Monday, December 31, 2007

All is quiet on New Year's Eve

It's the eve of the New Year already, and what better way to ring in the last few hours before the new year (this time without capital letters) than by completing my stupid 3-5-3 streak on this blog! Hold on to your heads amigos, this post's shaping up to be a real doozy. I'm thinking about re-thinking what I'm doing here at The Republic in 2008. I created this blog in order to keep in touch with family while I was in college, and to have a reason to make myself write every now and then. Not that I have any aspirations as a writer, keep in mind, but I do enjoy doing it and I thought it'd be good to have an excuse to write something every now and then that wasn't a paper. I still want to have the outlet for the written by-product of whatever it is that my mind does, but I should probably try to give myself something to write about. I guess I just feel very fortunate that both of you read this thing every now and then, and that I owe it to you to give you the best output possible. I think I'll also alter the colour scheme or what-not again, because that's easier, but I really do want to write better than I am right (write?) now. Have I babbled enough? Good. Now's when I really get the hamsters cooking in hollandaise with garlic, not to eat, mind you, but to use as bait for when I finally get that tiger trap put together. If there's one thing a tiger can't resist, it's navigating his web browser away from this blog whilst eating hamster-in-hollandaise-flavored potato chips, which you can only get in certain countries, even thought they're made right here in Detroit at Frito Lay. What? Why? Who? Forget all of those silly questions, and then ask yourself if it's really time (When?) to stop hitting me with that inflated latex glove for no apparent reason. Sigh. Happy New Year, Republic of D.Cous. readers!

Friday, December 28, 2007


Merry Christmas. I still feel somewhat ecstatic every time I say that, so I apologize if it's gotten on your nerves by now. The festivities have mostly wound down, though I still have one family Christmas party and whatever I end up doing for New Year's coming up, which admittedly may be nothing. Lindsey and I managed to attend both of our families' parties and visit with siblings and friends in from out of town over the past few days. I'm extremely grateful that our families live only a short distance apart, and that we didn't have to choose between either seeing my family or hers. I received some fun gifts, I think none that I shan't enjoy using greatly. I had no figgy pudding whatsoever, and I still have no idea what it's like, but there were ample cups of good cheer enjoyed, to say nothing of the other assorted goodies with which I've been fattening myself for the slaughter of late. I couldn't help but think, when Christmas day was upon us, that I wasn't ready. I had the superficial things out of the way, I thought, but notwithstanding that we celebrate it every year, the coming of the Savior among us seems significant enough to me that the celebration of such an event should involve a great deal more spiritual reflection than I've ever put into it. Still, when I awoke shortly after the sun on Christmas morning, no longer because of the anticipation of new toys and good food, but because of that nefarious device which I daily inflict upon myself for that express purpose, I was struck with a remarkable feeling of joy. I didn't feel that the world was suddenly peaceful, or that my life would suddenly sort out all of its own problems, nor did I feel as if the spirit of Christmas had somehow transformed me into a better version of myself. What struck me, I think, was the realization that behind the silly lights and gifts and slightly less silly talk and songs about peace on earth and goodwill towards men, we have a very real reason to be filled with unimaginable joy in the person of Jesus. It suddenly felt to me as if all of the silly things were not just some tradition which we drag out every year for lack of anything better to do when the weather gets cold, they are our imperfect attempts at celebrating something truly beyond our imagination in its greatness. I simultaneously felt sad for all of the people (often including myself) who wish our grocery store cashiers Merry Christmas and buy gifts for our loved ones just for the sake of doing so. I know I'm not saying anything worth reading here, but sometimes I have to step back and remember that for all of my skepticism about this or that insignificant thing, I truly believe not only that the most spectacular miracle imaginable could happen, but that it has. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snow Snow Snow Snow!

