Thursday, September 28, 2006

His Name Is Frank Gore

I love watching football.

The new NFL season is upon us, and I couldn't be happier. One look at me, and you wouldn't guess I was a big "sports guy". Wannabe hipster? Sure. Lovable geek? Probably. Someone who plays fantasy baseball, football, and basketball? What tipped you off, the shaggy hair with product in it? That's right, product.

Anyway, I'm really into the big three(basketball, football, baseball). Football appeals to me because of the intricate strategies involved. Football is truly a thinking man's sport. Don't believe me? Decipher this:

I Y-Motion 245 H-Swing

Every football player has to memorize hundreds of plays with terminology like this. Dumb jocks? Not on the football field. There is a reason football is the favorite sport of the US Military, with Division I teams fielded by the Army, Navy, Air Force, and the United States Marine Corp.

Football certainly requires intelligence, or at least analytical skills associated with problem solving. One could argue(and probably correctly) that it also reinforces a hive-mentality, much like the institutions mentioned above. This type of mind-set, to me, is the real problem with "jock thinking". The coach, or the general, or the president, must be followed. There is one way to do things, and it's his way.

People who "think different" or try to act independently are punished and ostracized, sometimes rightfully so. After all, to win at football you must be a cohesive team. It's when this type of thinking leaks into everyday life and discourse that it can be, well, wrong.

ANYWAY, I never could have played competitive football that didn't involve either two-handed touching or flags. Tall, spindly boys don't play football without some sort of death wish.

Since I can't play in the NFL, I play fantasy football. It's fun, competitive, and drives an interest in the sport. Billions of fans play fantasy football every year(that might be an exaggeration, but you get the idea). There is a clash, however, between sports fans who are fantasy sports players and non-fantasy playing fans.

Traditionally, you have a team. It's your team. Maybe you grew up with them, you like their attitude, or even just their uniforms1. You and your dad cheer for them. Even your mother has a sweatshirt with the team's logo on it. You live and die by your team. Sure, you follow the sport, but you are always rooting for your team.

Fantasy players, however, have an interest in every team. When you play fantasy sports, you usually draft a team from all of the players in the NFL. So you start following the news the players on your team, hence you start following the news for lots of teams. Instead of just knowing the line-up and injury problems of your team, now you start to know these facts for many, many teams. Maybe all of them, if you are that obsessed, and many are.

A traditional fan looks at a fantasy player and wonders, "How can you not have a team? What's the point? Where's the family, the love, the loyalty?"

That's the big problem, the perceived lack of loyalty. It seems sports fans take on the value system of the sport they watch(or the value system they think the sport should have), and as I said earlier, a big part of football is the team comes first. You have to have loyalty to your team. And the Coach. And the General. And the President.

To them, it's almost like you are cheering for another country. If you live in Denver, you don't cheer for the Raider Nation. You certianly don't care what kind of numbers Randy Moss puts up, since he is the enemy. A hated enemy.

Interestingly, fantasy baseball does not suffer from nearly the same backlash from traditional fans as fantasy football does. Maybe this is because baseball has always been seen as a "past time", something fun and enjoyable, but football is seen as serious, serious business. Metaphor's for war often are.

Of course the huge differences in the games themselves also mean the fantasy versions are also very different; baseball being the most statistic obsessed sport of the last century lends itself almost perfectly to pretend teams. Football, however, doesn't translate as flawlessly. The only immeasurable aspect of baseball, from a pure numbers point of view, is defense. How do you rate one short-stop versus another? The one who makes the least errors? Well, maybe the one with more errors reaches more balls and therefore makes a few more errors, but it actually helping his team more. And so on and so on.

Football has tons of immeasurable factors that influence the game. One of traditional fans biggest problems with fantasy football, and the most valid in my opinion, is it glorifies the skill position too much. Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and kickers score almost all of the points in football. They gain the yards. These contributions are easily quantified. The contributions of other positions, most notably the offensive linemen, are not so easy to measure. Defensive players have sacks, interceptions, fumbles caused and recovered, but even these fail to fully convey the influence a defensive player can have on a game.

A fantasy fan who only cares about the skill players and the numbers they put up is missing out on appreciating the true beauty of football, and there are plenty of fantasy players who do this.

However, there are also plenty of fantasy players(like myself and my friends) who do know a lot about football, who loyally follow our teams, but also enjoy going head-to-head each week against imaginary opponents.

Don't hate us. I'll buy you a beer if you put up with me wondering how San Franscisco's running back did today.

1An old friend of mine was a huge Saints fan because he really thought the uniforms kicked ass.

A Failure

I tried a new recipe tonight. Although I do cook most of my meals nowadays, they are usually very simple(chicken breast, hamburger, or turkey-chili from a can - the last is actually very good).

Tonight, though, I tried making beef stroganoff from scratch. My roommate was very impressed with my fake cooking skills. It did look impressive as I juggled multiple things in the kitchen and managed not to burn anything. The results, however, were not so impressive. OK, but not something I will be repeating anytime soon. I did like the side of baked asparagus I made, so the night wasn't a total loss.

