Friday, October 29, 2010

T: The Party, Part II

Read Part I

AGENTS DEMI KRATT and BENNY DIX are caught by an identical pair of security guards working for SARAH PALIN. The guards march Kratt and Dix into the warehouse before Palin, CHRISTINE O’DONNELL, and GLENN BECK.

PALIN (wiping moose blood off her mouth)
Well, well, well, look what we have here.

My God, what did you do to that moose?

I believe it’s what you humans call dinner.

But you ate it like a....

On Palin’s cheek where she was struck the book, a flap of skin falls open. Underneath, Ageny Kratt sees a bit of green, scaly skin.

...a snake!

PALIN (noticing her skin and patting it back into place)
Snakes slither. I’m more like a....(she moves closer and sticks out a long tongue) komodo dragon.

So much for that lust in my heart.

My God, what are you?

Our name is unpronounceable in your silly tongue, but you can call us the Ts. (She pinches Agent Kratt’s cheek). And lucky for you I just ate or I’d be calling you dinner. I’ll save you for later instead.

But I’m hungry now! Can’t I eat her?

No! You didn’t finish your moose, so no human for you.

Your highness, I didn’t agree to this. Kidnapping. Murder. Cannibalism. (his eyes start to get moist) I’m scared.

If you don’t shepherd your sheep to those polls on Tuesday, you’re going to be terrified. (She licks the side of his face like she’s tasting him, then slaps his bottom.) And don’t forget what I promised you if we win. Now get! (turns to Kratt and Dix) Come with me so I can blow your mind before I eat your brain for breakfast tomorrow.

Palin and a pair of guards escort Kratt and Dix to a hidden room in the warehouse. It’s a futuristic control room, staffed by more of the guards. They step onto a series of circles and are instantly transported from the warehouse to a spaceship. The spaceship is full of aliens, some disguised as humans, others walking around in their natural lizard forms. Outside of a window, Kratt and Dix see several other ships waiting on the dark side of the moon.

Take a long look, because this is what awaits your precious little Earth. Soon we’ll have control of your Congress, then the White House, and finally the planet.

But why? What do you want?

Definitely the White House and dinner. Not necessarily in that order.

I’ll put this in terms you can understand. Think of us as the United States and the Earth as Mexico.

My God, you sick bastards.

As much as I would love to tell you about our diabolical plans, I have an election to help win and have to get to Scranton. I’ll see you on my dining room table tomorrow morning.

Palin leaves as the guards lock Kratt and Dix in a holding area.

Benny, what the hell is going on?

Well, I hate to say it, but I think the crazy guy at the rally was right. Always a bad day when that happens.

Outside the door, there’s the sound of a scuffle and two loud thumps. The door swings open. An African American man, LUCAS, enters. He’s clad in a three-piece American flag suit.

My name’s Lucas. I’m here to rescue you.

Aren’t you a little black for a Tea Partier?

I am the black Tea Partier. I was at the rally today, holding the “Obama is not my homeboy” sign.

Oh yeah, I saw you on Fox the other day. And last week, for that matter.

I’m the Diversity Specialist. I make sure I tell the media where I will be so that I get filmed at all the rallies.

How do we know this isn’t a trap? How can we trust you?

You can trust me and maybe live, or not trust me and definitely get eaten tomorrow. Believe me, I’m in as much danger as you are.

Lucas reaches into his eyes and takes out some prosthetics, revealing a couple of yellow, reptilian eyes. He also flashes his long tongue.

I’m a T and a member of a resistance group called the Fifth Column.

How original.

We’re a group of T’s who want to stop what Queen Palin is doing and live peacefully with humanity.

But I don’t understand. What do the T’s want? Why are they running for office?

I’ll explain everything, but we need to get out of here first. Just try to act like one of us.

The three of them sneak out and head for the transporter room. However, the guards there are checking credentials.

LUCAS (whispering)
When I make a move, step on the transporter quickly.

A guard asks for their credentials. Lucas strikes the guard’s throat.


Kratt and Dix get on the transporters. Lucas throws the switch and also drops what looks like a grenade. They beam out of the room just as it explodes.

They materialize in a field.

I bought us a little time, but we need to get out of here now.

Lucas turns to lead them away, but Dix pulls out an alien-looking gun and strikes him on the back of the head. Kratt looks on in disbelief as Dix pulls out his eyeball prosthetics, revealing reptilian eyes. He points the weapon at Kratt.

