Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This agression will not stand

Unlike some people I know, I'm not too obsessive when it comes to my laundry. Because I wear the same six pairs of pants every week, I need to get it done over the weekend. I prefer to get it done on Saturdays because my summer Sundays are spent playing softball in Brooklyn. This past weekend I let it slide, figuring I would get it done during what I call "the Bachelor's Slot." When I've had to do my laundry using the one washer and dryer in the basement of my building, I've never had any trouble using the machines late on a Sunday night. Most responsible people have already done what they need to in preparation for the week ahead. But a carefree bachelor, not beholden to the same schedules as the typical responsible family person, keeps his own schedules. So, I threw the first of my two loads (yes, I still separate) into the washing machine just before John from Cincinnati went on (I'm beyond help at this point), figuring it wouldn't be a problem to wait until the show was over before throwing it in the dryer and starting my second load. Imagine my surprise and irritation (not to mention the throbbing headache this week's episode of JFC gave me) when I discovered that someone had removed my wet clothes and left them on top of the dryer so that they could throw their load into the washer. Not cool. I'm sorry, but where I come from you don't touch another man's soggy drawers. That ain't right. That dog won't hunt (whatever that means). This aggression will not stand! Not only did this mean that I would have to miss some of this week's Entourage (yet another horrible episode!) while I waited for the invader's washing cycle to end (guess where his soggy drawers were going!), but that I would have to strategically time the drying cycle of my first load in order to enact Phase 2 of my retaliation. And there was where I had the upper hand! Since I knew exactly when I had threw my first load into the dryer, I would know exactly when it would stop and be ready to accept my second load, bypassing completely the invader's drenched duds still lingering on the top of the dryer. My plan went off without a hitch (except for one strange moment when I thought somehow one of my socks had gotten mixed up with the invader's soaked stuff--as it turns out, I was missing a sock, but the stray turned up in my apartment. Thank God. Could you imagine the ignominy of having to ask the invader if he had an extra sock? The horror!). I even had the satisfaction of meeting my defeated enemy on the battlefield as my second load was nearly dry. "I'll be done in five to ten minutes," I said triumphantly as he poked his head through the basement door. He bowed his head silently and trudged back up the basement steps in utter misery. I've never folded clothes in a more buoyant spirit!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

John from Cincinnati

This may be the worst show I've ever committed myself to watching. I can't say I've enjoyed one minute of this show and yet I'm still watching (mostly out of loyalty to the guy who made Deadwood, I guess). I keep waiting for something interesting to happen and keep coming away empty handed after each episode. Some viewers may still be hopeful that some revelation will somehow make sense of all the nonsense we've had to endure so far, but I'm not. Right now, the only thing keeping me watching is a sort of morbid masochistic curiosity to see if it can continue to get worse (and also, obviously, the fact that I don't know what to do with my Sunday nights now that The Sopranos and Deadwood and Intervention are gone). This week's episode is going to be hard to top though. It ended with a sort of Sermon on the Mount-type speech ("gibberish" would be a more accurate description) delivered in a parking lot by John, the irritating idiot savant/Messiah who gives the show its name, and which may or may not have all been a dream. These comments by David Milch, the creator of the show, from the link above are telling:

"The tactics of fictive persuasion have nothing to do with reasoned discourse."

"The important point that I'm trying to make is that storytelling has nothing, whatsoever, to do with logic. Logic is a limping stepchild of the true processes of the spirit. It's an illusion. It's a defective little parlor trick. Associations are the way that we perceive. Electrical connections caused by the juxtapositions of experience. That's the way we are really built, and storytelling takes into account that truth."

No wonder the show has turned into such a wipe out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The Worst Song Challenge

For a while now, Tom Scharpling has argued that Neil Diamond's "Porcupine Pie" has been "scientifically-proven" to be the worst song ever (listen at the 2:21 mark of the July 3 show from The Best Show on WFMU archives). No doubt, "Porcupine Pie" is a strong contender (that disgusted "Oh, my God" gets me every time!). But then I heard Ambrosia's "Cowboy Star (Edit)."

In a possible bout of early senility, I've been exploring the "soft rock" genre that I avoided like the plague in my youth (America, Bread, Poco, Little River Band, Boz Scaggs, Gerry Rafferty, etc.). And, I have to say, the results haven't exactly been fruitful. Sure, there have been a few songs that I remembered fondly from my youth (the Bread hits in particular), but like that Horse With No Name, I've often felt like I've been wandering around in a soft rock desert. Eventually, this admittedly bizarre experiment led me to Ambrosia's Anthology. So, it was with trepidation that I loaded the cd tray a couple weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon. Except for "Biggest Part of Me" which I recognized as a sappy wedding standard, the rest of the songs on the cd left me feeling woozy, like I had been submerged in some sort of easy listening miasma. And then "Cowboy Star (Edit)" came on. It was so bad upon first listen that it actually distracted me from the newspaper I was reading. "What the fuck is this?!" I grabbed the cd case to determine the song's title. After years of listening to music, having heard countless songs, I was convinced that I had just heard The Worst Song Ever.