Hello friends! Last weekend was an eventful one here in the Republic, and one which brought our first substantial snowfall of the year. I started this post a few days ago, so I may as well finish it now:

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

And December Rolls Onwards

Well, by Jingo! If it isn't the Twelfth of the month already! Time does fly. It's been freezing rain on and off (and on again) for the past week here in Michigan, leaving the world a startlingly unpicturesque melange of mud and ice, with a generous helping of road salt everywhere there are roads to be salted (which, as you know, is everywhere around here). On Sunday I took an afternoon drive down to Hillsdale to see my friend Matthew's voice recital, which was awesome. On the way down there though I was caught for some time almost directly behind a salt truck, on a section of highway which afforded no passing zones for several miles. The poor Cousmobile was both forced to travel at speeds so slow as to be unsafe to the sanity of its driver, and was subjected to a horrible, corrosive barrage of the hateful sodium. It actually made me glad for the freezing rain coming down all the way back, cleansing my poor car of the disgusting gray film in which it had been enveloped. Secretly, I sort of enjoy bad road conditions, because they give driving anywhere a sense of adventure, and demand more attention of the driver. I think I would enjoy it more if there were no other drivers on the road to worry about. Yes, true to human nature, I trust other peoples' driving abilities far less than I trust my own. I've taken two more cracks at Christmas shopping since posting last, not counting one or two of the online variety, and have reached two useful conclusions:
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!

It's The People's Republic of D.Cous.'s multicultural Hallyday Season post! We here at the Republic would like to start out by wishing all of you the very best this Hallyday season. We would also like to point out, though it's as plain as the nose on your face (or the very big one on his), that Johnny Hallyday is awesome. It turns out that at least half of the Hallyday lights that I put up at the office (see the last post) don't work after all (though I swear I checked them), so I'll have to take them down and replace them at some point. Oh well. I've actually managed to get some of my Hallyday shopping done early this year, which is unusual enough for me that when I mentioned it to my friend Jonathan, he remarked "is it December 23rd already?" I was present and sort of participated in Lindsey's family's tree decoration last weekend, I think for the third year in a row. I only "sort of" participated because each member of La Famille Mish has their own designated ornaments to hang (and, if I'm not mistaken, designated parts of the tree to decorate), so I mostly sat around and tried out the family's new video camera, getting candid footage of tree decoration and a few property disputes over prime tree space that nearly developed into Wild West-era range wars, among other traditional Hallyday activities. Suffice to say, I loved it. I'm also looking forward to tree decorating at my folks' place when they get their tree (provided that I get invited, which is a toss-up in my family), which I'm sure will be a different affair altogether. It will probably start with us going through the huge box of Hallyday lights only to discover that (and this is my official prediction, a 5% improvement since last year) 15% work. We'll then spend at least half an hour cannibalizing bulbs from one string of lights in order to augment the other, and another ten minutes or so untangling lights (it's always the strand that works which is most tangled). After wrapping the two strands of working lights around our Hallyday tree, we'll open up the giant box o' ornaments, and begin searching for ornaments that are neither broken, nor ugly. Finding few that fit these criteria, we'll broaden them a bit, probably whilst making some comments about how we should get Mama and Papa some new Hallyday ornaments one of these days. If it goes anything like previous years, roughly zero ornaments and zero ornamentation zones on the tree will posses any particular sentimental value to anyone, and people will hang ornaments based roughly on their height (which is getting more difficult as Owen and Fiona grow up, approaching the maximum possible height in my family of 5'6"), with a ladder thrown in there to make sure that the branches more than 6' off the ground still get decorated. We'll probably throw on one of our family's few Hallyday-themed LP records (unfortunately, none of these feature Johnny himself) whilst decorating the tree. Ah, the Hallydays. Speaking of which, while you're out there getting your Hallyday shopping done on the Inter-nets, you might consider using this, which is a search engine designed to help you spend that last $2.50 needed on Amazon to qualify for free shipping. Cool, eh? I thought so. That's all for now, stay tuned for four more posts this month, the majority of which are likely to be Hallyday-themed.

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

If I Must, I Must

My fingers are numb, my face is red, and I'm standing on a ladder putting up fake pine branches wrapped in Christmas lights which, against all odds, seem to work. All I want is some hot chocolate, but for some reason I can't keep the first verse of "Silver Bells" from running through my head. It has apparently been recorded by everyone who has ever been in the music business, probably as some sort of initiation ritual, but the version that gets stuck in my head at this time of year (I don't much care for the song, by the way) is from the 1975 LP record "Merry Christmas From Sesame Street," which I believe my parents still own (much to their chagrin). Sigh. I guess I'm ready for December to be here. I do love a great deal of it very much, though I shall have to try to avoid stores and such to the greatest extent possible until it's all over with.

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

This Is Not My Day (Part One?)

