Monday, December 31, 2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
On Friday evening I attended (with various representatives of Lindsey's family) Lindsey's youngest brother's school Christmas pageant. Lindsey insisted on arriving some forty minutes early, in order to be sure of getting seats and parking. Things were already hectic when we arrived, but Lindsey knew the bouncer from college, and so he got us in without having to wait in line or pay the exorbitant cover charge. No, wait. That didn't happen. As you may expect, the parking lot and gymnasium were as yet mostly empty. Mr. Mish had already staked out the best filming location with his tripod and new video camera, and saved us some seats right near the nuns in the fourth row. I suppressed as best I could the rumblings of my stomache, greedily eying the saran wrap-covered refreshments, to be served after the programme. In my haste to be forty minutes early I had neglected to nourish myself, and was now haunted by the pangs of a most awful regret for having done so. About half an hour later the rest of the parental press corps arrived, and things got rolling only a few minutes behind schedule, which is quite impressive considering that the cast is entirely made up of elementary schoolers in cute costumes. "That one in the star costume is my granddaughter," the nice lady next to me said. "How cute," I said. "The one in the crown is my... um... future brother in law? Yeah." About halfway through saying so, it occurred to me that that might sound odd. The pageant was incredibly cute and funny, and I don't think I have ever in my life seen so many cameras. Dawheeze (yes, that is her real name) has a much better account of the whole thing here. I shall only mention that first through third graders performing Handel's "Unto Us A Child Is Born," dressed as various characters of the Nativity, is very funny.
Saturday late afternoon I went out to get a tree with my sister Reenie and my brother Brendan, and Brendan's son Geno. The tree farm had of course already been well visited by this time, and the pickings were slim (particularly for the particular pickers among us), but in the end I think we managed to get two nice trees, though I haven't seen Brendan's in decorated form. Saturday evening Linds and I went to a Christmas party hosted by some friends, which they have every year and which is always a lot of fun. I was amused that even at a non-family party, five of the other attendees, not including my fiancee, are in my immediate family. Big families are fun. The snow was coming down hard as I drove home from the party, but for some reason I didn't think to park my car any differently when I got home, which turned out later to be a mistake.
Sunday morning I awoke to Maureen knocking on my door suggesting that I leave for mass with her, since there was no reason for us both to hazard the weather in separate cars. I hurriedly prepared myself and rushed out the door to join my sister, already in the car. The street had been ploughed at some point during the night, but it had since snowed a few more inches. For those of you who inhabit warmer climes than ours, to plough the road means to use a large vehicle with something like a shovel on the front of it to take all of the snow off of the surface of the road, and put it on my car. Good thing I was carpooling. Given the state of the roads, we were probably going to be late, if we got there at all. Unfortunately, we didn't even get out of our own driveway in under ten minutes, and without the help of two neighbors. At that point it was decided that we were not going to make it to mass at all, so instead we went to the hardware store to get another snow shovel, and then returned to shovel out the driveway, and possibly to find my car. Kara, our other housemate, was there when we got back (she had managed to escape the driveway earlier), and explained to us that all masses had been canceled on account of weather in any case, so it was just as well that we didn't make it. We spent the rest of the afternoon shoveling the snow (we managed to recover my car), and then decorating the Christmas tree, which turned out to be more of an endeavour than I had expected it to be, cheifly because Reens insisted upon having every twig of every branch thoroughly wrapped with lights. In her defense, it looks much better than it would had I been left to my own devices.
While decorating the tree we put on a few Christmas CDs, one of which was Bing Crosby's Complete Christmas Recordings. It really was complete, containing a few different versions of "White Christmas," and no fewer than four versions of "Silent Night." What struck me about the CD, aside from the mostly great music (I still don't care for "Sleigh Ride" or "Here Comes Santa Clause"), was that there was probably a half-dozen or so Christmas songs on there that I'd never heard before. These weren't bootlegs or obscure carols in Polish or anything like that, these were-high quality recordings of accessible, radio-friendly pop tunes about sleigh rides and Saint Nick and makin' out under the mistletoe by none other than Buh-ba-buh-ba Bing Freaking Crosby. Given that modern radio's current Hallyday repertoire consists of 2,897,992 versions of roughly twelve songs (including Crosby's hit version of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas"), you'd think folks would be all a-buh-buh-buh-bout it, if you know what I mean. Weird.
