Thursday, June 30, 2011

Something New

     Finally, I've started working on a new project.  It's amazing how good a new project can make you feel.  It pulls me immediately out of whatever slump I had fallen into.  I start imaging the characters and I start spending a little bit of time with them.  I think about them all the time; I take the train with them and have conversations with them.  I invite them to the ball game and their enjoyment of said game tells me a lot about them.
     Often the characters are a version of myself.  As part of the character profile to get this project off the ground, my new writing partner and I decided to list out all of the things that make us awkward, or just the awkward things we do.  So, here's a start to that list:

  • Finish most transactions by saying "unless you don't think I should."
  • Leave sunglasses on head while at work.
  • Trip over anything.
  • Knock things off tables with backpack.
  • Insist on carrying backpack everywhere.
  • Announce when going to the bathroom.
  • Hold the door for people who are actually pretty far away.
  • Answer non-yes-or-no questions with "yes?"
  • Throw silverware on the plate and shout "I win" when finished with meal.
  • Over explain things to wait staff.
  • Spill every thing.
  • Don't notice when others stop talking.
  • Wave at people who look familiar on the street.
  • Barter for goods and services.
  • Talk to yourself in public restrooms.
  • Dance in the elevator.
  • Push the alarm button in the elevator with backpack, then look around like "who's doing that?"
  • Fall.  A lot.
  • Answer the phone in unconventional ways.
  • Pull the tablecloth off the table when leaving for the restroom.
  • Splash water all over self when washing hands.
  • Tuck pant leg into socks.
  • Open an umbrella while in the doorway.  Get stuck.  
  • Go around a revolving door more than it requires.
  • Double up in a revolving door.
 This is by no means an exhaustive list.  I live my life in this awkward shell.  Even close friends are sometimes amazed by how I can continue to be this awkward and not fall into a crevasse. 
     I'm looking forward to this new project and all the ups and downs it will surely provide.  I'll laugh, I'll cry, I'll give it a soundtrack.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Me Vs. Me

      There's the person I want to be and the person I am.  There may even be a few others, such as the person I think I am and the person other people see.  Perhaps the actual me is the amalgamation of all of those people.  That's probably true, actually.  I fit somewhere between this person who actually does what I do and say and this person who thinks she does and says things slightly different.
     I often end up disappointed in myself.  This is an interesting sense of disappointment because on one hand it is incredibly personal and damaging.  On the other hand, other people aren't aware of it and if you don't make a big deal of it and learn from it, you can move on pretty unscathed.
     I don't read as much as I'd like to.  I do, however, pretend I read a lot.  If you were to peer into my apartment, you would see evidence of a reader.  I have a few bookcases full of books in my living room.  In the bedroom, I have a stack of books next to my bed and another short stack next to my TV.  Also, most of these are not light reading; you would assume I'm a serious reader.  It's bullshit.  The truth is, I just never put books away.
     I want to be a reader.  I'm jealous of all the people who have read all the books on their shelves, who exit bookstores with stacks of books and then actually take them home and read them.  I used to be a reader, which is why I have all the books I have.  I like the idea of reading; I even like the act of reading.  I don't know what the trouble is anymore.  Every time I stare at the books I've started with their bookmarks in them, I'm disappointed in myself.  I wallow a bit in the idea I might be getting dumber.  But then I try to start over, pick up another book, read a little more (bird by bird) and I suppose I come out the other side relatively unscathed.
     I'm not overtly professional.  At times I attempt to put on airs that might indicate I am.  I own a few suits and I have on occasion worn them to places.  This is, of course, bullshit.  I would like to wear jeans, flip-flops, a t-shirt, and a hoodie every day.  I understand how to pretend to be professional, but I'm not really it myself.  I pretend it's a switch I can turn on and off.  It's not really, as I've learned from experience.
     This also leads to a certain sense of class and poise I'd like to think I have.  I actually have very little class.  I look down on cheap beer and short skirts, but I have no basis for doing so.  Sometimes I pretend I'm demure, but then I eat an entire pizza.  Ah, fancy restaurants.  I try them out and pretend I belong, but it doesn't always go well.  Recently someone said very earnestly "can you believe we used to eat at Taco Bell?"  And I responded, also quite earnestly, "Um, yes.  Because Taco Bell is fucking awesome.  And I assume by 'used to' you mean yesterday."
     Pretending I don't like Taco Bell is pretending to be someone I'm not.  And herein lies that giant chasm between the person I am and the person I think I am.  I think I've become a person who reads, carries herself professionally, enjoys the finer things, wakes up at a respectable hour, and uses her gym membership.  None of those things are true.  Left to my own devices I'd watch hours of TV, sleep till noon, and eat hot dogs for most of my meals.  I'd only run if being chased.  I am not who I think I am. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

FrISC 2011

     New York City changes me.  I stop thinking about appropriate bed times and drink limits.  The only time I regret it is on the 7am bus ride home.
     This weekend was the 2nd annual Friars' Club Improv and Sketch Competition, or FrISC!  It's a two day competition: day one is for improv and day two is for sketch.  Teams from all over the country (and apparently Canada) submit their acts and the top 5 improv teams and top 5 sketch teams are chosen to showcase their material to a live audience and a panel of judges.   Oh what fun!  It's also a great format because it's rare to be able to see so many different teams at one time.  They're each given 20 minutes to do what they do.
     Full disclosure: I missed the first night.  I had to take the bus up on Friday after work.  Waiting in line for a bus can suck sometimes.  I try to make the best of it, and having chat on my phone is one of the best ways I've found.  This is part of the convo I had with Mary whilst waiting:

 Followed shortly by this:
1.)  Typos are inevitable.  That should read "lit up," but luckily Mary knew this and for once didn't jump all over it.  2.)  This turned me into the jerk who is just standing in line cracking up at nothing.
      Eventually the bus arrived, we all loaded on, an we were on our way.  During the trip, the NY State senate was actually voting on the same sex marriage bill.  I was in Deleware when the news came through that it had passed.  About 20 seconds later, this photo went viral:

There's a point when the bus is about 30 minutes outside the city when the skyline starts to come into view.  By now, I know when this happens based on everything else around me.  I was excited to see it, but the fog was so dense, well, I couldn't.  I'm actually really glad this picture exists, because I could hardly see it from 35th and Madison.

