Friday, August 31, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Man o’ man, I have been working for the weekend this week.

Speaking of which, last weekend The Lovely Becky’s parents were in town. We walked down to the lovely Marquette harbor to check out the Seafood Festival. The Festival was really just an excuse to pitch tents, fry whitefish, and drink beer. But the highlight was the band playing when we went down. They were the classic classic rock bar band, pounding through covers of songs that constantly pound out of stations called Rock 101.

They started playing Loverboy’s, “Turn Me Loose,” which I recognized in an embarrassingly short time. (I can name that guilty pleasure in two notes.) "Wow, bold choice to go with this over 'Working for the Weekend,'" I said to TLB. The band launched into Styx’s "Too Much Time on My Hands," which had the unexpected effect of making me pine for Tommy Shaw’s singing. But then what did I hear? The opening da-dada-dada-duh-duh-duh riff of "Working for the Weekend." Two Loveboy ditties in the space of three songs. I don’t even think Loverboy play their songs that frequently any more.

I also realized that Neko Case, who at one point was supposedly playing here this weekend, is not. However, who didn’t cancel? The lead singer of Warrant, conducting a solo tour/puppet show.

That's the music scene in da UP. Thank God for iPods...

1) “On the Bus Mall,” The Decemberists. The anti-Loverboy.

2) “Wish You Were Here,” Pink Floyd. One of the few Pink Floyd songs I really enjoy. Probably because it sounds like it was played by humans with beating hearts. A lot of their stuff is creative, but always feels a bit robotic to me. We understand how notes are put together to form music, but we can never understand this thing you call...soul. BOOP!

3) “Cicatriz ESP,” The Mars Volta. The return of the wank. It thrills me that the kids are digging guitar solos, time signature changes, and 10-minute songs again. There’s a little “space journey” at the end that’s begging for the Laserium treatment.

4) “Gospel,” The National. Like Spoon, another group that’s getting assloads of praise that they completely deserve. This is a delicate, melancholy closer from their latest album, Boxer. So good I have no jokes.

5) “Crawl,” Alkaline Trio. My favorite song that could be officially classified as emo. It wants to cry on someone’s shoulder and then punch it.

6) “If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day,” Robert Johnson. I think Satan added the extra “e” in Judgement when he gave Robert Johnson these songs in exchange for his soul. Terrible speller, the Devil.

7) “I’m Broken,” Pantera. It’s bad when you see Guitar Hero notes for songs that aren’t in Guitar Hero. I’m actually not a big fan of Pantera. Their music makes me think of piston lube and dirty fingernails.

8) “I’m Slowly Turning Into You,” The White Stripes. I dig the thump of Icky Thump. I’ll say this for Meg White: she plays to her strengths. She is the Oates to Jack White’s Hall, seemingly superfluous, yet completely essential.

9) “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak,” Def Leppard. Here's me bringin' on the ridicule: I love this song. Def Leppard always got lumped in with the hair metal bands, and they certainly had the split ends to join the club. But there really was a good rock band under those bangs.

10) “Ball and Chain,” Social Distortion. Jailhouse rock written by someone who has been in the jailhouse. When you've been shivved by life or beaten with a rolled-up bar of soap by love, this is the song to play.

11) “Love Reign O’er Me,” The Who. Luuuuvvvv! The triumphant closing of Quadrophenia, and a triumphant closing to any Friday 11.

I hope none of you have to labor too hard this Labor Day weekend.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: What's making us so fat?

Special supersized edition!

13) Rapid advances in cheese-to-dough delivery systems.

12) Day-to-day food pyramid is more éclair shaped.

11) All these illegal immigrants willing to eat half of what Americans do.

10) Dannon’s new bacon-on-the-bottom yogurt.

9) Climbing rates of telekinesis.

8) School cafeterias replaced by rows of Pez dispensers.

7) Thought we had been going to the gym, but turns out it was our Second Life selves.

6) Coco Puffs gateway to much more cuckoo breakfast cereals.

5) Forced by General Tso to march to buffet for more of his chicken.

4) Scarfing whole Meat Lover’s pizzas just to spite snooty vegan sister.

3) Divine punishment for ancestors’ support of slavery.

2) Hollywood’s constant portrayal of obesity as glamorous and chic…no wait, it’s the jumbo popcorn with extra butter and a gallon of Mountain Dew for just a quarter more.

