, there is no wine glass at all in the painting (if you've ever been to a seder, you know the un-uttered fifth question is, "Why on this night do we get so drunk before the meal, even?") The literal chalice is quite conspicuous by its absence-- leaving you to make your own mind up about the metaphoric one.

Albinos make great villains. The killer in the Da Vinci Code is an albino member of the secretive Catholic sect Opus Dei. With all the fuss over the way the Da Vinci Code depicts Opus Dei, why isn’t anyone speaking out for the plight and persecution of the albino? Every time you see a juicy part for an albino in a film, inevitably it’s as the bad guy. What’s up with that?

******

By the way: a taco in Chile has womanly features, and next thing you know, pilgrims come from miles around flock to see the face of the Blessed Virgin. Yet God writes in a blog, and-- nothing. Zip. Nada. I don't get it. Maybe next time I'll appear in a bag of Doritos. Or on a podcast; those seem to be popular these days.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 3:43 PM  4 comments


Spinnin' and Grinnin' (part 1)
Friday, May 19, 2006
With my stereo boxed and put away, and my computer on the fritz for a while, I was without music (save for the trusty iPod) for longer than any time since… well, the 70s. But the new records kept coming in and piling up, unplayed. (Yes, I still call them records. They have, indeed, been recorded.) So let’s run down some of them; I’ve been listening on the computer, which has a pretty good sound system for a glorified typewriter. And my wife and I gave some of these a spin in her car.

Grumpy Old Men
Neil Young has received a lot of attention for his quickly-- one might even say “hastily”-- recorded and released Living With War, as damning condemnation of the Bush administration. The conservative pundits, of course, have railed against him; “Where does a Canadian get off criticizing our country?” (Why don’t conservatives understand the difference between criticizing the president and criticizing the country?)

While I’d be inclined to agree with Young’s politics, and I love Neil Young’s work, especially when he straps on the ax and cranks up the fuzz, I find this record to be… well, my initial take was, “it’s a little preachy.” A lot of folks who embrace the politics are lauding the music, but I find it to be at best a mediocre Crazy Horse-style release. Find me one thing here that, for a moment, approaches the majesty of “Cortez the Killer.” Sure, not a fair test; most artists go a career and never touch that sort of height. Well, how about this? I thought Greendale was a better record; similar in musical style (Young’s guitar, bass, and drum with backing) and even political. But this sounds to me too much like uninspired sloganeering for me to get a boner from it. A shame, too.

We were in the car, Neil wan't working for us, and we had four CDs with us to check out. So we decided to pop in the new Paul Simon. That augured well; while his last (You’re the One, 2000) was a snooze, the new one (Surprise) features the sonic soundscapes of Brian Eno, one of the most gracefully aging of all the rock era musicians. Soon though, I was put in mind of a cranky old Jewish man, complaining about the soup. You’re going to think I’m making these lyrics up, but I’m not:

“Its outrageous a man like me stand here and complain. But I’m tired. Nine hundred sit-ups a day. I’m painting my hair the color of mud, mud, OK? I’m tired, tired. Anybody care what I say? No! I’m painting my hair the color of mud.”

Oy! You call that a piece of fish?

If he was mumbling these sentiments on a park bench, you’d discretely move away from him.

Now, if only Eno had produced Graceland…

(to be fair, it is true we yanked the Paul Simon record a song after the above-cited “Outrageous.” Subsequent listening has revealed the charm and complexity of the Simon/Eno collaboration, which I’d say kicks in on about the fourth tune. Three whiners, then it’s a keeper.)

(Wait. I just looked at the cover. Four whiners.)

So we turned to old reliable, Bruce Springsteen. His new one, We Shall Overcome: the Seeger Sessions, is all covers of songs written by or associated with Pete Seeger. All I can say is, at least I heard the concert was fun. (Plus, it’s a damn Sony Dual Disc, so assume it won’t actually play on your CD player, especially if the CD player is a Sony.)


Kid Rock
So at this point we only had one CD left with us, and that one I’d brought for our daughter: Jack Johnson’s soundtrack to Curious George.

If you’d told me that the soundtrack to Curious George would be better than the new releases by Young, Simon, and Springsteen, I would have thought you were delusional (or under the age of 8.) But damn if you wouldn’t have been right. Whereas each of the previous three records is but an echo of the best work of the artist, easygoing surf bum Jack Johnson’s easy breezy whimsy goes just right with the George oeuvre. Happy strumming, never in any hurry, and with cheery little stories and lessons embedded into the lyric, which you don’t even have to pay attention to. (Annie, it’s on Napster, check it out.)

Dan Zanes was in the Del Fuegos, part of the great 880s roots rock revival. Now he has a yellow suit and floppy hair, and he had videos on the Disney Channel after the Wiggles. So when I saw his new record, Catch That Train! By Dan Zanes & Friends, at Starbucks, I figured maybe it would be as much fun for the whole family as the Curious George was. I was right. This is kids rock in the same sense that the Beatles were when I was a kid; bright silly happy bouncy sing-songy songs. Nothing free to be, no learning, no deeper meaning; just a bunch of train songs (sample title: Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie.”) He isn’t like Mr. Rogers at all; more like your kind of cool, sloppy, fun-loving uncle who still reads comic books at 45. Which is, of course, the kind of uncle I’ve always endeavored to be.