     I got to the city around 1am, had some drinks, took a nap, had a few more drinks, and made it over to UCB for FrISC.  What a great show.  Everyone brought their A game.  I was rooting hard for Somebody's in the Doghouse, because I know them and they're from Boston.  They put on a great show but they didn't win.
     Each team had their own thing, their own style.  The first team, Political Subversities, came out singing and basically kept it up for a sold 20 minutes.  It was interesting to see how they just seamlessly transitioned from one sketch to the next.  Plus, creating a sketch that allows a KFC Double Down to be eaten on stage is pretty sweet.
     Stone Cold Fox and Onassis (I couldn't find their websites to link to) were both great.  They had more of a traditional sketch show style with longer ones and black outs and call backs.  Onassis had a really great in-between thing with their chairs.  It's hard to describe.  It was funny.
     Somebody's in the Doghouse is unique because they're a two person group and they do wonderful things with that.  They create great characters and their stuff is really smart.  I could go on and on about how much I like their sketches, but just check out their website and if you're in NYC or Boston or wherever they play next, go to a show.
     The last group was, uh, well, last.  It was one guy who is apparently hilarious.  I now firmly believe one man shows just don't work for me.  I understand them, and I can appreciate the difficulty of them.  And I'm not even saying they just don't work, I'm saying they don't work for me.  I long for the connection people are making on stage.  In a one-person show, there's just a character who goes and goes, and nothing organic is really allowed to happen.  I mean, good job for putting yourself out there, it's just not my cup of tea.
     Did I mention who won?  It was Onassis, and it was well deserved.
     The after party was the Friars' Club and it was pretty awesome.  If I used phrases like off-the-hook, I would call it that.  The curious thing about it was that all the drinks were served in wine glasses.  The event was sponsored by PBR (Ok, that was served in cans) and a very special kind of bourbon.  I attempted to complete the entire bar transaction with just pointing.  The bartender filled a wine glass with ice and then poured the bourbon to the top.  I heard they ran out shortly after.  Hm.
     They also poured this way when I ordered scotch.  I was hanging out later with Paul Brittain (whoops, I dropped a name) and we commiserated over this odd pouring method.  We were trying to drink classy drinks (Johnny Walker Black for me, Jameson for him) and they were messing it up.  Of course, we weren't going to not take the goblets full of booze.  Instead we stood around talking about the oddness of it and cracking jokes about the whole thing.  Basically, we're BFFs now.  I also got to casually talk to some other awesome people who will never remember who I am.  But it's cool.  Everyone was cool.
     Have I mentioned how cool just the building of the Friars' Club is?  There's a history to it, and I read about it once, but I don't remember it very well.  It's an awesomely old dark wooded building with a grand staircase and photos of every comedian legend on the walls.  You get a little funnier just stepping inside.
     Ben&Jerry's was also there.  I just wanted to mention that.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Down the Rabbit Hole

     New York City is a magical place.  I was there this weekend for the 2nd annual Friars' Club Improv and Sketch Competition: FrISC 2011.  I'll tell you all about it ...

Friday, June 24, 2011

Pulp or No Pulp.

     I do not like pulp in my orange juice.  I never realized this was an issue until I had to start living with other people.  My reasoning is simply that I don't like the mouth feel of orange clumps in my beverage.  I don't like feeling like I have to chew something while quenching my thirst. 
     My freshman year of college I used this pulp / no pulp thing as a litmus test when interviewing roommates.  I had an odd lease situation where the apartment complex could move in whomever they wanted into the other room in my place - it was a single lease on a double.  But they assured me I would have approval.  I remember the day Heidi Oberschmidt walked into the McDonald's I worked in and introduced herself as a potential roommate.  She admitted her situation was a bit dire as classes were starting within the week.
     "How do you take your milk?" I asked.
     "Toilet paper: over or under?"
     "Pulp or No Pulp."
     "Eww, no pulp."
     "Great, everything else will work itself out."
We had a wonderful semester as roomies and I believe it was based on those fundamental things.
     Pulp is something people feel very strongly about.  I feel quite strongly about not having it.  I've tried to choke it down in an attempt to appease people, but I hate it.  I really do.  I've written no pulp on grocery lists in all caps with underlines and exclamation points.  And then the person doing the grocery shopping comes back with "light pulp" and says she thought it was the same thing.  It's not the same fucking thing.  Or they'll get extra pulp and say they thought I was joking.  Really?  Why would you think I was joking?  "Because who hates pulp?"  I do.  I hate pulp.
     Also, have you ever tried to make a cocktail with orange juice that has pulp in it?  A pulpy-screwdriver?  Awful.  Have you ever been drinking your tequila sunrise with a straw and then a hunk of pulp came slithering up and you choke a little?  Gross.  There's no excuse for it.  No pulp.  The answer is no pulp.
     This becomes so contentious, I actually stopped buying orange juice.  I don't get it at restaurants because 1) they look at you funny when you ask if there's pulp and 2) it's stupidly expensive.  Of course so are most juices.  But I despise this conversation:
     Would you like anything to drink today?
     Is there pulp is your orange juice?
     Oh, it's freshly squozen.
     So, is there pulp in it?
     Well it's fresh.
     Is there pulp in it?
     Ma'am it's freshly squeezed orange juice.  It's really good, you should try it.
     Is that your way of telling me there's pulp?
And then I order coffee.  I should just always order coffee.  There's no pulp in coffee.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Comedian I Like: Tig Notaro.

