Tuesday, July 31, 2007

35 Dollars and a Six-Pack

Actually, it's down to a five-pack now, and the $35 might be overstating things too. But in one of those moves that occasionally win people various humanitarian awards, the Ski Bum's Mom smuggled out a six-pack of Fat Tire this past weekend. It's greatly appreciated. The one beer I've cracked open tasted GREAT -- somehow Fat Tire tastes better when it's a rare treat.

This gives me the chance to do the possible Fat Tire-Rogue Dead Guy beer-off, to establish which is better ... but you know, I don't think I really would want to know the results. Graham Greene had one wife and two mistresses at once ... by comparison, it should be easy for me to simultaneously love two beers.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Quick and Dirty

#32 -- "A Corpse on the Dike" by Janwillem van de Wetering (re-read)

Wow, long while since I've actually finished a book. I've been reading a few things lately that are either difficult ("Plowing the Dark" by Richard Powers) or super-long ("The Life of Graham Greene, vol. 2" by Norman Sherry) or varying degrees of both ("Guns, Germs and Steel"). I needed a little palate cleanser, so I went back to the JVDW well.

Not much to say that I haven't said before -- I'm re-reading these in the order they were originally written, and I think perhaps you can see van de Wetering hitting his stride with this one. It's quirky, but in an entertaining and creative way, not an annoying They Might Be Giants way.

Back at work. I wish that weren't the case.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Memories of Stupidity, vol. 3

Many years ago, when I first gave the online dating thing a try, I was faced with the prospect of choosing a "handle." I figured the preferred route was to choose something that would
draw in the intellectual chicks that I figured were swarming around Atlanta, unseen.

I was reading Vladimir Nabokov's "Pale Fire" at the time, and cleverly thought "well then -- I'll pick out a character from this book, the aforementioned intellectual girls will be attracted by my wit, and it's just coasting from there!" So I called myself "Kinbote."

For those who haven't read "Pale Fire," I'm not giving anything away to reveal that Charles Kinbote is a woman-hating homosexual.

It was some years before it struck me that in retrospect, that might not have been the impression I wanted to convey to the girls of Atlanta.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Don't Take Your Guns To Town

I'm sure I've seen the Rusty Nail, on Buford Highway, before. While I don't get up to that area much, the sign says the place has been around for 34 years, and it's right next to Lawrence's (a Lebanese restaurant that I've been to a few times, over the years).

I'll have to go up there again sometime -- drinking at a place called the Rusty Nail has a certain something. And more bizarrely, driving by today, I saw this:

The photo's not great -- hard to get a good angle, and cars are in the way -- but in the lower right, surrounded by smoke, there's an enormous fake (I hope) gun.

Yeah. There's a giant perpetually-smoking pistol right outside this place.

I really, really want to know why.

Update: as far as I can tell, it's a barbecue smoker.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

This is Kamloops, Not Kiev

Stupid things that kind of irritate me department:

I went over to the little Russian/Ukrainian grocery -- it's a great place for cheap + good meats and cheeses (and Kinder Eggs), and a great place to occasionally ogle cute Slavic girls.

While there, I got a chunk of Ukrainian dry salami. I love me some salami, far more often than I should.

I brought it home, and noticed the label: under "KIEV SALAMI," it said "Made in Canada." Which is nowhere near Ukraine (I checked). Perhaps the fault lies with me -- if I'm buying purportedly Ukrainian products, I should look for the Cyrillic labels.

This isn't quite as big as whatever the hullabaloo is over Chinese products, but still, I think Congress should investigate.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Trivia

I've driven past this rather unassuming building a billion times or so, not suspecting until recently that it had some historical significance -- it's one of the first (and possibly the first) buildings that famous architect guy I.M. Pei designed in America.

According to the Atlanta Preservation Center (from whence I learned the above), it used to be the Gulf Oil building. So there ya go.

I don't know much about architectural styles, so I can't say much about Pei's style -- I just know he's one of the few architects whose names I recognize. Honestly, the above building isn't that thrilling, but apparently its future is somewhat in doubt -- and undoubtedly whatever might replace it wouldn't have similar historical interest.

Bonus photo:

Something -- for the life of me I can't think of what was there -- recently was demolished on Peachtree south of 3rd, revealing these old ads on the outside of what used to be Agatha's Mystery Theatre (a sign that I don't get over there much, I guess, is that I didn't realize the latter business had gone under).

This is just north of the old Georgian Terrace Hotel, so long ago, guests such as Warren G. Harding and F. Scott Fitzgerald (according to Wikipedia, at least) might have emerged from the hotel and found themselves tempted by whatever Charles Willis was selling.

(EDIT: I knew I'd seen something else about threats to the Pei building recently -- here. Link via the excellent I Saw It On Ponce.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lost Weekend

Have a feeling I've used that post title before, but I can't find any trace of it, so I'll grant myself a free pass.

