Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Littlerock: Not just for Arkansas anymore

Not unlike Warren Harding, us four Birdmonsters are back in San Francisco, retuning to normalcy. I'm sitting here in a coffee shop which (God bless 'em) is playing "Off the Wall" (pre-permed, still black Michael Jackson) and I'm surrounded by more people than I've seen the last ten days. I know you think I'm kidding. I'm not. We spent more than a week in Littlerock California, a good twenty minutes from the nearest sign of civilization (read: commerce), and that port of sophistication was a strip of markets that sold honey in kegs, various dried fruits slathered in chocolate, and all other manner of kitchy, bumpkin cuisine. It was the sort of town I'd've hated to grow up in but now realize is "cute" before realizing I sound kind of like a grandma when I say that. No matter. It was cute. I have no regrets.

Littlerock is, as noted, out in the cuts. We had a neighbor named Dave who was a real cowboy, as in, yeah, I think he herded cows on a horse. He's retired, takes care of horses, and seemed incredibly happy. He had us over for a dinner of particularly flatulent chili, obscenely delicious corn bread, and regaled us with stories of working for the National Park Service, meeting Sam Elliot ("the real McCoy," Dave notes, which, although I'm not quite sure what he means, I completely agree with him), and his intense distaste for squirrels. Needless to say: I loved Dave.

But beyond that fine gentleman, a cashier with a vague knowledge of the English language, a grizzled, pirate-looking guy buying three King Cobras, and an old lady at the Hungarian sausage shop, we were secluded. And for a week the plan was this: Wake up when you're not tired and play music until you are. And you know what? That's exactly what heaven is like. Except in heaven, I'm way better at the banjo. Also, there will be monkeys in tuxedoes, carrying trays of proscuitto and melon. It's in the Gospel according to Luke.

The purpose for this whole sojourn was to finish some new songs, record them, and drink too much wine. Success on all three counts. In fact, realizing I might sound like the band Mommy here, but I'm really proud of what we accomplished. We returned with hours of music recorded, a good 8 or 10 songs we feel completely comfortable with, and a slew of others in various states of dissaray. The recordings themselves sound homey, warm, and alive, and, regardless of what we decide to do with them, a week's worth of ad naseum repetition on my CD player at home is in order. I even got to use my accordion. Like I said: heavenly.

But it's hard to write too much about the week, honestly. Literally every day was a twelve hour marathon of music, which, although incredibly fun, isn't necessarily great fodder for scribbling. So I'll mention this: one of my absolute favorite parts of our week in Littlerock was a Time Magazine that served as bathroom reading. Now, at first blush, you might think a week of seclusion has turned my brain to a soft, vaguely edible paste and, all things considered, I cannot deny that. In fact, the only book I brought was a 700 page tome on American History, which was a horrible choice, considering I would be drunk and music-brained all week and I'd originally started reading it because I was embarrassed this little arrogant pissant on Teen Jeopardy knew more American History than I did so I actually, you know, wanted to remember stuff about our country. I made it as far as Columbus. Impressive, I know. Anyway: the Time Magazine. Now, since I've been of an age to reasonably understand & analyze Time, it's been hokey, half-assed, and lame (see, as an example, this person's "Person of the Year"), so, quite honestly, I never read it anymore. Unless I'm in the waiting room at the dentist's office or something, but then they're probably playing the soft rock station and "Constant Craving" is probably on, so I probably zone out on the chorus instead.

I digress, I digress. This particular issue of Time was interesting because it was dated September 23rd, 1989. Firstly, I was shocked to realize that was 17 years ago and, well, you don't want to be shocked in the bathroom. It's unhealthy. Anyway, a few articles in there were just wonderful little time capsules. One bemoaned the fact that Saturday Night Live wasn't really all that funny anymore and predicted the show was on it's way out...again, this was 17 years ago. For God's sake, Phil Hartman was still on. Now we've got Bill Hader. And yes, I had to look that up. Another article was about the first Apple "portable computer" and how it weighed 16 pounds and how innovative the "mouse" was. Of course, sitting here at a laptop that weighs less than a baby's head, I find that kind of funny. I'm sure cyborg me will thing computers were pretty neanderthal in 17 years too, but for now, let's just point at 1989 and laugh our asses off.

