Friday, January 30, 2009

That Facebook 25 Things Dealie That's Going Around Like SARS

I don’t know that I necessarily get how this works but sue me. No really, sue me.

1. I am weird about food – The list of foods I hate usually comes as a shock to everyone and makes birthday parties and office to-dos a huge pain in the ass. So here we go, once more….I hate ice cream, cookies, cake, pie, cheese, pasta, chocolate, The Olive Garden, “home cookin’” (Black Eyed Pea/Dixie House), pancakes, anything sweet for breakfast really. That being said I loves me some eating so don’t go, “well, what DO you eat?” because the answer is pretty much anything not on that list. I am a goddamned raccoon and will eat almost anything other than the things I just listed. I might even eat bugs as long as you don’t dip them in chocolate.

2. My mom is my best friend – Sometimes when people ask me on Saturday night what I did during the day, I say, “I just hung with my mom all day” I think people think I am either saying that to sound like a good daughter or to hide the fact that I was doing something unsavory. The honest truth is that my mom is like a sister to me. I tell her everything. My mom and I talk politics, we discuss movies, she tells me when clothes look dumb, we watch nerdy history documentaries on TV together, we help each other rearrange furniture. If you know me well, you know that there are few things that I hold truly sacred and you can pretty much make fun of anything and I am cool. But don’t fuck with my moms, yo.

3. I would take a bullet for my close friends – I’m not saying that in a “my friends are awesome and mean a lot to me” kind of way. I mean that no fight with a boyfriend or lost pet or financial meltdown I have ever had can hold a candle to how bad I feel if a friend and I are in a fight. I don’t know if I say it enough but I would drop a dude in a hot minute if he didn’t like one of my friends. This is the part where I start mouthing along to “You’re the Inspiration” and staring off into the distance….

4. I like sports more than I like music – I always liked sports. Even when I was going to shows every night. It wasn’t a dirty little secret or anything but I didn’t wear it on my sleeve like I do now. But you may have noticed recently how if I am at a show (rare) and there is a TV in the corner with even the most obscure and banal sports highlights playing, I always err on the side of watching the highlights. I mean, I can still HEAR the music, right? I am still bitter about The Theater Fire having to showcase at SXSW during the triple overtime Suns-Mavs game three years ago. Very bitter.

5. In keeping with that theme, I really dislike it when people say, “I hate sports” – I know that sounds judgmental of me but let me explain. I understand that there are some people who just don’t get into sports. But in response to that, I will say that I know people like that who will watch sports and randomly pick a team based on preferred uniform color or better team mascot and root for that team like how you root for a penny you drop in one of those spiral penny racers at The Science Place. You don’t have to have some deep love of the game or the team or intricate knowledge of stats and players to enjoy a spirited match. But what REALLLLLLY annoys me to no end are people who say they hate sports because either they think it makes them sound more artsy or intellectual or sensitive or because they look down their noses at people who like sports as being beer-swilling rednecks. The worst was someone who backed up his hatred of sports with a convoluted diatribe about how all professional sporting events are rigged (like the moon landing, he said….yeah) and people who watch them and invest any emotional interest are no different than people who think WWE is real. Yeah, that bugs me.

6. My best friend (not my mom, the other one) and I ate SweetTarts off the ground and took pizza from a man crying on the subway while living in New York City when we were really poor.

7. (I am changing my phone number and address after I post this because of this one alone) I CANNOT GET INTO “THE WIRE” – Seriously, please lay off me about The f’ing Wire. I promised my friend Danny that I would watch four episodes at which point he promised me that I would be hooked. I watched 50 minutes of the first episode. It felt like the scene from A Clockwork Orange where they pry his eyes open and force him to watch ultraviolence over and over again. I know I promised but I just…….can’t. It’s just not my thing. I don’t understand why every character is trying so hard to sound so tough and mean all the time. Normal sentence: “Hey man, I’m going to Subway for lunch. Want me to grab you something?” The Wire version: “Hey you lazy motherfucker, I’m going to motherfucking Subway for some motherfucking lunch, you stupid piece of shit. Do you want me to grab your fat ass a sandwich while I am there, motherfucker? ” Maybe I am a big softie or something but I just can’t get into it and unless someone is volunteering to physically restrain me and prop my eyelids open, continuously rewetting them in an effort to get me to watch four episodes, I don’t see it ever happening. Sorry. Ooops, I meant….sorry, motherfuckers!

8. I have a cat but I am a dog person - I like my cat. I probably don’t like your cat though. My cat is named Izzy Stradlin after the guitarist in Guns n Roses. He likes to walk on the top of doors and give out high fives if you ask him for one. He sometimes eats his own vomit which is both doglike and considerate. If I had a yard and didn’t live in an apartment, I would have a dog. And Izzy.

9. I don’t think I know how to decorate like an adult – I don’t mean that I have Dora the Explorer (it’s really hard to not spell that as Dora the Explora) sheets on my daybed. Hell, I don’t even have a daybed. But when people refer to Ikea as being cheap-looking or generally being for college kids, I get really quiet because I’m like, “Oh shit, really?” My mom (who is on my Facebook and potentially reading this and won’t mind me saying this) is not really a master of interior design but she said to me the last time she was at my apartment “Do your friends ever ask why your apartment décor is so, ummmm, eclectic?” I am assuming she’s referring to the fact that I have never purchased a single piece of furniture or a wall hanging. Yet I have many of both of them. I just get given things. And I like them. It’s not like I make do with them. My grandmother gave me a beautiful cream colored 50’s velvet loveseat. The big couch I have wouldn’t fit out the front door when the previous tenants moved out so I inherited it. Over my couch hangs a huge framed print of Eddie Money that Danny salvaged from the bowels of 93.3 The Bone’s prize closet. I think he thought he would give it to me and I would laugh and then put it in a closet. I don’t have it up for kitsch value. I like Eddie Money. A lot. My mom grew up for a while in Iran so I have tons of weird Iranian prints and cartoons that I found in closets in her and my grandmother’s house over the years. I have one of those free bamboo calendars for 2009 that I got when I ordered Chinese food last month. I have a needlepoint my mom made of a bowl of fruit back in the late 1970s. Apparently this is not how you are supposed to decorate a dwelling. I tried to subscribe to Domino magazine to right my wrongs but they just went out of business.