     I had skimmed over it in my review of Bonnaroo, but if you were really paying attention, you'll remember I went to see Tig Notaro at the comedy tent.  She's hilarious.  She recently did an interview with The Hairpin.   To save you the clicking, it's funny, and also contains this YouTube clip:

I think Tig is hilarious, and I can't wait for her album (Aug 2nd - perfect early birthday present!) and I am working out how to get cable to watch her new show Tig has Friends.
     I admire her style; she does the kind of comedy I can really relate to.  I would be elated to be one of Tig's friends.  At Bonnaroo I noted how she was able to casually go from banter with the audience and her act.  For example, at the beginning of her set there was a thumping bass line from This Tent about 50 yards away.  She worked that into her set saying she had requested it and then asked us all to clap along in rhythm during her show.  Sure, when I type it out it doesn't sound quite as hilarious as it was when you were in the tent.  But trust me, it was.
     She has also make me consider the fact that perhaps I do need to clean myself up a little bit and then reintroduce myself to polite society.  I wrote that sentence fully believing I could find the video of the joke that would help explain it.  I could not.  So now you'll have to scour the internet to find it, or maybe it'll be on her album, and then you'll understand what I mean.  Because I'm not going to tell you.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Waffles and Wine

     This morning I stared into my bowl of oatmeal and I thought "I really wish I had some waffles."  Mmmm.  And wine.  Wine would be good.  I'm not sure if they would actually be good together, but I would be willing to find out. 
     It was possibly the alliteration that led me to this conclusion.  Wild Waffle and Wine Wednesdays.  At Wendy's Whistle Stop Cafe.   Line up now venture capitalists, cause this idea is going to take off.  Another less popular combination would be waffles and whine.  That should be a solitary event.
     Waffles and wine could be an anytime meal.  Waffles cover breakfast and brunch, which naturally leads to lunch.  Wine covers dinner and second dinner, possibly even dessert.  Now this is all I can think about.  I don't see how this could be a bad idea.
     First thing I'll need to do is procure a Whistle Stop Cafe.  They can't be that tough to come by.  I imagine you could turn any cafe into a Whistle Stop Cafe if you put some sort of whistle story with it.  Rent out an old caboose and put it in the parking lot- I've seen it done before.  Boom, it's a whistle stop.  Pay some kid $3 to blow on a train whistle toy once an hour and really drive home the authenticity.
     I have a sister named Wendy so I'm pretty confident I can name it after her and be free and clear legally.  I'll even let her work there, behind the counter.  It'll be a fun novelty.  She can have her picture on the menu or something. 
      Next, I need to learn how to make waffles.  I've seen recipes on the sides of Jiffy boxes- you need milk, eggs, oil, and Jiffy mix.  I think that's it.  You get a few waffle irons, boom, waffle shop.  Add whip cream. 
     Next, a liquor license.  File some paperwork, and I think the rest takes care of itself.  Then you just buy a lot of wine.  I'm imagining reds to go with the waffles, but I bet some whites would be nice too.  A nice sparkling Prosecco with strawberry topped waffles.  Yes.  I want that too.
     As a business model, we keep it simple.  Waffles and Wine.  "Can I get eggs benedict and a bud light?"  No.  Waffles and Wine.  That's it.  Maybe after it takes off we could start expanding the menu, but the secret to any successful restaurant is to keep the menu simple.  Make a few things really well.  That's what we'll do at Wendy's Whistle Stop Cafe.
     To be profitable, we'll have to be open on more than just Wednesdays, but I'd still like to maintain the Wild Waffles and Wine Wednesdays theme.  It worked for TGIFriday's; they're open more than just Fridays.  Wednesdays will just be especially wild down at the Whistle Stop.  BYOW, perhaps.  Or Whip your own waffles!   I'm still working out the kinks. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

There Should Be A Lunchroom

     Right now I firmly believe there should be a lunchroom in my office and everyone should be required to eat their meals in there.  Not necessarily at the same time; I'm not concerned about socializing in the office.  But the smells, oh the smells.  Everyone has something different and when you blend all those terrible warmed-up leftover smells together, it's enough to make me not want my lunch- that I have to heat up. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Easier Said Than Done

