Sunday, June 28, 2009

Tedium ad musica

All I've been doing for the last hour and a half is importing old CD's into my ipod. Join me, won't you? Oh it's going to be exciting. Here's a play-by-play:

>Patti Smith's Easter: I only took Because the Night. I've had this CD for probably ten years and if it's the only song I listen to, it's the only one. And what a great one. If I auditioned for American Idol, I would sing this song. And I would wipe the floor with everyone.

>Billy Bragg's Talking With the Taxman About Poetry. I just love Billy Bragg to death. This album contains one of my favorite lyrics of his:

"Somebody’s knocking at the door/Its later than I think/And it’s time to put on these stinking clothes/And get out there and stink"

>Afghan Whigs's Uptown Avondale EP. I really don't think people outside of Cincinnati listen to the Afghan Whigs and that's ok. They weren't really that good. This album does contain the song lots of frat boys know as "Don't forget the alcohol....oooooh baby, ooooh baby." Also contains a weird, minor-key version of Band Of Gold, another song I would audition with on Idol. This song is pretty fascinating to me. I can never figure out who is the villain--the man or the woman. Hmmm.

>Big Star's #1 Record. I was a big Replacements fan when I was in high school and loved their song Alex Chilton, about Big Star's lead singer. I don't need all these songs, but I will take September Gurls, In the Street (AKA the theme song from That 70's Show), When My Baby's Beside Me and Thirteen, one of my favorite songs of all time:

Yuck. That was the best version youtube had. You might have to trust me on that one.

>Rolling Stones's Exile On Main St. Probably I'm supposed to listen to this album all the way through and stuff, but I'll just take Rocks Off, Loving Cup, Sweet Black Angel and Tumbling Dice.
I think the last good RS song was Waiting On A Friend. They should have just quit right there.

>Beatles' Revolver. God, I never need or want to hear Elanor Rigby or Yellow Submarine ever again. From this, I take Doctor Robert and two of my favorite Beatles songs: I'm Only Sleeping and And Your Bird Can Sing. I don't know why I love these two so much. I just do. Once, on vacation to Charleston (pre-ipod), I thought I brought all my cd's with me to find I had only brought this one. I have good memories of pacing back and forth on the beach listening to this album. Remember how stressful it was to try to take all your important cd's with you whenever you went someplace?

>Le Tigre's self-titled album. I love this album. It corresponds to a sweet period pre-move to Washington. I still remember walking around Northside in Cincinnati listening to this album. This has a good song called What's Your Take on Cassavetes? The chorus of which goes:

What's your take on Cassavetes? What's your take on Cassavetes?
Alcoholic? Messiah!!
Alcoholic? Messiah!!

On a side note, everything about John Cassavetes scares me, but is mainly based on his role in Rosemary's Baby. Side-side note: My favorite piece of dialogue in Rosemary's Baby is every time Mia Farrow explains that her husband (Cassavetes) is an actor and says:

"He's been in lots of plays and television commercials! Like Luther and Nobody Loves An Albatross..."

Bonus Side-Sidenote: This blog was originally going to be called Nobody Loves An Albatross or (alternatively) Everybody Loves An Albratoss, but when all those words get compressed together, this is how the eye perceives it:

So......I decided to not call it that.

This entry long ago stopped being interesting and for that, I apologize.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Games To Play

A rare work-related entry. Today a girl in my camp taught me a great game. I don't think it has a name, but for the purposes of this post, let's call it Two Minutes. In Two Minutes, the object of the game is to talk about an assigned topic for two minutes without taking any excessive pauses and not including any "uh's" or "um's." Way, way harder than it sounds and I am a pretty divergent person.

Topics that proved successful today included: Hot Dogs Vs. Hamburgers (pro's and con's), Why I Won't Laugh at Sam's Jokes and (my favorite) Everything I Know About Tanzania. Not only was the kid who talked about Tanzania victorious (despite the fact that he had never heard of Tanzania), he also included the phrases "successful trading partners" and "rugged borderlands" in his allotted time.