God, you’d think a race that can travel across the universe could make fake eyes that don’t itch.

You’re one of them?

You always were slow on the investigation, Demi.

But you’ve been my partner for years.

That’s why you trust me. We’re like your lizards, Demi, patient, calculating, waiting for the perfect time to strike. And very, very cold blooded.

Dix speaks into an intercom in the clicking tongue of the T’s. But as he does, a figure emerges out of the woods and jabs him with a black rod. Dix writhes in electrified agony and collapses. The man, JEROME, rushes to Lucas’s side.

Lucas, baby, are you hurt?

Lucas opens his eyes. Jerome lets out a cry of relief and gives him a kiss before helping him to his feet.

Agent Kratt, this is Jerome, my...friend.

Friend? I rescue you and get downgraded to friend?

It’s okay, you don’t have to hide your relationship from me. Jerome, are of them?

You know it. Queer as the driven snow.

No, I meant a T.

Earthling through and through, same as you, sister.

Jerome is why I became a member of the Fifth Column. I used to believe in everything the T’s stood for. Then I met him. Our relationship—T and human—is forbidden by the Queen and the T Council. I would be put to death for it. That’s what motivated many of us to start the movement.

Black, gay, and alien is no good for their T's either.

But why the stuff with the government, the Tea Party? Why not just attack? Those ships were huge.

As much as I love story time, we better skeedaddle before we have company. My car’s over here, Lucas can do his Basil Exposition imitation while I drive.

They leave in Jerome’s car.

Here’s the short version. The T’s—we—are a predatory group of entrepreneurial aliens, moving from world to world and stripping them of their resources. We are very advanced, but not invulnerable. We bleed, we die, and our ships, while large, can be felled by things like nuclear weapons. Plus, frontal assaults are messy. Resources get destroyed, lives get lost, and our PRM gets lower.


Planet Rape Margin. So we infiltrate, gain control of governments and weaken them to the point where we can take whatever we need in the name of “free market principles.” By the time people figure out what’s going on, we’re on our way to the next planet.

We’ve been eyeing earth for decades and building to this moment ever since we created the John Birch Society. Once the Queen appears, that’s the final phase before the PLP begins.


Planetary Liquidation Process. The plan is to gain control of Congress, impeach your current president on grounds that he’s not a citizen, and pave the way for the Queen to assume control.

President Palin.

God, that gives me the willies even without the alien part.

Well, we’ve got to stop them? The election is in a few days. We have to tell the media.

JEROME (laughs harshly)
Tell them what? That Palin’s an alien. Even if they believed you, the right wing would think it’s just left-win bias. We need proof.

Can’t we show them you, Lucas?

Palin will just deny it and again, you get the media bias thing. No, we have to get her to reveal herself.

Oh, yeah, Lucas, she’s just going to take off her face on national TV.

LUCAS (smiles)
No, but we can make her show her true face. (He takes out his cell phone and starts dialing.)

Who are you calling?

An old friend who just might be able to solve our problem.

Continue to Part III.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

T: The Party, Part I

At a Tea Party rally, two FBI agents, AGENTS DEMI KRATT and BENNY DIX, observe a crowd of protesters dressed in American flag-decorated outfits or colonial dress. Agent Kratt reads one of the signs that has a picture of Obama with a square mustache drawn on his face.

“Hitler was a community organizer.” What the hell does that even mean? I swear, being here is like swimming in a gene pool with a broken filter.

Hey now, where’s your patriotic spirit? Look at how creatively these folks wear their American flags. I see flag hats, flag shirts, flag pants, that guy wearing a tent?

It’s a muumuu. You know, you’re right. Let’s stay focused on that bomb threat.

You mean our wild goose chase? It was probably called in by Keith Olbermann.

Still have to do our job, Benny. Do you see anybody who looks suspicious?

A man in a three-corner hat, breeches, and stockings walks by.

Is that a trick question?

They move through the crowd. The rally begins, and CHRISTINE O’DONNELL appears on stage to thunderous applause.

Thank you, my fellow patriots. You know, when I was young, I was on the wrong path, doing whippets from cans of Reddi-Wip, kissing boys who weren’t my husband and going to black masses. But I realized the error of my ways and found salvation through Jesus and tax cuts. That’s why we’re here, to keep more money in our pockets so we can invest more in Christ’s love. And no one combines Christianity and limited government like our next speaker, Governor Sarah Palin!

