Friday, January 31, 2003

ZWAN: Mary Star of the Sea

Some people don’t like Billy Corgan. Some people downright loathe him, right down to his whiney voice and bald head and holier-than-thou attitude. I do not count myself among these people, but I also recognize his fallibility.

The Smashing Pumpkins were not a true band, entirely. Fans and critics of the group were fully aware that Billy Corgan called the shots. He was the creative force behind the Pumpkins, and even though it was clear that Jimmy, James, and D’arcy contributed to the sound, everyone knew that the rest of the group answered to Billy. This being said, any criticisms of the band could be leveled almost entirely against him: Billy was the band.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was an anthemic masterpiece of thought, power, and emotion, but Corgan seemed to fall into a creative crisis after it was released. Over the next two albums, Adore and Machina: The Machines of God, he struggled to find the next best thing, dabbling in electronic sounds, dance beats, and anguish-ridden ballads that weren’t as inspiring as Corgan wanted us to believe. “Infinite Sadness” may have been a more appropriate label for the declining Pumpkins than he had originally planned. The music wasn’t entirely bleak, with notable exceptions like “Perfect” and “Stand Inside Your Love,” but it was much more inaccessible and its artistic, over-produced, psychedelic ramblings scared away a great deal of the Pumpkins’ older fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the last two Smashing Pumpkins albums, but for me, there was always something missing. Some songs dragged, some songs I skipped whenever I could, but mostly, there was a feeling of coldness to the music. There was a feeling of despair, anguish, confusion and frustration that came through on so many of those songs that in many ways reflected Corgan’s insecurities about himself, his creative process, and the direction of his career.

When the Smashing Pumpkins dissolved late in 2000, it looked like Corgan had turned his back on rock music entirely. It was clear that the concept and direction of the Pumpkins wasn’t satisfying him anymore and judging by the sales of Machina, the fans weren’t satisfied either. He was quoted making comments about how he couldn’t compete with the Britneys of the world, and boo hoo hoo, the true artists of the world can’t sell any records. Billy had hit a low point and spent some time away from the spotlight, looking within himself and rebuilding his ideas about what music meant to him, while many critics applauded and hoped that he was gone for good.

But Corgan is too much of a creative powerhouse to stay quiet forever. Billy appeared six months later, playing with the band New Order. Despite the speculations of some fans, who thought maybe he would turn to writing or fine art as a new vehicle of expression, Billy soon formed a new band. And in November of 2001, a mere year later, Zwan was born.

The Zwan story goes a little like this. In the early 90’s, just when Smashing Pumpkins were starting to gain their huge popularity, Billy Corgan met Matt Sweeney, a fellow guitar-god and the frontman for a band called Skunk. Skunk was one of Billy’s favourite bands at the time. They immediately hit it off, basing a friendship on a love of metal rock and a huge mutual respect for each other’s talents as a musician. At this point, the blueprint for the Pumpkins sound had been set, but Corgan admitted that the direction that Sweeney was taking was closer to the kind of music he truly wanted to play. He promised that as soon as his gig with the Pumpkins was over, they would form a new band with a harder, more intricate, more soulful sound and indie stylings, which one reviewer dubbed “arena folk metal.” Zwan was the fulfillment of that promise.

Matt Sweeney went on to form a band called Chavez, which saw some indie success, and Billy Corgan became a self-proclaimed god of Rock-n-Roll, but the idea of the possible collaboration had remained. Sweeney and Corgan were huge fans of Slint, and once the idea of Zwan was becoming a reality, they approached David Pajo, Slint’s former guitarist. Pajo signed on, despite having to juggle Zwan with his other project, Papa M. They rounded out the line-up with Pumkins powerhouse drummer, Jimmy Chamberlin, and later on, A Perfect Circle’s expert bassist, Paz Lenchantin. (By the way, is it me, or does Billy have a thing for female bassists? First D’arcy, then Melissa Auf De Maur, and now Paz? Hmmmm…)

The album that they have produced together is nothing short of brilliance. My best analogy is that Mary Star of the Sea is like a pair of thrift-store pants that have only just come back into fashion again: it’s a new thing for you, it’s comfortable, it’s hip, and you don’t have to invest very much to get into it.

