Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Leap Year should be a national holiday. We should treat it like that extra hour of sleep we get when it’s time to move the clocks back, except let it be a whole day that's completely off the books.

I have a funny story to share from my brother, Tickle. He works in your standard office environment. Earlier this week, he noticed that one of his coworkers was away in the bathroom, so Tickle went to this guy’s desk and sent an e-mail to another male coworker, saying, “I think we should get weird after work.”

He happened to notice that the guy he sent the e-mail to was away from his desk as well. Tickle went to the third man’s desk and replied to the message he sent from the second guy, writing, “I agree.” My brother went back to his desk and waited.

According to Tickle, “This prompted an awkward exchange between the two before they pinned me down as the prime suspect.” Keep in mind Tickle is 30 and getting married this year.

Speaking of which, at the end of April I am heading to Vegas with Tickle and a posse of guys for Tickle’s bachelor party. Most of the colorful characters from earlier trips will be there. I intend to buy a lap dance for Tickle from Danny Gans, while Danny Gans imitates the entire cast of Saved by the Bell. I will ask him to save Screech for last.

On to the tunes....

1) “Eternal Life,” Jeff Buckley. Funny a song with this title comes up when I’ve been reading Kevin Brockmeier’s The Brief History of the Dead and working on some afterlife-related fiction.

2) “Friday’s Dust,” Doves. Not to be confused with “Dust in the Wind,” which blows every other day of the week.

3) “Survival Car,” Fountains of Wayne. I gained a decent amount of weight after we moved up here, and I finally decided enough was enough and went back on the South Beach Diet this week. This is as close to candy as I’ll get for a while.

4) “Whatcha Drinkin’,” Hüsker Dü. I am drinking the new bottle of Scotch that The Lovely Becky surprised me with. I really wish I had been listening to Hüsker Dü in high school instead of Dio. Well, maybe not Dio—I will always have a soft spot for Ronnie James and his magic ways. How about instead of Dokken?

5) “Houses of the Holy,” Led Zeppelin. Cowbell! TLB really, really hates Zeppelin. I flipped on VH1 Classic last week and caught a late 70s live performance of Zeppelin playing, "Nobody's Fault But Mine," which I love because it's not overplayed. My wife, bless her, sat on the couch working on her computer, saying not a word until she uttered an almost inaudible yet screamingly grateful "Thank you" when I changed the channel.

6) “Loudmouth,” The Ramones. I wonder if it took Joey less time to write the lyrics to this than it did to perform. Classic Ramones that still sounds pretty kicking.

7) “Long Distance Runaround,” Yes. This is precisely the kind of fruity wanking The Ramones rebelled against, yet I love both of them and want to bring these disperate groups together. I guess my ears are like Barack Obama.

8) “Von,” Sigur Rós. I can’t think of better music to play on a snowy UP day. This is an acoustic version of an old song of theirs, from the new Hvarf-Heim CD. Well worth getting if you love your ears.

9) “Scared Straight,” The Long Winters. Har dee har har at the band name considering it’s the last day of February and snowing like hell right now. But that doesn’t take away from a nice, catchy rock song with just the right touch of horns. The video shows what these crazy kids are doing with the You Tubes.

10) “The Other End (Of the Telescope),” Til Tuesday. TLB can sing this every bit as sweetly as Aimee Mann herself. This probably should have been our wedding song.

11) “Medley: YYZ/Temples of Syrinx/Tom Sawyer (live),” Rush. Or this could have worked for the wedding. Nothing says for better or for worse like Geddy Lee shrieking We are the priests...of the Temples...of SYRINX!

Twenty years of living with this, and she still surprises me with booze. That’s love.

Have a great weekend.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we reaching out to North Korea?

10) Sending Larry Craig on a feeler mission.

9) Keeping double-cheeseburger on the dollar menu at all North Korean McDonald’s.

8) Financing Bill O’Reilly trip to Pyongyang to prove that when North Koreans go to restaurants, they don’t ask for more M-Fing hot tea.

7) Holding combination wet T-shirt/General MacArthur lookalike contest.

6) Producing new North Korean-scripted version of M*A*S*H where a group of wacky North Korean doctors teach us to laugh, love, and learn to throw off the shackles of our capitalist imperial oppressors.

5) Offering to let winner of rock-paper-scissors launch first nuclear strike.