10. I’m liberal to the point that I think I might be Scandinavian or even a socialist – It’s true. I want toddlers to get free condoms. I want reparations. I want the entire military budget to be spent on the arts.

11. I can’t figure out why in the world I think Jeremy Shockey is cute – Seriously, re-read #10 then try to figure out what the fuck my attraction to Jeremy Shockey is all about? Glutton for punishment? I guess.

12. My favorite number is 87 and my favorite color is red

13. My favorite musician of all time is Elvis and my three favorite Elvis songs are “(You’re So Square) Baby I Don’t Care”, “Put the Blame on Me” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone” and I have, sadly, never been to Graceland

14. My favorite actor of all time is Robert Mitchum and my two favorite Mitchum movies are Night of the Hunter and Two for the Seesaw

15. Like Barack Obama, I am hopelessly addicted to my Blackberry and am somewhat ashamed of it. I compulsively check it like I’m waiting on news about my organ transplant list status. I’ve been through a few of them. Memory leaks, battery pulls and freezing aside, my Blackberry and I are BFFs.

16. I inherited my crush on Meat Loaf from my mom – When I was little, Saturdays were house cleaning day and we would open all the doors and windows on a nice day and my mom would play Bat Out of Hell while we were cleaning the house. My mom had a crush on Meat Loaf. I remember reading that he had a daughter named Amanda when I was like 10 and thought, “What if Meat Loaf is my real dad?” He wasn’t. What makes this story even creepier is that now as an adult, I have a crush on Meat Loaf. Freud yourself out of that one.

17. I want to grow up to be Tina Fey – Obvious. Also, if I were a little girl, I would soooooo want to be Sasha and/or Malia Obama. I’m totally jels of them.

18. I secretly want to be a car nerd – I know it’s the least green thing I could possibly say but there are times when I see a ridiculously ridiculous 12 cylinder early 80’s Jag and kind of sigh and whimper a little. The ones with the flying buttress back windows? Yeah, one of those. Sigh. Whimper.

19. I am so excited to be a godmommy that I am about to burst – Even though I lost out on my effort to convince Chrissy and Gaz to name their unborn baby boy Jersey City Evans, I will console myself with the fact that I get to be the happiest Auntie Amanda in the whole wide world come this summer. The baby might even share a birthday with Clint Eastwood AND John Bonham. Oh dear. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it.

20. I love doing things by myself – I am an only child raised by a single parent so it’s just always been that way. I don’t get when people talk about being lonely or hating having to do things by themselves. I wake up on the weekends and do my errands and relish the chance to do everything on my own schedule without having to consider other people’s opinions, thoughts or schedules. It’s rad. The other night (after a day of being told that Dallas was about to break off like a glacier and we would have to start fighting off rabid polar bears because of a weak ice storm), I decided that I wanted to go to a Mavs game. No organizing or making plans or scheduling. I went home after work, changed and grabbed a bite to eat and went to the AAC. Walked up, lucked into a ticket and sat really close. Made friends with the guys sitting next to me who bought me a beer and we talked sports. It was the most fun I have had at a Mavs game in…..ever. Seriously, doing stuff by yourself is rad.

21. The rudest person I ever met in a band in my whole time around the music industry was John Davis from Superdrag - Yep. True story. Not only that but I was a fan. Big time fan. I hope he is enjoying whichever shift he has been able to pick up at the local Arby’s. Dick.

22. I am still learning the correct meaning of very basic symbols and phrases - A few examples of this: I made a reference to the shamrock on a car’s air conditioner control panel a few years ago. It’s apparently the symbol for the fan. I asked why people threw down drinks during challenges in the olden days. Was met with blank stares. I further explained that I didn’t understand why people refer to “throwing down the gauntlet” and didn’t that mean, like, throwing down a some sort of goblet-like cup full of wine when you have been insulted and feel the need to challenge that person to a fight? Finally, I once told my mom that a song written by John Phillips was written by “John. From Peter, Paul and Mary”

23. I have a horribly embarrassing tattoo – If you are 17 years old and a Manic Street Preachers fan, PLEASE LISTEN TO ME…..just wait. Wait a few years. Just wait. Please.

24. I am sad that I don’t speak to any of my family in Georgia anymore – I miss going to Georgia and I miss my family there but unfortunately, since my grandparents died so too did my final ties with my dad’s family there. I have nothing but AMAZING memories of my childhood in Georgia and all of my relatives save one. In some ways, it almost seems better that way.

25. I am painfully shy – I know that sometimes if you cross my path after a few drinks or if you get to know me well enough for me to show you my Leon Lett dance (always injuring myself in the process), it may not seem that way but once a fat kid, always a fat kid. By nature, I tend to keep to myself and not want to bother people and like to keep a very low profile. Sometimes people say that I seem snotty because of it. Trust me, I’m not. If you think that’s the case, just come up and say hello. Unless you are eating something made of both cheese and chocolate because that’s just nasty.

Living Low on the Hog

I don’t know much about finances. I know that sometimes you can buy meat that is less than fresh and save a few dollars but you are also playing an intestinal roulette. I know that Kroger’s and Albertson’s double coupons up to 50 cents and triple them up to 35 cents. I know that a new car depreciates in value dramatically once you drive it off the lot as opposed to a used car with only 20,000 miles on it which you can get for $7,000 less. I know that owning is better than renting. But I am constantly amazed at what a Unabomber life I lead, financially speaking, compared with my friends. There is not much of a paper trail on me. I used to be somewhat ashamed of this. Everyone I knew either had credit cards or 401k’s or stock portfolios or bonds or a friend named Madoff who had some hot tips on a horse in the second race tomorrow. I was jealous.

Let me back up. I HAD credit cards at one point in time. The day I turned 18, I applied for every chintzy credit card I could get my hands on. None of them had a credit limit of more than $500. My reasoning was that it was a test for me. I would give myself the first taste of “buy now, pay later” freedom and adulthood. If I managed to make an effort to keep up on the payments, that meant that I was ready to be an adult and vote and buy cigarettes and enlist in the Army. If I didn’t, 7 years bad credit luck would follow me and curse me for being irresponsible. And I figured that if I was irresponsible at 18, I was probably only going to start to gain a sense of financial responsibility by the time I reached 25. I am ashamed to admit that I did exactly what you expect an 18 year old girl with three credit cards to do. I bought tacky clothes from the mall and probably made a payment or two in a weak effort to seem responsible. And so the spectre of bad credit followed me to car dealerships and cell phone providers for years.

