Saturday, December 31, 2005

Call Me Kitty IV

I normally don't like to post these too often, but the calendar dictates this one... the New Year's edition.

Dave’s eyes slowly blinked open... the room was dark. What room, he wasn’t sure. The cushions supporting his body would work for the rest of the night. Not feeling that his body would be synchronized with any further thoughts he might produce, he resigned himself to his confined, yet sufficient, quarters.

Sunlight sneaking around the edge of the blinds pulled his eyes open a second time. Like a police sketch artist, the sun slowly removed the haze and pulled each element of the room together into a recognizable picture for him. The room he had slumbered in was familiar, but the route he took there was currently unknown. That was good enough for now as the steady rhythm pounding inside his head made more sleep a very attractive option.

Noises from the direction of the kitchen brought him back a third time. Having already established his location, he tried to salvage the previous night from his damaged memory banks before rising and confronting anybody else sharing his flophouse that day. The memories that teased him would be from the last party of the year as he realized he was regaining consciousness in the first sunrise of the new year....

Careful planning disguised as altruism had afforded him the entire day off that New Year’s Eve. He had volunteered to work Christmas Eve while others spent the day planning family get-togethers and last minute shopping. In return a week later, Dave would get a day off and get a head start on the parties that would evolve that evening. A case of beer that afternoon would evolve into a good buzz that he would maintain into the evening, as well as provide a few cans for any merrymakers that might want to join in that day. A bottle of Wild Turkey would be on hand to help anyone evolve into the party guest that every host dreams of entertaining. Some Schnapps might also help distract any females with a disdain of the fine Kentucky bourbon or sudsy mugs typically tossed back by the male species.

The self-prescribed and carefully planned intake allowed him to disregard the strange feeling overtaking his head that evening. He rationed that it was the strange combinations of these solutions creating the momentary disarray rather than his failing attempt to ration the volumes. The time quickly approached to take the small group of revelers that had gathered with him at the hotel that evening to the watering hole that would nourish the eclectic group for the coming year.

Shortly after arriving, and perhaps excited by the array of people that had turned out that cold December evening, Dave felt the need to bypass the free beer and wine provided under the cover charge that evening and buy a round of Jagermeister for his closest 8 friends gathered near the taps. Most of those friends, along with those who weren’t friends prior to the purchase, each returned the favor by sending back a couple ounces of the fine spirit that would remind most people of the cough syrups they fought off as children.

Those must have been the fatal shots that caused his brain cells to scramble the rest of the evening. The same cells that swelled in his skull that morning as he strained to recall anything else. Dave wanted to lie on that couch the rest of the day until he remembered what else he might have done to finish off that year, but nature called and his hosts had been most forgiving in the past. Perhaps they would forgive him just one more time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

F'er Christmas Card Review

We didn’t get around to sending Christmas cards this year. I am getting old, so maybe I can blame it on crippling arthritis. But then how would I explain all these posts? Truth is that I like to be creative, but I don’t plan ahead and then run out of time. Then I walk my sorry ass over to the Dollar Store and buy some lame cards, randomly sign them “Millard Fillmore” and hope they make it by New Year’s Eve. Any time after that is just plain embarrassing. This year I didn’t even do that. So instead I will review the Christmas cards that we received this year (in random order).

Moist Rub: Nice photo of Son and Daughter in front of the tree. Even looks like he vacuumed. Which is a good thing since there was too much carpet in the foreground and I would have liked to see more tree. Did not include the dog – maybe fearful of it puking on the clean carpet. Generic “Happy Holidays” greeting under a sprig of poison ivy. Or perhaps it’s a bough of holly. I really don’t know what a bough is, so I can’t tell you for sure. Printed at Walgreens on 12/10 which shows amazing planning for a self-professed procrastinator.

213: Nice photo of the two kids amidst holiday decorations with the dog. Dark background does not provide enough contrast to the kid’s hair, indicating they might not have had time to get haircuts before the picture was done on 12/19. Dog looks beaten down by the process and, like most other dogs, appears to just want to get back to watching the basketball game. Graphic of the Three Wise Men over Isaiah 9:6 on a nice matte finish.

The Guru: Small and simple greeting card, yet very pleasing. Christmas wishes on the inside with a 2” x 3” photo of the two kids. Definitely some Christmas duds on these tots, and they wear it well and don’t seem to mind it. Possible studio shoot in front of tree, complete with the “random” silver ornament in the foreground. Small deduction for the slumping teddy bear that looks dead.

Cousin Bobbi: Card with a phallic looking snowman holding a star that says “Love”.

Ravishing Michelle: Card includes an invite to visit them in Vegas. Last time I did that I woke up in the bathtub missing a kidney. Yeah, Merry Christmas to you, too, you organ stealing whore.

Karen: Decorative card with photo inset of the three kids. I’m digging the matching velvet pajamas – very Whoville. Next time you watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas, do a shot every time they say the word “Who” and you won’t wake up until President’s Day.

Nancy: Nancy was a friend that even boarded with me and Mrs. F’er at one time. Then she moved to Atlanta without telling us. Then she moved the NC without telling us and got married without telling us. And from the return address it appears she moved to Houston without telling us. The Christmas card has a photo of a baby on the front that I’m guessing is hers. The baby looks like it’s waiting for the punch line of a joke. But she probably won’t tell her.

Aunt Geri: Nice picture of a woman (perhaps Mary) holding a baby (perhaps Big Baby J). Slightly unsettling that she has a bird in her left hand and looks like she’s about to feed it to our savior. The printed greeting inside underlined for emphasis.

Pam: We got a card threatening Santa with “breach of contract” on the front. As an attorney, I think she would understand that the Santa deal is a bi-lateral contract requiring good behavior. Seeing as she’s knocked up right now, I’d say there was a little too much naughty and not enough nice this year. Case dismissed.

Allstate: My insurance agent took this time of year to let me know that he appreciated my business and even enclosed a couple business cards to throw away for him.

Bobby and Ashley: Nice card, but I don’t have a clue who they are.

Erica: A nice card supporting the Boys & Girls Clubs of America from a recruiter who thinks I should be making way more money and have a company car. That's how she gets paid.

Dalebud: The only card properly addressed to Mr. & Mrs. F’er. Always on time, this year with “The Christmas Blitzen Was Busted” cartoon on the front. Good stuff. He doesn’t have any kids (that we know of), so we can always count on him for some comic relief.

Stephanie: Sent the same damn card as Dalebud. What the hell is her problem? Doesn’t she know Dalebud sends the funny card every year? She tried to hide the fact by using fancy red ink to sign it, but she ain’t fooling me.

The Macs: They sent a picture of themselves taken in the desert. They look thirsty so they’re getting water for Christmas from us.

The Boss: Photo card of him, the wife, and kid in matching jeans and white shirts. Looks like they’re preparing to host a 70’s variety show. Also need a proofreader. Printed message reads,
“Love the Boss family,
Boss, Wife, and Kid
Makes it look like they’re demanding you love them. The comma is your friend.

P-Geo: Nice photo of the two kids. Appears to be well-done, but something was bugging me about it. Then I realized that the little one has the same expression that Vikings head coach Mike Tice has during the game.

Boss 2 & ‘Zilla: The couple that owns the place that Mrs. F’er works at sent a humorous card, but coordinated better than Stephanie and didn’t send the same one as Dalebud. But it also included a bonus check, so we liked it better than Dalebud’s. Oh, and in case you were wondering, if you want your name to be ‘Zilla all you need to do is add it to the end of your current name for a while, then eventually drop your old name, and voila, you’re now ‘Zilla (e.g. Sid => SidZilla => ‘Zilla).

Jane: I don’t know her, either, but I don’t like her because the card has that glitter shit all over it that falls off and gets on your pants and then your wife thinks you’re getting lap dances from the glittery stripper at the titty bar again.

Aunt Mel: The manger scene with John 3:16. She must have gotten the idea while watching an extra point during a football game.

LA Ray: I’ve known Ray since the early 50’s and we’ve never exchanged a card for anything until he got married. Mrs. LA always puts a nice, personalized note inside. Nice touch. I suggest he keeps her.

Sue: Never met her. No money inside. Next.

Mom: A Charlie Brown Christmas tree on the front and a check inside. A little bonus on top of the social security cash that we usually confiscate from her to pay for bike parts. We like to consider it protection money.

Captain Break-It: Photo of the three kids in front of the tree and other holiday decorations. The two boys in matching green shirts on each side of a little Break-ette in her red frock. The boy on the right is wearing the antlers and the other two are wearing Santa hats. I would have stuck the antlers on the girl in the middle for greater balance, but I’m obsessive like that. Their dog Tasha is also in front, looking like she wants to eat the photographer just for the amusement of the kids. There’s also some sort of furry creature in a Santa hat they call Oreo – it looks like it might be a bunny leftover from the Easter picture, but I’m not sure. However, most disappointing was the computer generated address label – I’ve come to expect the fine calligraphy of Mrs. Break-It, but she must have been busy repairing broken stuff this year.

Uncle Darryl: The card has a blue background with white stars and a big red Santa, but looks more 4th of July than Christmas. But it’s the thought that counts.

Alison: Hmm. I seem to remember in the past that she closed every letter and card with the words “Love and Prayers” and previous cards always maintained a religious theme. So I was taken aback this year when I received a card of a snowman with his head knocked off and saying, “@x!# kids!” It’s pretty #@*%’in funny, so maybe they’ve left the church and opened a comedy club or started a rap label. Also enclosed was a photo of the three kids which creeped me out a little since her oldest daughter doesn’t just look like her, but appears to be a perfect clone. Better than that sheep clone from a few years ago.

Gabe: He works with Mrs. F’er and wins the 2005 Card of the Year Award. In case you need something to shoot for, here’s what his homemade card consisted of:
White card stock, on the front written with red marker – “Jesus Is The Shiz-nit Yo”.
On the inside a photo of him on Santa’s lap. Santa wears a paisley shirt, with Gabe wearing his trademark Dickies, t-shirt and baseball cap and sporting a beard that is nearly as big as Santa’s. Opposite the photo is a personalized story that involves doing blow off a midget’s ass. I think that about covers everything you could ask for in a Christmas card.

Hope all y'all had a good one!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Call Me Kitty III

The next installment of the series - Christmas edition....

