Friday, May 30, 2008

Poor Target

OK we got 4+ inches of rain in the last 24 hours. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but we have had nothing but rain this spring, on top of all the snow melt from the winter. The ground is pretty much saturated because of this, the Squaw Creek and Skunk River are going over their banks and expected to crest well above flood stage sometime overnight tonight.

To that I say, holy God, the water is high enough as it is!

We are lucky as we are not in a low-lying area, but a lot of Ames is right in the path of this water. Rumors swirled all day at work about which streets were closed and what businesses were underwater. There was much talk of a repeat of the floods of 1993 when Hilton Coliseum had 14 feet of standing water in it and much of the city's roads were impassable for the majority of the summer.

Anna and I were not to be deterred. We wanted to see this stuff first hand, but it was clear that a car was not the way to go. So we got on the bike and headed out. Our first stop was Brookside Park which is just down the street from or house. Bear in mind when you see these pictures, the park is in a MUCH lower lying area than we are, so we are in no immediate danger.

It was all pretty amazing folks. During the floods of 93, I was living in Carroll which sits at the top of the divide in Iowa, so flooding was pretty sparse there. To think it was worse then boggles my mind.

Next stop was South Duff Avenue, which is where most of our retail stores (Target, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, etc.) are located. This flooded like the devil in 1993 and according to some people I talked to down at the scene, it looked much like it did today back then. The most impressive flooding is in the Target parking lot. We couldn't get much further than that because of the water.

Anna poses on the beach next to Lake Target.

So impressive is the flooding down on South Duff and at Target, it prompted Anna to lament "Poor Target!!" as is evidenced in the following video.

We were not completely unscathed by flooding. The Nerdery, being in the basement of the house, had extremely wet carpet this morning, which has resulted in us using the Shop-Vac quite a bit today. The carpet is still damp but it's shitty carpet anyway, so I'm not too concerned. The Sex book had a near death experience, as did the Stoney End vinyl album, but both emerged unscathed.

So hopefully the waters abate. No rain in the forecast for the weekend, so that's a good thing!

Here's a link to the whole photo gallery of the flooding.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Gacy the Snowman

So today I came across a book the I think Heidi must have brought back in a pile from her mom's this weekend. It was the Little Golden Book of Frosty The Snowman. I had The Night Before Christmas (which, if you believe my parents, I was reading at age 5) and Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, but this was my first exposure to the Little Golden Book version of Frosty the Snowman. I was game, I picked it up and started reading it.

To be honest, it was kind of creepy. It took me a while, but I figured out why. Frosty looks just like serial killer John Wayne Gacy probably would have looked had he dressed up like a snowman rather than a clown. First, Gacy, in his full clown get up:

And now, Frosty.

See what I mean? It was disturbing, to say the least.

Come on kids! Let's thumpity-thump-thump our way over to my house! There's a crawl space that you just GOTTA see.

All kidding aside, Gacy is such an irredeemable person for all the things that he did. But serial killers have always fascinated me. I think I used to have a paperback about the murders that I think I picked up at a library book sale shortly after his execution in 1994.

And he is also the subject of a Sufjan Stevens song - probably his oddest choice of subject matter for a song, and for him, that's really saying something.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

To the brink

So this morning after getting an exceptional night's sleep (Heidi, I love you but there is nothing like having the whole bed to yourself every now and then), I am feeling a lot better but know that I am not 100% yet. I'm at the computer and listening to a leak of Cyndi Lauper's new record which is out this week. A lot of people presume that leaks of albums are bad, and I can see where they're coming from. It'd be easy to just not purchase the album, now that I have a leak of it. While I don't always purchase albums that I find as leaks (that being because I didn't like them), I am grateful for the leaks because it gives me a chance to listen to an album on my own terms. Having heard a leak of Donna Summer's Crayons was a contributing factor in my eventual purchase.

Bring Ya To The Brink is Lauper's first new album of original material in 12 years and let me tell you, it is a barnburner. Similar to Donna Summer, she could have gone all adult contemporary on us (again), but instead, she churns out some solid dance-pop that would do Madonna proud. The first single "Same Ol' Story" is already on my summer songs list (the f-bomb helps its cause immensely) and "Into The Night Life" has a chorus that is, well, orgasmic even if the verses are a bit clunky. Another early favorite for me is "Set Your Heart" which she premiered on last summer's True Colors Tour, which Heidi and I attended (and at which Debbie Harry sported a most unfortunate haircut.)

