Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Go To Sleep

Last night, I worked my first double shift. I got to work at 2:45pm and clocked out at 4:30am. I fell asleep around 5:00am. I woke up at 9:30am. I have to be back at work at 2:45pm. There’s just too much stuff running through my head right now to sleep. Life, love, lobsters, etc. Things that’ll never happen and things that did happen. It’s all keeping me awake right now.

I’m gonna be loopy tonight, I swear…

Monday, March 30, 2009

5 Monday Music Thoughts

* Ireland’s Therapy? has been quietly plugging away for almost 20 years now. Their 12th album, Crooked Timber, has just hit stores and it’s a doozy. Their blend of buzzsaw guitars, post-punk rhythms, and alcohol-fueled aggression has brought them some minor acclaim in Europe, but next to nothing in the US. In fact, they haven’t even toured here in over a decade. It’s a shame, though, because they’re just the sort of band that could find an audience here, if enough people had the opportunity to hear them.

* Jeremy Jay is an LA-based singer-songwriter with his feet planted firmly in a different decade. His second album, Slow Dance, is a lo-fi masterpiece that hearkens back to the new wave pop and post-punk of the 80s, with a touch of garage rock to complete the package. He’s sort of like a new wave-y version of Jay Reatard, which is a really, really good thing.

Gallop - Jeremy Jay

* Oh, hey, Frank Black and his wife, Violet Clark, have a band now and it’s pretty good! Grand Duchy’s debut album, Petits Fours, is out in a few weeks and it just has to piss Kim Deal off. I mean, could Frank Black have been any more hesitant during his Pixies years to let a girl sing? Violet Clark is all over Petits Fours and it’s a good thing. There’s just something pleasing about a female voice singing over Frank Blacks melodies.

Lovesick - Grand Duchy

* Depeche Mode’s Sounds Of The Universe leaked last week and, well, it’s totally awesome. I always found the hoopla surrounding new Depeche Mode albums to be interesting. For a segment of the audience, every new album is hailed as “the best Depeche Mode album since…” Then there’s that segment that immediately declares it the worst album of all time and thinks the band should crawl under a rock and die. I guess you can’t please everybody.

* Bloc Party was on Letterman last week. They’re coming to San Luis Obispo in a few weeks. If the stars align and a certain friend can get me a ticket, I’ll be there. I heart Bloc Party.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sunday Afternoon

It’s Sunday afternoon and I go to work in a little over an hour. Last night we were a tad shorthanded, so the going was a bit rough. I’m still tired. My window is open, so I can see the backyard from my computer. My son is running around in circles, playing with a variety of balls and Frisbees and sidewalk chalks.

My son has this ceaseless desire to throw rocks over the fence at the yappy dog who constantly “yip-yip-yips” his way up and down the length of his territory. I really understand how he feels. His grandmother, on the other hand, does not, and chides him for this behavior. I just try to hide my amusement from them both.

I trimmed my goatee this morning and I hate the way it looks. It’s too short. I always inevitably trim it too short, so it looks awful for a week or so. I don’t know why I complain about. I generally don’t like the way I look anyway, so complaining about something so miniscule is like tilting at a windmill.

Life seems to be in a holding pattern right now. If time flows at all, it inches forward. There are things coming up. Anniversaries, good and bad. Easter. Concerts. Work, work, work, pub, club, sleep. I’m using these things to distract myself right now. I don’t want to think. I don’t want to care.

So, I listen to the dog “yip-yip-yip.” I hide my amusement as my son “misbehaves.” I avoid thinking about things out of my grasp. I avoid thinking about where things are going. The words elude me. I just feel them.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Fun With Medi-Cal

Just about anyone who’s dealt with governmental health care in the United States has some sort of horror story about it. Mine involves my son when he was just 16 months old…

My ex and I had left him for the night with my parents when we were off on some excursion or another. He was at that stage in development where he wasn’t so much walking as running from place to place. He was showing off his new-found running skills for his “Paw-Paw” when he tripped trying to grab a ball along his path.

He fell face-first into an end table and busted his lip wide-open. It was a nasty gash, and one that would require stitches. He was bleeding everywhere and had no conception why he was bleeding or why he hurt so much. So my parents, freaking out, called me and took him to the hospital. I arrived shortly after he got there and surveyed the damage myself.

We were at the hospital for almost 12 hours with a wailing 16-month-old. It took them that long to get him into a room for his stitches. It was a horrifying experience, but that’s not really the worst of it.

You see, about three months prior, we had renewed our Medi-Cal coverage with the state. We’d been approved and received a new ID card and everything seemed on the up and up. Which was lovely, considering the sheer amount of hoops we’d had to jump through when my ex was pregnant just to get insured by the state.

I mean, I understand the state is destitute and doesn’t want to insure anyone. But it was a painful process, considering it was both of our first attempts at dealing with such a system.

So, shortly after my son’s hospital stay, we received bills from the hospital and a notice from the state saying that my son was not, in fact, insured. Confused, we called the state. According to their records, he was not insured, was never insured, and the state was not under any circumstances going to pay for his hospital stay.

“But what about this insurance ID card you sent us a few months back,” I asked.

“Sorry. That must have been a mistake,” the bored voice on the other end of the line said.

Thousands of dollars later, we’d been screwed by the state of California. Shortly thereafter, I signed up for Kaiser Permanente. I figured that if I was going to be screwed, I might as well be screwed by Kaiser like everyone else (Full disclosure, I have not been screwed by Kaiser during my son’s time with them).

