Friday, October 30, 2009

Whereby I Unwittingly Freak Out Some Traumatized Folks

I recently had the privilege of participating in a charity fashion show, acting as as escort for my daughter. I wasn't modeling anything, rather a mere accoutrement. In the spirit of the season however, the organizer asked that I suit up in a Dracula costume. I couldn't say "yes" fast enough - this was going to be cool. Anytime a Dad can embarrass his teen aged kid, he goes for it.

My wife did a bang up job on the makeup, as you can see. The whole thing was over in about 30 seconds, but was fun and worthwhile nonetheless. But that's not where this story ends.

Time constraints were such that we had to go directly from the fashion show to my daughter's ballet class. I had originally expected to have enough time to get out of the costume, remove the makeup, and still get there in time, but....things didn't pan out that way. I got the cape off, but had to leave on the makeup. No big deal, right? I figured I could have some fun with it, maybe growl at another driver, or better yet, another driver's kid in the back seat!

What I didn't expect was the decided lack of reaction I received. Sure, I got a few second glances, likely accompanied by thoughts of "Eh, it's almost Halloween, no big deal", but overall nobody seemed at all fazed by the Goth Dad driving along the highway.

After dropping her off, we headed back to the highway, and upon hitting the on ramp noticed some commotion up ahead. An accident had occurred, and pretty recently since there were no cops or EMT's around. It was quickly obvious that this was only a fender bender and each of the people involved was out of their respective vehicles, and talking on cell phones. After carefully navigating past the debris in the road, thus slowing the car to a crawl, I looked over at the woman comforting one of the other passengers. Again, it should be stressed that nobody was in any danger. It should also be emphasized that by this time I had completely forgotten the fact that I was dressed like the lead singer of The Cure.

I made direct eye contact with the woman, hopefully offering up some sympathy, saying, with my eyes, "It's okay, help is coming and I'm glad to see everyone is okay".

To say the woman didn't fully understand my implied thoughts would be an understatement, to say the least. Her expression was an odd blend of "What the...?", with a dash of "END TIMES ARE UPON US!" thrown in. I can only imagine what she told her significant others once this day had ended. Perhaps she now has a story to tell for Thanksgiving dinners for years to come. No need to thank me, ma'am, it's what I do.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Where I Receive Misguided, Undeserved Sympathy

I run about 6 foot 3 on a good day. Thus, any form of public seating was very likely not built with my dimensions in mind. The train in which I ride each day is no exception (see above for an example of the seats, minus the video screen, naturally).

However, when having the desire to snooze, I am rarely denied. The solution is to slide my back down in the chair, and press my knees on the back of the seat in front of me, which allows my head to rest comfortably on the headrest of my seat. This allows for a nice 10-15 minute nap on the way home each day and, on rare occasions, on the way in. The only consequence is the tendency for the circulation to be cut off from my lower legs. Whether or not this will casue me long term damage is somethign I choose not to think about, so strong is my desire to sleep.

Today was one such occasion. After displaying my ticket, I assumed the position, nestled in the ear buds, and slowly drifted off. Normally, the body clock senses when we are approaching my stop, and forces me awake well in advance, leaving time to get the blood flowing back to the lower extremities.

Today, though, the body clock must have been a bit out of sync. I recall being jostled shortly before my stop, and thinking "still have time....", then closing my eyes again. Bad move. The next thing I remember was being suddenly awakened as the train was stopped at where I was to get off. Luckily, the train was not going any further, lest I find myself in Grand Central Station.

I quickly scrambled my stuff together, and got up in an attempt to get off the train as quickly as possible. But there was a slight issue here - namley, the fact that both of my legs were pretty much dead from the knees down. After rising unsteadily to my feet, grabbing my gym bag from the overhead rack and securing my laptop bag on my shoulder, I tried to take a step forward. Not working very well, but full of pluck, I gamely Igor'ed my way forward thru the now empty train......I had, by my calculations, about 30 seconds or so to get my ass out of here. Lumbering forward, with slight feeling returning to one leg, I approached the vestibule. I had made it, and was about to be free at last!

