So last month Ash and I watched Bowling For Columbine, a movie I’d seen several times before.  It hypothesizes that the rampant murder rate from handguns in America is not because of the proliferation of guns, or the bloody American past, but rather perpetuated by the fear drawn up by the media.  I like this theory, and I have no argument against it, really.

But then in watching one hour of cable programming last night, I saw an inundation of ads about movies that are thrillers, suspense movies, horror movies.  Seriously, every movie I saw was some girl running scared or some freaky-faced guy popping up out of nowhere.  Looking at current or upcoming movie releases, you can see I Am Legend, One Missed Call, Cloverfield, The Eye, that movie about the website that kills people, even Octogenarian Rambo.  I’m not saying these are GOOD or BAD movies, just that there’s an overabundance of panic-inducers.

Does the media perpetuate fear?  Sure.  But do Americans seem to CRAVE it?  Yes.  I mean, look how many ‘educational’ shows there are on Discovery and History about the paranormal, UFOs, ghosts… it’s insane.  I, for one, don’t like being scared.  Not a bit.  I remember watching Event Horizon in the theaters, and it wasn’t particularly scary, but annoying.  You knew something would jump out at you and you just had to wait for it to happen.  Pointless fear.  I very nearly left the theater and went to see the Shaquille O’Neil movie playing at the next theater (I believe it was Steel).

I miss comedies. I may not be the biggest fan of the Farrelly Brothers and the like, but at least they try.  I can’t wait for Be Kind Rewind.  Just a movie to make people laugh.   I swear I’m moving to Canada one of these days.

Stolen from Jay’s blog

82% Hillary Clinton
82% John Edwards
82% Barack Obama
77% Chris Dodd
73% Bill Richardson
71% Joe Biden
68% Mike Gravel
68% Dennis Kucinich
46% Rudy Giuliani
34% Tom Tancredo
32% John McCain
29% Mitt Romney
25% Mike Huckabee
16% Fred Thompson
14% Ron Paul

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

Like Jay, I’m not too surprised, but what surprises me most is that the top three guys all have the same %.  To me it means they’re fairly interchangeable, right?   So it comes down to who I’d like to look at most?  Edwards.  He is prettier than Hillary.

Top Ten Lists

I wanted to write a top 10 list today, spurred on by this list I saw.  But then realized that they only included Cannibal: The Musical as an honorable mention, and that just doesn’t cut it.  Then I wondered if it was time to bring back the Dirty Dozen Lists that I used to make with JayMar at Rutgers.  I’m not against that idea.

But really, I am gonna point out how bizarre networking is.  I just updated my links and added a link to a knitting podcast because they have played a few of my songs, but otherwise are a blog dedicated to needle-sports.  I only found out about them because I was checking my website statistics and found a few people made it to my site from theirs.  So I put their link up.  My girlfriend goes on and falls in love with their blog, and has already signed up to their forum.  And that, my friends, is unlikely networking.

Maybe it’s time for another contest soon.  Give away a CD Charity pack or something.  Hmmm, gotta think of a good one…

Let it stop snowing!

It’s hard to estimate how much snow we got – with the wind here everything is in drifts.  There are plenty of sections where you can see grass (well, dirt), but other sections are two feet or greater.  I’d estimate we got about a foot of snow.

Interesting fact: before the snow, it was heavy rains.  Reno averages 8″ of rain a year.  We had over 2″ in few hours.  Was that actually an interesting fact?  I doubt it.

I took pictures with my disposable cameras, which I hope to develop this week.  Three of ’em, dating back to The Unusual Suspects.  The scary thing is that first camera had about 15 pictures left at the start of my good-bye party, and it was done by the end.  I’m scared.  The last time my friends (I’m looking at you Jay and Kristy) found someone’s camera at a social function, Bryan had a dozen shots of children’s toys posing in bizarre bus accidents.  The one at the playground was pretty good, though.

Friendly Competition

Jeff, I’m calling you out!

Okay, I’m not, but in his last blog, he intimated that this could be a competition between us. Well, I’ll quash those rumors right now – you will win. I’ll be doing tournaments where there is no coverage, plan on camping this summer where no service exists, and probably won’t even bring my computer to Mitch’s wedding (which is on an island).

So I’m gonna try to keep it up, but bravo for trying.