In the early evening I set out in my newly-excavated automobile towards my parents' place, intending to relax and visit with my younger siblings over a cup of hot chocolate. The roads were still pretty bad, but I sort of like them that way. What I don't like, as I believe I've mentioned before, is other drivers when the roads are sort of bad. With this in mind, I opted to take the road less traveled by to my folks' place, which, interestingly enough, turned out to make at least something of a difference. I was rolling down Bemis Road at what I thought would be about the right speed to maintain control of the car and still push through the snow and up the hills, when I noticed up ahead of me what I think was a light green Ford Edge, barreling down the middle of the road. "It's ok," I thought. "There's plenty of road for both of us if we just slow down a little and stick to the sides of the roadway," which is what I did and he did not. He kept right on cruising down the middle of the road as if I did not exist at all, leaving me a mere 1/3 of the road and taking 2/3 for himself. "Lord, please help this guy not to hit me," I managed to mutter. My prayers can often be rather selfish. His portion of the road turned out to be more than he needed and mine turned out to be less than I needed, and in the end I had to veer off into the ditch to avoid collision, at which point he went about his merry way, and I got out my phone to call for help. I had to laugh a little, my prayer had been answered. Fortunately, before the requested help could arrive, unrequested help in the form of a very nice guy named Randy stopped and offered to tow me out of the ditch with his tow strap and 4x4 truck. How could I refuse? I dug enough of the snow out from underneath my car to find someplace to attach the hook, and a few moments later I was back on the road. After thanking Randy for his help and wishing him a merry Christmas, I made it the rest of the way to my folks' place with no trouble.
That's all for now, friend. If I write any longer, Laura will wonder why I keep joshing her about long posts. Only five days until Christmas!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
1. Christmas shopping isn't that bad, when you know exactly what you're looking for and where to find it (though I can think of one notable exception which I cannot discuss here at this time). All you really have to put up with is the bad music, and the fact that you're in a store (as a general rule, I'm very uncomfortable in stores).
2. Christmas shopping takes forever when you don't know exactly what you're looking for and/or where to find it.
I also discovered that while I prefer shopping alone for myself, Christmas shopping is far more pleasant with company, and that I am so lazy that standing and walking around in stores for as little as two hours makes me very tired. The good news is that I'm done with it all. Being an unmarried (at the moment) man, this means that I'm done with any and all Christmas-related stress. I don't have to host a big get-together or bake cookies for a hundred children or put up with relatives I don't like or any of those other things that some people (women) seem to find stressful about the Hallydays. I just show up at someone else's house, eat someone else's food, and put up with someone else's crazy relatives. Actually, that's a lie. I put up with my own crazy relatives. You can't outsource everything. That said, I actually get along pretty well with my family, so I'm probably the one they have to pretend to like. Maybe I'm easy to fool.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
We Wish You A Happy Holiday, We Wish You A Happy Holiday, We Wish You A Happy Holiday, and A Happy New Year!
I doubt that any of you care that much, but the song linked to above is a Christmas love song addressed to Johnny Hallyday's daughter, who, according to Wikipedia, Johnny and his wife adopted in 2004. The music video, again according to Wikipedia, appears to depict them going to Vietnam to meet her. Also, by sheer coincidence, Johnny announced his pending retirement from live performance within a few days of me blogging about him. Strange, no? What's that? You don't care about Johnny Hallyday? Oh, come on. You're no fun any more.
Friday, November 30, 2007
In other, totally unrelated news, it appears that the rumors that have (apparently) been circulating in unsavory corners of the entertainment industry for lo these many years are in fact true. I don't know what else to say, really. I only bring it up because some part of me, and it's a part of myself which I do not fully understand, is thinking hell yeah. The only thing I can be led to conclude is that there is either some part of me which loves to suffer, or else one which enjoys terrible, terrible cinema.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
That whole first paragraph was really just a preamble to this one, where I tell you about my day, only because my day is boring, I'll tell you about what didn't happen today. Capisce? It all started this morning (or did it?), when I didn't wake up in the cargo hold of a large freighter that wasn't bound for some tiny, nameless atoll that is not in the South Pacific, and is not the base of operations for some Crazy Organization Bent on the World's Eventual Besmirchment (COBWEB). A seven-foot tall one-eyed man with lots of buckles all over his black leather attire (which would've looked almost comical had it really existed) did not splash some dirty salt water in my face, which subsequently didn't burn in my various cuts and bruises. "How are you finding your quarters?" he did not say, sneering. "Wouldn't it be easier to just tell us all about this Plan 50-WD of yours?" he did not add. I did not defiantly spit in his eye. He then didn't come a step closer to teach me a lesson, which is what I would've needed had I really been there and had he really existed, and I didn't pull myself up by the chain that wasn't attached to the handcuffs around my wrists and suspended from the ceiling, nor did I deliver a swift, powerful kick to the middle of his fat, ugly face. If I had though, it would've been enough to knock him unconscious, allowing me to use one of the silly buckles he had on him to pick the lock in my handcuffs. It wasn't just the opportunity I needed. In the nick of time, I didn't escape. I didn't make my way unseen to the deck of the boat only to see that we had nearly arrived at the island that wasn't our destination. How long wasn't I unconscious below deck? How many days hadn't it been? I didn't jump overboard and swim to shore before the rest of the guards noticed me. Whatever hadn't drawn me there, whoever hadn't shanghaied me, wasn't waiting on that island.
