Saturday, March 31, 2007

Crayons + Tunes = Good Times


Yesterday, in the company of my elusive art-buddy Afrodite, I saw the work of Martin Ramirez. The crayon musings of a psychopath, it is said. My opinion of the reputedly mute and underweight artisan remains TBD. If I were a bigger aficionado of trains, convex lines or Madonna I might lay my bent in some direction. As it stands, I am more excited by my new leg vise purchased on eBay from a blacksmith in Nebraska.

Kyle Corbett played some mean guitar in the main gallery later on. To improve your viewer experience, I would have swiped one of the outstanding photographs from his web site, but they are copyrighted.

During the introduction patter, I thought Kyle said one of his two percussionists played the "bass." I figured the instrument was some kind of new-fangled bass drum.

Turns out, Kyle had said he was playing the "vase." And a very nice vase it was. Tall and sort of African-looking.

The Jungle Book Rocks

When I was four, I got a Jungle Book record player for my birthday. I loved it. I would shimmy around and leap from the bed with great height and flair. My dad taped a dime to the top of the needle to stop it from skipping when the floor shook.

Tune Storage and Cataloging : Not Like Today

I stored my music collection in a special little box with a flip top and a brass latch. It had originally belonged to my pop. As a teenager, he would buy the old 45's that got replaced in jukeboxes. This was in the Bronx. The "buying" part is probably alleged.

I would track my favorite tunes by making strange squiggly notations on the record labels with a Sharpie marker. Which is why the records currently have no value and just one example of my mother's brinksmanship: she boldly entrusted her 4-year-old with a stash of Sharpie markers.

Top Ranked Tracks

Five-star favorites included Dead Man's Curve (Jan & Dean), Do You Believe in Magic (Lovin' Spoonful), Rama Lama Ding Dong (The Edsels), Lady Willpower (Gary Puckett and the Union Gap), Blue Moon (The Marcels), Splish Splash (Bobby Darin) Up on the Roof (The Drifters) and Mickey's Monkey (Smoky Robinson).

This was before I discovered Little Anthony and the Imperials.
What poetic lyrics!
What a soulful beat!
I was enraptured.

Little Anthony and the Imperials on the Playground

I pictured Little Anthony as a fifth grader. He liked to sing while swinging on the swingset. Little Anthony hit the high notes while the swing was high up in the air. He may also have had a trapeze. He would break it out for the really poignant numbers.

When I got Little Anthony's greatest hits album for Christmas, I noted the purple duo-tone image on the cover depicted four Black men in white suits. I thought it was a strange choice for cover art until I realized that the singer of Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko-Bop was actually one of those men. He did not swing. At least on the swingset.

The Subconscious Rocks

Sometimes a song comes on an oldies radio station. I have no recollection ever hearing the tune before. But I know every single word. I know all the breaks, the bop-bop-bops, and the doo-woo-wops.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Beck Befuddled by Tricky Consonants

So I hear this song on last.fm and I love it. It is tagged as "Crap Hands [Bonus Track for Japan]" by Beck, a native Californian.

Beck ~ Crap Hands [Bonus track for Japan]

I can't find the mp3 anywhere. Finally, I google a list of every Beck tune ever made. I locate my song. Except it's called "Clap Hands" on the album released here in the states.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's Contagious

Before you read this post, you may want to check out Hazardous Waste After Band Practice and then Belt Me.

-------------------------
From: Andrew
To: The Band
Sent: Tue Mar 27 14:40:35 2007

A black velvet jacket-thingy was found in the basement last night. There is an odd smear of icky-goo on the shoulder.

Based on size and flair of style, I am assuming this is Stacey's.

Seriously people, what the hell? Do I have to build little wooden cubbies for you like this is kindergarten or something?

If this continues, the penalty for being a bad band member will be to wear all of these lost articles while we practice. Right now that is a hell of an outfit.

-------------------------
On 3/27/07 6:00 PM, Marc wrote:

The jacket is not mine. The goo will will require further investigation...

-------------------------
On 3/27/07 8:00 PM, I wrote:

Black velvet? Gawd. I don’t think I have anything black velvet. Especially not with goo. If I try it on and it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Belt Me

Before you read this post, you may want to check out Hazardous Waste After Band Practice

-------------------------------------
From: Andrew
To: The Band

So there is a brown belt in my basement. I am assuming it is Marc's.

This is becoming a regular occurrence. Marc, do I need to make you a checklist?

