Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the old...

Wow, it seems that another year has passed somehow, hasn’t it?

In the interest of starting with a fresh slate, it’s time for a quick purge of thoughts that I may or may not want/need in the New Year.

The Ting Tings – “That’s not my name”: Front-runner for being my favorite guilty pleasure pop song for the year. Additional points are gained because this song conjures up memories of screaming down the Fox River in a ski boat at dusk with said song cranked.

Detroit Lions: The Lions went 0-16, officially making them the worst team of all time. I can’t tell you how happy this makes me. If they had gone 1-15 or 2-14, we would have just dealt with the knowledge we always have – and that is that the Lions suck. But now we can have it on the books that the Lions are, in fact, the worst team. Ever.

Batter Blaster: Don’t buy it.

From the first moment I saw the Batter Blaster in the store I wanted it. TFN was not as keen on the idea. Then, while we were doing the apocalyptic stockup (more on that to follow), I picked up the can of Batter Blaster and played the “but it’s Christmas” card. She relented.

For the record, Batter Blaster sucks. It doesn’t behave like normal pancake batter, bubbling to let you know when to flip it, so all of your pancakes are goopy or burnt, and the can ends up in the garbage.

Apocalyptic Stockup: In Michigan, liquor sales are suspended from midnight on Christmas Eve until the morning of the 26th. Don’t ask me why, it has something to do with Jesus somehow.

As a result, there is always some internal fear as this deadline draws near that, a.) liquor sales will for some reason not resume, or b,) we will somehow run out in those few hours. As a result, we irrationally stock up. This year’s stockup consisted of:

Maker’s Mark
Rebel Yell
A case of Labatt Blue Light
3 bottles of champagne
3 bottles of wine

I know, right?

Cooking up a Storm: One of the gifts that Santa brought TFN for Christmas this year was a copy of Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from The Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

After Katrina, among all of the other devastating losses that NOLA suffered, many people discovered that their treasured family recipes were also lost. And whether or not you’ve been to NOLA, you’re probably aware that New Orleans cooking is exquisite.

In the wake of the storm, The Times-Picayune of New Orleans was a swapping spot for people to reclaim lost recipes, and the paper compiled them into a book.

We made a pot of chicken and sausage gumbo the other night, and it was amazing. It was so good that I don’t mind that the house smelled like gumbo for three days after.

Be a Dick, Do the Time: It’s sad that we as a people need a law for this, but since we do, I’d like to see it passed everywhere.

In Brighton, they passed a law that allows police to ticket and fine anyone who is annoying in public "by word of mouth, sign or motions."

Enforcing that law would be enough to make me want to be a cop.

New Year’s Plans: This year, all is as I hope it should be. We are going to Geekfest 08/09, which essentially involves friends, booze, a living room and video games. I look forward to bringing in the New Year with good friends.

I also hope that 2009 will be the year that Detroit – and Michigan - turns itself around. Unfortunately, I’m thinking it will be 2010 at the soonest. We’ll see though.

Happy New Year, all! Check out my list of the 10 best albums on 2008 if you’re inclined, and don’t forget to put a penny on the sill tonight!

P.S. - If you were taken aback by my favorite pop song of 2008 being, you know, too poppy, let me point you to this video from my favorite album of the year, so you know I've not gone too soft:

Hope 2009 brings you all enough.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just pointing this out...

Just to make you aware, this is why you can never hope to be as cool as my friend Heather.
I figured you needed to know.



Just wow.

This little video made we want to laugh and go home and hang myself at the same time.

I hope everyone's holidays are going wonderfully, and you send some cheer my way on Christmas Eve. You know, while I'm at work.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Digging out...

Thus far, we have around 10 inches of snow outside... I am not overly pleased by this.

I'm not hot weather person by any means, but I do want some spring weather now. Which made me think of this song, a song that reminds me of days when I lived in the student ghetto, and the first nice days of the year meant walking to the store for some beer or wine and sitting around, just being happy we'd survived another winter.

Did you realize it's not even technically winter yet? This is going to get old quickly.

The hardest part about taking an extended break from the blog, for whatever reason, is that inertia sets in. When one hasn't been writing for a while, it's simply easier to not write. The inverse is also true, once I get into the rhythm of making words, it's easier for me to make them than to not. The words pile up until I get to full of words, and they need to be disposed of somehow, in a great glorious regurgitation quite linguistic in nature.

But, having taken time off, my body drops into verbal starvation mode; words have been so hard to come by, the body begins to hoard each calorie of consonant, and there is little to go around.

And so, you need to begin to force those words out and about, that they may seed themselves, and create bigger words of greater culinary sophistication, until one's vocabulary is one for the gourmands again.

The main way to do that is to talk about those things that rankle one's limpets.

For example, there was a grocery store that refused to decorate a 3-year-old child's birthday cake, carrying the child's name. Why? Because the kid's name is Adolf Hitler Campbell. First off, why the fuck would you name your kid this unless you were an unaplogetic racist, an overly flaky artsy douchebag or just a simple moron?

Giving these parents the benefit of the doubt (although I'm not sure which of those distinctions is the least resentful of the three), reading the rest of the article reveals that little Adolph's baby sister is named
JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell. Seriously.

Who let these people have kids? In Pennsylvania no less.

For those of you who feel sorry for little Hitler, fear not. A store did decorate his cake. A Wal-Mart no less. Go figure. Why am I not surprised? (Link to Story)

Another thing that happened in my absence was a shoe-throwing incident. Apparently a journalist tried to bean the lame duck pres with a shoe, this being a symbol of great disapproval in the Arabic culture. I would like to applaud the guy for standing up for what he believes in. Honestly, one can't go about hurling shoes at other people to express disdain, even when that person happens to be one of the worst things to happen to the U.S., and many other parts of the world, in quite some time. It's sad, but you can't.

It's sort of like, when you capture soldiers and leaders of countries that you are at war with, you have to treat them in accordance with the guidelines set aside in the Geneva Convention. You can't just treat them however you like, and make up a new classification for said soldiers and leaders so that you obtain a loophole. I'm sorry, but this is also not allowed.

What you can do, however, is latch onto the idea of the shoe as a symbol of disdain. Take your old shoes, box them up, and mail them here:

George W. Bush Presidential Library
c/o SMU
6425 Boaz Lane
Dallas TX 75205

Wouldn't it be nice to bury that place in old shoes?

I guess I can't be too hard on the old man, he did just approve the emergency auto loans today, but I still seriously hope that, should this help fix everything and make it right, nobody loses sight of the fact that he is really not a good person.

The auto loan approval leaves me with a feeling of "great, but now what?" - the same feeling I had when I found out Obama had been elected. It's good, it's a step in the right direction, but man, are we so fucked for the time being.

Honestly, I have never lived in a time before where everyone I know, regardless of occupation, was in fear for their jobs at the same time.

Wandering off that subject, the cop that I mentioned in this post a while ago is facing charges, so at least the world appears sane somewhere, even if the rest of us are not on an even keel right.

I don't know. It's almost Christmas, so I better get to work and being merry now, no?

