Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Is it possible to have Stockholm Syndrome with a piece of furniture?

I have been spending the majority of my time for the past two months sitting in my office chair, working on getting a new Web site done for my company. I have been very fortunate in that my job doesn’t usually require a lot of long hours, making it very easy for me to balance work and personal life. But this is a big project and I’m coordinating it, hence my ass has been glued to said chair.

After a couple of weeks of a lot of late nights and weekend work, I felt like I was held hostage by my chair. I resented it, hated it, even feared it, because when you work at home and have a lot of work to do, it’s impossible to escape the feeling that you should be working. I made plans for escape, all of which were basically unrealistic and would likely have me gunned down in a hail of job firing.

The last couple of weeks, though, the chair and I have begun to develop a relationship. It needs me to sit in it 10-11 hours a day. Meanwhile, I have to acknowledge that, while I wish I wasn’t sitting in it that much, it is really a comfortable chair and its demands to be sat in are reasonable.

Anyway, I am sorry for not visiting everyone’s blogs more in recent weeks. After spending that much time in the chair, in front of the computer, I’ve been taking any opening I can to sprint to my rescuer, the couch. Project is almost done, though, and I hope to return to my regularly-scheduled loafing during work hours.

1) “Rasputin,” Turisas. Turisas is a “battle metal” band from Finland. No, really, there’s a subgenre of metal called battle metal. That subgenre is actually a subgenre of another subgenre called “Viking metal.” What is Viking metal? It is metal about all things Viking—conquering, plundering, fighting, sailing, and then doing all of those things again in Valhalla. Battle metal simply filters out the quieter parts of Viking metal—say, when our hero is reflecting on the friends he lost conquering, plundering, fighting, and sailing—and focuses instead on just on fighting or preparing to fight. It’s kind of like how traditional porn takes the time to examine the conflict of how those penniless sorority girls are going to pay for the pizza they just ordered, whereas battle porn just skips to the inevitable solution.

Anyway, this video takes battle metal and merges it with an old Eurodisco tune from the 70s. Somehow, it’s magnificent, and the video just kicks it up a notch by looking like an amazing beer commercial. I’m seriously tempted to go to Vegas next month in animal furs and battle paint.

2) “Ways to Make It Through the Wall,” Los Campesinos! I honestly have no idea how people work 60-plus hours all the time. I know people who do it, in part because work has become fused with their personal life like the arms on Dr. Octopus. In a lot of ways, work has become the new religion for many folks, especially white collar workers. In some cases, it’s because they like what they do—and if so, more power to them. But I think for a lot of people it’s an escape from personal obligations, or feeds a need to be an authority figure. I definitely don’t want to spend more time away from my family so I can spend more time reviewing the WENUS.

3) “The Celibate Life,” The Shins. I may have told this story before, so excuse me if I repeat myself, but with it being Lent and this song discuss the celibate life, I can’t help but be reminded of the time when I started rethinking Catholicism.

It was my senior year of high school at an all-boys Catholic school. I had a faith and morality class taught by a young priest (insert your “no touching in the Water and Wine Room” joke here). He had done missionary work in Central America, which cause him to do things like pronounce “Nicaragua” like someone overacting on a Univision soap opera. But generally speaking, he was a good guy.

However, one day we got to the lesson about sex, specifically birth control. Father Pronunciacíon wrote three categories on the board: Natural, Artificial, and Unnatural. Under the first category, he listed the rhythm method and abstinence. Under the second the usual suspects: condoms, the pill, IUDs (it was the 80s). What was labeled unnatural? Anal, oral, and masturbation.

For the first time, I remember being actually offended by a priest, because being 17, I happened to enjoy one of those unnatural acts on a near-daily basis (insert your “Was it anal from the priest?” joke here). I believe the two words that came to mind were, “fuck this.” I raised my hand and asked the priest a question: If it was a natural impulse to procreate, wouldn’t we have to consider celibacy unnatural as well?

