Monday, September 29, 2003

What’s wrong with this picture?

I am not a sporty guy. I’ve tried to get into sports, and I’ve touched on this subject here in the past, but we are just a match that is not meant to be. For instance, when I went through a baseball phase in the mid-to-late ‘80s, which in retrospect I consider to be a pretty golden era in baseball, I realized that my obsessive nature was more inclined to collect baseball cards than to watch a baseball game. I don’t know, maybe my obsessive love of music, reading, writing and a dozen other things just fulfills my quota of interests and sports didn’t make the cut.

I do actually enjoy attending a number of sporting events. Soccer can be fun to crowd watch, hockey doesn’t bug me either and baseball is the one game I view more as a social experience than as sporting event. Especially Cubs games at Wrigley Field.

Especially last minute double-headers at Wrigley Field during which the Cubs clinch a divisional title.

And I’m sitting in the fourth row just to the left of home plate. Pretty sweet huh?

Anyone who actually cares about the subject probably knows this particular game inside and out by now so I won’t really extensively comment on anything that happened on the field. What I did find interesting is just how miserable most Cubs fans looked about fifteen minutes after the end of the second game as their relief that the Cubs actually made it to the playoffs turned to dread as they realized…oh crap, the Cubs actually made it to the playoffs!

A Cubs fan is a unique fan. Sometimes I think the fans are more important than the actual team. And I think at this point it’s impossible for a Cubs fan to truly savor any kind of victory with out fearing the ultimate stumbling and defeat they’re grown used to seeing. I think the agony is even intensified post-season as the true fan hopes for victory and strains to remain sane when every logical cell in their body is arranging itself to deal with the uncompromising letdown of certain defeat.

Me? I hope the Cubs do well and the fans get to celebrate a while longer. Ultimately I hope they don’t make it to or win the World Series because I think if the Cubs were ever truly victorious, that little something that makes them so loved by the city of Chicago might be lost forever. And that would be truly tragic.

Strokin’

I finally got to listen to the new Strokes disc Room On Fire and I can say with confidence these New Yorkers have side-stepped the dreaded sophomore curse by sticking to familiar production values and dependable songs. I think part of the band’s charm actually derives from their records sounding like they’re being pushed through amps with cones just barely held together with duct tape and vocals that sound transmitted from 1933. Thank god they didn’t use Nigel Godrich or the whole thing probably would have sucked.

Of course these charming qualities would be worthless without killer tunes and Room On Fire is full of them. “What Ever Happened” opens the disc with a punch and a growl while further on “The End Has No End” crams synth-pop ideas into snarling guitars. Dig it.

Some help?

Finally, I’m looking for a little advice. I’m going to purchase a ’94 two-door Honda Civic but the thing has no stereo. Can anyone out there recommend some reasonably priced speakers and a CD player that also has auxiliary inputs so I can play my 30 GB iPod? Any e-mails to tankboy at aol dot com or suggestions in the comments section below are fully welcomed.

Friday, September 26, 2003

Greetings from Corporate America...Having a great time, wish you were here....

So I survived my first Sales/Marketing meeting within the big ol’ corporate structure over the past two days. In the weeks leading up to this, my office has been a buzzin’ with activity as everyone scrambled to get his or her presentations up to par. Basically this meeting is a make or break for product managers as they let the sales force see what’s coming down the pipeline. The reactions they get to each product is the deciding factor as to whether that particular product will ever see the fluorescent light of day on some store’s shelf space.

This is pretty heavy stuff as far as corporate business goes but I was surprised how chill I actually felt going into the whole thing. Personally I only had to do one small presentation about a product I actually dig so I had that going for me. Plus, I don’t really get nervous in front of large groups of people – hell, I used to hop around on stage in a dress and hockey mask when I fronted a band – so the whole thing was a breeze for me. At the meeting itself it was also kind of cool to see just how far reaching my company is and how many wild and cool products we develop as other product managing teams did their own presentations. Interesting Fun Fact #2045: I also learned about this factory in China we use that is two and a half miles long.

Two and a half miles!

Whoa.

Anyway, the most interesting thing was the general vibe of people at the meeting. Maybe it’s because I haven’t really been processed through the corporate culture since I’ve sort of avoided the more regimented work force for the last decade or so but I noticed a weird thing about the way people act around their superiors. They seem to be afraid of them.

