Would you believe?

RIP Maxwell Smart.

Catalog of maladies

Unfortunately it seems I've got carpal tunnel syndrome in my right wrist and hand something fierce. I have not gone to a professional medical practitioner to receive this diagnosis. Like all of my many maladies, this one is self-diagnosed. I've been feeling this for at least a year now; for the most part my hand feels sore, but when it contracts to any sort of mouse-holding posture, pain shoots up from my knuckles. Sometimes I can't grip things with this hand without feeling pain, like when I try to open the jar that I keep the cat's food in.

My other current maladies include:

Sore lower back,
Sore shoulders (both of them,)
Sore neck,
Sore achilles tendon (right leg).

So for the past couple weeks, I've been feeling like I spent my previous sunday playing free safety for the Chicago Bears. In actuality, I'd say that I'm more built like a fullback or a tight end, but no matter. I'm in pain. Though I occupy the body of a twenty-nine year old man, I feel more like what I imagine a seventy-nine year old man to feel on a daily basis. I might go dip myself in a vat of muscle relaxant later. Mmm, muscle relaxant.


From the Not-So-Guilty Pleasures department:

The new Gorillaz album, Demon Days, is really great. I mean it. Yeah, they're the cartoon band featuring the voice of Damon Albarn, among others. The first Gorillaz album was produced by Dan the Automator, but "Demon Days" was produced in full by Danger Mouse, the man responsible for the notorious Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up The Grey Album, which if you didn't download it for free from everywhere on the web, you should get it from whatever illicit location you can find it, 'cause it's freakin' awesome. Although I'm sure you've already heard it, Jeff, sophisticated fellow that you are.

Anyway, Demon Days is a highly appealing and effective amalgam of international spy soundtrack samples, ipod ready breakbeats, british indie pop croons, moog-happy hooks, and backpack-rap flow. It just works, and how can it not, if you think about it? I mean, if you're not caught right away by the David Axelrod-esque bass clarinet fugue that opens the album, you're probably not going to be impressed by anything on here, least of which the smooth glitch-groove-pop of "Kids With Guns" or the hot 'n' heavy neo-soul flow of "DARE," to say little of the heavily-loaded hook fest that is "Feel Good Inc." So go listen to some doom metal or something, or whatever makes you feel funky.

Note to Damon Albarn: if Graham Coxon doesn't want to rejoin Blur, you should just retire that group for good. And let's just concede the tired Blur v. Oasis battle to Blur, although I'm hopelessly biased. Gorillaz is infinitely more interesting than anything you've tried to do as a "straight" songwriter in the past decade or so. Although I can't deny the power of "Tender," the leading track on 13, which just shouldn't work, damn it, but against all logic it does. Oh does it ever.


Phil Luciano responded to my letter with one sentence: "Thanks for the note." It hasn't appeared in print yet. Oh well. The undeniable force of my unimpeachable logic will remain confined to this perhaps thankfully unnoticed corner of the world of information. Where only Jeff will subject himself to its power. Thanks, Jeff, for being my bestest imaginary reader ever.


On the subject of Jeff, let me take this opportunity to give shout outs to my some of my favorite bands currently in operation, and mysteriously most originate from good ol' Peoria, IL.

Super 88
Probably the best time you'll have with liquor and rock in about a week. So there you go, Jeff, go check yourself out. And get to work on that solo LP.

Two Girls
A group in possesion of insatiable heavy metal grooves and a voice that could wilt a hardy sunflower, all in the guise of one guitarist with three amps that all play something different, a drummer that makes his two arms seem like eight, and now an auxillary percussionist that makes the whole thing dance-ready. Like Kyuss jamming with Kraftwerk, or "ZZ Top on Mushrooms," (and there's Mr. Hyde again, Sir Ubiquitous).

Brief Candles
The hardest working shoegazers in the world. When that album gets done, whenever it gets done, it will make ears cry everywhere. They will actually cry.

Subspace Platform Recordings
Home of the Occupants of Six Accross, the Hushdrops, and the Migration, which sound like a cyberpunk ZZ Top. Who knew those guys were so influential? Pretty soon, I've been assured, you can go here for an archive of Dollface, Peoria's erstwhile favorite sons.

The Bugs
How can I neglect to mention this guy? I mean, he steps over from interstellar space to Peoria, and for what? To create perfect pop for the unwashed masses of Central Illinois? Get with a cult classic before everyone else tries to join.

OK, enough of stroking my friends' egos for today.