Good thing Dave thought to buy the Sunday paper last week. He fished through the pile of newsprint that morning and found the TV guide and brought it back to the bedroom with a fresh beer. Shopping on Christmas Eve definitely had sucked, but you just can't predict beer store hours on Christmas Day. Armed with a case of neatly aligned bottles on the top shelf of the refrigerator, he wouldn't have to leave the house this Christmas.

Christmas mornings as a child were relatively good - some cool stuff usually appeared under the tree and managed to entertain him through the rest of Christmas break from school. Really couldn't ask for much more. As an adult though, Christmas lost its magic. Not even the sounds of a good Barry Manilow holiday tape could drag him into the undertow of holiday spirit. Now he had his own holiday spirits. He acquired a taste for the fine winter festival beers produced by European brewing houses and the growing number of domestic microbreweries. An assorted collection of such ales and lagers from the upscale grocery store in town and a bag of Frito corn chips and bean dip would be his Christmas gift to himself. Beats anything that a fat man in a red suit could possibly drag down his chimney.

But the bean dip would wait. The leftover quesadilla that served as breakfast was still occupying his hunger gene. He had forgotten the happy hour leftovers in his car overnight, but the chilly December cold front had preserved his Christmas meal. A shout out to Mother Nature for that gift. Finding that meal was a bigger surprise than opening a package of tube socks on Christmas morn.

One might think, "How sad. Alone on Christmas Day? Bean dip, beer and leftover Mexican food?" Stop it. It's not sad. Really… it’s not.

Remember that Dave had a fridge full of microbrewed beer while other drunks would spend their holidays drinking cheap malt liquor at somber underpass celebrations or wishing only for the strength to unscrew the cap on their latest wine acquisition. Dave celebrated with the finest hops grown in Bavaria and imported in beautiful brown and green glass bottles that sat within beautifully designed cardboard carriers. That's right, the beer company spent considerable money on an MBA to spend considerable time deciding what he would like to drink this Christmas. He raised his bottle to toast that company and thanked them for the packaging that decorated his apartment this holiday.

It's a holiday, yet many people are working way harder in their kitchens today than they do at work. At work, they read some emails, forward some dumb jokes, shuffle some papers, and try to keep their ass out of trouble. Today they wake up way too early to insure gifts have been "left" under the tree, then spend the day working a frozen turkey into a meal by turning the south wing of the house into an oversized Easy Bake oven. All while trying not to stress out and yell at Cousin Jimmy for teaching the kids how to swear in Spanish. Dave merely cracked open that bean dip and the most stress was making sure the chips didn't go flying all over the kitchen while tearing into the fresh bag of Fritos. Just like the pilgrims, buddy. Pilgrims celebrated Christmas, too, you know, but you really don’t hear about it much because the Indians weren’t there. I don’t know why they weren’t invited back, but without that tension present it wasn’t worth covering in the press.

So celebrate the holidays whatever way you choose. But remember as stress levels rise and holiday expectations turn to lingering resentments, alone for the holidays isn't as bad as it seems. Sam Adams never let him down, so just tell the elves to swing by Foremost Liquors on the way to his rooftop and he'll be just fine. Nevermind the fact that elves don’t traditionally make the trip with Santa.

Merry Christmas to all and to all, a very good night.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Concert Review: The Belgrade Supermodels

I’m not feeling funny lately, so rather than force it I perused the offerings of our team of foreign correspondents. I found an old concert review from Ivan in Bosnia. Ivan gave us permission to publish this years ago, but I’ll withhold his name and his buddy’s organization. A Google search shows that they are still doing humanitarian work in Bosnia and I’d hate to tarnish their reputation. Enjoy.

Bosnia is squishy; often fun; above all, absurd. Below is exhibit “A.”

“Belgrade Supermodels” SITREP—March 8, 1998

1. On Saturday, March 7, 1998, a really bad Serbian disco band named “Belgrade Supermodels” comes to Banja Luka. I’ve only seen them once before, on television, but know that they’re four leggy gyrating sex-kittens, an unapologetically crude Balkan version of the Spice Girls, only without any pretense of innocence - give me money & mafia, baby. It should be a hoot, so why not go?

2. I telephone my friend Nathan to see if he wants to go. Nathan is the beleaguered manager of “ABC Organization,” an impoverished touchy-feely organization based in Banja Luka. Nathan has a fine collection of thrift store polyester garments. “ABC Organization,” or ABC, consists of 5 Americans living barracks-style in the loft of a large house. Perhaps because of this arrangement, Nathan’s wife has been reluctant in recent weeks to “go behind closed doors,” in the words of Charlie Rich. Nathan, in his grouchiness & frustration, readily agrees to go and perhaps vent a bit of his accumulated, ahem, energy.

3. We realize that it is imperative that we purchase cheap white Turkish cotton underpants (men’s), to throw up on the stage with our phone numbers immortalized thereupon. As the hour was late by Balkan shopping standards (7 p.m.), we hasten to the Banja Luka shopping center to purchase said underpants.

4. We peruse the entire shopping center without luck. Lots of cheap stuffed animals and lacy teddies and fake Nike warm-up suits and bootleg cigarettes, but no men’s Turkish white cotton underpants. We find a Chinese pseudo Barbie-doll called “Jessie” - she’s boxed up wearing a frilly wedding dress, next to her handsome new groom. Her head, oddly, is twice as big as his and she bears a creepy resemblance to Jon Benet Ramsey. Even stranger, the pair comes equipped with two children - should she be named “Shotgun Jessie”? The box boasts “fully movable arms & legs!”

5. Finally, we reach the last remaining stall in the shopping center—a lingerie boutique—and ask for men’s underpants. The owner of the boutique pulls out three samples of her wares: some weird waffled German panties (19 deutsche marks, about $11); some plain but sleek tightie-whities (14 DEM); and some fruity flowered briefs (6 DEM). Nathan and I are astounded by the prices cited. I ask the shopkeeper in my thickly-accented Serbian if she has anything from Turkey, or even China, as we’ll only be using these underpants once. She looks at the two of us with genuine fear. We buy no panties, but congratulate ourselves on our perseverance.

6. I go back home to dress for the show. I select a 100% polyester wide-collared shirt with photographic reproductions of exotic game fowl (open to my waist, displaying a luxurious crop of chest-hair) and a heavy faux-gold Caesar’s Palace neck pendant. I don a heavy coat with fake-fur lapels to complete the Mafioso pimp ensemble.

7. We ride to the Banja Luka music hall in a taxi. We are accompanied by Nathan’s wife, Tammie, their perky colleague, Sarah, and a large Russian named Boris. Nathan is unshaven, wearing purple polyester and antique Floyd (Andy Griffith show) barber’s glasses. Nathan has splashed half a bottle of patchouli on himself. The smell is hitherto unknown in Banja Luka.

8. We purchase our tickets and enter the music hall. The ticket takers have been tasked with patting down entrants for weapons, a mission they undertake with visible vigor and relish. When Nathan and I reach them, they look at us funny and wave us through.

9. The music hall is full. We have an hour’s wait until the show begins. We pound NEKTARs (local Banja Luka beer in big-ass 16 oz. bottles) at 5 dinars ($ 0.60) a bottle and check out the crowd. We realize that the majority of attendees is composed of 17-year-olds: the girls are dancing with each other, dolled up in fishnet hose, push-up bras & short black vinyl miniskirts; guys wear imitation leather jackets, gold chains and Ricky-Ricardo-slicked-back-hair. We stick out like sore thumbs. People are shouting: “Hey Amerikan! Hey! O.K.! How yu goingk!”

10. We’re the oldest people in the crowd by a power of 3. I’m dying to throw myself into the middle of the girls’ dance-circle & start dirty-dancing.

11. A weak wisp of fog-machine fog trickles out of a ceiling vent. Spastic lasers sporadically shoot through the haze. The show is about to begin. “Pyrotechnics,” observes Nathan.

12. The “Belgrade Supermodels” take the stage as the crowd roars. Camera crews from local T.V. are filming everything. Their noms-de-supermodel are unknown to me, so the names that follow are my own creation. Fantastic abdominal muscles, to a one. From left to right, they are:

“Claudia-Schiffer-supermodel”: blonde, blonde, blonde, blonde, blonde. Super-duper plump pouty lips (implants) & roly-poly baby-doll eyes. Jennifer Aniston hair-do. Modestly wearing a full-length black lacy top, the only one of the four not baring her midriff - the coquettish naughty-but-nice girl. After the set break, she retakes the stage in a half-length see-through white top with black bra underneath, a la West Hollywood porn-star. Nathan observes that from up close she looks eerily masculine - from this point on, she becomes known as “FREWBUD SUPERMODEL.”

“Trashy supermodel”: the “sassy” supermodel - modeled after “Scary Spice” of the Spice Girls? Ponytail, halter-top and Cleopatra pancake makeup. She gyrates lasciviously throughout and does funny things with her tongue. After the set break, she returns in the tightest gray sweat pants I’ve ever seen a person wear, hiked up about three inches too high - the second she takes the stage, my eyes bug out dangerously and Nathan begins sweating prodigiously. From this point on, she becomes known as “CAMEL-TOE SUPERMODEL.”

“Boob supermodel”: Swedish-girl blonde bangs, blue “Nike” halter top & fake “Nike” tattoos above her cleavage and belly button. The cool disinterested thousand-yard stare of a Scandinavian particle physicist. After a few numbers a hint of black bra strap creeps out from under her halter top - quelle vixen. From the first moment, and for the remainder of the show, she is known simply as “BOOB SUPERMODEL.”

“Next-door supermodel”: Every group of this sort has to have an “approachable” member to give some amount of hope to their legions of fans. Such is the fourth Belgrade Supermodel - a surprisingly normal girl-next-door type (assuming that the girl next door works out 18 hours a day 7 days a week.) Nathan develops an immediate obsession, based on an early and long- suppressed T.V. crush - thanks to this, she becomes known as “KATE JACKSON SUPERMODEL.”

13. The “Belgrade Supermodels” are lip-synching poorly. At one point, when the backing track consists of four women’s voices singing in harmony, I notice that only Boob Supermodel is moving her lips as the other three are busy grinding nastily. The crowd is throbbing with energy.