But, but.....seeing the crowd of people walking past on the platform, and knowing I had to have some clearance to move while also having little to no confidence that I wasn't about to do a face plant, forced me to hesitate. Seeing a small opening, I managed to drag my right foot behind me and lurch onto the platform. Here is where the strange, sympathetic looks began from the other commuters. As I limped forward, the feeling inching its way back into my blood deprived legs, I noticed that the faces of those around me. In my mind, they were showing an incredible amount of sympathy/empathy for the obviously stricken, but barev and proud, man lumbering toward the escalator. Embarassed at the reaction, I finally hobbled to the moving steps, and hopped aboard.

Sensing the ordeal was about to end, I bided my time as the stairs slowly rose...and rose. Reaching the top, I took the big step toward non-moving ground, and nealry went straight on my ass. The right leg had relapsed! Now I got to limp anew, a bag on each shoulder, through the crowded train station, receiving more sympathetic stairs from passers by. I'm guessing most people thought me either brave, or stupid, I'm not sure which.

Finally, after what seemed like hours but was actually about 2 minutes, the blood flow returned, and the rest of the commuters resumed ignoring each other, as they do. Being ignored never felt so good.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Rules, Once Again

Just making sure I have it straight:
If you're a singer, and you say you're not proud of your president/ashamed to be from the same state, etc., well, by goly, you're an un-American scuzzball who hates Liberty.  Insulting a president during a time of war is UNPATRIOTIC!  What are you, French?
But, it's perfectly okay to call your president a racist.
Just another example of Glen Beck's Common Sense!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A Week Later, A Word About MJ

The death of Michael Jackson almost brought the web to its knees last week, signifying that it was truly a Big Event. Hell, the last time I can recall the interwebs taking such a beating was the morning of 9/11. For me it showed how the mdeia landscape has changed. I was on Twitter when I noticed a trending topic entitled "Michael Jackson". After muttering "What has he done now?", I clikced and saw the literally hundreds of tweets indicating that he was taken to the hospitalm after collapsing. The only source cited was A quick check of the standard news sites showed no mention. TMZ then mentioned that a source said "it doesn't look good". No mainstream media reports. Hmm, over to, as news spread within one of the forums. Skepticism abounded, since the only source was a celeb gossip website. I immediately thought, who better would be on top of this as it breaks? They live for this shit, right? Sure enough, was the first to report his death, while the other sites were just posting items that "reports" indicate MJ was rushed to the hospital. As we saw 15 years ago with all things O.J., the tabloid media got there first, and had it right all along.

As for Jackson, it's weird, this was the kind of thing that should not have surprised anyone, yet did. Here was a man who lived a bizarre, reclusive life, always appeared to be frail and sickly when not performing, and was known for generally strange behavior. Reactions varied, not surprsingly, in light of the more recent events surrounding the man. It was a bit surprising to see several "I'm glad the pedo kicked" type of responses. I mean, he was found not guilty, right? (I know, so was the aforementioned O.J.).

Undeniable is the impact the man had on music and pop culture. You youngsters might be amazed to learn that before Jackson, the only black face one would see on MTV was that of J.J. Jackson the VeeJay. A threat from the record company (back when they had real clout) forced MTV's hand, and the rest was history. Before the freak show set in, the guy was about as big a star as one could be. As he literally grew up before our eyes, from the amazingly energetic child frontman of the Jackson Five to the megastar solo act, he never failed to amaze and entertain.

Rest in peace, MJ.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Rebranding, If You Will

Why the new title for this blog? A couple of reasons:

  1. The "Habitual Line Stepper" thing seems to have run its course
  2. Googling the above returns far too many hits
  3. Why not?

