May 29, 2004

My, Internet, what did we ever do without you?

Where, for instance, would I have ever read about Russian prison tattos?

Posted by Diablevert at 12:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 27, 2004

Now that's a bold Q-Tip

This Dude is the funniest motherfucker on the internet. How come I haven't read him before? I am t'wixt faith and doubt on the subject of whether or not he was actually attacked by vultures, but the cat story, now that had the ring of truth. And both nearly destroyed my carefully maintained facade of productivity, as the combination of clamping a hand over my mouth to prevent myself from laughing out loud and then wheezing and snorting over that hand, 'cause, well, I couldn't, quite nearly resulted in the cubical gopher brigade poking their noses over the rim to inquire after my health. Can't wait to hear the duck story, Dangerspouse.

Posted by Diablevert at 01:26 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 25, 2004

My, but I've been busy.

Work has developed a terrible habit of requiring my attention --- I know! --- just when I had my heart set upon using my daylight hours to knock Nos. 567-784 off my List of 1,001 Things You Absolutely Must Do Before Leaving the Country, No, But for REALS, Yo, Take Care of This Stuff or You Can't Get on the Plane, Jackass. (alternate title: 1,001 T.Y.A.M.D.B.L.C.N.B.F.R.Y.T.C.T.S.O.Y.C.G.P.J., currently 1,987,453,867,233 on the bestseller list). So I haven't been posting as much. I'll work on it.

Meanwhile, here are two completely random thingies:

Random Thingy Number One:

A thought on the useless pile of crap I've been desultorily sorting through this morning, muttering bitterly all the while:

I'm not sure what a "comfort letter" is in the context of insurance, but it sounds truly filthy. Like some kind of corporate-speak for getting a "happy ending" with your massage.

Random Thingy Number Two:

An Anecdote:
I was googling around last night to find out whether or not y'all have realtor fees in Ireland ---- it seems you do, 6 to 10%. Except they're paid by the landlord. Which comforts me, since I read a lot about y'all bitching about the housing market, and after looking at and whatnot I was thinking, jeeze, maybe it's as bad as New York. But then, see, in New York the realtor typically gets from 8 to 15% of year's rent as their fee --- from the renter. This is on top of any other management fees, security deposits, first and sometimes last month's rent. So I felt better. This is one of the beauties of living in New York; traveling practically anywhere else, you're always stunned at how cheap things are.

In the course of my wanderings, I found an article from the landlord's perspective on the site of the Irish Post, which led me to this op-ed, a mildly interesting piece whose sexy lead-in promises a foreign policy screed and then goes on to speak largely of the dismal science, but, on the bright side, has some warmly apocalyptic predictions about the future if the U.S. economy keeps steady on its present course.

And then I got the byline at the end of the column, and it says, "David Mc Williams presents the Breakfast Show on Newstalk 106."


You have an economist to host your morning show? Your version of Matt Lauer has a B.A. from Trinity and M.A. from Brussels? (Our version is four credits shy of a Communications degree from Ohio U., apparently.) My respect for and incomprehension of you just increased, Ireland.

Posted by Diablevert at 04:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 19, 2004

Giving Euphamism a Bad Name

When I spoke of a lack of hotel options yesterday, I had forgotten that for a certain period in the 80s and 90s when the Irish economy was slow, everyone and their mother had been encouraged to open a B&B to leech a few tourists. (One of my cousins has one, come to think of it.) (AKA has not forgotten. I'm not quite sure what it says about a government-allied reservations clearing house when they name their website after one of the world's most hapless and naïve travelers. Other than that it'll probably have --- and indeed proved to have --- many accommodations in my price range.

It's tough judging a place off of, at the most, two pictures, one exterior, one interior. It helps to have a vivid yet skeptical imagination: to see in an odd camera angle that camera's operator hunched cattycorner in a cramped room, to smell the faint, mossy, plasticine funk brought to mind by that particular mid-70s collision of orange and brown in a paisley coverlet, to sense the hard, abrasive, tautness of the aged polyester upholstery depicted in the photo of a worn and dim sitting room.

