Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What did we bring to Glen Beck's rally in Washington?

10) Spare gun.

9) Funyun Casserole.

8) Cousin with G.E.D. to proofread the signs.

7) Extra batteries for the Rascal.

6) Sympathy onions to generate tears on cue.

5) Special Commemorative Tea Party M&Ms (removes all black and brown ones).

4) Plenty of hand lotion for use during Sarah Palin’s speech.

3) Demand that everyone over 300 lbs be counted as two protestors.

2) Patriotism, as demonstrated by our American-flag decorated T-Shirt, sweat pants, baseball cap, pin, bandana, wife-beater, underoos, combat boots, socks, cell phone holster, gun holster, belt buckle, belt, sunglasses, beer cozy, and first-born child.

1) A desire to discuss our deep concerns with the direction of the country and start a dialog on how we can address our growing deficit, unemployment, national security, and other key issues...just kidding, we brought a megaphone so people the people up front could hear us yelling, “Obama’s a hypocrite/show us the certificate!”

Monday, August 30, 2010

What would the most infamous female serial killer in history say on Twitter?

My lovely wife The Lovely Becky (aka the author Rebecca Johns) has a new novel, The Countess, which will be out October 12. It's about Countess Erzsébet Báthory, aka Elizabeth Bathory, aka The Blood Countess, a sixteenth-century Hungarian noblewoman who was convicted of murdering dozens of her servants. Over the centuries, the legends grew that Countess Bathory used these murders for black magic rituals, such as bathing in the blood of her victims to preserve her youth. Unfortunately, as the countess found out, that plan falls apart when you're caught and walled up inside your castle as punishment.

TLB's The Countess tells this story from Bathory's point of view. My wife told me that she wanted to find the human behind the historical monster, to get inside the head of someone who was an intelligent, charming, witty, powerful noblewoman (in an era dominated by men), while also diving into the dark, violent, brutal acts that made gave her The Blood Countess moniker.

So as the publication date approaches and TLB was discussing ways to use this new-fangled social media to get the word out, we came up with an idea:

The twitter feed of Countess Elizabeth Bathory

Where you can read the thoughts of the countess herself as she shares ideas on motivating one's servants (the secret ingredient is stinging insects), how to kick royal ass even while wearing dainty footware, and how even murderous noblewomen get the blues. Her first tweet:

The problem with bathing in blood is that it's hell on your towels.

You can follow Countess Bathory's Tweets at BathoryElizabet. Don't be fooled by the imitation Bathory's on Twitter. This one's as close to the real deal as you'll find.

TLB also has a good post about how you need to not be nice to characters if you want to write compelling fiction. Having read the book twice now, I can attest that while TLB's Bathory is enthralling and charismatic, she is most definitely not nice. In fact, after seeing what came out of my wife's imagination, I decided to be extra nice to her in real life. Just in case.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Ken Mehlman is gay. Has there been a less surprising political revelation in recent years? What would be less shocking than this? Bush drinking again? Sarah Palin making up a new word, Muslimy, in her Twitter feed? Democrats saying that they have several cracked verterbrae in their political spine?

I don’t agree with being a Republican, but I understand why people outside of the traditional Republican demographic become Republicans. If you have enough money, enough fear of change, and enough fear of God, it can be the party for you even if you’re a few (dozen) shades past the usual color palette, or you make up for lacking a penis by whipping out 14-inches of crazy like an ideological Dirk Diggler and itimidating the other dudes in the Republican men's room.

But gay and Republican? Why? Not to say that gay men and women should automatically be Democrats, but why would they choose a party that treats them with indifference at best and Biblical hellfire at worst? Especially as the Teabaggers increasingly make their presence felt on the GOP’s chin. True, if you have a fetish for closet cases, than it certainly is a Grand Ol’ Party for you.

Oh, but we support the party on 90 pecent of the other issues. Okay, fine, but that last bit is a pretty big, throbbing 10 percent. I’ll put it this way: if the Democratic party came out against hetero sex and said that breeders were icky and should keep their yuck-a-duck man-on-woman action to themselves and be grateful that they have any rights at all, guess what? I’d be looking for a new party faster than you could make a hand signal under a bathroom stall.