Friday, December 12, 2008

RIP - Bettie Page

The terms and reasons for my seclusion are still ongoing, but I needed to take a moment to express my distress over two items:

1. The bailout fell through. Worse times are most likely ahead.

2. Bettie Page passed away.

Bettie Page is a woman whose... body of work... is something I have always greatly admired. Granted, she's been out of the public eye for a great many years, but her contribution to pop culture and the dreams of teenage boys is without compare.

RIP Ms. Page. Thanks.

There's a memorial here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Going AWOL for a while...

Heidelberg Project
Originally uploaded by alpharat
All apologies for my seriously decreased presence as of late. I will be laying low for a bit longer, posting sporadically if at all for about another week.

Then it will be time for some of the awesomeness you know and love me for. Pockets and buckets full of awesomeness.

Until then, we apologize for the interruption of broadcasting; and ask that you just bear with the alpha for a bit as a transition occurs in the realm known as the "meatspace" (as opposed to the cyberworld)...

As a musical interlude, I offer you "Into My Arms" from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Meet the Labbit

This is the Labbit. He's our new traveling buddy. His favorite things include car rides, extended time within carry-on luggage, and smoking in nonsmoking areas.

You can see some of his adventures in Ireland here.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

So, yeah, we're back from Ireland, and it was positively brilliant. Photos and video will come soon, as we get organized, but I wouldn;t hold my breath waiting for it, as this thing called Christmas is sneaking up, and there seems to be some things that need to go with that.

But tonight, I am positively giddy, because we will we be seeing the talented, beautiful, positively manic Amanda Palmer play tonight!

If you've paid attention to posts here over the years, she may look familiar. She's the lead singer of the Dresden Dolls and the leader of the punk cabaret movement, whom I professed to having a crush on way back when. She's playing in a tiny little theater here in F-town, and we're going.

While we have been traveling the world as of late, TFN is putting me to shame this weekend when she jets off to Cancun. I am jealous simply based on the fact that I am not ready for winter, and it's cold and yucky here.

In the news 'round here, the person responsible for the hit-and-run death of a cyclist that I mentioned a while ago has been charged. Innocent and proven guilty and all, if she is the killer, not only did she hit and kill the cyclist, she then drove to a drugstore and crashed into a parked car to cover up the damage. If she is the one, I'd like to see her get the book thrown at her (story).

That's the nutshell for now. We're back, we're safe, we're busy and Amanda Palmer rules.

Friday, November 21, 2008

We're off...

Originally uploaded by alpharat
In a just a few short hours, we'll be making our way to Ireland for the big adventure.

I'll post pictures and stuff when we get back, provided the whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing doesn't kill me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Teaching the cat to read

Teaching the cat to read
Originally uploaded by alpharat
When teaching a cat to read, it's easier if you focus on a topic they are interested in, like fish.

My understanding is that the process with children is similar, but not as easy.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Laying an old friend to rest...

I said good bye to a dear friend and traveling companion this weekend.




West Seattle


Me in Dublin




Europe 2007_72.JPG

Traverse City:



train station and beer

Old Blue, my favorite hooded sweatshirt, was put to pasture this weekend. He'll still be assuming the role of "designated bonfire sweatshirt), but his deteriorating condition will prevent him from traveling with me anymore. I got a new traveling sweatshirt this weekend, who'll be traveling with us to Ireland next week.

Watch for photos of us in action!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Monkeys Are On The Move...

Another reading from the gospel (the first reading was here):

And so it came after many years, that the monkeys got much older.
They tired and slowed.
The ways of the world weighed them down.

They went to home of the monkey who stood in front of all other monkeys.
They stood outside the home, so afraid were they to enter.
They called out, “Master! Master! Come outside!”

And the monkey who stood in front of all other monkeys called back to them, “come in my children. Come in and drink wine with me.”

But the monkeys were afraid.
They were afraid that they had aged too much, and lost their anger.
They were afraid that their master, the monkey who stood in front of all other monkeys, had also aged and become infirm, and that they may be greeted with sadness.
So they called out again, “Master! Master! Come outside!”

At great length, the monkey who stood in front of all other monkeys came out to see them.

To their surprise, the monkey who stood in front of all other monkeys had not aged, but seemed to have grown younger, bigger, more powerful and even angrier.

Again He said in a booming angry voice, “come in my children. Come in and drink wine with me.”

But the monkeys were afraid, and they cried out and beat upon their chests.

Angrily, the Master asked, “why do you cry so?”

“We cry master, we cry because the world weighs us down, because we grow older, we grow weaker, we have lost sight of the ways of the two-wheeled beast, and of anger. We feel that you will not love as before.”

“Fear not,” said the Master. “You are monkey. You will always be monkey, and as such I will always love you.”

“You are monkey, and as such you will always be angry, even when you fear it is not to be.”

“You are monkey, and as such will always rock the world. Now come in, and drink wine with me.”

And so all the monkeys entered the house of the monkey who stood before all other monkeys and drank of his wine. And the monkeys felt young again. And angry.

And the monkeys did once again rediscover the love of their Master, and the love of the two-wheeled beasts, and were set upon the world again.

And this time, the people of the world were not afraid.

They knew that they were angry, but were also monkey, and that there would be no need for fear.

So long as wine flowed, there would only be much rejoicing, and much rocking of the world.

From The Book Of The Church Of The Rotating Mass

Best luck to all the Angry Monkeys this weekend.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Overheard at the polls...

"What do we do with the ballot that the baby got sick on?"

This will be one of my most vivid memories from the day.

Yes We Did!

So today, the mantra has changed from “Yes, we can!” To “Yes, we did!” And I have to say I’m quite happy about it.

Last night, TFN and I and voted (30 minutes in and out the door), then went to our favorite little Cajun place for some wine, food and to watch the polls. After a few drinks, we went home.

At some point on the five-minute drive home, Obama was declared the victor. We watched McCain concede, then went to bed.

This morning, nothing has changed really. The economy is still in the crapper, and everyone I know lives in fear for their jobs.

Still, at the same time, there is something hanging in the air. And, dare I say it? I think it’s hope.

I think that we all really made a difference yesterday, things are on their way to getting better. It won’t happen immediately, but it feels so good to have hope for the future again.

Everybody is walking around in a happy daze. Not only have we elected a man who will be soon beginning a historic presidency based on his race, we have elected a man who embodies ideals for us that we can end this war, that we can turn this economy around, that we can… do anything.

Quoting a text I received last night: “We so FUCKING CAN!”

This weekend marks the annual pilgrimage of the Angry Monkeys to a place not to far from Z, for our Polar Assault known as Iceman. We are all suffering from an extreme lack of training this year, and our performance will be dismal. Even so, in the interest of the theme of today, we can do this. Yes, we can.

And until we head up north, if you’re looking for us, we’ll be dancing to Joy Division.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

So vote already, dammit!

Madness today, but I'll take a second to remind you, although I doubt you need it.

Despite the fact that it could mean a longer line for me, just make sure you get out and vote if you haven’t already.

