Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What anti-piracy measures are we establishing?

Special extra plunder edition!

12) Profiling all eye-patch wearers.

11) Posting “No booty in hull” stickers on ships.

10) Switching their rum with Folger’s Crystals.

9) Requiring all peg legs to have tracking devices.

8) Sending Johnny Depp undercover.

7) Requiring background checks on anyone spending more than $10,000 in doubloons.

6) Threatening to send all captured pirates to Dick Cheney’s Locker.

5) Putting "The Club" on ship wheels.

4) Setting up sting operations at Mediterranean Long John Silver’s restaurants.

3) Suing anyone who ever imitates the speech of, dresses like, reads books about, or watches movies with pirates, thereby endorsing and conspiring to commit piracy (this solution sponsored by the Recording Industry Association of America).

2) Starting neighbaaarrrhood watch programs in the harbors.*

1) Waterboarding suspected parrots.

*Obligatory aaarrr joke posted in compliance with the Pirate Comedy Act of 2002.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

I swear this isn’t going to become Circle Jerk at the Weather Channel (although that would spice up meteorology a bit), but I have a bit more to say about the climate here at the End of the World.

Yesterday, we had something called a “snow squall.” I have never been in a “snow squall” before. Take all the fun of a driving, howling, swirling rain storm, and—at no additional charge—add the fun of snow. That’s what it was like all day yesterday. I cleared some snow last night and the weather was so ridiculous, it seemed fake, like I was on a Hollywood set where they blow fake flakes with an industrial wind turbine.

I’ve decided that I really don’t want to run into any more weather that I’ve never experienced before. I think I’ve seen all the good stuff at this point. Whatever type of weather still out there waiting for me is the bad kind. Because, while you can only dress up a nice day so many ways, shit weather takes many, many forms.

This morning, as I cleared the remaining snow from the driveway, the clouds finally parted and bright blue sky and warm yellow light beamed down. It hit me: now I understand why people worship the sun.

But now I’m warm and inside and enjoying the following....

1) “Rollers Show,” Nick Lowe. Nick Lowe completely skewers The Bay City Rollers and the sugar pop they represented by making a sugar pop song with a razor blade hidden inside of it. Pop music needs more songs like this.

2) “Yours and Mine,” Calexico. A calm blue ocean in the middle of a blinding white snow squall.

3) “Hitsville U.K.,” The Clash. They are in my top five bands, and The Clash, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, and London Calling are three of the best albums I own. But I just can’t get into Sandinista. It’s one of those albums I appreciate—they showed more range an ambition on one album than most bands do in an entire career—but I don’t really enjoy it.

4) “I Walk Away,” Crowded House. I started listening to NPR’s All Songs Considered podcasts, including a debate on whether the 80s actually sucked for music. The panel—three guys I’d never heard of and the awesome Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney—generally landed on the “suck” square. And while there was a lot of awful, awful, music, a decade that produced Crowded House cannot be considered a loss. The first album is just chock full of poppy goodness like this tune. Couldn't find the Crowded House version, but the Split Enz one is equally good.

5) “Mr. Brightside,” The Killers. I fucking love this song, from the 1980s influence larceny to The O.C. lyrics to the melodramatic vocals. It takes real talent to take those ingredients and make a song as good and catchy as this.

6) “Mirror in the Bathroom,” The English Beat. One of the most underrated albums of the maligned Eighties. The sound here takes an already killer song and pushes it into the stratosphere. The way the rhythm section slithers around in the background, the Ginsu-sharp guitar, the reverbed sax that feels like it’s right on your tail yet shrouded by fog—just a great, great song.

7) “Praise You,” Fatboy Slim. I used to play around with a computer program called Acid. It’s a music program that allows you to take samples and create your own compositions. I was pretty addicted to it for a while, and I probably made about three dozen “songs” or so. I had one...ONE...out of all those that didn’t completely suck. I either had parts that didn’t go together, or made stuff that sounded completely generic. I couldn’t really infuse those pieces with any personality. So I am kind of amazed when someone like Fatboy Slim can make a pretty flawless, original song out of other people’s parts, and make it sound completely cohesive not just from start to finish, but with the other songs on the album.

