Wednesday, April 23, 2008

That's It, I'm Moving To Brazil

What if I were to tell you that all three of the remaining presidential candidates would speak on a pro wrestling show? And not to denounce pro wrestling, but to actually speak to wrestling fans, as if they've suddenly become an important constituency? If you don't believe that they would do something like that, then click on this Youtube posting of all three speeches this past Monday on WWE Raw. Then, join me in dry-heaving and mourning the death of decency in this country. I mean, seriously. Remember the uproar when Slick Willie Clinton blew his, um, own horn on Arsenio? Isn't this a billion times worse? There are so many things wrong with courting the wrestling industry, as if they're the bastion of goodness, and then all three go and do it, not just one. An abbreviated list of things that each candidate should question about WWE is here in this excellent blog post by former WWE writer Seth Mates. And believe me, that's just the beginning. But that's where America has collapsed to, where the candidates will fish for votes anywhere they can find them. There has never been a candidate before that spoke to wrestling fans, and there's a reason for that. I really find it in its own way disgusting and filthy. It reminds me of a saying that describes what I felt like after discovering that "Karen" was a dirty whore and I was screwing her: Don't roll in the mud with pigs, you both get dirty, and the pig likes it. Vince McMahon and the WWE are the pigs, and they were creaming their pants at the sight of the next President of the United States rolling in the mud with them. What's next, the Adult Video Awards convention?

Man, am I glad I'm not registered to vote.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Some Random Thoughts On Music

I noticed that music was coming up in a lot of things I was doing lately, so I decided to make this post all about a few of my thoughts on the thing that all of us have in our lives in some form but tend to take for granted, music.

As those who know me well are already aware of, I don't go anywhere without my headphones and either old-school cassette-playing personal radio or my iPod, or sometimes both. And if I feel like really zoning out on a given day, then those sitting on the same train or bus as me will have to be serenaded by whatever I'm in the mood to listen to. I'm a very considerate person in most other situations, but for some reason I'm not willing to listen to anyone who tries to tell me to turn down my headphones. My deal is, honestly, what could the decibel level possibly be for those sitting near me as I listen to headphones? It's not that much of a disturbance. Do I get annoyed when I have my headphones off and someone else is listening to a song so loudly that I can hear it? Only if I don't like the song. And I would never ask someone to turn their personal headphones down just because I don't like the song. I think that's unbelievably rude. And if I like the song, I'd never think of asking the person to turn it down. So I think it's all about my choice of music and the people who don't like my choice of music. In my life, I can remember 3 definite (and maybe a few more) times where I've been asked to turn down my headphones. The music was always hip-hop. The people were always older white people. And the next time, I have a good mind to respond to that request with a middle finger.

A running theme between me and my roommate "Jacob" is how many horrible songs he can guess is on my iPod, because it's basically filled with songs that hardly anyone else liked or heard of when they were out. I'm up to 217 songs on my iPod now, and I swear all except maybe 30 are from before 1990. I didn't mean to yell out one of the songs for him, but I was feeling good Saturday night walking home from the train, and before I got to my front door I let out a yell while rocking out to "Welcome To The Jungle" that would have made Axl Rose proud...I mean barf. Would've made Axl Rose barf. Anywho, Jacob was sitting in the living room as he usually is, and my yell came right outside the window, so when I got in he let me know that he could hear me. Honestly, I didn't know I was quite that loud. So now he knows that I have Guns & Roses on my iPod. That's not nearly as embarrassing as some of the other shit on there, but it's still pretty bad.

Talking about Guns & Roses reminds me of a story from grade school. (REAL NAME ALERT #1) In 7th grade, at Ogden Elementary in downtown Chicago, where a lot of rich, white kids went to school, I was having a lot of trouble fitting in, as usual. There was a fat white chick named Kathy Vajda who was assigned to sit next to me, and she and her friends were so into Guns & Roses that it was almost scary, but we found a way over several days to have conversations about other things and kinda entertain each other. Then I made the fatal mistake of thinking that we may actually be friends, and I casually asked her one day, "So, what are you doing for lunch?" The look on her face was absolutely priceless. She turned completely pale, her eyes bugged out, and she turned away from me without answering the question. It's funny now how freaked out she was over the concept of going to lunch with me, but at the time it really hurt, not because I wanted her or anything, but because I thought we were friendly enough that she wouldn't be ashamed to step out in public with me and grab a burger. Boy, was I dead wrong. I never spoke to her again.