Now? Well, we're back in society. No more cherry juice and candied apples. We're leaving for tour in a week and we've got broken gear, a van in desperate need of an oil change, and (hopefully) a job to go back to. Personally, I haven't shaved in weeks and I probably look vaguely menacing. Yep. The toddler a few tables over is scared of me. I need to shave now.

Friday, February 16, 2007

The best "away message" money can't buy

The cabin to which we're retreating (and yes, I do have disdain for dangling prepositions) is out in the boonies, which, if you're curious, is located a few hundred miles outside of Los Angeles. It's filled with bric a brac, an out of tune upright piano, and a whole gang of morose, cotton-mouthed cacti. It's also fairly removed from civilization, which, as I mentioned yesterday, will probably cause David to do his best Jack Torrance impression until we elude him in the hedge maze.

This also means this post will be up here for quite some time. In fact, think of this post as a loaf of bread. It's fresh today, which is the 16th, but by the 27th, odds are, it'll have a mold beard and taste vaguely of cranberries, unless of course it's Wonderbread, which means it will outlive us all. This would also mean you could squish this post into a ball and throw it at the girl you liked while she was drinking her Capri Sun, but I think this analogy has gone on for far too long as it is. Of course, now I really want a peanut butter & jelly sandwich.

Where was I? Yes. I remember. Since we'll be away and, since you're here already, this leads me to believe you probably don't want to be doing whatever it is you're doing at the computer. If you're like me, it's work. If you're like me several years ago, it's homework. I'm just happy we're one of your stops on (all together now) the never-ending voyage against Taylorism.

Now, I'm sure you have your other spots. Maybe you're a sports fiend who spends all day of, debating the valor of Barry Bonds (nil) or discussing John Amaechi, the NBA center who just came out of the closet, perhaps hoping that no one would remember he was on the Utah Jazz and that he stunk. Maybe you're a news junkie or one of those eBay window shoppers ("I can buy a teenager's soul for $8, sure, but what about shipping?") or a music blog reader, bent on hearing about some band from Austin with a legless frontman and a six-woman sousaphone section before that snob at your local record store does. Point is: you've got your spots, I've got mine. So, in the interest of the commonwealth, I thought we could all list a few possible destinations, hoping this snowballs into a lack of productivity akin to Superbowl Sunday, Christmas, and the May '68 French general strike all rolled into one giant ball of slothful idleness. Either that or you can just laugh a few times while you're eating your ham and swiss at your desk.

- Ah, the Straight Dope. Absolutely my favorite thing on the internet. Important issues like "Does the taller presidential cantidate always win?", "How much is all the tea in China really worth?", and a personal favorite: "What exactly is the pompatus of love?" are answered daily, with vim and valor and a spoonfull of avuncular sarcasm.

- Guess what time it is? It's obligatory YouTube time! I sent this clip to a fellow layabout a few weeks ago and he pronounced it the funniest thing since sliced bread, which, by the way: hilarious. It's certainly the funniest thing since Fabio was clobbered by that goose. I still laugh at that. Anyway, if you're at work, make sure your headphones are on. If you're at home, make sure your children are deaf. While you're there, we've posted a video of our hyperactively paced cover of Billy Joel's Movin' Out, also known as Anthony's Song, also known as one of the great pop songs written by a habitual drunk driver. Performance circa drunken New Years.

- I find this hilarious.

- Found Magazine is, if you're unaware, a magazine (duh) dedicated to scraps of paper, snapshots, lists, binders, and all manner of seemingly useless trash that, when you really look at them, are incredibly funny, poignant, or just plain weird. They update it daily and the collections are highly recommended. It's bastard cousins are Mortified, a site and book dedicated to people's vicariously embarrassing diaries, short stories, prom photos, and so on, and Post Secret, a mailbox where folks anonymously send alternatively hilarious and depressing secrets to be posted for all the world to see, an act I find positively weird and borderline pathological, yet, I go there every week.