1) Would find out if it didn’t require getting off the couch.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Nothing gets your Friday started like finding out you have no hot water. Turns out that even though we turned on the electricity, we didn’t turn on the gas. We probably should have figured that out but we thought the power company did both. Anyway, the gas company came over today, grabbed the meter, and shut us down. TLB called them, and initially they said they wouldn’t be back here until the 30th. Holy frozen nutsack, Batman! TLB managed to wrangle them down to Tuesday. The water heater guy, who came over because we thought that was what had busted, laughed. “They can come over and shut you down the same day, but not turn you on.” Damn skippy.

Oh well, at least now I can get a Lake Superior experience without leaving my house.

1) “Finest Worksong,” REM. Document was one of the earliest CDs I ever had. When I had this in high school, my bedroom was in the front of the house, near our living room. One day my mother was napping on the couch, and I cued this song up and blasted it—it has a sudden opening with full thudding drums, bass, and guitar. I am lucky I didn’t kill her. Reaction: not amused. Now I always have the association that "Finest Worksong" almost got me locked up for mom-slaughter.

2) “Clover Over Dover,” Blur. You know what more rock songs need? Harpsichord. Hearing that instrument combined with Damon Albarn’s heavy English accent makes me think this was recorded in a drawer-ing room.

3) “Sweet Marie,” Crooked Fingers. There’s a real “Tide Is High” feel at the beginning of this Chipotle-flavored ditty. The vocals are so throaty I’m not sure they ever reached the singer’s mouth, and instead opened up his Adam's apple to escape.

4) “Limelight,” XTC. I raided my friend’s music collection over the summer, and I grabbed a lot of bands like XTC that I missed when I was younger because I was too busy listening to Dio. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Okay, there’s a lot wrong with that.

5) “Mongrel…” DJ Shadow. A fellow UC Davis alum—w00t! This is the first of a two-part song, with the other being “Meets His Maker.” So that’s kind of prog. Cool, reverberated guitars and keyboards with DJ Shadow’s traditionally thick drum beats.

6) “What Is and What Shall Never Be,” Led Zeppelin. I wish the what shall be part of the title had been applied to The Honeydrippers.

7) “Paranoid,” Black Sabbath. Here’s what always impresses me about this song: it’s hard for songs this old to still sound really heavy. But there’s a low growl to this that still feels menacing. And Ozzy sounds pretty paranoid, probably because he sold his soul for rock and roll. That’ll keep you up nights.

8) “Bad Boy Boogie (Live),” AC/DC. Here’s a similar situation: with today’s fuck-it-I’ll-just-let-them-bleep-this-shit-out recording styles, it’s also hard for rock’s early bad boys to still sound bad. Not so with Bon Scott. His vocals remain rough and tumble, but with a lot of charisma. This live version fucks up the song a bit with that other 70s staple, guitar wankery.

9) “Gloria (Live),” Van Morrison. A classic with the classic break-it-down-so-the-audience-can-clap bit. It's cut from the same cloth that “Louie Louie” is, but I always liked this song better.

10) “Knuckles,” The Hold Steady. Speaking of dated, this song has lyrical references to Right Said Fred, Sunny D, and Five-Alive (yes, the breakfast drink that tasted like five fruits mixed in antifreeze). But this song also brings it in the classic Hold Steady classic rock style, where the keyboards twill and the guitar chords windmill. With that kind of backdrop they could recite lyrics about Nu Shooz and Big League Chew for all I care.

11) “You Belong to Me,” Elvis Costello. Keyboards are like hands. No matter how much work you’ve done on the rest of your body, your hands tend to give your age away. As good as early Elvis Costello songs are, they keyboard sound will always be stuck in the 80s. But when the rest of a person is a knockout the way this track is, you can live with old hands.

Have a good weekend!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rummy in Retirement

6:17 a.m. Wake up from a hot dream involving Lynnie Englund, nipple clamps, a Sears Die Hard battery, and a Super Soaker.

6:18 a.m. Change shorts.

7:02 a.m. Down Irish coffee and Percocet

7:30 a.m. Take call from New York Times about resignation letter surfacing.

7:34 a.m. Deny writing resignation letter.

7:35 a.m. Deny having ever served as Secretary of Defense.

8:33 a.m. Call cable customer service about a mistake on the bill.

8:34 a.m. Assure "Dave" that pay-per-view order of Back Door Nurses 7, 8, and 9 was a mistake.

8:35 a.m. Explain to Dave that it pretty goddamned easy to keep making the same mistake over and over again.

8:43 a.m. Call NSA to get transcripts on Dave.

8:51 a.m. Call Dave and read pages 2, 3, and 12.

8:52 a.m. Thank Dave for removing the charge.

8:53 a.m. Order pay-per-view of Boobies of Mass D-Cuption 4.

