Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we staying so happily married?

Yesterday was the thirteenth wedding anniversary for The Lovely Becky and I. Each year has been better than the last, and every day that I come home and find her there, I am thankful. Especially when she doesn’t have male callers that day.

So how are we and other couples staying happily married?

10) Setting the sensors of the First Ladybot to “Love.”

9) Getting awesome job for spouse at the World Bank.

8) Putting the modifier “female” in front of the object “orgasm.”

7) Hiring only grossly unattractive pool boys and nannies.

6) Finding a nice, quiet, dark place to store the children.

5) Reminding him that when we become President, he better not say anything about the interns wearing chaps.

4) Obeying the restraining order.

3) Gambling away the kids' college fund together.

2) Believing that our spouse is faithful, no matter what photos those jerks at Us Weekly printed.

1) Respecting, trusting, laughing with, listening to, and loving our significant others. Oh, and boinking. Lots and lots of boinking.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Do you like it when I tag you?

Her Blueness tagged me like an endangered species under observation with this meme. Some people hate these things, but I love the sound of my own typing, so I'm always happy to babble about anything. And after spending all weekend talking about housing disclosures and opening bids and just how much goddamned snow they get in Marquette, talking about pork is refreshing.

1. What's in your pocket?
A lion, and baby, he is ready 2 roar.

2. Is the pork ready?
It is if it has stopped squealing.

3. Have you ever had to rock to and fro to make your poopie go?
Thankfully, no. But this question reminded me of an incident when I was a teenager. I came down with pneumonia and had to go to the hospital. While I was waiting in a bed to get examined, an older woman next to me was talking with a doctor about the impacted stool she had. That’s when I asked God: please, please, let me be able to poop on my own for the rest of my life.

4. Do you like onions?
The better question would be: do I like vile weeds that taste like ass? No.

5. So, how big is it?
Let’s put it this way: if they had a pill that really made it bigger, I would line up for a prescription. Of course, so would 99% of the male population.

6. Budweiser or real beer?
Real beer. But I’m not a beer slob. A good ol’ fashioned American macrobrew can really hit the spot. Miller High Life, for instance, is my go-to rock show beer of choice. But when it's time to really drink beer, I need something that has actual flavor. Like this, which I usually drink on my birthday when I can find it.

7. What do you feel about your nose?
I wish the I could switch size ratios with it and the object from question 5.

8. Children: Baked or broiled?
I wasn’t sure how to answer this, so I asked an expert. Here’s the response I got:
Dear Citizen,

Thank you for your question. The answer is baked, with a garnishing of puppies.


Vice President Richard Cheney
9. Do you like it when I do this?
Yes, but this time, please don’t forget the safe word.

10. Do you like the sound of chickens?
No. Especially when they are clucking beside the red wheel barrow.

11. Would Beyoncé clip her own toenails?
No way. The first rule of Diva Club is that you do not talk about Diva Club. The second rule of Diva Club is that you, under no circumstances, groom yourself. Diva preparation is like building a car: everyone has an assigned part to assemble.

12. Do you like pork?
Does the Pope where a funny hat when he strikes down the concept of Limbo?

13. If the butter is soft, does the bus arrive on time?
No, because clearly the driver’s muffins were in the toaster.

14. When do you get up?
When The Man tells me too.

15. How did you survive childhood?
I made my saving throw.

16. What do you do before bed?
That depends on TLB.

17. What are your hidden charges?
It’s $4.95 for the first minute, and $1.95 for each additional minute, minimum of ten minutes or the first three times I say engorged. If you’re under 18 and did not get your parents’ permission, that’s a paddling. Tax and title are not included unless you’re paying cash, in which case, I’ll waive them if you get rid of what’s in the trunk. For the first six months, you pay 0% APR on all non-purchases, but twice the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow on all other transactions.

18. Who's behind you?
Satan, carrying a bag of Culver’s.

19. Why don't people go to the bathroom on TV?
Oh, they do. As Blue Girl pointed out, the spare a square episode is a classic example. But they even have the Charmin commercials built on the old saying, “Does a bear shit in the woods?” Sometimes I think we have gone too far.

20. What's a soylent green popsicle?
When the heat goes out at the retirement home.

21. What does it taste like?
Brylcreem and nostalgia.

22. Why doesn't Consumer Reports rate hookers?
Because they’re too busy crashing cars to stop and pick them up.

23. Does George Bush replace the toilet paper tube?
Not before he asks the CIA if it’s a nook-u-ler centrifuge that could be used to make WMD.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Why don't you come with me little boys and girls on a virtual dog sled ride?

