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Monday, February 28, 2005

Damp Pants

Good heavens, it was almost 10 years ago! Andy Baio today turned up a web archive of Greg Knauss' hilarious slice of life about his damp pants, a short, soggy saga that begins...
So I'm on the back porch in my underwear. I didn't start washing my jeans until almost 11 last night, and when I finally put everything into the dryer, I just sorta wedged it all in, hoping for the best.

This morning, they're still wet. Very wet: heavy, clammy, tacky and stiff. I imagine the dryer is snickering to itself.

All my pants are wet, and I'm on the back porch in my underwear, late for work.


That's just one anecdote that endeared Greg's bygone site An Entirely Other Day to me. I often forget that the archive.org caches of lost sites are available, but thus reminded, I'm saving a trip through the EOD backfiles for a rainy day when I need a smile.

Meanwhile: "Damp pants. Damp pants. Damp pants! (Bundt cake!)"
February 28, 2005 at 10:18 PM |
Categories: General

Spider-man’s Greatest Bible Stories

Have you ever stopped to think how lucky God was to have the help of Spider-man?
February 28, 2005 at 8:28 AM |
Categories: General

Sunday, February 27, 2005

HopStop

Hopstop is a NYC transit guide that takes two input points and returns the train/bus combination that'll get you from one to the other.
February 27, 2005 at 10:23 PM |
Categories: Roam

Friday, February 25, 2005

A CTA Map for 2055

A CTA Map for 2055. Chicago's trains unified by the Circle Line...in the future! This is the sort of thing a transit geek like me just eats up. Pass the syrup!

[Via Gapers Block Detour.]

February 25, 2005 at 9:12 AM |
Categories: Get Your Geek On

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Micro-Medici

During the past couple of days, there's been a lot of discussion in some quarters about my pal Jason Kottke's announcement on Tuesday that he had quit his job and intended to devote his attention and energy full-time to his website. In return, he hopes, the website will support him.

kmp-button.gifWell, not the website, per se, since he's more or less said there'll be no advertising or commercial ventures in his plan. So not the website but the web community that surrounds it—fellow creators of web content, readers and viewers of his pages, kindred souls who believe he contributes something valuable to the web and the world through his work. Jason is taking a major cut in pay and mounting a three-week fund drive to support himself and his art, and he's asked those who believe in what he's doing—and has done on the web for almost a decade—to help with a modest contribution. Dozens already have. I am one of them.

There's been some criticism—derision, mostly—of Jason's plan and, in particular, the fact that he is essentially asking for donations to fund a year away from traditional work obligations to concentrate on his website. Some folks are incredulous. It's unseemly, they say, to beg for dollars. Others are underwhelmed by the prospect of what he's proposing. Why should we pay, they ask, so some guy can sit in a Brooklyn apartment and surf the web all day? When so many do it for free, why cough up bucks so Jason can write a weblog? Still others are mildly interested in his "experiment", but wary. Maybe one fella can make a living doing this, in this way. Maybe a handful can. But it's not sustainable. Everyone can't just quit their job and write on the web. Can they?

I think a lot of the skepticism about what Jason is doing comes from a basic misunderstanding of his goal. He's not just a guy with a weblog or, at least, I don't think that's what he wants to be. Jason is a dreamer, an artist, a fundamentally inquisitive, intensely creative person and I don't think he wants to just write a weblog. I think he wants to make the web. Back when I first started really paying attention to what was going on with the web, one of the first sites I tripped across was Jason Kottke's 0sil8, an occasionally changing, ever-fascinating look at what the web could be: storyteller, artistic expression, community builder, exercise in vanity. By today's standards, it wasn't fancy, but it was intriguing and it was a little voyeuristic. Reading 0sil8 was like watching someone—watching Jason—explore. Learn. Push at the boundaries. Try new things. Sometimes hit a home run and engage your mind for hours poking around his creations. Sometimes strike out with three men on and still have you looking forward to his next at bat.

Jason says he wants to work full-time on kottke.org, and while I haven't talked with him about it, I sincerely doubt he plans to limit himself to a weblog. Or another 0sil8. I think he plans to explore and learn and push at the boundaries a little. He's embarking on a personal journey, an adventure, an experiment, and I can't wait to see what he does. And I'm happy to lend some support while he does it.

The keyword in "spare change" is change

Last year, I started a little experiment of my own.

I use Quicken to manage my finances and I get my salary sent straight to the bank with Direct Deposit. I pay my bills electronically. I use a debit card or a Visa or American Express to make most of my purchases. Most of this money moving happens behind the scenes and even though I don't have a lot of it to begin with, I began to realize I was losing touch with my money. I bought food for the table and paid the house note and yes, there were books and DVDs and vacations that were all duly enjoyed, and I even gave a big chunk of it—more than I realized actually, but discovered while doing my taxes last week—to charities and causes in which I believe.