9:57 a.m. Confirm next week’s hunting trip with Vice President Cheney.

10: 11 a.m. Fetch quarry for hunt by setting out food over Drifter Pits near railroad tracks.

10:30 a.m. Work on memoir chapter, “I Was Right on Iraq.”

11:30 a.m. Check CNN to see if right on Iraq yet.

11:33 a.m. Smash television.

11:55 a.m. Head out for outdoor cookout to welcome Rove into the Bush Whacked Club.

12: 13 p.m. Stop man for directions to nearest grocery store.

12: 14 p.m. Refuse to believe he doesn’t know where nearest grocery store is.

12:58 p.m. Finally believe he doesn’t know after he loses consciousness. Close car trunk.

1:07 p.m. Drop man off near county hospital. Leave message on his forehead that reads, “Die, honky! -- Sincerely, Nation of Islam.”

1:11: p.m. Down Mountain Dew and Percocet.

1:15 p.m. Argue with grocery store clerk that he did in fact receive a $20 bill. Inquire as to his registration status with selective service.

1:17 p.m. Pocket change from a $20 bill and original $20 bill.

1:29 p.m. Apologize to Bush Whacked Club for being late. Act surprised when they point to blood on shirt. Recite deer cover story.

1:31 p.m. Insist that one package of wieners should be more than enough to pacify the hunger of three dozen people.

1:40 p.m. Put Rove into headlock until he agrees that he’s not hungry any more.

3:45 p.m. On the way home, stop at Department of Defense. Remember not to wear DoD letterman jacket this time.

3: 49 p.m. Burst into Robert Gates’s office and suggest another hiding spot for Iraqi WMD: Barack Obama's backyard.

3:50 p.m. Awkward silence.

3:57 p.m. Down Percocet and Percocet.

6:34 p.m. Wake up on doorstep again. Curse self for still wearing DoD letterman jacket.

7:00 p.m. Check TV about being right about Iraq.

7:01 p.m. Wonder how television got smashed in.

7:20 p.m. Return TV to Best Buy. Argue with clerk that the television has been broken since it was delivered four years ago, but have been too busy to return it.

7:30 p.m. Drive home with new television.

8:03 p.m. Notice still not right about Iraq.

8:12 p.m. Begin new chapter of memoir, “Why Being Right About Iraq Is Overrated.”

11:35 p.m. Grab G.I. Joe doll and head to bed.

11:57 p.m. See faces of thousands of soldiers asking why they were sacrificed for an enormous lie.

11:59 p.m. Down warm milk and Percocet.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: What did we change on Wikipedia?

Special extra truthiness edition!

16) Expanded list of Founding Fathers who were furries.

15) Removed Dick Cheney from the “List of undead serving in Bush Administration.” Again.

14) Rejected edits to “List of undead serving in Bush Administration” due to objectivity concerns.

13) Relocated entry on Guantanamo to an undisclosed directory.

12) Reduced Nickelback entry down to one word: Sux!

11) Fixed all the typos after President Bush edited his entry.

10) Added an “Iraqi WMD” subsection to “Fairy Tales.”

9) Undangled all the chads from 2000.

8) Appended the list of the types of poles with, “Heh, heh, you said pole!”

7) Aborted any mentions of Jenna Bush’s possible pregnancy.

6) Elaborated that while it may seem like the Republican Congressman was soliciting sex in a park washroom, he was actually working undercover to expose the homosexual menace.

5) Deleted entry on Pittsburgh Steelers by accident, causing entire team to disappear in a puff of smoke.

4) Detailed how we would have killed Nicole Brown Simpson if we had written the entry on killing Nicole Brown Simpson.

3) Concluded that global warming will have one excellent outcome: life will indeed become a beach!

2) Created entry for Circle Jerk at the Square Dance, “the funniest blog in the universe.”

1) Added self to “List of people who’ve blown Wikipedia editors.”

Friday, August 17, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Sweet fancy Moses, has it been almost a month since I’ve done this? Sorry for the light posting over the last few weeks. Between moving and vacation and trying to keep up with work between those two things, I’ve been stretched in 20 different directions the last month. But now I’m settled in and ready to rock!

The beauty of working at home is that now I can play my tunes as loud as I want. Which is usually not real loud, since I am working and have to devote at least half of my brain to that pursuit. However, I have a pretty nice set of Klipsch PC speakers with a punchy subwoofer in my home office, so I can go to 11 when needed. And for those of you who missed it, TLB has a nice picture of the view out of my home office.

1) “Four Horseman,” The Clash. I should start every Friday with The Clash. This is a lesser song from London Calling, but just hearing Joe Strummer picks me up. He could be raging about a grocery list and still get me going: Eggs and bacon and blue-ber-ries! I need you to pick ‘em all up puh-lease!