4) Having Kim Jong-il be the first guest on new Bravo show, Queer Eye for the Totalitarian Guy.

3) Establishing historic nukes-for-nachos swap.

2) Upgrading them from the Axis of Evil to the Fulcrum of Inconvenience.

1) Granting the North the right to occupy South Korea on alternate weekends and two weeks during summer breaks.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Friday CJ Random Whateva

Special phone lines are open edition!

I have been crazy busy with work this week and haven't been able to think about blogging, let alone blog. So I'm going to pull an old Atrios trick and open thread this week's Random 11: What songs get you cranked for the weekend?

Drop in titles, artists, links, memories, whatever you like in the comments. List classic favorites, new stuff that shows off your hipster doofus cred, what you used to listen to before a night of drinking Milwaukee's Best while standing out of the T-top of a speeding Camaro.

I would, of course, be remiss if I didn't start out with this:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we stepping down from power?

10) Platform dropped on the gallows.

9) Plan to pursue dream of being first dictator to win American Idol.

8) Always promised to resign when political killings became more work than fun.

7) Mistakenly thought citizens really loved us or instead of re-electing us in droves because we had them strung up by their purple fingers.

6) Something about not really listening to the will of the people.

5) Stupid hobbits destroyed our ring.

4) Cult of personality was found to be inflated by human growth hormone.

3) Couldn’t convince voting public that we were simply looking for a contact we had dropped into intern’s pants.

2) Lousy, meddling, Constitutionally mandated term limits (forthcoming).

1) Steely resolve of George W. Bush convinced us to step aside to let democracy blossom...just kidding, we’re taking the national treasury to Vegas.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Random Book Meme II: Electric Boogaloo

Jennifer tagged me with a meme, one I had answered before. But it's a fun one and worth repeating. You have to:
  • Grab the nearest book (Penthouse Forum doesn't count unless it's The Best of)
  • Turn to page 123
  • Look for the fifth sentence
  • Post the three sentences that follow that sentence
I was in my office while I did this, and here's what I grabbed:
All such agreements, though, need to be modified to reflect the particular allocation of responsibilities between editor and contributors. Alternatively, in appropriate circumstances, publishers can use simpler forms (such as that in fig. 4.3), closer in style to journal author forms (see fig. 4.2). Finally, it is possible to use work-made-for-hire agreements for all these persons, although that is the least common solution.
That exciting passage is from The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition. This illustrates why 1 in 1.7 editors at the Chicago Manual commit suicide, usually by slicing their wrists with razor-sharp ZZZZZZs.

Since this passage is a bit, shall we say, legal, I've taken the liberty of rewriting it in exciting action form. This is from Write Hard 5: Just Write Already, starring Bruce Willis as editor John McClane and the Chicago Manual of Style as Chicago

Okay, McClane, you have to modify the agreement to reflect the particular allocation of responsibilities between the editor and the contributors.

Damn it, Chicago, there's no time for that. The royalty agreements are too complicated. The book will be out by the time we get the agreements done.

What about a simple agreement, like a journal author form.

That's too simple, we'll probably end up in litigation and the whole project will be lost.

I don't know what else we can do!

Think, goddamnit! You've been through 15 editions, you have to know another way!

Well...there is another solution. It's not very common....

Chicago, we are running out of time!

Use work-made-for-hire agreements for all the contributors.

Work-made-for-higher agreements. Chicago, you're a genius!

And McClane? When you're done, please kill me. Before I bore myself to death.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Friday Not-So-Random 11

Special Lick My Love Pump Edition

I’m going to break from the random format to give a shout out to friend-of-the-blog Res Publica, el presidente de Republic of Dogs. Res had the Valentine’s Day nightmare of not only having a relationship end, but end because of infidelity.

I am a lucky man because I’ve never had to deal with that kind of breakup. My marriage to The Lovely Becky was arranged by our villages when we were very young, and I am fortunate that I found love in addition to a dowry of goats. But I’ve certainly had my share of the blues, and music provides me the muck to wallow in as well as the rope to pull myself out before I drown. Res already drowned his sorrows 31 times in one playlist, so I thought I’d post my favorite “fuck you” relationship songs out of my collection. Let's face it, most great rock music is about getting screwed over by someone, so it's perfectly suited for these kinds of situations.