Only within the past few years have I emerged from the Pigpen-esque dust cloud of bad credit. But I feel like in those years where I was banished from the kingdom of things like car rentals and online shopping, I developed Survivor-like abilities to get around this big bad world without the use of credit cards or loans or funny money. Quite simply, if I didn’t have it, I didn’t spend it. It was a very Prairie House existence which was weird for me considering that I live in the City that Leases Built. So once I was able to do simple things such as buy a decent car and get a decent apartment in a non-bullet ridden part of town, I realized I didn’t need or want too many lines of credit. I had also found myself working for a business that existed solely upon a CEO who bounced between investor to investor, signing away more and more of his own personal stability in the interest of raising more capital. I breathed easy at night when I drove my modest used Honda to my modest one-bedroom apartment at night knowing that I had not leveraged my internal organs that day in order to raise another round of funding.

So now I find myself in the midst of an ECONOMIC MELTDOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! with my first 401k ever. I get letters about money getting put into it. God knows I’m not putting money into it. My money is foolishly going to things like rent and groceries and gas. To see people dealing with things like foreclosures and bankruptcy and repos and stuff, I really do get very upset. It’s horrifying and I can’t imagine if I had children and was going through something like that. I really cannot express how upsetting it all is. The only personal thing that I can say is that I am glad that I have learned from this economic tittytwister the following gem: you don’t have too far to fall or too much to lose when you live relatively low on the hog. Again, that is not casting judgment on those that have lost their house or can’t make their credit card payments. I guess all I am saying is that, though my aversion to credit and loans and credit cards did not start from some noble principle but rather from a youthful spree of maxing out cards at the mall, I am glad that it’s a lesson I learned early enough.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Body Hatred and the Dangers of High-Waisted Jeans

A lot of people are talking about recent pictures of Jessica Simpson taken at a Chili Cookoff in Florida over the weekend where she was performing some of her newer country material. Erhm, yeah. Musical taste aside, many people on the inter-WEBS have decided to generally be dicks and unleash a torrent of mean-spirited insults on her because of the fact that she has gained some weight. This is like a Choose Your Own Adventure blog entry. If you want to read the empowering, feminist take on the whole thing where I rail against a society of pudgy dudes sitting behind the comfort of a computer screen hurling insults at a woman who is more in shape than they have ever or will ever be, please skip over the next few paragraphs and proceed to the one where I get all Jezebel on everyone.

Here’s my deal…clearly, no one has any right to be as mean towards her as they are being simply because she looks a little rounder. But that out of the way, I have to speak now from the perspective of a top-heavy girl who has long toed the line of developing Oprah-sized batwing upper arms. Let’s put it this way, if you ever see me wearing something sleeveless, you should probably check to make sure I was not just in some freakish farming/combine accident. Some gals just can’t do sleeveless. I am one of them. Summer is a bitch. But if you’re top heavy, you must give up the dream of wearing wife beater tank tops with reckless abandon. Now bearing in mind that I don’t have the kind of upper arms which are flattered by sleeveless tops, I also remember that I have big boobs. Some say that I am lucky. I’m kind of “meh” about them but the cheapskate in me is always happy when I have something given to me that other people have to pay for. Like when you have a hookup for Mavs tickets.

But again, this is a physical attribute that is both a blessing and a curse. One thing that you are precluded from wearing is a sleeveless tank top tucked into high-waisted Mom jeans. Now for most people, that isn’t a big loss. But apparently Jessica Simpson said “Rules Be Damned!” and went ahead and tried to pull off the tank top tucked into high-waisted jeans. And it looked horrible. Now maybe Jessica Simpson doesn’t know the very simple rules of what clothing is flattering to what types of shapes. Though the fact that I know them and, unlike her, do not have my own fashion line seems a bit odd. But there are two safety nets for those people who don’t know these simple rules. #1 is a mirror. Individually, those two items might have looked alright on her. She might have done that thing where she laid them down on the bed and they looked ok draped on the duvet. It happens to the best of us. That’s why we have mirrors. And I am not saying that in some 5th grade insult sort of way. If one were to objectively look at oneself if oneself happened to look like Jessica Simpson did over the weekend in that outfit, oneself would certainly realize that the outfit was not flattering to oneself.

The second and most important (and presumably highly paid) safety net which catastrophically failed, double bird strike style, for her was the fact that I assume she has a stylist that she pays not only to put her onstage outfits together but to physically stop her from wearing something atrocious and unflattering. If someone gets paid to clothe her and has not received their pink slip after this weekend, I would like to submit my resume for some stylist positions.

But none of this excuses the vitriol and mean-spirited insults that have been hurled her way since the pictures came out. We’ve all worn something that in the mirror, in our heads or in the reflection of passing patrol car windows looked pretty good to us. Then we see a picture and realize that we were wrong. Lesson learned. Imagine now if those pictures were leered at and mocked by pale, bald, overweight loners whose only fleeting moments of superiority come from scoffing at the untoned bodies of people that they will never know and whose success they can never emulate. Clearly, I’m no huge Jessica Simpson fan. But I am a fan of anyone who can take a meh singing voice and a lack of acting ability and spin it into a recording career, a clothing and shoe line and fragrance and skin care deals which are worth millions. I’m assuming that few, if any, of the people who have cracked jokes about her weight have had as much success in the business world as she has. I’d like to do a BMI-to BMI comparison of her to her critics. In a country where over 50% of the population are considered obese, it takes real guts to point out someone’s love handles or double chins from the well-respected pulpit of gossip site message boards. God Bless America, you fabulous bunch of fatties.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Politics, Cajun-Style!