     Ah, unsolicited advice, how I despise thee.  Mostly because it doesn't really offer a solution to the problem.  Typically unsolicited advice is full of ideas that are easier-said-than-done, or really-easy-for-the-person-who-doesn't-have-to-to-it.
     I've been dealing with an easier said than done piece of wisdom for quite some time now.  The problem: I have too much stuff.  The solution: get rid of it.  Easier said than done?  Yes.  A lot.
     When you're not the one getting rid of a lot of stuff, it's really easy to just say "get rid of it" without putting much more thought into it.  Hell, even when you are the one getting rid of it, it's an easy thing to say.  "I have all this stuff.  I don't want all of this stuff.  Therefore, I should get rid of all this stuff."  But then comes the hard part: how do you get rid off all that stuff?
     It's a process and the process sucks.  You have to separate things; you figure out what's donate-able, what's sell-able, and what's pitch-able.  Sometimes you stand at the door of your storage unit kind of wishing an arsonist had their way with your stuff.  This phenomenon has occurred to me more than once.  Last year when I moved down to DC I had a moving truck full of my things parked on the street.  I wasn't looking forward to unloading it and hoped it had been stolen over night.  It would have saved me a lot of time and effort.  Well, it would have saved the movers I hired a lot of time and effort.
      Getting rid of everything is just not as easy as it seems.  You start by trying to see the big stuff that you think is still worth money.  But people don't want old tube televisions, even if they are in perfect working condition, or entertainment cabinets, even if they are really well constructed.  You update the post every week, lowering the price, until it eventually ends up in the free column.  Still, no takers.  What to do?
     Goodwill only takes so much stuff, plus, I have no vehicle, so the transport of these large objects becomes a factor.  It takes renting a truck and the help of some strong friends just to donate a handful of things.  What a pain.
      When going through the stages of actually picking out what to keep and what to get rid of though, I recommend enlisting the help of a really mean friend.  A friend pretty much devoid of sentimentality who isn't afraid to just yell "throw it away" at everything you show her.  Usually, that friend is me.  So I may have to be my own best friend when sorting out my storage unit, but I've made rules for myself and as long as I stick to them, I think I'll be ok.  The advantage I have this time around is I know I haven't looked at all the things in my storage unit for an entire year.  This makes it easier to throw them away, knowing I've already broken most of the sentimental attachment anyway.
     It's still easier said than done, however.  I have an old stereo that nobody will want.  It's not old enough to be vintage and therefore cool but it's too old to be considered useful.  Donation centers won't want it because it's missing the remotes.  You can't throw it in the trash because it has that trashcan with a circle with a line through it symbol on it.  You can't light it on fire because, well, you just shouldn't light things on fire.  It's a stereo- it won't burn anyway.   What will I do with it?  Just get rid of it, you suggest?  Yes, thank you for your help.  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Bonnaroo: Day 3 and Day 4. A Review.

     The days are starting to blend together in my mind; please forgive me if I mix them up a bit.

Day 3
     My personal favorite day, though it did not start out great.  We had decided that perhaps day 3 would be a good day for a shower.  We gathered up our towels and such things and headed toward the water station.  We quickly ascertained we needed tickets for the shower- we purchased them and then got in line.  For three hours.  Three fucking hours.  For a shower.  In the hot hot sun.  At one point a guy walked by and yelled "why take a shower, it's going to be another 110 degree day." and then something about peace and love.  At first I snickered, but three hours later, I was in complete agreement with him. 
     The wait became a battle.  We had already paid for the shower, so we didn't want to be out the $7.  There was a lot of "we've already waited this long" going on.  Walking away made the wait seem completely futile.  At one point I think the showers shut down so they could empty the tanks.  The smell in the air was like that of a rotting corpse wrapped in sauerkraut soaked gym socks trapped inside a warm port-a-john on the hottest day of the year in death valley.  It was awful.  Still, we would not be defeated by the wait. 
     The showers themselves were not glamorous and it was clear a majority of the women weren't versed in the ways of quickie showers.  I did my best to not touch the sides of the shower stalls for fear of contracting a disease.  It was refreshing though.  Meghan asked me if it was worth it.  "Uhhhhhh.  Not really."  Especially since within the time it took to walk back to camp, my feet were already filthy again.  No more showers!
     The Music
     The music on day 3 was amazing.  We decided to settle in at Which Stage to see Old Crow Medicine Show, Alison Krauss & Union Station, and Mumford & Sons.  I took my blanket over, which was apparently against the rules, but it was one of those rules that meant nothing.  This is also the blanket that got sacrificed to the Bonnaroo gods.  At the end of the day, I didn't want it back anyway.  Plus, during the Eminem show, it helped me save Meg's life.  (See, she wasn't really interested in the show, so she curled up on the blanket with the rest of us surrounding her.  A photo of this exists, but I'll refrain from posting it.  Then some drunk guy came barreling through our area and almost stepped on Meg's head.  Luckily I stopped him and said "hey hey hey - watch it."  Then he went around.  Life saved.)
     The Mumford & Sons show was transformative for me.  At the end they brought out Old Crow Medicine Show and the most amazing dobro player to play Amazing Grace with them.  It really was amazing.
     I was convinced enough by the amazingness of that show to stick around for the rest of the night.  I'm not a super Eminem fan, but felt a Michigan loyalty thing happening, so I went just to support him.  Because I assume that's what he really wants: half-hearted support from a nearly middle-aged obedient white girl who actually find most of his lyrics disrespectful.  Well, that's what I offered.  The rest of the night is a bit of a haze, but I believe there were some dinosaurs, sleeping in the street, Scissor Sisters, and Gogol Bordello.  Also, by now we had discovered the taxi system.  Totally worth the $5.

