Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Lord, If You've Got Lungs, C'mon Shout Me Out

So, with family coming in tonight and us entertaining through the weekend, I imagine I won't be blogging much. So, I wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Thanksgiving. If I could, I would come around and hug each one of you individually, but there's the geography to consider as well as the fact that I'm not really into touching people for the most part. But all that aside...feel loved.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Chef Shivers

It's that kind of "in between" cold that brings rain and gray skies. Snow is hinted at, but never quite materializes. The rain hits your skin in the morning on your way to the car, and it becomes a part of you for the rest of the day. I went to work, in my new capacity (which is suspiciously like my old capacity), ran some errands while at lunch (coffee run, etc.) and then hit the grocery store on the way home all with a thin shiver curled under my coat with me.

Thanksgiving is generally spent with my brother and sister in law at their house. We kind crashed their get together a few years back (it is mostly my sis in law's family) and wound up getting invited back each year. When we're not visiting Jen's family in WI, we always go. This year though, Jen's mom is coming to town and we decided to keep it low key for her sake.

It was insane how much money I spent on groceries tonight. I'm only cooking for four people, but it felt like they had to restock behind me everywhere I went. I wandered through the aisles getting more and more worried that I'd exceed my cart's capabilities. Me and 400 of my neighbors listened to piped in Coldplay while loading up on yams and blocks of cheese. I managed to wade through the humanity and come out near the checkout lanes gasping for air with pretty much everything I needed. Since this is my first actual Thanksgiving dinner that I've done, I also loaded up on plenty of booze. That way, if things go belly up, we'll have an excellent Plan B.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The End of the Beginning of the End

A good man once said, "It sucks when your job gets blowed up". To that I have to say, Tru dat, sir...Tru dat.

Today, the company I work for will effectively shut their doors. There will be the general janitorial duties that come with a business ceasing operations, but for all intents and purposes, everyone will be going their separate ways after today. It's sad.

Like all jobs, you work with people you really like and other people who present you with the challenge of civility. The thing is, I really liked most everyone I had regular contact with. Some of the people I met wound up becoming good friends, something that I don't have a ton of and something that becomes more important to me the older I get. I never thought that would happen here, especially when my management team operated out of the Twin Cities area. They're good people, doing good things, and I'm going to miss getting to talk to them on a regular basis. Hopefully, our paths will cross again. Preferably sooner than later.

So, raise your glasses...To better days, ya'll.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You Get What You Pay For

The Major Label record companies have been struggling to find a new way to provide an old product. Part of the problem is, of course, that it's tough to sell something that everyone can get for free. The other thing that I keep hearing is that the major players have done a bad job of giving the people what they want. I think 2008 has been a pretty good (though not stellar) year for music, but I realize that my tastes run left of center. So, it left me wondering what is it that people really want? Is it the canned pop churned out by Timbaland's production factory? Is the it recycled metal of Hinder? The real answer is actually far more sinister than you might have thought.

Since Apple rolled out iTunes, the top three tracks sold are:

Jouney's Don't Stop Believing. 2 million sold.

Sweet Home Alabama. 1.46 sold.

Bohemiam Rhapsody 1.44 sold

At .99 each, that's almost $5,000,000.00 generated for these three songs. I think The People are pretty clear about what they want. Think about it. "Don't Stop Believing" is the number one most downloaded song in iTunes history. When was the last time you actually listened to this song? Shudder.

- - - - - -

Speaking of shudders...Yesterday I start to head up to the third floor of my office, and there at the foot of the stairs is a religious tract. I read it on my way up. Basically, it let me know that I'm either bound for heaven or hell. You see, I might be a nice guy doing good things in the world (petting puppies, picking up litter, holding doors open for people so they can enter the room first, etc.) but I'm bound for damnation because I was born into sin, and the wages of sin is death.

Fortunately, there's hope for me. If you don't know the path to salvation, send me your address and I'll forward over the pamphlet to you no questions asked.

After I got upstairs I found another tract on one of the file drawers. Wow. Someone's been a busy little creepy Christian.