2) “It’s too Bad,” The Jam. What’s all this then? Is me iPod feelin’ a bit English this morning? I’ve sung the praises of The Jam before, and I’ll say it again: along with The Clash, they were the best band to come out of the UK punk scene. They figured out that you can’t stay stuck in three-chord monte for an entire career (otherwise you turn into The Ramones), but that you can channel your inner, spitting 18-year-old even when you learn how to play well and write terrific songs. Like “Four Horseman,” this isn’t A-list Jam, but it has a shimmering guitar in the chorus and a good drum beat.

3) “Phenomenal Cat,” The Kinks. Blimey! Another UK song. Depending on how you look at it, this song is either about the decline of the British Empire, or about a fat, lazy cat. Either way, we haz cute UTube cat videoz with this song!

4) “Demons Are Real,” Guided by Voices. British Invasion by way of Dayton. It has one of my favorite GbV lines: Deliver this message to the one I love the most / I’ve lost all my money to a 300-pound ghost. Probably their best song under one minute (and with GbV, there are a lot of those), with a half-crazed/half-tuneful vocal from Robert Pollard.

5) “The Group Who Couldn’t Say,” Grandaddy. There’s a retro synth that sounds like a Australian didgeridoo played as a bass synth by Flock of Seagulls. I mean that as a compliment. The lyrics here are a dry and wry take on the music business, with a nice “unit shifter” reference.

6) “Don’t Make Me a Target,” Spoon. The current hot shit indie rock album du jour. Which, frankly, it deserves. A lot of indie albums, while having a lot of soul, lack the kind of craft that you used to get on the great 60s-80s rock albums, where everything in the mix is exactly where it needs to be. And the big albums today that have that craft often have so much of it, there’s no room left for soul in the mix. This is one album that really has both. Although their band name always makes me think of The Tick’s battle cry of “Spoon!” I hate my brain sometimes.

7) “The Long Black Veil (Live),” Johnny Cash. Is there any artist today of Cash’s stature who would perform at a prison? I can’t see any major musician—rock, rap, or country—pulling into a place like Folsom and delivering a performance like this.

8) “When the Pin Hits the Shell,” Drive-By Truckers. Okay, maybe the DBT would do it. This song takes a slice of melancholy, places it between two thick slices of sad, spreads on the guilt, and fries it up in a hot pan of shame. And the same God that you’re so afraid is gonna send you to hell / is the same one you’re gonna answer to when the pin hits the shell. I’m not even a big Southern rock guy and I love their music. That’s the sign of a great band in my book.

9) “No Wow,” The Kills. No joke, I bought this thinking it was The Killers. It was also my loss because The Kills do not kill—boring lo-fi garage band stuff. This song is pretty good, though, a cross between The White Stripes and early PJ Harvey. You could do worse.

10) “Bad Luck, Blue Eyes, Goodbye,” The Black Crowes. From their hugely underrated album, Southern Harmony and Musical Companion. Chris Robinson the person annoys the living shit out of me, but his vocals get through my skin in a good way here. Soulful rocking and perfectly arranged so you can feel every cell of blood pumping through their hearts. Their first album really ripped off their 60s and 70s influences, but this one is a blueprint of how you can turn your influences into something fresh and remarkable.

11) “I,” Bad Brains. Now ist die time on Circle Jerk vere ve slam! Who needs caffeine on a Friday morning when you have Bad Brains? Some of their stuff is too hardcore for me, but this hits that sweet spot of fast, heavy, and raging.

That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we resigning?

10) Thought it would be nice to use soul for a while before having to turn it over to the Devil.

9) Fled the ship once the water reached our second chin.

8) Couldn’t resist dream opportunity to smear a woman and a black guy in next presidential election.

7) Need time to prepare pre-indictment itinerary for fleeing the country.

6) Felt that after getting the nation to vote for a moronic, inexperienced, deceiving simp twice, there were no mountains left to climb.

5) Wanted to be able to arrange anonymous restroom blowjobs as a private citizen.

4) Couldn’t take one more mispronounciated word from the boss without committing suicide with the sharp corner of a Webster’s dictionary.

3) Plan to start a pro wrestling career with Rummy as The Denial Duo.

2) Who cares, is there cake in the West Wing breakroom?

1) Realized that after six years of our turds blossoming, we’re too stinky to keep working.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Open for business

Have you ever taken one of those vacations where you need a vacation after the vacation? You spend your time “off” running from place to place, with an agenda full of to-do lists, must-see attractions, and general knee-bent-running around business, until enjoying the attractions themselves becomes less important than crossing them off your lists?

