Tuesday, March 31, 2009

But I Haven't Got a Stitch to Wear

I tend to dress like a teenage runaway most of the time, all 100% cotton and untied Chuck Taylors, regardless of whether I'm home or at the gym or avoiding eye contact with former neighbors in the Food Lion parking lot. Today I rocked one of the many Morrissey-themed tees from my collection, the one that is several washings too small so my right boob gives him a forehead goiter.

My Moz tee. Let me show you it.

Anyway, I'm in the Y's weight room, staring at myself in the mirror and wondering when I developed a Predator-ish forehead vein when I notice a guy looking at me. Or, more specifically, looking at the Mozzer's misshapen face.

"Morrissey, huh?", he says. I lower my weights and nod. His eyes are a deep Windex-y blue and they are both fixed on my boobital region, which hasn't happened since...ever. "That's hilarious."

"Wait," I say, turning around so I'm not speaking to his reflection. "What do you mean hilarious?"

"You know. Like, irony or whatever. I have a Kool and the Gang shirt that I break out from time to time." He picked several terrycloth droppings off his shoulder and lazily snapped the towel at the forty-five pound plates.

Let me point out that I do have tees that I launder with, like, irony or whatever, from the one with Jimmy Carter's face beneath the words "Politicians Do It With Their Mouths" to the stack of shirts that imply that I enjoy country music or have recently had sex with another person. Those are hi-effing-larious. But I do, in fact, dig Stephen Patrick Morrissey and am willing to shop the Hot Topic clearance section to prove it.

"Um, yeah, I really do like Morrissey".

"Wow. Really?" I'm not sure he would've been any more surprised if I told him I was making a quilt out of my own scabs.

"For serious," I said, picking up another pair of twenty-pound tetanus risks.

"I'm sorry," he told me, using a tone that sounded like he was more upset that I spent my free time singing along with "Cemetry Gates" than he was about insulting the pre-shrunk pop star I'd wrapped myself in. "At least it's not Huey Lewis or something."

I started another set and decided I'd just let that one go.
__________

So tomorrow I'll be spending six Slim Jim and McGriddle-filled hours on I-77, heading to Ohio to see the aforementioned Morrissey again. Why? Because after this April's annual installment of governmental sodomy, my bank account will be emptier than Oprah's womb. I may as well blow my last few bucks on something I know all the words to.

Get ready, Columbus, cause I'm heading your way. I'll be the one in the Morrissey t-shirt.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And Dann Florek as Captain Cragen

If anyone needs me for the next 17 hours, I'll be within one pajama-clad leg's length away from the USA network's ALL DAY1 Law & Order:SVU marathon. According to the opening credits, the crimes are 'especially heinous' and--according to anyone who's ever seen more than one episode--so are most of the scripts.

It's a horrible show but for some reason I can't pull myself away. It's like being at a party where dessert arrives in the form of a store-brand sheet cake and despite knowing how bad it will be--that the icing will taste like BandAids and the cake-y bits will be charred on the bottom--within ten minutes you've scarfed better than half of it, staining your shirt with $7.99 worth of self-loathing.

SVU
is my shitty sheet cake.

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone. See you on the other side of approximately 14 creepy pediatricians, 27 dead hookers, and one hard-nosed detective who's tough but fair.2

1 Save for sixty minutes between 11 p.m. and midnight when USA interjects one episode of Criminal Intent. This is when I'll take a break to brush my teeth.
2 That would be Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson whose hairstyle will change every three hours but I'll always think it's judging me.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

If You Drive A Car, I'll Tax The Street

"Meeting with the accountant" is a phrase I never thought I'd use, let alone Sharpie across an Anklysaurus' face in my dinosaur day planner. That's one of the sentence fragments I've frequently filed in the Things That Don't Apply to My Life category, listing it somewhere between "Yes, I'll Be Your Life Coach" and "Ask Me About My Invisible Pores".

My dad has always handled my tax stuff but in Oh Eight the majority of my income1 came from freelancing--save for the $183 and a plantar wart I earned as a part-time toe-handler at The Foot Bucket--and he didn't know how to make the numbers look right. He explained it more eloquently, dropping terms like withholding and deductions but I admittedly wasn't paying attention since he called in the middle of a TLC program about real-life werewolves.

A couple of weeks after our one-sided chat, he mailed me an overstuffed envelope full of menacing pieces of paper, official-looking documents decorated with the state seal, and other things that I probably shouldn't have used as bookmarks. Paperclipped to the top page was a note in his familar left-handed font that said "Go find an accountant", an imperative sentence that sounded almost as ridiculous as one telling me to go find a husband. I know nothing about personal finances, have a closet full of ill-fitting illustrations of my poor money management, and never considered the I.R.S. as anything but R.E.M.'s first record label. It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel...fucked.

After ignoring Dad's envelope for several weeks, moving it only to dust the counter or to extract an errant jellybean that skidded underneath it, I decided I should probably try to find a Taxman. I trashed the Talking Phone Book last month to make room for a Costco-size carton of Cheese-Its so I had to consult the Friend-Of-A-Friend network to get a name, eventually scoring a recommendation from a guy who frequently spots me when I bench press. If I trust him to keep a hundred-plus pounds of metal from splintering my sternum, I'll gladly take his financial advice.

Fast forward to Monday morning when I had to skip an episode of SVU in favor of spending an hour visibly squirming in an office wallpapered with a pattern from Home Depot's narcolepsy collection and learning I couldn't just send the IRS a balloon bouquet and a picture of me turning my pockets inside out. During the sixty minutes I spent smudging The Accountant's glass-topped table, answering questions with a shrug and otherwise making him hate his life, I learned the following things:

  • When The Accountant asks you something, you can't say "Pass" and expect him to move to the next question.
  • My dog is not a dependent. Neither is an ovarian cyst.
  • An original Van Halen 1984 t-shirt is not considered an asset. Snapping your fingers and saying "Oh, I beg to differ, son!" does not change his mind.
  • Sleeping with that guy from Radio Shack is not a charitable contribution.
  • Your Grateful Dead-patterned Chuck Taylors are not a business expense, regardless of how many times you wore them while you worked.
  • When he asks if you have any investments, don't remove the Class of '01 graduation tassel from your rearview, dangle it in his face and say "This is an investment. IN MY FUTURE."