My new job comes with an insurance option once my probationary period is over. I mentioned this to my mother this morning and was unexpectedly reamed for it.

“You wouldn’t have to pay for insurance if you hadn’t been so lazy to sign up for Medi-Cal in the first place!” she said.

In other words, my mother completely forgot how the whole Medi-Cal mess went down or simply doesn’t believe me. I tried to explain, but she didn’t really want to hear any of it. It really comes down to the fact that I’m the more disappointing of her two kids. I’ve made mistakes in my life and my sister really hasn’t.

But I digress. I got to thinking about all of this because of my BFF’s struggles with the California unemployment system lately. While I do understand the state’s desire to weed out those abusing the system, it really does seem like it comes at the expense of those who actually need help.

I’d just love to go back in time and kidnap the Governator to make him sit at my son’s bedside after his accident. Just to show him what kind of behaviors this crooked state encourages.

(Would you want to make this little boy cry?)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Art Brut In LA

Art Brut has scheduled four dates in Los Angeles:

06-16 Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
06-17 Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
06-18 Los Angeles, CA - Spaceland
06-19 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo

I have the 18th off and I haven’t been to Spaceland in ages, so I’ll be at that show. Anyone else going?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

In Which TLA Embarrasses Himself

Admittedly, I’m finding it a little hard to focus today. I’ve got a cold and all the wonderful bodily issues that go along with those. On top of it, my vision is slightly blurred for whatever reason. I can’t even properly watch TV! (Although, to be quite honest, I have every intention of going out to dinner later with my sister and some mutual friends… One of whom I’ve written about in this very blog. Ooh, mysterious!)

So, instead of attempting to entertain you all with my wit and wisdom and awesomeness, I’m going to post a video I took in 2004. Yes, this is me narrating my cats. No, I was not drunk at the time. Maybe one of you guys can tell me what the hell is wrong with me.

Michael Talks To The Cats

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Things That Aren't Yum In Bakersfield

I was out around town the other day running errands and I was getting hungry. It was around lunchtime and I got a sudden craving for Taco Bell. Admittedly, Taco Bell is one of my weaknesses. Well, you know, aside from Cadbury Crème Eggs, girls, and anything recorded by Jarvis Cocker…

I was pulling up to the corner of Mt. Vernon and Niles when I noticed a Taco Bell sign. I should have known better. Right next to the Taco Bell sign was a Kentucky Fried Chicken one. This location is one of those dual-purpose Yum Brands monstrosities that litter the cholesterol-addled streets of Bakersfield.

I pulled into the parking lot and entered the restaurant. Again, I should have known better. The Taco Bell menu wasn’t a complete one, as the restaurant was more KFC than anything. I mean, three of the four walls were decorated with Colonel Sanders paraphernalia. The fourth wall was purple, with what looked like a child’s scrawling of the words “Taco Bell” emblazoned across it.

I ordered a pair of bean burritos and sat down in the dining area. Every table was covered in dried chicken remnants, so I just picked a seat and looked for some napkins. None were present. So, I roughed it.

My bean burritos were awful and took nearly ten minutes to prepare. They tasted rather funny and were skinny enough to be considered flour taquitos.

Once again, I should have known better. I used to work at a store in the same parking lot as a KFC/A&W restaurant. I’ve got experience with the joys of Yum Brands dual-purpose restaurants. They never make things right, the menus are only portions of what they’d be in the regular restaurants, and the prices are often a bit higher.

These things are all over Bakersfield. Want a burger and fish sticks? There’s an A&W/Long John Silver’s in the northwest. How about fish sticks and burritos? You can have that, too, in east Bako. Basically, anything that sounds like it’ll make you vomit, you can find, thanks to Yum Brands, in Bakersfield.

So why do people keep patronizing these places? Beats me. Maybe they’re just like me: Their desire for Gorditas overwhelms their desire to keep their food down.

(The above picture is not the location in Bakersfield. Apparently, these horrible places are all over the country. It's a national tragedy, really.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Picnic At Hart Park

Susannah and I went to Hart Park for a picnic. And then a few pictures in, my camera batteries died. So, uh, that's about it. Awesome photo post ruined!

Monday, March 23, 2009

5 Monday Music Thoughts

* What’s the deal with all the great electro coming out of Canada these last few years? MSTRKRFT? Crystal Castles? Even Junior Boys, if you feel like stretching a bit. Now comes Thunderheist, an impressive duo whose debut album hits stores on March 31st. Thunderheist’s combination of jagged electronica and silky smooth hip hop vocals are a welcome thing to behold in the springtime.

* PJ Harvey is back, and this time around she’s reunited with her old pal John Parish. And guess what? The new single, “Black Hearted Love,” is the most upbeat thing she’s put out in ages. Not that the song is happy or anything, but White Chalk was one of most depressing albums ever. In other news, I still have a massive crush on PJ. But you probably do, too. Behold!

* The Horrors release their second album, Primary Colours, on May 4th. The album was produced by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and if the first single, “Sea Within A Sea,” is any indication, it’s going to be a completely different affair than the first album. The new single is bit of Joy Division meets shoegaze with a dash of dreampop thrown in for good measure. Which is curious for a band whose first album sounded like Bauhaus covering The Cramps. Regardless, I’m excited.

* Jack White has another new band called The Dead Weather, with Alison Mosshart from The Kills on vocals. Do you care?