After that, I wanted to finish some writing I had started and fool around with my music library to make it a little more user friendly. Didn't get very far in either venture, and that has me a little depressed.

I like to finish the day with at least a small feeling of accomplishment. I imagine a lot of people get that from their work; right now I generally don't. Today, I failed to get that feeling. It seems there are never enough hours in the day to do what I want. It's bed time before I know it, and with my recent sleep trouble I can't afford to stay up too late and risk being a total wreck the entire week.

I need to completely overhaul my time management skills. Really study how I spend my free time and find out how I can make time to do the things I want to do, to try and go after a few things I want in life.

Sometimes, it just seems like your fucked if you do and fucked if you don't. I have no idea what I actually mean by that; it's a very abstract feeling of struggling and helplessness. Anyone out there know what I mean? Can you say it better?

It's my brother's birthday this Friday; he turns 24. I remember when he said his first word. It was "No." He started out not taking any shit from anyone, and he is still the same way. Which is both a blessing and a curse, for him and everyone who knows him. It's also one my best friend's birthday, so this weekend should be fun and full of friends and family. Too many fucking Fs in that last sentence, but what are you going to do.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Don't Bother Calling

I left my cellphone at my parents' house over the weekend. I was there to watch the Redskins game; I usually catch about half of the games there with my father and younger brothers. Four grown men(the youngest is now hooping and hollering at a big-screen TV, some of us in jerseys and all of us having a great time. We get down if they lose, sure. And we bitch about it afterward...but always with each other.

Anyway, it's amazing how dependent I am on that damn phone. I didn't realize I had forgotten it until I was almost back to my apartment, and being a car-less DC citizen it was impossible to go back to the house to get it. With no landline, I couldn't even call my family to tell them I had forgotten it.

I imagine the cell only phone arrangement is pretty common today, especially among twenty and thirty somethings. Instead of supplementing a "home" phone, the cellphone is the home phone. Why pay for a landline when you have your cellphone with you all the time anyway?

I think that's the big change that has occurred in the last five or so years. That's when it seemed that the cellphone stopped being an extra phone, an emergency phone, to just being a phone. They have replaced "normal" phones.

In fact, cellphones have replaced normal phones to a such a degree that many movies are now ruined simply because it's hard to fathom a modern world without cellphones. There are tons of movies from the eighties and early nineties where a crisis could be solved if the protagonist simply had a cellphone. The "world" of these movies looks modern enough to us that it seems like they should have cellphones. They have computers, ATMs, cars, and twenty-four hour grocery stores. Doesn't seem too different.

Anything made before 1983 seems to be immune. Poltergeist, released in 1982, features a plot that hinges on the audience understanding what a god damned test-pattern is. That right there marks the movie as before cellphone. I've never met anyone younger than me, and I'm 27, who was not baffled by that scene in Poltergeist where the TV station simply signs off late at night. We can barely comprehend a world without cable, but now you want us to believe that in the past TV simply...signed off? What kind of hell is that?

However, everything after Poltergeist just seems like it should have cellphones. We have to suspend disbelief and treat this bubble of movies like period pieces, the period being "Before The 'Can You Hear Me Now' Guy, but after 'They're Here'".

I think Clueless ended this era, but I can't be sure because Cher was among the elite of society in that movie. Mobile communication might have still been only for the upper-class at that point. She is the first major film character I can remember, though, who used a cellphone all the time.

I'll have my phone back tomorrow. Until then, I'm stuck like Officer John McClane in Die Hard, wishing there was a some kind of device that I could use to just dial 911 so I didn't have to go to the roof with a radio and get yelled at by snippy emergency operators while being shot at. Seems like one of those yuppie hostages should have had one too.

Weekend Recap

Friday was slightly interesting.

It's a bad idea to argue about politics with your cab driver. The driver has your life in his hands, and people are capable of doing crazy things when they disagree about which white guy in a suit should be in office. I don't want to die because I say the wrong thing about the wrong white guy, or the Iraq War, wiretapping, stem cells, or immigration(wow, no problem coming up with hot topics, what a wonderful world we live in!).

So I was a little apprehensive when my cab driver started talking about President Bush.

"Did you hear what Chavez said?"


"That Bush was the Devil?"


"And that he knew nothing about politics?!?"


"And that he was stupid?"

"...Yeah," while I thought I'm not falling for your cunning bait, smart guy. You're not finding out how I feel about Bush until either a) I know how you feel about him or b) I'm safely out of your yellow death trap.

He never tipped his hand, the sharp bastard. Luckily, a really bad accident happened right in front of us.

"People in such a hurry! Broad daylight! No reason!"


"This isn't a highway we are on!"


"Is everyone just in so much of a hurry?"


What? He could have been tricking me into confronting his pro-accident beliefs.