Friday, November 16, 2007
What have you been at?
Composing Haikus perhaps?
I would like to know
I visited the 'dale last weekend, crashed on a friend's futon and went to a rock concert. All of these were fun except the futon, which was uncomfortable but is still very much appreciated. I was shocked by how old I felt, I don't remember college kids being so young. I was always amazed in college at how easy it was to survive and feel normal in an environment where you're surrounded only by your peers, sleeping irregularly and living on terrible food. I'm not sure whether it's more surprising that I used to live like that, or that, for the most part, I no longer do (I still can't cook).
I finished Hawthorne's The House of The Seven Gables a week or two ago, and am most of the way through The Blithedale Romance. Neither is as good as The Scarlet Letter in my estimation, but both have their merits and are quite enjoyable to read. I'm also going through Augustine's Confessions again. Despite my usual aversion to re-reading books (I will admit that this is mostly irrational), I've gone through this one probably three times before, and it's still quite good. I would love to check out a different translation at some point, though this one isn't at all bad ( that is as far as I can tell, I certainly can't read Latin).
That was a brief summary of my thoughts, and as you might have predicted, in no particular order. I shall hopefully post again before Thanksgiving Day, though I refuse to make any promise of this. Do stay warm, it's beginning (halfway through the month) to feel somewhat like November out there.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
On the "Approved" side of the ledger, there's:
4. Carving pumpkins
I would also mention Pumpkin Pie (note the ever-so-appropriate use of capital letters), except that I haven't had any yet. All of these things are pretty fun, and there isn't much about them that has anything to do with witches, ghouls, etc... I just finished carving up a pumpkin, which I had much fun with, and though I can't speak for the Linds, I think we both enjoyed the costume party we attended.
Now then, we move to the "Not-Approved" side of things... There's really a lot of material here, honestly too much for a post such as this, but the ones that jump out at me are as follows:
1. Lawn decorations. Too easy? Yeah, probably. The lights, the inflatable cartoon characters dressed as monsters, the fake cobwebs on the bushes, the fake tombstones, the witches hanging from trees. Good grief. I actually love it when people go buck-wild with Christmas decorations, but since Halloween isn't really celebrating anything, it seems really lame to go out of your way to decorate your house.
2. Trick-or-Treating. I know what you're thinking. Why do I like costume parties and not trick-or-treating? Because costume parties don't involve invading someone else's privacy. I will admit that I never did trick-or-treat as a child, but I don't think that factors in too much. I don't like strangers coming to the door and asking me for stuff, even if they are dressed like Spider-Man. Costume parties have the added benefit of being somewhat like Masquerades, which as we all know, are cool.
3. Vandalism. A well-played prank against friends is kind of fun, as long as it's done right, whatever. Toilet paper all over a stranger's trees? Not so whatever.
4. Ghosts, witches and stuff.
That about does it for now, will post more soon. Peace.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Addendum: I apologize to the multiple commenters who mistook my screenshot for a pop-up ad. I have my settings in Firefox such that I don't see too many pop-ups any more, and hadn't thought of the possibility of such a mistake. Also, I did of course buy the song.
Friday, October 05, 2007
*This is probably not at all true.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
So sorry about another Link-heavy post here, non-Paul Southpaw readers, I wish I could write a good blog, but you'll have to settle for consistently poor blogsmanship. The devil you know, eh? Look out for five posts in the month October, guaranSheed.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Anyways, there's more to write about, but if I write about it now I'll never reach my quota. Watch your head out there, you never know when it may be in some kind of peril.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Imagine, if you dare, that you are back in the tail end of the 1980s. Some years ago it seems that Haley’s Comet, while passing earth and wreaking its usual apocalyptic havoc, managed to get itself stuck in orbit around the earth, causing all manner of heretofore inconceivably atrocious occurrences of a most bizarre and otherworldly nature for the better part of a decade. The hideous and the weird are now commonplace. Everyone has a perm. David Bowie and Jim Henson make a movie together and nobody seems to bat an eyelash. Popular music, with few notable exceptions, is awful. Unforgivably awful, even. Films are no better. The muses of fashion, art, and architecture seem to have drowned themselves in a sea of petroleum byproducts, its bed cluttered in twisted metal. Volcanoes have erupted all over the known world. Crows fly by in the thousands, sometimes swooping down on the young and impressionable, forcing them to wear spandex and swear (lest their eyes be pecked from their sockets by a thousand hungry beaks) that Van Halen is the best band, like, ever. Glossy makeup and giant earrings on what would've been attractive women! Tight, stone-washed jeans! Heavy Metal! Chaos! FLASHDANCE! Yuppies ran screaming through the front door of their suburban 3-bedroom homes yelling “YE GODS, why didst thou smite the world with the cruel blight that is the NINETEEN EIGHTEES? What was our offence?”
