Tuesday, February 16, 2010

What am I going to do?

Q: Have you heard that I'm taking a hiatus from facebook?
A: Yeah, time to get some of my life back.

I'm also gonna take a break from blogging, which is total opposite of something I did around this time last year.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Do you like to get dressed up?

Q: What caused you to wear a suit on Valentine's Day (Observed), because it certainly isn't a girlfriend?
A: Trust me, it took some convincing.

If you know me well, you know I want to wear jeans and gym shoes every day. Especially that gym shoes part - comfortable shoes might rank just below food on my misguided list of priorities. But my two friends Doug and Rachel convinced me getting that dressed up this past Saturday would be worth it.

Rachel works for an event planning organization (wedding receptions, corporate parties, etc...). Every year they throw a Valentine's Day party to show off their "product" to prospective customers. Not only are the employees of the company invited, but also their friends to help boost the numbers and have the party look as popular as possible. Even though I told Doug, "I'm the farthest thing from a prospective customer for a wedding reception you can find" he still insisted I attend with their other friends.

The party was held in the Mid American Club, located on the 80th floor of the Aon Center in downtown Chicago.

I must admit, my favorite of all the views was from the bathroom window. Anybody that has seen Adventures in Babysitting would appreciate looking down on this building (note: if you haven't seen that Elizabeth Shue movie, you should)

But the other views certainly weren't lacking gasp appeal, such as seeing Navy Pier out of the East windows and Millennium Park and Grant Park out of the South facing windows.

I also like seeing the grid of streetlights that the city creates from such a high angle.

If you were hoping there would be a crazy story to come out of all this - I'm sorry to disappoint. The party had a great vibe. We all felt like we had crashed a wedding reception, but without the guilt because there wasn't a bride or groom present. Also, the CTA expenses were probably tenth of what I would've spent if I had to get a gift. Most importantly, the 'reception vibe' deflected the fact that it was the Saturday night before Valentine's Day. There were a few other singles there, and nobody really seemed to really notice the "Happy Valentine's Day" balloons. The party outweighed the theme. My only complaint: Although the live band was good, if you're going to play "Groove is in the Heart" it really helps to have a slide whistle.

I got home shortly after 3 am, thankful that I didn't do anything stupid on Valentine's Day. For the record, I did happen to have tickets to the USF/MU basketball game this night. The fact that I gave those two tickets away for free to the unquestionably hottest woman of Marquette University's campus all four years I was there does not count as one of my star-crossed Valentine's Day actions.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How cynical can you be on Valentine's Day?

Q: When does this story take place?
A: Ten years ago!

Yesterday I was digging through the archives of the now defunct "View de TQ" on MySpace to find a story I wanted to re-post. In that process, I came across the following "gem." Don't forget: It doesn't have to be good to be a classic.

Also, sorry to have posted back-to-back "Best of the Blogs" examples:

Wednesday, February 14, 2007
As I lie in difficulty getting to sleep, clearing my mind, a memory from the Winter of 2000 crept into my mind. It certainly would have been blogged about if I had such the medium back in the day.

History of Christian Thought was one of my more difficult classes as Marquette University. It was a third-level theology class. I needed 9 credits in Theology to attain my degree, but you could not just churn out three easy classes. This class was a requirement, and you had to pass a 2nd level course to get into one of this variety. However, it was one of my more rewarding classes. And I wouldn't mind to go back and audit the class (if I could get the same professor and the bank account to afford me the opportunity to take classes for the sole purpose of knowledge). The entire class was about the process of how the Catholic Catechism was founded. How after Jesus died all the Gnostics and Prophets and Politicians argued and debated their way though councils and movements. How Ignatius earned his street cred and why Augustine would be a first round pick in any Fantasy Theologian League. It's too bad that millions upon millions have read The DiVinci Code without having a class like History of Christian Thought to round out the edges.

However none of the class' merits remain as my most vivid memory. Sadly the magnificent conversion of Augustine of Hippo by Ambrose of Milan will take a back seat to something I casually overheard one day in early December 2000.