Although I am not a major fan of Lauper's (I don't think I've purchased any of her albums since 12 Deadly Cyns...and Then Some), I do appreciate her music and recognize her as having a huge voice. I didn't fully realize this until I saw her as the opening act on Cher's Farewell Tour. When the lights in the concert hall went down and she appeared belting out "Shine", it didn't matter that I didn't know the song. I knew that I was in the presence of a powerhouse voice. I think that Lauper is frequently criticized for having a bad voice, and while I can understand that it's not for everyone, her voice is not bad and she really can sing. She could have been as huge as Madonna, but I think that Madonna just knew how to market herself better, carefully sidestepping associations with pro-wrestling which I don't think Cyndi's career ever fully recovered from.

Lauper's dedication to LGBT rights is amazing to me. She pulls no punches about her support, in ways that I think Madonna would be wise to take notes on. Madonna always seems to be implicitly supportive of LGBT rights (her status as a gay icon makes it almost a requirement), but Lauper one-ups her one-time 80s rival and stomps all over her with it. I mean, seriously, will we ever see Madonna dressed up like this?

Probably not, for really, only Lauper could pull that outfit off. But I do applaud her unabashed support for the LGBT community.

So thanks to the leak of the album, I will absolutely be picking up Bring Ya To The Brink on Tuesday, and if not on Tuesday, the next week once I get my next paycheck. In the meantime, head over to iTunes (or wherever you buy your digital music) and pick up "Same Ol' Story." You won't be sorry. And then buy the album.

The great divide

For those of you that don't know, I like Matthew Rettenmund's blog quite a lot. I have referenced his blog on several occasions on these very pages. He is, first and foremost in my mind, the author of the indispensible (if now hopelessly outdated) Encyclopedia Madonnica. I always enjoyed leafing through that book and have half a mind to go find it and pull it out to read before going to bed tonight. But anyway, he has also written a couple of fiction novels including Boy Culture, which was made into a feature film last year and serves as the the namesake of his blog. I have nearly added him to the blog roll several times, but there's one trouble. A quick perusal of his blog reveals post after post of men in various stages of undress, some to the point of being NSFW. And I don't want any of my mammoth readership (all 7 of you!) to be inadvertently fired from their job by going to his blog from work!

So what keeps me going back to the blog as I'm not interested in that kind of eye candy? For starters, he is a great writer whose blog is full of pop culture witticisms frequently concerning Madonna and Debbie Harry, which I can't resist. But it's not all pop culture and half naked guys over there. He has a lot of very insightful posts about important issues. And one of them came up the other day.

I saw this post a couple days ago in my Google Reader and starred it as I was reading on the fly and wanted to make sure that I came back to it and gave it a proper read. I finally got around to reading it today, and it affected me much more than I thought it would. The post concerns an editorial done by author Paul Monette for Playboy magazine back in 1993. For an editorial written nearly 15 years ago, it reads a lot like something that could have been written last week. Do yourself a favor and read the whole thing. Click on the picture on Matt's blog post and read away.

Most of that article focuses on the rampant homophobia that was so pervasive in the 90s and, in many ways, is still present today. Although it is no longer okay to make "fag" jokes, it still happens. People who wouldn't be caught dead telling a racist joke have no problem telling a joke that denigrates gays. It is my prediction that when we look back on this time 50 years from now, we will be thoroughly ashamed of ourselves for using the Bible to deny people basic human rights, for not looking past our differences long enough to realize that we all carry the common denominator of being human, whether we be gay or straight or somewhere on that continuum in between.

But what got me the most were the last couple paragraphs of the article. In those final paragraphs, I believe there are words of wisdom that all men could benefit from hearing. Here they are for those of you that didn't do your homework and click on the article (and for those of you that want to read them again - they're amazing.)

We all have closets to come out of. Gay isn't the enemy of straight. Heterosexual men have told me for years that, since college, they have no male friends to talk with. The emotional isolation caused by fear of intimacy is indifferent to sexual orientation. We're not boys anymore, trapped in the insecurities of the schoolyard. Our common enemy is ignorance, a sex-phobic bitterness and name-calling purveyed by those that are jealous of the joy of others because they have none of their own.

...As gay and straight men, we can help one another over the great divide. We make terrific friends, we queers, perhaps because we have traveled so far to reach the free country of the heart. All men deserve to live there.

Reading those words is a bit painful, in the way that seeing yourself in something can be shocking and uncomfortable. There was a time in my life when those words were my life. And in many ways, they still are. I'm sure many men can identify with them. Men are not conditioned to be honest with each other and in many ways, most of us are not ready for the kind of emotional intimacy and honesty that Monette is advocating here.