Somehow, in the midst of all this, something happened that was no less strange, but felt somehow less tainted by the filth and decadence of the age than the chaos which surrounded it. How exactly it happened no one knows, but somehow, drawn by some power unknown to them (or any other), Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and Roy Orbison found themselves together in Dylan’s home recording studio, if Dylan could be said to have a home, somewhere in California. None could answer as to their purpose for being there, but as they were all there, in a recording studio, and seeing how they were musicians and all, they decided to form a band, write some songs, and lay them down on a record. So they did, as if it weren’t the strangest musical meeting of the minds that any of them had ever experienced, which it almost surely was. Imagine Tom Petty and Bob Dylan singing backup for, anyone, and then imagine them doing so for Roy Orbison, on a record also featuring, and produced by, the leader of the Electric Light Orchestra. And then throw in one of The Beatles. Weird. Of course, once you have that group together, inconceivable as it may be, it would be still more inconceivable if they didn’t have Jim Keltner play drums, seeing as he’s Jim Keltner and that’s what he does, so they did. Oh yeah, and Ray Cooper. That’s right. THE Ray Cooper.
Of course, being me, I had heard about The Traveling Wilburys (for so they were called) before. I was something of an insomniac during my first two years of college, and on those late nights when I couldn't sleep, I would often mosey on down to the television room of my dorm, inhabited in those wee hours by the nocturnal strain of that strange species that is the male college student. The guys there knew me only as "D," for so I had first introduced myself. I suppose that they fit a certain stereotype pretty well: They wore mostly dark colors, had better than a working knowledge of Magic: The Gathering, and more often than not it seemed as if a few of them could use a shower. They were pleasant enough, though. I suppose that I must've seemed as odd to them as they did to me. I would wander down in the middle of an Inuyasha marathon, dressed in my burgundy bathrobe and fuzzy pink slippers, with a mess of blond hair around my shoulders, and then I'd just sort of sit down and engage in conversation, as if they weren't watching telly. The most talkative of the group (to me, at least) was Erick, a tall fellow who you would probably peg as the quiet type, but who could (as it turns out) talk for quite a while, if you ask the right questions. I think I may be reasonably good at asking the right questions. Among other things, Erick seemed (or seems, rather) to have an encyclopedic knowledge of popular and even not-so-popular music (he could tell you all about Elvis or The Beatles, but preferred Alice Cooper), and being something of a music nerd myself, our questions often drifted towards that side of the lake. He's an interesting guy. At some point, actually after I had ceased to live in the dorm, Erick was sitting behind me in a music theory class, and asked me if I'd heard The Traveling Wilburys. I told him that I'd heard of them, in the way you heard about Bigfoot or space aliens at Roswell, but that I'd never been able to track down any of their music. "It's all out of print," he explained, "I'll burn you a CD." College is great. True to his word, the next time we met he handed me a CDR marked only with a green "X," drawn by a Sharpie marker. Some of the tracks wouldn't play on my computer, and the sound quality of the tracks that did work indicated to me that someone had ripped their cassette tape or LP. But hey, it was pretty good.
There are a few things that are important to keep in mind here:
1. This was the late 1980's. Dylan, whose career has had a lot of ups and downs, was in something of a low period here. George was also not producing his best stuff in 1988. Orbison was about to record a comeback album that would be hailed as his best work since the sixties, but tragically died before it was released (final production work was done by Lynne and several others, including Bono). None of these guys, except for maybe Tom Petty, were making their best stuff at the time.
2. This was, actually, an accident. They all happened to be in the same place at the same time, and they all, like many, many, musicians, were friends with George Harrison. They weren't attempting to make the best album ever here, and if they did, it wouldn't have worked.
3. Half of the appeal here is the sheer weirdness of it all.
What they did end up making, however, is pretty fun. They apparently wrote and recorded the first album in a matter of ten days, and then Lynne and Harrison cleaned up the tape and did some mixing and production work before releasing the thing. Here's a video of the lead single from the album, "Handle With Care." The rest of it is pretty much like that. As you can see, this isn't going to top any sane person's "Top Ten" list (although the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences nominated it for "Album of The Year," it lost to Bonnie Rait's "Nick of Time"), but it's pretty fun. I especially like the fact that everyone is very clearly in the late 1980s, and looks very goofy to prove it. The poofy hair and goofy clothing, combined with the group vocals, are more than vaguely reminiscent of The Muppets to me. Booyah.Oh yeah. I only thought to mention this because the Wilburys' two albums (the second, sadly, without Roy Orbison) have recently been re-mastered and re-released in a re-diculously, um, really remarkable box set. Of course, I just lose CD cases and what-not, plus it's all cheaper on iTunes, so I iTunes'd it instead. Fun.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Item #233 on the list of Signs That You're Being Scammed On The Internet: A woman you've never met who lives in Mali offers you, a sheep farmer in your late fifties, $85,000 IN GOLD to marry her.
