Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I say I don't care, but I do

This is the 5th installment of my 323 part series.

I wish I Felt Nothing
Artist: The Wallflowers

There are things I care about and things I don't care about. And then there are things I care about that I wish I didn't care about, both good and bad. This is that list:

Politics - On one hand, I don't figure that my vote matters, even if I vote in every election. I'm cynical enough to know that I don't have the money or the power (mostly the money) to influence . . . err 'lobby' any politician. I'm also cynical enough to believe that politicians don't want to actually solve problems, only score political points. I'm tired of talking points and empty rhetoric, but I repeat myself. On the other hand, I terms of the world population, I'm among the most well educated and wealthy individuals on the planet. In those terms, I feel a social obligation to follow and care about the political outcomes, both in the United States and worldwide. So I end up caring about what happens without feeling as though I can do anything to affect the outcome.


The Media - Yes, I'm aware the media isn't one giant cabal that meets on Tuesday mornings in their secret lair to set the national agenda for the week. It's much more sinister than that. Actually, that's not totally fair. All the media does is what any business does, which is try to find ways to make a buck. If that means spending more time on car chases and Hollywood starlets and their legal troubles than actual news, then by God, the media will focus on that. The one story I hated, more than any other, when I worked in newspapers was the "Man on the Street" story in which I'd go ask people their opinions on a news event and then publish their responses. Why the opinions of an unscientific sampling of people who happened to be walking around the Mall when I was there was news I still don't understand. Surely there was actual news and not what Jane Mallwalker thinks about marginal tax rates and their impact on growth projections for the next decade.


Sports -  Jerry Seinfeld once said that cheering for sports teams is essentially cheering for laundry. Deep down, I realize this is true. As much as I try to deny it, I know that a player I hate will suddenly turn into a player I love if he's wearing the right jersey. I'm fully aware of this, and yet, every spring, I get excited about the Chicago Cubs and every September, I start to care about the Georgia Southern football team. Other than going to school at Georgia Southern, I have no connection to the current players. Sure, we walked through the same classrooms, but does that mean I need to cheer for them based on that simple fact? Apparently it does, and I do. But there's a part of me that can't help but think I'd be happier if I didn't care so much about the outcomes of games. Then again, that might be due to the fact that I'm a Cubs fan and I'm often on the losing end of those games.

Note: I left my iPod at home, so the next song will be added when I get back home.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Quick Programming Note

Ok, so busyness has gotten in the way of blogging, and it's not going to slow down any time soon. Who would have thought that the holidays would be hectic? So here's the deal. My brother is getting married this weekend, so I'll be doing that.

Unlike in April when I wrote 4,500 words over five posts about the wedding, I will likely not be writing anything about this one unless something completely unexpected happens. Otherwise, it'll be just your standard, typical (to me anyway) wedding complete with all the boring stuff that make all weddings the same. I'll still feel bad for the preacher who is left at the alter when the bridal (groomal?) party recesses down the aisle.

Following that, I'll be at my parents until Christmas and then at the in-laws for a few days. My parents still lack wireless internet, and secluding myself in their computer room to write seems like a poor use of time there. That said, I may need some time barricaded in a room by myself to preserve what little sanity I still have. With luck, I'll knock out a couple posts while I'm there.

Until then, happy holidays everyone.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Everybody wants to rule the world

This is Part 5 of my 323 part series.

Song: Ain't it fun
Artist: Guns 'N Roses
Everybody wants to rule the world

One of my goals in life is to complete my quest for global domination. I haven't shared that with a lot of people (and really, even after posting it on this blog, there's still not a lot of people who I'll be able to say I shared it with.) Unfortunately, that's as far as my current plan goes. I have no idea how to go about conquering the world, and when people say 'you and what army?' I have to admit that I don't have an army unless you count an easily frightened dog as an army.

That said, I have worked on various strategies as to how I would go about taking over the world. Sadly, for me, all of those strategies are based on the assumption that there are only five other people are also competing for world domination and are doing so under strict rules of combat*. Those rules generally consist of rolling dice into a box and pairing up the highest rolls of yours and your opposition to determine if you were able to take over a territory.

