Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Somali family

One of the continuing missions of HumanKind is to give back in every way we can. Simple, sure, but good. My roommate / VP of HumanKind / all-around good gal Christina Rado wrote this in her blog this morning:

So, my Somali family has been off school for a week. 6 school-age kids usually receive free breakfast and lunch at school. This means over their two week holiday break, they have to make their grocery budget stretch to meet the needs of 120 meals the kids are missing out on by not being in school. I'm going to visit them tomorrow (Wednesday). If you have time today and want to bring by a snack like a bag of apples or carrots, a box of cereal, or some bread and peanut butter, I'll be at Humankind (604 Gallatin Ave #206) from 11:30 - 5:30. I realize it's last minute, but thought I'd throw it out there!

Christina and her husband Ryan work with and visit this family on a regular basis. They help teach the parents some basic skills (like how to answer the telephone) and have provided the family with a TV and DVD player to help keep the kids entertained... And, well, you get the idea. I've never met the family. I keep terribly busy (work does that to you) and I know I don't give back like I know I should. I also know that parts of the HumanKind humankind cause aren't as close to my heart as perhaps I would like them to be. I'm pushy and can be standoffish from time to time and I don't step out of my comfort zone enough... Despite my generally gregarious nature. But I figure that this is the least that I can do to try to help out.

If anyone is interested in helping out with one of the requested things (a box of cereal, peanut butter, granola bars... you get the idea), shoot me an email at stephenpbohn at gmail dot com or go on up to the HK store at the above address and drop some stuff of this afternoon.

I'm trying to do some good in the world today. Trying.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Stouts and 'ports

I'm sure by now you've all heard about the "terror" attack at Detroit Metro Airport on Christmas day. Since there are about 11 cable news chanels all clamoring for the same sandwich of a story, they did nothing but report on that one story. 'Specially FOX News. Now, none of that really matters because all of those stations are guilty of the same sort of sensationalism and also because I happen to live fivehundredsomeodd miles away from Detroit. Except for it was Christmas time, my mom and dad live a hop, skip, and a jump from Detroit Metro, and I fly all of once a year. Guess where I had to fly out of last night. C'mon. Guess. This story is already shaping up to be very "Costanza" like.

With as much coverage as this story was receiving and as many times as the news stations made sure to announce "If you are flying out of Detroit Metro Airport, prepare for increased security, long lines, and bring your patience [insert co-anchor's nervous laugh here]. The TSA is recommending that all domestic travelers get to the airport at least 3 hours in advance." I figured I'd better get there early. That was a hell of a long sentence. But get there early, I did. There was no way that I was going to get spend the night in Detroit only to wake up, catch a 6 am to Nashville, and then head straight to work. No sir. And so, I arrived 3 hours early.

Does anyone want to take a guess how long it took me to get out of my dad's car, through the security line including extra questioning (because I always get extra questioning), through the entirety of the world's second longest terminal (Concourse A measuring a full mile long), on to terminal B, and to my gate situated near the end of said terminal? C'mon... Anybody.

18 minutes.

That's right.
18 minutes. And I don't walk that fast.

I arrived to my gate 2 hours and 42 minutes before my flight was scheduled (which will become a very important word as you will see) to depart. Hell, the prior flight that was scheduled to leave from my gate hadn't even boarded yet.

So what did I do? I went and had pints. Several. If there are two things that I learned yesterday, they are as follows:
1.) Don't listen to the news 'cause they are full of hate propoganda even if there is just a handful of dudes fuckin' up air travel for the rest of the world, and
2.) You haven't lived until you've been drunk on an airplane.

Seriously. It was one of the more proud moments of my life. Suddenly the hour and fifteen minute delay that was magically tacked on to my wait (putting me at Detoit Metro for about four full hours) didn't seem too bad. Sure, I had to pee alot but, damnit, it was worth it. If it wasn't my finest hour, it was pretty close. For a a brief moment, I knew what it felt like to be Noel Gallagher... but without being cheeky, British, and lacking a god complex. I can hear you asking "But isn't he a singer, too?" Yes. He is. And after busting out a karaoke version of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" [don't get too excited, it's not an actual clip of my rendition from last night], you could say that I am, as well. By the way... The Asian dudes at the bar didn't like it as much as I thought they would. Here I am trying to reach out to our brothers across the sea and spread some goodwill and all they wanted to do was drink Suntory and quietly judge me. I didn't get a single "domo arigato" from any of them. Not one.

Well, my flight finally left and arrived back home to Nashville "International" Airport. I put that word in quotation marks because I have never seen a flight listed that has been of the international variety leaving from BNA and I'm one hell of a skeptic. Upon arriving to the, uh, arrivals section, this is what it looked like for all of 10 minutes before the hellish traffic broke loose:

Or... Until I realized I was down at the Departures section. Don't judge me... The aforementioned Asian fellows did enough of that last night.

It was a long, strange adventure getting home from Detroit last night. But at least I had fun. Air travel, folks, is what you make of it. 'Cept for when dudes try to blow you out of the sky.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thrice - "Beggars"

All is quite in the Bohn household this fine Sunday morning... Except for my older sister's cell phone alarm that has been going off for the past hour and a half waking me up at 6:30 and causing her to roll over from the couch, hit "snooze", roll back over only to have to do it (I kid you not) three minutes later. Brighton is a very sleepy town right now: cold, cloudy, constant snow... Very little to do other than wake up (due to the aforementioned alarm clock) and get on the internet / watch fishing shows on ESPN2, even though I rather dislike fishing. Even I don't understand that one.

I was thinking of a way to kill some time without waking the rest of the family. My original plan was to write my annual "Crybabies Beware" best-of list for 2009 chronicling my experiences with music, movies, and the minutia of my life over the past twelve months. For some reason, that just seems like vanity this year and I don't think I liked all that many albums to warrant such a list. To get some inspiration, I headed over to Large Hearted Boy's aggregator of sites that had the best-of 2009 listed. I read through several of these list and realized two things:
1.) I hadn't heard half of the records on the list and therefore could not make a truly educated list based on my opinion, and
2.) A large percentage of the records that I heard that were on those lists (largely of the "indie rock" variety and one would think right up my alley) were records that I thoroughly didn't enjoy. Brand New's Daisy and Lucero's 1372 Overton Park, I'm especially looking in your directions on that one.

It was a seriously lackluster year in the world of music. I've never seen so much drivel get so much play. That Education Connection commercial was catchier and better written than anything Lady Gaga did this year. The caveat to that previous statement is that the melody line to her song "Paparazzi" is catchy as hell even if she can't write lyrics to save her gender neutral ass. Another example? Sure... how about "The Climb" by Miley Cyrus? I know I'm not the only person that wants to see her fall off of that mountain she's trekkin' up. Another one? Sure!!! How 'bout "You Belong with Auto-tune Me" by Taylor Swift? I could go on like this for a while.

There were plenty of good pop songs that came out this year. And yes, some of them were from the aforementioned offenders ("Party in the USA" by Destiny Hope Miley Cyrus, "Love Story" by Taylor Swift, and [hell] "TiK ToK" by KE$HA is catchy). But as far as complete records which no one seems to release anymore these days, it was a decidedly down year.

I did actually start on a list this morning before I got too bored and had to stop when I realized that I had a hard time thinking of a few records that were much better than Phoenix's new record which, let's be honest, is nothing more than a few singles and a bunch of throwaway tracks. It ultimately disheartened me enough to stop...

Then I remembered that Thrice released Beggars and flat out forgot about how crappy most of the rest of the year in music was.

Watch this. Be amazed.

That's it. That's my "Crybabies Beware" list for 2009. Thrice's Beggars. Everything else fell woefully short. Yes, that includes Pearl Jam's Backspacer which I really would have enjoyed except for the AWFUL ballads that appear on it.

Do yourself a favor... Go buy the Thrice record. Take that money you were going to spend on Animal Collective or Adam Lambert or (God forbid) Owl City and get this instead. You'll be listening to this one for years to come.

[That was far too many words to get my point across, I know. When I get to the airport this afterevening, I'll likely be doing my Best of the Decade list...]