Doing It Wrong.

Sigh. My first attempt at doing taxes has been nothing but a reminder of how much money I don't have and how not responsible I am. The Accountant needed proof of my self-employment, things like receipts from Kinko's or love notes from my health insurance--neither of which I have--but I do inexplicably own a purse full of printouts from McDonald's documenting every McGriddle I've ever scarfed.2

"I really need a copy of your 2007 tax return," he said, carefully placing his pen beside the legal pad in front of him.

"And I really need the dinosaurs to come back to life," I told him, putting one hand over his.

He eyed my mitt like it was an expired mouse in the middle of a glue trap. "Flirting with me isn't going to help you", he said, brushing it aside and possibly wondering if he would survive if he launched himself through the window.

"OK, well, do you know who I would need to flirt with?" He stood up, smoothing invisible wrinkles out of his pants. "Because from the right distance, I can look almost attractive, especially if you see me at an intersection through my unwashed car windows...Yesterday someone honked at me."

He sighed, pulling a business card out of an engraved holder on his desk. "Just try to find those receipts, OK?"

I nodded, dropped the card in my purse, and walked out into the lobby, wondering if it was too late to get a McGriddle.

1My use of the word "income" is almost laughable, since I probably could've earned just as much money by checking the coin-return slots on the Coke machine outside the Exxon station.
2I saved the receipts in case a piece of undercooked sausage left me with a raging case of salmonella/gave me that shit Seal has/made me colorblind. That way I'd have proof to either mount a lawsuit or to get my $2.47 back.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lock, Stock & Two Strands of Curse Words

On Sunday night, I peeled myself off the sofa after watching sixty minutes of DVRed Law & Order:SVU, thrilled to have caught Season One's first episode, back when Mariska Hargitay had fuller cheeks, Christopher Meloni had two facial expressions, and the script served up clunkers like "I think a dead molestee can be handled by one detective." As soon as Dick Wolf's name rolled onscreen, I nudged the Boxerbeast--who passed out well before Elliot and Olivia started testing out their sexual tension--and shoved him toward the door for his last leg lifting of the night.

Since it was approaching 11, my wardrobe was from the "I've Completely Given Up" collection and featured:
--Well worn Beavis & Butthead pajama pants
-- This t-shirt, featuring a woman embracing an oversized hotdog beside the tastefully written phrase "Big Weenies Are Better"
-- UGG boots
-- A Thermacare back wrap
-- A set of throw pillow-patterned face trenches that made me look like Freddy Krueger's kid sister
-- Gingivitis

Things I Was Not Wearing:
-- A bra
-- Underpants
-- A smile as my umbrella

We strolled around outside, he liberally grafittied the side of the building with the contents of his water dish and turning the corner toward his fave place to, um, release the hostages, we walked directly into the high beams from a local news crew's camera. Standing on the sidewalk was an over-eyeshadowed Ann Taylor display, reporting live with a late-breaking story unfortunately illustrated with my Beavis-covered ass as I bent over to collect a handful of fresh colon sculptures. HELLO, TRI-COUNTY VIEWING AREA! I hope you weren't eating!

Before he could pause to self-clean his wiener on camera, I yanked his leash toward the lobby of the building and thought "Well, that's probably the worst thing that could happen tonight".

Foreshadowing can be a dick sometimes.

I caught the elevator with one of my nicer neighbors, a girl with oversized Bratz doll eyes and the superpower to always look adorable, even when--like that night--she's dressed like Crazy Horse-era Neil Young. She'd come downstairs to collect a pizza, courtesy of my least favorite delivery guy who looks like a Bond villain and never hands over your calzone without an unsolicited warning that cell phones cause brain tumors.

"Dude freaks me out," she said as the doors slid together.

"Did he remind you ab--"

"About how using my cell is incrementally killing me? Yeah."

"Come for the extra cheese, stay for the cancer." We stepped into the hallway, stalked by the scent of grease and pepperoni which proved that my iPhone hadn't incinerated my limbic system yet. Suck it, Pizza Scientist.

Saying g'night to my neighbor, I grabbed the door handle and...nothing. I'd managed to lock myself out.1 I shouted a string of words that gave Jesus a creative middle name and jogged to the other side of the building to ask Crazy Horse if I could borrow her phone to call a locksmith. She, of course, agreed, balancing the pizza box on one skinny denim'ed knee while she rummaged through her purse. I took the phone, punched a number and instead of 4-1-1-ing, it spat out a Kelly Clarkson song.

I had to slink back to her door to ask "where the dial-y parts" were.

I am a thousand years old.

Awesome.

Cut to: a brief convo with the all-night locksmith who told me it would be another twenty minutes before one of his 'technicians' would roll up to the building so the Boxerbeast, my sad cotton-covered boobs and I went back to the lobby to kill time by counting the numbers on the post office boxes (me), trying to impregnate an UGG boot (dog), and looking like a pair of wadded-up golf socks (boobs).

Since my watch was trapped inside my apartment with my keys and my dignity, I had no idea how much time passed before the 'smith rolled up in a battered van that would've had the voice of Nicolas Cage in a cartoon recreation of the night. He popped the tailgate, tucked a toolbox under each arm and walked into the building. "You wait for me, yes?" he asked, stepping onto the elevator. I nodded, mashing the door close button with both hands as as the Boxerbeast buried his face in dude's Wrangler-clad crotch.

