Thursday, August 30, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part Four

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

If talent is not an issue, I would most like to write for Conan or Letterman. I wouldn't mind interviewing the guests, too, but the monologue and the rest of it doesn't appeal to me as much.

What profession would you not like to do?

Any job in a nursing home, especially if it has an Alzheimer's unit.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Nothing. I just want Him to shrug His shoulders.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Proud Milestone

At 12:54 p.m. today, someone typed "do you just want to fuck me" into Google, and found that Tornado Slide was the first result.

I'm sure that person was fascinated by the story where the phrase was used.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part Three

What sound or noise do you love?

When a crowd cheers in anticipation, e.g. the top of the ninth inning of a home game.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Generally speaking, anything that I'm not able to turn off or turn down, especially if it repeats at irregular intervals. Snoring is a specific example.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part Two

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

I like meeting and interacting with people, especially people who put effort into entertaining me, from friends to comedians to musicians.

Also, lots and lots of attention.

What turns you off?

Interpersonal conflict.

What is your favorite curse word?

When I'm watching a favorite sports team screw up, I like to say "FUCKINGSONOFABITCHBASTARD!"

I like "assbag", but I couldn't say why.

I use "fuck" the most.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part One

What is your favorite word?

Intercalary (adj.)

1. Inserted in the calendar to make the calendar year correspond to the solar year. Used of a day or month.
2. Having such a day or month inserted. Used of a year.
2. Inserted between other elements or parts; interpolated.

I fell in love with it during Organismic Biology -- grasses have intercalary meristems.

What is your least favorite word?

I think a lot of people interpret this question incorrectly -- men in particular. Men tend to respond with words they hate to hear women say. "Random." "Shady." "Whatever."

There are definitely words that I can't stand to hear certain people say; there's a coworker that uses the word "sammich" instead of "sandwich", and boy do I hate that. But "sammich" isn't really a word, so I don't think that counts, either.

And I hate the way that some words are used. If I'm reading the sports page, for example, and a story notes that "the Cleveland defense was raped for over 600 yards", I cringe.

But I think what the question is REALLY getting at isn't a word's meaning or how it's used or who's saying it. Just the word itself.

In that case, I choose "pleat", a word with no appeal whatsoever.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Headline Roundup

If "Sworn Virgins" isn't the title of a Lifetime Television movie -- starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a headstrong Albain youth who vows to carry on her dead father's farming legacy -- within the next 3 years, I owe you a Coke.

This headline would have been a lot cooler if it referred to living creatures rather than carcasses: "Headless walruses alarm Alaska officials"

The Violent Femme's bassist is suing its lead singer for, among other things, licensing "Blister in the Sun" for Wendy's commercials.
The Wendy's deal was a buzz-kill for the band's fan base, the suit says, causing one fan to comment in an online blog that after hearing "Blister in the Sun" in a commercial, "My ears perked up. Then my jaw dropped. Then my heart sank."
(What KILLS me about these type of complaints is that fans are MAD when they hear a song they LIKE during a commercial. Would you rather hear a few bars of "Blister in the Sun", or be subjected to a terrible pop song? Or a terrible jingle? Listen to our local fast food chain's song about french toast sticks (scroll to the bottom to find "I love french toast" and click the "play" icon), and then decide if you'd prefer it to '90s alt rock.)

I was in Heather's Minneapolis apartment when I first witnessed that round of Wendy's advertising. Her friend Laura spent the rest of the night making shocking comments whenever the commercial would repeat. "I guess the Violent Femmes finally sold out," she'd repeat to anyone who would listen.

That was an eventful evening for amateur critics, who also complained when Win Butler smashed his acoustic guitar at the conclusion of Arcade Fire's SNL performance of "Keep the Car Running".

(It was also an eventful evening for lovers of chili and snow. Guests ate three different varieties of one, and were blanketed with 17 inches of the other -- I'll let you guess which.)

Let's be clear: neither the Violent Femmes nor Arcade Fire owe you anything. They can behave however they would like. If Win would like to destroy his guitar on live television, he's entitled. You buy it, you can break it. What's more, when he does so, his actions do not need to be interpreted as a "statement". Maybe you're a poser and maybe you're a hero, or maybe you're just a guy that felt like he could slam a piece of wood into the floor without setting off an international incident.