On another note, I can’t tell the horizon from the sky. It would make for some interesting skiing.

On another other note, I would TOTALLY watch this show!

Desert Weather – A Blizzard?

So they’re calling for a blizzard here over the weekend.  “Blizzard” has a different connotation here than it does in NJ.  The Blizzard of ’96 saw 2′ + of snow drop in two days and winds approaching, well, maybe 10 mph.  Here, they are predicting a whopping 4-6 inches of snow, but 60+ mph winds.

The funnier part is high panic mode.  Now some of it I understand – don’t go into the mountains if you don’t have to, and it’s going to be icy too (it’s rain now and will change over tonight).  But to literally clean out the grocery stores (I went last night and there were two loaves of bread left)?  Either they have very weak generators here or people are just silly.

Ash tells me the wind knocks out the power often than not.  But it’s like it’s hurricane season here.  We’ll see if their hype was overcautious, or if I am stupid.

Sign Guys

One of the bads of Reno is the sign guys.  Originally, as the story goes, a local pizza place, Godfather’s Pizza, hired a guy to take a large arrow-shaped sign to the corner of the main street and literally just dance with the sign.  That’s what he did.  Wild frantic gesticulations.  It may not have brought about much business, but it brought about alot of chatter (“Where’s the Godfather Pizza Sign Guy?”)  This, in itself, isn’t so bad.

Now EVERY place has a sign guy.  Literally, you’ll see two of them bopping to silent music on street corners, and they look stupid.  Just stupid.  It’s like the world’s most spread-out, lamest rave.  A capital “BOO” to Reno Sign Guys.

Jeff has asked a few times about pictures of my place.  My digital camera is still in San Jose, but I have a few disposables that I’m gonna get developed when I finish them off (about 20 pictures left on the three cameras) and I’ll post pics online.  But I expect that to be a few weeks.  Patience, peeps.

The Good

There are certain things about Reno that I love, and others I can’t quite get the hang of:


– The Deli Counter:  At a supermarket in NJ (I’m looking at you, ShopRite in Fair Lawn) I have stood in line for 20+ minutes waiting for some ham.  Here, they pre-cut everything.  While you don’t get them sliced exactly how you might like it, I’ve never had to wait more than zero people.

– The DMV: NJ DMVs are not known for their speed, except inasmuch as they lack it entirely.  If you hit the Reno DMV on a Saturday, it looks like NJ.  But during the week, they still staff it with as many people as on the weekends.  Seriously, there were like 20 windows open.  It took me less than 20 minutes to get my registration renewed and my driver’s license redone, AND my car inspected.  Not bad.

– Car Inspections: I laughed out loud.  They told me I had to be inspected.  My car had already been smog-checked (which is a big deal out here), so I groaned when I had to do it.  I drove around to the side where a woman asked me how many miles it had on it.  I told her, and she wrote it down and said, “Okay, you’re done.  Drive around.”  Seriously!?  That was it?  YES!

I’ll save the bad for another day.  It’s a new year, let’s be optimistic.

The Moist Towelette Experiment Results

So it’s 2008, more than 10 years since I saved a moist towelette to see if, in ten years, it would still be moist.  So what happened?  I had two witnesses, Ashley Wade of Sparks NV and Cyrus Chi from parts unknown.  Less than five minutes into the new year, I got the package and posed with it.


Perspiration flowed down my head.  “Boy,” I thought, “I could really use a moist towelette right about now.”  But would it be moist?  I began to peel back the packaging.  Anticipation mounted like a randy dog in heat.  I began to tear at the frayed silvery packaging.


With Ryan Seacrest blabbering about something in the background, I peeked inside the package to see that the towelette was still whole, with no signs of disintegration.  It was whole, but was it moist?


After ten long years, I had discovered that…

Actually at this time, I’d like to discuss what my new years resolutions are.  I have many for www.esoderek.com.  After Jay puts up a “what’s happening” section in my front page and makes ‘Dash more readily accessible, I have a few goals for 2008 for this site:

– I want to post a blog every day.  Yup, every day.  Even if it’s just a sentence.

– I want to write a new feature once a week (Fats’ Bad Advice, Online Surveys, a significant update of music/photos/old writings…etc.)  It doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll have something up every week, but I want 52 by year’s end.  (SO WRITE IN SUGGESTIONS, PEOPLE!)

