Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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Like my brownhouse:
   Jewish Christmas in July
Thursday, July 3 2008
For the first time in months, tonight it was dinner and a movie night for Gretchen and me. Though it was July, we acted as if it Jewish Christmas, going out for Chinese food and then seeing a big explosion-filled Hollywood blockbuster. We attempted to go to the Chinese Gourmet Restaurant, where we'd eaten once before, but it was closed for rennovations. The rennovators were the same people who normally would be operating the restaurant, but instead of aprons they wore utility belts and screwgun holsters. On seeing us come to the door, they ran out to tell us when they'd be opening again.
Further up Ulster Avenue towards the unknown spot where it becomes Albany Avenue, we went to the China Rose to Go, which we believe to be affiliated with the gourmet Chinese restaurant in Rhinecliff called China Rose. The Rhinecliff restaurant doesn't even look Chinese; it features a gringo waitstaff and plush Victorian decor. But the restaurant out there on Kingston's ugly chain strip looks completely Chinese, right down to the buzzing neon sign over our table in the tiny dining room and the cooly-friendly Chinese staff (augmented by one Hispanic in the back). There was also a bar, but the place was clearly geared toward the takeout market. The menu was very similar to that of the restaurant in Rhinecliff, although Gretchen thought it was larger. Gretchen ordered what had been delicious in Rhinecliff and it was good (and even exceptional by local standards) but not as exceptional as it had been in Rhinecliff. But it was also a lot cheaper. Restaurants on this particular stretch of road cannot hope to charge much.
The view outside our window had been dismal, with cars zipping past about thirty feet away across the parking lot. Across Ulster Avenue, wedged between the rotting remnants of a loading dock and a Friendly's chain diner was a single family foursquare house. At first all we could do was think about how sad it must be living in a house like this in such an ugly, busy neighborhood. Sure, every one of life's necessities were within walking distance, but this neighborhood hadn't been designed by people with any concerns for pedestrians. Later we saw that this house was actually the front for a homegrown muffler shop.

Our movie tonight was Hancock, which was playing at the Regal megaplex at the Hudson Valley Mall. We had the dogs with us, so we pulled over into a section of overgrown wasteland (41.964008N, 73.984863W) adjacent to the mall to run them so they'd be good to wait in the car for the duration of a movie. This section of wasteland proved to be something of a dumping ground for materials related to the mall. There were several large piles of excess asphalt and concrete, sections of cast iron pipe that I made a note of should I decide to salvage it, as well as random bits of detritus such as an old 1970s-style skateboard. Gretchen, who isn't as into salvaging as I am, was icked out just by my reaching down to touch the skateboard.
As always when seeing a movie at the mall, we just walked in as if we'd already handed over our tickets. The youthful minimum wage earner whose job it was to see to it that we had tickets didn't accost us. Interactions that didn't begin with eye contact lay outside her pay grade.
One of several problems with huge-budget mainstream movies in mainstream movie theatres is the endless barrage of advertising and trailers for horrible movies that precedes what you've come to view. Since Hancock is a modern superhero movie featuring gobs of special effects, most of the previewed movies were nothing but sequences of explosions punctuated by lingering kisses being undertaken by lips attached to beautiful people. The least promising of all the previews, though, was for a relatively explosion-and-kiss-free movie entitled Step Brothers. There is absolutely no form of media less watchable than a middlebrow mainstream comedic film.
Gretchen loves Will Smith, the star of Hancock. He plays "John Hancock," a reluctant superhero with all the familiar talents of Superman, but with a preference for kicking back on a park bench drinking hard liquor and grabbing at the asses of any attractive ladies who might be passing by. When called to duty, he usually makes a mess of things. Though not exactly faithful to the Newtonian physics, for the first time ever a movie with a superhero shows some of the damage the equal-but-opposite forces can inflict when our hero launches himself into or comes down out of the sky. Early in the movie Hancock saves an image consultant from a speeding train and, in gratitude, the consultant provides some pro bono help with Hancock's public reputation. In the process we learn about his backstory, out from which a crazy new plot twist emerges. The movie worked mostly as a comedy (and an often quirky one at that), though at times it seemed to be striving to be something of an epic. It was a much better movie than the Slate review had led me to believe, though I didn't like it quite as much as Gretchen did. (And here's the obligatory review link.)

I'd been using the same host for my website since the beginning of 1998, first under the domain and then later (when its owner wanted to do something with it) under my own domain. Aside from one $50 donation, I wasn't paying for the hosting, so I couldn't really complain when it was flaky or when the server seemed to be misconfigured for my uses. For the past few days, though, the hosting wase down, so today I finally did what I'd been planning to do for months. I paid for hosting through and began migrating my site (and my POP3 email box) there. Since I couldn't get to my existing site, I had to work from the messy "copy" on my main computer, Woodchuck. This wasn't easy; I use the directories containing my daily entries as a sort of "life stack" for all my computer needs, so they contain a lot more than just the text and images of this site. Starting from my last site backup (four years ago!), I had to go through each of the directories individually and select what needed to go to the analogous directories on the new host. I also had to change some very old PHP to get it to work in a PHP 5.0 environment.

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