Since this was a big deal of a meeting all the head honchos of my company were there and I was pretty impressed. I tend to respect my superiors more than fear them. In this instance our CEO and the handful of other bigwigs that spoke genuinely impressed me with their intelligence, their insight and their general wit. It’s nice to run into upper management that actually seems to belong in upper management!

So I guess that’s why I couldn’t understand why people seemed wary or afraid of these folks. Sure they are our bosses and sure they have the power to hire and fire us but I think it’s more important to center on the fact that they actually seem to have knowledge that folks further down the corporate food chain could actually learn from and utilize to do our own jobs better.

Now I do realize I am pretty lucky. My job is actually pretty cool for a nine to five type thing. What’s more I realize that it’s pretty rare to run into CEOs and VPs and other corner-office-with-a-view types that actually seem to not only know what they’re talking about but are able to back up those words and theories with strong actions.

I mean, that’s pretty cool, huh?

Anyway, I just wanted to give an update on how I am surviving in the sea that is Corporate America and that the whole experience has not been nearly as dire as I feared it would be. In fact I am rather enjoying it.

Whoa again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Easy does it

Due to a massive sales and marketing meeting today I have no energy to post. Due to the continuing massive sales and marketing meeting I probably won't tomorrow either. Maybe but don't count on it. Must get to bed now!

Totally grooving to the new Oukast during the commute this week though.

Side note: Who the fuck would have ever thought there would be heavy traffic delays coming home from work at nine fucking thirty at night?

Monday, September 22, 2003

Bowie

Only one man could get me to pay over $140 for two tickets to his show, but considering he’s playing Chicago in the relatively tiny Rosemont Theater I consider it money well spent.

Plus, he’s touring behind (let’s everyone together repeat this much abused critical maxim) “his strongest album since Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).” I really liked Heathen but I must admit I like Reality even more. Now if he’d just re-team with Reeves Gabrels or Adrian Belew I’d be in heaven.

Extra special thanks to my little brother for ordering the tix for me since I was in the middle of running errands around Chicago when they went on sale.

Bees

As I get older I seem to get more and more allergic to bee stings. I don’t need a shot to keep breathing but a sting does really take me down for a day or two. Photogal was having work done to her house this weekend so we spent quite a bit of time there and on Sunday we decided to bring Betty the Beagle as well.

What I didn’t know is that there are lots of bees around the property right now. Between donuts left for the workmen, a plum tree and me tossing a bag of kitty litter into a garbage can that was apparently hosting a bee convention it can be said I spent a lot of time running away from bees.

At one point, as Betty and I sped down the alley aiming for our car and the hope of some cover from the aerial attack squads, Photogal thought it was so sweet I would take the Beagle out for a jog. At least she thought so until I started waving my arms around my head and babbling like a lunatic.

Maybe I overreacted a tad, but I just really hate getting stung.

Barris

I finally saw Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind and loved it. Who cares what’s true and what isn’t? I didn’t even realize until the credits that it was a Charlie Kaufman script. While director George Clooney doesn’t seem to be as clued in to Kaufman’s sensibilities as Spike Jonze is, I believe he still did a pretty bang-up job.

I recommend checking out the little Is It True? Segment if you have the DVD. It’s great for a few yucks.

Blam Blam, Total

Saturday was Glam Night at a bar I used to work at named Club Foot. I hadn’t been back to the joint in more than a year but I’m glad a bunch of us stopped in this weekend since the music was terrific and the vibe was friendlier than I remembered.

Also worth it: The look on Photogal’s face when she saw early twenty-somethings all glammed out. She had no clue kids even knew what the hell Glam was. Ya-hooey!

Friday, September 19, 2003

Inetrsentig...

Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a total mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

You know, just in case you're one of the three people on Earth that hasn't read this yet.

Blech

I'm having a bad day so feel free to e-mail me, or post in the comments section, notes of encouragement.

Hmm. That's two stinky Fridays in a row. Who said everyone's just workin' for the weekend?

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Too unsexy for my shirt....

Nerve.com has published The Unsexy List and it is good. What’s even better is that I came across it today when I am not full of witty things to say myself. What’s best is The Assembly opening for OK GO tonight at Double Door.

Okay, that last one had nothing to do with The Unsexy List, but who cares?