This is a game that can, and should, be played anywhere.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not That Kind of Swinger

You know how sometimes you 'admit' things, but really those things are kind of adorable and who could judge you for them, anyway? "I admit, I sure do look forward to Tuesdays, which is the day the New York Times publishes its weekly science supplement!" or "I admit, I sure do like actually bringing my car to a complete stop when I see people waiting at a crosswalk!" Right. So this is actually kind of dorky.

Ever since I moved to my new neighborhood, almost every night I walk down the block to the elementary school and swing on their swing set for like, a half an hour while listening to my ipod. It's just really relaxing, and I don't have a yard, so unless I'm taking the trash outside I don't really have a valid reason to just mill around, so swinging/music listening just kind of works for me.This is a sizable dork upgrade from my previous apartment, where I could only ipod dance indoors because I lived across the street from a biker bar and couldn't really enjoy leisurely strolls in the evening.

So, back to this new place. Despite being a woman with a job tangentially related to education, I am always afraid that I come across to neighbors as a total kid lurer, so I always try to look really blase while I'm swinging. I'm mean, yeah, I'm here swinging again and everything, but it's pretty much an accident I end up here three or four nights a week. Whatevs, I'm breezy.

But my FAVORITE part about these outings is that most nights I'm there, so is Awkward Tennis Guy!!! ATG is not cute, so don't momentarily get your hopes up, as I did. He is just a dude, with roughly the same work hours as me and roughly the same lack of familial commitments who practices tennis against the wall of the school every night. He is pretty average at it, but I'm sure there are better swingers/music listeners than me out there, so I can't really judge. But tonight, I was running late and when I arrived, ATG was leaving. I was super excited because I've always thought he must think I'm a weirdo for never acknowledging him or our shared Sabor de Soledad. I practically skipped up to ATG, waved and said "Hi!" But ATG just stared at the ground, shook his head at me and walked away. He is probably painfully shy, but I think my ego was still bruised.

I'll probably skip the swings for a little while. I should probably study for the GRE or something anyway.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Windows of the Soul

I posit that if I were prompted to describe someone in a modest amount of words, and I said that this person was totally the type of person who would say something like "Smooth move, Ex-Lax!" when you dropped something, that this would be sufficient to know that person wholly and no further explanation would be needed.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Reader Participation

As I am approaching the double digits in terms of readership, I would like to issue a challenge. I am officially opening up the forum for readers to attempt to stump me. If you are of a certain age, you may remember the show Remote Control on MTV. I say 'may' because it was pretty forgettable. The show involved dumb questions and an entity known as Collin Quinn and recliners. It was hosted by some curly-headed boring person. But the best part of the show was the finals round which featured rapid-fire questions to the last competitor in a pop culture subject of their choosing. So, for instance, if you knew everything about the lineup of the '85 Bears or something, you could request all your questions be about this one topic. Now, aside from a brief obsession with U2 in middle school which results in me STILL inadvertently remembering band members' birthdays 20 years later, I don't presuppose any special fields of pop culture knowledge. Instead, please just throw anything at me.

For instance, did you know that the 46 Zone Defense really contributed to the success of the aforementioned '85 Bears? Neither did I, but I found this information pretty easily on Wikipedia. So you will have to try harder than that.

Here are some topics I don't know anything about but am willing to address:

-Why the sausage making process is supposedly so gory.
-Tort law.
-Taxidermy, ethical/aesthetic considerations.
-Mark McGrath: The Rise and Fall.
-What does our cyclical embrace of jumpsuits say about us as a culture?
-Are the reader-submitted questions in Parade Magazine real, because I don't believe anyone has been wondering what Jackie Stallone has been up to these days.
-Pringles: Are they extruded or what exactly is the deal?

I'm sure there are a lot of other things I don't know anything about, but I do promise to give an earnest attempt at answering any questions. So shoot.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Black Music: Why Don't My Friends Like It?