Day 4
      A slow morning; just what we needed to recover from teh day before.  Showers were not happening, so we again sat in our filth.  I claimed to "have a relationship with these wet-ones" and I stand by that.  A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.  I grilled up some dogs and warmed up chili and we enjoyed quasi-campfire chili dogs.  It's a perfect food. 
     I visited the comedy tent once more for John Waters and Tig Notaro.  I had figured out the system by then and line wasn't as unbearable.  We saw Ryan Bingham and G. Love.  WE saw Robert Plant and Patty Griffin came out as a special guest.  That was my favorite moment of the day- the best kind of surprise.  There must have been others, but the heat is affecting my memory. 
     Widespread Panic was an insane show.  I hadn't listened to them before, at least not on purpose.  I think all of their songs are 30 minutes long.  There were a lot of things being thrown through the air: thousands of glow sticks, regular balloons, beach balls, and water balloons. Heads up was a good idea, but it got difficult to maintain after a couple of hours. 
     The walk out was bittersweet.  It was exciting because of all the people, but also it meant Bonnaroo was over.  Sad face.  We collapsed back in our tents.  We got up the next morning, packed up as quickly as possible, and hit the road- for about 50 miles until we stopped at a Cracker Barrel.  I won at breakfast, throwing my fork down on the plate to prove it, we shopped the country store, and then loaded ourselves back in the car for the 11 hour journey. 

The Aftermath
     Waking up on Tuesday was difficult, in a really depressing way.  I was at home, and there were no amazing bands playing in my living room or in my cubicle.  It was nice to shower and sleep in a real bed, but at what cost?  Oh Bonnaroo, until we meet again.   

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bonnaroo: Day 1 and Day 2. A Review.

     As I mentioned earlier, we made an overnight stop at a Days Inn, took a few showers, and then went on our way.  We fueled up at Waffle House and headed down 24.  At some point we were lied to- we were on the lookout for exit 112, but there was no exit 112.  We were also foiled by the Wal-Mart parking lot, the VIP entrance, and basic knowledge of distances.  No matter, we still made it through the line in pretty good time and to what would be our dusty home for the next four days.
      Oh the heat.  I don't know that I've been somewhere that just got so hot so fast.  After being outside for about 30 seconds, I was ornery spitfire sweating balls hot.  And we still had to set up our camp.  This led to the shoddiest camp set-up ever.  Put your tent anywhere, and that's where it stays.
     We were given a map of the whole thing, but the thing about maps is that without any sort of reference point, they aren't very useful.   Here's a piece of paper with pretty colors on it; it represents a 700-acre farm, and you are *somewhere* on it.  Our first guess, which was that we were awesomely close, turned out to be very wrong.  We were very far away. I'm amazed it was the same county. 
     We spent the first few hours there drinking a little bit and staring at the inexplicable map.  We lathered on as much sunscreen as we could and moseyed on down to Centeroo.  The first day is generally used for figuring things out- learning the lay of the land and leaning into how dirty your feet will be for the next four days.  And once your feet are that dirty, you might as well just sit your ass in it too. 

The Lay of the Land
     My theory is that people would never really learn proper names for tents and stages anyway, so the Bonnaroo folks decided to just put up the most generic names they could think of.  The tents and stages were named This Tent, That Tent, The Other Tent, What Stage, and Which Stage.  There were a few other small stages with more specific names- Sonic, Lunar, and Solar I think.  Of course this created an amusing who's on first routine every time you asked someone where an act was playing. 
     "Where is Childish Gambino playing?"
     "This tent."
     "This is a pretzel stand.  Which stage is he playing at?"
      "No, which stage open tomorrow."
     "What opens tomorrow?"
     "Yeah, that too."
     "That's the big stage."
     "I thought that was a tent."

Well, you can see where that could go.  And speaking of Childish Gambino, I was sure to make it over to This Tent for his show.  It's slightly against type for me, but I really enjoyed it.  The crowd was criz-azy, and for a moment, I was a little afraid.  I'm not confident I was actually standing on the ground, I think I was being held up my those around me.  Everyone knew all the words and several chants of "Gambino" broke out.  Donald Glover wore a sleeveless Garth Brooks T-shirt and skinny black shorts.  Normally I wouldn't think that would be a look, but apparently he can pull any look off he wants. 
     After Childish Gambino I huffed it back to the camp ground.  Luckily I have an amazing sense of direction and was able to find it.  I crawled in my tiny tent and my already deflating air mattress and drifted off  to the perpetual sound of port-a-potty doors slamming.  Oh, did I mention we were about  50 feet from a long line of port-a-potties?  We were. 

Day 2
     The slam-slam-slam of the port-a-potty doors woke us up, along with the crippling heat.  There came a point in the morning, and I believe it was approximately 30 seconds after the sun cam up, where lying in the tent was suffocating.  The rain cover created some sort of greenhouse effect I think.  I even had a little tent fan but it did nothing. 
     This meant getting up was simply transitioning from sleeping in a tent, to sleeping sitting up in our chairs outside.  I feigned reading for about 5 minutes.  Eventually we broke out some breakfast items - cereal and bagels; a few hours later, we were ready for the 2 mile hike again.
     For me, day 2 was full of line waiting, comedy, beer, water, sunscreen, heat, sweat, and poor food choices.  So, pretty much any other Friday.   It was so hot.  I just keep thinking about how hot it was.  I  tried to say as hydrated as possible.  I could feel the sun burning through the layers of sunscreen I lathered on. 
     Day 2 was the day I started getting flummoxed- mostly over all the line standing and the pushing.  Also, I don't understand why it's so hard to throw garbage in the trash can instead of on the ground.  I enjoyed the Lewis Black / Kathleen Madigan show a great deal, but the waiting in line bit was a little over the top for me.  I had wanted to go back to the campsite for lunch between that show and the next thing, but there was just no time, and I couldn't handle the walk.  Instead, I moseyed over to the Broo'ers Festival- a tent full of microbrews!  That was my kind of tent.  I recommend the Asheville Brewing Company's Ninja Porter if you're ever in an area that sells it.  Dark, yet still refreshing. 
      I worked my way up to the front of What Stage for the Decemberists show.  Brilliant.  Hearts and Stars.  I love it.  After that, I went over to This Tent for Florence + The Machine.  It was so incredibly packed, I couldn't believe it.  I couldn't actually see the show, so I settled in at a table near the food truck area and listened.  It sounded awesome.  After that, back to the What Stage for the end of My Morning Jacket, a piece of pizza, and a spot for Arcade Fire. 
     The sun went down and so did I.  Wait, word choice.  I headed back to the camp ground.  There was still silent disco to be had, but I doubted my ability to get through it.  It would have to wait for another day.

