1.31.2007

Justice! ...Pretty much

Previously on Ronson's Life: Ronson had just gotten back in town after the holidays, only to find a random parking ticket on his car. Wanting to protest, he held onto the ticket for a day, but then -- suddenly and without notice -- the ticket doubled in price! 80 bucks, all for leaving his car where his thought it'd be safe during his trip to Iowa. What a tortured soul.

Folder of evidence in hand, I marched into the Cincinnati Courthouse today to defend my case. Oh, was I ready. I decided to dress up, had my story down, my special personal circumstances, flight records etc. etc. Finding your way around the courthouse requires a compass, or perhaps a special guide dog. It's not easy. I finally found the door marked 105. There were several instructions:

"Please knock if you have an appointment."
"Wait in the hall until your name has been called."
"DO NOT go into Courtroom B."

I was relieved I didn't have to go into Courtroom B (that's where most people were going). It looked like an awful place. I was a little early, but I knocked on the door. No answer. A group of fellow accused parking violators began to join me. A well-dressed man (complete with suit and tie) with a whole portfolio was making me feel a little insecure about my wimpy folder. We were joined by a pretty laid-back guy and a very vocal woman (there was a story about someone being ticketed for parking in a handicapped spot even though she actually had handicapped tags. I don't know. Seemed very involved.)

Eventually, a shorter woman with white hair and a very strong voice came up to the door and told us all to be seated. She'd call each of our names when she was ready. At this point I realized I had about 20 minutes left in my meter and thought it would be a bitter irony to lose my case and then have my car ticketed again. So very, very bitter.

Well-dressed Man was called in first. After he went into "the mystery room," the white-haired woman running the show came up to the bench where the rest of us were waiting.

White-Haired Woman addresses Vocal Lady first. "What's your name? And how will you be pleading today?"

Wait a second. Pleading? I didn't realize I had to plead anything. Will I have a lawyer appointed to me?

Now, we come to the special lesson of today's story. Apparently, it is Cincinnati law to ticket ANY vehicle that has been parked in one spot for more than 14 hours. Where did this come from? Vocal Lady (who's charges must be similar to mine) freaks.

I'm next. I decide to plead "Not Guilty" just to see what happens. I mean, I didn't come all the way out here to be guilty. She asks if I have "taken pictures." Again, I had no idea. I say "no, but I have some evidence," gesturing with my little folder. She seems satisfied with this answer.

She then re-explains the 14-hour rule to me. I say "B-b-but I have a special circumstance. I was out of the state at the time." She says, "OK" but wants me to be aware of this when I enter the Room Of Mystery, it will probably work against me. Says it's a "Catch 22," which I didn't really get. If she is aware of the ridiculousness of it, how has it come to exist? Vocal Lady steps in to mention how she thinks it sucks. I pretty much agree.

Well-dressed Man leaves, seemingly satisfied and somehow Vocal Lady, who was the last to arrive, is called in next. 12 minutes left on the meter. Great.

About 6 minutes later, Vocal Lady leaves, still pissed. I feel bad for her, she's explained to me what she's been ticketed for and it's a lot more than my 80 bucks. I'm next, she calls me in by "Ronson" which I find strangely personal.

I enter the room of mystery, which is actually simply two tiny offices. I've been wondering for days how this is going to play out. How am I going to act. I imagine three scenarios:

Scenario 1: I try to parlay my meager CiN Weekly status into getting a "Not Guilty" verdict. Sample defense: "Do you know who I am? I will BURY you!" Thank God this doesn't happen.

Scenario 2: I literately and competently describe my case without a hint of emotion in my voice. Sadly this doesn't happen either. Plus, I can't even come up with a line of dialogue that would best exemplify this. Clearly, I've learned nothing.

Scenario 3: I nervously stammer that I don't have a garage or "parkway" (meant to say "driveway") and blah blah blah. Basically babbling like an idiot and unintentionally going for the pity vote. That's what happens.

The kind man in charge of my case doesn't even look at my carefully compiled folder of evidence and hands me a sheet of paper that serves as official notice that I've learned about this 14-hour rule. It's basically a form letter as no doubt 50,000 people do this a year. He then (again, very kindly) drops my $80 ticket to a $10 ticket. I think that's about the time my heart rate returned to normal and I started seeing shapes and colors again.

Then, though the offices are tiny and connected with an open door between them, White-Haired Lady calls me into the other room with an intercom. Surreal. She hands me the payment information and I leave, wiser about the world. Well, Cincinnati anyway.