Back at work (briefly) after a three-day weekend in which nothing was done -- totting up my accomplishments last night, I came up with "made jambalaya" (which was really good, at least!) and "watched half of 'The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3'." Uh, that's it. Unless you count acting like a moron in various places around town.

Friday night, I was waiting for friends at frequent haunt Atkins Park -- Angry Cocaine Blues Guy was there! He even played his favorite song -- didn't sing along, though, choosing instead to scream obscenities at various St. Louis Cardinals.

While sitting there alone, waiting, drunk yuppie dork dude sidled up to me and asked -- "are you a local?" Not sure what the proper answer was, but figuring brevity was best, just said "yeah" rather than "well, I'm originally from Colorado, but I've lived here for eight years and have made something of a home for myself blah blah blah." The conversation as followed:

Him: "I'm new to town -- do you know where I can make a purchase?"

Me (confused and irritated): "A purchase of what?"

Him (sheepishly): "Never mind."

(pause)

"Look, man, I'm not a cop. Do you know where I can (chuckles) sample the local culture?"

(interlude) Oh. So that's what he meant. Naturally, he picks the one guy out on the town that really doesn't have experience in this sort of thing -- seriously, if you want to buy drugs, why ask the morose loner at the bar? Ask the really happy people. (end interlude)

Me (not wanting to be rude): "Uh, try the Clermont Lounge. Down Ponce a ways. I'm sure there will be someone hanging out there that can fulfill your needs."

Him: "Thanks!" (sprints away)

I'm not sure why I picked the Clermont, and I feel a little bad about it. It's a legend and a landmark -- an old hotel, with a long-running nightclub in the basement. The club is a monument to seediness. Dingy, dark, and known for strippers that ... don't fit the classic profile of a stripper. Large, old, or missing some limbs is the order of the day.

When the subject of strip clubs comes up (you'd be surprised how often it does!) I tell people, not without pride, that I haven't been to one since college. That's not totally true. I just (unintentionally) leave out the Clermont, because (I guess) it's so much more than a strip club.

I've been twice, and both times were pretty memorable -- even if I'm fuzzy on the details.

First time: Halloween 2002. A friend and I, after hours upon hours of alcohol consumption, decided that going to the Clermont to see Hot August Knights (um, a Neil Diamond cover band) was in order. And thus I made my maiden Clermont appearance.

I sat at the bar, and watched the strippers in awe and horror, until one that was actually attractive came up -- at which point my friend dragged me away ("that's not what the Clermont is about," he said). We watched the band and got proceedingly drunker -- the last thing I remember is laughing uprariously as some guy (a friend of a friend of a friend) punched me over and over in the ribs, because I'd shown signs of being tired.

Next visit: summer of 2004, perhaps? My old friend Daron -- hadn't seen him since college at that point -- came through town with his then-band. A group of us showed up at the show, we reminisced, we drank a lot, and at some point (I guess) someone noted that we were just across the street from the Clermont. How convenient!

We took Daron there (it was pretty much deserted), drank plenty more, and got roped into signing a get-well card for one of the dancers who had broken a leg or arm or something.

Other than that, well, the Clermont has some pretty cool signs. One of which is tough to photograph properly:

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Bridges of Fulton County

Roadwork is a constant part of living down here, the product (I guess) of poor infrastructure and shoddy materials in years past. Sections of two major thoroughfares (Peachtree and Dekalb/Marietta) have been closed for large portions of this year, and the other night, I was driving home from work and found a street I normally take completely shut off, no warning or explanation. It's still closed.

Those pale in comparison to the Nelson Street Viaduct, though, which as far as I can tell has been closed since the early-mid 1990s. It runs between Spring and Elliott, behind the Southern Railway building. It was first ruled too weak for buses, and subsequently any traffic at all.

Now, it's basically just forgotten. One old AJC article indicated that at one point it was a popular shortcut, but people have obviously learned to live without it. There's apparently been talk at times of cleaning it up and making it a pedestrian thoroughfare, but if that talk has evolved into any actual work, it doesn't show. There's barriers up preventing any vehicles from entering -- inadequate and collapsed fences do a less-effective job of keeping people out. The bridge itself is cracked pavement, broken bottles and the occasional homeless guy.

I went out there in February (the photos have been languishing on my hard drive for five months), and found it nice and desolate. I've been meaning to do a post on it ever since -- now, at a time when I'm a bit lax in getting anything done, seems like a good time.





Saturday, July 14, 2007

The War at Home

When I was young -- I guess I must have been six years old -- the pages of DC Comics were filled for a time with ads for "1941." I never saw the movie (for chrissakes, I didn't see "Stripes" until I was 30), but the ads were memorable -- two-page spreads, with a chaotic scene of, well, just about anything in the movie. As I grew older, I knew the film had a reputation as a flop, but those ads and the wonder they evoked stayed with me.