But I think there is a lesson there for all of us men, gay and straight. I am lucky in my life that I have several male friends, gay and straight and in between, that I can talk to. I know my limits with most all of them. I have no idea if they'll be in my life forever or for a few more minutes. But even if they aren't around in 50 years or 50 seconds, they're in my life right now and I'm going to enjoy them for the time that they are in my life. There was a time in my life that I really felt like the odd man out - not really able to talk the sports talk and having odd interests like Madonna and pop music and other such stuff. But with the people I have in my life right now, it feels like I just got home, as HRH Madge herself said. You all know who you are and I will not embarrass anyone by calling anyone out.

I think that the bottom line is that men have to help each other. And, like so many other things, we're not programmed for that. Hell, we don't even like asking each other for help, so how can we ever accept it? That's up to each and every guy out there. Including me. I don't know - these kinds of things fascinate me, because relationships are as fascinating as they are ephemeral.

And with that, I'm off to curl up in bed with my Encyclopedia Madonnica. I am still sick and have two more evening shifts to get through.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Because I'm sick, a blog roundup

In the place of a real blog post (I have been sick and also am working like no other), I decided this morning that I would present a "best of blogs" that so many of my buddies do on theirs. And since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (I guess), here we go.

D'Luv has an fantastic post on Madge's "I'll Remember." God, I love that song. It's like what "This Used To Be My Playground" would be if it were, well, good.

Donna Summer's first new studio album in 17 years was out on Tuesday. I defected from iTunes to Amazon mp3 to buy it. I have to admit, it's XO's stunning review of Crayons that pushed me over the edge and prompted me to purchase it. A music review that puts things in historical context? Perfect.

Matt questions the basic biology behind the parentage of Freddy Krueger. Oddly enough, I kind of thought the same thing as well.

Yuri gives us a preview of Kylie's upcoming X tour. I sure wish she would tour America, but with Madonna and Cher concerts in my future in the next 365 days (not sure about Cher yet, but 99%), I don't know that I could do it. Too many divas, not enough time (or money!)

Paul dedicates an entire blog post to Cathy "Cathedral" Dennis! I have not listened to Cathy Dennis in ages, although didn't she co-write Kylie's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head"? I always loved "Just Another Dream" - did Rick Astley sing on that or was it just my imagination?

And last but certainly not least, TKT doesn't have much good to say (or much to say at all) about the new Indiana Jones movie.

Off to work. Naturally, I was sick on my day off and am well enough to go to work the next day. As Yuri would say, SUCKAGE!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

We had nothing to be guilty of

This weekend has been a whirlwind of activity that I may need another two days to recover from, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. On Saturday, we went down to Indianola to get Jeff and take him on a, as Annie Lennox might say, who-knows-what-we'll-get-up-to day. Heidi did a very good recap of the entire day, but the bottom line was this: We dressed up as Barry Gibb and Barbra Streisand from the Guilty album cover. I swear to God, it was her idea! (although I'm sure that no one believes me.)

The original:

The new and (not) improved:

For the record, I make the worst looking Barry Gibb EVER. But we had fun doing it and now we have a costume guaranteed to take some sort of prize at The Garden's costume party this year. I think we wanted to go to that last year, but illness forced us to nix that idea.

The funniest part of the whole thing was when we were getting gas on Saturday morning before heading down, we got into a minor fender bender as a lady backing out hit the back end of our car. There was no damage, just a little of her paint on our car, but there we both were, dressed in white from head to toe. She probably thought we were angels, or, as Caryle said, headed to a Mormon baptism.

A part of me was disappointed in myself on Saturday, for even though we were all being ridiculous and silly, I found it hard to completely let go and not give a shit about what people were thinking. I think I will be working on that for quite some time to come, but it is all about letting the kid come out and play.

So yeah, never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd marry a woman who would reenact the Guilty album cover with me. It's why I know that I will never be bored with her.

We also got a Wii today, although it was technically an early thing as a Wii (along with Mario Kart) is a bribe reward for Anna to work through and give up something very near and dear to her. She has to go seven days without it, and after seven days, she can play it to her heart's content, although said given up object cannot be resumed after that. It's hard for her, but she's a trooper and doing a good job.

So of course, the arrival of a Wii means only one thing. I need to ask for Guitar Hero III for the Wii for my upcoming 36th.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Through the years

This Madonna megamix video that I found via Matthew Rettenmund (who always seems to have the scoop on so many cool Madonna things) is just fantastic. Watching stuff like this is like leafing through a photo album of the last 25 years of my life as a Madonna fan. So many iconic songs and images you almost choke on it. Say what you will about this woman (and her latest album), but there's no denying that she has an amazing body of work and has continued to stay relevant much longer than many of her contemporaries.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Just call her Saint Heidi...