Despite the fact that Corgan is credited with writing the large majority of the songs on the album, you can tell that there’s a new feeling to the music. Unlike with Smashing Pumpkins, Zwan is a collaborative project. You can tell that the band is the sum of all of its parts: five extremely talented musicians at the top of their game making the kind of music that they’ve always wanted to play. Yet they manage to perform it in a way that makes it accessible and entertaining rather than self-indulgent and out-of-touch.

You can tell that the joy is back in Corgan’s voice. His lyrics are uncharacteristically upbeat and hopeful and you can almost imagine him smiling while he’s singing. He likes what he’s doing, and it shows. The music and lyrics are personal and introspective, yet they’re also open and mature, showing that Corgan’s turned over a new leaf in his life. He used to shriek “God is dead!” and “Love is suicide!” and wrote ballads about his dead mother and his overall detachment from the world. Now Corgan writes about love, happiness, and about finally settling down, and shows a sense of humour with tongue-in-cheek songs like “Baby, Let’s Rock!” and “Yeah.” He’s obviously come to terms with many of his inner demons.

I think that Mary may be the freshest guitar-driven album I have heard in years. It goes back to the basics: strong, layered guitars, drums, and a lot of heart. It builds on the unique guitar styles of each of its members’ past projects and weaves them together in way that immediately hooks you. But unlike other single-use, burn-out songs of the week, the tracks are intricate enough that they stand up to constant listening. And unlike with James Iha and D’arcy’s watered-down, timid backing vocals, Corgan is now supported by Matt, Dave, and Paz, who are all accomplished vocalists of their own right, and who may, with future releases, challenge Billy for the top spot. Right now, it looks like it’s anybody’s game.

As for song highlights, it’s honestly hard to pick. Unlike many of the albums in my collection, it’s hard to trim any fat from Mary Star of the Sea. Each song stands on its own. The first song I heard was the radio-friendly “Honestly,” which I fist described as “Pumpkins lite” but sounds better and better every time I hear it. “El Sol,” which the album lists as a traditional song, is possibly the catchiest, warmest, most feel-good song that Corgan has ever recorded. “Ride a Black Swan” combines textured guitar riffs and some of the best drums I’ve ever heard from Chamberlin. The interplay of vocals between Corgan and Paz in “Lyric” is nothing less than magic, complementing each other in ways that D’arcy and Corgan could never get quite right. And the guitars on every track: layered, intricate, harmonized, brave, and confident, meshing together and collapsing in around each other into an unstoppable onslaught of sound and emotion that only comes together when you line up three of the finest guitarists in prog rock on the same stage.

Fans of the Smashing Pumpkins won’t be disappointed, but I expect Zwan to pick up some people that Billy lost along the way and many more. It’s familiar, yet it’s not the second coming of the Pumpkins. If anything, it’s much, much more. There’s a drive to the music, with the unique feeling of a hungry, up-and-coming band with plenty to prove and experienced, confident veterans who have already done their time in the trenches.

Zwan is here to stay and we’re going to be seeing a lot more from them, and that makes me real happy. If you get a chance, check out the disc and judge for yourself. Plus, if you buy it right now, you also get a bonus DVD with a documentary, more music, and interviews on the making of Zwan. Score.

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

State of the Speech-Makers

I watched the American State of the Union address last night, seeing as how important this particular speech may be to the immediate future of world politics. I wouldn't really consider myself a political person, exactly, but I perk my ears up and take notice whenever a major world event is underway. I promised myself I wouldn't leak politics into the blog, but sometimes you have to say something.

First off, Bush still scares the pants off me. I'm not sure he has even the slightest notion that his actions may lead to an all-out world war. His arrogance appalls me, and I expect that many of the world leaders agree with me. It was like Bush was wearing a T-shirt saying "I'm American, and yes--that does make me better than you." Can he truly believe that the United States is God's appointed hand of Earthly justice? I'm sorry, but the idea of the United States dictating international policy has always concerned me.