8) “Hollywood Babylon,” The Misfits. What once seemed intimidating now sounds like Rob Zombie’s house band.

9) “Don’t Let Him Go,” REO Speedwagon. What is it about arena rock that warms my heart so? My favorite REO song, probably because it is so arena: thumping beat, cornball synth solo, flashy guitar solos, and big dumb chorus. It deserves the goofy YouTube video that I linked to.

10) “I’d Do Anything for You,” The Mr. T Experience. With a real producer and real publicity, these guys would have been huge. The best lovelorn lyrics ever produced by a punk band.

11) “Baba O’Riley,” The Who. It’s been played to death, yet it cannot be killed. Good enough to make me forget all about snow squalls.

Have a good, and hopefully warm, weekend.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The CJSD Winter Survival Guide

Above: artist's representation of the worst November day ever.

Snow, ice, hypothermia, frozen pipes, frostbite, falling through the ice, slipped vertebrae from shoveling, impaling from falling icicles...these are all the exciting signs that winter is here! Unlike those other wussy seasons, winter is the only one you have to prepare for. And, with a little forethought and planning, you can turn those cold temperatures and the hot bile in your gut into a positive experience for everyone! Here are a few tips to put the "wonderful" in "winter wonderland."

  • Colder temperatures means it’s time to change your clothing. But it does not give you a license to be unfashionable. Bulky, insulating coats are a big no-no. Stick with thinner, more slimming jackets. Don’t worry—your body will shiver to compensate for the heat loss.

  • Avoid hats, as these often look unflattering and do a real number on your hair. Whatever you do, do not wear earmuffs, no matter what the wind chill is. Do you want to be warm or do you want to look good? Remember, that burning frostbite on your ears means you’re in style!

  • Since you’re often locked indoors during the winter, plan a series of activities to help pass the time and keep your spirits up. Host your own Ingmar Bergman film festival. Dig out all your old Cure albums. Or take your favorite novel, like The Shining, and type your favorite line over and over again, all day long. The winter months will just fly by for you and your family.

  • Winter is always easier if you’re excited about Christmas. So get through the winter by making the 25th of January, February, and March Christmas too. Take your mind off the weather by shopping for presents non-stop for four months. Be sure to use the other eight months of the year to restore your crippled credit rating.

  • Create your own winter support network. Call all of your family friends and ask them if it is cold and snowing where they live. If they say no, say, “Well fuck you anyway, you warm-weather-loving bastard. I hope you get skin cancer by the pool.” Soon you’ll be in contact only with people sympathetic to your plight.

  • Children love snow and will often beg to go out and play in it. Gently remind them that it’s cold out and unsafe. If they whine, let them know that the reason it is snowing in the first place is because their disobedience makes Baby Jesus cry and that his tears freeze because God is giving them the cold shoulder.

  • Saving on heating is easy if you plan ahead. First, stock up on plenty of alcohol, preferably any type of brown liquor. Then turn your thermostat off and begin drinking. Stop when you feel warm or everything goes black. The amount you save in heating costs should pay for most of your liquor bills.

  • Commuting in the winter is difficult and hazardous. Reduce your commute time by luring your boss into a sexual or racial harassment suit, then offer to settle out of court for enough money to last until you start a new job in April.

  • Prevent your pipes from freezing by replacing your water supply with anti-freeze. This step is easier to follow if you replace your drinking water with liquor as indicated above, and shower in protective clothing.

  • Snow eventually melts, so shoveling is really unnecessary if you are patient.

  • Winter storms can cause power outages that leave you without any means of entertaining yourself. Invest in a portable generator so you can still access your “special” pictures on your computer or power your “personal massager.”

  • Wind chill can make cold temperatures into real killers. Try to reduce winter winds by offering a sacrifice to the wind god of your choice. Remember: the more evolved the sacrifice is, the more likely your prayers will be heard.

  • If you plan to travel with a group through an isolated, snowy mountain pass or in a charted flight, try to lose as much weight as possible before the journey. In fact, give your fellow travelers as many caloric sweets as possible. A little deprivation today could pay a life-saving, stomach-filling dividend tomorrow.