Anyway, I was traveling by cab to a seminar on some really boring shit Microsoft SharePoint. The seminar was very forgettable. Afterward, though, I was astounded by the assault of bull-shit smiles and fake handshakes that networking forced upon me.

Doesn't it hurt to be fake at all? I wish these people would just say 'Will knowing you make me any money?' and get it over with.

Networking is my least favorite aspect of the 'professional' working life. I'm sure it's part of every industry, so there is no escaping it. I wish I was rich. That would be my favorite perk: no need to be anywhere near any networking activities.

Saturday I went with my brother on a visit to The Arts Institute of Washington. My brother is 19, already bored with college(he is no longer attending), and I'm worried about his future. I want him to be successful, very successful; I think he has enormous potential.

Actually, that's a half truth. The wanting him to be successful part, not the potential part. He does have a lot of talent. What I really want is for him to be happy.

The waiting room we, er, waited in was mildly hot. This made making fun of the student work playing on the big screen TV next to the receptionist's desk an essential activity. We mocked stiff animation and childish writing for a while.

Most of the work, though, was very good. I was hoping my brother would be inspired. As it turns out, that wasn't a problem. The problem is money.

Even with financial aid, student loans, grants and scholarships, attending this school will be a tough swing for my family. I'm going to try my best to rally him and them behind him, but in the end I know it comes down to how bad he wants this.

I wish I was rich. Sending my brother to school would actually be my favorite perk.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I Am Not Ashamed

I'm watching Friends. And, I'm enjoying it. There, I said it.

Also, I have no real strong opinion about Paris Hilton. I don't hate her, and I don't love her.

There are certain things that we have agreed to hate, as a culture, that I just haven't been on board with. Like assuming all family-operated restaurants are better than chain restaurants. Well, I have three brothers that work at an Outback Steakhouse, so technically to me that is a family-operated restaurant. I recommend the prime rib and the cheese fries.

We all agreed the new Star Wars movies are very, very inferior to the previous trilogy. Well...I think they are misunderstood classics and time will vindicate them. Yes, I really do.

Keanu Reeves is a terrible, terrible actor. Well...I don't pretend to know any of the technical aspects of acting, so I don't know. I think I can recognize bad acting, or at least acting that is unbelievable. Reeves never comes across as unbelievable to me. He may have a monotone voice, but is that really being critical of his acting skills? If I ever get the chance, I'll ask an accomplished actor their appraisement of Reeves. Until then, I don't really know. But I loved him in Parenthood.

Getting back to Ms. Hilton, I read that she was recently denied access to a new New York City club. The owner's reasoning was he wanted his new establishment to be the most "exclusive" club in the city. This gave me an idea.

I will open the most exclusive club in New York. Nay, the world. It will be like any other club on the inside, full of sleek, modern poorly lit ambiance. However, no one will be allowed in. Ever. There will be fully stocked bars, a huge dance floor, and a DJ booth. That no one will ever enjoy. I'll call the club Post-Modern, and I will be in it all alone. Dancing in the dark.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Deep-Fried American Character

I'm back safely from New York, though I managed to get my face sunburned.

I burn quite easily. So, if I anticipate any extended time in the sun I make sure to use a little sunblock. Unfortunately, I didn't count on there being a street fair in Little Italy. Mulberry street is not really any narrower than any other street in New York, but if you fence off the sidewalks and then have giant vendor booths on both sides of the street, the little remaining space becomes a stagnant sludge of slowly moving people. It took a good half-hour to make what is usually a five minute walk to my favorite Italian place in the city, and by the end I could already feel my pale Irish skin tightening. Still, the trek left plenty of time to see what the local vendors where hacking.

The most interesting part of the street fair, to me at least, was the popularity of deep fried Oreos. I had no idea these even existed. Four for a dollar at most vendors, and they were selling very briskly. I've heard of deep-friend candy bars, but never cookies. Some of my coworkers had heard of the deep-fried Oreo, so it's not something that sprung up over night that I missed. It's something America has been doing for a while that I missed.

I'm not sure what it says about our country that we take something as delicious as an Oreo and deep fry it. Some would say it's just another symptom of our obesity epidemic; the product of a country with too much food and too many choices. A symbol of what is wrong with the United States. A deep-fried, artery clogging symbol of a country that just doesn't know when to stop. We will never stop in our pursuit of excess, or anything really. Once we get started in a direction, we run in that direction like the coyote chasing the white line into the tunnel painting on the side of the mountain. It's definitely great in a George W. Bush kind of way; admiring someone for there unabashed dedication to a cause. Kind of like watching a sprinter breaking the record for the fastest one-hundred meter dash even when they know the last meter is the air above a thousand foot chasm. And there are signs that say "1,000 Ft. Chasm Straight Ahead" every twenty meters. And the sprinter could run one-hundred meters in any other direction and not die.

"Don't go that way, there's a cliff!", you might say.

"Look, I started in this direction and I'll be damned and dead if I'm going to stop now!", they would reply.