Two things in particular made me choke on my 7-Up last night:

a) Bush's pronunciation of the word nuclear as “nuke-you-ler,” over and over and over again, proving that it was no simple slip of the tongue. What, are we in third grade, here? It's pronounced "nu-klee-ar," you neanderthal. And this is the man poised at the launch button of the most lethal arsenal in the world. Of course, maybe he's just a much bigger Simpsons fan than I thought he was.

b) The United States is throwing 15 billion dollars at Africa and the Caribbean to treat AIDS cases. On paper, this seems like a great idea. But in reality, only the most naive analysts would see this as an altruistic gesture. I mean, really, what country could remain anti-American after the yanks swoop in with their bag full of sweaty money and treat a million of their dying citizens? It's also a band-aid solution. Instead of spending 15 billion dollars on medication to treat AIDS and HIV, why not spend that money looking for a cure and completely wipe out the disease worldwide? The answer: if they did that, how could they continue to keep the developing countries of the world pinned under their thumb? I'm sure AIDS can be beaten, and yet now, once again, the disease is being used for political leverage. And millions of innocent people may pay the price.

I don't want the world to go to war. As a student of history, I know that humanity's chances of surviving another world war are close to nil. And yet, all I see from the leadership of the United States is reckless aggression, arrogance, and an unwarranted feeling of pride and vindication.

The words of Stan Lee come to me all of a sudden: "with great power comes great responsibility." Sure, he was talking about Spiderman, but it also applies to world politics. However, there's a fine line between acting to preserve peace and acting to exert control and exact revenge, and that's part of where the responsibility part comes in. No matter what the United States intentions are, good or bad, if the rest of the world thinks they're acting irresponsibly, we could end up in a whole pile of trouble. And all that saber-rattling, pep-talk propaganda that the world heard last night sure didn't make matters any better, I'd bet.

Just my two cents. I promise no more political stuff until, oh, at least next week. Honest.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Plug Plug Plug

Hey, wanna see what my buddy Arthur's been up to? Check out his new website here, which includes some of his new music, and his folder here, which contains even more of his music. Enjoy!

Monday, January 27, 2003

Irony in the Details

This past weekend, I bought the Back to the Future DVD trilogy, and we watched the first movie last night. I must have watched Back to the Future a hundred times as a kid, but not many times since.

Near the beginning of the movie, Marty McFly is auditioning his band to some teachers. He performs Huey Lewis' song "Back in Time" (which is also the theme song for the movie). Half way through, one of the teachers stands up and shouts through the megaphone "I'm afraid you're just too darn loud."

And, of course, little did I know as a child, that teacher was played by Huey Lewis himself. And it took me this long to fully appreciate that joke.

Sometimes you need to be a little older, a little wiser, and have a more-developed sense of irony to catch these things.

Friday, January 24, 2003


Have you ever spent a pile of time watching TV shows or movies on one particular subject? Did it make you start to think that you were actually in that place or time period?

For Christmas this year, my Dad gave Stacey and me an envelope full of cash. Which at first seems like a great thing, because hey, cash, get to buy whatever you want, right? It took us some time to figure out exactly what to do with the money, though.

At first, we decided we wanted to get something for the house, but something interesting and not too utilitarian. So we trudged off to IKEA, which we’ve been avoiding like the plague ever since we discovered that we couldn't even enter the store without leaving with at least $150 worth of stuff. Not always important stuff, just things that we pass by and say "wow, isn't this nice?" like a box full of candles, a desk organizer, or maybe some Christmas decorations. Hardly a buggy-load to write home about.

So we decided that this time, we'd get something really special. I think it was the longest amount of time we’ve ever spent in an IKEA store. It was almost painful: we found so many things we liked, but they were all either too mundane or too expensive. In the end, we left the store almost empty-handed. We bought a 20-piece cutlery set that was very nice (but we didn't really need) and a spoon-rest. I couldn't help but feel a little defeated.

It was at this point that we switched gears a bit. If we couldn't find anything at IKEA, maybe home furnishings wasn't the way to go. So we went back to the drawing board and decided that maybe entertainment would fit the bill. There are a bunch of DVDs that were on our need-to-have list, but none was higher on our list or more unreasonably expensive than the Band of Brothers box set.

Stacey and I were totally blown away by the miniseries when it first aired on TMN a year ago. Every week, we were glued to the TV screen, enrapt, mesmerized, and horrified by the ravages of war on the men of Easy Company throughout the Second World War. Band of Brothers captured the essence of the war, and walked us through some of the most important engagements of the conflict.

