30 March 2009

Things that are good to know

The "solution" to global warming is in the Bible.

Apparently, "Shimkus" is evangelical for "I'm smart and you're not." My sister lives on the cusp of this guy's district, so fortunately, when things get too hot for her, she will have just a short drive to relief.

25 March 2009

It's a long, long way down

I have had a Grade AAAA rant building in me for the last few days, and I am not quite ready to unload. I intended to blow off some writer's block steam here with a random eleven (which I will in a moment), but a visit today to the same store that led to this lesson demands that I make the following proclamation:

I declare open hostilities towards those who think that they are better than everyone else.

Des and I went to Target today (normally I wouldn't bother to identify the store, but I think it lends to the idiocy that I am about to describe) around 2:30, and the parking lot was not crowded. There were plenty of spots available within twenty-thirty yards of the store entrance.

I got out of the car and as I walked to the other side to spring my son, I noticed a black Mercedes enter from the north-actually I heard the gunning of the engine first, as the car accelerated from the turn-and proceed closer towards the entrance. I got Desmond out of the car, and as I walked with him towards the store, I noticed the car had pulled up onto the sidewalk, maybe five yards from the entrance to the store. The tires squealed slightly when she braked. A middle aged woman got out and went inside, her stride confident and quick. She was dressed well, wearing a leather coat, carrying a large purse, and had wrap around sunglasses covering what looked like a well-made up face. Her hair was impeccable.

I knew what she was doing. She was going in to pick up a prescription-the pharmacy was adjacent to the entrance. I put Des in a cart and decided that if I saw the woman when I passed the pharmacy, I was going to say something.

Sure enough, she was at the pick-up window of the pharmacy. As I approached I heard her complain to another customer that she was in a hurry.

Since Desmond was with me, I politely excused myself and then asked her why she felt it necessary to park on the sidewalk (had I not had Desmond with me, I would have been a tad more direct).

"Oh," she said, "I'm not feeling well."

I didn't break stride as I said that I felt it wasn't her right to drive in such a manner, and that there were plenty of parking spaces close to the store. I distinctly heard her say "I don't care what you think" as I went away.

I was pleasant in the ten seconds that our encounter lasted. She was full of shit, and she's fortunate that I didn't say that to her.

I've been around long enough to know that ignorant people like that shouldn't bother me, that I should let other people's ignorance bounce of me as long as it does not directly affect me. Perhaps I've changed somewhat since Desmond was born. I don't know. I do know that I was quite happy to interject my opinion into this woman's day.

You're getting a prescription at Target, lady. Maybe spend a few more bucks and go to the Walgreens drive-thru next time.

Obviously this is just the tip of something building up in me for a while. Today was the tipping point. I am completely fed up with those who have this sense of entitlement, that they are above doing things like regular people when out in public.

And I am not going to have any problem pointing it out to the in a dignified manner from this point forward.

OK, on to the eleven. Again, this bit is 100% ripped-off from this guy. Go spend some time over there. He's much funnier than I am.

1. "Kiss Them for Me"-Siouxsie and the Banshees. "Banshee" is one of my favorite all-time words. I've had days when I've used it a thousand times. I'm quite thankful they didn't go with "Siouxsie and the Hags of the Mist." Anyhoo, I have a very specific memory of this song: August 1995, a train traveling overnight from Paris to Berlin, and I was having an impossible time getting to sleep so I put on my Walkman (remember it was '95) and stared out the window into the dark. I recall having a dream but felt as if I was still awake, and in the dream my grandmother, who had died the previous month, was telling me about all the things I was going to enjoy on my first-ever trip to Europe. This song grew louder and louder as she talked, and at the end I couldn't hear her anymore. I opened my eyes and realized this song was playing on my headphones. It was so odd. Ergo, I think about my grandmother every time I hear this song. Clunky, yet oh-so sentimental.