- As someone without cable, you may regard me as somewhat of a caveman. And yes, before you ask, we do have rabit ears and they get Simpsons re-runs quite well. Also: Teen Jeopardy! I've felt smart all week. Then there's this: a list of places to watch TV for free online. Did you know you were working on a television? Me neither. I hope Myth Busters is on there somewhere.

That seems like a good jumping-off point, methinks. There's more where that came from, of course, and, in fact, more over there to the right. We'll be gone all next week, until roughly the end of February, to return rested, with new songs, completely out of the news, information, and current events loop. Don't go annexing Costa Rica on us or anything. So, until then, au revoir.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

The Plan

So: next week, us four Birdmonsters are heading off to a cabin in the desert to work on a few dozen songs without the distractions of San Francisco. Some of these songs just need icing while others need a complete and total overhaul and, with a fairly long tour upcoming, we want something new to share. Fair enough right? Personally, I'm hoping to come out of the experience with a good handful of well-recorded ditties. I'll settle for no one going all Jack Nicholson in the Shining. After all: no cell phone reception. No internet. If I start seeing twins in the hallway, I promise we'll come right home.

Since we're leaving, of course, something had to break. This time, it was my amp. So I stayed home for half the day yesterday, put on my SARS mask, and did some surgery. I'm not sure which is more absurd: the fact that I thought I, a person who only recently realized how to use those red, yellow, and white cables that connect a VCR to the TV, thought he could repair the innards of an expensive amplifier, or the fact that I actually did. Not sure. We'll find out if my screw-tightening, bolt-fiddling really paid off tonight in practice. Otherwise...Well, let's just say there will be a lot of melodica on our next CD.

We're all rather giddy about going to the desert though. (And yes: one "s" not two. Although, I'd really rather we were going to a cabin inside a giant Eclair, but so far: not happening). We're bringing every instrument we own and are going to take a stab at recording the ensuing clamor. It's kind of like a vacation, except we'll kind of be working, except work will be fun, which highlights the fact that I have no idea what I'm talking about.

I know, I know. The Valentine's Day thing was funnier. And for the record, I own far too little Soft Rock. But I thought I'd share our plan, our excitement, all that. We started the blog to chronicle our last recording experience, so, well, full circle time. We're like a salmon returning to our spawning grounds, except, you know: less fish eggs.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The real skinny on Valentine's Day.

Ladies and gentlemen. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. You were certainly aware of this. If you're single, society has allocated two emotions for the day: glumness and relief. If you're dating, married, or otherwise involved, well, you're allowed more leeway, although flora is recommended by most experts. I'd recommend staying in though: I can't tell you how many Valentine's Days I've been out and have the displeasure of suffering through spiteful significant others going through the motions for $50 a plate. Personally? I'm cooking. Or watching other people cook. Either way: food, booze, merriment. And nobody the next table over threatening divorce because her husband thinks Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is better than Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Which it isn't, so I see her point.

You of course must brace yourself for the inevitable "Valentine's Day is too commercial" rants, bombasts, and Op-Eds. You will hear the phrase "Hallmark Holiday" at least a dozen times. You will hope Maya Angelou's poetry is not involved in this definition of Hallmark. You will be wrong. I am truly sorry about this.

But really: What holiday isn't commercial at this point? Arbor Day? That's about it, honestly, and lately, even the conifers have been getting greedy. And, since Hallmark has a card for everything ("Our condolences on the loss of your keys"), those tirades are pretty pointless. Hell, this is America. Even our blood pressure meds are commercial.

What I'm saying is, those people are missing the point. Valentine's Day isn't about love or complaining about obligatory dating rituals or watching the Vagina Monologues in righteous protest. No. Valentine's Day is about Soft Rock. It's about Chris Deburgh and Enya and "Against All Odds." It's about admitting you love all those songs and it's about listening to them while not in the backseat of your parents minivan or in a dentist's chair when you can't feel your face and subsequently can't tell that you're drooling blood all over your new sweater.

