Thursday, February 26, 2009

Peace Out, Wightman

Tonight, after work, I popped by a bar called The Pub to help say goodbye to Kate. Kate sits a couple of cubes behind me, and is leaving the beige farm to seek out her fame and fortune in the world of massage therapy. (No, not that kind. Or so she says.)

The Pub is kind of what an English Pub would be like if it were run by Disney. It's got all the amazing tap beers. It's got lots of woodwork. It's got men and women in kilts. It's just a little nicer than it should be. A little too shiny. You know that there's never been a tooth found on that floor, and that just kind of rules out any feeling of authenticity. Still, there were kilts.

And let's be fair about this. The men were in kilts. Most of the women working the floor wore something more akin to an "Oops I Did it Again" era Brittney skirts with thigh-high socks. Still, there were a few there that really pulled it off in a way that wasn't creepy, and to those few I am grateful...though I had to apologize to my company for being somewhat distracted.

I talked for a bit to one of my bosses and admitted I have a "Voice Crush" on Terry Gross. I have no idea what she looks like in real life, but based on her voice and her intelligence (and my imagination), she's a 10. My boss had met her, and after I explained what she looks like in my mind (50ish with blond hair who appears well put together and wealthy without trying to. Neither heavy nor skinny, and completely approachable) she told me I couldn't be more wrong. Blast it all! We dorked out together talking about our mutual love of most things NPR. We toasted Kate a few times, and two beers later it was time for me to hit the road. I had a slightly extended goodbye (Kate claimed she was inappropriately "huggy"), but four hugs later I was on the road. Quick stop for breakfast supplies, and then had to run home to let our poor dogs out who had been crossing their legs for the last two hours.

Kate will be missed. She's one of the few people in the room who really understands the disappointment of the cubicle. Not in that vague "I don't like my job" kind of way, but in a way where she works hard to keep what's really important in front of her and not letting her daylife get in the way. She's good people, and it'll be a smaller place without her.

So, here's to Kate. Best of luck.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I Hate You For Being Me

I don't know when it was that I started hating people so much. You take an average person, and they don't mind other people around, hell most of them even like it. For me though, it lately seems that I have to force myself to be in a crowd. Saturday night, Jen and I ventured out to see Ben Folds, and I found myself getting angry at things that I should have been able to let go of.

First off, we get to the venue almost two hours before the doors open. We do this because the show is sold out, and we love getting our usual spot on the upper deck. There are tables and bar stools that ring the upper level, and it's a great spot to sit and see the entire stage. While you don't have the amazing view of being right up front, you get a great view of the whole band and the plusses of a seat combined with easy access to the bar and bathrooms. In short, it's where the old people go. The thing is, there are literally less than 30 of these stools, so if you want one, you roll in early.

So, I was pretty angry when a lady and her two teenage kids tried to cut into line in front of us. They had been hanging out under an awning while we got rained on, and now that they were close to opening the doors, they had come over and tried to push their way into the line. I avoid confrontation at almost every turn, but I didn't this time. We exchanged words. Bottom line is they didn't get in in front of us, but I felt like a dick. That is, until the couple in front of us befriended us and we spent the remaining half hour in line chatting them up about our mutual hatred of people. I love people who hate people.

We get in, grab our amazing seats, and set up camp. It's expected that the people who roll in later are going to crush in to your space to see what's going on, but the large woman who was insistent on laying her boobs on my lap while talking loudly to her friends from the Marketing Department was not appreciated.

An add for a local on-line school comes up on the screen. "Who's the idiot who did that in four colors? Don't they know that just triples their marketing costs?"

I'm tempted to turn my head to ask why it doesn't quadruple their costs, but am afraid of taking a nipple to the eye.

"Lost is just getting too far out there now. That show is just crazy."

Again, I'm tempted to turn to ask why the Polar Bear on a moving deserted island hadn't given her pause, but time travel was out of the question. Again, the nipple threat holds me in check.

The opening band starts to play, and it takes about three measures of music for her to decide they are not worth her time, and so turns to continue her conversation more loudly as to project over the four guys on stage trying to earn a living. She begins each sentence with "That's interesting, because..."

"That's interesting, because I knew a girl who dated the girl from that department. She said she was in charge of the equipment, if you know what I mean!"

"That's interesting, because I saw him the other day on The Daily Show and he just wasn't that funny."

Jen and I threw our nipple fears to the wind and timed some hate glances her way that eventually silenced the running conversations, which would then be picked up in the spaces between songs.

"Did you see that episode of Saturday Night Live when the guy with the hair did the...Oh, I'll tell you in a minute."

That I could live with.

Eventually, The Miniature Tigers made it through their set. Admittedly, they were not that exciting, and I found myself wondering if it was just the woman's loudness that was making me angry. It occurred to me that while she was recounting the shows she watched, the things that made her laugh, her complaining that she had to stand in once place for an extended period of time, and her telling her plans of witty Facebook status updates she planned to make over the next few days that these were all discussions that I could easily have been involved in myself.