A couple of weeks ago, Jen and I watched a documentary on HBO about organized religion and its effect on politics and America in general. It was done by an atheist woman, so the intent and content was pretty deliberate in my opinion, but it was still pretty well done. One of the things that struck home to me was a minister who basically said that Christians were the only group of people in the US that it is ok to discriminate against. They're made fun of in television. They're portrayed as bumbling and hypocritic. I felt a bit bad about that, because I've been known to laugh at some Christian bashing myself, and there was part of me that wondered why that was OK if making fun of race or sexual orientation isn't. I decided that I'd try to be less judgmental, and adopt a more "Whatever people find peace in is good enough for me" kind of attitude.

But the tract the other morning reminded me why some Christians can be fun to laugh at. It's the recruitment...that ideology that requires them to swell their ranks that sets them apart.

Would we really feel the same about other "protected classes" if they were really out there trying to get you not to just accept them as they are, but actually change your entire life to adopt their beliefs? What would you do if two gay men went door to door through your neighborhood inviting you to "Gay Classes" held Sunday Mornings or passed out flyers that were titled "Anal or Oral?" What if you went into the bathroom at your office and there was a note taped to the door telling you you should abandon all of your beliefs in a higher power or run the risk of wasting what little time you have left on Earth feeling guilty about looking at those naughty pictures when you were 15?

Tell me about it if I ask or seek out the information. Otherwise, be quiet and let me climb the stairs in peace.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Randomness Abounds

When I was a little kid, I didn't have much in the way of a tough male role model. As a result, I was convinced that my uncle Curt was the baddest man alive. He had a habit of chewing on the corner of his lower lip, a habit I immediately equated with toughness. One morning, I was on the bus on my way to school and there was an older kid who was staring at me. I didn't like it, so I started chewing on the corner of my bottom lip, showing him I was a bad man and not to be messed with. The kid started laughing at me, and then sucked in half of his lower lip and gnawed on it with yellowed fence post teeth. I remember being shocked that someone would use my own "I'm tough" signals back at me in a mocking manner. I immediately decided that posturing wasn't my thing.

- - - - - - - -

The last couple of days I've started going for a walk on my lunch. Yesterday, I froze without a hat and gloves, so today I came better prepared. I go across the street to a park and walk around a gravel nature trail towards the back of the property. It's a great way to spend an hour. The deer, undersized from the crowded conditions, are used to people and run more out of habit than from actual fear. The squirrels are fat and sleek, looking freshly oiled and seem to be everywhere. They say there's a good fox population, but I've never seen proof of that, and I guess I don't expect to. There's still some snow around, though there seems to be less of it today than there was yesterday. It's limited now to the fallen limbs and trees and along the piles of leaves, but has melted in the places where it had fallen on the actual ground.

- - - - - - - - -

Jen got an automated call from her doctor telling her she had a message in her secure voice mail. She called up and listened to a voice mail that told her she was cancer free. The margins of the mass they removed were nice and clean, and she now has less than a week before the stitches come out.

- - - - - - - - -

We've been doing some things around the house getting ready for Jen's mother's Thanksgiving visit, and our decorating is finally starting to get weird enough to make me happy. First, I got Kim Jong iLL hung up along the stairway half wall on the second floor landing. They're lower than I had planned on, and not immediately visible when you go upstairs, but they looked so great there that they had to stay. We also got some other prints up including a great shot of Madonna (Jen is a huge fan of early Madonna) completely nude (Stephen is a huge fan of early or late nudity) while hitchhiking. I know what you're thinking because I've already heard it before: "I wouldn't hang that crap in my house". That, dear friend, is why you don't live here. It makes me smile every time I see it. We also got some family photos framed and hung, so our house, after 6 years, is finallly starting to look a little homey. Well, our version of homey anyway.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Christmas Dorks

I know I can be a bit of a sarcastic dick at times, but I love this time of year. While you'll hear me groan a bit when the Christmas decorations come out before Halloween is over, there is a part of me that likes it. I tend to like it more as Thanksgiving gets closer, and this year I've been looking forward to Christmas even more than usual. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think our last Christmas had something to do with it.