Of course, maybe I'm just making excuses. See, there was an infomercial on a few nights ago (actual line from the host: "I can't believe I'm sitting here next to Air Supply!!!"), reliving Time Life's favorite Soft Rock songs, realizing "Wait, I kind of like that song...shit...that one too. Oh, it's old Elton!" and then feeling a little dirty, a little ashamed, and strangely exuberant. Maybe I'm just saying that Valentine's Day is the soft rockinest day of the year so I can indulge this newfound weakness for DeBarge for 24 hours without all the sidelong glances. Or maybe, just maybe, this was an extremely roundabout way to force you to watch this video, during which someone who I hope never comes close to you at all admits wanting to kiss you all over. Yes, this was the real band. Yes, MTV was once good for something. And yes, I apologize for the ensuing nightmares.

Monday, February 12, 2007

You get older every day. Some days though, you get older than others.

Through a fairly uncomplicated series of events that involves the end of the Simpsons and a slothtastic refusal to move off the couch, I caught a few minutes of the Grammy's last night. More specifically, I tuned in around the time some rather attractive woman I'd never seen before was warbling her way through "Desperado," then followed that by doing a duet with a guy who looked like a masculine, real life version of Miss Piggy. He walked like he had hooves, at least.

I found out this morning, thanks to an Amazon dot com email that invited me to purchase other Grammy themed gems like the Jamie Foxx's "I was hilarious in Booty Call" and the highly anticipated "Another Effing John Mayer Release," that this aforementioned vocalist was Carrie Underwood, an American Idol alum, which, I should've guess because: not singing her own song. But it dawned on me this morning that, yes, I've now reached that age where there can be someone as well-received and prolificly famous as Carrie Underwood and I have no idea who she is.

After all, she won "Best New Artist" this year, edging out Imogen Heap, who, well, sure they've been around since the '90s, but apparently "New" is very, very, subjective. I think the Stones won it in '06. Of course, I didn't know who Carrie Underwood was, what she looked like, what any of her songs sound like. I hadn't even formed an opinion about her. And then I realized it, all of a sudden: I'm out of the loop. Whether it's lack of cable, changing personal tastes, or a natural aversion to anything involving Paula Abdul (and I have a soft spot for "Cold Hearted Snake," so we can count that last one out), I've finally gotten to the age where I just can't keep up with pop culture anymore. Gone are the days when I knew every lyric to that Lisa Loeb song, could describe what Crystal Pepsi tasted like, and could name all four TGIF shows, even while claiming I'd never, ever watch them.

This isn't really a point of pride. I mean, regardless of whether I enjoy Carrie Underwood or not, I feel as if I should know who she is. I don't know why I feel this way. Maybe it's the part of me that really wants to be on Jeopardy and knows I need to know my common knowledge. Maybe it's the part of my that doesn't enjoy being a jackass curmudgeon (a small part of me, I'll freely admit). Maybe it's the part of me that just wants to be able to sing along to pop rock radio when we're driving through the Dakotas on three hours sleep. Whatever the reasoning, I went to bed feeling the way I assume so many parents must have felt when their kids brought that Baha Men CD into the car for the first time: confused, a little older, and a little frightened about the next generation of American citizens. Now I know why my folks kept their "Tapestry" LP.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Why Eddie Murphy hates you. I, on the other hand, love you. That's the first of many differences.

I'm well aware advertising is now ubiquitous. European soccer teams sport sponsors on their jerseys, there's an ad on the cardboard halo that keeps my coffee from burning my hand, and, in Los Angeles, billboards actually get our constitutional rights. But you know what: they're easy to ignore. Magazine ads can be glossed over, radio commercials can be tuned out, and when Jeopardy goes to break, you simply mute the ads for adult diapers and denture creams and sleep apnea meds that let you know you couldn't be further from their target demographic if you were a bi-curious centaur.

But last night, I think I discovered what was essentially the nadir of advertising achievement, that is, until someone starts putting NASCAR-style decals on coffins, which, well, will probably happen early July. But in the meantime, I found the lowest low point, the Mariana trench of trying-to-make-me-buy-shit, if you will (which you shouldn't). Ladies & gentlemen, I present to you the talking-Norbit-poster-over-the-urinal and I ask "does it get any sadder than that?"

