Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

The Lovely Becky and I celebrated our 15th anniversary yesterday (which I think is the Plasma Anniversary). We had a very nice dinner out, splitting a bottle of wine for the first time in probably two years and eating a couple of amazing desserts we couldn't finish because they were as big as a newborn Libby.

Fifteen years is a long time. As TLB pointed out, we've beaten the seven-year itch twice. Last night, we played a little game where we listed our top five moments since being married (with Libby as the consensus number one). A couple of those greatest hits showed that we've beaten those itches because we're particularly good at scratching each other's backs.

As fun as that scratching is, what I love more than anything is making TLB laugh, and that's not easy when you've been with someone for a decade and a half, because TLB knows every bit in what she calls "The Act." Yesterday, in discussing how long we have been married, I made a joke to our babysitter Stacey about how TLB used to have a pool boy even though we didn't have a pool.

"The pool boy material is so old," TLB groaned.

She had a point. That is a well I go to often. "But Stacey's never heard that one," I said. "You know I don't do old material for you."

And yet, on any random night, we make each other laugh. I'm always looking for a way to make my wife crack up, expanding The Act with new material just for her. It's not a one-way street, either: TLB is really funny, even though she always says she is not funny. That's especially huge now that we spend five months of the year holed up in the Overlook Hotel during the winter.

The bottom line is, after all this time, we still love being with each other. We have plenty of times where we do our own things, and certainly a lot of our attention has been diverted into parenting. But at the end of the day, we're always happy for each other's company. I think that will keep us going for at least another 15.

1) "You May Be Right," Billy Joel. I bought Glass Houses because Alvin and the Chipmunks covered this on Chipmunk Punk. I hate to say it, but I kind of preferred the Chipmunk version.

2) "When I'm Thinking About You," The Sundays. A severely underrated band. This morning, TLB had The Today Show on, and Taylor Swift was playing. It was a pleasant but completely forgettable song, that generic female acousti-pop that seems tailor-made (zing!) for a montage of tweens Twittering about watching Taylor Swift. Anyway, it's a shame that's on TV while The Sundays are left to the bin of relative obscurity, because this song is gorgeous.

3) "Phantom of the Opera," Iron Maiden. God help me, but I love this. I hope I never stop loving music like this. It's goofy, headbanging fun that always makes me feel like a kid again. When I'm 85 and living in my retirement castle, I want to crank some Maiden and celebrate that it's Pudding Night.

4) "A History of Lovers," Iron&Wine/Calexico. The kind of song to play when on a road trip to California, when its sunny and warm but cool enough to roll the windows down instead of using the AC, smiling because there's nothing quite like traveling on the open road when the destination is the coast. The video here is of a slower solo performance that, while good, doesn't do justice to the song.

5) "Us and Them," Pink Floyd. You're getting sleepy...sleepy...hey, you weren't supposed to fall asleep!

6) "Midnight in a Perfect World," DJ Shadow. Hypnotic in a good way. I really like trip-hop like DJ Shadow because it takes all the things I enjoy in hip-hop—the beats, the creative sampling, the art of making something new out of something old. It's like hip-hop prog.

7) "Love the One You're With," Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Such a great song about settling for second best. I believe this is from the album, Looking for Mrs. Right Now. I think the version in the video is just the Stephen Stills version.

8) "The Greatest," Cat Power. I'm not terribly happy with the concept of cat power. We have three cats, and if they had their way, we'd all be living in a world where we lick ourselves, poop in boxes, and sleep 18 hours a day. Okay, so two out of three of those things sound awesome, but I'd miss reading in the bathroom and using a shower to clean myself instead of my tongue.

9) "Take a Chance on Me," ABBA. The Obama Administration should make a PSA about universal health care that's set to this song. They could intersperse it with photos of happy Swedes visiting their doctors, with a final caption, "Don't we deserve to be as happy as Sweden? Let's take a chance on universal health care." And then ABBA could appear to sing in perfect harmony, "Suck it, Lumbaugh!"

10) "Stay Free," The Clash. A simply smashing song about friendship, and one of the best Clash songs. It avoids being sappy by being specific, weaving a story of two friends who stick together through thick and thin. It takes real talent to be punk and be touching.

