Friday, November 4, 2011

A crisis of conscience

I blame London, I really do. Ever since I set foot just outside of Paddington Station and had a whirlwind 5 days in which I became a full-fledged Anglophile (I mean good god, I watch Youtube clips of the British X Factor and debate whether or not I should download episodes of the UK's version of Jersey Shore, “Geordie Shore”, because their characters seem equally as deplorable and thus wholly entertaining, plus they're British so its cooler!), I've been infected with this weird since of FOMO, or the beloved Fear of Missing Out. Missing out on what? That I don't really know. I mean, traditional weekend FOMO usually takes shape in regrettable bar decisions when a friend had a great time elsewhere or why I basically refuse to stay in one a weekend night, apart from extenuating circumstances. This particular life FOMO if you will is a bit more murky.

This wanderlust is nothing new for me. In early 2009, I was wholly certain that I was going to move to New York in 2 years, barring some sort of unleavable job or relationship. Despite a lack of both of those, that feeling subsided, I started grad school, and life basically proceeded, albeit on more acceptable terms, both professionally and socially. Maybe it was because I threatened to leave Chicago somehow rose to the challenge and made me remember why I lusted after the 312 in the first place. But this feels a bit more fundamental. Ive always considered myself, in an extravagant bit of internal arrogance, to be extraordinary and unusual, cut from a bit of a different cloth. Thats why I felt the need to leave the general vicinity for college when most of my extended family remained close and why, despite my familial closeness, returning to Milwaukee was never an option, at least in my best laid plans. And my life right now just seems too eh. I don't date nearly enough for lack of enticing candidates, I don't play/make enough music cause half the time, between work and school, I don't feel like expending the requisite energy, and I feel like I'm sick of having nothing memorable to share when people want a life update.

How this would be solved by moving to London or NYC...I frankly have no idea. And my solidly Midwestern upbringing and emotional centering therein may be the reason it seems so sexy. Walking around London, it was like my great need to have a meaningful 20's experience was shaking me and screaming “This is it Justin! Think of all the terminology you'd pick it up, think of how wordly you would be, you could date, nay, marry a girl with an accent and a foreign passport. Your children could have dual citizenship and then even if you moved back to Milwaukee you would be irrepressibly awesome and unique...forever.” That honestly was running through my mind at times as I sat on the Tube or walked in Hyde Park. I felt like even 2 years abroad would change me for the better. I wish I wasn't such a myopic dumbass in college, I could have gotten, you know, good grades and going to LSE for grad school could have been a real thing...sigh. That damn hindsight. But I just constantly find myself afraid of the ordinary. I mean, its a testament to my parents and my relatively blessed upbringing that this nonsense really is a concern, but I feel like my end of the bargain, in exchange for all they did for me, is to take everything to another level.

So here I sit, 35000 feet above Pennsylvania, en route to NYC for a much needed weekend away. Not away from anything or anyone in particular, but away from my own clinically insane analyzation of my own life. It will be good for me. New York always seems to center me. For all its glamor and allure, I always find myself calmed by the ordinariness of life and how in many ways, its not all that different from Chicago. I mean, for gods sake, I don't live in Tulsa, I live in the 3rd largest city in the country, and really one of my favorite places anywhere.

I think the solution for this is just to do something rash. I've been waffling with my desire for tattoos and my aversion to permanence for years, probably about time to bite that bullet. Whatever it is, I refuse to let December 31st arrive with me saying “Another year and I neglected to put a stamp on 2011 they way I promised.” Fuck that noise, these last 2 months are mine.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Can blogs collect dust?

I don't even want to make some joke about how long its been since I last wrote something, but its been eons. Maybe if I had some sweet vintage typewriter in which I could rat-ta-tat-tat out something tangible with an unfiltered cigarette betwixt my lips, then I would be more inspired, but lately I just haven't had it in me. I blame school.