Here's an excerpt from The CIA World Factbook on Mali:
Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing.
Now, I also notice the part about "a highly unequal distribution of income," but I'd be willing to bet that the folks who have $85k in gold just collecting dust in the closet don't have to outsource the marriage of their daughters to 56-year-old Australian sheep farmers. It's the rest of the populace that would love to marry themselves and their children out a' Dodge.
That said, we at The Republic of D.Cous. are not without sympathy for Mr. Gregor, who made his way to Africa looking for money and a new bride, and instead found a group of unpleasant fellows who threatened to chop off his limbs with machetes. We're just saying that he should've seen something of this sort coming. So here's a piece of absolutely gratis advice for Des Gregor, should he happen upon this blog:
Should a former high-ranking official of a now-defunct third-world government ask for your assistance in transferring monies out of his tiny, war-torn country in exchange for a large portion of said monies, say no.
Sorry for yet another worthless post, dear readers (if you're keeping track, this makes 90 straight). I noticed the other day that I'd made 3 posts in January, 5 in February, 3 in March, 5 in April, 3 in May, 5 in June, and 3 in July. Isn't that weird? Anyways, I figure that after this post I only need to make 2 more this month to keep the streak going. "Why," you ask? Why indeed.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Monday, August 06, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
On a more serious note, I would like to ask for prayers for the two of us as we start the lengthy and complex process of getting hitched, Papist style. We have a meeting set up with our parish tomorrow, from which I have no idea what to expect. I'm sort of picturing something along the lines of the Emerald City scene in The Wizard of Oz, where Deacon Lou speaks from behind a screen of fire and a giant hologram of his head, "WHO DARES APPROACH ME? WHAT DO YOU WANT?" At this point I'm shrinking behind Linds (who for some reason is wearing pigtails and a blue dress, and has a small dog in a basket), and manage to stammer out "M-m-m-me... I... I... I would like to marry Lindsey... s-s-s-s-sir...." Ok, maybe it will be nothing like that at all. maybe I should stop writing this. I can't believe that this paragraph started with "On a more serious note," and ended with The Wizard of Oz.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Where can I get an outfit like that? Do they make it in a size 36?
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Global Warming: 0
How disappointing. I guess I should be happy, but come on. I mean, it wasn't even a fight. Global Warming just looked like it didn't know what it was doing out there. People were calling this The Greatest Challenge The Human Race Has Ever Faced, and instead it was over so fast it wasn't even funny. Sigh.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
The Good News: Sting is on the case! And not just Sting! Depressed Nineties Guy has joined the fight, as well as that funny-smelling guy who sat behind you in English class's favorite band, not to mention Bon Jovi, a woman old enough to be your mom (not to be confused with Jon Bon Jovi), Snoop Dizzle (f'shizzle), that one dude who sang that one song that all the girls liked last year, and thank the gods, Metallica!
Yes, after having successfully defeated global poverty in 2005 (that happened, right?), the Recording Industry is once again banding together (yuk yuk) to defeat Earth's most fearsome foe yet: Carbon Dioxide Emissions!
Bless you, Recording Industry! Bless you, Sting! Bling!
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Thank you for your constant efforts to keep me informed of Paris Hilton's whereabouts, what she is drinking, driving, wearing, eating, and fornicating with. Thank you for making sure that I can't turn on a radio, television, or internet browser without receiving an up-to-the-minute account of what exactly Ms. Hilton is doing, in any possible sense of the word. However, it pains me to inform you that I have no interest whatsoever in Miss Hilton's activities, nor can I conceive of any future situation where I might become interested in such information, unless it turns out that she is some sort of alien invader bent on the destruction of Earth. So, unless she suddenly becomes 20 stories tall and starts eating city dwellers by the bus load, don't bother telling me.
Also, and I don't want to seem ungrateful for your years of hard work, but I feel compelled to tell you before you expend any more energy on this that I have never cared about Princess Diana, God rest her soul. I still don't care what her children are doing, or how they feel about her, now that she's gone. Don't get me wrong, I hope that she is now in heaven, and I bear no ill will towards her bereaved family and friends, if famous people can have friends (I have my doubts). Nonetheless, I feel no need whatsoever to hear or see anything about her at all. I don't care. I have never cared. She died when I was 13 years old, and before she died, I had no idea that she had ever existed. Ten years later, I still just think of her (on the rare occasion that I think of her at all) as the dead broad with the bad haircut. A more interesting monarch would have had her coiffeur beheaded.
So, there you have it. Thanks for keeping me informed, but no thanks.
Ok, whew. Sorry everybody for the self-indulgent rant. I realize that both of my readers probably share some portion of my sentiments.
Friday, June 22, 2007
1. Icky Thump: The first single and title track includes a great, late-Zeppelin-esque riff, Jack trading solos with himself on guitar and what I believe is a vintage synthesizer, and great fast-rhyming lyrics such as: "Redhead senorita lookin' dead came to, said "need a bed?" en espanol..." Ok, maybe you'd need to hear it to get what I'm talking about. It's cool, trust me.