Friday, December 25, 2009

Fairytale of New York (part 2)

My favorite Christmas song:

Monday, December 21, 2009

"Oh, you don't need to buy me anything for Christmas."

If only my grandma really meant it when she said, "Oh, you don't need to buy me anything for Christmas."

For the first time ever in the history of the life of Stephen P Bohn, I am all but done shopping for Christmas gifts multiple days before Christmas Eve. I would like to thank amazon.com and their 'free 2-day shipping to anywhere in the United States' thing they've got going on. Saved me over $200! As an addendum... Mom, Dad, Jessica and Eric... If any of you happen to be reading this, don't peak inside the multitude of boxes being shipped to the Brighton homestead. Especially the one that reads "Not Steve Martin's All Natural Penis Cream®" in big red letters. Definitely not that one.
She's 80-something years old and likes to cook, reading, Chruch and being passive aggressive. If only I could find somehow find a copy of The Christian's Ultimate Guide to Making Quality Meals for Heathens but every place I look seems to be sold out. It's rivaling Elmo's Tickle Hands in terms of popularity. By the way, that gift is not as erotic as it sounds.

What to do? I'm on the verge of a massive accomplishment for myself: getting Christmas shopping done this early. I'd be so proud of myself. Hey! Maybe that's what Grandma wants! She wants me to be proud of myself! But how the hell can I do that if I can't get a gift for her? Oh, fate, thou art cruel.

I've been asking around the office what I should get my Grandma for Christmas... I keep hearing the same things: Chocolates. Flowers. Tickets to a monster truck rally. None of these suggestions really strike me as quality "grandmother" gifts. They strike me as awesome first date ideas; I know I'm single and all but I don't want to give Grandma the wrong impression. Nary a woman in the world can resist the temptation and raw sexual power of Grave Digger and all that its 1500hp engine implies. And ain't no way am I walkin' down that path with Grandma Bohn.

So, I'm hoping and praying that something falls into my lap in the next few hours or so. Something that will fit into my carry-on luggage or can be shipped directly to a door in Michigan. Maybe I'll just get her a flask, a bottle of whiskey, and tickets to the all-male revue. What? That doesn't sound like a good gift for a grandma?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve?

I was talking to Jeff Zuehlke at Ryan Parrish's Christmas / Birthday party last night about how much I don't like Christmas music. I'm a bit of a bah humbugger to begin with so I'm sure that has something to do with it. I don't get (in general) get excited for Christmas much anymore. I'm sure I've written about this before. I am also entirely convinced that there are all of 29 Christmas songs ever written in the history of mankind... and that any time anyone releases one it's got about a dozen or so of those 29 on them. It's very disappointing for the most part. Especially that insufferable "Little Drummer Boy" song which, if I weren't such a gem of a guy, would inspire me to find the last unicorn of yore, slit its throat and watch children, most women, and 43-year old dudes who play World of Warcraft all night long cry many tears.

Again... gem of a guy. But I'd consider it as evidenced that I've told you all about my plan.

Every once in a while, a musical group decides that they are going to think outside of the proverbial holiday box [like what I did there?] and perform a record of mostly original holiday music. This generally turns out to be a bad idea, as well. Need proof? I implore you to click here and prove me wrong. By the way, you can still get this delivered in time for Christmas if you order it now. Thank you, Amazon.

It's a peculiar predicament in which to find oneself: the label has got to be breathing down the artist's neck to make a record that will move 198,000 copies by Christmas and then sell 30,000 each year thereafter and we allare stuck with these Michael Buble sound-a-likes and Amy Grant copycats crooning and non-offending their way into the hearts of post-menopausal women across this great land of ours. I didn't mean for that to sound so misogynistic but there it is. Although, I do hate Amy Grant's voice so I'm not sorry for that part at all.

In the Christmas spirit and in an effort to try to break the mold and overall tone of most of my blog entries, I would like to present you all with a Christmas gift... of Christmas music. That's right.

My friend Aimee and some of her friends recorded a Christmas EP under the moniker Haunting Party. Download it here for free. I'm all about free music and most of my methods for acquiring music for free are completely illegal. Of course, that would mean that I recognize the authority of the RIAA and Lord knows that I don't. Diatribes aside... She and some of her friends recorded this six song EP as a Christmas gift to their friends and family... And, well, to the rest of the world. They're giving it away. It is Christmas after all.

I told Aimee that I'd download it because, well, I am a hell of a guy even though I've made mention time and time again my disdain for Christmas music. Strangely enough, I find my self here sitting on my computer listening to these songs and really enjoying them.

'Tis the season, as it were. Or is. Whatever.

Anyway... Enjoy the tunes. I am.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Big Bottom

I was reminded this past weekend how small the internet can make the world these days. I tend to forget but every once in a while (like when your boss comes across your blog because you mentioned her shoppe in one of your postings and big brother Google Reader fed her the information that someone somewhere in the world wrote about it... for instance) I am reminded that there is no more privacy anywhere any more. I'm not complaing. I play Nintendo Wii when I'm naked on a relatively frequent basis.

There. No privacy at all.

Bearing all of that in mind, I want to tell you a little bit about a band that I saw last night. They are called Big Bottom. They, unfortunately, sound nothing like the Spinal Tap song from which their name is clearly derived but they are every bit as sophomoric in a completely unintentional way. If any member of the band happens to be reading this, and based on the fact that several of them wore vests over their t-shirts and had gelled faux-hawks, I wouldn't be surprised if they are strokin' their... uhhh... egos to the internet by searching for themselves.
Let me harp on their image a bit more if I may... Sure, they all look like the kinds of guys who shop at Lucky Brand Jeans [writer's note: I actually really like Lucky's jeans] but they are the kind of guys who go there for the accessories. In the picture above, homeboy on the far left is wearing a cap with a skull and crossbones on it. I've done my fair bit of pirate research and I've never come across an authentic illustration or drawing or, hell, even a 17th century woodcarving where a pirate was depicted wearing a stylish cap they just spent $37 on at the mall.

And then the music. I specifically said last night the following quote about the band's songs:
"Their music sounds like it should be in a commercial for Wrangler jeans or a Cuba Gooding, Jr., movie." That's not a compliment.

At several times during their set, they advised the crowd to "get grunk". Listen, motherfuckers, the only person in the world who's gonna tell me to "get crunk" is Lil' Jon... not five white dudes who look like they smell like Really Ripped Abs.

Big Bottom (like The Mary Nails) represents everything that's wrong with the Nashville rock scene. We all know the country scene is just pop with a twang and 6 guitars on stage.

There are so many more deserving artists that deserved to be written about by me. So many talented rock bands. So many talented musicians. But I'm an ass... So I mostly write about stuff I cant stand. Congrats, Big Bottom... You're now on that list.

I'm sure you're all probably really nice guys. You've got grandparents that are proud of you. Your parents think that it's great your playing a gig in Atlanta this week. You probably go to church. You may even donate money to the Nashville Rescue Mission. But you're not writing songs worth a damn.

Also, your tattoos suck.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thank you, Darren McCarty

Darren McCarty retired today.

That probably doesn't mean much to you but he was my favorite hockey player ever. There's no real rhyme or reason why... And there's no way to explain how awesome the Greatest Fight in the history of hockey really is without watching it. People in Detroit (and Colorado) still talk about it to this day.

He also scored the Stanley Cup winning goal in 1997. It still gives me chills 12 years later.

He was a fourth liner. A bencher. 11 minutes a game. Penalties. Fights. Not many goals.... But, yes, he was my favorite. The only hockey sweater I've ever owned has been a McCarty jersey. I wore it on Sunday, as a matter of fact:

I know that just about EVERYONE in Nashville (and around the league for that matter) hated him as a player. That's okay. I've never been one to fly with convention... And maybe that's why I liked him so much. I just wanted to write a little something and let the few of you know who read this thing how much a fan I was and am.

Thanks for the memories, Darren McCarty!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Smash Register

Have you ever had your car or your home broken into? It's one of the most helpless feelings in the world. Someone broke into my car about 10 years ago but didn't steal anything. Apparently, they just thought it was fun to smash one of the back windows. It could have been worse had I been 400 miles from home with a couple of friends and my car was our only way back... Oh, wait. We were and it was.