The Lovely Becky and I went to a reading by Jim Crace, the acclaimed English novelist and all around righteous dude. We went to hear him read from his new novel, The Pesthouse, a novel set in a post-apocalyptic America (funny how there seems to be a resurgence of that type of novel since the 2000 election...). For those of you that haven't read him--and that includes me, although I'm going to rectify that shortly--Crace is the author of such books as Being Dead, which starts with two people being murdered and their bodies being left to rot on the beach.

"I'm not a dark writer," Crace told us with a straight face. In fact, he labels himself a "sentimental athiest."

Along with the book, Crace talked about his friendship with Frank Conroy, author of Stop Time (a phenomonal memoir if you haven't read it) and former director of the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Crace has been writing for 20 years, but Conroy had not read his work until a few years ago, when he read Quarantine, a retelling of Christ's 40 days in the desert. Conroy liked that book so much, he contacted Crace, and the two began a long-distance friendship: Conroy in Iowa, Crace in England. They found a common love of jazz as well as writing and sounded like two people who really enjoyed each other's company even if that company wasn't in person.

Sadly, in the years that they knew each other, they spent a mere hour in each other's presence. Conroy came down with cancer and was quite ill when Crace finally had a chance to visit him. Yet you would not have guessed that they had spent only 60 minutes together from the enthusiasm and energy in Crace's descriptions of their friendship.

The day after the reading, I saw that Blue Girl posted about the blurring of the line between her real-life friends and her virtual friends: other bloggers and people who comment on her blog.

Blogging is such a ingrained part of my life now that when I'm with real life friends I'll talk about my blog friends. Like they're real people I know. When I do this, my real life friends all look at me with the exact same expression that says, "Now you've done it. You've totally lost your last marble."
I thought about this in light of what Jim Crace said about Frank Conroy. Obviously, you can never replace personal interaction. But I see no reason why you can't make friends--good friends, people who you love to hear from every day--on the phone, in a letter, or on a blog. Reading the comments and blogs of my virtual friends and real friends who post virtually makes my day. I especially enjoy making them laugh. Who cares if I can actually hear it?

This subject has weighed quite a bit on my mind lately because, as TLB mentioned a few weeks ago, we're leaving The IC for The UP of Michigan. The same place where even the Snow Meiser goes, "I'm freezing my icicles off here!" TLB got a great job offer, my great company said I could work from home, and those two things made it hard for us to not Say Yah to da UP, Eh?. We're already in the processes of selling our house and we'll probably be packing up and heading out in July. Just like that, our great Iowa adventure is coming to a close.

It's hard because we still have real friends here, people who have made a bigger impact on our lives than we could ever express. We're going to miss them something fierce, especially because our great little Big Ten town made it so easy to get together or run into each other randomly, bumping into them on the street and maybe deciding to have lunch or a drink or remind them of an upcoming reading. Despite natural disasters and infertility battles and the ups and downs of the writing life, there is no question these last six years have been the most fun that we've had since we've been married, including the incredible time we had in New York City. It's all because of the people we've met here. Which is what makes leaving so hard.

But if Frank Conroy and Jim Crace could have a meaningful friendship of several years despite meeting each other once for one hour, certainly I can maintain these meaninful friendships virtually. After all, I have a blog, a built-in mechanism for keeping those friendships going until we can see each other again. In fact, real friends who have moved away tell me they read the blog. Some comment, some don't, and some I can spot in Site Meter, but no matter what, I know they're there, and I hope they're laughing. And I hope that continues with the real folks we have to leave behind.

The beauty of my virtual friends is that moving doesn't really change anything. Michigan, Manitoba, Madagascar...a computer and an Internet connection are all I need to post Top Tens and laugh at comments and read their blogs. As long as we all keep commenting and posting, we get to keep interacting.

So while I'm really sorry to go, I'm happy that I have a way to stay in touch, to keep the noun "friend" even if I have to change the adjective in front of it for some folks.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: What are we reading for our professional development?

10) 1001 Foolproof Lotto Numbers

9) He’s Just Not That Into You Making More Money Than Him

8) Dodging Bullets: Spotting Workplace Psychosis in PowerPoint

7) Getting the Band Back Together and Other Illusions That Will (Barely) Keep You From Hanging Yourself in Your Cubicle

6) First, Break All the Rules. Second, Go Directly to Jail.

