Rando Review, Volume 1: My Day Off

Work was literally a figurative Hell On Earth these past few days. Indiana University hosted the Big Ten swimming and diving championships the last half of the week, and some 38 billion people descended upon the restaurant where I work in four days, with an estimated 12,000,065 alone from 4-11 pm yesterday.

Some people won, some people lost, and most importantly, all the motherfuckers who came to town for that shit are gone. Buncha off-menu orderin, half-and-half pizza eatin jackanapes. Anyway, that shit’s in the past now; I’ve had this whole day off, and it’s been pretty tight. Mrs. Circle Pit is out of town with her sister and their mom for a basketball game, so I’ve literally had the day entirely to myself for the first time in longer than I can remember. I approached the experience with no plan whatsoever, and if I may say so, I’ve done alright for myself.

I ate nachos for lunch while watching an episode of Key & Peele, I drank a bunch of coffee, and I’ve listened to Fully Completely by The Tragically Hip (a perfect album) and Hidden History of the Human Race by Blood Incantaion (weird, bitchin psychedelic death metal). I’m currently listening to No Good to Anyone by Today is the Day (it’s a fuckin banger, although there’s a chance the bass guitar in the opening/title track might’ve gotten me pregnant – stay tuned for updates), and am about to listen to Mirror Reaper by Bell Witch.

I also cleaned up my flower beds and built a raised bed for this year’s vegetable garden…

Our neighborhood is lousy with wildlife (seriously, it’s like a friggin Disney movie sometimes), especially deer, so I nailed chicken wire to an old pallet and leaned it against the fence to help minimize potential deer access from one side. It serves a dual purpose, though, as I can grow some kind of climber up it, i.e., zucchini, because that shit’s delicious.

I lined the bottom with several layers of newspaper (thanks, IDS!) and some dead leaves. I’ll be adding my soil soonish, and I’ll figure out some kind of cheap way to protect the other three sides from deer, as well as other woodland critters.

I’m gonna grow a tomato plant, definitely zucchini, and something else (some kind of pepper maybe?), along with some herbs and flowers.

I’ve wanted to build a raised bed for several years now. I’m not sure what inspired me to finally get on today, but I’m glad I did. It felt good to work with my hands, and the result is far from perfect, but I’ve spent way more time making way shittier things in my life.

Last but not least, the icing on the cake that is My Day Off: I picked up a copy of Phantasm on DVD at Big Lots for fuckin two dollars and eighty-eight cents! I owned a DVD copy a long time ago, and it disappeared at some point. I own a VHS copy, but both of our VCRs shit the bed in the past year, and I haven’t gotten around to replacing either of them yet. Now I own a watchable copy, and I intend to watch it very soon. Maybe tonight, right after I finish this dumb thing.

Now I’m chillin and enjoying some Ruby Bloom Amber Ale from Bloomington Brewing Company while I wait for Mother Bear’s to deliver my dinner. So far, I’d rate My Day Off a 9 stars out of a possible 10 stars. Your move, Mother Bear’s; show me what you got.

Thanks for reading, friends. Until next time…

The Great Trumpet Will Sound

I had a crush on the same girl from kindergarten through 5th grade. In grade two a few of my friends and I would play this game at recess where some of the girls would snatch the hats off our heads (usually after a swift kick to the balls) and run, and we’d try to catch them. I should mention that the sole reason we wore hats outside at recess was so the girls would kick us in the balls and take them off our heads. Why were we into that? Who came up with the idea? Seriously, what the sincere, actual fuck?

Anyway, I always wanted Angie to take my hat, because I liked her, but when she did, I could never catch her, because she was easily the fastest girl in our class. She was probably the fastest person in our class, period. Fuck, could she run. I always wanted to do whatever Angie was doing, because I liked her, and that’s what I thought liking someone was all about. Doing the same things, together, all the time.

So when I found out Angie was gonna play trumpet in 5th grade band, I had no choice but to beg my parents to get me a trumpet. They finally relented, scoring me a used trumpet on payments at a local music store. This was gonna be the answer, I thought…all my Angie-related dreams were about to come true, and it would all begin with me sitting next to her in band practice.

