Thursday, August 27, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
I never met the man whose brain conjured such a scheme. I can’t even testify to the veracity of this anecdote. It may have just been a passing thought this person had on his way to or from the Fugee’s performance at Eastern Michigan University, a thought that became a memory through boastful conversations with friends in the following days.
But more than 10 years later I remember the story.
The absurd confidence displayed by such a gesture may also be described as hubris. Clearly, there isn’t a man breathing who doesn’t have time for a chat with Lauryn Hill. And this, of course, is where we discover the slight-chuckle-worthy humor in my little story.
I wonder now why I’ve retained this anecdote for so long, why it’s been sitting there in the back of my mind, collecting dust in my rolodex of stories to tell at parties or dinners with friends, waiting to be pulled out when any number of relevant topics are breached.
Perhaps the most notable reason, or the one that’s made the most sense to me, is that I’ve never understood that sort of confidence to begin with. I’ve never, not for one moment in my life, felt wanted. I consider this story and only see the failure of this quality that I struggle to attain.
So maybe I need this story to end differently. Maybe Lauryn Hill needed to laugh at the arrogance and smile at the young man who held out a torn up flyer with smeared ball point numbers scribbled on the back. Maybe she needed to take that man’s hand and fulfill whatever it was he sought to accomplish that day. Because in my mind, she simply rolled her eyes. She may have taken the number with a careless grip, but released it when he turned his back. It floated to the ground. It was trampled in the hall then swept up with the trash.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
"Come on, man, smile, this is Hip Hop!"
He shook my hand and hugged me before moving on.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
I think next year me and Luke should have a donut eating contest.
It would be more competitive.
They could be Krispy Kremes-
Well, we both know who would win that.
No, it's just you and Luke competing.
Oh Bryan, you can take part. It will be a three-way.
I hope no one overheard that.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
As payback, Emily gave me two of the coma-inducing eggs this winter when they became available for their annual, three-month presence at drug stores everywhere. After Bryan and I consumed and lamented the overpowering sweetness of these chocolate abominations, I was struck with an idea. It wasn't even an idea, really, it was a mere phrase:
This thought made me giggle for the rest of the afternoon. I contacted my cousin Luke, widely renowned for his eating ability, and ran the idea past him. He found it hilarious, and immediately agreed to take part.
Here was the problem: I didn't want to do this crap, but from an ethical point of view, I couldn't ask people to do something I wasn't prepared to do myself. I had shot myself in the foot. If I wanted to see Luke - who spends his Sundays eating Jewel chocolate frosted donuts by the dozen - eat a stupid amount of Cadbury eggs, I would have to be his opponent.
The next call went to my Uncle Mark, who giggled with delight for our entire conversation, and designated Saturday, April 11th as the day the contest would go down. I also mentioned to him that we would only be allowed to wash down the eggs with warm coke, a stipulation he was careful to ammend as "the warm soda of your choice."
After the months passed, I had hoped that everyone had just simply forgotten about my hair-brained Cadbury egg contest idea, but earlier this week I got a call from an excited Uncle Mark - "you guys are on for Saturday."
Uncle Mark called me four times that day, the excitement growing in his voice with each subsequent call as he told me that Luke expected to beat me by "seven eggs." Then my brother called, asking to be my coach, and ensuring that I had everything I needed in order to compete at the peak of my abilities.
Apparently, the Cadbury eggs were getting scarce during this week before Easter. Fortunately (in a manner of speaking), Target had plenty. We arrived at my grandmother's house with 48 Cadbury creme eggs to be consumed by two wildly idiotic young men.
A bit of math about the Cadbury Creme Egg: Each one weighs 34 grams, 22 of which are sugar. For those unfamiliar with metric conversions, there are 454 grams in a pound, that means that if one were to eat 10 eggs, they would consume 220 grams of sugar, or roughly half a pound.
The "creme" inside these eggs is actually "fondant," which is most common in it's "rolled" form as a maliable topping for cakes. In it's "poured" form, it is basically a syrup of water and sugar that has been heated to enable an unnatural saturation of sugar into the water, and then vigorously stirred in order to create the "creamy" texture. I have no idea how the thicker, yellow "yolk" is created, and I honestly don't want to think about it at the moment.