Hey, I like dropping real names. Maybe Kathy will Google herself and my blog will come up, and she can read about what a cunt she used to be. So I'll do it again. (REAL NAME ALERT #2) So another song on my iPod is "Let The Music Play" by Shannon, a radio and club hit from the early 80s, and I have an early and intimate history with that song. In 2nd grade at Skinner Classical School, the strongest crush I had in my life up to that point was on a black, fair-skinned, Jheri-curled 6th-grader named Margaret Stallworth, but of course, I'm just a short, annoying 2nd-grader, so she wanted nothing to do with me. It's not like I was really trying any moves at that age, but I just wanted to be near her. Somehow, I was able to find out that she really loved the song "Let The Music Play," so I went home and camped out on the radio station most likely to play the song, then I used my portable $20 mini-boombox to tape the song (or at least part of it) for her. I had to Scotch-tape the back of my cassette player closed in order to hold the batteries in, because I had lost the piece that holds down the batteries, and I had to be careful not to tilt it forward because I had lost the front piece that holds the cassette in. But I managed to get the poor tattered thing on the school bus and play the song for Margaret, and she was so touched by the effort that she kissed me on the cheek. Proudest. Day. Of. My. Life. At least at that point in my life. And still to this day, every time I hear that song, I think of Margaret and how sweet I was on her and whether she turned out as hot as I imagine she did. So, if you've read this blog from its infancy and you know about all the silly shit I've done trying to please women who don't deserve me, there's the moment that the desire to make a woman happy was instilled inside me.

It really is amazing how a song can take you back to something that you normally wouldn't think of. I haven't been to the strip club with "Drew" and his brother and friends in years, but I recently downloaded a couple of songs that reminded me of those trips: "The Thong Song" by Sisqo and "It Feels So Good" by Sonique. Both were prominently featured during certain sets at the Admiral Theatre back in the day, and both songs conjure up the dimly lit club with its personality-deprived, soulless dancers charging $10 for air dances where you can't make contact with them. And yet, those were fun times. Just hanging out with the guys all night was fun, and just sitting in a place with dozens of naked women walking around was, of course, a blast. Some of those dancers found a way to distinguish themselves and work hard to give the paying customer a great experience, so it's not fair for me to call them all soulless and personality-deprived. I'm sure those few dancers and those songs are the only reasons that I miss the strip club, because I don't miss spending money that I didn't have and still not having any pussy at the end of the night.

My media class has been having spirited debates about music, specifically hip-hop and the messages sent by the music. One guy, who never shuts up and can't be older than 19 or 20, had the nerve to blame his bad behavior on hip-hop, saying that when he calls a woman out of her name it's because that's the only way he knows how to relate to them. I've heard some ignorant statements before, but that one's near the top. I had to gently argue with my teacher one day when he insisted that the old white men who run all the companies that distribute media (TV, movies, music, etc.) would not publish music that disrupts the status quo, such as if hip-hop decided to put out messages empowering black people to get out of the ghetto and educate themselves instead of the usual "pimps up, hoes down, shoot everybody" mentality. I don't think those old white people give a damn what message is put out there, so long as it moves units out of the warehouses. All two people that read this blog, you can debate this if my memory is serving me wrong, but this is the point I made: In 1990, the #1 rap albums were by M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice, and there's absolutely nothing hardcore and gangsta about that. The gangsta rap theme as a pop culture phenomenon, in my opinion, began in 1991, when, without ANY advertising or commercial endorsement (because of the language and violent imagery), the #1 album of that summer was N.W.A.'s "Efil4zaggin." They had to print "Niggaz4life" in reverse so as to try to avoid getting banned from all the record stores, and yet still it was flying off the shelves. "Nuttin' But A G Thang" came from Snoop and Dre about a year later, and the rest is history. But it's not that white people wanted to publish gangsta rap in order to dumb down the black race. It's that gangsta rap started selling like hotcakes (and, famously, not just to black folks, but white suburbia as well), and all the record companies had to follow the trend or else risk being left with their dicks in the dust, so to speak. Then we had to debate whether to ban rap lyrics or not in class, and that was easy--you can't take certain words and pronounce them evil and ban them. Words don't mean shit unless you want to make them mean something. And words don't make people shoot other people, bad parenting and/or mental illness make people shoot other people.

