Monday, August 31, 2009

For God's sake, get out!!

One of the first bits of horror pop culture that I remember being exposed to as a child was The Amityville Horror. The story of a "haunted" Long Island colonial style house fascinated me from the minute I saw my mom reading it in the late 70s. I was more than a little bit freaked out by the flies on the cover of the book she was reading. I would ask her about it and she would tell me "oh, it's about a haunted house - and it's a true story!" Well, that was enough to sell me right there. I knew I wanted to read it, but obviously, at the age of 7, that was not going to happen.

Anyway, flash forward to me in 3rd grade and I'm at the Carroll Public Library. Our library had two distinct sections - one side was the children's section and the other side was the adult section. Each had its own door and they were separated by a wall and the circulation desk. What exactly I was doing at the age of 10 in the adult section of the library I'm still not entirely sure, but I found a paperback copy of The Amityville Horror. I vividly remember asking the librarian if I could use the telephone and calling home to ask my mom if I could borrow the book. She was oddly silent for a moment and then said "well, you can check it out, but you have to promise that you won't be scared." I assured her that I would not be. Looking back, I don't know who I was fooling. Certainly not my mother.

Sure enough, I read up to the part where the Catholic priest comes to bless the house and is told by a disembodied voice to "GET OUT!!" while flies swarm around in the dead of winter and, well, it was too late. I tried to sleep that night and I couldn't do it. I sat on the stairs and told my parents that I was scared. I don't remember what their reaction was, but it was likely of the "we told you so" variety. I did finish it, and I remember it being very scary.

I think I read it at least 15 more times in the next few years. My friend Kelly says that me reading The Amityville Horror is one of her first concrete memories of me. The next year, in 4th grade, I did a book report on it for reading class. I went up to the teacher and said that the only words I could find to describe the book were "psychic phenomena." (hmmm, looking at the back of the book I wonder exactly WHY those were the only words I could think of.) I wrote the words in the report, only to have the report given back to me with those words circled and "own words?" written off to the side. Geez, details. She should have been impressed that I was reading such high caliber stuff! This was not Tales of A Fourth Grade Nothing or Encyclopedia Brown!

The thing that always got me about The Amityville Horror was that it was billed as a "true story." Pretty much the ONLY thing true about The Amityville Horror was that people were murdered in the house about a year before the Lutzes (the family who bought the house and supposedly suffered the "psychic phenomena") moved in. Everything else, up to and including every last bit of supernatural craziness talked about in the book is complete fabrication. Even though the Lutzes both steadfastly maintained the veracity of their story, they started contradicting themselves and certain parts of their story were proven to be completely and utterly impossible - the most notable of which is the night they claimed the demon-pig haunting their daughter's room ran across the yard leaving cloven hoof prints in the snow despite the fact that there was no snow on the ground in Amityville that night.

The part of me that is still in the 3rd grade is very disappointed by the revelation of The Amityville Horror being a hoax. I really want to believe in some kind of life after love death and ghosts and all that kind of stuff just fascinate me. There is absolutely not one whiff of scientific proof that supports the existence of ghosts - one has but to read Mary Roach's Spook to really understand this - but as I have often said, there are many things that science just can't explain. And besides, much like Fox Mulder, I simply want to believe.

Even though I may never get that definitive proof of ghosts that I would love to have, I know that the next time I go to New York, I am going to take the train to Amityville to see the house. The "eye" windows have been replaced, and the house renumbered to prevent sightseers and riffraff like me from gawking, but a quick Google Map search of "112 Ocean Avenue, Amityville, NY" gives you this.

If that isn't it, I don't know what is.

I'll be respectful, but so help me if I hear a disembodied voice say "GET OUT!" I am taking off like a dirty shirt.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chocolate cake for breakfast

Heidi's birthday was a couple days ago and in celebration, Anna and I made her a cake. We were going to buy one from the Hy-Vee bakery, but they are never very good and really, box cakes are impossible to screw up. The added benefit of having cake around is that the following house rule goes into effect:

If there's cake in the house, it's okay to eat it for breakfast.