I will share the details of the contest at a later date - when I have the video to post - but for now I will say that it was among the stupidest things I've done. In all, I ate 10 eggs. I felt hyper for about twenty minutes and then suffered a meteoric crash that has evolved into a killer headache this morning.
As I suffer here in my bed with a throbbing skull, sore throat, and foul taste in my mouth I have only one person to blame: Emily Price. Had she never brought me those two eggs, my immature and filterless brain would have never even considered the possibility of such a contest, let alone share it with my friends and family who are all prone to encouraging humorous and self destructive behavior. So it couldn't possibly be my fault.
Friday, March 27, 2009
All right, you know what I don't get?
In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, Yoda is jumpin around, doin' all these back flips and what not.
Well, there's only like, 18 years between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. Yoda is eight hundred years old! He's agile in one movie, then on death's door the next.
Hey, hey, hey. Michael, the difference between eight hundred and eight hundred and eighteen years old, well, it's larger than the outer rim.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Question (Dr. O'): How many licks does it take to reach the center of a Tootsie Roll pop?
It’s hard for me to answer this with certainty as I honestly don’t know what a Tootsie Roll pop is, so, again, I will fall back on my keen powers of assumption.
Tootsie, a 1982 film in which Dustin Hoffman dresses as a woman in order to land an acting job, is clearly the first piece to this puzzle. It seems safe to assume that “Tootsie” within the context of your question can be defined as the act of dressing as a woman in order to get something desirable. A Tootsie Roll, then, must be an action that takes place when a man (you) dresses as a woman and rolls on the floor until he is rewarded with the object of his desire. Close examination of your sentence reveals that the word “pop” is not capitalized and therefore is not part of the phrase, Tootsie Roll. I can only assume then that “pop” is a name you are using to address me. This leads me to assume that you see me as some kind of father-figure.
Bryan, the warm feelings you set aglow in my heart by calling me “pop” fade quickly as I consider what it is you are asking of me. You wish me to lick you while you roll on the floor dressed as a woman. This is disgusting. I am humbled and repulsed by your request. For you to dress as a woman would be to break the dress code established by our National Assembly. For me to lick you would be to break my Fast—a Fast established by the Promised One of All Ages.
The answer to your question, Bryan, is zero. I will not lick you and I urge you not to dress as a woman.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tomorrow NASA will launch the Kepler Space Telescope. Its job is to search the heavens for Earth-like planets that would be suitable for life to flourish. In a climate where misery surrounds us all, mankind is standing on the brink of what could be the greatest discovery in our collective history.
For many of us, such a discovery has been portrayed and discussed in science fiction stories to the point of near meaninglessness. Fringe thinkers have shared their theories about Roswell and government cover-ups, while others claim to have been abducted by aliens. But through all of this, the grand question still remains unanswered, and for all we know, we are alone.
Tomorrow we are taking a giant step toward answering this question. We're not merely launching another satellite into space, we are uncovering another chapter in our collective existence and clarifying our unity on a galactic scale. Through this most powerful lense we will see into our past and our future. We will find our neighbors or our solitude. The answer, of course, is either yes or no, alone or not, and both circumstances will have a profound effect on our collective understanding of who we are.
It's been a long time since humanity embarked on a journey together. These ancient stories that spring from our collective being have been dormant for too long. Perhaps this story lacks the visible hero - the astronaut clad in his burdensome suit - but it only takes a gentle leap of the imagination to see that we are all on this mission of discovery together, and that the outcome belongs to us all.
So while we fear for our friends, our loved ones, and ourselves in this time of struggle, let's also be mindful of the fact that even now we are still moving forward. Even now we are still discovering, and even now, we are still one.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
This says Watchmen is 2 hours and 43 minutes! I don't think I'll stay awake that long.
Don't worry, you'll have me and Gavin sitting beside you.
It also says that Dr. Manhatten is naked for most of the movie.
Yes, and you see the floppy dangle of his skyscraper the whole time.
Oh dear Lord.
You get long, lingering looks at the statue of liberty.
We get to see the wide expanse of his central park.
We can -
Really, there are just too many landmarks in New York, this could go on all day.
The graceful art-deco thrust of his Chrysler Building.
How do I get this out of my head?
The fish thing?
Yeah! It's all-consuming!
Just think about something else.
Bryan faces his computer.
Sing Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."