SARAH PALIN appears in a leather jumpsuit. The crowd erupts in ecstasy. Agent Kratt sees women weeping, men swooning, and children standing in still rapture in her presence.

Don’t you find this a little creepy, Dix?

AGENT DIX (also mesmerized by Palin)
What? (snaps out of it) No. Hey, is it considered adultery if you fantasize about what you’d do to a woman if she was your wife?

Jesus Christ.

I know. Why he’d have to rule out lust in your heart?

How y’all doin’? It’s so great to be here in the great state of (squints to read teleprompter) Washington, D.C. You know, they say that the government that governs best is the government that governs least. Well, I’m here to tell y’all that no one will govern less than we will!

Agent Kratt sees a man dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and carrying a backpack. He’s acting strangely. Kratt follows the man as he pushes his way through the crowd and toward the fron, talking to crowd members along the way.

Aliens! We’ve got to stop the aliens!

The others in the crowd nod and agree with him.

Right on, brother, we gotta stop those aliens from taking our jobs and send them back to Mexico.

No, these aliens!

He reaches into his backpack and pulls out a thick book. Agent Kratt tries to stop the man before he can act, but he throws the book toward Palin. It flies in the air and hits her in the face. Chaos breaks out as security swarms to cover Palin. O’Donnell grabs the microphone.

O’DONNELL (screaming)

The man continues to struggle and resist arrest. He looks Agent Kratt in the eyes.

They’re not who they seem! They’re coming for us! They’re going to take over and destroy everything.

Kratt struggles to subdue him, but he hands her a piece of paper.

Follow her and you’ll find out. You see that she’s really a....”

Before he can finish, one of the private security guards for Palin knocks the man out. Agent Kratt protests but the man is out cold and taken away. She opens the piece of paper and sees an address written on it.

After the commotion dies, Agents Kratt and Dix talk with Palin.

Are you okay, governor?

PALIN (holding her cheek)
I would be better if you could have stopped that madman from assaulting me, but otherwise, yes, I’m fine.

I’m sorry that we couldn’t reach him sooner.

At least he didn’t have a bomb.

What the heck did he throw at me anyway?

AGENT DIX (holds up the book)
A cook book. I’m not sure why.

Maybe he was just a good conservative trying to remind you where a woman’s place is.

PALIN (glowers at Kratt)
If that’s all, Agent Kratt, I’d like to get back to work. I have a country to rescue.

Of course, governor. (under her breath) Knock yourself out, please.

Kratt and Dix start to leave the scene.

Did you think there was anything unusual about that?

You mean aside from a crazy man yelling about aliens and hurling a cookbook at the possible next president of the United States. No, why?

That book hit her square in the face, but I didn’t see any blood, a bruise, or a scratch.

They grow ‘em tough in Wasilla.

But what about the stuff that man said? About them not being who they seem?

Yes, when in doubt, listen to the crazy guy who throws books at people.

He gave me this address. Told me to follow her.

You’re going to spy on Sarah Palin because some nut job said you should?

I have a hunch.

Yeah, and I have a job and a pension I’d like to keep.

I understand, Benny. You don’t have to come with.

AGENT DIX (sighs)
You’re lucky I don’t have a date tonight.

They get in their car and follow the address. The building is a warehouse in a dark, remote part of town. The scene looks deserted, until a cargo truck appears. Two men who like identical to the security guard who punched out the man at the Rally get out. They go around to the back of the truck and lead a moose out of the back into the warehouse.

A moose? Why the hell would they be bringing a moose here?

Maybe the governor is homesick.

AGENT KRATT (getting out of the car)
I’m going in for a closer look.

Demi, are you crazy? Demi? Damn it!

He gets out of the car to follow his partner. They sneak around to the back of the warehouse and find a series of boxes that rise to a window. They climb and have a perfect view inside.

Palin, O’Donnell, and GLENN BECK stand inside, along with 20 of the security guards, each of whom look exactly alike.

Jesus Christ, Beck! Do you know how close we were to losing everything?

BECK (crying)
I know, I know. I’m sorry, your highness.

Can I turn him into a newt?