A girl was talking to the girl next to her a row behind me. The girls were two and three seats over from my position in the room's theoretical X-Axis. The girl farthest away from me was telling her, I'm guessing close friend, of a boy she met a couple days earlier at a party up on the East Side.

I should note that the East Side (apart from downtown, where the campus of Marquette lies) is home to the more hip and cool people. I've often told others that the East Side is where young people drink coffee because they actually like it and where couples go to watch foreign independent films of young French boys in love.

I should probably stop referring to the person telling the following story as a girl, and as the person she met as a boy because this is a tale of hardcore sex with strangers.

By the way, Happy Valentine's Day everybody.

It became painfully obvious that the people behind me were talking about sex. Also obvious was the confirmation in my mind that women hold no secrets between themselves - and transmit their secrets in code incapable of deciphering by one with a Y chromosome.

Most importantly, this was all occurring in the moments before class began - causing much background noise of entering classmates and backpack opening. Of the conversation that I was able to understand, very little was of audible-enough levels. The mere telling of this story in a classroom surrounded by strangers baffled me. Especially saying the following two comments loud enough to be blogged about a lifetime later:

"You know, (chokes back a laugh), he really wasn't that big."
"But (extended pause) the next morning I felt like I had rode a horse."

Then class began.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Do you have any Valentine's Day tradtions?

Q: How many years ago is this post?
A: 4 years.

(Copied from the now defunct "View de TQ" blog from the ol'MySpace)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006
I saw VD comming from far away. Preparation was needed. The following needed to be accomplished:

-Engineer a valentine's day feat which needs to result in a story
-Provide support to those that actually like this day, but abhor it currently due to no significant other
-Figure out an ironic way to spend the night in order to have a good response to "what did you do for Valentine's Day?"
-Stay strong.

The first two were accomplished from an idea generated in one of my many sleepless nights. I wanted to buy those cheap ass cardboad valentines (the kind first graders pass out) and give them to coworkers.

Standing in front of a selection of these cards at a Walgreens I attempted to quickly calculate how many I needed. This creates a big problem because imbedded in this answer is the pivital, "Who gets one and who doesn't get one." The more I thought about it, I realized there was a parabolic relationship betwen the quantity of cards distributed and the success of the gesture/humor.

I worked very late the night before, allowing nearly everybody in the building to leave as I made my rounds dropping off Simpons and Transfomers themed valentines Day cards. I decided to give a card to ANYBODY that has said hello to me in the month of February. Regardless of age, relationship status, sex or sexual orientation that coworker got a card.

I walked into work very nervously on Valentine's Day. The act, of this magnitude, was going to either be a huge success or paint me as a complete wackjob. I even gave one to the Executive Vice President of the company. The boss of my boss' boss.

Final count: 89 cards distributed.

It was remarkable how many e-mails I received from women who said it really made them smile and how it made them think of how the holiday was when they were schoolchildren. (Back to the time before the day got whored out to the loved and attached, sending independants into exile). Some of these are still posted on people's desks. This makes me feel nervous because with all these simpsons cards in display - ones who didn't receive one could feel left out. The feeling of being left out was one of the emotions I was attempting to conquer with this action.

As the day was ending, and more women were receiving quazi-gadens in vases - i could feel the tide turning in my fellow solo acts. I usually just said quietly to them... "Now what would you rather have: THAT guy who sent those as YOUR boyfriend? Or me as a friend, which includes an old skool throwback card from me?"

How did I spend my Valentine's Day evening? Watching a movie with a number two in it - signifing the day... and a movie that sums up how I feel about the day: Saw 2. This was also planned in advance - moving Saw 2 to the top of my queue list in order for it to arrive the day it was released to DVD (2/14/2006).

Finally, I did make sure to call my sister to wish her a happy valentine's day. She is also, "between relationships" and the most devout reader of this blog... Thanks Mo - we stick together.

Almost all days have the same M.O. for me. It's not if you win or lose, its if there's a decent story to tell. In that sense... let me say, "Yes, I had a good Valentine's Day."

