Thursday, May 29, 2008

Today is the day!

I love my Red Wings but the fact is, when they are in contention for the Stanley Cup, it makes my life on the day job front hell... even so, here's to hoping they (and the Pistons, too) take it all the way, even though it's extra work for me.

I just wanted to take a second to say:


Red By Dawn Volume 3

Read By Dawn 3 is out today!

If you never pre-ordered it, it's available here. I'm actually not sure when it will be available in the states, but you can order it from the UK now.

Friday, May 23, 2008


We all know I'm not judgmental... Ok, that's a blatant lie, but we'll roll with it for the sake of my point. Nothing rankles my limpets quite like being poorly treated by those whose job it is to provide me service. By that, I'm talking about bartenders, servers, sales staff, etc.

I'm not asking them to kiss my feet, I'm asking them to treat me as an equal. I promise to not condescend, in fact, I have the utmost respect for you.

I spent many years bartending, waiting tables and working retail. I know it often involves working long hours for low pay, dealing with customers who think you're beneath them. In fact, it's for this reason alone that I'm a very generous tipper even when the service is less than great, and the reason that I exchange pleasantries with sales staff at stores, and part of the reason that all of the people at my favorite bars and stores remember TFN and I - we're friendly people, genuinely happy to see and deal with other friendly people.

If you think you're better than the person taking your order or helping you at the store, you deserve shitty service. You deserve to get your order screwed up. You see, when you think you're better than the people you need to provide you with a service, they are dutybound to prove you wrong. I know, I've been dutybound to provide bad service to people who felt that way, including one very annoying, up-until-recently quite famous standup comedian who felt that he deserved VIP treatment to the point of not needing to wait his turn for a drink at the bar over the "ordinary" patrons. He may still be standing there waiting for that drink. I know I never got it for him.

On the opposite side of the coin, if that is your job, and your customer is simply you are obligated to provide a service. If you can do it, and do it courteously, then life goes and the world keeps turning.


Mr. pimply obnoxious video gamestore clerk, I can do without the attitude.

All I did was ask if you had any copies of Wii Fit in stock.

I didn't need or deserve the condescension or derision.

I didn't need to be made to feel stupid for possibly thinking that, if I hadn't reserved a copy, that there might be one or two copies in stock.

I personally didn't realize that the average video gamer cared that much for fitness. You obviously don't. You also don't appear too concerned about hygiene for that matter.

I could have said that. I could have said what I really wanted to say, which was something implicating that you had probably never, and probably would never, lay hands upon actual female breasts unless money had been exchanged. I didn't say that, either.

I simply said "Ok," and walked out, with you feeling smug and self-important in some way.

It's probably the best you'll feel all week.

I pity you for that.

After I left the store, I went to another game shop, where I was treated better, by a person with a higher self-esteem and better social skills. He didn't have it either, but he wasn't derisive about it. Guess where I'll go to buy video games from now on?

After that, I met my friends for beer and pizza. It was fun. I told the story about you. We laughed about it, remarking again, that whatever gets you through the day, that was probably your high point.

It wasn't mine, though. My high point happened some way into the middle of my second pint, with a big greasy slice of pepperoni and green olive pizza and the Tigers winning on the TV, and somebody probably said something funny, and it was all right. The fact that I can't put my finger on the exact moment means it was a generally fun evening that didn't revolve around attempting to demean anyone.

Just you. And it was behind your back.

RIP Robert Lynn Asprin

I just found out that Robert Lynn Asprin died yesterday. When I was much younger, he was one of my favorite writers, especially for the Thieves World series that he edited.

Thieves World was a really innovative concept. Essentially it was a series of fantasy novels (11 of them) full of interconnected short stories all written by a ton of great authors. The innovative thing was that as each writer created a new character, other writers would use those characters to expand the story and move forward. It was an entire world created by a bunch of different authors, held together by Asprin overlooking it as editor/god.

Once I heard he had passed, I remembered how much I enjoyed the summers I spent with his books, and went on Amazon and ordered the set (used, it was around $20 for all of them - shipping included). I want to see if it holds up to my memory.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

On U.S. Soil Again...

I'm safely home. Ireland was wonderful.

I'll probably have more to say of it soon, after my jetlag wears off and my life gets back together. For now, though, I wanted to mention that we're going to see TFN's boyfriend Nick13 again tonight.

Also, her gallery show is going swimmingly. I have many photos to share with you soon. Just not now.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oh Kwame...

So yeah, Detroit is famous enough to get mentioned on Jon Stewart.

Kwame has helped make Detroit, and Michigan by proxy, a big joke. At a time when the city and state are hurting, this is one of our main figureheads.

The latest scandal in a nutshell:

Kwame allegedly had a party at the mayoral mansion - with strippers. His wife allegedly showed up at the party and allegedly put one of the strippers in the hospital. The girl in question was Tamara Green, AKA Strawberry. She ended up killed in a drive by.

Allegedly, police chief Gary Brown was investigating this, as well as some other alleged wrongdoings on the mayor's part. He was fired. He sued, and got a large settlement.