It kinda fits what this is all about, right? It's not about striving for excellence, just me posting random stuff which hopefully entertains you or makes you think for a minute. Enjoy the new name and new look.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Song Of The Day - 6/5/09

"Weird Al' Yankovic

"Trapped In The Drive-Thru"

Being Weird Al cannot possibly be as easy as it he makes it seem. I mean, everyone sits around and substitutes nonsense lyrics for songs currentl playing, right? If I had a buck for every time I'd mocked a Top 40 song for the kids while fighting the urge to pull my leg hairs out one at a time since I'm forced to endure Lady Gaga for the six hundreth time in the past five weeks, why, I'd be quite well off indeed.

But Weird Al has endured. The guy has been at this since the early eighties, and continues to pump out amusing, listenable stuff, as well as display a great comedic sensibility in his videos, the medium which it could be argued, was more instrumental to his vaulting to stardom in the early MTV days.

This gem, from his Straight Outta Lynwood album, eluded me upon release. My son turned me on to it, and suffice to say it is a keeper. The idea of parodying R. Kelly's overwrought bloated "Trapped In The Closet" would, one first glance, be thought impossible. After all, how can you parody something that is already unintentionally funny? Yankovic delivers, in spades. Making the mundane experiences of a couple faced with the monumental task of deciding what to eat, or if they're even hungry, and spinning a painfully detailed tale of the acquisition of dinner, along with every tiny detail encountered along the way, in right in his wheelhouse. I won't spoil anything for you if you haven't heard it, but know that it is pitch perfect in both tone and musicality, and well worth the ten minutes or so invested in listening.

You're awesome, Al. Long may you endure.

Friday, May 29, 2009

I Caved

Yep, I tried to resist for the longest time, but I finally caved and signed up for Twitter. This would normally signal the death knell for anything remotely trendy, as I am not known as an early adopter (example: I only recently signed on for Facebook), so it remains ot be seen how much longer Twitter remains in the public zietgeist. You've been warned.

For the riveting details, simply look to your right.


Friday, April 03, 2009

Is There Anything This Can't Do?

No opening line, just this, form a recently concluded study:

The main chemical in marijuana appears to aid in the destruction of brain cancer
cells, offering hope for future anti-cancer therapies, researchers in Spain
wrote in a study released Thursday.

We're getting closer and closer to the tipping point here, folks. It's getting harder and harder for anyone to legitimately prove the harmful effects of marijuana, isn't it? Honestly, now that THC gives cancer cells such a hard case of the munchies that they begin eating themselves, what else is left to say?

I touched upon the legalization issue a few years back, and it seems like it's gained a lot of steam since. With the economy in the crapper, a varied group of individuals has called for everything from decriminalizing small amounts of weed to outright legalization (and more importantly, taxation) to an end to the uncreasingly fruitless War On Drugs.

Now before you think me just another stoner looking to promote the only cause that matters, know that I do not use pot in any way shape or form. I'm simply no longer able to stand the hypocrisy involved in laws which promote and allow tobacco and alcohol, while not allowing a naturally occurring plant to flourish. A plant which has myriad benefits above and beyond getting one high.

Decriminalizing weed, which is now being considered in my home state, is a logical first step. As the barriers have come down, and more and more of those in power are old enough to have used pot in their youth, and realized that it is no worse than alcohol, ascend to power, the attitude has begun to shift. Despite President Obama's rejection of outright legalization last week during his internet Town Hall, this issue will not go away. It's pretty telling that from the Town Hall, which bypassed the traditional media and since it took place online, thus naturally attracted a younger audience, one that in all likelihood got the man elected, chose this issue as it's most popular.

For those think admitting pot is not so bad "Sends the wrong message", think of all the tax revenue you'd gain from not only the legal sale, but from people who will be actually paying taxes (by not being in jail) as opposed to draining tax dollars (by being incarcerated).

The clock is ticking, people, and for the first time, well, ever, there might actually be light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Jetsons Lied To Me

Though I was born in the sixities, I'm a child of the seventies. Growing up during that wacky decade, we were led to believe many things about The Future. Certainly by now, we thought during those hazy days, we'd be witness to technological marvels that we Garanimals clad little scamps could scarcely imagine, right?

