Old-Ass Mixtape Reviews, Volume 1: Beloved Songs

Howdy! I’m trying really hard to make sure I write something every day, no matter what. Right now I’m not feeling my main project, so I thought I’d try something new(ish), just to keep my brain moving. I have a bunch of old homemade mixtapes from way way back (most recently circa 2005), and I haven’t listened to most of them in well over 10 years. What I’m gonna do, from time to time, is play one of those tapes and write about it.

I plan to write while the tape is playing, ostensibly to write a real-time “first listen”-type review, but also to just force myself to write for a set period of time. I will not allow myself stop before a tape is finished, except in cases of emergency, or if the tape just goes kaput, which so far seems like a real danger with this first one. I’ll be surprised if I can make it through a single play without this tape literally (figuratively) exploding.

Readers of my old blog might recall my Old-Ass VHS Reviews there, wherein I would review an old-ass VHS tape featuring some kind of heavy metal band or bands. This’ll be similar to those. As stated above, I’ll write while listening, and then I’ll go back over it for some light editing – minimal overdubs, unlike this tape. This tape so far is like if mud made a sound.

Oh, “this tape” by the way, is called Beloved Songs. There’s no date on it, so I’m not sure when I made it, and I legitimately have no idea what’s on it. Anyhoo, here are some words about it.

Side One

1. First up is “Lay Lady Lay” by Bob Dylan. I don’t remember liking this song before Ministry covered it on their 1996 album Filth Pig, but I guess I did. A lot of people think Filth Pig is a real piece of shit, and honestly, I understand why a long-time Ministry fan might feel that way. I, however, am more of a casual fan of Ministry, and I really like Filth Pig. Especially the title track – holy shit!

2. “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin, or maybe something else…no, the chorus just kicked in, it’s definitely “Immigrant Song”. Is that a chorus? I don’t really know. Anyway, this song is dope. This recording sounds like it’s playing from the bottom of a 50-gallon drum filled with muddy water, and maybe a turd is floating on top. I might have to scrap this experiment and try another tape.

3. Is this “You Could Be Mine” by Guns ‘n Roses? I think it is. It started out as something else, and then this cut in. Oh yeah, Slash’s guitar is almost cutting through the muck. Duff’s bass is definitely discernable, but Duff is a complete badass, plus bass is almost the only thing audible on this whole tape so far. The longer this song plays, the more it sounds like if the band was playing live at an amphitheater, and I was listening from someone’s back yard like half a mile away. And it was kinda windy outside.

Side note: I sat in the living room with a tape in the VCR for three Fridays in a row in hopes of catching this video on Friday Night Videos so I could record it. Life before the internet (and without cable TV) was hard. You kids have no idea. Now get off my lawn.

4. “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin. This one is kinda clear. It still sounds like shit, but I could tell what it was immediately, and there was no doubt whatsoever. I fuckin love this song.

5. “Hey You” by Pink Floyd. This one is also relatively audible, especially once I remembered to turn down the bass. I can’t imagine a scenario where I’d listen to this tape ever again, but if things continue thusly, I might be able to get through it one more time for this. Holy shit! it got super loud for a sec, and then…
5a. “Nothing’s Changed Here” by Dwight Yoakam cut in during the guitar solo. Dwight is such a badass. Then after about 15 seconds…
5b. “Speak of the Devil” by Pirates of the Mississippi cut in for four lines of the chorus, and then…
5c. “Hey You” slid back in for literally 2 seconds, and then…
5d. “Where Are You Now” by Clint Black on the Big Ten Countdown on Indiana’s Country WKKG (101.5). Damn, y’all, that Bart Ellison had a smoooooth goddamn voice.

Shit, that was regular ol’ rollercoaster!

6. We now join “Monkey Business” by Skid Row already in progress. This song is so fucking good. Skid Row was so fucking good. Not just the hits, either – Skid Row was a goddamn beast from 1989’s Skid Row through 1995’s sUBHUMAN rACE. I saw them live on the sUBHUMAN rACE tour when they opened for Van Hagar (who were touring for Balance). I will never forget how immensly heavy Skid Row was that night.

Side One clicked off while I was telling you how motherfucking heavy Skid Row was, so I’mma flip it, reverse it, etc.

Side Two

1. Ooh, it’s “Fly Me Courageous” by Drivin’ N’ Cryin’! I haven’t heard this song in a long time. I think I still like it, but I can’t tell from this copy. I couldn’t even tell what it was until the volume shot up right at the refrain.

I was really into this song back when it was new, but I don’t remember ever listening to another Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ song.

