Friday, November 30, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

It was five degrees when I woke up this morning. Five degrees. I haven't even put up the Christmas tree yet. The other day during our first winter storm, the wind was blowing so hard that the house was vibrating and the monitor on my desk was actually shaking a little. That's what we call in layman's terms, "fucked up." I wouldn't pull the lever for a Republican (or pull the lever of a Republican, no matter how much he taps), but voting for someone with a pro-global warming agenda sounds pretty enticing right now. I would feel really bad for New Yorkers being flooded out, but look at the bright side, the rising tides would wash away that urine smell in the summers.

1) "53rd & 3rd," The Ramones. Speaking of washing away the urine smell of New York… I lived in New York during the Guilani years, when the city was getting cleaned up (read: Disneyfied), so I can only imagine the grungy scariness of 70s New York portrayed in this song.

2) "Back on the Chain Gang," Pretenders. I love the guitar rift and Chrissie Hynde's vocals. One of their best songs.

3) "Grindstone," Uncle Tupelo. I started out as a classic rock/metal kid, eventually widening my rock horizons to stuff like The Cure and New Order, and then getting into classic punk late in high school and during college. But it took a long time before I could listen to anything that sounded like country music, especially anything that had a prominent steel guitar the way this song does. I preferred Uncle Tupelo's punky songs much more than the traditional Americana they played later on. But over time, that changed to where I liked their sad, twangy songs a little more than their fast, angry songs. Maybe it's because country music sounds more lived in, and I had to do a little more living to appreciate it. Or maybe it's because you can't be 14 forever, no matter how hard I try to do that.

4) "Outsiders," Franz Ferdinand. Sometimes you just have to shake your booty. Franz Ferdinand is a group that completely understands that need. I would find it impossible to keep my hands below my head if I was dancing to this.

5) "Von," Sigur Ros. The way The Ramones sound like New York, Sigur Ros sound like Iceland. There's a soft, icy beauty to this, like a winter sunrise. Which I can appreciate much better now that I live in the Artic Circle.

6) "Far Cry," Rush. And this sounds like Canadian bacon. Mmmm, hammy. This is one of those classic cases where you buy an album, love love love the first song, and then wish the rest of the songs had sounded like that first song. Oh well, they have brought me enough geeky air drumming happiness over the last 26 years that I automatically contribute to their IRA by buying the new album.

7) "Crazy Rhythms," The Feelies. Like a methed-up Talking Heads. And I mean that as a compliment, as I always thought the one thing missing from the Talking Heads was more meth. As opposed to more cowbell.

8) "Dogs Got a Bone," The Beta Band. If you ever just want to chill, sit on the deck on a sunny day and pop open a beer like you're starring in your own Corona commercial, this is a pretty damn good song to play. In fact, most of the songs on The Three EPs album occupy that laconic, groovy frequency that induces involuntary head bobbing. You can see it in action in Hi Fidelity, where John Cusack says "I will now sell four copies of The Three EPs by The Beta Band" and gets everyone in the record store shuffling in synch.

9) "More Human Than Human," White Zombie. Okay, so I can't be 14 forever, but I can still tickle my inner Beavis with the diaphragm-pounding thump of Rob Zombie's monster mashes.

10) "Copperhead Road," Steve Earle. A much better song about a smuggler's blues than Glenn Fry's "Smuggler's Blues." Probably because he was an actual desperado instead of a fake one.

11) "Save a Secret for the Moon," The Magnetic Fields. I could hear this happy, bouncy song playing over the closing credits of a romantic teen comedy, where a boy (Superbad's Christopher Mintz-Plasse, showing his McLovin' range) realizes he's been mistakenly chasing the pretty blonde popular girl (Heroes' Hayden Panettiere), when he really loves his geeky brunette female friend (Hillary Duff, showing her range by dyeing her hair and wearing corrective lenses), who becomes just as pretty once she takes off her glasses! They kiss as this song plays over the credits, while the boy's dad (Eugene Levy) dances to the song with the boy's mother (Jaime Lee Curtis), who became attracted to Levy without him having to remove his glasses or wax anything, because female scriptwriters don't write this shit.