And I'll say it again - remember what you’re voting on. (Hint: it doesn’t really have anything to do with one politician vs. the other…)

As an additional side note: no matter who walks away as the new boss, at least it will be the end of these political ads.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I think it bears mentioning...

my wedding day
Originally uploaded by alpharat
That it was nine years ago today that I said, "I Do." With those two words, my best friend also became my wife.

As this cryptic photo shows, things were just as crazy then as they are now.

Nine years has seemed like a drop in a bucket, so here's to the bucket taking a long, long, looooong time to fill up.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Get the awesomest pants they offer.

Further proof that God is getting ready for the battle to end the world: Rudy Ray Moore, AKA Dolemite, AKA The Human Tornado, AKA The Avenging Disco Godfather was called back yesterday. He was 81. I’ll let you search for your own videos, because I couldn’t find one that was remotely safe or appropriate to post here (and you know that’s a mean feat!). So, if you decide to look, you can start here, but you’ve been warned.

Here’s a little something for the wallflowers in the room.
All my people at the party for whom the dance don’t come natural.

I have a new song that I am incredibly addicted to, to the point of listening to it nonstop (Four times today so far!). You know that phrase “Dance like nobody’s watching”? This song speaks to those of us who can’t dance, but don’t necessarily care. It’s called “Wallflowers,” and it’s by MC Frontalot. It’s a song that just makes me want to dance, and I think it will make you want to dance, too.

Hidden with the song is a great bit of advice for life (and dancing) as well:

Don’t retract unless you’re starting a move, and don’t begin a motion unless you follow it through.

Like the song? Wait there’s more! As an added bonus, if you wander through this post, you can download the MP3 for free. Download it, learn to do the Margaret Thatcher (listen and you’ll understand), and then we’ll all do it together when next we meet.

Big adventures are in the making in these parts. First of all, this Saturday marks the annual bacchanal we celebrate in these parts, that’s most commonly known as our Halloween party. This year, we’re going with a heroes and villains theme (last year was dead celebrities, and the year before that was pirates), and it should be mad fun.

Sunday, Lasers and Fast and Shit will be playing in Detroit. They’re on tour right now opening for Shiny Toy Guns. The thing is, Lasers and Fast and Shit need a place to stay, and their drummer is MZZO, a dear old friend of ours (he went to high school with TFN, was in our wedding, and has brought one of his bands from Chicago to play our breast cancer benefit, etc.), so log story short, Sunday night will see our place as a band house for the evening.

Honestly, I don’t mind doing it, gas has gotten so expensive over the years, so that anything I can do to help a touring band out, even going so far as to give them a shower, bed and dinner for the night, I’ll gladly do it to help keep the tradition of touring bands alive.

But, getting back to big adventures, I have been grumbling on about how I want to have a big bit of vagabondoggery lately, and a big adventure has been scheduled to coincide with TFN’s birthday. A road trip.

And not just any road trip. This will be our big adventure. We’re flying into Shannon Airport in Ireland and picking up a rental car. One week later, we’re flying out of Dublin, on the other side of the country.

No itinerary.

Just adventure.

Friday, October 17, 2008

We do what we do to get by...

Song for the weekend - "Thrash Unreal" by Against Me! (whom we're going to see on Saturday)

This night is going to end when we’re damn well ready for it to be over.
Worked all week long, now the music is playing on our time.

Action-packed weekend ahead, starting with a trip to the Winchester for dinner and beers with the K&A faction tonight, thenSaturday begins with getting up and mowing the lawn one last time, a bike ride, a run out to Ann Arbor to have dinner with a friend who’s in town on a movie shoot, then back to Detroit for the Against Me! show, then back home for a few hours of sleep before we’re back downtown at 5 am for the Detroit Marathon (where we’re volunteering), then a bike ride, then dinner with family, then bed and then it’s time to go to work Monday morning.

Damn, that’s exhausting to even think of. So I try not to think of it. Just roll with it.

Monday, October 13, 2008

RIP - Sho'Nuff

This news is a few months old, but I just found out that Julius Carry, better known as Sho'Nuff, Shogun of Harlem died in August.

First, Sho'Nuff, then Paul Newman. What's going on up there? It's like God is calling all the tough guys home. It almost makes you wonder if we aren't gearing up for the end of the world.

I also have to wonder if the tournament to find the next next Shogun of Harlem has begun.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Cold bones and bandanas

Music for the moment: "Swing Life Away" by Rise Against

We live on front porches and swing life away
We get by just fine here on minimum wage
If love is a labor I'll slave 'til the end
I won't cross these streets until you hold my hand...

This song reminds me of summers in Ferndale, and how much fun I have just going places with no reason other than to see friends and have fun.

I've been here so long; think that its time to move
The winter's so cold summer's over too soon
so let's pack our bags and settle down where palm trees grow.

Now the days are getting short and cold, and we turned on the heat the other night. It seems like it's time to put another summer to bed. All things considered, it was a really good one. Broken ribs and stitches aside, it was well-lived. We managed to pack a lot into the summer for sure.

I've got some friends, some that I hardly know
But we've had some times I wouldn't trade for the world
We chase these days down with talks of the places that we will go...

Tonight, I have tickets to the Wings home opener. I am soooo excited. Unlike the recent lame night where we decided not to go, tonight is the next best thing to being there to see them win the cup. They'll bring the cup out, and hoist the championship banner. It's an incredible opportunity and a good way to welcome the fall, and I won't lame out this time.

Originally uploaded by alpharat
We had a little scare with the Shane yesterday. We went to to the vet to get his nails "did," and to get his bordatella (kennel cough) vaccination. This is always an unpleasant visit for him, because the kennel cough vaccination is an "intranasal vaccination," meaning they load it up in a syringe and shoot it up his nose. He doesn't like that.

But he took it like a trooper, and came out of the exam room with a fancy new Halloween bandanna that he was very proud of, and all of the girls in the vet's office told him how nice he looks (he always gets really happy when they dote on him). As a last stop, he climbed on the scale before we left.

It turns out, he'd lost five pounds, which adds up to 15 pounds over the past two years. The vet, with that dreaded disclaimer "it's probably nothing," took him back for some bloodwork.

They called me at 8:30 this morning. It turns out, it is nothing. Shane is just getting old, and they said his appetite was probably just decreasing. Still, they said (and I haven't broke this news to him yet), they were giving us the green light to start really spoiling him. This means wet food two or three times a week, and the occasional bits of people food.

This goes along with what a lot of our friends have been saying, actually, only they put it more like this: "Come on! He's old and he's a good dog! If he wants some people food/to tip over the garbage/to go in and and out all day/to beg at the table/to steal food from the table/etc., you let him!"

So yeah, I won't break the news to Shane in exactly this way, but the vet basically said let him be naughty and to eat what he wants.

Honestly, I have started this way already. On a warm evening a few weeks ago, TFN and I grilled steaks, then sat on the deck in the dark, drinking beers and sucking the last bit of warm marrow out of the cooling bones of summer. At some point, I had taken the dishes from dinner in, and Mr. Shane scratched at the door to go inside.

I let him in.

I let him in knowing he didn't want to go to bed. I let him in knowing he wanted to tip over the trash for the bits of steak in there.

Which he did.

