Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One of those smell-the-roses type things

It takes a good deal of courage to be a wrestler in high school. I mean, there you are, in your prime please-don't-make-fun-of-me years, wearing a sheer unitard, a padded helmet, and perplexing footwear. You're grappling with other youngsters is identically silly garb, risking cauliflower ear (much better than broccoli lips, by the way), and, well, being compared to Rick Flair, who, somehow, is still alive, still wrestling, and still weirdly intimidating. Like I said: it takes courage to anything that's so imminently make-fun-of-able (for lack of a better word) and to those of you that did it or do it, I applaud you. Same goes for anyone involved in a glee club. Although, really: glee club? Just don't forget to untuck that polo shirt when you're done. And those khaki shorts are a little tight. Just so you know.

So when I across this article, I was saddened. I quote: "The Minnesota State High School League banned competitions and direct contact contact between wrestlers...after cases of herpes gladiatorum were reported by 10 teams."

And that's just not fair.

That's like getting crabs from a bus seat. If I'm one of those kids, my bookshelf is filled with Nietzsche books by next Tuesday and I'm suddenly listening to a ton of Morrissey. Not fair. In any way.

So let's all take a moment. Maybe your sister just read your diary and called Langdon Alger and told him about that crush you have. Maybe your boss just threw a large, pointy book at you. Maybe your neighbor's toilet just came crashing through the roof, into that pot of beef stew you'd be cooking for a day and a half. Any manner of unfortunate and unwarranted thing has probably happened to you recently and you have our sympathy. But you didn't get herpes from not having sex. Just one of those things that puts everything in perspective.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A thoughtful eulogy for an American champion, or, Barbaro: we hardly knew ye

Look: he's just a horse. Sure, he was a horse that strangely proportioned little men rode in circles, whipping maniacally while I tore up a six dollar Preakness ticket, but in the end: just a horse. With less developed leg muscles, he would have been in a can of Alpo or a bottle of Elmers. Let's not go crazy.

But, wait: we already have. I've seen pictures of people weeping for this animal, crying like they were sitting through a Schindler's List/ Life Is Beatiful double feature. The always drab Associated Press claimed the "ordeal" Barbaro went through (a broken leg) "made him even more of a hero than he was as an undefeated Derby winner." And look, I don't want to sound callous, but, seriously: he was a horse. And he wasn't even a fancy, talking horse. He wasn't Black Beauty or Flicka or that pony from that Dakota Fanning movie we gagged through one morning last tour. Also: not a unicorn (for the record, I'd cry for a dead unicorn).

Don't we think the word "hero" should be reserved for, well, people that deserve it? Note, that was "people" not mammals. (Also, no offense meant to the thoroughly heroic lizards and mollusks of the world). Heroes are great men and women who defied the status quo, who championed useful change, who made universe altering discoveries, who played Doc Holiday in Tombstone, not a horse with a funny name.

Americans are fairly gifted at blowing things out of proportion, you know. The French disagree with a war and suddenly, I'm eating Freedom Onion Soup. Some vaguely talented twenty-something who spent her high school afternoons singing Fiddler on the Roof to the mirror is suddenly selling nine millions albums a week because of text messaging, a snarky British guy, and the woman who sang "Cold Hearted Snake."

We need to relax. We need to keep repeating our mantra: he's just a horse. And likewise: it's just some soup; it's only Kelly Clarkson. Let's save the emotional outbursts, the fanatical ire, and the wholesale adoration for things and folks that actually deserve it. Like your friends and family. Or the guy who plays Ernest. You know, the important stuff.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Excuses, excuses. Also, drug users and day time drunks. It's like a Tom Waits song.

Look. Just blame Captain Bluebear. I wanted to keep the blog updated while we toured and relaxed and generally spent a good week in Southern California, where it's short sleeve weather in the middle of January after a spate of frigidity that left all the citrus frosted over, which is of course depressing, unless you enjoy $30 orange juice, which of course you don't.

Like I said: blame Captain Bluebear. I certainly would have had more time if it wasn't for him, although he made my back-seating far more interesting, despite that innevitable section of any sci-fi or fantasy book where the author devolves into seventy pages of plotless description regarding characters and races and beings and buildings that might never even appear in the story, thus boring you to distraction and wholescale skimming. That said, if you want to shirk obligations, friends, family, and the outside world, I recommend this book. Also: purty pictures. And trolls. All manner of huggable dorkdom, really.