But on to the story. I volunteer at HumanKind in East Nashville. I ran the half marathon back in April and managed to raise some funds for them. I've helped to sort clothes. I've washed the windows. I do the bookkeeping. I'm on the board of directors now. I'd say I have quite the vested interest in the place. If you haven't heard me talk about it before or if you don't feel like clicking over to the HK website via the link above, the best way to describe HumanKind is that the profits from the merchandise sold at the store go toward purchasing the required “standard school attire” for refugee kids entering the Metro Nashville school system. I don't really know why cause is important to me: I didn't go to public school after first grade; I didn't have to buy a uniform for school [at Detroit Catholic Central, it was khaki pants and Eddie Bauer for all -- I didn't know any better]; my parents always had money for the clothes I did wear... Superficially, none of that really makes sense as to why I'd want to help the place out. It certainly isn't glamorous to say that you volunteer at a non-profit and, sure, some women might think that it's 'sensitive', and, sure, it might look nice on a resume'.... But none of those are the reasons that I do it. I'm a jackass and I know it. I'm just trying to find a way to give back. And really... what's a few hours of volunteering a month in the grand scheme of things? It's a small price to pay for what I get in return even if I don't really know what that is just yet... and even if I never meet any of the kids that benefit from clothes their parents might not otherwise be able to afford.

Sometime late Saturday night / early Sunday morning, someone broke into HK. They destroyed the glass front door and, from what I've been told, went straight for the register. They smashed it open in an attempt to (obviously) get money. I don't know what these people who broke in were thinking but has any business ever just left money sitting in the register overnight? I can't think of any.

Suffice to say, my first reaction was "What an asshole! Who the hell breaks into a non-profit thrift store to steal money?!" It was natural. Being Irish, I think I have a tendency to over-react but I think this time I was spot on. Luckily, the only things that were damaged were the front door (which the landlord is replacing) and the cash register. Being a non-profit, HK relies entirely on donations and hard work. An expense like this is, fortunately, something we were financially prepared for but, of course, never saw coming. A cash register isn't going to make or break us.

Ryan and Christina Rado, the owners and founders of HK, were asked by Channel 4 here in Nashville to be interviewed about the break-ins and declined. The thinking was that it didn't put our beloved East Nashville in a positive light and that, from HK's perspective that's the sort of thinking that only contributes to more fear. East Nashville isn't a scary place; it's home. A little rough around the edges, perhaps, but so are we all. In Channel 4's defense, they did make it the lead story during last night's broadcast and did a pretty good job of it, too.

What I have been asked to do by my roommates Ryan and Christina is to ask you guys to come on out. Sure, donate money if you want to [I'm calling it the Smash Register Fund... Pretty catchy, eh?]. But we'd all rather have you come out to the holiday party on Friday, December 18th. We'd rather have you tell your friends about this place. We'd rather have you donate your gently used clothes. We'd rather have you volunteer to do some alterations or teach a sewing class so people who do buy their clothes from us can learn how to make it fit just so. We'd rather you sell your homewoven handicrafts on consignment. We'd rather have you walk away looking like a million bucks... for only a few bucks. We'd rather have you come support the mission of this place: helping out some folks who might not be able to help themselves.

This is HumanKind and let's face it... We're all in it together.

[You can visit HK at 604 Gallatin Ave, Ste #206, Nashville, TN 37206]

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Funny People

I've said it before and I'll say it again...
At the end of the night, it's always the funny guy who can write well that goes home with the girl. This is why I am awake at 5:30 in the morning on a Saturday watching Escape from New York.

Listen to:
"I and Love and You" by The Avett Brothers

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

To the other side of the world

I’ve extended an open invitation to everyone I know to come to Europe with me next year. After some serious initial interest, I’ve come to find out that most of it has been nothing but fevered dreams. That sounded rather heavy and heady but there it remains. The initial fascination with all of the old countries has died down amongst those that seemed most interested in going. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still fired up to go on vacation. That’s a very important word there: vacation.

Over the past few days, I have been thinking about where it is I would really like to go. I’m certainly not the richest man in the world (as a matter of fact, I’m pretty poor) but with working 65 hours some weeks (for example, the one that I am currently smack dab in the middle of) I am socking away more money than I have ever been able to sock away in my life; my stupid AT&T bill not withstanding. I have been, as those of you who know me know, bitten by the travel bug. All I want to do is work so that I can travel. Sure, I’d like to own a home but with what little salary I do make, I’m only going to get financed for the crackiest of crack houses in North Nashville and that’s not something that I’m interested in in the least. I’m gunning for a promotion and a raise here at work, hence the reason that I am wearing a shirt, tie, vest, and sport coat today. Actually, I am wearing those because it felt like a fun thing to do… if only to confuse the boss. I do look mighty handsome, though.

This is the part of my blog where I reel in the rambling. Or at least I pretend to but really don’t.

I have an acquaintance who occasionally works with me at AVOF. Her name is Eden. I highly recommend that you stop reading my ridiculous blog and go visit her photography website. She’s really quite amazing. For those of you who won’t stop reading, I’ll simply say that her photos are out of this world good. She’s clearly been able to visit several places that most of us haven’t and to say that I am envious of her travels would be a massive understatement.

Some of her photos, if you’ll pay close attention, are from New Zealand. How awesome would it be to be able to go there?! I understand it’s like no other country in the world in terms of appearance… not to mention culture. And the Kiwi that lives in the bedroom next to me talks about it quite a bit. Also, there are tour available to visit Hobbiton for about $48. I realize that it’s the fervor and verve that I write with in the previous sentence that may be among the reasons that I am 29 and single. Some things are just more important in life than others.

So… It appears as though plans may have changed some. Let’s be honest… They may have changed significantly, considering that New Zealand is literally the place on the planet that is as far away from Europe as one can be without making their way back.

I’m still budgeting the same amount and I’m still way ahead of my pace for saving… If I’m gonna go somewhere, I might as well go.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fairytale of New York

Thanksgiving is over and with the end of that comes the advent of Christmas. This is the busiest shopping weekend of the year when seemingly everyone wakes up at 3 am on Friday morning and runs around like idiots to buy, buy, BUY things that they think are going to make the people in their life that they love content. As such...

I'm listening to Dustin Kensrue's interpretation of one of the few Christmas songs that I actually like. The song is called "Fairytale of New York" and was originally written and performed by The Pogues on their record If I Should Fall from Grace with God. If you've never familiarized yourself with this song, I'd recommend that you'd hop on over here and watch the video.

It's not like most other Christmas songs you're ever likely to hear.

For some reason, since I first heard this song years ago, it has always resonated with me. I don't really relate physically to the protagonist of the song: he's an alcoholic and is sleeping off night of binge drinking in a New York City drunk tank. I'd like to think the song is an inner monologue of all the things that had gone wrong in his life and the one Christmas where things went right. I humbly ask all of you for your forgiveness for introducing schmaltz into my blog. I further humbly ask all of my Jewish friends for forgiveness for the use of the word "schmaltz". But, as we all know, there ain't no goin' back.

And I think that's what gets me. I know there's no goin' back. No matter how much I'd like, I'm not going to be able to bring my grandfathers back for just one more Christmas. I'm not going to get that feeling back of being 9 again and getting a Game Boy from Santa. I'm not going to be able to have the one woman who said she loved me (and didn't have to do so legally) tell me that she still does. I'm not going to get the feeling of true giving of delivering toys for Toys for Tots for the first time back when I was in high school. All of these things make me wistful for days gone by. Good to get that out of the way at 29.

But, like the honesty and openness of "Fairytale of New York", I'd like to think that there's the most silver of linings in the most gray of clouds. I'm ever the romantic and I think that's what I like most about this song. That at least the protagonist was able to say "At least I did." At least I did... I rather like that. He's at least got the balls to realize that he's spending what may very well be his last Christmas alone and drunk and in what may very well be the worst place one could spend a Christmas Eve... but that he has had the privilege of being loved at least once. And that, as a romantic, is not something to be taken lightly. Naive? Idealistic? Sure... but I've been called worse.