...but don't dare say that her sugar is raw.

For the fourth time in seven years, Jeff and I are headed to see Madonna play live on the Sticky & Sweet World Tour. This time around, we're not jetting off to someplace exotic but rather, we settled on trying to get tickets to her Chicago show at the United Center on October 26th. Since Jeff is a teacher, it was really the only show he could realistically go to. Jeff getting time off work is not exactly the same as me putting in for the day off and using vacation time. He'll probably have to use one of his personal days for the day after the concert (Monday.)

Wait a second, tickets aren't even on sale until Saturday? What gives?

Well, via Jeff's brother-in-law, we found out that you could get in on a presale if you have a Citi card. Since our souls are forever enslaved to Wells Fargo, the only credit card we have is a WF card. Jeff, however, had a Citi card. He gave the necessary digits to Heidi who, dutifully, at 10AM on Tuesday morning, logged on to Ticketmaster and bought the tickets for us. So we're going! Again! To Madonna!

The last time we saw Madonna in Chicago was on the Drowned World Tour in 2001, when Heidi was wildly pregnant with Anna and came down in a cab to pick us up from the arena after the show. We were in the rafters for that show--seriously, there was nothing above us but ceiling as I am fond of saying. This time, however, we have MUCH better seats. They are in section 208, row 6, seats 1,2 and 3. Every other Madonna show we have seen, we have seen from the right hand side of the arena. Not so this time! Take a look.

We're pretty much going to face the stage head-on! And the best part? The tickets were "only" $165 a piece. While still a small fortune, they are nearly $100 a piece less than my Confessions Tour tickets, and the seats we have for the Sticky & Sweet Tour are comparable to the ones we had for the Confessions Tour. So this is a good thing and plus we can wave at the poor saps that will be sitting in the seats we had for Drowned World.

So why did you buy three tickets when there are only two of you going?

Well, that's the other bonus. My good pal and Blogger buddy Yuri is flying up from Florida with his wife to meet up with us and attend the concert as well! He and his wife are going to make a weekend of it in Chi-town, while Jeff and I (and hopefully Heidi and Anna, if I can talk them into it and we can save the money for all of us to go) show up probably the day of the concert. So I'm looking forward to meeting up with him and hanging out and discussing all things Madge related. Ain't the internet grand, folks?

So, yes, Heidi is a saint, for taking time out of her all-writing-all-day day yesterday to buy the tickets for us. But that's not all! She also must have read my post the other day moaning and groaning about the piss poor quality of the Hard Candy tracks that I bought from iTunes, because I got home from work last night and what do I see on the table but the Hard Candy CD picked up from Best Buy. She is still not sold on the album. Granted, she has not really heard all that much of it but Jeff and I have been going on and on about the "my sugar is RAW!" part on "Candy Shop." I played just that part for her last night and she was decidedly not impressed. I believe that her exact quote was "God! That's like a booger in my ear!" That's kind of what I thought when I first heard it last summer, but I have since come to really like it, mostly for the campiness of the "my sugar is RAW!" line.

I have only a little bit of nervousness regarding the tour, and most of it comes from the fact that I am still not as hot on the album as I was on Confessions. I know that it's not fair to compare Madonna's new work to her past work, but for me it is impossible not to. I have a feeling that the set list will be heavy on Hard Candy and light on the old stuff. It could be very Drowned World Tour in that respect (although I swear if she trots out "La Isla Bonita" one more time...) The other thing that makes me a bit nervous is that by the end of October, the weather starts to get a bit dicey which makes travel interesting. Oh well, we'll just hope for the best and not court trouble.

So once again, Heidi proves to be the best wife ever. Not surprising.

(props to TKT for providing the inspiration for the internal monologue style stuff)

Monday, May 12, 2008

An on-the-fly update

Blogging has been and probably will continue to be light for a while. Life is busier than usual.


I had a burrito from Flying Burrito here in Ames today. It was just this side of heaven. And the best part? I couldn't finish it so I get to eat more later. Probably for supper which means I can bypass hospital cafeteria food.

As the weeks pass, I am more and more dissatisfied with the quality of the sound files provided by iTunes for Hard Candy. They are so tinny and seem very low quality. I looked at the CD at Wal-Mart today and I am kicking myself for not picking it up in the first week of release when it was less than 10 bucks because now it is $15.99 or something obscene.

Speaking of Madonna (not that I ever do that or anything), I am seriously irritated with the woman for endorsing scalping for the upcoming Sticky & Sweet Tour. A secondary ticket seller has apparently bought up tickets in advance of the on-sale date and is reselling them at highly inflated prices - some up to $8000 a seat! Naturally, she gets a cut of this. I hope the woman can't sell the tickets at those prices and the seats are empty! That just seems damn greedy and, as a friend pointed out, very disrespectful of the fans.

