Monday, October 31, 2011

Posting about the lack of time to post today.

Some days it's just too busy for you to even spare a thought outside the arena of what is demanding your attentions in order to survive (job, relationship, Brian Williams news magazine debut) so I regret to inform you that while I maintain my habit of posting every single weekday, this particular weekday's entry is more apology than revelation.

Also, the new Google Reader layout blows. Never mind that I really dislike the blanket dismissal of a community I've grown to love and depend on for excellent content sharing, the layout is just butt-ugly. Maybe they're working through some formatting issues, but as it stands it's a really unpleasant reading experience. If I quit it'll be the general UX and not the removal of the GReader community that drives me away.

Oh, I guess I snuck in a substantive thought after all. Huh.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My relay isn't jammed, it never existed.

I am, and have always been, a reasonably decent athlete. I've played almost every sport an average guy could play. I know how rules work.

This may come as a surprise to many, especially since I am not into any sport. And doubly as a surprise to students at either high school attended since I pulled the nifty feat of getting two football teams half a nation apart both want my head on a pike in front of the school.* But I grew up in the '70s and '80s and collected baseball cards and played football and did everything I could do to fit in because that's what a guy growing up in the '70s and '80s did. I wet to the library to watch video tapes on monstrous old video tape players rehashing both the NFL's greatest moments and hilarious bloopers. I attended baseball games and waited outside the park to get players' autographs, back in the day when you could still get a players' autograph by waiting by the exit. I played motherfucking lacrosse (though this was the one sport I encountered I had no natural acumen for).

So you can't blame me for not trying to like sports.

Honestly I wish I did. I feel incredibly left out since sports is the connective thread that allows so many folks to socialize using a common language that's driven by passion. I can talk the talk but it's obvious within a few seconds that I absolutely don't care and I become ostracized. When I'm in a bar and a room grows electric with tension just before an amazing play I feel that electricity, but it's kind of as if I'm holding a live wire within a heavily insulated glove. The buzz is not immediate and doesn't penetrate into me like it does everything else.

But last night, through a conduit, I got a taste of what you all must experience. GalPal offered me a window to see into the interior world of a true sports fan, and the only reason I could even make sense of it is because I love her and what makes her happy makes me happy, and what makes her sad makes me sad, and what she wants I want for her. And she wants the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. And last night the team gave such an amazing performance at the last second it sort of blew open my own fuse box long enough for me to feel an iota of what GalPal was feeling. And it was pretty amazing.

So I get why you all like sports. I still can't rationalize it, and it will never have the effect on me that it does on 99.99% of the population and, admittedly, I'm a little sad about that since it seems like such an easy and immediate rush that' available to so many people day after day. I'll try and hold onto and remember this experience in a real way, and by writing it down I hope it will trigger that memory in the future, but the electricity is already dimming and what I thought was so crystalline last night ha already faded into a blur. And I'm even more certain that I just wasn't wired to get into sports. And I feel a little cheated by that. Even more so now.

*Freshman year, in Maryland, I don't even remember what set it off but I spent the good portion of the semester running from the football team to avoid getting the crap beat out of me. It's hazy but it might have been one of those Dazed And Confused situations where, had i just let them catch me at the outset, I would've passed the hazing phase and been accepted. But at the time I just didn't want to get my head stuck in a toilet. Also, I was the weirdest kid in school so I have a hard time believing the hazing would've ended. The second instance, when I was a senior in Illinois, was triggered by what I thought was a satirical take on football but was received as if I had burned a flag while beating a baby seal to death. The day the paper came out classes literally began with teachers talking about how fucking evil I was. To this day I don't totally get it but in hindsight I realized the editorial staff of the paper knew exactly what was going to happen and were willing to put my neck on the line to get students "talkin' about the school paper!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are you ready for some "Sweet Salvation?"

Photo & Visual Direction by Matt Bologna and Jesse Mann
I wrote about The Stepkids in general here a while ago and reviewed their debut yesterday, but if you missed both of those (or if I've already convinced you to check 'em out and you dug 'em) you are in for a real treat! I like the trio's album but after seeing them live felt it lacked a little of the oomph they bring to a room when they're on stage. Luckily one of their CMJ shows this year was recorded and it sounds TERRIFIC.

If you dig '60 soul / funk / psych / pop / groove / kitchen sink / awesome harmonies / falsetto then download the below EP (which is basically their whole album performed live plus one awesome new tune) RIGHT NOW.