5) Holiday Parties, Hooking Up, and Human Resources: Taking a Dip in the Company Egg Nog Without Swallowing a Pink Slip

4) What Color Is Your Board Room? A Practical Manual for Keeping the White in White Collar

3) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Slackers

2) Sun Tzu’s The Art of Appropriating Samurai Warrior Philosophy So You and the Boys in Sales Can Act Like Even Bigger Assholes

1) How to Make Millions By Telling People What They Already Know for $29.95

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday CJ Random 11

It’s Saturday, and even though I was so busy yesterday I couldn't listen to 11 songs, let alone write about them, I’m at the office today, takin’ what they’re givin’ ’cause I’m workin’ for a livin’. Oh well, at least I can crank the tunes when no one is here. Listening notes while eating my lunch...

1. “I Was Thinking I Could Clean up for Christmas,” Aimee Mann. Her biggest problem is that she is consistent, which makes it easy to take her for granted. If Aimee Mann recorded under a new identity each album, people would be falling over themselves to praise each release. Instead, you get things like Pitchfork pooping out reviews that say, “Here’s yet another exemplary Aimee Mann album to add to the pile. Ho hum.” Seriously, if you try to make sense, do you automatically get disqualified from writing for Pitchfork?

2. “Surrender (Live),” Cheap Trick. Maybe my favorite song of the 70s. The studio version is good, but like everything else on At Budokan, the live version turns it up to 11. We’re all alright, we’re all alright, we’re all alright, we’re all alright!

3. “Bittersweet Symphony,” The Verve. I’ve never hated a band as much as The Rolling Stones for what those wrinkled cobagz did the The Verve: making them pay 100% of all proceeds from this song because it samples an orchestral version of “The Last Time.” Even Metallica at the height of their Napster stupidity didn’t approach the sheer pig-fucking greed of this move. “Bittersweet Symphony” is like “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” one of those songs that was played to death, yet I never tire of hearing. One of the best CDs of the 90s, too.

4. “Streets of Fire,” The New Pornographers. Pure bliss. Awesome harmony singing to start off, then thunderous drums halfway through to close the deal. Everything goes better with thunderous drumming.

5. “The Professional,” Sleater-Kinney. I’m very sad they disbanded, because they mixed it up every album while still rocking your socks off. One of those rare bands that managed to take their influences and turn them into a unique sound.

6. “Untitled #4,” Sigur Ros. From the ( ) album, which set a new bar for title and packaging pretentiousness. All the pages were blank so you could write your own liner notes. What's that spell? L-A-M-E. The music, however, is astonishing, especially this song, which is so beautiful I don’t mind being stuck inside today while it plays. If you haven’t heard these guys, imagine a group of humpback whales forming a rock band and playing the greatest concert under the sea ever.

7. “Soma,” The Strokes. They don’t deserve the amount of scorn that they have received for being hyped up by the music press, because they are a very good band. But one of my favorite quotes from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was when he yelled at them at the MTV music awards: “Hey Strokes, you’re like the Monkees with a drinking problem.” How is it that my current favorite comedian is a plastic dog puppet?

8. “Anarchy in the UK,” The Sex Pistols. While Johnny Rotten never sounded more rotten, I always thought this song was bit overrated. Maybe it’s because it seems a bit plodding, like it either needs to be faster or slower, not stuck in “3” on the gearshift. “God Save the Queen,” “Holiday in the Sun,” and especially “Pretty Vacant” get more fist pumps from me.

9. “Hearts of Oak,” Ted Leo and the Pharmacists. The best keeper of the old school punk/new wave flame today. Catchy, energetic, and political. I saw him play a few weeks ago, and while Ted himself was great, his bass player really distracted me with his Kip Winger hair. Here's Dave Lerner (on the right), here's Kip Winger. Even Kip Winger no longer has Kip Winger hair.

10. “The Fox in the Snow,” Belle and Sebastian. They put the twee in tweeder. There are times when even guitar heroes have to chill, but I just find them too...soft?...wispy?...doily-ish?

11. “Plastic Flowers on the Highway,” Drive-By Truckers. This is from their double-concept album about Lynrd Skynyrd, which sounds about as appealing as a symphonic tribute to Molly Hatchet. The Truckers pull it off spectacularly, however, and this song in particular has such a powerful sense of loss and despair. Definitely a case where the tribute outshines the inspiration.

Okay, my soup is gone, so it’s time to get back to it. Keep having a great weekend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

All in with the Poker Mob

Monday night, The Lovely Becky, our friend MSF, and I headed out to Tama to play in the biggest live poker tournament any of us had ever played. We had qualified for this event by making the final table at an earlier $65 satellite tournament, and now we hoped to parlay our modest buy-ins into some big money. But as the night unfolded, we ran into a perfect storm of poor planning and peer pressure that produced quite a unique spectacle in the poker room.

