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 see...at 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.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Marty Casey: A Night Out

Through no fault of our own, most of us will never be able to spend an evening with a blossoming rock star and experience that kind of life. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones, because I was graced with the opportunity to hang out with Marty Casey, Rock God-In-Waiting. For all you little people who will never get a chance to flip the rid with the skid, I will share with you my experience so that you can all be jealous. If you choose to be the jealous type, that is.

Last Friday night was a typical weekend night for me. After I delivered meals to the elderly and helped the local homeless shelter clean their ovens, I went home to chill out with a relaxing evening of laundry. Lo and behold (yes, not just lo, nor just behold - both of them), the phone rang, which surprised me since most people that I know are aware of my Friday night schedule and are polite enough not to interrupt. I answered the phone. The voice at the other end of the line said, "Hey, Moist, it’s Marty. What’s going on, mutha f***a?" Oh good, I thought, my car must be ready at the shop. "Oh good, Marty," I said "I was afraid my car wouldn’t be ready until Monday." I had mistaken Marty Casey for Marty Trunbun at the body shop. Fortunately, although confused at first, Marty Casey understood the confusion and had a hardy laugh about it. Those Caseys are such good people. Not "good" in an arrogant manner that they make you feel crappy about yourself and how horrible your family is, but just solid good people that make you feel a lot better about yourself, no matter how many times you have been arrested or have wet yourself in public.

"Moist, old boy," he went on to say, "if you’re not busy tonight, I’m looking to party down." Of course, I accepted his invitation. Marty was back in town from his LA recording sessions to attend a family event on Saturday evening. I was curious why he was calling me. Sure, Marty and I are pals, but there are plenty of other people in the Chicagoland area that are closer to him than I am. Initially, he told me he missed hanging out with me at the establishments in my neighborhood (his youthful stomping grounds). But, I knew he was not being forthright with me. After a little friendly pressure, he admitted that I was the one thousand, four hundred and thirty-sixth person he called. The others were all busy trying on shoes. Hey, at least I made the list of a soon to be people’s rock poet. So, I invited him over.

Thirty seconds later, there was a knock at my door. He had been standing at the end of my driveway in the rain, having called me from his cell phone. It was good to see the young comer, and we shared a firm hand shake fully equipped with arm grasp. I was not quite yet prepared to head out for the evening, seeing as I had homeless oven crud incrusted all over me. I gave him full access to my refrigerator, which was stocked with beer and other beer and some other beer, while I excused myself to tend to my sootiness.

When I emerged from my scouring, I found Marty sitting on my couch strumming my guitar. I also found the kitchen was strewn with milk shake shrapnel. "Hey, dude, I helped myself to a milk shake," he explained. "Hey, where’s the lid to your blender?" I thought he would imbibe in one of the many brews I had chilling. Maybe he likes milk shakes. Maybe it runs in the family. You know - drinking milk shakes when you should be drinking beer? I think there is a gene for that.

Marty asked me to listen to him play some of the songs The Lovehammers had been working on in the studio, and he asked me to offer any help I could manage. I was more than happy to do so. I wasn’t just happy. I was more than that. Imagine "happy" and then add "more happy" onto that, and that is what I was. More than happy.

First, he played Trees. It is a good song, but frankly, I’m tired of it. I suggested we turn it into more of a blues boogie anthem. My plan was to keep the beginning and the end the same, but add a huge middle section beginning with the I7 and IV7 chords that would use condensed patterns derived from the E and A Dorian modes, adding a walking bass line of this ilk that is derived from the Mixolydian mode, featuring major 3rds as opposed to bluesy flat 3rds. He was intrigued. Being on a roll, I continued. Next, we would employ a jazzy 9th voicing (with the flat 7th on the bottom - how could we not, right?) and then move into an adequate, yet common, A9 cord for the IV chord, close-voiced A7 on the same four strings (obvious, I know, but it works so don’t mess with it). Then we would bring it home by descending, with confidence, down the root position of the relative C# minor scale to the root position of the E blues scale before implying the B7-C7-B7-E7-B7 progression. Using compound octaves derived from the E major scale (with C, the flat 6th, as a passing tone between C# and B, and G, the flat 3rd, as a passing tone between G# and F#) to scamper down to the IV chord. And the forest gave us the answer. It was beautiful. I decided to toast our effort with a beer. Marty partook, as well. Marty felt that there was no way they would keep this new anthem version of Trees off the album. If it’s not there when you by the CD, blame the record company weasels. That's what he said. Pop radio needs a fifteen minute super-hit, and we all know it.