Really, it's not just okay, it's kind of the law. If you think about it, there's not that big of a jump from eating a donut to eating birthday cake, so I don't see what the big deal is. My biggest trouble with eating chocolate cake for breakfast is that I always think of that scene in The Outsiders when Two-Bit is having chocolate cake and beer for breakfast. Yeah, don't think I could do that.

Bill Cosby has a classic routine about how he, after being awoken by his wife and told to go downstairs and cook breakfast for the children, ends up feeding his kids chocolate cake for breakfast. His rationale is that there are eggs, milk and wheat in chocolate cake. That's nutrition! He also serves it up with grapefruit juice which I think is only slightly better than eating cake with beer.

(I love the sound of him cutting the cake - it's as if the cake is being cut by a guillotine!)

The "chocolate cake for breakfast" routine is found on Bill Cosby, Himself which we watched a zillion times on HBO when we were growing up. It's funny how Bill Cosby can be so funny without resorting to being dirty or vulgar. The hard part about watching it now is that there are so many jokes about his wife and daughters wanting to kill his son. What played as good-natured humor regarding gender roles and growing up is not as funny since Cosby's son was murdered in 1997.

Anyway, the birthday cake in our house is almost gone, so it won't be long before we're back to eating regular breakfast food. But for now, we'll enjoy it, kind of like Anna enjoyed licking the mixer bowl.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Single disc craziness

Via boy culture and the MadonnaTribe forums, the track list for the single disc version of Celebration has seen the light of day. I'm not sure of the source, as it is not credited on his site and is credited in the MadonnaTribe forums as from a "fan site", so perhaps it is just a rumor, but it solidifies in my mind that trying to put this woman's history at Warner Brothers on one CD is a fool's errand.

Hung Up
4 Minutes
Like A Virgin
Into The Groove
Like A Prayer
Ray Of Light
La Isla Bonita
Material Girl
Papa Don't Preach
Lucky Star
Express Yourself
Open Your Heart
Dress You Up

I look at that track list and just cannot believe my eyes. It hardly matters if it is accurate or not, because it is so lacking in pretty much every way. The LEAST they could have done with that pared down list is put it in chronological order. What is cool sequencing across the two-disc version ends up being haphazard on the single disc. Ultimately, the single disc is a huge waste of natural resources and will probably sell 10 copies because even casual fans expect more for their buck than that. Given the opportunity and budget, I could have come up with a better representation of her career in 18 songs than they did!

I really wish that "Celebration" the song were faring a bit better - right now, it's certainly more of a miss than a hit. I am not one to get wrapped up in Madonna's chart performance but it would have been nice to see her get a little radio airplay. It's a good song - although I have been comparing it to trying to have a raging campfire with only kindling and newspaper. Its staying power has not been what I would have expected considering my initial reaction. "Hung Up" it is most certainly not. Still, it's gotten a damn lot of play in the last few weeks.

As a friend of mine said, it would behoove Madonna to put a little of herself in her music these days. Even though "Celebration" could have fit easily on Confessions, the latter succeeds precisely because Madonna's heart is still in it.


I got home from work today and saw this sitting on the counter. It totally made my day. (you might have to click on it to read the writing)

I've figured out that there is a chair in front of a computer, but I don't know what the other thing is. I also like how I have a HUGE hand. Must be all that typing I do. Also kinda looking like Plastic Man.

In any event, it's just about the coolest thing I have ever received from her. The even funnier part was on the back of the drawing is a school assignment talking about how we show respect. There is a sentence she wrote that says "I respect my mom because...she helps me make my bed." Mine was "I respect my dad because...he makes money for us."

She's come a long way from this (even though I love that just as much).

Friday, August 21, 2009

I get up again

There's been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere about the new Madonna hits collection Celebration which is scheduled for release at the end of September. Most of the discussion has surrounded the track listing - and, amazingly, they didn't fuck it up. At 36 tracks, there's no way it's going to be definitive, but everything about the song selection and sequencing is very very right. My biggest quibble is that a couple of minor latter-day hits were included ("Sorry" and "Miles Away" being the most glaringly obvious), whereas some bonafide hits were excluded. The exclusion of "I'll Remember" is especially egregious, not to mention songs like "True Blue" and "Rain". I will be the first to admit to my love of the song "Sorry", but does it really merit a spot that could have been occupied by a true hit?