"He no bites, I'm hoping" he said, looking less uncomfortable than I would've liked. Rahman was the name stitched on his oversized shirt and I assumed it was a custom order. "I like a hotdogs too" he said, tipping his chin toward my t-shirt and spinning a pencil between his fingers. I smiled weakly, silently praying for death.

The doors opened and we made the ten step stroll to my apartment. "This shouldn't take too long", I told him, reeling in the Boxerbeast before he could bob for dick again. "It's just the lock in the handle". On the word handle, I rattled the knob as a visual aid and THE DOOR PUSHED OPEN.

I was shocked, involuntarily wearing an expression seen in Infomercial studio audiences right after they see a kitchen knife cut a tire in half. "I SWEAR it was locked. For real." He looked unconvinced, like I'd lured him here to recreate the opening scenes of every middle-of-the-night Cinemax flick.

"My neighbor saw it!"

Another pause as he looked down the empty hallway.

"She's probably sleeping now. Or she's dead from a brain tumor."

He shrugged. "Good news for you. But I still charge for servicing call." He flipped the carbon and wrote out an invoice for $45 which I paid for with a personal check, writing "For Being a Dumbass" in the notes section. He ignored it, spelling his name for me letter-by-letter including an 'R like Robert, A like apple, H like hot dog...' designation, reminding me to run this shirt through the shredder. He tucked the check into his pocket, grabbed his unopened toolboxes, and took off toward the elevator. "Hey, maybe you have a ghosts?" he shouted, pressing the Down button.

Thanks, Rahman. I was worried that I was going to waste the night by sleeping instead of staying awake to battle a set of restless demons. Hopefully some clowns with hands made of music boxes will swing by for drinks and night terrors and an all-night shit-yourself-with-fear party. Hooray!

Back to the door, which had me beyond freaked out. That handle was legit locked when I tested it, so why--twenty minutes later--does it nudge itself open? "Go find the killer, Pigpen," I said, urging him toward the darkened bathroom. I grabbed my autographed Rico Petrocelli bat and jabbed it through the shower curtain, hoping that the "Impossible Dream" inscription wouldn't get smudged if I had to put a skylight in someone's skull.

I tentatively investigated the entire apartment for the better part of an hour, looking under the beds and in the hall closet, before Googling "Can rapists hide in a hot water heater?". When everything turned up empty, I looked at the bat in one hand and the phone in the other and realized I was a pan of burned popcorn away from being the intro to Scream. Although at least Drew Barrymore got to wear a bra.

1 While sad and expensive, this isn't nearly as lame as the time last year when I locked myself IN the apartment.

Friday, March 20, 2009

I Am A Grownup

I have so many things to do today so obviously I spent my morning drawing a picture of a squirrel with lasers for teeth.

And then fingerpainted it.

And later drew in a mountain of skulls for him to stand on, Vigo the Carpathian-style.

Regular posting--with actual paragraphs and predicates and stuff--will resume shortly, as soon as I stop procrastinating. Or finish coloring my Seamonster pictures. Whichever comes first.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ProTip

For a more flattering silhouette, cinch your Snuggie with a belt you probably purchased from the clearance area of Wet Seal, accessorizing with a mid-morning adult beverage filled to the brim and liberally garnished with your own endless tears.

If this photograph could speak, it would say "I'm just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to Snuggie".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

I'm Chevy Chase and You're Not

So this week I've been doing some for-real work, swapping some words for a paycheck that will allow me to splurge on extravagances like name-brand cough drops, heartworm pills, and an assortment of supermarket tabloids so I'll know exactly how the stars are just like us.1

Because I have the attention span of a brain damaged hummingbi--LOOK AT THE SHINY WINDOW I WANT TO PRESS MY FACE INTO IT RIGHT NOW-- I had to take yet another break to post these four things.

1) I'm making a new Life Rule that says I'm not required to swap smalltalk with anyone if I'm holding a still-steaming bag of dog shit. I try to take an interest in my neighbors2 to learn the things I can't gather by stealing their mail or examining the return-address labels on the FedEx boxes stacked Tetris-style in front of their doors, but if I'm holding a coiled assortment of my dog's butt nuggets, I really don't want to stand on the sidewalk impatiently shifting my weight while you spit out several paragraphs about your new Universal remote control, your skin condition, or the fact that the guy who sleeps in front of Kinko's says you should be a model.

Can I get a ruling on this? Because my Melvin Udall-levels of OCD mean that for the duration of our lopsided conversation, all I can focus on is the distance between me and the dumpster and the fact that there is poop in my hand there is poop in my hand there is poop in my hand and all that's keeping me from touching it is a piece of black plastic I bought at the Dollar Tree.

Two) It's already approaching 60 degrees outside but I remain swaddled in a Snuggie with each foot jammed into an UGG boot. I look like the shapeless offspring of Rosie O'Donnell and Grimace from the Happy Meal box.

#) Speaking of getting my Snug on, here's what my Saturday night looked like. The best part about this clip is that it both captures the past and gives me a fleece-lined glimpse into my future. I'm pretty sure that's how all of my weekends will play out unless the Snuggie is in the dryer and I have to slum it in my high school tennis hoodie, the one with cracked graphics and missing letters that spell out "Tiger Tenis".



I recorded this on my computer's built-in camera and I'm not sure why it flipped everything backwards. I also blame the camera for making my nose look like an oven mitt.3

4) For the pair of people who are interested, here's my review of Morrissey's new album and the concert where he LOOKED AT ME, HE LOOKED ME RIGHT IN THE FACE.

In the past week, my skin has cleared up BECAUSE OF HIS POWERFUL STARE. Or maybe it's because I stopped buying makeup at the grocery store. Either way.

