Thursday, March 30, 2006

Cambyland Comeback

oh boy. Things were not looking good, my friends. TrivMaster JMcC and I, team Cambyland, were battling the tough competition of 6, 7 (illegal), 8, (illegal), and 9 (illegal) person teams. Going into the 4th quarter we were 13 points out of 5th place, in 8th place overall. We had just identified a dismal 5 out of 10 international leaders. And then we tanked the first question of the 4th quarter. For those of you not familiar with the ways of Trivia Night, this means that you're paying your whole tab. 100% of your pitchers, 100% of your pizza. Which at the Newtowne Grille is not a whole lot, but still. Pay full price? Nay.

It started tamely enough: a question about mountain ranges with the highest active volcanoes in the world. We went with Andes. South America = coffee = volcanoes. Bing. correct. hmm, is it possible? No. That's crazy talk. Too much. Even if we ran the table ... Two correct questions later, we were still in about the same positioning going into the final two questions. So, we went for broke, bid the max, and a "Greece" and "Bridges of Madison County" later we're on a 38 point run. Just enough to tie us for third and force a tiebreaker. Tiebreaker, you say? Bring it. Oh, it's already been broughten. Population of Greece? 3.5 Million. Count it. Well, no. It's like 10 million. But we were 400,000 closer than the other team.

Third place. $10 off the tab. Thank you very much.

"I hope nothing. I fear nothing. I am free" - Nikos Kazantzakis

Business Casual Stag Devil Death Boy

I'm about at the halfway point of the rough draft layout of the Business Casual Stag Devil Death Boy graphic novel (aka grown-up's comic book) and it looks a little something like this ------->

Hopefully, I'll be done with the rough draft phase by the end of June. So, assuming I don't get lead poisoning, there's a decent chance that the final product will be done by the end of the year. Then there's just that little part about getting it published and distributed. piece of cake.

Good news:

- journalist Jill Carroll (UMass alumni) was released by her captors in Iraq.
- Jack Abramoff got 6 years in jail.
- I leave the corporate world tomorrow.
- 8 and 1/2 days without a peep from the douchebag.

Word of warning:

- don't get sucked into the buzz about George Mason, the cinderalla team in the Final Four, this weekend. Karl Rove went there. ergo, evil. Go Gators.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Last night I went to a seminar on the effects of the war on the health of the Iraqi people - part of an effort not to allow myself to totally ignore news on the Iraq War as a result of numbness. A lot of it was stuff I already knew (like the reports of putting civilian casualties at about 35,000 and the Lancet report which put the number at about 100,000 a year and 1/2 ago), but there was a 15 minute documentary which featured a testimonial from a doctor who was in Falluja during the seiges that killed approximately 2000 Iraqi civilians. It's pretty outrageous. The documentary is being shown around the country now but has not yet been published by any media. Most of what he reported is included in this 5 page pdf file which I got off of the website of the group that he's involved with: I highly recommend reading it, especially if you're like me and catch yourself avoiding reading stuff like this. It's important to remind ourselves how unbelievably fucked up this war was, is, and continues to be. That our government continues to defend it is unconscionable.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dude v Cart - The Remix

ok, if you haven't watched Dude v Cart yet, go back a post and watch it before proceeding.

good? ok. Now, allow me to present The Remix:

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weekend Wrap (one day late)

Sad, Lonely Earplugs: again at the considerable risk of jinxing myself, I'm happy to report that I have not heard a peep from the McGee for close to six days now. This is crazy. Is it possible he's gone? No, no. Bite your tongue, VTK. Do not allow yourself such thoughts. He's lurking out there somewhere. I was struck by a truly horrific thought earlier today: what if he moved out and moved into the apartment I'm moving into next month. Oh the horror. the horror. I believe I would crumble to the ground and sob if that happened.

Damn you, Roberts: I'm starting to wonder if I'm going to spend the better part of the next 30 years reminding myself why I reluctantly supported the nomination of Chief Justice Roberts, trying to justify it to myself, the way I justify my 2000 support for Nader. Not that my qualified support of Roberts had any impact on his nomination or confirmation (not that my Nader vote in Massachusetts had any impact on that election). But after reading articles like this from last week's NY Times, a little reminder is in order: he's a parallel swap with Rehnquist, he's an intelligent, analytical man rather than a wingnut, his expressed respect for stare decisis suggests that he doesn't have an agenda to overturn Roe v Wade, and we're saving the filibuster to block the conservative nominee that Bush will put up to replace O'Connor. What's that? We didn't even use the filibuster on the conservative nominee. ... crap.

