Riker's Mailbox

Thursday, September 30, 2004


Well, Johnny and Georgie did their bit. I apologize for the political theme of this particular blog entry; I don't like to promote or push my political beliefs upon people in order to influence theirs. I do, however, love to discuss my beliefs with other receptive individuals for the purpose of promoting enthusiastic dialogue, be their opinions different from mine, or correct.

In all seriousness, be mindful of the one-sided nature of blog publishing, and don't allow yourself to confuse the sharing of my opinion with you with the pushing of my opinion to change you. By the time you're done reading this entry, you will likely be able to guess who I intend to vote for, but remember I'm not trying to tell any of you to pick the same man. One thing I will push, however, is that we should all be concerned and motivated to participate actively in the privileges our citizenship offers, that we may affect the politics, as they will certainly affect us.

So, consider yourselves disclaimed, and while you're at it, expect me to do this again following each succeeding debate night.

Presidential Debate 2004.

Round 1, as called by myself: Kerry, by a narrow margin.

My opinions regarding the first night of debates, which covered the topics of Terrorism (or is it, 'Errorism'?) and National/Homeland Security: This was Bush's home turf. This is where he makes his bread and butter, and where he makes the most of his fans (redundantly he makes them with his religious affiliations, as those of similar foundation tend to be the same ones who support his military policy). Bush definitely kept with his theme of steadfast resolve, often reiterating himself throughout the night. I must say his smarter side began to shine through during the early period of questioning. He composed himself better than I expected him to, speaking confidently and clearly, without letting slip any of the dubya-isms we love to mock. He actually used the word 'denigrated'... I damn near shat myself. But it wasn't all good for the man; He disappointingly fulfilled some of my negative expectations, particularly toward the end when he started losing his patience and began throwing out cookie-cutter responses regardless of the topic he was supposed to address. Another favorite method of his was to make groundless claims, neglect to back them up with evidence (as the nature of each claim was illogical and false), and then try to stand by them to attack his opponent. Don't worry, I'll mention specifics later (look for the *).

Kerry was more confident, better spoken, and better prepared, it seemed, than was Bush. But this was expected. Everyone knows Kerry is a better public speaker than Bush is. What notable things he did, though, included managing the momentum of the night. Whether fielding his own questions, or rebutting Bush's answers to his questions, Kerry's words were the ones that punctuated the topics at hand. The 'definitive' overtone that is requisite to a good debater's message, was more often found coming from Kerry's podium than from the President's. Kerry definitely took control and soundly defended himself against the expected attacks of flip-floppery and softness. That being said, I also believe Kerry let Bush walk away with a few easy points. There were a couple of things Bush said throughout the night, over which Kerry could have absolutely ripped the man to shreds, but he left it all untouched. Again, I'll mention specifics later (look for the **).

Something worth noting... The debate format was as follows: a candidate is asked a question, and is given two minutes to answer. His opponent is then give 90 seconds for rebuttal. If the issue still begs resolution, one extra minute is allowed, 30 seconds to each candidate to further address their points. I find it interesting that it was almost always Bush who invoked the '30 second re-rebuttal' option throughout the course of the debate. This calls a very specific point-to-ponder to my mind. Kerry crafts a much better answer and rebuttal, in general. He play the game like it were chess, and here's what I mean - If the question is his, he speaks for his two minutes, and after Bush made his rebuttal, Kerry's point still stood on its own and needed no further reinforcement, either because Kerry's point was so solid, or because Bush was so ineffective at offering a counterpoint. If Kerry made a rebuttal, it often upset the point contained in Bush's preceding answer to the extent that Bush requested the 30 second re-rebuttal to attempt pick up the pieces. Of course, afterward Kerry took his 30 seconds and bashed it right back to the floor again. Bush was forced to attempt such a recovery at least eight times tonight, while Kerry did it twice at most.

That aside, the following pissed me off:

*Bush spent a lot of time tonight saying things like "You can't lead America when you call the war on Iraq 'The wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time'," to which I respond, "Why not?" Kerry said what he said (and interestingly apologized for saying it tonight; I would not have in light of what I'm about to say) at the beginning of the American deployment in Iraq, in reference to the fact that our troops were sent to Iraq from Afghanistan (where they were also sent haphazardly) while they were making at least slight progress in the hunt for Bin Laden, but they were sent without the support of the rest of the UN or our other allies, which neglected the primary objective in the War on Terrorism and yadda yadda yadda. Now, John Kerry has all the right in the world to say that this was the wrong war at the wrong place at the wrong time, because it summarizes the viewpoint he has had since this whole thing started (and has not actually waffled on): He believes our troops need support, and will support them since they're already stuck there, but he would not have sent them so quickly were he in power. He would have exhausted other alternatives before committing our troops in such a relatively high proportion, and he'd only have done it with the backing of the rest of the concerned world. Now, having these opinions, while I feel would actually increase morale among our active-duty troops, has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on whether or not Kerry would make a capable president. Bush tried to imply that Kerry's comments meant that he had no faith in America or in its armed forces, and therefore he can't be trusted to lead us. There is, in point of fact, no logical basis for this. Disagreeing with our unprovoked occupation of another country while there were more imminent dangers to address? Sounds like rational thinking to me, and in no way un-American. Sounds like a quality I'd like to see in the Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces.