The tournament was billed as a World Series of Poker satellite. Previously at this casino, that meant the winner received a seat for free at the WSOP main event. However, this year, the casino changed the format, and the top seven players out of the field of 140 would each get $5000, which they could use toward the WSOP or keep as cash. Considering that the main event at the WSOP has a $10,000 buy-in, the advertising was a bit bogus. It was also very odd to have all of the players in the money get the same amount. No one was very happy about the payout or the lack of a true WSOP seat, but for a chance at $5000, they didn’t argue too hard.

The structure, however, caused problems for everyone. We all got 2500 in chips to start.* That’s not a lot but not uncommon for poker tournaments. However, the blinds—the automatic bets two players have to make every hand—went up with lightning speed. Just over two hours into the tournament, the blinds reached 1000/2000, meaning that $2000 was the minimum bet to get into a hand, and 4000 to make the minimum raise. But because we started with 2500 in chips, everyone had fairly small chip stacks, with no players above 30,000. This transformed the game from poker to an all-in fest, where players simply pushed their chips in a prayed. We may as well have played a poker scratch off game. All the talk at the break centered on this screwed up structure.

There were 37 people left when someone first called out, “Let’s chop it!” Chops in poker games are fairly common, but they usually happen at the final table between that handful of players at most. In fact, this tournament was essentially pre-chopping the pot among the last seven players. But chopping among nearly forty people seemed preposterous. Everyone chuckled, with a few “yeahs!” thrown out for good measure.

The same guy said, “No, I’m serious, if we split, we all get $950.”

That caught everyone’s attention. Because no one really felt comfortable with how many chips they had, the guaranteed money sounded pretty appealing. About 75% of the players raised their hands in support of the motion. The poker room manager entertained the notion, but a few players said they wanted to play and not chop. We had to have 100% agreement to split it.

After several others busted out—including our revolutionary hero who had started the idea—the prospect got even more interesting. With 32 players left, we would all get $1093.75. The cutoff for having to report your gambling winnings to the IRS is $1100. If we waited for one more person to bust out, we would go over that. Not only would we have to pay taxes, the casino would have to fill out tax paperwork for all of us. They definitely did not want to do that 30+ times. The poker room manager paused the tourney to let us know it was now or never.

At this point, only two players said no. One guy, wearing a Marshall Tucker Band t-shirt and holding just over 20,000 in chips, said he wanted $1300. His friend who had considerably less chips pulled out $200 and said, “If I give you the extra $200, will you chop?” Marshall Tucker man considered and agreed.

That left one woman who said she didn’t want to. The timing was crucial for us, because TLB had a mere 3000 chips left. MSF had only about double that, and my 13,000 chip stack probably wasn’t going to last long unless I caught some cards soon. So we grabbed our pitchforks and joined the other villagers in pushing for the chop.

Our holdout held her ground for a couple of minutes. But as 62 eyes bore into her, you could see her wilting. The room became filled with calls for her to give in. We may as well have been chanting Gobble, gobble, one of us, one of us! After some discussion with the poker room manager, she caved. The Tama Chop Party of 2007 entered the poker history books.

No one in the room, including the dealers, had ever seen anything like it. Everyone seemed pretty jazzed to walk home with a grand each, even the people who had initially opposed our poker pool collectivization. TLB, MSF, and I were more than happy to collect our money instead of driving home with nothing.

Still, as we waited for the casino to divvy up the pool 32 ways, I couldn’t help but be a little perturbed at what happened. Beyond the absurdity of playing a tournament where 32 people “won”—imagine stopping the NCAA basketball tourney after the first round—I wondered what would have happened if someone had refused to cooperate. How would the crowd have reacted?

“You know,” I remarked to TLB and MSF as we walked to the car, “Now I think I understand how Sacco and Vanzetti got executed. Somebody says, ‘Hey, I don’t think we can sentence them to death.’ The rest of the crowd says, ‘Oh yeah, well maybe we’ll kill you too,’ and the first person decides, ‘You’re right, death it is!’”

I don’t think anyone would have done anything except complain, as the Tama crowd is pretty tame, but I’m glad we didn’t have to find out.

*Note: The chip amount here is arbitrary and not actually tied to the money we paid or how much was in the pool. It's just what we got to play with.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: What's distracting us from the real issues?

Special extra distractions edition!