Below I’ve excerpted a few of my favorites. Go see the full list here:

5. Lord of the Rings The movies are fine, but did you know that if
you read the trilogy three times in a year you actually get your virginity back ?

6. Denise Richards Sexy two years ago, but now looks like she's been ridden hard and hung out wet.

10. Star diets Has anyone seen the other half of Beyonce Knowles, Kate Winslet, or Christina Ricci? 'Cause it left with all the good parts.

16. Jenny from the block Forget the "real" J-Lo. We'd rather fuck the one who demands white candles and 450,000-thread-count sheets in her hotel room.

19. Little digital cameras on your cell phone These are for taking dirty pictures and posting them online, not for snapping your fully clothed friends in bars. When will the populace understand this?

25. Stillettoes Exactly 87% of women who wear them hobble around like newborn foals.

35. Friendster.com For a few months, it was a secret cute-kid sex party. Then all your exes heard about it. Then Courtney Love got on it. Then strangers started insisting you'd shared some magical experience with them outside Tuscaloosa. You told them you'd never been to Tuscaloosa and that they must have the wrong person. Then they told you your pet hamster’s name from when you were five and you started shaking.

37. Headgear Trends Trucker hats, paperboy caps and sweatbands look ridiculous on anyone other than truckers, paper boys and Bjorn Borg in 1976. You can be funny, but not with your head.

40. Ann Coulter Oh, look! Psychotic neo-Nazi tendencies and pretty hair! Isn't that cute? No. And think about it: it's not hard to be the belle of the conservative-pundit ball when all the other guests are Rush Limbaugh.

41. Flavored lube If God wanted us to taste like kiwi, he would have made us kiwis. (Also applicable to lip gloss.)

43. Blogging about your sex life People who do this are under two delusions: a) that everyone wants to fuck them, and b) that their writing is interesting. Which is worse: sexual megalomania or an inability to edit? It's a dead heat. The online equivalent of that excruciatingly monotonous blowjob scene in every porn movie ever made.

44. Planned sex marathons "Dude, we got a hotel room and didn't come out for three days!" This never happens. Even if it does, it's not cool.

47. Teenagers The aspirational age of our society is about sixteen. But a smoking-in-the-girls-room, fucking-in-the-backseat sixteen. Not a bra-strap-snapping, zit-popping, handing-in-math-homework-late sixteen. Market your lite beer however you want to market your lite beer, but
know this: real teenagers are kind of gross.

50. The Internet All those people. All that porn. All that time. Nothing you can touch.

Thanks to Julie for bringing my attention to this coolness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Randomness One

I’ve realized I write really well either right after a night of boozing it up or right in the middle of a long stretch of sobriety. Unfortunately I come up with most of my best ideas in the midst of a drunken stupor and forget ‘em until someone else reminds me later on.

Randomness Two

When it comes to matching a natural voice in writing I think women are much better at it then we are. I mean, just from the few blogs I regularly read this is glaringly obvious. The Watergirl provides the running soundtrack I wish I had access to when I was younger, Nanki provides an uncensored look into just trying to survive a pregnancy and Daisy Glaze’s rants just keep building steam until you can actually hear her yelling in frustration.

Sites written by men tend to be more studied. Hell, even my writing barely hides the grinding gears as I try to hammer sentences into coherence. The end result is more studied and stilted and a tad to post-ironic to really emotionally register. Girls just seem to have a knack for letting their inner voice hit the page more directly.

One exception to this rule though is Danielle who writes like a dude and is gut-bustingly hilarious while doing so.

Randomness Three

I review the new Kill Hannah disc here. Currently listening to the new Sting and completely shocked that it doesn’t suck. What else doesn’t suck? The new Bowie. It rules.

Monday, September 15, 2003

No motivation.

Y’know, over the weekend I had been mulling over a really long post I was going to put here but now that I’m actually in front a computer I’m totally swamped with work, so the post will have to wait.

To tide you over here’s a little blurb about a comedian’s desperate attempt to save a failing act near Harvard University.

What do they put in the water over there?

Friday, September 12, 2003

I knew this day was too good to be true.

Both Johnny Cash and John Ritter die on the same day. I think I need a moment to myself.


How exciting!