-------------------------------------
From: Marc
To: The Band

Your dog Umlout needed a marker to remember me by. I spoke with him (at great length) and we agreed when you finallly noticed it, I could have it back. Of course if you need me to "marc" a piece of paper I can do that. No belt needed.
Ttfn.
M-

PS: Dude. Get out of the basement. It's Saturday night.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Stink Attack

When I open my car door, a whisper of yellowness seeps from the interior. After I get in, the stench blossoms into hardcore bad breath mixed with rot.

I have taken the following actions:
  1. Removed all the Cliff Bar and gum wrappers in the side pockets
  2. Thrown away every empty Propel bottle and coffee cup on the floor
  3. Evacuated the pieces of broken fax machine that have been strewn across the backseat for six months
  4. Aplogized profusely to anyone lucky enough to be my passenger
But the stink remains, undefatigable. My next step may be drastic. I may go to the carwash.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Daylight Savings Time Sabotages First Date with Future Husband

Daylight Savings, 1995. I neglect to "spring forward."

At 12:45 EST Tom calls me. I tell him I will be at the restaurant in fifteen minutes. He says he has to go back to work in fifteen minutes. In the nicest possible way, I am forty-five minutes late.

But then Tom remembers Eric works around the corner and turns out, is free for a quick nosh. They have their own first date instead.

This might be why Tom is Eric's favorite person. But that's another story.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Birthday Interview with a Grammy


How old are you?
I am 92. It's terrible.

What advice do you have for the youngsters?
Take care of your teeth.

What do you think about Mark Twain's hair style?
It's ok. I'm indifferent.

I heard you got your very first massage for your birthday. How was it?
The masseuse said my underwear was very small. How often can you get a massage? Your mom said only once a month, but I'm sure I could go more often than that. I also got two boxes of chocolate, Turkish cotton tea towels (very soft), cider, and face cream. I'm getting English Breakfast tea sent to me, but I didn't get it yet.

Would you wear platform high heels if they were comfortable?
No. High heels are not speedy.

If you were going to learn to speak another language, which would it be?
Spanish. The face cream I got for my birthday even has Spanish on the label. Plus, I heard it was easy. I would have learned French but my French teacher wasn't really French. How can you learn French if your French teacher isn't even French?

When was the last time you went bowling?
Two, three years ago. I bowled over 100. Everyone said I did really well.

Why don't you have a shed?
I don't need a shed.

Would you consider getting a cat?
No.

What is your favorite color?
Medium blue.

Recently, you learned how to use a computer. How do you like being a techy?
Everyone needs a computer for the email. I tried to pay a bill online but I took a break. Sometimes my computer talks to me and tells me politely when I'm doing something wrong. I appreciate that.

Are you addicted to the computer?
No not me. I'm too busy. I know a woman who spent hours on the computer every day. But I think she had some kind of illness. And those blogs are awful. The ones that come at you. Pop up ads, I mean.

Is there anything you are looking to accomplish in the digital era?
A man I know said you can put your pictures into the computer. And the blogs. To read the blogs.

What do you do with your photocopier?
Golly. I photocopy a lot of things. Articles. Letters. Other people's letters. I have a whole pile of things to photocopy. I don't know what I would do without my photocopier.

Which do you like better, hard pretzels or soft pretzels?
The hard pretzels are bad for your teeth. You have to take care of your teeth. When I lived in Lancaster we used to buy brokers at the market.

Lancaster is no Wall Street. What do the brokers there do all day?
You know. Broken pretzels. They were cheaper. I never put mustard on them.

What is your goal this year?
To go to Owen's graduation. I have gone to every one of my grandchildrens' high school and college graduations. I haven't missed one. And to meet my great-grandchildren. That's a big goal.

What do you think your great-grandchildren should be named?
I don't know.

How about Carl?
With a 'C' or a 'K'?

A 'K.'
Ok, that's better.

Let me ask it this way: What should the babies NOT be named?
Certainly not a bible name.

Like Mary?
Oh. Mary is ok.

Or Seth?
Oh. Seth is ok. I meant not like Blanche.

Is Blanche a bible name?
Well it's old fashioned. No old fashioned names. Your great-grandma Thomas was named Bessie. Like a cow. Mary Bessie. I don't know why they didn't call her Mary. She didn't like her name. She told me. I wouldn't name the babies Paul or Pauline, either. Or one of those new trendy names like Jordan.