  • When confronted with a cold so bitter, it freezes your very soul, look around you. If you see the three-headed figure of Satan devouring Brutus, Cassius, and Judas Iscariot, you are actually in the Ninth Circle of Hell and the above strategies will not necessarily apply.

  • If all else fails, migrate south. The more Spanish you hear, the closer you are to warmth.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we refusing to bail out the auto industry?

Special extra cargo space for the cash edition!

12) Failure to make cup holders large enough for Super Big Gulp.

11) Union’s insistence on doughnuts-for-life program.

10) Republican Congressmen could give a fuck about your problems.

9) This is not your father's auto industry lobby.

8) Need to focus on promoting the Chinese auto industry so China can keep lending us money to bail out our auto industry.

7) Auto side won't negotiate around the clock without getting time-and-a-half.

6) Industry leaders were scheduled to meet with Congress, but their cars broke down on the way.

5) Fuel prices finally igniting American interest in the Yugo.

4) Refuse to follow Japanese auto manufactures’ example and offer a happy ending after government bailout.

3) Still seeking compensation for atrocities inflicted through John Mellencamp abuse.

2) $25 billion only fills up an eighth of the industry’s tank.

1) Don't want to throw more money into a lemon.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Friday Brandom 11

It's one more Brandom than 10!

I saw a disturbing bit of news this week. It’s not the economy or the Obama transition or Sarah Palin buying as much TV time as possible to prove she’s not an idiot (good luck with all that). It was this:

Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” has become the first digital back-catalog song to sell more than two million digital downloads.

Now, as I have mentioned when they have popped up on Fridays, I have a soft spot for Journey. If “Don’t Stop Believing” comes on the radio or in my iTunes, you can bet I’m going full-throttle karaoke. They are cheesy, sure, but who doesn’t love a grilled cheese sandwich (except maybe some lactose-intolerant readers)?

However, as much as I love a grilled cheese sandwich, I know it’s also not filet mignon (vegetarian readers, insert whatever is the filet mignon of non-meat). There are some notable artists missing from the digital domain, but still, there are a lot of great tunes out there to add to one’s collection, and yet this is what the people clamored for. Now I understand a little bit better how Barabbas went free.

What really confuses me is that, given the gazoodles of records Journey sold, two million people decided to rush out and pay to download “Don’t Stop Believing.” I am sure that 95 percent of the people who did this already had a copy of this song in their domiciles, either on a cassette rumbling around under the car seats, stuck behind the CDs they publicly display, in the box of stuff from the ex- including the mix tape you made to let him/her know you were going to forgive her/him for cheating just one more time. Not that I would encourage anyone to steal music, but let’s face it, if you’re going to give your money to artists, give it to some who need it.

Here's the true kicker: I literally just realized, as I came to the end of this rant, that the copy of “Don’t Stop Believing” on my hard drive was legally downloaded from iTunes. I am not making this up. I can even tell you where my copy of Journey’s Greatest Hits is: in my graveyard of cassettes (aka one of those big, black, vinyl cassette carriers) in the attic. I will now punch myself in the balls.

1) “The Loudest Sound,” The Cure. I caught a bit of a recent concert on TV last week. Robert Smith looks as if he took all his sorrows, baked them into a large and very caloric pie, and ate it all in one sitting. But beyond that, the man is in need of a serious makeover. I loves me some Cure, but it’s difficult for me to watch someone who looks older then me trying to look like he did when I first started listening to him. It would be like me walking around in tight-rolled white cargo pants, a neon green Gotcha T-shirt, and an acid-washed jean jacket with the collar turned up. Funny, but for all the wrong reasons.

2) “Blindman’s Bend,” Dave Dobbyn. A New Zealand musical legend I would never have known about were it not for the legendary husband of this New Zealand literary legend. Dobbyn is a terrific singer-songwriter, someone who, had he been born here or in the UK, would have been huge. Worth seeking out. In fact, there's no YouTube of this song, but here's the excellent “Loyal.”

Seriously, I had this song on a mix CD from my friend TMiddy called “Kiwi Music,” which included a very awesome bit of cover art of a Kiwi. The mix tape/CD is really an art that’s becoming lost in the digital age, so I cherish when I get a great one from someone.