The size of government, tax policies, foreign policy, health care...I care a lot about those things, but at the same time, I’m willing to engage in dialogue about them. If the administration turned around tomorrow and said, “We’re broke and we’re going to have to cut a lot of programs,” while I’d strongly disagree with that approach, I would at least discuss it. But if my party of choice told me that I wasn’t free to love who I want, to express the human emotion that drives us more than any other, the experience that nearly everyone puts at the top of the list? I’d tell them to fuck off. And I sure as hell wouldn’t help them implement those policies.

Rant over, time for music...

1) “Please Don’t Be Gentle With Me,” Minutemen. My iPod has a great sense of timing.

2) “The Plan,” Built to Spill. A 7-layer dip of indie rock guitar goodness. The clip reminds me how much I miss the old HBO music show Reverb.

3) “One Two Three Four,” Feist. One of those songs I don’t necessarily go out of my way to play, but am always glad to hear. She’s got a great voice, and I really like how the arrangements grow throughout the song.

4) “The Four Horsemen,” Metallica. METAL! While I was on vacation with TLB’s family, I played Guitar Hero Metallica for the first time. Even though my plastic-guitar chops were a bit rusty because my busy summer has left little time for fake-guitar playing, I managed to get through most of the songs on the hard difficulty, while the other participating family members played on easy or medium. After even surprising myself by getting through the difficult solos at the end of “One,” my brother-in-law turned to me and said, “You’re really good at this game.”

“Not really,” I said. “I butchered a few parts. There are a lot of guys better than me.”

“You’re really good for someone who has a job,” he clarified. I took pride in that, although part of me figured I shouldn’t have.

5) “Slide,” Goo Goo Dolls. Normally, I don’t really fight admitting that I like something completely unhip. I mean, I’m a Rush fan, for Peart’s sake. I like what I like, and sometimes that music is considered cool and other times its looked at like an acne-ridden 15-year-old wearing a wizard cape. So be it. Yet I hate to admit that I like this, because I know deep in my bones that the Goo Goo Dolls are what you get when the Crash Test Dummies go through the windshield of a Matchbox 20 car, leaving you Third Eye Blind as well. In fact, if their first hit “Name” comes on the radio...I turn it up. I’m so ashamed.

6) “In Your Eyes,” Peter Gabriel. I saw a very funny Tweet today: “My daughter has gone from listening at Peter Gabriel at age 2 to Justin Bieber at age 9.” No that is tragic. Also, if I’m not mistaken, 2011 will mark the 25th anniversary of this album. Holy Big Time, where has the time gone?

7) “Liberty and Freedom,” Rancid. They ska it down a little from their usual bursts of punk, which makes them sound slightly Pogue-ish (minus the pennywhistle).

8) “I Don’t Know,” Ozzy Osborne. “Crazy Train” gets all the press and sports arena play, but this is my favorite song off Ozzy’s first album and probably my favorite Ozzy song after “Flying High Again.” What I love about Randy Rhodes is that he’s one of the few rock guitarists who could be so technically precise and yet totally wild, like a cross between Van Halen and Keith Moon. It’s a shame he didn’t record more.

9) “Bulls on Parade,” Rage Against the Machine. They’re my hard-rock Smithereens: Not a huge fan, but every album has 2-3 songs that I never get tired of hearing. And while I know that this song has absolutely nothing to do with the NBA, and in fact is taking shots at the kind of greed that drives professional sports, it always got me pumped for the Jordan-era Bulls.

10) “Like the Weather,” 10,000 Maniacs. Years ago, when TLB and I lived in New York, we often stayed in to rent movies because we were broke. Back then, I was much more adamant about not watching “chic” movies. One evening as I left for the video store, I asked TLB what she wanted to see. She requested Little Women. I made some kind of protest, and my wife launched into a life-changing tirade. She laid into me about how she watched countless numbers of testosterone-laden, lobotomized action flicks for me with nary a complaint, yet the one time she requests something with a female orientation, I protest. I stood there, speechless, because I knew she was right.