11) "Bodies," Smashing Pumpkins. I started going to the gym again recently, after a long, long layoff brought on by baby duty and a busy schedule. For some reason, I've been cranking a lot of Siamese Dream and Mellon Collie when I've been working out. I think it's because those albums are awesome background music. If I sit down and listen to the Pumpkins, the sameness of the songs and the whine of Billy Corrigan grind me down like being a rat in a cage despite all my rage. But give me 30 minutes of this fuzzy sturm und drang and I feel like I can run through a goddamned wall. So kudos to Billy Corrigan for making me feel super pumped up even when I'm puffing like a strangled whale and regretting every cheeseburger I've ever eaten.

Have a great weekend, and if you can't be with the one you love, remember to consider what he or she will think if they find out you loved the one you were with.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we planning to deter North Korea's weapons programs?

10) Posting a strongly-worded tweet from

9) Sending Joe Biden for direct negotiations so he can talk them to death.

8) Telling Kim Il-Jong if he stops testing, he can be in Obama's Five.

7) Broadcasting North Korean premiere of Wargames so they understand that in nuclear war, there are no winners.

6) Parachuting Jack Bauer to Pyongyang and giving him a day to take care of it.

5) Calling China and telling them, "Hey, you know what North Korea said? That you don't have the stones to launch preemptive strikes against their suspected nuclear sites. And that the way to tell Chinese women apart from Chinese men is that the men have smaller clitorises. What's that? Sure, we can e-mail you the coordinates."

4) Inviting them to settle the issue on the hottest new game show, Arms Deal or No Arms Deal.

3) Erecting a mile-high trampoline along the West Coast.

2) Warning North Korea if they don't stop testing nuclear weapons, Dick Cheney will kill every first-born North Korean male.

1) Honestly, we have no idea. Got any suggestions?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday Random 11

It's one more random than 10!

Yesterday The Lovely Becky and I went to the movies for the first time in a year. In fact, over the last year, we've been out alone only a handful of times. We decided it was time to start having some date nights.

We haven't really missed going out that much. We had plenty of time to have date nights during the decade we tried to have a kid, so we gladly traded those nights out for a chance to stay home and soak in our parenthood.

As much fun as that has been, we realized recently that we needed to take some time for ourselves. TLB and I have always been great talkers—even after nearly 15 years of marriage, we love talking with each other. Our best conversations have always been when we go out to eat, maybe because we avoid the easy distractions of TV, videogames, online poker, work, and now parenting. We get to focus on each other and really pay attention.

We also realized that it had been a year since we had been to the movies. We saw Iron Man right before TLB had Libby, so long ago that Robert Downey Jr. could have gone through three rehab stints. One of our babysitters offered to watch Libby one night a week, so we decided to inaugurate our first night back in Socialville with dinner and a movie.

A big night out deserves a big movie, so we saw Star Trek (set phasers on fun!). But what happened during our first foray into the movies since we had a kid? Someone brought their kids to our movie. A couple behind us had two children who were too young and too disinterested to sit through two hours of a Star Trek re-imagining. I have been through this before, and I will never understand why someone thinks its a good idea to bring kids to movies that aren't for kids. If I wanted to miss crucial moments of dialog because of a child distracting me, I could stay at home.

Luckily, the clue phone rang a few times and the parents took the kids outside when they really started acting up, so it didn't cramp our enjoyment too much and I didn't have to pull an Opposite Costanza in the theater. We were able to catch all of the little nerdy in-jokes J.J. Abrams packed into the movie, and we returned home satisfied that we had gotten out and gotten plugged back into to movie-going society.

Hopefully next time, everyone's kids will be at home.

1) "Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)," Neil Young and Crazy Horse. I put It's better to burn out than to fade away right after Hope I die before I get old on my list of all-time great rock lines. The funny thing is that the authors of both of those lines have lived long after many of their contemporaries lived out those lyrics.

2) "The Have Nots," X. The thing that the Republican Party forgot when they ran against "socialism" last year is that the American people are only against government intervention when they don't need it. When Bear Stearns went down, even the biggest lassiez faire assholes who thought welfare queens should eat cake stuck their hands out for handouts. While I certainly wish the economy had not taken that terrible turn, it was pretty amusing to see how quickly Wall Street crapped itself and turned to Washington for a new pair of pants.

3) "Tangerine," Led Zeppelin. The tender ying to the juicy yang of "The Lemon Song." Who knew you could say so much with fruit?