Here's another goodie: When asked to clarify his plan to remove troops from Iraq pending its reaching stability, Kerry mentioned "changing the situation on the ground", specifically providing more equipment to our troops, and accelerating the training of Iraqis to promote self-sustainment. *In rebuttal, Bush simply said, "You can't change the situation on the ground when you disrespect the Prime Minister, " and then proceeded to explain that Kerry raised questions about the credibility of the Prime Minister of Iraq while he was visiting the U.S. Again I found myself asking, "Why not? What in the world does it matter what he said about the Prime Minister have to do with his ability to change the situation on the ground?" The two are in no way related. Changing the situation on the ground involves changing the allocation of our troops and keeping them at their very best, and keeping them there only for as long as necessary. That has nothing to do with Kerry's caution with regard to the potency of the Prime Minister of Iraq. If anything, Kerry's claims were about whether elections will indeed happen on schedule as both the Prime Minister and Bush promised. Kerry can doubt that all he wants to, and that makes no difference in his ability to perform according to his contrasting plan regarding that particular military operation. These are two of at least four instances in which Bush just flung these claims out there with no coherency or factual basis whatsoever.

My disappointment with Kerry, on the other hand, was based on his softness with regard to a few points Bush made. This was evidenced most clearly in the mens' closing statements, though it was evident several times earlier in the debate, as well. Kerry was pushing for international cooperation; he promised to revive alliances which have been stressed by our offensive motives of late, namely by changing that attribute. Bush made it clear that he wished to put America first, no matter what the cost. He promoted the idea that if we stay on the offensive, we will minimize the chance of facing threats on our soil. Kerry came off as 'we have to let the rest of the world give us the green light before we do anything big', while Bush turned it right around and came off as 'I'm not going to let the fate of the America and the Americans that I love rest in the hands of foreigners'. Bush did a great job of showing the contrast between the two mens' philosophies, while simultaneously reinforcing the notion that he is the strong 'Keep us on top' President. While Bush had one of his few exceptionally strong remarks in this regard, Kerry sounded like a soft 'Can't we all just get along?' hopeful. Not the way I'd have done it. Here's where my temper begins to flare a touch. I submit, not too humbly, that Kerry should have made a power move right exactly there. Kerry was pushing for international cooperation, and that was his ticket to trounce Bush in light of his angle, but Kerry didn't have the balls to step off the ledge. If it were me, I'd have made the following move: I'd say (and this is potential political suicide, but it's true and it's courageous to admit):

"The people of the United states must come to terms with one unsettling fact: The majority of the world sees the United States as the single greatest threat to the stability of the world. This brash imperialistic, self-serving attitude and action we partake in, is the sort of behavior that inspires wrath and causes a ubiquitous flare-up of animosity toward our nation. This is exactly why terrorists then try to attack us. We need to instead keep our humility. We cannot exist safely in a standoff against the rest of the world as George W. Bush said he'd plan to; continuing on this path will only further alienate us, and will therefore make us more vulnerable, more exposed to attack, and more likely to be attacked due to the thusly increasing hatred directed toward America. We are not above the world. I love the life I live because of all we have to offer in this great nation, but as much as I believe that our way is the best, there are plenty others who believe differently. There is plenty of remaining power throughout the rest of the world, and if they behaved at all like we have as of late, then our beloved nation would be war-torn and decrepit, just like the Middle East. George W. Bush says that offense is good for Americans. I say, what's good for Americans at the expense of others will never be as correct as what's good for Americans in accordance with others. That end can be achieved by cooperation with the world's nations, without losing any of our perceived muscle. We will continue to be the world's policeman, but we will refuse to be the world's bully. Following that course will keep us equally safe from existing threats, but far safer from new threats."

Now, back to what ACTUALLY happened -

As I said in the beginning... Kerry wins Round 1. But Bush will have an easier time keeping the presidency than Kerry will have taking it. If Kerry intends to take the presidency, he's going to have to dominate these debates and win favor by a landslide, because winning these debates by such a small margin will only afford him enough votes to make it an interestingly close loss.