Being in grad school is all fine and dandy, but it really seems to suck the creativity out of me. Any time I could be sitting punching out a blog, maybe writing a song, I find my conscience guilting me into reading chapters or being academically productive in some way. Thats the worst part about it. Not the class hours, not the studying, the feeling that invades your downtime. You know that amazing feeling you get in the early post collegiate years where you don't have studying or tests hanging over your head, and when you come home at night you can be absolutely worthless? Well that is gone, and I miss it more than the ghosts of my childhood. How can I indulge in shitty reality TV when I should probably working on the 18 page marketing plan due in March. My heart tells me to choose Snooki over SWOT analysis, but my irrepressible drive to be wealthy, famous and successful punches her in over-bronzed face and I feel that sinking sense of guilt. Enough about that nonsense, this is a happy place where we riff about the absurd and mock poseurs and jagaloons.

Speaking of posers, is there anymore automatically ridicule-worth electronic item ever created than the Bluetooth headset? I know the jokes have been beaten to death like a middle schooler's penis, but I still marvel at the chasm that exists between how cool Bluetooth users think they look and how absolutely douchestastic they appear.

Acceptable places/situations to utilize a Bluetooth:
-In the car while driving.
-While performing open heart surgery
-Teaching jazzercise class?

That's it. Walking down the street with your bedazzled Bluetooth (yah illiteration!), nope, you look like a cyborg or a tour guide at the Magic Kingdom. Leave it in your car's cup holder and call it a day, k?

Hey dicknose with the floppy hair loudly telling your friend "Yeah dude, just got back tonite. What a trip!" while at the grocery store, you can push a cart with one hand and your disgusting gut, you don't need to be hands free.

Dear intimidating looking African-American gentleman on the train, your Bluetooth fails at providing anymore bling than that quarter sized earring you got at Claire's, also, you don't look badass, if anything, it takes away from your quite aggressive looking demeanor.

Oh, guido at the gym, I'm not forgetting you either. Rather than be impressed at you executing your 12th set of bicep girls while gossiping away like Blair Waldorf, I instead want to drop this weight on your foot and probably crack the pedicure you are hiding under there.

My dad has one, sadly, that he makes the mistake of taking out of the car and using at times. If I ever hear the background noise of the NYC streets (where he loves to use it), I resist all urges to either hang up or call him out for probably wildly talking with his hands, cause its HANDS-FREE!!!

In this New Year, as everyone makes resolutions and reevaluates their seemingly unsatisfactory lives, I too have come to some new conclusions. My resolution is to no longer say "ok" when people ask how things are going. None of this hedging garbage. If things are good, I will respond with some derivative of "great", "grand", or "fantastic". And if things are garbage, as things can be at times, I will frankly tell people. None of this "not too bad" when I actually should respond "I am looking for small porcelin trinkets to break". People who sincerely care about how things are, will appreciate my candor and perhaps offer a friendly suggestion or one of many compliments I am certainly due. But if they are just asking out of habit/inane social courtesy, they may be taken aback and perhaps not ask such a dumb question in the future. Thats what I like to call a win win.

Alright, my final point in this rambling, run-on sentence utilizing masterpiece, is a startlingly realization for me. I no longer hate Ben Affleck. I know this is probably shocking for all of you, but I never really cared for him. He insisted upon himself. Didn't like Mallrats or Chasing Amy as much as most people. Thought Pearl Harbor was lame, Armageddon...blah, and oh yea, he made Gigli. I also believed him to be a bit of, how should i say, a douchelord. However, he had a large role in the creation of my favorite movie ever, Good Will Hunting, and he was great in Boiler Room. So he had an outsiders chance of returning to my coveted good graces. Well, he directed Gone Baby Gone, which was awesome, and I really enjoyed the Town which was basically his baby. Add to that my recent realizations that he actually seems pretty cool (maybe that fat bitch Hennifer Yopez just dragged him down with the gravitational pull from her ass) and I would wager he is probably a cool dad. Unfortunately, he has a little gremlin child so he is probably not beating her ass in video games without remorse as I envision cool dads do, like my own father did. He is probably busy preventing her from trying to kill and eat the neighbor's dog. But I digress, Ben Affleck is officially cool in my book (partially by proxy from Matt Damon).

Musically, its really been all about relistening to bands I have unfortunately neglected. Right now, I am just DEVOURING the first Hit the Lights record as well as The Spill Canvas. Two of my favorite bands from my early music obsession days. Listen to Save Your Breath and Sincerely Yours and finally, These Backs Are Made for Stabbing from HTL and Bracelets and 3685 from The Spill Canvas, and if you don't like at least 3 of the 5, then we need to have a serious talk. Catch you on the flip side playas...