It's really our unifying characteristic as a country at this point. Occasionally on the subway there will be a born-again christian preaching, trying to save all of us from a literal hell while we sit in a figurative one. Someone will always joke that this is "George Bush's America." And I guess it is, though I do remember this happening while Clinton was president too.

I don't remember deep-fried Oreos. Or the glut of reality television. Somehow, it seems to me if Gore had won the world would never have seen the 'Race Survivor' or 'Big Brother All Stars'. As a country, we would have had the good sense to stop.

I realize it's ridiculous to blame these things on the President. Even though I'm not directly blaming him and just comparing it to some hazy idea about a new, national paradigm of thinking, it's still ridiculous. Pundits say a country can take on the personality of it's President, and I'm sure during the late nineties pot use and oral sex among Americans went way up(along with a desire to find common ground for the common good), but no one besides Ann Coulter would have thought to blame it on Bill Clinton1.

I still think I'm right though.

Joe Gibbs still believes in Mark Brunell and John Hall, despite horrid performances2. American Idol keeps on going even though each winner becomes less and less relevant3. NASA refuses to moth-ball the shuttle program. The housing bubble in DC continues to grow and grow despite obvious signs of an impending burst. In a world where Al Gore or John Kerry were president, this would seem disturbing.

In George Bush's America, though, nothing about those things seems unusual. It's pretty much how everything feels like it should be. So enjoy the deep fried-Oreos. Until 2008 at least.

1My apologies to Ms. Coulter if she actually did this.
I would still follow Coach Gibbs into Hell.
True story. My girlfriend really liked Kelly Clarkson, but I ruined Kelly for her when I told her off-hand that it was great at least one American Idol winner was doing well. She had no idea Clarkson was the first American Idol. So, kudos to you KC for doing a great job distancing yourself from the institution that both created you and could destroy you.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Strange Days And The Bus

I've seen some strange things this week.

Coming home the other day, a pigeon flew right at my head. I mean that. The pigeon was at my exact head level, coming right at me with its wings flapping frantically. It's the only thing to ever happen to me in the city that has stopped me in my tracks. I saw the bird's coal-black* little eyes, and he meant me harm. For some reason, he aborted his death mission and veered off at the last second. I felt the wind as he passed. What is up with all the animals with murder on their minds?

Today, I picked up my dry cleaning. Usually, there is nothing strange to see at the dry cleaners. I imagine they keep all the strange stuff out of sight, somewhere in the back. This day, however, I saw something strange among the garments already cleaned and hanging: a Doug Williams jersey. That's right, number seventeen of the burgundy and gold. I love the Redskins, and I love Doug Williams...but I've never dry cleaned my sports jerseys. In fact, one time I purposely cut my sports jersey so my then girlfriend could wear it in a sexy, off one shoulder kind of way**.

Anyway, I'm headed to New York tomorrow. I'll be visiting my girlfriend, who I miss very much. I love going to see her in the city.

Getting there isn't as fun. At first, despite being warned otherwise, I rode the Chinatown Bus. The first time it was terrific. It left on time and arrived on time. The next three times weren't as punctual. By about an average of two hours. Plus, I heard they smuggle drugs on those buses***.

So I switched to Greyhound. With the e-fare to NYC, it comes to only six dollars more than the Chinatown Bus and it's much more reliable. Since it goes to Port Authority, I'm just one quick ride to Grand Central and a twenty minute ride on the six train uptown to get to my girlfriend's apartment.

Bus rides still aren't that pleasant, regardless of the logo on the side of the bus. You might see a merry Peter Pan flying care-free on the side of a bus named Tinkerbell, but on the inside people are trying to sleep uncomfortably while Yours, Mine and Ours is playing on tiny TVs. With that in mind, here are some tips for your survival:

  1. Buy your tickets online. I have never done otherwise, so maybe getting in that long line and buying them in person is an ecstatic experience. Yeah, anyway, you can get some good deals online.
  2. Bring snacks and drinks. Your bus might make a pit stop. It might not. It's really the bus driver's decision. And you don't want to be at the bus driver's mercy.
  3. Arrive early. You might get an earlier bus. You know that time printed on your ticket? Nobody at Greyhound gives a fuck what it says. Day? Who cares? They care about one thing: is the destination correct? Good, then get on the bus. I have used tickets three hours and three days late.
  4. Get The Window Seat. We all want the window seat. It's easier to sleep there. Even if you aren't sleeping it's good to know you could, plus you know the poor guy next to you can't. And that makes you a better person than them. The only way I can recommend getting a window seat is to follow tip three.
  5. Pray Someone Other Than The Bus Driver Knows How To Get To Your Next Stop. True story. The bus left DC to make a quick stop at the Silver Spring Greyhound station before heading to New York. 30 minutes later, the bus driver gets on the PA and says "Does anyone on this bus know where the Geryhound station in Silver Spring is?" Luckily, a nice woman on the bus knew where it was. Though it took a couple of times to get the driver to go in the right direction, eventually we arrived at the Silver Spring station. THEN, on the way out of Silver Spring the driver missed the exit to get off of Colesville Road and onto 495/95 north. You can't take the south exit and loop around, so he had to make a three-point turn on Colesville Road. The back of the bus did spotting duty, letting the bus driver know that people had stopped to let him complete his turn. We all cheered when he managed to take the right exit, and get us to New York on time.