Father Pronunciac√≠on got redder than a Sandinista at a May Day rally. He sputtered out an angry response that showed the hard (so hard) road that the celibate travel on. I thought, this is ridiculous that we are even having this conversation, and stupid that something that doesn’t hurt anyone is considered some kind of affront to God.

An epilogue: During the same class, we actually educated father on what “gerbil sharing” was.

4) “Rest Your Head,” The Wrens. I really wish they made records faster than once a decade. However, they work day jobs, too, so I understand if they have been held hostage by their chairs. Sadly, no clip, but great song.

5) “Hands Off, She’s Mine,” The English Beat. I Just Can’t Stop It is one of the most underrated albums of the 80s. I’m not even a big ska guy and I love it.

6) “Best for You,” Bad Religion. Dedicated to fish and Pinko.

7) “Basement Parties,” Matt Pond PA. After years of fighting it, I have started to actually mature and enjoy getting older. But one thing I will always miss are young people parties. I love getting together with adults, talk about interesting topics, and also not have to worry (usually) about people fighting, puking, manufacturing relationship drama, having sex in my bed, etc. However, I have a twinge of nostalgia for those low-key parties of high school, college, and early adulthood, just sitting around and drinking with friends, talking about stupid stuff and just feeling young and not having a care in the world. Although I also hope to get to that old and carefree stage, where I’ve lived long enough and paid enough dues that I don’t give a shit about a lot of the dumb things that often require our attention.

8) “Little Too Late,” Pat Benatar. I wish I was making this up, but sadly I am not: I have had some conflict about whether I should buy the Pat Benatar pack for Rock Band. I already have a couple Benatar tracks from previous games, but this one has “Shadows of the Night” (which I hate to admit loving) and “Love Is a Battlefield.” On the one hand, I know I should just get them. But there’s a real fear of should-shaking, choreographed dance-fighting mockery from my lovely wife while I struggle to figure out the drum pattern to “Battlefield.”

9) “Cherry,” Amy Winehouse. It’s a shame such a great voice is attached to such a train wreck.

10) “Young Hearts,” Free Energy. Some day the weather is going to warm up, and when it does, I’m going to be blasting Free Energy like I did last summer. A great warm-weather band. There’s a very classic 70s feel to this song, kind of like how Spoon’s “The Underdog” echoes Billy Joel, but without bearing the burden of being Billy Joel.

11) “Mystery Achievement,” Pretenders. Great bass line, great vocal by Chrissie Hind, great way to enter the weekend.

Have a good one.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Top Ten Wednesdays: How are we making ourselves more attractive to the Tea Party?

10) Showing a lot of ankle.

9) Suggesting that all Muslims be considered terrorists until they exclusively target British citizens and Irish Protestants.

8) Putting ourselves in their frame of mind by repeatedly hitting our head with a shovel.

7) Declaring that the creeping socialism of America will prevent it from catching up to the unapologetically socialist countries ahead of us.

5) Showing our pro-gun, pro-religion stance by vowing to shoot the wall between church and state with our legally concealled bazooka.

4) Accepting an honorary home-school degree, lovingly made with crayon.

3) Simultaneously tackling anti-white and anti-rich bias by noting that if it wasn’t for rich white men, black people never would have made it to America.

2) Campaigning in a red, white, and blue monster truck that runs on baby seal oil.

1) Promising to release our liberty from the tyrannical clutches of a secular nanny state and put it back in the righteous hands of a vengeful god.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Something happened today that hasn’t happened to me before, a convergence of things that made me quite happy.

--The Lovely Becky didn’t have to go to campus today, so we decided to have a lunch date. We picked sushi because it was one of the things we missed terribly in the UP and we haven’t had any in a long time.

--There are a number sushi places nearby, so I decided to go to Yelp for help. I have never used Yelp before, because the only thing that yelps in the UP is an animal after you’ve shot it.

--Yelp pointed us to a place we would have overlooked, a small, non-descript sushi joint at the end of our block. There was the usual Yelp nonsense, the one sniffy guy who was all, “the rolls are okay but I don’t think the nigiri is that great because I’m an insufferable munchwagon” (I’m paraphrasing). But everybody else had pretty strong praise.