– I want to write a new song once every month.   Some might make a new album, some might just be posted here for everyone to hear.  If I don’t write a song, I at least want to record a cover song.  Keep busy.

That ought to be enough to keep this site afloat for another year.  I’m also extending my holiday 3CD sale for charity (I’m almost halfway to my goal).  So look into that.

Anyway, where was I?  Oh right.


I took it out of the package and it… was just an ordinary piece of well-folded paper.  There wasn’t a trace of moisture to be found.  Not a drop.  It was as unmoist as a sober girl on a first date with Aaron (ZING!)  It was odorless (we all checked), soundless (Cyrus checked), tasteless (Ashley, with vague traces of autism, checked).  There was nothing interesting about it aside from the fact that it was at least 10-year-old paper.

I’ll see you tomorrow.

The Moist Towelette Experiment

So in December of 1997, I received a call that a man I had only known a short period of time, Bill Kirby, had passed away of pneumonia at the terrifying age of 33.  He was the stage manager of the community theatre show I did in Park Ridge the previous spring.  He was a great guy, and bought me the Monty Python script books just because we got along so well.  It was really the first time I had to deal with death, and I didn’t take it altogether well, even though I only knew him for two months.

That night, I was moping and Mitch and Scott said “We’re going to Hooters and you’re coming.”  This trip was interesting for three reasons: 1) It was (and is) the only time I’ve been to a Hooters.  2)  Mitch swallowed his tongue piercing.   3)  I got a moist towelette with my meal.

For reasons unclear to me, I kept the moist towelette in my wallet and said, “I’m going to open this in ten years and see if it’s still moist.”  This was largely forgotten.  But since then, I’ve gone through three wallets and still kept it.  Here is a pic of it:


Sure, it’s seen better days, but I see no tears in the packaging that would allow moisture to escape.  The experiment is, of course, silly.  Somehow, it seems befitting of Bill (I later dedicated the college version of The Unusual Suspects to him, a play I had started writing shortly after he passed).  But it also seems like he’d have chuckled that I bothered to do this.

This experiment also brought about an interesting point by Corey, where they don’t advertise it as NEVER losing moisture.  In fact, he said: “They don’t call it Forever Moist!”  Incidentally, I think that’s a great name for a) a moist towelette b) a band or c) a sexual position.

So the question is: IS IT STILL MOIST?

Feedback?  Guesses?  (I unwrap it on New Years Eve, I’ve decided.)

A Rude Alarm Clock

So at some point in the morning (I don’t really know) I randomly wake up.  There are some lights flashing or something, and I’m sorta half-conscious.  I look out of my room and see there are flashing lights in my apartment.  That’s not normal.  I don’t know if my living room lamp is fritzing out or what.  I stumble out of bed in my T-Shirt and Happy-Face Boxers and before I get into the living room, I hear “RENO POLICE!”  This can’t be good, I think to myself.

Still not fully awake, and clearly looking like I’m not fully awake, I see two officers shining flashlights at me.  I’m not exactly sure what to do.  They inform me pretty quickly that my front door had been open and a neighbor called them because apparently it had been like that for some time.  The other officer tells me to stay put while he searches in my room.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, of course.  My door doesn’t always shut properly, and the wind has blown it open a few times.  Of course, if I routinely LOCKED my door, this wouldn’t be a problem.  Anyway, just then a woman walks by the still-open front door and peers in.  I turn to the one cop and say, “Hmmm, something tells me I should be out here in just my boxer shorts.”  He says, “At least you’re not in a G-String”.  I think I like the Reno PD.

The other guy comes back and tells me there’s been a spree of robberies in Reno (not particularly my area) and that I should lock.  I briefly explain that I’m quite happy that they found me.  I said “I’m from NJ – if I left my door open there, they’d likely steal the bed I was sleeping on.”  He asked to see some ID, which I showed.

The left rather politely, seeing I wasn’t robbing my own place.

It was 7 in the morning.  I couldn’t go back to sleep.  But after the constant debacles with the Elmwood Park police department (see my blog entries about it), I feel pretty good about Reno cops.

p.s.  Please look at my other blog posts – I’m still not at my goal for the CD Charity Drive, and I was REALLY hoping to give some kids a good Christmas.  Please consider donating just $22.50 (total) for 40+ songs of music and a GREAT cause.