12) Haircut prices

11) Faint light at the end of the tunnel that the president points to when he says “Iraq”

10) Every unidentified ossuary found in the Middle East that might prove that the Bible is true

9) The exchanging of matrimonial cockrings

8) Clip of dog that can’t stop licking himself

7) Licking ourselves

6) Asking what would Jesus do

5) Asking what would Jack Bauer do

4) Justice Department Jenga

3) Al Sharpton’s hair

2) Claiming that pointing out corruption, ineptitude, falsehoods, and bottomless stupidity is un-American.

1) Blogging about what’s distracting us from the real issues

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

I thought it would be fun to think of commercials that could use the tunes that came up today.

1) “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend,” The Mr. T. Experience. A lonely man wearing a teddy bear costume sits in a movie theater, an empty seat next to him. Even Hitler had a girlfriend, so why can’t I? He moves to the park, walking by the river. Nixon had his puppy, Manson had his clan, God forbid that I get a girlfriend. He walks down a street, looking at addresses, before finding the one he’s looking for and knocking on a door. A woman in a teddy bear costume opens the door. He pulls out a printed personal, and they embrace. On screen, the line appears: Someone for everyone....Craigslist.

2) “Summer Skin,” Death Cab for Cutie. Kids play in the pool, glowing bright red from sunburn. Later, they scratch and itch at the flaking skin, as the line plays: Then Labor Day came and we shed our summer skin. Mom appears in the doorway with a big bottle of Solarcaine with Aloe. The kids smile and hold up a huge sheet of peeled skin. Mom just shakes her head and laughs. Keep your summer skin summery with Solarcaine!

3) “Running Free (Live),” Iron Maiden. As I’m running free, yeah, I’m running free plays, we see Bruce Dickinson driving a Hummer with an optional coal-burning smoke stack. He drives through a beaver dam, chases a heard of albino rhinos, backs into a parking space and crushes a smaller hybrid car in the process, and finally runs over a squeegee guy. Always run free in a Hummer.

4) “Anywhere,” Bob Hillman. A very urban-looking woman arrives at the corn-rowed edge of Iowa City. She walks into town in her Jimmy Choos as the music plays: Fighting for her life in Iowa, she can go anywhere she wants to. Cut to a scene in a writing workshop as she argues with another student, who tears her story in half and throws it at her. With the future legends typing club, she can go anywhere she wants to. Late at night, she cries over the pieces of her story at a smoky local bar, before leaning over to throw up. She can go anywhere she wants to, she wants to be here. The next week, she hands her copy of that student’s story back to him, then lights it on fire. She smiles as he tries to put it out. The the line repeats, She wants to be here, and the logo for the Iowa Writer’s Workshop appears. Now taking applications!

5) “Flowers of Guatemala,” REM. A florist picks beautiful flowers as soldiers and rebels fight in the background. He dodges mortar rounds as he gathers a purple and red bouquet. He hops on a plane loaded with drugs and guns before taking off. At a suburban home, a woman answers the door, to see the bloodied and bruised florist, who hands her the bouquet before collapsing. She smells the flowers and smiles. No matter what flowers you want, we deliver! 1-800-FLOWERS.

6) “Take You on a Cruise,” Interpol. A Geico caveman gets into a huge fight with his non-cavegirl girlfriend, who throws his stone engagement ring back at him. He goes on a cruise by himself, playing shuffleboard, swimming, and watching someone flame grill a steak at his table, but he looks miserable. Standing near the rail, he gets ready to throw the stone ring into the sea, when a hairy hand touches his shoulder. He turns to see another female caveman. He immediately proposes as the line Oh my love, we’re sailing to Norway plays and the Norwegian Cruise Lines logo appears.

7) “Magical Mystery Tour,” The Beatles. The song plays as we see footage of David Blaine and an announcer reads: See David Blaine live! Watch as he works in a cubicle for 40 hours during the week without drinking coffee, using the Internet, or gossiping about who used their expense account at the strip club! Marvel as he makes Paris Hilton disappear from public for 45 days! And prepare to be amazed as he transforms Iraq into a stable democracy overnight, just like the Republicans predicted!

8) “The Way It Is,” Tesla. At an old folks home, we see two elderly men fighting over checkers, two old women arguing over pictures of their grandchildren, a man being held down as he receives his pills, and a woman throwing her bedpan at the nurse. That’s the way it is, that’s the way it goes, day after day. An orderly sneaks into a man’s room, trying to steal his Medal of Freedom from WWII, but the old man wakes and smacks his hand with his cane. They both turn to smile as the logo and tagline come up: No Illusions Assisted Living, because that’s the way it really is!