Michael doesn't respond. A moment passes.
Because you know you wanna dance with somebody.
Michael continues his work, clicking away on his mouse.
You want to feel the heat with somebody.
Michael stops and slowly turns in his chair, discovering Bryan, who has been looking at him the whole time.
With somebody that loves you.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I gotta go to Old Orchard after work, do you wanna go to Old Orchard with me?
Michael, why do you have to go to Old Orchard?
Wow, are you offended?
Yeah, it sounds like I'm really angry that you're going there.
Like it's, "Michael, I wanna go to the Pot Luck, not Old Orchard."
Wait, is there a Pot Luck?
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Think of 15 albums that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it. They sucked you in and took you over for days, weeks, months, years. These are the albums that you can use to identify time, places, people, emotions. These are the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world. When you finish, tag 15 others, including me. Make sure you copy and paste this part so they know the drill...
The challenge is: do this in 15 minutes, as if nobody's judging your answers.
I left the short version on my Facebook page. This is the long version.
I honestly didn't hear OK Computer until it had been out for a few years. In high school I was only interested in hip-hop music, and Radiohead (or anything else) simply wasn't on my radar. But when my friends came over to my house and forced me to listen to this record, everything changed. OK Computer was like my passport into a larger musical world and nearly all of my current tastes stem from this album.
I am among the many so called "backpackers" who are of the mind that hip-hop music achieved perfection in the "golden era," which I narrowly define as 1992-1995. I was just becoming a teenager during those years, and perhaps the first album I ever loved was Resurrection by Common Sense. As an adult, I point to specific lyrics and concepts and things to support my claim that this is one of the greatest hip-hop records of all time. As a 13 year old, I loved the similes, humor, and distinct absence of pretense (although I wouldn't have called it that) that Comm' Sense brought to his unmatched classic.
I got my first CD player when I was 14 years old, in the summer of 1995. Before then, I was listening to my brother's cassette collection one album at a time. When I went to Best Buy to purchase my first batch of low-cost CD's, this was among them (along with Resurrection). Gang Starr was always among my favorite groups, but my appreciation and obsession with this record has grown steadily over time.
4. The Boogie Monsters The Riders of the Storm
Of those first, identity-defining albums, Riders of the Storm holds a special place in my heart. Criminally slept-on, The Boogiemonster's debut is the record that captures the spring of 1995 in my memory.
5. The Veils The Runaway Found / Nux Vomica
I cannot separate the two records (thus far) by the Veils because my discovery and subsequent obsession with one bled into the release of the second. "The Valleys of New Orleans" was the first song I ever heard by the Veils, a story I tell in a past blog, and The Runaway Found became one of my favorite records. I was fortunate enough to discover this gem of a band a few short months before the release of Nux Vomica, a record even more powerful and beautiful than their debut. The combined effect of these two records has created a lasting obsession which has only been mildly and temporarily put on hold by releases from lesser-artists. With their third album Sun Gangs on the way, I doubt I'll be hearing many other artists for a while.
6. Spiritualized Let it Come Down
The first of my post-Radiohead obsessions, my love for Spiritualized is outmatched only by The Veils and those five ugly nerds from Oxford. There are over 100 musicians featured on this album full of grand orchestrations, blaring trumpets, and gratuitous gospel choirs, and I love every minute of it.
7. Outkast Aquemini
In the summer leading up to my senior year in high school, I was so desperate to hear a new verse from Andre Benjamin that I took a few days to search all of the used record stores in my area for copies of the Higher Learning, Money Talks, and Soul Food soundtracks because they all included songs by Outkast. "Rosa Parks" had yet to hit the radio, the video wasn't out yet, but they had performed it on some BET concert program, and I was wise enough to tape it. When school resumed, I would sit in art class going, "Ah Ha, Hush that fuss, everybody move to the back of the bus..." annoying the hell out of my friend, Big Don. When Aquemini was finally released, it was on the same day as Black Star's debut, A Tribe Called Quest's final album, and Foundation by a reunited Brand Nubian - but this is the one I listened to. To this day, I can't help thinking about my senior year of high school and the summer that followed when I hear this album.