‘Tis the Season (addendum)!

I will assume most of you read the last email talking about the charity Bryan Fenkart and I are teaming up to try to earn money for (see last blog for more details)

In order to try to raise as much money as possible, we are sweetening the deal.  Until the end of the year, for $20 (or roughly a tenth of a tank of gas), you will still receive my music album Love is Kinda Funny Sometimes and Bryan’s impressive debut Imperfect Man.  For a limited time only, you will also receive a copy of a CD sampler Earsnacks Volume 9.  This contains a track by Bryan, as well as 11 other tracks, including a killer instrumental from Chris Thile (of Nickel Creek), and some great other independent artists.

Not enough?  For that same $20, Bryan and I will also include a track each (via email) that is NOT AVAILABLE ON ANY CD.  That’s right, two extra tracks that will not be available for purchase on our next CDs.

So you will now be receiving 41 tracks for $20.  And half the money goes directly to charity!  Help out!  Do something for a stranger!

Order at www.esoderek.com/album.  I can hear destitute children who can’t watch porn crying.

‘Tis the Season!

December’s the time for commercialism, materialism, and eating too much.  We’re pretty lucky.  Fortunately, some other good people out there are doing much more to better the world than we are, eating turkey and wrestling Guitar Hero III away from some elderly man.  One such place is www.laptopgiving.org.  They’re implementing a great project to give every third-world country child a computer.  Some wizards over at MIT created this amazingly cheap, innovative computer and, for $200, we can ship one to a needy child.  For $400, we can give one and get one.  If we raise enough money, we’ll do that, and donate the second one locally.

I’m not alone in wanting to do this.  I’m teaming up with legendary songwriter and truly great person BRYAN FENKART (www.bryanfenkart.com).  Together, for the first time ever, we are selling our two CDs as a package for ONE MONTH ONLY.  For $20 (plus S&H), you can get Bryan’s debut album Imperfect Man with my half-comedy release Love is Kinda Funny Sometimes.  HALF of all the money we raise will go to this worthy cause, so someone else has something to unwrap this holiday season.

The way we see it, this is a perfect gift if you’re stuck with the boss’ girlfriend in the office pool and don’t even know her.  Give her the gift of independent music.  Give your best friend the gift of Bryan’s hypnotic, svelte vocal stylings.  Give your great-uncle a copy of the song Women Are Insane, especially if he’s divorced.  Give your parents the Charity Double-Pack, available NOW at www.esoderek.com/album.  Remember, half your purchase goes directly to charity.

I know many of you already have copies of these, and if you don’t, you should.  Especially Bryan’s CD – it’s amazing.

Go to www.esoderek.com/album for more information, and of course go to www.laptopgivings.org to get the skinny yourself.  CDs will start shipping out next week, and you should have them before Christmas.  This offer will last until 12/31.

Thank you, and have a great holiday.

Acculturation and Engorgement

Acculturation: the process of adopting the cultural traits or social patterns of another group.

I am not doing this.  Of course, I’m not particularly trying yet.  I’ve spent most of my days indoors doing work on the ole’ Lappy or the keyboard.  The other days I’ve spent with Ash just enjoying why I made this move.  Did you know they drive the speed limit here?  Like most of the time!?  I know, it’s shocking.  There’s a place where it’s a 15 mph when school is in session.  You’ll never guess what I see: people going 15.  Like MANY people.  ALL people, going 15 miles per hour.  It’s like a funeral process in every direction.  Creepy.

I’ll be damned if I’ll start pronouncing this state “correctly” either.  Nuh-VAAA-duh?  No thank you.

But I do enjoy it, even if it feels more like an extended vacation spot rather than home (yet).  I have a feeling I’ll be more active once the weather turns warmer and they don’t close every road (to disc golf courses) prematurely.  And if I go out and actually meet people.

I may have myself a Scott Fourre and company at my place on New Years.  Looks like I’m startin’ to wrangle up my first party.

Engorgement: the act of devouring greedily 

I engaged in this this weekend.  Thanksgiving dinner with the other fam, Sunday dinner with the other fam, and eating a bag of pretzel rods the other day.  Hey, I have to store up fat for the winter, don’t I?