Also, Zanes reminds us that you can never have too much African chanting or ukulele.

To sum up: Neil Young, thumbs down; Paul Simon, thumbs up on tracks 5 through 10 of the 11; Springsteen, thumbs down; Jack Johnson, thumbs up; Dan Zanes, thumbs up.

More to come in part 2…

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Posted by: --josh-- @ 11:01 PM  4 comments


Shoot Me Now. But First: Tech Advice!
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Maybe I’ve mentioned the work we’re doing in the apartment. New floors are down, built-ins have been torn down, walls have been plastered and painted, new track lights hung. We’re in a long swatch of down time now that involves waiting for the good people at Little Wolf to build the new cabinets. Many things still in cartons and a general air of disarray permeates all.

I promised the missus that I would do my damndest not to let all the chaos—I mean, missing plaster, holes in the wall, exposed brick!—get me down. Usually this kind of environmental change leaves me rolled up in a quivering ball, gently rocking, a shawl draped across my frail shoulders. But this time I was doing so well… until 2 weeks ago. At which point, the hard drive on my trusty Dell Dimension 8400 crashed.

(By the way: am I the only one who thinks Dell used to be great, and now they totally suck?)

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Josh, you’re a modern guy. You’re obviously smart enough to back up your data, right? And yes, you’d be right.

So the good people at Dell came by 2 days after the crash and installed a brand new replacement hard drive. (By the way: Dell support sucks.) Of course the Dell guy didn’t format the drive or anything; we had to put Windows on ourselves. OK, a lot of work, downloading drivers, finding CD-ROMs we haven’t seen in 2 years, like that. And fortunately my wife does this for me, because I’m really not what you’d call a patient man.

So I’m still realizing how much stuff I didn’t back up (like my email), but knowing that I had all my documents and software on that external drive made me feel kind of OK about all this. Smug, even. Almost 50 gigs of MP3s that I’ve put on my iPod; all my work stuff, photos… you know, my digital frigging life.

So then its time to mount the external hard drive... and… nothing. It isn’t there. The Dell doesn’t see it. Long story short, several support calls later to both Dell (who sold me the external hard drive) and Maxtor (who manufactured it), we conclude that, yes, the external back up hard drive has also crashed. At the same time as my internal hard drive.

At this point, I got my binkie and crawled into the corner. I’ve been there 2 weeks.

It was bad enough having my hard drive crash. It was bad enough that it crashed in the middle of household upheaval. But to have my back-up drive crash at the same damn time? What did I do to the universe to deserve this fate?

Turns out it probably wasn’t a coincidence. Most likely given the nature of the damage to the drives, I had a power surge. Both machines were plugged into the same power strip (or, as they are obviously mistakenly called, surge protectors); and both got fried at the same time.

So all this is why we’ve been scarce here at APW of late.

But I do have 2 pieces of good advice for you.

1. If you use an external hard drive for back-up, for God sake, UNPLUG the thing when not in use. Trust me on this.

2. The iPod cannot export its contents to a hard drive. This is a capability Apple had to restrict in order for the record companies to allow them to sell songs in iTunes; otherwise I could come to your house and offload 10,000 songs you didn’t pay for from my iPod. Which means, if say by some crazy freakish stroke, your hard drive and back-up hard drive crash at the same time, and it turns out the only place you have your MP3 library, which took you 3 years to rip from CD, is on the iPod-- well, if that should happen, you’re kind of screwed. Because you can’t get them off the iPod and back onto a computer.

Or can you? I was determined to find out. So thanks to Google (they don't suck) I found out that the good people at copypod make a piece of $20 software that lets you do just what I needed to do-- get all my music, including my playlists, from the iPod to the new squeaky-clean hard drive in a Windows machine (don't know if there's a Mac version.) So if you ever find yourself needing to get the contents of the iPod onto your hard drive, this is the ticket. Drop-dead easy to use, and at $20 a no-brainer. APW rating: 5 stars.

Have I mentioned the refrigerator is leaking?

Posted by: --josh-- @ 3:24 PM  3 comments


Hello?
Geez... you can hear a pin drop in here.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 1:19 PM  0 comments


Errata II
Friday, May 05, 2006
Hey... where'd this lump come from all of a sudden?

Posted by: --josh-- @ 3:29 PM  1 comments


Erratum
Er, as per God, there will not in fact be photos of the party posted. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 3:28 PM  0 comments


By the way...
...we've shot past 5,000 visitors. If you weren't able to make our party, stay tuned to this space for pix! It was a wild, raucus affair; God got drunk and ended up going home with the intern.

Posted by: --josh-- @ 3:27 PM  0 comments


Is there anything better...
...than a pretty girl on a sunny day?

Posted by: --josh-- @ 2:39 PM  0 comments


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