There's an underlying hope in this song that wasn't apparent to me the first several times I heard it. It was something that had to brood (and it did so in spades) for a while before I think I developed an interpretation of the song. It's not just about Christmas - although that is a convenient vehicle for it - it's that things could always be worse. That's backhanded compliment at best.

So our protagonist of this song is clearly on his last Christmas. He's not going to, as the song puts it "see another one". But he's content. And what greater gift... to be content on Christmas. I don't really want or need anything for Christmas this year (I mean, if you've already bought me a backpack for hiking across Europe next fall, by all means, I'll gladly take it). I don't want things. I want experiences.

"So... Happy Christmas... I love you, baby."

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Iliad

"'Be strong,' saith my heart. 'I am a soldier. I have seen worse sights than this.'"
from The Iliad

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Federal Bureau of Investigawesome!

Ladies and gentlemen, it appears as though the inmates have overrun the asylum. I have picked up a FOURTH job. This prospect both excites me and terrifies me.

I know I have precious few hours in the day as it is. The woman who works at the desk across from me asks me on a weekly basis when I have time to sleep. I don't, really. Bearing the fact that I don't often sleep in mind, I figured if I'm going to be a awake, I might as well be getting paid for it... Much like being in the office today, where I have received a grand total of one phone call. It's clearly necessary that I am here today. Until 6 o'clock, no less.

I was talking with Melanie at A Village of Flowers (aka, job number 2) a week and a half ago about my potential desire to pick up a 4th job. She said that I work enough as it is and that I probably don't need another job. 60 hours a week is enough, they say.

I say that the people who say that are cowards.
The whole lot of 'em.

I need something that is going to stimulate my mind at all times. Sure, MarioKart often does the trick but I don't get to call that work. I need something that is going to allow me to grow (this new position certainly will do that). I need something that has opportunity galore (not "Opportunity Unlimited" as was the slogan for American Income Life which wanted me to open a branch office of my own in scenic Chattanooga, Tennessee, thus requiring a move and the willingness to root for... uh... hell, there aren't any sports teams there at all!). I need something that wants to see me succeed and to "do my best". I have accepted a job with the United States Government.

Now, before you get all huffypuffy... I know there are a bunch of you out there that aren't big fans of the government. I, too, am one of those people. But I figure a great way to change the system is to be in the system. And so that's what I have done. Now, I'm no elected official and I'm not a census taker. I am going to be working for... get this... the FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: I can hear your questions now: "How did someone who only took one criminal justice class in college [writer's note: it might have been two, I forget] get to work for the the FBI?" Well, you will notice that it is a Junior position. I mean, it's entry level... but it looks like all I have to do is be a good citizen, obey the laws of my country, do my best in school and some other pretty easy stuff... and the promotions I'm looking for are just mine for the taking! Oh, joy! Oh, rapture Man, I found this job online, too! IT'S ON THE FBI WEBSITE AND EVERYTHING! Easiest job process ever, too:
1.) Find certificate
2.) Print certificate
3.) Collect pension

Man, I'm really excited to get started at this new job! I wonder when I get my gun...

Monday, November 23, 2009

I am thankful I am not a turkey

Ahh... Thanksgiving week. A week where not much gets done in a human resources setting... and I don't mean just mine. There are a few reasons why this happens. First of all, anyone who travels does so on Wednesday. This clears out offices by late Tuesday afternoon because everyone who is traveling has to go home and pack and pick up their snot-nosed anklebiters from school so that they can get them ready for the two hour flight to Salt Lake City where Granmy and Papaw can shower them with gifts, food, stuffing and everyone there will where uncomfortable wool sweaters and fuckallI'msickoftalkingaboutschoolAuntJanice! If you guys wanna see someone in the holiday spirit, look no further.

Anyway, back to my point... At that point is nothing, much like the point of working this week. There is none. At all. To give you an example of how little work gets done in a human resources department during the week of Thanksgiving, a two hour long breakfast has been scheduled tomorrow morning for our department. If that doesn't scream, "MODEL OF EFFICIENCY!" then I don't know what does. Apparently, that's how you scream on the internet. You type in all caps. Either that, or you're an engineer. Today has been predicatbly slow. I've answered two phone calls and responded to three emails. While, those three email responses have been important. Otherwise, how would the rest of the department know that I have volunteered to bring fruit tomorrow morning for the breakfast we will be having? I could walk around to each of their desks and tell them, I suppose. I'd get some exercise, look social, chat about my beloved 2-8 Detroit Lions (who will probably be starting Daunte "Rolling Thunder" Culpepper on Thursday in what is almost sure to be a total embarrasment on national television... You know... The reg.

But I'm not paid to walk around. I'm an employee relations professional and not an athlete. The Good Lord blessed me with these long dancer's legs but the coordination of a drunken 3 year-old. He giveth and He taketh away...

So I'm finding ways to fill up my day because some days that's all you can do at work. One of these ways is, of course, spending time on Facebook. 99% of the people that work here get this an access denied message but I am a surprisingly good computer... uhh... guy and have figured out how to get around this. As I was using the most popular social networking site until something else comes along in the world, I saw this ad on the ol' FB:
It got me to thinking... "What am I thankful for?" So here it goes...
*First of all, I am thankful that I can end sentences with prepositions from time to time and not too many people are going to care that much. As an addendum to that, I am also thankful that this is not 1889 and no school marm is going to rap my wrists (or whatever it is they used to do) for ending my sentences with a preposition.
*Secondly, I am thankful that I am not getting on a plane and flying anhwyere this week. I always get stuck sandwiched between the dude that smells like a ham caserole and a nine year old who has the sniffles.
*Thirdly, I am thankful that I am not a turkey. For obvious reasons.
*Fourthly, I am thankful that when I come to work on Thursday [Yes, folks, the Employee Resource Center is open from 9am to 3pm on Thanksgiving!] I will be able to bring my MacBook in with me and watch Futurama.

In all seriousness, I am really just thankful that I have managed to mostly survive this year. I am thankful that I get to work. I am thankful that Patrick and Amanda are kind enough to have me come over on Thursday afternoon to hang out, eat food, and probably drink enough beer where if I wanted to crash on their couch I could. I'm thankful that I still love living in Nashville even if finding love with a hipster chick probably isn't on my plate anytime soon. I'm thankful for a good bottle of bourbon and a better bottle of scotch. I'm thankful for running. I'm thankful for far too little far too often. But, despite my misgivings about things, I am really thankful to be alive... Hipster chicks and all.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Pretender

I was at work yesterday and I heard the long version of Jackson Browne's "The Load Out / Stay" while I was on my way back from a delivery. I hear "Stay" quite frequently on the radio but never the full version; it's especially poignant if you've ever been in a band that's played a show or if you've ever loaded a Marshall 4x12 cabinet into a van or hauled it up three flights of stairs for a show. Those things weigh about 90 pounds and the only thing that I can imagine that would be more awkward to carry that that would be a dead body. That's a carefully and importantly placed "imagine".

I got home from work last night and headed straight to bed for a nap. This is the sort of thing that happens to a man when he works more than Aimee Romero 60 hours in a week: you get tired and irritable and ornery. These are three words that can be and far too often are used to describe me anyway. This is like amplifying it. See what I did there? Amplifying? Marshall cabinet? Ah, crap...

I went out to 3Crow with Josiah last night and met with some of his friends and friends of those friends; one of whom deserved nothing more nor less than a swift kick in the teeth. She talked about her crazy sexual escapades and the times she smoked "all that weed" and... Well, you get the idea. At one point, she pulled out her camera, took some pictures of the people at the table and then immediately said that I "looked pissed" in all of them. I was.

I woke up early this morning and went to the laundromat. I hate going to the laundromat. Strange smells, strange sounds, stranger people... Present company included. I must admit that I had to have looked peculiar in my camouflage green shorts and my Detroit Catholic Central class of 1998 sweater combination that I was donning. This was however tempered by the fact that I was able to put on my headphones and listen to Jackson Browne's Solo Acoustic volumes 1&2 album. This was certainly inspired by my run-in with his track yesterday afternoon.