Years ago, in lieu of making another boring “Top 10 Albums Released This Year” list, I made a list of jokes or pop culture references that needed to be retired. Off the top of my head, I can remember the big ones being:

1. “smoking crack” – Responding to anything you think is wacky, far out or illogical as “Are you smoking crack?”
2. Saying “remix” when a CD skips
3. Any and all Austin Powers references but specifically “Yeah, baby!”
4. “I’m Rick James”
5. Any jokes about mullets
6. Izzle, for shizzle, up in the hizzouse, hizzy or any other Snoop-based speech patterns

I think there were many others but those are just the ones that really stuck with me. Well, there is a new rule which I must insist upon instituting nationwide effective immediately. The need for this rule became obvious during the election last year and flared up again because of the inauguration yesterday. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY, CUT THE SHIT WITH PUNS WHEN TRYING TO DEBATE POLITICS. This is a bi-partisan effort on my part. Partly because my hatred of puns runs deep but I’m also doing this for the benefit of those of you that use puns in political debates. You cheapen your argument when you turn it into your audition tape to be the Middle Square.

So please stop using any of the following words or phrases immediately. You will thank yourself (and me) later.

Obama bin Laden
“Welcome to socialism”
“War Criminals”

I get it. People who don’t like Obama believe that he won the office of the Presidency on an empty message of “change” or “hope” and that all the people who admire him do so out of blind allegiance to a charismatic leader without knowing any of his (in their eyes) potentially disastrous ideas which (again, in their eyes) border on out and out socialism. People who don’t like Bush (or McCain) think that Bush and Cheney and Karl Rove and Rumsfeld should be charged with war crimes and brought to trial, Nuremburg style.

The truth is that I, and most people that I know, supported Obama and are very politically aware and well-read. I have no problem admitting that I like seeing Obama doing some smooth little moves to Stevie Wonder at the inauguration. That doesn’t mean that just because he’s black/young/left-leaning/a decent dancer, I supported him. Don’t insult my intelligence like that.

In the same vein, the lefties need to give up the war crimes rallying cry. Do I think that the Bush Administration led the country into an unjustified war in Iraq? Yes. Do I generally not like Bush, Rummy, Cheney et al? Yes. But your war crimes trial is never gonna happen. Not to be defeatist but centuries of American history are riddled with wars which were either begun under less-than-honest pretenses, propagated for financial or political gain or later realized to have been counterproductive or avoidable. It would be great if there was no war or if every war was World War II and there was a clear attack (don’t try to claim 9/11 as one because Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11) from an enemy who are kind and thoughtful enough to put their country of origin’s flag on the side of the planes dropping the bombs. It would be great if every war America entered ended in the liberation of millions of victims of deadly persecution from the death camps to which they had been forcefully relocated. I’m no big fan of war to begin with. Mostly because wars like Iraq only fan the flames of the insurgents who do things like crash jetliners into office buildings. But cut it out with the incessant calls for a war crimes trial. It’s not happening. As much as your lefty heart (and remember, I’m one of your own here) would be warmed to see key members of the Bush administration forced to answer tough questions for the first time, you’re never going to get your justice. You’ll never see the CEOs of ExxonMobil sweeping trash in the park as part of their community service. You’ll never see the higher ups from Blackwater forced into a naked pyramid while we all get to point at their genitals and laugh. Let’s look forward and not be vengeful but instead be hopeful. If you remember, vengeance is quite possibly one of the motivations that lead us into Iraq in the first place.

I found one part of the endless inauguration coverage incredibly interesting last night. Multiple commentators pointed out that before the swearing in, Obama and Bush (with their respective spouses) met, as tradition calls for, at the White House for a little handshaking and picture taking. But those same commentators all pointed out that there was actually a somewhat warm and friendly relationship between W and Obama. Blasphemy! How dare they! I think there’s probably more than a little truth to that statement. And here’s the reason why: I don’t think Bush is a maniacal, evil overlord. In fact, I think that a lot the awful things that happened on his watch happened because he is much the opposite. I have despised his anti-intellectualism (masqueraded as “aww shucks, don’t you wanna just have a beer with me” everyman-ism) dating back to his tenure as Governor. But if you really look at his life, his scholastic record, his career before politics, you see that he’s just a less-than-brilliant good ol’ boy who relies heavily on people with power or persuasive ideas to dictate to him. I think you’re giving too much credit to him as a thinker and strategist if you say that he orchestrated 9/11, created fake intelligence on Iraq to justify invasion or purposely eroded corporate accountability which lead us into this economic turdfest. What he did was the same thing he has done his entire life which is surround himself with people who pat him on the head and tell him he’s doing a “heckuva job” while they use his office and name to further their own twisted agendas. The oil companies hired him and gave him a desk and his own phone so when they came to him years later during his presidency to lobby for drilling and offshore pipelines and no government intervention in skyrocketing oil prices, he was going to say yes. They were his friends and they let him work for them even when he wasn’t very good at his job. You can run down the list from defense contractors to political strategists to his dad’s old cronies looking for jobs and a chance to make their mark (albeit, ugly dark ones) in history. Bush let himself believe his own hype that he was going to “smoke them out of their holes” and “defeat terror” and “find those people that knocked down those towers.” Here’s a hint on that one….they didn’t have parachutes so your best bet is to start in the wreckage and rubble where the impact happened.

My mom used to play this game with me in the car when I was little where she claimed she had the power to change traffic lights all by herself. She would say the phrase “Abracadabra, alacazam change this light to green…..right…………………….now!” and the light would always change. I thought my mom was the most powerful sorceress this side of Stevie Nicks. It wasn’t until years later that I realized she would watch the lights on the opposite intersections to time her spell just right. It was a good trick and ensured that I did not cross my mom for fear she would use her magic powers to change my toys into math books as punishment. Someone told Bush he could change the traffic lights and he believed it. And I think he honestly, despite coming back to the isolated bubble of Preston Hollow, realizes that he couldn’t change the traffic lights and everyone knows. I think that for 8 years, he was surrounded by people telling him that he was doing a great job, his party loved him, the country saw him as a brave leader in the face of terrorist attacks and that the enemy feared him. And he wasn’t smart enough to critically and analytically dissect that and discover that they were blowing smoke up his ass. Then came the 2008 election. It wasn’t the fact that Obama won, it was the fact that his own party, who he believed revered him as a great and courageous leader, did everything they possibly could to vilify and distance themselves from him. To hear the Republican nominee run screaming from any comparisons or links to him in an effort to win the election must have been a blow to him. Why would they throw him under the bus when he was a great liberator, he had Accomplished the Mission? I think the harshest lesson in politics that Bush learned happened to come in the last few months of his 8 years as President when he realized that he was a gullible puppet whose name and position were used by so many people and so many corporate interests, only to be tossed back to him torn, stained and smelly once they got what they wanted from him.