Crappy Quality Pics

I left my camera in a car in San Jose after a paintball game. But here are a couple of crappy phone-quality pics. When I get my camera back, I will snap some shots of my place, my area, and maybe even my girlfriend.

First, my war wound from the paintball game. When you get hit in paintball, you put your hands (and gun) up in the air, people stop shooting you, and you walk peacefully off the field. Occasionally, you’ll get hit in quick succession by a few errant shots, but after a second or two, they stop. You should NOT get hit seven seconds later, especially not in your ribs that are unprotected when your hands are up in the air. See illustrations.

paintball_bruise1.jpg paintball_bruise2.jpg

Feels lovely.

Speaking of lovely, these are REAL clouds. I did not touch this photo up (I assure you it looks so fake because of the poor quality of the phone’s camera.  Actually, it looks like an oil painting, but it’s real.  Taken overlooking a Target)


My Trip in Photos

So here are the photos of before and after my trip. First, some of the goodbye party.









They’re cute, but for some reason, I think they look better in sepia. You be the judge.


Anyway, I left and about 3 miles before I hit PA, what do I see?


Dead-stopped traffic. Ahh, NJ, I’ll miss thee.

As I said in one of my last posts, our country gets less interesting as you go west. Case in point. Above is some interesting topography in NJ/PA.


PA – fall foliage and hills dot the spectacular landscape


OH – traffic cones and bends in the road dot the rugged landscape


IL – some trees dot the landscape


IN – A tree… and, uh, some power lines, dot the rather drab landscape


IA – some… well, some dots dot the… wholly uninteresting landscape


WHYoming – only these billboards dotted the landscape, constituting the longest 4.5 hours of my life


UT – absolutely nothing dots this barren landscape which can only be described as moon-like and godforaken

Hell, look how bad things are in Nebraska.


NE – so unfun they banned the thumbs-up

Then the states starting lying to me.


I didn’t see one.

But not all was bad. I hit four courses, and though I only took pictures of three, the one in Nebraska (of all places) was amazingly beautiful and photogenic. Here are my pics of all three courses (the first pic is a small course in IN, the second and third are at Kearney in NE, and all the rest are at Lake Hastings in NE)


skipped off the top of the basket on my second shot


Not a bad course. But nothing compared to these


The third pic (hole 9) is one of the best holes I’ve ever played (especially considering the 20+ mph winds) It is 500′ long downhill, with a road (and lake) OB to your left, and schule all the way to your right. There is a 30′ stream that makes the green an island green. It’s possible to pump one down past the stream and give yourself a deuce putt, or you can play it safe for your three (hopefully avoiding the one tree). Great hole. I 4d it because I can’t up to save a monkey from being skinned.

And I’ll leave you with various sunset pictures which shows that my 80mph one-handed photography skills are still goin’ strong. They are in order of how I like them.


Pics of my place and the area coming soon.

Random musings

– There’s a place on Route 287 in New Jersey where you can see, off in the distance, (on a clear day, very important), the mighty Sheraton hotel building.  This is impressive because it is about two miles away.  You’ll lose it in the trees again and it’ll appear later.  Two miles!  While in Utah (or Wyoming?), I saw off in the distance some wind turbines.  Now this was at dusk, so visibility was NOT good.  These turbines were over TWENTY-THREE miles away!  That’s what lack of trees or, in fact, any interesting geological changes, will do to you.

– When you’re driving east to west, don’t do it on a daylight savings weekend.  I literally have no idea what time it is.

– I was in the bathroom at a Pilot gas station when an announcement broke over the loud speaker.  “Attention Pilot customers, we have a polite trucker in the store.  He just said ‘please’.”  My estimation of Iowa went up one iota. 

Thoughts on America

Our country gets exponentially less interesting as you travel westward.  I have a photo montage in my camera of just how uninteresting it becomes.  In PA, you start to strip away the wonderful mountains and beautiful fall foliage.  In OH and IN, you strip away many of the rolling hills.  In IL and IA, kiss goodbye pretty much any elevation changes, and most types of foliage taller than 5 feet.  Once you’re in NE, there go trees altogether, as well as buildings.  CO?  Bye bye turns in the road.  And the scariest part?  I haven’t even GOTTEN to WY yet.