I know, I know. When am I this overly effusive? Shouldn't that be enough reason to check it out? It's free!

DOWNLOAD: The Stepkids - The Stepkids Live At Rubber Tracks

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feline similarities.

It's funny how much like our pets we can be. One of my favorite quotes from GalPal was when she summed up my cat perfectly by saying "Pickle wants to love, she just doesn't know how."

I'll let you take from that what you will.

Ha! No, I'm not leaving that there. I know how to love! Jeez, how emo did you think I was gonna be there?! However I like to equate Pickle's difficulty with showing her love in a way other than swiping at your nose with her paw full of razorblades with my own in still trying to figure out how to "fit in" in average social situations. When I was younger I struggled with what I considered normal or mainstream social situations. I judged people, as only a self-centered snob could. But as I've gotten older I've grown to discover I actually do like people. And I have for quite a while. This must be another positive side effect of that whole maturity thing, huh?

Add to that the fact that I've spent many, many years surrounded by folks who are all vying to be the center of attention so that's certainly honed my sharp wit and conversational ability but it's also dulled my ability to just chill out with folks.

And now I'm getting older, and most folks, honestly, just want to "chill out," and while I've certainly learned the art of conversation I am much, much less fluent in the language of small talk. Isn't there a book or something out there that can help me out? Should I just Google that?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There's a right way and a wrong way to do something, so let's allow the former to correct the latter.

I had the misfortune of hearing the latest William Shatner album and it spreads snippets of the song below amongst its (what feels like 1,860) tracks. So let's clear my aural palate while tickling my and your ocular intake.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Halloween is exactly one week away but the costume parties already began over the last weekend. I know the holiday is basically the "adult sexy Christmas at this point," and I enjoy it and all, but stretching it out to over a week seems excessive, no?

However, since 'tis the season to be spooky peep this photo I took over the weekend. Boo!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Rally Squirrel.

So, in case you didn't know, GalPal is St. Louis born and bred. She bleeds Cardinal blood. I have no idea how I ended up dating such a sports fan (or how she puts up with me) but hoo boy does she love her home team. Right down to wearing Cards underwear when she thinks they might need an extra boost.

So because of her I'm obviously paying attention to the MLB right now. i even went to a playoff game in STL (that's St. Lois to those of you not in the know of that region's gegraphical shorthand) last weekend. And it's because of her I have learned of THE RALLY SQUIRREL.

Cards fans are nuts (seriously, I just typed that and meant no pun bit there it is) for this squirrel. So much so I serioulsy thought it was some time honored tradition. But it's not! It's ike three weeks old! A squirrel ran onto the field and since then the cards have done well so everyone is giving this squirrel all the credit! Not the batters. Not the pitchers. Not the seemingly inexhaustible bullpen (see, I don't watch sports, I don't like sports, but I have to admit I do know how they all work and am more than familiar with 97% of sports terminology though I will NEVER understand the American League's reliance on the wuss out position of the designated hitter). No, it's this squirrel. Which, if you ask for my vote on mascots, I'm gonna say a squirrel is pretty cute.

Here, however, is an example of someone who doesn't quite get the rally squirrel.

And here is someone in Busch Stadium wearing a t-shirt with a picture of his teammate on it, thus totaly fucking up that whole "you don't wear a band's t-shirt to the show" rule. Oh, and hey offer some background to at least help explain the point La Russa (the unsmiling gentleman in the video above) is trying to make:

And there you have it. The rally squirrel. And now, for the first time ever in print in this space, please peep the following:


Thursday, October 20, 2011


Fripp's guitar line in this song remains (and may possibly never be unseated) one of the most unwittingly epic sounds ever layered onto a pop record.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh, the early '90s...

I am not gonna lie, I owned EMF's debut on cassette AND compact disc (once I could afford one of those fancy newfangled CD players). Any time I want to delude myself into thinking I was cool for wearing big jeans and stripe-y, baggy shirts with hoods all I have to do is take a gander at this.

E. Ecstacy. M. Motherfucker, motherfucker. F. From Us to you. Indeed.

FUN FACT: The band's website, est. 1996, is actually kept up to date?!

[via The Subversive Sounds]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


So I have shared this in various other online outposts, but I'm also sharing it with you here on the off chance you haven't seen it yet. Last night I was taking a picture of Pickle the Kitten because she was looking exceptionally cute. When I framed the photo she was the only one in it. Once I snapped the shot and looked at the result, this is what I saw...