Have a great weekend. And go Mizzou!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Official Blackwater Job Application




Serial number:_________________________________

Height (in stacked bodies)_____

Weight (in skulls)______

1. Nationality
a) United States of America
b) No, really, just select “a.”

2. Do you have any Hessian ancestry?
___No, but I'm pretty Aryan.

3. Religion
a) Christian
b) Jewish (please stop and accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior)
c) Muslim (please stop and wait for the authorities)
d) Norse (cool!)

4. Former military service:
a) Conventional military
b) Special forces
c) Death squad

5. Do you take drugs?
___Why, do you have some?
___Only in the Barry Bonds sense of the word

6. Which of the following tattoos do you have
___Skull and crossbones
___American flag
___American flag with skulls instead of stars
___Bloody dagger
___Heart that says "Mom"
___Skull that says "Mom"
___"This space for rent"

7. Have you ever suffered from any of the following ailments?
___Guilty conscience
___Not-for-profit work
___Voted Democrat
___Asked questions first, shot later

8. Are you proficient in any of these interrogation methods?
___Sleep deprivation
___Electric slide
___Forced viewing of The View
___Playing "Sister Christian" at deafening levels until subject confesses to being a terrorist and/or member of Night Ranger
___Exposing subject to the elements
___Exposing subject to Paris Hilton cold sores
___Securing front row seats for Danny Gans

9. Have you ever been implicated in a civilian killing?
a) No
b) How would you define "civilian"?
c) I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you over the recoil of my gun

10. Do you have any legal training in the area of human rights?
___Yes. (Please discontinue this application. We thank you for your interest.)


11. Which movie catchphrase best captures your philosophy of life:
a) Terminator 2: Hasta la vista, baby
b) Apocalypse Now: I love the smell of napalm in the morning
c) Lethal Weapon 2: Diplomatic immunity!

12. Regarding the movie 300, which of the following is true.
a) I have seen it.
b) I have seen it and I bought the DVD.
c) I have seen it, I bought the DVD, and I regularly masturbate to it.

13. You cannot open a jar of pickles. What do you do?
a) Run the lid under hot water until it expands.
c) Beat on the lid with my large combat knife until it loosens or I no longer want pickles.
d) Shoot the jar with a shotgun to teach all the other pickles a lesson.

14. I would step over the still-warm body of my own mother for ________.
a) Jesus
b) George W. Bush
c) A five-figure signing bonus

15. It takes ______ to save a village.
a) a village
b) an insertion team
c) a blazing fire

16. Would you torture a detainee for information?
a) Only if I thought he knew of a “ticking bomb” and it would save many lives
b) Only if something in the room was ticking
c) Wait, when wouldn’t you torture a detainee for information?

17. Laws are _____.
a) made to be obeyed
b) made to be broken occasionally, like thumbs
c) made for people without political connections

18. You see some natives talking together in a part of town known for insurgent activity. What do you do?
a) Gather more information before taking action.
b) Gather more ammunition before taking aim.
c) Gather more coordinates before calling an airstrike

19. In the event of an "incident" involving the loss of innocent life, what's the best approach?
a) Reach into your heart and apologize.
b) Reach into your stash of hush money.
c) Reach into your pocket for a pen to change "innocent" to "insurgent" on the government report.

20. Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
a) Retired on the beach of one of the beaches I took
b) Halfway through prison term
c) GOP vice presidential candidate
d) Valhalla

I hereby claim I have answered in a truthful and honest fashion, and that I will deny everything under Congressional subpoena.

Sign or make mark: __________________________________

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we promoting peace in the Middle East?

Special extended negotiations edition!

12) Settling question of Palestinian state on special episode of Deal or No Deal.

11) Conducting workshops on how to enact the policies you want despite overwhelming domestic political opposition.

10) Insisting that our allies can be a civilian dictator or a military dictator, but not both.

9) Giving oppressed people a taste of freedom by filling their lungs with the sweet water of non-torture.

8) Easing tensions by having Arab leaders roasted at the Friar's Club by America's best Jewish comedians.

7) Proposing signing of Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty in exchange for one night with Condoleeza Rice.

6) Outsourcing peace process to Blackwater.

5) Working through Holocaust denial issues on Oprah's couch.

4) Getting Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas to pledge to be in each other's five.

3) Harnessing the lasting power of small talk, forced handshakes, and photo ops.