2. “Brain Damage/Eclipse” by Pink Floyd. I was really into Pink Floyd for like 5 years in my early teens. It seems like that was pretty common among teenage boys back when I was one of them. I still like them a lot, but I’m less likely to put them on a mixtape these days. The tape has returned to sounding like muddy buttholes.

3. “Stranglehold” by Ted Nugent. Man, Ted Nugent is such a piece of shit. I hate myself a little bit for liking some of his songs. I saw Ted Nugent live two summers in a row (1995 and ’96, I think), with Bad Company providing support both times. I wasn’t as acutely aware of what an asshole Ted was back then, but my memories of his band’s live performance are positive. Bad Company kicked every bit of ass both years. Also, lawn seats only cost 12 bucks.

4. “Traveling Riverside Blues” by Led Zeppelin. My discovery of Led Zeppelin coincided with the release of their box set in 1990, when I was 13. That’s a pretty perfect age for a dude to get into Led Zeppelin. Anyhoo, the box set included 2 previously unreleased songs, and this was one of them. Like the bulk of early Zeppelin, this is mostly just an amped-up cover of an old blues song, but I still dig it. I do prefer their middle period, though, especially Side Two of IV and the entirety of Houses of the Holy. I remember seeing the video for this on MTV at my aunt Connie’s house once. That was pretty exciting. I saw the video for “Sweet Child o’ Mine” once there, too. I’m getting of track, though.

5. HOLY SHIT! A live rendition of “Jesus Was Way Cool” by King Missile! I’m hoping future tapes have little surprises like this hidden inside. I feel like this must’ve been recorded off “Brave New World” on Rock 92 FM.

“If you were blind, or lame
You simply went up to Jesus
Or, well I guess if you were lame, Jesus would probably go up to you
Because it’s difficult, if you’re lame, to go up to Jesus”

And that’s the end. That was a fun little excursion. Look for another one sometime soon. Don’t look too hard, because I make no promises, but I’m gonna try to try. Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, why not tell a friend?

Don’t forget to follow Clockwise Circle Pit on Instagram and Facebook. I’m on Twitter too, even though I hate it, because it’s much easier to talk shit to Donald Trump and his kids (and Ted Cruz) there. So, y’know, follow me there if you want, but I don’t really use it for updates or anything.

Finding Something New

“Tone deaf” is certainly an appropriate word to describe Ivanka Trump’s entire life, but this “Find Something New” campaign that she rolled out yesterday reaches Beethoven levels of deafness. Some rich asshole who’s never worked a day in her charmed life is gonna tell me to get a new career just because her piece of shit dad fucked up by pretending like this pandemic wasn’t real? How about you get a new career fucking off, Ivanka.

In all fairness, Ivanka isn’t the only tone deaf member of that family, but as the most attractive of the Trump kids (just ask her dad!), everything she does has bit more of a sinister edge than if Eric or Don Jr. were presenting the same ideas. When you see those two assholes, you expect a certain amount of chicanery.

I mean, these two dickheads are obviously full of shit.

On the surface, the idea is not without merit – learn a new skill, get a career in a field that pays relatively well, leave your low-paying job behind. But what happens when everyone who is currently laid off, or who is currently working a low-paying, “unskilled” job “finds something new” and leaves their low-paying, “unskilled” jobs behind?

Oh, you want a decaf pumpkin spice latte with skim milk? Too fucking bad asshole, all the laid-off baristas found something new, and are now repairing elevators. You wanna order the Cobb salad but you wanna sub cheddar for gorgonzola and you wanna sub steak for chicken and you wanna sub spinach for half the amount of lettuce? Sorry fuckwad, all the furloughed servers and cooks found something new, and they’re working as electricians and plumbers now.

Look here: I’ve been cooking professionally for more than half my life, and I’m fucking good at it. It’s not considered skilled labor, but I promise you it is, and I challenge anyone who disagrees with that statement to step into a busy kitchen in the middle of a Friday night dinner rush and prove me wrong. That shit is exhausting, both physically and mentally.

Unrelenting heat, flames and steam and smoke shooting out from all over the place, slip-and-fall hazards that can’t be dealt with right away, sharp knives moving everywhere, dehydration, never-ending noise coming from every imaginable direction, 7 tables order at the same time, and one of those is a 20-top who wants to modify every goddamn thing they order, food being sent back because a surprising number of people don’t seem to know what “medium rare” actually means, all while trying not to piss yourself because you haven’t been able to step off the line to go to the bathroom in over 4 hours. And when it’s all over, you get to start restocking and cleaning!