Kerry has to fight for every victory, leaving nothing for Bush to pick up unearned. This may require taking the edgy road, and providing he can swing it as such, he'd make a damn strong impression with all the voters who lack confidence. This one might still be won in the trenches of the swing states, coincidentally susceptible to the potential influence of the currently floating and disjointed youth contingency. Time to put on our battle gear and fight for who we choose to support. I fucking mean it.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


Supposition #1: I am swiftly becoming incredibly close friends with a man named Jon Lewitt.

Validation for #1: The man has an uncanny ability to punctuate my stray thoughts and present them in pristinely-formatted synopses, especially in the realm of off-the-cuff humor.

Evidence for #1: Within a discussion about a friend of ours who is in the middle of the interview process to join the Peace Corps, Jon mentioned that he'd totally join if it were more 'dangerous and action-packed' than the actual Peace Corps is purported to be. He and I concluded, since we'd never find such an organization in existence, that we might as well create our own (as Jon put it) 'Peace Corps, but cool'. So I start rambling to make sure I'm up to speed with Jon, and say to him, "So, we're kinda looking for a Peace Corps that has elements more like 'Surviving The Game' or 'Fight Club', kinda... right?" To which Jon immediately replied, "Surviving Fight Corps!!" Brilliant.

Supposition #2: The first rule of Surviving Fight Corps is - You do not talk about Surviving Fight Corps or feed a family for only 49 cents a day, and always check the barrel.


My man, Andrey Hardy 3000, had a great little idea recently. He 's making an interactive group-participation entry over at his blog. He asks a question, and readers are encouraged to post their answers.

I so enjoyed this idea, and so enjoyed answering his first question (and so don't feel like expending the energy to write something different), that I decided to reproduce it here.

What follows is his entry:

Group Participation

This is the first of what will be a series of questions designed for reader feedback. I have anonymous posting enabled, so even the lazy people who wouldn't want to register don't have an excuse. ;-)

If you had it [it being some defining moment in your life] to do over again, would you? If so, what would you change?

Another thought and subsequent question: Do you believe that everything happens for a reason?

And my response: Hmm. My firm belief that everything happens for a reason (though it's completely impossible to present evidence to prove this claim) Nicely answers your second question and sets the scope for my answer to your first:

I believe that each experience we have in life, good or bad, imparts a subtle influence onto our persona. Thus, we need both the good and bad experiences to define who we are today based on who we've been and what we've been through; it is largely due to these environmental extremes that weather away the parts of us that they do, that we became ourselves.

My point is as follows: Given the opportunity to change a pivotal moment in my past, I and everyone else presented with this chance, will obviously wish to change something that had a negative outcome. Nobody is going to go back and remove a good thing from their past. And so, what would I have condemned myself to, if I were to remove a bad thing which may have taught me how to cope with bad things? Maybe the next time in my life I encounter something bad, I won't have the skillset to overcome it as easily. Result? The more recent experience weighs in as a more substantial negative than it would have had I not changed the incident in my past. Then maybe THAT negative experience would impart on me the influence that should have come from the first one I removed. And as such, what did I accomplish? Nothing more than delay the learning of a life lesson. And in the end, it would be no different to me where I stand today.

I think it's a self-regulating process. The bad things are like a sandstorm that blasts away at your weaknesses, which encapsulate you. If a particular weakness is not demolished by the sandstorm early in life, then it will protrude from you, which makes it more likely to be blasted off during the next sandstorm. No matter which storm removed it first, though, after you've weathered both storms you can be sure that you will have the same fewer weaknesses.

Despite all this, I must admit that I have a terrible desire to go back and tweak little things that I'm sure wouldn't have a macroscopic affect on the outcome of my life. Namely, I wish I could sneak back in time and whisper into my ear the perfect retort when someone said something mean or rude to me. I was never quick enough to think of snappy comebacks as a child in school. And having had the rest of my life to think about it, I've finally come up with some real zingers. I don't want to go ahead and make the change that would have given me more balls to do this on my own in grade school and highschool, because I don't think I was ready to have those balls yet. But wouldn't it be harmless to nudge younger me in the right direction, so I could have one or two more moral victories than I actually had?

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Patriotic? Totally. Concerned? Absolutely. American? Damn skippy. AND, I'm young and poor, and I have a sense of humor. Where am I going with this?

The more appropriate question is where are you going with this? Hopefully,

Here. And Here.

Both sites were made to encourage young citizens like we, the bloggers and blog readers, to turn out and vote in the upcoming presidential election.