9) “Girl Afraid,” The Smiths. A man and woman at a fancy party eye each other and move closer and closer. They appear shy and cautious, but still approach. As they almost touch, they turn their heads, revealing cold sores on their lips. They immediately retreat as the narrator says, Never be afraid with Abreva! and Morissey sings I'll never make that mistake again!

10) “From the Edge of the Deep Blue Sea,” The Cure. A black-clad Goth stands on the edge of a bridge before letting go. As the music plays and he falls, a therapist appears next to him. She tells him it didn’t have to end this way if he had just called Dr. Marcia Haywood at the Family Wellness Center. The boy smiles just as Dr. Haywood’s bungie chord saves her and he plunges into the water. Call us before you make a career out of being miserable!

11) “Say You Love Me,” Fleetwood Mac. A man and woman have dinner, feeding each other before heading upstairs to their hotel room as the line plays, But when the loving starts and the lights go down, and there’s not another living soul around.... They make out wildly, knocking over lamps, chairs, and the toiletries in the bathroom. Then woo me until the sun comes up and say that you love me. The narrator breaks in: Before the lights go down and your sun comes up, say you love her with Trojan brand condoms, ribbed for her pleasure. The couple sits in bed, breathless, as Christine McVie sings, Say you love me!

While sales would certainly be down, brand recognition would be through the roof!

Have a good weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Loon Over Bourbon Street

The one good thing about having friends move away is that they give you an opportunity to visit them and take advantage of their hospitality. Which is what The Lovely Becky and I did these past few days when we visited our friends Paula and Tom, friends from the Writer’s Workshop who had left The IC for the Big Easy of New Orleans.

Paula is a native New Zealander who combines a passion for pop and high culture like no one else I have ever met. She can go from Brönte to Britney at the drop of a hat. She has an infectious accent, which she often used this week to say to me, “Brando, don’t be so naughty,” because just like my blog, I am a waterfall of inappropriate comments. I in turn corrected her pronunciation of words such as garage. “In this country, we say gah-RAJ,” I said with my best Chicago accent. “Gah-RAJ.” Yes, I know how to endear myself to my hosts.

Tom offers the kind of entertaining ranting forged from living in New York for two decades. He was my partner in Scotch in Iowa City, joining me for nips of single malt and gallons of raving, usually about the idiocy of our Chimp-in-Chief. TLB and Paula always made jokes about us being boyfriends, standing in the corner of a party sputtering our whiskey diatribes, which would then set off a river of ranting from us about the disrespect we got from our wives. In fact, the greatest thing Tom and I have in common is that we married people who fit us like the final pieces of a puzzle.

The trip, as most New Orleans trips do, involved much eating and drinking, and we wasted no time by downing some cocktails during our arrival lunch. I tried my first Pimm’s Cup, a refreshing British cocktail that instantly made the humid afternoon air more enjoyable. Tom and Paula talked with great earnest about how the city was fighting to get back on its feet. They love their adopted city, and after lunch, we drove through some of the now-deserted neighborhoods where houses sat dilapidated and empty nearly two years after Katrina. Most doors still bore the spray-painted notation from the house-to-house searches conducted after the hurricane, including the number of bodies found inside. But as sobering as that was, we were heartened to see how hard people were trying to put the city back together, to return New Orleans to its place as the most unique city in America.

We had dinner at home our first night because Paula could not miss the finale of The Amazing Race. As I mentioned, Paula is extremely pop culture savvy, and she is a true reality TV gourmand, sampling the many wares of worldwide races/team jungle survival/wife swapping/beauty salon drama. She has attempted to proselytize the reality TV gospel to me on past occasions. She did successfully stir my soul with Rachel Hunter’s “dancing” on Dancing With the Stars, but ultimately scorched my soul with the Satanic fire that is The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency. Thankfully, Tom supplied plenty of his own restaurant-quality Pimm’s Cups and Argentinean Malbec wine, which made The Amazing Race amazing even to me.

Paula unfortunately was burdened by grading the portfolios of her students, which she had to finish while we visited. I offered her some sample comments that I thought would help speed her grading along, such as “After reading your work, I wish that I had killed my father and slept with my mother so that I would have gouged my eyes out beforehand.”

She declined my assistance.