I headed out ready to be a changed man. However, the owner of the store was this stereotypical Brooklyn guy: Big, mustache with perpetual stubble on his face, often dressed in a track suit. We were regulars, so he would certainly know that if I approached the counter with Little Women, I was likely getting it for TLB. Yet I couldn’t quite bring myself to bring only that to check out. So what was my double-rental feature? The Program with James Caan, the college football movie that inspired some brain-dead football players to lay on a road full of traffic because they saw it in the movie. Needless to say, I got a much-deserved eye roll from TLB. We watched Little Women and The Program, and I wound up liking Little Women much more. It was a good lesson in not being a stereotypical dick-ist.

I tell this story because I wish to profess I’m a changed man, and that I don’t dislike 10,000 Maniacs because they are girl-rock or Lillith Fair material, but because I genuinely find them boring as shit.

11) “The Waiting,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I have been on a Petty kick lately, and this is my favorite Petty song. It’s such a simple, straightforward pop song on the surface, but there’s a lot of little subtleties floating around, like a good glass of red wine. The lead-in to the brief-but-perfect guitar solo gets me every time.

We have a showing tomorrow, another chance to shake the last of the snow off our UP boots. Hopefully it will be Douchebag-free.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Screw the Nobel Prize for Literature

This is the greatest honor any author could hope for. Completely, unabashedly NSFW. Also catchy as hell and probably guaranteed to worm its way into your brain.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Top Ten Wednesdays: Why are we protesting the Ground Zero mosque?

10) Refuse to believe that any Muslims are moderate until they convert to Christianity.

9) Don’t want to give radical Muslims a public, observable place to gather, and instead would rather drive them underground where they will be less dangerous.

8) A mosque near the site of 9/11 would serve as a trophy of Islam’s victory over America, akin to introducing your new wife to your cancer-stricken ex-wife.

7) Refuse to let a mosque be built at Ground Zero until they can build churches in Mecca. Also, will no longer be constructing any strip clubs, sex shops, Dunkin’ Donuts, hot dog stands, delis, sports bars, Starbucks, and corporate offices in lower Manhattan until they are built in Mecca.

6) Cannot allow the construction of sites dedicated to religions that preach violence, sexism, homophobia, and porkism.

5) Crying guy on TV told me to.

4) Building a mosque near Ground Zero is as insensitive as letting a white guy drive a rental truck around Oklahoma City.

3) New York is considered sacred ground, as detailed in Paul’s First Letter to Joey from Bay Ridge.

2) Provides a safe, refreshing new way to once again yell at black people in public.

1) Because in the United States, all religious freedoms are created equal, but some are more equal than others.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

First, thanks for all the nice comments about the passing of our cat, Bubba. It was a rough early part of the week, having to prepare to put him down and then dealing with that. But it’s already getting easier, mostly because I know we did the right thing.

I thought of a funny thing related to him. At one point, Bubba weighed 22 pounds. He was huge. He also used to sleep on top of The Lovely Becky’s head every night. We’d get in bed, turn out the lights, and wait for the inevitable leap of Bubba on the bed (usually aimed toward my crotch). Bubba would climb up on TLB’s pillow and park himself above her head like a fat orange fur hat. However, if Becky had to get up, this would cause Bubba to roll down off the pillow and usually into my face. I dubbed this a “flabalanche.” Considering how large and in charge he was, it was amazing he made it to 17.

In fact, Fatty Fat Fat Cat appeared to be in better condition at the same point in his feline life than yours truly. While I have never really been fat in my life, I have had bouts of not being in great shape. The sedentary nature of my job plus the craziness of the last few months have led to one of those bouts again, and despite a few attempts to work out and even jog, I generally have gotten pretty out of shape.

I’ve attempted to rectify that by not only joining a gym, but actually going to it. As part of the membership, I get a free hour of personal training, which I took advantage of last night. Or, more accurately, which took advantage of me last night.

My trainer, an energetic young woman named E, had developed a routine that was pretty fast-paced and based on a lot of non-dude exercises—medicine ball twists, walking lunges, and things that generally involved no weights or moderate ones. Much different than the usual clean-and-circle-jerk exercises I did. As I saw the rather light amounts we were working with, I had a Brave Sir Robin “That’s easy!” moment.