Series Four of Doctor Who just keeps on getting better with every episode! It's going to be hard not having a full series next year.

OK, off to work.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Midwest Blogger Summit

Minneapolis on Wednesday was not only the site of Dolly's concert. Earlier this year, quite randomly I think, Thomas aka TKT of Tappity Tappity and I found each others blogs and before too long, we were planning a blogging theme week, which evolved into Nerdery Week. It was great fun and found via the posts of that week that we were likely brothers from another mother. So since I was heading up to Minneapolis, it seemed silly to not at least try to meet up.

I have met up with various internet friends before, not tons, but a few. They have all been good experiences. As a friend of mine put it when I was telling him that about this impending meet-up, I haven't met any 70 year-old pedophiles yet, so I will count myself as lucky.

I let Thomas decide where we were going to meet up, and he picked Matt's which is a great little greasy spoon in southeast Minneapolis and home of the Jucy Lucy (a cheeseburger with the cheese IN the hamburger!) The aforementioned road construction made getting there a trick, but we were not to be deterred.

As Thomas said in his blog post, we met and it was like we had known each other for years. There were no formal introductions, although Heidi did ask me later on that night "Now, how do you know him again? Is he one of the Madonna peeps?" No, hon, as crazy as it sounds we bonded over zombies and Rose McGowan's machine gun leg. And the rest is history!

Here's some photographic evidence of the meetup, even though I didn't feel like I needed to open my eyes for the picture!

Great to finally see and talk to you, Thomas! The next time, we'll hope for less road construction and more artery-clogging Matt's fries.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

It's tour time

This morning I opened up my Gmail and my pal Yuri had forwarded me the dates for Madonna's upcoming tour. Dubbed the Sticky & Sweet Tour (brilliant if you ask me!), it starts in Europe in August, arrives in the U.S. (East Rutherford, N.J., to be exact) in October and runs through a few big markets before winding up November 26th in Miami. Rumor has it that the tour will be off to South America and Australia after that. The news really surprised me, and I am pretty much always up on Madonna news, especially stuff like touring.

I talked to Jeff tonight. I think we're going to try for Chicago. Tickets go on sale a week from Saturday! We may go for a lower price ticket to try to save some money, but we'll see how it goes. Ticket prices range from $55 to $350, with the $55 ticket getting you a seat in the parking lot outside the arena. Chicago is driving distance, and even if gas is 5 bucks a gallon by October, it'll still be cheaper than flying.

I don't know if the tour will be worth the money. I have yet to be disappointed by a Madonna show. It's a calculated risk, especially since I am not super white-hot on the album. But we always have a good time. And there are ways to still have the experience while being fiscally responsible.

So we'll see what happens. Who knows, maybe we won't even be able to get tickets.

Dolly Dolly Dolly

So last night was Dolly Parton, live and in concert. Originally scheduled for February and postponed to May 7th, Heidi and I trekked up to Minneapolis yesterday to see Dolly play Northrop Auditorium. Before I get to anything about the show, can I just say that I don't think there is a single road in the greater Minneapolis area that is NOT under construction. I-35w is a mess and since the bridge that crosses the Mississippi is still out of commission, you have to get kind of creative with how you get around. We got pretty lost on the way to the concert, but eventually, taking back roads and stopping once for directions, we found it.

What can I say about Dolly that hasn't already been said? She's a true American original that is aware of her image and mocks it endlessly. What I will say is that she is probably the most gracious performer I have ever had the privilege of seeing live. She knows the reason for her 40+ year career and why she still can command $75-150 seats at her shows. She thanked the fans so frequently at the show that it bordered on "enough already!" but she was so genuine about it, you could hardly hold it against her.

She started right on time (which is something another diva could learn to do *cough*Madonna*cough*) and people were on their feet right away with a rousing version of "Two Doors Down." From there, she blew through a veritable hit parade, speckled with various covers (a great reworking of John Denver's "Thank God I'm A Country Boy") and new songs from her most recent record Backwoods Barbie. Truthfully, the new album is a bit hit and miss for me, but she did play quite a few of the album's strongest tracks, including what I consider to be a new Dolly Parton classic in the title track. She's written some pretty cheesy stuff over her career, but every now and again, she hits one out of the park and "Backwoods Barbie" (the song) is the natural descendant of classics like "Coat of Many Colors" and "I Will Always Love You."

