Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nude dancing girls?

Here's an interview with Grayson Capps, my old friend and partner in the House Levelers (which was the first band for both of us). Towards the end of the interview he mentions a wild incident that he says occurred with the Levelers, namely a bunch of topless women dancing on stage with us in Tupelo, Mississippi. Now, I admit I have memory problems. Crustodio can confirm that. I have forgotten a lot of stuff. And kids, let that be a lesson to you - don't do (too many) drugs. But I really don't think that ever happened. I don't think he deliberately made it up - maybe his memory is as bad as mine. Well, this is what I recall, anyway...

I do remember the bar in Tupelo (birthplace of Elvis Presley, you know) Grayson mentions. It was a biker bar, called "Hey Norton's!". When we first showed up there we thought we were going to die - it was a tough looking crowd that seemed unlikely to enjoy our special brand of "thrash-folk". But surprisingly, they loved our band and we ended up playing there a lot. The owner was a little biker dude named Lamar. Before we started every set he would get up on stage and drunkenly bellow into the mic that we were the House Levelers from "New Orleansaloosiana". And then he would yell "Hey, Norton's!" and the entire crowd would all scream back at him "Hey Norton's!". It was awesome.

We got to know Lamar a little bit over the half-dozen times we played there. We even crashed at his place once, when we couldn't find a place to stay. One night, and I think this is where Grayson's story comes from, he was particularly drunk and feeling affectionate towards us. He beckoned us to come behind the bar after the place had closed. He was very excited to show us something. We crowded around as he opened a cabinet on the wall behind the bar. Pasted on the inside were a bunch of polaroids and snapshots of women "showing their tits", in the parlance of the times. We were suitably impressed and Lamar was quite proud of his collection. Looking back at that night, in these days of the endless Girls Gone Wild video offers on the tube, it seems kind of innocent and endearing. Not quite as exciting as naked women dancing on stage while we played, but for me, it's a better memory.

NOTE: I apologize for the ad at the beginning of the video, you'll just have to grit your teeth through it.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Naw, we straight

Apparently this video has been making the rounds, just not with the middle-aged white boy demo. Regardless, it makes me happy inside.

Sure, more than half of the country wanted to have a beer with George Bush four and eight years ago (sort of. damn you, Florida). But I'd rather have a chili dog with the smoothest president I've ever seen.

It's not easy to be cool AND the smartest person in the room. But damn, he's got it.

UPDATE: Apparently the mainstream media is on board too.

Let me get back to the PM on that, then we'll talk about the content requirements

I read this post from Gods of Advertising and couldn't help but smile. It is my life.

With great apologies to my family, I am a very literal listener. My father raised me (very sternly) to "Say what you mean and mean what you say", and I'm afraid that lesson has stuck for life. Along with "If you're on time, you're late", but that's another post for another time.

As a copywriter, I certainly think "conceptually" when creating work and when it comes to humor, I have no problem using or understanding metaphors and other tricks of the trade.

But I swear, if we're having a conversation that includes expected results, you better tell me exactly what you want. I will only hear what you say, not what you "really meant". Yes, I realize this is a fault on my part. I'm working on it. But for the love of butter, why can't people just say what they want?

This especially gets the worst of me at work - in meetings, particularly. Just like the post linked above, I'll drift off when you start using acronyms. I'll take a mental powder when you choose long, unnecessary words when a short, succinct phrase will do the trick.

Life it too short, folks. Don't waste my time with "procedural understandings". However, I'll gladly share my thoughts on "how to work together more efficiently".

It's not that I don't understand you. I just don't want to have to work to understand you. I'm in advertising. One of the few grown-up playgrounds that survives on adult ADD, caffeine and wit.

So, are you with me? Get your message across already, will ya?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Masterfully cleansed

Like any sane person, I take all my fashion, musical and dietary advice from Beyonce. So I'm proud to announce that I finished the 10-day Master Cleanse diet/fast on Thursday and am gearing up to eat solid foods again today. Also known as the Lemonade Diet, you subsist entirely on a drink made up of lemon juice, organic Grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper and water. It's actually pretty tasty, though it gets a little old after 10 days. I did the MC last year around this time and this time it was a little easier, mainly because I knew what to expect.

So, what's it like? Overall, it's a pretty good experience. I had really good energy, I wasn't cripplingly sleepy all day and I felt clear-headed and possibly something similar to what John Denver referred to as a "Rocky Mountain High'". Surprisingly, I never was really hungry. I had cravings from time to time, and other people's food smelled wonderful, but if I drank a lemonade I immediately felt better. I usually drank around 6 - 8 glasses a day. I missed the act of eating and the flavors, but never felt that hunger was an issue.

My cravings were always for healthy items. I thought about brown rice a lot and good wheat bread, tomatoes and apples. As much as I love junk food, I never once had cravings for sweets or chips or anything like that. So, I've decided to go back to the vegetarian diet I abandoned a few years ago. I love the taste of meat, but I do think it's unhealthy. And I deplore the killing of animals for food, and always felt bad about eating meat. But, on the other hand - bacon is GOOD. Always, always my downfall.

On the downside, the first few days of the diet can be really rough if you ingest a lot of toxins on a daily basis. In my case, that would be coffee and booze. I had the worst headache for 2 and a half days as I went through caffeine withdrawal. I always felt I drank too much coffee, but I just love it so much and I need the energy boosts to get me through the day. I'm planning to switch to decaf and hoping that I if I buy really good coffee it will satisfy me. Yeah, good luck with that.

Although I love to drink alcohol (mainly wine, these days), I've done enough time "on the wagon" in the last few years that I didn't miss it at all. Plus, I've just naturally been slowing down on the drink lately - partly because drinking makes me too tired to deal with the baby and also because my doctor recommended it.