I just returned from the opposite of that vacation.

Every summer, I vamoose with The Lovely Becky’s family to the beaches of North Carolina. We rent a house by the ocean on a fairly quiet island. I have made it a habit to leave everything behind when I go: work, the Intertubes, e-mail, even writing. Instead, I head into the surf, crack open books, crack open beers, and generally let myself completely relax for one week out of the year. No other vacation ever leaves me so prepared to stop being on vacation.

This year was fairly uneventful, unlike last year’s Adventures in Skim Boarding. No sharks, no dolphins, no real drunkenness. There were a couple amusing moments:

We showed my in-laws the video for Dick in a Box. They had never seen it, so TLB fired up YouTube and played it for them. As the video rapped through its first couple of verses toward its namesake chorus and Justin Timberlake popped the lid on a box attached to his crotch, my mother-in-law said, “Wait, what’s in the box?” Only someone so completely unaware of the punchline could have delivered that question with such perfect comic timing.

The other amusing thing was seeing a young man—a seemingly heterosexual male who appeared to be there with his girlfriend—with a lower-back tattoo. Now, having lived in a Big Ten college town for six years, I’ve seen this lumbar lure quite a bit. And not once, whether it was at a bar or at a fiction reading or at church, have I seen a guy lean over and reveal an ornate arrow leading to his ass.

Most straight men, at one time or other, obsess over appearing gay. I am not too bad about it. I freely admit that I like shopping, Project Runway, and using fancy salon products in my hair. But seeing a lower-back tattoo on a guy? It's practically screaming I want you to look at my hiney and then make sexy time.

It was…well, confusing. He seemed perfectly straight, splashing around with his female companion. He had no other tattoos, just this one. His girlfriend had no matching tattoo which might explain some drunken couples excursion to the tattoo parlor that lead to an inky bond between them. Was there some O. Henry-esque story here, where he got the tattoo on a bet to raise enough money so his girlfriend could have her lower-back tattoo removed, only to learn that his girlfriend sold her hair to raise the money so that her boyfriend wouldn’t have to get a stupid lower-back tattoo? I would have asked him, but I also considered that he might have gotten it in prison, and I'm...well, a guy who likes to get home from shopping in time to watch Project Runway.

Anyway, I had no really embarrassing pictures of me this year, but in downloading the pictures from the trip, I did find this one, from an earlier jaunt to Lake Geneva with TLB’s college friends.

Yes, that’s me with a pitcher of piña coladas. Yes, I am chugging straight from it. Yes, I graduated from college fifteen years ago. But hey, I was on vacation in Wisconsin. I was just trying to fit in.

And let me tell you, after that, I needed a vacation from the cold headache alone.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


In the American working tradition of working like a dog so you can spend one goddamned week not working like a dog, I had to bust my behind before leaving for vacation. In my haste, I forgot to put up the Gone Fishin' sign. I'll be frolicking on the beaches of North Carolina this week, soaking up as much sun as I can before the icy grip of winter crushes my heart this winter. I don't have a very large Intertube into the series of Intertubes, but I will probably put some posts up this week if I can get connected.

My only tale so far is that I got to play a Nintendo Wii for the first time. I never could have imagined moving your hands around like you're boxing or bowling could be so much fun. My marriage may be doomed. Unless I can get TLB to play the boxing game with me. That could be very therapeutic.

Regardless, the regular irregular blogging will resume next week. Hope you all can get outside and enjoy yourselves.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Top Ten Wednesdays: What's the FBI finding in our homes?

10) Illegal cryogenic facility with half-frozen head of Walt Disney.

9) Half-empty vial of Holy Spirit (may cause seizures).

8) A bunch of hypodermic needles scratching Hank Aaron’s broken record.

7) Secret copy of the Zapruder film showing JFK being shot by Waldo.

6) iPhone with YouTube clip of us filming dog fights while also conducting phone interview saying we’ve never been to a dog fight.

5) A dozen 9mm handguns, a fifth of Jack Daniels, and a box of porn, all perfectly legal. Sorry to have bothered you...wait a minute, what’s this? An ounce of weed, downloaded MP3s, and a gay marriage license? Up against the wall, pal!

4) What was left of Billy Bob and the dipping sauce.

3) Why nothing? Nothing at all! We haven’t been anywhere near your house! Why would you even think such a thing? It’s the blue one on the corner, right?

2) Internet tubes totally clogged with a truckload of bribes.

1) Nothing a call to the Vice President can’t fix.