Well, I better get packing. And praying.

*People who know me are probably wondering how I know what "coal-black" looks like having never seen coal. I had a lot of crayons as a kid. Seriously, they had color for everything. Tumbleweed, anyone?

**It was a Stephen Davis jersey, bought the year before he left. My brother owns Champ Bailey, Laveranues Coles, and Lavar Arrington jerseys. All bought the year before they left. I have a feeling we will never own any Clinton Portis, Santana Moss, or Antwan Randle El jerseys just for the sake of team chemistry.

*** If anyone from a Chinatown Bus company cares to sue, I will retract my statement. In return for drugs.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Fall Funk

Every year the coming of autumn finds me falling into a funk. A tired, inert state involving sleepless nights and groggy days. The change of the seasons does something to me I guess.

Is it the sudden weather change that makes me feel frustrated with and tired of everything? A repressed memory of bad Septembers that makes it harder just to get out of bed?

Work, play, even sleep seem harder. Sleep, for Christ's sake. How can you be tired but not be able to sleep? I lay in bed perfectly still. Then I move to get comfortable, because my left leg just doesn't feel right. Or my right side wants to be covered by the blanket. Then it doesn't. Before long I've moved too much to be restful anymore. So I try to be still again. Inevitably, after countless different laying configurations and blanket arrangements, I give up. Staring at the alarm clock, I dread the morning. It's getting closer, and the red numbers floating in the dark don't let me forget about any minute of sleep I've lost.

I turn the clock away.

Eventually, whatever part of my mind that is too apprehensive to sleep gives in. Morning comes, and I wonder how I will find the energy to get through all the things I have to do, let alone want. I need to go to work. I want energy to exercise, to fix dinner, and enjoy some of the day. Instead, all I'm in a day-long funk.

Funk is the perfect word for it. Weighted down, covered, sticky, unable to do anything about how fucking uncomfortable you are in your own skin. Break out, break out! and shatter your shell! you scream at yourself. Go do something. Anything.

Tonight I'll run at the gym. I know how to fight off the blues. Work, play, and sleep will come easier. I hope.

P.S. Music can help us get through some "tough" times, so here is my recent Rap/Blues playlist for the Fall Blahs:

Talib Kweli - The Proud
Albert King - I'll Play The Blues For You (Parts 1 & 2)
B.B. King - The Thrill Is Gone
Common (feat. Kanye West and John Legend) - They Say
Nina Simone - When I Was In My Prime
Eminem - Cleaning Out My Closet
Ray Charles - Nobody Cares
Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
The Coup - Tiffany Hall
Bettye LaVette - Down To Zero
Otis Redding - You Don't Miss Your Water
Tupac Shakur - Life Goes On
The Streets - Stay Positive
Talib Kweli - Roll Off Me

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Low Tolerance

Drinking is not like riding a bike. I discovered this when a friend and I went to Busboys and Poets Saturday night

My usual drink is Stoli Raspberry Vodka and cranberry juice. Vodka has long been my favorite liquor to get nicely fucked up without being fucked up. After flashing the bartender a twenty to get some quick service, I started a tab with my favorite drink in hand.

We had a seat on a very comfortable couch, and I took my first sip. Strong, very strong. Perfect for a first drink. I sat and talked with my friend about life, women, and steadily finished the vodka and some, maybe a little, maybe just a pinch of cranberry juice, off. After reaching what I'm sure was an insightful point about something, I announced I was getting another drink. I sat up.

At that moment I realized I was a fucking lightweight. One drink, one stinking drink and my head was swimming a little as I walked back to the bar. Alcohol impairs you the second you sip it, but usually I at least don't feel impaired until after a couple drinks. One drink, one stinkin' drink.

I ordered another. I needed to get back on the wagon. A wagon full of vodka and whiskey.

A year ago, I was downing shot after shot of 151 without blinking. One drink. This must be what gym rats feel like after a long layoff, I thought. They think:

"A 7:30 mile? Are you kidding me? This thing is broken."

While I think:

"That drink was obviously drugged, secretly, even as I watched every step in it's creation."

So I did the drinking equivalent of two-a-days and had a third drink. Wouldn't have made me sweat a year ago. And it didn't this time (though drunk people can't be trusted to know how drunk they are). I settled into a nice buzz. Nicely fucked up without being completely fucked up. Only three drinks, making me a cheaper date.

Still, it bothered me a little. I know it's a little juvenile and frattish to associate drinking ability with some kind of pride, but dammit, I'm Irish. I have stereotypes to uphold. Things to forget. I'm sure, with a steady diet of happy hours, I can be back to my eight drink minimum. Of course, since I'm a lot happier than I was a year ago, three drinks should be fine.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Damn. Damn Damn.