Fortunately, I say immodestly, I believe I have been blessed with such rare talent. (An impartial panel has yet to render their opinion):


Donnybrook Hall, eh? "This tastefully restored Victorian house retains many features." You can't elide me, Donnybrook Hall. I saw 1900 House. I'll just bet you feature coal-fired heat and all the original plumbing fixtures, un-marred by anachronisms like hot water or a functioning shower. Still, you have a picture of the bedroom and it looks, remarkably, pleasant, and have taken the lead on style points --- Donnybrook was the site of the medieval version of Spring Break, a site of such historic raucousness that its name has become an eponym for an utter, rowdy, drunken, debacle, complete with fisticuffs. Which is obviously the kind of pedigree I look for when choosing lodgings.


I dunno, "The Barony." For such a nobly named house to list only a TV, a teapot and a hairdryer en suite as the amenities gives one pause. As does the fact that you don't offer up any pictures of the interior.

Snooker and a sandy beach nearby. Well, now. You don't say.


That is a hell of a picture window, Autumn Leaf. Your begonias are stunning. Still, I would have preferred a peek at the bedrooms. No kids, but gay friendly. Hmmm. What do you get up to at week-ends? Don't know if that's enough to put you in my good books.


The Dergvale Hotel "was once the home of Michael Cusack, co-founder of the GAA. Today it is still a famous meeting place for Gaelic fans coming to Croke Park." So, it's the spot of ancestral worship for hurling hooligans, eh? Seems a bit like saying your B&B is on the site of the Red Grange Homestead.

Still, your location is central and your rates quite reasonable.


Well, I've made my reservation and am left with but one question: Why did no one tell me that "ensuite" in this context meant "private toilet" instead of "attached sitting room"? The ensuing shock upon learning of the existence of proper hotels with communal showers wipes away any benefit I may have had by being previously sheltered from this knowledge, let me assure you.

Posted by Diablevert at 01:13 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 18, 2004

Our Fair City

Near my office there's a storefront with the name New York Visitors' Information Center. Rents in this neighborhood ain't cheap, so I can only assume it's some sort of pamphlet pusher funded by the tourist board. Next to the door, just below a logo strongly reminiscent of the Empire State Building, is the legend "The Best Cultural City in the World." To the left of the motto is a T.V. screen set into a blank wall. On the screen, twenty-four hours a day for several days now, for reasons I cannot begin to fathom, has been running a tape loop of naked sniveling mole rats scrittering about some sort of underground burrow.

Posted by Diablevert at 10:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 17, 2004

They're multiplying like Tribbles

I told Strunk the other day that I don't seem to be solving any problems, just multiplying quandaries.

Quandary 1: How to send stuff, and how much of it to send?

Quandary 2: Where to stay?

Balance is the question. I want to take advantage of my luggage allowance to bring a fair amount of my clothes over, as well, I'm sure, as a number of deeply necessary odds and ends I'll be recalling with head-slapping gasps as my departure date nears. On the other hand, the vagaries of my plan require me to crash somewhere for at least a few days while I'm looking for an apartment, and I'd rather not drop a month's rent on a hotel room just as I'm trying to find a place to rent for the next month. And yet bringing a few suitcase's worth of my precious stuff all the way across the pond only to get it ripped off because the kids at Crazy Cousin Eddie's Hang-Loose Hostel were too stoned to lock the door to the coat check is a distressing prospect. I'm standing in the center of a see-saw, tilting first forward towards safe-but-ouch-my-wallet, then leaning a little toward cheap-but-sketch-du-jour, a scotch to the left with a "Hey, free continental breakfast;" a skitter to the right with "you might meet some chill folks to have a beer with;" "goose-down duvets;" "being able to afford to buy a couch;" "comfy;" "sleazy;" veering faster and faster from one to the other, afraid I'll fall splay-legged and impale myself on the fulcrum of an airport Hilton.

