God Bless Ian Debski Ian

God Bless Ian Debski

Ian Debski was a programmer at [My employer]; young, personable, and Swedish, he would attend raves until 7AM and then roll in to the office and code HTML pages all day. Tired out after 36 straight waking hours of trance music, Red Bull, and lengthy financial-services disclaimer pages, he was easy pickings in our evening Half-Life Deathmatch sessions. Everybody loves bad poker players and the easily fragged, though, so he was a big favorite at the office until he was, alas, laid off. Since he left [My employer], he’s surfaced sporadically in AOL Instant Messenger to give us all a link to the latest kung-fu Flash animation or Yatta! video.

Now Ian has resurfaced with a vengeance, and nobody’s happier than me. Yeah, yeah, I know what the Sony Entertainment people say about him, but I tell you what: staying cheerful, friendly, and willing to broadcast your embarassing exploits on TV shows sack. The office gossip was that Ian had a Harpo Marx streak a mile wide, anyhow.

Ian Debski’s got a date on Shipmates!

God Bless Ian Debski Ian

It’s pledge drive time on

It’s pledge drive time on tikaro.com!

If you’re reading this, as you love me, go support me in my month-long mustache quest! As you probably know already, I’m participating in Mustaches for Kids NYC, which means I have a bristly, half-grown nose-comb hanging under my nostrils, sucking the very will to live from my suddenly-much-less-attractive lungs. The idea is that each participant collects pledges for the Make-A-Wish foundation. The love, support, and validation implicit in each pledge gives me, the grower, the stamina and the fortitude to carry on.

You can make a pledge in any amount from $5.00 (the Frida Kahlo package) to $100.00 (the Tom Selleck Executive Package). So please — if this site has ever made you laugh, if you’ve ever read a posting and made a human connection (“Hey, he might as well have been describing my powerful Mafia landlady!”), if you’ve ever blushed in sympathetic shame as I revealed the period in college where I adopted a fake Welsh accent for three weeks around my dad’s business associates, please, pleasesupport me at this critical time!

And hey — say you came from the website!

It’s pledge drive time on

It’s an axiom of human

It’s an axiom of human relationships, I think, that the couple tends to find a center of gravity on each issue, and that each person then finds a spot on either the positive or negative side of that issue’s origin. Who’s the neat one, who’s the messy one? Who’s the one that’s good with money, who’s the one that’s a spendthrift? Who’s the outgoing one, who’s the shy one? I’ve been on both sides of each issue at various times in my life and in various contexts. And not just male-female dating relationships, either. At boarding school, I’ve been both the messy one (Junior year, when rooming with Japanese exchange student Junichiro Fukuda), and the neat one (Senior year, vs. Alton Finley, who I had to throw batteries at, in increasing grades from AAA to D, in the middle of the night to stop him from snoring).

It’s easy to be reactive, and to let the other’s otherness push you further along your own axis than you, maybe, normally belong. Especially, I suppose, if you’re on the side of the axis that you don’t feel comfortable on. I’m not normally the thrifty one (viz. the purchase of a cubic foot of Butterfinger bars for Halloween, below), so when I do find that I’m the one that’s expected to play that role, I become uber-Thrift man, trying hard to act like some inner Amish subsistence farmer.

The danger of defiring yourself as a negative-space reflection of the other is a favorite liberal-arts concept: the word “counterdependency” was almost as popular at my Quaker college as “paradigm shift” and Phish stickers. But it’s a very real trap, and in a partner relationship I think that this laziness leads to friction and resentment. Along each axis, you have one person acting as the “boss”, who feels resentment for having to be in charge, and you have the “minion”, who feels resentment at being bossed around. I’m sure that you could whip up a college-psych paper on this in about ten minutes: f(Prospero) = Caliban: Emotional Axes along the Relationship Coordinate Space. Or, if you wanted to sell it as a book, If it’s Tuesday, you be Oscar and I’ll be Felix.

