Sunday, January 31, 2010

Do You Speak Spanish?

Q: Comprende?
A: No.

Last night I had a charming dinner with someone who, in as a definite way you can imagine, stopped a life in progress with a primary goal of leaning a foreign language. This involved quitting a successful career (or at least "pausing it") and relocating to another hemisphere. One of the reasons cited for such a course of actions was a desire to communicate with non-English speaking Grandparents.

I've often said, although jokingly, that I want to learn Spanish to better understand one of the greatest television programs in the medium's history: Sabado Gigante. A few years ago I met someone who actually went to a taping of that hugely popular Univision show and was told that even people who speak Spanish fluently have difficulty understanding the show. I still believe that if I enjoy the show as much as I do - knowing as little as I do - just knowing more Spanish must surely enhance the experience. Obviously, this isn't a heartwarming enough reason as my friend, and I won't be resigning and relocating any time soon.

There are probably ten friends I know that speak Spanish well enough to converse without effort. It's split down the middle from people with Native Latin American parents (and were raised to be bilingual) and those that have successfully added it to their verbal repertoire after having their speech fully embedded in English. All of them have urged me to try to learn it.

My 3+ years of high school Spanish have left me with a comical, at best, grasp of the language. The following, in no particular order, are my ten favorite Spanish sayings:

Donde esta la zappateria?
One of my favorite words, in any language, is the above word for "shoe store." The alliteration of the 'z' and pop of its second syllable is like orator candy.

No me digas?
In high school there was a video we watched that featured this phrase - it was instantly hilarious to me. The loose translation is "You don't say?" and was said in a tone that felt like "GET OUTTA HERE?" There is a coworker who I use this phrase to constantly, whenever I'm told borderline unbelievable news.

Que lata!
My high school text translated this as "What a drag!" Almost fifteen years later, as I look back I still find that an odd thing to have in a text book.

Es la verdad. Es la pura verdad.
You can thank Benicio Del Torro for this gem. I loved the movie Traffic and found a scene in which this phrase was said especially moving. The subtitles translated it as "It's the truth, it's the pure truth." Since this film's release, friends have told me a more accurate translation is "complete" or "whole" truth. I use it in response to if someone might say "No me digas" to me.

Que ridiculo!
Straight up quote from The Big Lebowski. Rarely used outside people who would instantly recognize it as a movie quote and not that I think something is actually worth noting as ridiculous.

Tienes chicle?
The most worthwhile grammar skill I retained from my 'formal' Spanish classes was the verb "tener" ("to have") and how to say "tengo" (I have) and "tienes" (you have). For some reason I must have realized that I'd need to know Spanish only in times of desperation - in which I would need to communicate something that I didn't have or to find out it others did. I asked a former coworker how to say "Do you have any gum?" as an indirect way of finding out if they did.

Oh, Dios mio!
You don't really need to know Spanish to know this is "Oh my God." I recently had someone say this to me in a quite unsettling manner to me (hugely comical to a few others).

Vaya con dios.
Personally, it's the least used of all these I'm listing. That's probably for the better. There's such a finality in saying, "Go with God" but I find it poetic.

Buena Suerte
"Good Luck" were always the famous last words before every Spanish exam.


More and more people find saying, "God bless you" after a sneeze. You have to admit that this word for "health" is a much better term to say after one sneezes. My boss from my previous employ used to say "gesundheit" after every sneeze. I always suspected he also didn't find the 'god bless you' comfortable.

In an oddly related note, "Tomas" might be the 3rd most popular nomenclature others assign me (behind "Tom" and "TQ"). "Thomas" is a distant fourth and if you call me by the fifth option you obviously don't know me and I'm too polite to correct you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

How Long Will You Wait to File Your Taxes?

Q: Where you going?
A: "I'm going to get laid, motherfucker! Where you goin'?" ~John Shaft.
A: "I'm doing my taxes, bitch!" ~TQ

Ah hell yeah!
Ring it up!
Guess who got his W-2 from his employ-zor today?
That's right, I did - and the thing was still steamin' hot off tha presses when I typed that sucka'z data into Turbo Tax tonight.
Look elsewhere for a procrastinating fool.
I'm the real deal mature tonight, bitch.

You know who's next in my targets: Maria Pappas!
(M.P. is the M.F. who runs the racket down at the Cook County Treasurer's Office)
She just slapped the hurt on me earlier this week with a Property Tax Bill.
I get two of those bastards a year since I became a homeowner.
The bi-annual bitchslap I get from her that's due October 1 is a total brutal pain in the arse.
But this current one, when it's timed with my usual tax refund, ain't so rough.

So how do you solve a problem like Maria?
Just wait until your Federal (& State!) refund clear in your back account.
Lady, stay silent. You'll have your money in less than ten daze.