Well, we can argue about the inclusion or exclusion of this track or that trach, but as I was discussing with a blogging friend, no compliation will be definitive. And really, we have to think about who the primary target audience of the package is. Hint: it's not the die-hards. Let's face it, those of us who have been following Madonna's career for 25 years have purchased the songs multiple times already. There's no doubt in my mind that I'll buy it, but I'll basically be spending the $20 on the two new songs, one of which I have already purchased once, and the convenience of having all these songs in one spot. For me, my 66 song Madonna playlist on my iPod containing all her U.S. singles in chronological order is the definitive playlist, but for those who don't have Madonna coded into their DNA, this set is just the ticket. It certainly beats the pants off of the hideously awful GHV2 from 2001 which remains, to this day, the only Madonna album I have not purchased.

While so much is made of Madonna's amazing run of singles, especially in the 80s and mid 90s, sometimes it's the album tracks that really fill in the gaps. This is where the casual fans miss out. Adem did a great review of Like A Virgin a couple weeks back in which he sang the praise of album tracks "Pretender" and "Stay". I'd like to add "Over & Over" to the list of great Madonna album tracks. Those who say that Madonna was just about sex appeal and shallowness at that point in her career would be wise to listen to this song. It has always been one of my favorite of Madonna's album tracks.

The lyrics have rung especially true for me over the past few days - so much so that I decided to change the tag line of this blog to one of the lyrics. It kind of gets back to a big heavy post I did a while back, about success and failure of making changes in my life, taking chances and making things happen rather than letting life happen to me. I was talking to someone about it and was being quietly aggravated with how frustrating it is - having the will to make changes and but not having the follow-through. This person pointed out to me that I need to stop viewing things from the all-or-nothing perspective. There are many points along the continuum between success and failure, a fact that tends to get obscured by my focus on "win" or "lose".

So, as usual, Madonna has the best advice.

Hurry up, I just can't wait
I gotta do it now I can't be late
I know I'm not afraid I gotta get out the door
If I don't do it now I won't get anymore
You try to criticize my drive
If I lose I don't feel paralyzed
It's not the game it's how you play
And if I fall I get up again now
I get up again, over and over

Listen to it, it's totally worth it. And a great forgotten Madonna song to boot. I sometimes really miss this version of Madonna, even though it's not really fair to her because she can't be 27 again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Stop! 2nd grade time

It happens every year without fail - the first day of school, that is. Only this year, the State Fair's not even over yet and school is starting! Tragic, I say. Whenever I dare get riled up about that fact and the "what about kids in 4H?", Heidi gently points out to me that we don't have a kid in 4H and it really doesn't affect us so why are you getting so riled up? Point taken.

Anyway, it's written in a law book somewhere that you have to dress to the nines on the first day of school. Anna would have it no other way. She's is Hello Kitty'd out.

She was extra-excited because she got to ride her bike to school today, even though she had to have us tag along. There's no way she's biking the 1.8 miles to school on her own (yet). It was actually kind of cold on the way there. It's late August and it's only supposed to be 70 degrees today. What the hell happened to summer?

She's super-pumped about school. She met her teacher yesterday, dropped off all her school supplies, and left with nary a hesitation when we dropped her off. I was telling a friend that she is 5000 times more excited about the first day of school than I ever was. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that she is about 5000 times more social than I ever was growing up. Just how did two introverts birth this incredible extrovert?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fair worthy

My mom has been doing cross stitch for as long as I can remember. One of the first things I remember her doing is a series of Norman Rockwell pieces that had the pattern printed on the fabric. I know it wasn't the first thing she ever cross stitched, but they're the ones that stick out in my brain. It was this particular Norman Rockwell painting that I recall most vividly.

There were a couple others, but I can't remember what they were and they get mixed up in my brain with the jigsaw puzzles we had of three different Saturday Evening Post covers as well. But anyway, my mom's been at this a while. I don't remember when she graduated from the cross stitch that is printed on the fabric to "counted" cross stitch which involves a plain piece of fabric with little squares on it and a pattern printed on a piece of paper, but that's all she's done for years now.

