Saturday, June 30, 2007

Thoughts on Songs I Do Not Hear On the Radio

In 2000, during my senior choir trip to Gatlinburg, I found a CD entitled "Rebound Records Classic Rock 80s" in a strange mall music store. It consisted of some pretty cheesy but catchy songs that I knew, like "Mr. Roboto", "Owner of a Lonely Heart", and "Love Shack", as well as a fair collection of songs I'd never heard. I purchased it, not because it had all these songs so much as it was in the clearance bin for the price of $1. After listening to it in its entirety, I pegged one song as my clear favorite from the album.

The song is called "Don't Go" and it was performed by a band called Hot House Flowers. It had a catchy, piano-driven accompaniment, which I thought was cool, and the lyrics go by relatively fast and are sort of meandering, as if the singer is deliberately trying to not think of the fact that he's being dumped. It's only 3 minutes long and snappy enough that if one were so inclined, one could dance around like a moron in the solitude of their apartment. Anyways, it was generally well put together enough that I forgave the unspeakably lame saxophone cameos, and generally have thought to myself, "Yeah, I can see people really liking this song. It should make some money."

In my 25.5 years on this planet, I have never heard any other mention of that song or band. No radio play, no commercials, no VH-1 "I Love the 80s" reference, nothing. Likewise, I've never said to anyone, "Hey, have you ever heard of the Hot House Flowers? They sing a pretty cool song called 'Don't Go.' I recommend you check them out."

I mention this because I'm trying to reorganize my unorganized CDs, and have noted with some horror that the ridiculous $1 clearanced compilation CD where I discovered this one is missing, and for all I know, my cd could very well be the only known copy of the song in existence. Amazon professes no knowledge that my cd ever existed.

Luckily, I did a YouTube search for it. I got 5 results. One was a "Gilmore Girls" clip. One was an anime clip. Two were unrelated Justin Timberlake videos (making his second cameo appearance on this blog, thanks to Susie in comments). And the other appears to be it, although it also appears and sounds as if the source tape has about 20 years of dust gathered on it. It has 4 comments, and 7 ratings. People of the internets, congratulations, for you have now entered the super secret society of "People Who Have Heard of the Catchy, Non-descript, and Apparently Completely Forgotten Band Called Hot House Flowers."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Faster than a speeding bullet

One of my more interesting clients at work has recently become interested in my ignoble career as a long distance runner. What's the fastest I ever ran a mile? What's the fastest I could run a mile now? Why am I not as fast as I used to be? Am I faster than him? Could I jog really slow all the way to California? These are all things he wishes to know. As such, I regularly take him out to the courtyard, and we race back and forth. I routinely smoke him, which isn't hard, considering he has no opportunity to practice and is only 5'5" or so.

The end result of this is that I've decided to really get into shape and try running again. I think about doing this about twice a month, and then I run a couple times, my lungs collapse, I shake my fist at the sky, and that's that. Now, though, I have a purpose. The fastest I ever ran a mile is 5:15. I was very proud of myself, since I had been stuck on a 5:37 plateau for that entire season before that breakthrough, a breakthrough, I might add, that won me a pretty white ribbon.

Tonight, I decided to see how fast I could run a mile with my inflexible muscles, my terrible cardiovascular health, my asthma, and general slowness. I figured even without training, starting cold, I should be able to clock in a 7 minute mile, so I put my goal at 6:30. I finished in 6:56, thanks to a 7 second pickup on the final lap.

So, while I'm not as fast as I used to be, I can still take some pride in the fact that I could be a Presidential Fitness Club qualifier if I were a 4th grader. My goal is to get myself below 6 minutes before the autumnal equinox.

This post also serves as yet another reminder that my current life is pretty much just like high school, except I have nowhere near as many friends and I'm nowhere near as good at any of the things I loved to do. The only real improvement I seem to have made in the past ten years is that I'm substantially better looking now.

