Friday, September 28, 2012

Some thoughts on Billie Joe...

Photo by Jim Kopeny
So Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong flipped out at a concert, insulting a major force in the music biz and then subsequently apologized by checking himself into rehab. The timing couldn't be worse since the band just released the first in a trilogy of albums* coming out in the next few months and this certainly throws a LOT of sand in the gears of the promotional machine.

I got into Green Day a little later than my friends--it was somewhere between Kerplunk! and Dookie that I started listening to them--but it was still a hell of a long time ago. It actually flips me out to even think Armstrong is even over 40 since that makes me feel a little self-conscious about acting my age. I don't know they guy. I've never met the guy. But I like the guy. Even as he became a multi-zillionaire there was just something about him that didn't seem to change at all. To me, that was punk rock, even if their music was wholly welcomed by the mainstream. And I didn't find his "fuck you for telling me I only have one minute left to play" outburst weird at all. In fact, why wouldn't he react that way?

So I found the quick announcement he was sorry and had a substance abuse problem a little out of character. Is it true? Or, and sorry if I'm entering into tin foil hat territory here, is it an attempt to save a valuable brand (Green Day) from being pulled from the shelves by the corporation (Clear Channel) it insulted? I obviously don't know.

Either way I'm pulling for Billie Joe to come out on top.

*It's called ¡Uno! and it's not a rock opera. It's just a collection of quick little punky poppy songs. I'm digging it.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Launching into the purely ridiculous.

I'm going to be honest and admit I can't decide if I love or hate the new Muse album. I've been following them since their debut since people from their label who used to hang out at Danny's in the '90s turned me on to their Radiohead-lite. Their albums got better and better, and while I never considered the band particularly deep, despite what Matthew Bellamy probably thinks, they hit all the right buttons with their grandiosity. Until their last album, The Resistance, which was pretty much just pure bullshittery. What killed it was the fact that Bellamy forgot that what makes his overblown epics delectable is a healthy melodicism, and The Resistance was bereft that crucial ingredient.

The new disc, The 2nd Law, brings that pop element back into the mix, but Bellamy has turned up the knob on the epic-o-meter to 12, rendering the results so over the top they make Queen sound like a skiffle group. But I have to admit its growing on me. Maybe it's because I can't help admire someone who has the capacity to transform overwhelming self-delusional self importance into something I can sing along to in the shower.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I don't want to get my hopes up, and in politics years the election is still waaaay far away, but man, Romney is basically losing the election all by himself. Of course.

Nothing butt.

Today has been oddly rear-centric. First, Papa -ister Jake Dobkin chronicled the effects of a self-administered caffeine suppository. And then at tonight's Chicagoist writers happy hour talk turned to butt chugging (a practice I was gloriously unaware of until K-Rob described it to me). What does this mean?!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012


Photo by Jim Kopeny
I'm going to see Sloan tomorrow! They are one of my absolute favorite bands of all time. In fact I think I own more tour t-shirts of theirs than I do of any other band. I've followed them since the mid-'90s and have yet to be disappointed by a single album or live show of theirs. And tomorrow promises to be doubly awesome because they're playing two sets of music; one set will be their album Twice Removed in its entirety and the other will be hits and other gems from their back catalog.

It's going to be sweet. If you're in Chicago you really should go! And if you're not and they come to your town, pick up a ticket fer chrissakes!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Catching my breath.

Today was one of those super productive days where you get a chance to finally catch up on just about everything you have going on. I could use more days like this!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Still relevant after all these years.

Ahead of upcoming Chicago shows this week from The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Sloan, I'm faced with the question over whether either band has any current relevancy. I'm not gonna give away my critical reasons behind my answer, you gotta read Chicagoist tomorrow and Thursday for that, but I ultimately land in the camp of "you're damn right they do!"

OK, here's a sneak peek; despite the '90s flaming out as music plunged into a sea of irony, I maintain that many bands from early in the decade always believed in THE MUSIC and shielded themselves with that belief.