I love the Redskins, but I swear watching them will send me to an early grave. How could Hall miss a field goal that bad? Damn.

Still, some hope for the season, they still need to get the kinks of Saunders' new offense worked out. Lots of football yet to be played.

Anyway, I had a pretty good weekend. I saw Little Miss Sunshine with a good friend. Wasn't sure what to expect walking in, and that was the best way to see the movie. It made every quirk and shock of this little comedy that much better. Alan Arkin was just a trip as the grandfather. He was exactly the way I hope to be when I'm old; doing what I want because there are fewer years left to enjoy life. His performance alone was worth the price of admission.

After that, we had a little bite to eat at Zorba's Cafe near Dupont Circle.

Then it was on to Busboys And Poets . I had never been there and was looking forward to seeing the ambiance of the coffee shop/bar. I really liked it, and not just because the bartender made my drink nice and strong. A cold drink, a good friend, and a couch to sit back on and talk about life. It was damn near perfect for a night out, for me at least. I will definitely be back.

This is kind of a quickie re-cap, as you can tell. I'm still reeling from the loss. I hate it when the Redskins lose.

I promise a little more detail in a later post.

I will say, to the drunk couple who sang the Captain Planet theme song before they got off the Metro at U Street, you made my day. Though the other people in the car seemed less impressed. Fuck those unfun bastards. If you can't handle a little drunk singing at two in the morning, what are you doing out? This loving attitude probably has an inverse relationship with a person's dislike of the song being sung, but who doesn't like Captain Planet? Polluters, that's who.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Wait, he said what?

One of the best things about rock lyrics is that half the time nobody understands them. Sometimes, no one even listens to them.

Since I have no indie-rock credibility anyway (I like Def Leopard and I bought the second Creed album, something about clay and getting high on the lord or something), I'l just admit I got into The Wrens when I picked up The Meadowlands in 2003. Of course now I own Secaucus, their great 1996 second album, which has one of my favorite Wrens' tunes: Surprise, Honeycomb.

This song rocks. I knew from the first opening twenty or so seconds I would love this song. It slowly builds up, then at about twenty seconds in goes into a kick-ass groove. Those fuckers can play. And the vocals perfectly match the music.

Until the third or fourth time I listened to the song, though, I never actually paid attention to the lyrics. The song just rocked so much, who cared what he was saying?

I should have payed attention, because the lyrics grab you. They are a little disturbing and very catchy.

"cut a killing path / through the true west dozens laid rest / settled down then at last"

Well surprise, the song is about killing people. Lots. Then settling down, because well, that's what you do if you get away with killing a bunch of people.

"thought i might be done / but being good made me burst the killing got worse / it almost got fun / so i got a new gun"

Now if you are the kind of person who kills a bunch of people and gets away with it, you know at some point you will feel the itch again. And if you start killing again, hey, splurge on something new to do it with. You can't do the same old thing every time.

From there our hero picks up a female companion:

"looks like you need a man time, honey comb hid away for wine years how you’ve grown we can call your folks / from a highway side rotary"

Women do love dangerous men, especially women named HoneyComb. Wait, what?
"i drive up to your door / and wracked by disease i do what i please / drop you to the floor on top of magazines / and calendar art held up with darts / shows american scenes / of cowboys in jeans"

Your guess is as good as mine. Our hero drops HoneyComb on top of magazines and calendar art, that is somehow also held up by darts. Cowboys do love them some jeans, though. Incidentally, this sounds fantastic coming out of Charles Bissell(I could be mistaken, since all of The Wrens take part in vocals, in very delicious harmonies...didn't think anyone did that anymore).

"pop the door i think this wander lust ain’t the only thing between both of us i’ll make you famous / and we’ll double the states you’ve seen the cop who brought me in / an uncle of mine on first mommy’s side / i’m even named after him"

Hey baby, come on a killing spree with me. You'll see some good country, get famous, oh and by the way, I have some fucked up family dynamics.

I could be way, way off with my interpretation here. I often am. Either way, I love these lyrics, and I love how they flow through the song. Reading them doesn't do them one bit of justice, you have to hear them.

Well, I'm done getting my music nerd on. It's Friday, and even though it was a short week I still feel exhausted. Work isn't any harder, I think finally having a place of my own just makes me want to leave work that much more.

I'm really looking forward to the first football-filled Sunday of the season, and of course, the Redskins monday night opener.

Skins by 14.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Let There Be Rock

This time, I'm even later to the party.

I've been meaning to listen to Wolfmother's self-titled debut LP for a while. I kept putting off buying it, instead opting to fill several holes in my CD collection instead(holes shaped like Rihanna *).

That was a mistake.

If you love to rock, if you like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, buy this album NOW. Do not listen to the criticism that is just the former bands recycled.