Okay, I'll give you the internet. Culture altering? Sure. Revolutionary? You betcha, but excuse me if I still feel a bit cheated.

Where, for instance, are the moveable sidewalks? Oh sure, one sees them in airports, but didn't you think by know they'd be in mid-town Manhattan? Me too.

Where is my meal in pill form?

Where is my non-gas using, 100 mpg car which runs on water, or sand, or cow dung, or whatever else?

Most importantly, where the hell is my JET PACK?!? We should have jet packs by now! We were promised jet packs, weren’t we?

All that aside, the most puzzling thing we expected the future to bring, learned about in the seventies, something on which you would have bet the house, never occurred. I'm talking about, of course, The Metric System. Dear God, this was drilled into our heads year after year, so certain were our schools that the US would finally catch up to the rest of the world and use this simpler system of weights and measures based on tens. It was inevitable, and by all accounts we'd be fully Metric by the time we graduated high school, perhaps sooner. Book it. Done.

Wrong. I suppose there was no way the stubbornness of the American public could've been properly estimated, but we as a society said a pretty emphatic "no", didn't we? Our football fields are still measured in yards, our roads in miles, and our weight gains/losses in pounds. Take that, Europe!

Except for this puzzler: can anyone explain to me why the only things we have accpeted as Metric are soft drinks and cocaine? Beer? Gimme a pint. Weed? How much per ounce? Yet Diet Coke comes in 2 liter (that’s 67.6 ounces to us ‘mericans) bottles and cocaine still is measured by the gram, or kilos when a big bust is announced.

It's just weird.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Song Of The Day - 3/9/09

Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend
Released 2008

From a band nearly swallowed up by their own hype came this infectious slice of poppy perfection. One critic mentioned that it sounded like an English Beat B-Side, and while there are some similarities, these guys bring a unique quality to the song.
Clearly inspiried by the World music styling of Graceland-era Paul Simon (the band themselves describe their sound as "Upper West Side Soweto") on the rest of the debut album, "A-Punk" stands out as it veers into more ska flavored territory. Clocking in at just 2:17, it leaves the listener wanting more, and I defy anyone to not have this song in their head for the rest of the day after one listen. This is one song that pretty much denmands you hit the repeat button on whatever device it's being played.
Don't take my word for it, listen and see for yourself.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Song Of The Day - 2/27/09

The Jam
The Gift

Never a big hit in the States, UK legends The Jam released their final studio album, The Gift, in the summer of 1982. Frontman and leader Paul Weller made some headlines at the time, mentioning he was pulling the plug on the group so they didn't end up as tired, obsolete parodies of themselves like "the rest of them". The implication that he was speaking primarily of The Who, who were about to embark on the first of several Farewell Tours, was hard to miss.

The Gift's best known track was clearly "Town Called Malice", but for some reason the instrumental "Circus", written by bassist Bruce Foxton, immediately captured me. Clocking in at a quick 2:11, the features blaring horns, whistles, aggressive drums and an unforgettable guitar riff.

Some years later I heard this song, believe it or not, as background music during an intro for a New York Mets telecast, which was bizarre. This is a song, to me, which is begging to be used in a movie during a chase scene or a montage, and it would not at all surprise if that in fact had already happened.

The Jam left us too soon, but also left behind a great catalog. This forgotten gem is one you won't find on any of the Greatest Hits collections, but is worth looking for and checking out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Song of the Day - 2/19/09

3rd Bass
"Derelicts Of Dialect"
Derelicts Of Dialect

I know, I know, a "Song Of The Day" feature is launched in mid-January, and as of February 19 only three entries have been posted. Kinda sad, isn't it? Let's just chalk it up to some unforseen events which took priority and forced me to neglect my musical duties over the past few weeks. Rest assured, I'll make every attempt to get back to semi-regular entries here, particularly regarding this endeavor. On to today's entry...