The first site, VOTE or NOT dot org, was created by Jim and James, the lovable chinks who brought us www.hotornot.com (sorry, got a little too patriotic there for a minute... to be fair, they're Chink-Americans), to promote voter turnout by holding two $100,000 sweepstakes (one person wins the hundred-grand; if he or she was referred to the site by someone else, that someone else wins the other hundred-grand... is 'sweepstakes' its own plural?) sometime around Nov. 30.

The second site, votergasm dot org, uses risque humor instead of money to spread its message. I strongly suggest that you read every single word within that website. It is painfully entertaining, and all that jazz.

I know this is only my second presidential election, but that takes nothing away from the levity of the following claim: this is the first election whose result I believe will have a direct and substantial affect on my life. I find it more important to be politically active today than I ever have before, and likely more than I ever will again... unless the guy I want doesn't win this time around, of course (wink).

Ooh, and before I forget... since we're sorta on the topic of politics, this fits in loosely:

You know how the word nerds like to mention that antidisestablishmentarianism is the longest word in the English language? It isn't. It's antidisestablishmentarianistic*. Take that, word nerds!

*I'm pretty sure that this isn't a valid word, actually, since antidisestablishmentarian would probably do the job as well as if not better than the word I came up with. But now that I think of it, antidisestablishmentarianistically IS probably a valid word with a unique and heretofore unfulfilled grammatical usage. HA, so those word nerds actually CAN take that!**

** I created the preceding footnote when I realized that antidisestablishmentarianistic probably wasn't a word; I just didn't want to lose that segment of my entry. But while I was writing my retraction, the realization came to me that I could one-up myself with the mention of antidisestablishmentarianistically. I know I could easily have scrapped both footnotes in favor of editing my original sentence to include the updated word choice, but I rather enjoyed using
words that exceeded twenty-five letters in length six times within one blog entry.

Friday, September 24, 2004


A duck walks into a bar and asks the bartender, "Got any grapes?" The bartender looks at the duck, disgusted, and says, "Of course not! This is a bar, not a grocery store! Get out of here!!!"
The next day, the same duck walks into the same bar, and asks the same bartender the same question: "Got any grapes?" Obviously, the answer to the question hasn't changed since the day before. The bartender responds thusly: "No, we don't! You stupid duck, if you come into this bar ever again and ask me for grapes, I'm going to grab you by the head and put a nail right through your bill and into the bar!" The duck leaves.
The next day, the duck walks back into the bar.
"Got any nails?"
"Um, no..."
"Got any grapes?"

"That has got to be the stupidest joke you've ever told here," said the bartender, Mac, who happened to be the owner of this particular establishment, the aptly named 'Mac's Shack', and he was dead right. The man he was speaking to simply nodded and grabbed a handful of beer nuts from a bowl, conveniently located next to the stool he'd claimed a half hour earlier, and sidled over to the front door. The man Mac was speaking to, whose proper name nobody ever bothered to learn, walked in and out of bars like his with a regularity that bordered on the ritualistic. In alone, out alone. Day One, Day One-Thousand. Who knew how many days he'd been doing this? Certainly not Mac, and he suspected, certainly not the man in question.

What he knew of the man, he'd learned from observation under the roof of his own establishment, coupled with the painfully embellished stories told to him by his patrons. They often claimed to see "Jokin' Joseph", as they liked to call him, acclimating himself to a stool at every bar for a twenty mile radius, which couldn't have been fewer than a dozen establishments, each and every day they defected to one of the other drinking holes Pennfield had to offer. By their accounts, the man was a veritable brew sponge, putting away near his body weight in cheap domestics, at a record pace, mind you, like it was spring water. All the while, he'd keep the bar or at least the bartender entertained by telling jokes of varying crudeness and wit. It was fair to say that most people liked the dirty ones best, which seemed to suit him well, as they were the ones he told with the most enthusiasm.

Such were the stories told of Jokin' Joseph, especially those told by Mac's patrons; these were the men who fed their addictions and anesthetized their angst most every night; they considered themselves lucky, at least subconsciously, to be fortunate enough to sit a mere forearm's length away from Mac himself, the unspoken yet undisputed deity of their particular brand of worship. He would stand there, facing them like a judge who never bothered to pass judgment upon them, which made him their closest friend. If only God had it so well with His believers.

These men paid for the life Mac lived. They paid for his bar, they paid for his mortgage, they paid for his childrens' education. They paid the price in money, and Mac paid the price in guilt, that he had such an easy time living off their pain. But Mac only got around to feeling that way in the wintertime anyway. The clouds crowded Pennfield's skies like kids in costumes crowded front porches this time of year. The darkness made people fluent in the language of their sadness, as Mac would admit. But it did something else too. The darkness provided a stage, a backdrop, against which Jokin' Joseph shined all the more brightly.