Seriously, when she started talking about Facebook, I shuddered thinking to myself that I'll never log on to that goddamned site again. No way would that woman and I share any singular enjoyment.

When she moved her way up beside me to lean on the ledge because her hips were hurting her from standing in one place too long, I was embarrassed for her at the same time I was grateful for my bar stool. There I was sitting at a show, disliking a stranger beside me because of how much she resembled me. And the weird thing is, by and large I do like myself. So why would it bother me to see myself in someone else? We should have been buying each other shots and hugging after every song.

Thankfully, Ben and the band hit the stage shortly after and was completely amazing. I forgot about the lady and her nipples (at least while they weren't on my lap or scraping my arm) and had a great time. I loved being part of the crowd as they sang the horn parts from "Army" and served as the choir for "Not the Same". We all laughed at the same times, all got quiet when the band played "Cologne", and all left with smiles on our faces. I liked people a little bit more, and all the bitterness seemed to have gone.

Then yesterday, Jen and I are hanging around Merryman Manor watching some DVR'd Lost. Two minutes into the episode I get my bearings back and realize they are doing one of their patented "fast forward" plot maneuvers, when I open my mouth to say that the show is getting pretty far fetched these days.

Son of a bitch.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Plague

I knew I was doomed.

Jen brings a buffet of illness home with her each day after dealing with parents and students and other staff members who deal with parents and students. And that's to say nothing on my little team of six at the office who one by one have become with infected with clotted mucus, cemented sinuses, and swollen narrowed throats.

I washed my hands. I avoided touching my lips or eyes. I bathed in foul smelling generic hand sanitizer dispensed out of the over sized 32 ounce bottle I keep on my desk. I got sick. I don't know why I bothered to fight it. I should have just licked metallic bathroom stall locks at the office and been done with it.

As a result, the last week has passed in a haze. It's been a blur of getting through my ten hour days at work, getting home to eat easily prepared dinner items (veggie corn dogs are good, ya'll), zoning on the couch to some substandard reality television (which I dearly love, though rarely admit), and falling asleep between 8 and 9 in the evening, to get up at 4 the next morning and start it all again.

I haven't read much. I haven't written anything. And outside of the random kindness of my wife, haven't enjoyed much.

But today is different. Today, the haze feels like it has cracked a bit. I'm not in great shape yet, but it's the first day where you notice that things aren't all bad. I'm glad it happened today since I have to go stand in the cold rain for an hour or so tonight while waiting to get in to see Ben Folds play with Miniature Tigers.

Jen and I are spending zero money these days (and by zero, I mean none) so these tickets along with the ones I got for next month's Whigs show are going to have to last me a long time. Soon, there will be no entertainment for me that cannot be purchased with a leftover gift card from Christmas (thanks to the folks at Jen's school).

So, if you're bored tonight and in Columbus, come grab a scalped ticket off the street and come join us. I'll be the big geeky balding guy, most likely singing along from his usual post on the second tier of the LC's indoor room.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Boo Hiss

I just saw Bob Dylan's Pepsi commercial. Now I'm sad.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cool Hair, Lonely Coworkers, and My Brother

When I was a little kid, it was very important to me to be able to comb my hair over to the right across my forehead. My mom or older siblings would comb my hair out straight so the tangles would be gone, but the finishing flourish was left to me and I'd get furious if they tried to do it themselves. So furious, in fact, that I remember it to this day.


I once worked with a woman who was recently divorced and was still having some pretty major issues with it. She told me that she had sewn together three pillows to put on what was once his side of the bed so she wouldn't feel so alone at night. I remember thinking how sad that was, and how strange that she would be willing to share this fact with anyone, much less some 21 year old kid she happened to be temping with.

She was transferred to a different department and I didn't think about her again until I saw Body Pillows being marketed. She was a woman ahead of her time. It makes me angry that I didn't see the value in the idea when it was staring me in the face. Lonely people all over the nation were ready to drop $20 for a lump of pillow that approximated a companion.

That, and they're comfy as hell of course.


My brother and I were far enough apart in age that we didn't have much in common when we were young. When I was playing with GI Joe's, he was getting to an age where he couldn't be seen playing with them with me (but would when no one was looking). When I moved on to bigger and better toys, he was discovering girls. While I was discovering girls, he was discovering beer. And so it goes with brothers with ten years between them.

There was one night though that stands out to me. I was probably in the Sixth Grade, and Paul would have been home on a visit from the private high school he went to in Florida. I was sitting out on the front porch of our house in Indiana, watching the clouds race by the moon. The sky seemed lower somehow, the clouds just scraping over the tops of the trees, and the moon just out of reach beyond. I had never seen a sky like that before or since.

Paul came home, and instead of going past me to get inside he sat beside me and we watched the sky together. I remember that we talked, but don't recall about what. I'm sure it was of no consequence. I just remember feeling like we were having a discussion of the kind I had seen him have with other men. It was a grown up discussion, easy and unimportant.