Besides losing weight and getting rid of the crap in your body, the diet is relatively inexpensive compared to eating real food for 10 days. So, it can be a good thing to do when cash is tight. But be warned that the organic Grade B maple syrup is bizarrely expensive. A little 12 oz bottle is 13 bucks. And you'll probably need 4 or 5 of them.

But by far, the worst is the salt water flush. This part is a little graphic, so you may want to skip the next 2 paragraphs. Ok, now obviously since you're not bringing in solid food there's going to be a problem pushing everything through the body. It's recommended to drink a laxative tea at night, which I rarely did. But what you must do every morning is drink a quart of salt water. It's only 2 teaspoons of salt, but I still found it unbearable. It's hard not to gag on it. Plus, a quart is a lot of liquid to drink in one sitting, no matter what the beverage is. Last year, I tried using a straw to make it easier, but this year I just powered it down. 

Then the fun begins. In about half an hour you're filled with an extremely urgent need to use the bathroom, at which point everything in your bowels is vigorously expelled. It ain't pretty. This happens a few more times in the next half hour. So, whatever you do - do not stray far from a toilet for at least an hour. And prepare yourself for the possibility of a shart attack.

After you complete the 10 day fast, you need to be very careful getting back to a regular diet. For the first day you can only drink orange juice. The second day you can have some homemade vegetable soup. And the next day you can pretty much go back to normal. So, today I am really, really looking forward to some soup. Subsisting on oj for 2 days is not fun.

That about wraps it up. I found this book really helpful. I lost around 13 lbs, which puts me within 4 lbs of my wedding weight from 2 and a half years ago. I know I will gain some of the weight back immediately, but I'm hoping that sticking to a healthy vegetarian diet will help me continue to lose weight and feel healthy. Then again, we'll be hosting a Super Bowl party next weekend. That will be the true test. Wings....  Chips...  Beer...  Pork rinds.... Oh, god......

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A shiny new day

President Barack Obama makes a call from the Oval Office on his first full day on the job.
Callie Shell / Aurora for TIME

You can read the article here.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Pet peeve #3098

Hey you, person with the laptop on my daily train! Do you need to have your volume up so I can hear when every email and IM arrives? Yeah, didn't think so. Suck it.

Note: Yes, I'm easing back into posting with weak, short material. You get what you pay for.

Friday, January 02, 2009

My Best Ten Records of 2008

Well, I could go on & on about how we haven't posted for a month, but hey - nobody wants to hear excuses. But, if I had an excuse, it would look a hell of a lot like this:

With an excuse that cute, are you really going to hold a grudge? Moving on, I realize that most top 10 lists should actually come out before the new year begins, but what are ya gonna do? So, here we go - my favorites from 2008....

Yes, they're over-hyped, over-exposed, over-blogged, blah, blah, blah. I don't care about any of that. This is the record of the year for me. It's a "good mood" starter and extender. It was played a lot during the Grafitti Table sojourn to Mexico and it will always mean sun and fun to me. Sure, it bites off a lot of Graceland, but the songs are great beyond all the afro-pop stylings. And it's biggest saving grace is that it is not a slick album - parts of it even sound like a demo, which just adds to it's abundant charm.

This was probably the most played record of 2008 in the our house/car. The M.I.A. meets Lily Allen meets Karen O vibe was irresistible and addicting. Makes me want to throw up gold glitter, too.

Even if it wasn't just a great story (Tom Petty puts his first band from 30 years ago back together, hauling 2 of his formerly obscure bandmates into the limelight), I would still admire this record. TP is one of my all-time faves, and this record just extends his remarkable career. A laid-back country rock record, recorded live in the studio. Seemingly effortless, but lived in and surprisingly deep. A class act, that Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr.

Ghostly and haunting, these solo demos were luckily given the Nebraska treatment - just put 'em out as is. Again proving that isolation and depression lead to enjoyable music.

Insanely catchy pop songs from the husband & wife power-duo. They abandoned the old claustrophobic vintage keyboards for a fuller sound to no ill effect. The song "Rearrange Us" is definitely my most-played of 2008 (confirmed by iTunes).

Z was the record that finally won me over to these guys. Their earlier stuff was too monochromatic for me, all reverby vocals and Crazy Horse plod. But Z opened the door to new sounds and styles and Evil Urges more than delivered on that promise. I saw them play this summer and it was a stunning show. Guitar wigouts and solid songcraft combining to make them the most exciting American band. (Sorry, Wilco.)

I don't know what it is about these guys. I couldn't hum you a bar or tell you a song title, but I love listening to this record. Experimental, noisy, showgazing, lyrically challenging - yet somehow smooth & soothing and served with a large dollop of playability. Combine this with Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Not Feel, from mainman Bradford Cox's solo project Atlas Sound and you have the twofer of the year.

At first I was less than thrilled by this record - another Neil Young-influenced Americana record featuring a heavily-reverbed lead singer? But the comparisons to Band of Horses and My Morning Jacket slowly wore off after repeated listenings. Over time this record revealed it's unique take on gothic folk-rock (Beach Boys harmonies, for one), and won me over.

This clever duo combined hipster tomfoolery with vintage keyboards and a stellar production job from Dave Fridmann to great effect. Best use of vintage synths since 1983. I challenge you not to sing along to the synth line in "Kids Oracular".

Another band I was never too excited about, but it all came together for me on this one. The combination of Danger Mouse's production work and the fact that it was the only cd in my car for 6 weeks may have helped.

The next 10:

Blitzen Trapper - Furr
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Lie Down in the Light
The Fireman - Electric Arguments
The Helio Sequence - Keep Your Eyes Ahead
The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely
R.E.M - Accelerate
Nada Surf - Lucky
She & Him - Volume One
The Whigs - Mission Control