Dude v Cart: still working on fine tuning the compression process, but the dvd's turned out pretty good. Oh did I forget to mention that the dvd also has a remix of Dude v Cart using discarded clips? It's hott. As I was saying, the compression thing is still being sorted out. The first attempt to create a quicktime file out of it, knocked it down from 3.5 GB to 7.5 MB, and sacrificed a fair amount of quality, especially in the way the aged film parts look. Nevertheless, the 7.5 MB version is now up and viewable on my youtube account. It's irritates the hell out of my perfectionist streak to see this version up there, but I suppose it does give a pretty good sense of it. Actually, I might be able to post it here. Let's try:

that worked. UPDATE: I also did a little experiment with the compression and managed to get a really good version at 175 MB. I'll try it again tomorrow to see if I can get one under 100 MB (which is the youtube limit). If that works, I'll compress the Remix, featuring never before seen footage.

Hemisphere: I was down in Sandwich for a day and change this weekend to help do some sanding and painting in Tracy and Eric's new restaurant. Looking good, kids.

Friday's the last day: well, at Fidelity anyways. 5 and 1/2 years is a long time.

Friday, March 24, 2006

McGee Does Spring Break

I know I might be jinxing myself by saying this, but I think Jazzy McGee might be on on Spring Break. After a marathon 10 hour vitriolic, profanity laced, shit talking phone session on Tuesday afternoon/evening, Jazzy has been silent for about 57 hours now. 10 hours of him yelling about how his "fucking outrageous" "fucking ridiculous" neighbors better "back the fuck up", among other hostilities, culminating in him yelling "wake the fuck up! wake the fuck up!", as I laughed myself to sleep with my earplugs in. His negativity has totally turned on him; he was practically crying about how he's sick of it, he hates it, he hates what its making him, he's literally sick to his stomach, he's refusing to leave, he's not leaving, "all my life" blah blah blah. Almost enough to make you feel sorry for him. Except then you remember what an unbelievable asshole he is. And I think I can add idiot at this point. I mean, did he really think he could sustain this level of negativity, without it having serious deleterious effects on his well-being? You reap what you sow, bitch. Learn it. Know it. Anyways, the 1:30 AM "wake the fuck up" shouts were the last noises I've heard. 57 hours and nary a sub-woof, a shout, a woo, an "oh yeah", a "wooeee", a stomp, a dropped or dragged item of 50 pounds or more, a 10 hour pacing session, a 10 hour bitching session. Either one of his other neighbors killed him or had him abducted, or he's on Spring Break. Getting attacked by a shark. Woops - that was a little negative. I guess that's to be expected, when you walk around for 3 days ready to fight.

One more month ... one more month ... I could balance a deviled egg on my nose for longer than that. ahh sweet silence. The concept of having some control over my sonic environment is blowing my mind.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Pan-Mass Portraiture Tour - P-Town to Pittsfield

I've been planning on putting together a string of gallery shows for this summer now that I have all this free time. Seemed like an appropriate move for someone making a run at being a professional artist, which I'm sort of, not really, doing. The idea was to hit a bunch of spots across Massachusetts that I have spent some time in and that have thriving arts communities, so I've tentatively settled on Provincetown (partying at Hamilton's house for 5 years counts), Cambridge (currently residing), Northampton (UMass, post-UMass time spent at Hugos), and of course - Pittsfield. The home of the Mighty Housatonic. I'm still looking into solidifying spots at the first three, but it is with great pleasure that I announce that 10 or more of my paintings will be hanging in Pittsfield City Hall (pictured) for the month of August. How you like me now, Coach Belanger?

[UPDATE: and then just this afternoon, I secured a show at the Middle East here in Cambridge. I went to the Zeitgeist Gallery and the guy wasn't there, but the other guy said they were booked for like 8 months. Then I walked by the Out of the Blue Gallery (who manages the Middle East shows) and the guy there said that he could give me a show on the restaurant (non-corner-bar) side for the month of September. So my concept of working my way across the state in order may not work out, but it's a pretty good place for a show. And I have more of a connection to it than the Zeitgeist or some other gallery (connection being that I've hung out there and gone to shows there for over 5 years).]