I can’t sympathize with him too much because while I hold on to my effin’ hat for the foreseeable future in a valiant attempt to keep the lights on and food in my belly, he will spend his waning years cutting branches or taking the dog for a walk in his millionaire-infested neighborhood. He might be the victim of occasional booing or shoe throwing but generally, he will live the life of an Alzheimer’s patient at the nursing home’s monthly USO dance night. But I think that somewhere deep in the tingling and twitching grey matter of his head, sandwiched between cornbread recipes and new nickname ideas for his buddies, there is a kernel of sadness which reminds him that all those people he listened to and trusted lead him down the primrose path to being history’s #1 front runner for Worst President Ever. And he didn’t even realize it.

Friday, January 16, 2009

NFC/AFC/French Fry Sandwich/John Bonham Mega-Post

A smattering of sports:

1. Alright, my decision has been made. Go Arizona Cardinals! That feels funny to type. Really funny. And what’s weird is that I have a soft spot for Donovan McNabb. But I just cannot get myself to the point where I say “I would like the Eagles to win” so Arizona it is. You should be able to gauge my enthusiasm for the Cardinals by the fact that I can’t think of anything else to say about them, the game or the Eagles. So moving on…

2. Austin Croshere, we meet again. Well, not really meet so much as inhabit the same state, even if you are only temporarily here in Texas for the time being. So you signed a 10 day contract with the Spurs, huh? I can’t say I understand why San Antonio is that interested in you. With the exception of that one night, I was pretty disappointed in your play while you were here in Dallas. You were not even the “new Keith Van Horn” which is pretty sad. So good luck with that and I hope you like amateur French hip-hop.

3. In a discussion of the possibility of an all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl (wow, the term “all-Pennsylvania anything” makes me yawn uncontrollably), I was told that while Philly has its cheesesteak sandwiches and lower life expectancy they have not cornered the market on creating sandwiches no one should eat. The person I was talking to claimed that Pittsburgh was famous for its’ sauerkraut and French fry sandwiches. I called bullshit. After some texting and Google searches, my worst fears were confirmed that such a sandwich does exist. The sauerkraut part was a little off (it’s sweet cole slaw) but the rest of it was absolutely correct. And it only gets worse.

Assuming you can fit a Primanti Brothers sandwich between your hands, it may still be impossible to wedge one between your teeth. At 5-½ inches tall, this towering testament to one-stop dining contains an entire meal between two thick slices of Italian bread. It starts ordinarily enough with a layer of tomato slices and a half-pound of meat. A fried egg is added for a double shot of protein - but that's not all. A large order of hand-cut fries and a heaping mound of sweet-and-sour coleslaw top off this truly outrageous sandwich.

Here’s the worst part: I could totally put the hurt on one of those sandwiches. But you know what’s not cool?

But one Pittsburgh-centric use of fries truly shocked Nena the first time we ate out in Pittsburgh a few years ago -- the Pittsburgh Salad. The Pittsburgh Salad isn't all that different from a typical garden salad you can get anywhere. Iceberg lettuce is usually the base, with other assorted vegetables added to the mix. But then you add shredded provolone cheese (still not weird, but stay with me) and -- you guessed it -- French fries. I love Pittsburgh Salads, especially with grilled steak and no-frills ranch dressing. There's something about the contrast of the cold, crips salad, the hot fries and the cool dressing that is almost like comfort food.

And so with that, I am officially rooting for not only the Cardinals but also the Steelers because their fans deserve to see their team in the Super Bowl before their arteries harden and their hearts explode at the age of 40.

This gives me the perfect opportunity to finally tell the John Bonham story. Back when my best friend Chrissy and I were music writers, we would often get invited to record company dinners hosted for their popular artists. Our friend who was an ADR for Interscope invited us to one such dinner which was being held to celebrate a new release by a band whose name I have since forgotten but who also happened to be touring with Korn at the time. This dinner was held in the private room of the Hard Rock Cafe (RIP) which was outfitted exclusively in relics, carpets and furniture that Pete Townshend sold to the Hard Rock Cafe. We're talking mahogony walls, renaissance tapestries, silk pillows, maybe a stuffed head of some form of wildlife.

Chrissy and I are enjoying our Cobb salads (man, they could make a great Cobb salad there) when Fieldy and Quacky (can't remember the other guy's name) from Korn make an unexpected appearance. Each of them had also been thoughtful enough to bring two barely legal exotic dancers with them. They sat down at the main table and proceeded to order every kind of expensive liquor they could think of. When our Interscope friend found out what was going on, she was understandably upset with the Korn-holes. As luck would have it, Chrissy and I had long debated what the most disgusting specially ordered dish you could request at a restaurant would be. We decided it would be a dish we nicknamed the John Bonham. The John Bonham is actually very simple as it consists solely of a warm and gooey pulled pork sandwich nestled in the center of an ice cream sundae.

To avenge our poor record label friend and to see if we could finally see the completion of Project John Bonham, we got the waitress and told her, "Listen, don't tell Fieldy I'm telling you this because I want it to be a surprise for him but he has a favorite dish that he would be so excited if you could make it for him. It's really easy. It's just your biggest ice cream sundae you have with a pulled pork sandwich in the middle. I know it sounds weird but he just loves dairy and pork together. If you could make him one and surprise him with it, you would be my hero." The waitress (who, I might add, was tipped incredibly generously for her efforts) scurried away to the kitchen and a mere ten minutes later, the most beautiful creation I have ever seen was brought into the room. The waitress even took the bold step of garnishing the John Bonham with french fries. She gave me a big thumbs up and a wide smile as she approached the table. The second greatest sight I have ever seen (after seeing the John Bonham enter the room) was the look on Fieldy's face when the Bonham was presented to him. I cannot repeat the words he used but the great part was that the tables were suddenly turned and now Fieldy was now sitting there as everyone pointed and laughed. This made Fieldy and Ducky angrily grab their dates/escorts/hos hands and leave in a huff. But as they were leaving, a certain record label employee tried to grab the John Bonham off the table and discard of it (he did not think it was amusing but I think he was also vegan) while Chrissy and I attempted to rescue the Bonham from his clutches. Somehow in the struggle, the entire dish went flying and landed upside down on one of Pete Townshed's antique Persian rugs.

