George Michael @ the Banana Stand

Dude, how come nobody told me Michael Cera had an album? And why's he in drag? He looks like a 20's Flapper or something. Weird

No, but seriously, it's the solo album from former Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas. And no, I haven't heard it, but I'm sure it's terrible because Matchbox 20 was terrible. Discuss.


Tuesday Is Just Monday In Drag

It all started with a wasp in the shower. Have you seen a wasp up close? They're terrifying things, like some sort of sci-fi shocktroopers, all black and shiny. Horrible creatures.

Anyway, so yeah, having one of those skulking around while I'm all disrobed and wet and vulnerable does not set a great precedent for the awesomeness of a day. I disposed of the wasp by knocking it out with a tile that fell off a while back and man, I really need to get that back on the shower wall. Then I drowned the poor thing with the shower water. Dude never had a chance, but hey, it was me or him. I am a stone-cold insect killer. As I exited the shower, with the bloody business behind me and the wasp carcass en route to its final resting place - the sewers of the Greater Cleveland area via toilet - I felt like Conan. The Barbarian, not O'Brien. Why would killing a wasp make me feel like Conan O'Brien? You guys are weird.

So yeah, I figured that was the end of the weirdness/suck for today. I was wrong.

First, a little background/numbers: I take the train to work. There's a Rapid Station roughly a mile from where we live, so most mornings - barring foul weather or my own inability to get moving in the morning - I walk to the train. Fare is $2 per way or I could pay like $4.75 for an all-day pass, which if you think about it, it unnecessary if I'm just going to and from work. So yeah, two bucks.

It takes me roughly 30 minutes from my front door to the front door of my office. My work day starts at 8:30 am, so I need ot leave my house as close to 8:00 am as possible. Today I left at 8:04 am if you split the difference between my alarm clock and the microwave clock I passed on my way out. using the magic or addition, you could postulate my arrival at my office at 8:34 am, give or take five minutes.

I got here at 8:59.

And here's where the suckiness comes in. So I left my house with a $10 bill. This is a problem, because the RTA only allows for exact change. So I needed to break my bill. As I walk toward the station, I am faced with two options to do this: I can either go a little out of my way and hit the Circle K, by something small and get change, or I can do the same thing at a little cafe' on the way to the train. I opt for the latter.

This does not work, as the cafe' - whose hours are posted as being open 8 am - 5 am, Monday through Saturday - is totally dark and locked up. Awesome.

So, Plan B comes into play. The RTA (Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland's public transportation system) has recently added automated fare card machines to their lobbies. They're set up so ridiculously, but I can either use my debit card or the cash slot thing and the machine will give me change. Okay, cool.

Except when I get to the train station, the machines are down and the change machine that was there previously has been evicted to make room for these lovely, retarded machines that are just sitting there with laminated "Coming Soon!" signs stuck to their tiny screens. Which is stupid because I used them twice just last week.

I know the guy in the booth who's working hard on his crossword puzzle while he talks on his phone can't give me change and there's not really anybody else in the station that I can maybe get to break my tenner (as has happened before). So yeah, the suck is in full effect.

So, Plan C gets broken out of its protective glass case and I cut my hand a little pulling it out: there's another Circle K on an intersection now too far from the station, but I know it'll add another 15 minutes, round trip - to my walk, but what other option do I have? So I take a walk, knowing that it's over. I'm officially going to be late.

I go into Circle K, which is a nicer one than the one closer by my house, the one I should have gone to in the first place, the one that would have only derailed my by 4 minutes or so. I get a Polar Pop (a gigantic fountain soda that costs 59 cents, I fill it with Pepsi even though I'm trying not to drink soda in hopes that I can lose some chub, another portion of suck added to the pile) and slap my $10 bill down as payment.

The clerk, your average surly minimum wage counter jockey, a twenty-something lady with a weird mini-goiter-like bulge on her neck, can barely manage to make eye contact with me as she counts back my change: a five, four ones and come coin. Those four ones are gonna get me to work and back. Why didn't I think of this yesterday. Duh! She taps her finger impatiently on the debit/credit terminal as I put the five and two ones in my wallet and the remaining coin and bills into my front pocket. The whole transaction takes less than a minute, but still, she can't wait for me to leave. There is no one else in line behind me, so it's not like this is holding anything up, and like I said, this weird thing I do takes an extra maybe 15 seconds, tops. For some reason this bothers me a lot, her impatience.