Anyone remember the film Good Morning Vietnam? Sure you do. It was that Robin Williams film about how the Vietnam War was bad, partly because it was poorly executed and partly because of the horrible loss of life, but mostly because the people in charge of running the darned thing were a bunch of squares who didn't like Rock n' Roll. No wonder we lost. I remember the film as being somewhat amusing, but now that I think about it, it has about the same plot as Williams' films Patch Adams, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Jumanji (ok, not Jumanji). Anyways, I only bring this up because there's a scene in the film where Robin Williams' character just can't take all the lameness that his superiors force upon him any more, so he breaks military protocol by describing an actual event on the air, rather than a sanitized-to-protect-morale version of said event, but he does so by cleverly stating that everything that happened DID NOT happen, right after describing how it happened in detail. Have I lost you yet? You aren't really reading this anyways? Good enough. Anyways, Paragraph break!

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

Slight of Hand and Twist of Fate

Gweetings, music wuvahs! Huhuhuhuhuhuhu. How's November been to you? Good? Splendid. I don't suppose that you've missed much (or even missed me) if you haven't seen me lately, but I've been getting by alright. I was excited, even though I had sworn never to return, to journey to that city I'd rather not mention if I mayn't, to see indie-rock weirdos The Decemberists in concert, but something, perhaps naught but the unsavory aura of that unholy place, deterred said troubadours from their stated purpose, and in fact led them to discontinue the remainder of their performance tour wholesale. Would that a fissure would open in the earth to blot from its gentle face such a ghastly blemish as that city, so rudely named for one of our Great Nation's worthy progenitors. But enough of such things.

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

I don't know why I even bother...

You know, for the first eight months of the year, I posted very consistently. But then, curse my miserable fate, I noticed. Now I'm cramming, just to maintain a stupid streak on this stupid blog, because now I feel as if I must. Somebody help me, I'm going insane. Now if you're like me (and I'll bet a round chicken in a dumpling stew that you are) you're probably wondering by now where we're all going with this, and brother I'd be lying to you (that'll be the day!) if I were to say that I'm not very often wondering this selfsame thing, but let's not concern ourselves with such matters at present, goodness knows that worrying never hurt the worrisome, except for all the worrying. What am I talking about? I'm talking about good, cold, hard, American granite, with your name (and if you buy a big enough slab, that of your wife) carved on it for all of your posterity to visit once a year until they grow accustomed to your once-conspicuous absence. How much will it cost? Never you worry about that, think of it as an investment in a future without you in it. Now there, there, don't go running for your dear life until you've heard the best part: If you divide three elephants by fourteen vultures, that comes to just enough pachyderm fillet to make sure that nobody, and I mean nobody comes through that door unless they say the password, which as we all know is the last four stage directions for the Sugar Plum Fairy: "Dance, twirl, then dance some more, then get offstage you're killing Tchaikovsky." Just remember that one man's Jalopy is another man's Lincoln Continental, and one man's Lincoln Continental can very quickly become another man's Lincoln Continental, if the first man happens to leave the keys in it. I think that just about does it for now, I feel a strange urge to eat pumpkin pie, but as I haven't any (there was none in the Lincoln Continental I just stole), I suppose I'll have to make do without, and perhaps its for the best after all.

A Shameful Omission

Somehow, and I swear it wasn't for the purposes of coming up with another post, I left out of my previous list one of the worst things about Halloween (besides prostitute costumes): Halloween-themed songs. Every year around this time I seem to have forgotten last year's barrage of "The Monster Mash," and unsuspectingly turn on my radio, expecting to find one of the normal ten songs that the radio plays these days. At first, it was just as I had suspected. The Fray's "How To Save A Life" was clocking in its ten quadrillionth play on the air, so I was still suspecting nothing when I changed the radio station, only to hear "The Monster Mash" in all its badness, coming through my tortured car speakers. It was too much. I changed to the classic rock station, only to hear some piece of rubbish I've never heard before, but was so bad that it could only find airtime if it were somehow related to this stupid holiday. If my bruised memory serves, I would guess that the song was called "Dracula's Girl," or perhaps "Dracula's Sister," and had been made sometime around 1979. Shiver. I've stuck to NPR and my CD player since then, my fragile nerves can only handle that sort of thing once in a great while. Knowing my luck, Terry Gross will interview whoever the heck wrote "Moster Mash" on Fresh Air, and it'll be all over. They'll find me sitting in a bunker here behind my wall, waiting for the worms to come.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

By Request...