2) Staring at the Middle East with a steely squint until it decides to be peaceful, or until term is up.

1) One ammo clip at a time.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It was 20 years ago today

November 21, 1987. The Reagan presidency still reeled from the sting of Iran-Contra. The stock market still reeled from the Black Monday drop in October. And the first reels of The Simpsons appeared on the Tracy Ullman Show.

On this day, in a tiny suburb north of Chicago, a young man—his hair Dep'ped, his Bugle Boy pants tightly cuffed, his jean jacket washed in acid—went on a date with a beautiful young woman. She had won him over with her winning smile, her sharp wit, and her beautiful eyes. No, really, he was looking at her eyes. Though she had made fun of him the first night they met—quickly seeing through his brass-plated Southern California veneer to determine that he was, in fact, a Hoosier—that sauciness would charm the pants off him. Or so his seventeen-year-old glands hoped. He sort of asked her out. She sort of said yes. And history was made. And it was good.

Today is the 20th anniversary of my first date with The Lovely Becky.

I met TLB when I was dating her best friend at the time. We went to different high schools but lived in the same suburban area. I worked at the local grocery store with her friend, and our first conversation occurred when I gave both of them a ride after work. TLB proceeded to make fun of my enjoyment of Rush, my arrogance about having moved from San Diego, and especially my state of origin, Indiana, which made my arrogance about being "from" California even more ridiculous to her.

I would like to report that my inner monologue said, Someday I'm going to marry that girl, but in reality it was more like Who are you and when can I drop you off?

However, our next encounters were much more enjoyable. In addition to being quite fetching, TLB shared many of the same characteristics I did. Her humor was clever and also blue, giving her the bawdy, cerebral appeal of a Shakespearean character. She had a dorky side to her without being too dorky, with an interest in fantasy and science fiction that tickled this D&D player's heart, even if she made fun of me for playing D&D. While my love of heavy metal did not appeal to a girl who grew up on the border of Mullet and Mini Truck Counties, my love of new wave and alternative music gave us a soundtrack to share.

Over the next few weeks, I saw her at the store, on double dates with her best friend, and at the local library where TLB worked. As my relationship with her friend eventually changed from dating to friendship, I found myself thinking about TLB more and more. One afternoon, I stopped by the library. It was TLB's last day, and she was trying to make the reshelving of books go by more quickly.

I helped by talking to her for hours. Three, I think. It was one of those everything and anything talks, enough material for Richard Linklater to make two films. I didn't want the conversation to end, and that's when the first thoughts of i really appeared. After all, she was pretty, funny, and sassy—why wouldn't I go out with her?

We did a short time later, on the birthday of her friend. It wasn't a date-date necessarily. I, being a chicken, didn't really ask TLB out. We instead had one of those negotiated romantic understandings, brokered by her friend. He's interested in you, she's interested in you, how about a bilateral exchange? A bunch of us jumped into a couple cars and headed to Ed Debevic's, a retro burger joint where the staff knowingly insulted the customers.

I sat in the booth next to TLB, with another guy flanking my right. I was nervous. I wanted to make some expression of affection, but was afraid of embarrassing her in front of her friends.

TLB managed to break the ice in her patented delicate style. She decided to play a prank on the guy on my right by extending her skirted, nylonned leg across my lap and plopping her foot playfully into his lap.

Someday I'm going to marry this girl!

By the end of the evening, after a screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, we were officially a romantic couple. Even the troubling smoke on the horizon of my love life—my serious girlfriend back in California—cleared when said girlfriend called to dump me the next day.

And really, that's the story of our relationship. Things have always worked out for us. Long-distance separation, dating other people, economic woes, career challenges, location changes, reproductive issues—even when things have seemed bleak, we've managed to get through them. I think it's because, in the end, we're still those two kids talking for hours in the library, neither one of us wanting the conversation to end.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we coping with the writers strike?

10) Halting all national security policies until Jack Bauer starts telling us what to do again.

9) Making our ad libs completely spontaneous.

8) Using down time on the set and training in method acting to really nail new role as a drug mule.

7) Looking under couch cushions and drink coasters for Netflix DVDs we've had for seven months.

6) Going blind after drinking the comedy bathtub gin of Frank TV.