"Take your time, find your spine, I swear you'll be just fine..."


Friday, November 26, 2010

Not about that Gobble Gobble

Jeez, where does the time go? Its been 2 months since I posted? Oh my word. I'll try not to compensate by writing a gargantuan novel and just get back into a writing flow.

So another Thanksgiving has come and gone. Much conversation has been had between me and others about their particular loves for Thanksgiving and my competing lack of enthusiasm. For me, it really breaks down to a lack of harmony between traditional Thanksgiving foods and my discerning palate. For a holiday which is almost exclusively centered around food, this is akin to not loving gifts and attention so you don't like birthdays, or you love continuous and uninterrupted postal service and delivery, so you hate President's Day.

Let me break this down, traditional food by traditional food:

Turkey: Some people absolutely fucking LOVE turkey. For me it is pretty far on the protein scale ranking below such consistent favorites like beef, bacon, and shellfish and slightly above duck testicles and geoduck. The white meat is drier than your grandmother's *&^ and slightly less flavorful. The dark meat, my personal preference, while a bit more delicious tends to be kind of greasy and thus I won't dabble in more than a piece or two. FAIL.

Mashed Potatoes: I don't have a dislike of mashed potatoes. I merely prefer my potatoes in other forms, you know, tots, fries, or kugel. If the traditional dish was mashed skin on red potatoes or garlic mashed potatoes, then I would be singing such a different tune. Additionally, this starchy mess goes hand in hand with gravy, which I will speak to in a moment.

Corn: I love corn. This is actually a win. But I eat corn 1-2 a week throughout the year, so I refuse to venerate before Thanksgiving for the mere presence of this veggie.

Cranberry: Every Thanksgiving I attend seems to have that cranberry shit from a can. Its like a poor man's Jello and tastes like some sort of congealed fruit garbage. I am obsessed, like Justin Beiber fan obsessed, with cranberry juice, yet I cannot get into cranberry goo or cranberry sauce.

Stuffing: I have had stuffing in various incarnations and I can't enjoy any of them. So its bread that you put some nuts/meat/fruit into and then stuff it back into the turkey? So its basically like when penguins eat fish and regurgitate it back up for their young? I'll just have a roll please.

Finally..Gravy: What a failure of an item. Most relatives of mine cover their entire plate with gravy, flooding every bit of turkey and side item with a floating mess of congealed fat and velvety flavor. To me? It looks gross, tastes just as bad, and makes me feel like I am about to undergo a quadruple bypass, but not in an awesomely satisfied sort of way.

But all that being said, I do like being with the fam, not having to work, and watching the Cowboys choke away sure victories. Huzzah!

On a more disturbing note, I had one of the most uncomfortable exchanges with a street urchin last week. As I was meandering down the street towards Walgreens, I passed a man who was mostly unremarkable, save his pair of gold hoop earrings, ragged appearance, and horrifically lecherous smile. As we converged, I believe I heard him murmur, mumble, or otherwise moan with pain? pleasure? hunger? I thought nothing of it and carried on with my purchase in the store. As I walked out and back from whence I came, I noticed the homeless looking lothario hovering in a doorway. As I passed, he uttered the following phrase, in a voice that could only be described as a combination of Jafar dressed as an old man from Aladdin and Herbert, the old pervert from Family Guy...

"I am gonna just explode if I don't tell you. You are absolutely gorgeous..."

It took everything I had not to run away in a combination of revulsion and terror of him attacking me with a rag full of chloroform. My looks have been called many things...boyishly good looking; "you're a freshman in college right...oh you're 23? My bad"; smoldering, etc... but never "gorgeous". So to have that first time be from a crusty old candidate for molester of the year, needless to say I was a bit disappointed. I would honestly rather eat a whole bowl of gravy smothered canned cranberry than go through that exchange again.