It was gripping, emotional, and brutal all at the same time. We got to know and care for the characters, and in many ways, watching the series is like experiencing their hardships through their eyes. The series isn’t all about glorifying war; if anything, it tells you that war doesn't make a lot of sense. It shows you that it was fought on both sides by people who were terrified but had to look within themselves to find the courage to fight. There are heroes, there are cowards, and there are people who under any other circumstances would be living a quiet, peaceful life. And for everyone, there are victories and there are defeats. Fantastic, fantastic series…but maybe just a little too realistic.

Now we're watching the series again, but in a much more concentrated way. We've watched the first few episodes in succession, and it's starting to weird me out a bit. While waiting for the bus, I half-expect a Sherman tank to rumble by or gunfire to erupt from the building across the street. Loud noises make me want to dive for cover. Sirens are making me edgy.

Maybe I should just stop watching the episodes right before going to bed.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

See No Evil

Last night, my mother and I were driving over to my place after work. My mother was nice enough to give me a lift home, since it was so cold and miserable. She's wonderful that way.

We were having a conversation while stopped at an intersection, waiting for the light to change. As we waited, we watched an old blind man as he crossed the street slowly with his cane out in front of him, feeling his way along. He was crossing at the crosswalk, with the green light, on the opposite side of the intersection.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, two cars appear from down the side street and careen into the intersection. Just before they hit this poor old man, the first car slams on its brakes and blares its horn.

I can only imagine what was going through this poor man's head. We watched him grimace in fear and stab at the air in front of him. He probably heard the sound of the cars and had no idea how close they were. We was probably deafened by the car horn blasting at him from a few feet away. He was probably panicking and for a moment, his whole life must have flashed through his head. Still stabbing at the air, the man walked forward cautiously, his legs and hands shaking as he walked. To our horror, the driver of the car honked impatiently another two times.

The cars waited in the intersection until the old man has reached the median. Before we could get their license plates, the drivers sped off into the distance. It made me feel sick to the stomach.

It reminded me of a blog entry by my friend Tara, who talked about how devastating it would be to lose the power of sight, or any of our senses, for that matter, but how it was still preferable to keep going, live your life, and appreciate the beauty of the world in a new way. It must be so much harder for the handicapped person to see it that way when there are people out there who are as mean and petty as those two drivers. These people terrorized a blind old man because they were in a hurry. And for no better reason than that.

But then, after a short pause, the man got his composure back. He walked forward off the median, made it to the other side while the "hand" signal was still flashing and then waited patiently for the light to turn so he could cross in the opposite direction.

Maybe crossing the street didn't make him a hero exactly, but something became clear to me at that moment: that sometimes it takes a great deal of courage for someone with a disability to just keep going. And maybe we should do everything we can to help them along the way.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003


With the wind chill, it's -39 degrees Celcius in the Canada's frigid National Capital today. That's -38.2 degrees Fahrenheit for readers in the US. My. Good. God. I can feel the cold in my bones this morning. However, it could be worse...I could be living in Alberta.

Monday, January 20, 2003

The Twist: Revealed!

Maybe this is old news, but it's certainly new to me. I was casually surfing onto the CBS web site to see what's happening with the next installment of Survivor and I learned more than I was bargaining for. Survivor VI: The Amazon will begin as two tribes split by gender, one all-female and one all male. Yowza.

I think that twist alone will make this season a bit more interesting than the last one, especially when it comes to how the producers approach rewards and challenges and how the Survivors will interact in a same-sex environment. Will it be an advantage or a curse? Will the men get along better than the women or vice versa? I already have my suspicions, but the only way to figure out one way or another is to watch. Click here to learn more.

Here's a breakdown of this season's cast:

  • The prerequisite cute girl-next-door-type!

  • A recovered-alcoholic triathlon runner who thinks he's Aquaman!

  • A middle-aged middle-school principal!

  • A black-belt, bodybuilding Chinese-American guy and WWE Raw enthusiast!

  • A troll-faced man-model who wants to "see into a women's locker room." Frightening!

  • A "succulent" deaf girl! (no joking here, that's really, truly cool. Especially the succulent part)

  • An "enthusiastic, free-spirited and outgoing" lady who likes to find "new ways to have fun" with the "massage oil" she brought in a tribe populated entirely by women! Yeee!