So I owe some stories. After all, it's been nearly a week and I'm back at a desk now, so there's no strangely hued mammal to distract me. Onwards.

- I'm not sure which is more off-putting: that we played at on-campus bar at a publicly funded university at noon or that there were people there already on their fourth beer. Wait. The noontime drunks were more off-putting. That's right. Still: that was a fun show. Not everyone there was destined to be unemployed and twice-divorced at twenty-eight, drinking Steel Reserve in a public bathroom.

- You ever been somewhere that seems immediately sketchy? How about playing a place bisected into two groups: one containing concert-going high schoolers, the other containing a Narcotics Anonymous group. Nearby pawn shops were alerted. I stared suspiciously at mustachioed meth heads. Someone tried to sell David a religiously-flavored necklace.

- The aforementioned venue (The Dome in Bakersfield) was also a gym. And not one of your sissy, wheat-grass, stationary bike gyms. No, sir. It was a boxing gym. I mention this only because I tried to use the speed bag and found it it's the most difficult thing in the world to master. That and improvising an aria in Chinese. It's a toss-up.

- The Prospector in Long Beach is fantastic. I thought you should know. The all-night free-drink bribery may be affecting my recollection, but it was my favorite new venue this tour.

Anyway, here's the point. I'm finished with Bluebear and we're still technically sort of kind of half on tour so I'll be back tomorrow. For the time being, I have to do that first day back at work thing where I pretend I'm following up on old assignments but really just answering stale emails and reading Jon Carroll from the week before. Don't tell anyone.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

In which Birdmonster plays San Jose and San Diego, battles nagging illnesses, and relives past shames

There are oh so many little things that remind me we're on tour. Unfortunately, most of these involve some sort of physical or mental trauma: sore back from shows and beds deemed too ergonomically diabolical for state prisons, grumbling stomach courtesy of Jack In the Box and Margie's Diner (whose goal, apparently, is saturating bacon with enough grease to power Woody Harrelson's bus), and the all important overall lack of familiarity with reality. Maybe its Tuesday. Or Friday. Or Arbor Day. Maybe Rhode Island exploded. You can't be sure. And being sure would really take all the fun out of everything.

Of course, we've only played two shows. Above and beyond that, the last two days have been spent relaxing at parents' houses, drinking with old friends, playing ping-pong, and eating home cooked meals. In other words: I need to not be sore. Or confused. It's Tuesday, I've got a healthy bagel in my left hand, Rhode Island: still around.

As I've mentioned before, David & I grew up in San Diego (the not-so-close-to-the-beach part of San Diego, granted, but still: nice weather, bikinis, subpar baseball team) so trips back home tend to be a personal highlight of every tour. This tour, my folks were kind enough to not only cook us dinner, provide housing, and take Zach to the doctor (he's battling the stubbornest fever I've ever hoped I wouldn't get), but also to bring out a snapshot, circa 1992 or so, of Dave & I in horribly embarassing Halloween ensembles (I in some sort of Russian peasant dress, John Lennon glasses, a beret, with a cigar (probably still in the plastic) jutting out the corner of my mouth; Dave looking like an extremely fey Indiana Jones, wearing, for reasons unbeknownst to us all, a blouse with a knot tied in the bottom so as to show off some midrift and give me disturbing, disturbing nightmares).

(Oh, and before anyone asks, no. The picture has been burned. The ashes of the picture have been burned. I then ate the ashes and burned my bowel movement. Then I burned the entire bathroom, just to be safe).

And yes: Zach. Poor Zach. He has the closest thing to consumption I've ever witnessed but has soldiered through two shows presumably rife with feverish hallucinations. I had to remind him after our San Jose show that I wasn't a cat named Rufus, even though I sort of wished I was.