5) Discovering mysterious polygonal objects filled with words that make a TV show appear in your brain.

4) Going into porn.

3) Creating a new type of reality show that requires no scripting.

2) Offering blood sacrifice to smiling TiVo god.

1) Spending an evening interacting with family, asking them how they are doing and listening to their replies and OH GOD PLEASE BRING TV BACK THIS IS KILLING US!!!!

BONUS: How are we coping with the stagehand's strike?
Paying $7.50 to watch two bums fight on Broadway instead of paying $75 for Broadway musical about the exploitation of the homeless.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

If you’re having a dinner party and you’re looking to take the entertainment level up a few notches, simply have a book of Jewel’s poetry laying around. Hilarity will ensue like a red, red rose.

1) “My Best Friend’s Girl,” The Cars. It’s pretty easy to establish your career when your debut album opens with “Let the Good Times Roll,” this song, and “Just What I Needed.”

2) “Pretty Vacant,” The Sex Pistols. Their best song in my opinion, and it’s in my top 5 punk songs. I find that the legendary songs on this album are kind of slow, while the fast songs aren’t as memorable as the legendary songs. This is the one where they both meet: a punchy tempo full of classic Pistols bile. And the chorus is a must-sing-along.

3) “A Lack of Color,” Death Cab for Cutie. And now for something completely different...The UP is about to have a lack of color for the next few months. Hopefully there won’t be any red from me slitting my wrists when I remove that 100th inch of snow.

4) “She Bangs the Drums,” The Stone Roses. It is impossible to have a bad day when this song helps start it off. The guitar is like an old friend who is in town for a bit and who you can’t wait to hang out with again.

5) “The Hungry Wolf,” X. They were definitely the city wolves, but without losing their cool at the site of an exotic dancer.

6) “Domino,” Van Morrison. While not everyone will ever like a particular song, this is one of those timeless classics that nearly everyone can like. It’s soulful, catchy, sad, happy, and the song you could play at the end of a teen sex comedy where the snobs and slobs dance as they learn they have two things that transcend their social classes: a love of good music and unmitigated horniness.

7) “Paschendale,” Iron Maiden. Good Lord, I really am all over the place today. No one has the heavy-epic-about-historic-battles market cornered like Maiden. Despite having death in their name, Death Cab for Cutie isn’t writing a song about charging over the trenches into a hail of German machine gun fire.

8) “Milano,” Sigur Ros. This beautiful song is long enough that I could eat an entire bag of Milanos before it ended. Which would probably put me in a diabetic hallucination where Death Cab for Cutie were fighting the Germans.

9) “Let It Go,” Def Leppard. A song that exemplifies the principle of Tufnel’s Razor: if you’re not sure if lyrics are sexy or sexist, they are probably the latter.

10) “For the Widows in Paradise, for the Fatherless in Ypsilanti,” Sufjan Stevens. Now that I live there, I think he really did capture the spirit of Michigan. A beautiful, delicate song.

11) “Party Til You Puke,” Andrew W.K. And here’s the opposite of that coin. This song has aged as well as an open bottle of beer left in the sun. It might be because there’s an expiration date on using the word party as a verb, and I’m beyond that point except when I go Vegas. At the same time, it’s a hell of a closer to a truly random 11.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we coming down with VD?

Americans set a new record in sexual disease cases. Why are we contracting VD so easily?

10) Abstinence education programs not preventing genitals being left in behinds.

9) NBA players on the road again.

8) Rampant popularity of Paris Hilton’s new fragrance, Clap.

7) Forgot to use toilet seat cover at GOP headquarters.

6) Slept with McAfee sales rep who refused to allow Trojans.

5) Played new, more potent version of Spin the Bottle which requires random sex act from

4) After pastor said he would fill us with The Holy Spirit, we came down with Immaculate Infection.

3) Watched TMZ on TV without wearing full body condom.

2) Partner’s sexual history reads like Caligula’s autobiography.

1) Used faith-based contraception.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go home and have a heart attack

Friday afternoon, The Lovely Becky started bleeding. Bad bleeding, the kind we've run into before, the kind that says no soup for you. "We have to go to the emergency room," Becky said.