1 I eagerly await the day that InTouch features a photo spread of Jennifer Garner recreating Picasso's Guernica with frosted animal crackers then trying to eat it all in one bite or a shot of Hayden Panettierrieieieieirre standing in front of the mirror wondering if she could put two buttons in her nose at once. Because then they'd be like us. And by us, I mean me, this morning, when I was supposed to be working.
2 Most of the people in my building are pleasant enough, save for the old woman who always smells like pennies and spends our twenty second elevator trips edging away from the Boxerbeast's leash, glaring at him like he's made of smallpox and demon.
3 My mother--whose awesomeness can only be expressed through interpretive dance and a fireworks display--called me to ask if the Snuggie fit. I hope when she posed that question she didn't know it was big enough to hide a Buick Regal in.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Wizard of Awkward

I'm not supersocial when I go to the gym. I meticulously plan each workout before setting one sneaker on their MRSA-encrusted floors and won't walk out until I've recorded every set and rep; that way I know exactly what I cancelled out by eating a box of Thin Mints for dinner. So spraypaint me shocked when a guy I'd talked to once or twice between bench presses asked if I'd like to have dinner with him, despite the fact that I'd paired my least flattering sweatpants with my finest midweek scowl. I accepted, even though I didn't know his last name until the obligatory Facebook friend request hit my inbox.*

I'm less than ten blog posts from the quiet implosion of my last relationship and, for reals, I'm looking for a new one** with less enthusiasm than OJ Simpson searching for The Real Killer, but when someone has the stones to stand two weight benches away and ask "Would you like to go out sometime?" it's hard to wave them off unless they're carrying a severed head or wearing a Toby Keith t-shirt. And, yeah, it would be nice to share a meal with someone who doesn't require you to open his can of organic chow, scraping it into a bowl while resisting the urge to rub Paul Newman's smug-looking face in a pile of his own liver-flavored byproducts.***

We've tried to find a date that plays nicely with his work schedule and my training because until April 20th when I stumble the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Copley Square, my boyfriend is the Boston Marathon.**** Since my Sunday mornings are spent making Family Circus-style tracks around Forsyth County, I X-ed out all of the Saturday nights. Post-Run meals are a no-go too, because after 22 miles of avoiding oncoming traffic I'm only interested in avoiding an undignified drowning in an Epsom salt bath, surrounded by a pile of tiny foil droppings made from discarded Cadbury Creme Egg wrappers.

The Asker Outer initially suggested last night--Friday night--but I was scheduled to attend the kind of party that celebrates someone else's happiness by giving them novelty appliances they'll never use. Unfortunately, the hostess came down with the type of disease that requires Theraflu, a Neti pot and frequent references to mucus in her phone message so the festivities were postponed for another couple of weeks. That was A-OK with this kid because that meant I could watch some hot ACC basketball action and also because the Magic Bullet I purchased for the lucky couple is on sale this weekend, so I tore its generic silver clothing off and returned it to Kohl's with the quickness. Score and score.

After watching my Wake Forest Demon Deacs play one sucktastic half of basketball--a primetime display of shotmaking that could've been matched by a team without any hands--I clicked the teevee off and decided to go to the gym. I was maybe three reps into my first set when--of course--The Asker Outer came in, the one who thought I had plans BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT I TOLD HIM.

He ambled over, said hello and was nice enough not to ask how I could do cable rows when engulfed in the flames from my burning liar pants. I fumbled my way through my half of the conversation, trying to say "Oh hey, I didn't lie to you on purpose" without using that exact phrase. While it was nice to be embarrassed about something other than my complexion, after maybe three sentences I was awked out enough to hide in the other room.***** How could I expect him to believe that I really did have plans when even I get legitimately surprised if my Friday nights don't involve removing expired dairy products from the fridge?

I raced through my sets but in order to get my car keys, gym bag, and collection of empty Dasani bottles, I had to sneak back into the same room with him. I was zipping up my jacket when he waved and said "I'll talk to you soon." I responded with what I hoped was my honestest smile...and a thumbs up. A FUCKING THUMBS UP, a gesture that was awesome about the same time children's pajamas were still flammable and Cher still had collagen. Ugh. The only way I could be lamer is if I had to wear a mask made of my 10th grade face.

I'm seriously considering using Facebook for all of my interpersonal relationships. Superpokes mean never having to say you're sorry.

* I immediately plundered his photo albums because the most important thing you can learn about someone is what costumes they've chosen for Halloween.
** Except with you, Hugh Laurie. I'll share my Cakesters with you any damn time. And I mean that in both a dirty way and in a serious "Yes, I'd gladly give you one of these Nabisco treats" way.
*** Of course the Boxerbeast has a sensitive stomach, so my choice is to either buy expensive organic food or spend large chunks of my day scrubbing the carpet. By contrast, I consider Only A Dollar and Freezerburn to be two of the four food groups.
**** The marathon makes for a lousy conversationalist, though. My half of the dialogue consists of "I FUCKING HATE YOU" and its less popular B-side--typically employed as I empty the toenails out of my Nikes-- "LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO ME".
***** Because that's what grownups do.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Morrissey in Five

I will no doubt be shoving Morrissey in everyone's face for the next few days but before I brush the Thin Mint chunks out of my molars and tuck myself in, here are a few quick things about tonight's show.

1) I've never been in the front row at any concert, ever, so when my friend and I were ushered to our seats--within one mascara'ed lash of the stage--we were too overwhelmed to respond with anything other than a fist bump. How close were we? Let this grainy iPhone shot show you.

For reals, we could've been killed by a stray button when Morrissey ripped his shirt off. Twice.

2) There were all kinds of crazy superfans beside us, including the obligatory stage crashers who scrambled up to wrap their arms around the Mozzer before security lumbered over to drag them away. One man to my left handed Morrissey a calendar that he'd made featuring monthly pictures of Morrissey's ass. He'd titled it "Your Arse Annual" according to the oversized splash of Comic Sans and obviously I'll be doing something similar next Christmas for my grandmother.
UPDATE 1: The calendar was actually called "Your ARSE-N-ALL" an asstastic play on the title of his Your Arsenal album. Don't ask how many post-show message boards I've sifted through.