  • The second runner-up in the Miss Pennsylvania U.S.A. beauty pageant in 2001! Ooooo, a celebrity!

  • A school guidance counselor who starred in the movie Juwanna Mann and claims that one of her "most enjoyable hobbies is lifting up the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in pure praise and worship." Sounds like a fun hobby.

  • A guy who sounds far too interesting-sounding to last more than a single round! See for yourself. He's so outta there. Plus, he looks like one of the guys from Weezer.

  • A beer-guzzling, body-surfing NASA rocket scientist who wants to start a beef-jerky company! Wow!

  • A computer nerd! Finally!

  • A water balloon-wielding District Attorney! Now how come they never show DA's with water balloons on Law and Order, hmmm?

  • A "Vice President of Estimating" Right. Sounds made-up to me. And I'm the Vice President of Sitting on my Ass in a Comfortable Chair.

  • A woman that I swear to God is a real, in-the-flesh Elf, straight out of Lord of the Rings. She's also a PhysEd teacher. Yummy! And...

  • A hypnosis-practicing abstinence counselor. I never, ever want to meet this woman.

  • There you have it! The new season starts up Thursday, February 13. Geez, I think CBS should throw me some free goodies for all this free advertising I give them....

    Your Weekly Eye-Update

    Everything's back to normal, folks! The eye is a-okay. Looks like whatever was stuck up there popped out in my sleep one night this past weekend. I didn't get a look at it, but judging by the amount of pain I was in, I expect it was a Storm Shadow G.I. Joe action figure, complete with his complement of small plastic swords and throwing stars.

    I could be mistaken, of course. I can't back that up, nor would I want to offer a guess as to how a Storm Shadow action figure would get up there in the first place. None that I would care to admit, anyway.

    Plug Plug Plug

    Hey folks! Wanna read something funny? Sure you do! Check out the Trailer Trash for a piece I co-wrote on the wildly intellectual new movie, Biker Boyz, in theatres soon!

    Friday, January 17, 2003

    Take it Out RIGHT NOW

    Don't you hate it when there' something stuck in your eye? You know it's there, but it just isn't coming out. Then you go to the doctor and say "get this thing out of there, it hurts and it's driving me mad," and then the doc shrugs and tells you to wash it out with warm, salty water. Thanks a ton. So glad I sat in your waiting room for an hour and a half, you fraud.

    Well, I've been trying the cup of water thing. For an hour now....and it's not doing a damned thing. Hope I don't go blind!

    Right now, I'm getting ready for a weekend roadtrip to waterloo with just the boys, which should be so much fun. Full report upon my return!

    Wednesday, January 15, 2003

    On a Roll

    In an amazing turn of events, the Ottawa Senators NHL franchise is the best in the NHL at the mid-way mark of the season (as of Wednesday at 4 pm). The irony: now that the team's good, its owners have gone bankrupt and can't pay the players. Only in Canada, man. Anyway, now there's a huge messy bid going on by the guy who kinda owned it but kinda didn't, Rod Bryden, so now he can own the team outright, and buy it and bargain-basement banruptcy prices, which is fine by me if the team stays in the city. Wanna learn more? Read this.

    So now in Ottawa there's this whole "Save the Senators" kick going on. The team's become a charity case. On TV and in the newspapers and even at the water cooler, there's all this pressure to sell out every game and keep the team in Ottawa. Which is cool, because ever since the team started up here, most people haven't given a damn about having a team at all. Many of my friends and co-workers almost seem to be embarrassed to admit that they're a Sens fan. Hopefully, no longer.

    Anyway, I have to admit, I usually don't follow the early half of the season. It's still to early to tell if the team's doing well, and every win is great and all, but doesn't seem to count for much (which it does, of course, it just seems that way). But around about now, I start paying attention and start entertaining ideas that maybe this year the Sens could go all the way to the Cup. If you care about that sort of thing, of course.