So Becky and I left her for an afternoon in peace and made an inevitable trip to Harrah’s casino. “We’ll win enough to pay for dinner tonight,” I promised Paula. Instead, the felt-tabled abuses I suffered—including the final hand where the dealer hit Ace-Ace-Queen-Nine to make 21—left me swearing to file a war crimes claim with the Hague. But the French Quarter at least served as a great consolation prize, with TLB and I checking out the myriad of shops, galleries, and eateries. Later, we met our hosts for an excellent dinner at Dickey Brennan’s, which had a 24-ounce bone-in ribeye on special. The waiter described the cut in mouthwatering detail, but the size had me concerned. “Well, four ounces of that is from the bone,” he explained, which lowered the steak from I’ll have a heart attack to I’ll have that. Long story short, it cost me two years off my life, but those two years are probably going to suck, so it was worth it.

Our next day, while Tom was at work, we went to the Quarter again in the afternoon. Paula and TLB decided to have Tarot readings, with Paula’s reader telling her she was working too hard and pulling herself in too many directions. “You could have given me money to tell you that,” Tom said when we met him later. We had another delicious, gut-busting dinner (at least had fish this time) and an infusion of alcohol before returning home for our final night.

Our last day, we had enough time to grab breakfast at The ‘Karma’ Camellia grill, a nice diner that whipped up some mean waffles for us. I scream, you scream, we all scream for caffine, said our server as he brought us our coffee, which I needed greatly to flush the alcoholic and metabolic sluggishness from my system.

We then said goodbye, remebering that the worst part of having friends move away is that we don't get to enjoy their excellent company every day. But whenever I see teams of obnoxious people attempting to race around the world for $1 million, I’ll always remember this trip.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Before we begin, a scene from earlier in the week...

The Lovely Becky sits on a couch, doing something on her laptop. Brando enters, carrying plastic guitar controller.

Is it going to bother you if I play Guitar Hero?

Is it going to bother you if I make fun of you?

And now, the songs!

1) “Yes/No,” The Futureheads. This will give you the flavor for how this song goes: Are we British? YES! Are we terribly original? NO! Do we still rock? YES! Is the rest of the album as good as this song? NO! Does this song have the easiest two-word chorus in the history of music? YES!

2) “Secret Star,” Guided by Voices. It wouldn’t be a Random 11 without them. They manage to provide a full-day’s supply of prog in less than five minutes, with three tempo changes and a nice fist-pumping finish. Not that I am pumping my fist, because that would be so nerdy. I would never do that.

3) “Don’t Stand So Close to Me,” The Police. It’s funny to think of my ten-year-old self walking around and singing a song about a teacher trying—and failing—to not schtupp one of his underage students. Things were so much more innocent then!

4) “Easy Morning Rebel,” My Morning Jacket. Deep-fried Almond Brothers. I saw them live once, and their singer Jim James had this colossal wall of red hair. Imagine the wave hitting the Poseidon, then replace the water with red hair. That’s what it looked like.

5) “This Is the Time,” Lindsey Buckingham. This is the time on Sprockets when we dance without Stevie Nicks! Dance, Lindsey, dance! Touch my Fleetwood!

6) “Walk Away,” Franz Ferdinand. Includes the line I love the sound of you walking away. Back in the day, if I had been breaking up with someone, this is the kind of song I would have put on my breakup mixtape of songs about how I’m better off without her. Just as I would start to feel okay, the auto reverse would flip to side 2 and start playing Journey’s “Faithfully,” because this is the same let's-not-breakup mixtape I gave her the week before she threw it at me during our breakup, and I forgot to finish taping over the second side. I would then commence crying myself to sleep. Sometimes I really miss tapes.

7) “The Unforgettable Fire,” U2. All the good stuff of classic U2: Echoing Edge, Bellowing Bono, Lean Larry, and, uh, Adequate Adam. I still like them, but I liked them better when they were saving the world instead of saving Apple shareholders.

8) “The Rotting Strip,” Crooked Fingers. This is the song that plays after you leave the AA meeting and head straight to the bar on the corner, promising yourself that it’s the absolutely, positively last time that will happen.

9) “The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow)”, The Jam. The theme song for us during the Bush presidency.

10) “Jenny and the Ess Dog,” Stephen Malkmus. A little ditty about a teenage girl and her older, trust-fund hippy boyfriend. They drive a Volvo, play frisbie with their dog, and listen to Brothers in Arms. It could have been called, “Scenes From UC Davis During Brando’s Years There.”

11) “All Kinds of Time,” Fountains of Wayne. They should be called The Carpenters because they craft catchy pop songs like they’re making bookcases. Bonus points for using football as a metaphor for life!

I’m off for a few days and may not be back to blogging until later next week, so enjoy yourselves!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Q: Are You Not Man? A: I Am Brando!

Jennifer posted a quiz this morning featuring an interesting set of questions. Rather than answer in her comments, I wanted to provide meandering and obtuse answers in my own particular....