4) "Devils & Dust," Bruce Springsteen. One of those artists I respect more than I enjoy. I appreciate him with my head, but for some reason most of his music has never hit me on an emotional level. I have to give him kudos for the way he looks: I hope I look that good when I'm 60 and sliding around a Super Bowl halftime stage.

5) "Memento," Public Property. What's more improbable than Iowa leading the way on legalizing gay marriage? Iowa producing a pretty damn good reggae band.

6) "Titanium Exposé," Sonic Youth. I've been told that the key to baking cookies is to use the right amount of butter: that the butter is what holds all the ingredients together. Kim Gordon is the butter in the cookie of Sonic Youth. Her bass keeps all the noise together, anchoring it to the song so that it doesn't dissolve into a help of melted mush.

7) "Stick It Out," Rush. For a nerdy band, they fared quite well in the Three Bulls Dirty-Sounding Song Title Awards, with this song placing along with "In The End" and my favorite, "Beneath, Between, and Behind." The irony is that, as much as I love Rush, I could never, ever have sex to Rush. Even if The Lovely Becky suffered some kind of pod-person personality change where she suddenly liked Rush, I would probably start air drumming and ruin the moment. Because few things kill the female libido faster than air drumming (except maybe playing Rock Band drums).

8) "These Days," Joy Division. Seriously creepy synths in the background, burbling like ghostly whispers. I'm relieved when the guitar comes in and chases them away with a six-string exorcism.

9) "Dragonfly Pie," Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. This pie needs more butter. Or maybe less. Either way, it's a bit of a mess.

10) "Sultans of Swing," Dire Straits. One of the most perfect integrations of lead guitar and vocals ever. It's like there are two singers, except one of them is made of wood. You could say the same thing about Celine Dion, but here I mean it as a complement.

11) "Rebel Rebel," David Bowie. Hot tramp, I love you so. Especially when you show me your perfect, bouncy riffs.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend. And if you hear someone playing Freedom Rock, tell 'em to turn it up!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: How are we planning to improve vehicle emissions and fuel economy?

10) Drivers receiving fellatio must use cruise control to prevent fuel-wasting surges of acceleration.

9) Commissioning The Eagles to write a new PSA, "Life in the Carpool Lane."

8) All automotive air-conditioning will return to it's lowered-window-based roots.

7) Dominos will now promise to deliver pizzas within three hours in order to save gas.

6) Motorists will receive tax credits by planting trees in their trunks.

5) New talking cars will berate us into getting off our goddamned fat asses and walking to the corner store instead of driving two blocks like a bunch of lazy fucks.

4) Funding fuel efficiency research by requiring men with small penises to pay an Overcompensation Tax when purchasing large trucks and SUVs.

3) Anyone killing themselves with car exhaust can purchase pre-suicide carbon credits online.

2) Developing the new Ford Flintstone, the world's first foot-powered car.

1) Paying a lot more for that environmentally-friendly muffler.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hugging a Zombie

Due to occult forces beyond my control, I was unable to show a certain zombie some love on Friday. However, I would be remiss if I did not thank Zombie Rotten McDonald (born Billy Pilgrim) for the endless amount of entertainment he has provided on his blog and in the comments section of many others. He checks grammar with the ferocity of an East German border guard asking for papers, refuses to apologize for his love of the band Rush, and was generous enough to let an Adorable Girlfriend crash at his place when she had no blogwhere to go (although I suspect he's on the couch--by choice, of course).

He's been a true blog friend and even though we've never met, I know he's a good guy. Even if he does eat brains. And I'll honor him in a way I think he'll appreciate.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: What do we regret saying during sex?

10) Are you painting a fence down there?

9) I've always wanted to try a little one.

8) You be Condi and I'll be Dubyah.

7) Why don't you take off your sweater? Oh, you did.

6) Do you smell that?

5) Give it to me, Javier! I mean, Brando.

4) Just between you and me, I'm a Senator.

3) Oh, Mommy!

2) Is it in?

1) Do you mind if I use your name when I write about this on my blog?

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Top Ten Tuesdays: Why are we leaving the Republican party?

10) Found walking upright and breathing through nose so refreshing, we decided to do it permanently.

9) "Supermajority" sounds so bitchin'.