So its pretty well known that I am always on the lookout for the hottest new joints in the rap game. I trade multiple texts a month with a good friend from college sharing our favorite new beats and hottest verses. But I can say, I don't think I've been excited about a new emcee in a long time as I am about Nicki Minaj. She has pretty much exploded into pop culture, but I was enthralled from the first time I heard her on Lil Wayne's Sweet Dreams remix on the No Ceilings mixtape. Then she started dropping disturbingly good verses on Kanye's Monster, her absolutely retardedly awesome verse on Trey Songz' Bottoms Up, and her bit in 2012. Her new album is dropping soon and I am both nervous and excited. She has been so perfectly spot on and ridiculous with all of her guest spots that I have the same expectations of her new releases as I do for people like T.I. and Lupe Fiasco who I only expect fire from. Nicki seems to have her shit together and has an almost Lady Gaga like feel for her musical character and identity, so I look forward to being surprised with tracks I did not expect. She is both gritty and a bubble gum R&B pop princess. Love it. Bottom line, unless you hate rap (which is totally not awesome) or like really terrible rap, you totally need to be learning to love Nicki Minaj, cause to quote a great man, "She go haaaarrrddd."

"I aint Mike Jack but "This is it", Wo Wo Wo Boy I'm everywhere,You like ballon boyMama you was never there"


Thursday, September 9, 2010

An Ode to the Uncomfortable...

Dear Bathroom Attendant,

Seriously, you make the simplest everyday task of using the restroom at a bar into a clumsy ballet of awkwardness and forced gratuities. Now I understand your purposes: to keep the bathroom clean, stop people form urinating all over the floor or starting fights with dispensed hand soap, as well as inevitably preventing people from a most cherished act, fornicating in filthy bathroom stalls. However, that all takes a backseat to your more commonly executed functions, namely turning on the sink, giving me soap, and dishing out a paper towel to dry my miraculously washed hands, all actions I clearly would not have been able to do myself. Is this what it was like to have servants back in the day? Ive become to rethink my position of jealousy to robber barons and their household staffs of 20 and rather think it must have been unpleasant or awkward at times.
Once we get past the ridiculousness of you turning on the faucet for me or dispensing soap, we get to the most unpleasant situation of all, your tip basket. Note, it is almost always a basket, with some soft hand towel lining the bottom. If I was able to use that particular towel to gently dry my hands, maybe its a different story, instead I am stuck using the industrial grade paper town that has gravel and sandpaper infused into its wax paper like texture. But I digress. Your tip basket glares at me as I cleanse my soiled hands, imploring me to pay tribute. But for what? I appreciate your hustle sir, but if I tipped for idly standing by as I pursue a normal night at the bar, then I would have to dish out singles to all those sweaty mouthbreathers who exhale heavily from the sidelines as they watch my get my grind on out on the floor, cause they make me feel about as uncomfortable.
Some of the more entrepreneurial attendants have quite an impressive spread of colognes, gum, and assorted candies. These gentleman I have a bit less disdain for because they have maneuvered into a sort of bathroom attendant/convenience store hybrid. I also have no problem "tipping" these chaps as I see it as more of a traditional, if overpriced, purchase to keep my breath minty fresh or mask the odor of a packed establishment full of sweaty CBS (common bar skanks). I prefer these little setups to other bathroom commerce centers, say, the vending machine that always manages to be foul and sticky looking, distributing prophylactics most likely manufactured during the Nixon Administration.
Finally, let me express my most significant annoyance with your overall presence: your seemingly constant ability to always be on the phone. I never thought it was possible for one to possibly spend as much time on their cellphone as a Middle Eastern cabbie, but no, you have them seemingly surpassed. I have come to realized that teenage girls have been savagely misrepresented as comical scapegoats of excessive cell phone usage. At least when my public chauffeur is chatting away, there is a possible time change involved and his conversational partner may be sitting watching TV midday, and its in the relative quiet of a cab cockpit. But you, Mr. Attendant, who the hell are you chatting with at 1:30 in the morning? Better yet, at 1:30 who has nothing better than to have a conversation with you, punctuated by the flushing of urinals, slamming of doors, and who knows what other cacophony of bodily sounds fill a Men's Washroom. All that nonsense aside, how am I honestly expected to tip when you can't even hang up the phone to squirt me some soap? Child please.
In fairness, there are the gregarious, usually older, gentlemen who transcend the awkwardness and even elicit a chuckle from my cold cynical bathroom outlook, but they are as rare of the CBS who is pure of heart as well as pure of loin. They also tend to have climbed the ladder to be working in baller steakhouses and the like, not grubby bars where the presence of an attendant is as baffling as a preference for Bud products over Miller.
Now Jeeves, spritz me with some of that Acqua di Gio and hand me a piece of your finest chewing gum so I may be off. I'll see you again, unfortunately, in about a half hour...