Idiom, sir?


1) Have you ever owned or worn a dashiki?
No. The only other outfit that would look less “me” would be leather chaps and nipple tassels (although that outfit did help me pay for college). But one of my favorite song couplets—from Pavement’s “Embassy Row”—involves the word dashiki:

I need to get born, I need to get dead
I'm sick of the forms, I'm sick of being misread
By men in dashikis and their leftist weeklies
Colonized wrath -- their shining new path

2) What was your favorite outfit and why?
Aside from the chaps and tassels? Currently, this tan summer suit that I own. Just one of those things I put on and instantly feel good in. But I used to have this one outfit: pink shirt, white pants with light gray pinstripes, and a white leather tie. You can probably guess what decade that was from. I have tried throwing the tie out, but every time I do, it mysteriously reappears in my closet...and a Republican becomes president! (Sorry my house cleaning led to eight years of Bush).

3) What would people find most surprising about you?
That I actually brood quite a bit and worry way too much about things. And that I am a huge Project Runway fan.

4) Do you have a tail?
No, I never cared for that hairstyle.

5) If you were a cowboy/cowgirl, what would you name your horse?
Taggert, after Slim Pickens’s character in Blazing Saddles.

6) What's the first thing you think about upon waking in the morning?
Peeing. Then jokes. I seriously start having comedy bits pop into my head as soon as I wake up. I used to drive The Lovely Becky crazy because I would start doing routines for her in the morning, which is why I now have this blog and am still happily married.

7) Hot or cold?
Hard to say. I am not into freezing weather, but I hate being really hot in a non-vacation setting. So my answer is McDLT.

8) Literal or lateral?
Lateral because you can do it in football.

9) Rain or shine?
Rain. I like sunny weather but feel most creative when the weather is bad. I am someone who thinks Scotland has awesome weather.

10) What scares you the most?
Losing my wife is the worst thing I can think of. After that, being sucked out of the airlock of a space ship while simultaneously being devoured by some mutant space shark-spider.

11) Worst moment that turned into a best?
I had to move between my junior and senior year of high school. I was really happy at the high school I left and a miserable SOB about moving. But if I hadn’t done that, I would not have met The Lovely Becky. And if I had never met her, I probably would have wound up homeless on the street giving handjobs for crack.

12) What you're still grappling with?
My grappling hook. Damn thing never catches. Oh, and giving straight answers to questions.

13) Winter, spring, summer or fall?
Fall. The weather is still nice and football starts.

14) Carol King or James Taylor?
James Taylor, but I’d really answer c, Geddy Lee.

15) Do you look at your mouth when you are brushing your teeth or just look around the room?
Teeth. Unless brushing while wearing my nipple tassels.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we still blogging?

So today yesterday was the second anniversary of Circle Jerk at the Rhombus Hop Square Dance. To quote the Grateful Dead, The baggie’s up Jerry’s ass, officer. No wait, What a long, strange trip it’s been.

It has been really fun to entertain all of you, from the folks who have found me over the years while searching for peanut looking chunks in my feces, to the new virtual friends who bloggrolled me, to the real-life friends who come here after I browbeat them into reading the blog. I sincerely thank everyone for reading, commenting, and (hopefully) laughing for the last 24 months.

There’s another incident that illustrates why I enjoy keeping this blog going. I was checking my Site Meter one day, as I do an average of 38.7 times per day. Someone had found the blog while searching for the term, “MILF Hunter.” (For those of you who don't know, that stands for Mom I'd Like To Falafel). This person appeared to stop their search and hang around here for 13 minutes and some change.

Yes, I managed to entertain someone enough that they stopped hunting for porn. How many Pulitzer Prize winners can claim that? In your face, Cormac McCarthy! New media rulz!!!

On to today’s list: Why are we still blogging?

10) Part of ongoing experiment to see if novel will write itself.

9) The Onion has yet to recognize our brilliance/existence.

8) Offers ability to report without inconvenient need for accuracy or pants.

7) Site Meter is the new mood ring.

6) Need a cover story for excessive giggling to self.

5) Enjoy being able to work hard on something we love while sitting in cubicle.

4) One of the only growth areas left in the highly competitive Top Ten List field.

3) Hoping that repeated posting of the word assfucking will also land us a gig at Time.

2) Allows us to make new friends without leaving the bell tower or encountering pitchfork-wielding mobs.

1) (Tie) Only thing that keeps head from exploding due to excessive cognitive dissonance produced by the knuckledragging asshats in charge. / We are comment whores.