Laid-back Guy is still on the bench when I leave. I wish him good luck. He's gonna need it. He forgot to take photos.

1.29.2007

Suddenly - I'm a calorie freak.

I'm not on a diet, so I can't explain where this instant curiosity came from. Perhaps it has something to do with my recent workout kick or maybe it's because it's January and I'm bored. Nonetheless, I've been sucked into the rest of the country's obsession with food.

It all started while questioning the amount of calories in a Chipotle burrito (a meal that I have a lot). Lucky for me, tons of people have already wondered about this and there's a web site dedicated to calculating the calorie count to your order. After punching in a few numbers, I found out that having my usual vegetarian crispy tacos totaled around 700 calories. Add 150 to that and you've got my usual burrito order. Fascinating. This led me to my next question: Exactly how many calories am I supposed to be eating anyway?

I found out, thanks to the trusty Internet, for someone of my height, gender, etc. I should be packing in about 2,000 cals a day. Well, that led me to wonder about the calories in everything, so I began to monitor. Tuna sandwiches? Coke? Falafel? Chips and salsa? Frozen yogurt? Frozen pizza? All part of my usual diet and all bad for you in some way. Now I remembered why I never bothered with calorie stuff. In my research, it seems that only things that are actually good for you are raw carrots (pretty much) and water (depending on the source).

So what did I learn? Not much. I pretty much eat the same way I've always eaten, but I did switch to diet soda (which, shockingly - to me anyway - knocks about 400-600 calories off my regular diet. Who knew?). Otherwise, I've been casually monitoring my calorie intake (somehow, naturally, I seem to be pretty good about how much I eat in a day) and in my "not so fitness conscious" moments, practicing a healthy state of denial.

I know this is scintillating stuff, but it did feel good to sum up all this caloric nonsense. Now, I promise never to mention it again...until I somehow gain 500 lbs.

1.25.2007

Last.rs

About, oh say, a year ago, Mike sent out a link to his last.fm profile (check out his blog, it's bloody brilliant). It's one of those community sites that allows you to see what other folks are listening to and how often (basically myspace voyeurism for music freaks). I finally set up a profile today and was immediately hooked.

Somehow (scary or not, can't tell yet) Last.fm can track every song you've been playing from your computer, whether through iTunes or your iPod. My little profile is pretty wimpy right now, but you can check it out if you want. I'm sure it will reveal all the secret obsessions I hoped no one would every find out about. Or just confirm that I listen to a bunch of weird stuff.

Other features include radio stations based on what you've listened to, a "Shoutbox" where I guess you can give shout outs to people with similar tastes in music (yeah, doubt I'll be using that) and the particularly useful "Events" box that will clue you into cool shows happening X miles from your city. My personal "events" box included National indie acts appearing at The Mad Hatter and The Southgate House. It was nice to see them all organized in one place.

So, I love it. I'm really, really, really late on jumping on the bandwagon for this site (I think I'm the trillionth user), but as a music fan, I'm impressed. It's like six music sites rolled into one and I'll probably be addicted until the next web craze comes along (in about 4 days)...

1.23.2007

The Oscar for most random Oscar nominee goes to...

Sure, a film that was nominated 8 times was snubbed for best picture and you could give out the acting awards today if you had to, but who wins the "nominee that sticks out like a sore thumb" award?

BEST MAKEUP

“Apocalypto,” “Click,” “Pan’s Labyrinth.”

Yep, the “Click” tucked between a movie about ancient Mayans and the critically loved fantasy pic IS, in fact, that Adam Sandler remote control movie. That musta been some good makeup.

1.22.2007

200-word Chili Peppers concert review

A vague idea of what the Red Hot Chili Peppers show looked like. Not even slightly an image from the show I was at, but you get the idea.

A Ronsonville exclusive! 200 words with Gnarls, the Chilis and me.

Gnarls. Running late. Who knew 7:30 meant 7:30? The Gnarls crew (there are roughly 10 peeps on stage) are dressed up in Catholic school uniforms. Good theme. They close with Crazy and (lesser known but more upbeat single) Smiley Faces -- shock! Aaaaand that's it.

Bathroom. Someone in line is telling some dude that while Cee-Lo is the singer, Gnarls Barkley writes the songs. He's clearly messing with him. Pretty funny.

Concession. 6 bucks for a Bud Light. Must be a sale!