Flash-forward to an hour later. I arrived back home, a liter of Fiji water in hand (nature’s IV as far as I’m concerned), and fell into—not sat down on—the living room chair. “How was it?” TLB asked. I tried to answer but TLB couldn’t hear me over the wailing and gnashing of tendons coming from my hamstrings. So I have adjusted my fitness goals from increasing cardio capacity, weight loss, and increasing strength to being able to walk again without groaning. Baby steps, as they say.

Onto the tunes...

1) “South Tacoma Way,” Neko Case. I grew up hating country music because I never knew country music could sound like this. Side note: Every night, The Lovely Becky, who possesses a lovely voice, sings Libby to sleep. There’s a little ritual where we both take Libby to bed, Libby gives me my hug goodnight, and then she turns off the light and climbs into Becky’s arms for her song. TLB often sings Neko Case to her. Nothing has ever made me wish I could sing more than that. Unfortunately, the point of that ritual is to get Libby to sleep, not run screaming.

2) “Jellybelly,” Smashing Pumpkins. Great, even the iPod is calling me fat. Underrated tune from the Infinite Album Title album. I like the mini-freakout in the middle and the Velveeta-level processing of the guitars. Sometimes you just want to gobble down a heaping bowl of cheese food.

3) “Ten Speed (Of God’s Blood and Burial),” Coheed & Cambria. The first time TLB ever heard these guys, she asked me if that was a girl singing. After about 30 more seconds, she used her iPod veto power to change the song. I wasn’t surprised, because they are shamelessly prog, but I like them because I also find them catchy and heavy (pubescent vocals notwithstanding). The video also has an awesome Drummer Face at the beginning and cosmically bad Singer Hair that must been seen to be believed. He looks like he was assaulted with highlights and a crimping iron by Terri Nunn.

4) “Outfit,” Drive-By Truckers. Sometimes when a really great song comes up, I get writer’s block. What do I say to convey how much I love this song? Inevitably, I end up starting a line and then deleting it over and over again. So this time I’ll just say that this is so great, I’ve got nothing other than to say you should listen to it.

5) “Communication Breakdown,” Led Zeppelin. The first album is the only one I can get all the way through without skipping any songs, which is funny because I think some of the other albums are overall better. But IV has “Four Sticks,” Houses of the Holy has their worst song ever, “The Crunge,” and I could definitely wouldn’t miss “Boogie With Stu” or “Sick Again” on Physical Graffiti. The first album, though, just rocks all the way through, and I think “Communication Breakdown” almost has a punk sensibility, with that sharp riff, rather no-nonsense drumming from Bonzo, and the quick burst of guitar solo at the end that sounds like Jimmy Page added some safety pins to his dragon-embroidered kimono.

6) “Songbird,” Fleetwood Mac. Light, airy, and pretty, but I could use a little more Hawkwind.

7) “You Make My Dreams,” Hall & Oates. I have a rule for the Random 11 where I skip songs that I’ve written about before, but I’m more than willing to break that for my favorite Hall & Oates song. In fact, I was really hoping this would come up today, because this song is instant good mood to me. Pet deaths, shredded muscles, living with my in-laws for the foreseeable future because no one wants to buy a house in the U.P. (shocking, I know)...all of that fades away as I tap my feet to this. Dare I say if said in-laws were not home, I might have paused to dance throughout the house. Also, the video is one of the most perfect uses of music in a movie ever.

8) “Say You Will,” Foreigner. This is the dark side of the greatest hits purchase. eMusic added their best of, and for a Jim Dandy price at that. While not a great band, I could use me some “Hot Blooded” and “Urgent” from time to time (Foreigner fall under what I call the “Loverboy Corallary” of music). However, the catch was I had to buy the whole album. That’s pretty common with some major-label releases on eMusic—they don’t always let you get just the songs you want. Still, it was a good deal. Well, then something like this comes up, which is so generic and bland that even Toto wouldn’t record it.

9) “Nails in My Feet,” Crowded House. I’m ringing in my 40th in a couple of weeks by seeing these guys with TLB. I remember hearing they were coming to UC San Diego for a show back in the late 80s. I wanted to go but couldn’t, and I figured I’d catch them later. Didn’t quite think it would be 20 years later, but better late than never.