All of the above isn’t meant to be a giant window into my soul, so much as the reason that Kate and I are really happy about buying a car. Maybe it’s because we both started out with pretty much the same priorities, so the difference was between (0,-1) and (0,2), not (0,-25) and (0,2). Or maybe it’s because there’s a hell of a lot of good information out there now, from Consumer Reports to Edmunds.com, so we both had the same knowledge level. So, to cut a long story short: We got a good car, we both like it, we both did a good job of staying firm but honest with the salespeople, we didn’t get in any fights. Yaay, first-year-of-marriage victory!

Here’s the car; a black 2003 Nissan GXE with the “Synergy” package. We looked at the Corolla S (great reliability, but felt cheap inside, had crappy headlights, and cost $$$ to get the features we wanted. Also, the sales manager made Jack Lemmon look like Tony Robbins.) and the Ford Focus (fast and fun to drive, but an annoying center armrest and reliability so bad that the Consumer Reports page was actually hot to the touch.) It’s a pretty sporty car, and we’re both pleased with it.

Now all that’s left to discuss is the giant hydraulic spoiler I’m determined to bolt on to the back.

It’s an axiom of human

We’re back from Seattle,

We’re back from Seattle, after a long, rainy flight and a short, rainy drive from the airport. Seattle is in the middle of a drought, it turned out, and the view from our hotel room was amazing. I got up on Sunday morning to realize that Mount Ranier had become visible on the horizon, something I’d never seen before. It’s funny how that one glimpse of mountains all around changes your perception of the city permanently, even if you don’t see the mountains through the mist again for another six months.

We had a great time visiting my sister Bridget and my brother-in-law Tony. Kate observes that I automatically revert into little-brother mode when I’m around Bridget. I found some really, really nasty Christmas-cookie-and-edible-marker combinations, and was writing my initials on my tongue before too long. Also, sucking the markers like candy. Personally, I think that’s natural behavior given the discovery of edible magic markers, but it’s not important. What was important was that the yellow marker was flavored “banana”, and tasted awful. Probably not as bad as a Sharpie.

Bridget and Tony built their house in the middle of a rain forest on the Olympic peninsula side of Bainbridge Island. They’re both artists: Bridget’s mostly a ceramist, and Tony’s mostly a painter and illustrator, though their interests range much more widely. Their house is beautiful, and it’s filled with gorgeous things that they made. Their dog, Rosie, is the happiest dog in the world: Puget Sound is a half-mile away, and there’s a million things to smell in the woods. Plus, there are three goats and several chickens in the back yard. The chickens used to be egg-layers, but they stopped a couple of years ago, and now they’re mostly pets. I say “mostly” because B&T have a “better drowned than duffers” policy about the chickens. The chickens don’t get locked up every night, and sometimes Bridget and Tony will wake up to find a big pile of feathers where a chicken used to be!

Here are some pictures I took of their house!

We’re back from Seattle,

I’m writing this on the

I’m writing this on the ferry to Bainbridge Island, on the way to visit Bridget and Tony (“King of the Olympic Peninsula.”) I had an exciting day yesterday: after posting the last Blog entry from the lobby of the Meany, I drove north on I-5 until I saw the giant glass box enclosing REI’s 65-foot climbing wall. I circled the block for 15 minutes, looking for parking, and finally got a sweet spot right across from the entrance (and, incidentally, across the street from REI’s massive underground parking garage, which I hadn’t noticed, d’oh!)

The entrance to REI is long, winding, and — like the myriad steps on an Incan Ziggurat — designed to instil a proper sense of occasion on the visitor. Which worked on me; by the time I’d made three turns around the redwood stairs, passing the Mountain Bike Test Trail, the Hiking Boot Test Trail, and the Binocular lookout station, I was as keyed up as the Griswolds.