A while ago, someone, no doubt trying to get me to shut up about whatever it was I was going on about at the time, suggested that I do a post about Halloween, or as you may know it, er... Halloween. I guess I could also call it "All Hallows Eve," that sounds goode and olde timeye. In any case, as time is short, and I'm in desperate need of two whole posts after this one, and yet before midnight tomorrow (in order to lift some curse or something, I don't know. Work with me here), I'm going to give you, my devoted (and in most cases imaginary) readership a breakdown of the D.Cous.-Approved and Non-D.Cous.-Approved portions of this ridiculous holiday.
On the "Approved" side of the ledger, there's:
1. Candy
2. Costumes
3. Parties
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:
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

Before My Laptop Battery Dies

Good gracious and a half, blogosphere, my five-post October is in jeopardy! Crazy. Cecelia recommended that I give the world my thoughts on All Hallows Eve, which I shall attempt to do at some future date (hopefully before the fact), but for now my battery is dying and the World Series is on television, so I'll just leave you with a screenshot that is making my evening funnier:
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


I learned this morning by listening to the radio during my two-minute commute that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, of which I was previously unaware. I guess I knew that there was such a month, but I wasn't aware of what month it was, or even if it was the same month every year. In any case, I figure that it's high time that I started doing my part in the valiant fight against the not-quite-leading-cause of death among people with breasts. However, as it seems that lots of people are already out there raising money for research towards finding a cure, there probably aren't enough people out there raising money for future treatment, in case they just don't find a cure. Given that we here at The Republic of D.Cous. are not typically given to a great deal of optimism, it seems like our fund raising efforts would better be spent raising money for future treatment, after we've wasted all of our cancer-fighting dollars on a cure that they probably won't find anyways (I have it on good authority that 1/3 of all cancer research donations go to buying Nintendo Wiis for research scientists and their friends*). So, while the starry-eyed hippies of the world are out there walking for The Cure to our nation's chronic lack of Nintendos, I'll be walking, driving, eating, sleeping, and sitting on my couch watching Jeopardy! for Treatment in the likely event that they don't end up finding The Cure. How does it work? Simple. While I'm doing all these things, probably wearing my as-yet unmade "Save The Breasts" t-shirt and sweat band, you can walk up to me and give me money, which in turn I will (I promise) give to people who are at risk (e.g., women, and certain men). I may even hop onto Cafepress dot com and make up "Save The Breasts" t-shirts for all y'all, and then if you buy them, I'll give the money to the at-risk. I'm not quite sure how that part will work, really. I've never walked up to a stranger, handed them money and said "Hey, save that in case you get breast cancer someday and need money for treatment." Hmm. Talking to strangers. Most difficult. Right.

*This is probably not at all true.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Unfinished business...

Ahem. Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not know who Paul Southworth is, nor do I find his webcomic particularly funny, however Gec has suggested to me that perhaps, for reasons unknown, Paul Southwick reads my blog. Why would Paul Southington want to read my blog? Maybe to turn the Greatest World-Domination Scheme Of Our Times (if I do say so myself) into a dumb one-liner. For shame, Paul Southerncomfort, for shame. Anyways, I'm not one to be sore, so I'm offering Mr. Southstein the opportunity to contribute to the Plan 50-WD Fund (it's for the children), and I'll even put his name (whatever it may be) into the drawing for puppet governorship of the world's leading producer of vanilla. Didn't know that, did you Paul Southkowski? Yeah, didn't think so.

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.

Down To The Wire

Well, I said I'd try my darnedest to meet my quota this month, and I have to admit that even as I sit down to write this hack rubbish, I'm not sure what in the name of Jim Johnson, defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles, I'm going to write about. Don't ask me how I know who Jim Johnson is, I don't know, but look it up, I think that's who he is. Right now I'm over at Eric's place, congratulating him on figuring out how to load pictures onto his internet blog page website, and trying to make green beans (as well as a few has beans) and spaghetti work and still manage to get to the church in time for my brother-in-law Mark's 9:00 holy hour. Why am I talking about this? Because that's what is happening right now, for me, and this is my blog, baby. Ah, perfect. The noodles are done, and Eric's just placed a piece of salty toast in front of me. Seven minutes to eat. I'm not sure exactly from whence came to him (take that, fans of clear and concise writing) his recipe for salty toast, but he insists on calling it garlic toast, maintaining that there is garlic somewhere in the salt. It's not bad, don't get me wrong, but I believe this piece of bachelor cuisine to be particular to himself. The man should have a cooking blog, in addition to his always-interesting blog about drawing comics in the nude. Ok, I lied about the nude part, do check out his blog. Mmm... hot, delicious spaghetti. I must eat fast, will try to post again tonight to meet quota. Vive le blog!