We laid some copies of the Observer over the slain Bonham while we asked the waitress for "many many towels" (there was no request too odd that night) and proceeded to clean up the mess that Bonham had made while laughing so hard that I had hot tears rolling down my face.

The Hard Rock Cafe has since closed and been demolished but I was glad to know that the Blackfriar restaurant next door bought the contents of the private room to display in their own establishment. I hope they got the carpets cleaned after they bought them.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Here in this day of blogs and Twitters and feeds and flash drives (no idea what that has to do with anything but I kind of blew out all my web-speak early there), I would like to think that we can still rely on each other as humans to help each other out in our times of need. There's been a few nagging issues I have been dealing with recently and I hope someone, anyone can help me.

1. I can't use my Macbook. Seriously, user intuition my ass. I have had a Macbook for two months now. So far, I can look at the internet and play songs on iTunes. And I found the calculator. That's it. I don't understand it. Everyone tells me it's so simple and user friendly. Apparently all those years of non-user friendly PCs have rewired my brain to the point where I cannot compute very simple, basic things. I have DVDs that I burned on a PC. Now when I try to import the DVDs (.AVI files) to my computer, nothing. Try to watch them? Nothing. I don't know where anything goes once I download it. I have to keep some programs open because once I close them, they disappear and it takes me half an hour to find them. I did change the wallpaper. I can't even bookmark pages. I'm not this stupid, am I? I'm moderately computer literate. My Macbook makes me think that they made these laptops with rounded edges so I don't stick the corner of it into my eye accidentally. I'm down to using my Blackberry for all communications because the Macbook has won and I have surrendered and now it just sits there with a tiny throbbing white light that taunts me and reminds me about how it's smarter than me.

2. I want the Night Court theme song as my ringtone. I used to work for a company that made and sold ringtones (I've had a lot of jobs, folks) but now that I don't have that hookup, I am at a loss as to how to do something like make the theme from Night Court my default ringtone. I'm sure it's totally something you can do on a Macbook in two seconds. Unless you're as inept as me.

3. How do you get wireless internet service if you don't have a landline, cable or a wireless card from a cell provider? I think b***54 has caught onto me and turns his/her router off whenever it's not in use. I need the internet since Safari is the only Mac program I even remotely understand.

4. Does anyone know how well a Jailbroken/unlocked iPhone works on T-Mobile with their Blackberry unlimited data/3G plan? It will be a cold day in cell phone hell when I give AT&T another dime of my money. Provided I have the 2.1 or earlier software, is it true that I would have to re-unlock the phone after each update or each time I added an app?

Phew! That's enough for now. All this hunting and pecking that I have done to post this entry based on my crayon-on-construction paper notes has really worn me out. I'm going to go fire up my Model-T and call it a day.

Monday, January 12, 2009

My Music Industry Rant

It feels weird to rant about something and not type the words “Romo” or “Wade” or “football failures” anywhere in the post. But here goes.

I promised a rant about the music industry and a rant you shall receive. Let me give this disclaimer: I was a total nerd in junior high and high school. I didn’t go to parties. I didn’t drink. I didn’t sit in parked cars with boys. I didn’t go to prom. What I did do was obsessively collect old vinyl records and read any and every rock biography I could get my chubby little teenaged fingers onto. And I have never regretted it. Whereas some kids may have read Choose Your Own Adventure books or escaped into a world of comics, I reveled in this fantasy land called “Rock and Roll 1953-1983” where teenagers rioted and screamed over pelvis thrusts and increasingly risqué rhythms and lyrics. I giggled at the idea of being witness to Zepplin at the Riot House on Sunset living out some 1970’s Satyricon scene. I sighed at how great it must have been to be on the Stones charter jet and to take part in their party in the sky like I saw in Cocksucker Blues. I got teary when reading about musicians buying their poor parents houses and luxury cars with their royalty checks and record sales money as atonement for not growing up to be doctors or lawyers.

My friend Chad and I had a discussion a week ago about how sad it was to us that we are the last generation to know the feeling of doing things like going to a midnight record release party or the sacrifice of spending obscene amounts of money on import singles just to get those two extra songs. It’s weird to think that kids aren’t driving out to RPM Records in Mesquite to rent grainy PAL to VHS compilations of Top of the Pops performances or Slade in Flames or Born to Boogie. It’s ultimately way less of a pain in the ass to be able to type the words “Ladies and Gentlemen….the Fabulous Stains torrent” into Google than hunt it down just to see the only footage of The Professionals. I get very old timer about it and try to act like the kids just don’t appreciate it as much and don’t get as much satisfaction from finally getting to hear that record if all they have to do is wait for BitTorrent to let them know their download is ready. But it’s just an act. I know that any old videos or back catalogs of most of what I would possibly want to see or hear is available to me 24/7 and I can’t pretend that I don’t love it. While the memories of trips across the metroplex to hunt down a single are priceless, 18 year old Amanda sure could have used all that money back then. I probably would not have the intricate knowledge I have of how long you have between when the constable shows up to put a note on your door and when you are actually evicted but that’s not knowledge I have much use for any longer.

So let’s take the nostalgia and all the touchy-feely out of the discussion. It’s hard to party like it’s 1999 when all your record label friends are holding onto their jobs by their brittle, broken fingernails. I will freely admit to suckling from the engorged teat of the bloated music industry as a music journalist. But there was a nagging feeling that the jig was gonna be up soon amongst almost everyone other than the old timers who knew that they were close enough to retirement to not have to worry about where the industry was headed. My last job in the music industry, from which I resigned two months ago, was a crash course in the reality of what the music industry had become. People used to ask me what I did and I would take a deep breath and then kind of mutter that I was the Marketing Coordinator for a company that hosted and cross-promoted major label content through in-store and viral marketing. Then I stood there as they looked at me like a dog trying to watch Jeopardy on TV. What I told them was the corporate speak way to say that I tried to squeeze the last few drops of money out of the drained corpse of the major record labels. Anyone who holds music on a pedestal as an art which should never be tainted by the filthy hands of the corporate world would have wept if they saw what my usual day at work entailed. Mind you, I am not one of those people and came to realize that music shouldn’t be taken so seriously and that sometimes a band will write a song that is catchy enough to use to sell some sneakers to some kids. But the world of 360 music deals (if you aren’t familiar with this concept, google “Madonna Live Nation” or “U2 Live Nation” or “Jay-Z Live Nation” or really just “Live Nation”) is a realm that very very few musicians will ever into. I wonder if aspiring musicians realize this. Record sales and download sales don’t really pay for your mom’s customized Rolls any longer. The good news is that unless you were selling 5 million copies of your album, bands were never really earning much if anything from sales. It’s always been about touring for smaller bands. There’s some anecdotal evidence, courtesy of Chromeo of this tidal change being a good thing for smaller, independent bands.