But something someone said to me offhandedly over a year ago stuck in my mind. "There are no modern-day Medicis," she said. "Corporations and foundations send grants to museums and theatres. Occasionally, a wealthy matron or civic-minded financier will pony up to buy a bust or underwrite a fund-raiser. And the National Endowment for the Arts offers what little it can to artists and musicians. But where will the next Renaissance come from? Who is helping the dreamers make their dreams real?"

I won't pretend that I'm trying to make anyone's dreams come true, except maybe my own. But I booted up Quicken last year and told it to divert a little bit—not a lot, but not an insignificant amount either—from every paycheck I deposited into a separate account. I called it "Medici", told Quicken to fill it and tried to put it out of my mind.

But then, throughout the year, when I saw a chance to help someone on their way to a dream or a passion or a way to bring beauty or interest into the world, I took a little out of my Medici fund and I gave it away. It's entirely self-serving on my part, not because I expect their gratitude, but because I expect that at some point, it's going to pay a dividend to me that can't be calculated in interest points. It will bring a little bit of music into the world. It will brighten my life through their creation or, at the very least, through my being able to share their joy in the act of creating.

I didn't keep a strict accounting and, at the end of the year, there was some money left over in the Medici account so I wrote two checks to zero it out: one to a small local theatre company and one to buy a small pot from an artist friend that I gave as a holiday gift. Throughout the year, a photographer of my acquaintance mentioned he was saving buy a new lens and so I gave him $50. A woman I went to school with told me over lunch that she had hoped to take a painting class in the summer but one of her kids needed braces, so all the money in the household was going that direction. I bought her a gift certificate at the arts center where I used to work. I gave a little bit to a friend who's making a documentary film about her favorite band. I put ten bucks in the guitar case of a street musician I could have listened to for an hour or more if I hadn't had to go back to jury duty.

Those and another dozen or so small donations were all deducted from my Medici fund and given with no strings attached. Maybe they bought paint and canvas, maybe they bought a book, maybe they just paid for a sandwich and drinks before rushing off to dance class. Whatever. I consider it all money well spent.

And this week I made this year's first deduction from my Medici fund to help Jason do his thing. Look ma, I'm a patron of the arts!

I'm not writing this here to brag and I realize that phrases like "funding a dream" and "bringing beauty into the world" sound a little grand and romantic. But think about it, and consider maybe you can have a Medici account too. You don't need a lot of money, you don't need a specific agenda and you sure as hell don't need Quicken to make it work. And five dollars here or 30 dollars there isn't going to make anyone rich.

But my photographer friend and a budding documentarian and a busker in front of the Civil Courts—and Jason Kottke—aren't looking to get rich, I don't think. They want to dream, to learn, to explore, to push back the boundaries.

And if I get to be a little part of that, I'm as rich as I'll ever need to be.
February 24, 2005 at 12:40 AM | (2) |
Categories: Weblog Community

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

It’s actually happening…

Things were a little touch and go there for a while (hey, you try making reservations for 75 people on a weekend night!), but the Fifth-and-a-half Annual Break Bread With Brad SXSW Eve Edition is on.



Proper invitations will be issued this weekend. If you'd like one, leave a comment or e-mail in care of breakbread at this domain, and mark your calendar for Friday, March 11. After all, to miss this party would be eeeeevil.
February 23, 2005 at 11:13 PM | (9) |
Categories: Gatherings

OS X Tabby

Apple Announces Next Generation Operating System
February 24, 2005
Cupertino, California

With the pending release of Macintosh OS X Tiger, Apple announced today that predevelopment has begun on its next generation of the BSD-based operating system, code named OS X Tabby.

Features of OS X Tabby include:
  • Files moved to the trash automatically clump together for easier deletion

  • In addition to zip, stuffit, and unix tarball archives, Tabby will support the new multi-threaded "hairball" file archive

  • With its improved protected memory framework, OS X Tabby will chew on and torment smaller, weaker applications until they finally crash, and then deliver the dismembered code to the user without disturbing other programs.

  • Owners of OS X Tabby can choose to purchase spayed or neutered versions of the operating system that will prevent periodic spawning of new processes under the back porch.


Developer previews of OS X Tabby appear promising, although applications sometimes halt without warning to play with cardboard boxes, objects dangling from strings, and trash. Apple developers also admit that the fact that OS X Tabby defaults to sleep mode 18 hours per day may present a barrier to productivity for some users.

A spokesperson for Apple, who did not want to be identified, warned that the company would be wise to "think different" about feline names for future operating systems releases. Although the market has been tolerant of Apple's unconventional but elegant designs, computers that climb draperies, eat houseplants, and shred upholstery are clearly too far ahead of the curve. Steve Jobs declined to comment.