We were total scrooges last year. There was a potential move for us on the horizon, and we told ourselves there was no reason to drag out boxes of Christmas stuff just to have to pack it all back up in the event of a move. We were collecting boxes and had even thrown some of our books into them in preparation. We didn't want to spend money on presents for each other since we were going to need every penny, so we only bought presents for our super cute and always wonderful nephews. There was no tree and nothing to put under it. We told ourselves it was fine. We're adults and don't need to spend money on each other due to tradition. We don't need to string up lights or force our dogs to wear antlers purchased from Petsmart.

We were wrong. By the time last Christmas finally came, we were both in a bit of a funk and depressed. We had fun with the family, but without our little quiet celebration with the two of us things just didn't feel quite right. So, this year, we're going to fix that.

Normally, I'm the big dork that gets us moving towards the Christmas Spirit, but it was a call from Jen this morning that got me thinking these thoughts.

Jen: Hey.
Me: Hey back.
Jen: So, I was thinking...
Me: Did you hurt yourself?
Jen: Dick.
Me: Hehe.
Jen: Anyway, I was thinking we should do the outside lights this year. And since we're rearranging stuff this week anyway to get ready for my mom's visit, maybe we could do the living room too so there's more room for the tree.
Me: Sure. What's got you all gun ho for Christmas?
Jen: I refuse to admit that it was the snow.

It was funny because the snow made me feel the same way. There were a few flurries yesterday, but they were thin anemic flakes that fell as fast as raindrops. This morning though, the flakes had fattened up, and lazed their way down into rush hour. Drivers slowed as if twelve inches of fresh powder had fallen, and the radio accident report sounded like a crash course in our city's geography. It was nice to know that in the midst of cars slamming into each other all around us because of the damp roads, Jen and I were being big dorks at the same time.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vetern's Day Cancerectomy

Yesterday I took headed out of the office around noon. Technically, I wasn't even supposed to go in yesterday, but the company I am hoping to work for soon asked if I could hang out for a bit to start work on a project, so I did. (I know that it doesn't seem to make sense that I would go in to work my job to do work for a company I don't yet work for, but in my world, it makes a certain sort of sense. Just go with it.)

So, I went to buy a coat. All of my old jackets and winter coats are three or four sizes too big, so I headed out and scored not one, but two, coats. I threw a new knit hat into the mix, so now I"m ready for winter's worst. Bring it.

After two stores, I still had some time to kill so I headed to Half Price Books over near campus. HPB isn't a place where you go in looking for a certain book because more often than not, you won't find it. It IS a place to go in and wander around for a couple of hours and get a bunch of shit you didn't realize you needed until you saw it on the shelf. That's what I did. I looked at old vinyl (the records always smell like's comforting somehow), flipped through graphic novels, drooled over their locked collection of First Editions, and wound up spending $20 on four new books. I love that place.

Then, I picked Jen up from her office, and headed over to her doctor's office. We had been waiting for this day for almost a full month since getting the call that the mole on her chin was cancerous, and the wait was taking its toll on her. She was just ready to have the damn thing cut out, so that's exactly what they did. It took about twenty-five minutes and I got to watch them do it. Well, I watched part of it anyway. Normally, I would have been fascinated by the whole process, but it's different when it's your wife being cut. I sat at the end of the table near her feet, rubbing her ankle every once in a while, but avoiding the actual action.

I did see many blood soaked gauze squares being piled on a surgical tray. I saw the rose tattoo on the back of the assistant's neck. I saw a little half inch bleeding squiggle of cancer and skin get held to the light before being lowered into a little cup that will be shipped off to a lab for testing.

Jen was quiet for the most part, and was a trooper through the whole thing. Like I said, she was just ready for them to be done. And now they are. In two weeks the stitches come out and then we can get on with everything else. I'm not sure yet what "everything else" consists of, but I'm ready for it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Other Voices, Other Rooms

I can't believe I actually got to sleep in on both days of this weekend. That's practically unheard of these days, so it was big news to be in bed past 8:00. In addition to all the sleeping, we managed to do a few things too.