I don't think either audience caught on though. We've had two fine shows thus far, the first of which was in San Jose and was mentally relieving because we played well, unlike our first trip there, a show that involved misplaced guitars, more fevers, and a triumverate of broken instruments by show's end. Always nice to wash that out of your mouth. San Diego was of course wonderful, with some folks I haven't seen since I was eighteen coming out of the woodwork, telling me about their lives, and making me feel sort of immature. Example:

"I'm doing my post-doctorate work at UC & getting married in the fall. We'll be honeymooning on Mauritius. Yourself?"

(spilling free beer on pants) "I live out of a bag in a van." (spills more beer on pants, passes out drooling)

Tonight, we venture to the land where traffic was born, where the Lakers moved, and where various unwatchable awards shows take place for us all to ignore. We're playing at the Echo, so do drop on by if that's your neck of the woods. If not, well, I don't know: it's Tuesday. Go blow up Rhode Island or something.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A few non-related items of interest. We hope.

- Look.You should really get your eyes checked. I did yesterday and trust me: the world is a gorgeous place. I'm in a constant state of bewildered joy. I'm making discoveries at a rapid pace. My neighbor is far less wobbly than she was on Tuesday. Also: she's black. Surprises are everywhere.

- When loaning someone your van, it's advisable that you remember you did so. Otherwise, well, otherwise you leave your house on the way to work, notice the van is gone, proceed to shriek like a gymnophobe at a porn convention, spend your next hour frantically trying to locate said automobile, only to have it returned, full of gas, by the very same person you loaned it to. Just a tip. Not like it happened to me this morning or anything.

- Attention Braniacs: As a public service, I would like to announce that you can take the Jeopardy test, online, from January 23rd to the 25th. I have dillusions of going on Jeopardy one day, rubbing Trebeck's head like a good-luck Buddha, then finishing in the red. I will of course be taking the test and failing it with flying colors. Remember, when in doubt, the answer is "Charlamagne."

- A reminder: we're touring starting tomorrow. All manner of California towns will be descended upon. That includes you, Burbank. Dates are available in many, internet flavored locales such as our website, on our myspace, and down there on the right. I've also burned them into my arm like some kind of forgetful frat boy. If you see me in short sleeves, well, that works too.

- I woke up this morning with a Gilbert & Sullivan song in my head for the second time in as many weeks. Needless to say: a disturbing development. In related news, I'm happy I don't remember my dreams from last night. In related news, I am the very model of a modern major general, I've information vegetable animal, and mineral, I know the kings of England and I quote the fights historical, from Marathon to Waterloo in order categorical.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Eyeballs and magic and all sorts of nonsense

Essentially, I'm blind. Without glasses or contacts, my ability to navigate a city street borders on those of a Mr. Magoo or a Stevie Wonder or a Ray Charles, who as you probably heard, is dead. At any rate: lots of stumbling. Lots of forehead bruises. And no, I can't tell you what the third line says. Just a bunch of vaguely angular blobs. I think the first one on the left is an "F" though.

My grandparents always swear that my terrible vision must have come from hours of watching He-Man and Thundercats close enough to touch the screen and, in fact, blame most problems in society on TV, although, of course, they watch "Touched By An Angel" and once, just once, I caught them watching "Maury." But that's neither here nor there.

So today I'm getting my peepers peeped. It's part of the all-important pre-tour ritual wherein you must arrange all your mallards in a neat line, so I'll be taking a short break from work today to have someone I don't know shoot air into my eyeball and say "better like this....or this?" six hundred times in an hour. I'm excited already.

Then there's the aftermath: should I get new glasses? I've always wanted those Malcolm X ones with the rims on top, but they don't sell those most places, so you have to get them at a thrift store, but that means they were probably in someone's pocket when they died and that's just off-putting. Maybe I should get colored contacts: then I could put one gray-blue one in and look like one of those Siberian Huskies. Or Marilyn Manson. Either way: fairly off-putting.

But, let's be honest. I'm cheap. I'm boring. I will not be getting new glasses or contact lenses like the guy in Last Action Hero. Which is probably a smart move. Impulse purchase money should be saved for theremins, fabrege eggs, and magic beans. In fact, suddenly, I want a theremin. I don't think you can get much closer to magic that an instrument you don't touch. Oh, and only a hundred dollars plus tax and I can make my own. Where's my wallet?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Good. I was getting pretty sick of work, to tell you the truth

We've been home since early November, unless you count a quick trip to Los Angeles or that long Christmas weekend or that whole Turkey Day thing or that weekend at Nigel's in Lower Upper Middle Hillstonburgshire, which is to say: we haven't really been home all that long. But I miss the van. I miss the mid-afternoon pause at In-N-Out. I miss that feeling at a hotel when you pull back the comforter and you aren't quite sure if there's a gecko under the covers. I miss being completely destitute.