EW recently did a bit on Dolly's stage presence, and let me tell you, no performer I have ever seen live was as funny and engaging as Dolly was. She trotted out a lot of the same lines she's been doing forever, probably the most famous being "it takes a lot of money to make someone look this cheap." Dolly's between song banter redefines the term "cornpone" but it just endeared her to the audience even more. She had us eating out of her hand, and I'm sure that she would have it no other way.

Highlights for me included "Here You Come Again" which she hoped we all remembered (like I could forget. It's #3 on my most played playlist on iTunes), a dulcimer accompanied version of "Shattered Image" (while images from the tabloids played on the screen behind her) and, "Eagle When She Flies," which she said she wrote for the movie Steel Magnolias, but was unused. I was surprised to hear that last night as it's a relatively unknown album track. I mentioned to Heidi on the way home that I wonder how one goes about picking the set list when you have such a huge catalog of songs to choose from. I was also pleased to see that "Baby I'm Burning", one of my favorite "disco Dolly" songs made the set. Dolly referred to it as her "acid reflux" song and how you know you're old when you stop taking acid and start taking antacid.

See? Cornpone. But the crowd ate it up.

It was a great experience and the realization of a lifelong dream to see Dolly live. I think I've been waiting my whole life for that experience, ever since I saw the Dolly Live in London concert on HBO a zillion times as a kid. The thing that amazed me most was the diversity of the crowd. Yes, the gay guy contingent was (naturally) on the high side, but there were also little old ladies and their husbands, couples like us, and groups of 20-something women. Only Cher had a more diverse group of people. It made Heidi declare that she wants to be the old lady going to Cher, only it won't be Cher she'll be going to, obviously.

As grand as Dolly was, I would be lying if I said that every experience was perfect. During the intermission, we found out that seated directly behind us were the family of homophobes. The only comment I really heard was a young man commenting on the "large amounts of alternative lifestyles on parade." I must have blocked out the rest but Heidi said that this man's father also let out a slew of anti-gay venom. The Amazon glared at them and suddenly, the wife was urging her husband to shut up. It riled Heidi and me up, but I took solace in the fact that Dolly would have probably kicked them out of the show for talk like that.

One final note on the show: I was going to bring my camera to see if I could sneak a couple photos even though I had read that the "no photography" rule was being militantly enforced. Heidi was a total killjoy and talked me into leaving the camera at home. Boy, am I glad she did. Security was hopping all over the auditorium during the show, confiscating the cameras and cell phones of those daring enough to try to snap pictures. Honestly, I don't know what the big fuss was, but I am sure glad that I didn't lose my camera or my phone last night.

The show got out at 10:30ish and then it was a 3+ hour drive back to Ames. We pulled in at 2AM and collapsed into bed. I should be sleeping now, but I'm off work today so no worries.

Dolly, may you live long and prosper. But when that time comes, may you get your wish to drop dead in the middle of a concert, doing something that you truly love to do with a smile on your face.

(photo courtesy of Village Voice)

Up next, the meeting of the Midwest bloggers.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

A mini deluge

So I'm sitting at my desk tonight, having just gotten off the phone with TKT (of Tappity Tappity fame) as we are going to meet up in Minneapolis tomorrow prior to the Dolly extravaganza and I notice a wet spot on the rug.

Hmmm...I think. I wonder what that's from.

As it turns out, we're having a mini repeat of an incident from a few years back. It is raining to beat the band out there tonight, and there's a drain outside the basement door that leads into my office. I even cleaned the leaves off the drain the other day (thank God I did that!) but even then, the drain can't keep up with the water. So there's water coming in under the door. It is nowhere near as bad as the last time, and let's just say that I am SO glad that I was sitting down there to catch it early.

I checked it just a little bit ago, and it seems as if the flow of water seems to be abating just a bit. This is good. I'm not in the mood to babysit it all night long! More rain is on the way and I'm starting to think that we're in for The Day After Tomorrow after all!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dan van Winkle

I almost overslept for work today. Normally, that's not anything too surprising as I've never been much of a morning person and getting my lazy ass out of bed each morning is a task.

The trouble with today was my shift started at 2pm.

Yes, I almost overslept for the evening shift. Now, it's not as bad as all that. Well, actually it is, but it isn't like I had not been up at all that day and had blissfully slept from midnight last night until just before I was supposed to show up for work. No, what happened was I woke up this morning at 6AM and couldn't go back to sleep. So I got up and did some stuff and got Anna and Heidi off to school. I took the car in for an oil change and did some other odds and ends.

Around 12:15, I went down to the basement and laid down on the couch thinking I better nap for a bit if I'm going to work till 10:30PM. I love sleeping down there now as the curtains really make it dark and make it easy to sleep. It didn't take me long and I was out like a light. Heidi was at Anna's school helping out and got back around 1:30. Not seeing me anywhere, she figured I'd gone off to work.