Posted by Diablevert at 09:05 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 15, 2004

Quick Post to Say

I've got to bust to catch the bus an go home for my little Bro's graduation.

Congratulations, B!

Posted by Diablevert at 10:08 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 12, 2004

Need to Know Basis

I love my brother's away messages.

My brother has many admirable qualities, chief among them loyalty and dependability. He's the guy you call when you need your piano moved and despite the promise of pizza and copious groveling, all your other friends have flaked. He has an excellent sense of humor. Small children and animals are card-carrying members of his fan club. He is also frank, impatient, and blunt. Put it this way, I saw a Simpsons episode once with this bit of dialogue:

Homer: Two hours? Why'd they build this ghost town so far away?
Lisa: Because they discovered gold right over there!
Homer: It's because they're stupid, that's why. That's why everybody does everything.

And it reminded me of him.

In light of these qualities, as you might expect, my brother is also a man of few words. Whereas other people's IM away messages contain long discursions on where they're going this evening, or cut n' pasted song lyrics, or pallid attempts at smartassery (my own generally fall into this category), or various joshing insults of their friends, my brother's achieve a zen --- nay, a haiku-like distillation of the realm of potentially useful information to its absolutely necessary core: "Taking a shower," "Watchin' TV," "Baseball game." Today, however, I think he reached his apex. Today his away message is, "out."

What more could you want to know, really?

Posted by Diablevert at 01:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 11, 2004

A Discrete Longing for Shiny Things

So, I've hit full on screeching denial mode:

La-la-la-la-la, I'm not leaving the country in a month and a half. La-la-la-la-la, I have plenty of time to watch the Gilmore Girls. La-la-la-la-la. My, but what an interesting book/magazine/back-of-the-cereal-box maze! Let's dally over it, shall we? Mmmmm. Fascinating. That was clearly worth a good fifteen to twenty minutes of my life. Now, what else could I be doing? Polishing my CV? Sorting through my piles of accumulated crap? Checking out the Damn Hell Ass Kings or TWoP or any of a number of political blogs or the Times to see if they've updated, like a Skinner rat tapping the lever for crack rock? (It's not just my OCD, you know. Posts appear at random intervals, that's how you keep the hit count high.) None of them have updated in the last thirty seconds? Hmmmm?

(Hmmmm to have a high, keening note, the special inflection of Procrastinator's Panic, a response to the terrible realization that there may not exist a remaining obstacle/distraction between us and the onset of work.)

Well, I suppose I could post myself. That's like work, but it's also like self-indulgent rambling.

Posted by Diablevert at 10:24 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 10, 2004

Waxing, wanking, whatever

Is it wrong that I find myself gazing with amourous longing at footlockers?

There's an element of practicality to my obsession; I have been considering sending a bunch of my junk parcel post, in which case I'll require a bit sturdier vessel than a carboard banker's box. But the longing part is I think because the footlockers, with thier metal corner bracing and brass studs, remind me a bit of steamer trunks.

There's a romance to the steamer trunk and all it signifies: Gentle slap of the water against the pilings, tang of the salt in the air, twang and creak of the ropes as the boat tugs against the moorings cruelly lashing it to the dock, the buoyant spring of the gangplank under your feet as you give a rakish tilt to your picture hat and head toward the porter, who'll tick you name off the manifest and hand you a complimentary box of confetti to scatter into the breeze as the dockside crowd yells bon voyage, the men doffing their caps to wave with them so you'll see them a moment or two longer before you slip beyond the horizon of the shore…

Beneath the picturebook nostalgia I have evoked, I think, lies a longing for the sanctified penumbra that ocean travel provides, a cleanly demarcated period of neither-here-nor-there. Travel is a seeking of the new, but to be truly open to new experiences requires a shedding of old expectations, of comfortable habit and routine. To be plunged onto the water, to watch home drift out of vision and wait in the expectation of the appearance of strange lands is to allow for metamorphosis; the boat becomes a chrysalis which allows us to slough off the functional frump and weary armor of our workaday lives and prepare to wrap ourselves in more exotic raiment, awakens us to the possibility of flitting lightly from leaf to leaf, hotel to hotel, Italy to Greece, instead of trudging hunched along the familiar narrow prickled byways of our lives, chewing dutifully through the hours. No wonder that all the old books warn of shipboard romance: two bright young things, snug as a bug in a rug, under the dangerous influence of moonlight.

