Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

I had my fantasy football draft last weekend (well, my main fantasy football draft). I’ve been in this league since 2006, and most of the other nine guys have been in it that entire time as well.

We met at the league commissioner’s house, located in a small Illinois town for the beginning of a guy’s day. We played basketball for a couple of hours, then poker, before we headed into our draft. We drank and grilled and generally indulged in alcoholic and digestive gluttony. Once the draft ended, we headed to a townie bar where the female bartender plied us with a shot called an Apple Pie that indeed tasted just like apple pie. We drank a whole pie's worth. We capped off the night when my brother Tickle bought a tight pink tank top that had the bar’s name on it and we all took turns wearing it. I suspect a picture of me in that item of clothing will surface at some point (I’m surprised it hasn’t been posted to my Facebook page yet).

The funny thing about this group is that four of the ten guys work in secondary education. The commish who hosted is actually the principal of the local high school. Three of the other guys are teachers. And here they were, drinking like fish, acting like fools in a bar, and revolving an entire day around building a pretend football team.

When I was in school, I never would have imagined my teachers and administrators doing this, because I never imagined them having lives. They seemed like animatronic figures in a museum who only came to life when the school bell turned on, and then shut off with the final bell of the day. They didn’t need companionship. They didn’t spend their weekends getting plowed with their friends. They were just teachers. In my mind, that was all they did. Even being married to The Lovely Becky didn’t change that perception—her father was a teacher, but he spent most of his free time talking about what happened in school (or Vietnam, which sometimes sounded less scary than the school).

I would have been shocked to find my teachers engaging in drunken shenanigans, wildly inappropriate humor, gambling, and idiotic hobbies. If I had walked in on a group like those present at the bar the other night, I’m not sure what I would have made of them. On the one hand, I might have thought it was the coolest thing ever and seen them as real people with lives outside of school.

More likely, I would have snapped a pic of the principal in a skin-tight pink tank top and kept it as my get-out-of-jail free card for the rest of my school career. Lucky for our commish that none of his students were out bar crawling with fake IDs that night.


1) “Can’t Buy Me Love,” The Beatles. I appreciate the late Beatles more—the adventurousness, the way they shattered the boundaries of pop music so much that they still sound like one of the most experimental groups in history—I like the early Beatles more. Those early songs are like perfect diamonds. It was interesting to see what strange jewelry they would later craft, but there’s such a simple beauty in holding a single, flawless gem in the palm of your hand.

2) “Mamma Mia,” ABBA. Fucka mia.

3) “Since You’re Gone,” The Cars. I have always loved the interplay between the click track and the drums that drive this song. Also, Ric Ocasek is 62, which seems almost as unbelievable as his still being married to Paulina. I saw him on Colbert when the Cars played, and I will say that he is like Geddy Lee in that he looks better now that he’s older. Neither of them will ever be considered good looking, but they don’t seem quite as ugly as they did when they were younger. That’s a benefit of having the looks bar lowered as you age. You can be an ugly-ass 35-year-old, but if you still look a lot like that ugly-ass 35-year-old when you’re 55, people will say, “Hey, he looks so much better than he used to.” That’s one of the only things about aging that I’m looking forward to.

4) “Set Yourself on Fire,” Stars. Self-immolation has got to be in the top five for awful ways to kill yourself. In fact, I’d go so far as to put it at number one, above jumping out of an airplane (at least you get to enjoy the rush of the fall) and having sex with Anne Coulter (she always feeds after she mates, so it’s basically a form of suicide). First, there’s the buildup to immolation. You’re pouring gasoline or charcoal fluid on yourself, or wearing your best little black Kingsford Match Light Molotov Cocktail dress. There’s the anticipation that pretty soon you’re going to look like the cover of the Wish You Were Here album. Then there is the obvious pain of being on fire. A lot of times I microwave dishes and then, like a dumbass, take them out of the microwave without using any protection for my hands. Two seconds of touching hot glass after two minutes on high and I’m screaming like I just dipped my fingers in acid. How could anyone volunteer for that feeling? Sure, self-immolation makes a dramatic statement about killing yourself, but so does taking a vial of pills and hiring a skywriter to trace your suicide message above your ex’s/boss’s/dictator’s apartment/office/palace.

5) “Head Like a Hole,” Nine Inch Nails. At the age of 40, there aren’t any songs in my collection that I won’t listen to out of some sense of age-inappropriateness. I’ll rock out Whitesnake’s “Slide It In” like I did when I was 15, for example, or any number of punk anthems that were aimed at the time at people who are my age now. In that respect, I’ll channer my inner industrial rage whenever Trent Reznor makes an appearance. But what about 20 years from now (assuming a giant sausage grenade doesn’t lodge in my heart and explode before then). Will I be cruising down the street in a convertible K-car hybrid, Panama hat on my head and wearing sandals with socks, singing “I’d rather die than give you control!”? I hope the answer is yes.

6) “Skin of the Night,” M83. I loves me some electronic tom-tom beats. This song cries out for a scene where Demi Moore and Andrew McCarthy have sex on a waterbed in a room full of Nagel posters.