And I didn't punish him beyond a "Shane, what did you do?" because, really, I was just happy the old guy still has it in him to be naughty for the sake of a bit of steak.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The great purge

TFN and I are in the middle of a giant purge. We are throwing out and donating many of our worldlies. A few weeks ago, it was a garbage bag of shoes (no small feat (feet?) for TFN, because she bears a fondness toward footwear that borders on obsession) and another of coats.

I have been gifting books to friends under the condition that they be passed on and not returned.

We simply want to end up with less clutter. Less stuff.

Apparently, this need to purge has entered the subconscious areas governing our basic motor skills as well, because in the past few weeks, we have also accidentally broken more dishes that we have in the entire time we've been together, Glasses, coffee mugs, a bowl; it's like the dishes have gone suicidal, and our seeking ways to meet untimely demises under the guise of butterfingered accidents.


Dreaming a little dream

I once had a friend, a very good friend. He was a good friend to a bunch of us, a big pert of the circle of friends.

Then one day, he wrote off all of his friends. He just went on with his life sans the original bunch.

There was no discernible altercation to cause this rift. It was just like the typical way in which people grow apart, at 10 times the typical speed.

Life went on.

I was a little hurt by the whole situation. OK, a lot. But I got over it.

Monday night, I had a dream where I was in a bar on a Saturday night. I ran into him, and he offered advice about something. I told him he had no right to just turn up again and offer advice after not returning calls or coming to parties. As far as his advice went, it was pretty stupid, anyway.

Then I woke up.

I was angry.

I was not angry about the contents of the dream though.

I was upset that, for a moment, I thought it was Saturday night and I didn't have to get up for work in the morning.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Amazing Grace

Z asked if anybody had recorded "Amazing Grace" with Flatfoot 56 the other night. While I don't know about that, here they are playing it elsewhere, and it was pretty similar:

It's so far been a positively great weekend in the Motor City. It started with chciken wings, beer and a three-way of intellectual intercourse with A of the K&A faction last night, prompting sleeping in this morning before a trip to the Eastern Market and a stop in at Vivio's for more than a few of the absolute best Bloody Marys in the city.

Good Market Day
Originally uploaded by alpharat

Trips to the Eastern Market are always so much fun. Aside from getting delicious fresh produce, there's always the "run-in factor," the old friends that we'll see that we haven't seen in months. Today it was an old artist friend we hadn't ssen in a year and a musician friend (who holds the long-running title for being the girl who gives out the best hugs) that we hadn't seen in half a year.

Now at this point, we're not even halfway through the weekend; we still have a lot to go. Tonight, it's dinner with Mr. and Ms. Yoda and an Orbitsuns show. Tomorrow, it's a few hours with the best haircutter in the city, and then a bike ride.

This truly is the type of weekend that needs to be fully enjoyed.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Could it be?

Yes, it’s Friday!

Last night’s show was amazing, a packed house of kids dancing and singing and having a great time. The crowd ranged from 40-year-old skins to 16-year-old punks and there were no issues, nobody got hurt, and the bands and the crowd kicked ass. I even took a few laps in the circle pit during Flatfoot 56’s set, something I decided I was too old for a few years ago.

And let me tell you, until you've heard a crowded punk bar sing "Amazing Grace" together, you've never really heard that song.

The nation could take a lesson from this crowd, because we can apparently get along and play nicely quite well.

Moving along, this post is actually for Z- In response to this post. Here's my reply:

Doesn’t that just make you feel better? No? Not yet?

Let’s try again:

There, if you’re not feeling great now, I don’t know what to tell you. There’s something seriously wrong with you.

Now please, carry on with your weekend. It’s Friday, bitches!


One more thing. Sorry to harsh your Friday after I pumped you up with those great feelings, but here’s more sad cycling news (because that’s what I’m good at):

I just received word that, as of tomorrow, the Great Demoralizer will be no more. The Great Demoralizer is the first hill on the 20-some mile Potowatomi trail, so named because it’s a craggy, tall climb that destroys you just to get to the top. Then once you clear this hill, muscles screaming and lungs blown out, the realization sets in that you have over 20 miles left to go. Somehow, I call this fun.

Part of the reason it’s so difficult and demoralizing is the erosion damage that contributes to its roughness. It’s an environmentally sound choice to eliminate it, rerouting to a better construction in a less steep climb.

Still, I’m going to miss it, and I wish I would have known about this sooner so it could have kicked my ass just one more time.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

All the news, everywhere, ever.

Music of the moment: Street Dogs

So, that VP debate is tonight, but I will not be viewing. TFN and I have tickets to see Street Dogs, a hard-working blue-collar punk band from Boston. They sing about worker’s rights, taking pride in yourself and taking care of your friends – the sort of thing that should be talked about at the debate but probably won’t.

It may be escapist, but an evening in the microcosm of a rock club where the ideals getting thrown around consist of drinking beer with your friends and looking out for one another is exactly what I need. What I don't need are more mindlessly awful Palin soundbites.

I don’t really think Palin is the devil per se, but she definitely just scares me because of her apparent lack of knowledge and her apparent view of being OK with that. She just babbles and throws out talking points without really ever saying anything, and some people eat that up.

Biden will have a hard time with this debate because he addresses issues with facts, while what I’ve seen from her, she resorts to colloquialisms, pandering and cutesy anecdotes. And if he tries to confront her with facts or force an answer, he may come across as a bully, pushing around dear sweet Sarah Palin, the backwoods hockey mom.

Then again, she may have a hidden ace and we may be incredibly surprised by her performance, because she apparently reads all of the news written anywhere, ever.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Sad times...

Music for the moment: Plan 9

It's been a strange day with some weird sad events. Just as I was posting a review of the new Plan 9 album to my music site, I got an email from Plan 9's PR person. It seems that Plan 9's frontman, Aaron Fuller, was killed in a motorcycle accident early Tuesday morning. He was a really talented singer with an amazing voice, and Plan 9 was the closest thing to a Misfits replacement since Danzig left that band.

I also found more information on the Ghost Bike locked to a sign near my bank. The person that was hit and killed was a 40-year-old woman. She was a single mother of two kids who worked taking care of a 90-year-old man. She didn't have a car, and the bike was her only mode of transportation to and from work.

The person that hit her dragged her for 100 feet and fled the scene. I don't know what kind of monster would do something like that, but I hope they find the person and put them away.

I also sincerely hope she was killed instantly, and the person didn't leave her there to die. There's a special place in hell for a person who would do that.

Another disturbing aspect of all this are the people who commented on the story, especially the original story. They suggest that cyclists are at fault in these situations. These are people who've been inconvenienced by being behind cyclists, not realizing or caring that we have the same rights and are required to follow the same laws as a motorist.

When I ride the roads, I ride extremely defensively because of people like this; people who think nothing of running a bike off the road. I never assume that a car has noticed me, often they look right past you. I have a friend who has been hit three times now, simply because people don't pay attention.

I don't want to get on a high horse (or a tall bike in this case) in this situation, but whether people are riding for fun, fitness, transportation choice or because they have no choice other than to ride a bike, they deserve the right to share the road, and to do it without fear of being killed. Cyclists have a real need to be cautious, too, because whether or not they are in the right, they will ALWAYS lose in a car vs. bike confrontation.