3) He dropped two Smiths songs into the first part of the show, prefacing "How Soon is Now?" with an exaggerated sigh, a hand through his hair and a dramatic "Because we must." Oddly enough, half of the Smiths were in North Carolina tonight. While Moz was in Durham launching his laundry into the crowd, ex-guitarist Johnny Marr was 15 minutes away playing with Modest Mouse. This fact is interesting to maybe three other people. UPDATE 2: Thanks to reader StevelKnievel for pointing out that--although he insists he's still part of Modest Mouse--Mister Marr was at home in England, choosing to skip their latest swing through the States. North Carolina was only one quarter Smith'ed, a detail which is still only interesting to three people.

4) At no point did I actually touch him although we made eye contact for a hot second and I swear to you, it felt like riding the Gravitron or the Tornado or some other hastily constructed State Fair attraction that has a minimum height requirement. GUYS, HE LOOKED AT ME in a way that said "I know the hollows of your heart, the echos in your soul, and about the Big League Chew you stole from the gas station that time." Swoon, swoon, swoon.

5) When I got home, obviously the next logical step was to do a dramatic reinactment of his Years of Refusal album cover. Perhaps I'll make a calendar out of it and toss it his way at the next show.

You're welcome. Night night.

Monday, March 09, 2009

This Charming (Contagious) Man

Author's Note: Yes, I'm crosspollinating both of my sites with this pic 'n' paragraphs because I need to harness the collective powers of the internet to ensure that at 7:30 Wednesday night, my ass is parked in a chair with an attached cup holder, getting ready to do my best Mancunian accent as I howl along with "Hand In Glove".

I’m approximately 49.5 hours away from being close enough to Morrissey to leave the venue covered in his sweat, silk threads and errant emotions but I’m starting to worry that it won’t happen. Of the seven shows set to open his “Years of Refusal” tour, he’s already cancelled six of them “due to illness” and the one that he did climb onstage for—Friday night in Myrtle Beach, SC—had to be cut short.

It was just posted on his website that he’s axed tonight’s gig in Asheville, North Cackalacky and I sincerely hope he uses tomorrow’s scheduled off day to start mainlining Emergen-C and echinacea because SO HELP ME, Stephen Patrick Morrissey, if you put an all-caps “CANCELLED” beside Wednesday night’s performance—the one that I’ve been yearning for since the sixteen year old version of me bought her first Smiths CD—SO HELP ME I WILL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT.

Otherwise, I’ll see you in Durham. I’ll be the one in the front row, stage right, so please throw me your shirt.

P.S. If all of my virtual friends could hold hands and send healing thoughts to Morrissey on the backs of well-tailored unicorns, that would be awesome and I would love you until forever.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Nineteen Albums: Part 2

Without further ado--save for the ado caused when I used the wrong homophone--here are the other half of my Top Nineteen Albums, presented in reverse alphabetical order, if only to prove that sometimes I can control my raging OCD.

Wilco- Summerteeth

My junior year roommate turned me on to these guys, starting with this CD. I'm not sure we'd even listened to it all the way through before I logged on to Columbia House dot com, set up an account under my late grandmother's name and ordered their entire back catalog. Because of Summerteeth, I stumbled backwards into A.M., was ready to have my face rocked by Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and still anticipate each new release with the kind of frenzied excitement I typically reserve for the annual arrival of Cadbury creme eggs.

I can't imagine all the music I would've missed out on* had she and I not shared Student Apartments 102-A. In the two semesters we split a bathroom, my CD collection tripled in size and I'm pretty sure Nona still owes shipping and handling for most of it.

*This almost cancels out the fact that she also introduced me to several paper-flavored varieties of Morningstar meatless tragedies.
__________
Paul Westerberg- 14 Songs
In 1993, my comedy-loving heart beat for Saturday Night Live. I was pajama'ed and in front of the teevee by 11:30 every weekend--even after the departure of my number one crush Dana Carvey--my pulse sprinting as the local news team turned the airwaves over to the kind of people I hoped I'd grow up to be.

During one otherwise uneventful episode, I was kicked in the ears by their slightly unhinged looking musical guest who tore through several guitar riffs before slurring lines like "I say he who laughs first/Didn't get the joke" and I intentionally stayed awake to see his second performance, even though the back half of the show was always littered with Rob Schneider sketches. Within two weeks, I'd loaded the dishwasher enough times to earn fifteen bones so I strolled into Camelot Music and asked the nametag behind the register where I could find "Pat Whistlerberg". I spent the rest of ninth grade scribbling the lyrics on the covers of my notebooks and ignoring the dead-eyed stares I got from the screenprinted Cobain faces on my identical white classmates' identical white t-shirts.

This isn't a great album--and certainly not the best of the, um, Whistlerberg catalog--but it eventually led me into the drunk and disorderly arms of The Replacements and for that I'm forever grateful. It's like when you share a couple of chemistry-free cups of coffee with a likeable enough guy but end up banging his way awesomer older brother.

No, that's never happened to me in real life but I imagine swapping solo-Westerberg for The 'Mats has to be something like that. Right? Maybe? Anyone?
__________
Sugar- File Under: Easy Listening
This CD introduced me to the brilliance of Bob Mould and songs like "Believe What You're Saying" and "Can't Help You Anymore" prepared me for the kind of relationships that wouldn't disappoint me for several more years.
__________
Bruce Springsteen- Born in the U.S.A.
This, along with the Top Gun soundtrack and a handful of Alabama songs, remind me of mid-summer weekends with my Dad when I'd climb into the shotgun seat of his Ford Bronco and he'd reach over to help me roll the window down, back when I was made of glitter iron-ons and gap toothed grins. I was way too young then to comprehend the Important Themes of the album and now--despite knowing all of the headline-grabbing ideas it rails against--whenever I hear it I instinctively think of a time when someone tucked me in every night and the worst things I could imagine was someone dropping a toothbrush in my Trick-or-Treat bag or getting grass stain on my t-ball pants. This album has always made me happy, whether it's supposed to or not.
__________
The Smiths- "Singles"
I'd never heard of this band when I saw their CD at the mall, but there was something alluring about the expression of the woman on the cover, a look somewhere between boredom and abject misery that as a 10th grader I was all too familiar with. So I dropped $18.99 on the disc--the most I'd ever paid for music at the time--and hoped like hell that it would be worth it. It was.