I couldn't believe it. Everything had gone just fine on Tuesday! How could things go south in the same fucking week? I knew we have a long way to go, that lots of things could cause this to end, but Jesus H. Christ, I hadn't even finished my touchdown dance yet.

The last time I cried—I mean really opened up and just sobbed my eyes out—was after our first miscarriage, in 2001. I didn't even let the tears rip when our last IVF went bust. Yesterday, I stood on the stairs, getting ready to put my shoes on, and I felt a wave of grief collapse over me. I took my shoes and hurled them up the stairs, throwing them as hard as I could. My eyes swelled and I prepared for the waterworks when I realized I couldn't do that to Becky. She wouldn't blame me, because she's lovely, but I couldn't saddle her with my emotional breakdown in addition to her own physical breakdown. I took a deep breath, grabbed a small chunk of control, and picked up my shoes. There would be plenty of time to lose my shit later.

We've seen medical staff for fertility-related matters enough that we know when things are really fucked. Their body language, the things they say, and especially the things they don't say, can give off a bad vibe that no amount of positive thinking can shield me from. As Becky told the nurses and doctors her symptoms, that vibe came as thick as amber covering an insect. The initial exam just made the amber harden around us. "It looks iffy," the doctor said as nicely as he could. "It doesn’t mean you're miscarrying, but it looks iffy."

But iffy does mean miscarrying for us, because our fertility script is more predictable than a bad horror movie. Despite being more or less a model married couple, we're the fornicating teenagers that are always getting impaled by the Golem of Childlessness. The doctors needed an ultrasound scan to tell for sure, but I sure as hell didn't.

The ultrasound tech, while friendly and very nice to us, went about his business in total fucking silence. I looked at the pixilated images like one of those hidden paintings, staring at it and waiting to see little pixels form a giant middle finger. Finally, after feeling like we had been at the hospital for two years instead of two hours, the tech finished. He couldn't tell us anything because that's the doctor's job. But he did tell us that the baby's heartbeat was 138. That's even stronger than it was on Tuesday.


The doctor arrived and delivered the unexpected: as far as they could tell, Becky and the baby were fine. The heartbeat was not only good, the baby had grown since Tuesday and was cruising right along the development chart. He told Becky to stay off her feet this weekend and let them know if anything else happened, but otherwise she was free to go.

Becky and I looked at each other, unsure how to react. We're still getting used to good news. So we did what we always do when we either want to celebrate or bury our sorrows: we drove to Culver's and picked up some Butterburgers.

I don't know if Ashton Kutcher has some kind of fertility punking machine, but if he does, I'd appreciate it if he would knock that shit off.

It also seems like an appropriate time to show my favorite movie scene of all time:

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10! (there, fish, I got it right this week)

I apologize for not writing more lately. There have been a few reasons, preoccupation with human reproduction being a big one. Another big one is that I’m working on a short story that has squeezed a lot of my creative juices. But the biggest reason is that I started a couple pieces that unfortunately haven't panned out yet. Unlike some other blogs out there, I refuse to just set my posting bar at half-assed. In fact, CJSD guarantees at least three-quarter ass or your money back. (That should make Larry Craig tap with joy.)

My frustration with the couple pieces I was working on made me want to pump up the volume a little bit today. Earlier in the week, I was reminded of The National Review’s list of the 50 greatest conservative rock songs which ran last year. The inanity of the list still astounds me. This went well beyond the standard shovel-to-the-head stupidity, crossing instead into George Romero decapitated-with-a-shovel insanity, as if the writer’s disembodied head landed on a keyboard and tried to co-opt his favorite songs by wildly clicking at keys with his tongue before he finally expired. Then it occurred to me: that sounds like fun! So this week's Random 11 is written in the demanding style of The National Review, which is known in laymen's terms as out of your ass. (And a tip of the hat to Jon Swift, who did more songs in a more timely fashion.)

1) The Smiths, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.” Why do I have to smile at people I’d much rather kick in the eye? Morrissey is clearly rebelling against the politically correct mores that require us to hug those we disagree with, such as Muslims, instead of bombing them, as good Christians should.

2) “Bolted Down,” Bob Hillman. This legendary conservative songwriter describes how all of the things in his New York apartment are “bolted down.” Why? Because New York’s anti-gun laws prevent him from defending his property as our Founding Fathers demanded. As he notes in the song, this keeps him from even drinking his coffee because the cup is bolted down. This is where anti-gun legislation will lead us.

