Friday, February 29, 2008

St. Pat's Season Post #1: Widgets and Nazis

Last night while watching Lost, I attempted to enjoy a bottle of Young's Double Chocolate Stout. Boy was I disappointed. I found the bottle @ Hiller's yesterday & having never had it out of a bottle, decided to go for it. It'd even been a while since I last had it out of a can, but I used to love it. Out of a bottle, the experience was completely different though: all because of the floating widget. I paid tribute to the floating widget a few years ago, but maybe it's time to do so again. What a great invention. Those folks @ Guinness should be commended for their little innovation. W/ the St. Patrick's Day Season coming up quickly, I need to say that Guinness isn't my favorite Irish Stout, in fact I would always rather a Beamish or a Murphy's (& I know I said this last year too), but when it comes to the canning process, they can't be beat. Young's uses the widget in their cans, & Guinness have come up w/ a bottle widget, but for some reason, Young's hasn't incorporated it into their pint bottles. The head is so much creamier & the finish is much smoother. (I know a beer post after all the Beerfest posts from everyone last week is pushing it, but just bear w/ me here.) In the bottle, it is too sweet & fizzy. The carbonation makes the bubbles bigger like Vernor's. I ended up pouring it out and having a Coke which was fine & went nicely w/ last night's episode.Before Lost was on, we watched Indiana Jones & the Temple of Doom. Aiden decided a few days ago that Indiana Jones is now really cool. He went from hating Indy to loving him in a day. Aiden was a little grossed out by the monkey brains & snakes dinner & the pulling of the dude's heart out, but all in all, I am now the proud parent of a kid who is loving Indy as much as me. Of course, this now means that he's going around talking about Nazis & as it turns out, that's a tough issue to broach w/ a 6 year old. Lucky for him, those of us in my household don't believe in the Holocaust so we won't have to deal w/ it.

What we do have to deal w/, however, is the fact that Hogan was also fighting Nazis. Aiden didn't buy it when I told him that Indy and Colonel Hogan were friends so he should watch the show w/ me. I've only got 5 episodes to go, by the way. I've been watching them in order & I'm almost done w/ the 6th & final season. My parents were over the other day & wanted to watch a couple episodes, but my dad wanted to choose which ones to watch. Imagine, watching almost 6 seasons and then suddenly viewing a couple out of order. Believe me, that didn't happen. We stuck to my system & had a great time. Maybe I'll be able to remind Aiden that Pele & Stallone are fighting Nazis in Victory & he'll watch that w/ me again too. I'll keep you posted on how that one goes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

That's it, I'm Moving to Canada! or How White am I?

Before I get into the scoring, I need to point you all in the direction of this blog. One of the writers was on Talk of the Nation this afternoon while I was taking the kids to the library after school. Even Aiden loved it. They talked about white guys wearing shorts in the winter & then he saw a white guy wearing shorts in the library parking lot and cracked up. You can hear the entire story here. These folks chronicle the wacky shit white-folks do and they nail it. From fancy foreign cars to fancy coffee and from ridiculous vacation choices to ridiculous music choices, these people know what's up. It gets a bit old after a while, but I highly doubt any of you will actually read all 75 posts, so just enjoy it. I didn't even read them all... I started skimming after about 50 or so. Also, before I get to the scoring, I need to talk about Bruce Springsteen for a moment. Just bear with me as I get tangential on your asses here. Back in 1992, my cousin bought Born to Run and I made fun of him for days. Things like, "You're such a white dude...Springsteen sucks!" Last year, my brother bought the same cd & I felt compelled to say the same things all over again to the next generation of people who had been duped by "The Boss." Anyway, w/o further ado, here is my white person (by "white person," they seem to mean "pseudo-intellectual, middle-class, liberal") scoring for today (positive numbers suggest high levels of the boring white-dude syndrome):
I picked my kids up from a public school rather than just giving lip-service to diversity & then sending them to a private school: -15
I picked them up rather than having them ride the bus: +5
We went to the library after school: +5
I was listening to NPR on the way there: +10
I checked out a Frank Zappa compilation that features "Bobby Brown Goes Down": +20
Only a white guy would listen to Zappa, & only a boring white guy would get a compilation, but @ least I didn't just steal it off the Internet: -10
I grabbed Born to Run too... it's like baseball; sooner or later I was bound to pay attention: +10
& Darkness on the Edge of Town: +5
I suggested my daughter get a 2nd Hannah Montana book: +10
At least we didn't just order it from Amazon: -20
I spent a half hour explaining to my son how cool Indiana Jones is: +10
I spent 2 hours watching Indiana Jones after which my son agreed: +5
I ate tofu while watching Indiana Jones: +10
I'm writing about all of this on my blog: +20
I appropriated the scoring for this from a Lost fan site: +10
I made it all the way through this list w/o referencing that Weird Al song, "White and Nerdy": -5
Aw shit: +5
Total: +75... I don't know what that means though