Even these guys
Ok, so my plan to take over the world revolves totally around the board game RISK, though there's a chance I also have squirreled away some plans I got from a lab rat and his dimwitted friend. I know a lot of people (read: women) don't see the appeal of sitting around and rolling dice in an attempt to wipe your opponent off the face of the earth. Honestly, when you boil it down to its most basic, RISK is just a slightly more competitive form of Yahtzee. 

In college, RISK became a weekly event for a good number of us (who, perhaps not coincidentally, were almost all single at the time). We'd get started around 8 or 8:30 and if we got through with the first game early enough (usually 10:30ish), we'd go Ernie Banks' style and play two. (That's an 50s era Chicago Cubs reference, really not expecting a lot of people to get that one.). There was also one game when we started one afternoon of finals week, only to have one of our players run across the street to take a final and be back in 20 minutes to continue the game. (I think he got an ‘A’ on the test.)

Once we all graduated college got married and moved away, the games became less frequent (though they also became less frequent when we found out about girls). One Friday night we all met in a central location (about 90 minutes from me) to get the band back together to play. After having to take a detour due to an overturned semi-truck, my buddy and I got there a little later than expected. Not that it mattered much to me as I was out in 20 minutes. But alas, I’d come with a friend, so I was stuck there for the duration of the game. And much to my chagrin, it was not a quick game that allowed for another one. Three hours of driving for 20 minutes of rolling dice, and I’d do it again if I had the chance.

*My general strategy is to control either Australia or South America and slowly build outward. South America is best because there’s only one way out of Australia, and that requires a land war in Asia, which is never a good thing.

Next Song: I wish I Felt Nothing
Artist: The Wallflowers

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Is Lodi really THAT bad?

This is part 4 of my 323-part series

Song: Lodi
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

You would think that getting stuck in Lodi once would be enough for the band members of Creedence Clearwater Revival, but you’d think wrong. They were stuck in Lodi again, and apparently none to pleased with that fact. Was getting stuck a common occurrence for them, or was it just Lodi that seemed to be impossible to escape?

I’d always assumed that being stuck in Lodi would be some kind of tragic experience. Lodi, I thought, had to be some kind of one-stoplight town with a general store, a gas station and, obviously, a saloon where people sat there drunk as the band played. I imagined it as the kind of place kids hung out in the gas station parking lot or drove three towns over to go to Kmart on a Friday night.

But, it turns out, there’s actually quite a lot to do if you’re stuck in Lodi. There are more than 70 wineries in the Lodi Wine Country, which has been described as “Northern California’s hottest new wine country destination.” Granted, it’s the Lodi conference and visitor’s bureau making that claim, making it just as reliable as the guy covered in body paint and his team’s flag draped over him as a cape saying that his team is number one.

Zoos, museums and even a serpentarium are all right there in Lodi. Granted, the San Joaquin County Historical Museum may not be high on the list of things to do for a fledgling rock band to do (or really high on anyone’s list of things to do unless they were a major history buff or have a strange fascination with San Joaquin County), but there are other options. For example, the Lodi Community Art Center is located in the Lakewood Mall. That also means there’s a mall, so they’ve got that going for them.

Ok, ok, so a band stuck in Lodi may not find those attractions very enticing. There are nine establishments listed under nightlife, with five of them conveniently located on School Street. The Lodi Beer Company stays open all the way to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and on non-school nights, they’re open until the wee hours of midnight.

There’s also ‘agriculture’ listed on the Lodi visitor’s website. I don’t have a joke here. You can go to Lodi and visit farms. I guess that appeals to some people (apparently a lot of people). I’m assuming you’d pass a lot of farms on your way to Lodi, so getting all the way there only to then go visit farms seems counterproductive. Maybe the farms in Lodi are nicer than the surrounding counties.

You know, the more I look at what Lodi has to offer, the more I can see why Creedence Clearwater Revival would feel stuck in Lodi. Their website specifically designed to get me to want to visit their fair city makes me never want to visit Lodi. I misjudged you, Creedence Clearwater Revival, you were right to sing about the Godforsaken city that is Lodi.

Next Song: Ain't It Fun
Artist: Guns N' Roses

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cheese Cubes and firearms


This is song three of my 323-part series.

Song: I Shot the Sheriff
Artist: Eric Clapton

"It wasn't supposed to end like this man," Roger said sitting across from his lawyer for the first time, dressed in his prison uniform. "I just wanted to go get some cheese cubes."