* You didn’t think I could get out of this month without mentioning Depeche Mode in some capacity again, did you? Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan has contributed backing vocals to frYars’ latest single, “Visitors.” And, well, if you like Depeche Mode, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll like frYars, too. Even if this video is a tad bit goofy.


* I’m very quietly frustrated these days. I’ve got a lot on my mind and I don’t really feel safe letting much of it out. It feels like anywhere I could choose to let this stuff out has one or two sets of prying eyes. Like, I can’t work out my feelings on any given subject because there’s always someone there whose feelings would be hurt. And, honestly, I don’t want to do that. I never really want to do that. I’d rather be the guy who bottles things up and lets those around him think everything’s hunky dory with our friendships/relationships/etc, even when things are obviously not. Past history has told me that this is a terrible idea and always ends badly, but past history has also told me that I never learn my lesson.

* The new job is going just fine. I’ve been getting an intense sampling of what things are like around there and I think I’m starting to grasp, ever so slightly, what I have to do to survive. I’ve been bouncing about from patient to patient, learning as much as I can. They’ve even had me work as a “floater,” which allowed me to meet a ton of different patients. Admittedly, I still feel a bit bewildered most days, but at least I don’t dread going there every day, which is something I can’t say for previous jobs. Hopefully, things continue to go swimmingly.

* I was forced to deal with a particularly awkward situation recently that put me in close proximity with someone phonier than Joan Rivers’ face. I hadn’t had to deal with this person in quite some time and it was an especially unpleasant situation. This person hates me, quite clearly and outright, but cannot under any circumstances be anything other than fake when we meet. Instead, this person prefers to rip me to shreds behind the scenes, as if people don’t talk. Honestly, I prefer the people who dislike me to just pretend I’m dead, because it’s a lot easier that way. Or, at the very least, be openly hostile. Then I’d have an excuse to be rude to them. Instead, I get peppy, perky, fake nice that’s so transparent that it’s embarrassing. Alas…

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Excerpt 12 (Mistaken For Strangers)

What do I really expect on a night like this? For things to turn out the way I’ve always hoped? It never does, so why do I bother?

It's still kind of warm in Bakersfield, but a storm is coming. The clouds have been threatening at a distance all evening. The wind licking the leaves on the ground, teasing them onward, upward, away from me.

I’m racing down highway 58, blasting The National out of open windows, singing at the top of my lungs:

“You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends
When you pass them at night under the silvery, silvery Citibank lights
Arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes glazing under
Oh you wouldn’t want an angel watching over
Surprise, surprise they wouldn’t wannna watch
Another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of adults…”

Of course I’m thinking of you. But it doesn’t matter. Dreams like mine never come true. So, I continue to drive… and sing… all the way to my intended destination…

Friday, March 20, 2009


After picking up my son from my ex-mother-in-law this morning, I wanted to stop by Walmart to pick up some cheap shirts to wear at work. My wardrobe selection is a bit slight these days when it comes to things I can wear in polite company. Plus, I’ve lost a little bit of weight in the last year, so clothes that will fit me are a definite plus.

That’s how I found myself in the men’s department in Walmart arguing with my son…

“Daddy. Car. Go. Home,” he said.

“But don’t you want to get a toy before we leave? Like maybe a Hot Wheels car or a new ball or something?” I replied.

“No. Car. Go. Home,” he said.

Having discovered that even toddlers with limited vocabularies hate Walmart, I formulated a plan to keep us in Walmart a few minutes longer, so I could pick up a few things from other parts of the store.

“Do you want to look at the Easter candy?” I asked him.

“Yes,” came the reply, but sounding a lot more like, “Duh, Daddy! What do you think?”

Once we reached the Easter candy aisle, I told my son that he could pick out one item and I‘d get it for him. I walked him the length of the aisle and we turned around at the end.

“What would you like?” I asked.

He ran over to the rather large section of Peeps and pointed at them.

“That!” he said.

“Which color Peeps do you want?” I asked.

“Pink!” came the reply.

This is the scenario that explains the question I received from my mother when she got home from work today. She saw my son and hugged him, then looked behind him and saw the package of Peeps on the kitchen table. She turned back to me and asked:

“Why the hell did you buy him pink Peeps?!?”

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who Needs Desert Island Albums?

All of this working with brain-injured folks has got me thinking about my own lifestyle habits. Am I safe driver? Am I conscientious? Do I treat people the way I want to be treated?

And, of course, it has me thinking about all the “what if’s.” What if I got into a horrible accident and lost some motor functions? Or even injured my brain and had to re-learn simple, everyday activities? What if I woke up a completely different person and suddenly found Two And A Half Men funny?

So, while most people think about how they want to be buried, or how it is that they ultimately want to go, I’m thinking about the albums I want people to bring me in the event that I get horribly injured and have to recover in an assisted living community.

Music’s pretty much the most important personal hobby I have, so a life without music is simply no life at all. If I were ever stranded on a desert island, I’d be more freaked out by the lack of music than anything else. I can take the solitude and the bug bites and the lack of food, but I need my iPod, dammit!

But in the event that they don’t allow me to have my iPod, I shall require the following five albums:

1. David Bowie’s Lodger. Besides being my favorite album of all time, it’s an album split between songs about domestic maladies and songs about world travel. If anything, it’d make me want to get better and out into the world again. And I can pretty much listen to it nonstop everyday if needed.

2. Pulp’s This Is Hardcore. I have no idea why this would be important, besides the fact that it’s my favorite Pulp album. I get all my dating advice from Jarvis Cocker, which is probably at least 60% of what’s wrong with me.