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Dude v Cart

The first digital short, coming in at just under 4 minutes and a whopping 3.5 gig, Dude v Cart, is officially complete. Two guys (me, Nick-Lo), a camcorder, a shopping cart, iMovies, and some nifty sound mixing from Joel, and we're done. It's pretty amazing how much work goes into such a short project. I can't imagine what a massive undertaking a full length film is. I guess that's why the credits are so long. Right now, I'm sorting out how to disseminate this little bad boy. As is, it's too big to throw up on a website or blog. I found a tutorial on how to compress it to a quicktime movie format, but I need to do a little more reading/experimentation on that (ensure I have a back-up, choose a codec, etc). If I can get a version under 10 MB that's not too degraded, I can throw it up on for free; or a version under 15 MB could suit a submission to something like Famous For 15 MB. In the meantime, I think I'm going to burn up some dvd versions, so if you'd like one, email me your physical address (and dvd + or - specs if you can only view one or the other). Or if you want me to FTP the whole thing to you and your server or you have webspace to house it, please let me know.

Monday, March 20, 2006

March Madness

That's sign language for basketball, which pretty much explains my weekend. I watched tons of hoop and was generally too drunk to talk about it, so I just kept doing this sign.

By myself, lying in a pile of garbage in the alley behind the Plough and Stars.

Just kidding. That's not true. It was behind JJ Foley's.

[update: Apparently, I need to clarify: I really was joking. I didn't spend the weekend drunk lying in the trash behind the Plough and Stars or JJ Foley's.

(it was heroin)]

Friday, March 17, 2006

Har Ta Tar Tar

McNamara and McGee

My nemeses.

Well, my Put-all-your-eggs-in-the-Big-East-basket strategy for my NCAA Tournament picks is not going well. I picked Syracuse to beat Duke on their way to the Final Four, on the basis of the great roll they've been on which is entirely because of the hot shooting of Gerry McNamara. Unfortunately, he injured his groin at some point and only played 23 minutes, didn't make a single shot from the field, and watched as Texas A&M spanked them out of the Big Dance in the first round. Big East is 0 for 3 so far. not good. You're dead to me, Gerry.

And if you're wondering why I've posted a picture of Dave Roberts, whose steal in the 04 ALCS was a key moment in the demise of the Yankees, it's because Jazzy McGee looks exactly like Dave Roberts (yeah, that's right, "shocked reader"). I'm starting to wonder if he actually is Dave Roberts and is some sort of evil anti-Dan force in the universe (is that a proper noun? there's only one by definition, right?). After he sabotaged my attempt to rent the place yesterday, the proverbial camel's back was broken and I emailed the landlord to say that I didn't know if I'd ever rent the place with his noise, and that if he happened to be out while I showed the place, I'd feel like I was deceiving potential tenants. I fully expected retribution after they talked to him, but honestly, what else is going to do? Wake me up at 12, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8? He's already done that, that, that, that, that, that, that, that, and that. This morning it came at 6:30 AM when he stomped on the floor 4 times, said "punk" and then started singing at the top of his lungs. what an ass. I put the earplugs in and went back to sleep. He also figured out how to open the hatch under his tub and scratch the metal grating directly above my bathroom. clever, dude. He either left or has been asleep this afternoon when I showed the place. Two very nice young women came in both asked about the noise and my conscience forced me to be somewhat honest about the noise. I want to tell these people not to rent the place, but if I do, I'm screwed. Quite the moral quandry.


thanks to those who responded with tech support. Apparently it's as easy as shift + apple key + 3. I should have known that. Sometimes I'm so stupid. I'm so stupid!!

It has come to my attention that some people are disappointed with the Von Trapper Keeper output, the suggestion being that I should be posting much more, now that I'm unemployed. Fair enough. I'll try to post more. But I welcome feedback on what the content should be. Feel free to use the comment section to voice your preferences, or email directly. For instance, a certain someone who shall remain nameless (Dave's wife) told me last night that she hasn't been reading much since I stopped writing about getting drunk at the company Christmas Party. Believe you me, there's plenty of material in that genre. Also, if you're concerned about the content having been dominated by Jazzy McGee lately and would like to read less about that scumbag, I can oblige. It's just that he's such a scumbag. Or if you want me to elaborate on how the "shocked reader" commenter on the Tale of Two Gumbels post is an idiot, I can do that. More political cartoons? Updates on Business Casual Stag Devil Death Boy? Let me know. Help Von Trapper Keeper help you.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006 v 1.2

Thanks to my wicked super kick ass web guy and friend NJ, the new and improved version of the website is up. I couldn't figure out how to get a screenshot on the Mac, but click on any window to get a look at the new layouts, which show all the thumbnails of each sub-group. Also, there are a couple new additions to the Recent Work gallery and a few of the commissions from the last year added into that gallery. Now that I have the new site mostly up, I've started making a few inquiries into galleries for the Pan-Mass Gallery Tour - P-Town to Pittsfield - idea. No response yet. Oh, how I do hate the Art World.