I'm not sure if women have ads on the inside of the stalls at public restrooms, but I can tell you for a fact that men do. Not in the stalls but yes, above the urinals. You're standing, you're peeing, and Eddie Murphy is talking to you. It's off-putting. It's invasive. And yes: it's Norbit. There hasn't been a movie since Little Man that I've wanted to see less than Norbit. The trailer alone portends the end of intelligent comedy, thoughtful satire, and, perhaps, the human race as we know it. So please: don't ask me to watch it. Especially while I'm urinating. I ask, as so many before me have asked: Is nothing sacred?

Of course not. But beyond Norbit yammering at me at the most innapropriate time possible, yesterday was what I'd call a success. We played our favorite club on the planet (Bottom of the Hill) with our favorite tourmates of all time (Division Day) for our favorite radio station's birthday (BAGeL Radio). Plus, it was broadcast over the magical being known as the Godternet for those who cared but couldn't come by the fine folks at And I do realize that last paragraph sounded like me doing an ad for all those fine people & institutions but really, I assure you, they barely paid me. And since you aren't in the water closet right now (hopefully), my rant remains valid. Game, set, match: Birdmonster.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

A post containing all manner of glorious, technological musings. Also, how to listen over the internet to our show for free. We're sharing. It's fun

I often wonder what people did at work before the internet was invented by Al Gore*. I refuse to believe that they, you know, worked all day, so I'm going to assume there were lots of cigarette breaks, crossword puzzles in the break room, and weeping in the bathroom. Computers were for Solitaire, spreadsheets, games that involved enemies that were ampersands.

Now? Well, now we've got music, movies, and lunatics all at our fingertips. In fact, it's now possible to watch a video of an old Lionel Richie performance while being paid. And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

I forget about the computer at home though. When chained to a machine for eight hours a day at work, the last thing I want to do at home is stare at the monitor again. So I think my Mac at home is feeling neglected. At this point, it's a thousand dollar jukebox. And it's acting out because of neglect. It takes forever to open up a program, almost as if it's saying "Look who comes crrrawling back?" then it does the digital equivalent of filing it's nails while it dredges up the energy to open AppleWorks.

I'm not sure if you have this problem, but, please: don't treat your computer the way I do. I take her for granted, I leave her on all day, I never use her. So, hey: tonight, while we're playing Bottom of the Hill with lovable scamps Division Day and precocious young 'uns Two Seconds, you can listen for free. Just click here around 9:30 and viola. We're on around 11 or 11:15, by the way.

Of course, seeing it in person will be a superior experience. The lavender aroma of Birdmonster must be smelled to be believed. But in case you don't live in our insular little bay or you can't afford a ten dollar ticket or you're sick or too young and you're looking for something to listen to tonight, click the link above. We'll be playing some new songs to boot.

* Yes, that was a cheap shot. Yes, I know he didn't really say that. Yes, I still think it's really funny.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

A startling discovery

Some people are theme party sort of people. These people have an extensive wardrobe, a box of props, and always, always own at least one hot pink feather boa. Their walk-in closets look sort of like that warehouse the Royal Shakespeare Company keeps all its costumes in. They plan Halloween in March. And for the record, I am not one of these people. It's not because I don't enjoy the dress up, but there was this incident once at a pimp and ho party that spilled over into my house and, well, it ended up with me burning my bedspread. Let's just say I'm not getting much use out of my orange valour hat these days. It's for the greater good.

But I'm going to a 17th Annual Procrastinator's New Year's Party this weekend and the theme happens to be Superheroes and Supervillains and I'm sitting here trying to come up with a truly inspired costume and I got to thinking: has there ever been a real supervillain?

Sure, we've had some villains that one might call super: Hitler springs to mind, as do Pol Pot, Stalin, and that guy who created the Wiggles. But what I'm talking about is the guy who's really out for world domination, who has a super weapon, who's willing to blow up a small Caribbean island to get his point across. A comic-book style, James Bond flavored sort of villain, in other words.

And you know what? I don't think any have ever existed. The closest we can get are dictators and mad scientists, but the former are just depressing while the latter are largely fictional (although Isaac Newton was supposedly fairly loopy with mercury poisoning for a while, so: honorable mention). I guess there's always Ken Lay, but he never looked good in Spandex.