I realize it's probably a common name in Bosnia

The NBA Draft was last night. I love the NBA Draft. This draft was the most hyped in years, because it included all of the following:

1. Greg Oden, the 19 year old who looks about 44.
2. Kevin Durant, the latest Next Michael Jordan who, unlike the previous Next Michael Jordans, appears to be good.
3. A 7'0" Chinaman named Yi Jianlian. The fun thing about Yi is that nobody knows how old he is. It's been rumored that the Chinese Government doctored his birth certificate so he could play in younger leagues. Then, to add to the fun, he got drafted by Milwaukee, where he said he didn't want to play based on the fact that there are no Asian-Americans for at least a few states. The NBA Draft is close to causing a full-fledged international incident because of the actions of a team that has no fans because all Wisconsonians are mostly Packer fans, and all NBA fans in the area probably cheer for the Bulls, who are only an hour and a half away and actually have winning seasons now and then.
4. Your usual cast of ridiculously tall guys in awesome, awesome suits.

However, as a Pacers fan, I was a little sad. It seems that last year we traded all of our picks in this year's draft away for a couple of players who were both gone halfway through the season. Luckily for us, it turns out that you can pick whoever you want in the second round simply by trading the team who picked the guy you want your second round pick for next year. Then the next year, you simply trade your second round pick for the next year during the second round for the guy you want. I have no idea why this works, but it's happened two years in a row now for my beloved team, so I'm just going to accept it.

Which brings me, in a roundabout way, to the good news. The newest Pacer is named Stanko. Stanko Barac. Stanko Stanko Stanko. The Stanko Era has begun. Behold the new Stanktastic Pacers. El Stankerino, if you're not into the whole 'brevity' thing. I can already hear the chanting fans as he checks into the line-up: STANK-OOO! STANK-OOOO! Yes, this is the most psyched I've been about the Pacers in years. I'm officially Stanktified.

Also, the Bulls drafted JamesOn Curry. I'm trying to figure out why the next to last letter of his name is capitalized, but so far, I've only found out that he enjoys writing poetry, listening to music, and watching movies. I'm familiar with the "put an extra syllable at the beginning of the name and capitalize the third letter" convention as seen in LaMario, LaMarcus, and DeShawn, but JamesOn is clearly taking this to the next level. I'm going to have to think on this one for awhile. AnDy. AndrEw. AndyOn. AnDeion. AndrewOn. StankOn. LaStanko. DeStanko. DeAndyOn. DeAndrewOn. So many possibilities. I might lose sleep over this.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get a job, hippies!

So I finally watched Rent tonight, after being told for nigh ten years that I should see it by many different people.

The problem with being told you should see a movie/play/musical/whatever for nigh ten years is that you're almost guaranteed to not like it as much as you've been told you should've. I probably would've liked Rent a lot ten years ago, and I suppose I still did, just not as much as I had been led to believe I'd love it.

I think this is where we dispense with the required


I think most of the characters were self-absorbed nitwits. The only character I really liked was the evil villain Ben, who heartlessly asked them to pay rent on the apartment they were living in and tried to start a business that could actually benefit the bohemians in the area. Plus, he married into money, and I think marrying into money would be really cool and a lot of fun.

As for the rest of the cast:

Mark: Aimlessly filming homeless people does not qualify as making a documentary, no one besides your loser friends want to watch your little clips of them out having fun instead of working, and you're not above filming segments for a show people actually want to see. And you know what you could do with that money you must be spending on film? Pay your rent.

Maureen: I spent half the movie hoping there was a good reason why she was protesting paying rent. And there wasn't. And her protest/performance art/whatever was unwatchable nonsense. Maureen strikes me as a person who was never told how dumb she sounded all the time because she was cute and could get away with it. I hate people like that.

Jo Ann: Dumbest Harvard-educated lawyer ever. If I had just caught my significant other flirting with someone behind my back, my gut reaction would not be to propose to her, especially if I was also friends with her ex who told me exactly how she treats everyone.

Roger: I'm torn on Roger. Like Roger, if a heroin addict broke into my apartment while high looking for sex, I would kick her out. Unlike Roger, I wouldn't fall all over myself apologizing to her the next morning about how wrong I was and then date her for awhile. And I sure as hell wouldn't spend the next year writing whiny songs about her eyes. However, I do feel the urge to pack up my stuff and move out west every now and then when I am dissatisfied about the path my life is taking.

Mimi: Mimi is a stripper at what appears to be a high-end club. Other than the heroin addiction, why the hell can't she pay the rent? And if she's a stripper, a typically looked down upon profession, why is she hanging out with all these losers who think they're above doing even normal, harmless, non-degrading work? Shouldn't she be flirting with them, taking what little money they have, and laughing at them behind their back? That's what I'd do.