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sweating like Patrick Rafter

So as tomorrow is September 1st, many people with a complete lack of understanding about solstices and seasonal cycles, consider the summer over for all intensive purposes. Well, I guess the labor day weekend is many people’s official end to summer, but you catch my meandering drift. And while this is cause for alarm for some people, tearing of clothes and gnashing of teeth for others, I kind of look at it with a casually arrogant indifference. Summer’s that drunk girl you were making out with at the bar who was just a little to sloppy, and as she is dancing/stumbling/walking out the door and begging you to follow her, you realize you will be just fine without, plus she bit your lip and you can taste a little blood. Good riddance.

I don’t know what it is about summer that leaves me so nonplussed about its departure. Well, actually, there are 3 things now that I think about it.

1) I love fall. College football, track jacket weather, Halloween, homecoming dances, wait, I mean HC dances suck. Either way, the end of summer signals the beginning of fall, my favorite season, so its all good. Once you got to college and realized summer break was secondary in debaucherous fun to the actual school year, fall suddenly became so beautiful siren that meant it was time to start stumbling around Uptown and passing out in bushes, without fear of parental disapproval or knowledge. Now, post college, its still beautiful emotional crescendo. People running, arms flailing, headlong into the best month of the year, tanned and full of irrational exuberance. Thats how I like to imagine fall.

2) Summer weather gets to be a bit of a bitch when you have to do adult stuff like go to work, run errands, and, you know, be generally presentable and not look like the obnoxious missed behaved kid at the birthday party, all sweaty and disheveled cause they'd been running around constantly. However, once the temperature rises above 80 and you toss in a splash of humidity, I become horrifically unable to seemingly regulate my own body temperature and sweat through all my clothing with the greatest of ease. So its particularly fantastic when I arrive in the office already looking like a hot mess and then get to sit and try not to roast in my own juices. Thus, the arrival of cooler weather is more than welcome. I anxiously look forward to being able to sit in a bar and talk to a girl without looking like an obese judge from a Civil War themed film, dabbing my sweating brow with a handkerchief, trying not to say "I do declare the weather in South Carolina these days is mighty stifling." Its just not a good look for me. Save my few trips to the beach and trying to run through the neighborhood kid's sprinkler, I have more use for a cooler temperature anyways.

3) The final beef I have with summer...the expectations. I think this is where the let down of summer lies. Everyone enters summer with their grandiose plans. They want to go to 4 museums, the beach 3 times a week, go on 6 different roadtrips to 3 different continents, have no less than 5 summer flings, and get the perfect tan, all while drinking to excess. Thus as late August rolls around, they wildly panic because their list is only 25% complete and thus either a)feel the need to scramble to accomplish tons of things in a short time, or b) most likely sulk as they feel the summer wasn't a complete success. Now this isn't everyone, but I've heard similar sentiments from enough of my friends that I feel it is a fairly common diagnosis. Summer is much like prom, if you just go into it looking to have fun, it probably will be. But if you expect it to play out like a John Hughes film, you may be disappointed. Fall on the other hand is an open book. Playing with house money, going out on Saturday night after an awesome Friday.

I really don't have anything against summer, I love summer. Not Summer from 500 Days of Summer though. That movie was awesome but what a completely heartless ice queen bitch she was. Ive had relationships end that didn't make me as angry as her whole character. Wait what was I talking about? Oh yeah, Fall. Its awesome and its coming, hurrah!

So I'm still reserving judgment on Drake. Part of me says he is incredibly overrated, his flow is slow, and there are a bunch of other rappers far more deserving of the accolades and hype he gets. However, I do think he is a clever lyricist, and above all, the dude can ride a beat. The new hotness, Ready for You, is no exception. I fancy myself a bit of a beat connoisseur. Not only in the fact that I judge a rap song by its beat more than its lyrical content, but to the obsessive extent where I excitedly explain to people my favorite 5-7 second snippets where the 808 kicked in, or where they faded the synth line just a little. So this new jam really has it all, cause the beat builds so perfectly and Drake does what he does and lets himself stay within the beat and compliment it. For that I give him props and look forward to spinning this all, thats right, fall bitchez. Enjoy. Oh yeah, who the hell is DJ Alex? Frankie J seems to love him, but he really needs to stop creeping on my new Youtube jams.