8) Constant whining about religious persecution got on our last goddamned nerve.

7) Tired of consoling drunk, sobbing Newt Gingrich at 3am about the future of the Republican party.

6) Was only using conservatism for the tax cuts.

5) Wanted to join a party that would support our fetish for having a dominatrix bash our groin with a gavel while reading dirty-sounding words from Robert's Rules of Order.

4) Couldn't shake the feeling we were being watched when using the GOP men's room.

3) Three words: Palin in 2012.

2) Obama is just so dreamy.

1) Have you listened to these guys?

Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Random 11

Oh my God, Danny Gans is dead!

I'm going to have to pour a little on the floor in his honor this weekend. Maybe he really was sick when he called in.

1) "I Love NYC," Andrew W.K. I bought this CD thinking it was an ironic stab of binge-and-purge party rock. But my sensors detected no trace of irony, and no music should be this stupid on purpose. However, it also has the infectious catchiness that all great terrible songs have, so it will be in my head indefinitely.

2) "Your Generation," Generation X. The second-best thing Billy Idol ever did after "Dancing With Myself." It'd be the best if it was about 30 seconds shorter—it's just a little flabby for first-wave punk, and nobody wants to see a sweaty guy who's about 20 pounds too heavy for the cut-off Damned shirt he's wearing.

3) "I'm Happy Just to Dance With You," The Beatles. See, here's how you can write a song about not taking your clothes off and having a good time. It's not telling you not to do something, but instead saying that the longing is so great, any chance for contact will be greatly appreciated. Such a fine line between clever and stupid.

4) "Bitter Sweet," Roxy Music. Starts out in melancholy Marlene Dietrich "Ja, Ich bin so miserable" fashion, before making a left turn at Düsseldorf and marching for a bit.

5) "Sidewalk Surfin' Girl," The Queers. The Ramones in many ways were simply playing the Beach Boys at warp speed, but this is much closer to a mash-up of 70s punk and Brian Wilson.

6) "Life's a Bitch," Nas. Life's a bitch, then you die. Unless you get to make rap records singing about that topic and the records go platinum. But with a beat this uber-groovy, he could be singing about Betty Crocker recipes and I would still dig it.

7) "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," The Ramones. They had moments like this where they managed to sound like an AM radio hit without losing their essence. A neat trick for a band that previously sang about sniffing glue and beating annoying kids with baseball bats.

8) "Moonshiner," Uncle Tupelo. One of the things that great bands do is make their songs feel lived in. They did for this what Zeppelin did for "Gallows Pole": take a traditional folk song and make it feel not only like theirs, but feel like it comes from experience, even if it doesn't. Zowie Slot Mystery Bonus: Live footage is from The Blue Note in Columbia, MO, where my lovely wife saw them.

9) "Mamma Mia," ABBA. This will erase Andrew W.K. from my head. I've never been quite able to hate them, although I've tried, so I surrender to their sparkly, bearded, tastefully-assembled splendor.

10) "Our Love Will Last Forever and Ever," The Mr. T Experience. I recently finished reading Larry Doyle's I Love You Beth Cooper, which was essentially Superbad without the pictures of cocks or the cops. It was also clearly written by an older guy trying to capture the zeitgeist of high school, without trying to reveal that the writer knows what zeitgeist is. To Mr. Doyle's credit, his book is as funny as it is completely unoriginal, which is fine in my book). And speaking as someone who has attempted and failed miserably to write a high school novel, those books are really fucking hard to pull off without seeming like a fake or a hack. Which is why I have always been impressed by The Mr. T Experience. Over and over again, singer Frank Portman manages to capture perfectly the hormone-fueled angst of teenagers long after his teens had passed. That's also why I have yet to crack open Portman's high school novel King Dork. I'm worried he won't be able to top in 300 pages what he's usually accomplished in three minutes or less.

11) "Black Hole Sun," Soundgarden. For all their Louder Than Love loudness—they were touted as a grunge reincarnation of the mighty Zeppelin at one point—they hit two of their highest marks when they slowed it and toned it down for this song and "Fell on Black Days."It just goes to show that success takes many strange forms, like starting out your life in baseball's minor leagues and winding up as the Vegas Entertainer of the Year by doing impressions.

R.I.P., Danny Gans. I never saw your act, but you still managed to entertain me.