14. Sarah is eager to know everything the supermodels are saying. “Translate this song! Please?” I translate the song the supermodels are singing at the moment: “Jedan, dva / svako zna / haah haah haah/svako zna/ jedan, dva / svako zna / haah haah haah / svako zna” --- “one, two/everyone knows / haah haah haah / everyone knows / one, two / everyone knows / haah haah haah / everyone knows.” These are the only words in the song.

15. After 30 minutes of non-stop gyration, Nathan and I are transfixed. Our cool-guy posturing melts away in the twisting pelvic onslaught. Zombie like, I turn to Nathan and observe, “Nathan, this is the coolest band I’ve ever seen in my life.” Nathan dabs at the drool on his chin and nods absently.

16. At the set break, we pound several more NEKTARS and decide pragmatically that there’s no sense in standing way in back. Nathan and I mercilessly elbow our way to the stage, leaving wounded teenage girls howling in our wake. A large group of 16-year-old Banja Luka boys is posted up at the stage, but we soon win them over: “Hey amerikan! Hey! O.K! Nu York Yankiz! Axel Roze!” Nathan and I scream “Rock on!” in tandem and buy them a round of beers.

17. The second set begins. We’re falling down, grooving hard, loving life. The supermodels have hit their stride and are getting quite nasty. The whole set becomes one long happy blur when.....

18. Our dainty oblivion is shattered as, suddenly, the music stops. Kate Jackson model is making some announcement...she’s saying something about finding the manliest dancer in the hall...the crowd noticeably perks up...suddenly, she’s pointing at ME saying “YOU - come up on stage - NOW!” I go.

19. Next, she summons Nathan. Nathan is smiling naughtily. We look like total idiots. The crowd is hooting.

20. Two other fellas are chosen and we’re suddenly onstage in front of hundreds. Each supermodel takes one of the neophytes under her wing for this song - tonight my mentor is camel-toe supermodel. Nathan is off to the right with Frewbud supermodel.

21. A throbbing disco beat kicks in and suddenly we’re gyrating with THE Belgrade Supermodels. I can’t dance to begin with, and I’m way past my limit tonight, so I’m GETTING DOWN - doing my best Travolta spins, points and bobs, doing the amoeba dance, doing the sprinkler dance, bumping and grinding with “my lady.” My gold Caesar’s Palace pendant is swaying dangerously. The song is something about “calling on the telephone” so we pick up the dance routine the supermodels are doing - you turn your back to the audience and shake your butt around, then turn with your hand up to your ear as if you’re holding a telephone and mouth the words “hello, hello” to the audience. Just glorious.

22. At the end of the song, cross-eyed & dizzy, we begin shuffling off stage. Kate Jackson supermodel jerks me to the front/center and asks me my name, then proclaims “there is no doubt - Ivan is the finest dancer!” to the crowd. I curtsey.

23. The show is over. Nathan and I realize we have a story to tell when we’re 95 years old, only, as Nathan puts it, “when I’m 95 years old, the story will be that they pulled my pants off on stage and ravaged me by turn.” We rue the fact that we didn’t buy the $11 waffled underpants, but figure there’s always next time.

24. The show, as I said, was filmed by a local T.V. crew. It airs on Banja Luka T.V. tonight. I will get a tape from the station.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Renoir: Jugglers at the Circus Fernando

Pierre-Auguste Renoir painted Jugglers at the Circus Fernando in 1878-1879. The painting portrays two pre-pubescent girls who have just completed their juggling performance in a circus. One girl acknowledges the audience’s response to their act, while the other girl stares into space, seemingly, in a moment of introspection. The audience is mentioned partially, yet significantly, at the top of the painting. Renoir created this scene to make a statement of our inevitable transformation from the innocence of childhood to the reality of adulthood.

Renoir was born in Limoges, France in 1841 and grew up in a middle class environment. He developed his artistic ability as a painter of porcelain, beginning at the age of 13. This had a lasting influence on his art. It also gave him an appreciation of eighteenth century Rococo artists. This experience and influence directed his handling of color, which led to the brilliance and luminosity of color in his later works. Renoir liked to paint thinly over pale grounds, allowing the grounds to “glow” through, enhancing the color.

When Renoir entered his career as an artist, he became friends with Claude Monet and other artists of the mid nineteenth century. It is with some of these artists, and their influence, with their struggle to be accepted by the Salon, Renoir helped define the Impressionistic style in the 1870’s. Renoir’s subjects during this time followed the typical philosophy of the Impressionists – middle class life in Paris, valuing single chance occurrences, such as how light reflects off an object in a given moment. Renoir also made observations of theatre and circus life, like Degas. It is this aspect of Impressionism that produced the painting discussed in this essay. Although the Impressionist movement was thought to be a radical construction at the time, Renoir “did not want to be a revolutionary”. He wished to paint beauty to show “a life of happiness and harmony”. After a career of almost 60 years and having painted about 6,000 paintings, Pierre-Auguste Renoir died in 1919.

Renoir painted Jugglers at the Circus Fernando in oil on canvas. The dimensions of the painting are 51 ¾ inches tall by 39 1/8 inches wide. The recreational subject matter - the circus - the free flowing, textured brush strokes, the bright color paint, the cropping of elements of the depicted scene (the audience above, the orange below, the circus ring wall on both sides), and the intensity of the light all typify the style of this painting as Impressionism. With this beautifully painted moment of leisure, Renoir is able to describe a phase of human maturation common to all of us, and full of anguish for many; that is the metamorphosis from a child to an adult. The compositional elements in the painting support this premise.

The two girls portrayed are bathed in a consistent, ubiquitous, warm light, which does not create many drastic shadows – everything in this area of the painting is “known”. This warmth is represented by the yellows, oranges and pinks Renoir chose to use to depict the girls’ forms and their primary background – the yellow circus floor. This elicits a feeling of security and innocence, which is inherent in the circumstances of a typical childhood. These girls are safe and protected as they reside in their youthful realm. The yellow ribbons in their hair tie back to the yellow hue of the circus floor to help anchor them in this proposed view of youth. Looming above them is the audience, which is painted in dark, cold colors, with haphazard and mysterious brushstrokes. The audience consists of adults whose features are not distinctly defined. The audience, presumably, extends beyond the edge of the painting, unseen, further enhancing its mysterious state. This is a world unknown to the jugglers and to the viewers, allowing the viewers to identify with the perspective of the girls.

While they reside in the same stage of development, and in the same spatial area on the canvas, each girl differs in her role within the painting. The girl on the left has begun her exploration of the adolescent stage of life on the road to adulthood. The girl on the right chooses to remain in the haven of childhood. Renoir uses a series of contrasts to separate each individual girl’s relationship to this transformation. One contrast is the body language of the girls themselves. The girl on the left is open to this idea of growth. Her arms are in the process of opening up as in a bow, acknowledging the audience’s response to their show. Her feet are separated, and she is looking outward, making direct eye contact with the audience. The girl on the right has her arms folded, holding the oranges, as if she is holding onto something precious, and at the same time, protecting herself. Her feet and legs are closed. Her eyes stare off into space at nothing in particular. This is a look of introspection; her mind is closed to outside influences. The direction of her gaze is in direct opposition to the point of eye contact her performing partner is making with the audience (personal note – this is one of my favorite aspects of this painting). She has her back turned against the existence of this strange and dark world.

Another contrast Renoir uses is light and dark values, accompanied with warm and cool colors and the girls differing interaction with these variations. The youthful innocence, inside the circus ring, where the girls reside, is painted with warm and light colors. The unknown reality of adulthood, the audience, is painted with dark cool colors. This contrast is enhanced by the differing brushstrokes between the two sides of the circus ring – tighter and detailed on the warm side, loose and undefined on the cool side. The girl on the right is enveloped in the light warm colors of the painting. The head of girl on the left, due to the open door in the circus ring, enters the dark cool background established by the audience, consequently, touching the audience on the two dimensional plane. This further supports the idea that she has begun this transformation. In addition to this, although Renoir has painted both girls using primarily warm colors, he enhanced each of their midsections with a cool blue. This coolness is associated with the cool darks of the audience, as if to say it is our emerging sexuality that is the conduit in the maturation process. I will address this notion later.

Renoir’s use of line is limited, yet significant, which parallels his use of the audience in the painting, although I don’t know if it was intentional. The most noticeable line is the curved horizontal depicting the top of the circus ring wall. This serves multiple purposes. Primarily, this line leads the view directly to the head of the girl on the left. This is an important part of the painting as it relates to the underlying statement, as this is where she physically enters the new and unknown. Renoir also uses this line to help frame the girl on the right, along with the right side of the painting, the bottom of the painting and the left hand girl. This encloses the girl on the right into the protective sanctuary of childhood, and within herself, further supporting the impression that she has not yet become aware the impending changes in her life, or is possibly ignoring them. The third purpose of the circus ring wall line is to separate the two contrasting worlds described in the painting.

Another prominent line is the one implied between the gaze of the girl on the left and the audience member in the upper left corner of the painting. He is pointing directly back to this girl, suggesting that he is acknowledging her awareness, and possibly encouraging her to explore further. This moment in the painting could be interpreted as a pedophilic remark, but I don’t know if that was Renoir’s intention. If that is the case, however, it would support the depravity suggested by the dark values and lurid brushstrokes Renoir chose to represent adulthood.

As the setting of Jugglers at the Circus Fernando is the circus, it would seem to follow that Renoir would use circle shapes as a distinct compositional element. The most abundant circles in the painting are the oranges. The girl on the right has collected them and clings to them. Four oranges on the ground around her feet encircle her, furthering the idea that she remains secure in the purity and perfection the image of a circle connotes. Renoir placed one orange at the left edge of the painting, in proximity to the girl on the left and isolated from the other oranges. This lone orange corresponds with the left girl’s departure from the security of childhood. The largest circle is the circus ring itself. This may represent the cyclical nature of life. We are only allowed to see one sectional arc of the circus ring, just like we are only viewing one portion of the human life cycle - the transformation into adulthood.