3) “Crosstown Traffic,” Jimi Hendrix. A terrific anthem abut how evil carpool lanes attack our liberty to travel freely.

4) “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic,” The Police. Given the rampant godless socialism expressed by most British musicians, it is extremely gratifying to see Sting’s courage in writing this touching, moving homage to Margaret Thatcher. He even wishes to “marry her in some old fashioned way.”

5) “When It All Goes Wrong Again,” Everclear. Even though this was written in the late 1990s, it’s really a Nostradamus-like warning against a Hillary Clinton presidency. I will be sitting on top when it all goes wrong again—Clearly our country cannot afford to again fall for the peace and prosperity of the Clinton years.

6) “A Legal Matter,” The Who. Noted Tory Peter Townsend rails against the frivolous lawsuits plaguing the American court system. He obviously would not be a fan of presidential candidate John Edwards, and it’s a shame that his lack of citizenship prevents him from voting against the Democratic ambulance chaser.

7) “Where Boys Fear to Tread,” The Smashing Pumpkins. Billy Corgan’s searing screed against allowing homosexuals into the Boy Scouts. The distorted guitars perfectly capture the distorted truth of the gay agenda.

8) “Lips Like Sugar,” Echo and the Bunnymen. Long before Oprah discovered it, singer Ian McCulloh wrote about the immoral enticement of teenage rainbow parties.

9) “Drain You,” Nirvana. It is now my duty to completely drain you. No other singer has ever written so passionately about the devastation of Democratic tax and spend policies.

10) “The Swish,” The Hold Steady. These Minnesota-based rockers address the confusion of transgender politics: She said my name’s Neal Schon but people call me Nina Simone, some people call me Andre Cymone. Which is it?

11) “Gary’s Got a Boner,” The Replacements. A song that that is a battle cry for abstinence education.

It is a little frightening how much fun that was.

I am on the road for work next week. I am going to try to get the jerking back into three-quarter ass form. Until then, enjoy yourselves, and keep on rocking in the free market, er, world.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we triumphant?

10) Our nominee for attorney general successfully tortured the definition of torture.

9) Resistance to our policies from Congressional Democrats rated between “speed bumps” and “French.”

8) Iraq's political stability has surged ahead of Pakistan's.

7) Launch of Fisher-Price’s My First Recall wildly successful.

6) Scriptural rethinking on divorce allows Christians to protect marriage from gays while gaily choosing a new spouse.

5) Soaring oil prices will help improve national obesity crisis when Americans are forced to push their Hummers.

4) Writer’s strike gives conservative Congressmen chance to continue their studies of the gay lifestyle in peace.

3) Mortgage crisis makes it easy to find empty houses to squat in after our foreclosure.

2) Allowing people with criminal backgrounds to join military will make it easier for the military to recruit from Blackwater.

1) None of the shit going on in the world can depress us because we just might be parents after all.

Thanks to everyone for the wishes, prayers, and ritual sacrifices to various deities. It really helped, and we appear to be on our way toward setting aside all of our hopes and dreams for a creature who will later sneak out of the house and tell us we just don't get them.

Monday, November 05, 2007

I shoulda done the Alzheimer's joke

Featuring the worldwide Internet video debut of Brando!

Slate V announced the winners of their comedy contest and yours truly didn't make the top five. Oh well. I think the guy who did the Dali Lama piece should have won. That was a very clever joke.

I know these things are subjective, but I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed. I was pretty happy with the jokes I wrote, but in hinsight, I probably should have done the Alzheimer's joke. It was an easy joke to say, and it didn't require a long set up. And where was Nancy Grace with her reproductive set up when I needed her?

So here it is, the video of yours truly after 22 hours of taping.

A CJSD programming note: tomorrow is the ultrasound for The Lovely Becky, so the Top Ten may not happen, especially if we get bad news. And if it's good news I may be too drunk to write!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

It’s been a shitty week. I don’t have a more clever, humorous way to put it. Our war on childlessness is completely fucking with our heads. Stress from work managed to overflow my perspective levies and drive me to eating the 80 bushels of candy corn that we had lying around the house for Halloween. I went back to the gym for the first time since the end of July, which reminded me quite painfully just how long I had been away from the gym and how much candy corn I have been eating. And I started writing fiction again for the first time in a while, which is great, except that writing fiction makes you crazy even when it goes well.