Tell me that's not awesome. Way to go, Betty the Beagle!

Monday, October 17, 2011


We have no agenda today as we wind our way north through Illinois on our way home, so here's what we saw on our first random detour...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mister sports!

Let's see, this weekend I'm attending a Major League Baseball playoff game AND a college homecoming football game (including tailgating)! I predict this will be similar to what astronauts will eventually feel like upon encountering their first alien life forms. But who, in that analogy, will be the alien life form this weekend?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Slow start.

Since GalPal and I don't work tomorrow I kinda expected to be at a show or something by now, but since the Cards (her hometown team) lost tonight she went straight to bed and, thus far, the below is as nutso crazy as I've gotten. Blerg.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My friends all love this band, see...

Photo by PhotographicKris
 Judging by the various social media channels my friends use it would appear almost everyone I know is either at the Portishead show tonight or really wishes they were at the Portishead show tonight (and two friends are apparently at some private Weezer show here in Chicago I knew nothing about (what?!)).

So I get that Portishead never tours and that they have no problem making fans wait near Chinese Democracy lengths of time between releasing new music and both those things have created a mystique around the duo.And I dig their music and respect that in that whole "trip hop" thing they were at least the most consistent when it came to output (though I still think Tricky's highs beat Portishead's for sheer ambition though his output is far more uneven). But judging by the near orgiastic responses I've gotten in even casual conversation about Portishead since it was announced the band would not only be touring but had deigned to include Chicago as one of its stops I am missing some basic chemical in my brain necessary to trigger off the mixture of adulation and spiritual awe that has my friends in its grip.

So I hope y'all enjoyed the show but stop asking me if I'm jealous / bummed that I missed it because -- to be absolutely honest -- I probably would have been really, really bored. I'm sure they were awesome, but that's under the domain of individual experience and I simply don't think I'm wired to appreciate Portishead as a superfan.

Then again, what do I know? I'm the guy who got all teary-eyed watching Weezer play last Sunday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When a network trieds to get you to tone it down, THIS is how you should start a season.

I was just reading a nice little piece about Parks & Recreation's recent sad mainstreaming and at the end it contrasted it with the end result of a (possibly) similar request from the network to Community's showrunner to also try and make things a little more, um, accesible. So I present to you the season three opening , wherein Community says "fuck you" to NBC.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Rocktober. In full effect.

If I survive this weekend it'll be a miracle. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Conan O'Fallon? Jimmy O'Brien

The absolute best bit is when Conan O'Brien says hi to "Max." Dig it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Did you know every college has a party street?

I was in Tucson last week, getting directions from one big box retail store to another big box retail store in order to pick up some last minute gear I needed for a video shoot, and I realized that familiarity can breed a certain kind of blindness. The clerk helping me could not for the life of him remember the names of the streets I needed to take and ended up having to stand next to me and draw out the map of the right while verbally describing the route. And I'll tell you, he was dead on and as I drove through the stretches and turns laid out for me on that piece of paper I could almost feel the clerk's muscle memory deep within my tissues helping me to follow the route as if I'd driven it for years.

It made me think though. If the story that clerk told me -- the directions -- was so realistic and compelling when he was simply sketching it out and narrating it as best he could, how much more powerful and precise could it have been if he'd drawn me a detailed map outlining each and every minute step on that piece of paper? My guess? Maybe not as powerful. His words filled in the picture, so the storytelling was there, so he didn't have to waste my time or distract me with a complicated visual. I wish more people that put PowerPoint presentations together would learn that simple lesson.

Tell me a great story, pare down the distractions while doing so, and your point will be indelibly made.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

It's all in how you interpret it.

My uncle got this hand carved out of wood during his travels as a merchant marine. When he bought it from a local vendor in a far off locale they assured him that the gesture being displayed was how people wished each other good luck in their particular culture.

To this day I don't know if that's true. Was some dude having fun at my uncle's expense? Maybe. Does this particular little wood carving actually mean "good luck?" Possibly. Above, is Pickle the Kitten wishing me luck? I highly doubt it!

Monday, October 03, 2011


Three shows just this week and I've already turned down invites to two more. Part of me is STOKED, and part of me is SUPER tuckered. Spoof mich going on...