Then again Sloan almost broke up after their second album and critics have long debated Spencer's authenticity, so maybe I'm way off. Then again, Sloan DIDN'T break up and Spencer showed fearlessness when it came to challenging fan expectation without so much as a single wink, so maybe I'm not way off at all.

Tune in over this week to see if I end up making any sense or crumble over my own internal conflicting opinions!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

The weekend has landed and boy it's a big one!

Yeah, I have no idea how I'm going to navigate all the stuff that's going on!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Date night!

This weekend is gonna be nuts (Bob Mould, Riot Fest, AV Club Hideout Block Party) so tonight we're keeping it low key and going out for dinner. And then I won't stop running until sometime late Sunday night. Whoo!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One of those weeks.

My timing is all off. Is your timing off? For instance I really thought yesterday was Thursday. Like, I felt it n my bones. So of course now I feel like today is Friday, yet the actual weekend is still half the week away!

Someone needs to reset my internal clock.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

How I know I'm getting old.

I now take mini naps around 7 or 8 p.m., only to pop wide awake at 10, much to GalPal's chagrin.

Someone get me a shawl.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A reset.

So I spent the last week largely laying low. Yesterday was the first time GalPal and I even did anything social with friends since I smacked my head. And you know what? The time spent doing not much of anything helped me interrupt a few bad habits like drinking and going out and smoking too much. In fact until yesterday I hadn't smoked in over a week! (Which, incidentally, shows me that I may be ready to start cutting even further back and eventually quit for good.)

The whole thing filled me with the feeling that I had a chance at a new beginning. I don't want to come off sounding all grandiose, but the (metaphorical) air around me does have a new scent to it.

It's kind of exciting!

Friday, September 07, 2012

Well, that was quite a couple of days, huh?

Sasha the Cat made sure I got some rest this week.
I learned a few things this week:
After 1.5 days staying home from work (though, admittedly, I couldn't keep myself from working most of that time (but the rest I did get was well worth it)) I feel much, much better. Dont worry, I'm still taking it easy. GalPal has already threatened me with another concussion* if I don't. But I saw the doctor yesterday and he said while the post-concussive symptoms could last quite a while, aside from another blow to the head, I'll be fine. As for work, while staring at a computer may cause me discomfort he said it won't cause any lasting damage so if I want to just power through I can. So I am.

Overall the biggest thing this whole experience has taught me is that I just might be human. Breaking a limb, or needing stitches or anything like that is one thing; you know what it is, where you're at, and what to expect. Breaking your brain? Now that's scary. It's my whole livelihood! Heck, it's the thing that lets me be me. It kind of makes me feel, well, mortal. And it's not like I ever truly thought I was superhuman but I probably carried a little bit more of that youthful idea of invulnerability a little further in years than I should.

Hey, I'm not saying anyone should expect some huge change in behavior from me after this! But I may just be beginning to learn something in my old age.

And again, thanks to every single person (especially GalPal and Scott) who made an effort to look out for me. I truly, deeply appreciate it.

*Not really, but she has told me there's no way she's letting me not take it easy for a while.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The nicest public shaming ever.

Yesterday Scott Smith put out a public call for me to act like a rational human being instead of pretending I'm a TankBot.

It worked. I went home and took the first sick day I've used in my almost four years at the 9-to-5. And I'm taking another sick day today and heading in to (hopefully) see my doctor.

Thanks to all of you. I know I can be stubborn so I'm so happy you banded together to bring me to my senses.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

I got a broken face, uh huh.

I think those are headed for my skull.
I can't decide if it was a good or bad idea to go into work yesterday. On the one hand it was unavoidable since there's just too much stuff that needs me going on right now, on the other my head feels like it's going to split apart. It's almost like my brain made a deal with me saying, "O.K., I know you need me today so I'll let you focus as long as you keep popping Advil, but hoo boy, tonight you better just lay down for a while." And I did, until I got antsy and decided to distract myself looking for old CDs in the basement, which my brain must not have minded because it let me finish the task before going, "Hey, that was enjoyable for both of us, but prepare to pay the price!" And with that my brain decided it was time to leave me grimacing myself to sleep on the couch.

