Thursday, January 29, 2009

Concerning Celebrities, CDs, and Arts Degrees

So my friend Jacqueline inspired me to do an "Interview Me" blog, if nothing else because my next post is only half-baked. After doing so, I think it's worth perpetuating, so comment me if you want to be interviewed!

1) Describe to those not cool enough to be "in the know" why it is that I call you Chicken Fetus.

You know, for someone who has a genuine appreciation for nicknames and who routinely doles them out on the unsuspecting… chicken fetus has been the one moniker that I will never live down. Flash back 10 ½ years ago (which reminds me of the immanence of a reunion sometime in the next 12 months), and yours truly was entering his senior year at Rotten Lawton High. To put it in context, Savage Garden, K-Ci and Jojo, and Chumbawamba were playing on the radio ad infinitum, and I had follicles on my noggin. Now, this being a time when teenage defiance and self-expression found its form in hair color, I thought it best to set the tone of my senior year by bleaching the bejeezus out of my hair. And I actually thought it looked cool or original. In actuality, I was a wife beater short of a Slim Shady clone. So even though I didn’t think the change was that drastic, my arrival to the first day of summer band proved that my Eminemorphosis was too much to take. Thankfully, I’ve always had friends that were honest enough to not let me get away with anything, but still, I was a bit jarred when my friend Justin Montgomery dropped the bomb:

Dude, what’s with the hair? You look… like a chicken fetus.

And with that one grand, emasculating coup de grĂ¢ce, I walked into my high school halls with my tail effectively tucked. In retrospect, I believe my cosmetic blunder ironically sealed my balding fate. If I had any wisdom at that age, I would have seen that my already thinning hair was a sinking ship and in no condition to be fried to an otherwordly shade of piss. Better to nurture it with Selsun Blue or the foul-smelling Neutrogena T/Gel shampoo for a few years. This slice of humble pie was far from tasty. But I guess it garnered a few shared laughs at my expense.

2) What degree did you get in college, do you use it now, and do you ever regret not getting a degree in something else?

Oh the undergrad. Bachelor of Arts. Emphasis in Music and Ethics. If you’re raising your eyebrows in a collective Huuhhh??, just know that this is the appropriate response. Like most liberal arts degrees, mine afforded me very little material application in life. And honestly, when would these two fields of interest ever converge in a vocation? Unless I was mapping out the moral depravity of vocal starlets for a living, I’m going to say they wouldn’t. While I rather enjoyed all of my undergrad studies, I have to concede that familiarizing myself with Renaissance areolas and ass cracks was nothing more than mental masturbation.

As to whether I regret not studying something else, I’ll unapologetically admit that I’d have preferred to have acquired a different skill set for the money that school costs. The world of academia is fickle, and there can be a huge disconnect between book smart and life smart. That is to say, I don’t think Medici family history ever came in handy when I needed to replace an alternator. Still, I can’t say that I would’ve changed anything. I’m no proponent of Chaos Theory, but I recognize that we are, as people, the summation of all of our previous choices and experiences. To try and go back and negate our missteps, I believe, would rob us of opportunities for growth and maturation.

3) What book has left the biggest impression on your life? What band/album/song has done the same? Why?

Wow. This one’s a toughie. Or is it toughy? As an aside, is toughie even a word? It sounds more like a failed infomercial product from Ronco. Toughie© – When the flooring gets tough, the tough get Toughie©! But I digress… No, the question is tough because I’m constantly cycling out my must-read and must-listen lists. So even though you asked for superlatives, I’ll give top 5’s and a brief justification for each.

Top 5 Books that you have to read, unless you suffer from some disabling impediment, in which case you should purchase the 26+CD audiobook

The Brothers Karamazov – Dostoevsky – I’m a sucker for classics. And this Russian literary wonder is chock full of family-churned drama. From Alyosha to The Grand Inquisitor to the trial, it’s all great, beginning to end.

Naked – David Sedaris – I rarely stumble across something that can literally make me laugh out loud. Before Naked, I never knew memoir could be so hilarious, even if it might be exaggerated. This is a must have if I’ve ever known one.

The Varieties of Scientific Experience – Carl Sagan – Thought-provoking, challenging, inspiring. Sagan reminded me that the mysteries of the universe should invoke awe and hope, not fear.

Lord of the Flies – William Golding – Maybe it’s because a new Lost season just started, but I’ve got islands on the brain. Contrary to Salinger’s school of thought, Golding makes a convincing case that, stripped of modern conveniences, brutality and corruption emerge from humanity’s primal state.

His Dark Materials Trilogy – Philip Pulman – Grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. Think for yourself. Read it and then form an opinion.

Top 5 CDs that you can’t live without, or at least without which you would live a languid existence

O – Damien Rice – One of the most amazing debuts ever. Except for the operatic closing of “Eskimo,” this is an emotionally raw handful of tracks.

The White Album – the Beatles – It’s difficult to pull a favorite out of the Beatles catalogue. I chose White because of its historical significance. Despite brimming over with creativity, you can feel the tension in the tracks as the Fab Four began to pull apart in different directions.

HAARP – Muse – Though I recommend all of Muse’s albums, I chose the live CD because it draws from all their material, and it showcases just how talented these guys are live. And the Prokofiev intro gave me chills.

Speak For Yourself – Imogen Heap – I mean have you not heard “Hide and Seek” by now? Seriously?

Diorama – Silverchair – After the melancholic opus Neon Ballroom, Daniel Johns emerges victorious after having battled his demons. It’s stunning, beautiful, and one of the few albums that I can listen to from start to finish.

4) Is there any aspect of your past that you wish you could have now?

Another time travel question. Without getting too sentimental, I’d most definitely spare a few loved ones some grief. I don’t personally think that there’s any circumstance that’s insurmountable. We only have the here and now, so I’m not the type of person to be haunted by the coulda woulda shoulda’s. But it would be nice to spend more time with the dearly departed.