That process took a while. We were only able to work on their next hit single, Leper Pop, for a little bit before Marty got tuckered out. Marty ensured me that Leper Pop will definitely be on the new cd, and I will receive royalties for it (sneak peak: "Going to a shop with my mop, dookle dookle toodle, Leper POP!"). I suggested we head out to the Roadhouse, where the Lovehammers had their first public gig, to celebrate. But he had a better idea. From out of nowhere, Marty produced the DVD set of the Gilmore Girls second season. I’ll admit, it wasn’t a better idea, but he was my guest, so I loaded up the DVD player. This is when I began drinking heavily. While I poured myself a Big Gulp of Jack ‘n Coke, Marty inquired as to the whereabouts of my family photo albums.

We sat on my couch, Gilmore girls having orgies and shooting guns* in the background, while Marty perused pictures of my children. "Hey, remember that?" he would say, pointing at a given picture. "Marty, you weren’t there," I would vainly retort. "Yeah, those were good times. Good times," he faux-reminisced.

By the end of third episode of Gilmore Girls, I had finished my fourth Jack ‘n Coke, depleting my supply of Jack Daniels. The clock gave me the good news that liquor stores were still open. I told Marty I had to step out to fix a flat tire. He was engrossed in the Gilmore mess: Rory had brought up the subject of Max, which irritated Lorelai, so they decided to scream at each other and have lesbian sex*.

I returned from the liquor store, fully loaded in more ways than one, to the sight of Marty folding my laundry, which happened to be a load of grundies. I told him I don’t fold my grundies, since it doesn’t matter if they are wrinkled because most people don’t see them. He expressed his belief of only allowing rippleless cloth to provide comfort to, as he called it, one’s monument and proximal reflecting pool region. I was drunk, and I still didn’t know what he was talking about.

"Look, Marty," I pleaded, "if we leave now, we can catch last call at the Roadhouse and finish out the night at the Valley, just like old times."

"Got any S’mores?"

I learned a valuable lesson that night. Marshmallows and a fifth of Jack Daniels do not mix well. Marty was kind enough to clean up the fruits of my gastric distress. Better yet, that experience soured his yen for the girls Gilmore. Finally, he agreed to go to the Valley to cap off our evening. I asked him to drive, since I was feeling less than chipper. He had no car. His RockStar Honda Civic was parked in Los Angeles. Since my car was in the shop, we had no ride. Even if we did have my car, he could not ride in it. He told me he could only drive in a Honda Civic. I inferred that there was a contractual reason forbidding him from traveling in a different kind of car, since he won the car as part of a Honda promotion with RockStar:INXS. "No," he said, "Rock Stars only roll in Civics." Right, I forgot.

We walked around my neighborhood until we found a Civic parked in a driveway. I asked him if he knew how to hot wire a car. Before I finished my question he had opened the door and started the engine with a key. "Where did you get that?" I asked. "It’s the key to MY Civic," he claimed. "But, that’s not the key to this Civic," I argued. "Rock Star key." Say no more.

The Valley was chock full of drunk people that weren’t quite drunk enough for their pleasure. There were two seats open at the bar. I nabbed them. Marty never made it to the bar. Fans swarmed him at the door like billiard balls to the corner pocket of a slanted pool table. But a lot faster, and with softer collisions, except for three or four unfortunate skulls. Kathy, the bartender, served up my Jack ‘n Coke as a matter of habit. "Does Marty need anything," she asked. "Do I have any regurgitated marshmallow on my face?" I replied.