Now I'm waking up and feel like I have a vise just pushing in on the sides of my head while and inflatable balloon pushes slightly outward from inside my skull. Time for more Advil. And another day of just dealing with it.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

O.K. brain, let's do this.

I barely slept last night. When you're told to "rest your brain," and you're an over-thinker like me that leads you to spend half the night awake worrying that your brain is over-thinking stuff so much it will be even more damaged and useless in the morning. It also means you keep thinking off all the stuff you need to do which leads to non-stop late night ideating (and, once you slip into sleep, dreams about the results of that ideation) and it's like a closed track with Matchbox cars vrooming faster and faster until it takes all your control to keep them from shooting off the track.

Good morning!

Monday, September 03, 2012


I'll make this quick because each time GalPal sees me on my laptop I get a stern look.

Ow. My head on Saturday morning, twelve hours after my fall.
So, leaving the Hall & Oates show Saturday night, my body decided to slip walking up a ramp causing me to fall backwards and crack my head pretty good. It split open but the paramedics ran me though a few simple tests to make sure I was cognizant and told me it could probably use a stitch or two, but that wasn't absolutely necessary. We were out in the 'burbs and the thought of having to get home from a hospital out these led me to opt out of stitches.

So the next day I wake up, feeling understandably funky, but since I'm so convinced I can power through anything I went to brunch with GalPal. Then we met her mom, in town visiting with some friends, and hit the usual tourist hotspot like Portillo's and Navy Pier. Now I never do incredibly well at those place, they seriously freak me out, so I kept writing off the fact that I was feeling foggier and foggier and a little dizzy to the stress of the environments. Then we went to the Palmer House, where GalPal's mom was staying with her friends, and I started feeling even worse. If you ever been in the Palmer House you know it's a beautiful, peaceful place so now I knew it wasn't the environment, but I still didn't want to inconvenience anyone by telling them just how bad I felt.

GalPal is smarted than me though and told her mom what was up. And one of her mom's friends just happened to be a nurse so she looked at my head. And immediately went into a comforting but knowledgeably stern tone that I absolutely should have had at least a few staples but it was probably too late for that. She also thought I probably had a concussion and told me that she wouldn't tell me what to do, but if I was her brother she'd send me to the hospital immediately. She said while she doubted I had a tear or slow bleed she wouldn't take the chance of not finding out if I did.

So off we went to Northwestern Memorial. And if I can make an aside about that emergency room? They rocked. The staff was super polite, everyone took their time with me to make sure I got the proper diagnosis and treatment, and while I was there for a couple hours it was easily the quickest trip to an ER I've ever taken.

So they checked me out, said I definitely had a discussion and ran me through a CT scan to ensure there was no bleeding. Luckily the CT scan showed nothing so all that was left was to treat the concussion. Now a concussion is one of those things you always hear about but don't quite understand and since you don't play professional sports you just kind of assume it'll never happen to you. I guess at the most basic level in you brain the cells just kind of "stop," and this is what causes the headaches and general funky headspace. And the way you treat this is with physical and mental rest.

That's not as easy as it sounds.

Physical rest is one thing. I can take it easy, and while I'm a gym nut I can see skipping a few days or doing workouts that are mostly walking and super low-impact stuff. It's the mental rest I'm having a hard time with. The doctor told me I should try and tune out and avoid mentally taxing  tasks. He suggested trying to stay away from my cellphone or the internet (which is why GalPal wants me off the computer), and even TV watching should be avoided. I'm not supposed to read or write much; basically I'm supposed to put my brain on bedrest.

That's impossible! My 9-to-5 is completely driven by my brain (and some sketching skills, heh) and the idea of not thinking has thrown my brain into overdrive all morning long. Aside from zonking out and trying to sleep all day, I'm not sure what to do. I've never been particularly good at being the meditating type, and it is something I tried when I was younger and even more energetic and amped up mentally than I am now, but I just don't do well and mentally unplugging.

Also, I was just really getting into Gone Girl and now I have to hold off reading it for awhile!