Earlier I mentioned the notion that Renoir may be suggesting in this painting that it is the emergence of our sexuality that facilitates our maturation. The reason I made that statement was due to a combination of the existence of the multiple occurrences of the triangle or “v” shape and its association with the cool color temperatures in certain areas of the painting. This “v” shape appears several times in the audience, manifested as the shape of necklines defined by their coats and shirts. This “v” shape also defines the groin or reproductive area of the girl on the right. The reproductive area of the girl on the left is also designated by Renoir’s use of the negative space between her lower legs leading the viewer’s eye into a slight line extending vertically. Renoir uses cool colors in this region on both girls’ bodies. As described above, Renoir also depicted the audience, or the adult world, with cool colors. The combination of these elements suggests a relationship between the girls’ sexuality and their inevitable course to maturity. Adding to that is the presence of one triangle shape at the top of the painting. This triangle is red, a color that is not used anywhere else in the audience. The red triangle is placed directly above the girl on the right and mimics the “v” shape on her midsection. It is as if this is a warning to her, and to the viewers, that she can try to remain in the comfortable shelter of youth, but her transmigration into this new dimension is unavoidable.

Like many of his works, Renoir painted Jugglers at the Circus Fernando in the Impressionistic style he helped create. He used his mastery of light and color to depict a Parisian scene of everyday life and leisure to make a statement above and beyond the forms and paint he used to create the work.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Jose for the Holidays

I mentioned in my last post that I got kicked out of school because I forgot to study for a few classes. You see, just like Rick in Casablanca, I was misinformed. Turns out that the College of Engineering had nothing to do with driving trains. Neither did the College of Commerce and Business Administration, but I didn’t have to pass Theoretical and Applied Mechanics to graduate. Besides, you can’t imagine the babes in my Econ classes. So armed with an amusing GPA and an Econ degree I hit the job market. I found out that qualified me for assistant manager positions at either Radio Shack or Payless Shoes. I decided to hold out for a position in investment banking, but was running out of beer money so took one of those “in-between” jobs. Yep, my first job out of college was at the prestigious multi-national corporation called Red Lobster. I folded up my diploma, stuck it in my back pocket, carefully positioned my “Lobsterfest is Lobsterbest!” button over my left breast pocket and took my place behind the bar. I learned the nuances of making Lobster Punch and how to slice 20 limes without drawing blood. This experience proved even more valuable than my degree as I was soon being recruited by competitors at the nearby mall, and after intense negotiations that included a free basket of chips and salsa I accepted a position at Carlos Sweeney’s. There I learned not only how to make a killer margarita, but also some deceptively powerful sangria, and how to swear in Spanish.

Sure it was fun, but after six months my liver started to hurt and the girl I was dating convinced me that a suburban mall bartender position might not be the best place to reach my potential. So I quit and moved to the city. No more suburban mall bars for me. Instead I scored a position working the door at Pippin’s Tavern on Rush Street. My responsibility was to card everyone that showed up and keep minors and bums out while an imposing, yet likely illiterate, goon stood behind me and enforced my decisions. Those gaining entry were treated to the Cheers-like hospitiality, cold beer, killer jukebox, and free popcorn. I believe closing time was around 2 a.m. back then, but a sister bar named Streeter’s around the corner stayed open until 5 a.m. where my girlfriend was busy realizing her full potential. By sister bar, I mean it had the same ownership, not that the clientele was exclusively black women. Which is a good thing since another responsibility of the Pippin’s doorman was to walk one of the old, white regulars who was blind over to Streeter’s after last call. I’m not sure how he got home from Streeter’s but he couldn’t have been much worse off than the other customers still in the bar at 5 a.m. But I digress.

Our favorite bartender in those days was a guy named Jose who used his tip money to pay his tuition. Good to know my drinking provided some benefit to this world. About a year after I quit I was in the area and saw Jose walking down the street with his standard backpack. He was approached by one of the bums I had been tasked with keeping out of the bar in the old days. But instead of ignoring him like most of the passing crowd, he stopped. And instead of just giving him some pocket change or a dollar like one might expect, he took the man into the neighboring Dunkin’ Donuts and bought him a cup of coffee. He even went a step further and sat down with the man at a table and talked with him. I have no idea what they discussed that day. Maybe it was the stock market, maybe it was time travel. I don’t even know if the man fully appreciated the gesture. Nonetheless, Jose’s actions that day made an impression on me, although I can’t claim to be nearly as compassionate. But I am taller than he is.

What sparked this memory was when another reader recently asked me about a novel called Magnificent Obsession that I apparently referred to a while back in this blog. It was written back in 1929 (the book, not the blog), and I was reminded that it’s rather dated (still talking about the book). It’s not a classic in the literary sense, but known more for the content which promotes philanthropy not just for the good of others but also as a means to achieving personal success and achievement. The only catch, according to the book, is that no one else is to know of your good deed if you wish to capture the full reward of your act. To some it may bring up the question of what motivates altruistic behavior. To others it may bring up the question of what’s for dinner. There’s more to the book, but it’s been years since I’ve read it. It’s been years since I’ve read anything since discovering online porn. The book has its own cadre of fanatics that I’m sure I’ve offended with my half-assed description, but with a little research you can track them down if interested.

If the concept has you at all intrigued, try it. Do a good deed for somebody, but don’t tell anyone else about it. Nobody. Keep it to yourself. It’s not as easy as it sounds, but I have a feeling that Jose could do it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Crystal Bernard - Coming Home

Regular readers might have noticed the recurring references to Crystal Bernard. Most likely, they might wonder why. Or even who she is... so let me tell you.

Crystal Bernard was born on September 30, 1964 in Garland, Texas. Like our hero Marty Casey, I love an older woman -- and Crystal is exactly 193 days older than I am. That's less than a year. So we have a lot in common, I'm sure, and we can spend countless hours walking at dusk and talking about the time we joined the KISS Army and where we were when people like Reagan, the Pope and John Lennon got shot. Good times. Maybe listen to some Foreigner albums and make out on a bean bag chair or something.

I also reside in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, only about 20 miles from her Garland birthplace. Of course, Crystal has since purchased a home in Beverly Hills, but admits she bought it "as an investment." I'm sure she has frequent yearnings to visit her roots, and I bet she flies into DFW Airport when she does. With my current work schedule, I’m at DFW several times a month. It suddenly becomes clear how fate will somehow bring us together. I ran into Pauly Shore there once, so anything is possible.

Sure Crystal was a cutie as Richie's cousin K.C. Cunningham on the last season of Happy Days, and we loved her as Amy on It's a Living, but it was on Wings where she captured my heart....

I asked her about her character Helen on Wings...
"Maybe I think more of Helen than I should, but I think Helen's done better than I would have done if I would have lost as much as she has. I think Helen has done pretty good with failure. That's one of the things you respect about her."

OK, so I didn't really ask her directly. I kind of stole that quote from a profile in the Dallas Morning News by Joyce Saenz Harris that I cut out seven and half years ago. But it is such a prolific quote. Consider this... I got kicked out of school because I forgot to study for a few classes. One could consider that a failure... kind of like Helen. But here I am today, writing for Leper Pop. One, such as Crystal, could say that I've done pretty good with failure. Even respect that about me....

Cheers has always been one of my favorite shows, so I asked her if I had a choice between watching a Wings rerun or a Cheers rerun which one should that I choose.
"Any comparison to Cheers is a compliment," she said. "Cheers was about losers who sit around a bar drinking all day. On Wings, the airline isn't making any money, and I'm a concert cellist who can't get arrested and is slapping burgers. So what do you think?"

All right, I really didn't ask her that. That quote was kind of borrowed from a profile done by James Brady -- that creepy looking guy at the back of Parade magazine in the Sunday paper. I don't know if he still does the profiles since the article I cut out is about 6 years old.

Did you know that Crystal has cut several albums since leaving Wings? I haven't heard them, but I think Peter Cetera was somehow involved in one or both or something. Yep, Peter Cetera formerly of the band Chicago. I was born in Chicago, if you remember, only 193 days after Crystal was born in Garland, only about 20 miles from where I now reside. Getting kind of freaky, isn't it?

Anyway, Crystal resurfaced as spokeswoman for Q Sports Clubs several years ago. The Q had 18 locations, primarily in the South, 12 being in Texas, 1 being in Plano, Texas. And guess who was gainfully employed in Plano at the time??? Yours truly. Crystal had both written, produced, and performed the songs which were used in the Q's heavy media campaign, and I recently asked Q founder and president Frank Leonesio about those spots...
"We've had a super time putting together these spots," says Leonesio. "Crystal is a lot of fun to work with and her music really catches the Q spirit."

Does it really matter that I really didn't ask Leonesio about Crystal? OK, I lifted this quote from, the former website of the Q. That shouldn’t be a problem as they’ve since gone out of business. More likely, the soaring membership revenue resulting from her campaign probably made them an attractive buyout target. But that's not important right now.

If she ever makes it back to Texas to promote a Lifetime movie or something, I have a standing offer to pick her up at the airport. I’ll even make one of those little cardboard signs with her name on it. Aw, who am I kidding… it’s already been made.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bowling for Lepers

Like every good red-blooded American male, I hold these autumn Sunday afternoons very sacred. After a hearty breakfast, I take my place upon the couch, remote tucked safely by my side, some water and a veggie tray, er, I mean a cold beer and some chips strategically positioned on the coffee table, and I fire up the television just in time for the introductions…. Wes Malott, Bill O’Neill, Mike Machuga, and David Traber. The crowd, at least 200 strong, cheers wildly.

Surely, you say, 200 is a typo. Those multi-million dollar pro football stadiums hold more than 200 people. True, I reply, but bowling alleys do not, and you must not have realized that those names I rattled off are from the PBA tour. You know, the PBA. Professional Bowlers Association?

ESPN realized that the only way to compete with the NFL coverage on Fox and CBS is to present the excitement of professional bowling, and I’m hooked (pun intended for all you bowlers out there). To kickoff the show (pun intended for all you football fans out there), the bowlers walk through the pro shop doorway, which has been retrofitted with some beads like Greg Brady put up when he turned Mike’s den into a groovy 60’s hippie pad. Then they break into that fake jog thing where they’re still walking but pumping their arms like they’re jogging, and fake jog through the billowing smoke from the buckets of dry ice placed along the counter of the snack shop while Iron Man by Black Sabbath blares through the family entertainment center.