Allegedly, part of the terms of the settlement involved a wrap being put on the text messages that came out in the case - messages that revealed that Kwame had an affair with his chief of staff, and also had Brown fired. (All of this is alleged - one more time - alleged).

It's not just the scandal (of which this is not the first), it's the pure idiocy that he presents when he attempts to defend himself. When the latest was first revealed, he simply stated that it was an illegal media smear campaign. When the papers presented their evidence as well as the evidence that they followed the freedom of information act, he apologized, but then later came forward to imply that the messages could have been sent by anyone who got hold of their phones.

This is a guy who also travels with a security entourage of his old buddies, who get treated very well on the city's dime. They do serve him a purpose though; they shove reporters out of the way while he can hurl juvenile insults at them rather than answer questions.

Incidentally, countless groups have called for his resignation, and there is a petition being filed with the governor to remove him from office right now. Despite all that, the one thing he is unwavering about is that he won't resign.

Oh, he also dropped the N-bomb at the state of the city, and is currently conjuring up Coleman Young-era "Black Detroit vs. the White Suburbs" propaganda. He's also stated that he's getting death threats, although when the FBI came forward and asked for information to go after those delivering the threats, the mayor's office apparently did not respond.

So, the latest development today involved this photo:

It's (allegedly again) a photo of the mayor in a junior high play. It was sent to a DC paper, and published with a humorous caption. Kwame, you see, is the one in the red dress next to the central figure.

The mayor's office attacked the paper, saying it's not him - even though his name is on the playbill, he attended the school, yada yada. They are so extremely paranoid and on such a hair trigger that a little silly photo from a junior high play that involved a bunch of boys in dresses is enough to get them worked up again.

Seriously, it's time the governor's office steps in and cleans house - just push them all out and start fresh. Kwame cares more about glamor and image that the city he elected to look after.

Man, he really makes me worry for the fate of the city. If things like this go on, it'll be a long time before the situation improves (on a side note, if anyone has a job offer that includes buying my house, I'll entertain the idea... :)).

Then again, on a plus side, the gallery show will be all hung tonight, so at least one good thing will be going on in the city.

Friday, May 02, 2008

I want it to be easy to change the world - but just for me.

This is Spark is a Diamond, my current favorite flavor of the day.

I can understand if some people are put off by them a little, bit, but I happen to love them. Spark is a Diamond is made up of old hardcore musicians who decided to take their hardcore roots and mix them with a dancey sound. I think it's great, but to see her voice tear in like that is a little disconcerting at first, especially when most vocalists with guttural sounds like that sport t-shirts, crusty jeans and dreads.

The song is called "Check Your Lease, You're In Fuck City," and it's also a little appropo because I'm talking about a F-town right now.

In F-town, there was a little, family-run Italian restaurant that TFN and I loved a lot. You almost always needed to make reservations because the food was wonderful and they only had 10 tables. We went there for our Anniversary, and just about anytime we wanted to take someone out for something "nice." It wasn't fancy or expensive, it was just cozy and intimate and had amazing food. It was our version of the Italian restaurant in that Billy Joel song.

They closed a couple weeks ago. We're going to miss them very much.

It's indicative of what's going on all around us right now. Steffie is a local here in F-town - all in all, she's a sweetheart and a royal character - who publishes and delivers a local publication called Ferndale Friends (She's also a musician, a Green Party Activist and a transgender activist, but we're focussing on the paper right now). In the latest issue, there was simply a photo page of all the closed businesses here in F-town, with a simple headline that read something like "What are we going to do about this?" It was simple and gutsy, but true.

F-Town does seem to be in a little bit of a dilemma here, though, and it's indicative of what's going on in Detroit and in Michigan as a whole. F-town is a progressive and hip little island populated by a population made up of young DINK couples and a large gay population. There are some random white trash holdouts from Ferndale's older days, but for the most part, we're on the upswing. We have bike lanes and a passion for supporting local business. F-town has the state's first openly gay mayor, too, who is also a really cool guy that I've spoken with at a few city council meetings... where am I going with this accolade of my town? Oh right, but in the last several months, we not only lost Maria's, but also our record store, the Old Navy, a fancy-schmancy Italian place )that I didn't like anyway because it was expensive and the chef they're thought that more salt was called for in every case), and a ton of other types of businesses.

Our little boutiquey downtown is getting peppered with vacant storefronts.

Last night, in our quest to find a good Italian meal, TFN and I ended up in Royal Oak. Where we went was nice: the food was good, as was the wine (if a little pricey), and there was a jazz band that did a great cover of "Purple Rain." It was no Maria's, but it was nice, and they did a killer (but also expensive) Spanish coffee. As we walked to the place, though, we saw that the ice cream place that we always ride our bikes to on hot days was also closed.

It makes me a little sad right now. What's going to turn things around?

On a happier note, yesterday kicked off National Bike Month. Get out on your bike! There are host of events scheduled throughout the country, but the best way you can observe the month is to just ride. I won't bore you with all the stats or the activist talk, I'll simply say riding bikes is fun!

Ooooh, also, the hole in the ozone layer is up for auction. I'm warning you, though - if you buy it, you better fix it up.