3. Trainspotting Soundtrack. If I’m only limited to five albums in recovery, I figure I’d better pick something with some variety to it. The soundtrack to Trainspotting has a wide swath of bands I love, so it’d be like having my cake and eating it, too. New Order? Pulp? Iggy Pop? Blur? Lou Reed’s best song ever, “Perfect Day?” Hell yeah!

4. The Cure’s Disintegration. Um, yeah. Only The Cure’s best album ever! Who knows, maybe it’ll give me some hope.

5. David Bowie’s Best Of Bowie. Yeah, I love Bowie that much. I need two Bowie records in recovery, so I might as well pick a singles collection for one of them. You never know when you’ll need to hear “Modern Love” at 2 in the morning.

If I happen to be allowed ten albums, throw in some Blur, early-‘90s U2, anything by Depeche Mode, Chris Connelly‘s The Ultimate Seaside Companion, and some Can. But I’m not holding out hope for that many albums. They might not trust me with CD’s. Could cut myself, you know.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Excerpt 11 (A Forest)

Come closer and see
See into the trees
Find the girl
While you can

Maybe the truth is that I find some sort of cold comfort in being miserable. I think maybe that explains my complete and utter fascination with you. No matter how good your life is, no matter how happy you should be, you never are. I see a lot of that in myself. But it’s been so long. I don’t know if I started out happy and you turned me into this. Like I caught some sort of creeping infection or something.

Come closer and see
See into the dark
Just follow your eyes
Just follow your eyes

Maybe I just forgot who I was before I met you. That’s how complete your control over me was. I lost myself in your arms. I literally lost myself. I became a part of your world. I took in all of that darkness and took delight in my own suffering.

I hear her voice
Calling my name
The sound is deep
In the dark
I hear her voice
And start to run
Into the trees
Into the trees

You said I made you miserable. No matter how bad things got, I just don’t believe you. You made enough miseries for the both of us. Nothing I could ever do would compare. If I feel guilty for anything, it’s for actually enjoying the pain I was going through. Without you around, though, it’s a hollow victory.

Suddenly I stop
But I know it's too late
I'm lost in a forest
All alone

You’re the girl running into the trees, hiding in the darkness of the forest. I can’t find you because I’m not meant to. Or maybe you just don’t want to be found. By me or anyone else. But a funny thing happened on the way out of the forest. I appear to have lost my way. I think I see some sunlight peeking through the treetops. But I haven’t found my way out yet.

The girl was never there
It's always the same
I'm running towards nothing
Again and again and again

5 Monday Music Thoughts

* Admittedly, Julien-K is not really my sort of thing. They kind of remind me a lot of the music I was listening to when I was 14; angry, emotive industrial synth-metal without a hint of irony. Yet, I find myself listening to their debut album, Death To Analogue, quite a bit. I don’t know, there’s something about it that’s more than the sum of its parts (Let’s not discuss the band members’ prior engagements in Orgy). Although, I do have a caveat: Their cover of Romeo Void’s “Never Say Never” is downright embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as a certain band’s cover of New Order’s “Blue Monday.” Yep. Painful. Anyway, I’m enjoying the rest of the album regardless. I’ll be dropping off my indie credentials at the door of The Roxy on April 8th when Discotrash takes me to see them.

* Speaking of my very best friend Discotrash, she’s taking me to see Depeche Mode at The Hollywood Bowl on August 17th. Do I have the bestest best friend in the world or what?

* British dance punk? Yes, please. I’m quickly falling in love with Friendly Fires these days. They’re a bit Rapture-meets-Klaxons, but I’m still having trouble getting their self-titled debut album out of my head. The UK press is currently talking them up something fierce, so don’t expect to ever hear them on the radio here.

* I have a prediction to make. I think Ida Maria’s “I Like You So Much Better When You’re Naked” is going to be a huge hit single. It’s fun, punky, and just poppy enough that it’s got a chance of being massive. Either that, or you’ll never hear this song again. Either one, really. I think this is the first Norwegian punk rock I’ve ever heard. I’m rather impressed.

* I know I pimp Flight Of The Conchords far too much on this blog, but last night’s episode was another classic. How could this song not make you laugh?

This Sunday is the season finale. After that, I shall be sad.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

At The Bottom

Having spent the last week working with victims of brain injuries, I’ve come to a lot of understandings about my own life. You see, a little over a year ago, my life as I knew it ended. A series of circumstances culminated in me losing just about everything in my life, save my son and immediate family. My safety, happiness, dignity, and sanity were swept up in the detritus. In the days and months and year that followed, I watched a lot of people just walk out of my life with nary a look backward.

Not to compare the intensity of what I went through with what these accident victims have gone through, but in a lot of ways, I really do understand. One of my trainers commented to my group, “You wouldn’t believe how many divorce papers I’ve had to deliver to patients.” Having been through my own relatively minor traumas (Although, to me, they are major), I really do believe it. I know exactly how it feels to have people I love walk out on me. I lost one of my closest friends. Then I lost my marriage. Just about everything else followed.

But then I see the patients whose friends and families have absolutely rallied around them and it warms my heart a bit. Yesterday, one of the patients had some friends and family visiting from up north for a fundraiser for people with brain injuries. Seeing just how loving and dedicated this patient’s friends and family are was really quite touching. It made me think of the people who really had my back when my life fell apart. My parents. Discotrash. My sister. Ricky and Kim. Not to mention the dozen or so other friends who’ve stuck by me and helped me out when I needed help the most the last year or so.