I ended up being accidentally kinda good at the trumpet (or I was better than the other 5th graders, anyway), so I quickly earned the first chair position, which immediately made me nervous. I’ve never wanted to be in charge of anything, and I don’t much care for being looked at, but I accepted my new role with the all grace and aplomb that a 10-year-old boy can exhibit.

For our annual Christmas concert that December, the 5th and 6th grade bands were combined into a Super Band (not its real name), I assume with the purpose of shortening the overall concert time, since there were also choir performances slated for pretty much every grade, and ain’t nobody got time for that. Since the bands were combined, I was seated to the left of the 6th grade first chair trumpet, Jackie.

One of the songs we were performing that night was “Carol of the Bells”, and I was tasked with the heavy responsibility of beginning the song 100% solo. I was nervous, but at the same time, I was as confident as I’ve probably ever been in my life. The time came, the band director indicated that the floor was mine, and I began to blow a perfect rendition. She quickly waved me to a stop, did something with her hands that seemed to indicate that I should be playing louder, and started things up again. I once again played flawlessly, and as loud as I could possibly play, and she once again waved me to a stop, and did the same thing with her hands again.

I was sweating through my clothes at this point, beyond embarrassed, and wanting nothing more than to simply disappear forever. I was just about to start playing a third time, even louder this time (I don’t know if that would even have been possible), when Jackie leaned over to me and said “you’re in the wrong key”. Turns out while I was playing the notes correctly, I was indeed playing in the wrong key, and the band teacher’s hand motions didn’t mean that I should play louder, they meant that I should be playing an octave higher.

30 seconds in, that was me, but one entire octave too low.

Angie quit the trumpet after 6th grade, but my parents wouldn’t let me quit, as they’d paid a small fortune, relatively speaking, to satisfy my schoolboy crush – a crush that by then didn’t even exist anymore. I played on through 7th grade, at basketball games, concerts and the occasional football game, constantly regretting my shortsighted decision to learn how to play the trumpet.

Thankfully, my parents got tired of having to drive me to concerts and games, and upon completion of my 7th grade year, I was allowed to stop playing the trumpet. The cursed instrument went into our attic, where it stayed for the next decade, until I sold it to a former co-worker, and now…

I even had to google “key vs octave”. I still feel a mild twinge of panic when I hear “Carol of the Bells”, though. I’ll never forget that.

Pizza Monster: The Origin Story

My pal Collin mentioned yesterday that he’d been reading this esteemed blog, and really wanted to know more about the time I ate 22 pieces of pizza. That story is the first of a few different instances of me becoming what the missus semi-affectionately refers to as “The Pizza Monster”. I’ll probably share the rest of those stories eventually, because they’re pretty funny, but for now, here’s the origin story of my alter ego, The Pizza Monster.

Like all high-school-age boys, I was pretty gross. I never drank or smoked or did anything “wrong”, really, but I did have a vice: shoving foodstuffs down my big fat piehole like it was my job. I was a chonky boi, as the kids might say, and as such, I could put away some food, friends.

One night, about 30 minutes after finishing my supper (I don’t remember what we ate that night, but I can guarantee I ate seconds of everything, and probably thirds of some things), Travis called to see if I wanted to join him, his brother Tyler, and their mom on a trip to College Mall. I couldn’t turn down that offer – a chance to go to town on a school night? Fuck yeah that wide!

 

On the drive up, Travis told me we were also gonna go to Mr. Gatti’s after we were finished at the mall. At the time, I’d never been to a Mr. Gatti’s (or even heard of it), and said as much. Travis regaled me with tales of all-you-can-eat pizza, breadsticks, and cheesesticks, plus air hockey, Street Fighter II, skeeball, holy shit was I ever stoked! Travis mentioned that the last time he was there, he ate 20 slices of pizza. Before I even realized what was happening, I responded “I can eat more than that.”

Travis obviously accepted my challenge, and soon after – a mere 2 hours after I’d eaten essentially two full meals with my family – we began our contest. If you’ve ever been to Mr. Gatti’s, you know that not all their slices are cut evenly, so we placed no limitations on size, but we also didn’t purposely choose smaller pieces just to increase our count. We ate and ate and ate, and then we ate some more. When the final buzzer sounded, I’d eaten 22 slices, and Travis had eaten 23.