Well then, I'm in luck. Starting Friday, we're off on a California-only tour which takes us from San Jose to San Diego, Los Angeles, Fullerton, Long Beach, Bakersfield, Santa Rosa, Oakland, Sacramento, and, of course, home in San Francisco at the very end. Looking here at my handy-dandy schedule, I notice we've got a ton of days off, conveniently in places where we grew up, have friends, or know a really posh abandoned cottage where the owners paid up for a decades worth of premium cable before dying in the bathtub. Which is nice, of course, because those places are all free and at only one do you have to avoid the bathroom.

In other words, we'll be touring leisurely enough to not even need an oil change or grow one of those beards you think you're enjoying until you see pictures of it three months later and you suddenly realize you looked like some kind of lumberjack sociopath and you're wondering why nobody shaved you while you'd passed out drunk one night like the good Samaritan you hoped they were. I've posted the dates down and to the right for posterity's sake, down under all the links you've hopefully perused time and time again. Hope to see you there. I'll be wearing my state flag t-shirt, some jams, and screaming "Eureka" every thirty seconds. We can bond.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Let's not overreact here.

Here's something you might not know about California: it gets cold. Really. I swear. Sure, we all wish it was topless Hasselhoff weather three hundred and sixty five days a year because, well: hairy chests a-glistening. But that's just a pipe dream. The deserts routinely dip into the 40s at night and we've got skier on them thar hills.

And here's something you might not know about Californians: we cannot handle the cold. In fact, we can't handle anything beyond a light breeze. When it starts drizzling, we immediately slam on the brakes, throw our hands in the air, and shriek at whatever New Age God we're currently worshipping. When the wind starts blowing, we complain about it's mussing the new hair-do of the tiny dog we all keep in our purses. We don't even own pants.

So you'll agree that the news of possible snowfall in San Francisco is a reason for all out pandemonium. We've got lows today of 26 and lows this weekend are threatening to hover around ice cube temperatures (highs will be more around Ice-T temperatures.*) In fact, it snowed last March while we were in Texas, fainting from heat-stroke and too much pulled pork (if there is such a thing as too much pulled pork, that is). So, in all honesty, I'm hoping for snow. Praying for it, even. I want to make snow angels and snow men and snow avatars and all matter of snow beings. I want to wear mittens with fire trucks on them. I want throw a snowball at someone who won't find it cute or funny. I want to go sledding. I want a toboggan. I want to write my name in freshly fallen snow with my pee. I want to have a sword fight with some icicles and accidentally gouge someone's eye out. I want...

Wait. What's that? We're expecting what? An Inch? An Inch at the absolute most? Well...drat. If you need me, I'll be making dirt angels in that vacant lot over there.

* I hereby apologize to all our readers for that joke. The thespian Ice-T is also unamused. Which is okay. I saw "Leprechaun in the Hood" and "Tank Girl" and I too was unamused. Just repaying the favor, Mr. T.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Wherein a contest winner is announced and I share my love of Billy Mays

Although I can usually sleep through earthquakes, car crashes, and Metallica at volumes meant to drive Noriega insane, I've been sleeping in fits and starts for the past week. So last night I decided I should take some Tylenol PM. You know, just so I wouldn't wake up at 4 a.m., wander to the couch in my robe, and find myself strangely entranced by the bewildering Billy Mays.

(As an aside, if I'm ever really wealthy, I will be hiring Billy Mays to follow me around all day and having him translate everything I say. We'll be at the Dim Sum place and I'll whisper in his ear and he'll nod politely and then: "WE NEED A PORK BUN AND WE WILL NOT SETTLE FOR ANYTHING LESS!!!! KABOOM!!!! DON'T MAKE ME COME OVER THIS COUNTER AND GET IT MYSELF!!!! SHAZAAM!!!!" See, some people squander their riches: not me).