Bonnaroo, I Hardly Knew Ye

     I am most surprised by the fact that I actually woke up this morning.  One of the first things I did when I got home last night was shower.  It was the greatest shower of my life.  And then I went about my night, as though it weren't after midnight.  Bonnaroo got in my blood.
     I have to admit, there was tipping point for me.  Or a wall if you will.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it.  Between day 2 and day 3, I was just flummoxed.   The heat had gotten to me and I was in pain.  Little annoyances were building up and I was convinced I had gotten in over my head.  But I powered through.  And then the most amazing thing happened- I came down on the other side; I broke through the wall.  It happened during the Mumford&Sons performance when I just knew I was witnessing something amazing.  A wash came over me and the frustrations from earlier- the heat, being stepped on, sulfer-water, lines- just faded away.  Bonnaroo 2012, count me in.
      I've been thinking about how to organize my thoughts for Bonnaroo, and I think I should do it just the way I do everything else - Bird by Bird.  So, I'll do complete bird-by-bird review of Bonnaroo over the next few days.  A small preview:

Things We Lost at Bonnaroo:  One pair of sandals and a blanket.  We lost them the way you lose things in the fray, or in the fire. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

One More From The Road

     Bonnaroo is over. The cars are loaded up and right now we're driving down rural Tennesee roads with corn fields on either side. Also, the cars are air conditioned and it's never felt so good. There was a forecast for thunderstorms, but other than a few drops Friday night there was nothing. It was 100million degrees with 10,000% humidity for four days. All the sunscreen in the world couldn't help me. I used SPF 110 many many times a day but there was no escaping a bit of a burn.
     I spoke too soon about driving through rural Tennesee roads. Everyone else is too, so there's a bit of a jam. As long as they're not all heading to DC, we'll be just fine.
     I'll be sure to do a proper review of Bonnaroo for the rest of the week. I think it requires a decent amount of reflection.

Also, I just wanted to say hi to Mary. "Hi Mary!"

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Driving Through The Night

Leaving after work for a 10 hour drive always seems like a good idea. That's because driving through the night, through the Appalachian Mountains, sun roof open, playlist blaring, eating popcorn, and drinking gas station coffee is fucking awesome. With the right car load you can go seamlessly from Cyndi Lauper to Alabama without missing a beat.
Of course someone is bound to fall asleep, but as long as it's not the driver it's allowed. We pulled into a Days Inn about 60 miles from Manchester for a few hours of sketchy sleep and take the last showers we'd get for four days. We topped off with a Waffle House breakfast and are back on the road, preparing for the massive line that awaits.
Having spent the last several years living on the coast and in cities I forgot what the middle of the country looked like. Huh. There are a lot of trees. Nice.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Apparently, Satan's Birthday

     Bonnaroo!  Woo!  I'm attending this year's Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, TN.  This is something I was more likely to do when I was younger, but I decided to let loose, throw caution to the wind, be forever young, and all that other cliche stuff people like me say when we pretend we're not old. 
     Also, that's my way of saying that I won't be able to update Oliver for a few days.  I don't know what the IT department at Bonnaroo is like, but I'm guessing minimal at best. 
     I'm planning to do the whole camping, not showering, tent-sleeping, hippie ordeal.  I'm leaning into it.  I will have a good time, even if every fiber of my Midwestern fear-based upbringing being tries to fight it. Eating hot dogs  and drinking beer for four days is good for me.  I'm sure of it. 
     The title of the post is a reference to a ridiculous article put out by *someone* and posted on a crazy Christian website.  I don't know if it's a parody or not.  I'd link it, but if it is real, I don't want to give it any more credence.  All you need to know is they pointed out Bonnaroo is scheduled on the same day as Satan's birthday (nope, that doesn't make sense) and they have histograms predicting the likelihood of "your daughter doing mouth sex."  You know what, fuck it: the article is here:  Bonnaroo - Happy Birthday Satan!  It's actually pretty damn funny.  As long as nobody takes this shit seriously.
     I'll take some pictures - at least 10, and then they'll be up on the One day, Ten photos blog I participate in when I return.  My weekend starts early, with a 10 hour car trip down to Tennessee.  I hope it's as nice as I've heard. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Codes and Keys: A Review