Rub it in...when you win

So there's this guy, Phil Luciano, who writes "opinion pieces" for the Peoria Journal Star, and he just wrote a piece about how Sox fans are better baseball fans than Cub fans. He writes this in Peoria, Illinois, where paradoxically a majority of the residents are Cardinal fans, and where the minor league team is a Cub affiliate. His arguments were the usual Sox vs. Cubs drivel, read it here if you haven't heard it all already. I just couldn't help but respond. I do this because I'm feeling good, really I am. I am good, I assure you.


Since you were kind enough to point out to your eager readership, if in fact such a thing exists, the characteristics typical of Cubs fans, at least from the addled, bitter point of view of the typical Sox fan, I find it necessary to offer this addendum. There's one thing about Sox fans that makes them easy to spot: no matter how bad or good the Sox are playing, their fans can't help but compare their joys and/or woes against those of their hated rivals, the crosstown Cubs. This would make sense if the Sox were enjoying any sort of success in comparison to the Cubs. But the truth of it is, in the last century or so, the Sox haven't won a heck of a lot more World Series than their hated rivals; in fact, the last time the Sox had a chance to play in the Fall Classic, they decided to throw it for about a grand a man.

If the Sox win, take all the lumps you want on the Cubs--you'll deserve it. But the Sox aren't winning much more than the Cubs, especially not now, nudge nudge, so who do Sox fans have left to hurl their spitballs at? Why, the Cub Fans, of course. Here we have the second easily-discernible trait of a Sox fan: if Sox Nation has an enemy worse than the Chicago Cubs, that enemy is none other than the United States of Cub Fandom. And considering that those fans make a considerable showing at any ballpark the Cubs play at throughout the country, one can easily determine that the U.S. of Cub is large indeed.

So what's wrong with this teeming mass? Well they drink beer, for one thing. Since we're playing apples and oranges, there's no way we can call Sox fans hypocrites, unless we admit that the each concession stand across Commiskey--excuse me, U.S. Cellular Field, sells a different kind of beer. What would a stadium full of teetollers need with such a wide variety of beers? Especially in the American League, which used to be known as the "Beer and Whiskey League" in the halcyon days before prohibition?

Before we try to answer that unanswerable, let's consider what else is wrong with Cub Fans. In the eyes of Sox fans, it's the cardinal sin: Cub Fans are way too loyal to their team. They just keep buying tickets and showing up at Wrigley Field every day as though there was some sort of notable public event going on there--like a Major League Baseball game or something. Only a Sox fan, the most bitter, hateful, angry lot one can possibly encounter in baseball, would utter such incomprehensible drivel as this:

"When the Sox play lousy, their fans say so - and stay away from the ballpark. That's how capitalism is supposed to work." Phil Luciano

You're right about that--the Sox can hardly give away tickets to their games, much less fill their man made chasm of a ballpark. They have to resort to all kinds of base gimmicks to get people through the doors: half-price Mondays, dollar-dog Thursdays, fireworks on Fridays, and the upper deck, or as most people call it, the ozone layer, still sits empty. I bet Jerry Reinsdorf or Ozzie Guillen don't think this way, but you can bet that the few Sox fans that do show up on a typical night, or at least the ones who aren't jumping onto the field and bum-rushing umpires or opposing coaches, are pleased as punch that there aren't a whole lot of people hanging around at their ballgame. Because normal people just wouldn't "get" their baseball team. They wouldn't "understand."

Maybe if there were more "baseball fans" showing up at Sox games, then maybe the people of Peoria wouldn't have had chip in their own hard-earned tax dollars to help build that intimate little hang-out spot on the South Side of Chicago, U.S. Cellular Field, which of course was built solely for enjoyment of those few sensitive souls that give a darn about the Chicago White Sox, that little team that apparently can't. Hey, even Cub fans had to chip in tax money to build your monstrosity of a ballpark--that's money that could have been spent on beer, something Sox fans wouldn't know about, or spent on a ticket to a Cub game, which would be an expression of loyalty to the team they love, ultimately putting uniforms on players and players on the field. But Sox fans wouldn't understand that sentiment much, either. Sox fans are far too mature and austere to feel unabashed loyalty for a matter as trifling as baseball, although unlike Cub fans, Sox fans are "real" baseball fans.

Anyway, these days, as the leaves start turning and the Boys of Summer start leaving for points south, Sox fans have bigger things on their mind. They're too busy consoling themselves with the fact that although their team is well on their way to completing what will soon be known as the most notorious and tragic choke-job in baseball history, at least they're not Cub fans. They're "real" baseball fans.

Bedheaded, Cub Fan
Chicago, IL


I Should Care

I should care a lot more. I should care about my appearance. Look at me. I'm almost thirty, but how old do I really look? Thirty-five? And I'm not upset about anything, I look like that all the time. People have often said, "you should smile, it's not that bad." To which I've said, "I am smiling." The older I get, the more pissed-off and consigned I look.