1) “Barracuda,” Heart. When I’m feeling bad, I turn to comfort food in addition to music. Most comfort food has lots and lots of cheese—smothered on, backed in, or dipped into. I’ve taken the same approach here. Plus, no other guitar riff in rock history screams lying, cheating sack of shit like this one does.

2) “Take It on the Run,” REO Speedwagon. I really like cheese. And “Time for Me to Fly” is too wussy.

3) “Go Your Own Way,” Fleetwood Mac. The nacho dip is almost gone. Really, what’s more fuck you than writing a song like this about your ex- and having him/her sing backup vocals on it?

4) “Found Out About You,” Gin Blossoms. Usually after gorging on comfort food, I feel a bit guilty and also sad that there’s no more. I’m also still on the mad/sad fault line. This is the song for that moment.

5) “Stupid Thing,” Aimee Mann. Two musicians I would never want to piss off in a relationship: Nick Lowe and Aimee Mann. I would be sliced to death by their couplets. This song provides that moment of introspective anger, the you’re an asshole and I was so dumb for not seeing that moment.

6) “Stop Dragging My Heart Around,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Stevie Nicks gets to appear twice because, well, she had to sing back up on her husband’s fuck you song. She’s got more pain than she does lacy dresses and Wiccan spells.

7) “Hopeless,” The Wrens. The it’s not me, it’s you time to turn the tables. A song that manages to sound hopeless and hopeful at the same time. The video really doesn't capture the awesomeness of this song.

8) “Denonair,” The Afghan Whigs. The house band at the House of Relationship Blues.

9) “Bigmouth Strikes Again,” The Smiths. It’s time to take a step back and have a good, black, bitter laugh. What better way to do that than lines like, Sweetness, I was only joking when I said by rights you should be bludgeoned in your bed?

10) “12XU,” Wire. Now is the time on Sprockets where we heal through anger. One of the all-time great fuck off songs. The video link is a little sloppier than the studio version.

11) “Stutter,” Elastica. Since “12XU” is so short, I think we need another dose of fast, in-your-face anger. Bonus points for making fun of the ex’s ability to raise the roof, so to speak. This isn’t boxing, and hitting below the belt is fair game.

12) “Kiss Off,” Violent Femmes. All healing involves 12 steps, so here’s a bonus track and the perfect end for today’s list. It's so immediate and in your face, like you’re hearing this soul-baring anger above the espresso machines of a coffee shop. And you have to love the mid-song top 10. Warning: mullet alert in the video.

I know a dozen songs won’t fix anything, but I hope Res can start to feel better.

Go ahead and add your own kiss off songs in the comments, and as the Belle & Sebastian album says, give us the dirt if you’re feeling sinister.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What's holding us back?

10) Constant scratching when delivering newscast.

9) Being only woman in history not to get a bump from presence of Bill Clinton.

8) Restraining order (for now).

7) Inability to hit home runs without aid of Mexican pharmaceuticals.

6) The original drummer.

5) Ability to walk a straight line to receive Grammy.

4) Excessive bra hooks.

3) The Cerberus of Fame: Simon, Paula, and Randy.

2) Thinking about baseball.

1) Campaign image that reminds many female voters of the gruff father whose love they futilely sought but never received, sending them running toward a series of tragic sexual relationships in a quest for affection, until they finally learned to accept themselves without the need for outside affirmation/Old man smell (tie).

Friday, February 08, 2008

We're ordering a full season of TBD episodes

The Lovely Becky and I had a big test in our planned parenthood today: a 4D ultrasound of TBD. This was the test that could reveal a lot of Very Scary Things, and because of our history with procreation, we were proactively scared ourselves.

Our local hospital/trading post lacks 4D ultrasound capabilities (most of the moose and beaver do not have the required health insurance for it), so we had to travel out of state for the procedure. Our doctor was a white-haired, mustached German man who looked a bit like Blue from Old School. He talked with us about the procedure, and let us know that if TBD checked out okay today, TBD would likely check out of Hotel Womb okay this coming June.

Dr. Blue fired up the machine and showed us the pictures of TBD. Until now, most of the ultrasound images of TBD have looked like a cross between a Rorschach test and some variation of Cthulhu. In fact, just based on the previous images, if my child turned out to be an elder god with an octopus head who planned to destroy all humanity, I wouldn't have been surprised. Today, however, my child looked like a child. I could make out all kinds of features and see that TBD did not have an octopus head. That was a relief.