--We walked up the street, ordered, took a bite, and were immediately in OMG SO GOOD 5-STARS heaven.

Walking back to the house, I literally felt filled with the spirit of Kathleen and Pinko. Using the Internet to find good sushi and then getting there in a pedestrian fashion. The only thing missing was a red track suit and a list of three novels I read on the walk to the restaurant.

Tune time!

1) “I’m Looking Through You,” The Beatles. I don’t know if this was ever used for a Wonder Years montage, but it feels like it should have.

2) “Station,” The Meat Puppets. I suspect ZRM will have a good Meat Puppets story in the comments. I never really listened to them much beyond their semi-hit “Backwater,” but the sound of this just takes me back to college, drinking on a Friday afternoon to prepare for more drinking on a Friday night. In fact, my alma mater has a campus-run pub on its grounds. That seems like a terrible idea to me now, even though it was awesome then. I worked at the campus bookstore, and on Fridays I would head over to the pub with my buddy Moe and start our consumption ritual—a couple of pitchers each to “warm up” for the evening. We didn’t even bother with glasses, Moe and I would just order two pitchers and drink straight from those. Then we’d go to another place that had a drink special, five drinks for the price of one. The catch was you could only order two drinks per person and the special lasted one hour. We would guzzle through those so we could get that fifth drink before the hour was up. I thought it was the greatest way to stretch my meager bookstore wages/Stafford student loan dollars. Stupid sexy drinking, why do you have to be so attractive?

3) “Jackson (Live),” Johnny Cash and June Carter. It takes a lot of balls for a woman like June Carter to sing in front of a bunch of prison inmates.

4) “Song 2,” Blur. I’ve heard it a million times and each time it makes me want to charge onto a football field and tackle someone. Like get a full head of steam and launch headfirst into them, James-Harrison style. Or, in my more continental moments, run onto the pitch and tackle someone soccer-style, perhaps giving one of those Italians or Spaniards who always do the phantom flops something to really writhe in agony about. This also gives me an idea how to fix the flopping in soccer: if a player flops, the player he flopped against gets a free kick at him. You're welcome, FIFA.

5) “About a Girl,” Nirvana. Speaking of suicides, the new New Yorker has a David Foster Wallace story in it, and the bio mentioned that DFW has a new novel coming out. He committed suicide in 2008, around the time I started working on my novel. My novel is not only coming out and in fact I realized recently that it needs some very substantial rewriting and that I need to rethink a lot of it. There’s nothing wrong with that, because writing takes time. However, I can’t help but feel rather sheepish about being outpaced by a a dead guy (albeit a very talented one).

6) “Wicked Gil,” Band of Horses. Gil just isn’t a wicked guy’s name. Darth Gil, Gildemort, Gil Lecter, The Great and Powerful Gil. Even Tim is more menacing.

7) “Straight to Hell,” The Clash. Probably the saddest Clash song and also one of their best.

8) “The Humpty Dance,” Digital Underground. Awww, hells yeah! I’m heading to Vegas at the end of April for my cousin Youngblood’s bachelor party. Dr. Hawkeye is attending, and nothing will transform him to 100% Hawkeye status like this song. Sadly, Dr. Trapper has to go to a competing bachelor party that weekend. So many IVs, so little time.

9) “Born to Run,” Bruce Springsteen. I’m not a big Boss fan. I recognize his brilliance and all that, but I hit my musical stride right around the time Born in the USA become Overplayed in the USA and I never quite recovered from the media tongue-bathing he received during that time. “Born to Run,” however, is one of the all-time great rock songs. It’s personal, it’s epic, it’s hard, it’s gentle…you can listen to it 100 times and pull out a different nuance. I’m always happy to hear it.