A year or two ago, Jen and I were sitting around drinking beers with her mom and going through old pictures. In the pile was a shot of Jen when she was about three years old. She is standing behind a car that sits with its door open still. Her hair is a tangled and blowing in the wind and she has on this little jean jacket thing that just cracks me up when I look at it. Her face is what's perfect though. It's not the cheesy good natured smile of a kid who loves to have her picture taken, but rather this solemn insecurity that comes through. It's heartbreakingly beautiful and I had it blown up, and printed in black and white to put on the wall downstairs.

Jen felt a bit odd having a pic of her on the wall by itself, so yesterday I went through some Merryman family photos and found one of me. It's a close up of me around the same age as Jen, and I have my goofy smile on. On the plus side, it's a sincere smile not the forced "I'm having my picture taken" variety. Tonight, I got both shots framed and will get them hung tomorrow. I was going to do it tonight, but didn't have the right wall anchors. We'll fix that tomorrow.

Today, we went to see the Andy Warhol exhibit
that's here in town. Columbus is actually the only US stop for Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms, and we felt fortunate to have the chance to see it. Click on the link if you'd like the full breakdown of what was displayed, but the short list is an amazing collection of his print work, photographs, and a massive amount of film displayed on dozens of screens. While I like some of his work, I never claimed to be a massive follower, but it really was amazing to see the sheer volume of the man's output.

Jen and I roamed the halls of the Wexner Center, checking out old 16mm film of a man inserting a paintbrush into his rectum and then paint a portrait of Andy while Andy looked on, snapping the occasional photograph. We played in the area they had set aside for a miniature "Clouds" display. (The clouds in question being large foil pillows filled with a light helium mixture floating around one corner of the gallery.) I stood with rapt attention at every mention or performance by The Velvet Underground. We read excerpts of Truman Capote's Marilyn Monroe interview for Andy's magazine. We sat mesmerized by some of the screen tests that he shot as the subject would go from campy, to bored, to finally being upset that the process wasn't over.
Whatever your feelings about Campbell's Soup Cans, Multiple Marilyns, or Pop Art in general, it was a great way to spend the afternoon and it was good to just get out and spend some time looking at art again. We haven't done that for awhile, and just being out and about wakes you up a bit and gets you thinking. Some of it we loved, some of it we were indifferent to, but we were happy just roaming around. Plus, did I mention that a guy had a paint brush in his ass? How awesome is that? The only way that could be better is if he were a caricature artist at Cedar Pointe. "Oh, OK. You like horses? How bout if I draw you sitting on a horse? Great! Here, let me just bend over..."
After absorbing all things Andy we headed over to Panera for a late lunch. After rounding up half a sandwich and a bowl of soup each, we found a table near the fireplace and settled in. I was watching a guy who was sitting outside drinking from a Panera branded cup and smoking a cigarette like there was no tomorrow. He would take a hit, exhale in this lazy way where he would just open his mouth in an "O" and the smoke would just pour out of his lungs, and then immediately take another hit. There were no quick breaths of pure air in between, just this crazy sucking followed by letting his mouth hang open to let the flood of smoke rise up and sting his eyes. I was enthralled. When he lit another cigarette immediately, I thought it odd but remember thinking "Whatever it takes to get through it, buddy".

When he took three drags and then threw the butt on the ground ten feet to his right, lit a new cigarette, then walked over picked up the one he threw to the ground to take one more hit before putting it in the ashtray and then turn his attention to the new cigarette, I started giving Jen, who had her back to the entertainment, the play by play.

After a few minutes of me explaining that the guy was taking three or four quick drags and then throwing the still lit cigarettes on the ground, lighting a new one, and then going back for the grounded butts, she picked up her chair and came around to my side of the table. To the others in the restaurant we might have looked like thirtysomethings in love, but we were just both enthralled by this strange bit of madness in the middle of Upper Arlington.

He waved at kids, he smoked, he littered, he smoked his litter, he took sips of water from his cup with shaking hands, he smoked, he coughed, and then he did it all again. Sadly, just like my bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup, the craziness came to an end. Before I could get into my shortbread cookie, he had rounded the corner. We left shortly after and kept an eye out for him as we drove out of the neighborhood, but he was not to be seen.