But I just feel like someone should set all those kids down who might be like I was when I was a teenager and have some real talk with them about the state of the industry. I cringe when I hear young musicians talk about getting “signed” which now (and probably did back then too) means that they will just be giving away more control and money to a company who has only a marginally better ability to distribute their album and boost their music’s sales. Someone’s gotta tell them that even their heroes are parking the tour buses because of lack of money. While the allure of being in a band and the camaraderie and debauchery and ability to wear a lacy shirt or cravat under the protective umbrella of being an “artist” will never die, I just think a more honest vision of “making it” needs to be put forth. The internet is full of things I want to hear these days and can be mine free of charge and within a few minutes (I have a slow connection). And the world is full of people like me.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Free at Last, Free at Last

This March 18-22 will mark a very special milestone for me this year. It will be the first South by Southwest that I will not have to attend. I don’t mean that in an “I don’t have to work it so it’s going to be soooooooo much more fun!” kind of way. I mean, I will be as geographically far away from Austin as I can possibly be. The feeling I get when I think about the fact that I don’t have to attend SXSW this year is the same feeling Ativan-popping housewives get when Oprah points at them and tells them they’re getting a car. I have now worked in and around music and the music industry for a decade. My present to myself is that I don’t have to go to SXSW this year or any year in the near future.

First off, I am no big fan of Austin at any time. I will refrain from going into detail about my near-hatred for Austin out of respect for my Austin-dwelling friends. Let’s just say that it’s not my kind of town. At all. So when Austinites get all “Yeah but all people see during SXSW is downtown and Sixth Street. You gotta get away from the festival, maaaaaaaaaaaan. South Congress, brah! Dripping Springs. Let’s go tubing!” No. Thanks. But more to the point, I despise SXSW with every little capillary in my body. While all the cool kids are sauntering to Stubb’s to try to worm their way into a party, the blocked off streets create a Mad Max Battle to the Death between people who actually are working and might have to transport a vehicle or large item to a venue.

What really amazes me is how anyone would get anything other than five or more hangovers out of the whole thing? There’s a few different categories of people who attend SXSW and from what I can tell, few if any of them come away with anything worth all the hassle that is SXSW. There’s the music lovers. They’re the ones who are generally screwed over the hardest. They start with the absurd search for a wristband. Begging badge holding friends and strangers to hook them up. Trying to find a band willing to claim them as a roadie or manager. Paying Austin residents to stand in a line at Waterloo for you. I think SXSW has made it incredibly clear that they don’t want you flying into town and pumping your dirty music fan money into their totally-fine-on-its-own local economy, thanks. But even if you don’t have a badge or wristband, you can still see all the bands you wanted to see, right? Technically, yes. If you’re well-prepared with all your printed off party lists and maps and RSVP emails, you can delude yourself into thinking that you will see everyone you want to see. That is once you crawl over the piles of industry people talking loudly into their iPhones with their backs to the stage, yelling to their buddies about how they are seeing a HOT NEW ARTIST. Totally buzzworthy! You will also quickly realize that the fact that you are actually there to see a particular artist or to check out a few bands you have heard good things about makes you the weirdo. The parties are full of people there either to do business, network or have bragging rights about what “exclusive” parties they were able to get into.

And I can’t cast judgment on those people because, as I blogged about a few months ago, when music is something you HAVE to be around and you HAVE to write about or a show you HAVE to attend is when music goes from being pleasurable to being your TPS reports . I remember last year when someone asked me who the best band I saw at SXSW was, all I could muster enthusiasm for was the fact that I ran into friends from far-flung towns who I usually only see once a year at SXSW. It’s like a class reunion where you see label friends from New York and musician friends from London and tour managing friends from LA. So apologies to anyone who ever wanted to get into some party and see some band they really loved only to be stuck in line behind some asshole like me.

But that leads me to ask why in the world bands would attend this festival in hopes of “making it” or whatever it is they think will happen as a direct result of them playing either a SXSW official showcase or at a party. I know bands who have said that they were inspired to play there by tales of bands getting their big break at SXSW. Of course, what they don’t realize is that for every band who has a “getting discovered at SXSW” story (and I only know a handful of those stories that are even remotely true), there are 1.2 million other bands who spent a lot of money and time and got their hopes up only to be thrown onto a completely incongruous bill at a totally hidden “official” venue only to play a thirty minute set to the bartender and door guy at 7pm. Hope it was worth all the hassle, homes.

There are some reasons to go to SXSW. If you like to drink (and I do) you can score plenty of free drinks without a wristband or badge of any kind. Do you like gift bags full of sampler CDs? You’re in luck. Are you writing an article about the increasingly desperate tactics of guerilla marketing companies? Oh boy, you’re in the right place. If you want to end up spending a blurry night at an EconoSuites off the highway with a total stranger in your own icky American Apparel ad come to vivid life, make your way down to Austin post haste. Do you like waiting an hour for a burger at Casino el Camino? You see where this is going.