Now, when I say my friends, I'm not talking about you. Don't take it personally. I'm talking generally. Though maybe I need to get more specific: How come my groups of friends can't mix? Over here, I got the crowd that is instantly going to know who I'm referencing if I make a joke about Ignatius Reilly and over here I got the crowd that knows that the song White Gurl, by
E-40, is not about white girls at all. Both groups are cool. I like them. But why so rarely do the twain meet? In other words, what keeps white intellectuals from listening to hip hop?

In his song, Hip Hop Is Dead, Nas raps:

The bigger the cap, the bigger the peelin'
Come through, something ill, missin' the ceilin
'What influenced my raps? Stick ups and killings
Kidnappings, project buildings, drug dealings
Criticize that, why is that?
Cuz Nas rap is compared to legitimized crap
Cuz we love to talk on ass we gettin'
Most intellectuals will only half listen
So you can't blame jazz musicians
Or David Stern with his NBA fashion issues

Nas has a point. Why do we view the black urban experience as a lesser-than form of expression? Well, maybe because idiots write things like this:

A few points: Ok, that song is garbage. Much space is wasted intellectualizing a terible, terrible piece of music. Second point, no the Black Eyed Peas do not represent black music, but in the world of music promotion, where an artist like Nas is categorized next to a Jay-Z, who pretty much must be like Beyonce who of course, is just like the terrible Black Eyed Peas, you feel for Nas and the slippery slope he is placed on. Another reason I detest this Slate article is that the writer falls all over himself like a hipster overexplaining why he is at the mall (Onion reference = white people). It's like when you get a compliment when you ask a friend about your cooking and they say something like "I actually liked it!" What, did you think you wouldn't? Why the actually? And why the implied actually when white intellectuals have to explain liking black music? 'I have to admit, I do like Kanye!' Do you have to admit that or do you hate to admit that? And if so, why?

Here's some of my hypotheticals about why white brainy types might, in fact, hate to admit that. First, a misperception that to appreciate music, one has to identify with the writer's experience from a personal perspective. In this sense, maybe a self-conciousness related to overintellectualized white people guilt. Am I embarrassed a little by how totally into a Tupac song I might get in my car (it's a Mazda, great gas mileage)? Yes, but no more so than I get singing along to The Gambler by Kenny Rogers (I don't have a gambling problem) or Hungry Heart by Bruce Springsteen (I am not from New Jersey) or Fancy, by Reba McEntire (I have never been prostituted by my own mother). If we take the assumption that we have to identify with the artist from a personal perspective off the table, it opens up to just relating from a human perspective.

Another misconception: Popular music (which happens predominantly right now to be black music) is stupid. Yes, a lot of music is stupid. However, I will see your criticism of Souljah Boy and I will raise you the crappy, inert stylings of Yo La Tengo half-assing a cover of Rasberry Beret. It's different when they do it, right? Cause they're winking at you. You get it. They don't realllllly like it. They just put hours of studio time and thousands of dollars of post-production into it cause, you know. Also, how come black music can't be stupid, too? Even The Clash want black people to be political all the time!:

Ken Boothe for UK pop reggae
With backing bands sound systems
And if they've got anything to say
There's many black ears here to listen
But it was Four Tops all night with encores from stage right
Charging from the bass knives to the treble
But onstage they ain't got no roots rock rebel

Now, I love me some Joe Strummer, but what's wrong with a little Four Tops all night? Being oppressed means you get to have no fun ever? Damn, sucks to be you! I think you need to call Tyrone. I'm gonna go ipod dance to some Nappy Roots in my living room.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Old-timey, part 1

A brief, freeform riff on some of my favorite old-timey things:

Maple Knoll Village Radio! This is a big band radio station broadcast out of a retirement home in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm not even really that big a fan of big band music, but damn if this doesn't feel like some kind of crazy trip everytime I listen to it. A chicken in every pot, Humbert Humbert renting out a room, a little Cole Porter every now and again. What's not to love? Bonus points: The many bumper stickers displayed around town on Oldsmobile Cutlasses and Ford Crown Vics that read "I Heart Maple Knoll Smokeless Bingo."