First, let me start off by crowing about what a great night of music I saw last night. Light FM were at the drunkest and loosest I’ve ever seen them and they still fucking killed. My primary regret is that while lead singer Josiah and surly drummer Mark decided to give me a shout out I was in the bathroom. They thought I was in the bar ignoring their show and acting too cool for school. I stopped mid-pee just long enough to poke my head out the bathroom door and give them a loving middle finger.

Then it was off the see Box-O-Car who, if this was truly their last show, really went down in style. It’s too bad I only heard half the show since I was deaf in one ear from Kip’s rather powerful voice as he continued down the road of trying to convince me to start a band with him.

Kip, as long as you promise not to relieve yourself all over me while I sleep – the same activity that annoyed your cousin so much and put your current group’s future in jeopardy – I’ll be more than happy to bang on some drums and make some noise with you.

Then I caught the tail-end of Leadfoot. As a band these guys rock but Photogal was more entranced by the shirtless guitarists abs more than anything else. Fine! I’ll do some more sit-ups!

And the music d-d-don’t stop!

This morning I started off with a bit of Terence Trent D’Arby’s Wildcard (which, incidentally, is a great illustration of how music downloading should work since I downloaded it first as I was wary of being burned by D’Arby but was so knocked out I went out and bought the album the next day) before moving on to the new Outkast record Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.

Oh. My. God.

Prince and George Clinton wish they wrote albums like these. Big Boi’s material is great and shows just what hip-hop should be but Andre 3000 goes over the fucking ship and deep into the sea with a disc that made me want to have sex while dancing during my morning commute.

Have you ever tried to have sex, dance and drive all at the same time? Not recommended unless the spirit of Andre 3000 really moves you.

And if you though the day couldn’t get any better, you would be wrong!

To top it off I just got my first batch of business card today. I’ve never had business cards that I didn’t design and produce myself before! These are pretty cool. I’m handing ‘em out to everybody!

Thursday, September 11, 2003

So much to do!

If you’re in Chicago this evening, might I recommend a few shows?

Begin at Fireside Bowl at 7pm to see the excellent Light FM with The Assembly opening up.

Then run on over to Subterranean by 11pm to catch what might very well be Box-O-Car’s final show ever.

Or if you’re just in the mood to booze it up and raise your can of PBR with one hand while giving the devil his due with the other, then Knife Of Simpson and Leadfoot at Double Door is just what you’re looking for.

Me? I’m going to try and hit ‘em all.

And now…

…a moment of silence.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

What does it mean...

...when my friend Rachael is putting out an EP on a Major Label but I don't even recognize her photo on the cover?
Never gave up on Give Up

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it in this space but I’ve really got to get it out there and let people know just how good the Postal Service disc Give Up is. I downloaded it a few months ago and really enjoyed it but figured the novelty of the laptop blips and beats intertwined with some real world instrumentation and those oh-so-emo vocals would wear off rather quickly.

Earlier today I stopped by my local Tower Records to cast my consumer vote and pick up an actual copy of the album because my initial judgment couldn’t have been more off.

The disc has, over time, actually grown more impressive as the layers under the vocals keep revealing new little quirks and the blending of Benjamin Gibbard, Jen Wood and Jenny Lewis’ vocals over Jimmy Tamborello’s programming is one of the most successful electronic/rock endeavors ever. It’s sublime, it’s pretty and – most of all – it all works wonderfully to evoke a truly emotional response from even a casual listener.

It’s not particularly fancy or overtly flashy, though it certainly is stunning once you study the tunes, but we really need more pleasant surprises like this emerging into the light.

Go here for a sample of what I’m talking about.

And a word about The Pixies

Yes, they've reunited and yes I am excited. I do hope to God they don't ruin it by recording a new album and fucking up their legacy though. You can discuss it here if you like.

Oh yeah, and the RIAA?

They sued -- and settled with -- a twelve year old. I'm not even going to comment on this because I find it so offensive.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Beatle Frickin' Bob

Now people will know who that guy is posing with me in that photgraph hanging on my refrigerator.

See him dance with Guided by Voices!

Monday, September 08, 2003

Moved!

The entry about local music that was here has moved over here.
Hack hack wheeze!

Well well well. Photogal and I went camping this weekend with a mutual friend and I must admit a fine time was had by all. I learned just how cool an iPod is when you’re the only one up staring off into the darkness rimming the dying embers of a fire at midnight. I did feel a slight twinge of guilt for providing an auxiliary soundtrack to nature’s offering but I just couldn’t resist.