The second album from white rap duo 3rd Bass, Derelicts Of Dialect, dropped (see, I can use the hip lingo the kids today!) in 1991, and was notable for the inclusion of what would become the group's best known song, the scathing anti Vanilla Ice (mostly) classic "Pop Goes The Weasel". The title track, which for all intents and purposes kicks off the album, has come up on several occasions recently during random shuffling on my iPod, and is today's Song of the Day.

A flute(!) kicks off the track, with a solid beat thumping behind, while a narrator voice matter-of-factly intones, presumably talking of the group, "The great will always soar, above the mediocre/they create, while others destroy". From there, we quickly settle into a clear example of 3rd Bass' style, alternating verses between Prime Minister Pete Nice and MC Serch, each of whom display vastly different vocal styles. The theme, which was repeated several times throughout the album, solidified how 3rd Bass considered themselves to be "authentic" rap, while the sudden commercial success of other acts like the aforementioned Vanilla Ice was nothing more than crass cashing in by less talented phonies. One favorite lyrical example is when MC Serch laments his uniqueness as a "white boy in New York who can't get a cab, G", a reference to the then rare site of a caucasian dressed in hip hop gear experiencing a problem of which other black males were well aware. A solid opening track to what would, sadly, be the last album from the group. (See below for the lyrics.)
The song closes with the narrator voice once more, providing what one can only assume is another assertion of 3rd Bass' cred, and further underscores that, to them, the credibility of their peers, as opposed to widespread commercial success, was paramount.

Check out the entire album, which contains many more hits than misses. Highly recommended.

The lyrics:
The great will always soar, above, the mediocre They create, while others destroy

[Pete Nice] Never had a wasted mind, had the time
Erectin rhyme I cause gifted lines
The flows I knows puts the papers in pockets
Swings of things, observed in my sockets
In ten spot I got stacks of LP wax
Couderoy slacks, loops and sales tax
On the racks but my label is Derelict
Spic-n-Span I slam, it's balls you lick
Ill missions, but doin us ain't even simple Stereotype the rhymer as a criminal
Subliminal I put a noose on the necks The sinister signs of my rhymes is sex ..

[MC Serch] Smooth, set-up so slick as I set to move, all the great masses
Asses bounce to track that is all in I'm droppin my quarter, I'm placin my call in
to my crew that's down with the street trends Play around and you'll fall off the deep end
I heard your hooker she likes to do knee-bends But I got a girl, so I called up three friends
And they called three friends (and I called three friends) And so on, and so on, and so on..
So go on my path, and try to follow but not step for step, cause I like to sidestep
You'll get swept like a broom and you'll make room for daddy
White boy in New York and I can't get a cab G
So take me to my rest so I guess I'll get wrecked cause I'm a derelict of dialect ..

[Pete Nice] Dialect spoken, in sectional lesson The less you know, the more you gotta guess on
I press on point, some sweat my jizznoint Playin themselves with the fingers the point
I speak slow, I carry a fat stick Get your kneepads and reapply your chapstick
Step to this, as the Derelict reanimates No jim hat as my mouth ejaculates
I stays mumble, I speaks jumble Phonetics on phonograph'll prime your petrol
Retroactive, my knot scale is tipped off I rip the head off, the Derelict stepped off
and left to show this, to those who typecast Ill the rhyme-ass trickster or outcast of intellect,
I wreck shit with my own sect The ace in the hole, I'm the Derelict of Dialect ..

[MC Serch] 3rd Bass, but not a bass for slidin
Foundation, for a nation who's mind is in motion, goin in fluid
Who did you just distrust? It's Serch and I crush this mental need for oppression
Oppressed and all vexed and just placed a suggestion
Lesson or loss enforce those in a spot who got your head frozen
Defrost the eye and spy on the serpent On act two, he tried to close curtain
But intermission I glimpsed and I clock more Derelicts watch act three and the encore ..
Individuals who are never satisfied with the static standards set by the masses -- the masses have always been lethargic They have always opposed greatness for it is beyond them to even.. comprehend greatness

Friday, January 23, 2009

Song Of The Day - 1/23/09

"Beautiful World"
New Traditionalists
Released 1981

Devo had already hit it as big as they ever would by 1981, with the success of "Whip It", which became the Akron based band's biggest hit a year earlier. Bands like Devo didn't exist to feed the pop music machine, though, and it was not at all surprising to see them never sniff that level of success again.