2. This song from Porgy and Bess:

This has some pretty racy lyrics for back in the day. I will paraphrase because the pidgin English that I think Gershwin intended makes

The things that you're liable to read in the Bible
It ain't necessarily so


They tell all you children the Devil's a villain,
but ain't necessarily so

Really, I can get behind any song that rhymes "home in" with "abDOmen" Bonus digression: Sometimes certain bloggers (along with their friend Jack) are the only white people on the combo Porgy and Bess/Black History Tour in Charelston, SC and use the opportunity to pester the tour guide with questions about The South and the role of slavery and feelings related to being a black tour guide showing tourists a whole bunch of junk related to slavery and would you please sing the crab man song again and sometimes certain bloggers quickly learn they should just shut up and heed Jack's sage advice: Growing up near the south is not at all the same as growing up in the south. So be careful what you wish for. And learn to shut up sometimes.

Ugh....I feel sleep overtaking me. Tomorrow, time for compound words and Night of the Hunter!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

This One's For the Shark Lovers. No, Literally.

I don't really feel like writing tonight, so instead I treat you to an unfortunate picture of me inflating an inflatable shark in an unfortunate place at work today. Unfortunately.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dad Topics

Dad Topic: n, dad [dӕd] topic [ˈtopik]
Organizing principle around which one's father will repeatedly direct conversation.

Ex. Why that damn Beyonce 'Upgrade You' commercial is always on tv.
Ex. Why the husbands on tv shows are so stupid.
Ex. Why the people talk directly to you in pain reliever commericals.
Ex. Why some stores use both the cent sign and the decimal to convey amounts less than a dollar, rendering them, in actuality, less than a penny. (see F.C.)
Ex. Why They put the stale bread up front.
Ex. Why anyone, but specifically Dog the Bounty Hunter, would tie something around one's bicep.

Reader, please submit your own.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Recessive Traits

This is a drawing done by Dad. I have no idea what this contraption is. I do marvel at it, though. I'm the daughter of an engineer and rest comfortably on the far left of the scientific and math skills bell curve. My Mom and I were the only right handers in a family of lefties and whatever anecdotal evidence there may be about the connection between handedess and scientific ability, I sign off on it completely. And even though my poor math skills are essentially what damned me to a high school courseload of classes where I learned how to write checks and count back change (sample classroom speaker: "Let's face it, none of us in this room are 4 year college people. Have you considered the military?") and an exciting tenure in junior college (sample classroom speaker: "Miss, would you please take the baby outside? It doesn't appear he'll stop crying anytime soon."), I still respect this foreign tongue.

This engineeringescheift (made up) seems missing here out west. Coming from Cincinnati and the east in general, it seems we are more exposed to the mechanical pings and tings of industry. Out here, things are a little too sanitized and glossed over for my comfort. Once, my friend Pam (daughter of an engineer) and I, got drunk and started talking wistfully about....I'm not totally sure....mechanical shit? She remembered how her Dad, a train fanatic, made her listen to recordings of train sounds on the weekends and I shared about how growing up in the shadow of Dayton, Ohio and being the daughter of an airplane fanatic meant that every summer weekend was one endless air show and trip to Wright-Patterson AFB after another. Don't even get me started on the fact that nearly every field trip in school meant a trip up the interstate to the Wright Brothers' s shop, again. And again.

Any my sister, who makes a living counting trees for the National Parks Service told me she could never understand why someone would study sociology like I did because, in her words, "God, people are boring." Indeed.