4. Conquest: This song is great. It appears to be a cover of someone named Corky Robbins, who I am not cultured enough to be familiar with. I imagine that in its original form, it was a latin-sounding jazzy thing, and in some sense it still is, except that it's played by The White Stripes. It's got some great trumpet work on it (by a rarity on a White Stripes album, a session musician), and one of Jack's best vocal performances to date.
8. Little Cream Soda: I wouldn't have guessed that a song with such a silly name could rock so hard. The vocals are something like early Dylan talkin' blues, and the guitar is something like Randy Rhoads heavy metal, though there's no 5-minute fretboard-tapping solo.
9. Rag and Bone: This may be my favorite song on the album, though I probably wouldn't call it the best song on the album, if the distinction makes any sense to you. The verses are a mix of Jack and Meg talking to each other and Jack in song imploring the listener to give them a bunch of junk, which they can find a use for. I can't explain it any better than that. It's hilarious.
13. Effect and Cause: Part of the Stripes' appeal are the simple yet often very clever lyrics of their songs, and this song is loaded with them. It's very fun.
Anyhoo, that's almost all I've got to say about that. It's an awesome album, and if you're the sort of person who likes the White Stripes, you'll like it. Two more side notes before we're done:
First, the White Stripes are weirdos. From their obsession with the number 3 to their color-coordination to their pretending to be brother and sister to writing large pieces of an album about being in love with Rita Hayworth, notwithstanding that a lot of this is probably shtick, they are odd people. They are also awesome. They make cool music that is very fun to listen to, and they're very good performers if you ever get to see them live. Neil and I saw them in Detroit some years back, and for most of the show Jack pretended to think that they were in Toledo ("Thank you, Toledo! It's great to be here!"). Maybe you'd have to be there, but it was funny.
Second, and this is about the comments: I love it when people comment on my blog. It doesn't validate my existence, really, but it does validate the small part of my existence which I spend writing this blog. Please, comment on my posts if you have something to say, or even if you haven't (Lord knows, I haven't). However, before you comment, if you think that you have something witty and clever to say about Meg White's drumming, you're probably wrong. Can't say I didn't warn you.
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
I gave a letter to the pooooooostman,
He put it in his sack
(Duh dun duh dun duh dun duh dun - I also hum the bass line)
Bright and early next mooooooooornin'
He brought my letter back
(She wrote upon it)
RETURN TO SENDER!
NO SUCH NUMBER!
NO SUCH ZONE!
WE HAD A QUARREL
A LOVER'S SPAT
I write I'm sorry, but my letter keeps coming back
(Duh dun duh dun duh dun duh dun....)
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH! Somebody help me. Please.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
I've been on something of a Band kick for the past week or so (capital B), after putting my seldom-used copy of The Basement Tapes in my car's CD player on a whim. It's one of the few Bob Dylan-related things I've bought that I didn't really like, in fact I don't think I'd played it more than once since purchasing it some years ago, before college. I hadn't even ripped it onto my computer. Since then, I'd become something of a fan of The Band, since checking The Last Waltz out of the college library a few years back, and purchasing their first two albums shortly thereafter. I can still hear what initially turned me off of The Basement Tapes when I first heard the two-CD set: Bob Dylan barely sings on the whole album, but he does speak on quite a few tracks, and many (perhaps most) of the lyrics on the thing are less coherent even than Dylan's previous three albums, which were filled mostly with psychedelic imagery and twangy Fender country blues, with some beat-poet aesthetic thrown in for good measure. Suffice to say that while The Basement Tapes were made between two of Dylan's best (and very different) albums (Blonde On Blonde and John Wesley Harding), they really don't represent him at his best, and I bought the CDs because I was a fan of Bob Dylan. Also, while it has been claimed that some of the recordings were doctored with overdubs later (neither here nor there as far as I'm concerned), the "album" is still essentially six guys goofing off in a basement with musical instruments and home recording equipment in 1967, so the sound quality is far from (shall we say) pristine. What surprised me was how much of the album (primarily The Band's numbers, and a few Dylan gems) I really really liked this time around. There's a reason that this thing was one of the very first (and almost certainly the most famous) bootleg recordings for years before it was officially released by Columbia. Anyways, I'm not going to tell you to run out and buy the thing as quickly as you can. The Band's music isn't (or wasn't for me) all that accessible on your first listen on nearly any level. There really aren't catchy pop hooks, polished (or, for that matter, Polish) vocals, or anything of the kind to draw you in at first. I just really like it, that's all.