This song, taken from the follow-up album New Traditionalists, could have easily been a hit. It's catchy, synth driven beat, highlighted by a surf guitar break, could have easily found chart success at a time when songs like "Bette Davis Eyes" and "Kiss On My List" were spending weeks atop the Billboard lists. A look at the video provides the likely explanation as to why it didn't:

[video to be posted shortly]

What I love about this song is the way the upbeat sounds and lyrics lull one into thinking it's simply an updated version of a "What A Wonderful World"-like sappy anthem, until you get to the chrous reply line at the end which snaps you to attention:

It's a beautiful world (for you)
It's a beautiful world (for you)
It's a beautiful world (for you)
It's a beautiful world (Not Me)

Ah, the lovely smell of irony in the morning! Another reason to love the band, whose cynical view (recall that the name, Devo, is shorthand for de-evolution, the idea that instead of evolving, mankind has actually regressed, as evidenced by the dysfunction and herd mentality of American society.) of culture managed to surface once again. This is a highlight from their catalog, and one worth revisiting.

all music link

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Song Of The Day - 1/20/09

The National
"Mistaken For Strangers"
from the album Boxer
Released 2007

Just as the previous entry, "Time To Pretend" was my pick for 2008 Song of the Year, this haunting three minutes and eleven seconds of awesomeness was easily the selection for 2007.

Quick personal note: iTunes tracks the numebr of times each track is played, and provides a list of your individual Top 25 Most Played. When I checked after my latest synch, this song was so far at the top it had doubled the next closest song.

About the song, what stands out to me is the drumming of Bryan Devendorf. The rhythmic pounding which punctuates each measure will stick in your head, while the clanging echoey guitars create an amazing mood in what turns out to be a brooding tone. Check this lyric for an example:

You get mistaken for strangers by your own friends
when you pass them at night under the silvery, silvery citibank
arm in arm in arm and eyes and eyes glazing under
oh you wouldn’t want an angel watching over
surprise, surprise they wouldn’t wannna watch
another uninnocent, elegant fall into the unmagnificent lives of

Wow. Not exactly "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go", huh?

The above, when sung in the droning, Leonard Cohen-ish voice of Mark Berninger, makes for a highly memorable track which to this listener, stands out on a very good album.

Americanmary (band site)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Another New Feature - Song Of The Day

It's a new year, and it's time for some new resolutions. First, I resolve to post more frequently - posting more frequently means more things which will turn up in Google searches, which mean more hits and traffic to the site, and more...profit?

Anyway, I thought it would be cool to introduce a Song of the Day, kinda like NPR does but different, because it's, well, me. And I won't hit you up for any donations, although you're welcome to send any cash my way.

The goal is to briefly touch on a song heard during the course of the day, be it something from my collection or the radio. Hopefully over time we'll explore an eclectic batch of songs, and I will accept any and all recommendations from you guys as well.

Up first......

- "Time To Pretend"
from the album Oracular Spectacular
Released 2008

Had I published a Best Of list for 2008, this gem would have won the top spot as Song Of The Year. It is at once a wistful, dreamy and depressing song , disguised with happy sounding synth bursts and a updated psychedelic fuzzy backbeat. It has become a song I've yet to be tired of, and you won't either.

Sample Lyric:
This is our decision to live fast and die young.
We've got the vision, now let's have some fun.
Yeah it's overwhelming, but what else can we do?
Get jobs in offices and wake up for the morning commute?

Listen and see the video on MGMT's Official Site