After about twenty minutes, a young female Marty admirer, who had witnessed me enter the room with him, abandoned the swarm and approached me. "You look kind of old, are you Marty’s accountant?" Yes, honey, I am. If that’ll make you happy. I wasn’t new to this experience. About seven years ago, Sid F’er, StivOO, Captain Break-it and I attended a Lovehammers show at a club at Illinois State University. StivOO and I joined the post show party at a college apartment, while Sid F’er and Captain Break-it waited in the van. The apartment was packed with cavorting collegers like molecules in a wad of gum at absolute zero. I was barely able to move. So I stood with my beer held up to my face for easy access. A young co-ed, not unlike the girl at the Valley, approached me and asked, "You look kind of old, are you Marty’s body guard?" Yes, my dear, I am. In the past seven years, my physical image has deteriorated from rough and tough body guard to a meek, unassuming, high-powered, and quite wealthy, I might add, Hollywood accountant. Yet I have consistently appeared old. The worst part is neither one of these alter-egos afforded me the opportunity of babe bagging. But at least I got to spend some time with a burgeoning rock star. And he got to spend time with me. And he cleaned up my puke.

When the lights went on at the Valley, I snuck out the side door, leaving Marty to his own wits. I’ve done all I can for that boy. He’ll be fine. It was a nice, dismal, rainy night, so I decided to walk home. As I walked by the side of the road, a Honda Civic, packed with scantily clad, screaming young women, sped by me, splashing gallons of puddle over me. I wonder if that was Marty.

* imagined by author to make it bearable

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Call Me Kitty II

Our hero Dave seemed to have created a bit of a stir when Call Me Kitty made its recent debut. Although not mentioned by name, Dave ventures outside the steamy confines of his shower in the second installment.

Call Me Kitty II

They danced on Greenville Avenue at a street party for two to the sounds that filtered through the metal garage doors of the bar they had just left; the only guest, a homeless bard in a battered coat, hoping to trade his streetwise Homeric ramblings for a donation to a bottle that would help warm him.

“Brrrr, cold!” his lips rumbled angrily and knowingly to kick start the beat of each verse, continuing to the beat of their feet as they trekked up the street. Their eloquent escort continued to the newly opened doors of the Whisky Bar. The brass rails and marble bartops would soon again separate the party, and they paid homage to their poet laureate for the evening with a couple of crumpled dollar bills from their front pockets to help support his habit. The balance of the money went inside with them to support theirs.

Most of the crowd dressed in black, taking their role in the bar far too seriously. The couple immediately looked for a way to lampoon the atmosphere that was so ripe for it. They found the best way was to join in on the local rituals, and, although they wore faded jeans and obviously did not understand the concept of moderation, they too chose and sipped heartily from the stock of single barrel bourbons as well as those in the blackest wardrobes. And then some. The small crowd was relaxed, yet somber, and clearly didn’t understand the amusement of their visitors. Melancholy bastards.

Once they found the bottom of their glasses again, they chased the lingering drops of the aged bourbon with a side of fresh ice water, glanced knowingly to each other and flitted to the door. As they pushed the door open, the burst of winter air was a welcome gust after the stuffy atmosphere they had just left. His thoughts turned to Sarah Jessica Parker, while she searched for their bard. Unable to spot either in the immediate vicinity, they continued on with only each other.

The traffic on the streets and sidewalks indicated that despite their early start, the rest of the city had caught up with them this evening. The only lead they maintained was in the amount of alcohol that coursed through their veins. So why quit now...

They set the requirements for the next stop - dark, smoky, with two seats near to their local barkeep. Candidates came to mind, but the winner was decided by a matter of geography as they crossed the street to the Icehouse. After slicing through the smoke that hung inside the door, they bellied up to the bar as the bartender tossed two coasters atop the worn bartop in front of them. To keep with the frenetic pace of the night, he asked for their order without a word, but by merely raising his eyebrows in their direction. So as not to disrupt the flow they offered a rote request for two beers which he produced nearly before they finished the order. As he waited for payment, the excess water from the iced down bottles that dripped from his hands was wiped through his greasy hair, down through his ponytail, and finished off with a wipe of the crumpled rag that was laced through his belt.