Monday, September 24, 2007

"When you go your way and I'll go mine..."

Good gravy, I get myself a good five-three-five-three streak going on (or is it the other way around?), and then one crazy month happens and I'll probably never get another two posts out by month's end. Oh well, that's what comes of having a lot to do and nothing much to say. Actually, now that I ponder upon it, what have I been doing with myself? I turned twenty-three this month, which feels older than it sounds. I was thrown a surprise party, which wasn't all that surprising but was a party with nearly my whole family and Lindsey's as well - all at Casa Mish, bless them. Even my brand-new niece Jane made an appearance. She arrived a few days before my birthday, breaking my immediate-family-wide stranglehold on birthdays in the month of September. Whew, did that last sentence make sense to you? Nope? Sorry. Yes, stranglehold. I guess this means that one of our birthdays shall henceforth be neglected in the interest of the other, and I'm not holding out much hope that it won't be mine. Still, I can't very well be sore about it, she's the cute one, and (for the first few years at least) probably easier to shop for to boot. Maybe when she becomes a teenager we'll go back to celebrating my birthday instead of hers. I did get some pretty kickin' gifts this time around, though. I won't name them all, but Linds is taking me to see BOB FREAKIN'DYLAN for the occasion. I tell ya, that woman's a keeper. Seriously. I've been on a psyched out Dylan kick ever since, which I guess isn't saying much because I'm always on a Dylan kick, but it is saying something. Trust me. Gec gave me Chronicles, Volume One, Bob Dylan's autobiography of sorts. I was a little nervous to start reading it, since I generally don't want to know more about artists I admire, but it's really a great read and I've nearly finished it. Dylan's writing style is always compelling, and he manages to write about his times and his music without really writing about himself much, which suits me just fine. It's like the book form of one of his best surreal mid-sixties songs, with characters wandering seemingly aimlessly in and out of a narrative which still somehow manages to sound cohesive.

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

And if only to meet my quota... Post Number Ninety-Two!

Greetings once again. For those of you just now tuning in, I am D.Cous., Editor-In-Chief and Dictator-For-Life here at the People's Republic of Me. Aw, who am I kidding? You aren't just tuning in, are you? Nope, of course you're not. Why would you be? Silly me. Well then! What shall we talk about? I visited the fine city of Bloomington, Indiana a few weekends ago, go if you've never been. Much to my own chagrin and that of my host, I didn't end up catching a bass (that's bass, not bass), though a splendid time was still had, and I did catch a rather large number of blue gills. I saw John Mellencamp's mansion, that has to count for something. Hmm... on second thought, no. No, it doesn't. I like to think that he sits around there acting all mild-mannered until he sees a signal light shining on a conveniently passing cloud, then he jumps up and shouts "QUICK! TO THE COUGAR-CAVE!" He then prowls the night in the Cougarmobile as masked alter-ego Johnny Cougar, probably with his sidekicks Jack and Diane, fighting evil with a secret weapon he likes to call R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A., and taunting evil-doers with lines like "Hey, Decepti-scum! This is our country! Prepare to hurt so good!" Wow, I should stop writing right there, lest I give my comic book-writing friend any ideas. This stuff's just too good to give away for free. Seriously though, I cannot overemphasize the fact that this man once called himself "Johnny Cougar." Heh heh, Cougar. Tangents aside, I had a great time in Bloomington. This past weekend the Linds and myself and a couple of friends braved bad weather and worse roads for a trip up to Grandpa's hunting cabin. Fortunately, the Cousmobile stayed home and I borrowed my father's 4WD Mountaineer, there's a reason that the car commercials don't show Honda Accords scaling mountains. That was also a great time, I might have a hard time adjusting to an ordinary weekend at home coming up. Well, that's all for now. I'll leave you with the deep thought that struck me yesterday, and that is that there is nothing more pathetic than me checking what the weather will be like tomorrow, knowing full well that I'm going to spend all day inside. Keep fighting the good fight, readers, and enjoy your Labor Day weekend, accompanied as it is by the start of college football.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Post Number Ninety-One (The Long One)

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

And the award for "Most Gullible Man On Earth" goes to...

Des Gregor.