Thus begins the Greater Omaha Classic, brought to you by PBA tour sponsor Denny’s. Home of the Rooty Tooty Fresh n’ Fruity. Or maybe that’s IHOP. I don’t know – I usually opt for the smoked turkey crepes at Café Brazil. Way tastier food, way more flavorful coffee and hip waitresses that all want to sleep with me. Literally. They’d sleep with anybody after having to wake up at 5 a.m. to sling crepes. But there ain’t no Café Brazil in Nebraska, so Denny’s it is.

I’ve been to Omaha once. I had to go kiss a customer’s ass at my last job because one of our salesguys was a moron. Of course, I’m sure the salesguy thought I was the moron, and the customer likely thought we were both morons and probably wished we would just leave so he could go bowling. Turns out that most of this paragraph is rather unnecessary since the tourney actually takes place in Council Bluffs and not Omaha, but I don’t have any stories about Council Bluffs. Feel free to share your own. They can't be worse than my Omaha story.

The first match featured Wes Malott versus Bill O’Neill. Malott looks like he might work at Ace Hardware, his sponsor. Nothing wrong with that, but the guys at the Ace Hardware by my house are always off their game. They’re in my face when I’m doing something simple like buying a garden hose, but nowhere to be found when I need them to quickly tell me why there’s sparks coming out of my toilet and how to extinguish smoldering ass hair. I’ve digressed, haven’t I? O’Neill was more enthusiastic during the intros and tossed some free hats to the crowd. Nothing fancy like Easter bonnets, but just baseball hats. I heard the hats read “Bowlers Have 16 Pound Balls”, but I can’t get confirmation on that yet. O’Neill wins the match.

The second match featured Mike Machuga versus David Traber. I wanted Machuga to win so he could use the prize money to get a cheeseburger since he was in danger of being outweighed by an Olsen twin. The anorexic one. Traber reminded me of an obsolete shop teacher that had to give up his space to a new computer lab. Mahuga wins.

Why the PBA on Sunday instead of the NFL action, you ask? It was kind of by mistake – I was watching the NFL pre-game show on ESPN and didn’t change the channel in time. I stayed tuned in because I’m a bitter old man. You see, I was a bowling geek when I was a kid and I even attended those TV matches when they rolled through town. Went bowling with the old man on Sunday mornings as soon as I got him over his hangover by presenting him with a double Smirnoff Bloody Mary without any of that leafy green shit in it. I even got to bowl with PBA Hall of Famer and fellow Chicagoan Carmen Salvino. And by the time I was 12 I was always in the battle for highest league average, but gave it all up for the glamour of a baseball and football career. As Donald Trump would not have failed to point out to me, it was a catastrophic error. Turns out I couldn’t hit a curveball to save Crystal Bernard’s life, and my dual superpowers of being both skinny and slow failed to impress the football scouts or the cheerleaders. Had I stuck with bowling I could have been touring the country in my very own vintage Airstream trailer, performing in front of scores of fans weekly, and earning $35k a year in prize money with a little luck. But today is Mike Machuga’s day to shine, and he handily defeats Bill O’Neill to take his first PBA tour victory and a $40k payday.

I lost my touch after retiring at age 12; my curve ball doesn’t curve anymore and I can’t squeeze into those size 8 bowling shoes. Moist Rub and I were founding members of the infamous Housewives from Encino bowling team in the 80’s, but our sole purpose was to see how much we could torment the serious bowlers in the league without getting kicked out. Now it seems like the only time I bowl is when my sister-in-law comes to town and gets tired of getting her ass kicked in Monopoly. But after Leper Pop t-shirt sales take off, I plan on installing that bowling alley in my house. None of that automated crap, either. Scorekeeping by hand and real live old-school pinsetters, modeled after the Southport Lanes in Chicago. Stop by the house for a game if you’re ever in town. I’ll keep my balls out for you.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Leper House - The Message Board

Cause, what the world needs now
Is a new kind of tension.
Cause the old one just bores me to death.
Cause, what the world needs now
Is another folk singer
Like I need a hole in my head.

One of my favorite songs – Teen Angst by Cracker. Too much damn stuff in this world. Except for strippers. You can never have too many strippers. Unless you’re holding auditions for a new Motley Crue video – then you might have too many. But you’ll need some spares after a few get soiled by Tommy Lee. And I digress.

I never thought you’d be a junkie because heroin is so passé. But so are blogs and here we are sharing literary needles with our readers. So addicted were some readers back in our Rock Star heyday that they demanded a message board. Unfortunately, between saving corporations from the throes of bankruptcy and making fun of MiG we didn’t have the time to satisfy those demands, besides the fact that we don’t like being told what to do. So don’t do that. Recently I was doing some research for a dedicated reader that unadvisedly consulted us on blogging, and the message board question arose. I had some time and set one up just for fun to see what was involved. Fortunately, it wasn’t as involved as assembling a gas grill and before you know it I had a living, breathing message board. I shared my bowl of oatmeal with it, changed the oil, and it appears to be running now.

Not being ones for shameless self-promotion, we quietly posted a link to Leper House on the sidebar of the blog earlier this week. Some attentive readers have discovered it, and it appears to be working nicely. Just a warning – it can be a pain in the ass to register, but after you refinance your home and earn a certificate in dishwasher technology from the University of Phoenix, they should let you in. Just hit the back button if you get stuck during the process. Or have a drink and fire off a letter to PETA. They have nothing to do with it, but I’m sure they’d love to hear about your wall-to-wall fur carpeting.

Surely, the last thing the world needs is another message board. We’re well aware of some of the popular ones that our readers already frequent and we don’t expect to replace those. We won’t be broken, shattered alive if you don’t visit. But if you’re lonely, you know we’re waiting here for you. No cliques, no titles, no rules. We enjoy the feedback and comments on the blog and hope those don’t go away, but if you have anything else to discuss with Moist, Sid or amongst yourselves then we hope we’ve found a place to accommodate you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lovehammers: The Metro Show Nov 23, 2005

If you’ve never been to a Lovehammers show, I will try to recreate it for you. Imagine yourself on an hour and a half long tortuous and electrifying water slide, where the water you’re flowing in is the mellifluous guitar sounds of a red-headed rock and roll technician named Billy, the sides of the tube you’re banging against and keeping you steady is that of the pounding Brothers Kourelis rambunctious rock and roll rhythm section and the gravitational energy pulling you through to your ultimate splash is the heroic and unabashed rock and roll vocals of the rock star Marty Casey.

The Metro show, 23 November, twenty-hundred aught five was no different, except that it may have had a few extra turns and drops added because of the revved up crowed that attended. We ellaitchiphiles (this is a copyrighted term, please don’t use it without permission from your mother) were packed in the venue like maggots in a bloated moose carcass. If you didn’t know the person next to you at the beginning of the show, you knew her intimately by the end of the show. Well, I did, which is why missed most of the post show fun sitting in the paddy wagon.

The show began with the unmistakable and haunting drum intro to Ultrasound. Surprisingly, it didn’t end there - they played the entire song. This song is an effective way to start the show, as it gradually transforms the audience from a group of mild mannered, sheeny-faced do-gooders into a gang of raucous rock and roll rabble rousers. Except for that one guy, but he freaked me out so I don’t want to talk about him. No, don’t bring him up again. I don’t want to talk about him. ENOUGH!

I would like to run through the entire set list with you, but I was a little tipsy and things got out of hand down in the pit and, frankly, I was having too much fun to be blog responsible. They didn’t play any Haircut 100 covers. I’m pretty sure of that. But, there were plenty of highlights - too many to depict here. Unfortunately, there were two missing lights, as well. But I shouldn’t bring them up. It was an excellent show. I don’t want to harp on the negative, so let’s move on. No, really, let’s concentrate on the positive. One of my favorite moments was when...what’s that? No, I don’t care how much you want to hear what pissed me off. No, it didn’t really piss me off - those were your words, not mine. So, maybe I was a little disappointed, it’s no big deal. No, you did not see me asking for my money back. I was merely trying to redeem an LH coupon. The guy in the street said The Metro would honor it. C’mon, did you see those outrageous Ticketmaster nazi surcharges? Can you blame me? Five bucks is five bucks. That’s a whole beer. But that’s not one of the two missing lights. Nor is it the point. Let me get back to the crazy time we all had. OK, so at one point in the show, Marty pulled out one of those human cannon ball cannons, and...what’s that? Yeah, you’re right, I’ll never be able to concentrate on this until I unburden myself. Really, it’s no big thing, and I feel like a fool for even bringing it up. But to tell you the truth, every time I see the Lovehammers perform, it always seems like Marty is singing to me directly and for me alone. And it seemed like that tonight until the end of the show when I realized they didn’t perform two of my favorite LH songs. It’s not a big deal. I’m over it now. Let’s get back to the rockin’! Then Dino turns his bass guitar inside out and shoves a giant walrus tusk...Wait! What’s with the puppy dog expression? No, you don’t need to know the songs they maliciously neglected to play, which hurt my feelings more than all the thousands of hot looking women who ever told me to get a full body, including the brain, transplant. You’re not going to let me go on until I tell you, are you? I knew it. I just knew it. You know, I’m never going to be able to write for Rolling Stone magazine with material like this. Who let you in here, anyway? OK, I see that I have no other choice. Let’s get this over with. Maybe Rolling Stone will accept the second half of this article. Here it goes. This is very hard for me to say because I know the band will be reading this, since they have nothing better to do, and they are very sensitive boys. They spit in my face and farted at me and rubbed giraffe excrement in my hair by not playing Into the Deep End and Low-life Insurance (Let’s Get Wasted). They are only two of my favorite LH tunes ever, that’s all! Into the Deep End being my numero uno fave. Are you happy now? Thanks a lot for making me relive the horror. I feel like tripe right now.

Marty refused to sign our breasts, but he
did sign Captain Break-it's ticket stub.

But, they did play Yes It Do, which is a wonderful song to listen to while enjoying a hangover, and in general, for that matter. To my knowledge it is only currently available on the DVD, but I’m guessing it will be on the new CD, since I’ve recently heard word that Leper Pop, the hot hit single for the new millennium, did not make the cut. They agreed, it is a song for the new millennium, just not this one. Not the next one, either. One of the millenniums in the ten thousands, or so. They assured me. Yes It Do made me feel happy all over. Maybe a little too happy, as evidenced by the slap the woman in front of me gave me. Clouds was another highlight. During the song, I could feel the audience meld into one giant drip of lamentation and hopeful introspection. Kind of cozy. Yet another highlight was Throw My Head. Nothing magical in particular happened during that song, I just dig it, so get off my back.