10) “The Flame,” Cheap Trick. If I had a time machine and could do three things with it, I’d do the following: 1) Kill Hitler. 2) Tackle Steve Bartman before he could grab that foul ball. 3) Pick a different song for my wedding. TLB and I both would veto this now, but when you’re young and in love, well, sappy songs stick to you like Gorilla Glue. We both often talk about how we wish we could get married again, so that we could do our wedding differently (for instance, I’d recommend “Hot Girls in Love” as our wedding song). Sometimes we even discuss staging a divorce and then remarrying a year later to have that second wedding. The problem is no one would believe it if we actually said we were divorcing, and I’m also concerned what an unfettered TLB might do during that year off. It might wind up taking a lot more than holding a boom box over my head blaring “The Flame” to get her back.

11) “Ageless Beauty,” Stars. Another worth breaking the no-repeat rule for, and a damn fine way to rock into the weekend. It’s on my Cannot Be Overplayed list and triggers an instant volume-knob reflex. It’s also one of the rare songs where I like the verses a bit more than the chorus.

Have a great weekend, and don’t pull anything (unless the romantic mood strikes).

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Saying goodbye to Bubba

The Lovely Becky and I had to put our oldest cat down today. Butterscotch was his Christian name, but to us he was Bubba. He made it to the ripe old age of 17 before his failing health forced our hand.

TLB got him the year before we were married, so he's been a part of us as long as their has officially been an us. He also seemed very human, very aware of things, in ways that our other two cats were not. Bubba was the anti-LOLcat, a cat who would speak in complete sentences if he could speak, whose eyes said he was trying to understand the meaning of his existence in a vast, uncaring universe. He seemed so much like a person trapped in a cat's body that he almost made me believe in reincarnation.

His lasting legacy is that he made me a cat person, despite my best efforts to fight it. Prior to today, I probably wouldn't admit that. But as I petted him for the last time at the vet's office, there was no question that I was a cat person.

We buried him in the backyard at TLB's parents house, next to his half-brother, VC. VC was also put down earlier this year at the age of 21, a longevity made even more astonishing by the fact that he was completely blind for most of his life. They both enjoyed far more licking, petting, table scraps, and naps than most cats. Bubba had a good life, and we didn't want to see that good life end painfully.


Monday, August 16, 2010

Everything you need to know about my fantasy football draft

Throughout my life, I aspired to hold a number of fantasy jobs: drummer for The Who, creator of the hyperviolent videogame Nothing But Headshots, host of the satirical news program This Just In My Pants, and more recently, bra wrangler for Christina Hendricks. But atop this drum kit/videogame/dick joke/cleavage fantasy resume sits one dream job: general manager for a professional football team (or even the Cleveland Browns).

This is why I play fantasy football, and this is why I gathered for my fifth season with a motley crue of football onanists, gathering in a circle to satiate our fantasies of running our own teams. For the first time in three years, I could do this in person, and even better we were holding this year's draft at a casino.

What is it like to descend straight into the bowels of sports geekery? Let's go to the highlight reel:

  • Average age of casino patrons: 68 including us, 93 not including us.
  • Early pair of jokes that set the tone for the day: Morris, a rather hefty gentleman, made an offhand comment that he was hungry, to which our commissioner, PJ, responded dryly, “Really?” This elicited a big laugh from us. Morris acknowledged he left one over the plate and then replied to PJ—who is a cancer survivor—“You’re getting at least three cancer jokes this weekend.”
  • There were enough explicit, offensive references to hot man-on-man action to fill a dozen comedy roasts. 90 percent of them were directed toward Lil’ Danny, the smallest member of the group, to the point where I think LD started to believe they were not jokes.
  • Best man-on-man joke which also happened to be the cleanest: In the buffet line after our draft, we were discussing how much we already hated our teams. An older gentleman in front of us (who was waiting with his wife) overheard us and asked what first prize in our league was. Morris pointed to Lil’ Danny.
  • Best hair of the weekend: the guy in front of me at the breakfast buffet sporting a Costanza-esque hairline, but with the back grown out and pulled into a small ponytail. He was also wearing a Paul Konerko jersey, jean shorts, and sandles. The whole ensemble prompted my brother Tickle to nod and ask me, “What’s going on here?”
  • Veetz, one of Tickle’s friends, arrived wearing a t-shirt that said “Make Awkward Sexual Advances Not War.” A woman and her husband approached Veetz and said how much they loved his shirt. He thanked them and then told them to wait until he had a few drinks in him. The wife laughed, the husband did not.
  • Tickle will be appearing in at least three wedding photos.
  • We ran into the logistical problem of where to seat 8 pretty big guys (plus Lil’ Danny), with room for note pads, beers, fantasy football magazines, and a laptop so our one AWOL member could join us via Skype. The hotel rooms weren't big enough. The hotel conference rooms were taken up by the aforementioned wedding party, and we didn’t think they’d want us interrupting the best man’s speech with offers of exchanging Ronnie Brown for Philip Rivers* or the 72 instances where PJ offered to trade Jacksonville’s Mike Sims-Walker.** The hotel suggested we pull together some tables outside of their little cafe, located in the hall between the casino floor and hotel reception. In other words, right in front of constant groups of passersby who wondered what the hell we were doing. So we set up shop, including openly drinking beers out of the cooler we had brought with us and destroying any chances the single guys in our party had with the female wedding guests who walked by. Kudos to the hotel staff for not giving us a hard time about the booze, that was exceptionally cool of them.
  • Our Skyping participant, CB, appeared on screen shirtless. He spent the next two hour being shirtless and drinking beers. With one of my early picks, I said I was drafting CB’s left nipple and hoped to handcuff his right one later in the draft.***
  • Thanks to the addition of a new member, Uncle Andy (note: not anyone’s actual uncle), I am no longer the oldest owner. At one point out of the blue, Morris asked Uncle Andy what it was like in the 60s.
  • Under no circumstances should Jameson ever be served in a plastic glass.
  • Under no circumstances should Jameson in a plastic glass be repeatedly consumed, even after noticing that the plastic gives it a funny taste.
  • Under no circumstances, no matter how many funny-tasting Jamesons I’ve had or how much he asks, should I give Tickle $100 on the casino floor at four in the morning.
  • The next day, after waking up, Tickle couldn’t find his debit card. We went to security and, amazingly, they had my brother’s card—he had dropped it or left it at the bar. We had to wait for the security guy to bring it out, and after looking at me and then at Tickle, he didn’t even have to ask which guy had lost his card.
  • After brunch, only Tickle, Veetz, and I were left. I had a final beer and then said I was leaving, while I was still up (despite my late-night loan to my brother). Veetz and Tickle said they were going to gamble a little and then also leave. An hour-and-a-half later, I got this text from Veetz: “Had 340 in wallet when u left. Now there is 19. I hate ur brother.”

Now doesn't that sound like material for a Miller High Life commercial?

*Actual trade I made.

**72 is probably too low. Also, a player’s fantasy value is inversely proportional to the number of times he is offered in a trade.

***In fantasy terms, to “handcuff” is to draft a player’s backup, in case that player gets hurt. Although a literal joke about handcuffing nipples would have suited the weekend perfectly.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I had a funny moment a couple of weeks ago. I was working from the new home office in Civilization, Illinois, pretty much the way I did for three years while I lived in Beaver Trap, Michigan. Near the end of the day, I got an e-mail from one of my work colleagues in one of our main offices. She was in Downtown Civilization for a conference and said I should come out for drinks.

It took me a moment to process this. Come out for drinks. In the city. Because I live near a city now. I live near stuff to do.

To be fair to the beautiful Beaver Trap, there is lots of stuff to do there, just not much that I like to do. Now, however, I have an abundance of choices for things I love to do, like listen to live music. Crowded House and Aimee Mann in September. The reformed Guided by Voices and The New Pornographers on back-to-back nights in October! I would have eaten the still-beating heart of an elk to get any one of those artists to play Beaver Trap, and now I have to wonder if I can see them all.

It’s still taking time to sink in. I’m still in the mode where I don’t really think about going out much because it doesn’t occur to me that there’s a whole urban sprawl at my disposal. It may take some time to undo my Beaver Trap Syndrome and return me to the dazzling semi-urbanite I once was. In fact, as I looked ahead the other day to a certain milestone I’m approaching next month, I had a dilemma: where should I go to celebrate/mourn said milestone? The choices are almost overwhelming, and for perhaps the first time in my life, overwhelming feels pretty damn good.