Friday, February 22, 2008

By the time we got to Bookstock we were half a hundred strong

Last night @ the EMU Student Center, the Lyceum, EMU's undergrad Lit. group, hosted a poetry & music event called Bookstock to benefit Willow Run High School in an attempt to raise money for their book budget. All in all, @ 6 bucks a head, I would guess the raised about 300 clams which could end up being a lot of used paperback books for the English classes. The evening started w/ some poetry by a former student of mine. I had him in an intro to Poetry class and now he's out in the world publishing & performing... and he was really good. In fact, all of the student poets were good. If I were to make a guess, I would say maybe 10 people read their stuff, & it was all really interesting. And none of it was pretentious or self-important like so much poetry is, or like so much of this very blog is. As far as the music is concerned, the 1st band, Nightcap, was really musically interesting. The 1st song was a cool instrumental w/ lots of looping & effects. It was sort of a Zappa meets Particle thing. The singer then cam eon stage and kind of messed w/ the situation. He has a lounge-act style that didn't really mesh w/ their weird electronic stuff. I would definitely check them out again though... and the drummer was another of my former students. The 2nd band is in between names @ the moment, but you can see on the flier that they were called Ill Conceived. This band features Jim & Joe on acoustic guitars playing Son Volt & Ryan Adams tunes. When they played @ Steve & Annette's a couple weeks ago, I accidentally dubbed them "Ill Conceived" so when a Lyceum e-mail went out last week asking for their name, I replied & it stuck long enough to get it on the flier. Of course, neither was too pleased by the moniker so as the MC introduced them he said, "This band was never known as 'Ill Conceived,' but they are now called 'Andre Peltier is a High-On.'" That's obviously a fun name for a band, & I went from being the dude who named them to being their name-sake. Joe was shocked to find out that no one else knew what "high-on" means though as we had to explain afterwards that the phrase was not only specific to SE Michigan, but also to the mid to late '80s. In which case, he really just dated himself, showing how old he is. In my defense, I am not a high-on nor have I ever been. I am an upstanding member of my community: a gentleman & a scholar. The final band, Looking for Mammoths seemed good, but the sound was really bad so it was hard to get a real feeling for how they were. It was too bad too because they were the ones working the soundboard for everyone else, then when they played they were w/o a sound person. Overall, I'm really happy these students were able to pull this off. Well done to all of them.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