Finally, I was excited to read that Mariah Carey has another #1 hit on her hands, with a song called "Touch My Body." Anyone who knows me is aware how I feel about Mariah Carey. Not only is she smoking hot, especially with that 40 pounds she's put on since her debut in 1990, but I love her voice, even with all the verbal acrobatics that don't necessarily add to her songs. The thing is, I've never heard her new song. I don't listen to music on the radio anymore. That's how bad it's gotten. It started with my general avoidance of the radio after the "Karen" episode four years ago, because of all the songs out back then that reminded me of her, and my desire to listen to today's music continued to erode from there. The breaking point was when I had the chance to listen to American Top 40 on a lazy Sunday morning two summers ago and was hit with the fact that one of the top 10 songs in this country was being "sung" by Hulk Hogan's daughter, and another by Paris Hilton. In that moment, mentally I turned around and walked out of the pop music room, shaking my head and wondering if I would ever come back. So far, the answer is a resounding no.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

To Memphis And Back, Eventually

Whew! What a whirlwind last few weeks it's been for me, so much that I'm exhausted despite having a week off work. Of course, I wasn't planning a full week off, but thanks to the airlines, that's what I wound up having. Here's what I've been up to:

I did take the time to relax during spring break, not doing much besides hanging with "Jacob" and doing several online baseball fantasy drafts. I had to write a paper for media class, though, and have it ready when class started back. I was taking it easy so much that I had to scramble and write the paper at the last second. My superior writing skills saved the day, however. Not only did I get a perfect score, but the teacher copied the paper, cut my name off, and handed it out to the entire class as an example of the way a paper should be written. As if my head needed to be made bigger.

With my grades in order, I flew to Memphis to see my girlfriend last weekend, and also to watch the 2nd annual Civil Rights Game, which happened to include my White Sox this year in an exhibition baseball game against the Mets. (The Sox lost.) This is about when my feet started giving me problems. My right foot felt a little strained before I left, then my left toe felt strained while I was in Memphis. Feet were not the body part in the spotlight during this visit. No, that would be the clitoris. See, I'm of the impression that I'm not that good at giving head to women because I've never made anyone scream and juice all over my face like on the pornos, so I had not tried to eat out my girlfriend yet even though she has given me several blow jobs since Thanksgiving. Also, the humidity makes my nose run, causing me to stop usually after about two minutes. This visit was only three days; I arrived Friday, and was supposed to leave Sunday. We had fun between the sheets Friday night, then after the rainy game and dinner, we were knocked out Saturday night. So while cuddling Sunday morning, hours before I was to leave, I asked her if she was satisfied with the amount of physical intimacy we had, and without hesitation, she softly asked, "What do I have to do to get you to go down on me?" This was something in my head the entire time I was there--I knew she was going to want this soon because we had discussed doing it before and I kept saying I was tired, or otherwise avoiding it. She reached in my pants and initiated more hanky-panky, and I returned the favor, eventually pushing the coffee table out of the way and getting on my knees and orally pleasing her for a few minutes before the angle started affecting my neck. She said she was happy with the little bit of clit teasing, but I think she was just happy to get any head from me at all. She suggested that she was starting to feel used, and I don't blame her. She's probably sucked me off more than five times now with no reciprocation. I have to up my game if I'm going to keep claiming that I have a happy relationship.