Angel: I've got nothing bad to say about Angel. He takes care of himself, takes care of his friends, and generally treats people well instead of the lame passive-aggressive crap that his friends pull on each other. And you know what being the likable, functional member of this club gets you? Killed off midway through the movie.

Tom: I like Tom too. He steals money from ATMs and generally subverts the man using his intelligence, as opposed to the rest of these losers, who generally use their intelligence to make whiny crap no one wants to see or hear.

Now, I actually liked this show, I just happened to disagree with its theme that there is some nobility in living in self-inflicted poverty when you could be doing something useful for someone. I'll fight a revolution for people who go to work for eight hours a day to come home and live in poverty. People who don't go to work at all and come home to whine about having to pay rent? Not so much.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Is he really all right now?

Today's Slylock Fox:

Shortly after I read this in the wee hours of the morning, JJ jumped up into my lap, plopped down, and starting purring like all get out. Normally, I'd chalk this up to typically friendly cat behavior, but after reading the answer to Question 2, I suddenly became a very paranoid cat owner. What's the matter, JJ? Are you happy? Or are you distressed or in pain?

So, thanks, Slylock Fox, for making sure I'll always be wondering if my cat is purring to let me know that he's dying a slow, painful death.

Also, I love how oblivious the woman in this comic is about the fact that 10 cats are stalking her. The real lesson for kids here is, "When preparing a tuna fish sandwich on toast, don't be so fixated on your dinner that you forget to close the front door, lest you be clawed to death by every stray in the neighborhood. Also, don't keep your toaster in your living room."

See, there's plenty of entertainment to be had without spending a dime. I'll make it until payday, no problem.

Monday, June 25, 2007

How Soon I Forget

A confluence of bills has led to me having a lower bank account balance than normal, and I'm utterly freaking out. Oh My God! What'll I do?! I've got less money in the bank than I usually do! I'll have to start watching what I spend again! No more superfluous snacks at work for me!

Then I realize that for almost two years, I went through every month with just enough money to pay rent, electric, and cable internets. Money in the bank never happened. Seriously, I'll survive this.

Monday YouTube

Nearly forgot. Based on people's unfamiliarity with Carl Monday and David Hasselhoff's "Hooked on a Feeling" video, I think I'm going to have to visit another member of the internets hall of fame.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thoughts on Songs I Heard On the Radio Today

"Layla", Derek and the Dominoes: This song is pretty much universally loved, as far as I can tell, and I'm no different, so I'm not going to make fun of it. Instead, I'd like to point out that the instrumental arrangement makes brilliant use of the tambourine. Ambient, noticeable, and not annoying. This marks the first time that anyone listened to "Layla" to appreciate the musicality of the tambourinist.

"Ain't No Sunshine", Bill Withers: I hear this song on the radio maybe once a month. Maybe. It's one of the best songs of the motown era, everyone loves it, and it's only two freaking minutes long. A station could play it five times a day and it would still only be 10 minutes of airtime used. Why is it never on the radio?

"Teach Your Children Well", Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young: I'm half-convinced that "Ain't No Sunshine" is never on the radio because the station I listen to has to play this one three times a day. I don't understand anything about this song. It's preachy, annoying, and not remotely catchy. How did a band that consisted of four good songwriters turn this one out? How did it survive the years? Why do I hear it more than every other CSNY song combined?

"Dance With Me," whoever sang "Dance With Me": This song sucks. Time to check the other oldies station.

"Dance With Me," whoever sang "Dance With Me": what the crap. Check G101.3.

"Semi-Charmed Life", Third Eye Blind: Attention, potential recording artists. Here is how to get me to buy your album. Write a song I like, and make sure it gets ridiculously edited on the radio, and I'll become so angered every time I hear the edited version that I will buy the CD just to make sure I can hear the real version whenever I want. And as far as utterly ridiculous radio edits go, this one takes the cake. The first half of the song is about how meth addiction is a great escape from one's problems and let's you feel as good as you've ever felt, and that's cool with the bigwigs at the corporate radio station, but they draw the line when it comes to that bridge that talks about how devastating the crash from a meth high is and how frustratingly impossible it is to get the high back. Good thing someone is thinking of the children.

