May 27, 2004

I am really sick of transcribing.

I think I would be happier if I had one of these.

May 26, 2004

Not much time for blogging this week, as I'm actually working. I can't get into too many details about the project right now, but hopefully I'll be able to at some point.

Anyway, the big news around town is obviously the passing of Jersey City Mayor Glenn D. Cunningham, who died of a massive heart attack last night. Cunningham lived in JC his entire life, and was a former Marine, police captain and homicide detective before entering city government. He served in various positions before being elected Hudson County's first African-American mayor.

I can't claim to follow local government too closely, but Cunningham always struck me as a very decent man who wanted to do right for his home city. Fellow Jersey City resident Tris McCall has a lot more about the sudden passing and the aftermath over at his site.

May 24, 2004

Don't Everybody Rush There at Once! You'll scare her and she'll run away again. But after a long, long three month hiatus, the incomparable Jahna D'Lish has returned. Yay!

May 23, 2004

Why does this blog get more visitors when I'm not posting than when I am?
Yesterday Was a Busy, Busy Day.
Twenty-Six Million Dollars. Though it was to be expected that there would be a record-breaking number of competitors, it was still pretty amazing to read that poker's most prestigious title, the World Series of Poker $10,000 No-Limit Hold`em tournament, was sold out, with the maximum 2600 players taking part (last year only 839 players took part, though that seemed huge at the time). This means that first prize will be $6.5 million, with the top seven finishers each winning more than $1 million.

There are a few factors that have contributed to this explosion: the popularity of poker on television; the rapid growth of Internet poker (which makes it very simple to have low-entry-fee satellites to the main event -- say, 500 people putting up $20, with the winner getting the $10K main event seat); and a combination of the first two: last year's event being won by online player (he had never played in a live tournament before) and seemingly regular guy Chris Moneymaker, a victory that has been constantly replayed on ESPN over the past six months.

In order to accommodate the 2600 players, the first day of the tournament is actually being broken down into two days, with 1300 players taking part on each day, and the two groups being combined on Sunday. Among the notables who busted out on the first day are the aforementioned Moneymaker, winner of six WSOP events Men "The Master" Nguyen, #3 all-time WSOP prize earner T.J. Cloutier, and one of the best young players and poker writers, Daniel Negreanu. Which means that no matter how bad they do (and one poor guy yesterday managed to bust out of the tournament on the first hand!), those players starting play today can at least tell the folks back home that they outlasted some of the best.

Update: The estimated prize breakdown I gave above turned out to be incorrect, as I was basing them on an outdated table that accounted for a maximum of 1500 players. The final figures include a first prize of $5 million, the top five finishers each clearing at least $1 million, and the top 225 finishers getting the $10K entry fee back (which isn't a bad deal, considering that most of them probably got into the tournament through a satellite tournament, meaning they only put up a fraction of that $10K).

May 18, 2004

I believe it was my old friend Keith who once told me that no matter how long you grow your hair, you can never have all the hair.

May 16, 2004

Warning: Yet Even More Sports. Hello, folks: it's time for the special Cover-Your-Ass edition of You Make the Call! Here's the situation: you just finished catching a game in which your battery mate has just struck out 18 — a franchise record and the most in the majors in over three years. As it turns out, during this same game, you yourself have also struck out four times in four at-bats. Now, should you:
A) Join your manager and teammates in congratulating him on his amazing performance, or

B) Cover your ass?
We'll give you a few seconds to think about this before we check in with Milwaukee Brewers catcher Chad Moeller:
"This place, with day games, hitters can't see the ball," Milwaukee catcher Chad Moeller said. "I was proof of that, also."
If you said you should cover your ass, you made the right call!

I love when the cashier rings up the total as something like $6.08 and you don't have the eight cents exactly but also don't feel like lugging around a pocketful of singles and change so you give them $11.13 and they just stare at you for a while until you finally convince them to just go ahead and enter the amount and then it the change indicator pops up with "$5.05" and they look at you like you've just discovered the secret of fire or something.

May 15, 2004

Warning: Even More Sports. Headed on over to Newark's own Riverfront Stadium with official FoD's Keith and Scott for the extremely rare privilege of getting to watch a 45-year-old future Hall-of-Famer play in an independent minor league game. Yes, Rickey Henderson is back in the Atlantic League, where he played last year for 56 games before signing with the Dodgers.

Well, it was a beautiful night and a horrible ballgame. The home team lost their third straight, 8-2, and the game was never in doubt. The man we came to see only reached base on a late walk, though we did get to see him steal a base (okay, he stole third base with two outs, which isn't really a great percentage play, but that's just Rickey being Rickey). Still, I figure as long as Rickey Henderson is till playing baseball it means I can't really be all that old, so it was worth us all heading on over to Newark to cheer the man on.
Attention All Drunk Folks in PATH Trains at Three in the Morning: If you think you might pass out, think ahead and ask one of your fellow passengers to wake you up at your stop, because it doesn't anybody any good to get all pissed off when you wake up at Grove Street and start complaining about how you needed to get off back in Hoboken. And it definitely doesn't help anybody if you then proceed to pass out again.