He wasn't a drifter; that much was rendered certain by casual observation of the man's ravenous appetite for alcohol. He was apparently wealthy enough to sustain his bizarre behavior, and evidently lonely enough to explain it. But he was funny. He was a practical attraction, the closest Mac ever came to getting entertainment at the Shack, and he didn't even have to pay for it. Granted, tonight's latest joke was a little on the weak side, honestly because it had nothing to do with tits or pedophiles or minorities, but usually the man was right on. Mac didn't mean to insult Jokin' Joseph; he'd simply made the mistake of thinking he was familiar enough with Joseph to razz him a little. Jokin' Joseph usually didn't let that sort of thing get to him, either. Evidenced primarily by his almost-too-happy-to-be-genuine disposition, everyone was sure that when Jokin' Joseph fell asleep, it was to the lullaby of his own sobs, the pitiful soundtrack of the man with nothing to live for anymore; they just hadn't witnessed it for themselves. Not that they'd want to. This was just the sort of discussion that substantiated the atmosphere at Mac's Shack.

"I said, I'd like a Bud, please! And just between you and me, tonight would be better than tomorrow..."

Swiftly escorted out of his ponderings by the loud guy at the end of the bar, Mac obliged and resumed his duties. That was enough thinking for one night, anyway. Jokin' Joseph was going to be fine, and Mac didn't need to worry about his potentially wounded pride. He continued to worry, regardless.

"Ya know," John Franklin said, "Ol' Joe's never left so quietly before... You ought'ta apologize to him next time he comes in, Mac. Maybe buy him a bunch of grapes or something." John Franklin was a character... Not any certain type of character, but a character nonetheless, and he had a talent for getting on Mac's nerves. How the hell does that man know to pick open a sore like that?, Mac couldn't help but think to himself.

"Maybe you could shut up." It was the best retort Mac could come up with at the moment. Despite John's ability to try Mac's patience, Mac didn't have much else negative to say about him. The man always paid his tab and he always brought friends with heavily-laden wallets. He was something of a wisecrack, not like Ol' Joseph, more the caustic type; John was the one who'd insult you for his own laughter rather than humor you for yours. In other words, Mac just didn't know what to think of him. But unfortunately, at this particular moment, John Franklin was far from being in Mac's good graces, and nothing irritated Mac more than knowing that John realized how badly Mac felt about shooing Jokin' Joseph out this evening. If only he had grapes to offer at his bar. Not that that would make any sense; the thought just emerged, as they do sometimes... Especially when last call drew near.

It was an hour later, and Mac found a few grapes on the countertop at his apartment that had not yet developed the telltale brown depressions that forewarned mild bitterness (the flavor), and mild penitance (the emotion),upon their consumption. He ate them, and chucked to himself, as he'd seemed to fall into a theme revolving around these, the fruit of kings. As he slipped into his bed, the only extravagant furnishing in his otherwise barren bedroom (sleep was something Mac cherished above most other forms of recreation, and he was very particular about his bed), a strange memory interrupted his train of thought: he was a child, and his father was lying on a couch, while he sat Indian style on the floor facing the television. He was eating grapes while Ed Sullivan was saying something or other about a movie star that promoted waves of laughter from either the audience or from a carefully cued laugh track, though he honestly didn't care, and at the time probably wasn't even aware, which it was. What he remembered was leaning up to give his father some of the grapes off his bunch. It was a docile gesture, entirely without significance except that it reminded him of a scene from a movie where some historical King Someone-Or-Other was fed grapes by a throng of beautiful slaves. Mac himself didn't feel beautiful, obvisouly, and he didn't feel like a slave, but boy, he sure remembered thinking of his father as a king. Not because of his father's benevolence or regal demeanor, since he lacked both, but because of his apparent omnipresence. It seemed that nothing good or bad that Mac was responsible for escaped his father's eye. The man was everywhere, between two jobs and a nasty gambling habit, he was just everywhere, or at least where he needed to be to catch wind of anything that significantly impacted Mac in his small childhood world.

Back in his bed, with the tang of natural juice still watering his mouth, Mac's last conscious thought before drifting off to sleep was, What my father had in his own way, I have in mine. I have my territory and I have my subjects. I am my own king today.