Ultimately, I guess that I’ve really learned the lesson that you never know who your friends really are until you’ve hit rock bottom. But it’s one thing to know of the lesson, and it’s another thing to experience it. I’ve experienced it. The patients I’m working with now have experienced it. I’m hoping it gives me some sort of perspective on what they’re going through and makes me a better worker. And maybe, just maybe, a better person.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Open Forum Answers

Susannah asks: Can I have a cadbury cream egg?

Yes, actually.

Jennifer asks: What kind of cadbury creme egg? The original god of all candy cadbury creme egg? Or the imposter/bastard cadbury creme eggs they've come out with in past years?

Unfortunately, it’s the sad bastard kind of Cadbury Crème Egg. Ever since Hershey took over the American distribution of Cadbury products, it’s really been our only choice. Very few places stock actual imported Cadbury products. All I can figure is that Hershey is very hardcore about their distribution rights.

Gabby asks: Where exactly are you hiding this cadbury creme egg? hmm?

My pants, of course!

Desert Rat asks: AH, I know, bondon and I were talking once before about how cute your boy is and we were trying to figure out what nationality his mom is? ;-). We threw out Hawaiian or some type of hispanic/latin background...probably based on his hair? otherwise I love the carmel cadbury even if it's not O.G.

His mother is Mexican-American, third generation. I’m, obviously, first-and-a-half generation German-American. If anyone’s ever looked at my Last.fm account, it’s pretty obvious why Electric Six’s “Germans In Mexico” is one of my favorite songs. Funny thing, though. His mother has straight hair. He actually has my hair, which means that at some point I will have to introduce him to the wonders of styling products.

Bon Don asks: Divorce...why?...what happen?...are you & the ex still friends... you still love her etc. etc. if this is too personal revert to plan B what's your favorite: candy. color. time of day. movie. saying. shampoo. soda. fast food joint. ice cream. holiday. scent. memory. car. conversation topic.

My ex and I got divorced (or should I say, are getting divorced) over a myriad of issues, mostly too convoluted to get into here. Essentially, I lost my job because I‘m a bastard, she was unhappy, she couldn’t handle the financial strain, and she left me a year ago. I think that’s really the best way to condense things: she was unhappy with me. Generally, I don’t talk about her much here out of respect for her and my son. A part of me will always love her, but it’s definitely over. We get along pretty well these days. Mostly, we stick to the subject of our son, but we don’t fight or anything. If anything, we’re almost strangers to each other at this point, but with a shared history. She doesn’t really know who I am these days, and the same thing other way around.

And to answer the other questions: Cadbury Crème Eggs (for real, not just because Easter is coming up), purple, noon, Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, “Do I fall or do I drown?”, Herbal Essences, Cherry Coke Zero, Jack-In-The-Box, mint chocolate chip, Halloween, pumpkins, hard to say… there are so many… either seeing The Flaming Lips at the Hollywood Palladium or speeding through Pasadena with an old friend, singing “This Corrosion“ by The Sisters Of Mercy at the tops of our lungs many years ago, Eagle Talon, music.

Repliderium.com asks: Who is the girl in the sad longing posts? Can I kick her ass?

Yeesh, I guess it depends on which sad longing posts you’re talking about. I seem to write one or two of those a month, at least. A few of those girls deserve to have their asses kicked, but most are still super-awesome and crush-worthy.

Suicidal Jane asks: 1) Does the fact that Julie Andrews did a topless scene bother you? 2) Why do some males think it looks good to have their underwear poofing out above the belt on their pants? 3) Is Michelle Obama the new Jackie Kennedy of the fashion world? 4) What's was your favorite movie when you were seven? 5) Does this comment make me look fat?

1) No. I’ve seen Kathy Bates naked. Nothing bothers me anymore. 2) I think it’s because they have to wear their belts so tight to keep their pants in that position. It cuts off blood flow to the brain. 3) Yes. Forever and always. 4) Labyrinth. 5) Never.

Will asks: Can I have $20 for some Penasol?

If I can't make it down sometime this summer to drop a few bottles off, the check’s in the mail. :)

I will write another post of answers somewhere down the road, provided there are any other questions asked. This was actually more fun than I expected. And certainly illuminating, I'm sure. Interesting questions, folks.

In other news, I'm still super-busy with my job training. However, expect your regularly scheduled programming to resume shortly.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Open Forum

Okay, so maybe this sounds kind of weird, but in lieu of talking up my new job (Since there’s little I can talk about due to patient rights, and I haven’t quite sorted out what exactly about it I can talk about), I thought I’d do something completely different.

In the course of writing this blog, I’ve presented a picture of myself that’s been, at times, rather incomplete. Obviously, there are huge details of my life that I don’t write about. There are others that I write about in the vaguest way possible to protect certain people involved.

So, this is where you guys come into play. This is your opportunity to ask me things. Anything, really, that you want to know. I’m pretty much game to answer any questions you may have. Maybe you had some questions about prior blog entries? Maybe you’re just wondering what exactly it is that I’m hiding (A Cadbury Crème Egg, if you must know).

I’ll leave this post open for a few days and tackle the answers at the end of this week.

First Day

Monday, March 9, 2009

Things You Need To Know

* I got the job.

* I start tomorrow.

* I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off.

* My tolerance level for booze is rather disturbing at times.

* Susannah is super cool and pretty and you should date her! Or, at least, follow her blog.