What I have gotten response on is the recent publication of the news that my apartment is officially up for grabs as of May 1! That's right, Jazzy McGee - so long, sucka! Sean had a room opening up back in the 86 Norfunk Complex and I jumped on it. I talked to the landlord about breaking the lease and they're cool with it provided we get someone to move in on May 1st. I faxed them the official Break The Lease form and they had a potential renter calling me within the 1/2 hour. I threw something up on Craigslist and got an email within the hour. I don't think it's going to be a problem moving this place. Unless Jazzy decides to pipe up while I'm showing the apartment. which I'm sure he will. because he's an asshole. an asshole I may very well be through with soon.

March Madness starts tomorrow. I've got Syracuse, Gonzaga, UConn, and Villanova in the Final Four, with UConn beating the Zags in the Championship Game.

[update: I've shown the apt 3 times in the last 24 hours - all very nice people who I truly pity because they're going to be moving in underneath the # 1 asshole of all time. Jazzy McFuckingassholedouchebagpieceofshit wasn't playing his music for the first two, but just fucking jacked it up and started stomping his foot to the beat when I was showing to this last guy who actually seemed like he was cool with the noise from the bar and the street and then said " ... so there is some noise that bleeds through from the other apartments, huh?" Number one ranked asshole of all time. Number one. If he keeps this up, no one's going to rent the place. Maybe I'll cut his electricity and pump some sleeping gas into his apartment when I need to show the place.]

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A Tale of Two Gumbels

In preparation for the upcoming March Madness, I give you the following short play about current CBS football pregame host, Greg Gumbel, and his brother, the former CBS Early Show host Bryant Gumbel - my impression of a childhood fight between Bryant and Greg:

B: You're hurting my feelings!
G: As you are mine, you pugnacious rapscallion!
B: You don't even know what 'pugnacious' means you flatulent flashcard!
G: I certainly do, but I shan't share shiny wisps of wisdom with truculent truants of allayed alliteration like yourself!
B: I'm telling!!!
G: No... please don't...

(originally posted in Children of a Lesser Gumbel forum; bryant pic courtesy of Danny Greene)

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Creep factor on this photo's got to be a 7 on a scale of zero to the Detroit Stalker photo. This is the temporary badge that the security company at the Prudential Tower issued me so I could access their premises as a client of the outsourcing company provided to me by Fido. My question is: what kind of security company would allow a person that photographs like this to have intimate access to the second tallest building in Boston? Are these the same people that are keeping the peace over in Iraq? Furthermore, I'm starting to think that I really am this creepy. The camera may put on 10 pounds, but I don't think it's supposed to put on 10 degrees of creepiness. I got an email from a friend I hadn't seen since college yesterday who saw my website and told me I was creepy. When every photo of you makes you look creepy and your friends all tell you that you're creepy, you're a creep. You don't belong here.

While on the subject of security, allow me to say that Americans are cowards. I was going to write a long, well-researched post on the shameful failure of the American people and their elected leaders to be vocally and actively outraged at the illegal, police-state tactics of the Bush Administration in conducting their War on Tara. But the more I built it up to be an exhaustive listing and linking of examples (ala our friends over at annotated rant .com), the more I put it off and the more daunting it became - same mental process that makes it more and more difficult to send my dad his XMas present. Also, it's mostly obvious to anyone who would read VTK. But really, it's so fucking outrageous that it warrants at the very least brief discussion in this forum. And this week brought 2 more obnoxious examples of the Legislative branch's failure to check the out-of-control Executive Branch: First, the House voted to renew the Bill-of-Rights-savaging Patriot Act (initial passing of the Act in the days after 9/11 was almost forgiveable, but to renew it now is ridiculous (Russ Feingold, you are my hero)). Second, ... *stewing in my own anger* ... this from's report yesterday:

Bush, GOP Sens. Reach Eavesdropping Agreement
On Capitol Hill, the Senate Intelligence Committee has voted down a proposal to investigate the Bush administration’s domestic spy program. The vote came after the White House and Republican Senators agreed to new guidelines for the practice of government eavesdropping without court-approved warrants. According to the New York Times, the deal asks the Bush administration to request court warrants only “whenever possible.” The Bush administration would be given a 45 day grace period to spy without court warrants if they felt requesting them would compromise national security. After the 45-day period, the warrantless eavesdropping could then be extended if the attorney general certifies the administration’s stance. In addition, a handful of extra members of Congress would also be briefed on the program’s activities.