This past week, I finally rented "1941," and I can say: what a terrible movie. I laughed about five times, four of those connected to John Belushi scenes. It's the worst thing that I've sat all the way through since, well, geez. As long as I can remember. (A bottle of Little Penguin Pinot Noir helped get me through it.)

This will probably dim my recent interest in revisiting "Ishtar," too.

* * *

#31 -- "When We Were Orphans" by Kazuo Ishiguro

Also disappointing, though not on the same level. On one level, of course "When We Were Orphans" is a great book -- Ishiguro is brilliant, after all. The problem for me lies in the main character, who presents something of a dilemma. Christopher Banks is obviously intended to be somewhat frustrating, self-centered, and occasionally bull-headed and dense. Ishiguro succeeds too well in getting this across -- during a fairly tense scene, Banks's behavior marked perhaps the first time I've ever found myself hissing advice at a character in a book.

Then, of course, it gets completely emotionally shattering. I guess this was actually pretty good -- just after being leveled by "Never Let Me Go" last year, I was expecting a repeat.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Rip My Face Off

The pepper-and-onion vodka has been drained, and gosh, wow, it's powerful stuff. Makes the horseradish vodka look like water. It's perhaps a health hazard -- a test shot left my lips and tongue oddly tingly for a good 12 hours, as if I'd lost skin -- but, I can vouch, really good in Bloody Marys.

(This is my only day off this week, so after a week of being relatively healthy, I'm indulging today -- Bloody Marys at breakfast, beer and wings at lunch, heroin and a bucket of lard for dinner.)

Any suggestions on which obscure mid-'80s Czech defenseman I should name this batch for?

* * *

In more serious business -- I've been remiss:

Tomáš Klouček has been without a team since July 1, and I'm just now getting this year's vigil started. Everyone, direct your positive thoughts TK's way.

I like to think that perhaps, this afternoon Larry Pleau or Peter Chiarelli or Dale Tallon or someone will be conducting their normal daily PPA read, and dump coffee on themselves in shock -- "Quick! SIGN KLOUCEK!!"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Still Torpored

Tuesday, I told myself I was going to wake up this morning, ready to kick ass, and write up something awesome on the blog. Then I went out after work, drank whiskey, drank beer, put a fucking Black-Eyed Peas song on the jukebox as a joke, talked too loud, closed down Atkins Park. Then woke up at around 10:30 am, feeling like death, and didn't do anything other than take out the trash until it was time to go to work. Boo, me.

I feel sort of like this month is slow to get going -- looking back at the archives from last July, it seems like I was more inspired, if not doing anything more productive with my life. I've sort of been laboring under the impression that it's just too damn hot to go outside and wander about, but obviously last July I was doing it, and I doubt that the weather was much more pleasant then. I'm just exponentially lazier than July 2006 Greg, apparently.

A couple music-related posts have been swimming about in the fetid, algae-choked ponds of my mind, and even though I don't write about music any more, I'll set one down.

As happens about once a year, I've been dragging out the first two Iron Maiden albums recently. They represent some sort of musical milestone for me -- they're (if this makes sense) the first albums that I was really into, that I'm still into today. I got into IM about the time "Powerslave" came out, and worked my way through the discography to these -- and was immediately blown away by how much better they were than the later stuff, thanks to Paul Dianno's vocals. Once I heard these, Bruce Dickinson's shrieking took an eternal back seat (I don't know if I could listen to "Piece of Mind" or whatever today, and I'm not in any hurry to find out).

Maiden were pretty wanky on these albums, and prone to some of the prog-metal stuff that makes a lot of their later stuff pretty eye-rolling (older now, I can hear way too much of "2112" on "Killers" -- and unlike seventh-grade me, I don't think that's a good thing), but it's well-balanced by Dianno's voice -- the guy's honestly one of my all-time favorite vocalists. It's been a long, long time since I've listened to much metal of any stripe, but even with a little goofiness, the self-titled album and "Killers" are always gonna be favorites. Brings back memories of cloudy Colorado days and "Infinity Inc." comics.

It's been a while since I've done any YouTube linkage, so I can do this with a pretty clear conscience...



...for those of you who don't deal with me routinely in real life, rest assured that I always dress in the shirtless leather jacket look sported by Paul D. in this video.

And while we're on the subject, this seems like a good time to pay tribute to one of my favorite Maiden fans -- Roman Turek!