"I could produce for your future, I could co-direct your past..."


Monday, August 16, 2010

Who's that skank talking to my brother?

"I was serving it up to her, still all friendly like. You know? I hadn't brought it predator, wolf style yet. She like, spoke Italian and Spanish. Totally, like, a girl on my level bro..."

I can't properly articulate how much I wish I blithely quoting Jersey Shore, not retelling one of the most pathetic gym conversations Ive had the pleasuring of overhearing. How can people honestly talk like this? I mean, if this is how you recant the tale of a scintillating 1 AM courtship, I can't fathom what sort of prose spills out of your mouth when you are wooing this exotic dame.

I never realized that it was possible to nearly choke on your own spit, but I came damn close. Its even harder to pretend you weren't reacting to the sleeveless orangutan who was rubbing the super original Gothic cross on his meaty bicep as he looks over midstory. I finished, you know, busting out my 250th bench press rep and briskly walked away to ponder what the hell I just heard. It also made me think, as pretty much everything ridiculous and trivial does.

Last week, I was at my cousin's wedding and talked to one of my other cousin's husbands. And naturally, being in his early 30s and married, he was eager to chat and hear stories about my dating trials and tribulations. Over my 5th gin and tonic, I was telling him how I realized I had grown up just a smidge, cause I could no longer hit on dumb girls. (Now I am not some intellectual snob, umm usually, but if at this point in my life, not matter how gorgeous you may be, if you're wearing a Hollister tank top, my attempts at wit and humor are probably not gonna work and its going to be frustrating for me. Id ask you to read this blog, and you would stop a few lines in cause you don't understand the word articulate and I don't have an Taio Cruz playing in the background.) After he stopped laughing at me and introducing me to the bridesmaids as The Most Interesting Man in the World, he leveled. He said the thing he doesn't miss at all about dating is the moment where you realize you just aren't into the other person. It was a pretty dead on point. I mean, you all know what I'm talking about. You lock eyes with a seductive stranger across the bar, you amble over, excitedly start chatting about what beautiful weather we've been having, and suddenly, you realize that you've have more symbiotic and meaningful conversations with your little cousin Spencer, and he still thinks that its possible to be a Lion when he grows up. I mean, this is a new thing for me. My 20 year old, hell, my 22 year old self was still pretty much believing that if a girl was pretty, she had to have a myriad of qualities that would keep me entertained and interested infinitely. I'm pretty sure I was in love with Natalie Portman's character from Garden State for a solid 3-4 months cause she was pretty and I liked how she phrased certain characters...who cares that she wasn't actually real. This whole point was driven home as I talked to one of the bridesmaids later that night. We began to bond over our mutual love of silly bands when she informed me that all she knew about relationships, she learned from romantic comedies. Like literally, in all sincerity, she took life lessons from Hope Floats or some nonsense. 20 year old Justin would laugh, pretend that he found that endearing, and plan what hallway I would awkwardly try to make out with her in. Newly 25 year old Justin drained the rest of his drink and tried not to throw himself off the balcony out back. And still, I feel like I am light years away from the maturity that would make me ready to participate in wedding festivities I witnessed early that night. Maybe thats why I was seated at a dinner table with a motley crew which included my 12 year old cousin...FML

The other thing I discovered is that no matter how much I've "grown and matured", I still regress in rather rapid fashion when I'm around my sisters and my family for an extended period of time. Less than 24 hours after having aforementioned mature discussions with my cousin's husband, I'm attempting to give one of my little sisters a wet willy as she sleeps in the car or splashing another with water as we are waiting in line for a Smithsonian museum. Maybe by "too much family time" they are really alluding to the fact that you transform back into your prepubescent self. I couldn't tell you the last time I was around one of my friends and I felt the need to kick one of them in the back of the knee and chuckle as their leg buckles, but with my family, my sisters and I felt that it was the best game ever and participated in it frequently. Mind you, my sisters are 14, 16, and 21, its not like any of us are little kids...except at heart, *sigh*.