5) By my estimations, you will be 28 on Feb 19. (If I'm wrong, please forgive me!) Do you feel old? Why or why not?

28 it is. Or will be. Old is a state of mind, I suppose. I’m finding that the things I used to hate about adulthood I now like. Whereas I used to run from responsibility and the daily grind, I now find solace in whoring myself out to management. (*note: I initially wrote “whoring myself out to the man,” but this added unintentional meaning to a simple statement about my work ethic.) But for the sake of prolonging an answer, I’ll indulge in a bit of good ole fashioned complainery. Growing up I never had any issue with allergies. But on the other side of 25, my years are now highlighted with an annual visit from grossly disfiguring bouts of rhinitis and edema of the eyes. I’ve never considered myself a looker by any stretch, but there have been days when I looked more like the Cryptkeeper than Mr. Clean. So I’d like to thank the flora kingdom for airborne pollen. Thanks to them, I’ll always have a vocational plan B ringing bells atop Notre Dame de Paris.

And, a bonus just because I really want to know: 6) Do you really remember me or are you just being polite, because our friend Matt can't seem to remember who I am. Go on, be honest - I won't get offended :)

Unlike some nameless Mormon, I do remember who Jacqueline is. I believe we made it to summer band practices via my decrepit ’89 Chevrolet Celebrity, which was understandably a celebrity in no one’s book. But it got us from A to B, and transportation at that age is a hot commodity, even if the manner and means are subject to rust and primer spots and frequent break downs!

Now it's your turn if you would like me to interview you just leave a comment and I will email you the questions! Here's the directions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where a Kid Can Be a Juvie

There was a day when nothing excited me more than the prospect of a visit to Chuck E. Cheese. The promise of video games, pizza, tokens, tickets and a performance by the animatronic band on stage every half hour was enough to send yours truly into pre-pubescent squeals. So I was genuinely excited this month when our family celebrated my nephew’s third birthday at the one establishment that I thought could assure raucous celebration. I should have known better when we pulled up to what was evidently a Denny’s in another life.

A few steps in and we were greeted not with the gleeful merriment of childhood innocence but rather a barrage of acrid smells and shrill toddler discord. Probably due to the threat of an amber alert, a menopausal gatekeeper tagged every child and adult with a UV stamp. I suggested that she brand my ass, but the look on her face suggested that she was weighing whether it was worth losing $8.00 an hour to take me down a couple of notches.

I immediately noticed that things had changed in the 20+ years it had been since my own birthday romp with Chuck. Sure, there was still the surplus of bells, chimes and LED lights to send the younglings into euphoric delirium. But for me, adulthood has given way to a heightened awareness of germs and communicable disease, and I was immediately self-congratulatory of the decision to bring along a bottle of hand sanitizer.

With dawning awareness that I may have uncovered a lesser known 10th circle of hell, I consoled myself with the fact that food would soon allow my accruing rage to subside. That is, until we were presented with the hot garbage that narrowly slid under the parent category of "pizza." Here again is another example of how age has disenfranchised me with childhood experience. There's a reason that children always want to eat fried foods. Their nascent taste buds have little tolerance for anything that doesn't come in nugget form. If it's not colorful, noisy, salty or sweet, then there's little chance they'll take more than two bites. So naturally I didn't expect any objection from the kids, no matter how unpalatable our rations might be.

I, on the other hand, could not mask my revulsion when presented with the room temp trainwreck of tomato sauce, cheese and bread. It tasted like nothing less than a dish towel that Chef Boyardee used to wipe his crevasse. That anything that rancid could pass as sustenance was a culinary offense I'll not soon forget. But the optimist in me affirmed that despite a crippled economy, there's always an opportunity for a new shitty food enterprise. Welcome to CaCa's Pizza! Try our baked crapolini and feces bread!

If there were looks of unbridled excitement on every child's face, it was offset by their collective parents' morose and sullen countenances, each in full recognition that this was certainly not part of the 10 year post-high school plan. Each fatigued face bore the battle scars of incessant requests for more tokens. And yet, I found out that everyone has a coping mechanism. Whilst playing ski ball, some all-star dad next to me deemed it appropriate to dominate the basketball shoot-out game. Bleeding tokens, he played game after game, trying his hardest to outdo himself by sinking the most baskets before the 30 second timer ran out. It could have smacked of something other than chagrin, if it didn't seem like he was fueled by the paralyzing regret of being passed up for all-state 15 years prior. Add to that the fact that neither the ball nor hoop were regulation size, and there were no offspring in his proximity through which he could live vicariously. Truth be told, his competetiveness has more than likely alienated his sons, and they've taken up decoupage.

The unspoken consensus among all attendees over 17 was that it didn't bode well to tarry here in Munchkinland, a fact cemented by the relatively recent increase in parent on parent brawling at said establishment.

Shameless Battle o' Brooding Hens
An Octagon short of a new Spike reality show
"I'll have the pepperoni and black-eye pizza. Hold the suplex."
Mama-Bear Melee
"Happy Birthday, Miss Demeanor..."
The first rule of Fight Club is that you DO NOT cut in line at the ticket redemption counter

And if the finger wagging hasn't become searingly obvious, sit back and observe human devolution at its finest.

Leggo my Prego

Even Chuck himself doesn't appear to be immune to the mass loss of moral fiber. I suppose he pushes product with Geoffrey the Toys 'R Us giraffe, and after a bump or two they're both ready to beat Lucky the Leprechaun senseless until he hands over his pot of gold. Well with any luck, Mr. Cheese can score a stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew. His namesake's consumers, on the other hand, can only be assured an appearance on COPS and tenure at the local county jail.