Yeah, it's kinda humiliating how I acted tonight.
Besides, the obviously stupid post above.
But I have been eagerly awaiting my W-2.
I jokingly said, "oh now I finally have weekend plans" when I got it.
Like I could wait until the weekend?
The lowpoint is when I was getting pissed during the Student Loans portion.
I couldn't find how much interest I paid this year, searching all over the website where I pay.
Finally, I found out that they promise to have it sent before February 1.
Like I could wait until Monday? - I called the toll free number to get the information I needed.
Honestly, it upped my refund a pitiful amount, but still worth it.

Overall, the quick tax filing makes me feel good.
Lately, I've been wondering if I need to "start getting on with it" in regards to my life.
Sometimes my life is more than just a Net Flix Queue and an iPod Playlist.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Call yourself a cool cat?

Q: what's on my mind tonight
A: nothing well organized

Random News & Notes Time:
I enjoy "Pants on the Ground"
My Dad has been taught the CORRECT lyrics
Maids were paid to clean my condo last Friday
They said, "oh dios mio" multiple times
I failed in asking a girl out recently
Thankfully, it probably saved me more than I know
The last album I bought stunk
There is no satisfaction from not listening to it again

(Like how you can say eF off by ejecting a NetFlix)
(or slapping a book closed and can move to another one quick)

There was a "Gilbert Arenas" moment at work
Obviously I can't say more here
Soon I will be Lost again
I'm glad it's moving to Tuesdays
Damages is also back
Depositions can't be that interesting in real life
A year ago I had Jury Duty
Should I be ashamed that I miss it
I no longer want to see RJD2 live
But I want to see Yeasayer more
My Toyota has been known to go fast
Not because of anything requiring a recall
When I was a kid, I loved Pee Wee Herman
As an adult, I still do

I haven't remembered a dream in a very long time
It's not for lack of trying
I envision elaborate scenarios late at night
Conversations that will never happen and bank robberies
Basketball is a joy with decent folk
Cards as well
I can't play Bball with pricks
But I don't mind poker with a'holes
If I had a drum set, I'd want it as small as Ringo's
The guitar of my dreams would be oversized

By the way, the last two posts were typed on my phone
In both cases, a full keyboard was less than 5 ft away

It's one am, do you know where your day end
When your alarm goes off, how loud is it
Recently I gave blood again
I've been spilling it since before the Vampire craze
Minor setback
Major minor

Apologies for the time waste
Good night and good riddance

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why can't I sleep?


(it's been a long time since I wrote bad poetry. this post isn't for
everyone. it's barely even for me. just wanted to experiment a little
with syllables and space. i actually have some fresh random stories to
share, but didn't feel like composing those tonight. just stay tuned)

My mother is far from good health right now
My sister is stuggling as well there
My father is tremendously stronger
Than I can ever imagine or hope

To be because I am selfish and poor
Of spirit, stamina, patience and poise
I lie awake with dumb inner concerns
But tonight I think of them fighting hard

While I watch football drink beer and listen
To podcasts and new purchases alone
Successfully isolating myself
Until I have to face the night and The

Next day when I will be working again
But they are surviving throughout it all
I call with nothing to say or report
They paint a picture they think is calming

But I see it when I'm visiting them
And when I last left I realized that
It's never been worse for them than right now
And I've never been better on paper.

I don't feel guilty because I think they
Need a win right now and I make them smile
My life brings some laughter and escape
Albeit very marginal to most

No wife and no kids is not a problem
No grad degree or fancy car is fine
They don't want more from me when I ask it
But they deserve more than my content life

This may be the first time they need me more
It's why I feel bad "nothing is new" for me
No correct answer or response exists
My mind, although stronger, is still hurting

Thursday, January 14, 2010

What song makes you pump your fist?

Q: Does the music ever possess your body, primarily your hand, and cause you to start fist pumping to the beat?
A: If you said no, you're a liar - or just not a fan of Jersey Shore.

Last night, while driving home from basketball, I was listening to an uptempo beat-heavy song. I recognized that it would be a song that Pauly D, Ronnie and maybe even The Situation would also like and felt a desire to start fist pumping... in the car... alone. There's not much room to fist pump in a car. It was the following thought that made me very happy - to the extent that I was slightly embarrassed at how giddy I was at the concept:

When the weather warms up, I can open the sunroof of my car and fist pump into the sky!

It made me realize that, deep down, there's a genuine desire to fist pump to music. Yes, a part of it is me being ironic - making fun of the bizarre practice currently documented on a trashy television show. But I have to admit that the joke is on me. In my defense, it's the only commonality I have with these guys. I don't fake tan. I don't lift weights to catch tail and avoid grenades. My hair is free of spray, gel, wax, bison sperm, or whatever foreign agent keeps Pauly D's blowout immune from gale force winds and beer fueled punches.

That being said, the following two grooves are the tracks you'll most likely see me fist pumping to if you happen to be in the other lane at a red light:

"Phantom 1.5" by Justice: According to the time of this YouTube video, I'll be a Mike Tyson of the Toyota starting at the 3:20 mark of this track.