I scoot back across the main street while Beulah sings "And the Wild West is a slow pan/and the sunshine is fake/and the ocean is just painted/on a backdrop downtown." As I make my way back to the station, I kid myself that since I haven't seen a train pass me yet, that I just might time this perfectly. I fantasize that I pay my fare, hustle my way up the escalator, skip across the walkway that spans the tracks and then down the stairs on the other side just as my train pulls up. Then I see the train pull past me across the parking lot while I'm still only halfway back to the station. Stupid fantasies.

So I dejectedly pay my fare, scowling at those useless automated machines, doing math in my head as I plop onto the escalator, trudge across the walkway and lumber down the stairs. It's 8:38 am and there are no lights down the tracks. No train coming any time soon. I have my newest copy of Wired, but I'm too bummed to crack it open. I try to play Solitaire on my iPod but can't muster up the attention. All I can do is stand on the platform, grit my teeth and wait for the train to show up.

So yeah, how was your morning?


My Morning Soundtrack - 06.16.09

* "Jaykub (feat. Jason Lytle)," by Sparklehorse/Danger Mouse/David Lynch, from the album Dark Night of the Soul
* "Waves, Etc.," by Robert Pollard, from the album Silverfish Trivia
* "Dismember," by Spoon, from the album Telephono
* "Gypsy Hand," by Woods, from the album Songs Of Shame
* "Raised in the City (Demo)," by The Replacements, from the album Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash!
* "Johnny Thunder," by The Kinks, from the album The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
* "Do The Du," by A Certain Ratio, from the album Early
* "Thinking Black," by Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm, from the album A Black Man's Soul
* "Trumpets And Violins," by Suburban Kids With Biblical Names, from the album #3


Blank Generation

Some friends and family and myself have started a Lost discussion group. We'll be re-watching (or just plain old watching for any first-timers) every episode of Lost before the season six premiere next February and posting our thoughts on each episode. It breaks down to three to four a week, so it's not impossible to do. Right now, we're doing it via a Facebook group, but I will also be posting my recaps on this blog.

If anybody's interested in joining in the discussion or writing recaps, contact one of us and we'll send you an invite to the group. We'd love for anybody even remotely interested to pop their head in and share their thoughts, even if you're not going to re-watch, although that would be ideal.

Anyway, so this is my "recap" of Season 1, Episode 2: "Tabula Rasa." Enjoy.


Tabula rasa. That's Latin, by the way, not a delicious Middle Eastern dish. It means "blank slate," or basically, that we come into the world blank and are slowly filled in with experiences, etc. You know who's credited as the guy who coined the term? That'd be 17th century philosopher John Locke. So yeah, no coincidences in this episode or this show, really.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this episode's focused on what makes us "us." It opens with the Federal Marshall with the shrapnel in his guts waking up and telling Jack not to trust Kate, that she's dangerous and that Jack needs look in the Marshall's jacket pocket for proof. We see Kate's mugshot, which Hurley ends up seeing but when they talk about what to do about it, Jack decides that he's willing to let it go, that Kate, by virtue of surviving the crash, deserves a new start. Jack seems to have bought into the idea of a tabula rasa, but it's a flawed idea, because as we're reminded throughout this episode and this series, we're tied to our pasts.

The fact that the Marshall survived the crash proves that it's not as easy as saying, "Three days ago, we all died. We should be able to start over," as Jack does later in the episode. We know the Island brings people to it for a purpose, so why did the Marshall survive as long as he did? What purpose does he serve? If they get a fresh start, if they can cut themselves free of their past lives, then why didn't the Island let him get sucked out during the crash?

I'd submit that the Island put the Marshall there to remind these people that unless they reject their impulses, they'll continue to do the same dumb things that every other group that's been drug there has done. They'll continue to (as we see the "away team" do re: Rousseau's message) hoard their information, guns, power and fight within themselves. They'll continue down the path laid out by the Man In Black in the season five finale. They won't win the game that way. Unless they turn away from who they were, confront what they've done, they'll continue to be the broken people that they are.