There's always been something pleasing about Jackson Browne's music to me. The chords are innocuous, his voice isn't of an outstanding timbre, he almost seems like a shy performer. As I get a little older, I'm starting to appreciate the subtleties in music a little bit more than I did when I was much more impetuous and, paradoxically, much more impressionable. Jackson Browne's music is certainly no exception to this.

Anyway, as I was sitting on the folding table staring at my boxer shorts rotating in the quarter-eating drum before me, the track "The Pretender" came on. This song has, for years, been a personal favorite of mine. He wrote it about, quite simply about being "caught between the longing for love and the struggle for the legal tender." I find this to be particularly apropos considering that I am writing this blog about those two very things.

Here comes the dose truth; the shot straight to the heart, from the heart: I think the reason that I'm not dating anyone seriously (other than the what seems to be the Deific comedic situations that I find myself in and are indeed stranger than fiction) is that I am simply a recovering romantic. Having worn my heart on my sleeve for far too long only exposes it to the elements. That's certainly not my best piece of writing but I find that my most honest and introspective rarely is and tends to be cliche' riddled. I'm not really writing this for anyone but I'm also savvy enough to know that someone is probably going to stumble across it.

I'm aware of my limitations as a writer, as a boyfriend, as a man. And there are times where I ramble when I tell stories, much like I feel I am doing right now. And there are times when I need to defer to a shy, unassuming, German-born American who's been writing songs about women for the past 30-some years...

I'm headed out in a little bit. Robbie and I are going to be in Hillsboro Village for a bit tonight. A place full of bars with women that want me to buy them a bottle of Miller Lite and then never talk to them again...

Out into the cool of the evening...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Going Rogue

Sarah Palin has written a book. It's called Going Rogue: An American Life. I have several problems with this. Let me explain...

The first problem is that I'm not really sure that Sarah Palin is American. A year and a half ago, the political muckrakers of the Republican party did their damndest to assert that Barack Obama wasn't born in America and I'd like to do the same here. Why? 'Cause I'm not even sure Alaska is part of the United States. It's really like Canada's hand. Don't get me wrong, it's a place full of wonder and snow and Deadliest Catch is awesome and... uhhh... Basically that would be about it. That and oil that can't be touched but that's another thing altogether.

Secondly, the more that I think about things, the less rogue I think this chick can go. She's wound so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up her ass in two weeks you'd have a diamond (thank you, Ferris Bueller). That's the opposite of rogue.

Thirdly, anyone who knows anything knows that Rogue is really Jean Grey. Unless this is X-Men Origins 2: Rogue aka Thank God it's not about Cyclops 'cause the made him into a whiny bitch in the movies. Catchy title, dontcha think?

Sarah's not fooling anyone.

Except for most of America.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another one bites the dust

The number of women that I have taken out on dates that are now married and/or engaged is simply fucking staggering.

Camouflage jeans can't hide that ass

I went to Mercy Lounge on Saturday night to see My So-Called Band play. They do all 90's covers and since Nashville as a whole is a town of musical imitators instead of innovators, this played over very well. Don't get me wrong, I knew what I was getting into when I decided to go: $3 cans of PBR, drunk chicks going "WOOOOOOOO!!!" and wearing those fuckin' annoying headbands that indicates that they want to talk about running but in reality can't pronounce the word "Saucony", and an uptempo mix of mid-90's alt rock that I still enjoy. I know they're a cover band and that's why it was ok. The "imitator vs. innovator" thing still stands. Take that, Music City! I'm gonna preface the rest of this blog [Can I do that? Sure! Why the hell not?!] by saying that I really like My So-Called Band... with the lone exception being their cover of "Wonderwall" which was kind of boring but everything else was spot-on. How's that for a backhanded compliment? Oh, snark, thy name is Stephen!

I rather like Mercy Lounge, though. I don't go there very often (I've been there maybe six or so times since I've lived here) but it's got fantastic sound, great sight lines, and it's almost guaranteed that someone will trip and/or fall on the little tiny (and wholly unnecessary) ledge in front of the bar. So even if you hate the band that's playing, the chances of you being entertained are still better than average.

Can ya' get a sense of where I'm going with this?

The show started about an hour and a half late. This is Nashville, after all. About 10:30, the opening band took the stage. They were called The Mary Nails. This is what they look like:

Again, it's Nashville, so shit that looks like this plays pretty well. In another case of assonance, it's a case of image over imagination... and using the same letter! How about that?! Let's take stock of what we're looking at here:

* A white guy in a skinny tie trying to be David Bowie. This is a mistake. There is only one Thin White Duke.
* Two chicks. This works in a band (i.e. Heart, The Breeders, L7, The Fastbacks, etc...) when the women can actually craft melodies. These two ladies of the night stage can't. Coming up with the occasionally crafty line in a song (like, for instance, the title of this particular blog post) is a step in the right direction... but the way to hell is paved with good intentions. And the way to musical El Dorado is paved with the same. Maybe these broads are on to something here.
*The guy 'playing' keys in the background. Almost didn't notice him, did ya? I will say that this picture does not do his shirt justice. The gold lame' [writer's note: I'm not too sure how necessary that accent mark is] shirt didn't come across in all of its unbuttoned and sparkly glory. This guy looked like a douchebag, sang like a douchebag, and danced like a douchebag. He was the Holy Triune Spirit of Douchebaggery. Almost makes him sound like a character from The Lord of the Rings. I can see it now... Fighting Gandalf the Grey with his Ten Point Power Sword and his Plus One Korg is Douchey the Gold. I realize that sounds like the top billing a title card fight and not very Tolkien-esque. I'm just a marginally talented dude with a keyboard, so what do I know? I'm kinda like, well... Kinda like Douchey the Gold. OH GOD!!!

Yesterday, Karen and I were talking about this band. She mentioned to me that someone else had said that The Mary Nails sounded like the retarded version of Scissor Sisters. To me, Scissor Sisters sound at least marginally retarded so The Mary Nails have got to be full retard. And if I've learned anything from Robert Downey, Jr., it's that you don't do cocaine, wander into your neighbor's house, and then fall asleep in one of their beds. If I've learned two things from Robert Downey, Jr., it's that you never go full retard: "... there was Sean Penn in ‘I Am Sam.’ He went full retard. Left the Oscars empty-handed. You went full retard, man. Never go full retard."

If any of the members of The Mary Nails happen to be reading this, I'm going to leave you with this: if you're not going to take advice from me (and it's doubtful that you will), please take it from Robert Downey, Jr. He's much more successful than any of us and I'm sure that's what some soulless music endeavorers such as you appear to be really want. Or, you know, you could just stop altogether. That would solve the problem pretty easily.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Owl Shitty

In between trivia questions at McFadden's on Thursday nights, I get to play songs. Dan's favorite is "Party in the USA" by Miley Cyrus and I play it weekly just for him... Well, me as well. Anyway, one of the fuys playing last week turned in his team's answer to one of the questions and asked me if I had the new Owl City single and then proceeded to ask me if I could play it. I didn't so I couldn't so I didn't. Hot damn, that was a good sentence! He then asked me if I would play it next [read: this] week. I told him I would. Friends, I may make a liar out of myself on Thursday night 'cause I ain't playin' it.

I'm pretty leary these days about what records I will and will not buy. I don't have much discretionary income so if I drop ten bucks on a record, it better damn well be worth it. I used to just go out and buy anything because I had heard it was good. More often than not, the recommendations were well-founded and I was often pretty pleased with my purchase. Thank God I saved my ten bucks on this one.

Anyway, I downloaded this record on Sunday [thanks, uTorrent and Robbie Crowley's internet connection!] and got around to putting it on my iPod this morning before work. I figured that it would make a nice record to listen to while driving in to work. The half an hour would already be wasted spent behind the wheel of my car, I might as well give some new music a chance.

I want that half an hour of my life back.