2. "Put Your Records On"-Corinne Bailey. This songs plays over the end credits of Venus, which is the only movie that has made me cry in the theater. I absolutely lost it at the end of this movie, partly I'm sure because it was a Saturday matinee and there were perhaps six people in the place. Long story: I love Peter O'Toole, for many reasons, one of which is that he reminds me of my father (the two men could not have been further unalike, so go figure; must be the Irish). The end of this movie was like saying goodbye to an old friend. I got hooked on O'Toole in 1981 when I saw My Favorite Year, and when I mentioned to Dad how much I liked him he introduced me to his earlier roles. Wow. I go into a coma every time I try to watch Lawrence of Arabia. And how is it possible that O'Toole has been nominated eight freakin' times for an Oscar and has never won? Blows my mind. He lost for this role to Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland, which brings to mind my primary beef of acting awards: which is harder-playing an actual person or a fictional character? Whitaker was great as Idi Amin, but O'Toole was brilliant. Acting should be different from imitation. I haven't seen either Milk or The Wrestler, but I bet Mickey Rourke deserved an Oscar over Sean Penn. I'm not taking away the achievements of actors who can portray actual people (Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth and Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles come to mind) but it seems to me that if you have the ability to watch hours and hours of a person in public, you can eventually nail their mannerisms perfectly. Oh well.

3. "Seven Veils"-Peter Murphy. Finally! I just now figured out what bugs me about Peter Murphy's voice-it's exactly what I would expect Hugh Laurie ("House") to sound like if he sang. This has vexed me for a while, the "there's something I'm not catching" feeling I get every time I hear Peter Murphy. I like it, don't get me wrong, but for ever more I shall always hear him and think "House sings!!!"

4. "New York"-U2. I'm a little perturbed at how U2 has adopted New York City as its own since 9/11, which would lead me to think that this song was written after. Nope. It came out almost a full year before. Maybe Bono and the boys wanted to avoid the whole Irish-Boston stereotype. Don't know. I've never seen the allure of New York myself, though I definitely love Boston.

5. "White Room"-Cream. Quick! What Scorsese movie is this from? I'm sure he used it somewhere, sometime. Can't find anything. It was used for white I-macs in 2000. Apparently Scorsese used the same Rolling Stone's song in every single one of his movies, but I'm not telling what it is.

6. "Binky the Doormat"-REM. I wasn't much of a fan of New Adventures in Hi-Fi (the CD on which this song appears) for the first seven years it was available (except for the song "Electrolite", which reminds me of wandering alone in Galway, Ireland in 1996, but that's another list...); however in June 2003 I got hooked while driving up the Pacific coast from San Francisco to Seattle. I think of the redwoods; I think of the mountains in Oregon (I detoured a bit east around Eugene); and I think of things I saw that I find hard to describe. I spent the better part of three days listening to this CD while driving, driving, driving. This is also the only song I've ever heard that talks about Astroglide, but then I don't get out much.

7. "Lady Madonna"-the Beatles. Did you know that the Beatles have approximately eighty-seven songs with a woman's name in the title? I can thank Sporcle for that. Warning: do not follow that link unless you have a ton of time to waste and L-O-V-E useless information. Like how many songs the Beatles have with a woman's name in the title...

8. "Our Love"-Rhett Miller. "He still found time to write to her/His heart exploding words." I discovered Miller around the time that I met my wife (a long story chronicled here-as if I haven't given someone enough to read yet) and it's uncanny how much this song has nothing to do with it. Almost every other selection of the CD does though, including one that I simply will not go into detail about. Ever. Don't ask.

9. "River"-Enya. Enya's songs are impossible to describe because 1) I don't speak Gaelic; 2) her titles have nothing to do with the music itself. Am I supposed to think of her floating on a tube down the Liffey as I listen to this? I have no idea.