And boy, oh boy, did Wally Moose deliver. I pulled open the redwood doors to reveal a cavernous indoor space filled with freestanding fireplaces, thousands of tents hanging from the ceiling, and battalions of perky, pile-vested attendants ready to help you ooh and aah over the latest Whisperlite stove.

After a profound religious/gore-tex/primaloft experience, I thought I’d explore the city some, so I drove around down by the ferry docks. A couple of wrong turns later, I was down on the docks, rolling slowly through deep canyons of shipping containers. I even recognized some of the buildings as places where I’ve stood with a sniper rifle in Grand Theft Auto III and picked off Columbian Cartel soldiers as my Mafia buddies planted explosives, so that was a fun Baudrillard moment.

Next, I spent a good couple of hours getting stuck, extricated, and re-stuck in Seahawks traffic. I’m not very good at finding my way around. Seattle is a big motorcycle town, it turns out. That’s kind of surprising, considering the weather, but I guess it’s a big bonus in getting around.

After that, Chineses food and baby-watching. I’m having a great time, and so is Kate.

I’m writing this on the

Kate and I are in

Kate and I are in Seattle this weekend: Kate’s friends have a new crop of babies to poke, and we’re visiting my sister and her husband, Tony Dattilo (“King of the Olympic Peninsula.”) There’s no mistaking Seattle; from the hipsters in Camper shoes, sweatshirts, and beanie hats, to the fact that the shoe store next to our hotel in the U district sells only Birkenstocks and Dansko clogs, to the hilarious handwritten signs in the store windows. “WE CARRY CARHART” says one poster, above a magic-markered caricature of a buff Pacific Northwest lumberjack. ‘Gawd, I kick ass!’, exclaims the lumberjack while contemplating the timbered magic-marker horizon.

In the spirit of adventure, I headed straight to Rudy’s Barbershop, where (Kate tells me), the locals go to get their hipster haircuts. “Make me look like I fit in!” I told the rockabilly hipster behind the counter, and Emily, a magenta-haired, midriff-shirted lookalike for Tea Leoni, gave me a patented Seattle Caesar while telling me how much she enjoyed her recent trip to Williamsburg. I caught up with Kate at The Weaving Works, where she was very polite about the haircut, though I think I looked like Gilligan would if he spent time carrying Proust around to try and impress the chicks. Without the lean, gangly look that would make it work for Gilligan.

Then it was off to Archie McPhee, the BEST STORE IN THE UNIVERSE. I completed almost half of my Christmas shopping, assuming that people on my list will enjoy receiving genuine government-issue body bags and leopard-print fezzes. But, since that’s the first and question on my “should we be friends?” questionnaire, I feel pretty confident that my gifts won’t be too far off the mark.


Which of the following would you rather have on your head?

  • An Eagles helmet with face paint, twin beer-holders and a giant novelty straw

  • A bicycle helmet, color-coordinated to matching Spandex bike shorts

  • An expression of ineffible contempt for the Naked Gun movies

  • A genuine Russian army-surplus gas mask, complete with canister and hood, topped with a leopard-print fez.

Anyway, that was yesterday. Today, I dropped Kate off at her friend Tiffany’s for a multi-friend, multi-baby catch-up lunch, and did some more Christmas shopping. I drove past the original Starbuck’s at the Pike Place market, where the logo still has breasts. Then I stumbled into the ass-kickingest vintage clothes store I had ever seen (check out this link), where I managed to find a great deal on a red tuxedo vest that had, at one time, been worn by David Niven. Thus far, the trip has been a five-star, slam-bang success.

(Okay, okay, the vest wasn’t a steal, and since it was made new, I really doubt that David Niven actually work it, but it looks like it’s straight out of A Shot in the Dark, and that’s close enough for me.)

Next, off to the REI mother ship! Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!!!