We were in Wyalusing State Park in Wisconsin and the grounds were terrific. Even better was the mellow tenor of the other campers which ultimately led to wonderfully quiet evenings. This is in comparison to other camping trips I’ve been on where huge groups of people drink as much Coors as they can swallow and – inevitably – one of them remains awake and screaming some long-lost ex’s name into the night. Oh yeah, tons-o-fun, I assure you.

The only downside to this particular camping trip would be this helluva chest cold I seem to have caught out there. Either my body just can’t handle crisp, clean air or I’ve contracted the West Nile virus. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have chain-smoked the way I did but there is just something so frickin’ satisfying about seeing plumes of smoke shoot out of your mouth and travel illuminated over a campfire. Really, it’s pretty neat.

So here I am now, at the real-world-full-time job guzzling TheraFlu and bugging factories for product information. I really don’t get much more glamorous than this, kids!


Friday, September 05, 2003

How to solve the music industry's woes?

Price a CD so Joe Schmoe might actually buy it!

I'm one of those freaks who actually buys mountains of new music -- quite a bit of it never heard and purchased on the reccomendation of friends or reliable reviewers -- and I've gotta give props to Universal for finally figuring out that when a CD costs about four bucks or less to make the general public is gonna be less likely to buy your product without feeling like the butt of a particularly brutal joke. It only took them, oh, twenty years to figure this brain-teaser out....

How not to solve the music industry's woes?

Make a call for a Nazi-like registration in order for consumer to gain amnesty from a completely clueless corporate entity.

How very Blade Runner. Philip K. Dick would be proud.

When will these people get it? Try to find ways to exploit the resources at hand rather than blaming John and Jane Q. Public for actually advancing with the times. Would I pay for legal, high-quality downloads like especially rare cute, b-sides, live and unreleased stuff? Hell yeah!

Is that sort of service available to me right now? Hell no!

Thursday, September 04, 2003

Crass and Crude

I was going to launch into this total tirade about what pigs all of us men are but I decided to boil my rant down to its essence:

Point One
Yes, we are men and we do think about fucking almost every pretty girl in the room.
Point Two
We are always going to think this way and there is nothing anyone – even us – can do about it. Sorry.
Point Three
While Points One and Two are absolutely true, they in no way imply that we should fuck every pretty girl in the room.
Point Four
Understanding Point Three is what separates the men from the boys.


For the record: The above was realized last night as I caught myself gawking at some girl with huge breasts at The Double Door last night. First I felt guilty as if I were in some way cheating. Then I felt angry about pressuring myself to feel guilty. Then I realized that’s just the way I am – along with every other man on this planet – and I just had to accept I have a human weakness.

Yeah, I know, real deep. Cut me some slack, it’s been a long day, okay?

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

I am so frickin' famous, eh?

Whilst it is odd to see me quoted as "Tank Boy" I do think it's pretty cool to get some coverage for the good work me and the Done Waiting boys are trying to do.

Read all about it here.
Nickel and Dimed

Didja read this book?

I started reading it and then got disgusted by the writer's superior yet "we're all in it together" attitude towards her fellow minimum wage workers.

Sorry, but if you're going to try and pretend you "feel the people" when you can stop "being one of the underclass" whenever you damn well feel like it then your project is going to reek of opportunism.

Well, now the Naked Eye Theatre Company in association with Steppenwolf Theatre Company is producing a play based on the book and tickets are running between 20 and 30 bucks.

Don't think the irony that the theater version of the book is priced so that none of the book's subjects would ever be able to afford to attend. yet another example of the white upper middle class -- or me -- trying to assuage their guilt through the arts and gestures of "understanding the little man."

Fuck that.

DJ Photogal rules!

Yes, yes she does. DJ Photogal filled in for Rudy last night and spun a kick-ass set of rock and/or roll. She has also gained a new respect and understanding for why I still like to DJ. And she thinks it’s positively freakish that I can find any song I’m looking for without referring to any track listing.

Look ma, I'm a freak!

Monday, September 01, 2003

Looong weekend.

Friday was rough and then I drove to Minneapolis with my special little lady to visit some special little friends.

Now I am home and exhausted. I just nodded off while reading so I think it's time for bed.

At 9:40! I am turning into an old man.