I want to take this opportunity to remind you that I’d eaten dinner not long before our journey began. We were also definitely guzzling root beers the entire time we ate. If I hadn’t begun the contest on a full stomach, who knows how much pizza I could’ve put away? I may still be there eating pizza to this day. 

Travis, by the way, stands at least 6’5″, and can still destroy some pizza to this day. About five years ago, I saw him devour two New York-style slices (each bigger than my certified XL head) like they were a couple of potato chips, and as recently as three years ago, he ate a large pizza and an order of breadsticks by himself.

Those slices were very much like this.

As for me, I still wanna eat all the pizza in the world, and I still eat too much of it every single time I eat it (did I mention that I’m a Pizza Monster?), but I’ve never again come close to the glory of that day in 1993 when I consumed 2-3 days’ worth of calories in a mere 4 hours.

Bloomington Music Expo

I just returned from the second annual Bloomington Music Expo, where I accidentally spent 3 hours looking at records and CDs, and I came away with a pretty great haul, though I did leave behind a few things that I’ll surely think about longingly (for at least) days to come. Regret will have to wait, though, because today I got some rad shit! Here are the things I picked up, mostly in the order in which I purchased them.

Holy shit!

I’ve written about Testament extensively on my other blog, so I won’t bother here. They’re one of my favorite bands, and this album is an overlooked gem that got buried in the darkness that was 1990’s heavy metal. This particular edition is on beautiful white vinyl, features “artwork reimagined by Marcelo Vasco”, and is limited to 1,000 copies worldwide. It’s sooooooo goddamn good.

The dude I bought it from had a beautiful original pressing of Gorilla Biscuits’ Start Today, and I’m already regretting not picking that one up.

I didn’t even know this beauty existed, but holy smokes am I ever excited to own this! The B-side features a bitchin etching of the title card from the cartoon, which unfortunately does not photograph well with my phone.

Two of the greatest albums from one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands to come out of the United States. I’m pumped about In Color, in particular – if it was the only album Cheap Trick had ever released, they’d still be one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands to come out of the United States.

Evidence.

Roy Orbison and Cyndi Lauper both rule, obviously. The booth I got the Cyndi Lauper record from was like looking through my sister’s record collection from when I was kid.

I got these three, along with the Roy Orbison record pictured above, for a total of ten bucks!

If you’re unfamiliar with Roy Clark or Jerry Reed, you should change that.

Evidence.

And last, but certainly not least…

…I got the motherfucking 12″ UK single for “Wasted Years”, my favorite song ever from my favorite band ever. I’ve written a lot of stuff about Iron Maiden, some of it for my other blog, most of it on my personal Facebook page (which led directly to my decision to create my other blog), and I will likely write more about Iron Maiden in the future. Rest assured, I am beyond stoked to own this. The B-side consists of a phenomenal song called “Reach Out”, which features lead vocals by guitarist Adrian Smith (who also wrote “Wasted Years”) and backing vocals by Bruce Dickinson, as well as a fun tune called “Sheriff of Huddersfield”, wherein the band pokes fun at their longtime manager Rod Smallwood, who had then-recently moved to Los Angeles and constantly complained about it.

Adrian’s solo gets me every time.
This is a fan-made video which repurposes footage from the “Wasted Years” video. Adrian’s voice is so good.

I also got a pristine copy of Steve Earle’s first album, Guitar Town, but I left it in the car. It’s a fantastic album, especially for a debut.

That’s all for today. I’m gonna blast the shit outta that Testament record. See y’all next time.

I Control This Game

I don’t have time to write much at the moment, but I feel the need to share some songs. I’m finding myself dipping into a bit of a funk again, and it boils down to being unable to let go of little things that don’t matter. I know better, but I have to constantly remind myself that most of the day-to-day bullshit means nothing, and that what really matters is how I deal with said bullshit.

With that in mind, here are some songs I find inspiring. They are in no particular order. Maybe one or more of them can help you, too.

“One Life, One Chance” by H2O

H2O helped me get through some shit back in my early 20’s. I likely would not be here today if it weren’t for their music.