The next few nights at The Shack were bland. The crowd was typical and the money was consistent, but Jokin' Joseph was conspicuously absent. This went unnoticed by all but the regulars, and they wisely detected the impatience that would meet them if anyone brought it up to Mac. So the night went on, and blessedly, last call came and went without the intrusion of any unseemly worries or frustrating thoughts into Mac's mind. Mac drove home slowly, along the route he'd practiced driving drunk many times before (when a bartender mishears an order and pours the wrong drink for a patron, he customarily corrects the error and drinks the mistake; Mac made more mistakes tonight than usual), and pulled snugly into the compact parking space in the front of the apartment lot. He went to bed again after eating a couple crackers, as all his grapes had spoiled, and slept like a baby.

Breakfast was always a rushed experience, though not because he had to be up early; the bar opened at three in the afternoon, but Mac loved the morning as much as he hated being alone, and early morning quick breakfasts reminded him of a time when his children were still in school and his wife still lived with him. They'd always had breakfast together before running off to their respective obligations, his kids to the school and his wife to the newspaper office. They'd always read the paper together, always ending with Mommy's advice column, where she regularly comforted women who felt underappreciated by their husbands. Shocking that Mac hadn't seen the separation coming a mile away.

As much as it kept the painful memories dangerously present, this habit of reading the paper continued and to this day provided a bittersweet comfort that Mac learned to love. Picking up the newspaper this morning, Mac skimmed past the sports section, which didn't interest him, past the politics section, which disgusted him, and into the local section to see if any of his friends from the bar had gotten themselves into trouble. Instead, he found himself staring at a photograph of the wily and disheveled Jokin' Joseph. Skimming through the article, he distilled the following points of interest: Jokin' Joseph was actually named Montgomery Edins, he was a retired Army Colonel, and he was in the hospital with a broken leg. You have got to be shitting me found itself repeating in Mac's head as he read on about the details of the accident that caused the man's injury: He was walking down the road and decided to cross it at an inopportune moment, and was struck down by none other than a produce truck heading toward the grocery store with a fresh load of - ungoddamnbelievable - grapes.

Of all the ridiculous things to happen, this was a blue-ribbon winner. Mac swore to himself he'd never say a mean word to that poor man again. He didn't believe in karma, but he felt vaguely responsible just the same. But before the remorse set in too deeply, it was replaced by a fit of laughter. Mac was laughing at Jokin' Joseph one more time, the way he should have when he last visited The Shack. This laughter was not at a joke of Joseph's however; this one was of Mac's own devising. He had an idea, and it was too damn funny for him to bear.

He would visit Jokin' Joseph in the hospital that day, and he'd come bearing a particular gift. The irony was too perfect. And besides, if anyone would find the humor in it, it would be Jokin' Joseph. He decided to follow John's advice after all.

This blog entry was created because Joe Farnsworth suggsested that I write about grapes.

Monday, September 20, 2004


Fuck death.
I am goddamn sick of death.
I have lost all patience for it.
I have had absolutely enough of its smarmy bullshit and I am fucking finished with acceptance.

Tonight I learned that a friend of mine, the younger sister of one of my closest friends from highschool, was killed in a car accident on Friday. She was 20 years old. Her child is two years old. I spent an hour and a half waiting in line for my chance to console her surviving family members, watching death piss on the spirits of so many good people as they passed before me.

I tell you one thing for sure, I ain't never dying. I absolutely refuse at this point to do something so selfish as dying when it would hurt so many people I love and who love me.

At the very least, I ain't dying until I am the last person on earth that cares about me. The only way I'll die comfortably is alone.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


"Passin' the time like a joint I took too big a hit from"



Biggest thing in my life.

It's easy to say that, because I'm single right now.

But I digress, before I even make progress, no less.

I was disappointed by the prospect of being unable to play any gigs in the near future, due to my present obligations and priorities, but it seems that I can feel slightly less uneasy about it now. See, the source of my uneasiness came from the knowledge that I was the only thing keeping me from continuing to play out. Now, there's another factor to weigh which takes the blame right off me.

It would seem that Smutt Fest was the last public appearance, at least for quite a long time, of Joe Unglued.

Joe Farnsworth, my hetero life-partner and the namesake of Joe Unglued, is moving to California, like so many of my other best friends from RIT. The only difference is he's not working at Boeing like they are. Chances are, he'll end up on the left coast within a week or two, and within a month or two from then, we'll be seeing him on MTV2, mooning Carson Daly and rocking out like the devil was inside him.