Incidentally, she wasn't the only cyclist killed that night. In this case, the person turned himself in the next day, saying he thought he hit a deer.

Did he really? If you hit a deer, wouldn't you pull over to check? Again, my fear is that, at the time, he knew what he did and panicked, leaving another cyclist in a ditch to die.

Sad cycling news aside, there are other sad news items that have been making me shake my head. In Denver, the people who perpetrated the violence upon nonviolent protesters are celebrating the fact, and using this occasion to profit.

The Denver police union is selling T-shirts that poke fun at protesters at last month's Democratic National Convention, but the main target isn't laughing.

The back of the shirts reads, "We get up early to beat the crowds" and "2008 DNC," and has a caricature of a police officer holding a baton. (Link)

So what you have is a situation where police were able to violate the First Amendment rights of this country's citizens, and then are allowed to joke about and profit from it. But we're not heading toward a police state.

If that's not enough distressing news, apparently Sarah Palin believes that man walked the Earth with the dinosaurs. I won't go so far as to say that she's not intelligent, but she's apparently not very well educated or well read.

That's probably the case, as she is the person who asked how she would go about getting books banned from public libraries. This bit of old news is especially relevant this week, which happens to be Banned Books Week. If you do nothing else, make a silent statement of rebellion by reading a book that has faced a ban. There are plenty of good ones on the list, and who knows? If things keep heading in the direction they are, this may not always be a guaranteed right in this country.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Lameness Knows No Bounds...

Music Right Now:

The Waco Brothers

So, with some intentions of going to the Wings/Bruins game last night, Astroman and I made it down to Honest? John's for a sandwich and some beers, but we never made it to the game. I wish I could say that it was because our plans were sidelined by a wild adventure, but the truth is, we're getting old and lame.

Sidebar: Honest? John'sis probably my favorite bar in the city. It's a simple straightforward bar with great food in a not-too-wonderful neighborhood. John is always there, with a hello and a smartass comment, and he's always patrolling the street around the bar, keeping an eye on his patrons and their cars. It's a bar that TFN and have given the affectionate and honorable nickname of "The Winchester," and those of you who've seen the movie that bar is from understand the significance: it's a tried and true favorite that we somehow always end up at, and it's on the top of our list no matter how many times we been there. When the world is coming to an end, if I can't be in a cafe in Tuscany, hopefully I'll be sitting in a booth at Honest? John's drinking cold Ghettoblasters and eating their (awesome) chicken and waffles.

So, anyway, we had a few beers, and by that time, the game was well underway. We discussed the possibility of catching a band somewhere, and instead came back to my house to watch some of the debate. After that, we went downtown to grab one more drink. After walking out of several bars that were too crowded (crowded was not on our agenda for the evening), we ended up at my favorite Cajun place, where I ordered a bottle of wine, drank a glass and a half, and had it recorked to go (smartest liquor law this state has ever made!). Then I was home and asleep by two AM. That was guy's night out.

Lame. But fun.

This morning was CSA day, where we go to the farmer's market in Ann Arbor and pick up the produce from our CSA membership. It's a fun tradition for TFN and I, a ritual which involves bloody marys and brunch at little French bistro too, but TFN is on a business trip this weekend, so I was flying solo.

My first stop was to go to the bank.

I hate going to the bank, and I hate going to the post office. Those are two places I really hate going to. Because of this, I do all my banking via ATMs and/or online. Except when it comes to expense checks from TFN's employer.

You see, our bank went "state of the art" with their ATMs, creating an ATM that doesn't use envelopes. When you are depositing money in the ATM, you feed the bills or checks into the machine, and it scans them. It can apparently scan 99% of all checks, with TFN's expense reimbursements one of the checks it can't read. So they need to be manually deposited.

This requires banking on a Saturday usually, Saturday being the only day we can get to the bank. It requires going in the lobby, filling out a slip and standing in line. There were two people in front of me, and only one teller working. One person made a deposit, and the second didn't know what the hell she was doing. She stood there for 10 minutes exploring options about how to take money out to give to someone else, getting very distraught and confused before settling on a cashier's check. I got impatient and frustrated. Then I finally deposited the check and went on my way.

Shaking my head and mumbling about how people need to learn about things like how to complete a basic financial transaction in a timely fashion, I got ready to pull out of the bank parking lot, when I saw a Ghost Bike chained to a sign. For those who haven't seen a Ghost Bike or don't know what they are, they are a cyclist's version of those roadside altars. A Ghost Bike is a bike painted completely white and locked to a sign in memory of a cyclist who was hit or killed on the street. They are also meant as reminder to cars to watch for cyclists, and a quiet statement about the rights of cyclists to be on the road.

It was a sobering sight, the sort of thing that told me to knock it off. It was the sort of sight that reminded me that if the worst thing that I had to deal with was standing in line while some woman figured out what way she wanted to withdraw money for a few minutes, I had it pretty good. It even got me thinking about her; why was she in that position? Why was she, probably in her 50s, unaware of what a cashier's check was? Maybe her husband always took care of the finances? Where was he? Maybe he passed away. Maybe he left her. The white bike had me silently hoping that everything would be OK for this woman who was in front of me in line at the bank.

This white bike had me smiling to myself when I stood in line forever at the coffeeshop because the old couple in front of me were regulars, chatting with the staff about families and stuff. I was quietly happy to myself that this old couple had what seemed like a daily ritual at the coffeeshop, and didn't make me impatient as I waited for my coffee while they caught up with the girls behind the counter.

I try to not be a sour person when I'm inconvenienced. I don't want to be a pushover, but I understand that shit happens, and I'm willing to go with the flow whenever it's really no big deal, or even when it is a big deal but isn't anybody's fault.

It's just that sometimes I need a reminder to remember how fortunate I am.

Unfortunately, today that reminder was in the form of a monument to a cyclist who'd been struck down.


One morning, TFN and I went to brunch at a local creperie. While we were there, a shuttle from a local retirement home came in as well, with about 20 seniors from the home, who came for brunch as well. At one table sat two old sourpuss ladies, who scowled and frowned and rarely said anything unless they found something to complain about - food, weather, other people, anything.

At another table sat two old guys, who were smiling and laughing and joking. The creases in their faces were just as deep as the ones on the ladies, but where the ladies carried their creases in the form of frownlines, the men had deep laughlines around their eyes.

They were probably about the same age as the two women, but they looked 20 years younger. Their backs were just as bowed, but they still had a spring in their step.

That's the old person I want to be. I want to be happy and easygoing no matter what life throws at me.

The hardest part of it all is remembering that this is the person I want to be. It sometimes takes a reminder.

TFN will be home in a few hours. That gives me just enough time to drink a leftover glass of wine from last night's wild adventures, catch a short nap, and straighten up.

I hope everyone's weekend is going swimmingly, and I hope you all take a moment today to remember one thing that makes you lucky.

Friday, September 26, 2008

I never realized my iPod was so un-American.