(For that matter: henchman. What's never been properly explained to me is why henchmen actually exist in fiction. What benefits are there to henchman-ery? A good dental plan? A reasonable 401K? Essentially, a henchman is just a hanger-on, right, hoping that this whole world-domination thing goes juuuuust right and they get to be the Duke of Bakersfield? I'm confused by this. I'm going to stop talking about this at the risk of sounding like Seinfeld. Thank you for your time.)

What's the moral here? Well, I've got no costume and I've got no historical figure to draw inspiration from. But at least I've realized there's never been a real life Skeletor and that, somehow, is strangely comforting.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

You should probably not talk to me on July 21st. In fact, the week before. And the one after. Let's just cross July off completely, shall we?

There's nothing like getting to work at 11:30. The bus is empty, the weather is warm, the pay is woeful. By the time you actually start working, it's time to stop working, and you're wondering why the hell you came in the first place. Then you remember that in March, you're leaving on a five or six week jaunt across our merry little country and you remember, more importantly, that even a couple hours work will be valuable when you're living on Wonderbread, Peter Pan Peanut Butter, and spoiled jellies of various flavors. I'm like a squirrel, hording nuts for the winter. Sadly: no rabies. But a boy can dream, can't he?

I could explain why I was late, sure, but just know it involved an 11:30 set in Sacramento, a slow load out, and lots of half-hammered babbling, packing, loading, unpacking, unloading, parking, and, as follows, a too-late bed time. Yes, that about sums it up. I really enjoyed Sacramento too, I just don't have any good stories. Lots of old friends were out, which was kind of the theme of this California-centric adventure, but all in all, it was a pretty typical show. Actually, wait. We did have the illusive one-man-mosh-pit yesterday, which was a sight to behold. Personally, I loved it. It redefined the mosh pit genre. Take that, Dead Kennedys.

Now? I'm an hour into a half day and I just noticed a new guy at work who looks exactly like a Tango & Cash henchman and I'm bored already. Dorky-me, on the other hand, is very excited. I mean, LOST comes back tomorrow and J.K. Rawlings finally announced the launch date for the final Potter and while other folks gripe that it'll cost $45, I'll admit that I'd pay somewhere between $85 and my first born son for a copy.

This time, I've decided I'm going to go to one of those at-midnight fandangos where middle schoolers dress up in robes and everyone in attendance knows the rules of Quidditch to buy Potter 7. Last book, we were on tour and Amazon delivered my copy to my house, so I spent the entire week frantically avoiding anyone reading anything that looked vaguely green. That's not happening this time. This time, I'm going to be in the ground floor. I'm going to have a copy at 12:01. I will shove store clerks. I will hurt children at the front of the line. I will shiv their parents. I cannot be contained.

Of course, that's months away. For now, I'm going to attempt to actually make coming in to work today worthwhile. It's quite a challenge, but I think I'm up to it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

On the wonders of working from home, the joys of surrounding townships, and the bestworst band name I've heard in a while

I'm really starting to enjoy this whole touring-from-home thing. It's like telecommuting, except, you know: less Twinkies, no conference calls, way less sweatpants. Right now, I'm prepping for tonight's show in Sacramento by eating a sesame seed bagel, having a nice cup of coffee, and pretending I'm going to do the laundry, which is one of my favorite things to procrastinate. Right up there with paying bills, cleaning the kitchen, and finally finishing Canterbury Tales, which (let's be honest), I'm never, ever going to do. I already read the part with centuries old fart jokes so really: what's left? Lots of "y"s in place of "i"s, no doubt, and maybe a dragon. Not really one of those books that aged well, in my opinion.

Yes, indeed. Touring from home is a wonderful thing. This weekend alone was enough to endear the idea to me forever, in fact. One of Dave & I...Dave & mine...Dave & my's...this guy Dave & I knew from our short pants, bad hair, and long division days was in town from the tropical paradise known as Denver and joined us for a couple shows. So did a whole slew of signifigant others, friends, friend's parents, and relations whose description would be too convoluted to attempt to truly describe. We played in Santa Rosa to a lovely crowd that, if I may be frank, was larger and far more wonderful than had been previously anticipated. I was nursing one of those sledgehammer-to-the-face hangovers that force you to contemplate a life of dour sobriety but the show was one of our recent favorites. Plus, there was a poster there advertising Birdmonster with $3 Coor's Light which made me realize the name "$3 Coor's Light" is a pretty fantastic (and incredibly deceiving) bandname. Better: "$1 Well Drinks." Or "Free Appetizers." Sure, people would hate you when they showed up, wondering where their cheap drinks or free pigs in a blanket were, but I bet you'd do quite well before the word got out.