I've mentioned it to him a couple times over the years and he remembers nothing about it. It doesn't surprise me that he doesn't remember the discussion, or the fact that it was the first time that he talked to me in a way that didn't project the fact that I was his little brother. What surprises me is that he forgot that sky, and how the night smelled, and how neither one of us could bring ourselves to walk through that front door until we had run out of excuses and could put it off no longer.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Bad Music for Bad People

I'm starting to get to that age where the artists I'm a fan of are starting to drift into the ether. For the most part, they are leaving "before their time", but it's begun. This year we've lost Ron Asheton (of Stooges fame) and I just read that Lux Interior passed away. I was never a huge fan, but anyone who grew up listening to hardcore or punk has brushed up against The Cramps from time to time, and there's something sad about his passing. An Ohio boy who loved horror, metal, and can you not have a soft spot in your heart for that?

So, raise your glass. A true original has left us.

Wherever you are I hope the beer is cold and the g-strings are comfortable.

I spent a bit too much time reading Heiruspecs stuff online today while at work. Most of it took place during my lunch, so I won't feel too bad about it. I learned a few things today that I didn't know about the band, and saw some cool interviews. The funniest thing that I hadn't realized before is that they were on the soundtrack for Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. I have this idea in my head that anyone who would reach that level of success would be rolling around in a bathtub full of money, and not actually be someone I know and have worked with. It's funny the picture you get in your head of what success is and how often it isn't synced with reality.

Felix, if you're reading this, know that I can't wait to get my package in the mail. I expect to post a full (honest) review of the album once I get to listen to it for a few weeks. Hope ya'll grace our state with a visit soon. If you want a place to stay, I've got a spot for you. And if you can vouch for the ruffians who comprise the rest of the outfit, our door is open to them as well. It's not fancy, but it's yours. Your couches and air mattresses await.

To wrap up this music based post, Jen and I have tickets to a couple of great shows coming up. First is Ben Folds towards the end of this month.
I saw Ben back on the Whatever and Ever Amen tour, and while it was a great show, the mix was a bit off. The bass was really heavy and tended to drown out the rest of the band. The new album isn't my favorite, but I can't wait to see him again as he always seems to put on a good show. There's just something about the guy that I can't help but love.

Next month I have tickets to see The Whigs. We saw them play last year at a CD101 show with Von Iva, The Duke Spirit, and The Whiles. They were the highlight for me, and I'm really excited to see them play a set on their own in a small setting. They're a three piece who sound much bigger than you'd expect.
There is a part of me that is just hungry for straight forward rock music. The Whigs go light on the frills and put on a straight forward loud show.
Should be a good time. Can not wait.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Marijuana Will Straight Up Kill You, Son

I refuse to believe that Nancy Reagan lied to me. Marijuana kills, right? I mean sure, maybe not right away, but eventually. I mean, it's the gateway drug. Smoking a joint is the equivalent of smoking half a pack of cigarettes. Osama bin Laden is funding terrorist attacks right now one dime bag at a time, and there you sit on your couch with your laptop overheating doing nothing about it. How dare you?

So, how is it possible, that Michael Phelps smokes weed? When did he find time to train while getting stoned, stealing to support his habit, raping women, and eating pints of Ben & Jerry's? It goes against everything I've ever learned. Don't tell me it's possible that Nancy wasn't telling the truth. Say it's anything other than that.

If we know anything, it's that drug use will prevent you from performing in athletics at a high level (no way do pro athletes indulge in recreational drugs), becoming President of the United States, being a respected artist, graduate college, or from being a cop. No way can excellence and marijuana usage coexist.

Now that I've done some research though, I can't help but wonder how we missed the signs. Take this picture for example. It's obvious that he's ripped. No sober man would raid the bushes for a makeshift "Nature Hat". And just look at that awkward smile that seems to scream "I need a toke". Plus, he's holding up that medal like he's willing to trade it for for a quarter of Indiana Ditch Weed. Sad. So so sad.

Thank God he's got six medals. Hopefully he won't have to get more creative when it comes to what he's willing to trade to feed his addiction.

Armed with the facts I've been provided during the course of America's War on Drugs, I think it can be clearly stated that Michael Phelps is supporting future terrorists attacks. I don't like to call anyone out in writing like this, but his obvious hatred of America makes me feel more comfortable discussing it.

If only he could do something in a public setting that would be amazing enough to overshadow his wanton spliff sucking. If only he could pull off a feat of such amazing proportions that we'd be forced to overlook him unwinding over a bong hit or three. If only...

I'm not a smoker. I don't experiment with substances of any kind. Still, I don't know how it's possible we're still having these discussions. The fact that marijuana is criminalized floors me. The fact that the sick don't have access to it for medicinal purposes angers me. However, the fact that some dude who did the "Monkey Boy Dance" for his nation wants to relax in his own special way doesn't even phase me. If you want me on your bandwagon, call me when he's shooting heroin directly in his eye and blowing members of the dive team for $10 a shot.

Until then, smoke 'em if you got 'em, Mikey my boy. Put on some Cypress Hill, open a cold 40 oz, and roll one up. We'll get over it.