I think I could probably do an entire blog post on songs that are ridiculously edited on the radio, but the list of victims I'd include would be too obvious: The Doors, Tommy James and the Shondells, Garth Brooks, and the B-52s immediately join Third Eye Blind.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Ooh! Shiny Objects!

This post is just filler to move those dumb depressing posts of self-loathing further down the page and out of sight.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Monday YouTube

Here's a fun investigative report about the dangers of going to the library.

Friday, June 15, 2007

And the Week of Suck comes to an end.

My Train of Thought While Reading Blondie

"I see Blondie has found an innovative way to continue holding up her ridiculously massive boobs: keep arms crossed and support weight with the forearms. Good show."

"Uh-oh, she let go. Now she's back into her familiar 'My Back Is Giving Out From 70 Years Of Carrying These Things Around' falling forward posture. Someone should tell the poor woman that significant strides have been made in support garment technology before she falls flat on her face."

"Luckily Dagwood used his cat-like reflexes to catch her before she fell. That was a close one. Wait, what was the comic about again?"

Then I read it again, this time noticing the words in the balloons. In my opinion, it's not nearly as much fun as analyzing posture and bust-to-hips ratio while making jokes about how old the strip is.

He's All Right Now (In fact he's a gas)

My thoughts tonight are largely unbloggable, so instead of sharing them, I give you

Funny Things JJ Does

First Funny Thing:

My computer speaker's power button emits a blue light. This blue light is JJ's arch-nemesis. He sees it, his ears perk up, and it's on like Donkey Kong. I've kept track, and JJ is now 5-0 against the blue light. His trademark right hook usually sends the entire speaker system sprawling to the floor.

Second Funny Thing:

JJ appears to have two ideal sleeping places: My computer keyboard, and my face. I can sort of understand the computer keyboard. I imagine it's like a beaded seat cushion for cats. He only sleeps on it when I'm not around, and I can tell because he leaves cat hair all over it. As for my face, it could be his way of saying, "Hey dude, there's only one bed in this apartment, and you've been hogging it for the last 6 hours. You could really stand to be a bit more considerate of a roommate and let me have some downtime." He also likes to pace back and forth across my face while I'm trying to go to sleep.

Third Funny Thing:

JJ has perfect posture at all times. Even lying down, he likes to hold his head perfectly erect for a few minutes, surveying all he sees like Yertle the Turtle, before doing some regal rolling around.

Fourth Funny Thing:

JJ likes to pace beside me as I pace endlessly up and down my long hallway. His favorite thing to do is to stay a step behind me and then suddenly turn on the gas, dart in front of me, and then cut me off. This usually results in him being accidentally kicked.

Fifth Funny Thing:

Every day when I come home from work, JJ is at the door to greet me with a customary meow, then with an unpresuming plop to the ground. He then rolls from one side to the other, stands up, plops, and rolls again. If I fail to immediately begin petting him, he'll start cuddling laps around my legs. If I decide to go ahead and pet him, he'll allow it for about five seconds before batting my wrist with his front claws. Odd little creature.

Sixth Funny Thing:

JJ has a bad case of Restless Tail Syndrome. I don't think I've seen his tail stop moving once since I got him last week. Only the tip swishes back and forth, and it's perennially curved like a question mark.

I hope you've enjoyed this installment of Funny Things JJ Does.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Birthday Greetings

Do my lame younger siblings read this blog? If they do, happy birthday. If they don't, they should start. Lord knows the excitement never ends around here. Usually because it hasn't started in the first place.

I think that might've been the unhappiest Happy Birthday greeting ever.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Monday YouTube

Welcome to the weekly feature on this blog where I try to find something useful to add to the YouTube posts every Monday. It usually takes the form of a rambling paragraph, and then for the rest of eternity I'll pretend like it never happened. I hope you've enjoyed this week's installment. Tune in next week when I'll maybe do a week-in-review section or some crap like that.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Crazy World of Pickup Basketball

I found this article on pickup basketball player archetypes last summer. Here's me:
Mr. Intensity:

Every game is played like it's his last. He’s big on boxing out with his elbows and setting moving picks, the only problem being he usually doesn't know how to play and ends up putting someone in the hospital. (Making it their last).

AKA The Guy Who Gets People Hurt
...except I don't box out with my elbows, I merely extend my arm slightly to make myself wider because those rebounds aren't going to get themselves. It is certainly not my fault that my elbows tend to be about the same height as other people's noses. Moving picks... it might've happened once or twice. Also, there is an inordinate number of cocky pricks who play pickup basketball, and playing them at an organized sport is the only acceptable way in polite society to hurt and humiliate these people.