The following day, after a fitfull slumber at Zach's folk's house, a large contingent of us dragged ourselves to Armstrong Woods for the hike I can still feel in my hamstrings. Fun fact about Armstrong Woods: George Lucas filmed all that Ewok-y goodness there. Hiking through there is simultaneously breathtaking and dissapointing: gorgeous mossy trees bereft of hairy gremlin things.

We played Oakland that night, ate at E&J's barbeque, and returned home for half the Superbowl before driving our old buddy to the airport & getting that nostalgic trip to In N' Out in first. To sum up: another show, two more delicious meat-centric dinners, the good quarter of a bad game, and more driving. But we did listen to some New Kids on the Block in the car, which, if you haven't done lately, I thoroughly recommend. I'm pretty certain "Hangin' Tough" is the sorriest attempt at thugish posturing in the entirety of human history. Also, it's set to a beat that even the cheapest, back alley, hip hop producer would be ashamed to use, proving, once again, that there was only one true and noble boy band and that their name was Boyz II Men. A moment of silence for the genius that they were and forever shall be. Amen.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

A touching saga of friendship, loss, and perseverance.

First, a little back story.

I've had the same backpack since sixth grade, and, for those of you keeping score, that means I've had this same crusty black Jansport for more than half my life. It's been through various washing machines, mud puddles, three continents, and forty-nine states. (Let's pause and shake our collective fist at North Dakota. Thanks). It's held math books, bass strings, novels, wine, and once, this sandwich got buried under a bunch of biology notes, went mouldy*, and made my backpack smell like some sort of small, cadaverous rodent. It's older than several of my cousins and colored with various memorable stains (paint from that time we had to re-white our walls, mustard from a particularly delicious sandwich, discoloration from the removal of a wad of fossilized Doublemint). And you know how kids used to write their favorite bands on their backpacks? Mine's still boasts the pentimento scrawlings of Ratt, Queensryche, and Temple of the Dog. And yes, that does embarrass me.

Sadly, like old habits, old stuff dies hard. That little outer pouch hasn't worked since I was but a high schooler and the left strap has an annoying tendency of undoing itself at inopportune times. But I'd treated those little injuries with love and tenderness. They were like scraped knees or a decidedly stubborn paper cut or a new Tim Allen movie: thoroughly annoying, but nothing worth truly fussing over.

Then yesterday, after returning home from a grocery store run (and filling the selfsame backpack to the seams with pretzels and wine), I noticed it. Down there at the bottom. A rip. Not a big one. Not one of those rips where you're crossing the street and suddenly all your stuff is in a puddle three feet behind you, under the tires of an Escalade. No, not quite that big.

But, then, any rip in any fabric gets bigger. It's a simple law of nature. It's as innevitable as gravity, as Haley's Comet, as my resignation to watch the Superbowl and subsequently wonder why the hell I wasted my Sunday again. I'd resigned myself to retiring this fine, hard-working piece of luggage, perhaps giving it a Viking funeral on that lake in the park. But then I reconsidered. Not just because I'd get arrested, but because, really: just a rip. You can't just go Dr. Kevorkian on something this hearty after thirteen years, can you?

I say no. We've got patches & sewing machines still right? Sure, I can't use them, per se, but I know people who can, goddammit. In the meantime, I'm going to sit here at work, like some tearful sergeant in a touching Vietnam drama, craddling my backpack and whispering "I'm not losing you! I'm not leaving you here to die!" It's Oscar season, after all.

* Yes, I realize, as an American, that should be spelled "moldy." But the British spelling seems way more appropriate. Much mouldier, certainly. Perhaps I've given this too much thought though.