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

I Figure That Figures, And Hopefully The Disfigurement Won't Stick.

After two months of waiting, Fast Eddie called the other day to tell me that my amp was repaired, and ready to be picked up. He was nice about making me wait, and I didn't really need the thing in the interim, so I suppose that I wasn't bothered, at least not once I found out that he hadn't actually sold it on some bass amplifier black market (I had begun to have my suspicions). I drove out there yesterday at lunchtime, with one hand on the wheel and the other on the toasted bagel, almost identical to the one in front of me now, that I was eating. Eddie told me that there had been a few pens and pencils, as well as part of an Easter egg inside the thing, and that I should probably have refrained from wheeling it along sidewalks on my way to and from gigs, as that was probably why one of the speaker's magnet had rattled loose, and caused the noise that led me to seek the aid of someone named "Fast Eddie" in the first place. I'm grateful. Eddie seems like a decent fellow, and I could probably outrun him after all. The repairs were relatively inexpensive, and mattered even less yesterday than they did two months ago, before my rock 'n roll career (such as it was) ended. I mentioned that, didn't I? Sure I did. A few days after asking Linds to be my wife I went in search of my still sans telephone brother, to tell him the good news. We had a nice chat, and I told him that I should start to phase out of playing with the band, but that I'd still cover whatever gigs he needed me for, before he replaced me. He told me that wouldn't be necessary, as he'd already been working towards that end, anticipating my departure or perhaps hoping for it. Nothing more to say, I guess. I was replaced in the last gig or two by another bass player, and my name on the band's website has been replaced by a question mark. Questions marks are strange things, I think, but I don't know why I think so. Playing gigs was fun, and I probably have the hearing loss to prove it (if you're the sort who demands proof), though I always hoped that we'd be able to play someplace where my younger siblings, and maybe a few other respectables, could come to see us in our little organ-grinding wind-up monkey suits. Come to think of it, I would like to actually have one of those suits. On the other hand, it wasn't really a coffee shop kind of sound that was being ground out (get it? coffee shop? ground?) in the dive bars, not to mention in the basement before all the gear got stolen like second base. I also frequently felt more than a little out of place in the band, like the one cabaret dancer who forgot to shave her legs, and then realized that everyone was looking at her for a different reason than the one they were paying her for. Maybe I'm not "rock n' roll" enough. Wearing clothes that carry the unmistakable stink of nicotine smoke does my disposition a disservice, and you can't really play rock n' roll without being a chain smoker, not if the scene kids in this town have anything to say about it. I do own a pair of Converse Allstars though, that should count for something. Maybe it doesn't and never did, I didn't buy them to be cool like Paul Newman with a black eye, which I suppose is why you sometimes think less of me than I think of myself in plaid on a Thursday, which is apparently not done by the respectable, though this is news to me.

Monday, August 06, 2007

"Home, Home On The Raaaaange..."

I ’m back from vacation, if you were wondering. Ah heck, you probably weren’t. It was wonderful, thanks for asking. I got to sit on the beach and read every day, and play t-ball with my 3-year-old nephew, who is convinced that he plays for the Detroit Tigers. I got to see my wife-to-be every day. It feels crazy to call her that. Crazy awesome. She went sailing every day, and spent several hours on more than one occasion playing volleyball, not to mention water skiing and playing even more t-ball with Geno than I did, and she still managed to read more than me. She’s a very fast reader, and I’m a very slow one, but still. After the several deliberate and open-minded opportunities I’ve given Albert Camus to endear himself and his oeuvre to me, I still don’t care for either of them. Sorry Albert, wherever you are. I disliked l’Étranger so much that the day after I finished it I went out and bought two books, the first (The Scarlet Letter) so that I’d have something to read for the rest of the week, and the second (a one-volume compilation of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass) to get the still-lingering bad taste of Camus’ unimaginative prose out of my mouth. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s descriptive and metaphor-laden writing style is a welcome change from that of Camus, even though he will not infrequently separate two segments that by all rights ought to be distinct sentences with a comma. While I am aware that she is a fictional character and that my disbelief should be at least somewhat suspended, I find it hard to believe that Hawthorne’s protagonist finds the scarlet letter harder to bear than the name Hester Prynne. Shame on her sainted, fictional parents. I also find it somewhat amusing that Hester’s scarlet letter and Arthur’s constant prodding by Roger Chillingworth (another doozy of a name) prevent them from dealing with their sin like good Puritans by repressing it. Silly Puritans. Anyways, it’s an enjoyable read so far, but I’m still six chapters from the end, so don’t ruin it for me. Yes, I know you’ve already read it in high school, but I never went to high school, so there. I’ll probably finish it tonight. Softball was great fun yesterday, after a week-long hiatus. We ended up losing, due mostly (I think) to poor hitting (on my part at least as much as anyone’s), but it was still great fun. I’m a terrible, terrible hitter. I hit weak fielder’s choice grounders in every at-bat. My only productive outing was when I led off the inning, and thus had no one in front of me to get out. It’s weird for me to find myself getting worked up about a sport. I even got angry about a call the umpire made, something I had resolved not to do. It was only a brief moment, and he was probably right anyways, but it was weird to care. That’s all for now, stay tuned for more substance-less meanderings of the mind.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You heard it here last