"Roger, why don't you just tell me what happened," said Stan. "Start from the beginning."

Better than Wal-Mart
"Well, it all started 28 years ago when I was just a gleam in my parents' eye. They were high school sweethearts. She was a cheerleader, prom queen and third-runner up for captain of the debate team. He was from the wrong side of town. You know, the side where there wasn't a Target nearby and you had to drive 15 minutes to get there, but there was a Wal-Mart close, but everyone knows that Target is way cooler than Wal-Mart so you made the trip even though you passed the Wal-Mart on your way, but you didn't care, man, you didn't care. You knew that shopping at Target said something about you. You weren't sure what, but you knew that if anyone saw you going into . . ."

"No, no. Skip ahead to the part of the story where you decide you need cheese cubes and ends with you sitting here in jail."

"Ok, ok. I just thought that as my lawyer you would care about my whole story and would need that information to provide me with an accurate defense. I mean, I've watched a ton of Law & Order and they're always getting into trouble because they don't have all of the defendant's back story. Like this one time when Jack McCoy was still the lead prosecutor and not terribly miscast as the District Attorney - I mean, why would they take a great character like Jack McCoy and then drastically cut his part in the show. He never even wanted to be DA, but Dick Wolf, in all his infinite wisdom, made him one. What the hell was that all about? Anyway, in that episode . . ."

"Seriously, just tell me what happened."

"Alright. You see, what had happened was, I was on the couch watching football. I think it was Georgia/Auburn, but it could have been South Carolina against Florida. Maybe it was whatever crappy ACC game was being shown that day. I know it wasn’t a Big East game because I would have turned that off. There’s not a chance in hell I’d watch Big East football. I’d rather be forced to listen to Biz Markie sing about how you say he’s just a friend for 24 hours than watch Pittsburgh play West Virginia. What ever happened to ol’ Biz anyway? I mean, I know he had that hit, but it was more of a novelty song than a real hit. Don’t you think VH1 should do a show about that? Between their reality shows and I Love The 20s, you’d think they had enough left in their budget to find out what happened to him.

Better than sliced cheese
“So I’m watching the game, right, and my buddy Chris says ‘Man, I could sure go for some cheese cubes right now.’ which is like a totally random thing to say because he was eating sliced cheese. I mean, what’s the difference between cheese cubes and cheese slices. Sure, the cubes have more substance, but if you fold the slices in half enough times, it’s like eating a cheese cube, isn’t it? I think it is, but ohhh no, not Chris. He needs the actual cheese cubes. He’s finicky that way. That’s why we call him ‘Cat’ all the time. Well, not really ‘we,’ mostly just me, and I’ve only done it once, but I’m thinking it’s a nickname that could catch on. He didn’t seem to respond when I called him ‘Cat’ but I think if I give it enough time, people will be calling him that.

“So we decide to Rock-Paper-Scissors to see who is going to go get the cheese cubes because there’s none in the house and neither of us want to go because we live on the wrong side of town and we’d have to go all the way to Target to get them. So here’s where the problem starts. I tell him best two-out-of-three, but he doesn’t hear me. At least that’s what he says, but I think he heard me. Granted, there was a commercial with a hot chick on it at the time I said it and Chris is going through a really rough time. You see, his girlfriend had dumped him like three days before this happened. Not so much dumped him as she bought a billboard and had ‘Chris, I hate you’ with a picture of his face on the billboard. That seemed kind of cruel, I thought. I mean, what happened to breaking up through a text message or on facebook like it used to be done. I tell you, man, things are going downhill fast. Back in my day, if you wanted to dump a girl, you sent her a text while she was in class. That way, you knew she couldn’t start screaming at you and make a scene. I hope we can get back to a time like that.

“So I lose the first one because I threw rock and he threw paper. I though rock would win. It always wins, that’s why I always throw rock. And I think Chris knows this because every time we do this, I always throw rock and he always wins with paper. But that’s why I wanted to do best two-out-of-three, see. But he was apparently distracted by the girl on TV and didn’t hear it and refused to go a second time. We start arguing because I’m ok without cheese cubes. I mean, I like them, but I don’t really need them.