I'm clearly a sucker for pop punk music with sappy lyrics about girls and undertones of how much they suck. But I've gotten close to critical mass. I have so many great pop punk bands from the last 5-7 years, that I don't find myself discovering any new ones, or really wanting to. I just cycle through, unless something catches my ear. Well, I came across a band from the ever prolific New Jersey scene which stirred me. Seriously, for all the ripping on NJ, that state produces amazing music, whether it be the Boss, or countless amazing bands like Saves the Day and Midtown. Well "I Call Fives" has slide into that realm for me. Tons of energy, awesome melodies, and some stripped down acoustic gems. They remind me alot of Hit the Lights, who crept up on me with their hook-filled badassery and then promptly changed lead singers, meh. More than I Can Handle is amazing and This Town is fantastic as well. Their full band stuff is frenetic and catchy, but the acoustic stuff sets them apart.

"I will make this out, to be more than I can handle, baby I never had a doubt..."


Sunday, July 25, 2010

At 12:00 we go live...

So its been a long time since I've posted. I told myself I would go on a self-imposed hiatus until I finished my first grad school course cause the times I would be tooling around on a new blog could probably be better spent reading or taking notes for class. Those two things I have always been completely remiss to do, and they were never a strong point even in undergrad. Now I am officially finished with my first grad school class, done till the fall, I can retrospectively look back at it and begin to assess what is probably the most significant thing going on in my life right now in terms of potential impact. Oh also, I got an A. I felt like such an academic gangster.

Going back to school is exciting, a bit intimidating, and a bit foreign feeling all at the same time. On one hand, my motivation for doing so makes it feel a bit more tangible and pressing than some of my "lacking" intentions when I was at Miami which makes it way more easy to get fired up about some of the more mundane and troublesome aspects of higher education (aka actually preparing outside of class and studying). At the same time, its sometimes far more difficult to adequately dedicate the time and mental resources to the material that is necessary when you just finished a full work day and just want to watch garbage dating shows on VH1.

The weirdest thing for me about going back to school (other than all the classes being at night after work and getting out at 9) was the varied demographics of the classes. I always associated college courses with a bunch of 18-22 year olds, with maybe the assorted non traditional student tossed in. I remember a couple of Psych courses I took at Miami featured a 40 something townie going back to school who was the prototypical class gunner (always asks questions, has to be heard, more obnoxious participation) on steroids. She always had to incorporate her life into things, and as a 21 year old asshole, I cared more about finishing class so I could go to happy hour or leer at new freshman "talent" than how she worried her son has Asperger's (he totally didn't, he was just quiet) or that her ex-husband might have antisocial personality disorder (surprise, he was just an asshole!) Anyways, I digress.

My class was largely late 20s or so, I think I may have been the youngest in there at 24, but there were definitely a large number of older individuals. For example, a group member of mine, Dan, was in his late 40s. This was very interesting cause it was a completely foreign and unique perspective on post graduate study incorporated with business that was actually pretty helpful for me. There were multiple times where I completely bitched about my current job situation during group discussions and his advice about patience, staying driven and hungry, and riding out seemingly incompetent managers, while complimenting my drive and intelligence was one of the highlights of the class. After my last 2 years at Miami were primarily made up of me and my direct aged peers in addition to tons of younger students, it was cool to have classmates who, while still my "peers", had a lot more I could learn from. Also, so many people were married, WTF, why is everyone in the world settling down! Will I never find love? *sob*

Of course, as with any academic setting over 10 people, there were the token outspoken douchebags. I could go on forever about them, but I will highlight my 2 favorites. First, I will call Mother Russia. Mother Russia was originally from Siberia and had lived in the States since undergrad. He had an odd accent and basically sounded like Kermit the Frog...if he had sucked some helium and grown up behind the walls of the Kremlin. This name dropping cosmonaut asked a question withing 10 min of class starting in EVERY CLASS. These questions were about as relevant as me mentioning that today at the gym I benched my own bodyweight 8 times (and I totally did, aren't I a beast?) Once, in a discussion of reward structures, he mentioned a meeting he had at "my former employer, a pharmaceutical company, Abbot Laboratories (pronounced lay-bor-ay-tories). This meeting had nothing to do with anything, he just wanted us to know he worked there. Needless to say, there was no stirring in my loins or any rush of blood to my head with excitement knowing I was in the presence of an ex pharmaceutical salesmen, so I guess he was about as successful with that as his homeland was at creating a long lasting and sustainable communist government. Boom roasted.