7) “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song),” Concrete Blonde. Count Chocula on a crutch, the vampire thing needs to fucking die. They are the least interesting of the classic scary monsters. Zombies? Always awesome. Werewolves? Not only scary, but also amazing basketball players. Ghosts? Scary enough that you can base entire shows of people on night-vision cameras going “Did you hear that?” every time a cockroach farts in an old asylum. Demons and possession? Two words: Pea soup. But vampires? Best case scenario, they seem like roadies for Bauhaus. Worst case, they seem like Keanu Reeves trying to show range. I’m hoping the next trend is a Creature from the Black Lagoon revival. What’s scarier than parking your Chevelle at Makeout Pond, only to be assaulted by a frog-man who craves man-flesh? That critter never got his due.

8) “He’s My Star,” Poster Children. A terrific specimen of 90’s alternative that was sadly overlooked. It does the quiet/loud/quiet/LOUD thing really well. Trivia: These guys once crashed at TLB’s house in college.

9) “When You Don’t See Me,” Sisters of Mercy. Weirdest tour pairing ever? These guys touring with Public Enemy in the 1990s. What would those fans have in common?

Sisters of Mercy Fan: “My father doesn’t understand me because I wear eyeliner and lace and write poetry in the style of Byron, although much darker.”

PE Fan: “My father was murdered by the Klan.”

Sisters of Mercy Fan: “Oh, how dreadful. I weep bitter tears for your loss, although there is a dark beauty in agony, don’t you think?”

PE Fan: “Why do you smell like Cinnabon?”

10) “Never Gonna Change,” Drive-By Truckers. You could use this as the theme music for a new show, The Real Dukes of Hazzard County. Bo would be a hardworking country boy caring for his cousin, Luke, who was left paralyzed after a terrible stock car racing accident. But Bo loses his job at the American flag plant after production is moved to China. He also cares for his cousin, Daisy, a single mom of two whose husband was murdered, but in caring for her, Bo struggles with his romantic feelings toward her. Desperate for cash, he turns to his Uncle Jesse, who reveals that his derelict trailer in the woods is just cover for a lucrative meth enterprise. However, he runs afoul of Boss Hogg, a crooked contractor who wants total control over all the drug traffic and rules through his heartless right-hand man, Sherriff Roscoe P. Coltrane. Hogg has it in for the Dukes (and his eyes on Daisy), but is thwarted by his deputy, Enos, whose mild-mannered bumbling is just an act to conceal his real identity as an undercover DEA agent. Enos becomes conflicted because of his feelings for Daisy and a real affinity for Uncle Jesse (the father he never had) and his duty to root out drugs from Hazzard. Will love win out, or duty? Tune in Fridays at 10 PM to find out.

11) “Purple Rain,” Prince and the Revolution. Get out your lighters, people, but make sure you keep the flame away from your lace cuffs. That shit’ll ignite faster than a feud with Morris Day.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Top Ten Thursdays: Why are we dropping out of the presidential race?

10) Lost voters by repeatedly injecting family values into campaign intern.

9) Said we would curtail agricultural subsidies even though everyone could smell ethanol on our breath.

8) Only wore the minimum required amount of American flag flair.

7) Put a little too much dark into “dark horse” for our political base.

6) Couldn’t shake the tag of being the boring Mormon.

5) Strong disdain for federal government caused us to cough “bullshit” after every campaign promise we made.

4) Khakis couldn’t conceal excitement when discussing the slippery slope of gay marriage.

3) Instead of hypnotizing voters with our eyes, we put them to sleep with our voice.

2) Plan to curb social security costs and promote conservation by relocating endangered gray wolves to America’s nursing homes was not received as well as we hoped.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Friday Random 11

It’s one more random than 10!

Hello there, nice to see you again. Sorry for being away so long. I was away on business, traveling to Nigeria to claim a lottery prize. I was informed by the Minister of Prizes that I had been hand-picked among millions of people on the Internet to claim a lottery prize that was left unclaimed. He even e-mailed me the part of the Nigerian constitution that showed it was legit. So I hopped a plane to Lagos and was met by the minister and four of his strapping interns. They took me to the alley where they had the lottery money stashed for safe keeping and yadda yadda yadda my therapist says the nightmares should stop in a couple of years. The lesson, of course, is don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

1) “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend,” The Mr. T Experience. I read a couple of things this week poking fun at the time-travel fantasy of going back and killing Hitler, which is perpetually in the top two of time-travel fantasies (only occasionally topped by meeting Jesus, as if he wouldn’t know you were coming). The funny thing about the Hitler-time-travel fantasy is that it relies on the logic that Nazi Germany would have completely collapsed without Hitler. You have a gun, you get Hitler’s mustache in your crosshairs, and pow, no more World War II. As if the rest of the Nazis would have no clue on how to proceed. “Der Fuher ist dead? Was die Fuck are we going to do? Did anybody take notes in the last meeting? I remember something about Poland but I feel asleep from all the Schnitzengrubers I ate for lunch.” Or if you went back and killed him as an infant, that it would have also stopped anti-Semitism in Germany. People like Goebbels would be lost, thinking, “Boy, we have all of these problems after World War I. If only there was an ethnic or religious group we could use as a scapegoat, but I can’t think of one.” It just goes to show that time-travel is often not a viable solution to our problems.