“Anyway, Chris and I start arguing, and he starts throwing things at me, I start throwing things at him. I should probably mention here that alcohol may have been involved – both in the imbibing kind of way and in the ‘I threw a beer at Chris and he threw a beer at me’ kind of way. Apparently it got pretty bad because the neighbors called the sheriff’s office to come check on us. But in my inebriated state, I thought it was the cheese cube delivery guy. I mean, that’s a mistake anyone can make. Don’t all cheese cube delivery cars have blue flashing lights on the top of their car and use sirens to get them to their customers as fast as possible?

“It was at this point that Chris dared me to shoot the Sheriff. I told him he was crazy and I was going to do no such thing. Sadly, that isn’t even the craziest thing he’s ever asked me to do. One time we were driving out in the middle of nowhere and we drive under and overpass, and Chris decides it’d be fun to see if one of us could jump from the overpass into the back of the truck. I agree to drive the truck and Chris tries to jump off the overpass. As you can probably guess from the fact that Chris has two broken legs, it didn’t work out so well. Granted, he did land in the truck, but he didn’t account for how fast the truck was going and bounced out. It was kind of funny.

“So Chris hands me the gun and tells me to shoot the Sheriff, which like I said is crazy. But a dare is a dare. Making things worse, he double-dog dared me to do it. And as you know, it’s impossible to turn down a double-dog dare. Besides, he told me if I did it, he’d go get the cheese cubes. So I shot him in the leg. As best I can tell, the bullet ricocheted and hit the deputy because I did not shoot him.”

Next Song: Lodi
Artist: Creedence Clearwater Revival

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don't bring me down

Song title: Gravity of the Situation
Artist: Hootie and the Blowfish

This is the second in my 323-part series of blogs inspired by the songs in my iPod.

John Mayer sang ‘Gravity wants to bring  me down.’ (Note: This song isn’t in my iPod, so I don’t feel bad about appropriating its message for the sake of this blog.) Gravity isn’t the only thing that wants to bring me down. I’ve compiled an incomplete list of the other people, places and things that kill my buzz.


ESPN Radio’s Colin Cowherd

Living in a town without college football

Realizing I left the last load of laundry in the dryer from last week, meaning an extra load to fold and put away this week

Reruns

Rerun from the Peanuts comic strip

The lack of a playoff in 1-A college football

Losing in video games
Corollary: Especially to the computer

Not finding money in the pockets of jackets I haven’t worn since last winter

Thinking that making a list of things that get me down would be easy

Rainy days

Mondays

Losing in fantasy football
Corollary: Especially to my brother

Rearview mirrors that refuse to stay attached to the windshield despite repeated attempts by a multitude of people, including professionals.

Remembering that the stupid people who post on the internet are not limited to the internet but actually attempt to function in society

When the podcasts I listen to daily are posted later than I expect them to be

Getting sucked in to reading something online I really don’t care about

The library not having the book I want

My kid’s Mr. Potato Head set

Holidays that delay me getting my next Netflix DVD by an extra day

The dog in the apartment next to mine that barks whenever a person, cat, dog, bird or any other living creature walks past its window

The fact that I’ve considered drugging the dog

Shows that wrap up shows with musical montages because they don’t have the time to properly conclude the show with dialogue

Athletes and coaches who speak in nothing but clich├ęs

Being expected to parent my kid instead of letting the television do it (Ok, that one was to see if you’re still actually reading)

The consistent drumbeat of the NFL that drowns out all other sports coverage.

Every cable news network in the history of mankind

It getting dark before 5:30 p.m.

When you wake up and expect it to be 45 degrees out and you dress with that expectation only to find out it’s really 65 degrees and you’re overdressed, but you’re running late and you don’t have time to change so you’re stuck being the person who didn’t bother to check the weather forecast and everyone gives you looks that let you know they’re thinking ‘really, is it that hard to step outside in the morning before getting dressed.’ Yeah, that really gets me down.

The fact that I still have 321 songs to go to finish of my iPod Walk.

Fantasy update:  The Fighting Squirrels went 1-2 on the weekend, winning in the league in which I’m in first place and (obviously) losing in the other two. Making things worse, I lost to my brother on a 50-yard Hail Mary at the end of the Jacksonville/Houston game. That pass falls incomplete and I win. Stupid Texans (the team, not the residents of Texas, though that’s a matter for a separate blog.)

Next Song: I Shot the Sheriff
Artist: Eric Clapton