I've lost count of how many different things she's done, but she's very quietly proud of the work she does. Some of her best work has been done for Anna. She did one of angel watching over a sleeping child around the time she was born. She has made several sweatshirts with cross stitched pictures on the front of them - all of which, to Anna's dismay, were too small when she went to try on fall/winter clothes prior to school starting. And last year, for her birthday, my mom gave her a cross stitched picture of a princess with a unicorn (one of Anna's most favorite things). It was matted and framed and the whole bit. Anna loves it and it hangs in her room.

Well, I should say that it used to hang in her room. Right now it's hanging in the Fabric and Threads display section in the Varied Industries Building at the Iowa State Fair. She had talked all summer about entering it into competition at the Fair, and she almost didn't. Well, it's a good thing she did because it took third place overall!

What I think is really cool is that my mom has never really entered a contest like this ever, and right off the bat, she places! How cool is that? And now, in a life full of accomplishment an d success (which includes raising an incredible set of kids), she has a State Fair ribbon to boot!

And what's even cooler is that as soon as the Fair is over for another year, that fair-worthy picture will hang again on my daughter's wall. And we'll always have the story of how her Grandma nearly didn't enter at all!

Way to go, Mom!

First person

Boing Boing posted this, and Heidi sent it to me without even watching it. She didn't know if it would be any good, and really, it's pretty good. Not orgasmically fantastic or anything, but still. It is Louis Armstrong's "What A Wonderful World" over the top of video from the first-person shooter zombie game Left 4 Dead.

I do not, nor have I really ever, gotten into first person shooter games. It's not that I'm opposed to the bloody gore and violence that is rampant in pretty much all of them - I'm not. My biggest beef with them is that I SUCK AT THEM. My brother Ryan is the undisputed first-person shooter champion in our family. There was not a single one of those kinds of games that he did not try out and eventually beat.

My dad says that the reason Ryan is so good at those games is that he is very spatial and has the map of each level in his head. I would agree with that statement, but I also just think his interest level in them is higher than mine. I am kind of interested in games like Doom and Halo in the abstract, but the execution of the game is infinitely less satisfying than I think it will be. I'm impatient with the controls and for they always seem so poorly lit that gameplay is just not what it should be. Mostly, I play for 5 minutes, fumbling around in the dark and then get shot to smithereens by some unseen enemy. Not so much fun if you ask me.Even Alien vs. Predator failed to get me into FPS games.

Well, when we were in California, the friends we were staying with had Left 4 Dead. I watched Stephen play the game one night, and believe me, if any game is going to get me to play a FPS game, it will be Left 4 Dead. The basic premise is to shoot the hell out of zombies and get to a designated "safe zone" in each level. What is really cool about the game is that it is NOT just mindless shooting. There's a back story and incredible attention to detail. It also has a level of AI that controls the difficulty and events, so that it's not just the same game over and over again. The zombies just keep coming and keep coming. They are relentless, which is what they should be. They're zombies after all (or, more accurately, infected. But they did die so they are techincally zombies.)

Alas, no matter how much I want to try this game, it is not to be. My computer doesn't even meet the minimum processor speed for it - something which I presumed while watching Stephen play it on his state-of-the-art gaming system.

So if I seem down on FPS games, I guess I am a little bit. But I did manage to play one FPS game all the way through - and that was Wolfenstein 3D. It is incredibly lame by today's standards, but I sure had a hell of a good time with it back in the summer of 1994 when I played it through to the end, with my sister sitting with me in my bedroom while we listened to Olivia Newton-John's Soul Kiss and Basia's The Sweetest Illusion. Whenever I listen to The Sweetest Illusion, I always think of Wolfenstein 3D.

They see your every move

Not exactly what I expected to listen to this morning, but you have to admit -- these guys know their way around a good pop hook. And really, no one else could have pulled off that green suit (although you know I'd like to try).

More substantial posts are coming soon. Life is getting in the way.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Raised on R

So tonight, I was looking for the Joni Mitchell song "Raised on Robbery" in my iTunes. It is one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs - seriously, those of you who dismiss Joni as just a flaky folk singer from the 60s know not what you do. Anyway, I typed in "raised on r" into the search box, which was far more than I needed to type to find it, and not only did it bring up "Raised on Robbery", it also brought up something a bit unexpected.