"Play Your Part (Pt.1)" by Girl Talk: I have the first 42 seconds of this track memorized. I can't tell you how many times, when by myself in the car, I've yelled out the entire flow. Lately, I've been lip syncing silently in my cube at work. Fist pumping to commence immediately after the last word at that 42 second mark (again, using the time frame of this YouTube video).

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Do you have any interest in seeing RJD2 with me?

Q: What's an upcoming concert that's of interest to me?
A: RJD2, March 13 @ Metro.

Welcome to the first of probably many "C'mon, this is a good musical act... C'mon, wanna see'em live...c'mon?" type of posts for 2010. I actually think the probability of me seeing this dude live is rather high - but let me try to convince you anyways. I'll be employing the simple method of just presenting a few of his tracks for your listening pleasure.

Almost everybody has heard at least one song of his because the very popular and trendy AMC show Mad Men uses one of his tracks ("A Beautiful Mine") for its theme song.

A few months ago, shortly before my family's vacation to San Fransisco, I found a nice SF montage set to the tune of "Chicken Bone Circuit" and posted it for background music.

Finally, I wanted to find the video that YouTube considered RJD2's most popular selection. It's a song that I actually just heard for the first time tonight. Evidently, it's off an album of his that I don't yet possess. If you decide to watch any of these three videos, make it the one for "Work it Out" for it's an interesting music video.

RJD2 has a new album "dropping" January 19 called The Colossus. The holidays left me with a nice iTunes account surplus - and I've been very frugal with it. I'm very cabable of going on a spree that will exhaust it all in one session. I'll let you know if I end up picking this album up and if it might create more reasons to see this guy live.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

What opportunities were missed in 2009?

Q: Of the shows I wanted to see, how many did I actually see?
A: 50%, which is a percentage I'll glady take.

And now with 2009 officially over, a quick look back at the 10 concerts I attended:
(Looking back, I wish I would've made it a point to write a review of each)

March, The Vic, Cut Copy: A dance-riffic night.

March, Aragon, Bloc Party: The last time I'll ever ask more than 2 people to go to a show.

April, Metro, Peter Bjorn and John: Still fun, yet disappointing.

May, The Riv, Franz Ferdinand: A. Maze. Ing. (Post from PB&J+FF)

June, Park West, Phoenix: Probably the best story to come out of a show this year.

September, Aragon, Phoenix: Solidifying 2009 as the year of Phoenix in my musical life.

November, House of Blues, Mute Math: Infected with Twilight tweens.

December, Lincoln Hall, Do Make Say Think: Best venue discovery of the year for sure.

December, Metro, Mew: Oh, to be a V.I.P. every time.

December, Allstate Arena, Flaming Lips: 2nd to only FF in best stage performance of the year.

Also in chronological order, my 10 missed concert opportunities of the last year:

May, Logan Square, Here We Go Magic: Slight regret. I lobbied hard for this show. At the last moment I found someone to go with me, only to have the threat of rain have the whole thing swept out from under me. However, the silver lining to the cloud that didn't produce rain was that I ended up going out to see The Hangover in the theater that night with other friends.

July, Metro, Fleet Foxes: Note that I don't regret not attending Lollapalooza. But I did want to see the Fleet Foxes after party show. But of all these misses - this one was missed for the best of purposes: my family vacation out to California to see my cousin get married.

September, Bottom Lounge, Akron/Family: Almost zero regret. A band that made me raise an ear after a track was played on NPR, but didn't have a strong enough album to warrant a concert venture.

September, The Vic, Moby: If you would've told me in college that I would casually dismiss a Moby show I would've not believed you. For better or worse, I'm not as enthused by his music as of late and didn't want to spend for the (relatively) high price for that tickets. *bonus regret is not getting into his free Smart Bar DJ set - but that might have been difficult ticket to acquire.

September, Soldier Field, U2: The moment Lebowski Fest announced it's Chicago dates I quickly unloaded my already bought ticket to this show... Didn't look back until I started to compile this list a few days ago. Bono's got nothing on The Dude.

October, Metro, Grizzly Bear: Biggest regret of the year - especially when they played two shows in two nights. One was missed so I could watch the Bears lose, the other was because of a condo board meeting (maturity blows).

November, Empty Bottle, Lonely Dear: A shade more regret than the Akron/Family show. I didn't really make much of an effort to find anybody else to go to this show with me, and let it pass by without me without much of a second thought.

December, The Bottom Lounge, The xx: Very small amount of regret. At the time I had not yet heard of them. This "wrong" will be "righted" when I see them this April at Lincoln Hall.

December, Congress Theater, Girl Talk: The most unrealistic regret of 2009. Sometimes you just know you'll never see a concert once it's announced.

Without a doubt, 2009 had more money spent on "tickets" than any other year. The above list doesn't include the ten MU bball games, 5 nights of Lebowski Fests, and an oddball Aqua Teen Hunger Force Live show! Should I make it a point to make my 2010 "regret" list longer as a budgetary concern?