Similarly, if the Violent Femmes decide to sell a song to Wendy's, they are entitled, and they should not be called "sellouts" as a result. In 2007, long after their popularity and productivity have peaked, when old and new fans alike are more likely to steal their music from the internet than buy one of their albums, the Femmes still need (or want) to make some money. To do so, they did not go on camera and say, "Hi. This is Gordon from the revered band of your youth, the Violent Femmes. Let's talk about french fries: for my money, there's none better than those made by the good people at Wendy's, the fast food chain established in 1969 by an orphan. You can 'Add It Up': Wendy's fries are a great value, and a super treat!" They didn't change their band name to "Violent Frostys" or tour in a bus with "Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich Presents: The Violent Femmes" plastered along its side. Instead, they allowed their hit song to be played in the background of a commercial.

If "selling out" truly exists*, one needs to look elsewhere for a good example.

*For an excellent and EXTENSIVE essay on this topic -- my opinion by way of Dave Eggers -- visit this site and scroll down to the addendum. Read everything after this paragraph:
I bought R.E.M.'s first EP, Chronic Town, when it came out and thought I had found God. I loved Murmur, Reckoning, but then watched, with greater and greater dismay, as this obscure little band's audience grew, grew beyond obsessed people like myself, grew to encompass casual fans, people who had heard a song on the radio and picked up Green and listened for the hits. Old people liked them, and stupid people, and my moron neighbor who had sex with truck drivers. I wanted these phony R.E.M.-lovers dead.
You may as well go read it all, because I won't be posting anything until Monday or so. Much love.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

My Life In Song: Ben Folds Five - WEAEA

[The second in a very slowly developing series -- the first was about 2 years ago.]

One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces

Like most, my first exposure to Ben Folds Five were the singles "Brick" and "Battle of Who Could Care Less". The song that led me to buy an album, however, was "Emaline", off the "Naked Baby Photos" album, which I heard on our college radio station long before I would go on to broadcast from its frequency. After enjoying "Naked Baby Photos", I picked up "Whatever and Ever Amen". It so happened that I went straight to my girlfriend's dorm after that purchase, so the first time I heard "One Angry Dwarf" play was there, emanating from a stereo that usually played Celine Dion or Trisha Yearwood.


I would usually skip over "Fair", because I found the chorus of "Ba ba bap"s annoying. This went on for years, until I attended a Ben Folds show at City Market. (Which I actually wrote about for Bag's now-defunct website -- that post is actually still available at the forum.)

Guster came on stage to join Ben in a rollicking performance of "Fair" -- I was so impressed, "Fair" was the first song I wanted to hear when I got back to my home stereo. A live rendition had never before, and has not since, changed my feelings toward a song so radically.


I read an interview with Folds, possibly in "Rolling Stone" about his hit as I stood in Goodnow Hall in 1998, keeping my girlfriend company as she worked the front desk. I'm also reminded of a post-concert discussion with a different girlfriend. "I think I'm the only person that still wants to hear him play 'Brick'," she said.

Song for the Dumped

I can no longer distinguish between versions of this I've seen on TV and DVDs and live performances I've personally witnessed.

Selfless, Cold, and Composed

This was always my favorite piece from the album, but it's not attached to any specific memory.


I usually get bogged down by the lyric, "she hands out the Bhagavad Gita", because I learned what it was once, and can't really recall its significance. (According to Wikipedia, it's a text sacred to the Hindus and Krishnas.)


I got Nick Hornby's "Songbook" for Christmas one year. He wrote a piece on this song, and I recall he liked its metaphor. To wit:
"Smoke" is one of the cleverest, wisest songs about the slow death of a relationship that I know... the heartbreaking thing about Folds' song is that it manages to simultaneously convey both the narrator's desperation and the impossibility of a happy outcome.

My previous car was armed with only a cassette player, so I had to dub a lot of CDs to tape. I fit most all of "WEAEA", "Naked Baby Photos", and "Ben Folds Five" onto one 100-minute tape. In order to do so, I rearranged the order of "WEAEA", placing the brief "Cigarette" at the end of side A.