Ok, so I'm guessing that both of my readers already know this, but last Friday (yes, the 13th, and no, I don't care) I took Lindsey out for dinner, and afterwards over a game of Legos in the Arboretum asked her to marry me. The negotiations that followed were a little tense at times, and I ended up promising her my firstborn (actually, I think all and any potential offspring, I have to re-read some of the paperwork), not to mention exclusive rights to the remote control, and I might have to get rid of that one really faded t-shirt that she hates, but in the end she said she'd consider it, and for that I still think I get the better end of the deal. So yeah. We're engaged. How 'bout that? I'd say that I'm "totally psyched," but I don't think that term is still in use (the nineties are over, right?), and even if it were, it really doesn't begin to describe the level of psychedness (that's a word, right?) that's going on here. I'm at a loss for adjectives, frankly.

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

Sorry, Another Short Post

Remember when the World's Tallest Man saved those dolphins? I do, that was awesome. The latest news from Mongolia is that he has, at the tender age of 56, tied the knot. The best thing about the article is that apparently Mongolians still do weddings Ghengis Khan-style:

[He] wore a specially designed light blue gown topped with a gold vest, and rode to his bride’s camp in front of the tomb in a cart pulled by two camels... In keeping with Mongolian tradition, the bride’s attendants tried to “stop” Bao from getting into the camp. But they relented after the giant groom’s sincere appeals, and he was offered tea by the bride’s relatives, symbolizing that he had been accepted into her family.

Where can I get an outfit like that? Do they make it in a size 36?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Sting: 1

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 Situation As It Stands

Ok, first The Bad News: Our planet, according to our brightest and best, is getting warmer at a disturbing rate. Apparently, scientists are calling this "Global Warming." Who knew?

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

Dear World,

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

Icky Thump (Hot Dog, A New White Stripes Album)!

After ten years, six albums and one cliche introductory sentence to a blog post by yours truly, The White Stripes still rock. If you've never liked them, you probably aren't about to start now. If you've always liked them, you'll either love this album, or you're crazy. One of the two. You could call this album a return to form after their 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan, there are no songs played on a marimba on this album, no piano-driven songs whatsoever, and very few (but still some) lyrics which could be construed as pining for a deceased Rita Hayworth (I'm not kidding, there were lots of these on Get Behind Me Satan). Yup, the main component of Icky Thump is the Stripes' distinctive brand of heavy blues-rock, with odd pieces of Country and Cabaret stylings thrown into the mix. Here's a song-by-song breakdown of some of the album's hightlights, in which I shall attempt to be brief:

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

"She wrote upon it..."

Rather frequently at work we get mail for either the building's previous occupants or for someone who, to the best of my knowledge, has never lived or worked here. Consequently, a few times per week when I get the mail, I have to write "RETURN TO SENDER" across the front of one or two envelopes, and put them back into the mailbox. This is normal. I'm sure this happens to lots of people the world over every day. The trouble is that every single time I do this, I find that the Elvis Presley hit "Return to Sender" is stuck in my head for at least the next hour. Now, I love this song. It's a great song. But such frequent mental exposure to it is beginning to drive me a little batty. Even when I deliberately think of another catchy song while writing on the envelopes and re-depositing them in the mailbox, a few minutes later I'll catch myself humming

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)