Peppers. Long jam opens the show. Flea dressed as an L.A. Laker (complete with headband). Good stuff. Anthony Keidis starts in with his croon. Peppers are gettin' old and more family friendly. Someone requests "Sir Psycho Sexy." Good luck with that, buddy. A few old songs, mostly newer, California-themed songs. Never much of a Peppers fan, but their charisma carries the 2-hour show. These Stadium Arcadium songs get taxing though. Have to sit.

Encore. Under the Bridge, Give It Away. It's as easy as that. Then, ear-bleeding, long jam: part two. Think if everyone here attended a couple Southgate House shows this year, the music scene in general would thrive a lot more. Random, cranky music snob thought.

Conclusions?
Gnarls was great. Would love to see them in a non-arena setting someday, and with a new CD out in 2007, I might get the chance. My thoughts for the Chili Peppers are more complex than I thought and that scares me a little. They're a band I never thought I'd see live, but it was fun for the experience. Flea's the best, Keidis strikes me a sort of an egomaniac (I guess that's the usual band dynamic). Also: hearing an entire stadium recite the lyrics to a song you've never heard before is pretty surreal. I guess that's what makes an arena show such a draw, not necessarily the music, but the spectacle. And on that level, it was verrrry satisfying.

1.18.2007

Cavalcade of Jerks

Great illustration by Ryan Sanchez for this (ahem) interesting story in the New York Times about dealing with freaks (aka difficult people) in your day-to-day life. The story doesn't offer much in the ways of dealing with these folks, just identifies a few theories on the issue and explains that it's a huge book & seminar biz right now.

While refreshing to know we're not alone in dealing with the fools of the world (#2 e-mailed on NY Times.com right now!), there are clearly no easy ways to resolve these relationships. But maybe I'm just being a Negativist...

Best lyric I've heard in awhile

"Eating Spam and Oreos and drinking Thunderbird, baby."

from the song "Hard Times" by Baby Huey & the Babysitters. It's also just a flat out awesome song. I've decided this box set needs to be issued to every home. I'll work on it...

1.17.2007

Popography, Version 2.0

Little Popography is all grown up. We're now recognized as a Cincinnati.Com blog now! Well...sorta. We have been added to the CiN Weekly web site as a regular feature which is a pretty big step. Soon, they'll be be adding the bios of the Popographers, so be on the lookout for that. This also means the site will be updated on a pretty regular basis. Last I checked, there were only a couple of small gaps between posts. Not bad!

Anyway, for my latest contribution, check out my thrilling post about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who I will be watching on this Saturday along with Gnarls Barkley (above -- how many of these press photos did they do?), which I'm pretty excited about. I only hope that there won't be too many jeers and wtf? comments as I try to watch DangerMouse and Cee-Lo's 45-minute set. Being the opening act for an arena rock band has gotta suck.

Otherwise, check out Popography regular, which I'm pretty sure will be the next Google. Ow!

1.16.2007

Golden Globes: Now More Boring

The Golden Globes happened last night. What? You forgot? Yeah, so did I. What's startling about this year's awards (other than the unusual amount of love for Ugly Betty) is how totally predictable they were (that is from checking the list of who won). Looks like I didn't miss much. There were no upsets and no crazyass memorable speeches that the Globs stake their reputation on. Congrats to deserving winners Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy, and I'm sure Forrest Whitaker and Helen Mirren are amazing, but this is exactly what people said would happen when the awards were announced. If this is any indication of this year's award season, zzzzzz.

The shockers came in the TV awards, but they weren't good shocks. Alec Baldwin winning over Steve Carell? I love 30 Rock, but it's an ensemble cast and only has only been on the air for about six weeks. Carell boosts The Office to new levels and is much more deserving of the award. I have a feeling Baldwin is getting the "we-honor-you-for-being-a-movie-star- lowering-yourself-to-TV" award. Speaking of 30 Rock, how do you not even nominate Tina Fey? OK, I'm done.

So, as they say, "Anything can happen at the Golden Globes!" Even exactly what you think will happen.

1.11.2007

What Have I been doing?

Here are a few quick updates on what's up with Ronson:

Meet Digi!

A Christmas gift from my most excellent girlfriend Kari, this little camera will make all my "making stupid movies" dreams come true. Former blog mentor and current video mentor Gina taught me the basics of iMovie this week, so I'm sure this'll be a big time suck for most of 2007. This might mean fewer posts 'round here, but the posts will have magnificent sound and visuals. Ronsonville may never be the same...