The travel adventures began after we fooled around on her couch. I checked the United Airlines website for my flight status since the weather in Memphis had been dreadful and Chicago wasn't much better, and for the first time since I started flying around a few years ago, I had a flight canceled. It was a stroke of luck that I even checked the website and found this out, because I had never done that before. Normally, my girlfriend would have driven me out to the airport, which is a half-hour from her home, and we would have wasted that gas and had to turn around. We were able to hang out Sunday night and watch baseball on TV, which I know is just her most favoritist thing on Earth, then I had a 2:15 flight the next day. Now, this screwed me up already because I had a psych test Monday morning that I was going to miss, and I had to call in to work and use an unscheduled day off. But it would get more screwy. would inform me that the flight was pushed back to 5P, then later it displayed a 7P expected departure. This is a 2:15 flight we're talking here, and that's after my flight the day before was canceled. My girlfriend was going to come home from work on her lunch break and take me to the airport for that 2:15 flight, but I had to e-mail her and tell her don't bother. She wound up coming home from work early and taking me to the airport in plenty of time for this now 7P flight. So they shove us onto the plane at about 6:30, as if we're moments from departure, then the attendant grabs the mike and actually says the following: "Okay, I have an invisible shield, so anything that gets thrown at me will not hit me." You can't imagine the heart-sinking feeling that rises from hearing that. She then announced that they had been informed by the TSA that we weren't going up in the air until 9P. I had to take out my iPod and listen to nothing but smooth jazz music the entire time that we sat there just to keep myself calm, or as my girlfriend described it later, "You had to go to your happy place." People were calling airline agencies scrambling to rearrange connecting flights, although someone seemed more concerned with whether her family taped Deal Or No Deal for her. Finally, we took off at about 9, and landed at about 10:30. Jacob was kind enough to run me out to the airport when I left, and he picked me up as well, so things could have been much worse. If I had to navigate public transportation that late, I wouldn't have made it home until after midnight.

The foot problems this past week have been killer since I came back home. Between my toe joints being swollen and my ankles being twisted and tendons being inflamed, both my feet have been giving me lots of trouble. The worst was after Thursday. Knowing that I had a very long day with two classes in the morning, plus making up my psych test, plus meeting Jacob and participating in the live baseball fantasy draft for our money league that night, I wound up ingesting quite an impressive amount of caffeine on the day. I had like 3 Pepsis during lunch, then after we got to the building for the draft, I had two cups of coffee and about 4 more cans of Diet Pepsi. Caffeine is one of the no-nos for people who have gout, but I haven't had a flare-up since the Great Steroid Shot of 2004. However, I hadn't had this much caffeine at one time either, plus we did a LOT of walking around before the draft. Friday morning, I woke up with severe swelling in the joint of my right big toe, so severe that it felt like the gout pains that I had a few years ago. All I could do was avoid caffeine and red meat all day and hope that the swelling would decrease. Well, it did yesterday, but now my ankle hurts from overcompensating all day Friday. I just took an Aleve Gelcap as I prepare to go to work, so hopefully that will help me get through the day.

I'm counting down the five weeks of school that I have left now, and I feel really good about the grades that I will earn. The most interesting thing on the horizon for me is a Sick-A-Cell bowling benefit in two weeks. I attended this last year but couldn't bowl because my knee was killing me. Now, I have endless foot problems. I'm hoping that I will be okay when it comes time to bowl, because I really want to this time. I hated standing around last year feeling useless. My girlfriend is still scheduled to visit during the Sick-A-Cell walk-a thon weekend in June. As I kissed her goodbye at the airport, I assumed that she would be giving a try when she came to Chicago. "No, I'm gonna fly," she said. After all the crap I went through, I would have thought she would avoid the airport from now on with the much cheaper bus option now available. But I think we both have heard so many horror stories about long bus rides that we're wary of going that route. But if we're going to spend more time together, then one of us is going to have to test it out and see if it's any good. I have a feeling that I shall be the guinea pig for that project.

Oh, and Kansas has to beat Memphis in the college basketball final Monday night, or else the girlfriend wins our bracket challenge again. And I won't reveal what the bet was, but let's just say, the stakes are very very high.