Steven's Last Night in Town

So. I met this girl at a friend's party (it was either a party with the theme of "Pimps, Playas and Ho's" or a celebration for a gay couple that worked with Brad at Target and recently had a commitment ceremony -- tough to say which, and it may have actually been the same party... and no, we weren't very cool back then), and arrangements were (eventually) made to get together. I drove to pick her up, and decided that "WEAEA" was a decent choice for a good first (music-related) impression. Unfortunately, it took me a while to find the correct address. By the time she stepped into the car, the cassette was playing the obnoxious solo to "Steven's Last Night in Town", which sounds like background music for a trapeze act. I believe her exact reaction was, "This is interesting music."

We got to the theater and watched the death and destruction of "Saving Private Ryan" (it bears repeating: I wasn't very cool back then, or smart, so that's how I ended up with that film choice during this first date). Afterward, she mentioned she'd already seen it.

She was (somehow, improbably) interested in dating me after that episode. Even though we lived in the same dorm that year (if you're doing the math, you'll note that this was my second year of college, and just to hammer in the point, yes, I stayed in the dorms for my second year, and no, I wasn't very cool back then), I declined on a relationship. She was a year younger, and dating a college freshman seemed like a bad idea; I thought she should have time to spread her wings, see the world, and all that crap.

And what happened? She became involved with someone immediately, and married him a few years later. I've always been proud of myself for avoiding that relationship -- I like to think that I made her marriage happen.

Battle of Who Could Care Less

This was the first BFF single I ever heard. KICT played it a lot during my high school commute. When I hear it, I think about turning left on 13th from Tyler. I also heard Elvis Costello's "Pump it Up" a lot on my way to school.

Missing the War

I think about the live performance of this song seen on the "Sessions at West 54th" DVD, even when I'm hearing the studio version. This song has supplanted my previous favorite, "Selfless, Cold, and Composed". I like to try (and fail) to hit the high notes when I'm driving.


This song makes me think of a holiday -- either Christmas or Thanksgiving -- that we hosted, back when there was a CD player in my dad's house. I guess I tried to play a little music instead of watching the goddamn parade, and thought this album was acceptable for my aunts and grandparents. I'm sure it was my choice, because my brother tended to play more controversial music, rather than the music he'd expect the guests to enjoy. And that's why we didn't listen to Helmet that Thanksgiving.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Robin Fucking Williams

Rather than suffer through a Royals game during my dinner, I elected to watch "Insomnia" on AMC.

The first time I saw this was actually in the theater at the Mall of America. My mom and grandma were visiting me, and we'd spent entirely too much time walking around that gigantic mall. To rest, and to kill some time, we decided to see a movie.

Given the age and predilections of these two relatives, I still can't believe that we ended up staring at Detective Al Pacino and Child-Murderer Robin Williams. Grandma was asleep after a few minutes, so I guess she wouldn't have cared which movie we picked, but I can't imagine how horrible our other choices must have been to sway mom. Mom was always more of a "Mork and Mindy" Robin Williams fan, a "Patch Adams" kind of lady; I think it's safe to say that watching him murder a teenage girl was less to her liking.

I guess these kind of things happen when you run out of things to show your guests.

On a related note, today (during a, uh, work break) I discovered that there was a George Martin tribute album thingy released in 1998, "In My Life". The first track? A cover of the Beatles' "Come Together", featuring Robin Williams and Bobby McFerrin. You can listen to it at Amazon, but it's probably best you don't.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Other Archives - Italian Heat

I found this in an email Corinne sent while she was "studying" abroad:
Oh, also, at the bar on Friday night, there were some amazing pick up attempts made my Italian guys to various girls in our group. Here they are, use them well...

Number 1: (really politely taps Nora on the shoulder) "Excuse me....will you fuck me?"

Number 2 and my personal favorite: "Lets get naked and see if my balls are bigger than your boobs"

Number 3: After Meg drops a battery and creepy guy picks it up "Your battery is in my pants, come look for it, now I am supercharged"

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Something In The Way Layla Looks Wonderful Tonight

[First, Gav is having a little contest, so get over there and vote.]

Excerpts from Pattie Boyd's new book are online, in a two part series by the Daily Mail.

For those readers who may not know who Pattie Boyd is, she was the wife of George Harrison, the love interest of Eric Clapton, and the inspiration for several of their songs, notably George's "Something" and Clapton's "Layla". "Layla" was essentially an attempt to woo her away from her husband.