For one thing, it doesn't matter if it's just a new band trying to be Zeppelin or Sabbath. The point is its a young new band trying to be Zeppelin(lead singer Andrew Stockdale even has a Plant-esque voice). A re-united Zeppelin could not make a better album than Wolfmother(I am aware that a re-united Zeppelin is impossible, but you get the point). The best rock will always have a youthful energy that you can't just keep forever. Even though A Bigger Bang is a decent Stones record, it won't ever rock like Beggar's Banquet or Let It Bleed.

We need young bands to make this kind of music, because the rock "gods" aren't really immortal. And who knows what we will have to listen to in the afterlife. Someone has to carry the torch, and Wolfmother does a damn good job.

Besides that, I would contend that this isn't just Led Zeppelin re-dux by three Australian kids. This is a damn fine piece of music on it's own. These guys can play, and they can write some good songs.

And besides that, this is their first album. Led Zeppelin I was good, but not without fault. Listen to it, it's almost like the same hard-rock blues song throughout the entire album.

Rich Robinson, guitarist for The Black Crowes, once said "There's no new music, ever period. I interpret Keith Richards in the same way Keith Richards interpreted Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry".

Although I don't believe his point is literally true; I do believe that sometimes music fans get way too obsessed with originality.

Wolfmother rocks. Just enjoy it and be young again.

*I realize owning the SOS single probably robs me of much of my rock credibility in a lot of people's eyes. These people though, great music fans that they are, are just afraid to let loose with any kind of sexual expression that isn't overtly masculine and adolescent. Oh, and I think Rihanna is hot.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Finding Faith While Peeing (or not)

Is there a God? Is there some kind of benevolent, or at least unifying, force that watches and binds us all? Or are we all alone on this little blue ball we call home?

War, famine, genocide, and the popularity of The Simple Life seem like evidence of the latter to me. Even though I only have my own experiences to draw from, I haven't seen much evidence for an invisible man in the sky who decides who is good and who is evil. An all-knowing, all-caring being who lets us wander around with no clue as to who is he is or what he really wants. Doesn't sound too caring to me. More malicious than anything else. I have never witnessed anything that made me believe in any sort of God. Never had the feeling there was something "more" to the world. Never.

Then again, there was a porta-potty at the end of Calvert Street yesterday.

After returning some DVDs to the Columbia Road Blockbuster I was making my way back to the Adams Morgan Metro Stop, when all of a sudden I really, really had to pee. Maybe it was the light drizzle, but all of a sudden I badly needed to urinate. So bad that the sensation turned my groin into the black-hole of my body's universe, sucking everything into it while threatening to implode.

It was just getting past the pleasant darkness of evening when I realized wasn't going to make it back to my apartment. Most of the businesses, even the McDonalds, in the area would demand I buy something before letting me use the bathroom. I didn't think I would make it far enough to pay for the privilege of peeing anyway. And then I saw it.

Nestled in a barely lit corner of the sidewalk, just after the bridge. A blue booth where I could relieve myself. Unlocked! Unoccupied!

Wait, what the fuck am I thinking? I thought. I get in there, it locks up, and I wake up in a harem in North Korea doing God knows what...oh gawd my bladder, fuck it, I'm going to pee and if I end up a sex slave, so be it.

A minute or two later, I emerged back onto Calvert street and thought, Thank God for this porta-potty.

And why can't I literally believe God put that porta-potty there for me? If other people can find God in pieces of toast, cheese, potato chips, why can't I find God in a toilet? A portable toilet. I don't see why it wouldn't be just as good. It would make a great story at Bible study. God sent me a miracle, and I pissed in it.

I don't really believe God sent the porta-potty, even though there was a message from Jesus scrawled in marker on the inside of the door. If I did, though, my belief would every bit as valid as anyone else's for believing in God.

Maybe that personal aspect is what makes faith beautiful. Whatever you choose to have faith in, and for whatever reason, it's your choice. Whether it's because of family, friends, a life-changing moment, or even just a toilet - your faith is yours.

Just don't force it on me.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Your Guess Is As Good As Mine

My roommate has been gone since Thursday.

I assumed she went on a nice long Labor Day trip; so I was a little surprised when she still didn't show up last night. I mean, I just thought one would have to come home to get some sleep before the start of the work week, right? After watching the tail-end of the Star Trek marathon on G4(which means I was watching Star Trek alone but not for the usual reasons), I went to bed around midnight.

This morning, I discovered the following new items in our apartment: two new rugs, one of which is a good-sized area rug on which the coffee table now rests, two outside chairs, a 24 pack of bottled water, and a napkin holder complete with the napkins I bought yesterday. Also, dishes I washed were put away and the dishwasher was loaded.

Somehow my roommate managed to do all this between the hours of midnight and seven in the morning, without waking me up, moving rugs and chairs in the rain, and be gone by the time I awoke.

So, is my roomie a Superhero , Ninja , or Wizard ?

Monday, September 04, 2006

I Am Not A Mother Hen

I am not a mother hen. I'm the oldest. I always have been.