    So, usually, I see a couple of games live in a year. Not as many as an avid fan, but I probably go out to a game more often than a lot of Ottawa folk. Anyway, long before this whole "Save the Sens" thing started, I had tickets to see last night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    In true form, Stacey and I were running late to meet her parents at the arena. Which, of course, meant that we had to get drive-thru dinner. I hate diver-thru. I don't know why, but every single freaking time, I manage to get myself covered in ketchup and mayonnaise. I manage to cover myself in the stuff even if it isn't even on what I'm eating. It's like condiments know that I'm eating drive-thru and position themselves to slop onto my ski-jacket whenever I twitch a muscle, just to spite me.

    This occasion was no exception. Just as we were pulling away from the restaurant, ooops, there goes a pickle, covered entirely in sauce. It's funny how quickly a five-dollar meal can become a twenty dollar dry-cleaning bill sometimes.

    Then, in a harrowing race to the Corel Centre, the building where the Sens play, involving juggling cartons full of fries, cutting off and getting cut off by this one guy in a mini van no less than five times, and pulling the wrong way into our parking spot, we emerged into the blistering cold to trek the long walk across the multiple parking lots to the arena. The Sens management have courteously provided a sheltered tunnel linking the front door and the lots to help keep people warm as they’re walking to arena. Unfortunately, when they were planning the shelter out, they neglected to plan for a roof and an adequate number of walls to actually keep the fans even remotely warm. The wind rips through this thing like Michael's rhinoplasty surgeon through his decomposing nose.

    The game was excellent. It's hard to complain about a 7-0 victory. Patrick Lalime got yet another shutout (third straight!), the Tampa goalie, Nikolai Khabibulin, got sent to the locker room half way through the third (much to the delight and jeering glee of the fans), and Ottawa's favourite charity played to a full house.

    So, if you’re planning on being in Ottawa, you should catch a game. It’s like watching playoff hockey right now at the Corel Centre, and if things go badly, you might not get another chance.

    Monday, January 13, 2003

    Stress Stress Stress

    I have found the perfect stress reliever this morning: getting stuck at a bus stop in the middle of a snow squall in freezing weather and a sharp wind for nearly an hour because your bus driver decides to be really, really late. Wheeee! I hate winter.

    Oh, and if you don't have a copy of it already, do yourself a big favour and buy a copy of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring extended cut DVD. Best. Special. Features. Ever. Stacey and I were watching them on and off for two solid weeks, and every feature was worth watching. Not to mention the meatier, longer cut of the movie. If I have my choice, I would never watch the original theatrical cut again. Yes, it's that good.

    What else? Check out The Trailer Trash for your weekly dose of comedy and trailer-review goodness, served up fresh and piping hot. Mmmmmm, trailer-y. It's good for you, just like your daily source of fiber.

    Thursday, January 09, 2003

    The Results of the Poll Are In!

    I have carefully analyzed the results of the Un-Official New Year's Resolution Poll posted two days ago. Let's see what you, the readers, had to say!

    One (1) person thinks that I should do greeting cards.


    So that means, a whopping 100% of respondents thought that I should make some money this year! Results like that are pretty hard to argue with.

    Tuesday, January 07, 2003

    An Experiment! I am Now Taking an Un-Official Poll

    Everyone's talking New Year's resolutions. Mine are pretty standard: eat better food, get more exercise, and focus more on what I want to do with my time. This is two-fold, of course: on one hand, I think I need to find a new job, one where I'm actually happy and busy and learning new things, and on the other, I need a solid artistic outlet. It's the latter that I'm interested in getting some feedback about.

    So here's the question. If I was going to focus on one or two artistic endeavors and really really work hard at them all year long at the expense of the others, what should I do? Should I,

    a) stay in front of the computer screen and focus on my writing, blog-wise, comedy-wise, and otherwise?
    b) stay in front of the computer screen and learn Photoshop and Illustrator inside and out?
    c) pick up my microphone and find a band to sing with?
    d) pick up my brushes again and start oil painting?
    e) pick up my pencils again and get an online cartoon and/or comic book up into the air?
    f) pick up my Canon Rebel X and my Kodak digital and go photo-crazy?
    g) help out my protesting wallet and start-up some kind of art-related company (greeting cards, commercial art, etc.)?
    h) blow all my life savings and declare myself a sculptor?
    i) dust off my tights and go back to stage acting?


    j) Say "phooey!" to resolutions, keep doing what I'm doing, all scatterbrained-like and not seeing anything through to the end?