For the last time, dingbat, you’re not a real witch! Look, we need to speed things up. That book tore open my skin. Do you have any idea what would have happened if the cameras caught that? We need to win control of Congress next week and start implementing Operation Impeachment as soon as possible. Beck, save those waterworks for the cameras. You need to get your people out there and teabag those polls! (Takes a breath). God, I’m so hungry, I could eat a moose.

The guards lead the moose in. Palin starts to unhinge her jaw.

Agent Kratt watches in horror as there are terrible slurping and chewing sounds. She hides her eyes until things grow quiet. She looks again.

PALIN (her face bloody)
Oh, that hit the spot. But I have just enough room for dessert? (She pulls out a gerbil and holds it over her open mouth.)

Kratt’s face registers disgust. She’s about to rise to get away when a gun reaches her head. She turns and sees two of the security guards, holding her and Agent Dix at gunpoint. They raise their hands over their heads, and the guards march them toward the warehouse.

Continue to Part II

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What are we having trouble figuring out?

10) Bra hooks

9) Peace in the Middle East

8) How to let gay people serve in the military without being all gay

7) Katy Perry and Russell Brand

6) Why donut holes taste better than whole donuts

5) How to appeal to the base instincts of the general electorate (Democratic Party only)

4) The Facebook

3) Where to stash the body

2) Whether Sarah Palin is a sign that God loves us, hates us, or has a really wicked sense of humor

1) How to make money by writing top 10 lists

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I watched some coverage of the Juan Williams firing last night. Williams was let go from NPR because he was on Fox News and said that when he sees Muslims on an airplane looking too Muslimy, he gets nervous.

Here’s the thing: I think NPR overreacted. I don’t think he should have been fired, because I do think he was trying to make (awkwardly) a point that just because he’s nervous about a group of people doesn’t mean they should be targeted for discrimination (how mighty white of him). If you want to be considered an objective reporter and analyst, it’s important to try and not venture into O’Reilly style clownery, but at the same time that line gets humped all the time these days. So I would have reprimanded him but not canned him.

Here’s the other thing: Juan Williams was a dumb ass. People who think that seeing Muhammad A. Muslim in his fashionable Mecca attire means he could be a terrorist need to take a good, long look at the pictures of the actual assholes who perpetrated 9/11. Were they wearing robes, head coverings, and sandals? Or were they trying NOT to stand out so they wouldn’t, you know, be stopped from their plans? Any terrorist worth his salt isn’t going to dress up in a Washington Times editorial cartoon terrorist outfit and try to get past airport security. Even shoe bomber Richard Reid didn’t look any more threatening than your run-of-the mill rock roadie. The guy you need to worry about is the well-dressed, clean-shaven guy in first class who should be relaxing and enjoying the flight but is instead muttering to himself and sweating. Could be nervous about flying. Could have had some bad foie gras. Or could be...A TERRORIST!

The beauty of this is that I watched the coverage on the Chicago Fox News. One of the anchors is a black woman, and I wondered what would happen if she said she didn’t trust white people because whites have done so many terrible things to black people over the centuries. Think the ‘Baggers would support her right to express her opinion?

Ranting over, time for music to soothe the Michael Savage beast....

1) “Folds in Your Hands,” Passion Pit. I don’t get into any particular band because they’re underground or cool or any of that stuff. After all, the other night I had trouble falling asleep because I was thinking about how I could improve the tactics of my adventuring party in the videogame Dragon Age: Origins. I’m not fooling anybody on the cool front.

Still, it’s nice when I have a little musical secret, a group I really like that doesn’t get a lot of recognition. I thought Passion Pit was one of those groups. Then I saw their CD on display at Target. Now, I will never begrudge anyone commercial success, and I hope they sell a bunch of copies. But I’d be lying if a little bit of me wasn’t disappointed.

2) “The Twistinside,” Everclear. My interest in them was somewhat, um, rekindled, when I realized that a young Christina Hendricks starred in their video for “One-Hit Wonder.” Although it seems like it should have been called “Two-Hit Wonders.” I also wish I was the kind of person who was above that joke.

3) “Send a Message to Her,” Beck. One of those artists I feel like I should like but really don’t. He’s incredibly creative and unpredictable and tries new things and yadda yadda yadda, but I’m always left feeling like I’m ready for the next song about 90 seconds in.