Talk about the least offensive, boring, innocuous, most unimaginative safest damn electro-pop record you've ever heard and there you go. Adam Young (the real name of the guy behind this Owl City crap) sounds like he pulled out his Mae and Postal Service records, tucked them under his pillow at night and dreamt of unicorns and eating bowls of Golden Grahams until his tummy explodes with the warmth and goodness of ten thousand suns and then his mom comes into his room and turns on his VHS copy of Masters of the Universe and he falls asleep again. I was going to write something much more offensive about his music but if he can't muster the courage to do it why the hell should I? The again, he's got a number one hit on his hands I'm a just a dude that has three jobs.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Party in the Penitentiary

I was walking downtown last night on the way to McFadden's for the rather sparsely attended Trivia Night and came across a movie set. Yup... Right there on Second Ave N. If they are filming Coal Miner's Daughter 2: The Diamond Years, I'm gonna be pretty stoked. Tommy Lee Jones hangin' out in my fair city? Hell, yeah! That's probably not the case, though, and I'm imagining it's another film about someone trying to 'make it' in this fair city... Or, you know, something like that. I can see the montage in the third act already: Del Amitri's "Roll to Me" playing in the background with a starlet running amok among town and purchasing just the perfect pair of boots on Lower Broad for her gig at Exit/In later that week.

Damnit... Now I've got that song in my head.

Anyway, I cut through the shooting location - it is a public thoroughfare afterall - and for the minor inconvenience caused by me having to wait 4 minutes while production assistant Blondie McBlonderson held me up, I definitely swiped a few items from the craft services table. I'm easily tempted by food. I couldn't help but think that this film is probably another Miley Cyrus vehicle for milking the cash cow while one can. Let's face it: the broad can't sing. As awesome as "Party in the U.S.A." is, it's auto-tuned to hell and back and the vocals are still in about 152 different keys.

As I completed my stroll down 2nd, I wondered what kind of life Miley Cyrus must have. How many horsies she owns. How many cheeseburgers she can buy for dinner. How no one is going to give her dirty looks for walking downtown with a handful of stolen cheese from the set of a major motion picture. I quickly forgot about her, however, as I am distracted by bright and shiny objects and I had to get to my 1/2th job of reading trivia.

I awoke this morning and in a much better mood than last night [yesterday's attitude largely stemming from the news that I will be working Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day and New Year's Eve] and decided to go for a run. And, wouldn't you know it, the first song on my running mix is "Party in the U.S.A." 'Cause if there's anything that gets me pumped, it's the voice of a 16 year old singing.

Don't judge.

There has, strangely enough, been a party-like atmosphere at work. Several folks are dressed up. I'm wearing a sweater. I know I'm quite the enthusiastic one.

AND... Guess who appeared on my Google News Feed today.... That's right: Miley Cyrus.

So the story goes like this:

53-year old Mark McLeod of Savanah, GA, was arrested for stalking Miley this past summer on the set of her new movie This Film is Gonna Suck Real Bad. He claims that he had given her several diamond rings and that she had been sending him "secret messages" through the television. All of a sudden my obsession with Keira Knightley seems a little more healthy.

But you gotta give this guy credit... He's in love with a girl and wants the world to know it. I don't think this guy is that crazy when you think about it. Dudes buy chicks crazy shit all the time. Diamond rings, meals at fancy restaurants, muffin pans, etc... Chicks send dudes crazy messages all the time. I got dumped by text message once and that was crazy as hell. I totally see this guy's point... Just not with Miley Cyrus. C'mon, Mark, you know that train has to reach the end of the line soon.

And let this be a warning to all you stalkers out there: don't be 37 years older than your target. Apparently that was the crime. Everything else about this case seemed pretty normal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Namaste, little wasp

Today is the first day wear my underpants have betrayed me.

I stepped out of the shower, singing "A Whiter Shade of Pale" by Procul Harum [really just the chorus and the "ber-ner-neeeer-ner-NEEER!" organ part several times] and flossed and brushed my teeth. I guess that means I'm grown up now because I voluntarily did both of those things without an imminent dentist appointment. My mom and dad would be so proud. I put on my deodorant and combed my hair. I then put on my incredibly mature Tazmanian Devil Looney Tunes boxer shorts. This was easily the biggest mistake that I have made in months and months and months.

As inane as anything, I walked out of the bathroom and into the Lovenasium my bedroom. I began rumaging through my piles of clothes for my pair of wrinkle-free khaki pants which are a lifesaver for the late-20's-something man... And that's when I heard a sound I have never heard before: the buzzing of an angry wasp in my underpants. It's a sound that's instantly recognizable and unmistakable. Coupled with the incredible rush of fear and adrenaline of getting stuck, it heightens one's senses.

Before I could get my underpants off, this little bastard went straight for the goods. Right at the ol' coin purse. A wave of admiration washed over me for a moment if only because I appreciate his "shoot first, apologize later" method of attack. He was a little guy taking on a giant and he knew the quickest way to bring me down.

Oh, the sonovabitch fought like no other opponent I've ever encountered before; knowing his death was imminent. A quick sting on my hand! A quick sting on my finger! And off he was!

I grabbed the nearest weapon I could find. Being a former boy scout, I'm incredibly resourceful. I grabbed the nearest hard, flat surface. "What was it, Poppa Storyteller?! What was it?!" I can hear you all clamoring. It was my dvd copy of Ghostbusters. One swing. One wild, flailing, eyes closed, Hail Mary of a swing... and I got him. Killed him. Killed him dead. So there I was, standing in my room with my weapon of choice looking like I had just practiced karate for 3 hours.

Namaste, little wasp.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble 2: Falcon's Flight

Am I the only one who SUPPORTS the Heene family in this whole "Boy in the Balloon" thing? I think I am. Normally this is where I'd type "I know I'm an insensitive jerk but hear me out..." I'm only going to do the "hear me out" part of it...

I'm not an insensitive jerk in this case.
Hear me out...

Here was this story that tugged at the nation's heartstrings. People were glued to their TV sets as the hot air came out of the drama. Hot air? Balloon? Ah, crap. Watching the interviews with the parents of Falcon, you could tell that they were lying. And America bought it. Why? Because, by and large, we're stupid and believe everything that's on TV.

What really frightens me is the short term memory that American pop culture has. Paradoxically, this bodes well for me for a few reasons:
1.) It makes coming up with questions on pop culture for trivia night pretty easy,
2.) It gives me something to write about at work instead of explaining to the folks at Pitney Bowes that pieces of mail addressed to "Accounting" really do need to be sent to that department, and
3.) It makes for great sequels. I know sequels in general tend to suck. One needs to look no further than the ill-advised Keannu Reeves kung-fu future things for proof. Why, yes, I do own all three films on DVD. Why do you ask?

It's only the TV sequels that end up being good, however. The Battle for Endor was far superior to Caravan of Courage if you'll recall. I'm still waiting for the follow up to the Star Wars Holiday Special because there is no way in the world it could be worse than the first. Need an example that's not related to the world of George Lucas? I got one for ya...

How about the story of Falcon Heene? Yes, our young stowaway on this balloon. "What does it take after?" you ask. Only the greatest made for TV movie of all time:

Ladies and gentleman, John Travolta! Oscar-nominee, John Travolta. Pilot, John Travolta. Scientologist, John Travolta. That's right... the original Boy in the Plastic Bubble. Falcon, it would seem has a great life ahead of him... I mean, he was already on one of those 'Switch your Spouse' shows. JT [piss off, Timberlake, I'm talkin' 'bout Vincent Vega, here!] started off the same way and look where he is now!

So, Heene family, I salute you on starting your boy on the right path. Young Falcon's career is sure to take off and soar to the kinds of heights that only those with the thetans the likes the star of Look Who's Talking, Too could attain. Go, young Falcon! You are free to dream and rise higher than the eagles. For a short time, we Americans were the wind beneath your wings. We watched your sequel: The Boy in the Plastic Bubble 2: Falcon's Flight and I hope I get to see what part three brings.

I believe I can fly. Go ahead... Inspire R. Kelly again, young Falcon. We've earned it.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I really like my MacBook. It runs well, it doesn't freeze, I get to make sweet photobooth pictures with the camera... Ones where my biceps look huge and there's a blue sky behind me, lookin' all majestic like. Last night, however, I get bit in the proverbial ass by my overzealous use and my over confidence in my computer.