Still, it's easy to be romantic from a few decades distance; my own grandmother on her trip across the pond saw, between the harbors of Cork and New York, little else but the bottom bunk of her violently lurching cabin, and though most of her managed to stay fortunately put, her stomach faithfully replicated the boat's every heave.

It's equally hard not to be romantic, though, when the ocean crossing is compared with its modern equivalent, airline travel, in which one is disgorged unceremoniously from silver tube to silver tube, like a protein molecule from which all that is worthwhile has been wrung. I acknowledge that I take for granted the utility of instantaneousness, to ability to put myself on the other side of the world in a hundredth of Phineas Fogg's record. But the abruptness of the transition forces the airport itself to take on all the diaphanous unreality which is was stretched over days or weeks on board a boat; and what might be a pleasant floaty little buzz administered in small does is a head-thumping, eye-crossing dizzy-maker when shot-gunned in such a brief span.

(To be continued)

Posted by Diablevert at 05:40 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 08, 2004

I'm Taunted

And tortured by my own laziness. Fresh Direct has finally come to town, and I have but two months to revel in my bliss. Fresh Direct is an online grocery store that does home delivery and prides itself on the quality of its meat and produce; I have been slavering with longing for it to get to my zip code for over a year now.

It's not merely the idea of getting stuff home delivered that appeals. New York is famous for the eye-popping array of stuff you can get brought right to your door, but even back in the halcyon days of the late 90s, I don't think I used either Urban Fetch or Kozmo more than once or twice; their DVD selection kind of sucked.

For the unintiated, Urban Fetch and its ilk were based on the theoretically wondrous but actually piss-poor business models of being able to deliver, in under an hour, everything an agoraphobic pothead could desire, from Cheetos to pizza to Tekken. I think they even had foosball tables. Their problem was that in order to keep a twenty-four hour army of bike messengers on hand to instantly bring you your Mallomars and toilet paper --- items which, and let us be frank, this being New York and the proliferation of 24-hour delis being what it is, you could almost certainly have acquired by crossing the street --- they had to make up the margin with the high ticket items. That nobody ever, ever ordered. Cruel, I know, but I can't help but think how fun it would have been to tease them:

"Okay, so I'll take a six-pack of Brooklyn Brown, some Tostitos, a copy of La Dolce Vita, and a DVD player."

"What! Really? I mean, uh, Sony or Samsung?"

"Oh, I'm sorry --- did I say DVD player? I meant: Psych!"

After the entirely predictable disappearance of these outfits, the development horizon for in-house aids for the terminally lazy was bleak. Fresh Direct is the one shining bright spot. Granted, they don't attempt to have everything, but they do have groceries, and that is a matter of some significance for me.

Overtime permitting, I like to cook, but I don’t do it so much during the week, primarily because, and this is a point Ill be repeating several times so feel free to skim, I am very lazy. If I don't remember to stop at the store on the way home, well, once ensconced on couch with a cool drink and the news on, going back out again for anything other than drunken revelry seems a distasteful prospect. And so I end up scrounging around the kitchen to see what I can find. Usually, I find that the takeout menus are piled in their basket on top of the microwave.