And it worked. I slumbered like baby. But of course, it's a well documented fact that babies wake up about 300 times a night, so, really, for the past week I was sleeping like a baby. No: slept like a baby high on OxyClean.

I'm still groggy though. I've got that muslin sheen over everything. Almost feel drunk. But there are announcements to make, so let us make them.

We had a little contest before our New Year's show, asking folks to send in their presale ticket receipts so we could draw one and then end up playing at that person's house. It seemed like a nice "thanks" for people spending their New Year's with us, which I was kind of humbled by and very appreciative of. (My 11th grade English teacher just read that sentence and cried). Anyway: we concocted a robust and expensive randomizing tool (names on paper in a hat) and selected a name.* The winner is Ms. Zara Evans. We will be contacting her, presenting a bouquet of incredibly cheap flowers (maybe just wadded up newspaper, honestly), and one of those sashes that Miss USA gets. To everyone else who sent in receipts, well, thanks. We're always appreciative that people take an interest, come out to see shows, and would actually want us in their homes. We're barely house-broken, to be frank.

* Actually, we did it on the computer with a randomizing program. But that's not funny, so I lied.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

So far, so good indeed. Or, more rambling.

This time last year, Birdmonster was almost-but-not-quite in Los Angeles, almost-but-not-quite recording our almost-but-not-quite debut record (we had an EP, after all) and I had almost-but-not-quite quit the job I somehow still have. In fact: sitting here right now. Which is odd, honestly. I could of look at a year where so much happened yet so much remained the same with a half-empty glass of self-pity or a half-full glass of not-being-homeless. Take your pick.

Yes, it was a good year. Our first national tour allowed us to see the gaudy and horrible wonder that is Wall-Drug, the oft-maligned eyesore that is Cleveland, a collection of surprisingly impressive presidential noggins in South Dakota, cruel and unsual sausages in Utah, and lots of hipsters in ironic t-shirts. We got to see both coasts and swim in the Gulf of Mexico (pee-warm, by the way) and play countless, sometimes to hundreds of people, sometimes to a janitor who booed us profusely.

Yes: I'm feeling nostalgic. I feel like reminiscing. I feel like I'm sitting in a rocking-chair, chewing Skoal, rambling at my grandkids. Hopefully I have a banjo. No. I definately have a banjo.

It's kind of pleasant to be at work, honestly. Not because I enjoy my job. I don't. This place is vaguely cancerous: you can only deal with it for so long. But because I realize that life is still work, friends, family, and music. That's soothing when you're getting Christmas cards that show your erstwhile high school buddies with dogs and kids and then there's you, not responsible enough to keep coffee stains off your white sweatshirt.

And then I get to thinking that this year will be pretty similar. I mean, we've got a tour coming up in a couple weeks, we're recording again at the end of the year, I'm still selling Barbara Streisand tickets to old Jewish women and young gay men. And that's a good thing. Except for Streisand, but she's "retired" again, so: hooray 2007. We've written a new song and found a batman fish too. So far, so good.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Fish! Superheroes! Superherofish!

There are some kinds of news stories that appear with almost clockwork regularity. "Scores dead in Iraq," sadly, is a daily occurrence. "Famous female exposes self" happens every month or so, usually coupled with tasteful reportage and grainy paparazzi photos with superimposed "oopsies" stars over nipples. "(Insert celebrity here) mates with (insert celebrity here)" is a perennial favorite, followed by the inevitable "Check out these famous humanoid offspring!" photos in US Weekly. You can count on news about how rich people store their money, one of myriad slightly pudgy tyrants spewing invective, and some story claiming I'm fat or you're fat or our children are fat and, by the end, you just throw away that hamburger you're eating and cry for an hour.

I hate all those stories. I know Iraq is bad looking worse. I know celebrities have genitals. I know I shouldn't be eating this croissant. The only story we get constantly that I truly enjoy is "Scientists discover new species of (whathaveyou)." I love those. I like reading about how whatever they've found is barely different than this other kind of cactus or how the jaw bone of the dinosaur they've uncovered is slightly more angular than that of an Apatosaurus, so some scientist, hitherto shrouded in obscurity, gets to trumpet some new find and, best of all, gets to name it for posterity. Take that, Britney Spears's crotch.