As I was semi-legally downloading songs for tomorrow's Crawford-Woodward wedding while working at McFadden's for trivia night, I noticed a small glitch in one of my tracks. The song in question? None other than "Funkytown" by Lipps, Inc. The song sucks, granted, but I'm not getting paid to listen to music. I'm not getting paid at all. I'm there to make people get on the dancefloor and shake their ass... and not the proverbial one either. This song, from what I've been told, is one of the ways to do it. All them cougars on the prowl at a wedding? This song is like their battle cry.

I tried to load the song onto my Itunes and met with error after error. I thought that the third time would be a charm. I was wrong. I got a little rainbow spinny wheel [this is where I'd insert a GIF if I cared enough to] indicating that it was processing...
But nothing happened. After 20 minutes, I got a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that this may be it for my 12000 songs, many of which I had not yet backed up onto my external hard drive. So I did what any man would do. I swore very loudly and stayed up til 4:45 this morning uninstalling and then reinstalling some software and programs on my Mac that are neither designed to be uninstalled nor reinstalled.

And with great success.

So, dear readers who may be attending Lori and Aaron's wedding tomorrow, FEAR NOT! There will be dancing. There will be "Funkytown". There will be people who probably aren't me making sweet, sweet love afterwards. You're welcome.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Running to stand still... Actually, that might be an improvement.

I woke up at some unholy time this morning. I've always had a rather strange internal clock anyway: one that's very precise except for when it comes to keeping time with music, where I always seem to end up off-beat. That's 'cause I'm white and Irish. We're sooooo known for our rhythmic and athletic abilities.

Seriously. When was the last time you saw a rhythmic gymnast in the Olympics from The Emerald Isle? Better yet, when was the last time you watched rhythmic gymnastics in the Olympics? Better still, did you even know that rhythmic gymnastics was a sport? If you didn't then I feel bad for you. Why? 'Cause chicks do crazy shit like what's pictured to the right. They give out gold medals for these kinds of things, people. All the women competitors of rhythmic gymnastics are champions in my book. Also, it's one of two sports (women's volleyball being the other) where I don't feel the least bit guilty for watching in the nude.

At any rate, after I set off my car alarm this morning [writer's note: Sorry, entire neighborhood!], I set out on my morning run. It's not as daily as I'd like it to be. My well-documented love for all films related to Sylvester Stalone have caused me to miss many morning runs... all suggled up on my bed, watching Sly do a karate kick on some guy and then shooting another one in the face with a gun that weighs 245 pounds. There's nothing he can't do on screen. But this morning... Oh, how motivated I was!

I stepped out into the not-so-cool morning air looking and feeling like a complete idiot. Not only was the horn on The Family Truckster making noise to wake the dead, I was wearing the following:
White sweatband
Brown hooded sweatshirt (with a zipper that does not stay up. <-- That's gonna be important in a second)
Gray athletic shorts
Boxer shorts
Knee braces (right and left)
Ankle socks
Black New Balance shoes
Ipod on arm holster

In short, I looked like a retarded relative of the Six Million Dollar Man. Eat your heart out, Lee Majors.

If you're an astute observer, you'd notice that I didn't mention anything about wearing a t-shirt. Why would I soil a perfectly good one if I'm wearing my comfortable brown hooded sweatshirt? I couldn't think of a reason either.
I set off down McMahan Ave, with my music blaring. As fate would have it, the first song that came on was "Paper Planes" by M.I.A. It's the kind of song that I can't help but try to dance do: arms flailing about like crazy. So, imagine if you will (and you will), me, running down the road and trying to dance at the same time while listening to this song... and wearing a hooded sweatshirt that likes to do anything but stay closed.

It was long about the first "Some-some-some-I-some-I-murda..." when my brown hooded sweatshirt got the best of me; it's zipper easing its way down my already sweaty chest. That's 'cause I'm perpetually out of shape and Tennessee is perpetually at 751% humidity. I took a leap of faith to continue running, continue dancing, and adjusting the zipper on my hooded sweatshirt... Right about then is when I ended up face first and covered in dirt on the corner of McMahan Ave and Gallatin Pike watching traffic roll right on by me.

I was very humbly reminded that we(e) Irish are designed to stick to Riverdancin'. As soon as our upper bodies are engaged in an athletic endeavor, we fall flat.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Protecting culture is, I suppose, important. Expanding culture is, I know, essential.

How very eastern...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear Budget Brakes

Dear Budget Brakes,

You got me. You got me good. If there were an award for getting someone the goodest, you guys would get it. Yeah. Goodest.

I know that from the outside, I look like a professional, respectable (despite what my friend Meg Whalen may or may not say about my skull and crossbones belt buckle) and even somewhat handsome guy. I'm not lighting the fashion world on fire and I'm certainly not going to be walking down a New York City runway anytime soon. That being said, during job number one I dress pretty well: pressed shirt, black leather shoes, nice pants. Hell, some days I even wear a vest. Like today. I actually like wearing the vest as it elongates my almost non-existant neck. Plus, I think it throws people off a bit which, as many folks who know me know, is part of my charm. The Good Lord put me on this earth to do three things: be funny, be smart, and be really good at air hockey. As of yet, He's never mentioned anything about being good looking. I need every competitive advantage I can get.

I want to point something out to you, my dear brake shoppe, in case I was too subtle in the above paragraph. Judging by the fact that I know I can be too passive-aggressive in my writing, I'm assuming that's the case. I mentioned that I dress nicely at job number one. You would be correct in assuming that I have multiple jobs. To borrow from a writer much more qualified than I, "I'm gonna spread it out for you in a nutshell":
Job one: Monday through Friday, 8 to 5. Insurance.
Job two: Saturday (and occasionally Friday nights... and occasionally Saturday nights... and occasionally Sunday nights... and whenever the delivery van needs to be taken to your rival Pep Boys at the boss' behest), 9 to 5. Flower shop.
Job three: Thursday, 6-930. Bar trivia.

You would think that with three jobs often putting me over the 50 hour per week mark that I would be rolling in the dough. This is not the case. I work three jobs so I don't have to live under a bridge which is something that I think we all can appreciate. I should get a knighthood for this. Maybe call it the Order of the Employed or something.

My point? Yeah, I've got one. My point is that I try to be thrifty with my money. I don't have cable. I 'borrow' my internet from a neighbor's unprotected wireless signal. I don't ever adjust the temperature in the house. I volunteer at a thrift store whose owners are gracious enough to let me have the occasional free piece of clothing or two. Naturally, when my brakes began to grind about a week ago, I decided to take what little money I had and visit you. Why? Because the word "budget" is in your name, because I'm thrify, and because I had seen your ad on TV a few times over the past several years indicating that you've got brakes with a lifetime warranty "starting at just $78!" Talk about the perfect storm!

I grew up around the auto industry. My dad worked for and retired from Ford. My grandpa worked for and retired from Ford. Various aunts and uncles worked for or are still working for Ford. I've had my fair share of maintenance done on vehicles. I know that whatever price I'm being quoted on TV, that I should add at least $60 for labor and throw in another $20 for miscellaneous parts and that's the real price. I walked into your shop expecting to pay about $160 for brakes.

Take a guess what I was quoted for a brake job. I guess you don't really have to guess since, you know, you are the shop. But since I plan on sending this to several friends as well as posting a blog about it complete with funny pictures, I'm going to let you know: $384.00.

It was pointed out to me by the shop's manager that I needed new front brakes (each running $78.00 for just the brakes themselves) , new brake rotors, new hardware, new somethingelsethatIforgetwhatit'scalled, and the labor... of course. As you can well imagine, I was none too pleased. Remember... budget... thrifty... $78.00.

I told the manager that that quote was "way too fuckin' high." I felt like swearing because that's what guys do in auto shops, right? I then thanked him for my free brake inpsection and told him to please put the wheels back on my car. He, being the decent manager that he is, told me that he might be able to work something out for me... and came back with a quote of (ready for this): $344.00.