I am no Journey fan by any stretch of the imagination, and it just goes to show how little I cull my iTunes that this entire album is still taking up space on my hard drive. Clearly, I am an archivist afraid to delete anything on the off chance that I might want to listen to it sometime 22 years from now.

Now I say I'm no Journey fan, and if that is true, why have I listened to "Girl Can't Help It" 25 times? That's twice as much as I have listened to "Raised on Robbery"! Well, "Girl Can't Help It" snuck its way onto my favorites playlist (all 5 star rated songs) a while back and, what can I say? Truthfully though, Raised on Radio isn't THAT bad of Journey album. It's definitely more of the same from them, and the well was starting to run dry, especially since it's one of the last Journey records with Steve Perry. I think I have that vinyl somewhere, but I don't think it's worthy to go up on the vinyl wall of fame.

Journey is at the Iowa State Fair Grandstand this year, playing a double bill with Heart. I was tempted, mostly because of Heart, but ultimately decided against it because $45 is a lot of a show at the State Fair and also because I'm not that big of a Journey fan.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it, even though while writing this post, I have listened to nearly half of Raised on Radio.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Storms and engagements

We trekked down to Iowa City to celebrate the engagement of my sister Wendy to her fiance, Andrew. Although both Wendy and Andrew live in Santa Monica, Andrew's folks still live there (he's originally from Iowa City) and they invited as many people from both sides of the family to come down for a late Sunday picnic and get together. It was the end cap to a busy weekend that saw us driving over to Carroll on Friday night to see my folks, as well as Andrew & Wendy, and also watching a boatload of Queer As Folk episodes with Jeff on Saturday.

Here's the happy couple. They are pretty damn cute.

I also snapped a couple of Anna, one in the back yard and one in a room at Andrew's parents' house that has been completely decked out in 50's malt shop decor.

I jokingly called it the "one stop malt shop, everything that I got." Their malt powder was raw.

We made the obligatory stop at The Java House to get St. Louis Blues au laits and picked up a pound of St. Louis Blues for home brewing even though I can never get it to taste as good at home. I wish the Java House would come to Ames, but it would probably give good old Cafe Diem a run for its money and I really, they're close enough. Anyway, the guy at the counter, upon finding out we were from Ames, told us to watch out for the storms that were headed this way.

We got back on the interstate and this is what we saw. (lower quality images as they are screen captured from videos we took)

That folks, is a good old fashioned Iowa wall cloud. We know how to do severe weather up right here. This is the kind of cloud that spawns tornadoes. We drove into it anyway (even though I wanted to wait it out).

I am always awestruck by severe weather like this during the summer. It, like Glinda, can come and go rather quickly, and it frequently does not live up to its billing. I have lived in Iowa for 37 years and have never once seen a real live tornado - not that I really want to. But when it does deliver what it promises, it can be some of the most frightening stuff you can see.

I thought about how these storms really are just a product of an energy cycle all out of whack, with the only way out a violent reaction that spits a lot of energy back out. If this is what nature does in response to out of whack energy, is it not all that surprising that our bodies would do the same thing?

Anyway, in spite of the thunderstorms, it was a great time. It is always good to see my sister and Andrew who are truly well matched and he fits into our family like he's been here all along.

This is the picture Anna drew of Andrew and Wendy on Friday. I love it.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Looking better than vinyl has a right to

A lady I work with saw me when she arrived at work today and said "Oh, Dan, I have a surprise for you." Now, we say things like that at work all the time, and usually the surprise is some item of work we have to do that we don't particularly want to do. However, she really DID have a surprise for me.

I walked around the corner and SHE WAS HOLDING THE VINYL OF DOLLY'S Here You Come Again ALBUM!!

I was flabbergasted because it was pretty much the last thing in the world I expected to see today. She said "well, I knew you were a fan and thought if you want it, you can have it." My reaction was quite uncontained and I think one of the newer guys at work saw it out of the corner of his eyes and wondered what the deal was.

Here's some photographic evidence.