     Death Cab for Cutie's new album, Codes and Keys, was released at the end of May.  I downloaded it from Amazon and have been listening to it ever since.  I've been a die hard DCfC fan since I lived in Mulilteo, WA- just 75 miles south of their Bellingham home.  This was the early aughts - '02 to '03.  I didn't see them live while I was there, but I was aware of the buzz.  These guys were going to be the next big thing.  I was already a few years behind on the band wagon.
     If you're already a Death Cab fan, Codes and Keys is ... well, you probably already have it so there's no reason to finish the sentence.  It's a good solid album.  It does what Death Cab does best.
     There were no real surprises on the album.  Although I suspect there isn't much that would surprise me on a Death Cab album, so maybe that's why.  I suppose I mean to say there was nothing jarring and frankly that's good.  I prefer to not be jarred. 
     A few years ago I was working at a desk job; the office mandated Fox News be on constantly, so I protected my brain with earphones.  Plans had just been released and I was listening to it nonstop.  A coworker asked what I was listening to and then scrunched up their face when I told them.  Someone else commented that it was "the death metal all the kids are into."  I was confused and angry.  I looked around my immediate area to see if she was talking to or about someone else.  What was the death metal and who were these kids?  Does she think I'm the kid and does she think I enjoy the death metal?  And does she think that a band with a name like Death Cab for Cutie would be death metal?  "No, no, what?  No, it's not.  It's ... not.  What?"  I offered to let her listen to it, but she said it was devil's music and walked away.  Another one of my coworkers took me up on it and I believe he converted to DCfC fandom.  Never judge a band by its name, right?  But I digress. 
     I do have one complaint about the album.  It's more so about its digital release and the fact that on this release they wrote their name as Death Cab For Cutie, and on previous releases, Death Cab for Cutie.  About half of their releases are one way and half are the other.  It's a subtle difference, but it's enough of one to mess up the listing on my iPod!
     My current favorite song on Codes and Keys is Monday Morning.  I think it's sweet. I tend to use Death Cab songs as real life advice.  So when You Are a Tourist tells me when there's a burning in your heart ... then it's time to go well then, who am I to argue?  They're right.  It's probably time to go.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Everybody's Fine: A Review

     I remember seeing a few trailers for this film and it was marketed as a comedy.  It is not.  Everybody's Fine is a drama.  It's heartfelt and real; I identified immensely with its themes.  It's the story of a family trying to figure itself out as a group of adults.
     The film was also very pretty.  It may have been the joy of watching it on my new HDTV, but I was definitely struck by how good it looks.  The shots were beautiful; they were well composed and meaningful to boot. 
     I really liked the movie.  It wasn't perfect, but it was very nice and very sweet.  I went from being half invested at the beginning to bawling my eyes out at the end.  I hate it when movies make me feel!  Damn you Everybody's Fine for making me feel. 
     The family in Everybody's Fine reminded me very much of my own.  I think that's why I liked it more than the average viewer.  I get why we all lie to our families, and then why maybe it wasn't as necessary to lie to them as we thought it was.  And I think that's what the movie was about.  We want to make our parents' proud, and sometimes we lie a little and only tell them the good stuff so they can be proud.  And then they feel like they're good parents because so often all they wanted to be was good parents.  We don't want to let them down and take away the only thing they're trying to be.  So we lie.  But also, whatever we try to be, they'll be proud.  What a conundrum.  Because in the end, everybody's fine. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

It's Another Weekend

     Woah, look at this, it's already the weekend again!  How about that?  Another benefit of a lovely four day weekend.  It's hard to believe one week ago I was counting down the hours to fun in the sun.  And that one week ago I slept in the Atlanta airport.  Especially considering I slept on a bus last night.  It's this new thing I'm trying where I sleep in weird places.
     Next week I'll be sleeping on the ground.  Or standing up.  Or trying not to sleep at all.  Next week is Bonnaroo.  I'm getting ahead of myself.  Live in the moment, man.  And in the moment is another weekend. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011


     Let's talk about semicolons.  The other day I said to a friend of mine "I'm having a semicolon problem."  She thought I was going to discuss some issues I was having that were kind of related to my colon.  Like maybe it was a semi-colon problem, and a semi-duodenum problem.  She expected me to talk about poo. 
     This one time, however, my problem was not poo related.  It was punctuation related.  The semicolon often confuses people.  Kurt Vonnegut had this to say about them:
"First rule: Do not use semicolons. They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you've been to college."
I don't completely agree with that sentiment, but I think it does serve as a fitting warning.  When used properly semicolons are great.  However, when used incorrectly, they make the writer look plain idiotic.  Also, they aren't really ever necessary.  If you stick to short sentences and aren't attempting to write beautiful prose, you can get away with never using them.  And in many cases, it's best to do so.
     What I've come across is that people believe in a punctuation rank structure.  They understand a period comes at the end of the sentence.  They kind of understand when to use commas and when they don't, every fifth word or so satisfies their whim.  But then a complex sentence needs to be written- something with a list in it, or worse yet, a list within a list.  Oh heavens, what to do?  What to do?  Clearly, the semicolon becomes their answer. 
     Here is an example I have used to describe improper semicolon use:
The colors of the rainbow are: red; orange; yellow; green; blue; indigo; and violet. 
Yet I have seen nearly that same sentence presented to me as though it were correct.  I have gone back and written it correctly and then been told it needs semicolons.  No, it does not.  Not in any way.
Why didn't you use semicolons here?
Because I'm not joining independent clauses.
The argument I got back was that the use of the colon made the subsequent use of semicolons necessary.  This is when the light bulb went on.  People actually think the semicolon is just part of a hierarchy.  They don't understand that it's just another form of punctuation; it's available for your use when joining two clauses.  It is not a more important comma, or a less important colon.  I think people use it when they think they've used too many commas but don't want to end the sentence. 
     I appreciate a good semicolon.  I appreciate all good grammar.  I'm not great at it, but I try.  I allow others to correct me and hopefully learn from it.  I may see a flash of red, but I calm down and put the lesson in my wheelhouse.  I also keep a copy of Strunk & White's The Elements of Style by my desk for reference.  I guess I'm just really trying to prove that I try, and I like to think I succeed more often than I fail.  The lessons I do not appreciate, however, are those from the aforementioned folks who really just do think a semicolon is the Lieutenant Commander of punctuation- not as common as the Ensigns and Lieutenant we call commas and periods, but with less clout than a Captain- the colon.
     The more I write, the more comfortable I become with semicolons.  I've artfully constructed a few things for my job, some of them containing semicolons.  Never have those semicolons been contained in a list. 
Why did you use a semicolon here?
Because I AM combining independent clauses. 
As a side note, I know and understand the guideline about using semicolons in really complicated lists, i.e. use a semicolon between items in a list or series if any of the items contain commas.  Yeah, ok, fine.  But the colors of the rainbow are not complex ideas that would necessitate semicolons for clarity so all you're doing by replacing commas with semicolons is proving you're not very bright but you are incredibly pretentious / douchey.  And I would argue that if the list is so complicated you end up with 10 semicolons in one paragraph, go back to the drawing board and figure out a more concise way to present that information.
     Punctuation is our friend.  It helps us communicate; it lets us present our ideas in a pleasing way.  How fun is it to read a paragraph or two and know exactly what the author is talking about?  So fun!  I'm sure I'll continue to have these semicolon problems- some people do not want to be taught.  I am, however, hoping to avoid any semi-duodenum problems.    