I should care about all that, and I think about it a lot, but damn it all, I just don't care about it. That camouflage hat I wear is my favorite hat. It cost me three dollars. It's comfortable as all get-out. But it looks like shit, and it makes me look like a redneck. Well, number one, let's not harbor any illusions, I am a redneck. I was born and raised in central Illinois. The smell of pigshit wafting over the cornfields surrounding my neighborhood was a familiar smell, easy to become accustomed to, and encountered regularly. I know redneck when I see it, for I know from which I come. Is this hat a flag, some sort of come-uppance to the polite society I've gotten used to as I've mellowed and grown sophisticated? No, it's just a comfortable hat. And redneck is not something I feel the need to defend and flaunt. I hate redneck. I am redneck. I have grown to accept both of these statements as fact. I cannot and should not hate what I am, but I can accept it and move on.

But damn, I should really care a lot more about all of it. Everything. But there's only so much that gets through, here in my comfortable ensconsment in this corner of hip urbanity. I should be maintaining myself better, not only for this time, which like it or not appears to be my prime. And there's a problem in itself. If this is my prime, why is it so goddamned disappointing and boring?


Requiem for Dino

You know what bothers me about Myspace? The uncanny feeling that I'm stalking people, coupled with the more troubling feeling that no one is stalking me in return.

Now that my internet empire is in ruins, I will turn here to satiate my neverending desire to hear the sound of my own voice. Even when it's in html, it still sounds the same to me.

I haven't updated my website or my legit blog in a long time, and at this point I feel it's best to abandon them altogether. I do feel that certain posts on my old blog lost me a few job interviews, if not a few jobs. So take a look at me now...just another empty statistic. Since I just can't make the voices in my head shut up, I'm going to have to do my blogging here for the time being. It feels safe and obscure here, as though no one could find me here unless they really tried, and if they did, then enjoy yourself, you deserve it. But a word to the wise: if you take blogging seriously (and if you do, don't worry, I won't look down my nose at you), whatever you do, refrain yourself from adding the link to your blog to your resume. 'Cause they'll check it out. You'll be asking for it. Remember above all that the you being sold in a job interview is worlds apart from the real you, which like it or not the real you is getting a fair showing on your blog. Like Kenny Rogers said, "You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em."

Have you ever listened to Dean Martin's music? Have you ever watched a Dean Martin film? Ok, have you ever seen the infomercials selling tapes of "The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast" or "The Dean Martin Variety Show"? I saw Regis Philbin hawking the latter when I got out of bed this morning. I have been tempted many times to bite on these offers, and of the million different infomercials out there, these are the few that I stop and linger on whenever I encounter them. But this morning I got to thinking, what is it about Dean Martin that endures, if in fact there is anything?

First the music. Quick, name some of his songs; "That's Amore," ok, "Volare," check. What else? Well those are at least two hits, and certainly he was no one hit wonder. Take a listen to those songs, and what stands out to you? Great voice? Well there's not much wrong with it, but to these ears there's not a lot there to take with you, though certainly I always know it's him when I hear him sing. But listen to "Volare" in particular and tell me he wasn't just phoning it in. And the contrast between the ubiquitous and barbershop-perfect backing chorus appearing on most of his songs next to his own half-interested croon is often creepy, if not cringe-worthy. If forced to identify Dean Martin, I daresay that most people on the street would identify him as a "singer," but as a vocation it seems that the music of Dean Martin is quick on its way to the obscure dustbin of history.

How about the films? I'm sorry, but I can't do much better than name "Ocean's Eleven" without cheating for others...oooh, other than "Cannonball Run" I and II unfortunately I'm lost. I've heard of a bunch of these, but barring a month-long binge of Turner Classic Movies in my future I'd have to say I'm going to miss out on a lot of these. And I can say definitively I've never seen anything of his apparently legendary partership with Jerry Lewis, but if anyone can recommend one to me, be my guest.

Yet Dino does endure, and it seems that the only explanation available is the fact that, well, he was Dean Martin. He was in the Rat Pack. He wasn't nearly in the same league performance- or talent-wise than fellow charter Rat Frank Sinatra, and let's face it, he was light years away from matching the brilliance of Sammy Davis Jr, and you better believe I'm not kidding about that. One need no more evidence than from the recording known mainly as "The Summit," but here you can probably get the best evidence of Martin's legend. Here are the three of them: Sinatra, the superstar; Sammy, the super-talent; and Dean Martin as himself. Dino holds his own, and the legendary nature of this set bleeds from the speakers. Watch "Ocean's Eleven," but "The Summit" is something you can keep.