I saw this ad today for the Zvue Spirit, though, and all of a sudden I realized that I can never truly hope to be a real ‘Merican unless I owned this starred and striped monstrosity, and honestly, during election time, we should be doing all we can do to prove that we are true ‘Mericans, voting for the most ‘Merican of the candidates.

The best part of this little handheld MP3 player, is that it comes pre-loaded with a stack of real ‘Merican music! You get:

  • "I Feel Good" by James Brown
  • "Back in the U.S.A." by Chuck Berry
  • "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • "Drive South" by John Hiatt
  • "XXX's and OOO's (An American Girl)" by Trisha Yearwood
  • "Fly Like an Eagle" by The Neville Brothers
  • "Rocky Mountain Way" by Joe Walsh
  • "Takin' Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
  • "Simple Man" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • "Rock and Roll All Nite" by KISS
  • "(You Can Still) Rock in America" by Night Ranger
  • "America Is My Home (Part 1)" by James Brown & The Famous Flames
  • "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd
  • "Some Gave All" by Billy Ray Cyrus
  • "God Bless the U.S.A" by Lee Greenwood

That’s right! You get no less than THREE SKYNYRD TUNES, because Skynyrd is the most ‘Merican band of all time!

Seriously though, if you don’t mind it’s gruesome nature, it’s on sale for 12.99 on right now. That's a pretty good deal for a 1GB MP3 player, even if it’s as obnoxious as all hell.

Also, how much you want to bet it's made in China?

Even so, I bet this girl has one:

Watch CBS Videos Online

The debate is on tonight, but I’m going to the Red Wings game. Hockey is distinctly Canadian, which probably brands me as somewhat unpatriotic. Please don’t judge.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No More Biking...

Today I scheduled my hotel room in Traverse City for this year's Iceman. I am really looking forward to it, as always, but this year it's a little bittersweet.

It seems that this will be my last Iceman. Indeed, this will probably be my last year on a bicycle.

It was bound to happen sooner or later, because this is the thing that the blue-collar workforce of my parents' generation always warned us about.

Did we listen? No.

But now, my position as a cyclist has been replaced by a robot.

I'm not sure what I'll do now, but yep, robots have forced people out of the cycling community. Next thing you know, they'll be building cars, too.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Where have I been?

I've been rather busy lately. I rode my bike 40 miles in the Tour De Troit this weekend, plus I have been somewhat busy fighting a war against corporate conglomerates.

Even so, I guess that if this issue is the worst of my problems right now, I should consider myself fortunate. There are worse things that could happen.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Bad Moon On The Rise...

Maybe I'm on my way to being more political in this forum. I seem to have been consistently saying recently, "I don't like to talk about politics, but..." and then, you know, discussing politics.

It's just that I get disgusted and scared when I see stuff that's going on. Stuff that makes me worried enough to talk about it in this space.

There have been a lot issues rising up from events that took place at the RNC, like Rage Against The Machine getting the plug pulled on them at their scheduled protest show. Were the police trying to incite a riot? The way the band handled it though, was in my opinion, a supreme display of class as well as political activism.

Another display of the "security measures" at the RNC.

Pepper spray a flower girl in the face, then do it again for good measure as she walks away. That'll learn her.

I think I have this supreme fear of living in a police state. And the fact that we're not too far away from being there; all we need to do is roll over and let it happen.

I recently read Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, and was mesmerized on so many levels. Essentially Little Brother is the story of a kid in San Francisco when a 9-11-style attack takes place. At the wrong place at the wrong time, the teenager is swept up into an unmarked van and whisked off to a Gitmo-style prison. Nobody knows where he is, and nobody needs to, because the Dept. of Homeland Security has that right.

The book is somewhat subversive and inspirational, sort of a cyberpunk version of 1984. And, best of all, it's young adult fiction; written for a 13-year old reading level, yet so well-written that grownups will like it, too. Just don't be surprised if a grown up reading this feels very old - the book is written to inspire a new generation. We may have already blown our opportunity.

Anyone who reads this, especially you youngsters, should read Little Brother. And, because I am not simply trying to boost Doctorow's book sales, and neither is he, the book is even available for free download through a Creative Commons license on his Web site. If you don't have the cash, download it and read it. I think it will help inspire a new generation of political activism, as well as technological awareness.

OK, I'm done plugging the book; we now return to our regularly scheduled programming.

There are other scary murmurs regarding this upcoming election; regarding a certain group who is trying to keep other groups from reaching the polls by supllying them with misinformation. In Virginia, college administrators issued a series of press releases incorrectly warning students that, should they register to vote on campus, they could lose their dependent status, as well as health insurance coverage and scholarships. Here in Detroit, local Republican Party members are reportedly planning on using foreclosure lists to prevent people who've lost their homes from being able to vote, robbing the people who need economic change them most of their voice.

Finding ways to screw people out of their votes, reacting violently to peaceful protesters, I'm not sure what's next, but I am honestly frightened to find out.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Thursday, September 04, 2008

In your grocer's deli case...

Mac & Cheese
Originally uploaded by alpharat
I was, sadly, not allowed to purchase this.

Making serious decisions...

I'm getting political today, so I first wanted to share this video that Against Me! (the same guys behind "White People For Peace") produced for Rock the Vote. I think it's really important, because it points out that when you step into the voting booth in November, what you're really voting on, and it's not Obama vs. McCain. Believe it or not, that's not what this election is really about. There are much bigger ideas at stake.

Politics is gettin' real thick around here. For one, the Governor is holding a hearing right now to remove Detroit's mayor from office, while at the same time, he is expected to go into court this morning to enter a guilty plea.

Why would he finally plead guilty after waiting so long? Because there is apparently a deal on the table right now that if he pleads guilty and resigns, he can look at reduced jail time. If the governor removes him from office, that deal is no longer on the table and they'll nail his ass to the wall.

Personally, although I'd love to see him go to jail, I really would just like to see him out.

Granted, the new boss is most likely going to be the same as the old boss, but hopefully, there will be so much scrutiny from now on that the corruption that has plagued this city for a long long time will be reduced.

Moving on, I want to mention a little bit about Palin, and what a colossal mistake I think she is.

First off, I'll lay it out in the interest of self-disclosure so you know where I'm coming from. While I am all over the range on a lot of issues, I am a social liberal, and these social issues are issues that I think trump over my decisions. I believe human rights supersede economic issues, and that environmental are prominent as well.

As such, I was not voting Republican. Even so, man did they eff up. She just wasn't a good choice, and everyone seems to know it.

I'm not going to attack her for having a pregnant teenage daughter; shit happens, and that's really not anybody's business except her family's. They'll deal with it, like families have forever. Even so, it doesn't seem like the best display of the "abstinence only education" that Palin advocates.

It just seems like little or no examination of her background happened, like she was a last-minute choice made with little or no forethought.

"Wait, you know what would be great? Let's offset the groundbreaking nature of Obama's campaign by choosing a woman to fill out our ticket!"

"Great idea! Who should we pick?"

"I don't care, a woman should be home cooking, cleaning and making babies anyway..."

Sorry, that was a social conservative stereotype I need not have made, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want.