Rather than just do the pedestrian task of telling two overly nervous expectant parents that their child was fine, Dr. Blue decided to quiz us on developmental biology. "What is this black spot here?" he asked.


"The stomach?" TLB answered.

"Good. And we can see that the stomach is just fine," Dr. Blue replied before I could ask if it was stomach cancer.

The Q&A continued during the whole ultrasound. To be fair, Dr. Blue didn't know that my brief career as a pre-med student had lasted until my first chemistry midterm freshman year of college, when I got a grade low enough that I would be unable to go to a medical school in North America. He did not know that, while I provide a detailed summary of the major movie roles of Arnold Schwarzenegger, I could not tell him the basic purpose of each valve of the heart other than "to pump blood." He would let me hang myself with wrong answers until a) TLB gave the correct answer or b) we both demonstrated that we were products of the American educational system and just wanted to know if our child would have a promising career in sideshow entertainment.

All of his answers added up to healthy baby. No cancer, no deformities, no talons or leathery bat wings. TBD passed the test with flying colors.

Of course, this was a 4D ultrasound, which is supposed to provide 3D pictures of the baby. "This process can produce some spectacular images," Dr. Blue said, "if the baby cooperates." Which TBD refused to do. Every time Dr. Blue tried to capture a 3D image, our child would move or otherwise thwart him. The doctor managed to snap four blurry photos which looked could have been our baby's face or the image of Elvis. We faced teenage rebellion before TBD's first birthday.

"I know we're going to get ours on the back end," I said to TLB. "Everything will be fine, and then we'll hit teenage years and deal with drinking and sneaking out of the house."

"Or worse," TLB said, "our child will be a Republican."

Maybe the octopus head wouldn't be so bad after all.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Top Ten Tuesday: What last-minute campaigning are we doing?

Special extended media humping edition!

20) Demonstrating fitness to be Commander-in-Chief by going commando.

19) Playing saxophone on Arsenio Hall’s street corner.

18) Strengthening conservative credentials by offering gay, immigrant abortion doctor as a sacrifice to a non-denominational Judeo-Christian deity.

17) Constructing assembly line full of kissable babies.

16) Cancelling endorsement from “Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady.”

15) Using Ouija board to channel endorsement from Ronald Reagan/John F. Kennedy.

14) Offering all foreclosed homeowners discounted military housing with qualified enlistment.

13) Showing we’re a candidate Americans can have a beer with by going on multi-state pub crawl.

12) Stimulating the economy and promoting family values by offering tax deductions on marital aid purchases.

11) Stressing our acting credentials to California voters.

10) [Your own Top Ten Tuesday entry available with Gold-Level campaign donation.]

9) Vowing to get tough on crime by arresting most of our major fundraisers.

8) Proving that we’re not too old to handle the rigors of being...of being...uh...just a minute, it’ll come to us.

7) Taking urine test on The Situation Room to prove we’re steroid free.

6) Illustrating that we’re in touch with America’s youth by shouting “Wazzup!” at every campaign stop.

5) Promising universal access to Hannah Montana concert tickets.

4) Stripping to the waist and offering to bare-knuckle box Obama for the Democratic nomination.

3) Grabbing last-minute Republican votes by reaching under the stall.

2) Two words: Oprah, bitches!

1) Stressing liberal credentials by supporting a progressive agenda that promises to make America more fair and equitable....just kidding, who wants free schwag from our corporate sponsors?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Friday CJ Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

The Lovely Becky and I were supposed to go to New York City this week. She had a conference to attend, and I was going to take advantage of the free hotel room and do some urban frolicking. Sadly, Old Man Winter, who looks like Dick Cheney but not quite as white, blew his nose on us and screwed up the flight schedules so much that we had to cancel the trip. I was disappointed, but the weather here was so windy and shitty that I wasn’t looking forward to getting on the Buddy Holly planes that serve us here. As I told TLB, I would rather die on the way back from New York than on the way to it.

On to the tunes.

1) “Johnny Feelgood,” Liz Phair. A twisted little love song where Phair sings about the title character knocking her around and how she likes it. It doesn’t help that it’s catchy.

2) “If You Love Somebody Set Them Free,” Sting. Time for jazz hands. I really didn’t like Dream of the Blue Turtles when it first came out—it wasn’t exactly suited to my 16-year-old air-guitaring sensibilities—but now it’s the only Sting solo album I really enjoy. I know it’s Wonder Bread jazz and so 80s you can practically smell the Drakkar Noir, but Sting was still on his songwriting A-game when he did this. It helps that he delivers one of his best vocal performances.