[via my buddy Will]
February 23, 2005 at 11:11 PM |
Categories: Get Your Geek On

A case for my baby

A little help? Can anyone recommend a good case for my bitchin' new Palm Tungsten C? I'm looking for something that will protect the $400 little chiclet, as well as be easy to slip it in and out of, with a belt clip. How about it, T-C owners? What do you like?
February 23, 2005 at 1:31 PM |
Categories: BradLands Braintrust

Sunday, February 20, 2005

The future of newspapers

Thomas Vander Wal speaks sense about The Future of Newspapers

February 20, 2005 at 8:12 PM |
Categories: Recommended

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A new road to The Rep

With requisite apologies to my friends and familiars for whom I haven't had as much time or attention over the past few months, this might explain a bit what's been distracting me.
At a time when regional theaters around the country are cutting back programs and bemoaning an aging audience, the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is taking a nervy step in the opposite direction. This fall, it will add a third subscription series, one with an urban setting and a provocative sensibility.


Have a look. Off-Ramp is gonna be a lot of fun.

On the other hand...seven openings in 13 weeks? Brad's gonna be tired.

And, as if I actually needed evidence that creating more art in today's cultural and economic environment is a chancy dare, today came the news that the long-struggling Charlotte Rep is going dark for good.
February 19, 2005 at 4:23 PM | (2) |
Categories: Theatre

Friday, February 18, 2005

Death of a Theatre

Flickr user Toxic Toast poignantly documents the end of Boston's Gayety Theatre.

February 18, 2005 at 11:17 PM |
Categories: General

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

iPhoton

Photon: Manage your Movable Type, TypePad, Bloxsom and WordPress photo-blogs in the familiar surrounds of Apple iPhoto.
February 16, 2005 at 2:49 PM |
Categories: Wonderful Toys

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Trouble Boy

My friend Jeff gave me a book last year for my birthday. He claimed to have read it and said "it made me think of you", but the volume was delivered in one of those cheap Target gift bags surrounded by wads of tissue paper—the sort of wrapping that just screams, "I picked this randomly from the shelf at Left Bank before rushing here to meet you for dinner. Happy birthday, bitch."

troubleboycover.jpg"What, exactly, about this book reminded you of me?" I asked, flipping through the pages. "I'm sure it was the photo of the devastatingly cute author on the rear flap, no?" With the exception of Instant Messages from prospective short-term suitors, Jeff doesn't read much. As Mama Rose said, she reads book jackets and thinks they're books.

"No," he said, unfurling his napkin and stealing one of my eggrolls. "It's very New York, very downtown, very—"

And here the conversation ceased for about five minutes while Jeff flirted with the waiter and twice made a point of mentioning my birthday. When the terrified boy finally fled the table to fetch our soup and wontons, Jeff said, "I get your complimentary dessert. You're dieting."

"The book?" I prodded.

"What? Oh, yes. I don't know. I enjoyed the hell out of it and I thought you might too. All those stories you've told me about clubbing in Manhattan back in your youth. Your far, far, far away youth."

That much was true. I'd only last week recounted to Jeff and The Giant Queen the story of how I, an unassuming lad from Missouri, had become the toast of New York—for a weekend at least—and how I'd impressed the pants off some L.A. fellow (literally!) by talking us into the tony VIP room at a new club in the meatpacking district some 15 years before.

Tom Dolby"Anyway, enjoy it," Jeff continued. "It's kind of like a gay Bright Lights, Big City."

My suspicions that Jeff was bluffing continued. It said that much in the blurb on the book jacket.

I politely thanked him for the book and we finished dinner. (Jeff got my flan and the waiter's digits. I ate his stale fortune cookie. "Very soon and in good company," it said. Even adding "in bed" to that sentence fragment didn't make it seem very portentous.

I have to say I'm dubious of any book, movie, play or interpretive dance described to me as a "gay [blank]". You have to feel a bit sorry for Jay McInerney that his seminal (if a tad insufferable) novel of 80s NYC culture has become a bit of reductive shorthand.

On the other hand, I feel a little sorry for Tom Dolby, the aforementioned cute guy author of The Trouble Boy, the book Jeff bagged for my birthday. I mean, you've got to wonder how many "Blinded Me With Science" jokes he has to suffer through at parties.

I did read the book (although Jeff never asked about it again and seemed confused when I brought it up in conversation) and I did enjoy it, although I suspect that if Jeff did read it and was moved to think of me, he had the hapless Jamie in mind more than the lead character Toby. On the other hand, I might have been Loft Boy. I have been known to use the "massage" bit before.

For The Trouble Boy, I offer the highest praise I can summon these days for a novel in the gay lit demiworld: I didn't forget the plot five minutes after I turned the final page. That may seem faint lauding but trust me, that puts Tom Dolby's debut novel ten notches above 99.9 percent of the genre on the shelf.