May 14, 2004

Warning: Sports Ahead. When my friend Gabe was named one of the recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, I figured that the least I could do was take him to a ballgame and buy him a few beers. Sure, it's not exactly up there with hanging out at the White House with Secretary of Commerce Don Evans and running into Condoleezza "Condy" Rice in the halls, but I'm afraid I just don't have that kind of pull. Anyway, the Mariners were in New York for the only time all year, so it only made sense for me to bring my old Seattle neighbor out for a night on the town in the Bronx.

Hurray! Our Bronx festivities began with a fine dinner at the little Spanish restaurant a few blocks up from the stadium, the same one I take everybody who goes to a Yankee game with me. I had a Cuban sandwich, Gabe had porkchops and plantains, and we each had a couple of beers. Real damn nice.

Boooo! Seven freaking dollars for a program?!?! We called bullshit on that, as well as on the scarcity of the All-Star ballots.

Hurray! The game started off well as Ichiro led off with a double then moved to third on a single, bringing up Edgar Martinez. With this probably being Edgar's final season, this would be the last time Gabe and I would ever get to see this all-time Mariner great and fine comedic actor play, and we were hoping to see one last display of Edgar clutchosity. And he did not disappoint. After falling behind 0-2, Edgar worked the count a little and then hit a sacrifice fly, bring the run home. Because that's what Edgar does.

Boooo! And then the effing roof caved in. As you might have guessed, I have seen a lot of baseball games in my life. Major league, minor league, college, little leagues...and yet I have never seen a starting pitchers completely shit the bed like Gil Meche did last night. It started off okay, with Meche striking out Jeter, but hits by Williams and A-Rod put runners at second and third. Even then, it looked like the Mariners could hold their 1-0 lead, as a groundball led to an out at the plate. So there's runners on first and third with two outs when Meche falls behind 3-0 against Sheffield. Gabe mentions that the M's still have a base to give. Seeming to sense this, Meche walks Sheffield to load the bases.

And then...Meche walks Matsui to bring home the tying run. And then Meche walked Tony Clark to bring home another run. Up comes 36-year-old buck-thirty hitting John Flaherty, who not only was taking the first three pitches but I don't even think he brought his bat up to the plate, and Meche walks him, too! Game over for Meche, who had thrown 38 pitches with only 17 finding their way into the strike zone. Have fun in the dugout...dick.

Hurray! Well, Ron Villone relieved Meche and got out of the inning, the Mariners were still only down by two, Mussina wasn't looking strong, and it was a beautiful night for a ballgame.

Boooo! What kind of a schmuck wears his Red Sox cap to Yankee Stadium when the Red Sox aren't even playing?!?! You deserve to have a whole section of fans (including your girlfriend) point at you and chant "asshole!"

Hurray! Speaking of fans, every upper deck should have a few cute drunk Asian girls who are deathly afraid of heights but who must keep navigating the narrow stairways in order to get more beer. They're lots of fun.

Boooo! The Mariners did manage to take a 5-3 lead, but the stupidity continued in the bottom of the fourth as the Yankees put together a single, a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and a bases-loading idiotic reached-on-error to load the bases. And then...the Mariners pitcher walked in another freaking run! Following the sacrifice fly, the Yankees had managed the difficult task of scoring five runs without any of them being driven in by hits.

Hurray! We did get to see Edgar get two hits (including double #501) and drive in that run with the sac fly. So that was nice.

Boooo! The Yankees kept pouring it on (including some insurance runs off of Mariners pitcher, and I am not making this up, J.J. Putz), which means that we didn't even get to see Mariano Rivera come in from the bullpen to the sounds of Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Even though I don't like the Yankees, I have to admit that's pretty cool.

Final score: Yankees 9, Mariners 5. Win 21 for the first-place Yankees, loss 23 for the last-place Mariners. The ugly season continues with no hope in sight, only massive rebuilding ahead. When does football season start?

May 12, 2004

Public Service Announcement! A friend of mine has sent out the following plea: "If anyone hears of a decent apartment or roommate deal please let me know. I'm homeless as of the end of the month." He's looking in the New York and nearby New Jersey area, and I can vouch that he's a good guy with a lot of amusing anecdotes. If anybody knows of something, please pass the info along in care of The Donk.