I'm so glad about it, because Kane was too small for Joe Farnsworth. I'm sad, because I haven't clicked so well with another musician since the days of my first band, Absolute. And Joe and I, man, we wore the soles off our shoes as much as we wore our souls on our sleeves whenever we got on stage together. I'm jealous as hell, because this is the age, and the stage of my life, where I am so perfectly suited to just picking up my entire existence and displacing it, to experience the whole other world that is another part of this country, and I am already too tied down to do it. I know, it's mostly been my choice to get so tied down, but then there's also the issue of being so attached to my family. See, the one thing that is cool about not having a girlfriend right now is rendered moot by the fact that I can't just ship off and leave everybody Savino and Riker behind.

I guess I'll just have to get wealthy with a quickness, so I can go and visit all those guys out in them parts.

Meanwhile, I'm left here, now only in one band (and this doesn't mean that The Jones Effect is a consolation prize or anything - Eric and Josh are the best musicians I've ever met, and I am fortunate that they let me join up with them, despite the testament to mediocrity that is my bass playing), which is cool as all get-out, but for the fact that I need something else too. Being in The Jones Effect and being a part of Joe Unglued was fantastic because it provided a balance. I love being a frontman, which was a responsibility I shared with Joe; I do not love ALWAYS being a frontman. With Eric and Josh, I was able to sit back and let them take the band in its direction, and all I had to do was play my part. This was the contrast I'd been looking for, because I've always ended up being a frontman one way or another in my previous projects as well. Now, however, I'm no one's frontman, and after my experience with Joe, I don't want to play out by myself. Balance: upset.

Joe and I made what money we made, and gained what fans we have, by playing cover songs. We'd each written a handful of songs of our own, and played them infrequently at best. We always had the intention of writing songs together, as Joe Unglued, the Creative Bastards Who Make Their Own Rocking Music, but we never got around to it (for no damn reason, either). We've always had the heart to become an original creative body. To take a moment to be simultaneously complimentary and immodest, Joe and I have proven ourselves to be "smarter-than-your-average-bear talented" songwriters, or at least unique songwriters if nothing else. But the bars paid us to play songs people knew and liked already.

Anyway, I think Joe got tired of playing other peoples' songs while he knew he had music in him that couldn't be ignored forever. That's at least how I'm feeling about it. Whatever the real reason, Joe began recording music on a prolific scale and created what amounts to a full solo album of original material. And you know what? It's good. Really. Fucking. Good. It might not jump up and bite your ass with "look how awesome this is", but that's because of its great subtlety and nuance. It's the kind of thing you'll let play once from start to finish and say, "Yeah, that's good for someone who's not in the industry," then by the tenth time you've listened to it you realize that you didn't know shit about it the first time you listened. By that tenth time, it will all sound different, better, realer than anything you could find on the radio today. See what I'm talking about. And what else is cool, and will eventually lead me into my next train of thought, is that Joe's involving me in the process of making his album. He wants me to sing with him here and there, provide a little input from time to time. Makes me feel golden, lemme tell you.

On a slight side note, the only thing left for me to do is keep up with the Joeses, and record a solo album of my own. This is something I've wanted to do forever anyway, and now that Joe Unglued as a tangible entity is lying somewhere on an intangible pyre, the time has come for me to wipe the dust off long-ago-written lyrics and ideas and try to flesh out a bunch of my own musical musings. I'm off to a decent start, thanks heavily to Joe Farnsworth himself, with one track in the bag already, that features his magnificent drumming (next train of thought approaching). I'm glad he could be involved in my album as I am in his, just to further tie the ties between the two of us as partners in this whole shebang. Partly because it makes it easier to cope with the end of this stage of our musical partnership, and partly because I think it's good karma.

So, (next train of thought arrived) the next plan is to, after having both completed our solo albums, write an album together, like the Gods intended so long ago. Even if we have to do it from a distance... I'm gonna make it happen and we'll blow the lid off this piece. I don't care if I'm sending tapes via postal service (By the way, that's how the fantastic supergroup The Postal Service got their name; they thought it was fitting to name themselves after the medium by which they sent ideas back and forth to one another while writing their material in different cities) just to keep the channels of communication open.

Now, let me get one thing straight: Joe has that spark. He can do it on his own and be just fine. He has what it takes to make people notice and listen. He doesn't need anyone or anything else. He chose to include me in this journey despite that. For that I am obscenely grateful. But that aside, when Joe makes it big, let's just say there's a pair of coattails I'm riding straight to the top.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004



I must apologize for my rudeness in the preceding blog entry. I was rather irked (by the way, if there was a word related to 'irked' that defined one who performed irking, that word might be 'irker', which, I should point out, consists of the exact same letters used in 'Riker'. Coincidence? I think so) by the abrupt and inconvenient mood swing my computer chose to subject me to. But, after a long and busy set of days, or quite possibly weeks, I've regrouped and will attempt, to the best of my ability, to recreate this entry, and perhaps to garnish it with a little more than you'd have bargained for had you seen the original.