Which brings us to Batfish. Nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nah-nah-nah-nah, Batfish!

Pablo Lehmann, I salute you. I salute that you discovered a new catfish and, noticing that there's a black smudge on its tail that looks vaguely like the Bat logo, named your discovery "Otocinclus batmani." Anytime you try and Latinize a superhero name, you're alright by me. Next up: Equus Caballus Mister Fantasticus. At least you'd hope so.

You think there's a website where they compile these new species? I hope there is. I'd go there. Daily. Hourly. I mean, when faced with the horrible sadness of war stories and the risible sadness of celebrities, I'll take a brand new plant any day of the week. Let's go find one.

Monday, January 08, 2007

In which we shake our collective fist at Monday, January 8th

If you're like me, this is the first Monday you've worked in weeks. There was that whole day-after Christmas Monday, which is a de facto holiday (and Boxing Day, in places that aren't America) and there was New Year's Day last Monday, which, in addition to being one of the better U2 songs is also the only holiday on record dedicated to a national hangover recovery. I always thought that was thoughtful.

Now consider the fact that Martin Luther King day is celebrated next Monday and, hopefully, you'll be getting that off. (By the way, if you're not getting to spend MLK day in bed, bring your CEO the Dukes of Hazard Criterion Collection. You will get a raise.) So that makes this the only lonely working Monday in the span of four weeks. I, for one, am too lazy to stand for this. I should be on my couch watching Tombstone again, goddammit. I'm your Huckleberry. All that.

But you've got to work sometimes. And going to work requires early rising. And getting up early allowed me to learn that Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame today. So, in other words, going to work just made me very, very sad. Talk about "the day the music died."

However, I did learn why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, a place hitherto famous for bad Chinese food and bigoted gas station attendants. Apparently, Alan Freed, a DJ at WJW Radio in Cleveland not only popularized the term "Rock and Roll" but also helped stage what is considered the first rock show of all time, headlined by the imminently forgettable Paul Williams (and the Hucklebucklers) and Tiny Grimes, who sounds like one of the spam names we compiled yesterday. Anyway, the fire department shut down the show, one song into Paul Williams's set, fearing the over-capacity crowd would start an early '50s riot, which, as I understand it, involves men in hats smoking pipes furiously.

To sum up: it seems Cleveland was actually a really fine choice for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Especially since rock and roll was once thought synonymous with the downfall of modern society in the same way Cleveland is now. Everything's coming full circle. It's enough to give you goosebumps.

Oh, and because it must be said: Thanks to everyone who stopped in and contributed a few wonderful monikers to our list o' spam names yesterday. I think something special was accomplished here. Womanhood P. Marzipan agrees. I'd like to throw a special "Holy Shit" to Matt, whose list was something like 200 names long and included, among others, Reassessments F. Squeler and Hitch J. Polysyllable.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A mighty fine reason to read your spam

A year or so ago, basketball player Latrell Sprewell, hitherto famous for playing solid defense, having dreadlock pigtails, and strangling his coach with his bare hands, was offered 7 million dollars a year to play the game he'd been playing all his life. He refused, infamously, by quipping "I gotta feed my family."*

But of course, as vocations go, tossing a ball in a hoop for millions of dollars annually is about as good as it gets. You could always be a metermaid or the guy who cleans up suicides or a session drummer for Nickelback. You could always be the guy who sends me spam at 2 a.m. every morning.

In fact, it was that guy that got me thinking about Latrell Sprewell. I'm not talking about the "I living Nigerian prince, would you help distribute my funds" emails or the "Enliven your Pensi" messages. I'm talking about the stock tips I get daily, free of charge, from my own personal back alley Charles Scwab. And you might hate this man. In fact, you probably do. Who'd blame you, really. But me? I love him. I love the nearly poetic intext gibberish ("And if de bees wake, it doan matter for her her"), the wonderful email titles ("intrinsically regimental" or "lumpy connote"), and, especially, the names. They read like a list of distinguished hobos:

- Faulkner T. Rasmus
- Ty Coon
- Lestat Crownover
- Crabtree S. Stella
- Milligan Peg
- Lavonne Negronne
- Barrera Fanny
- Eduardo Watches
- Gonzales B.B. Bertram
- Septimus T. Stevenson

Expectant parents: throw away those two dollar baby-naming periodicals. Faulkner T. Rasmus YourLastNameHere is better than anything inside. Not unlike that Men's Wearhouse guy: I guarantee it.