The highest light came when they performed Trees. Sure, some of you may be a little tired of that song, but that exhaustion would flee your body if you ever see it performed live. This goes for all of their songs. As good as the songs sound on their CD’s, they are ten times better live. No joke. There were two wonderful effects brought about by Trees that night. The first was the energy the audience emitted. It was awesome. Simple as that. I’m not going to fruit it up for you. Awesome. You could tell by the look on Marty’s face that he was overwhelmed with appreciation of the love from the fans. I spent most of the time watching people’s enjoyment during that song. Which leads to the second wonderful experience. As I peered up to the balcony VIP section, I spotted Mrs. Casey, Marty’s mom. She was beaming with pride. Her pride and love were gushing down over the balcony, through the mass of people below and onto the stage. And it wasn’t just for Marty. It was for all the guys in the band. She’s been with them every step of the way. I think I even got a little of it on my shoe. I’m not ashamed to say I got choked up at that point. My brother, Dr. Jellyfinger, who was standing next to me punched me because he thought I wiped snot on his shirt. It was actually a tear of joy. I didn’t mind the punch because of the elation I was feeling, and I know I could take him if I had to, and I wiped snot on him later without him knowing it. I know Mrs. Casey is proud of all of her children, she just doesn’t have a chance to beam at StivOO while he’s engineering chemicals or while Chris is brokering trucks or at the others with whatever they're doing. Maybe if they would just sell tickets. I won’t even mention the fact that LH chose not to play the blues boogie anthem version of Trees I wrote with Marty. I understood since they were filming a video of the song at the time, and they had to keep it short enough to fit in between commercials on MTV2. I’m not hurt that much.

The rest of the show rocked as well, complete with a Marty excursion to the heights of the stage. I will quickly hit some of the other moments of interest. Let’s one point, Marty delivered a baby of one of the pregnant fans on stage and named her Jules, Dino found the cure for cancer (it was under his amp), Billy discovered the Grand Unification Theory uniting Relativity and Quantum Physics, and Bobby had sex with at least fourteen chicks during the drum solo. They finished us off with This Town (yes, that’s up there on my fave list, too). But wait, there’s more. Next, we were instructed to do some acting as the band feigned Ashlee Simpson and performed to a recorded version of Trees for the video. Seeing as the producer didn’t offer any cash for my acting skills, I chose to stand there like a petrified monk while the rest of the crowd cheered with uninhibited glee. I hope I make the final cut of the video.

Onto to the post show bedlam. By the end of the show, the group I was with was smattered throughout The Metro. Captain Break-it and his brother got Dino to let them into the band’s VIP room back (side) stage, where they proceeded to drink all of the free beer in the tub. StivOO and some other guys you don’t know and who choose to remain anonymous made it up to the VIP balcony. Dr. Jellyfinger and I walked around looking for the lovely and boobalicious ladies that are Snarkgasm (and we were looking for our group, too). Although we were unsuccessful, we did steal a lot of beer from the non-Snarkgasm women. Eventually, Dr. J and I made it to the band’s VIP room to meet up with the Captain. Dino let us in, as well. He is the friendliest Lovehammer. StivOO was there, too, talking to his cousin. By then, the free beer was gone, so I stood around and sweated a bit and then we left. We gained passage to the upstairs fan VIP balcony. Guess what? That’s right. More free beer. Marty was up there. As he navigated the room, you could see the eyes of every chick follow him as if he was a three legged zebra and they were three-legged zebra hunters armed with lipstick, gushy praise and hopes of marriage. I talked to him briefly, as in "Hey Marty" - "Hey Moist". Maybe we hugged, I don’t remember. Maybe it was me and Dr. Jellyfinger who hugged and he wiped snot on my shoulder. I was pretty free-beered up by then. Marty was overrun. Everybody had something "important" to say to him. I would have started throwing elbows, if I were him. He was gracious to everybody.

After Captain Break-it spilled my free beer for the third time, he, his brother, Dr. Jellyfinger, StivOO, and I decided to head next door to the Ginger Man. There we commandeered a table close to the front door. Captain Break-it treated us to a round of double Jack ‘n Cokes. I’m not sure what went on there. I guess we drank. I remember buying two more rounds. On the way back from retrieving my second round, I found Marty sitting in my chair. "That’s my seat, ASSHOLE!" I politely asked him to move. But, I let him sit there and pulled up another chair. Actually, after I put the drinks down, I fell over the table and landed at the feet of the bouncer. He was nice enough to deposit me in a chair next to Marty who was catching up with StivOO. I didn’t talk to Marty much, but I do remember a snippet. Here is an exclusive interview:

Moist Rub: Have you read the blog.

Marty: No, I’m sorry, I really haven’t had much time.

Moist Rub: Good, don’t.

Marty: Please stop rubbing snot on me.

Dr. Jellyfinger: Do you want me to punch him?

There you have it. Somehow, we got home.

From the first beat of Ultrasound through the rest of the night, one thought remained in my head: I am sure glad he didn't win.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Rock Star Revisited

Now that we’re eight weeks removed from the Rock Star finale, I think enough time has gone by that I can go back and see if my opinion of our favorite rockers has changed without the mansion show or weekly performances to influence me. To help rank them, I’ll consider what it would take to get me to one of their performances. In order of not roitness:

Dana: She’s the one that didn’t get to spend a single night in the mansion after trying to impress the band with a performance art piece by singing “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” in the cacophonic style of Black & Decker power tools.
If I were in the same city as Dana, I would hitchhike out on a prison bus just to make sure I wasn’t around in case she started to sing.

Wil: His singing wasn’t terrible, it was his smarmy stage presence that pissed me off. Hate to tell you this, but he was the first to eyefuck all you ladies. He took your visual virginity before Marty even gazed your direction. Except Wil’s gaze was more like a rape. Marty learned from Wil, took out some of the smarm, had the decency to buy you dinner first, and let the game come to him.
I was in the same city when Wil was performing, right next door as a matter of fact, and I didn’t make it to the show. I will avoid his shows at all costs just to avoid becoming spellbound under his seductive gaze.

Neal: His departure created great sadness among the rockers that had become BFF in the two weeks he knew them. They vowed to keep in touch, but I don’t think he’s been riding shotgun in any Honda Civics since the show ended. I would hire him if I were an event planner in charge of finding a last-minute replacement for a Mick Jagger impersonator that just cancelled, but otherwise I don’t have a need for his musical stylings.
If he was playing at a block party, I might take a walk to see what the ruckus was about but would get right back to the horseshoe tournament.

Heather: I like Heather, but her Sheryl Crow cover was so bad that Lance Armstrong thought about breaking up with the real Sheryl Crow. Until then I thought she rocked out to some good tunes. In retrospect, I think I might have overrated her most. Kind of like when you go to a show, buy the band’s CD in a drunken euphoria, and then spend the rest of your life trying to pawn it off to somebody. The used CD store won’t pay a nickel for it and the people at your garage sale laugh at the 25 cent sticker on the case.
If Heather was playing at the same block party as Neal I might check out a few songs as long as there were no Sheryl Crow covers and I didn’t have any cash for CD’s.

Daphna: The lovely Daphna Dove got bounced the same week as Heather in the shocking double elimination show after she showed up in a wedding dress and didn’t realize the band had a fear of commitment. Too bad, because I really liked her look and her covers of Blondie, the Doors, and Joan Jett. I like the tunes currently posted up on her myspace page (and her pic) and hope she’s not too busy studying string theory to make some new music.
I would get in my car and drive downtown on a school night and pay a cover charge to see Daphna. I hope that makes her feel better. Because I’m all about making people feel better.

Tara: Might be the most underrated. Unlike Heather, I think Tara got stuck with songs that just didn’t suit her style. Who the hell put Paranoid on the songboard to begin with? I think that was a practical joke by an intern that didn’t get corrected in time. Some rocker woke up early to take a leak, wandered into the song mill, and before you know it Rafael is having to brush up on his Tony Iommi riffs.
I might play a Tara CD in the background at work and if it passes muster I might pony up the $10 “donation” when she plays the local coffeehouse.

Brandon: I think Brandon was as clever as Marty, but just wasn’t able to communicate it as well. Brandon was obviously trying to capture the big southern dummy faction and meet INXS halfway. Unfortunately, I can’t help him communicate that, either, since I’m not sure what the halfway point is between 80’s dance rock and southern rock. If he can figure that out, I’m sure he’ll get to perform at halftime of all the NASCAR races. They do have halftime, don’t they?
If Brandon was playing some Skynyrd at my subway stop it probably wouldn’t piss me off, but I don’t think I’d encourage him by dropping any tips in his guitar case unless they were concerning his wardrobe.

Jessica: The taping that Leper Pop attended was the only one in which Jessica did not sport the low riders and belly shirt. It’s also the week she finally got booted. I didn’t mind listening to her sing INXS tunes when she was half naked, but her other songs would have required more skin than the censors would have allowed to keep me interested.
From the looks of her website it appears that her normal stagewear is back from the drycleaner, so I might hit a show if some friends needed a designated driver and I was guaranteed a table and the club served really good milkshakes and had a really, really good jukebox for between sets and maybe one of them shuffleboard bowling tables to amuse me in case I got bored.

Deanna: I’m impressed that she made it this deep into the competition. She probably bought herself a couple weeks with the lap dances, but it was obvious that her voice just wasn’t roit for the INXS no matter how bad they wanted to put a stripper pole on their tour bus.
I’d like to have a few beers, see her perform in a smoky, blues bar on a small stage with a three piece band behind her, and buy her CD. I probably wouldn’t play it much at home, but wouldn’t be as pissed about it as my Heather CD.

Ty: He has a lovely voice that I never ever want to hear again. I’d rather be locked in a padded cell with that annoying Shakira commercial. I’d rather listen to Brooke sing showtunes. I’m a lover, not a fighter, but something about Ty just made me want to punch him in nose.
Even if I were at a strip club getting a lap dance from Crystal Bernard and Shania Twain, I would have to leave if Ty’s music started up.