It was a good run

After 50 years, Cuban-Americans in Miami & around the nation will be chasing their Mojitos w/ a sense of closure. I imagine this means the end for all of those Cuban restaurants that have flurished lately as the proprietors will now be returning home. That's right people, you heard it here 12th or 13th, Castro has stepped down from his role as El Presidente & plans to serve his people as a "soldier of ideas." That'll be a nice change for him... serving his people as opposed to his people serving him. I'll never forget those glory day of el revolucion. We spent months in the mountains. Me, Che, Fidel, & Raul, & then of course, Simone & Jean Paul joined us for a while. It was quite the decadent party lifestyle in those hills. But, alas, those days are gone.Here is the man of the hour showing off his new Adidas track suit made in the colors of the Cuban flag specifically for his endorsement deal. Castro's lifestyle has always overshadowed his speed, but his bursts in the 440 are really impressive. I can totally see why a major outfit like Adidas would sign a deal w/ him. That's just good business. Speaking of Adidas, I stopped into a local sporting goods store, The Trading Post the other day to price soccer shoes. You may remember that I'd worn a hole through the toe of my boots last fall so I've been patiently waiting for a deal. As it so happened, they only had 2 pairs of soccer shoes in the store in my size. Both were Adidas... just like Castro wears. I had budgetted for about 80 bucks but figured I might need to spend a little more than that because the price of cleats has skyrocketed recently. I found the 1st pair on clearance for 35 bucks & it had a little sign next to it saying they only had 1 pair & that the pair was a size 13. "SWEET!" I thought, "I'm getting out of here on the cheap." As I was walking around in them, I found of bin of random shoes for 50% off in which there was the 2nd pair. The 1st pair had a molded sole for harder, dryer ground while the 2nd pair (also 35 bucks) was a six-stud screw-in for a soft, wet pitch. I decided to get both pairs & still spent less than I was planning. I had to buy the metal studs for the soft-ground pair seperately, but the good people @ The Trading Post threw in the stud wrench for free. I suppose I'll still need to find a good place to secure a little Duct Tape though... for the sake of el tradicion.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Steve Earle once said that Townes van Zante was the greatest American song writer of all time & that he'd be willing to get up on Dylan's coffee table in his cowboy boots and shout it. I suppose Steve Earle is entitled to his opinion, as wrong as it might be, but I'd be more than willing to get up on his coffee table in a pill-box hat and tell him how wrong he is. Plus, I'd get to meet Steve Earle which would be pretty cool. Anyway, many moons ago, I had a copy of Dylan & the Band's The Basement Tapes on vinal, but then my record player broke & @ the time it was hard to get moderately priced ones. They've again become more popular, but back then they were mainly for DJs so they were really nice and consequently expensive. As this impeded my listening ability, I hadn't listen to a lot of my stuff in about 7 years (Solstice was a baby when it broke), but I found the Basement Tapes on CD on Amazon the other day for 3 bucks so I now have a nice CD version and nice it certainly is. It's so much better than I remembered. Their writing and orchestration is amazing. It sounds so far ahead of its time. In fact, when he played "Down in the Flood" last fall, I thought it was a new song because it sounds so similar to his new stuff. Listening to it this week got me thinking about 2 things
1) It's been a long time since my last music post
2) What are my 10 favorite Dylan songs?
As it turns out, I had to go w/ 25 which was hard enough. Here they are in order of recording. Most are from a 4 year period which may say more about my tastes than about his writing, but this list does span the etirety of his career. We'll see in 10 years if his newest stuff will still make the cut or if I'm just being nice. Feel free to add your favs to the comments section.

Girl of the North Country (1963)
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright (1963)
Boots of Spanish Leather (1964)
Mama You Been on My Mine (1964)
When the Ship Comes In (1964)
Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (1965)
Mr. Tambourine Man (1965)
It Takes a lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry (1965)
It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (1965)
Love Minus Zero / No Limit (1965)
Visions of Johanna (1966)
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat (1966)
Absolutely Sweet Marie (1966)
You Ain't Goin' No Where (1968)
Quinn the Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)(1968)
(Crash on the Levee) Down in the Flood (1968)
All Along the Watchtower (1968)
Tonight I'll be Stayin' Here w/ You (1969)
When I Paint my Masterpiece (1971)
Buckets of Rain (1975)
If You See Her Say Hello (1975)
Tangled Up in Blue (1975)
Jokerman (1983)
Not Dark Yet (1997)
Thunder on the Mountain (2006)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