3) “Pacific Theme,” Broken Social Scene. A little bit like Steely Dan’s rhythm section playing with New Order’s Bernard Sumner on guitar. And that’s before the horns kick in.

4) “Does This Bus Stop at 82nd St.?” Bruce Springsteen. I moved to New York when TLB and I got married. She was already working in magazine publishing, and I decided to try and get into publishing myself. My very first day in Manhattan, after a day of interviews, I was walking back to the Port Authority with TLB after she finished work (we were living with a friend in Jersey while we got settled). I saw these two old, haggard guys arguing, right in the middle of the sidewalk on Seventh Avenue as we got near 42nd Street. One had a handful of money, and as we got closer, I heard him say to the other old guy, in an accent that sounded like Poppie from Seinfeld, “Oh yeah, well I fucked your mother!” The other man, without saying a word, hauled off and delivered an uppercut that lifted the money man off both his feet. It was like one of those exaggerated, slo-mo movie knockouts. The guy who was punched fell on his back and hit this head against the pavement so hard, I felt it in my feet.

And that was my first day in New York.

5) “Dudley,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I don’t like these guys (or, more specifically, guys and a gal) as much as I thought I would, mostly because I think they try to hard to sound hard by cocking up their melodic sensibilities with noise. Here they succesfully let their pop flag fly, with a nice vocal and some understated but energetic guitar playing.

6) “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” The Beatles. The most polarizing Beatles tune after “Revolution 9?” Personally, I’ve always thought it was one of the silly-yet-good entries in the Beatles canon, like “Yellow Submarine” or “Octopus’s Garden.” But over the years I’ve read or heard lots of people rant about this song, especially big Beatles fans who find it a fluffy piece of dung.

7) “Picture Book,” The Kinks. While commercials using classic rock songs can often been cringeworthy, I dug the Hewlett-Packard commercial that used this one. And hey, Ray Davies deserves all the money he can get, much more so than anyone from Journey.

8) “Hungry Like the Wolf,” Duran Duran. “Rio” is by far my favorite song of theirs, but damn if I don’t like this one. It’s a great song that manages to personify the good side of Eighties pop without overdosing on the bad stuff. Oh, and they new how to make videos then!

9) “Space and Time,” The Verve. Urban Hymns is in my top ten of 90s albums, and this is one of the best songs off it. The guitars wash over you while Richard Ashcroft’s voice finds a sweet spot between crooning and droning the complements the music perfectly.

10) “Even the Losers,” Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Classic singalong material. Petty has that great voice to imitate, with that nasally twang. Years ago, I read an interview with him about the difficulties musicians have remaining faithful to their spouses on the road. He said something like, “Yeah, it’s not that hard if you don’t fuck a lot of women.” Good point. It also helps if you look like Tom Petty.

11) “Dark Center of the Universe,” Modest Mouse. For all the hope and change floating around the airwaves—and I’m one of the people who voted that way—this song has captured my mood a little better these days. It’s angry and kind of chaotic, but catchy enough that I want to play it again and tap my foot along. Because even though the people I voted for won, they’ve been handed the keys to Delta House after the Deltas lived there for four years—with all the vandalism and destruction, but without any of the fun and humor. I’m glad they have the house, but pissed and, frankly, depressed, about how much shit they have to clean up. It helps if you have a song you can hum that doesn’t diminish the anger that keeps you going.

Have an awesome weekend. And thanks to Rotten McDonald and my own ham-fisted typing for inspiring this week's title change. I'm not sure if I'll keep it, but it made me laugh a little.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What executive orders will we be rescinding?

10) Dropping “g’s” From Words Ending in “ing” so as Make the Executive Branch Sound More Neighborly and Such.

9) Preserving Stem Cells as Caviar for the Vice President’s Office.

8) Enabling the Federal Emergency Management Agency to Relocate Disaster Victims by Catapult.

7) Requiring Transportation Security Administration to Perform Full Body Cavity Searches on Anyone Who Looks a Little Dark.

6) Mandating That All Books Must Have Cliffs Notes or a Movie Adaptation That Bypasses Actual Reading.