I handed out paper cards for two more years after that.
The past two years, I've just sent out e-card.
Why did I stop the old school tradition?
It gets too much to handle when, by that third year, it took me nearly two hours to hand out over 200 damn little envelopes.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Do you want a free song by Yeasayer?

Q: What is Yeasayer?
A: A band from Brooklyn self described as, "Enya with bounce"

Two months ago my weekly concert alert e-mail from Jam Productions included a link to download "Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer. A few weeks after that the same song was featured on NPR's All Songs Considered. It's also being given away for free on multiple places on the Web as well as on Yeasayer's MySpace page. Therefore, I don't feel guilty copying the link here as well.

Click here to download "Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer for free courtesy Jam Productions (no registration or anything is needed! Flat out Free Music!)

I liked that song, and the next song I discovered by them "Tightrope" was even better:

Right around this time I received an iTunes gift card and didn't hesitate long to buy their first album All Hour Cymbals. On Tuesday February 9, the bands latest album Odd Blood "drops" for purchase wherever you normally purchase music. In a little over two months from now, they'll have a Metro show. I hope to be there, Thursday April 29.

Here is the official video for "Ambling Alp" by Yeasayer.
IMPORTANT TO NOTE: the official video is Not Safe For Work
I'd also like to add that this video is, by far, the oddest video I have ever posted. It's extremely... weird... Don't let the visual distract you too much from the track's quality.

Yeasayer - Ambling Alp from Spy Films on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Is Brees' kid wearing child sized ear protection?

(The majority of this is a repost from last year - just a quick update)

2010 (Wheeling): An awesomely stupid argument breaks out centering around the things over the ears of Bress' young son. It started when I said, "If you thought you'd have to buy professional grade child sized ear muffs, maybe it's not a good idea for your kid to be there?" A comment that was innocently replied with a notion that those may be adult sized. Quickly it escalated to telling my friend, "You're out of your element." (Thankfully, the target of that phrase knew exactly where that phrase originated)

A close runner up was the potential birth of a new musical genre: Bromantic
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if you want to sound like you know music - invent your own genre label...

Original post from February 1, 2009:
What are your favorite Super Bowl (viewing) Memories?

Q: Of the last five years, what are your strongest memories from watching the Super Bowl.

A: It's never about the actual game.

2009 (Wheeling): Laughing hysterically at Bruce's opening monologue - which we had to replay instantly because we were laughing too hard to hear it all:

"Ladies and gentleman for the next 12 minutes we're gonna beam righteous and mighty power of The E Street Band into your beautiful home. I want you to step back from the guacamole dip, I want you to put the chicken fingers down and turn your television... all the way up!" (Damnit NFL and NBC yanked the YouTube clip!)

2008 (Palatine & Hoffman Estates): Double booking myself causing me to watch the two halves in two different towns... I'll never do that again, especially when the short drive was impossible due to a snowstorm.

2007 (Des Plaines): The only Super Bowl viewing I've ever hosted... Mainly because this Super Bowl happened to be a Bear game. The memory is not our elation of Hes running back the opening kick, but rather that my friend wanted to dress up and wore a jacket and tie (He said it was the most important sports viewing event of his life).

2006 (Charleston): If they ever write an unauthorized biography of my life, this weekend will be in it, due to a certain girl who hung a Jack Kerouac poster in her studio apartment located in "the square." The lame Seahawk/Steeler game was unable to distract me.

2005 (Charleston): Since none of us could handle the endless pre-game, we kept flipping the channels looking for a better option. Through this random act of boredom we discovered the first ever Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. It was one of the funniest and surreal moments of my recent memory...

I've made it a point to watch the Puppy Bowl every year since. As I write this, long after the conclusion of Super Bowl XLIII, I have Animal Planet on in the background (I believe they air this back to back to back). The broadcast is much more glitzed up now. Instant replays, kittys at halftime, a referee, and now flashbacks to earlier puppy bowls. Back in 2005 it was just a pure camera without almost zero voice over. A great counter-programming idea. In my opinion, they need to keep it as different as the actual game as possible.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Do you drink Coffee?