Time for tunes...

1) “Night Lies,” Bang Camaro. The other night, The Lovely Becky and I were extolling the virtues of late-night eating and how we would love to be in some greasy spoon gobbling down comfort food. It’s admittedly awful for you, but it is the most emotionally rewarding eating for me. I told her that I wanted something smothered in chili right then. I didn’t care what--eggs, hot dog, pancakes--as long as it was covered with layers of chili like it had erupted from a chili volcano. Bang Camaro is that late night meal. Hardly gourmet, made from some possibly suspect ingredients, but it still hits the spot when I need it most.

2) “Short Bursts,” We Were Promised Jetpacks. So earnest they should have named themselves Hemingway.

3) “Route,” Son Volt. As much as I like Wilco and believe Jeff Tweedy has left Jay Farrar far, far behind, I think that first Son Volt album is better than anything Wilco’s done, even the incredible Yankee Hotel Pitchfork 10.0 Review. Farrar took everything that made Uncle Tupelo great and baked it into 10 incredible tracks.

4) “Should’ve Been in Love,” Wilco. Well, this is awkward. Look Wilco, I didn’t mean you’re not great, because you really are. And I’ve been really faithful to you for, like 10 years. Sure, I still think about Trace and the good times we had, but it was just one album and I was really young. No really. Just because I’m humming “Route” right now while you’re playing doesn’t mean I’m not into you. Fine, if you’re going to be like that, I’ll just move on to the next track.

5) “When I’m Sixty-Four,” The Beatles. It really takes on a completely different meaning after the Heather Mills divorce. Will you still sue me, will you still rue me, when I’m sixty-four?

6) “On the Way,” Dinosaur Jr. I’m fond of the opening freakout. They just blast a wall of drums, bass, and guitar like a wave hitting the Poseidon. Then the adventure begins. Bonus: No Ernest Borgnine!

7) “Eyes As Candles,” Passion Pit. Never underestimate the power of a well-placed set of nah-nah-nahs. They are the paprika of rock music.

8) “Fashion,” David Bowie. Project Runway may have run its course for me. The return last season to New York, coupled with some contestants I loved to hate, had me watching it every week (live, no less, without DVR assistance). This year I tuned into the season opener and was kind of meh, and in fact only realized today I’d missed the last two episodes. I think it’s because it’s hard to get excited about people winning a big competition when so many of them have already had pretty good success with their designs. Could you imagine American Idol with Neko Case or Bon Iver on it? Sure, that would be a big improvement and those two would go from being successful to superstars, but it would sort of defeat the whole purpose, even if they were forced to do things like make a song using only lyrics about baked beans, Elmer’s glue, and Legos.

9) “Telegraph Road (live),” Dire Straits. I have a deep, burning hatred for jam bands. I have never liked the Dead because they always seemed to take what seemed like a good idea and stretched it out from 3 minutes to 23 minutes, like the musical equivalent of a Saturday Night Live sketch that has to keep going to fill some air time. Do I really need to hear someone playing around the same riff for 15 minutes, just because they can, or listen to the audience sing back “iko, iko” 50 goddamned times? Sure, you can stretch out a beat-off session for 30 minutes, but why would you, especially when you got shit to do?

However, I also happen to like extended songs when they actually go somewhere, when the bands take time out to put together a well thought out musical composition. The problem is, many of those compositions involve mystic lands and dragons and more artificially fruity sweetness than a bowl of Trix. Sure, when I was 12, a Boris Vallejo calendar full of well-endowed women in chainmail bikinis attacking a multi-headed hydra may have caused a stirring in my Bag of Holding. These days, that kind of stimuli is going to be more amusing than arousing (thank God).

Enter “Telegraph Road.” Eleven minutes, with plenty of musical twists and turns and some nice jamming, but with a hardscrabble story that seems like Raymond Carver to my prog-rock Piers Anthonys. So thank you, Dire Straits, for allowing me to enjoy my love of extended songs with an acceptable level of maturity.