It is not one of Dolly's better studio albums - but it is the point where she really crossed over to pop successfully. "Here You Come Again" is one of my favorite of her songs. The other thing that's cool about this album is that on early copies, there is an alternate version of "Two Doors Down" which is more countrified than the pop version that most people know. Later pressings of the album contained the pop version. However, the version of "Two Doors Down" on the vinyl I have has virtually the same run time as the one I have in iTunes, so I imagine I was not so lucky as to have been given one of the first pressings of the album. *sigh* I don't know that I'll EVER hear that version of the song.

Moral of the story: Sometimes, it really pays off to wear your nerdiness on your shirt sleeve.

(Confidential to MK: What part of THAT album cover is not about the breasts?)


This is one of the songs of the summer of 2009. The trouble with it is, it is certainly not unique to 2009. In fact, it has such strong ties to my childhood that the minute I start listening to it, I'm back in my parents' house listening to the 8-track that this song came from. I have such vivid and specific memories associated with this song, but much like the images conjured up by "Graveyard Girl", I can't really articulate them. What I do know is that it makes me feel good - the only part I don't really agree with is the "I can wait for fate to bring around to me any part of my tomorrow." Based on my last post, that would seem to be exactly the opposite of what I need to do. But I do really love this song.

Heidi always quietly mocks my fondness for old Helen Reddy music, but if my life were like a set of Jenga blocks, good old Helen is pretty close to the bottom of that tower.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Brand new day

(Uh...this is not a music blog. Bear that in mind as you wade into this post. If you're looking for something superficial and fun, abandon all hope, ye who enter here.)

If there's any one thing you can count on, it's that I am all talk and no action. I cannot count the number of times on this blog alone that I have declared that I am through with this, that or the other bad habit or self-defeating behavior, only to slip back into precisely that pattern after about 12 minutes. I almost wish I had a tag for it, so that I could go back and count them up.

So I suppose it seems a bit disingenuous to do it again, after having admitted that. Or perhaps admitting to myself that I continue to fail makes me more aware of that fact, thereby making it less likely to happen? I don't know, but whatever it is, I have to say right here and right now that I have had it up to here with the general trajectory of things right now. It isn't really anything specific (there are a few specifics, but I know better than to go into detail) but what I do know is that my brain cannot continue in its current mode. Something's gotta give, but what that something is I'm not really sure.

The one thing that I have noticed more than ever lately is that there really are two sides to me. That is nothing new - I've always known that and I'm a Gemini so I relish that fact probably more than I should. And when I say two sides, that doesn't necessarily mean two-faced (although I'm sure I've been accused of that as well). What it does mean is that while my exterior seems calm, cool and collected, way down deep I am so angry at things, so mad at this or that. My lifelong reaction to anger, like every emotion I have felt the need to suppress, has been to stuff it. Stuff it even further down than it already was. Stuff it until it is so compacted and hard and concrete that you can't even move it any longer. This worked very well for a very long time, but it is not working so well for me now. I find that the more I cram the anger down, the more it slips through the cracks and comes out anyway, usually in ways that are fucked up and at people and situations that were not the root cause of the anger. It also seems to come from nowhere and whip into a frenzy in less than two seconds, leaving the people in its wake confused and stunned by it. Most times, it doesn't come out as anger at all, but rather as a self-flagellating attitude that leads every time to me feeling defeated.

I don't feel like I am, by nature, a mean person, but I sure as hell can be. Most people can't even imagine me angry, which kind of makes me think of the Bill Bixby incarnation of the Hulk and his "Mr. McGee, don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." And because people can't imagine me angry, it's almost as if my license to be angry has been revoked. But the truth is, so much about life makes me angry right now, and I'm not sure why. Everything really is quite good, by rights. Oh, sure, there's the omnipresent money shit that is going to haunt me till the day I die, but I'm working on finding the Zen in the bullshit that is that. Really, that by itself does not equate to the level anger that I feel frequently.