2) “Sister Havana,” Urge Overkill. Probably in my top 10 of favorite songs from the 90s because it makes me think of Ric Ocasek covering Cheap Trick. I also used to hear it a lot on Chicago’s Q101, the Windy City’s alternative station, which sadly just bit the dust about a decade after the term “alternative rock” did. Q101 was a classic commercial alternative station, essentially a radio version of MTV’s Buzz Bin. But for every Better for Ezra of Harvey Danger, they would play Nirvana or Rancid. It was a good listening stop on days when I felt like a rat in a cage despite all of my unresolved anger issues.

3) “The Bends,” Radiohead. Best song ever written about a bad Taco Bell experience.

4) “Your Time Is Gonna Come,” Led Zeppelin. I love the church organ opening and Bonham’s steady beat changing into big fat fills during the chorus. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again, as great as the fourth album is, the first Zeppelin album is my favorite.

5) “The Needle Has Landed,” Neko Case. I get goosebumpy from the harmonies because they are so damn perfect. I really need to see her live at some point.

6) “Cousins,” Vampire Weekend. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary of our annual family vacation with TLB’s family. We travel to North Carolina every August to frolic in the waters of the Atlantic, eat a trawler-load of fried seafood, and generally unplug and unwind from the world. I’ve always enjoyed the trip, even when we were childless, because it was a great way to spend a week drinking beer, reading a couple of books, and potentially paralyzing myself via feats of aquatic-based prowess. But it has become far more enjoyable since the arrival of Libby. My sisters-in-law both have a boy and a girl each, all between the ages of four and nine, and this year in particular the gang of five cousins had a blast. They dug in the sand, they played in tidal pools, and even did a bit of shoreline surfing on boogie boards and innertubes. Libby has started to understand the concept of siblings and has asked if should could be a sister. It’s sad to tell her that she probably won’t be—it would take 20 grand and a team of scientists to even have a chance—but it’s easier to tell her she's likely to be an only child when she is near cousins that she already treats like siblings. I really hope they stay that close as they get older.

7) “The Patient Ferris Wheel,” The Gaslight Anthem. I am from the school of thought that originality is not a big requirement for rock music. It’s nice when you run into it, but I think you need heart more than anything else. I’ll take four guys from Jersey channeling their inner Springsteen on two guitars, bass, and drums over sound collages and polyrhythms and other fancy-pants shenanigans.

8) “Here Comes the Rain,” Chris Knight. I played this album that was recorded in a trailer in Kentucky as I drove through Kentucky, TLB and Libs asleep in the car, leaving just me, the road, and a man on his guitar. That’s my version of meditation.

9) “Tonight We Fly,” 20/20. I miss record stores and I am sad to see physical music dissolving into a series of 1s and 0s stored on PCs. At the same time, I have discovered so much more music because of it being untethered from retail locations and shared on the Internet. I never would have found this power pop gem browsing the stacks at Tower Records.

10) “Lights & Music,” Cut Copy. Now is the time on CJSD when we dance!

11) “Helter Skelter,” The Beatles. The Fab Four at their most punk. Also probably McCartney’s most Lennon song. It’s hard to believe it’s by the same man who would go on to record “Silly Love Songs.”

Hidden bonus track

“Paradise City,” Guns N’ Roses. Tomorrow I venture out to a quiet town in the middle of Anywhere, Illinois to join eight other men and one guy via Skype as we indulge in our fantasies of being pro football GMs. It’s a league most of us have been in for years, and this marks the first time we have had zero turnover among the 10 owners By all rights I should be embarrassed if not completely ashamed by how much I look forward to this every year. But like my beloved fake drumming game, fantasy football indulges a desire that is as strong as it is completely out of reach. So tomorrow I will spend the day discussing the groin status of running backs while drinking excessively with a bunch of other sports nerds, all in the hope of finding the lucky combination of gridiron production that will give us bragging rights for the year and a bit of cash in our pockets.

Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Top Ten Wednesdays: What are we really worried about?

Special extra fretting edition!

11) Double-dip recession in hairline.

10) Stimulus failing to produce sufficient growth in pants.

9) Conservative uncle who tells us he can cure our homosexuality if we spend some time alone and pray together very, very, very hard.

8) Silicone insolvency reducing our chest rating from DD to A.

7) Toxic climate in Washington has reached Full Frito.

6) Norwegians.

5) Getting embroiled in a caloric quagmire during an endless buffet at Golden Corral.

4) Canadian acquaintances will be able to make us perform unspeakable acts for one of their precious dollars.

3) Won’t be able to resist Michelle Bachmann’s eyes when she floats outside our window and asks to be let in.

2) Retirement will be ruined due to our heavy involvement in bacon futures.

1) Having to save money, spend within our means, buy houses we can afford, drive small cars that get decent gas mileage, and show a little economic prudence instead of spending like drunken sailors who downed a fifth of Viagra and before taking their leave in the Glory Hole District.