3) “After the Dolphin,” Crosby, Stills, Nash, and (maybe) Young. Eighties message music at its worst. It smushes two great tastes—peace and environmentalism—into a polished turd sandwich of clichés and bad production. I’m not sure if Neil performed on this, but if he did, he probably won’t ‘fess up to it.

Speaking of 80s anti-war stuff, I watched The Day After on the Sci-Fi Channel the other night. I hadn’t seen it since it aired. I was fascinated by nuclear war as a teenager, and I used to have recurring nightmares when I was a kid that I was a survivor after a nuclear war. I’m sure those of you who grew up in the 80s remember the promos—this was Event television that would Change the World. The problem is, I had already seen a terrifying, utterly bleak BBC nuclear war movie called Threads (warning: graphic and disturbing clip from the movie), which was probably the source of the nightmares in the first place. Threads made The Day After look about as real as The Day After Tomorrow. Still, I have to hand it to ABC for running The Day After during the height of the Reagan American tongue bath. It pulls punches on the effect of nuclear war, it’s chock full of stereotypes and movie-of-the-week acting, but it’s still got some cajones. The images of the missiles launching still creeps me out.

4) “One Thing Lead to Another,” The Fixx. It’s just an 80s dance party here a CJSD 101.1, your home for classic snark. Could you imagine if this had played during the closing credits to The Day After?

5) “72 (This Highway’s Mean),” Drive-By Truckers. From their Skynyrd concept album, Southern Rock Opera. It’s got a lot of Alabama in it without sounding like the band Alabama.

6) “Wishful Thinking,” Wilco. Jeff Tweedy sings, Where would we be without wishful thinking? I’ll tell you where—without Bush in the office, without being in Iraq, without thinking we could afford all those mortgages, with elected representatives who would actually act in our interests and not cede their power to a runaway executive office...Am I buggin’ you? I didn’t mean to bug ya. Ok, Jeff, play the blues.

7) “Cheapskates,” The Clash. Even B-list Clash songs kick the crap out of most group’s A-list stuff.

8) “Shock the Monkey,” Peter Gabriel. Good Lord, one more song from this decade and I’m going to have to tight roll my pants and don my skinny white leather tie that I could never bear to throw away.

9) “Polythene Pam,” The Beatles. It’s a shame this song is only 1:20 long, because the lads really rock out here. Ringo in particular plays like he spent the weekend with Keith Moon.

10) “Saint Simon,” The Shins. Picture-perfect pop music. Shiny and happy music combined with regretful and sad lyrics.

11) “Shoplifters of the World Unite,” The Smiths. (warning: graphic Morrisey gyrations)Since the iPod is reminiscing and I’m in a sharing mood, here’s a peek at early 1987 Brando (version 1.6) when this song was released:

Hair: Short hair and combed to one side, but with a little bit of spikiness. Held in place with enough Dep for MacGyver to make several plastic explosives.

Clothes: Blue Sperry Topsiders, no socks, white Bugle Boy cargo pants (tight rolled at the ankles), pink-and-gray striped shirt, and an acid washed Levi’s jean jacket with the collar turned up. Sporting black Ray-Ban Wayfarers if it was sunny and/or I was trying to be cool.

Rolling in: A brown-and-tan Volkswagen Vanagon that was definitely not used for any illegal, immoral, or inappropriate activities.

Listening to: 1987 was the BC/AD year of my musical tastes. I was just expanding my metal/classic rock/MTV listening with stuff like The Cure and New Order. Having said that, unless I was wearing the Wayfarers and had people in the Vanagon, I was probably cranking Rush. Some things never change.

Comedy routine: Classic class clown with a bit of Monty Python flair. Here’s a typical example—in my religion class (Catholic high school), the nun teaching us had us gather in a circle and talk about what we did for Easter. I went last out of about 30 kids. They all said the same stuff—go to grandma’s, go to church, eat candy, and so on. I did my best deadpan as I described that we recreated the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, with my parents tying me to a cross for three hours on Friday and then sticking me in a box until Sunday. Some things never change.

Lovely Becky status: Still hadn’t found what I was looking for. But I would later that year, ironically while playing Rush.

So there you have it. Enjoy your weekend, and I hope some of you can stay warm.