* I'm sure I'll get around to blogging about all of this in detail someday.

* I love you guys. Seriously.

5 Monday Music Thoughts

* Art Brut’s third album, Art Brut Vs. Satan, hits stores late next month. It’s produced by Frank Black of the Pixies and looks to be a real winner. The first single, “Alcoholics Unanimous,” is probably my new favorite song about drinking. Seriously.

Eddie Argos for President! And if not President, how about Eddie Argos for Booster Gold?

* I love cover songs, even bad ones. There’s just something curiously enthralling about listening to a band take on another band’s material. Some bands take the song and make it their own. Others take the track and adhere to the original as closely as possible. I recently made a playlist in my iTunes of over 300 covers for shits and giggles. I’m positive it would make most people’s heads explode. For me, it’s sheer joy.

For instance, Ryan Adams covering Alice In Chains? WTF?

Or how about William Shatner covering Pulp?

* Admittedly, I have a huge soft spot for shoegaze and dreampop. I can spend hours listening to nothing but My Bloody Valentine or Lush or Autolux. Thus, I was quite excited several weeks back to discover The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. This New York band hits all the right notes in my ears and, oddly enough, makes me quite happy.

* Remember when Amy Winehouse was announced as one of the performers at this year’s Coachella festival and you thought to yourself, “No way she gets into the country, much less makes it on stage?” Well, you were right.

* Daft Punk is scoring the sequel to Tron. No, really. That might be the coolest thing ever.

Some guy on YouTube thinks it might resemble this:

Sunday, March 8, 2009

It's A Weekend, So...

Sebastian prepares his contribution for the next Radiohead album cover:

Sebastian wonders why his father keeps taking pictures of his artwork:

Sebastian is sending messages to the aliens:

A tasty beverage:

Niro likes hidey-holes:

Saturday, March 7, 2009

More Ways To Give Terrible Interviews

I suppose the details of the job I interviewed for on Thursday evening are rather superfluous. It really doesn’t matter what the store sold. It doesn’t really matter that I was applying for a retail management position. The reasons the interview was terrible are rather ubiquitous. It would have been a terrible interview no matter what kind of store I was applying at, simply because of the types of people present.

There were three guys working in the store when I got there. All young, hip-looking, and built like athletes. I’m not really any of those three things. Two of the young gentlemen were talking about a “hot bitch” they know. Gentleman A was telling Gentleman B about the time he “tapped that ass” in the alleyway behind the mall. Unsurprisingly, I introduced myself to Gentleman C.

“Hey, this guy is here for an interview,” is what Gentleman C yelled across the store to his co-horts.

“You do it, bro,” replied Gentleman A.

“So, uh, dude, like, what kind of, like, experience do you have with REDACTED?”

As he was asking me why exactly I should be working at this place, he and his coworkers were looking me up and down. I’m not exactly the sort of guy who’d be mistaken for someone who works here. I’m dressed to nicely. I’m not hip or young or sexy.

It’s ironic that I probably know more about what they’re selling than the three of them combined.

“Dude, so, um, like, why do you want to work here?”

My head is screaming. “I don’t want to work here, especially if you three are an example of what I’m going to be dealing with! No wonder you guys need a manager, bro!”

I hear snippets of conversation behind me as I‘m conversing with “Dude Bro Man.” The two gentlemen are still talking, but in more hushed tones. I only hear the occasional word here and there. I pick three out of the conversation and flush a bit with anger: “Fat. Fag. Nerd.”

The interview wraps up after something like four questions. The whole thing takes maybe 15 minutes. I exit the store quickly and start sending text messages.

I can still see why they need a manager so badly.

Friday, March 6, 2009

I Watches The Watchmen

I first read Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen ages ago after first getting into Moore’s work through his legendary run on Swamp Thing. Like so many comic fans before me, I was utterly gripped by the deep sociological and philosophical strokes spread throughout the series. To me and many others, Watchmen is a benchmark for quality comic books, if not the benchmark.

And, like so many other people, I found Watchmen to be virtually unfilmable. Maybe if they made it into an HBO miniseries. Maybe if they let some nutjob make a 5 hour movie. Maybe if the skies parted and some genius figured out a way to make it palpable. It just didn’t seem like a reasonable expectation that anyone could make this thing into a popcorn movie. A bunch of people tried to do it. Scripts were written and thrown away. Directors were attached. But decades later, a Watchmen movie just seemed a ridiculous concept.

Eventually, Zach Snyder happened. His success directing 300 opened up the wallets and minds at Warner Bros and he was given full reign to take a stab at the impossible. His 300 was an interesting affair. He took a relatively slim tome (and, admittedly, not one of Frank Miller’s finest works) and expanded it into a full-blown popcorn movie. It wasn’t brilliant by any stretch of the imagination, but it worked. Even if you hated 300, at least it was interesting.

Thus, we arrive at a Watchmen movie. A real, live, breathing Watchmen movie. And, as expected, people are freaking out. It reminds me of a bit of the lead up to the Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings movies. It’s sort of like, “you’re making my Watchmen into a movie? No way!” Readers of Watchmen have invested so much in the series. It really does belong to the fans in a lot of ways. So, what could Snyder do?

First off, Watchmen is a pretty decent movie, taken on it’s own merit. Is it condensed? Of course. The “Tales Of The Black Freighter” vignettes are completely excised in the film, relegated to an animated DVD. A few bits and pieces are changed. The ending has, essentially, the same thematic strokes, with some rather dramatic plot differences. A few characters come off a little underwritten. A few get new life.