8. Doves Some Cities
I wasn't a huge fan of Doves when this album was released, but my girlfriend at the time was. When I heard "Black and White Town" for the first time I liked it, and was inspired to buy this album upon its release. I didn't listen to anything else for the next 3 or 4 months, and if I did, it was one of the Doves' other albums. This album became my theme music when I made the leap and moved to Chicago in 2005. Doves' new album, Kingdom of Rust may have a similar connotation this summer...
9. Erykah Badu Mama's Gun
I don't know what I was thinking: when I heard that the radio version of "Bag Lady" was not going to be included on Mama's Gun I was livid. Of course, at the time, I was still listening exclusively to hip-hop music, and the souled-out, jazzier version of the song wasn't as dope to me as Erykah doing her thing over the beat she jacked from Dr. Dre. But when me and my main man Lew saw Erykah from the front row in the Fox, Mama's Gun came to life for me. It was like I had never heard a single note before I saw it performed in front of me. I couldn't stop listening to this album for months after that, and it remains one of my all time favorites.
10. The National Boxer
The newest album on this list, Boxer is a record I'm still having trouble putting down, even after a year and a half. Of course, it took me months of persistent listening for it to get its claws in me, but now that they're in, I fear I'll never be rid of them, and for the rest of my life I'll hear a deep, patient voice in the back of my head singing, "brainy brainy brainy..."
11. Sigur Ros ()
Sigur Ros in 2002 was an admittidly difficult band to get into. The distinctly lighter fare of their subsequent releases was sitting a few years on the horizon. Instead, they dropped an album with no name, no lyrics, and 8 tracks distinguished only by numbers. The seemingly contradictory notion of something being so moving on an emotional level while also being meaningless on a literal level was so damn compelling to me that I couldn't do much at all without listening to this album. I think it made me crazy for a while, but you'd have to ask the people that know me whether that's true or not.
12. Outkast Southernplayalistic...
The third album on this list from 1994, Outkast's debut was one of those initial records that inspired my love for hip-hop music. That this album is at number 12 on the list should say more about the fraction of a hair's width that lies between each of these choices than it does about this record's place in my heart. In the fall of 1994, riding around in my mother's Toyota with my brother and some friends, this cassette saw more attention than any other. Just like Aquemini defined my senior year, Southernplayalistic defined 8th and 9th grade.
13. Mos Def Black on Both Sides
In October of 1999 Mos Def was one of the most hyped artists in the hip-hop world. Backpackers loved the Black Star album, he had released a few underground singles and made a couple of memorable appearances on a few albums and compilations. But none of those things prepared me for this. From the opening verse on "Hip-Hop" I knew that this was a different Mos Def from the one we had all heard before. In an age where so many artists become victims of their own ambition, Black on Both Sides is the rare example of a hip-hop artist exceeding expectations as well as his own potential. I remember the rainy Friday when Nick Speed and I drove over to Chauncey's Records on 6 Mile to buy it 4 days early, and then were tortured because my car didn't have a CD player. Few hip-hop albums since then have even come close to matching this one.
14. O.C. Jewelz
I have a lot of great memories from the summer of 1997: my brother and I arguing over games of Risk while eating Vito's pizza and drinking Faygo Moon Mist, working mornings at Hollywood Video while arguing about hip-hop music with my boss, Ramon, and listening to Jewelz. I would never venture to call O.C. my favorite rapper, but this album is a slept-on classic, and one that stayed in the deck all summer.
15. Elbow Cast of Thousands
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Wait, wait. Are you guys saying he likes to be "late," or "laid?"
GOD! Michael! That's the worst thing you've said in weeks!
Bryan laughs. Naheed continues to talk.
Well, hold on, which is it?
He waits, there is no response.
Again, there is nothing. Michael is alone.
Michael looks around, digesting the silence.
That bastard forgot his briefcase.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
He is ahead of me. I barely see him in the dark, but he is there, walking unaffected by the cold, cigar smoke dragging in the air behind him. His hair is gray, his coat is red. He reaches the corner and turns. I reach the corner and follow.
Does he know I am here? Is he frightened by me? Am I threatening? These thoughts pass as he pauses to look at the sky. He takes a drag from his cigar and the odor swells in the wind. I keep my distance, following unintentionally, or perhaps dragged by sentimentality.
The old man leads until I cannot see him anymore. He does not turn a corner. He does not step into the street or walk up a path. He becomes invisible. Or perhaps I lose track of him, or fail to notice when he does deviate from the sidewalk that we both follow religiously. He is gone now, and with him his confounding cigar.