Turek was famous (well, semi-famous) for adorning his masks with Iron Maiden's "Eddie" mascot, and going on about the band in interviews, one thing that always endeared the guy to me. Also endearing, in an odd way: Turek's nickname was "Large." Things never quite worked out for "Large" in North America, and he's back (and doing pretty well, I think) in the Czech Republic, with HC Mountfield. A quick photo gallery perusal isn't turning up many good shots of what his helmet shows now -- it's got some ads on it, but looks metal-related. Though perhaps it's a Septic Death-style helmet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Torpor

It's not just the blog that's getting neglected, it's virtually everything else as well. Work has been excessively hectic since returning from vacation -- I think I've had one night where the news didn't explode someplace or other. And I've only got one night off in the next week and a half, so ... pity me.

Adding to the lethargy is the weather -- after a few days of gloom, it's oppressively scorching today, a sauna by 10 am. None of this makes me want to do things. I'm not reading (only two literary works I've managed to get through since returning from Colorado: a "Straight Dope" collection and a "Calvin & Hobbes" book), I'm not driving around taking pictures of things, I'm not watching movies past 20 minutes in. I haven't even really been drinking to excess. I'm hard-pressed to come up with anything I have done in the last week and a half. (Other than that vodka, which is probably ready to be drained.)

I have toyed a bit with an attempt at writing a short story. I haven't done that since college -- I've preferred failing to write novels over failing to write short stories. But spurred on by a friend, I'm giving it a shot. It is, at least, not so daunting.

* * *

Listening to:

Iron Maiden - first two albums
Morphine - "Cure for Pain"

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Some Velvet Morning

Oh, my poor, neglected blog. Sorry, guy, didn't mean to hurt you. It's been a weirdly busy week, and now that I'm on my weekend, it's all about doing absolutely nothing -- my torpor is such that I honestly meant to write this at about 10 a.m. (hence the lame title), but it's now 1:30, and I can't think of a new title so that one stays.

Accomplishments for the weekend: remember Bubla's horseradish vodka? There's now a jar of vodka steeping with onions and Bulgarian hot peppers in the kitchen. Should be ready in a couple days. And, yeah, that's my sole accomplishment for the last two days (other than getting the living room a little bit clean). I meant to write something of substance, but that'll come later. I feel more like a nap now.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

All I've Got is a Photograph

Two days back at work and my mental state can best be described as "detached." I have nothing to say. So instead, I offer up more photos of abandonment, some of the 36,000 I've taken in the past couple weeks.

Cass, Georgia. Did I say Georgia doesn't have motels like this? I stand corrected. This is along the old Dixie Highway, the same road of my occasional interest. People who told me "you have to get away from Atlanta to see interesting things along the Dixie" were absolutely right.

What's left of the above motel. It was actually wide open and just waiting for me to go wander around ... but there were about three cop cars hovering in the immediate vicinity, obviously bored in sleepy Cass, and just waiting for some jackass to go traipsing where he obviously shouldn't.

The motel's obviously been abandoned for some years -- a little bit odd, because it's right off a main road, and it's right next to what was probably another motel once upon a time, and is now nice little apartments. Seeing this damaged husk was a bit strange, given the surroundings.

"By the time we make it to Bartow..."

Sorry, to anyone who got that.

Anyway: Bartow, Georgia. The motel is still in business -- obviously a remnant from the days of Dixie.

Cartersville, Georgia. Also still in business. Don't worry, I'm pretty sure the motel fixation will pass soon.

But not yet! We're back to Roggen, Colorado, here, and this is the other old motel in the tiny town. Like the Prairie Lodge, this one is no longer a motel, but was still occupied as some sort of housing.

Same motel. I was a bit mystified by the slouching cowboy, but Vitriola told me that it's actually a pretty common design in the rural West.

"Tire Mountain," somewhere in Weld County, Colorado.

Adult bookstore, South Broadway, Denver. This doesn't quite capture just how garish it is (and just how great a sign). You might wonder why I didn't move about 20 feet so that I had a view minus the tree and light pole. I wish I had an answer for you.

Also South Broadway -- in all my years of ghost sign obsession, I had never seen a Bull Durham sign. Until now.

Fetish shop, which has adapted the Albanian eagle as its logo. Viva Albania!

Wile E. Coyote, in Sobo 151, down in Denver. One of the few lingering traces of Rocky Hockey.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Randomness, Redux

I made it back alive, barely. Going from 75 degrees and a light breeze in Colorado to torrential thunderstorms and 93 degrees here was ... not so fun.

Now, I'm back at work, and clicking "refresh" every 15 seconds on NHL UFA stuff. Whee. Why do vacations go so fast?

* * *

A couple notes: spurred on by Brushback, the PPA is now the official sponsor of Tomas Kloucek's page at Eurohockey.net. I'm perhaps a little too proud of this.

And, Tapeleg at JAHL has not only posted an Armenian vodka bottle that looks like a goalie, but also a photo of me with Czechvar. Good times, good times. Let me promise everyone that despite appearances, I really was sober enough to drive that night. And also second his exhortation to buy me beer if you're ever in Atlanta. He is right on.

I've got about 36,000 photos of things to post -- that'll happen in coming days.