Kate and I are in

Our next-door neighbor Todd

Our next-door neighbor Todd is a blog-poster’s dream come true. Viz: the rows of seven-foot plywood toy soldiers that appeared in his yard this weekend. (Todd’s house is in the foreground; our house is behind the skirmish line.) Todd’s production company has a warehouse in West Chester, where the pink wigs, pink jumpsuits, and pig noses are kept for the volunteers who handle the Miss Piggy float in the Thanksgiving day parade. Along with lots of other handler costumes and props. Like, well, seven-foot toy soldiers!

Come to think of it, flanking things with soldiers seems to be a recurring theme in Todd’s work. Also, enthusiasm. Before anyone accuses me of laughing up my sleeve, I wish to state emphatically and for the record that I am PRO-ENTHUSIASM. I think it is awesome that Todd is filling his yard with toy soldiers, and if I had a bunch of seven-foot plywood gorillas wearing top hats and humming “Rule Britannia”, I would erect them in the yard immediately.

Kate and I are both staying at home today, as snow is falling thickly and continuously. I drove out this morning for supplies (eggs, milk, E.L. Fudge cookies), and the car was sliding sideways on the hills, so we made the right decision. The cat, however, is a little cranky about it.

Our next-door neighbor Todd

I, Clausius I wish I

I, Clausius

I wish I could do justice to the picture of Santa and Mrs. Claus ascending the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum between a double rank of glittery Roman soldiers. Also, hundreds of gospel singers in choir robes. Seriously, it was like the vision of America in George W. Bush’s head crystallized and made real for one glorious crest-of-empire moment. A Russian poster artist wouldn’t have been able to change a thing, except maybe to give Santa some mighty biceps, and add some fighter jets dropping toys.

I didn’t mention that the 2002 Turkey Pro National was held this weekend, with bikers riding in from all over the East coast. In really cold weather: “colder than a well-digger’s asshole!”, according to one authoritative source near the chili-dog table. I competed in the slow race this year, and am proud to say that I did not put my foot down during the 52 seconds it took me to circle the hundred-foot course. This put me up among the top five finishers, but I was distressed to learn that there had been some headshaking in the crowd. I had set my bike’s idle way, w-a-a-a-y up, which made it easier to ride the clutch, which apparently lost me some style points. Considering that the race was won by a contestant on a stand-up electric scooter, I don’t feel too bad, but I’m determined to re-enter clean next year and restore my good name!

I, Clausius I wish I

It’s been a busy holiday

It’s been a busy holiday weekend!

Our neighbor Todd gave us tickets to the Philadelphia Thanksgiving day parade on Thursday — the green tickets, the ones that let you sit in the bleachers across from the art museum. We had a great time: each of us had two chemical hand warmers in our gloves and two chemical foot warmers in our shoes, and we huddled in a mass with a lot of other Philadelphians. Todd was very much in evidence, zipping back and forth in a personalized golf cart with two sets of headphones on — one to catch the chatter from the broadcast truck, the other to catch the reports from the parade route. Todd’s legion of roman slaves were also in evidence, serving as hands-of-all work. When we arrived, they had been deployed on either side of the broadcast booth, holding twenty-foot gold lame standards, their sparkly togas snapping in the frosty breeze. They unrolled the giant American flag behind Daniel Rodriguez (“America’s Tenor!”), and they helped keep 600 volunteer tap-dancers within their alloted boundaries.

My favorite part of the parade was when Todd’s Roman legion donned tall, spiky centurion helmets — half Bob Fosse, half Gwar— and lined either side of the Art museum steps. The Art museum is built very much in a grand imperial style, and the double file of glittery, spiky centurions lent a barbaric, triumphant militarism to Santa and Mrs. Claus’s ascension.

Other highlights included seeing Alex Trebek, Helene from The Bachelor, and Deborah Gibson singing “Only in my Dreams”, all from about 15 feet away. Alex Trebek looked like a well-padded version of the Professor from Gilligan’s island. Anyhow, though, it was a lot of fun!

Kate’s been knitting: that’s a piece of a sweater she’s making, above!

It’s been a busy holiday