It goes up and down

The elevators in Pray Harrold have been the subject of many a conversation for longer than I've been working here; however, today I witnessed something that demands attention. Before I get to that though, I want to explain the basic Visions of Ypsi Elevator Etiquette:*
1) Taking the elevator up less than 3 stories is forbidden**
2) Taking the elevator down is forbidden**
3) Forcing the door open when it's nearly shut is forbidden
4) Trying to get into the elevator before the people inside have gotten off is forbidden
5) Riders must be mindful of personal space
6) Riders should be aware that their backpacks/book carrying devices take up a lot of space & should not impede the doors' ability to shut
7) Cell phone use is forbidden... there is no connectivity so stop trying
8) Attention whores need to shut the fuck up
9) Farting/burping/etc is forbidden for obvious reasons
10) Standing in the elevator w/ the door open while finishing a conversation is forbidden

* These rules apply only in Pray Harrold. Not all elevator systems are the same so one can't expect people to abide by the same rules in all elevators
**Rules 1 & 2 do not apply to people who are pregnant, elderly, obese, or handicapped or people w/ little kids in tow
Of course, no one is perfect & even I have been known to break these rules on occasion, but today I was party to a woman who broke 5 @ 1 time. I was on my way up to the 6th floor as the doors we shutting when she shoved her hand into the 4 inches of clearance between them [rule 3]. The doors reopened & she got in & proceeded to stand right next to me [rule 5]. We were the only 2 people in the car. She blabbed on about how late she was & "isn't it cold outside this week" & "this bookbag is soooo heavy" & "my classes are driving me crazy." This all happened w/in the course of a ride up 2 stories. The conversation would be fine if we knew each other or if it was some sort of flirtatious thing, but I really think she assumed I actually cared about her troubles [rule 8]. (And no, the irony of the fact that I'm whining on here for all of you isn't lost on me.) Obviously, the conversation started before she was actually all the way into the car so it held up the lift that much longer [rules 6 & 10].

It was @ this point that she then did the unthinkable. She shouted out the floor number she needed as if I was some sort of elevator operator from a Bogart film. Standing right next to me & unimpeded by anyone else on the elevator... FIVE! I turned & stared @ her w/out moving to the button until she finally pushed it herself. She didn't ask me to do it; she demanded I do it. She didn't even say "5 please." At least she was going up 4 stories & didn't also break rule 1. If you can think of other rules that should be added to the list, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Good Gawd!

Since 1st grade, Solstice has been involved w/ a group @ her school called "The Oratorical Society." They memorize famous speeches or passages from books & then present them to an assembly in an attempt to get them used to speaking in public & to develop skills that go along w/ that. In 1st grade, she did a passage from The Little House in the Big Woods, in 2nd grade she used a book by Laura Ingall's daughter. This year, she will recite a passage from Helen Keller's autobiography. Aiden is involved this year too; he's doing "Captain Hook," by Shel Silverstein.

Part of the presentation involves dressing like the person (or in Aiden's case, the character) so we went to Value World the other day looking for clothes that a woman might have worn 100 years ago. This was the greatest trip to a thrift store of all time. Aside from the clothing for the kids, they had Raiders of the Lost Arc on Betamax... Betamax! It was 6 bucks though & since I don't actually have a Betamax player, I let it slip away. As I moved on to the music section, I found 80s cassette tapes like Paul Young's The Secret of Association. Of course, the tape wasn't in the case, but just the thought of owning his awesome cover of Hall and Oats' "Every Time You Go Away," made me happy. They also had 2 copies of Dick Marx's Repeat Offender, but I decided against that too. What I saw next, however, I immediately realized I needed to possess; in fact, I was absolutely shocked that it was there in the 1st place.

I looked up and I couldn't believe what I saw about 20 feet away. There, among the cast aside dishes & old coffee cups, was 1 of the most amazing finds in thrift store history: The Dancin' JB! There was also a speaking George W, but his batteries were low so he sound more like Nixon. You'll have to excuse the poor film quality, but I think you'll enjoy it none-the-less.