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Travel Day

     Tuesday was a travel day.  The amount of time it takes to get across the country plus the time change means the whole day is shot.  There is no reason to try to plan to do anything else.  You will be eating your meals in airports or on airplanes and sitting very uncomfortably for hours and hours. 
     In general, the travel on Tuesday went as planned.  I booked too late to get a non-stop flight.  Also, I did something else wrong and was given a universal middle finger- the middle seat.  The first flight left on time; I was concerned about making it because of the inexplicably long check in line.  I suppose it was explicable: discount airlines hire discount gate agents who don't give a fuck if you miss your flight and don't really listen all that well.  But it worked out and I made it to the gate just as they were boarding the plane.  I didn't have any trouble at security (this time), because I've done this before!
     The one benefit of the layover in Atlanta was the Moe's Southwest Grill in the terminal.  At least it seemed like the benefit at the time.  Several hours later it was clearly not the benefit.  I never ever learn my lesson about burritos.  A few days prior I had declared that the best thing about sleeping in the airport was a Moe's breakfast burrito.  This proved false by lunch.  Also, the worst part about sleeping in an airport is SLEEPING IN AN AIRPORT. 
     Let me explain: I was to depart on Friday evening after work.  I was quite excited about it, and had been doing a countdown.  I made the trek to Dulles National Airport (BTW, calling a DC airport is bullshit.  It's in Virginia.  Western Virginia.) and was plenty early.  I checked in to my flight but the times were all floopy.  The lovely gate agent person informed me that the flight was currently delayed by half an hour.  They anticipated it would be delayed more.  She offered me several options, including giving up all together and going home.  It was due to weather so there was only so much she could do.  She did kindly tell me I shouldn't check my bag because there would be pretty much no chance I'd ever see it again. 
     It was around 6:30pm when I checked in and the skies were clear and blue.  About an hour later, the delay seemed obvious.  A huge black cloud engulfed the airport as they delayed the flight even longer.  Eventually they announced it would leave at 11:14pm and nobody would make their connections.  Dulles is mostly large glass windows; people can see the terrible storm happening five feet from them, yet still, they were angry.  Of course, I wasn't happy, but this was clearly one of those "things I can't change" moments. 
     The storm cleared, the flight took off, and we landed in Atlanta at about 1am.  I wandered around for a while looking for just the right spot.  My flight from Atlanta to LA was scheduled to depart at 8:45am.  There is not a lot going on in an airport at 1am and even the tram shuts down, so when you go from terminal to terminal, you just might get stuck in one of them.  I found a row of seats that didn't have arm rests on them that was pushed against a wall with an outlet.  I plugged in my phone to charge and used my carry-on as a pillow.  I would find out a few hours later someone else apparently pushed this bench against the wall.  So I (unknowingly) shared a bench with a weary traveler in a similar situation.  I think we're married now. 
     I couldn't figure out how to turn the lights off in the terminal, but I swear, sometimes they were off and sometimes they weren't.  The cleaning crew was kind enough to not wake me even though they probably wanted to vacuum under me.  Eventually the hustle and bustle of travelers catching that first flight out woke me up.  I sauntered over the Moe's for a breakfast burrito.  I considered a regular burrito but I didn't want to confuse my body any more than it already was. 
    From Atlanta to LA went off without a hitch and I got in a few more zzzzs.  I arrived at LAX, cleaned myself up in the bathroom (like all classy people do), had some Reese's pieces for my time-change-adjustment meal, and was whisked away in a sweet sweet ride.  The rest of the trip was fantastical.
     This brings us back to the poor dinner decision made, yet again, at the Moe's in the Atlanta airport.  I love burritos. I can't help it.  I scarfed down the Homewrecker in just enough time to board the plane back to DC.  I had cleverly made my flight plans to arrive in DCA, aka Reagan National Airport, because it's much more convenient.  Except apparently there is a part of DCA that they don't really like to talk about.  I've been to DCA many times and I had never been in that part.  There were shuttles involved.  What?  But really, it was fine.  It was just weird and late, although time had lost all meaning.  I arrived back to my place at around 11:30, which was about the temperature and humidity of the 3rd circle of hell. 
      Already, I miss LA.