At the request of my friend John, who now has a blog about baseball (and, specifically, Sabermetrics), I finally got around to finishing Moneyball , the only book I've ever read about baseball (or for that matter, sport). While I'm not about to move into my mom's basement and start a blog about baseball (or even get more books about it), I have to admit that I actually enjoyed the book. This may be because the Michael Lewis (the author) is a storyteller more than a baseball guy, and so the book is rather accessible to someone who probably watches less than ten whole baseball games in a year, and that's counting an extraordinary two trips to the ballpark, and in a year when the Tigers go to the World Series (I do like baseball, but I'm no die-hard by any stretch of the imagination). Perhaps what makes the book so likable is that for a book about baseball, very little print is spent talking about the events of a baseball game. Almost none, actually. What makes the book interesting is that it's basically about the Economics of putting together a baseball team, written by someone who is not an economist, nor does he work in baseball (this is a good thing: constituents of both groups tend to alienate and/or bore those outside of them). He just likes the story, which is basically the age-old sports underdog story, but this time it's about financial and strategic savvy. Rather than the "Little Team With The Big Heart That Won Against All Odds" story, you get the "Little Team With the Small Payroll That Won Lots Of Games By Hiring Good Players That Nobody Else Thought Were Valuable For Relatively Small Amounts Of Money" story. Doesn't sound quite as catchy as a made-for-tv-movie title, but it makes a far less over-told story. Along the way it allows one to chuckle at some of the conventional wisdom clichés that dominate pro sports and their commentators (one of the reasons for my limited interest in televised sport is the idiots they always get to comment on the games). One of my favorite parts of the book is how Billy Beane (General Manager of the Oakland Athletics, and the book's protagonist) has to keep reminding his scouting staff that when hiring ball players, The A's are trying to win games, rather than sell blue jeans (the book suggests that guys who look good playing baseball tend to be paid more than those who don't, because people tend to think that they play better, even when this is verifiably not the case). Anyways, the book is fun and pretty easy to read if you're into that sort of thing (or, in my case, even if you're not). My only cautionary remark is that it is still about professional sport, and therefore occasionally contains the kind of language which you would expect from such a testosterone-fueled environment.
I've gone on too long to continue, I'll write about the rest of my doings and media consumption later...
Friday, May 25, 2007
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Oh my stars and constellations, an update! The poison ivy game is going as well as can be expected, thanks for asking, which is to say that I haven’t yet reached Round Three. Let me see, where to start. It really has been a while, hasn’t it? Let’s see…
Lindsey and I went to see the band Over the Rhine a while back (nearly two weeks), that was awesome. The venue (The Ark) was small and we sat in the second row off to the right of the stage, Lindsey sang along to the songs, and I think it’s safe to say that we both had a great time. I’d picked up their two most recent albums (Ohio and Drunkard’s Prayer) in the few months since getting the tickets so that I’d know some of the material (I’d only heard of them before through Lindsey), which turned out to be a good move, since most of the songs they played were from those albums, with the exception of a few songs from their forthcoming album. They started the show with “Born,” one of my favorites, and ended with “Stella’s Tarantella,” one of Lindsey’s, the whole set was great. Lindsey stole the drummer Mickey’s setlist after the show, then we hung around for a while to meet the band, and Linds bought a poster and got the band to sign the back of the t-shirt she’d made.
The following weekend I went out to GR once again, this time for the wedding of some friends. As always when I go out there the company was great, and time flew by. I finally got to meet Lindsey’s boss Donna, who was as awesome as I’d heard she was and more, and is also a pretty good dancer. It was a great wedding, and this time out nobody caught my merriment on cell phone video and showed it to my girlfriend’s entire family, so I may have left with some shard of my dignity intact. Eh, maybe not. Sunday evening I had a close call with a leak in my tire, which Lindsey’s neighbor graciously fixed, allowing me to get home that night. Praise God! I never did understand a word that he said, but that stranger sure did fix my tire.
This past weekend was a busy one, but fun. I played softball in Saline on Friday night, which I had to leave early to get to a gig in Ypsi on time, only to find out that our band had been pushed back in the bill, and I would have had time to finish the game, run home, and change before running out. As it was, I played in a grimy bar full of indie scene kids with colored tape on their Chuck Taylors and t-shirts of bands that they really really hope you haven’t heard of in a sweaty company softball team t-shirt, athletic pants, and running shoes. ‘Twas amusing. Saturday I drove down to Hillsdale for commencement, saw a lot of friends for a short period of time, cracked jokes with them about "Pomp and Circumstance," commencement speaker Mitt Romney (the speech had nothing to do with graduation, and everything to do with “I’m Mitt Romney, and I’m running for President”), and the name of Hillsdale’s new Student Union, cheered loudly for my friends as they walked across the stage, ate Chinese, and went home.