For those people that enjoy SXSW, I say “huzzah” and “godspeed” to you. You and I are two very different people. I am some sort of amalgam of Danny Glover and Walter Matthau and you are a spry and enthusiastic spring chicken. I could let this blog entry devolve into my rant about the rapid oncoming death of the music industry as it has existed for 50 years but I will save that for another day. Now if we can all just agree that all you bands going to play SXSW have paid money for applications, plane tickets, hotels, cabs, meals and tips only to come to a gathering of people that look like you from other cities and nothing more, we’re getting somewhere. And if you attendees will admit that there’s a certain “see and be seen” element to your attendance, we’re getting even further. And if you industry types would stop texting into your iPhones for two seconds and admit that you don’t give a shit about 99% of the bands you are going to see and that you should probably keep the receipt to that iPhone just in case your job is the next one to get the chop, we’re really starting to cook with oil.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Five Days Later

Alright, I think enough time has passed since the Dallas Cowboys played the most embarrassing football I have seen them play in my lifetime to blog about it. Because for the past week, all that the local media has done is ask “Why? How? Who? Really? Wade’s keeping his job? Really?” But I started thinking of it in terms like this: “Why should I support this team?” Now that’s a bit of a rhetorical question because regardless of their record or stomach-turning football apathy, they’re my team and I will follow them to the gates of football hell which they now appear to be attempting to scale. For anyone that lives here in Dallas, it’s just obvious. It’s the Cowboys. That’s why you love them. What are you gonna do? Spend your fall and winter reading up on the Rangers off-season antics or plans for sucking the life out of baseball in the coming year? Are you going to start supporting the Giants or the Dolphins or something? No. But think about what someone from, ohhhhhh say, Philadelphia thinks about you backing the ‘Boys? Other than geographic ease and peer pressure, how do you defend being a Cowboys supporter (or in this case, “apologist” is probably a more accurate term) to anyone outside of Dallas?

I don’t see this roster being much different, talent-wise, from your Aikman/Irvin/Emmitt/Moose/Novachek years. So that means that it’s coaching and player’s attitudes that are getting in the way of the Cowboys being successful. But no one will admit that. And that’s quite possibly the most frustrating part. The loss to the Eagles was the most embarrassing and disappointing moment in my Cowboys memory. More than Romo fumbling a snap on a field goal. More than going 1-15. At least when we went 1-15, we knew we didn’t have much of a team and didn’t have lofty expectations. I think Wade is definitely part of the problem. I think it’s pretty obvious that when your calls are overridden by your quarterback, you lack the confidence, power and respect necessary to be a head coach. Put it this way: when Wade gets the boot and decides to get himself a part time job at Barnes & Noble, he will not be a key holding manager and will have to call for his boss for approval if he has to do a return. I like Wade. I would eat honey buns and watch Perry Mason with him. I would turn the volume down on the TV gently after he nods off in his armchair after a big plate of cornbread and glass of buttermilk. But clearly, he cannot coach and must do the honorable thing and commit coaching seppuku as a gesture of contrition to all Cowboys fans. Which is to say, it’s time to retire.

But I don’t think that’s the big problem. The Cowboys need a head coach but it also seems they need a junior high guidance counselor to break up the slap fights and pry Cowboy’s players fingers out of each other’s ponytails. Seriously, I wanted a football team not an athletic tribute to High School Musical. I used to fall for the easy default of “It’s T.O.’s fault, he causes drama.” But that’s not the case:

Tony Romo :
I said I wasn’t going to make fun of you anymore because of all your Good Samaritan acts this year. And while I still appreciate the fact that you can find both romance with ho’s and bromance with hobos, you said something after the Philly game which allowed me to repeal the “No Picking on Romo” law. Your post-game shower collapse was certainly not brought on by your firey, impassioned and angry statements in the post-game press conference. In fact, if I hadn’t known which game the comments were about, I would have thought you were explaining some sloppy play in a pre-season game of flag football. Your comments were something along the lines of, “Well, we didn’t play good football so we lost but we’re gonna come back next year and play better football, I guess. And maybe get into the playoffs and win a Super Bowl. Or something, you know.” Meh. No biggie. Why everyone be actin’ so upset? I told you we played bad football and we didn’t win. And that next year we’re gonna, like, maybe try to play better football and maybe make it to the playoffs, I guess. What more do you want people? Dude, you obviously aren’t particularly bothered about the season ending early. Maybe a little more recoup time for the pinkie and back? Probably take Jessica down to Cabo for some glass bottom boat action. Sweet!

And why not? I mean all the other guys started partying already? In fact, the flight back to Dallas was apparently a lively one with music cranking, a good game of dominoes going on, high fives and revelry. It’s just a shame that you guys had to waste all that time packing and flying up to Philly and stuff when you could have just thrown a kegger on the practice field at Valley Ranch and totally saved yourselves the embarrassment of showing up and playing like you did.

Jason Witten:
No one can question Witten’s toughness and, like Romo, I’m pretty sure he’s a thoroughly nice and decent and well-mannered human being. But now he’s been dragged into the drama further after Terrance Newman made cryptic comments about a “coward” tearing this team apart. There seems to be a lot of people who think that he was referring to you, Jason Witten. Saying that you were the “unnamed player” who leaked the story about T.O. throwing a fit over not getting the ball and not being included in “secret” offensive meetings. I don’t think any of us will ever, or at least not in the near future, know if this is true or not. If it is true though, what was the point of it? To get rid of T.O.? Let me just pull you aside real quick and show you a timeline of T.O.’s career and his track record of team-playerness. The wonderful thing about T.O. is that he’s his own self-contained career IED. You don’t need to put any accelerant on that fire.

But that brings us to Terrance Newman:
You’re calling Witten out for being a coward and not owning what you believe are his anonymous comments about the situation. Right. So you do that buy not naming the anonymous person you are calling a “coward”, right? Why in the world do you think it’s appropriate to say something like that to the press? Do you think that makes your football team look like a) a football team trying to regroup and figure out what went wrong or b) PMS-ridden teen girls trying to influence the outcome of this year’s superlatives race? It’s like you guys found out how embarrassing it is to lose to the Eagles so spectacularly and got off on it and now you’re just trying to recreate that experience every day by doing things like making bitchy comments about teammates. STFU. Hard.

Jerry Jones:
You’re the owner of a restaurant that has slime in the icebox, serves expired meats and allows, nay, encourages cooks not to wash their hands. Your organization is in serious trouble and you seem to only have anger towards the inspectors who want to see your Certificate of Occupancy. You need to admit that your Enormo-Dome that was built in the wrong city, your head coach who mouths “He can’t do that!” when his play calls are overruled on the field by the quarterback and the fact that your franchise is just coasting on its’ fame and iconic status are very serious problems indeed. Stop trying to get the 2018 Women’s Lacrosse Championship and focus on the thing that built your Super Everything Convention Center, the Dallas Fucking Cowboys.

Ironically, this week is National Hand Washing Awareness Week.