Isn't Jordan Whitney's middle name?
Oh. Well it's ok if it's a family name or a middle name. Holly's real name was Helen Mar. I like that. But Phyllis couldn't pronounce Helen, so we started to call her Holly. I wouldn't name a child Rachel either.

How about a cat? Would you name a cat Rachel.
No. I would not name a cat Rachel.

What was the meanest trick you ever played on anyone?
I would go out to the mailbox and steal Holly's magazines. I would hide them in my clothing. I would hide books in my clothing too. One time I left Holly's book out in the rain. Some sappy Gothic romance. You know what I mean.

I know what you mean. Did she ever find out and beat you up?
We never came to blows. We did fight.

Do you agree that Edie Sedgewick could be considered the quintessential "It Girl?"
Andy Warhol died from appendicitis. I never knew that until recently.

Did
you ever dissect a frog?
No. I don't even like to cut up earthworms. Poor little things.

Have you ever fired a side arm?
Yes. In Finland.

Really? So you were at home on the range?
There were a lot of mosquitoes.

Did you ever smoke a cigarette?
Yes. I was keeping a child in Lancaster and the woman smoked and she left cigarettes lying around. I don't remember if they were Marlboro Reds. I didn't like it. There was a girl in college who smoked. The only one. She wanted me to go along with her as a lookout. She would have been expelled if she'd been caught.

Did you ever smoke a peace pipe?
I pretended to because I was kind of at the end and when it finally got around to me... I mean they were wiping it off between people but...

But you didn't inhale?
I would like to say that the interviewer is very charming.

Are you trying to distract me from this line of questioning with gratuitous flattery?
You like poems that rhyme. Unlike your mother. She doesn't like poems that rhyme. She told me she didn't like a poem by Ogden Nash. She probably doesn't even like the Cat and the Hat. I forgot to ask her if she liked the Cat in the Hat.

Does she think that rhyming precludes profundity?
I bet she doesn't even like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. But your mom is fun. She's very interesting. She read a whole book while she was here.

Did she hide it in her clothing?
No.

Tom and his PS3: Gran Turismo Makes Me Nauseous

Tom interviewed his biggest fan following a recent display of driving excellence:

Do you want to watch a replay of me, racing around the course in my best time ever?
No.

Are you sure?
Yes.

You don't want to watch me
using the manual transmission? I learned how to shift.
Do you want to watch me, carsick and barfing on the sofa?


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Friday, March 16, 2007

On the Phone with Dad and his Computer - 1:30:12

"How can I see Tom's YouTube movies?"

"Ohhhh. It's You... like the second person pronoun."

"Ok. Well, I have to subscribe. Looks like I need a user name. I'm going to try FDR."

"What's this 'word verification safety feature?'"

"Jeez. Now I need to enter my user name all over again. How do you work this word verification feature? They sure make this complicated."

"After all that, it said the FDR user name is taken. I'm going to try yz2526. Do you think anyone else has that user name? It's the last two letters of the alphabet, letters 25 and 26. I think I'll remember that. I'm surprised no one else has this user name."

"This is the seventh time I'm trying to overcome the word verification feature. After this, I'm done. Is this an i or a t? The line is crossing underneath. What do you think?"

"Wait. I already saw this video. Why does it say zero plays?"

"Yeah, I can get back to this page. It's in my history."

"In 1999, I took some pictures of when we skiied to the top of High Point but I can't find them. Have you seen them around anywhere?"

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Congrats, You're an Asshole in the Gym


Here's my suggestion for a new addition to the Asshole Notification Card series. And my very own rant.

* * *

Now you can confront assholes in the gym. Let the *new* Weight Room Asshole Notification Card do the talking for you.

The card reads:

Congrats, You’re An Asshole

Assholes, such as yourself, rarely can wrap their heads around the idea that their little shenanigans are clear indicators of assholeness. So, here are some clues for you on your journey of self-improvement:

  • Contorting your body in strange out-of-control violent twitching spasms because your little girly self can't actually lift all the weight you pulled out of the rack.
  • Piling up many sets of free weights around your person like you're trying to build a fort.
  • Leaving your weights on the floor while you flirt with girls who are pretty sure you live in your mom's basement and she picks up your discarded underpants so you never learned to clean up after yourself.
  • Sweating all over a bench and not wiping it off because you're a rock star and the girls go wild over your verile hairy self.
  • Wiping off the free weights or the bosu balls even though you haven't left a trace of sweat, while other people wait, clearly enraptured by your slow deliberate trek over to the paper towel dispenser and your subsequent brisk, peppy rubbing.
  • Dropping weights, followed by some looking around to see who's watching you lift weights that your tiny and tender wrists can't hold onto long enough to set on the floor.
  • Loud grunting reminiscent of how you might shake out a turd.
  • Reading In Touch magazine while parked on the ab crunch machine, failing to notice that the ab crunch machine does not feature one of those bubble hair dryers and that the YMCA is not a beauty parlor.
  • Loudly gossiping about some tasty girl who's "wastin' it savin' it for marriage or like whatever" with your clique of penis-yentas by the water fountain.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Raccoon Gang Tags Basement as Turf

(If you haven't already, you might want to check out the The original Raccoon Chronicles first.)

Throwin' up Signs

I knew they were back when Tom launched himself out of bed on Tuesday at 3am. It was a fiery explosion of flying blankets, flailing legs and lightning speed. If Tom had low blood pressure, it might also have been a medical emergency. Luckily, his blood pressure is in the target range for his age group.

Tom returned ten minutes later, his expression grim. He sat on the side of the bed and clutched his head between his hands. They.Were.Back.

Tom recognized the tell-tale signs... disarray and rumpled, chewed up tax returns. The raccoons had sprayed their muddy gang colors all over the basement. Screw the IRS. Coons play bill collecta in our heezie.


Watch out Derrick Jeeter

By Thursday, we learned something new. Raccoons are concerned about their athletic performance. They go in for lean protein, eschew transfats. They really like Cliff Bars. Chocolate Brownie ones in particular. Turns out, they like them more than cat food, more than peanut butter. But not as much as chambord-filled chocolate barrels.

Tom Moonlights in Vending Machine Maintenance

And raccoons are smarter than your average Cliff Bar muscle-bound muncher. Two nights in a row, Tom scurried downstairs to find the bait gone and no one in the trap. Tom muttered darkly about the raccoon vending machine he had been connived into restocking nightly. Crafty little wankers.

Trix are for Tom

Not to be outsmarted by a rodent, Tom strategically surrendered day three. He did not re-bait the trap, needing some time with his thinking cap to mastermind a plan. And that night, he caught his first Coon of the season. The raccoon growled menacingly. Tom was only slightly intimidated.

But this ploy only worked once.

His latest bait is a Milky Way duct-taped to the back of the cage. He is also sprinkling flour around on the floor so he can track the raccoons' movement circuits. Tom is definitely smarter than a rodent.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Andrew Post : Essential Vocabulary

------ Forwarded Message
From: Andrew
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 14:40:28 -0400
Subject: For Stacey

Read this today and figured you should know about it.

Garagenous Zone
(noun) - The area in which your garage door remote is effective.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Tom Comments on his Mornings Full of Sunshine


"The cat hasn't smacked me in the head at 6am once this week. I wonder what he's been up to. Probably surfing for porn all night. Kitty porn."

Thursday, March 08, 2007

They're Here... (again).

Happida Birthday Kerry!

March is the month for birthdays of important people. Some of these people are notoriously slippery and camera shy, which is why the press has only been able to locate one photo on file.

What one word describes you right now?
Magari. That's Italian. In case you didn't know.

What does that mean?

I'll tell you later.*

Very cryptic. Any highlights of this year in your life?
I got a Sgt Pepper coat. I love it. It is beige with red trim. I also went to Ireland.

On a Magical Mystery Tour?
No.

Interesting. I happen to know that you, being one quarter Italian and one half Jewish, appreciate food. Can you comment on your favorite fare over the past 12 months?
I like mushy tart food. Always have. I decided I don't really like meat. Or hoagies, generally. I figured out how to buy meat in small enough portions so Robbie can have his own portion and I can eat something else.

Is there anything else you would like to mention about your heritage?
I don't need a GPS in my car because Italians are natural navigators.

Which is why Columbus named the inhabitants of the New World "Indians." I can see that. What has been your favorite color this year?
Melissa interjecting: What kind of stupid question is that?

This is what we call "color commentary." Melissa.
My favorite color is purple and it has been since I've been a little girl.

What are you going to do on your birthday?
Have dinner at my mom's. Get a facial. Do lesson plans.


* The word magari is often translated as let's hope so, I wish, would that it were true, or even perhaps.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Tom and his PS3: Almost Gran Turismo

"You don't get to pick your car until you buy the game. And it's not a Toyota Corolla, by the way. No, it's not. I'm driving a 1995 Suzuki Cappuccino."