4) “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song,” Fleet Foxes. Great music for the transition from fall to winter. There’s such a clear, cold, refreshing aspect to the singing, like a brisk sunny day, but the sparse musical arrangement makes me think of tall trees that have lost most of their leaves.

5) “Rebel Rebel,” David Bowie. Only a great riff can be repeated over and over and over and over again for several minutes and not wear out its welcome. The funny thing about this song is that the bass has the most variation compared to the guitar and drums, and Bowie’s vocals manage to sound completely slathered in make-up but also really tough. Classic.

6) “Dry,” PJ Harvey. There’s something really cool about how this sounds. It’s a bit noisy, but there’s a lot of space between the noise, too. It reminds me of how a lot of Beatles songs sounded, where they were busy, but each element was allowed to breathe. If this was recorded today everything would get squished toward the middle and it would lose its ability to sound like a confessional, lament, and rant all at once.

7) “What a Wonderful Man,” My Morning Jacket. Random tangential story: An old friend of ours, Byron, recently got to play with My Morning Jacket along with Levon Helm and Donald Fagen. I haven’t seen Byron in years (except when he’s been on TV playing with his band, Ollabelle), but back in our New York days we went to see him play all the time, and The Lovely Becky and I even swapped apartments with him and his lovely wife. Anyway, the review for the show complimented Byron by saying he sounded like a young Rick Danko. When I read that, I felt so happy for him because I know that would have completely made his year. Funny how I can feel that way for someone I haven’t seen in a decade. I’d like to think he’d have the same reaction if someone called me, “the Dorothy Parker of the dick-joke set.”

8) “Caledonia Mission,” The Band. Creepy! THE SONGS ARE COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!

9) “Louie Louie,” Black Flag. Henry Rollins was the best vocalist in punk history. All the snarl and menace of Rotten, all the energy and righteous anger of Strummer, with a voice that sounded like washboard abs.

10) “Double Team,” Tenacious D. I’ve heard this album countless times and I still laugh at the jokes, especially at “the Buttress of Windsor,” “underpants,” and “hail Satan!”

11) “Campus,” Vampire Weekend. I was talking with my brother Tickle about the perils of dating in the age of Facebook. I’ve been on The Facebook long enough to see some relationships dissolve and the sometimes ugly break-up graffiti that gets left on someone’s wall. I am very thankful that I didn’t grow up with that hanging over my head. Sure, my enamored teenage self would have loved the prospect of Web cams, text pics, and the easy access to pictures of boobies. At the same time, I would have hated the possibility of any of my faults and inadequacies as a boyfriend to have been published and, even worse, Liked.

So here’s to being happy I grew up without the Internet. Not only did it save me embarrassment, but because I really had to work hard to see boobies, I think I appreciate them more. Not to mention trying to see what was happening on scrambled cable feeds trained me to spot an exposed nipple from up to 1500 kilometers away.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Top Ten Tuesdays: What accusations are we making against our political opponents?

Extra-volume cold-calling edition!

12) Kissing of babies simply a cover to select the tastiest one for eating.

11) Refusal to get on the scale with a duck proves she’s a witch.

10) Plans to deliver a hefty tax cut to the wealthiest 1% of Americans by showing up at their doors and making them fish the money out of a g-string.

9) Plans to deliver a hefty tax hike to the wealthiest 1% of Amerians by showing up at their doors and making them shove the money into a g-string.

8) Love of Taco Bell belies soft stance on illegal immigration.

7) Participated in a World War II re-enactment wearing a French army uniform, which is just embarrassing.

6) Has never provided an adequate explanation for why all of these homosexuals keep sucking his cock.

5) Lack of marital affairs hints that opponent is hiding something.

4) Job creation plan hinges on most Americans becoming Indian or Chinese citizens.

3) Supports the invisible hand of the free his pants.

2) Kissed a George W. Bush and liked it.

1) Is actually a politician.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

We’re closing on the U.P. House today. No more phantom cat pee. No more royal douchebags. No more 200-inch snowstorms. No more flight delays because the wheels of the plane are frozen to the tarmac.

I spent a good part of this summer feeling sorry for myself about the house—the collapse of the first sale, the low, low price of the second sale, the delay in selling it forcing us to move in with The Lovely Becky’s parents. Then we started looking around at what happened to the Chicago market, where it’s not unusual to see houses that lost six figures worth of value and still can’t find buyers. Suddenly taking six months to sell and getting a check (even a small one) seems like a blessing. I guess the definition of “lucky” lost a lot of its value if we’re considered in its bracket.