"Since when does Kermit the Frog sing?" my mother asked as we pulled into the DMV, Morrissey sobbing out of the minivan's speakers on the day I should've failed my driving test. I banged into both parallel parking markers--backing into one with enough speed to put a dent in the "Proud Parent" decal on the back bumper--but escaped with my license only because I bribed the DMV workers by showing up with Dairy Queen Blizzards. It was a rare ninety degree day and when I walked in and offered the un-airconditioned testers two cups of well-blended Butterfinger pieces, I knew I'd pass as long as I didn't drive over a toddler.

As soon as I slid that laminated piece of plastic into my velcro wallet, I removed my Discman from the Momwagon and put it in the hand-me-down Oldsmobile I was allowed to use, singing along with "This Charming Man" on my first unaccompanied drive to the garbage dump. I listened to this CD exclusively until the following February when I began an ill-advised flirtation with Billy Joel's Greatest Hits. I promptly totalled the car--and several of my face bones--and still insist that the two events were connected.

Bonus Fun Fact: The song playing when the engine block parked itself in the passenger seat? "Only the Good Die Young".
__________
R.E.M.- Automatic for the People
I bought this the day I started my period. "Everybody Hurts" indeed, especially everybody's newly spasming uterus.
__________
Monty Python Sings
I heard this before I’d seen the show, snickering along with all the wiener-centric synonyms of “The Penis Song” and realizing halfway through a History midterm that “Oliver Cromwell" had been surprisingly accurate. Without these twenty five tracks, I may never have tuned in to the PBS-aired episodes of the Flying Circus, which is terrifying because the Pythons--tag teaming with George Carlin, John Lennon, and Robyn Hitchcock--have shaped my brain as much as anything my parents paid tuition for.
__________
Let’s Active- Big Plans for Everybody
My two biggest questions about Let's Active are how this little-known North Carolina trio found their way to my ears and--more importantly--why did R.E.M. make it but they didn't? During the early 80's, Let's Active were served a tapas platter of bite-sized successes but never got a second helping despite sharing R.E.M.'s sound, scene, and producer. Big Plans... is their second full-length album of power pop perfection--all jangly guitars, smart lyrics, and choruses meant to be shouted out of open car windows. Every track has been my Favorite Song Ever at some point depending on how the Colorforms were arranged on the playset of my life but all 3 minutes and 41 seconds of "Fell" have been permanently etched on my soul.
__________
High Fidelity- Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
This one disc introduced me to The 13th Floor Elevators, Love, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground and The Beta Band. If this CD were a person, I would gently guide its hands under my shirt.

Honorable (But No Less Important) Mentions:
Ryan Adams- Gold
Dire Straits- On Every Street
The Long Winters- Putting the Days to Bed
The Rolling Stones- Some Girls
The Who- Tommy

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Nineteen Albums: Part 1

I'm a reluctant fan of Facebook. I always click my profile with one eye closed just in case some well-meaning former friend has tagged me in a picture from 1997 when I had the same haircut and fashion sense as the guy on the Quaker Oats carton, with the unfortunate addition of a blindingly red lip tint that I'd seen on Gwyneth Paltrow and decided to adopt as my own. Obviously if one of the most beautiful women in the world could pull it off, so could a scrawny teenager whose teeth are arranged in such a way that in the right lighting it looks like several of them are missing. Un. Effing. Tag.

When not dealing with recently scanned reminders of my bad decisions, I do enjoy reading the profiles of classmates and ex-coworkers, hoping to discover that the guy who ignored my fumbling advances for two semesters of Physics has acquired some kind of physical deformity (he has, and they've been married for six years) or to wonder why a girl from my high school would paste a photo of her lace-wrapped lower half crouched on all fours on top of a coffee table in the same album with snaps of her kids and an animated graphic about Jesus. Whiplash-inducing juxtaposition aside, I just hope she disinfects the table before returning it to Rent-A-Center.

Lately, Facebook has demanded participation. Everyone I know* has shared the obligatory twenty-five things about themselves, detailing their fondness for black bean salad, Audrey Hepburn, and chemical imbalances. Yesterday I was email alerted that I was required to take a break from my busy schedule of being unemployed to list nineteen albums that "that had such a profound effect on you they changed your life or the way you looked at it...the albums that no matter what they were thought of musically shaped your world". You're just supposed to submit the album titles but when I sat at the counter this morning, Sharpie hovering over a blank sheet of paper, I realized that the music and the memories they conjure are completely inseparable. Since I'm always looking for any excuse to talk about tunage anyway, I'm listing them all here instead of pasting a note into my profile.

Here are the first ten, in alphabetical order, natch.

* Sigh. I did it too. Item Number 26 would be "I hate myself for having written this".
__________
Barenaked Ladies- Rock Spectacle
Ben Folds Five- Whatever & Ever, Amen
Cowboy Mouth- Are You With Me?
Everclear- So Much for the Afterglow
These four soundtracked my freshman year of college. They remind me of late nights huddled under the heaters in this town’s now-deceased rock club, nights that wrecked our livers but saved our souls. They’re speeding through empty downtown streets in a doorless Jeep Wrangler the night a senior with a stupid haircut put the first cracks in my heart. They’re days spent blowing off Intro to Italian to sit on the roof of the dorm during a freakishly warm February, the same words later echoing out of my cheap computer speakers when I was receiving treatment for possibly the world’s only winter case of sunstroke.