May 11, 2004

If There Is Ever a Polka-Themed "Behind the Music" We Have a Candidate. So years and years and years ago, my friend Christine invited me to join her at the Union County Arts Festival for Polka Night, which I of course agreed to do. The headliner that night was the Jan Lewan Orchestra, which had been nominated for the Best Polka Album Grammy the previous year. Well, after the very fun show Christine and I talked to Mr. Lewan, then later wrote up a story about it ("Polkapalooza") for the zine I was doing. A small Pennsylvania paper actually reprinted the story, which was pretty cool, we thought.

So that's pretty much the last I thought about any of this until earlier this evening, which is when Christine sent me an IM asking if I had heard what happened to our old friend Jan. And what it turns out had happened was not only was Jan Lewan (real name: Jan Lewandowski) serving a five-year prison sentence for swindling people out of more than $2 million through the fraudulent sale of unregistered securities, but that in mid-April he had his throat slashed by his cellmate, a convicted murderer who had also set a fire in the prison that caused 20 injuries.

And while all this is happening, Jan's wife, Rhonda, remains tainted by news that she was the beneficiary of a rigged vote in the 1998 Mrs. Pennsylvania Pageant, claiming the title when she actually scored 20th out of 20th. Though Mrs. Lewan was forced to forfeit her crown, the Mrs. United States site still lists her as the winner, and she never handed over the prizes or trophy.

It just goes to show that you have to choose your heroes carefully, even in polka.
Mr. Happy Crack Hits the Bigtime! Yes, today we here at The Donk are proud to step down from our lofty perch, as we are now only the second-most prestigious publication to extol the wonders of Mr. Happy Crack. (I'm not counting The New Yorker as those are paid advertisements, and frankly, the quality of the magazine has gone down a bit over the past two years.) Today, the fine folks at the Money/CNN site have finally given the Crack Team the attention it deserves, in the unfortunately condescendingly named "Fringe Franchises."
No, it's not a rock-cocaine supplier. The Crack Team's franchise units fix cracks in basement walls. Started by Mike Kodner — son Bob calls him "the Ray Kroc of Crack" — in 1985, it first sold franchises in 2001 and has grown to eight units.

The Crack Team charges a $15,000 franchise fee, which gets you training, access to "proprietary" crack repair products, and marketing help. Bob Kodner claims his franchisees hit the ground running: With its Web site and 800-number, The Crack Team "can support a franchise and really make their phones ring," he says.

A profitable catalogue line of apparel and novelty items featuring a SpongeBob-like mascot — Mr. Happy Crack — has "spearheaded name recognition," according to Bob Kodner. You can order tee shirts, sweats, even thongs, complete with Mr. Happy Crack spouting the company slogan, "A dry crack is a happy crack."

Kodner says the company does not offer any claims on how much franchisees can earn, but noted that franchises have low overhead and that an operation can generate sales in the low to mid six figures a year.
We just hope the Cracksteins don't forget us little people who knew them when.
Direct from Merriam-Webster, it's the 2004 readers survey of Most Favorite Words:
  1. defenestration
  2. serendipity
  3. onomatopoeia
  4. discombobulate
  5. plethora
  6. callipygian
  7. juxtapose
  8. persnickety
  9. kerfuffle
  10. flibbertigibbet

May 10, 2004

Wheeeeee! Roller Coaster Dreamin' With My Baby is chronicling the adventures of husband-and-wife team Mike and Clarisse, who have just begun a 111-day odyssey during which they will ride 305 roller coasters in 74 amusement parks. They'll be making their way through the NY/NJ area next weekend, and while they'll be hitting the Cyclone and the various Six Flags Great Adventure coasters, somehow they have managed to completely overlook Keansburg Amusement Park, which is the home of the scariest coaster I have ever ridden (mostly due to its decrepit condition, which gave the impression of being about one strong wind away from collapsing).
My hamstring is about 70-80% healed at this point, so it looks like I'll be able to be activated from the DL as soon as I'm eligible, on the 19th. Thanks to those who asked.
Two Birds, One Stone: A Sonnet Composed of Phrases I Came Across While Searching the Job Sites Today.
How Much Does a Grecian Urn?

We are seeking a copywriter to join our staff,
Looking for talented freelance proofreaders.
Initiate correspondence on department’s behalf,
Immediate income for Sales Reps/Leaders.
Temp-to-perm with chance for advancement,
Competitive salary and 401(K).
We offer a casual and friendly environment,
Marketing Assistant needed today!
Bilingual or multi-lingual skills a plus,
Financial services experience desired.
Please do not attempt to contact us,
Six years pharmaceutical experience required.
Send cover letter explaining how you qualify,
You must be presently employed to apply.

May 08, 2004

Hurray for my Mom! She's pretty damn cool! Happy Mother's Day!

May 07, 2004

One of the cool things about Morrissey performing at the Apollo is that the scalpers are somehow able to determine who's on their way to the show from as many as eight blocks away.