5) Allowing the Drilling of Baby Seals for Oil.

4) Permitting National Security Agency Employees to Interrupt Phone Calls to Ask People to Speak More Clearly.

3) Renaming the Phrase “Global Warming” in All Government Documents to “Freedom Heat.”

2) Altering American Foreign Policy to Comply With the “Suck It” Doctrine.

1) Establishing Federally Protected Status for Caucasian Males.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Candy Man

A CJSD Analog Short

It all started with the damn candy.

Last year, Loretta didn’t buy enough. I told her to get a few bags worth, what with all the yuppies and their kids moving into the neighborhood now. “Make sure you get enough,” I told her. So what did she do? She bought two bags of those little Snickers bars. Two. “‘That should be plenty,’” she told me. Hmph. We ran out by 8:30 and the next morning, who’s outside scraping dried egg yolks off the Plymouth? Not Loretta, let me tell you.

So this year, I tell her to make sure we had enough candy. Specifically, I said, “Buy enough goddamned candy to feed a Vietnamese village.” Now you see, I was exaggerating in order to make a point. But Loretta, she’s not so good at picking up on little subtleties and what not. She comes home from the Super Shopper with enough candy to feed the entire Viet Cong. Jawbreakers, Milky Ways, Milk Duds...and three bags of Candy Corn. Fifty bucks worth of candy. I imagine my face was red as an apple. But when I look at Loretta and she’s smiling and proud of herself for getting so much candy like I asked her, well, I can’t really yell at her now, can I?

Halloween night comes around, and the inside of my porch looks like Willy Wonka’s factory. There’s candy everywhere. And I’m throwing handfuls of the stuff in the kids’ bags, not even waiting for them to ask for it. They’re saying “...treat” and I’m already onto the next kid. But we had a lot less kids coming around on account of last year’s incident with Mr. Johnson’s popcorn balls. So even though I’m like the Santa Claus of Halloween, I’ve got more than half of the candy left at the end of the night.

Luckily Loretta’s like a pack rat and saves every damn bit of paper that she can. Normally I yell at her for keeping all that junk, but this time, she’s got the receipt for the candy. I figure I’ll just take it back to the store, end of problem.

I throw all the stuff in the back of the Chuck Wagon—that’s my nickname for my cargo van—and drive off to the Super Saver. I come to the customer counter and talk to this kid. I tell him what happened and show him the receipt.

“I’m sorry, sir, but there are no returns on Halloween candy,” he says.

“But I didn’t open it, and I’ve got my receipt right here,” I tell him.

“Yes, I understood you the first time,” he says, “but the store policy is that there are no returns on Halloween candy.” And he says it in this real condescending voice, too, like I’m an idiot or something.

“Look here,” I tell him, “I heard you the first time, too, okay? And I want you to hear this...I want to speak to the manager.”

“I am the manager,” he says.

Manager! This kids looks like he’s not ready to start shaving yet. Well, to make a long story short, I use some language I normally save for poker night with the guys and wind up being escorted out of the store—candy still in hand. Super Shopper. More like the Super Sucker.

I’m driving in the van, just mad as a tick. I know rules are rules, but when a customer comes in with perfectly good merchandise and a receipt, that should be the end of the story, right? You got a receipt and unopened candy, you should get your money back. This isn’t Russia. I’m turning all this over in my head and trying to figure out what to do with all the candy when I damn near hit some kid who comes flying out of nowhere. He’s chasing after a football his friend threw into the street. I slam on the breaks and honk the horn and roll down my window, ready to give this kid a lecture on looking both ways, when it dawns on me: kids...candy.

“Hey, little boy,” I say to him out of the window. “You want some candy.”

The kid just looks at me like I’ve got two heads. “Hey,” I say, louder, “You want some candy? I’ve got some for you.”

His little friend—the little quarterback—comes over and grabs his arm. He says something to him I can’t hear and they just take off running. “Wait,” I yell out to them, but they take off faster than Loretta’s waistline did after she turned 30.

I get back home and decide I’ve had enough hooplah over a bunch of stupid candy for one day. I leave it out in the van and go inside.