Here, I come upon an elegant house, bathed in warmth and stolen from children's stories. It glows with conviction and the ensigns of forking paths hang in the windows.
Were it not for common etiquette I would enter without a moment's pause. The porch wood creaking beneath my steps, the door knob chilling my palm, the heavy door announcing my arrival with an ancient cry; the scene would seem familiar. Things from my pockets would slide across the table. I would leave my shoes to dry near the rack where I hang my coat. I would casually venture deeper into this mysterious place, passing photos and porceline plates and strange artwork hanging on the walls.
You ever notice how small Michael's hands are?
Their eyes move to Michael's hands. They spend a few moments in palpable, awkward silence.
That's what I get for avoiding manual labor my whole life.
Is that what it does?
Is that how you think it works? Do you believe construction workers go into work with hands like that?
Where are you going?
We've gotta take someone out.
Me and Bryan just have to go say goodbye to someone.
"Say goodbye" to their knee caps.
I keep more than condoms in that briefcase.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Michael continues his rant.
Any time a man makes a sudden acquisition of clothing and accessories that means he's interested in a lady. I mean, look at me, the last time I bought any clothes was before Pilgrimage, where I was going to meet all sorts of women.
Michael looks at Naheed.
That's not really why I was there.
Oh yes it was! The first thing Michael says is always the truth. It's like he's got a truth Tourette's.
The second thing he says is always socially acceptable, but the first thing is where he's at.
You should get the Turkey Club. It's so good, and it's so big, I always get it but without the bacon.
What? No bacon?
I don't like it. I have them take it out.
Bryan's mouth hangs agape in disbelief.
How you gonna have a club with no bacon?
I just don't like it. I don't like most pork meats.
Girl, you ain't right.
Minutes pass. Michael and Bryan busy themselves with their work, and then -
I mean, it's like the bedrock of a club.
It's Valentine's day. Every place is going to be "romantic."
Not Hot Doug's Gourmet Encased Meats.
Did you just make that up?
No. Of course not.
Naheed changes the subject.
The only thing your outfit needs now is a briefcase.
Yes, a briefcase. I can bring it on my "romantic dinner."
Before Michael can respond to Bryan's patronizing sarcasm-
I can keep my condoms in it.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Monday, February 2, 2009
I've moved on from my fascination with the "Stuff White People Like" blog.
I am now reading the "Stuff Korean Mothers Like" blog.
These women are brutal. And it's all true.
Mike thinks for a moment. He clicks from one invoice to the next.
Oh that reminds me, I have to drop off some dry cleaning.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday, January 30, 2009
Naheed, he’s coming to you.
He hangs up his phone.
Careful, he’s breathing through his mouth.
Naheed’s phone rings. She answers it.
He sounded like Dick Cheney when he threw his back out.
What was he doing when he hurt his back?
I don’t know, but he was probably breathing heavy.
He was probably bowling with the devil.
Except when Dick Cheney bowls, the ball is white and the pins are black.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
On Saturday, they came through Chicago for the second time within a year. We got off the Red Line at the Belmont stop at around 5:30, a full two hours prior to the advertised show time. We turned the corner and discovered around 20 dedicated fans waiting in the near-zero cold to get a good spot to see their favorite comedy team.
“I’m wearing this hat because it was my favorite train line that ran here in Chicago before Metra and the CTA had them shut down…”
He was also excited about performing in Chicago.
“I grew up in Chicago on 61st and Ellis near Hyde Park where my father was a public school teacher for 55 years before we moved to Park Forest Illinois…”
Without taking a breath, he seamlessly transitioned to his favorite topic of discussion.
So as Gavin and I listened to this man telling us his random presentations on whatever subjects crossed his mind, I couldn’t help but see the joy and excitement coming from inside him. I felt bad that I didn’t have the cash to buy a CD, but I was glad to have met him.
We were floored. With every passing moment the show was getting bigger, better, and exceeding our expectations. What could possibly happen next to give this show the fitting end it deserves?
Yes, that was Gavin getting pulled onto the stage and fondled by his comedy heroes. Immediately afterward he was assaulted by a man dressed as a little Dutch boy wielding a giant plush mallet. I am not making this up.