The Barenaked Ladies song “If I Had a Million Dollars” was played on endless repeat one second semester Saturday, with almost everyone in the hall singing along and dancing ourselves into the La Quinta-caliber art on the walls. One particular well-heeled weirdo who never joined our reindeer games, a guy with hair and teeth borrowed from Napoleon Dynamite and an attitude swiped from Napoleon from The History Channel stuck his head into the hall and said “If I had a million dollars…” He spat out a laugh before closing his door and clicking the lock. The rest of us responded by stacking all the lounge furniture Jenga-style in his doorway before leaving for dinner. Sadly, we weren’t there to hear the crash.
__________
The Beatles- The White Album
I've listened to Revolver a thousand times more and will stab you in the knee pits if you argue that it's not the best album ever made but this is the one that started it. My parents were Motown and beach music people, preferring The Chairmen of the Board to the Beatles so I was surprised to find this LP when I was rummaging through the cabinets in the family room, trying to find the copy of Appetite for Destruction that my mom had confiscated. I never found the G'n'R but I did dig out a stack of records, including The Beatles 1967-1970 and an ORIGINAL UNOPENED copy of the White Album that my mom vaguely recalled receiving as a Christmas gift one year from my Uncle Dickbag. I was in fifth grade and didn't know the Beatles except by name but I somehow assumed that this was Important so I cleared a few Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles off my dresser to make room for it.

One day I got home and discovered that my sister--who had to be 4 or 5--had not only peeled the plastic off of it but she'd Crayola'ed all over the cover. I didn't know what to do but to take all four pictures of the Beatles and hang them on the wall, shortly after snickering at the drawings of naked people on the foldout poster. I think I must've known it was going to change my life before I ever dropped a needle on Side One. And it did. It was all new to my ears and I loved almost every bit of it (sorry, "Revolution #9"), even the throwaway tracks on the second side of the second record.

These 30 songs started a love affair with the Beatles that's endured longer than my relationships with anything other than my family and Disappointment. Several years ago, I was at a party outlining the impact that the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds had on Sgt. Pepper--because I'm awesome in social situations--and my then Creative Director interrupted to tell me that I was about thirty years too late to be a Beatles fan. I disagree. Whatever day you discover the Beatles is the day that you have perfect timing.
__________
Beck- Sea Change
This had been out for a couple of years before it found its way into my life but it showed up at a time when I didn't think I could be more miserable...and there wasn't a better album to be miserable to.

I was four years into a relationship that had hit enough turbulence to require the fasten seatbelts sign--though it would be another two Christmases before the fuselage fell off--and I was working at an ad agency job that I hated almost as much as everyone hated me. The first time I played this one all the way through, it was approaching 1 a.m. and I was still at the office, mashing buttons on a calculator trying to figure out a budget for a fucking bank commercial. At the beginning of Track 5, my boss stumbled in reeking of pot and Chinese takeout, took a shit on my latest effort and said he'd be sleeping in the editing suite until I gave him some numbers that made sense.

Beck had just started singing "Baby, I'm a lost cause" and I was inclined to nod and say "Me too."
__________
Marshall Crenshaw- This is Easy
I've scratched at my brain and can't recall how I ever found Marshall Crenshaw. His jangle pop sound and Buddy Holly style never seemed to put him in the mainstream but this collection of his should-have-been hits has been one of my go-tos for driving, for running, for those first shiny moments when you realize you're falling for someone and for the dark ones on the other side when you're not sure you ever will again.
__________
The Grateful Dead- American Beauty
My introduction to the Dead started at Sam's Club when I picked up a copy of Skeletons from the Closet because I'd seen enough skull and roses t-shirts in the halls of my junior high to think that I should. I liked it immediately because it contained more drug references than Bryan Adams and the line "When life looks like Easy Street/There is danger at your door" (from "Uncle John's Band") was the perfect blend of cryptic and cool for me to write in everyone's yearbook.

Later that summer, I was forced to hang out with a kid from another school because our parents were having dinner together and it was assumed that we'd dig each other's company even though the last time we were shoved into the same evening he stole my Kirby Puckett rookie card. We had nothing in common. He liked cutting classes and stealing cigarettes from gas stations and I was more partial to Ramona Quimby books and picking at the scabs on my knees.

At some point during our fiftieth consecutive game of Contra, he pulled out a couple of cassettes and popped them in. "These are my dad's", he told me, as though I was supposed to think that was awesome even though his dad had a habit of absentmindedly picking his nose during lulls in conversation. The first one he played was Workingman's Dead which had enough good songs to catch my ear but for some reason when I heard the koan-like lyrics of "Ripple", American Beauty grabbed me by the soul.
__________
Green Day- Dookie
We'd gone back-to-school shopping in the state capital and, other than a mock turtleneck, this was the only thing I bought that day. I tore it open in the back of the minivan, dropped it into my Discman...and hated it. It took several listens before I understood that there were songs that were supposed to be screamed and music meant to be played loud enough to kill the shrubs outside your window. This is the album that taught me it was OK to turn the volume knob all the way to the right.

On the downside, "I don't know you but I think I hate you" is the attitude I've carried with me into every single office job.
__________
Robyn Hitchcock & the Egyptians- Perspex Island
I wrote about this one earlier this week. After amassing a library of forty-seven Robyn-related albums, there are days that I'll argue that this is one of his best. Actually, I could build a case for any of them--save for Luxor which I have referred to more than once as Sux-or--but this is the first one that I found, hooking me from the opening guitars of "Oceanside", the singalong almost-commercial success "So You Think You're In Love", and not letting go until the last soft cymbals of "Earthly Paradise".