Jordis: She still rocks. I almost let you anti-Ungites talk me into thinking she was overrated. I thought we were past anti-Ungism in the world today, but sadly it still exists. I’m not afraid to turn up my iTunes when the shuffle mode presents Ms. Unga, and I’m curious to hear what she will bring us in the future.
I would go see her perform locally and even offer her a home cooked meal and use of our laundry facilities. Laundromats are depressing, even more so on the road.

Suzie: Now that I don’t have to watch her cry, get drunk, eat asscake, exercise, rehearse, scrapbook, repair cars, raise turtles, clean the pool, tend to the garden, peel vegetables and pontificate on the day’s events thrice weekly, I find I appreciate her voice much more.
I’d make tentative plans to see her if she ever came to my town, but would probably bail out last minute.

MiG: His stage presence was heavily affected by the faux Tony award up his ass, but his vocals on the rock tunes were respectable. He might have had a chance if he would have kept his inner balladeer inside where he belonged and let his best friend Brian May yank that faux Tony award out of his ass. Getting drunk and puking in the mansion might have helped his reputation, as long as it wasn’t on wine coolers or Zima.
Sid F’er has been known to attend the theater on occasion, and that might be MiG’s only chance to get a share of the F’er entertainment budget. But only if it happens by accident. I’m not lining up for tickets to Grease or his little Queenie show.

Marty: Ah, yes, Mahty. All reports indicate that he still rocks. I was getting a little worried with his growing affinity for statuesque performances dedicated to eyefucking the women. They did showcase his growing diversity and are standing the test of time, but sometimes you just want to see a mf’er climb some rafters and bury the intensity meter. He ended up maintaining his integrity, getting some good PR, and not making an ass out of himself in the process while on a reality TV show. Not easily done.
Leper Pop traveled a collective 7,036 round trip miles and braved the mean streets of West Hollywood to see our man sing a Britney Spears song. I considered attending the Metro show, but it would have involved leaving Mrs. F’er alone on Thanksgiving day and I probably would have ended up with a 16 pound turkey up my ass upon my return. It was a tough call, but I think I made the right choice.

JD: Early in the season, I put his odds of winning at 25:1. I had not watched much reality TV before RS: INXS, so Mark Burnett obviously owned me. Even though JD had some moments where the wheels went flying off the JD-Mobile, I believe he does have some vocal and songwriting talent and was roit for the job.
That being said, I don’t have much interest in seeing him with or without his new band. If they add a Dallas date with the Lovehammers I’ll be there, but otherwise I’ll be content with the Michael Hutchence versions I already have on CD.

So it looks like my post mortem report places them in the following order of my personal preference:
Marty, Jordis, Suzie, Daphna, Deanna, JD, Tara, Brandon, Jessica, Heather, MiG, Neal, Wil, Dana, and Ty.

Comments from any of you lesser mortals out there?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

American Music Awards - aka Lowest Common Denominator Awards

What the hell, I said, let’s watch it and see if I can get any material out of this sure to be train wreck.

The show opens with some sort of pod with Mariah Carey locked inside with the guitarist from Spinal Tap. Mariah escaped to sing some sort of Mariah Carey song. It didn’t suck bad enough to distract me from her dress and matching sequin microphone, so my pain factor was only 5 on a scale of 10 to start the evening.

Kenny Chesney came out next, and my momma always done said that if you ain’t fixin’ to say nothin’ proper about a fella, you might could do a good thing by not being a darn fool. She was on the moonshine, but I think I know what she was getting at. So let’s just say that Kenny isn’t as annoying as Garth and not as cheesy as Billy Ray.

Cedric the Entertainer
came out as host and spewed some generic, crappy award show material that amused the musician crowd and made anyone watching at home play the pass out game.

Next up – Shakira to present Favorite Female Solo Artist.
Cedric: If she was a washing machine, she’d be the spin cycle.
Sid: If she was a dryer, she’d be the fluff cycle. Let’s move along.
Nominees: Mariah Carey, Fantasia, & Ciara.
Let’s see. Ciara is a trick answer since that’s really just an impotence drug. So I hear. Fantasia probably isn’t there to accept since she couldn’t read her invite. So I’ll bet on Mariah. Mrs. F’er takes Fantasia. Mariah wins and comes out in a new dress with a hole in the middle of her chest. Mrs. F’er notes that her boobs are lopsided. Mr. F’er wonders why that matters. Mariah thanks God.

Nicole Ritchie checks in from Salt Lake City to let us know she will be introducing the Rolling Stones later in the show and then passes out from malnutrition.

Mrs. F’er’s favorite country duo Brooks & Dunn comes out to present Favorite Female Country Artist. Brooks (or Dunn) makes a joke about Mariah’s boobs being lopsided. Dunn (or Brooks) wonders why that matters.
Nominees: Martina McBride, LeAnne Rimes, and Gretchen Wilson. Gretchen wins and thanks God

Some chick from some Poseidon movie comes out to introduce Rob Thomas.
Sid: This is the worst song ever.
Kip: Sid, like anyone can even know that.

Next up - Lindsay Lohan, in a shrunken Polyphonic Spree frock and oversize stripper shoes for her big shoe dance. She kicked a stool over with the passion of a dead turkey, sang some off-key whiney shit about her dad, and just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, tried to cover Edge of Seventeen. News reports indicate that Stevie Nicks has gathered a torch wielding lynch mob and Lindsay’s only chance is to lay low in an Afghani cave for a couple years. It made me miss Ashlee Simpson.

Best Breakthrough Artist:
Nominees – Jesse McCartney, Sugarland, The Killers
The Killers wrote a nice song for Marty, but didn’t do it as well and thus disqualified themselves. I don’t know who Jesse McCartney is, but fail to see why he is allowed to live. Winner by default – Sugarland.

Jeremy Piven showed up without John Cusack to introduce Pharrell and Gwen Stefani. Pharrell came out to spare everyone to death with some generic crap with Gwen Stefani choosing a very WillyWonka-esque entrance in a faux hot air balloon shaped like an ice cream cone, sporting a Bad Sandy from the end of Grease outfit, only to repeatedly sing the phrase “You got it like that” in response to the crap Pharrell was spouting. I know that was a run-on sentence, but I was trying to get it over with as quickly as possible.

Ashanti and Nick Lachey to present Favorite Pop Rock Female Artist. Nominees -Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Gwen Stefani. Gwen Stefani is backstage packing up her ice cream cone hot air balloon and has no idea what category she just won. Gee, Gwen, no doubt it was for Favorite Norwegian Speed Metal Band. The godless wench was ushered to the stage where she thanked her “girls” for whatever the hell she just won.

Pam Anderson and some guy from some show Invasion come out to present Favorite Soul R&B Act. Nominees: Destiny’s Child, 112, Pretty Ricky.
Destiny’s Child wins and some chick that’s not Beyonce accepts the award.

Jenny McCarthy, dressed in an intriguing slutty librarian outfit, comes out to introduce Hillary Duff, who, after being molested by the Spinal Tap guitarist, is lowered from the rafters in Mariah’s pod. She proceeds to perform a very Six Flags song, the only words being “beat of my heart” while four backup dancers performed choreography that appeared to be designed only to humiliate them.

Keith Urban came out and sang some very urbane, yet boring song.

Cedric, stripped of his entertainer title by this point in the showgram, came out to introduce Gretchen Wilson and Ryan Cabrerra so they could present Favorite Male Country Artist. Nominees: Kenny Chesney, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw. Mr. McGraw won, took the stage in his black leather suit, and disrespected all the other genres by claiming that the country music genre is the only one that demonstrates respect for others.

LeAnne Womack introduced Cyndi Lauper and Sara McLachlin. Cyndi annoyed me in the 80’s and now she just looks like a model from a granny porn site. Or what I imagine one might look like. Sara didn’t help matters much by yodeling like a Ricola commercial. Must listen to Eva Cassidy’s version of Time After Time to get this disaster out of my head (download here).

Cedric came back out to introduce Eve and Sean Paul to present some category I missed, but the nominees were R Kelly, Omarion, and some other guy and R Kelly won, but was unable to accept his award because he was gettin’ busy with Hillary Duff backstage. The video should be available on the ABC website shortly.

Babyface presented some “outstanding moments” from the past that were neither outstanding nor particularly momentous.

Serena Williams & Frankie J stopped by to present Favorite Latin Music Artist. What’s with Serena and the music scene? First the Rock Star Mansion and now the AMA’s. You don’t see Billie Jean King hanging out in the studio with Korn. Nevertheless, Serena was very well spoken and dwarfed the diminutive Frankie J, whoever the hell that is. Nominees: Daddy Yankee, Luis Miguel, Shakira. Winner – Shakira, after brainwashing the world with those freaking commercials during RS: INXS.

Jesse McCartney came out for no other reason than to piss me off and make me want to drown the dweeb in a giant vat of his own hair gel. Actually he did introduce a medley from Omarion, Bow Wow, and Ciara. I was expecting great pain, but it was not as bad as I had expected. Ciara is not a boner pill, but actually a chick singer that could probably inspire a boner without pharmaceutical intervention. Bow Wow wasn’t all angry and shit and didn’t appear to be singing about shooting anyone or raping her, and I thought he had a pretty smooth delivery. Then Omarion came out and tried to ruin everything with his imitations of Usher, Michael Jackson and Mary Lou Retton all in one, but Bow Wow came back to bring some respect back to the performance. Never thought I'd be saying that. I need to get me some of that Bow Wow apparel – should look good on casual Fridays.

Cedric took a break from the backstage buffet line to introduce Kelly Rowland and Jermaine Dupree to present Favorite Pop Rock Male Artist. Nominees: 50 Cent, Wil Smith, Rob Thomas. Winner – Wil Smith. I didn’t realize he was recording again, but I’m still trying to catch up on Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reruns. In his speech, he pretty much warned his wife that she’s going to be walking funny tomorrow, then let Tim McGraw know that he wasn’t interested in shooting up his fellow rappers or being shot up by his fellow rappers and would like to open for the Blue Collar Comedy Tour.

Genuwine and some other guy I don’t know dropped in to present Favorite Rap Hip Hop Female Artist. Nominees: Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, and Trina. I remember some controversy with a Lil’ Kim dress in the past, so I cheering for her, but Missy Elliot won, probably for her critically acclaimed work for Old Navy, and thanked God.