Before paying, they looked to one another again and knew they had to add a shot of Turkey to the order. With that they toasted, while the words of Jean Stafford hung in the air...

“To her own heart, which was shaped exactly like a valentine, there came a winglike palpitation, a delicate exigency, and all the fragrance of all the flowery springtime love affairs that ever were seemed waiting for them in the whiskey bottle.”

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Time To Wango

As I slough through life I note moments that could be blogworthy. Unfortunately I don't have time to develop all these ideas. Sometimes I do and they end up sucking. So here are some random notes I need to dispose of because they couldn't stand on their own or I didn't have the time and patience to nurture them properly. Same reason I don't have kids.

Ponytail Express
The Bourbon Street cops on duty watching the World Series with me didn’t notice the drunk girl braiding the police horse’s mane. The horse didn’t seem to mind, but I’m sure the cop took some shit when he turned the horse into the stable.

Notes from the Friendly Skies
Coming back from Atlanta this week I was seated next to a grandma from Abilene reading an article offering evidence that demons are, in fact, fallen angels. She only tried to talk to me once, but I quickly bit the head off the bat I keep in my carry-on bag just for that very occasion. It doesn’t taste anything like chicken, but it was worth it.

Notes from The Galleria
The Bebe mannequins are pretty hot, but Versace Couture is a close second. Even the ones without arms.
Being a shoe salesman at Nordstrom’s is probably a great way to meet hot women, but in the end you’re still a shoe salesman and even your employee discount probably won’t matter much.

I try to look menacing so that people leave me alone, but I have a feeling that I just look kind of annoyed instead. It still seems to work most times.

Conversation from the Le Pavillon Fitness Center

Her: You can change the channel… I’m almost done working out.
(that president show with Geena Davis is on the small TV in the corner)
Me: OK
(not changing the channel)
Her: There’s probably some sports on or something.
Me: Why would you say that?
Her: Because you’re a guy and you’re working out.
Me: Just trying not to gain any weight with all the food I’m eating down here.
Her: I try to keep snacks in my room but still eat a lot.
(while walking out the door)
Me: Have a good night.
(change the channel to playoff baseball)

Postscript: Bread pudding isn’t as bad as it sounds, particularly with a warm caramel rum sauce.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

A Farewell To Arms

Ferguson Royal was living a quiet, normal, life. He enjoys a comfortable living as a computer programmer, bowls in a league every week, owns his own home, has a dog and was a talented amateur juggler. The only thing missing, according to him, was a good woman to share his mundane, yet satisfying, existence. Now, allegedly, due to a skirmish with his neighbor, he has two more missing pieces to his contentment – his arms.

"One day, I woke up and my arms were missing," Royal claims. He believes his neighbor, Merle Leeks, a butcher by trade, is responsible for stealing his arms. According to Royal, one night he was at Leeks’ house "having a few drinks" and enjoying his neighbor’s hospitality. He doesn’t remember going home that night.

"We were whooping it up pretty good. When I get a little tipsy, I like to juggle. People seem to enjoy when I juggle atypical juggling items in their home. It adds to the fun." The last thing Royal remembers before he woke up in his bed armless the next day was juggling Leeks’ custom set of butcher knifes. Royal claims that Leeks drugged him, sliced off his arms, cauterized the wounds with a curling iron and deposited him into his bed.

Leeks provides a different course of that evening’s events. "That idiot invited himself over, drank all my booze, juggled everything he could get his hands on and must have eventually blacked out." The local authorities found no signs of foul play at the Leeks residence. "Of course not," Leeks elaborated. "Nothing happened. Nothing except that lunatic juggling my mother’s urn and spilling her ashes all over my living room, only to be licked up clean by that stupid dog of his. That’s when I kicked him out. The last I saw of him, he was stumbling down the street juggling imaginary elephants. ‘Look how strong I am – I’m juggling pretty blue elephants. Ewhoowooie!’ He woke up half the neighborhood with his hollerin’."