10) “Anyway, Anyhow, Anywhere,” The Who. I bought Rock Band 3 recently, which, combined with having my own house again, reignited my love of toy drumming. I moved Branimal up to the expert drum level, surprisingly holding my own on a fair number of tracks. Fills still give me trouble, but if I Meg White it I tend to do okay. However, The Who Pack I purchased has always been my Moby Dick (not to be confused with Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”). I mean, look at this fucking thing. I can last about 10 seconds on that (TLB, please feel free to insert joke here). The other day I was playing a random set list and it threw me a Who track, “Sea and Sand” from Quadrophenia. I got about 60% of the way through before I failed. I swore to myself that I could beat it and started over. That attempt fell over and sank into the swamp. I started again. That attempt burned down, fell over and sank into the swamp. But on my fourth try, I felt possessed with speed-addled, Mod-drumming, Moon-the-Loon goodness. My right foot pumped the bass peddle, my hands surprisingly made sense out of the insanity of the chart, and while I reached the end a little bruised and bloodied, I finished the song…just as TLB came down the stairs. With complete seriousness, I threw my drumstick-gripping hands into the air and yelled, “KEITH MOON, BABY!” I’m sure there are few times in my life that my wife wanted me less.

11) “Ruby Soho,” Rancid. One of the best bands to end a Random 11 with.

Have a fantastic, five-star review weekend.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Helping The Lovely Becky

I was in bed last night with The Lovely Becky (who is tearing it up in Italy with La Contessa Nera) discussing her idea for a story. She talked about writing a fictional short story or maybe even a novel based on the poor working experience that drove her from white-collar life and into grad school and subsequently authorship and professorhood.

TLB: I want to have her work at some kind of scientific or academic environment, like a journal. But it would have to be an office where most of the employees were women.

Me: How about a gynecology journal? She could work for a publication called Vagina Today.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Top Ten Wednesdays: Why did we get fired from our hit TV show?

Special 12-step edition!

12) Scene blocking ruined by our constant, visible erections.

11) A winter scene turned nearly fatal when the show inadvertently discovered what we had stashed in the fake snow.

10) Spent the entire third act of our last show doing an a-capella rendition of The Doors’ “The End.”

9) Complained that the show’s creator wasn’t an anti-anti-Semite.

8) Our comedic eye-rolling turned into non-comedic eyes-rolling-back.

7) Paid all the female assistants by shoving twenties in their pants.

6) Other recovering addicts on the show kept trying to get high by cutting us and drinking our blood.

5) At the staff birthday party for the kid who plays the half-man, showed up at Chuck E Cheese with five strippers and a case of Courvoisier.

4) Got to the point where no one knew or cared who our father was.

3) After every punchline, kept shouting “that’s what she said!” and high-fiving the key grip.

2) In a rare moment of sobriety, notified the producers that our hit sitcom was completely devoid of humor.

1) Offended everyone in Hollywood when we said, "We're bigger than Xenu!"

Friday, March 04, 2011

I don't want to work, I want to bang on the plastic drums all day

I am still in Big Important Project hell, trying to defeat the hydra blocking my way to Completion Nirvana, and I am armed with only a butter knife and a pack of damp matches. So, sadly, very little time and brain space for creative writing.

However, there has been much music, because it's nice to have a good 4/4 beat when you have to row the oars on Pharaoh's galley. The other day I did the monthly eMusic dance, trying to maximize the credits I have each month to keep up with what the kids are listening too. At the end of that dance, I always have a little left over for just a song or two, and I take those few remaining shekels and troll for old 80s songs I would love to own again.

I browsed around for a while before a random neuron said, "Let's see if they have this...."

Which they did.

One of the most underrated songs from one of the most underrated bands of the 80s. I played this cassette to death, especially in the car where I could crank it and yell out "BIRTH, SCHOOL, WORK, DEATH!" The guitars are just ferocious, and the whole album is a great bit of catchy six-string contempt, nihilism, and bile.

It occurred to me as I listened to this, for the first time in ages, that when I first heard this, I was still well in part two of this four-part saga, and I'm now about 40% of the way through part three. That's the bad part. The good part is I still want to shout those four words as much as I did when I was 17, and would also love to have this song available in plastic-drum mashing form.

Jerking will recommence next week. Have a good weekend.