So strong were my convictions, I issued a challenge to Tom Scharpling: "I've found a song that's even worse than "Porcupine Pie." He accepted my challenge. Hear the results at the 2:47 mark of the same July 3rd show from The Best Show on WFMU archives. Although "Cowboy Star (Edit)" had a strong showing, Tom wants to continue the debate (I think he's having a hard time accepting the fact that there may be a song more reviled than his dear "Porcupine Pie"). I'll keep you posted on future developments.

Warren Zevon

I'm a fan of Warren Zevon's music, but after reading I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, I'm certainly not a fan of the man. What an asshole! This was pretty much what I thought continually while reading his life story (compelling mostly because you can't believe someone can behave so badly for his entire life). Not that I didn't suspect that he was probably an asshole in real life. I had read that he was a problem drinker. What I didn't know was the extent to which he would callously hurt anyone and everyone who came into his life. The amazing thing is that it didn't stop when he became sober. He just channeled his asshole energies in new directions (OCD, serial womanizing). And for a guy who worked very hard to project a tough guy aura (guns, booze, broads, hard-boiled crime fiction etc.), he spent a lot of time "tanning" and shopping at the mall (one of the manifestations of his OCD was an unhealthy preoccupation with gray Calvin Klein t-shirts). Also, the journal entries by Zevon himself hardly attest to the many claims to his genius elsewhere in the book (by far, the strangest thing in the book is a single quote from Gore Vidal, of all people, claiming that Zevon was "one of the most interesting writers of the era." Really?! Where the hell did that come from?) Vain, self-absorbed, insecure, Zevon covered all the bases in traits least admirable in a man. Which begs the question: Does writing a bunch of good songs give you a free pass to behave badly for your entire life? I say, "no," but judging the number of people willing to forgive and forget in this book, it seems "artists" get a little more leeway in life.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Voodoo Chile

Since my office closed early for the holiday, I had time to kill on Tuesday before heading to the radio show. I decided to get something to eat at Oddfellows in Hoboken and ended up having several beers afterwards. Oddfellows isn't really the type of place to hang out and have a few beers. The food is good, but the beer is overpriced like most of the places in Hoboken. My brand was discounted at $2.50, but a couple construction guys nearby had a hard time swallowing $4.50 for a Bud and left in disgust after one. I wasn't able to determine the source of the music in the background, but it was crap for the most part. I almost rejoiced when "Sweet Jane" came on, the rest of the music had been so bad. Then a red-faced drunk came in. He was obviously drunk, but the bartender served him anyway. As if on cue, Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" came on and the drunk went nuts. He started drumming along to the song on the bar. The funny thing was I was right there with him in spirit. Sometimes when I listen to Jimi Hendrix I think my head is going to explode. No other artist has this effect on me. I think it has something to do with the fact that I can't believe what I'm hearing. It truly is a mind blowing experience for me. Anyway, the pretty boy bartender is getting irritated by the drunk's drumming. Of course, I'm loving all this, waiting for the confrontation. The bartender asks him to stop and he does so for about ten seconds. Then he starts up again with renewed vigor. He's not just pounding the bar to the rhythm anymore, he's interjecting all sorts of assorted hand signals that only he can comprehend. I can't tell you how enormously entertaining this was to me. The bartender is really mad now. He removes the drunk's empty beer bottle and asks him to leave, "I asked you nicely the first time." The drunk knows the drill and doesn't make a fuss. Before exiting, he contorts himself, for our benefit, into some sort of dance move. I approve! Wait. What's this? Jimi Hendrix has morphed into Stevie Ray Vaughn doing the same song! Was that necessary? Hell no! Fucking music geeks with their dumb mashups!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Still brooding over the fallout from last week's flare-up at work. And the thing is the asshole author revealed his true nature in the second sentence of his e-mail: "The work is abominable and I would say the next book you have to pay us to do the editing." The word "abominable" should have been the tip-off. "Abominable" is a word favored by loudmouth blowhards the world over. Think about it. Have you ever heard any person use this word without looking slightly foolish as a result? It's one of those words people prone to over-exaggeration reach for in a pinch. The bit after the "A-bomb" is also absurd. The fact is my company already paid him to do the editing. But, it turns out, this is one of those genius authors (you'd be surprised how many I get to deal with!) who think that once their manuscript is finished, their job is done. They can't even be bothered to look at it again. And to top it all off, this guy also claims to be some sort of stock trading guru. Obviously, his "system" can't be all it's cracked up to be if he's got to deal with the "abominable" work we do.

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