10) “Jackie Dressed in Cobras,” The New Pornographers. The drumming elevates Twin Cinemas to my favorite New Pornographers. Kurt Dahle throws in fill after thunderous fill like a B-2 bomber dropping a full payload of delicious chocolate cupcakes on its targets. Side note: I clearly need to eat lunch after posting this today.

11) “Snakes for the Divine,” High on Fire. Speaking of Boris Vallejo...As if the title and band name didn’t give it away, this is pure, freshly forged metal. It’s also my go-to driving song of the moment. Sure, I enjoy riding around listening to a wide variety of music, and am also basking in the warm aural glow of the best radio station in the country, Chicago’s WXRT. I love hearing a good, poppy song on a sunny day or some sad folky lament while driving in the rain. But when I want to drive—windows down, music blasting over the wind, both hands on the steering wheel while I take a curve a little too fast—I need some heavy riffs, furious drumming, and vocals that sound gruff enough to cover up whatever silly lyrics the singer is actually singing. Even better, I now live in a location where I can’t go from one end of town to another before an eight-and-a-half minute song finishes melting my ears.

Have a good weekend. I am unfortunately going to miss the monster mash to my north because I have to go south to participate in a fantasy football draft at a riverboat casino. Who wants to touch me?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Local and Area Men File Defamation Suit Against The Onion

We’re not laughing through our tears, says local man

Madison, Wisconsin - Lawyers representing local and area men nationwide have filed a civil suit against the satirical newspaper The Onion, claiming the publication has had, “a long history of repeatedly slandering us with the same old gags.”

“Frankly, my clients are tired of these shenannigans,” said lead counsel, Hedley DeMoney. “Ever since the founding of The Onion, they have been portrayed as duds, cruds, losers, boozers, misfits, halfwits, upper-class twits, nerds, turds, stalkers, gawkers, stoners, moaners, braggarts, laggards, and Methodists.”

DeMoney is best known for his prosecution of Jokers, Smokers, and M. Tokers v. S. Miller. That case was settled successfully but the results were kept off the record.

“It’s been hell, honestly,” said area man Lenny Baxter of Bloomington, Indiana. “Everyone assumes I’m an idiot who doesn’t know Shiites from Sunnis, even though I am working on my Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies. Women won’t go out with me because they say, ‘they know all about my type,’ from reading The Onion. Just because I read comic books and don’t own a TV doesn’t make me one of those locals who masturbates all day long.”

“I’ll tell you what the real crime is,” said Cam Peterson, an area man from Humboldt, California. “They can just do whatever the (expletive) they want, and me and my local brothers can’t do (expletive) about it, man. That’s because they have a monopoly on the satirical means of production.”

Peterson is also filing a separate suit at the paper for calling him a hippie and using his picture without permission.

Some guys who know about these lawyer types have accused DeMoney about being in it only for the money, but DeMoney says the suit is about respect. “My clients are not only tired about being the butt-end of jokes, but of being the butt-end of the same jokes.

“I mean, what does it say about our society when so-called ‘comedy writers’ simply recycle what others have written for cheap laughs instead of bothering to come up with new material?”

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we reducing our defense spending?

Special extra savings edition!

12) Saving on ammunition costs by replacing inefficient automatic weapons with bullet-saving muskets.

11) Eliminating full-time staff and instead hiring temporary workers during the heavier holiday bombing season.

10) Guaranteeing to win all wars within 30 days or the next war is free.

9) Restricting surgical strikes to countries that are enrolled in our bombing networks.

8) Cutting down on nightvision expenses by only attacking in broad daylight.

7) Switching from expensive training bootcamps to one intensive weekend session of Call of Duty.

6) Transitioning from paid private contractors to unpaid interns willing to beat a detainee with a urine-soaked Koran for the free experience.

5) Saving on fuel costs by introducing the Bradley Fighting Prius.

4) Outsourcing our policing of the world to China.

3) Allowing the GI Bill to only pay for tuition at the School of Hard Knocks.

2) Replacing our expensive, fallible fleet of military analysts, experts, and secretaries with Paul the Psychic Octopus.

1) Carefully considering whether a future military action is truly necessary and exhausting all other options before embarking on the costly course of war...just kidding, we’ll just stick to invading countries whose asses we know we can kick.