When Jack's scouring the fuselage to look for antibiotics (best Hurley line: "But the bodies are in there and they're all ... dead.") cuz he just *has* to save the Marshall even though it's hopeless, he runs into Sawyer, who's looting the overhead compartments. Jack asks, "Did you do this back home?" It's an interesting position, this demarcation between pre- and post- crash life, between then/there and now/here and despite what he says later, Jack knows they're stuck there for a while and that they need to act like a society if they're going to survive. Live together, die alone, right?

Unfortunately he's naive in thinking that just because you say you want to get rid of your past means that it's so. We see time and again how Jack falls back into his defaults of "gotta save everybody and be the boss," or "if I just stand really still and do nothing, maybe I won't screw this up," mentalities (in fact, as I re-watched the Pilot I was struck at how little his character had changed from the beginning), or in other words, how much his past is informing his present, and ultimately, his future.

There's been a lot of talk since the show began regarding the idea that the Island is, either literally or figuratively, a Purgatory. (Most notoriously is the anagram-named author of "Bad Twin," one Gary Troup who is, according to legend, the dude who gets sucked up in the engine before that black shape swoops down from the sky and the engine explodes) I think there's some merit in this idea, that it's a holding cell for these people who need to decide if they're going to be bossed around by their past or if they're going to change, evolve, progress. We have lists of "good people," judgmental smoke and avatars for darkness and light, all fighting to get the Castaways to perform in a predictable way.

The characters that are left are, for he most part, the ones who still haven't made peace with their pasts, who haven't chosen a side. (If I were the actors who play Jin or Sun, I'd be hoping they never get back together because we've seen what happens to characters who complete their dramatic arcs, haven't we, Charlie?) I wouldn't at all be surprised if in the final season each of the characters are put in a place where they have to act in complete opposition to their instincts, where they have to choose a path beyond what they've chosen in the past. It's not only narratively satisfying, but it fits the themes of the show as well.

The Island knows their pasts. The Forces at play know which buttons to push to make the castaways move in any given direction and until they decide to stop listening to the voices that have led them down the paths they've been trudging along, they will continue to make the same dumb mistakes that landed them on Oceanic 815 all miserable and conflicted in the first place. Their slate is full of stuff they've accumulated over time. A plane crash doesn't wipe it clean. It just makes another mark.


Lucky Sevens

Seven things you should know:

1. I've started like six blog posts over the last week, all of which were discarded.

2. We're all gung-ho for Doctor Who around here lately. I fear I'm getting nerdier as I get older cuz I think that show is ten kinds of fun.

3. I watched most of an episode of The Bachelorette the other night. I'm pretty sure my soul got herpes or something. Though that might have been a side-effect of flipping between that and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Yeesh, that's some vile stuff there. Don't mix meds, kids.

4. I am seriously (like for serious) trying to get an audition for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, but only because I want to look Meredith in the eyes and ask her point-blank, "Do you hate this job? Cuz it seems like you do." Also, I want to win a million dollars.

5. You've seen Candace's new print, right?

6. The other night I blacked out while watching a Seinfeld rerun. When I woke up, there was an empty bag of cheese puffs and my hands were all orange. I have no recollection of devouring the puffs, but I must have. I think I might be a werewolf or something, although my basketball skills haven't improved, so maybe not. In any case, it's obvious I am not to be trusted around cheese puffs. Lock them up!

7. Finally, this will blow your mind to pieces. You're welcome.


What It's All About

I'm pretty sure the Internet was created solely to produce this image:

If anybody has any ideas on what is going on here, feel free to contact me. Cuz I'm dumbfounded.


PS: I 'shopped out the dude's plumber's crack, that's what that black box is for. Just FYI.


Freckle Face

I don't know about you, but I had a pretty productive weekend. I finished July's mix and am moving into cover art territory there and also managed to crank out a mix for my good buddy Ryan, AKA: CastleWriter. Candace makes quilts for people, I make mixtapes.