Of course, how does a Rutherford Viola or a Dominquez Q. Tessa make any money with this stock email thing? Well, let's learn. Firstly, the text is filled with that seemingly random poetry in order to get it past your email filter: your filter is looking for words like "Viagra" and "Diet" while Barrera Fanny is sending you words like "puppy" and "sassafras." Confused, your email server lets the letter through. And, in some image which the filters cannot decode, they ask you to buy some stock you've never heard of. For example: CDC Holding Company, which bares no relation to Janis Joplin. Now, our gentle Lavonne Negronne has purchased, say, a million shares of CDC Holding and, if there are a few people out there smart enough to act and ACT NOW and buy their shares while the getting's good, Lavonne will sell his quickly, making maybe a penny a share, but, since he's got a million see how that works. Septimus T. Stevenson has to feed his family.

Now, I have a request. Since it's Friday and you're probably not working anyhow, go check your email, maybe your spam folder, and leave some particularly good names in the comment box below. Or ignore me completely. That's fine too. But we can have the definitive list of Faulkner T. Rasmuses and I think that means something. Not something important, per se, but something funny, which, for my money, is far superior anyhow.

* His children require lobster milkshakes to survive.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Cheap euphoria achieved while still in pajamas

A while back, I lost my passport. I can't remember exactly when this was, but it was during some large and epic room restructuring and I put it somewhere thinking "it's safe here" and then, of course, completely forgot what that something was and where that something went. I do this quite frequently. In other words, do not let me watch your children.

Then, late last night, I realized I actually needed my passport today. Some sort of work restructuring thing where they needed two forms of identification. Boring stuff. So I spent a good half hour last night picking up boxes, opening drawers, patting down jackets, and cursing under my breath. I began concocting excuses for our Human Resources lady ("I had my passport, honestly, but I was mugged on the way here. By a naked woman. On a horse.") and went to bed dejected.

Flash forward to this morning. Woke up after a dream about zombies (lots of zombies), sat up, and, strangely possessed, I went to the closet, pulled out a box I'd already looked in, pulled out a manila folder I'd somehow ignored, and found my passport in about thirty seconds.

Now, there are plenty of simple pleasures in life: eating your roommate's ice cream, learning curse words in different languages, knowing final Jeopardy when the contestants don't and then gloating at the TV during the credits. But there's really nothing better than finally finding something that's been lost for months. Sheer joy, I tell you. Plus, now I get to say I never lost my passport, I simply misplaced it. For half a year or so.

I know I should be taking something substantial away from this, some maxim to remember in times of strife. Something like "never give up" or "it's always in the last place you look" or "that's the way the cookie bounces" but I'm not. I'm just feeling way too proud of myself for finding something that should have never been lost in the first place. But hey: what joy would I have gotten if I knew where the thing was last night? None at all. I think I'll go home and hide my keys and my wallet, get too drunk to remember where, and have a thoroughly fulfilling Friday.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Good luck & Godspeed.

It's that time of year when we all evaluate ourselves, realize we smoke too much, have too gigantic an ass, or owe Visa our first born, and so make big plans to erradicate bad behavior or instate good behavior or just stop eating entire fetal pigs while watching Jeopardy (which, amazingly, is a rather widespread phenomenon). We hope that by February, the chain-smoking fatty we once were is now a marathon running, smoothie-drinking, vaguely annoying pseudo-yuppie. You know, the one with really weird looking calves who wears cream colored turtlenecks and checks his stocks on the bus. And then, if you're like me, you realize: wait a minute; that guy is horrible. I hate that neo-Puritan, organic-soy, mixed-greens, my body is a temple of the holy ghost jackass who works on the second floor and has teeth that are radioactively white and who, instead of eating Dim Sum at lunch, goes for a run in sheer, testicle strangling running underpants.