Most people would remedy this situation by doing a big shop on the weekends to stock up on meal possibilities. Me, if I find myself in the grocery store of a Sunday it's usually because I've exuberantly invited six people to dinner the evening before. I will no doubt frighten you now by admitting I actually enjoy cooking for bunches of people and do it frequently. Though I am shamelessly willing to bust out the granny cart on such occasions, the ingredients for dinner for 8 and a bulk shop for my own household are more than even its capacious and sturdy self can handle, to say nothing of the frequently self-imposed constraint of having only 45 minutes to gather everything up and return to base camp to get my appetizers on. On a few memorable occasions I've actually run out of time and have had to send forth my minions to scour the neighborhood in search of a particularly rare ingredient; I was making a Thai chicken dish once and had no less than three different people searching three different delis for lemongrass, none of them precisely clear on what lemongrass was, mind you, but all of them phoning in status reports at twenty minute intervals ---- "Nothing at the health food store on Bedford? Roger that. Return to base." "Update on Hana Food, I copy. Clean? You checked up front where they have the fresh mint in little pots? Damn. All right, abort the mission, but pick me up some lemons, would you? We'll just have to fly by wire."

So obviously you can see what it means to me to be able to sit here, widening my ass, plan out a menu and go click click click and have all the necessary ingredients for same show up on my doorstep twenty-four hours later, along with a jug of milk, some cold cuts and box of Cap'n Crunch. It's downright dangerous. I spent yesterday afternoon in a starry-eyed haze, with the sight of one potentially tasty foodstuff immediately trailing off into the construction of an entire meal: "Ohh, fresh pasta! So tasty! Light and summery, that's the ticket; couple cans of crushed tomatoes, some fresh basil, onions, garlic, a wedge of parmesan; you’d want some kind of appetizer, maybe some fresh mozzarella, proscuitto, olives, oops, don't forget olive oil, a baguette for some bruschetta, a bottle of wine; maybe torta della nonna for dessert, I'll need pignoli --- I wonder if they have limoncello ----

Hey! How'd I spend sixty bucks?"

Posted by Diablevert at 03:02 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 05, 2004

The Indy Ball

What to make of such a title? Vaguely pornographic, yet senseless --- a shameless attempt to drag in the absurdist pervert demographic? Nay, my friends, instead an oblique reference to a popular 80s film, which is what the knowing ones call chum to comic book guys.

Dropping the mask of obfuscation --- it's tough, I work at a law firm, you've no idea how many descriptions of my billable hours I've obfuscated --- I reveal that the Indy Ball to which I refer is the giant freaking boulder that threatens to turn Indiana Jones into so much grout between the Ancient Incan Temple floor tiles. Or, in this case, a metaphor for the acceleration of my departure date multiplied by the mass of tasks I've yet to do, bearing down with increasing velocity on my nimbly skipping self. I have certain pleasurable family obligations over the next month or so --- my younger sister and brother are graduating from high school and college respectively, and there will be a massive joint party to celebrate same for the extended clan --- which will be occupying three of my weekends. My roommates, partly prodded by my own departure and partly by the fact that our landlord sold our building and the new owner told us he'd be bouncing our asses as soon as was convenient, will be moving end of their month to an enviable situated and spacious apartment I helped them pick out. So that's another weekend gone to packing and hauling and swearing and pizza. Combine these facts with my intent to spend a couple weeks visiting family between quitting my job and departing, and one can see that very little time remains to work toward the five steps I've laid out. Pulling together a collection of documents that will convince perfect strangers of your respectability, law-abidingness, inborn perk, and willingness to gleefully submit to any corporate overlord who'll take you is no joking matter. The disposition of my stuff remains a perplexing problem, my knowledge of Dublin neighborhoods remains scant, and as my handled organizer thingies keeps telling me, only 39 days remain between me and the grand finale. It's no wonder I feel as if I'm running full tilt, clamping my fedora down with one hand.

Posted by Diablevert at 04:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

In Other News

It was Strunk's birthday last night. Rogan Josh, Éclaire and I gathered at our house to toast him and take him out to dinner. The toasting portion of the evening ….well, perhaps I should just repeat here something I thought it important enough to scribble down on the back of a receipt between courses: "Objectively, this is quite tasty, well-prepared food. Subjectively, only acute concentration on the portion of the tablecloth falling within my line of sight will keep the room from spinning." Perhaps next time, two bottles of wine after dinner, or two bottles of wine during dinner, but not, I think, two bottles of wine before dinner. Did I say bottles? I meant magnums.

Posted by Diablevert at 04:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)