That’s not something any random person can do. The list of people I’ve worked with who found that out the hard way and moved on is much longer than the list of people I’ve worked with who are still in the industry.

But don’t just take my word for it. Watch the late, great Anthony Bourdain step back into his kitchen for the first time in years.

And I’m not saying my job is anywhere close to being the hardest job. Hell, I’ve worked harder jobs myself. I once spent the absolute worst three consecutive weeks of my life as a construction laborer, and I left there to go back to foodservice, because fuck every bit of being a construction laborer.

What I am saying is that it takes a certain set of skills to be good at working in the service industry, regardless of the specific job. Cooks, waiters/waitresses, bartenders, baristas, manicurists, hair stylists, estheticians, hotel workers, retail, bowling alleys, convenience stores – all of it. Shitty, unskilled employees exist in all areas of the service industry (as in every industry), but the ones who are good at it, and who can make a career of it, are skilled, and if you can’t see that, you’re big ol’ shit head.

But Ivanka Trump thinks I should use my time while I’m furloughed from my relatively well-paid job at a beloved locally owned restaurant that offers health insurance and PTO to pay for classes and training and “find something new”. Simple, right? No way a 43-year-old man would have any trouble getting a job in a new industry in the midst of a recession.

I know, I’ll just ask my dad for a small loan of one million dollars, and I’ll find a new career making guillotines!

Y’know, for Alice Cooper. In case he ever gets to play live again.

Thanks for reading. And good luck finding something new.

Current Situation, 06/17/2020

Here are the current contents of my brain, in no particular order:

The cops who murdered Breonna Taylor should be in jail.

I really miss my mom, and I wish I could show her what I’ve done with yard since we bought our house.

Systemic racism is real, even if you don’t believe in it.

My friend Chris is making a comic out of one of my old short stories, and it’s awesome.

The only appropriate response to “Black Lives Matter” is “yes, they do.”

There’s a cricket in the garage, and it might drive me to madness.

Corporate-backed media isn’t telling you the whole story about anything, and you should seek out alternatives.

I only have old short stories, because I pretty much never write anymore.

The new Run the Jewels album is fucking amazing.

Police departments need to be de-militarized immediately.

My hibiscus is getting so tall.

Donald Trump does not care about you, unless you are Donald Trump.

I’m very sad that Darn Good Soup is closed forever.

If you are Donald Trump, you can and should go fuck yourself.

I like my job, but I really wish I didn’t have to go back to work.

Defunding the police does not mean abolishing the police, it just means reallocating funds into programs and services that are designed to help the people rather than the state (i.e., “protect and serve”, but for real).

If you haven’t watched What We Do in the Shadows (the movie and the series)(and especially the series), you should change that.

Fox News and MSNBC are state media, and you should stop watching them immediately.

If you don’t appreciate absurdity, you probably shouldn’t bother with What We Do in the Shadows.

“White privilege” doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard, it means that your life hasn’t been made harder because of the color of your skin.

This song has been speaking to me a lot lately.

Climate change is real, even if you don’t believe in it.

I’d eat tacos every single day if my health would allow it.

The majority of confederate monuments were erected in the era of Jim Crow laws, and their purpose was to intimidate black people and reinforce the losers’ backward-ass belief in white supremacy, and that’s why those monuments belong in the museum or the ash heap.

Look at this fine specimen of confederate pride: “master race”, indeed.

I wish I could get paid to write without having to sell ads.

Antifa just means “anti-fascist”, and being opposed to facism is not up for debate.

Coffee is just the fucking best.

Seriously, fuck Donald Trump forever and ever.

I started laying this thing out just before I got into bed last night. As I was drifting off to sleep, I realized that if I’d started writing regularly when I first got furloughed back in March, I’d’ve kinda been getting paid to write this whole time. I’m not especially smart sometimes. Thanks for reading, though.

Ignorance is No Excuse

I don’t have anything new to add to the ongoing conversation about the impending fall of the American Empire, but since this is my blog, I’m gonna sort out my thoughts here, hit that “publish” button, and wait patiently for people to unfriend me on facebook.

I will start with this, because it is fucking important: BLACK LIVES MATTER. Full stop.

Stop saying “ALL LIVES MATTER!” in response. There are thousand people who have already explained this better than I can, but would you go to a walkathon for Alzheimer’s Awareness and shout “ALL DISEASES MATTER!”? No, you wouldn’t. And if you would, you’re an asshole.

And besides, if you really believe all lives matter, then I assume you’ll agree that both the death penalty and the for-profit prison system should be abolished immediately. Spoiler alert: they fucking should.