We’ve also put an offer on a place and hope to be back to our indie-label status in December. The upside for us is that the housing crash opened up a lot more possibilities for us. We’re in fact buying a place in John Hughes country, the sort of North Shore area that has a reputation as a breeding ground for privileged buttwipes who would serve as the rich antagonist against a less privileged buttwipe such as myself. Even though our particular neighborhood is not ostentatious, I had a bit of a dilemma in coming to terms with my eagerness to live in this area. Would I become more of a privileged buttwipe? Was I already carrying the privileged buttwipe gene, genetic code that might go viral should I acquire a certain level of equity? But as we went through our inspection yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of how much I dug the house and the neighborhood and the location relative to the rest of the city. I can see TLB and I growing old and Libby growing up quite happy here, to the point where it won’t surprise me my next piece of real estate will be one of Chicago’s many fine Polish cemeteries. That’s worth a little buttwipe risk.

If you ever catch me wearing an ascot, however, you have permission to run me over. On to the tunes....

1) “VCR,” The xx. A 2009 release that would have easily made my best-of 2009 list had I heard it before 2010. This entire album is fantastic: quiet, moody, hopeful, lonely, romantic...all packaged in something that sounds familiar yet (to me) feels refreshingly original.

2) “Silence Kit,” Pavement. I notice that our blog group seems to have slowed a bit. Most of us have been at this for at least a few years, and I do think it’s harder now to keep at it. Blogging feels like a relationship. After the honeymoon where it all feels new and exciting and you’re eager to try as many positions as possible, you settle into a routine. Routines can be a bit of a drag, and this blog has dragged in the last few months (at least) because I’ve had my hands full with life beyond these virtual walls. So the thought of quitting has popped up from time to time.

Yet, every time, I come back to one thing: I like the routine. The routine gives me comfort. And I still find thrilling sparks of energy from it, maybe not as frequently as I once did, but enough to leave me wanting more. Doing this for five years has also made me a vastly better writer than I was before I started blogging. It’s not a coincidence that, after fifteen years of unfinished futility, I got to the end of a novel draft in less than two years.

And, of course, there are the blogging relationships, the in-jokes and comments and kidding that I enjoy even more than my own writing. I don’t want to lose that, so I hope that our blogging group doesn’t break up. But if we do, we should definitely reform in a few years and cash in. We can start by blogging at New York’s Summerstage.

3) “Help, I’m Alive,” Metric. Speaking of blog groups, it was fantastic to meet Von along with Jennifer and Grizzled this week. There is nothing like enjoying the company of online friends, and then find out they are even better in person.

4) “Blankest Year,” Nada Surf. Just a great, go-to Friday song. Makes me happy, gets my foot tapping, doesn’t require a lot of thought yet doesn’t seem dumb.

5) “Rebellion (Lies),” Arcade Fire. I was a bit shocked when their latest album hit number one. Then I hear this and realize I shouldn’t be, because Arcade Fire know how to create indie arena rock meant to be played loud to a stadium or fairground full of people.

6) “Girls,” Beastie Boys. The newer, serious Beastie Boys may technically be better, but it’s not nearly as entertaining.

7) “Living Well Is the Best Revenge,” R.E.M. I know the murmur of Murmur and the other early R.E.M. records is a great part of their charm. But when I hear the loud, vibrant songs on Accelerate, I kind of wish they would go back and record some of those songs like this—a greatest hits revisited and turned to 11, or at least 8.

8) “Stupid Thing,” Aimee Mann. I know the meaning would not be at all appropriate, but I would love to make a Sarah Palin video set to this.

9) “Your Head Is on Fire,” Broken Bells. I don’t know if it’s getting older or being distracted or a quality control issue, but I’m finding 2010 to be a downer year for music. There was a lot of stuff I thought I’d really love, like this—The Shins merged with Danger Mouse, the hippest of hop for white people like me—and yet I’m feeling slightly meh. I’m almost at the point where I’m going to give a disc three listens. If it doesn’t happen by then, it’s not going to.