“And no one said it was gonna be easy
And I’m not afraid to try
And with the odds stacked up against me, I will have to fight
One life, one chance, gotta do it right”

“Kid” by The Bouncing Souls

The Bouncing Souls (and the album Hopeless Romantic in particular) helped me get through the same shit that H2O helped me get through. I absolutely would not be here today without The Bouncing Souls and Hopeless Romantic.

“Is it true when we get old our hearts die?
I heard it in a movie once, and I think I know why
Life can suck so bad it makes you wanna die
But you get by

Life goes by”

“First Failure” by Gorilla Biscuits

Gorilla Biscuits did not save my life, but they do kick a ton of ass.

“When my eyes see a loser in the mirror
I think ‘what did I do?’

Sure I fucked up, but I got back up
So that loser shit’s out the window
And if you been let down, it might not be the last time
Cheer up, it will hurt much less tomorrow
We’re all tired of fucking up and that’s not just being sorry
It means brush the dirt off

Get up and try again”

“Choices Made” by CIV

After Gorilla Biscuits broke up, 3/4 of the band formed CIV. The other 1/4 formed Quicksand, and they fucking rule, but they won’t be featured here today.

“I don’t need you to make my choices
I can speak, you can hear my voice
And I don’t need you to make my choices
I can speak, you can hear my voice

And everyone’s not looking for approval
Sometimes you gotta go it alone
Don’t work too hard being normal
Just work hard on what you want”

“Change the Key” by 7 Seconds

Good to Go is not regarded as the most important 7 Seconds album, but it’s the one I heard first, and is also my favorite. Right place, right time and all that. The band’s entire discography is a masterclass in positive hardcore.

“I’ve learned that patience is better
I take a breath and count real slow to ten
Why don’t we try it together?
We’ll make mistakes, get up and start again

Don’t feel a need to be violent
I’m working with this rage inside of
Me
And I will never be silenced
I’ll try and use this rage to set me free

Change my ways and I’m still trying
It ain’t easy but I’m not crying
Change my plans and my direction
I gotta change the key that makes this person me”

“Vent” by Snapcase

Snapcase is a fucking great band.

“So it’s been a bad day
Everything seems grey
My upstairs is out of place
I need to be by myself
Rely on no one else
Only I can erase the slate
All of the walls I’ve built to protect me seem to fall
Down
All around and I see things so differently
Down is the taste of the day
But things will change
I can be strong and keep my head up
Time
All I need is some time by myself
I need to go where there is no one to come and try to find me
My feelings must open up and vent
Breathe
All of the walls I’ve built to protect me seem to fall
Down
All around and I see things so differently
Down is the taste of the day
But things will change
I can be strong
Beat frustration
Keep my head up
And accept my feelings now
So there will be better days
Sacred getaways are the means of my escape
Then I will collect my thoughts or lose them if I choose
I control this game”

That’s all the time I have right now, friends. Thanks for reading.

Shit From An Old Notebook (with Apologies to the Minutemen)

This blog is the natural extension of an old school cut and paste ‘zine I started working on when I still lived in Austin. My homeboy Jimmy, from back in the day, advised that I just do it online, because it would be cheaper and easier, and in standard Jimmy vs. Joel fashion, I ignored his arguments and instead spent the better part of 5 years putting together 2 issues of Doppelgänger! (A Zine With Some Stuff in It). I’m fairly pleased with the first issue (though some of it strikes me as a little embarassing now), and I’m mostly satisfied with Issue #2, but not long after I made that one, I started to get happier, and the need to cut and paste my troubles away began to dissipate. I started the layout for issue #3 about 7 or 8 years ago, and it remains unfinished to this day, in a box labelled “Zine Stuff”, stashed in my closet next to a box full of old VHS tapes that I simply cannot bear to part with.

Long story short, Jimmy was ultimately right, as he often is, but at the time, old school was the only way. I needed the tactile element of creation at that point. Twelve years later, I still enjoy the tactile element, but I’m much more aware of the necessity of getting it out there while there’s still time.  It’s later than you think, friends.

At some point in the past week or so, it occurred to me that in addition to providing you with fresh, cutting-edge content (ha!), I could also use this space to reprint stuff from my old ‘zines/notebooks. If nothing else, it’ll keep the blog active. The title of this post, by the way, is stolen from a song by the Minutemen. You should listen to them.