The other chap, less pervasive, but no less annoying, I'll call Smug Asshat. SA was in my assessment group for a leadership skills assessment in the second class. In this assessment we were placed into small groups to simulate various meetings in a corporation, like discussing possible CEO candidates, or deciding on various customer service initiatives. Well SA realized that points were given for keeping people on task and outward expressions of teamwork, so he went out of his way to cut me and others off (as we began to start the meeting and discuss the topics at hand) to basically read the titles of the meetings and the rules. Imagine the annoying moderator at the start of your standardized tests. He would recite this meaningless drivel with a shit eating grin and then be largely silent for the rest of the discussion before pulling the same pea-brained stunt to end the meeting. He tried to do it in class as well when we discussed things as a large group, but he couldn't master 40 other people with his need to please Big Brother. He also gave a cultural presentation, for extra credit, on business in Brazil. As he gave a decent, but Wikipedia-esque, presentation, he was asked if he had ever done business in Brazil. Oh no, but his wife was Brazilian so he knew all about it. Oh and by the way, he told us Brazilians are the most beautiful of all women, here is a picture of his wife and him in Rio to prove it. Now I don't normally make fun of people's spouses, but SA was a condescending cock holster with no real reason to be as such. So lets just say that when viewing he and his wife, in matching blue shirts, I thought he was standing next to the large blue globe on the Brazilian flag.

So class was all fine and dandy, but probably the most significant recent event took place last Wed. What was that you ask? The Silver Anniversary (25th) of my birth, naturally. Now for whatever reason, turning 25 kind of freaked me out. My friends, most of whom have been 25 for many months, or gasp! years now, mostly told me to shut up cause I sounded ridiculous. But its weird, probably because I am now out of my "early 20s." It also probably has to do with the recent influx of the class of 2010 into Chicago. There are now 2 graduating class between me and college, and I am now officially in my "mid-20s", so I feel like there is some gravity to that fact. Will it prevent me from being an idiot and acting like I am still a youthful 23? Probably not, but I was thinking about the fact that I am now officially older than my mom was when she had me. And that is kind of nuts. It all kind of forced to me to look at my life and the fact that now, more than ever, I have a responsibility to decide where my life is going. Not make major life decisions or do something drastic, or anything in any sort of specific time frame for that matter. But to realize that I, not anyone else, are responsible for my own happiness and I'm in the drivers seat. Life is not about finding yourself, its about creating yourself. It seems lame that it took a birthday to finally process that, but I have always looked at my birthday as more of a benchmark than New Years. Its officially the start of a New Year of my life, and I might as well steer my ship to a heading I want to be pointed at. And while I can say that I am far from content with how everything is currently sitting in my life, now, more than in years past, I can say that I am not just bitching to anyone who will listen, and rather trying to fix it myself.

Wow, that may sound like the disjointed ramblings of someone with far to much time on their hands...cause it is. Its summer and work has slowed down immensely. I basically sit and ponder like all great philosophers when they worked petty jobs. I want to get drunk and write great novels at work like William Faulkner did, but my "mom-ager" (yeah thats a manager/mom hybrid, what a professional company I work at!) claims I need to focus on work more. This doesn't mean I get any new projects or that my time is more effectively filled. I still have nothing to do, I just must be extra sneaky in my killing of superfluous downtime, and not have open Word documents that may be stories, letters...or college papers.

So the last week I have been spinning some "older" bands I haven't listened to in a bit. And buy older, I mean, I listened to them in High School, way back in the 2002 and such, on those shiny disc things. The Starting Line. No band has ever written such simplistic lyrics that so accurately and emotionally capture the dynamics of relationships (or lack thereof). Also, the band depicted on the only T-shirt I ever purchased from Hot Topic (aside from all my vampire accessories...natch) But I stumbled upon a B-side of the Starting Line that is so baller. Nights and Weekends. Released only on the Japanese version of their second CD, Based on a True Story. Japan? They seriously got this bomb track? I thought the Japanese were still obsessed with Cheap Trick and male covers of Whitney Houston songs. For good measure, my other favorite TSL B-side is their cover of Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now. Such an awesome band, can't wait for their reunion...

"She said, I've been thinking alot about you. Is it true, do you hate me?"