But it's important to remember: there is middle ground. You can get healthier and not be too healthy. And yes, there is such a thing. Wheat grass, after all, is brandy's bitch. So whatever it is you've resolved to stop doing or start doing, I wish you the best of luck, remind you to not go overboard, and, well, if you see that guy from the second floor, poke him with something sharp for me.

Birdmonster too is making resolutions. We've resolved to record an album late in the year. We've resolved to not run another van into oblivion. We've resolved to go off to a cabin and write some songs. We've resolved to go on a California tour this month (starting, say January 19th) and then a long national one sometime mid-March. We've resolved to let you know who won that contest tomorrow (or today, maybe). We've resolved to write an opus about Lavar Burton's sexual exploits. It's going to be a big year.

Of course, it's also a good idea to take a step back and realize that today is probably really similar to December 21st, for example. I'm at work, I'm not working. I'm making plans. I'm rambling. The point? As always: who knows. I just wish you luck with whatever cockamamie, 2007 plans you've concocted. As always, this is the year. Or, rather: this is the year. Or, most fittingly: this is the year. get the idea. Godspeed.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Wherein we attempt to divine what 2007 will bring, revel in the revelry that ended 2006, and try to remember where my phone is

I never like going into a new year unprepared; it's important to do your research. The less creative minds out there might wonder how you can research a year that has yet to happen, that's only 34 hours old, that is unfolding right before their very eyes. I have a simple answer for those people. It's called Hollywood.

See, pretty much every year has a cockamamie sci-fi action-adventure that is purported to occur then. Time Cop, for example, that time-travelling epic which showcases Jean Claude Van Damme's Lawrence Olivier-like thespian knowhow, was set in 2004. That year, I was constantly on the look-out for Belgian has-beens. I saw none. Last year was the year when, according to Michael Drosnin's book "The Bible Code," the apocalypse was supposed to happen, but, really, the closest we got was the Kevin Federline album. So, now that I think about it, what I'm going to suggest maybe isn't the best strategy, what with the lack of ray-guns and world ceasing to exist and all. But "Paycheck" was made for a reason and that reason certainly wasn't to make money. Let's examine, shall we?

First off, in the interest of full disclosure, I never saw this movie. I'm actually medically required to never watch any movie with Ben Affleck in it as my doctor fears I'd go epileptic or lose control of my bowels. However, "Paycheck" was made in 2003, which, much like Einstein's 1905, was Ben Affleck's "miracle year" and is therefore worthy of mention. In addition to "Paycheck," the esteemed Mr. Affleck starred in three feature films that year; the remaining pair being "Daredevil," a movie based on perhaps the worst comic book ever conceived (what's cooler than a blind, kick-ass lawyer?) and "Gigli," a callous money grab starring then-beau Jennifer Lopez which in fact made no money but a large portion of "Worst Movies Ever" lists since.

Strangely enough, "Paycheck" itself is about seeing into the future. More specifically, it's about the wisdom of refraining from looking into the future. So what we've got is a movie I'll never see telling me to not do exactly what I'm trying to do by invoking the movie itself. I think that's a Catch-22. It might just be annoying. Either way, I should probably quit while I'm not too behind.

What I can say is "Happy 2007." We had ourselves a truly wonderful time on Sunday night, playing Bottom of the Hill with Boyskout (safe travels and good luck in New York) and the Blacks (who were all white but who sold underroos that said "I Heart the Blacks" which lead to a hilarious encounter between a well-dressed black guy and a girl wearing them outside her pants). Anyway, it was our first show in quite some time and we managed to play two new songs and two covers without incident. The new songs, as usual, have no names, while the covers, of course, did. We played "Movin' Out (Anthony's Song)" by Billy Joel (a.k.a. the lesser, American-ized Elton John) and "500 Miles" by the Proclaimers, a song that everyone loves whether they know it or not. Da-da-la-da-da. It was certainly one of my favorite Birdmonster shows ever and, hey, I've seen them all. Strange, but true.

Next? Who knows. I'm giving up planning. No more looking into the future. God knows it could result in some sort of plague or apocalypse or another triumverate of execrable Affleck-helmed vehicles. Nope. Today, I'm just going to be happy that it's today, the beginning of a four-day work week, during which, thus far, I've done absolutely no work. Cheers, aught seven. Cheers.