Police have no clues as to what happened to Royal’s arms. It appears they are not trying too hard to find out. "On one level, it’s a real tragedy what happened to him," stated Officer Leon Plunk. "But then again, he’s been a pain in the ass since he’s moved to town two years ago." Officer Plunk described numerous accounts of general juggling related pestering and crudeness on Royal’s part. "It could have been anybody in a two mile radius, not to mention friends and family of people in this area who have had the misfortune of experiencing Mr. Royal’s act. Most people were darned sick of his juggling. Frankly, we don’t have the resources to interrogate all of the suspects." Plunk feels the greater good is better off because of this incident.

As an avid juggler, Royal has spent many hours in his back yard flinging various objects into the air, at times to the dismay of some of his neighbors. The houses in the neighborhood are packed tightly together on each block, offering room for only small backyards. Neighbors are very familiar with the outdoor goings-on of each other.

"I don’t mind the balls, the bowling pins or even the chain saws," stated Regina Balsthwaite, Royal’s widow neighbor living behind him. "But it’s a little disturbing when you’re having a cookout and you see him tossing around live chickens, inflatable woman dolls, dog poopy, pantyhose filled with gravy, small children with duct tape on their mouths, dentures, ash trays coated in mustard, weird red things, Teletubby skeletons…". I think we get the idea, Mrs. Balsthwaite. "…melted blocks of cheese, giant wads of partially chewed roast beef, fish parts, oranges, globs of horse drool…"

Reporter: Enough. Enough! That’s enough, Mrs. Balsthwaite. Globs of horse drool? What the hell is wrong with you?

Royal: It’s just stuff I have lying around the house.

Reporter: You have globs of horse drool lying around the house?

Royal: Sure. Well, after I tantalize the horse with elusive bags of delicious oats…

Reporter: This is nuts. Wait a minute. Mrs. Balsthwaite, what is the problem with Mr. Royal juggling oranges?

Mrs. Balsthwaite: (screams) AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Reporter: Alright, that did it. I’m calling this story off. This is too absurd. I was looking to do a story about a man who had lost his arms and the struggle and frustration he faced trying to live a normal life.

Royal: I’m getting a callus on the end of my nose from trying to type programming code with it at work. That’s pretty frustrating.

Reporter: You’re lucky you’re not in jail for child abuse for juggling those children with duct tape on their mouths.

Royal: Those rascals! Oh, how they enjoy it so. I taped their mouths so their audible jubilance would not disturb the neighbors.

Leeks: Those were screams, moron.

Royal: Give me my arms back, Leeks! I know you did it.

Leeks: Even if I did do it, I wouldn’t give them back to you.

Royal: What about my bowling average? I was almost up to 180. Now I’ll be lucky to break 60 by kicking the ball down the lane.

Leeks: Freak.

Reporter: Mr. Royal, it seems that the people in your neighborhood are all better off with your loss of arms. I now have to terminate this story. Good day to you.

Royal: Are we gonna be on TV?

Leeks: Yeah, can we be on TV?

Reporter: No, I am not associated with any television stations.

Plunk: I’ve been on TV a number of times – on that show Cops.

Royal: This would have been a good story for Cops.

Plunk: Not really. Not unless we caught the perpetrator in the act. Or if we even knew who it was. This would be better for Americas Most Wanted, except that nobody in America wants to catch this person, other than to give him a reward for ending the juggling insanity.

Royal: I thought you all enjoyed my juggling.

Leeks: It was fun the first couple of times you did it. But you got out of hand. You juggled my and my wife’s shoes.

Plunk: What’s wrong with that, Mr. Leeks?

Leeks: We were still wearing them at the time.

Royal: That was a good night. Remember that?

Reporter: I’d love to stroll down psycho-juggler memory lane with you all, but I really have to wrap this up. The story is over.