Then I woke up. At 1:51. Holy shit.

Fortunately I had showered and everything and had but to get dressed. Unfortunately, Heidi had to take me to work as my truck is full of brush and I couldn't very well take our only other vehicle. It was kind of par for the course for her today, but I'll let her tell that story.

So, yeah, I was almost late for the evening shift because of unconsciousness. Pathetic.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Time Machine Tour

Since Darren Hayes did not bring his tour to the U.S. (and really, who can blame him?), I was pleased to see that there was going to be a DVD release of it. But I was prepared for it to be a region 2 release, which would mean ordering it from and paying the currently hideous exchange rate.

Imagine my surprise to find out that it is actually getting a U.S. release! YAY! So instead of spending 40 dollars on the DVD, I'll only spend 20. Or, apparently less than that if you pre-order from Amazon! Which I just did.

This show looks amazing, probably along the lines of something that you'd expect from Madonna or Cher. I am eagerly awaiting it.

Seven songs meme: Get your 90s on

Casey Stratton always does memes on Friday, so I figured, why the hell not? I've done the seven songs meme before, but it's time to trot it out again. But this time around, I'm going to put a different spin on it. Heidi and I have been listening to all this cheesy stuff from the 90s in anticipation of a get together we're maybe possibly planning, the stuff that reminds me of being in college and out at the bars or whatever. Of course, it also reminds many of the people I work with of being 11, but we'll forgive them their inexperience.

List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they're not any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they're listening to.
1) Beautiful Life - Ace Of Base
Ace of Base had a lot of expectations to live up to with their second album. This was the first single off of it, and I remember buying the CD at Wal-Mart in Carroll on a Thanksgiving break. I was immediately hit by how much more they spent on the packaging of this CD than they did on The Sign. Although the album is a bit overbaked and certainly too long, this slice of 90s Swedish pop still plays well today.

2) Rhythm Is A Dancer - Snap!
This is the ultimate Vito's song for me. I vividly remember being out with my whole pharmacy class after a big run of tests or something and this song playing. This song perfectly encapsulates the style of 90s dance that always takes me back.

3) Expose - I Wish The Phone Would Ring
I love phone songs. There are so many good ones. Among my favorites are Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone" and "Call Me", Jim Croce's "Operator", Tommy Tutone's "867-5309", Sheena Easton's "Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)" and, of course, "Hung Up." What I love about this song is that it's basically about hatching the phone, as one of my friends used to call it. It's one of those dependent victim songs that really aren't very good for your psyche, but rarely has being a victim been so frothy.

4) Be My Lover - La Bouche
All these dance artists, so much the same. My college roommate Kim loved all this stuff. I did too, but shhh!! I wasn't telling anyone. Although I did tell her. This was on a compilation that Heidi and I had, Ultimate Dance Party 1997 that I can't find any longer. The thump-thump-thump is interchangeable with just about any of the other songs of its ilk, but it's not like I'm not going to listen.

5) SWV - Right Here (Human Nature)
My friend Rick always called SWV "sisters with vaginas." Well, I certainly hope so! (although I think the actual meaning of SWV is "sisters with voices.") I love how effortlessly the Michael Jackson's sample is used, and since there is spelling of sorts in the song (es, es, double double you, vee) I am contractually obligated to love it.

6) Two Princes - Spin Doctors
This song is unfairly maligned, I think, because it had the audacity to become a hit. Yes, it was horribly overplayed, but it's still a cute song, although I'm not sure cute was what they were aiming for. It does represent the tail end of my undergraduate years and, yep, I was suckered into buying Pocketful of Kryptonite based on this and "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong" (which I also really like.) I have subsequently sold it, as have many others, I'm sure.

7) Blue (da ba dee) - Eiffel 65
By the time this song came out, I was (finally) out of college and working. So it doesn't really remind me of college. It is kind of representative of the kind of music that would never be played on the radio now even if a gun were held to Clear Channel's collective head. It was the last gasp of Eurodance on mainstream radio.
That's it. I'm supposed to tag 7 people, but I'm not going to do that formally as some people really hate being tagged. But Yuri, Paul, Caryle, Heidi, Matt, Jeff and Mary, feel free to do your own versions of this (themed or not.) And anyone else that has not been specifically tagged, feel free to do so as well!!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, listen up please

So the other day, I had a rather unpleasant encounter with someone. I will not go into either excruciating or even general details as I might normally because it deals with work. There are many things that end up on this blog. Specifics about my work is not and never will be one of them. Oddly enough, I feel more comfortable exposing myself and my own insecurities to the faceless internet than I do talking about my job. This is probably smart as having a job is good and not having one does not keep food on the table for very long.