10. "Buffalo River Home"-John Hiatt. There is a radio station in Santa Fe, KABC, that I stumbled upon in 2004. It reminded me of a station that went bust in Chicago in the late 1970s-WEFM. As far as I can recall, WEFM never played a song I didn't like (oh to be twelve and discovering rock n' roll), and in the 2 days that I spent in Santa Fe listening to KABC, it never played a song I didn't like. This happened to be one of them. I was never so happy to discover upon returning home that KABC streamed live over the Internet. I was in radio heaven for the better part of the next year. And then one day the stream disappeared. POOF! Gone. It's never come back. Every once in a while I write the station BEGGING them to start streaming live again but I never got a response. Anyone who has connection in Santa Fe and can phone in a favor will have my enduring gratitude.

11. "Tokyo Storm Warning"-Elvis Costello. This is the song I imagine playing in the background as I drive around busting a few heads in an effort to crack the case that has been vexing me for most of my career.

Anyone make it this far? Martin Scorsese has put "Gimmee Shelter" in every one of his movies.

09 March 2009

Saying adieu to the land of the quadrupeds

Desmond is a walker.

Late to the party, my boy finally decided over the weekend that enough was enough. He teased us for several weeks, standing up on his own and taking the occasional clunky step, but resorting to plopping back onto his butt and shuffling off to Crawl Town.

Now he's a pro. Less than twenty-four hours after stringing together multiple steps, he's discovered that he is so much quicker when he stays upright. Clomp clomp clomp. When I'm in the basement and he's on the first floor, it sounds like he is riding a horse. Clomp clomp clomp. Overnight, his feet have transformed from sponges to anvils.

I can't help but laugh at the moments when he takes one step too many and hits the deck. Down goes Desmond! It's just so funny to see him inching along on his own one second, and sitting on his keister the next with a "what the heck just happened?" look on his face. He hasn't hurt himself-yet. I know it's coming. Boom!

(OK, in the course of writing this I've seen the Subway commercial where the "Five dollar foot-long" musical breaks out when the guy can't decide what to order. This is the most obnoxious thing I've seen on TV in a long, long time. Please stop it.)

03 March 2009


Let's go over this again, shall we?

The Fundamental Rule of Parking Lots clearly states that once a car has pulled into a parking space, that car owns said space until the driver pulls out of it. For example, when someone returns to their vehicle after, say, spending thirty minutes in Target, they do not have to move their car until they damn well want to.

The rule also states that any driver that pulls next to a parked car, intent on taking the parking space when it opens, and expresses impatience at the pace at which the car already parked is leaving, shall be referred to as an Asshat. Additionally, if multiple open parking spaces exist within fifty feet, he/she/they shall be elevated to the title of Festering Asshat.

(Side note: although not encouraged, if the driver of the parked car is in the process of putting their fourteen month old son into his car seat when the Asshat makes its presence known, it is acceptable to fling a dozen rotten tomatoes against their windshield.)

So let's review: a car in a parking spot is entitled to that spot until it leaves. The driver is not required to acknowledge anyone interested in said spot, nor give a rat's ass about them. If the driver of the parked car wants to have a pizza delivered and eat it in the car, they may do so.

Any driver skulking in a parking lot looking for a space should assume that any and all parked cars are empty, and will be remaining there for an undetermined amount of time. Move along.

Don't be an Asshat. At least not while I am around.

02 March 2009

Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle

I want to write about the Republicans and their weekend hoedown, but I am still laughing too hard. My. Sides. I haven't been this entertained since the Christmas where I got my first chemistry set.

So I default to a random eleven. As always, these are actual songs on my i-pod, and this idea is a blatant rip-off from here. He's much more prolific and funny, so I'm going to pay any royalties.

1. "Crystal Wrists"-Peter Murphy. I'm watching David Letterman at the moment, and they just showed a woman in the audience who is wearing the exact same scarf that my wife has. For the first five years that I knew Kristen, I never saw anyone else in that scarf, but in the last year it's been all over the place. If you saw the video of Sarah Palin pardoning a turkey before Thanksgiving while another is being drained of it's blood in the background, then you've seen the scarf. I saw file video of Paul Harvey attending an honorary street-naming in his honor over the weekend, and he's wearing the scarf. I've seen it one hundred times since October. I can't find a video of this song anywhere on the web, but if one exists, I bet Peter Murphy is wearing the scarf.