Next day, Loretta gives me a grocery list and a bunch of Super Shopper coupons from the Sunday paper. I don’t want to tell her that I’m banned from the one over on Hawthorne, so I take the coupons, hop in the van and drive to the one way the hell over on Jackson Street. They’re having a sale on winter salt, so I figure I might as well load up and get a fifty pound bag. But while I’m throwing it in the van, I’m not paying attention and almost throw it on top of the candy. I catch myself and twist my damn back just like I did the last day at the plant. It wrenches up like a vice grip, enough that I had to ask some girl bagger to help me get it in the van.

On my way back home, I see a bunch of kids playing in a yard. They look happy and normal, not like the two dim bulbs I saw the day before. I pull up to the curb and roll down the window. “Hey kids,” I say, friendly as I can be. “How would you like some candy.”

“You’ve got candy?” they ask, excited.

“Whole bunch of it,” I tell them.

“Oh, please mister, can we have some of your candy? Please please please.” Cute kids, they are. And normal.

“Sure thing,” I tell them. I get ready to get out, and my back locks up. “Say, why don’t you guys come around and get it out of the van yourself?” I tell them.

They smile and giggle and run around to the back. They get door open when I hear this scream. I look out the window and see this woman running toward the van. “Kyle! Joseph! Get away from there! NOW!” I mean, she’s acting like the kids are getting into a burning building.

“Ma’am, they’re fine, they’re just getting some candy out of my van.”

“You leave them alone!” she screams, her voice dropping to this growl. And she comes around the side and yanks the kids away from the van. They start crying and whining about the candy, but she just pulls them to the house, looking back at me and giving me the evil eye. And not only did the kids not take any of the God-forsaken candy, but they left the door wide open. I get out and lurch over to the side door and slam it shut. For the second night in a row, I’m sitting at home with a bunch of candy I don’t need.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: why don’t I just keep the candy? Well, it’s Loretta. With her blood sugar and obsessive compulsive disorder, it’d be Easter Sunday in the hospital all over again. In fact, I told her I already returned it so she wouldn’t go snooping around in the Chuck Wagon.

So why don’t I just throw it out? Let me tell you what’s wrong with this country, other than baby-faced store managers who get to tell you what you can and can't return: throwing stuff out when it’s perfectly good. That’s not how my dad raised me. My mother once made meat loaf that was packed with onions. My father, rest his soul, he loved onions. “Honey,” he’d tell my mother, “you never put enough onions in the meat loaf.” So one night she puts two whole onions in the meat loaf, just so my father will stop talking about there not being enough onions. It was a wonder that she could even bake it. I know he hated every bite, but he’d rather swallow every mouthful of onion-soaked meat than throw it out. I hate onions, so I pushed the plate away. What’d my father do? He stuck that plate in the refrigerator. For the next three nights, he’d go in the refrigerator and set that cold, slimy plate of meat loaf in front of me. I didn’t get any other dinner except that, “You finish what your mother made you, boy,” he said each night. I don’t know how I did it, but I choked it down. And even though I went up to my room and called him every name in the book, I learned a big lesson that night. So that’s why I couldn’t just throw that candy away.

I get up the next morning and Loretta’s got another list for me. She’s out of yarn and needs me to go to Needle in a Haystack. I hate having to go there—I’m always the only man in the place. But she can’t drive on account of her deformed big toe, so I have to go.

Unfortunately, Loretta’s a little behind on her laundry, so all I have to wear are my “fat pants.” I had a bit of weight problem after the accident at the plant, and finally lost it by going on that shake diet. I put them on and they practically fall off. I grab my one good belt, but while I’m tightening it, the damn buckle hole rips. I tell you another thing wrong with this country, they don’t make belts like they used to. My father had one belt that lasted him 47 years. I can’t get one to last 17. I could wait for my pants, except you don’t want to come between Loretta and her yarn. I figure what the hey, I’m just running out for some thread.

In the van, I pass by three of the cutest little girls you ever did see. Triplets, all dressed alike, laughing and jumping in a big pile of leaves. It’s like a sign, like God’s telling me, “give these girls your candy.”