Here's another good one:
The Girl:

There's always that one girl who tries to play. She desperately wants to prove something to one of the guys. What, we don’t really know. She has a washboard stomach (which she shows off with a sports bra), and is incredibly intense and humorless. With a very, very few exceptions, the women are always horrible and you should be ashamed of yourself if she schools you. Don’t give her an inch. Give her some elbows like you're Charles Oakley, and fuck being gallant.
Here's one I would add:
The Wife Beater:

There's always a guy who shows up to play in a wife beater. He usually shows up with his best friend or brother, also in a wife beater. The wife beater measures his worth as a man by how many points he can score and thus will never pass to anyone. He takes the same running midrange jumper every time he touches the ball, and when it's not falling, he gets frustrated and tries even harder. The problem is that he's putting the shot up too hard already, and so the harder he tries, the worse he gets. When he does not have the ball, he spends every second at the top of the key calling for the ball, and asserts "I was open!" anytime someone else takes a shot.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

JJ is curled up on my lap and purring softly to himself as I type this entry. I've been petting him for the past 15 minutes. Tiny, itchy little bumps are forming on forearms.

No no no no no.

I've always, always suspected I had a cat allergy, but recently, my immune and respiratory systems have been functioning normally while I'm around felines, so I figured I was probably wrong. That's why I agreed to take JJ. Because I love cats, and they haven't been bugging me.

Until now that I seem to be breaking out in hives from touching him. Why? Why?

No, I'm not getting rid of him. My arms will have to learn to deal. Invest in Benadryl.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

He's a gas gas gas.

I got a cat. His name is JJ. He's black and white, but the goofiest looking black and white cat I've ever seen. His chin, nose, and one eye is black, with the rest of his face being white. The back of his head is black, and he has a couple black spots on his back, but mostly he's white. The most awesome thing is that his two hind legs are both completely black, so he resembles a cat wearing black trousers.

Anyway, he's a friendly enough guy, comes over and lets me pet him, but then walks away to do his thing. He is nocturnal, and stays up most of the night pacing up and down my hallway. This is cool, because I usually end up spending most of my nights pacing up and down my hallway. Now he walks beside me, and I talk to him, which is less frowned upon than talking to myself.

Also, as soon as I got in the car after I got him, Jumping Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones came on the radio, and as such I've decided that his name can be JJ for short, but it's really Jumping Jack Flash.

He has not yet accepted that this is his new home, and spends a lot of time looking at the door crying.


Also, I have a question of sports and gender ethics. Yesterday, I played some pickup basketball. One of the players was a 19 year old female who stands about 5'5" and possesses a decent 3 point shot that you at least have to respect. The problem is that she can't play defense whatsoever, and instead of trying, she deliberately tries to hurt the person with the ball by throwing elbows, grabbing and pulling back as they run past her, or just pushing them over when they go to shoot without any effort toward making a play on the ball. Usually this sort of bush-league play is performed only by completely untalented people who can't compete in any other way or 14 year old boys with crazy hormones who haven't figured out that it's not acceptable. These types are easy to deal with: you just charge at them for a couple plays, put them on the ground, and eventually they lighten up a bit. However, no one was really comfortable with doing that, since she was much smaller than us and considerably more female.

Her partner began making up for her by calling all of his own fouls, but she still didn't take a hint and started calling us a variety of names designed to degrade our masculinity, and said the rule should be "no blood, no foul" which is not something that someone who is actively trying to hurt people is allowed to call. Her teammate basically told her that he was the one calling the fouls, since he was the one committing them. Then I started guarding her, which was not a favorable matchup for her since I have about 11" of height on her and can effectively lock her down. She complained.

So I'm not sure what the socially acceptable solution to this conundrum is. We just left shortly after that, as avoiding people I don't like is my default solution to all of my social problems.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Monday YouTube

This blog has fallen strangely quiet, which is nice since my life has also fallen strangely quiet. As it is, I really don't want to bore you with an "I worked overtime last night because I didn't want to come home and do nothing for 5 hours" yawnfest. Just trust me, crazy exciting plots are in the works, so I'll just bring you these content-free posts until the fall into place.