Royal: But what about my happy ending? What about the challenges that now stand in my way? What about my courage, suffering life with no arms? What about me finding a woman to fulfill my mundane, yet satisfying, existence? You foreshadowed it in the first paragraph.

Reporter: Yeah, good luck with that.

Royal: I’m serious. I have NO ARMS! I need a woman now more than ever, if you know what I mean.

Reporter: I know what you mean. Mrs. Balshwaite?

Mrs. Balsthwaite: (screams) AAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Friday Night Lites

Friday nights at the F’er household are pretty mellow. Between work and writing sonnets for Crystal Bernard, I’m usually all tuckered out by Friday and Mrs. F’er has to get up early for work on Saturday morning. Either that, or she’s going to temple and hasn’t told me that she’s Jewish. Maybe I’ll follow her someday if I’m up before nine.

So we make a pizza (never with pork sausage… my suspicion grows) and plant ourselves in front of the television. While the pizza is baking we usually have a discussion that I can usually stretch out for at least five minutes before Mrs. F’er realizes the utter ridiculousness of it and threatens to remove my jugular with the pizza cutter. Tonight I was quizzing her on the location of my various scars and broken bones. Whoever said marriage is boring? She was doing pretty well until I asked her about the location of my third nipple, which I would think would be cool to have and use to squirt people. She correctly pointed out that I do not possess a third nipple, but then she made a critical error and, in an apparent reference to my lack of mammary glands, asked what I planned to squirt people with. I answered “cherry limeade” without hesitation as she reached for the pizza cutter. I was now intrigued with my imaginary third nipple filled with cherry limeade and asked her if she would drink the cherry limeade from my nipple. I was deeply offended when she said no. What’s wrong with my cherry limeade nipple, I thought to myself. Actually, I asked her directly and we debated about it for several minutes. Eventually, she expressed some concern over the sugar content so I offered to fill it with Splenda just for her, but she reminded me that artificial sweeteners are even worse in her opinion. I put her in hypothetical situations such as a long, dusty bike ride on a hot day with no water and she still refused the cool nipple refreshment. I finally got her to agree to drink it only if it was filled with ice water and she was suffering severe dehydration.

If the timing is right, the pizza comes out of the oven at 7 p.m. just in time to catch the repeat of The Apprentice on CNBC. I love watching Carolyn and George give those cocky jackass wannabes all sorts of hell for being incompetent. George is kind of sexy when he yells at them. Did I say George? I meant Carolyn. I think Randall has the thing locked up unless he gets some bad acid and tries to surf on the boardroom table, but I also hope they keep Rebecca around just for being so darn cute.

When 8 p.m. rolls around we have recently discovered Survivorman on The Science Channel. Those wacky Science Channel producers pick some remote location in the world and drop our hero off with nothing more than a Swiss army knife, a bag of cheetos, a copy of Barely Legal, and his camera equipment to film his quest to survive seven days until they come to pick him up. Since the extent of my outdoor survival training has consisted of eating some girl scout cookies once a year, this show has given me the confidence that I, too, can make a bed out of monkey turds and live off the land without suffering a Violet Beauregarde-like fate.

The night climaxes with The Soup on E! at 9 p.m. A wacky 30 minute recap of your favorite reality and talk show moments from the week. Sid says check it out. Capture the maximum idiocy in the minimum amount of time.

At 9:30 p.m. it’s time for dessert, but I’ll save my bread pudding debacle for another time….

As Mrs. F’er heads off to a peaceful slumber, I check the household coffers to see if the stash is sufficient to support my early retirement. The shortfall throws me into a deep fit of depression and I spend the rest of the evening composing dirges on my Casio keyboard, hopeful that dirges will take over pop radio in the near future and flood my mailbox with royalty checks. As I lay me down to sleep, I practice creative visualization by picturing myself on stage with my Casio keyboard headlining Dirge-a-Palooza before thousands of morose fans and slowly drift off into Saturday morning.