Lance Armstrong drafted to the podium behind a team of 8 stagehands in a jacket that was clearly a gift from girlfriend Sheryl Crow. He wanted to wear his yellow Tour de France jersey, but Sheryl had “forgotten” to pick it up from the dry cleaner. Lance introduced Los Lonely Boys and Santana, who performed a song that sounded like most other Santana collaborations.

This clearly confused Michelle Branch, who ran onto the stage with some Aussie chick she picked up backstage. To cover up her gaffe, they decided to present the Favorite Album. Nominees: Toby Keith, Gretchen Wilson, Tim McGraw. Tim won again, and brought out his band – the Dancehall Doctors – to share the moment. He also issued a disclaimer to the hip-hop artists that they were not really medical doctors, so gunplay should be kept to a minimum for the evening.

Someone who I believe called himself Jay Lutz came out to introduce Sheryl Crow, who performed a rather pleasant song that I had absolutely no desire to own. Kind of like those chairs at Brookstone. Not bad to sit in while you’re wandering the mall, but you’re not whipping out the credit card to take one home with you.

Tim McGraw came out and sang some song that I might play on a bar jukebox after a half dozen beers and a shot of Yukon Jack.

Cedric introduced Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra and PPoD introduced us to a new facial hair design and celebrated his second anniversary with Carmen by performing “Baby I Love Your Way” in American Sign Language. This left approximately 10 seconds to announce the category (Favorite Pop Rock Band), the nominees (Black Eyed Peas, Green Day, 3 Doors Down), and the winner (Black Eyed Peas). Black Eyed Peas won, but were unable to accept the award because they were likely whoring themselves out in a holiday commercial coming soon to a network near you.

Ryan Seacrest told us the story of how he worked in the coal mines as a young child and developed black lung disease just so he could afford to buy a Eurythmics album. It was all worth it as he got to introduce that very band before he was led offstage and placed back into his iron lung.
Call me a big homo, but I share Ryan’s passion and thought Annie and the band (and some powerhouse backup singers) rocked on their rendition of Missionary Man. I found Sweet Dreams rather anti-climatic, but still rank the performance as best of the evening. The crowd seemed to share my opinion and gave them a hearty ovation.

Cedric introduced Chris Brown and Mary Mary to present Favorite Rap Hip Hop Album. Nominees: Eminem, 50 Cent, TI. Eminen? Best of albums shouldn’t count – who’s running this popsicle stand? Turns out that would be irrelevant since 50 Cent got the win, but was unable to accept the award due to a previous commitment to shoot up that fake butter machine at the only theater that has agreed to show his movie.

More allegedly memorable moments from Babyface.

John Stamos and some chick from Gray’s Anatomy showed up to present a very confusing T-Mobile Text Message Artist of the Year Award. Anyone with a CD burner was eligible and the winner was determined by a text message from John Stamos’ mother after her reading of an issue of People magazine. Kelly Clarkson was congratulated as the winner, John told us she wasn’t there, then they shuffled around, neglected to accept the award for her, dropped their car keys, bumped heads trying to pick them up, and eventually crawled offstage.

Cedric the Introducer introduced Macy Gray, who introduced Rascal Flatts to perform some song that earned them nominations to the Academy Awards next year in the overenthusiastic performance from a backup band category. Congratulations, Rascals.

Sugarland came out to present Favorite Contemporary Inspirational Artist. Nominees:
Casting Crowns, Jars of Clay, Mary Mary. Mary Mary wins, thanks God and Jesus and tells everyone to buy their goddam CD or you’re all going to hell.

Jada Pinkett Smith introduced the All-American Rejects and I wonder what indiscretion a record company executive must have committed in their presence that forced him to sign this band to keep them from going public. Please, take one for the team, buddy – own up to whatever you did and drop these guys for the greater good.

The Backstreet Boys – I dated a girl who had a Backstreet Boys concert ticket in her scrapbook when I should have been dating girls with Rick Springfield tickets in their scrapbooks. It was fun for a while but didn’t work out. Just like the Backstreet Boys careers. Nonetheless, they presented Favorite Country & Western Duo or Group. Nominees: Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, Rascal Flatts. I told Mrs. F’er we’re leaving the country if Big & Rich win. Thankfully, her favorite duo Brooks and Dunn won again and we don’t have to start packing.

Paris Hilton came out with her big bag of nothing, accompanied by some dude from Desperate Housewives to present Favorite Soul R&B Album. Nominees: Mariah Carey, Destiny’s Child, Fantasia. Destiny’s Child wins again, and again, one of the chicks that isn’t Beyonce accepts the award and thanks Jesus when she should be thanking Beyonce for bringing her spare ass along this far.

Nicole Richie was apparently kicked out of Salt Lake City for stealing a police car and pissing on the mayor’s house, so Cedric comes out one last time to introduce the Rolling Stones live via satellite. Mick is saying something, but I’m not sure what the hell it is. Keith thinks it funny, though, so maybe I just haven’t had enough to drink. They finally play a song and I can’t decide if the song sucks, the mix sucks, or if I suck for wasting three hours of my evening watching this.
They come back and play “Only Rock and Roll” and I know the song doesn’t suck. So now I can’t decide if they suck, the mix sucks, or I suck for sticking out the rest of the show. Luckily, the break away in the middle of the song, so that my local news station can tease their story on why it may be dangerous to start my car tomorrow morning.

If you’re going to the Lovehammers show, hopefully this will make you appreciate it even more. If not, find yourself something worthy to wash your ears out with this holiday weekend – perhaps Leper Pop favorite Beth Hart. Happy Thanksgiving, y'all.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Sweet Georgia Meltdown

My job takes me to exotic locales like Atlanta, which, as far as I can tell, is exactly like Dallas except, perhaps, a little more Southern belle than cowgirl. And that’s just a line of BS to needlessly impress Atlanta, which, like Dallas, isn’t really that much different than most other large cities I visit. A lesson I learned in preparation for my move to Dallas many years ago, when I mounted a large steer horn hood ornament on my Nissan Sentra ala JP Gottrocks and donned a 10-gallon hat for my first day on the job. Then I was told that North Dallas isn’t really that much different from the mean streets of suburban Chicago, so I quickly ditched the spurs before I hurt myself. Besides, I couldn’t get them to stick on the Chuck Taylor’s very well and they were quickly wearing a hole in the floorboard of the bitchin’ Sentra. But I kept the assless chaps, so I’d have something to wear to the Manhole Bar when I was lonely. I’ve already wildly digressed.

If you don’t know Atlanta, I’ll share what I know. The airport is on the south side and my destination in the Perimeter area is on the far north side, and there are approximately 8.9 million cars in between the two points going to the same place that you wish to. Fortunately, they built a train that runs between the same two points that can get you across town in about an hour, thus shaving approximately 3 days off the commute. All for the low, low price of $1.75, no ups, no extras. They call it MARTA out there, which I believe is an acronym for the Mig Ayesa Rockin’ Train Association, with each train car containing an elfin Australian dude playing ballads on a toy piano. Or maybe it just stands for My Ass Rides Trains Around. Go look it up if you really care.

I’m a fan of public transportation, so upon deplaning I got a token from the vending machine with the same fervor normally reserved for condom machines in sleazy bar bathrooms. Unfortunately, I only had a twenty dollar bill and received 73 quarters in change. Quarters don’t stay in g-strings very well, so I would be screwed if I ran into any of the city’s strippers on the train. From what I’ve heard, Atlanta and Dallas have quite a number of strip clubs. I've even heard that The Men's Club has a decent menu, too. But you might be surprised to know that Portland, Oregon has the highest number per capita. I was surprised, but now I know how Oregon State University got their nickname. Maybe all those strippers really are doing it just to pay their way through school. Wow, another wild digression.

So I’m riding MARTA, not wearing assless chaps and not finding any strippers (my research shows that they usually travel in new Ford Mustangs), and finding it an uneventful experience. Which isn’t a bad thing while riding public transportation. I’m not sure they made a wise choice by carpeting the floors of the train, since it seemed to have picked up an unusual odor that I really didn’t want to think about too much. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think about some homeless guy marking his train car after a long ride with a bottle of Thunderbird. I tried to distract myself by reading job applications over the shoulder of the woman in front of me. I think it had something to do with managing grant money for a hospital. Whatever it was, it sounded even less interesting than what I already do, so I told her I was unable to accept her offer but wish her and the organization continued success. We rolled through downtown and soon I was deposited at the Dunwoody (heh, heh, I said woody) stop in Perimeter to start earning some reward points at my hotel. Another 47 nights and I’ll qualify for a free night in Des Moines. Next day, I went to my meeting, looked pretty, tried to make a few relevant points to justify my billing rate, and took MARTA back to the airport, now down to only 66 quarters. I tried to find a Ms. Pac-Man machine to lighten my load, but to no avail.

I must have made some damn good relevant points that day because they requested my presence in Atlanta a couple weeks later. And I’m not that pretty. So I loaded my 66 quarters back into my pockets, unloaded them into the giant tub to get through security, loaded them back into my pants, searched unsuccessfully for a Ms. Pac-Mac machine, and eventually got to Atlanta. At 10 p.m. That’s well after dusk. By myself. With a shiny Apple PowerBook G4 and some fresh underwear in my bag. Sometimes in a meeting I’ll pretend to whip out the underwear instead of the PowerBook by mistake. That’s always good for a hearty laugh. Or an early dismissal. You never can tell. But I digress. I confess I was afraid of getting my underwear stolen on the train late that night. The pair in my bag, not the pair in my pants. Even if the potential mugger wasn’t my size, he might then take the PowerBook out of spite. I can run commando for a day if necessary, but without the trusty PowerBook I’ll be left only with phrases I've picked up from Dilbert comic strips. So I took a shuttle to the hotel and safely arrived with my underwear and my PowerBook, but felt like a big wuss. To get my self-esteem back, I beat up my shuttle driver but felt bad afterwards and tried to make it up to him with a generous tip. Mostly in quarters. I told him the whole PowerBook/underwear story while trying to stop his nose from bleeding, and he got a hearty laugh. That only made me feel worse because I think he had a cracked rib and hearty laughter was not the best medicine. So I kicked him in the shin and went to check in before I made matters worse.

I put another notch in my lipstick case – only 46 more stays until my free night in Des Moines.