This man's music, lyrics, and worldview have affected me more than any other piece of art, film, or furiously devoured book and I can't even begin to explain why. Now go pick up a copy of Element of Light, because that's my favorite. At least until tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Always A Bridesmaid

On Friday, I spent a pair of hours on the interstate heading to my parents' house to spend the weekend and to see my sister Runtie who was also crashing in her childhood room. The plus side is that I got to spend a stellar 72 hours with my most excellent family.* The negative? Approximately 60 eight of those were spent at a Bridal Show, a two word phrase like "colostomy bag" or "Jonas Brothers" that I'd always hoped would never knock on the door to my life.

As Runtie's Maid of (Dis)Honor for next spring's wedding, though, I felt obligated to attend and to express genuine concern over what color charger plates would be used at the reception. I also got to learn what a charger plate was. She was--off course--enthusiastic from start to finish. "I just watched Rachel Getting Married", she told me on Saturday morning before she left for the Bride-to-Be Brunch, a mess of alliteration I was thrilled not to be invited to.

"Oh yeah?" I said, milk dribbling down my chin. "To get, like, ideas or something?"

"Nope. To learn how to plan a wedding with a crazy sister." And with that she and our mother took off, a handful of color coded folders between them.
__________

The day was almost less boring than I'd expected. It did feature an unexpected cameo from Crushing Depression, if only because I hadn't expected to see a handful of first-time brides who were about my age and who all looked justifiably thrilled that someone had liberated them from a lifetime of library cards and fish sticks. They were surrounded by shrieking twentysomethings and stuck out like abscessed teeth when they were answering questions in Bridal Survivor or vying for a starter bedroom suite, but there they were. And I couldn't decide if I was relieved or disappointed that I wasn't one of them.

On the awkward side, one vendor sandwiched between photographers and florists was a withered husk of a woman who was selling sex aids. Spread on the card table in front of her were packages of edible underwear, various lubricants, and other items you don't want to handle in front of your mother. "This is called sex 'ttractant," she said, forgetting to unpack a couple of syllables. "It's gon' mimic your natural PHEEER-a-mones". She rubbed something on one of Runtie's wrists while smearing a lubricant on the other. "And this lubricant is both flavored and can be reactivated by your saliva for up to eight hours".

"You ain't getting married, are you?" she asked looking at me, tube of lubricant poised between her fingers. I shook my head, not sure whether she was tipped off because I wasn't carrying a tote bag full of fabric samples or just by the overwhelming scent of soup for one. "Well that don't mean you can't try the goodies." She seized my forearm and rubbed a fat streak of lube across my watchband.

She waited.

I licked my own arm.

"Wow. That's fruity. And not too lube-y."

She beamed. "Well good luck to you, then. Maybe next year you'll be here as a bride."

Right, and maybe I'll grow a tail. I slinked away, casually tonguing my forearm.

She was right about the lube though. At the end of the afternoon it still tasted like I'd fisted a Fruit Rollup.
__________

Despite once dating the same guy long enough to see all three X-Men movies and living at his well-upholstered home for the majority of that time, my parents still assume I've got my V-Card tucked somewhere in my wallet. My parents and I have had ONE conversation about sex in my lifetime, and that was only a two sentence exchange with my mother. It ended poorly.

I was home from college for the summer and she'd done her best Leif Ericson impression, plundering my room under the guise of looking for laundry. Apparently she'd pillaged the nightstand, just in case I'd had some stray gym clothes hidden in the very back, behind the remote controls, the ticket stubs, and wrapped carefully in an empty envelope from Foto One, perhaps touching that pair of condoms.

When I came in from the driving range, she was waiting in my room, Ramses** Extra Sensitive in hand. "Are you sexually active?" she asked as soon as my feet touched the carpet.

"No", I responded, tossing a handful of tees on the bed beside her. "I usually just lay there."

WRONG. ANSWER.

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

On the plus side, that's the last time we ever discussed any parts of my body that required a permission slip to talk about in health class. As a result, I get insanely squirmy dealing with anything of a sexytime nature around the 'rents. So Saturday night when we gathered around the Sony's warm glow for a family viewing of Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I was ready to burrow beneath the couch cushions.

Not only did I not want to laugh too heartily at Jason Segal's full frontal ween, I also noted--and was deeply unsettled by--everything my parents laughed at. THEY AREN'T SUPPOSED TO GET THINLY VEILED ORAL SEX REFERENCES...are they? I spent 112 minutes avoiding everyone's eyes as we reached for handfuls of Redenbacher, stifling my laughter by quietly licking my own still-fruity wrists.

* We had P'zones for dinner on Friday night. I am not exaggerating when I say it was awesome and that I have no regrets about consuming ONE POUND of food.
** They don't even make that brand any more. I am now old enough to have outlived a brand of condoms. Shit.

Master of My Domain

It's time to update your bookmarks, your sidebars, or any graffiti you may have scrawled on the walls of only the finest Exxon stations. After almost four years, The Typing... has gotten its Blogspot braces off and is now rocking a shiny new dot com.

While the old address should magically redirect, the new site is: Triple W dot thetypingmakesmesoundbusy dot com.

It's times like this that make me wish I had a job, if only so I could order new business cards. Instead, I'll be pulling the letters above out of my latest box of Alphabits cereal and quite possibly framing them. I also made this, which I think captures the quiet dignity of my blogging career.

TTMMSB

Since getting back from London, most of my days begin with changing out of my nighttime pajama pants into my daytime ones and end when I realize that I've somehow filled the hood of my sweatshirt with Cheeto dust. As a result, it doesn't always make for the most compelling reading. On the days that I haven't scribbled anything here, check my Tumblr, if only so I don't ever have to write the word Tumblr again. This site has become something of a journal and that...um...other thing is like the door to my fridge, a place to file all of the pictures, songs, and--lately--unending references to Robyn Hitchcock that may not fit here.

Also, I swear that this is the last time you'll ever see a butterfly flapping its gossamer wings anywhere near my face. I'm getting a rash just looking at that thing. Ew.