10) “Summertime,” The Sundays. It’s always sad when you notice the shortening of the days. I’ll be cruising through the summer, feeling energized by having light well into prime-time hours, until one day it’s six o’clock and I have to take my sunglasses off so I can see the road.

11) “Highway to Hell,” AC/DC. Damnation has never sounded so appealing to me. I am also seriously missing my big, bad computer speakers (packed away) because it is a crime to not shake the foundations when this song comes on.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Top Ten Thursdays: What personal failures are we glossing over with our jubilation about the Chilean mine rescue?

10) Failure to retrieve TV remote from deep, inaccessible area behind couch.

9) Lack of publisher interest in our Anderson Cooper fan fiction.

8) Inability to open the pickle jar.

7) Carelessness in texting penis photo while wearing tell-tale Packers Crocs and Super Bowl ring.

6) Ongoing unemployment status that’s trapping us in our apartment/bathrobe.

5) Afghanistan.

4) Absence of light at the end of our erectile dysfunction tunnel.

3) 20-pound weight gain while watching new season of Biggest Loser.

2) High likelihood of getting crushed like Chilean miners in a mine collapse during forthcoming election.

1) Writer’s block preventing us from creating a tenth joke for our top 10 list.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Lovely Becky's lovely new novel

The Lovely Becky published her newest novel today, The Countess!

I'm really in awe that my wife has already published two novels. Seeing the amount of hard work, determination, creativity, and dedication to craft she has put into them has been an inspiration. You can tell that writing is her passion, and I am very, very proud of what she has accomplished.

Even better, she was interviewed today on WGN's Midday News, who elevated her to Dr. Lovely Becky status.

She has three readings scheduled and I hope to see some of you in the real-world Meatscape.

--Chicago, October 12, 7 pm, Sulzer Library

--Milwaukee, October 16, 2 pm, Boswell Book Company

--Iowa City, December 3, 7 pm, Prairie Lights Bookstore

Please join me in congratulating my amazing wife.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

This is the weekend before one of the biggest weekends we’ve had since Libby was born. We’re probably bidding on a house this weekend. Tuesday is the release of The Lovely Becky’s lovely The Countess. On Friday we close on our U.P. house, and it looks like this time it will be for reals.

The biggest is of course TLB’s book. The finished copies came a couple weeks ago, and I was filled with so much pride in my wife as we took the final version out of the box. She worked so hard on The Countess, and to see that hard work finally realized in a beautifully designed book filled me with a lot of happiness for her.

That’s one of the unheralded parts of marriage. You get to cheer for someone, to share their thrills, to make their happiness your happiness. Becky wrote a great book, which was made into a great looking book, and now it will hopefully have great success. I get to share all that with her.

Some of you can, too. She has a reading at the Sultzer Regional Library in Chicago on October 12 at 7:00 pm, and another in Milwaukee on October 16 at 2:00 p.m. at Boswell Book Company. Plus my dear wife is going to be on WGN on Tuesday at 11:30, getting interviewed at 11:30 am for the mid-day news. And all this comes after she got interviewed by Reuters last week. All that’s left is for her to pick out a new husband after she officially becomes a big deal.

As for me, I’m slowly revising my novel and, while the progress has been held up by things like cleaning crawl spaces, I’ve got 40 pretty solid pages, which is about 35 more solid pages than I’ve ever had, and I can feel myself slowly picking up steam again. The first part of the book is about 120 pages, and when I have that revised, I might be ready to send it out. I’m both excited and scared shitless by that prospect. But writing wouldn’t be fun without that combination of feelings.

1) “Carolina,” Josh Rouse. One of the things I like about having a big music collection is that I can get surprised when I’m randomly listening to it. I make a point to listen to everything at least once, but I had a period where I acquired more than I could keep up with. This is one of those acquisitions. So it’s nice when this bit of countrified pop pops up and gives me a very pleasant three minutes of enjoyment.

2) “1977,” The Clash. I know things have been bad in the last part of the ‘aughts, but as bad as the economy got, I don’t think the whole experience holds a candle to the late seventies. The late seventies sucked. There may be a lot of people who feel that our country is headed for the toilet, but in 1977, it felt like we were already looking up from the bottom of the bowl, and would have given anything to be back to the point of being held above it. The one upside was the malaise-rage salad of that decade fed great songs like this one.