So, what worked? I quite enjoyed Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach. The intensity was there, and I think he took a character that could have come off very, very poorly and made him a virtual screen legend. At the very least, the midnight screening audience loved him. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Comedian was also quite vivid on the big screen. And what can I say about Billy Crudup as Doctor Manhattan? Instead of a larger than life God, we got a cold scientist losing his humanity. Doctor Manhattan could have been severely misplayed, but Crudup kept things really in control.

I was also quite thrilled that they stuck to the “alternative US history” of the book. The film takes place in 1985, in an alternate America where Richard Nixon has been elected to a third term in office. The temporal touches were there and appreciated.

What didn’t work? I thought the “condensed soup” version of the character back stories worked for quite a few characters, The Comedian in particular. But Ozymandias suffers in this scenario. It’s hard to quite get a grasp on his character when he gets so little screen time and explanation. His motivations become a bit foggy on screen without the character details from the book.

Ultimately, I did quite enjoy Watchmen as a film. Of course it isn’t as good as the book. It simply never could be. Maybe it helps to think of it as Zach Snyder’s Watchmen, and not Alan Moore’s. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever seen, but I definitely want to see it again. At the very least, for people who’ve never read Watchmen, it’s going to serve as an idea of how different a comic book movie can be, compared to the usual superhero fare.

Further Complications

The new Jarvis Cocker record. Further Complications. May 19th. Recorded in Chicago by Steve Albini. YOU MUST BUY!

Last Night

Last night, I...

...had an awful job interview, "Bro."

...ate some Arby's. Got sick.

...saw Watchmen.

...ran into an enemy.

...narrowly avoided a few other people, completely inadvertently.

...got three hours of sleep.

I'm off for fingerprinting. Yeah. Seriously. They called me this morning to ask me to come in for fingerprinting for that job. Bizarre! Let's hope the fingerprinting doesn't come back "tree-hugging liberal."

When I get my head screwed on straight, I will most certainly blog about a few of those things from last night. I might even reply to comments and e-mails! Okay, I'm being a bit too hopeful there.

Inside, I'm Laughing At You

Well… I went to the midnight screening of Watchmen last night at the Valley Plaza. I generally go there to avoid running into certain former co-workers of mine, not to mention the legion of “kids” who might remember me. Normally, this movie policy of mine goes just fine. I don’t usually run into anyone I know at the mall. Only, this time, I did…

Rob Gallagher. Yeah, that Rob Gallagher. The one who got me fired. The one whose sins are tacked onto my own, and I’m paying for both.

I was in the theatre with my friend already and we were close to the front, off to the side. Rob came in right next to us and saw me immediately. He averted his eyes quickly and jumped across the aisle to the “friends” he knew in the seats adjacent to us.

He was hand-shaking and sweating like some sort of cheap, greasy used car salesman. He looks like he’s gained a good 20 lbs in the last year. I, for my part, pretty much just sat there. I was probably smiling at his discomfort. My friend wanted to get up and say something nasty to him. After a few short moments he found a seat further up in the room.

Before the movie started, he made another trip down, practically running out of the room. Regardless, he made sure to steal another glance at me, as if to confirm that it was really me. He reentered the room about 30 seconds later, in much the same fashion as before. Sweat. Grease. Kissing babies. Shaking hands. Being the smug, ugly, useless fuck he is.

Once the movie was over, we exited quickly. My friend needed to use the restroom, so I stood near the entrance of our screening room, waiting. Rob never came out. Once my friend was ready, we left the theatre properly and headed home.

Was he afraid I was going to do something to him? It’s not like I’m the one with a criminal record or anything. I mean, I know exactly what would have happened if we’d have run into each other in a way he couldn’t avoid. He’d have put on his phony act, telling me how he missed me and how awesome I am. He’d tell me about how it was an injustice that I was fired, and that, well, he never really liked those people anyway. Because I’m an awesome guy.

Phony motherfucker.

In all likelihood, I would have told him to “fuck off,” plain and simple. I just don’t have any room in my life for phonies like him. Excise. Delete. Avoid.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Love, Interview, Job, Movie

* I went to my sister’s house last night for dinner, drinks, and the new episode of Lost. She got bored and made a giant pitcher of something. Basically, she threw a bunch of different liquors in the pitcher until it was three-quarters full and then killed the rest with pomegranate juice and a can of sprite. It was boozy. I’m pretty sure that’s why I feel like a dog vomited in my face this morning. Mostly, I’m blaming the tequila in the mix.

But there were certainly amusements. I was tweeting nonsensically most of the evening. And I almost let slip the name of a crush. Publicly. Oops! As a boy who knows better, I found it almost a little embarrassing this morning. If I’ve learned anything from The United States Of Tara, it’s best to pretend I don’t care. Girls like mystery, yeah? Well, I’m about as mysterious as a tin of sardines. So, I’m learning…

* On the plate for today is a job interview. It’s for the management position at a sports apparel store. A lot of people have sort of looked at me cock-eyed when I mention this. I don’t really look like a sports guy, despite actually being a sports guy. So, my hope is that the interviewer asks me a bunch of sports questions, because if he doesn’t, I’m going to come off like a practicing witch in a Catholic church.

I am taking the advice of a friend when it comes to this interview, though. She told me that she always goes into job interviews not giving a shit. She pretends she’s already got a job and just testing the market. For her, that method usually goes well, because the nerves don’t really come into play. We’ll see how it goes for me. Chances are my interviewer reduces me to a blubbering mess.