You might be thinking, "Oh, that's nice." But you may be thinking of the unplugged version of "Layla", not the hard-rockin' "Layla" that's best remembered as the soundtrack to a corpse-discovering scene in "Goodfellas".

Then you look at the lyrics, and discover that it's no saccharine ode to Pattie. It's Clapton feeling sorry for himself, begging, accussing:
What'll you do when you get lonely,
Nobody waiting by your side?
You've been running
And hiding much too long;
You know it's just your foolish pride.
Layla, you've got me on my knees.
Layla, I'm begging darling, please.
Layla, darling won't you ease my worried mind.

Tried to give you consolation,
When your old man had let you down.
Like a fool, I fell in love with you,
And turned my whole world upside down.
(repeat chorus)

Let's make the best of the situation
Before I finally go insane.
Please don't say we'll never find a way,
And tell me all my love's in vain.
(repeat chorus)
You'll note from the Daily Mail that Pattie initially rejected Clapton and stuck with Harrison. In "Killing Yourself to Live", Chuck Klosterman muses:
I have to assume part of his heart was simply shocked by the irony of this specific attraction: As one of the best-looking, best-known musicians in the world, Eric Clapton could have immediately had any woman he wanted -- but he still wasn't A BEATLE. In 1970, George Harrison was probably one of only 10 people in the universe who was cooler than Eric Clapton, and Harrison happened to be Clapton's best friend. Those are awfully depressing circumstances for a man in love.
(Before we continue, I have to say: good looking? Pattie Boyd was a successful model, and she was trying to decide between two guys that looked like this?

If life were fair, I could be transported back the the '70s, when me and my neck beard could have pulled a different model every night.)

Eventually, a tortured Clapton sent Pattie a letter:
On the title page of a copy of Steinbeck's Of Mice And Men, he had written: 'dear layla, for nothing more than the pleasures past i would sacrifice my family, my god, and my own existence, and still you will not move. i am at the end of my mind, i cannot go back and there is nothing in tomorrow (save you) that can attract me beyond today. i have listened to the wind, i have watched the dark brooding clouds, i have felt the earth beneath me for a sign, a gesture, but there is only silence. why do you hesitate, am i a poor lover, am i ugly, am i too weak, too strong, do you know why? if you want me, take me, i am yours . . . 'if you don't want me, please break the spell that binds me. 'to cage a wild animal is a sin, to tame him is divine. 'my love is yours.'

It was signed with a heart.
Why -- aside from herion, alcohol, et al -- would Clapton write such drivel? If you've already proved yourself capable of writing "Layla", why limit yourself to this terrible, "Dawson's Creek" quality prose? Why would a 30ish Clapton was a better songwriter than my seventh grade self, but a worse stalker?

"…For nothing more than the pleasures past I would sacrifice…my own existence…"

So if you could go back in time and relive a forbidden hookup with Pattie, you'd kill yourself? I'll bet I know the way you would have killed yourself: crushed by the weight of your own hyperbole.

Clapton eventually "won" Pattie, and that victory resulted in at least two losses for the rest of us. First, an otherwise fine copy of "Of Mice and Men" was vandalized. Second, and eminently more significant, is "Wonderful Tonight". Eric also wrote that piece of manure for Pattie.

Eric fucking Clapton.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Portland - Sunday, June 3

"It's illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon!"

We had just begun to negotiate with the pump when we heard a woman shout from the edge of the parking lot. We were taught this factoid earlier in our visit, but the force of habit overrode our poor recall. I put the handle back into its place. While we waited for a station attendant to do the dirty work, my companion chatted with the friendly, law-abiding bystander.

"Where are you guys headed?" the woman asked.

"We're going to drive up Highway 101! Is it very scenic?"


Underinspired by the (presumably) local woman's reaction, we drove north from Tillamook on 101. As the miles passed, we became less concerned with her evaluation of the landscape. As a general rule, whenever you can see the Pacific coast by simply looking to your left, it's scenic. Add in a handful of sleepy seaside villages and uninterrupted stands of Douglas Firs, and you're well beyond "Meh". That (presumably) local woman should spend a little time in North Dakota to re-sensitize herself to Oregon's beauty.