It only cost 5 bucks, & then Stephanie found this, which just added to the day's awesomeness. I now have the King of Pop and the Godfather of Soul on display in my office for everyone to worship so stop on by and pay tribute.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sweet Georgia Brown

The other night, I put the kids to bed and then sat back, ready to watch a movie. Before the movie started, I noticed that the Globetrotters were on. I saw them @ Cobo when I was 14 & ever since then I've thought they were absolutely ridiculous. My friend's parents took us down there, we had dinner in Greek Town & then I had to suffer through their entire schtick. I hated it. The other night though, I had some sort of weird nostalgia for a time I never really knew to begin w/... the days of Meadowlark Lemon & Curly Neal. All I really know of them is from their guest appearances on Scooby Doo. Well, I decided to give it a watch for a while. It was just before half time when I turned it on, & the Globetrotters were losing to the Washington Generals. I had a suspition that the fix was in though & that if I kept watching they might just come back, so I called the kids downstairs to check it out w/ me. The loved the idea that they were getting to stay up late, & then they loved the idea of these goofballs doing basketball tricks. we watched the entire 2nd half & they never stopped laughing. We had a great time, & I think that we'll definitely try to catch them again sometime. Speaking of weird sports tricks, I found these 2 videos today: sort of the Globetrotters of soccer.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Links Links Links

First of all, for those of you who have been avid readers of Steve's unofficial blog while also reading his official blog, you'll be excited to know he has revamped his system & now maintains one blog that does the work of both of his former blogs. You can find the new and improved @

In other link news, after reading his blog, it became apparent that I needed to add a list of wikis to this blog. The list will be placed on the sidebar as well, but for now you can check them out right here:
  • wikisein: The Seinfeld wiki
  • wiki jawaka: The Frank Zappa wiki
  • wiki porn: a wiki w/ all of your porn needs... specifically formatted for Matt
  • wookieepedia: The Star Wars wiki (not about hippies)
  • Lostpedia: The famous Lost wiki
  • wiki leaks: the on-line home for all of your leaked government documents
  • Wikistock: the Woodstock wiki
  • a 2nd Wookieepedia: for your Wookie needs (it's all in the wookie language) (also not about hippies)
  • DC Universe wiki: for your DC comic needs
  • The Superman wiki: as if the DC wiki wasn't enough
  • Wocka Wocka Wiki: your one stop for Muppet info (it's not actually called "Wocka Wocka Wiki," but it should be)
  • The Pagan wiki: the title says it all I guess
  • The Religion wiki: in case the Pagan one isn't enough for you
  • The Christian wiki: 3 about religion and none about Arsenal???
  • Sponge Bob Wiki Pants: this is a link I scored from Steve
  • Christmas Specials Wiki: out of season now, but you'll be thanking me in Novemeber
  • Hogan's Heroes wiki: does Hogan's Heroes really need its own wiki?

    If you happen upon other wikis, please be sure to leave a link for me to put on the sidebar. Thanks!
  • Saturday, February 2, 2008

    Take the Little Kids Bowling... take them bowling

    For X-mas, Stacey got us a pass for 3 free games @ Ypsi-Arbor Bowl, & we finally had the chance to use it the other day. Solstice & Aiden had been looking foreward to it for quite some time, & they had a blast. I, too, had a blast seeing as I was able to kick their asses. I'm no Mike Aulby, but I totally smoked them. It was sweet! I didn't even get any gutter balls (of course, they didn't either since we were using the bumpers, but that's not the point). At the end of the game, I cleared the scores before they saw who won because Aiden beat Solstice by about 15 & she would have been crushed. As far as they know, they tied. Aiden actually got a strike w/o even hitting the bumpers, so he had that going for him... later on he also threw the ball so lightly that it stopped about half way down the lane & a dude had to go get it so he could try again. When he got the ball back, I suggested that he go back to using his right hand since he's right handed after all. His response: "I can never remember which hand I am." Awesome! Solstice was more consistent, but she never got the strike or spare she needed to be able to keep pace w/ him. All in all it was a great time. I don't know why we don't do that more. I think I'm going to make a belated New Year's Resolution to go along w/ the other one I made already (make the world a better place) & resolve to go bowling w/ the kids more often. It's fun and super cheap. Afterwards, we went to Pizza Hut & chowed down on the old pan pizza & salad bar. Solstice only wanted salad while Aiden scored a free Personal Pan Pizza after the delivery dude accidentally took his in the car. He had to wait a little longer, but free is free so no complaints!