* Then again, it won’t be too hard to pretend I have a job. I kind of, almost, sort of have a job. Maybe. Remember the really good interview I had a little ways back? And how the time frame sort of slipped away? Well, my friend at the company has been inquiring about me ever since and found out a few things.

Basically, they do quite like me, but it would appear that the human resources department is ultra slow. They still haven’t successfully contacted my prior employers. I still have a couple of hurdles to jump after that, too. What was interesting about the whole thing is that the guy who interviewed me told her basically that I’m hired. Which is kind of funny. It’s been a few weeks now. When do I actually get hired?

Ultimately, I might end up being the prettiest girl at the prom. Either that or all of this continues to mean nothing.

* After my interview, I’m off to a midnight screening of Watchmen. I’m reserving judgment…

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Justin Williams?!?

Last Friday, I wrote about my beloved Los Angeles Kings and the looming trade deadline. They had three games to play until then and a lot of questions to be answered. Unfortunately, they lost all three games, pretty much putting a kibosh on any hope of a playoff appearance this season.

Today’s trade deadline was actually a little busier than I expected, starting with the re-signing of Sean O’Donnell to a one-year deal. I fully expected O’Donnell to be retained, as he’s been a great mentor to the young Kings defense. With the possibility of Thomas Hickey, Vyacheslav Voinov, or Colten Teubert joining the big club next season, a veteran defenseman like O’Donnell will be a big plus.

A mere hour or so after the O’Donnell contract was announced, the Kings locked down goalie Erik Ersberg to a two-year deal. The contract isn’t for a whole lot of money, and it really seems to be more of an insurance policy than anything. If training camp hits and a couple of the Kings’ young goalie prospects don’t show improvement, Ersberg is still in play. If those young goalies take the job in camp, Ersberg becomes a tradable asset.

And as for the Tom Preissing problem? Put on waivers, cleared, and sent down to Manchester. What happens now is really up to Preissing, I suppose. If he wakes back up in Manchester, he’ll be an option in training camp this summer. Otherwise, he could be bought out, waived again, or traded.

And that was just about it for the trade deadline. The Kings hadn’t made any trades or further roster moves. Shortly after the deadline, however, word began to trickle out that the Kings had traded Patrick O’Sullivan just before noon. When the dust settled, I was rather shocked to find that we’d been part of a big three-team swap.

We lost O’Sullivan and a 2nd round draft pick. Sully’s an Oiler now, which should be loads of fun the next time we play the Oil. Who did we get? Justin Williams, late of the Carolina Hurricanes. Williams is a former 30-goal scorer who’s known for his great two-way play at forward and leadership in the locker room. He also has a Stanley Cup from his time with Hurricanes. And, oh yeah, he’s barely played the last two seasons due to a series of injuries.


Williams is a former 1st round pick by the Philadelphia Flyers, which explains Kings GM Dean Lombardi’s interest in him. The Kings are stocked with former Flyers players and management-types, so Williams isn’t an unknown quantity. Yet, there is a definite element of risk in acquiring him. It’s been a few years since he’s been a regular player in the NHL, so if he returns and doesn’t play up to expectations, it’ll be egg all over Lombardi’s face.

Ultimately, the rest of this season is a wash. The kids will get loads of playing time over the next month and it’ll be back to the drawing board this spring. We’ll get a top-10 draft pick and maybe get lucky in free agency. Once again, hope springs eternally for Kings fans.

Monday, March 2, 2009

5 Monday Music Thoughts

* Last night’s Flight Of The Conchords was classic. “Demon Woman” is the best song ever, and the video comes complete with a Mary Lynn Rajskub cameo!

* Some days I have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that one-half of the near-legendary dance-punk duo Death From Above 1979 (RIP, guys) is now one-half of MSTRKRFT. A sampling:

Other days, I just dance my ass off. MSTRKRFT’s second album, Fist Of God, hits shelves March 17th.

* Last week, I mentioned the release of Depeche Mode’s new single, “Wrong.” There’s a video now. It is amazing.

* Iggy Pop Preps Jazz Album About French Literature. I really don’t think I can say anything more.

* Are White Lies a cross between The Killers and Interpol or a cross between The Killers and She Wants Revenge? Either way, it’s rather embarrassing. But catchy. But embarrassing.

To Lose My Life - White Lies

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Toddler Mathematics

One toddler + enough gumption to enter the laundry room by himself + cat box = cat litter in the washing machine and all over the kitchen.

One bath + giggling toddler + wash rag thrown at daddy‘s face + vacuuming and mopping the laundry room and kitchen = bemused daddy.

Ergo, all of the above = very, very confused and annoyed kitties.

The Marzipans

Thusly, the scat duo The Marzipans were born. Tom Waits on scat. The Loss Adjuster on more scat. We toured only in the south, hitting every juke joint and fry hop south of the Mason-Dixon line. Club owners paid us in Kentucky Bourbon and quarters for the automat.

We didn’t bother making a whole album, just three 7” singles: The Marzipans, The Marzipans In Space, and The Marzipans Are Almond Paste. Aurocka designed our sleeves out of mimeograph paper to look like tortell pastries.

It was an exciting three or four hours in our lives. I recall telling Tom at one point, “Tom, this is a pretty exciting three or four hours in our lives, is it not?” Tom simply nodded his bowler hat in my direction and went back to sipping from the bottle of Buffalo Trace he kept in his duster.