I also, and I'm speaking way off the hip here, because this is so out of my realm, but I can't understand how a woman could be in favor of surrendering choice regarding her own body to the government. Again, I have no background or basis, just personal beliefs.

And the last thing I'm going to say about Palin (for now anyway, and then I'm done trashtalking the poor woman), is that, even though it contradicts what I said before, she has a 5-month baby with Down Syndrome. I think, as a parent of an infant, whether or not it had a disability, a public office is the last thing I'd want to take on. Typically, I guess that's partially a reason why our presidents have been older. Four or eight years from now, should the 'Publicans get elected, and if they somehow have managed to not start a global war that has us all dead, will she look back and regret missing time with her little ones? I think I might.

But you, know, that's just me, and it's not my place to say, even though I just said it.

I hate talking politics, as much as I hate talking religion. It's not that I don't care about them, I do deeply. It's just that I don't feel like it's any of my business to force you to hear my beliefs, and I don't need to hear yours. I am going to vote with my conscience; I will vote for what I believe in. I will practice my spiritual beliefs in a way that is personal to me, and that's that.

At the same time, man, Palin was a bad choice.

OOOOOH! This just in:

Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick will spend 120 days in jail and pay $1 million in restitution. He pleaded guilty this morning to two counts of obstruction of justice. He will serve 5 years of probation and announce his resignation immediately. Full story here.

It's looking good today.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The band plays on...

Originally uploaded by alpharat
Short and sweet, an affirmation of my safe return.

We are back, safe and sound from a weekend that somehow managed to include music, booze, kayaking, motorboating, lots of food, lots more booze and almost no sleep.

Among the musical offerings: Mucca Pazza, the 30-piece "circus punk marching band." Truly sweet, a party that one must see to wrap one's mind around.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stuff the Bible forgot to mention...

I don't often dwell on issues of theology, because I think religion is a personal thing. Your views are, for the most part, your business, and I don't want to hear about them. Then again, as with most things, issues of theology worth discussing will occasionally come up, especially in current issues, or as I pointed out in a previous post, when I hear something I want to share.

The Spam folder of my email, however, is not a place one typically finds theological items of interest.

The Spam folder of my email is a dark place, filled with offers for pharmaceutical items and cash from deposed African politicians. Today, however, a glance in that dank place yielded this little tidbit - the subject line from an email from a bold theologian who obviously is looking out for my spiritual and physical well-being:

Men with big penises go to heaven!

Who knew that was how it worked? This was something they definitely left out of my catechism classes.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An exit to eternal summer slacking...

Today's musical interlude: "The Way" By Fastball

They made up their minds
And they started packing
They left before the sun came up that day
An exit to eternal summer slacking
But where were they going without ever knowing the way?

It really is one of the ultimate road trip songs.

This song came out when we were in college, and quickly became a road trip anthem. We were fortunate enough to see Fastball play it live last March when we were at SXSW, and the song, especially live, still evokes an emotional response from me.

This whole idea of vagabonding has been weighing heavily on me lately. Ever since I put words to a desire to pack up and disappear for a while, it’s something I really would like to do. Who knows where this inherent restlessness came from? Perhaps it’s just a general dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in the Motor City, and an idea that maybe the grass in greener on the other side of… somewhere.

Maybe it’s just a love for being on the road, and for seeing something new. Maybe it’s the knowledge that winter is coming again (granted, it’s only the end of August, but I think about this stuff) and it will be time to hibernate again, with no more walks through the neighborhood. Regardless, I have been very restless lately. My voyage to an undisclosed location a few weeks ago sated the desire a bit, but it’s quickly resurging.

Actually, I do know where this sense of restlessness really stems from. I haven’t been on my bike in a month. Next week, I will be declaring myself healed enough and ready to ride. Then, I think, I will have reacquired the mobility I’m looking for. It will mark a return to health, and a return to a sense of freedom that I haven’t felt lately.

Getting on a bike trail and ending up miles into the woods is an escape that means more to me than I can say. Like taking a road trip, though, it has nothing to do with ending up in the woods. It’s about the journey, the feeling of my legs working in sync with my bike, and my mind free of stupid banal worries, focused instead on not falling, not breaking more ribs, not taking my head off with low branches.

It’s not necessarily about thrills, adrenaline or endorphins, although that’s part of it. It’s more about having control of a situation. While there are a million billion things that worry me and I have no control over, riding my bike through the woods is a situation I control, a situation where I rely on myself to get where I need to go.

That all comes back to me next week.

For now, this weekend marks another bit of vagabondage. We are loading the car and heading to Chicago with only vague destinations in mind. There are places to go and old friends to hug, but no specified destinations and no defined place to sleep. It will be a weekend of couch surfing on whomever’s couch happens to be closest at end the night.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Of Human Vagabondage

I was just reading a little bit about the concept of a Victory Garden. I had heard the term before, but never really thought about it or its meaning.

During WWI and WWII (also known as the 'War to end all wars' and the 'War to end all wars part 2 - Electric Boogaloo'), families on the home front planted vegetables, fruit and herbs on their own property to reduce the stress the average family placed on the public food supply.

These gardens also were a way to bolster public patriotism, allowing the average family to feel they were doing their part to help support the war effort.

After the war was over, the average family was apparently allowed to get selfish again, and stress public food reserves. I think that's how it worked, the books weren't specific.

Today, maybe it's time for Victory Gardens again. But this time, they won't be an attempt to support the war effort. Instead, they'd be a response to the high cost of fuel and food. Really, who's to say that didn't have part to do with the original victory gardens? I'm sure that, since the wars were stressing food supplies, prices were rising fast then, too. Planting a Victory Garden allowed a family to not only be patriotic, but to also be able to afford to feed their family.

I've grown up in a generation where, for most everyone I know, gardening, if done at all, is done as a hobby. "Oh great tomatoes! You grew these yourself? Effing suhweet!" Gardening was never really a means to get by.

I've tried a garden with minimal results. The birds ate all my strawberries, and all I ever got was zucchini - but I did get a lot of it.

I do have a membership in a CSA farm, so in a sense that's paying a membership fee for a local farmer to grow my Victory Garden for me, but isn't that partly only going through the motions, a slightly capitalist way of pretending to be a socialist (not that I prescribe heavily to either doctrine)?

So I really should focus next year on starting my own... I will call it a Protest Garden for the rest of this, as it's a protest against the cost of food and oil, and a mild protest against the reason those costs are so high. Rather than dealing with the problem, it's removing myself from the problem, and essentially eliminating part of it.

How self-sufficient can one get in the city? Not heavily, I'd imagine, without breaking zoning laws. You can't raise chickens in the city, although it would be ideal. Nor can you raise cattle.

Interestingly, should that be allowed, there's the Dexter. The Dexter is a breed of cattle that's only the size of a large dog and produces 16 pints of milk a day. You could keep one in your yard as a pet, getting milk from her for years, then when the time comes, steak her up.

But zoning wouldn't let you anyway.

Personally, I don't know why I'm even postulating the idea of farming in my yard. I wouldn't. I don't even like to mow, and honestly, if it were up to me, I wouldn't mind getting rid of my house for a few years, and vagabonding for a while.