It’s times like this that I’m glad I am a such a music fan. TV and movies give me a lot of entertainment, but honestly, not much comfort. Football could give me some comfort if the Bears hadn’t gone from Super Bowl to Super Suck. Video games have the double-edged sword of relieving stress but also causing stress when I keep getting my ass handed to me. Reading can carry me away from all this, but when I’m already stressed, I either think I’m never going to be as good as the author I’m reading or I can’t believe that this hacky fuck is successful and I arrive back at the intersection of Pissed and Depressed.

Music bypasses all of these pitfalls for me. I put on some tunes and my savage beast is immediately soothed. Singing about the blues makes me less blue, and rocking hard channels my anger into a much more positive type of fist pumping. So I am really, really looking forward to the list today.

1) “Let It Ride,” Ryan Adams and the Cardinals. I feel better already. Without getting into the did-they-or-they-they-not suck the soul out of the country rock, this song is closer to the feeling of The Eagles “Take It Easy” than “Take It Easy” is. You know, shit happens, what’re you gonna do, have a drink and relax. That’s damn good advice.

2) “Falling for You,” Weezer. I’ve got a number of irrational fears / That I’d like to share with you. I would love to have an fear-off with Rivers Cuomo, lead singer of Weezer. I’ll bet his #1 isn’t getting sucked through an airlock into space. And you call yourself irrational—ha!

3) “See the Sky About to Rain (Live),” Neil Young. Now here’s a piano man I want to sing us a song. With him just on a piano, Young’s voice has just the right amount of forcefulness and vulnerability. We’re starting to shift to the bluster of winter, and November is the stormiest time on Lake Superior, so this song is just perfect for the start of the month.

4) “Tornadoes,” Drive-By Truckers. Today’s Friday Random 11 is brought to you by The Weather Channel! A very vivid song, written by someone who sounds like he went through a tornado. When we tell people we went through a tornado, they often ask us if it sounded like a train. The Lovely Becky always has the best description: no, it sounded more like a big fucking column of wind.

5) “Train in Vain,” The Clash. On my Can’t Be Overplayed list. Even before I really liked The Clash, I loved this song. Random weird Brando bit: I do not fancy myself a singer, and I also don’t watch American Idol. But one day my mind was wandering, and I wondered what song I would sing if I wasn’t tone deaf and had compromising pictures of Simon Cowell giving a thumbs up to Right Said Fred so I could pass my Idol audition. This was the song that popped up. Such a good song that even if I did sing it on American Idol, I don’t think I could ruin it for myself.

6) “Very Loud,” Shout Out Louds. This has a skittering snare drum beat that also gives the song a train feel. It’s a desperate, earnest love song that feels like a frayed pair of blue jeans—not terribly original, but still your favorite thing to wear. That’s what most of my favorite songs wear.

7) “Carry the Zero,” Built to Spill. As George Bush would say, this is just a phenomonable song. Layers of guitars stack on top of each other with the meaty deliciousness of a Dagwood Bumstead sandwich, only without the bland aftertaste of Blondie.

8) “Enivrez-Vous,” Stereolab. Dreamy shoegazing with a little French lyric dressing. I am expecting comments from the Stereolab fetishists waiting in the wings. You know who you are.

9) “Oh!” Sleater-Kinney. Oh yes! There’s a bouncy retro feel to this, courtesy of the synthesizers and harmonies, but it also has a modern rocking punch. Plus the drum fills on the chorus fill me full of drum heady goodness. Songs need more drum fills.

10) “My Old Friend the Blues,” Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Guy Clark. This live track just features Earle on guitar. He sings like he is BFF with the blues, and hearing his warm rasp can make any day feel a little brighter.

11) “Mr. November,” The National. A rousing, fitting way to close the list and open the last month where I’m likely to still be warm. The National are the best purveyors of catchy melancholy to come down the pike in quite some time, and another reminder that you can take that frown and turn it upside down to 11.

It’s almost silly how much that helped. I hope you all take it easy, in whatever fashion you choose, and have a good weekend.