3) “Hard to Explain,” The Strokes. I can’t listen to them without thinking of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog describing them as The Monkees with a drinking problem.

4) “Where Do I Begin,” The Chemical Brothers. The electronica equivalent of the power ballad, only instead of holding lighters in the air, we raise our glow sticks. I mean all of the preceding as a compliment, as I think this is a damn fine song.

5) “Congratulations,” Juliana Hatfield. This has MTV Buzz Bin production written all over it, and strangely I find mid-90s alternative (and mid-90s electronica for that matter) sounds more dated than 80s alternative, maybe because 80s alternative is currently the recycled style du jour right now (I’m looking at you, Killers). But this manages to surpass the legions of soft-loud-soft-loud Teen Spirit ripoffs that made 90s alternative both mainstream and eventually boring. I dig the crunch and the little obsessively dark lyrics. No video, which is too bad.

6) “Rock N Roll Singer,” Mark Kozelek. His acoustic cover of the classic AC/DC song, which transforms Bon Scott from the best dick-joke lyricist in rock history to something resembling a folky poet. Context is everything. Although this cover leaves off my favorite line from the song, “they wanted me to become a doctor or a lawyer-man.” Lawyer-man sounds so much cooler than just a lawyer.

7) “If I Can’t Change Your Mind,” Sugar. I guess alternative is here to stay on this week’s Random 11. I know it’s my mind attempting to superimpose order on random coincidence, but I love when I believe the iPod is really thinking, looking for patterns and maybe even reading what I’m writing and going, “oh, hey, what about adding Bob Mould to the Buzz Bin discussion?” Of course, while that would be cool, it could also be the start of the slippery slope toward self-aware AI that decides to enslave humanity under a radioactive cloud of sentient titanium-alloy tyranny.

8) “Everlong,” Foo Fighters. I rest my case. Of course, the iPod knows it can distract me from the Techno Tribulation End Days by selecting the best Foo Fighters song ever and one of the best songs from the 90s. I never tire of hearing this, especially the big rock finish after the quiet middle.

9) “So This Is Love?” Van Halen. An underrated track from an overrated band. I really don’t like even much of the classic Van Halen tracks much. Too overplayed, too oversexed, too undercooked, too underproduced. This, however, is a nice change of pace for them, a grooving track that still captures their strong points.

10) “Open All Night,” Bruce Springsteen. I think “open all night” may be the defining characteristic of modern America. You can drive around at any hour of the night and be confident you can get gas for your car and food for your belly. Even more, it’s become a greater expectation that you can find help at any hour of the day. I know if I need to call a company to ask about my account or discuss my service or whatever, I’m surprised if their customer service isn’t open 24/7. I think that’s kind of sad, even if I still expect it. Everyone deserves downtime, and more importantly, I think downtime is good for all of us.

11) “Poised and Ready,” Brendan Benson. You can never go wrong heading into a weekend with some nice power pop. Plus, I think TLB and I are poised and ready. We’re finally going to get closure on the U.P.—not that it was something awful, because it had a lot of nice moments. But we’re ready to move on. TLB is ready to move on after the mixed experience of her first book. And I’m ready to move on from being a wannabe writer to being an actual one, even if that involves getting the door slammed in my face, because that means I at least have something to reject.

Have a great weekend, and I hope I’ll see some of you at the readings this week!

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Top Ten Thursdays: How are we showing our patriotism?

10) Shaving American flag into back hair.

9) Using burning copy of the First Amendment to burn down neighborhood mosque.

8) Exercising Second-Amendment rights by using guns to change the TV channel, signal lane changes, light the grill, celebrate goals at youth soccer games, and show asshole neighbor what we really think of his Halloween decorations.

7) Covering the hood of our NASCAR with the Declaration of Independence (between the Sony and BP decals).

6) Converting to Mormonism so we can claim Jesus for America.

5) Agreeing not to have intercourse with an apple pie until after we’ve married it.

4) Telling immigrants how awesome it is to live in the land of the free as we deport them back over the border.

3) Showing support for our troops by definitely really considering the possibility of joining the military at some potential point in the future.

2) Holding in nacho belch while “The Star Spangled Banner” is being played before kickoff.

1) Running for political office with the promise to restore America to its founding values! (minus the burning of witches, enslaving of blacks, exploitation of child labor, eradication of Indians, disenfranchisement of women, and a few other values.)