Lord, in heaven, my prayers have been answered! Still more than double what I wanted to pay. Oh, boy! Can I? Can I, please?! Yes, that was sarcasm. And thus ends the subtlety.

I again informed the shop manager to put the wheels back on my car. As I was turning around to sit back in your rather plush leather chairs, the manager stopped me halfway with, "Well, what can you afford?" I had no idea that the manager of your shop was Monty Hall. This came as a particular surprise because I would have thought that Monty's Canadian work visa would have long since expired and that certainly he could get better work than a brake shop manager. Maybe he has multiple jobs, too... but I doubt it. I know times are tough for everyone. I turned around and told him, flatly, "$220.00". That's it. That literally left me enough money for gas and food the rest of the week. He replied quickly with "Ok." A gentleman's agreement!

What I wanted to know, dear person from Budget Brakes who happens to be reading this, is why the manager would so willing and eager to give me what amounted to a 43% discount. The only thing that possibly came to mind was that the first two sets of brakes must have contained multiple lifetime warranties. Apparently my strange manner of dress must have thrown the shop's manager into a fit of confusion whereupon he mistook me for the Dalai Lama. I'm not. I'm not Tibetan, I'm not a monk, and (as evidenced that I was in one of your stores buying things for my car) I have a need for worldly possessions. The meek may inherit the earth one day but until then the rest of is need to get to work and need to do it safely.

Going forward, I think it would behoove you to change your ads. Don't allow the TV commercials to say "$78.00" when it's damn well going to be significantly more than that. Don't trick hard-working Joes like myself into thinking we're going to get out of there with both arms and legs only to find out that we're gonna have to get our nuts replaced, too. What? Nuts are the extra hardware you're charging us for.

Sure, I could go to the Better Business Bureau with this. Sure, I could raise hell with my local news outlet. Sure, I could go put some dog poop in a paper bag, set it on your doorstep, light it on fire, ring the bell, and then run away. Hell, that last thing just sounds like fun and I might do it anyway. But none of those will probably be as effective as sending you a letter and posting this on the internet.

Good luck in the future, Budget Brakes! Gunga ga-lunga!

Stephen P Bohn

Friday, October 2, 2009

Tropical BlackBerry Storm Melissa

I was sitting here in my cube, minding my own business and googling my name. It's Friday, it's kind of slow, and I like a good ego stroke every now and again. When in walked Melissa, who (as you'll see) is perfectly capable and mobile. I've never met her in my life and I hope I don't ever meet her again.

She seemed perfectly nice at first. Well dressed. Professional. Probably makes six figures. Thinks the world of John and Kate Gosselin really does matter. Nothing terribly offensive about her. 'Cept maybe the last thing. Then again, Colby Pitts liked that John and Kate Plus 8 show and I think he's super awesome.

Melissa enters my cube, stage left.
Melissa: Hi!
Me: Hi! What can I do for you?
Melissa: Well.. Is this human resources?
Me: In a manner of speaking, yes. We work with HR. Is there something I can help you with?
Melissa: Well, I'm looking for an employee. Her name is Geetha. She works in IT. She's supposed to help me with my BlackBerry.
Me: Sure, I can point you in the right direction. Lemme look her up. [Goes into my Outlook Address book and find Geetha's location in about 4 seconds. Very difficult, I know].
Melissa: [Slightly embarrassed] Well, I coulda done that!
Me: Hey, no problem at all...
Melissa: Can we call her just so I can be sure I can find her?
Me: Yeah. [Dials number on speaker phone]
Geetha: Hi, this is Geetha.
Me: Hi, Geetha, this is Stephen in the ERC, and I've got an employee that's looking for you.
Geetha: Oh, is it Melissa?
Melissa: [Goes from zero to bitch in .13 seconds] YEAH.
Geetha: Okay, I'm on the first floor of the 618 building, right when you walk in the main entrance, on the right.
Geetha: On the first floor of the 618 building. Where are you?
Geetha: Melissa, it's on the first floor of the 618 building. Go out the front door of 648, turn left, go to the next building and there it is.
[By this point in time the entire office has stood up from their cubicles and is looking in my direction like I've just told this woman that I've killed her cat, Mr. Fluffer Mittens. I hadn't.]
Geetha: [Becoming increasingly perturbed with Melissa] Well, there's only one floor in the 618 building, so I'd say... First?
Geetha: Nooo... I sent you that in an email.
Me: [Entirely amused but is now leaning back in my chair holding onto my iPhone for dear life 'cause I know what's coming]
Melissa: [Throws BlackBerry with surprising force against my desk causing it to shatter into several pieces. Proceeds to pick up receiver of my desk phone and slam it down.]
Me: Well... Umm...
Me: I dunno... Geetha, maybe?
Melissa: [Picks up pieces of BlackBerry and storms out]

As I was writing this entry, Melissa came back and apologized. Too late, lady. The words have been set and I'm too lazy to backspace.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Babies having babies

I have had it up to *HERE* with people talking about their pregnancies.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Shut up, Barky.

I have a neighbor who lives behind my house. I actually have quite a few of them. I've never actually taken the time to meet any of them. This has been the case because:
#1.) I'm kind of a jerk, and
#2.) I'm not home that much anyway. When I am home, I'm usually in some sort of vegetative state on my bed eating one of Little Cesaer's Hot 'n Ready $5 pizzas and watching a movie. That's what happens when you have two and a half jobs.

Speaking of being in a vegetative state, though, the time that I am not eating said pizza and/or watching a movie, I am asleep. Ah, yes... Sweet, sweet sleep. Most nights, I have ridiculous dreams. Last night's? Sure! I dreamt that Rachel Briggs and I were stock clerks at Kroger and discovered a windfall of baby diapers and ice cream bars that we were going to steal and sell on the black market. After our successful venture into the world of organized crime, we went out and sung Christmas carols. This sounds like it very well could be the sequel to Safe Men. How awesome would that be?! Very. Very awesome.

It's dreams like the aforementioned one that cause me to wake up singing aloud the words to "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!" which has now been in my head since I woke up some four hours ago. If you're doing the math and not paying attention to the stupidly inaccurate time stamp on this here blog, you may deduce that this puts me up somewhere in the range of five o'clock in the morning. It's not like I had anything to do that early this morning. I entertained the idea of going running that early but that was too early... plus this Inland Tropical Storm NeverSeemsToEnd rain we've been having has severely curtailed my athletic endeavors over the past week and a half. What in the world could have awoken me from my slumber?

A barking dog owned by the neighbor who lives behind me.

It's my job to overcome questions (it's not really, because I'm not a salesman) so I know what your first one is: "How did you hear the dog? Don't you sleep with your windows closed when there's 134% humidity?" Under normal circumstances, I would have socked you, dear question asker, in the teeth for asking such a dumb question. Of course I do. My finely honed ears pick up most everything. That and I have to sleep with my window open right now because our air conditioning system is fucked up at the moment. The good and bad of having inexpensive rent, I suppose.

So this dog continued to bark and I continued to lie there awake. The only thing that I could think of were ways to extract my revenge. Why? Because I'm a hell of a dude. None of my ideas seemed to be very good:
#1.) Dogfighting. This has been looked down upon in recent years. Plus, this is the dog that I would be using to fight. She's afraid of water. Seriously. Also, the Rados might get pissed at me.
#2.) Yelling out, in typical East Nashville fashion, "SHUT THAT DAMN DOG UP!"
#3.) Feeding the dog milk chocolate. That's a little too sadistic, even for me.

So, as I listened to Wonder the Never Ending Barking Dog, I came up with an idea that solves almost all my immediate problems: an ice cream truck route. It would give me another job, another source of income, free ice cream, and I'd get to annoy the hell out of my neighbor with "The Entertainer" at an insane volume and on permanent repeat. I've been fervently hunting on craigslist...

Also, I wouldn't be singing Christmas songs in September. It's a win-win for me. And if I could only find that real life windfall of diapers. I'm becoming more and more diabolical by the minute...

P.S. Additional points to whomever gets the sitcom referenced in the title of this blog. Maybe even some free ice cream, too. Maybe.