Much like Joan, I am probably mad at the dirt. But I heard a story yesterday that really hit me right in the stomach and will not let go. We met up with an old college friend of Heidi's, someone we had kind of lost touch with over the years, even though he's lived only 40 miles away for the last 5 years. Anyway, they got back in touch and we met in Des Moines yesterday and caught up. The story he told involved the tale of how he made a radical shift in his life. Having been nothing but an educator for however many years, he found himself at the end of a day with a bottle of 409 in one hand and paper towels in the other. He was wiping off a large table in his classroom and suddenly, he said to himself, "If you're doing this exact same thing in one year, I'm going to kill you." I don't know how much hyperbole played into that statement - perhaps a lot, perhaps none - but I can't stop thinking about that story. It was an example of someone grabbing life by the shirt collar (rather than letting life happen to you) and actually making a change. A year later, he was in a different job and much happier.

I can't help but wonder if I were to say something to that affect just how much change I could create in a year. If I really set my mind to it, could I be doing something in my life that makes me more satisfied and less mad at the dirt? The biggest difference between Heidi's friend and me is that I have two people that I am supporting, who are more or less dependent on my income. Doing a radical career change or something like that would be foolhardy, not to mention that being the least senior member of any job team right now would have me biting my nails and worrying about the security of that employment. But I don't think it has to be something that drastic, and ultimately, that is just a big old excuse to not do anything. There are many little things I could be doing, but I simply lack the follow-through.

The words seems so empty from overuse, but I can't do anything but try again. Despite all my previous efforts that have started and failed, I'm going to say that things are going to change starting right now. How they are going to change I can't tell, but it's going to happen.

A part of me doesn't want to publish this, but I think I have to. I have to be accountable for it. I can write it in a Word document and blow it up just as easy as follow through on it. At least here, there's a certain level of accountability. Granted, I could delete the post and deny its existence, and the number of people that read these words runs probably in the single digits, but saying it out loud and to the universe at large feels right.

So there.

(My opening statement should not be misinterpreted as saying that posts on music blogs are incapable of being serious. Quite the contrary - my favorite posts on those blogs frequently are.)

Phone fail

Heidi is hosting a One Iowa phone bank this afternoon. All in attendance are trying to shore up support for what is sure to be a shit-fight in the Iowa legislature come January regarding a proposed constitutional amendment to reverse the Iowa Supreme Court decision supporting marriage equality.

I will say it here now. I am a phone bank failure.

I called about 15 people. Most were not home. Two were not nice.

I simply cannot do that. There has to be another way to help. It bothers me greatly because to me, doing stuff like this is the difference between walking the walk and talking the talk, but try as I might, I can't push past the initial uncomfortableness that is bothering people in their homes.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

You have to believe

For the most part, this summer has been kind of a let down for me as far as new music goes. Oh, sure there are a few songs that have just been released that have kind of redeemed the summer. Up until "Celebration", there was no "song of the summer" like there was the year that "Two Times Blue" dominated my listening habits all summer. As far as 2009 goes, I grew pretty fond of Cascada's "Evacuate the Dancefloor" (it definitely fell into the "if loving this is wrong, I don't wanna be right" camp), but it had a pretty limited shelf life as I anticipated it would. And now if you combine "Celebration" with new Bananarama and new Whitney Houston, things are turning around a little bit.

Apparently, the unifying theme of what I'm liking this summer is "everything old is new again." That makes me feel kind of old honestly, as if the next words out of my mouth are going to be "I don't know what it is with kids these days." Seriously, I am not that cranky. The problem with the new music this summer is that it has been almost what I want. And much like someone almost hitting the right notes, that has made it just that much more grating.

So continuing in the previously mentioned theme, this song arrived on my radar the other day. I haven't the foggiest notion who DJ Agent 86 is, but man, do I recognize those vocals. It is ONJ's "Magic" and it was one of the defining songs of my childhood. Only now, it is all grown up and ready for the dancefloor. Olivia's vocals don't start until about 1:40, so be patient.

At first I found it to be a bit cheaply done, but the more I listen to it, the more the production really fits. It's kind of a dub, but not really. It uses just enough of the vocal to be recognizable, but not so much that it ends up being the original song put over a generic backbeat.

It really got me to thinking that someone - anyone, really - needs to go through Olivia's back catalog and spice up a lot of her songs in this fashion. Lord knows I'd plunk down my hard earned cash for them.

(photo via)