After several days of watching and reading about unprovoked police violence against people exercising their constitutional right to protest peacefully, and against journalists exercising their constitutional right to report freely on the events, I’m at a near complete loss.

“What makes a person want to be a cop?” That’s a very good question, Poison Idea. I sure as shit don’t understand it.

“But, Joel” you ask, “what about the looting and the smashing windows?”

I don’t condone property damage and theft, but you know what I don’t condone even more? A piece of shit cop with a documented history of racism choking an unarmed man to death in front of witnesses because of a counterfeit $20 bill he was black. Fuck that guy, and fuck all of the other cops who looked on while it happened, and fuck any cop anywhere who doesn’t stand up and say “ENOUGH!” And if property damage and theft are more important to you than human life, then fuck you, too.

Windows can be fixed. Innocent people are dying. I wanna break some fuckin windows myself, and I didn’t even know George Floyd.

And besides all that, there’s plenty of evidence that the majority of the people causing damage are just using the protests as a way to create chaos and/or steal things. This includes white nationalist groups and paid instigators. (My friend Liz helpfully pointed out that I forgot to mention this. Thanks Liz!)

Here’s some helpful info, if you want to educate yourself on police violence: https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/

And here’s a condensed version of this information: https://policeviolencereport.org/

And don’t even get me started on that pumpkin-headed, blubbery-assed, tiny-handed, puckered-up-butthole-mouthed toddler currently lowering the property value at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. He is not a good person, he is not “presidential”, he is obviously not a Christian, he does not have good intentions in his head or in his heart, and he clearly does not care about anyone other than himself. His language since his campaign began has been loaded with violence, and it’s only gotten worse. And now he’s tear-gassing peaceful protesters so he can clear the way for a photo op to pander to his base.

It’s a picture book.

He is doing nothing to help this situation, he is on the wrong side of history, and anyone who continues to support him will be, too. If that upsets you, good. See if he’ll let you hide with him in his bunker while the world evolves around y’all.

And look here: I’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination in the past. In elementary school and junior high (and, to a lesser extent, in high school) I was harrassed by people for my long hair, and for the music I listened to. As a broad-shouldered adult man with a pretty large beard, I’ve been subject to suspicious looks in airports (especially when I’m wearing a metal t-shirt) and plenty of jokes about how I “look like a terrorist” (my usual response: “just because I’m white doesn’t mean I look like Dick Cheney”).

But you know what? None of that amounts to a pimple on a whale’s ass compared to what people of color have dealt with for centuries. I’ve never feared for my life because of the color of my skin. That is my privelege, and I own it. I grew up in a “poor” working class family, so it took me some time to accept the fact that my skin color has always granted me some level of privelge, but I understand it now. Educate yourself. Ignorance is no excuse.

I cannot know what it’s like to experience the kind of systemic racism that BIPOC face every single day. I can only say that I see you, I hear you, and I support you. I will continue to do better, and I will do everything in my power to help. I’m also mad as hell.

I cannot remain silent while people of color are murdered and beaten by cops, in full view of witnesses, with impunity.

I cannot remain silent while our government officials and the police who are hired to “protect and serve” are teargassing and firing projectiles into crowds of peaceful protesters.

I will not remain silent while a lying, adulterous reality television star/failed businessman continues to embarrass our country every single day.

Thanks for reading. Now keep reading. Get involved. Be on the right side of history.

I’ll leave you with someone else’s words. This song that was written in 1987, but it could just as easily have been written today.

“Police Related Death” by MDC (words by Dave Dictor, music by Ron Posner & Willie Lipat)

Racism is as American as apple pie
And if one black boy dies who’s gonna cry?
Smashed and handcuffed and beaten to death
One colored man to deal with less

A graffiti artist was his crime
Mayor Koch says New York’s finest are fine
Can justice be really this blind?
If you or I were black would his death be yours or mine?

South Bronx elderly woman can’t pay her rent
She’s a mental case so the SWAT team was sent
Wouldn’t open the door so through the window they went
Blew her away in cold blood without a regret

Police related death
Just another police related death

Pregnant woman from east L.A
Asked who knocked, they would not say
Refused to answer, those sheriffs went wild
Shot her in the stomach and she lost her child

Those teenage boys from Texas caught with a little dope
It was Black Freedom Day, a prayer and a hope
Sent handcuffed in a boat to the middle of a lake
The boat sank, the boys drown, precautions they didn’t take

How many men of color were shot last year?
How many dents did it make in any policeman’s career?
The mayor and chief cry crocodile tears
Just look a bit concerned as election time nears

Police related death
Just another police related death

Two sets of laws for the rich and the poor
Look at the prisons and tally the score
Black man’s chance of prison is one in four
Prejudice and racism wrapped in class war

If Malcolm X and Martin were alive today
How many lives of grief and pain they could relay
And how for these injustices can anyone repay?
And what amount of sorrow can anyone convey?