My version is called Twinkle Twinkle Little @$??! Star

Another recent fascination for me has been the guitar. Which is to say I learned how to play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star on it the other day. Plus, I learned the E and B strings, and have been playing some pretty sweet ├ętudes. It's a little early to say, but I'm thinkin' I might be a virtuoso by age 35...

And it always goes back to pop culture...
Here's some stuff that I've been checking out lately that I highly recommend:

Nas - Hip Hop is Dead
I'll admit it: between the new Jay-Z and the new Nas, the new Nas wins. Minus one bum, jokey track, this CD is solid all the way through.

What It Is! Funky Soul & Rare Grooves (1967-1977)
This collection is as amazing (and exhausting) as I thought it would be. I've hardly heard of any of these songs and yet almost every single one is awesome.

Six Feet Under
Thanks to a little thing called HBO On Demand, I've seen every episode of this show up to the middle of season 2. If you're not afraid of thinking about your own mortality, you'll love it, if you are, you might be a little put off at first, but, trust me, it gets better with every episode.

Entourage
The flipside to Six Feet Under, as gloriously vacant as a TV show could be. Every episode ends with a high five, no one ever seems to go through any major life change and most of the characters are totally and completely shallow. But I like it, what can I say? Everyone talks about Jeremy Piven, but Kevin Dillon as past-his-prime actor Drama pretty much steals the show for me.

Everything But Rap and Country
A recent Pitchfork.Com article only scratches the surface on what I think is a fascinating concept in modern American music tastes (it ends up just being a review of a recent Country box set). This really is the standard answer to the question "What kind of music do you like?" (I've conducted my own "studies" on this). In fact, I used to share this opinion with most of the country, but over the last five years of listening to music I've included both of these genres (often times extensively) into my favorite music.

So why did I change? In my own personal experience, I think it had something to do with thinking of Garth Brooks when I heard "country" and "The Thong Song" (or whatever) when thinking of "rap." It took me awhile to expand my ideas on these genres. I'm pretty sure that's it. I guess. I think I've replaced my irrational dislike for country and rap with an irrational (maybe?) dislike for reggaeton and jam bands. Weird, right? Some graduate student should write their thesis on this...

All for now...I'll post again once I've composed my first acoustic guitar masterpiece.

1.08.2007

Latest ridiculous obsession

SketchSwap.com

Rob introduced me to this -- it's as insane as it is addictive. So far I've drawn reasonable facsimiles of Krusty The Clown and the milk mascot from Blur's Coffee & TV video, plus a whole host of strange and unusual portraits and stick figure adventures. If you see a crudely scrawled "RS" next to the drawing, that might be one of mine! Not sure what's more exciting, coming up with my own drawings, or checking out what other people come up with.

Check it out, but be warned: It's addictive power can be strong. Especially if you are crazy doodling nutjob (like yours truly)...

1.04.2007

Ronson blogs about Dreamgirls

Back to blogging. Saw Dreamgirls on New Year's Eve and liked it. A lot. Seriously! I did!

Despite the usual problems I have with musicals/movies based on musicals with people randomly breaking into song, I really liked this (ahem) creative retelling of the Supremes' story. Of course, you probably shouldn't take it as fact, unless you want Berry Gordy kicking your ass.

So now, here are five random factoids about Dreamgirls:

1. Beyonce was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Actress for this movie. Jennifer Hudson, who had twice the songs and twice the lines, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. It's almost like the themes of the movie are playing out in real life!

2. The story of the "real life" Effie White (Florence Ballard) was not nearly as exciting and hopeful. After being kicked out of the Supremes, she DID sink into poverty and she DID stage a comeback in the mid-70s, but sadly died before anything came of it at the age of 32.

3. The fake Jackson 5 song in the movie (Boy Meets Girl, Girl Meets Boy) is actually a pretty funny parody. Someone should sign that fake Jackson 5. The Dreamgirls theme song however? Not a fan.

4. I think this movie deserves to win at least one Oscar, based on the fact that this is the first movie Eddie Murphy's been in since 1988 that I actually liked.*

5. Speaking of Eddie Murphy, who's he supposed to be exactly? James Brown? Singing style, sure, but lifestyle, nooo. Marvin Gaye? A little closer, but not really. I guess he's the mystery piece of the puzzle that makes it technically a work of fiction. Well, that and the love child.

* OK, fine -- I liked Boomerang too, I just liked the sound of 1988.