Q: If you don't drink coffee, should you ever start?
A: I don't know.

Personally, I don't drink coffee, but I find the beverage quite fascinating.
Many people act as if they are unable to function without it. A long time ago I asked my Dad why he drinks coffee. His response was shockingly simple - to paraphrase: "I wanted something to drink in the morning that was hot." And today, his style of coffee perfectly models that motivation. He loves to drink plain black coffee - the simpler the better. When faced with a only fancy options he will ask for the most "traditional" choice.

Others can be quite snobbish with their coffee. Which I, although not a coffee drinker, completely understand. My work life has brought me into contact with another level of coffee drinker - the largest growing sector in the customer base - asking for "whole bean" coffee. More and more people want to grind their own coffee. I didn't even know that people owned machines for this, but those that I have met are devoted to them.

My Mom wants me to start drinking coffee. She doesn't mention it every time she seems me, but usually once a month she starts up her "why don't you start drinking coffee?" propaganda bandwagon. She thinks drinking coffee will improve my health. (She's not wrong: http://men.webmd.com/features/coffee-new-health-food)

As a single guy, I've considered taking up the drink just so when I offer "Can I buy you coffee sometime?" I won't have to look like a 7 year old just in from finishing his snowman and hoping to get marshmallows in my hot cocoa. As an Achiever, I sometimes wish that I too can one day sit calmly "enjoyin my coffee" with the rest. As someone who has work related access to coffee, I feel like I'm missing out on some of the excitement I'm trying to help raise.

My last taste of coffee was horrible. Of course, that's because it was basically the hot black water my Dad drinks. I'm sure most aficionados would likewise be turned off if that's all they were exposed to, but is it really worth the potentially expensive habit of having to go to upscale places daily for my coffee?

The money factor can't be ignored. It's easily the number one reason I shy away from wine. I know I could easily become a wine drinker, but I don't want to have to deal with that crowd. A crowd that may get insulted if the wine you have to offer is substandard to their lofty aspirations or requires an uncomfortable amount of money required to give as a gift.

Not to mention, do I really need more caffeine in my system? Even when I make huge efforts to avoid it, my sleep schedule is unhealthy as it is. I wish Milk would somehow become cool. That's a drink that is no doubt great for you. A lot of people need it to start their day too. I'm shocked nobody ever tried to recreate the milk bar made famous in A Clockwork Orange:

Of course the milk drank in that establishment was enhanced with serious narcotics. And it's most noteworthy frequenters weren't exactly upstanding members of their society. It's tough to not have a milk bar instantly dismissed as "childish" but what about the idea of "Pomegranate infused milk" or some sort of innovative "cereal on the go" packaging? Is that really crazy? Is that crazier than willing my way through 15-20 distasteful cups of coffee before my mind is rewired to enjoy the experience?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Can I adjust something I wrote earlier?

Q: Has your opinion changed?
A: Yes, please accept this formal retraction.

A few posts back I asked if anybody wanted to see RJD2 with me.

Forget it.

Although there are songs of his I like, his latest album is close to awful. I honestly don't think I'll be listening to it again. There is way too much good music coming out today for me to spend time on new RJD2.

It's so frustrating, to purchase a new album that sucks.
And I was a little bit on the fence about seeing this act before I had bought the album. There are people I know much more eager than I to see him, so it would've been an easy convincing process. But I understand the tour is in support of this new release, and I just won't put myself in front of that.

So let's go back, if only for a moment, to the RJD2 I like. Allow me to embed this "Work it Out" video one more time so I can keep going back to it. May it continue to fuel my daydreams (as opposed to the nightmarish colossal failure.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

How do you support your friends?

Q: How powerful is my blog?
A: Not very, but it's the strongest voice I have...

With that in mind, I'd like to share a song my friend made:

We've all heard people say, "I like to write music" when they list hobbies.
It's nice to see my friend actually is.
This song is called "Book Smart."

Creativity should always be supported.