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.