2. "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville"-REM. None of the members of this band strike me as scarf-wearing types (and we have an official theme!). I used to live in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park in the mid-90s, and every time I left my parents house after a visit my nephew would sing "Don't go back to Oak Park" over and over again, not because he didn't want me to leave, just because he liked to try to drive me crazy every single moment.

3. "Rebel Rebel"-David Bowie. Love this song. "You got your mother in a whirl/She's not sure if you're a boy or a girl." I once tried to write a parody of this called "Rubble Rubble" (about the Flinstones-Rubble is Barney's last name), but it didn't go well. This was waaaayyyy back in college and someone else suggested "Rubble Rubble" be about The Hamburglar, and proceeded to sing it, with every word being "Rubble", since that is all the Hamburglar ever said. It was hysterical. You had to be there.

4. "Intervention"-The Arcade Fire. This song has been waning on me for a while. Too much organ. Takes itself way too seriously.

5. "Is It Any Wonder"-Keane. As much as I like this song, I couldn't tell you another one by this group to save my life. And wouldn't that be interesting? I was walking in a dark alley when all of the sudden a thug popped out from behind a dumpster, stuck a gun in my back and said "Tell me two songs by Keane or your toast." There's a point in this song about an empty spire in an old cathedral, which has always made me think of the Sagrada Familia, which is the strangest building I've ever seen in person.

6. "Black"-Pearl Jam. How much more popular would Pearl Jam be if Nirvana never came along? Both groups have (had?) the annoying habit of giving songs titles that appear nowhere in the lyrics (um, but not this one...), which no one should have been allowed to do once Led Zeppelin broke up.

7. "Penny Lane"-The Beatles. If I had to pick a street in my hometown to try to write a song about, it would probably be "West", and it would be pretty boring. I grew up in a really boring place.

8. "Chicago"-Sufjan Stevens. The ultimate road-trip song, I think (and I thought that well before Little Miss Sunshine). The first time I heard this song while on the road I was driving out of Joshua Tree National Park in the middle of an August afternoon. It was 110 degrees, I had been in the park for a couple of hours, getting out of the car every once in a while at points of interest. In the time I was there I never saw another human being. I did, however, see five scorpions.

9. "Heroes"-David Bowie. I remember this song from the concert for Freddie Mercury in the spring of 1992 at Wembley Stadium. Bowie had just finished singing "Under Pressure" with Annie Lennox (who had painted a mask over her eyes and looked likean over-sized performing raccoon) and launched into this as soon as she sauntered off the stage. I don't know who played guitar on the studio version, but Brian May played it like it was a siren at the concert. He's probably the most under-rated guitarist in the history of rock-and-roll.

10. "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us"-Robert Plant and Allison Krause. I have long ignored the Grammy Awards but was pleased mightily to see the album this song appears on (Raising Sand) win mutiple big awards. It was the best album of last year, hands down, and I've read that they are in the studio recording a follow up. Hard to believe when I was discovering Led Zeppelin in the early 80s that my favorite Robert Plant performances would come almost thirty years later.

11. "The Unforgettable Fire"-U2. I was wondering if they were going to pop up, since I am watching Letterman mostly to see them. The band is appearing on the show every night this week, and as pretentious as they can seem at times, they are still probably my favorite. I haven't heard anything off their new album (well, at least for another two minutes, I think) but I have to assume that it will be worth being up this late for. I have to see them live one more time-saw them in '93 on the Achtung Baby tour and in '97 on the Pop tour (the giant lemon? Not a good thing; the '93 show blew the other one away)-but have missed them the last few times they have been on the road.

I completely forgot about the scarf after number two!