How much suffering must be endured
Before this social cancer can be cured?
Do color and class make one good or bad?
Doesn’t prejudice and hate make humankind sad?

Police related death
Just another police related death

The State of the Things Address

Soooo, shit’s pretty weird these days, eh? Toilet paper memes have become the new legal tender, and most of us seem to be dazing through the days, largely unaware of when and where we are. I won’t pretend to understand it any more than you or anyone else understands it, but I do know that I’ve already missed some really cool shit because of what’s happening in our world, and I’m finna miss a bunch of other really cool shit in the next month or so (at least!) because so many dumbass motherfuckers refuse to take this shit seriously and just STAY THE FUCK HOME.

Oh, and stop listening to that brain dead shit gibbon in the White House. He is not a scientist, and he is not intelligent.

Seriously, people…this country was seemingly founded on laziness and half-assing everything, and now that the world needs y’all to just sit the fuck down and watch TV, everybody gotta hang out at the park, climb on the playground, throw parties in their backyard twice a week, and go to the store all the fucking time while refusing to pay attention to your surroundings and not get so motherfucking close to strangers.

Now that that’s out of the way: Hello! How are you? It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for this blog (or much of anything at all, for that matter), but I seem to have an abundance of time on my hands for some reason, so I figured I’d roll up my proverbial sleeves and think out loud (i.e.,on paper) (i.e.,on electronic paper) and see what I can come up with/get out of my brain, because let’s be honest, friends, I got some stuff I need to get out of my brain.

Before this train leaves the station, a full disclosure, for anyone reading this who doesn’t know me personally: I am not sheltering-in-place alone – I am happily married, and I love and adore Mrs. Circle Pit, and we’ve been having a lot of fun together. And I know things could be worse for me in an inconceivable number of ways, but having said that…

April 13, 2020 might be the day I lose my goddamn mind.

Much hubbub and hullabaloo has been made about the psychological effects of social distancing, self-isolation, and sheltering-in-place, and I’ve been aware that those negative effects are very real and very powerful for a lot of people. But if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been pretty immune to the effects so far. I’ve never cared much for people in general, what with humanity being completely fucking awful and all, and as far as working goes, not having to work is all I’ve wanted out of life since about a week after I started my first job however many years ago.

“I’m tired of this back-slappin’ “isn’t humanity neat” bullshit. We’re a virus with shoes.” – Bill Hicks

I’m seven years younger than my closest sibling, which means I didn’t have a built-in playmate around the house growing up; I spent a lot of time reading and playing by myself, and I enjoyed it. I’ve always had a few close friends, but the operative word there is “few”. It’s not that I can’t get along with other people, it’s just that I usually don’t want to. I’ve found that more often than not, people ruin everything. For better or worse, I identify much more with Holden Caulfield and Kilgore Trout than I do with Dean Moriarty and Jay Gatsby.

I like not having to be around people, and I’m generally pretty content to be left alone. I’m completely happy to be not working, and I’ve been mostly okay with not being able to do things off the property.

Until today. Today might be the day I lose my goddamn mind.

Up until today I’ve kept busy with lots of things – learning to bake bread, cooking in general, doodling/drawing, gardening/yardwork, cleaning, listening to music, going for walks in the park around the corner from our house, watching movies, reading, etcetera. Today, I’m at a complete loss. Not a single indoor thing sounds fun or enjoyable or interesting, and we’re experiencing 30-35 mph sustained winds (with 50+ mph gusts) and falling temperatures, so I can’t really enjoy anything outside. I’ve already washed all the dishes, and I’ve paced the entirety of our house about 30 times since breakfast, and now I’m about to lose my goddamn mind.

I have to admit, to myself and to the world, that this awkward, introverted, curmudgeonly misanthropic humanist really fucking misses human interaction, at least a little bit. I have so much disdain and contempt and disgust in my heart for the human race at large, but I sincerely love and miss the people I chose to surround myself with when the world was still chooglin along. I’m likely to pull a muscle hugging somebody when this bullshit is over, as long as I don’t lose my goddamn mind first.

Stay strong, stay safe, and stay home. And don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help. Until next time.

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.