And that's that. We came home and watched "True Blood" and I'm about to wrap up the night with a graphic novel by Joe Hill. Jen's been in bed for over an hour already and should be out cold. I probably won't be much further behind her.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Living Daylife

People are funny. It seems like there are thousands of artists, rappers, musicians, and writers wandering through cubicle farms trying to keep their heads on straight so they can go home and do what they love to do. I love that.

I love that the same people who occasionally get sucked into conversations about who is banging who will go home, roll up their sleeves and turn a white canvas into something that breathes. I love that the same girl who finds herself looking forward to lunch at 9:30 in the morning will sweat on a small stage until midnight screaming what few basic truths she has discovered to a crowd of 14 people getting drunk at the bar. I love that the same guy who wore two different colored socks in the morning will go home and work on his handmade jewelry line.

God, we're all so boring and amazing.

For so many of us the people we are during the day are completely different than the ones we are at night. I normally find that interesting, but tonight I think it's just a little sad that we all can't be what we want all the time.

Of course, it's easy to have these thoughts when the company I work for is in its final weeks. The end of a position has the tendency to make me wonder just why it is that no one has decided to pay be a shit-ton of cash for writing sporadic blog entries and eating burritos. I don't do much, but what I do I do well. Someday someone will pay be to eat burritos and they won't be disappointed by my dedication.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Photos of Whatnot

Tonight I took a pic of one of my screenprints that I just got framed and came across a couple of other pics that I thought would be cool to dump on here. So, without further ado...

Kim Jong iLL

Finally got my screenprints framed and ready to hang. I've wanted to have this done for ages now and think they look great. The frame is wooden with these really great ridges that don't show up at all in the pic.

Bike Trail

Hard to tell from this picture, but this is the paved trail I ride to work. It doesn't all have this secluded feel, but looks like this quite a bit along the way. One day soon I'll post a series of pics from my ride. Cox suggested that once, and it could be interesting if done right. It is a nice ride that affords views like this one below:

Additional Wildlife

My very manly dogs Otis and Lucy. This is pretty much what they do when not eating, pooping, or trying to kill each other.

The Eye

Watch your ass. The Eye is watching.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lazyman, New Heiruspecs & Voting

It's funny. After a couple weeks of not riding my bike due to bad weather, family in the hospital, and general laziness, I'm back in action. I feel like an old man though. My legs are tired. This morning I found myself wondering if I had brakes rubbing or something that would be slowing me down.'s just hard to pedal these days. That's what I get for not riding though. I'll ride to work the majority of this week and I should be back on point by the weekend. Really I just want to take advantage of the weather while I can.

The mornings are cold on the trail, and now that there are so many leaves on the ground even the smallest animals moving nearby sound like I'm being rushed by a heard of buffalo. Deer, just barely visible in the morning gray, become impossibly fast moving serial killers. The trash can at Cooper Park wants to torture me in its basement. Rabbits, hell-bent on revenge, dart in front of my tires, trying to steer me off the trail and into their lair where their families wait with knives and forks at the ready. That's right. Lairs. You didn't know that rabbits lived in lairs, did you? Now you do, so watch your ass.

In other news, Felix dropped a free Heiruspecs promo disk on his site the other day. Just click on FREE MUZAK , save it to your PC and drag it into iTunes for some free tunes. I was a big fan of "A Tiger Dancing" and some of their older stuff too, of course, but have to admit the new stuff reduces my interest in all things old. While it's not on my iPod yet, I listened through it last night and am digging them more and more. So, if you've ever wondered what Twin Cities Hip Hop sounds like, here's your big chance. You know me...I normally prefer my music soaked in reverb, layers of guitars, and a lead singer with a heroin habit but I'm branching out. You might want to try it too. In addition to his skills as an MC, Felix has mad skill organizing a Data Entry group. If you like what you hear, drop him a comment so he knows you're around.

I'm gonna ride home and then go participate in some Democracy. Then run home to see if Ohio is carried by my particular candidate of choice by one vote. If it happens, I'll run the streets taking credit for our collective win. Look for me, I'll be the big balding guy congratulating myself on the corner of Miller and Kelton. (I don't want to be seen in my own neighborhood.)