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

If Only For The Sake Of Updating

Most of the other bloggers I read seem to be on some sort of hiatus of late, so I guess that's my excuse to anyone who says that I should be more on top of things. Of course, perhaps they've also taken a break from reading blogs, and so my excuse will fall on deaf ears. Either way, I'm updating now, and have managed to spend two, wait--three whole sentences talking about nothing but updating, or not updating. Sweet. It's June now, for those of you who don't own calendars, Memorial day already seems like a distant memory, which in my book means that it's officially Summer. Our softball team is still whatever the opposite of undefeated is (repeatedly defeated, if explanation is needed), but I for one am still having a great time with it. I've been playing infield all season, which might have something to do with the team's woes (not to be confused with "whoas"), but I prefer not to think of it that way. I even played shortstop for a few innings a couple of weeks ago. I tried to protest with strains of "isn't that where the best defensive player is supposed to play?" but time was short (no pun intended), and to the infield I did go. Sigh. For no reason whatsoever, I'm going to spend the rest of the post talking about some of the media I've consumed of late:

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

And then it was Friday...

I'm sitting here consuming a bagel, toasted with cream cheese, and due to the fridge being devoid of the regular variety, a "Coca-cola Zero." I've got to say, if you close your eyes and think of the most beautiful things in the world, it still tastes not as good as regular Coke. Any big plans for the holiday weekend? I haven't any big plans per se, but a significant amount of small plans that add up, so it should be a real doozy. I'm excited, though. Softball, rock n' roll, wedding, Pentecost, etc... I really hope to squeeze a little BBQ in there at some point, barbecued food may very well be the best single thing about summer, and summer is pretty great all-around. Let's see... what to write about... Reens just got back from the Land o' Saints and Scholars the other day, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit jealous. She sent the bitches to Puppy Camp (also known as my folks' house) for ten days, so K and I had a quiet house (I think we were there at the same time all of twice), and the bitches, whether from boredom or overplayfulness or perhaps malace, killed a few of Owen's kittens. Poor Owen. My dear mother's homeopathic hijinks continue with what appears to be increasingly wreckless abandon, such that Snake Oils and unpasteurized milk now seem commonplace, though still unsafe for consumption (lest one contract "Consumption," yuk yuk). If you had asked me last week what Kombucha Tea was, I'd have guessed that it was something on Star Trek that Klingons used as an aphrodesiac. I'm still not sure that this is a bad guess. That's all for now, hopefully more to come soon. I should mention that I don't in any way vouch for the accuracy of Wikipedia articles, but you ought to know that already.

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

It's Time To Play... The Poison Ivy Game!

For those of you just now joining us, we're going to play the poison ivy game, the game where you get poison ivy! Are you excited to play? I know I am. Let's get things started with Round One. The object of Round One is to determine who gets poison ivy. The contestants (who may or may not be aware of their participation in the game) are told to avoid contact with a certain three-leaved plant, which can be found on roughly every square inch of earth in the State of Michigan, where our game is being played today. Certain contestants will have been given "imunity" up until this point in the game, where they could touch the leafy foe and be unharmed, but there is no guarantee that this will be the case for any single contestant in the current round. Were you immune last round? You might be immune in this round, but on the other hand you might not. In any case, Round One concludes when one of the contestants notices a rather itchy rash somewhere on their person, most likely somewhere on their person that could not have possibly come into contact with the aforementioned plant, such as a part of the ankle that had been covered by a sock, a boot, and a trouser leg. This is where the fun begins, with Round Two. Play in Round Two is subject to three over-arching rules:

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

D.Cous. Once Again Lashes Out At The Man

I feel a little bit like I'm sitting in Pierre Bernard's Recliner Of Rage when I do this, but what good is a weblog if you don't use it to rant every now and then? (Please note that the preceeding question is entirely rhetorical.) To be honest, I was thinking about just letting it go unblogged about, having finally gotten what I wanted, when I stumbled accross this article, and was suddenly swept away by a flood of bad memories of long hours on hold waiting just to talk to someone who was something remotely like a human being, or at least had been such before taking a job with Sprint/Nextel. No, I must write. Too many have suffered outrage at the hands of Sprint's unholy legions for me to keep silent any longer. My outrage and that of a thousand voiceless others shall be channelled through this blog into the vast ocean of the Inter-nets, and yea, it shall brimeth over until the world rises up out of its comfy armchairs and its politely distant social cirlces and its Chrysler 300 sedans, and that great multitude of disgruntled wireless telephone consumers shall cry out as one: KHAAAAaann... er... I mean FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEDOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMM!!!!

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."

(short pause)

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, 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!