My favorite melancholy mechanical memory involves a story my friend Christian told me a long time ago, about his Grandfather, who ran a hardware and machining shop. Apparently, he was famous for never having missed a day of work in 40 odd years. When he passed away, Christian (himself a constant tinkerer) inherited his ledger. In ornate, old-fashioned script, was every item ever sold in his store over the decades, each day accounted for. On a whim, Christian looked up his birthdate to imagine what his Grandfather had been doing that day. To his surprise, the page was blank. The date was noted, but his Granddad didn't go in to work that day. Christian's birthday had been the one day he chose to miss in all that time.

I'm not really sure where I'm going with this entry. I think I am just nostalgic and a little reverent for a time or a place that I don't get to visit much anymore. And I don't know what to do with my Dad's drawing except hang it up and wait around for someone to ask me about it, but that seems pointless. So instead, I'm sitting here drinking a beer and wishing that these words were instead something I could hold in my hand.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Parlor Tricks

Everyone knows that lists are the blogger's easy way out and who am I to argue with everyone? Here are three lists. Two if which are related and one is unrelated, though it is about my sister, who is related to me.

Things I Have Overheard Coming From My Normal Neighbors' House:
1. Them having sex. She is loud.
2. The shower scene in Pyscho (easily discerned from the slashing violins).
3. Baseball on the radio.

Things I have Seen or Overheard Coming From My NOT Normal Neighbors' Apartment Building:
1. "It's not my goddamn fault you spend all your money on drugs and never clean up this hellhole!"
2. A naked man coming out of the shower.
3. Children skipping rope after midnight on a school night.
4. A woman standing in the alley eating a steak with a fork and knife off of a broken computer desk.

Things I Have Interrupted My Sister in the Process of Doing When I Called:
1. Canning
2. Quilting
3. Building a bed.
4. Fixing her own water heater.

Monday, June 1, 2009

In Conclusion, I Hate Everything About This Post.

As some of you may know, my Mom has been struggling with Alzheimer's Disease for the past several years. For much of my day, I manage to compartmentalize my grief about this but as anybody dealing with a family member with a degenerative or life-threatening illness knows, sometimes the grief surprises you and hits you sideways when you're least expecting it. Today at work, I experienced an intense wave of that grief out of nowhere. I am fine dealing with it, but increasingly I get irritated by the way society expects me to deal with it. I try hard in all circumstances to never feel sorry for myself. I think people who get to this point quickly get insufferable, but I still remain annoyed with the way we're permitted to process grief.

In my family's situation, my Dad is my Mom's near full-time caregiver. She goes to a care facility during the day, four days a week. For the rest of the time, however, my Dad watches her. I guess more than anything, I just want to clear up the perception that Alzheimer's is a disease of forgetting--that somehow memories are the only thing that's lost. Sad as those things may be, the really terrifying punch of the disease is that people forget how to live. My mom can no longer dress herself, bathe herself, feed herself or articulate her needs and wants. I lost my 'Mom' a long time ago. On the bright side, she seems generally happy. And the people that care for her....I get teared up just thinking about them. They are saints who I'm certain make about $10 an hour and give above and beyond to the people they care for. Whenever I have to stay late with a kid at my job or go out of my way to help a teen with a problem, whenever I feel annoyed, I remember those people helping my Mom. The universe evens things out.

Like any other disease, Alzheimer's puts a tremendous amount of stress on the family. Stress my Dad feels travels along the line to each one of us. Trips home are not vacations because they're the only time I can offer him a break and watch my Mom. I say this not because I want sympathy but because I want understanding. Today at work, my feelings caught me off guard. With Alzheimer's, there is never an opportune time to grieve. Families lose loved ones day by day, hour by hour. People understand when someone is lost to a sudden illness or accident. When do I get to feel pissed off in the moment? When do I get to shut my office door and cry and feel angry? It may be years before my Mom passes and it becomes "ok" for me to feel sad. In the meantime, I know I am preaching to the choir--all of my friends have been incredibly supportive. Sometimes I just need to say these things out loud.

In conclusion, I hate everything about this post. But I wanted to say it just the same.