    The list above is in no particular order, by the way. Except for the last one, which, to be quite honest, isn't giving me the same kind of satisfaction that it used to. Somehow, I think that'll be where I end up, all the same.

    I guess New Year's resolutions are a lot easier when you don't leave them all open-ended, aren't they?

    Thursday, January 02, 2003

    Honestly, What's Wrong With Some People?

    A little bird told me a story about her New Year's Eve.

    This friend of mine didn't have any major plans for New Year's Eve, but she decided to go out and do something anyway, because hey, it's New Year's Eve. She's never really liked NYE, in fact, she's had so many bad experiences with the night that she's come to expect something to go wrong. But she still tries to have an optimistic outlook about it and her boyfriend loves New Year's, so she made some plans of her own.

    My friend and her boyfriend decided that dinner and dancing was the way to go. They spent some time getting all dolled up, my friend with her make-up and a sexy halter-top and stick-on sparkles and her boyfriend in an outfit that he knew that she liked. Once they got downtown, they poked around in a few restaurants to find something that was suitably romantic but not too expensive. Linked arm-in-arm, they found a spot and settled into a luxurious meal, telling stories and gazing lovingly into each other's eyes.

    With about an hour left to go before midnight, they decided to pay the bill and find a place to dance. They had already scoped out one particular club that they knew had music that they both could enjoy and dance to along with a decent cover. Fortunately, when they got there, there was still plenty of space in the club and they settled into a spot near the bar where they could grab a barstool and watch the dance floor while they downed a few drinks.

    Midnight was anti-climactic. At a certain point, the music died, the DJ's shouted "4...3....2...1...." into the microphone and there was a round of "Happy New Year!". My friend and her beau shared a midnight kiss and went back to their drinks. I think they both missed the party atmosphere where you get the built up anticipation and you go around hugging and kissing all of your close friends when midnight hits. It's just not the same in a club.

    The couple hit the dance floor and soon realized how out-of-shape they both were. My friend told me that her first New Year's resolution was made at that moment, and that was to get some more exercise because she felt like she her lungs were going to explode after a few minutes of dancing.

    Her boyfriend stayed on the dance floor despite the burning in his legs that told him they weren't happy with what he was trying to make them do. My friend stayed on the sidelines, and every once in a while joined him on the dance floor for another few minutes.

    After an hour or so, she needed to go to the bathroom. On the way back to the dance floor, someone suddenly grabbed her between the legs from behind.

    She spun around, but everyone behind her looked innocent and no one was looking in her direction. She had her fists clenched up, ready to start a fight, but she didn't know who to hit. She went back to her boyfriend and told him she'd just been assaulted.

    Not surprisingly, it spoiled their whole evening. After it happened, neither one of them could enjoy themselves. They left the bar soon after and went home feeling angry, disappointed and violated.

    Surprisingly, this wasn't even a club with a reputation for this kind of thing. In the past, their experiences in the club have been entirely positive and the usual clientele has been chilled out, mature, and respectful (and I can back this up, I've been there many times). Regardless of what the club is usually like, it happened there, and that's a total shame.

    Now, here's my question: what on earth would possess someone to do that to someone else? Do they get off on grabbing a cheap feel? Do they think that they're tough if they can do it? Does it impress their friends? Do they think they're going to get the woman to go home with them? Or do they just get off on completely ruining someone's New Year's and making them feel violated and embarrassed?

    It really doesn't make any sense to me. After hearing her story, I struggled to make sense of it. How could no one have noticed when it happened? And if someone did, why didn't they do anything about it? And if no one saw it, why would the morally-depraved asshole do it in the first place? To tell a sick-ass story that couldn't be corroborated?

    In the end, all I could tell her was this: there are people out there who are pure, vicious assholes. They can and will strike whenever they feel like it, for whatever reasons they may have. It will never make any sense, but in the end, she should try to remember the good things about her evening and not the bad. It's hard, but when bad things happen, what else can you do? Move on and realize that it happened, but it shouldn't prevent her from going to the places and doing the things that she enjoys.

    I just hope that she'll give New Year's Eve another chance.

    Wednesday, January 01, 2003

    Happy New Year!

    All the best in 2003, everyone! Cheers!