I pull over to the curb and get out of the van, holding my pants up with one hand. “Hey girls, how are you?” I ask them.

“Fine,” they say, all together like a choir.

“Do you girls like candy?” I ask.

“Candy?!” they yell. “You have candy?”

“A whole lot of it,” I say. I open up the back and pull out two fistfuls of bags. I toss them to the girls and they’re squealing, “candy, candy, CANDY!” I get all the candy out except for two bags that are just out of my reach. The little girls are hopping up and down around me, and just as I get the last bags in my hands, I feel a bit of a breeze. That’s when I hear the siren. I turn around and see two cops. I hold up the two last candy bags just before my fat pants fall to my knees.

So that’s how I wound up here. Try to do something nice and look where it gets me. No good deed goes unpunished, my dad used to say. I’ll tell you, that’s what’s really wrong with this country. And whoo boy, you’re lucky you didn’t have to hear Loretta when I told her I was in the pokey. It’s gonna be a long ride home. As soon as someone can drive her over here, of course.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday Randon 11

I started this blog in 2005 for two reasons. One was to have an outlet for the ideas for short humorous pieces that I had. Outside of The New Yorker or McSweeny’s, there really aren’t many places to publish short humor. A blog seemed like the perfect format, and it would keep me from bombarding The Lovely Becky with what she calls “my act.”

The other reason was George W. Bush. I began the Shrub presidency with disappointment and ambivalence at how the election went down, but I also accepted it. We live in a democracy, and sometimes the other side wins, and I resigned myself to four years of Fool Rule.

By the time the 2004 election rolled around, I had become a different political beast. I hated this administration. Iraq, the manipulation that led to the war, detainee torture, the deregulation of just about everything that needed to be regulated, the regulation of just about everything that needed to remain private...well, you know the song. Most of all, though, I hated the goddamned smugness. There’s a quality to the Bush Administration, a quality exhibited by nearly every member that had anything to do with national policy, that they were in charge and if you didn’t like it, you could (as Cheney would say) go fuck yourself. They acted like democracy was this big burden and that things would be so much easier if they could just disband the Congress and suspend elections until the War on Terra was over.

That anger fueled the majority of things I’ve written in the last three years. The desire to shove a satirical pie in that smirking face got my creative juices going. I have to hand it to the Chimp, he provided a lot of great material. And Sarah Palin looked more than capable of picking up that mantle.

Of course, I voted for Obama, and I am excited that he won. But it certainly changes the game for me in terms of the blog. Not that I can’t make fun of Democrats. It’s a little harder, sure, but Biden alone will probably provide some good material. And watching the GOP eat its own tail is amusing and should continue to provide fodder.

So, I plan to still write and post and lambast. I have entirely too many issues to let one positive election erase my muse. I just am not completely sure what’s going to come out from this point. I think I’m going to enjoy finding that out.

Enough of my yackin', time for some tunes.

1) “Freak Scene,” Dinosaur Jr. I tell you what was a freak scene: watching Anderson Cooper talking to a hologram on election night. I am a pretty big tech nerd, but even I wasn’t quite ready for that. Although the possibilities are interesting.

2) “I’m the Man Who Loves You,” Wilco. Jeff Tweedy made a nice appearance on Colbert a couple weeks ago, at which point TLB reminded me of how she got to see Uncle Tupelo in their prime when she was in college. Why? Because she knows it tortures me because I never saw them. That’s really the secret to a happy marriage—being able to annoy your spouse without actually angering them. That and hot lovin’. If you have those two things, you’ll cruise to at least the silver anniversary.

3) “Waterfall,” The Stone Roses. Their debut album is one of those albums that I went from liking to loving to taking with me on a desert island.

4) “Time Bomb,” Rancid. One of my favorite 90s albums. There are plenty of old classic albums that I love from start to finish. Once CDs started expanding the length of albums from 30-45 minutes to 60-80, even my favorite CDs usually had a track or two that would get the skip treatment. ...And Out Come the Wolves is one of the rare ones that gets played from start to finish.

5) “Happyman,” Less Than Jake. Another entry from the 90s ska punk revival, although not as classic as Rancid. I still enjoy the occasional revved up ska tune, but ska punk is like swing dancing, one of those sub-trends from the 90s that somehow seems more outdated than the synth-pop of the 80s that all the kids are copying these days.