I went out with two of my close friends Friday night. Dinner, some drinks, along with a quick stop at a new trendy hot spot. I wish you could have felt the same disgust and loathing I did when I typed "trendy hot spot". I'm OK with a bar or lounge wanting to be so cool it won't have any markings or signs outside, even if the bar isn't in New York. I draw the line with downtown College Fucking Mother of God We Burn Goalposts When We Beat Duke Park, though. Look, owners of whatever your little piece of pretentious lego-furniture-filled-dimly-lit-neon-shit stain is called, you are not that cool and you never will be. You are in a college town surrounded by college bars were college students are going to want to actually drink, especially college students who know goddamn well good enough to not get caught up in the "out-cooling" everyone game because they are too busy having fun. At least for now.

ANYWAY, after drinks my friend dropped me off at the Metro and I went home. When he dropped me off it was late, and because my mind works overtime producing little skits of drama I thought that if I was killed on the way home my friend would have been the last person to have seen me alive.

So his mother calls me the next morning to ask if I have seen him. I didn't think much of it, mothers in general and especially his can be paranoid. An hour later, she calls again. My friend missed his weekly bagel with his father. I know he doesn't miss that. So I'm a little worried now, but not too much.

Why should I be worried? His house was two minutes away. It was raining, but still, if something had happened surely someone would have heard something. "Surely someone would have heard something" is a little piece of logic we throw around all the time. It is out of the bounds of our logic that anything could happen to anyone and no one know about it. No matter what happens, someone somewhere knows about it, right? We are on video cameras almost 24/7 when we are out in public, we have friends, roommates, co-workers, the creepy guy downstairs and all those fuckers out in traffic. The world is too crowded to die unknowningly. There is no fucking way I could be in an accident or die and no one know about it for, what, say a half a day. Ten hours tops. Right?

So I gave his mother the cell number of the other friend we were out with that night. I go to make some instant oatmeal and waste some time seeing what movies are on TNT, TBS and Spike TV(Bedazzled, College Football, and Bloodsport).

I do some laundry. I brush my teeth. I notice a new voice mail on my cell. It's the other friend. In his voice I hear sadness(which I later learn was just fatigue after a long drive). It's a simple message. Call me back. He never leaves simple messages. He leaves the kinds of messages you think Jim Carey leaves his friends.

Now I freak out.

I call everyone. I call the now officially missing(at least in my head) friend's cell and house. No answer. I call his mother back, she doesn't answer. I call my other friend back, his phone is off. I call my family, my girlfriend, another close friend. No one knows anything.

At this point, I can feel my heart doing a balancing act. It can tip two ways: everything is fine, calm down, if something had happened you would have heard. Or, he's dead. And you were the last person to see him alive.

If I let it tip to the calm side, there is a nagging fear that I'm fooling myself. Let it tip to he's dead, and I'm overreacting.

As it turns he out he was, of course, fine. Of course because no one I know will ever, ever die. At least like that. Or of course because he was in the gym without his cellphone, and he was of the understanding that his weekly bagel with this father was canceled. His father forgot. My friends depressed message was nothing.

That was a good moment when I heard all that. The regrets of not spending enough time with my friends that had built up all day melted away into resolutions.

So everything was fine. I freaked out, largely for no reason. That one phone message shouldn't have sent me into a a mile-a-minute heart murmur state of worry.

I called my family to let them know everything was OK. As I was talking to my mother, my youngest brother picks up the phone and asks if I can come over. He's almost ten years younger than me. He is just starting college, he has a girlfriend, and he has tons of friends. I ask him why he wants me to come over.

"So we can hang out!"

He actually said so we can hang out motherfucker. I understood, though. When are you coming home?

You never stop being the oldest. Once you take on the dad role, it's yours. No matter where you go or what you do.

It's hard not to think of everyone that way. People close to you feel like your responsibility, that's why you care about them. Everyone needs taking care of and looking after.

Well, almost everyone.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Venting About Vending Machines

This was taped to a vending machine on my floor:

Here's what is says, if you find the above picture hard to read:

"Stock the M&M peanuts so they do not hang-up! This is the 5th time in 2 weeks packages have gotten caught.

I am, therefore, buying my candy or snacks somewhere else.

- Name Blurred Out To Protect The Mocked"

In response:

"Mocked, maybe you shouldn't be eating so much candy!"


"He sounds like a girl."

Someone has been enjoying a double-dose of peanut M&Ms at Mocked's expense. He might want to focus on that person. Maybe, just maybe, he should consider some sort of candy line-up...and only he would know their true candy identities.

I'm sure we have all run into this problem, but only Mocked had the courage to take a stand...a stand against the guy stocking the peanut M&Ms, who I'm sure is the one responsible. Maybe he hates people who eat peanut M&Ms; maybe he works for Hershey.

I haven't had this problem yet with our beloved floor vending machine. As the late and great Mitch Hedberg said, snacks are better when they fall.