It all started when we were IM-ing and Ryan informed me that he'd never heard Paul & Linda McCartney's masterpiece, Ram. Then he told me that he's never really heard Harry Nilsson. I felt like such a failure. Seriously, what kind of a terrible friend would let this kind of thing happen? The bad kind, that's who.

So yeah, I made Ryan a mix, titled (per his suggestion), Photos of Freckles. Here's the cover:

Download it here.

It's also added to the Master List, which, as far as I can tell, is up to date and includes June's mix, In the Sky. Let me know if you have any additions, and I'll, uh, add them.

So anyway, enjoy the mix. Let me know if you download it. And for goodness' sake, put on some sunscreen before you leave the house.


Surreal American Heroes

I like weird stuff. Whether it's the mind-bending comics of Grant Morrison, the multi-layered time-trippery of Lost, the borderline insane novels of Philip K. Dick or the trippy-dippy sci-fi of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And while stuff like Star Wars, Transformers and He-Man fueled a lot of weird childhood daydreams, I would have to say that it was G.I. Joe that took up a bulk of my headspace for very many years.

I remember my first G.I. joe figure. It was Rock N Roll, the blond-bearded machine gunner. My dad was pretty furious my mom bought them for us, thinking the whole toy line was some mind-control plot hatched by the Reagan administration to make kids want to go fight commies (and who knows, it may have been). But the truth is that G.I. Joe was pretty apolitical and, as I will illustrate, pretty weird. I mean, unless the Commies sided with, I dunno, an underground race of mutant snake people, I wasn't gonna enlist.

Then there was the cartoon, which informed the line in a lot of ways. And while it was at times a shameless half-hour (crappily-)animated advertisement for the figures, playsets and vehicles, there were some pretty awesome stories being dropped on my pliable young brain at the time. As I said, the Joes fought much more bizarre foes than Commies, they fought Cobra, who was just as likely to be found creating a device to block out the sun as something political like, I dunno, destabilizing developing nations to create panic or whatever. Cobra's plans were always half-baked and pretty gonzo. It was the weird fringe, the feeling that there was a weird world of stuff that the Joes were keeping us safe from that really attracted me to the toys. (From what I understand, the comics were a bit more grounded, but what's the fun in that?) Looking back, I can see how this little toy line of crappy Chinese-made figures has informed a lot of my popular culture decisions.

And there was one (well, a two-parter, but whatever) episode of the TV series that I remember as being reeeeally seminal, really epicentric to my eventual nerdiness. It's entitled "There's No Place Like Springfield" and it's pretty much the Rosetta Stone of my love for weird stuff. Written by Steve Gerber who is famous for his bizarre and cultured 70's Marvel comics like The Defenders, Omega the Unknown and Howard the Duck, it pretty much blew my mind to pieces. I realize now that it's pretty much a rip-off of The Prisoner, but still, to rip that off and feed it to kids is really awesome and pretty messed-up, so yeah, thanks Steve. You won another weirdo.

You can watch the episodes below. It's four parts, each about 10 minutes long. I rewatched it the other day and was still floored by the straight-faced bizarreness. Keep in mind this is a show for kids primarily designed to make them want to buy toys. How a two-part existential thriller fulfills that edict is beyond me, but I'm really glad it exists. Whoever greenlit this should either be locked up or given the Nobel Prize for Face-Melting Radness.


Burning, Crashing UFOs

Watch the skies, people. June's mix is here.

In the Sky is 20 songs perfect for my favorite June activity: sitting out on my house watching hardcore UFO's. Download it here. It's added to the Master List as well.

Also added to the Master List are some other BRR Mixtape Brigade mixes. One's the newest from Nick, which you can download here. The second one is from Tyson, which you can read bout here and download it here. And the last one is this baby, the latest Ping Pong mix from The Chris Haley and myself:

Ping, Vol. 4: & Away We Go is available for download here. If anybody else wants to make a similar mix with me, I'm always up for it.

Anybody else get one made this month? Leave me a comment and I'll add it to the Master List.

As usual, it would be great if you just left a quick comment here to let me know you downloaded it cuz I'm like all curious and stuff about who's listening to these.