Fuck you. Cowards. I've got a simple statement of fact for everyone who approves of this total abandonment of the ideals of American civil liberties in the name of security: you're going to die. That's not a threat. That's a fact. You and everyone else on this planet are going to die. Deal with it. To repeat the oft-repeated Ben Franklin quote, "those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither". Get out of my country you fucking cowards. And to the cowards who take solace in the fact that the American people, at the very least, had the pluck and spirit to shut down the TIA program a couple years ago in the interest of good old fashioned American liberty, get a load of this. They're doing it anyways, cowards.

I might have to move to New Hampshire so I can Live Free or Die. What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here.

[UPDATE: I listened to another edition of Democracy Now! shortly after posting this and thought this quote from Tony Blair in The Observer last week was relevant:

"I don't destroy civil liberties, I protect them ... The question is not one of individual liberty versus the state but of which approach best guarantees most liberty for the largest number of people. In theory, traditional court processes and attitudes to civil liberties could work. But the modern world is different from the world for which these court processes were designed ... If the nature of the threat changes, so should our policies. That is not destroying our liberties, but protecting them."

fuck you, you chicken-shit lapdog.]

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I don't know if Fido's trying to ween me off it or if they just shut down the redirection at the messaging server, but I'm no longer getting emails on my blackberry. And it's very disconcerting. I was walking around today and I kept clutching at my pocket, fiending for some sort of digital communication. At one point, I was in Copley Square and I needed to send an email and I started to panic a little bit. What, am I supposed to go to some sort of desktop computer and log on to my email account? Why don't I just carve me message in a slab of concrete, lug it on my back to its destination, and chuck it through the window? What the fuck. What do you non-blackberry people do? Do you go to some sort of troglodyte workshop to help you cope with the modern world? So ridiculous not to be able to email from your palm.

I guess I only would have had 3 weeks left of it so it's just as well that I'm getting weened of the crackberry. I just hope I can stay away from Crystal Meth now that my # 1 drug won't be available.

"You can do it to me, 'Tina, Do it all night,
Do it all night, 'Tina, do it til it's right!"

3 weeks left at the Fido. Which is good because I'm getting tired of going in twice a week and having the exact same conversation with everyone there, over and over and over. "yep. gotta come in twice a week" - just like I've been telling you twice a week for the past 5 weeks and will tell you twice a week for the next 3.

The Jazzy McGee Update - I see that it has been over two weeks since my last official update, so I might as well use this opportunity to keep you abreast of the situation with my dickhead neighbor. After that weekend blowout where I found that I had an ally in his next-door neighbor, Jazzy got a little pissed off when I was wiffle ball batting my ceiling to the beat of his music late one night (incidentally, he plays the same shit over and over again - he's not a music connoiseur; he's a cheeseball), and decided that he was going to get an eightball of coke and stay up all night talking shit to people on the phone, clomping around the apartment, and playing his music. Well, that pushed my ally over the edge and he called the landlord. I have a feeling that a couple other neighbors may have too, because the heavy bass music has almost entirely stopped, and has definitely stopped at night. Unfortunately, Cheesy McDickhead still listens on his headphones, which means, at any given time of the day or night, we might be in for an impromptu batch of "WOO!"s and "Oh Yeah!"s. I know I sound like an insufferable music square here, but the other week he was listening to Herbie Hancock's Cantaloupe Island, yelling "woo". Now, that's a great album. I own it myself. But if you're a jazz fan in our age range, you bought this album at least 10 years ago and have listened to it countless times. I don't think it warrants a WOO anymore. Sorry, Jazzy M, you're a dork. Anyways, so the music has mostly stopped, but now he stays up all night intermittantly talking on the phone, clomping around, wooing, and fucking what most be the nastiest most hard-up woman in the world. Seriously, he stays up all night. I think he's on the 'Tina. I bought ear plugs last week. And I'm looking into moving. The reality is that I could use a decrease in my rent anyways, now that I'm not working for the Man anymore. And it would give me great great pleasure not to ever hear this asshole's voice again.

Other than that, things are aces.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

wiffle ball

Some of you may recall when I tore a muscle in my shoulder a couple years ago while diving for a foul ball in a friendly backyard barbeque game of Home Run Derby. That I made the catch for the third out is not important. What is important is that I should have learned the lesson that wiffle ball is just a game and not something worth fucking up your shoulder for a couple years over. That catch isn't going to get you on the little league team. Well, I think I took that lesson to heart and tried to keep it light and not injure myself this past weekend when I found myself in a friendly game out in the Happy Valley.

But I still like to win. As you can see, I am a fearsome pitcher:

with many tricky arm angles:

this is what it looks like when you crowd the plate on me:

and this is what it looks like when you clock a dinger off me on the next pitch:

Hey, it's just a game. right?


(pictures courtesy of C-Mac)