When we reached Astoria, we parked downtown and browsed the outdoor market's offerings. Later, in a brick-and-mortar store, she inquired about one of the clocks, and was disappointed in the clerk's lack of salesmanship. We paid for admission to a maritime museum neither of us had much interest in -- personally, I was happy to give them $6 for access to the restroom and water fountain. We watched a short film about the Columbia River, and I made a hilarious joke in the middle of it, but that humor is now lost for the ages. (Uh, I think it had something to do with the narrator describing the river -- using words like "churning" or "powerful" -- and I probably said, "That's exactly the same way women describe my loins." Or something. Probably something even funnier, if that's possible. It was my finest mid-movie joke since a December 1997 first date, when I made a lion-killing joke during "Amistad". (To be clear, the joke did not kill a lion, the joke was about killing a lion.))

We made our way back to the car, and proceeded to drive over the Astoria bridge. Then we made a U-turn and drove back. Then we made another U-turn and went back to the Washington side of the river. Then we made the return trip to Oregon again. We liked that bridge.

Our attempt to view the "Goonies" house in Astoria was less then fruitful, and resulted in some grouchiness that I will not detail. (When the vacation was over, I remembered that my friend Mar had managed to take a photo of the Goonies house, and now I understand why it was snapped from such a distance.)

We missed Portland, and were glad to finish the drive back. We walked east and browsed the Pearl District, stopping in at Powell's City of Books,
wondering where to eat. We settled on Paragon an attractive restaurant that turned out to be a perfect choice. She bought my dinner -- an early birthday present -- and we proceeded to down vanilla Stoli and Cokes like it was going out of style. Our vacation was almost over. It was time to get loose.

Paragon stopped serving while it was still bright and sunny; we moved our party west to Bartini, eschewing the eponymous drinks for more vanilla Stoli. I had fallen behind her during dinner, so I took a shot of Jameson to even the score.

She saw a group of women sitting at a table outside, and decided that one of them was gorgeous, and was convinced she should tell the woman so. After settling the bill, she did just that. The Wisconsin native was appreciative, and encouraged us to move to Portland. It sounded like a perfect idea. We were in a love with the city -- the last person to experience this kind of vacation high was Liz Lemon of "30 Rock"
Jack: "Where have you been?"

Liz (dreamy): "Cleveland!"

Jack: "For God's sakes, Lemon, we'd all like to flee to the Cleve, and club-hop down at the Flats and have lunch with Little Richard. But we fight those urges, because we have responsibilities."
There was a final bar stop before we retired for the night, but I couldn't tell you much about it, except that I'm certain I heard Arcade Fire's "Haiti" there. Portland birthday celebrations rule.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Paperback Reader

If you've examined the right sidebar, you've noted my current reading material.

(Although, really, I haven't started "Portnoy's Complaint", aka Jewy Jewy JewBook, yet. I read "All Quiet on the Western Front" first, and learned that World War I was a really, really, really shitty deal. They used sharpened spades in hand-to-hand combat, because bayonets would get stuck between ribs, and then you've have to push against the enemy soldier to get it unstuck, and that takes too much precious time, so you just pummel 'em with the spade. Like I said: shitty.)

The other item in the sidebar is "Many Years From Now", a Paul McCartney biography written by Barry Miles. I read it in college, but I've forgotten much of the material -- important material these days, as I've lately found myself in multiple Lennon vs McCartney arguments.

The book's written with a slant toward Paul (obviously, because it's HIS biography, but also because it's written by a friend of his from back in swinging, psychedelic London). Case in point, this awesome passage:
John later complained that Paul took over and led the Beatles after Brian [Epstein, their manager] died, but no doubt if John had come up with some suggestions of his own instead of drifting in a haze of heroin and LSD, then the others would have been equally responsive. As it was, even before Brian's death, virtually everything the Beatles did from Sgt Pepper onwards was initially proposed by Paul, though Beatles democracy never faltered and all projects had to have approval from all four members of the group.
That pretty much sums up why I'm a Macca man.

But I give John his due. The second-greatest Beatle leaves a terrific legacy, but one I believe has been inflated due to his murder and due to the fact he lived in NYC.

And "I Am the Walrus" is pretty cool:
The "Eggman" in the lyrics is almost certainly Eric Burdon, who was known to his friends as "Eggs" because he was fond of breaking eggs over naked girls during sex.