You might be asking, Joel, what the hell is the point of all this? That’s almost always a fair question when you’re talking to me. The point is, here’s some shit from an old notebook (and Issue #2 of Doppelgänger!), edited slightly for clarity (date unknown, but sometime pre-2008):

Here’s something to think about: how fucking funny would it be if professional wrestling, circa 1980’s, was absolutely and totally real? Like, f’rinstance, what if Dusty Rhodes really wore that wristband, vest, tights, and kneeboot ensemble, all black with yellow polka-dots, all the time? What if the Ultimate Warrior, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage really talked like that, all the time? Just imagine if Koko B. Ware, George “The Animal” Steele, “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Hulk Hogan, Mr. Perfect, the Honky-Tonk Man, and the Bushwackers were all completely and utterly real…

One step further now: imagine if you regular life was like professional wrestling, circa 1980’s. Like if your actual life was in danger at all times because of a grudge between you and a guy who wears a mask and a gold sequined robe. Or if, for some reason, you and your cousin (each of you with a fondness for leather and spikes) had a feud with two pig-farming brothers who lived down the road, and your day were peppered with the risk of cheap shots from brass knuckles, handfuls of sand, and other “foreign objects”. Or if your life-long best friend suddenly took off his pink fringed vest to reveal a t-shirt emblazoned with a picture of himself with his new best friend…

And of course: everyone would have their own theme song, and some people would have managers and/or bodyguards, but other than our running fueds, we’d live the lives that we normally lead. For example, “Dangerous Dave” Jackson of St. Louis, Missouri might drive to work every day at the Anheuser-Busch brewery every day while listening to a song about being a true American patriot. Meanwhile, his arch-nemesis, a filthy-rich trust fund socialite from Massachusetts named Phineas Vanderbilt, a.k.a. “Mr. Moneybags”, would sit at mahogany desk and count his money while listening to a song about how rich and powerful he is, his bodyguard Rufus ever vigilant over his left shoulder…

So to repeat my original question: how fucking funny would it be if professional wrestling, circa 1980’s, was absolutely and totally real? Now that I have these images in my mind, I can’t imagine anything funnier.

That’s that. For the record, I can imagine funnier things now, but this scenario still cracks me up. There’ll certainly be further installments of “Shit From an Old Notebook” in the days and weeks to come. I hope you enjoy them, and I hope you’ll visit again soon. In the meantime, find me on facebook and instagram @clockwisecircle. And tell your friends, won’t you?

Don’t You…Forget About Me…

‘Sup? Here’s a thing I wrote almost 5 years ago, for my other, more neglected blog, Stay Heavy. I like it. Maybe you’ll like it, maybe you won’t. I’m not the boss of you…

https://stayheavyalways.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/you-know-im-a-dreamer-but-my-hearts-of-gold-a-thing-about-butt-rock/

Regardless of whether you liked that or not (or whether you even read that or not), I’ll be back here soon. Come back and check it out. Or don’t. I’m not the boss of you.

If you enjoy the things I write, feel free to tell your friends. It’s not like I’m gonna tell them. I probably don’t even know them, but even if I do, I feel weird talking about myself, even right now.

You can also feel free to follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Fuck Twitter, though. Twitter is bullshit.

Clockwise Circlepit

Stay Heavy Blog

Seriously though, Twitter is bullshit. What kind of monster can say all they need to say about a thing in 280 characters or less? Not even 280 words, but 280 fucking characters?! And don’t even get me fucking started on Twitter threads. If you have that much to say, FUCKING PICK A FUCKING DIFFERENT FUCKING METHOD THAN FUCKING BULLSHIT FUCKING TWITTER!

FUCK!

Anyway, visit again soon, won’t you? Maybe I’ll talk about G.I. Joe until you regret calling on me. Maybe I’ll blab about some obscure punk/emo band from 1999 until you question your decision to drop in. Maybe I’ll go on about Sanford and Son, and you’ll realize how fucking hilarious that show was (and still is!). Maybe I’ll share my feelings and make us all feel awkward.

But do what you want, I’m not the boss of you.