As for the show: Morrissey was very Morrissey; that's all I can really say. And I'm glad I got to sing along with the "and if a double-decker bus crashes into us to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die" part at least once in my life.
Exciting New Developments Coming Soon at The Donk!

"Sure," I hear all of you great readers out there saying, "we're thrilled you're back, Ken, but frankly the site was feeling a little stale even before you spent the last three weeks hiding under your covers, weeping pathetically, emerging only to crawl over to the computer and type "desperate" and "will do anything" into the search engine. What do you have planned to add a little zing into the whole Donk experience?”

I’m so glad you asked! All of us here at IllDonk Industries have spent the last few weeks in intensive creative brainstorming sessions, trying to come up with a few fresh twists and turns to add some spark to the classic Donk. And we think we have some winners! Your finger won’t want to leave the Refresh button when we unveil the following plot twists over the next few months!And of course, we’re still keeping a few of our most shocking cards close to our collective chest. So keep logging onto The Donk, still your #1 source for blogging excitement!

May 06, 2004

A Brief List of Things Which Have Recently Made Me Feel Old.

1. INT. NIGHT BEDROOM — Focus on digital clock at 3:29 A.M. Newsradio alarm sounds as clock shows 3:30; exhausted arm slaps at clock until alarm stops.

2. MANHATTAN UPPER WEST SIDE APT BLDG, LATE NIGHT / EARLY MORNING — PAUL FRANKENSTEIN (early-thirties, glasses, state of dishevelment) loaded down with large suitcase, garment bag, carry-on, struggles to hail cab.

3. INT. AIRLINE CHECK-IN LINE — Frankenstein far back in line populated by Asians, anxiously checking watch, looking towards front of line.

4. INT. 747, REAR OF PLANE — Frankenstein in middle seat on full plane, turning as best he can towards attractive young woman sitting in window seat. She is settling in, putting a book, gum in her seat compartment.
Twenty hours, huh? Whooo, this is gonna be fun.
Window Seat Woman is half paying attention as she prepares for takeoff.
Well, I guess I'm pretty used to it by now. I go to Hong Kong about three or four times a year for business. You just have t--

Oh, I'm used to this myself. I was born there, actually, and I'm headed there on business myself. Yep, heading back home [quote fingers] to help out the old family business for a few months.

Mmm hmm...

Yeah, my grandparents needed some help around the office — they have a publishing company — so I figured, what the hell, as long as I was...between positions, employment-wise, I might as well head out to Hong Kong for a few months, right?
As Frankenstein is talking POV switches between him (in charm mode) and WSW, whose eyes are darting around the plane.
Kind of a working vacation, with some family time mixed in. long are you gonna be staying there for? Think you'll have any free nights, or are you gonna be work--

(Looking over Frankenstein's head, waving hand.)
Hello, stewardess? Can I please get some headphones before takeoff? Thanks.
Cut back to sheepish Frankenstein, looking around, reaching for Skymall Magazine.

Goldbark Cinema Presents

6. FRANKENSTEIN riding on MTR train into city.
an Illuminated Pictures Production

7. FRANKENSTEIN arrives at luxury apartment building destination, looks up towards window.
Paul Frankenstein in

8. FRANKENSTEIN walks into apartment building.


9. INT. APARTMENT BLDG HALLWAY — Frankenstein exits elevator with luggage and heads to Apartment 9H. He does not hesitate, as he has been here before. He knocks on the door and waits a few seconds.
Hello? Grandma? Grandpa?
He knocks again a few times and again waits a few seconds. This time he tries the doorknob which, to his surprise, turns. As he enters the apartment, the rest of the scene is from Frankenstein's POV.

10. INT. APARTMENT 9H, FRANKENSTEIN'S P.O.V. — Focus on older Chinese woman (Grandma) sitting at the kitchen table, weighing packages of white powder. She jumps up, startled.
(Offscreen) Paul! You said that you were arriving tomorrow!
11. INT. APARTMENT 9H, FRANKENSTEIN'S POV — Quick cut to Grandpa carrying large stereo box near pile of 40-50 electronics boxes.
Um...well...I left a message and said there was a cheaper...
12. INT. APARTMENT 9H, FRANKENSTEIN'S POV Quick cuts to, in succession, two attractive scantily-clad women thumbing through a rack of stripper's clothing; two large crates near the kitchen, filled with various high-powered rifles; a bound-and-gagged tied to a chair; a large pile of cash in the corner. Final quick cut to a heavily muscular Chinese man hurrying towards Frankenstein, hand raised, coming down towards him...
P.O.V. shot scans to the floor as the screen turns blurry, then fades to black.

If there's any reward for news of my whereabouts, I get a 25% cut.
Hey, Ken: What the Heck Have You Been Doing for Three Weeks?!?!

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