Here goes.

I have officially received my job offer from Axis New York, validating the prophecy that I will indeed triumph over Hellabitch (see CIRCUITOUS). But despite this much welcome (and modestly overdue) good news, I am still overwhelmed by my issues at home. To bring all the uninitiated up to speed in the least unsettling terms possible, my father is continuing his difficult battle with cancer, and the battle is about to end. For a plethora of reasons, I was unable to involve my father in, and in extreme cases, even inform him of, some of the largest affairs of my life, such as the purchase of my home, due to my reluctance to impart upon him any more food for stress. I refused to tell him anything that I knew would make him fearful and worried sick at a time when he had nothing to face but the worry and fear.

This was all remedied last week when I delivered to him a letter that took me the better part of a month to compose, that presented him with every detail of everything he deserved to know, up to and including my deep disturbance regarding the circumstances by which Cathie (Spouse 2.0) would have control over the assets my father chose to leave me in his will. It was a very rocky affair, delivering this letter, especially since at a time when I wanted nothing more than to make new wonderful memories with him, I was forced to discuss so trivial a thing as money. But, being a homeowner now, I have to look at things differently today. Everything is about security. I have to write my own will. But I digress. The long and the short of it is, so many people close to me have stressed that even though I did not have the heart to put this on my father at this time, it was something I honestly had to do. As you might imagine, Cathie had a thing or two to say about this, and she and I ended up going at it for a couple rounds of attacks and defense of each other's position. In the end, she understood that I had no reservations about her as a person, just about the lack of legal cement between the building blocks of my father's greater goals and intentions. In the end, Cathie and I were able to part ways respecting each other, and understanding a little better the view from the opposite side of the fence. But it's far from resolved, all the same.

And the bills keep rollin' in, to add crap icing to the shit cake. I will probably be on a leave of absence from Old Navy and push back my starting date for Axis long enough to make a difference back here in Elmira (in light of that 'irked' train of thought earlier, I believe I could validly define a new verb derived from my name, similar to the relationship between 'irked' and 'irker'. In other words, I'm going to start using the word 'Riked' to describe an instance in which I have a certain effect upon someone or something, as in, "You've just been Riked! Ooohhh!". Of course, I am the only person who would have the capability to Rike someone; for everyone else, 'Riked' is only something that could happen to them; This does not mean that I cannot be Riked myself. Just that no one else can Rike me. Oh, yeah, and the proper usage would dictate that in print you'd have to capitalize it regardless of where it appears in a sentence... just because I feel like being a dick about it. I still don't know whether it should be used to describe a positive or negative effect. Perhaps it could universally describe both positive AND negative , like the popular racial slur/title of 'cool' status, 'Nigga.') , which means I don't expect to return until after every project is done and every obligation is fulfilled. I just gotta hold out for the new job scenario of October, in which I'll be posting 40 hours a week in overnight shifts renovating the store. I'll also be ramping up on (daytime) hours at Axis during the same period, but it is unclear whether I will still be traveling to Elmira as often as I have been.

In the worst case scenario, I'll have to bid a temporary adieu to the social nightlife to which I am so accustomed. But hell, if Jesus can sit there in Heaven and have to listen to 10 billion motherfuckers practicing on their harps every day*, then I can certainly hold down 2 jobs and travel for a few weeks. The music might have to stop for a spell, as well, as gigs definitely occupy a great deal of time and energy. But, if you can sit where you are and not have to listen to me play for a month, then all the better for you.

On a lighter note, I recently purchased a new keyboard and mouse, both of which are wireless and snazzy like the Fonz. I am infatuated with them. Yes, it is true that I am one of those for whom 'nerd' can be a verb. Further happiness is as follows: I am still, despite not having seen this girl in weeks, smitten by her. I am confident that the relationship between us will advance soon. I know this by subtle intuition, though it might also be that I've been blinded by foolhardy optimism. Soon enough, I'll know.

Next entry will most likely chronicle my musical endeavors as of late, including, but not limited to, the Smuttfest Concert, my recent studio experiences, and maybe even a little surprise link, like this one to Riker's Media Repository.

*I'd like to extend credit to Richard Pryor for the Jesus joke.


God I'm pissed off.

I spent the last hour writing, at the request of no less than a handful of friends, one hell of a blog entry. Not five seconds after I finished the last sentence, my computer just turned off. Didn't get to publish.

It was going to be called VEXED. I really thought it was good. Maybe I'll try to rewrite it, but not tonight.

Sorry guys, I tried.