"I'm stuck in the gravel here."

"The only reason I ran over the camera man and that little girl is because I was giving it too much gas. My tires were spinning out."

"Look out people!"

"The crowd is cheering for me. I mean, everybody I didn't run over yet."

"I put the brakes on. It took me a while to figure out how to put the brakes on."

"It was like I was drunk there at the beginning and now I'm sobering up."

"That was neat."

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Birthday Profile of Lynn:: 50 Years is a Long Time


I had the occasion to interview Lynn at her birthday celebration at Chakra "More Salt is Better" Restaurant in Paramus.

Speaking of meat, what do you remember about walking the streets of Newark as a young girl?
My mother would call up the butcher around the corner ahead of time. She'd tell him what she wanted and give me some money. She would watch me walk down the street from the stoop of our row house in Newark. I must've been maybe five years old. As soon as I turned the corner, I would see the butcher waiting for me outside the door by his shop.

Is it true that you cannot recall whether you fast-danced or slow-danced to Led Zepplin's Stairway to Heaven in high school?
Yes. That is true. I do recall wearing bell-bottoms and two boys getting into a fist fight over me. Maybe we started out slow dancing and then, depending on the boy, we would start to fast dance during the "as we wind on down the road" jam.

Awkward, I agree.
Really, I liked Jethro Tull better.

Men with flutes. Understandable. So tell me about the time you built a shed.
I didn't really build the shed myself. I watched Michael, Tobia and Neil build the shed. Why are you asking me about building a shed?

Ok then. Let's move on to your experience with mind-altering substances.
I never had much experience with mind-altering substances. I recall one time I wouldn't jump off a diving board because I thought the surface of the pool was solid glass. Another thing: I consumed a lot of vodka drinks at bars in the city there for awhile.

How much did one of these so-called "vodka drinks" cost back then, in the eighties?
I can't remember.

So is it safe to say you had enough experience with mind-altering substances that you once wouldn't jump off a diving board because you thought the surface of the pool was solid glass and you have absolutely no memory of key aspects in your life?
Melissa, interjecting on Lynn's behalf: Objection to the question. Lynn, please do not answer.

What advice would you give the younger generation?
Turn off your iPods and start interacting.

Like with interactive video games?
No, that's not what I meant. I was talking about appreciating the value of the human touch. And to enjoy this life. You only go around once.

So you disagree with the heroic founding mothers and fathers of America? The very principles that established this country?
What?

The original colonists were Puritans. On the Mayflower. But forget about that. What's your plan for your next fifty years?
To give back.

That's why you gave your cake to the hostess just now?
Yeah. Are you going to mention anything about Michael, my honey?

Like how he used to hide brussel sprouts in the radiator?
Melissa, what is she writing down?

Lawyer Joke


What do you call a sworn statement by Melissa's boyfriend?

An affiDavid.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Two Tales of My Underwear


My Underwear at the Gym

I was lifting free weights with my iPod clipped to the waistband of my pants. The gym was full of big guys and their tattoos. I yanked up my Pod to switch the song to Polyamorous Friend by Breaking Benjamin. Which rocks.

Unfortunately, the clip was stuck in my underpants so I gave myself an enormous hot pink wedgie. So much for my gym cred.


You Are Not the Only One with Nuts in Your Pants

The kitchen designer asked us why we want to separate the pantry from the laundry room. Currently, our foodstuffs are stored within an armslength of the washing machine.

I said, "Because I am tired of finding mixed nuts in my underwear."

The kitchen designer was not sure how to resond. Neither was Tom. He kicked me under the table, which I was not happy about.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Show Will Go On : Behind the Music

Before you read this, take a look at The Show Will Go On)

From: Stacey
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 11:45 PM
To: Tracie

What was that bounceback again?


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Tracie
Sent: Monday, February 26, 2007 11:47 PM
To: Stacey

This is an automatic reply. I am out of the office on business all week returning next Monday, March 5. If you require assistance, please contact my associate, Eric Cohen.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Tracie
Sent: Monday, February 27, 2007 7:00 PM
To: BAND

I just checked my email and who are you calling a bounceback?!
Is that some euphamism for someone with a large resilient derriere?


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Stacey
Sent: Monday, February 27, 2007 7:45 PM
To: Tracie

I was trying to get your bounceback message because I deleted it and then realized I needed it for the purposes of accurate reporting.

I can get my bounceback to practice Tuesday or Thursday.