If I could afford to, I'd like to spend a year or two driving around the country, stopping and staying the places that look interesting, with no real destination in mind at all, and just writing about it. Then, when the time was right, I'd stop somewhere and stay. That would be it.

I got a little taste of that last weekend. We were driving back from an undisclosed location, and got sidetracked. Repeatedly. That's the way I like things, and I think I could get used to doing it for a while.

Anybody want to foot the bill for me to vagabond for a year?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Residents are coming

The Residents are coming, and I just bought tickets!

It's a weird clip, but that's how the band is. They've been around since the '60s and put out over 60 albums without ever showing their faces.

They are also the band that arguably invented the music video format, and their earliest works are in the Museum of Modern Art.

I saw them several years ago, on their 35th anniversary tour (this is their first North American tour since that one) and it was, hands down, one of the best shows I've ever seen.

A night with the Residents is an experience that transcends a concert. It's performance art without the pretension, and great music as well.

I once read in an interview that the band said that, since their identities were never to be revealed and their faces were never to be shown, the Residents would last forever. As needed, people would leave the band and be replaced, ensuring immortality for the Residents.

I haven't been this giddy in a long time.

Part of the reason for the giddiness is that they never tour, and when they do, it's for a very short duration. This tour is only 11 dates. And Detroit just happens to be one of them.

More giddiness just hit me... overwhelming... must go...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The only time I will ever quote the Bible on this site...

ryan on the attack
Originally uploaded by jvree
Probably, anyway...

Actually, it's really my business and I'll quote whomever or whatever I damn well please, which isn't really a Christian thing to say, but regardless, I am allowed to quote a Bible verse should I so choose now, aren't I?

Regardless, through Singletrack Mind I was just made aware of this particular verse from Ezekiel:

When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose. Wherever the spirit would go, they would go, and the wheels would rise along with them, because the spirit of the living creatures was in the wheels... When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army. (1:19-20, 24,)

I know, right?

Who knew God was a mountain biker?

A Legend Has Passed

Ronnie Drew passed away on Saturday. He will be missed.

I wrote more here.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sticking the Landing

I have to admit, we’re hooked on the Olympics. They are on whenever we’re home, and every time we go out, we go to a place where we can watch them. That’s why I was particularly upset by this news story.

Whether it’s Phelps, or the gymnasts, or beach volleyball, or whatever, there’s something way cool and exciting about watching the best of the best come together to compete for recognition for themselves and their country.

And it’s the only time you get to yell “Stick the landing!” at the television.

It’s Dream Cruise time in Detroit; that means hundreds of classic cars and up to a million spectators will descend upon Detroit to drive up and down Woodward. This all takes place a few blocks from my house. Ordinarily, we resign ourselves to the fact that we will not be driving. This year, we’re getting out of town for a few days, heading to a remote outpost somewhere not too far from Zillaville, where there will be porchsitting and cocktail drinking.

At least that’s all I’ll get to do. TFN and Coder will be riding.

I unfortunately am in charge of managing a nice set of busted ribs that I was given as a gift at the Tree Farm Relay a few weeks ago. I endoed and Supermanned (went over the handlebars and shot forward for those unfamiliar with the vernacular), smacking my ribs on the bars hard enough to break off a gear display and then smacking them again on the ground.

I did not stick the landing.

Riding is a pain, laughing is a pain, lying down is even a pain.

Sitting and sipping cocktails is, however, not a pain.

The unfortunate (or fortunate? Who knows?) aspect is that Ophelia will be in attendance as well. Ophelia has the uncanny ability to ensure that a strong drink is in your hand at all times. It’s like a super power, and she only uses it for evil. I’m glad we’re on the same side. My liver is not.

Oh, and Ophelia does not bike, so she will be my porch companion while the others are riding.

Hijinks will occur.

Oh yeah, in regards to that link, I Rickrolled ya. It wasn’t apropos of nothing, though, it was because I wanted to mention that last night I figured out a way to Rickroll somebody in real time. It involves going to Karaoke bar, and signing them up to sing “Never Gonna Give You Up” without their knowledge. It’s fun for everyone.

See you all in a few. Until I get back, remember to keep on sticking that landing.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Environmental in Spirit

I am always on the lookout for ways to be more environmentally aware and just a bit greener. It’s no secret; it’s become a recurring theme on this little b-log of mine (but again, call me the "h" word and I'll slap your filthy little mouth). I like doing things to help ensure a decent space for the next round of peoples to be filling this space.

Even so, I am all too aware that there are some serious whack jobs of all kinds out there, including the environmental types. These are the people that refuse to have babies simply because they’re not environmentally friendly (they do exist), or the folks that go so far as to exhibit terrorist behavior that causes harm to other people – in the name of saving the environment.

Most of the time, I just shake my head when I read stories about these people, but every so often, I encounter an environmental story that frightens and sickens me, like the story I saw today:

Nine Household Tips for Vodka

In this “news item,” the writer breaks down ways that vodka can be used in an environmental fashion.

Guess what’s not on the list?

Drinking it.

Honestly, is this simply irresponsible journalism intended to pander to the popularity of the environmental movement, or an insidious puritanical attempt to deplete our national reserve of spirits? The next thing you know, they’ll be telling us that gin can be used to grow baby pandas from the ground.

If you want to read this travesty under the guise of journalism, it’s here.

Just wait, these guys will probably invent an engine that runs on whiskey next. Well you know what guys? I have one already. It’s called me on my bike. So you can just stay out of this with your clever little tips for using the one resource that we already know how to use in the most efficient way possible.

Friday, August 08, 2008

That's our mayor...

Hey Kwame, how many times were you in jail today?

Wait... it just gets better...

They just issued an arrest warrant.

I am giddy.

Mayor on a leash...

So they're sending Kwame home, on a tether this time. I think this is the beginning of the end for Detroit's self-proclaimed Hip-hop Mayor.

As soon as his hearing was over, Michigan attorney general announced that he is filing felony assault charges on Kwame, too. They are going to make arrangements for him to be arraigned, and Cox said the trial will take place in 90 days.

If Kwame gets nailed for shoving a police officer, then that's it. He faces up to 2 years or $2,000 for each of the two charges (and he'll probably just pay fines), but in my opinion that's the inconsequential part of it.

The fact is, if convicted of a felony, Detroit's charter says he's out. He can no longer be mayor.

And that's what the city needs right now.

For him to be out.

It was funny, when Cox was asked how he felt about the fact that, if convicted, the mayor must step down, he made an almost imperceptible smirk, before going on to state that he was simply preventing the facts of the case, and that he had no control over the wording of the city's charter.

But if you were watching, I think his expression told a lot more than his words.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Take that Kwame!

This just in. They just sent Kwame to jail! It's about freaking time.

Apparently, even though he was under bond, and ordered to not leave the state, he decided that those conditions could not apply to him, so he went to Canada.

His sense of entitlement might be what finally takes down the thug mayor of Detroit.

I hope he stays there until his trial, and then continues to stay there.

Let him rot the way he's letting the city rot.