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.