6) “Heroes,” David Bowie. This rivals “Ziggy Stardust” as my favorite Bowie track. When he switches from the controlled singing to the shouted vocals, it sends a little tingle up my spine every time.

7) “Landslide (Live),” Fleetwood Mac. Oh Jesus, it’s getting dusty in here. Talk amongst yourselves for a moment.

8) “Fling,” Built to Spill. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d been playing a lot of Built to Spill, especially There’s Nothing Wrong With Love. Maybe it’s because they’re from another snowy hinterland (Idaho) that it resonates so much with me lately. There’s a combination of beauty and isolation that reflects what I see outside of my office window on a daily basis.

9) “Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus),” Drive-By Truckers. The GOP anthem. From the awesomely titled Pizza Deliverance.

10) “Little Fluffy Clouds,” The Orb. I think this was used in a commercial once. Hey, remember raves? Yeah, the people who went to them don’t either. Also, while this double-album is a monumental bit of electronica, it is every bit as pretentious as Yes ever dreamed of being.

11) “Big Bad Moon,” Joe Satriani. After eight years of monkey-faced, self-aggrandizing, Constitution humping, anti-democratic, hypocritical dickheadery, you know what we need? A little shredding. And no one shreds like Joe Satriani.

Hidden Bonus Track:
“Homeland Security,” Lewis Black. I had to laugh when this came on as I was wrapping the list up. I know for a fact Lewis won’t have a problem adjusting his act for a Democratic administration.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


As much as I expected what happened to happened, it's still hard to believe it actually happened. My biggest hope is that the people I entrusted with this country's future will govern like a party that just kicked the other one to the curb.

Sadly, my comedy dream of Senator Al Franken seems to be coming to an end. This led to the following conversation last night:

Me: Looks like Al Franken is just barely losing. Oh well, I'm not really sure he would have been a good Senator. It would be like if I was running for the Senate.

The Lovely Becky: Yeah, exactly. No offense, sweetie.

Me: None taken. I would last about three days on the campaign trail. Some reporter would ask me, "Mr. Brando, what do you think about your opponent's accusations?" and I would say something like, "I think he should gargle my balls," and then it would all be over.

Speaking of The Lovely Becky, she has some serious election day cute over at her place.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays: What propositions are we voting for?

Prop. U2: Prohibits Bono from buggin’ ya without your consent.

Prop. EH-69: Mandates that all e-Harmony customers list their kinks.

Prop. PR-6: Establishes more stringent whininess emissions requirements for all Project Runway contestants.

Prop. OU812: Requires waterboarding with Cabo Wabo tequilla for any musician guilty of excessive punning on album titles (aka the REO Speedwagon You Can't Tune a Piano but You Can Tuna Fish law)*

Prop. 81: Permits placing of tape over Chad Johnson’s mouth (aka The Ocho Cinco law).

Prop.401K: Allows people to crash at the houses of the fund managers who lost all their retirement savings.

Prop. 50-PS: Closes numerous loopholes that allow people to leave their lovers.

Prop. 300: Makes it a misdemeanor to masturbate to war porn in public theaters.

Prop. 12-BSG: Requires all multiply-born children to be tested for Cylon heritage.

Prop. 2009: Removes George W. Bush from office and places him a public dunking tank until the proposition is repealed.

*Hat tip to Churlita for suggesting this the last time.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Piemold Election Solutions

Inside a room labeled “Campaign Headquarters,” and OLD MAN sits with his FEMALE RUNNING MATE, looking at an electoral map covered in blue. The CAMPAIGN MANAGER reviews the results with the Old Man.

So, unless we find another 105 electoral votes, we don’t have a prayer.

Oh, hey, we always have prayer! Look: “Dear Jesus, please let us win instead of that awful socialist Muslim.”

Prayer’s not going to make those levers magically pull themselves, sweet cheeks. We need a miracle.

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The election night party at Campaign Headquarters. The Old Man stands among next to his Female Running Mate, in front of a cheering throng and a sign that says, “Congratulations!”

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