Anyway, I was saying. I had an unpleasant encounter with someone. It pushed me way way WAY outside my comfort zone as I usually just like to avoid the conflict and hope it goes away. I prefer to refer to this as choosing my battles although many others recognize it for what I know it to be in my heart of hearts. I was getting angry with this person because they could not see the reason that was so obvious to me as well as my complete inability to change anything about the situation. I recognized that they were unhappy and in hindsight I probably should have vocalized this to them but I was so interested in getting them the hell out of my face that I forgot. By the end of the interaction, I was seething. I made an off-hand comment to one of my co-workers that I "didn't tell them what I was really thinking." Her reply to that?

"You never do."

Now that seems overly simplistic but it's true. There is so much stuff that I just suck up and hope just goes away that it's a wonder that I haven't exploded from it yet. But as a scientist I should know that it is never wise to forget the First Law of Thermodynamics: Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only change form. And all that negative energy just takes up residence in my stomach or my brain or wherever and does nothing but damage and take years off my life. Or worse yet, it comes out of my body directed at people who don't deserve to bear the brunt of that negative energy.

But my co-worker was right, well, for the most part anyway. This is not really a shock to me for I know that I am a good Gemini. While there are (at least) two sides to everyone, I am exceptional at the duality. Light and dark, yin and yang, Jekyll & Hyde, Gollum & Smeagol, Superman & Clark Kent. That last one seems especially appropriate lately. There are days that I feel like a super hero, trying to save the day all the time for no other reason than it's the role into which I naturally fit, even though there are times that it bugs the shit out of me. And all this time, there is a secret identity, the one that has tired of doing the saving and just wishes everyone would hurry up and save themselves. That part of me needs just as much care and tending as does the super hero part of me.

Well, let me tell you, being the hero is draining. It is annoying as fuck and while I am good at it, I am going to go on record as saying that it makes me very weary. I think it is why so frequently I am exhausted at the end of the day. It's not the good kind of exhaustion--the type that you get from doing a really good job at something or accomplishing something spectacular. It is the kind of exhaustion that comes from having to push through everything and completely deny yourself all the creature comforts that, by rights, you should allow yourself. And then, at the end of the day, instead of taking care of yourself, you work to distract yourself with this or that or the other thing. And all that's left are the scraps you left after having spent the whole day feeling like an Ood. (watch out, that link has spoilers for an upcoming Doctor Who ep if you're watching on Sci-Fi.)

The funny thing is that while a lot of this came to a head the other day in reaction to the encounter I had, it's been going on in the back of my brain for quite some time. So much so that a couple weeks ago when I was listening to my iPod one day walking to who knows where, Darren Hayes' song "Hero" came on. I am fond of saying that if a pop song doesn't know how you're feeling, there's really no point to the song. But this one? Well, it is pretty much spot on. In the lyrics, he says pretty much exactly what I sometimes want to say, only it's set to a cool pop beat and, surprise surprise, it's in a minor key.

I was trying to hide my opposing sides
Trying to reconcile my Jekyll and Hyde.
Ladies and gentlemen, listen up please

I don't wanna be your hero
(No, I am not open
Parts of me are broken)

Do yourself a favor, save yourself

Don't pick me, find someone else.

(Why'd you want to bother
Find yourself another.)

Good God, talk about words I wish I had written. Or words I could have written.

I think ultimately, as so many things in my life are, it's all about balance. But balance is tricky and not always the easiest thing in the world to come by.

Who knows what the point of this post was, probably just another patented Dan thinking out loud post. But when these kinds of posts stop, you'll know that I have been replaced by a pod person.

Watch this fan made video to "Hero" below. I love this song. It is quite possibly in my top 3 favorite Darren Hayes songs.

The star of the show

There was a point in the late 70s where every artist had to try on their disco shoes. For some, this was very successful. For others, not so much. Dolly Parton's take on disco? Well, I can't decide if it's a train wreck or just the most perfect example of camp that exists. I have to say that most of that late 70s/early 80s pop crossover stuff has not aged very well, probably because she was primarily recording other people's songs. But every now and again, you get something that, while it will certainly not be spoken of in the same breath as Mozart or anything, is just fall down hilarious.

Exhibit A is "Star of the Show"

Seriously, what was she thinking?

Although you know I am secretly hoping for it at the concert. This will almost without a doubt not happen. Hell, I would settle for "Potential New Boyfriend." Why that song has not been given the remix treatment is completely beyond me.