My friends know I've been writing a novel for the past, oh, 18 years or so. Every once in a while I take it out and decide it's nowhere near ready for prime time. After reading what passes for gay popular literature these days, I've nearly decided to abandon my quest to write well and simply turn in a novel that sucks. That seems to be what's selling.

The Trouble Boy, on the other hand, does not suck. It's an admirably smart first novel, a ripping read and a warmly optimistic story about finding your way in the world and, more importantly, finding your place in the city that never sleeps, never drinks less than premium and never—well, seldom—gives you a second chance. I look forward to Dolby's second effort.

(I'm pleased to be a participant in Tom Dolby's Virtual Book Tour for The Trouble Boy, now available in softcover, but still featuring a fetching photo of the author. Get one today.)
February 15, 2005 at 12:04 PM |
Categories: Pop Life

VBT: The Trouble Boy

My friend Jeff gave me a book last year for my birthday. He claimed to have read it and said "it made me think of you", but the volume was delivered in one of those cheap Target gift bags surrounded by wads of tissue paper—the sort of wrapping that just screams, "I picked this randomly from the shelf at Left Bank before rushing here to meet you for dinner. Happy birthday, bitch."

troubleboycover.jpg"What, exactly, about this book reminded you of me?" I asked, flipping through the pages. "I'm sure it was the photo of the devastatingly cute author on the rear flap, no?" With the exception of Instant Messages from prospective short-term suitors, Jeff doesn't read much. As Mama Rose said, she reads book jackets and thinks they're books.

"No," he said, unfurling his napkin and stealing one of my eggrolls. "It's very New York, very downtown, very—"

And here the conversation ceased for about five minutes while Jeff flirted with the waiter and twice made a point of mentioning my birthday. When the terrified boy finally fled the table to fetch our soup and wontons, Jeff said, "I get your complimentary dessert. You're dieting."

"The book?" I prodded.

"What? Oh, yes. I don't know. I enjoyed the hell out of it and I thought you might too. All those stories you've told me about clubbing in Manhattan back in your youth. Your far, far, far away youth."

That much was true. I'd only last week recounted to Jeff and The Giant Queen the story of how I, an unassuming lad from Missouri, had become the toast of New York—for a weekend at least—and how I'd impressed the pants off some L.A. fellow (literally!) by talking us into the tony VIP room at a new club in the meatpacking district some 15 years before.

Tom Dolby"Anyway, enjoy it," Jeff continued. "It's kind of like a gay Bright Lights, Big City."

My suspicions that Jeff was bluffing continued. It said that much in the blurb on the book jacket.

I politely thanked him for the book and we finished dinner. (Jeff got my flan and the waiter's digits. I ate his stale fortune cookie. "Very soon and in good company," it said. Even adding "in bed" to that sentence fragment didn't make it seem very portentous.

I have to say I'm dubious of any book, movie, play or interpretive dance described to me as a "gay [blank]". You have to feel a bit sorry for Jay McInerney that his seminal (if a tad insufferable) novel of 80s NYC culture has become a bit of reductive shorthand.

On the other hand, I feel a little sorry for Tom Dolby, the aforementioned cute guy author of The Trouble Boy, the book Jeff bagged for my birthday. I mean, you've got to wonder how many "Blinded Me With Science" jokes he has to suffer through at parties.

I did read the book (although Jeff never asked about it again and seemed confused when I brought it up in conversation) and I did enjoy it, although I suspect that if Jeff did read it and was moved to think of me, he had the hapless Jamie in mind more than the lead character Toby. On the other hand, I might have been Loft Boy. I have been known to use the "massage" bit before.

For The Trouble Boy, I offer the highest praise I can summon these days for a novel in the gay lit demiworld: I didn't forget the plot five minutes after I turned the final page. That may seem faint lauding but trust me, that puts Tom Dolby's debut novel ten notches above 99.9 percent of the genre on the shelf.

My friends know I've been writing a novel for the past, oh, 18 years or so. Every once in a while I take it out and decide it's nowhere near ready for prime time. After reading what passes for gay popular literature these days, I've nearly decided to abandon my quest to write well and simply turn in a novel that sucks. That seems to be what's selling.

The Trouble Boy, on the other hand, does not suck. It's an admirably smart first novel, a ripping read and a warmly optimistic story about finding your way in the world and, more importantly, finding your place in the city that never sleeps, never drinks less than premium and never—well, seldom—gives you a second chance. I look forward to Dolby's second effort.

(I'm pleased to be a participant in Tom Dolby's Virtual Book Tour for The Trouble Boy, now available in softcover, but still featuring a fetching photo of the author. Get one today.)
February 15, 2005 at 11:25 AM |
Categories: VBT

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