Sunday I went to Mass, then stopped at home to wish Mama a happy Mother’s Day and to watch a dozen donuts get devoured by four siblings in approximately 2.4 seconds. I stroked my beard in an old man sort of way and explained to them that “back in the day” a dozen donuts would have been split between all 13 of us, and we were grateful, darnit! On the way back to Saline I received a call from Dean, who informed me that he was hanging out with my housemate, and wondering if I was planning to go with him back to Hillsdale for Justin & Emily’s wedding. Apparently, I was running late. I arrived home a few moments later, straigtened my tie, and we hit the road. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, the wedding was nice, the reception was nice, cake was served, and a splendid time was had by all. Offhand, I'd say that the reception had probably the most Salsa music of any Dutch wedding I've ever attended, not that I've attended many.
Anyways, that's all for now. I hope that all's well with you.
Monday, May 07, 2007
1. The contestant cannot, under any circumstances, touch the infected area on his skin. The penalty for doing so is that all other parts of the body will quickly be infected.
2. The contestant is allowed to use whatever medical treatments are at his disposal - ointments, creams, bandages, snake oil, voodoo, alcoholism, amputation - in an attempt to treat the poison ivy and keep it from spreading to the rest of his body.
3. (And this is the important part.) It makes absolutely no difference what the poor fool tries, it isn't going to work. He's just going to keep on finding more and more festering, infected sores all over his wretched body, that will continue to ooze and itch for a period of time that one might be forgiven for mistaking for the remainder of his accursed life. At this Point, we begin Round Three.
Round Three is always interesting, because it's played somewhat differently every time. In Round Three, the contestant walks out onto a tall bridge, or perhaps a tall building, or maybe even a cliff, and hurls himself over the edge, generally (though not always) yelling something along the lines of "Goodbye, cruel, itchy world." Maybe he goes out and buys himself a cheap replica of a Japanese Katana, sharpens it with all the skill that his suburban upbringing affords him, and commits sepuku. One contestant accidentally (or so we think) drowned himself in a tub of calamine lotion. You just never know what to expect from Round Three!
Monday, April 30, 2007
Ok, phew. Chill out, Cous. You're gonna break the keyboard. Right. To be honest, I'm not totally sure what the oppressed multitude will yell, but it'll be something pretty dramatic, that's for darn sure. You get the idea. By this point, if you're still reading (or, for that matter, if you started reading at all) you're probably wondering what I'm on about, so I should give you a little context: For the past two years, I've been a Sprint wireless customer (my account disappears in two short days, by the way), and at work we have a few Nextel phones, which we are slowly phasing out of use. To that end, I had to call Nextel (somewhat recently acquired by Sprint) to find out when certain contracts expire, how much it would cost to end the contract before expiration, and a few other questions related to the service. It hardly matters what exactly my questions were, because the odds of speaking to a human being at Sprint are slim to none. I would venture a guess that there are more people currently climbing Mount Everest than answering the telephone for Sprint. So, over the course of a week or so, every now and then when I was doing something that did not require leaving my desk, I'd give Sprint a call. The general form of each call was something like this:
*ring... ring... ring...*
Computer: "Welcome to Sprint. Para make-a da computer speak-a da spanish, pressiona uno."
Computer: "To activate your new phone, press one. For all other options, press two."
Computer: "Please hold. All of our operators are currently assisting someone else, and by the way, your call may be recorded for training and quality assurance purposes."
Then begins a short segment of what, for lack of a better definition, I'll call "music," which lasts for about forty seconds, then loops back to the beginning. I don't know the name of the person who "wrote" this "music," but I'm pretty sure that they were hung following the Neuremburg trials, or should have been.
What happens next varies a bit from call to call. Most of the time what would happen is that I'd put the hold music on speaker phone and do my work for the next two hours, then hang up in frustration at the end of the work day. About a third of the time, however, the computer would put me on hold for about fifteen minutes, and then just hang up on me. I'm almost sure that this is a breakthrough in the growing feild of Bad Customer Service.
But Cous, you're saying, what about those new-fangled Inter-nets? Surely, a company as large as Sprint would have a usefull and informative website. Good question, reader. Unfortunately, belonging to Generation Y (I think), that was actually the first thing I tried. That's where I got the 3 or 4 different phone numbers I used for the above exchange. Let's try a little experiment, just for fun. Go to www.sprint.com, and at the top of the screen, click on the link that says "Contact Us." Under the headings "Customer Service" and "Nextel," you'll see a link that says "Service & Repair." Click it. Did you get This screen?I did. I think you can click it to make it bigger, but in case you can't, it's a very informative page, telling you when the service and repair kiosk will be open at some sort of racetrack, during some sort of race. Or maybe all races. I'm not sure. It just doesn't say. In fact, it makes absolutely no sense. You know the old cliche about monkeys and typwriters? I think they've moved up to computers and html, but have yet to come up with anything remotely shakespearean.
I've run out of time and lost my train of thought at this point, suffice to say that Sprint doesn't like people, and I don't like Sprint. You get the idea. I'll try to post something happy here soon (Lindsey graduated!), enjoy the weather out there!