Saturday, June 24, 2006

Get Outta My Dreams and Get Into My Blog

1. Billy Ocean is alive and well and singing daily at Navy Pier. At any given moment his soulful voice with that accent of equal parts Trinidad and British can be heard all across the mile long stretch, from the stain glass museum to Connie’s Pizza, and unfortunately, it can be heard loud and clear at the docks of the Sea Dog ™ speedboats where I am stationed 40 hours a week. There are a number of bad songs that I hear there like Sussudio by Phil Collins or Summer Breeze by Seals and Crofts, the latter which I hear on a daily basis, guaranteed, but there was something about hearing both Billy Ocean’s When the Going Gets Tough the Tough Get Going AND Get Outta My Dreams Get Into My Car that really made me squirm in my tight, black slacks. That’s right, tight, black slacks, so that the heat locks in, due the color, and scorches your skin, due the tightness, and then your sense of hearing is equally tortured with that retched intro:
Billy: Hey you, get in to my car
Billy’s Girl Not Yet In His Car, But for the Time Being Merely In His Dreams: Who me?
Billy: Yes you, get in to my car
Wooooooooooooooh. Wah! Yeah!

2. After having my bike stolen, my plan all week was to drive my car somewhere and then take public transportation, which would enable me to sleep a little longer. This worked out great the first day, when I parked my car right by a bus stop and hopped on, but the following day I pressed my luck and kept driving. I noticed that as I got closer to downtown all the spots were meter spots, so I had to pull down a side street. The side street I chose off of Chicago Avenue was Hudson, and I went a few blocks down to Hudson and Locust. Make a mental note of this everyone, if you find yourself at this crossroads RUN. I saw a lot of empty lots, makeshift churches fashioned out of burnt out buildings, and that famous pattern of liquor stores directly next to currency exchanges. I parked my car and ran my ass to work. The boss’s kid promised to give me a ride back to my car, so I could have nice door-to-door service, but then he changed his mind and said he couldn't due to a commitment with his girlfriend. So, for the remainder of the day at work I was dreading my second encounter with Dough Boy and the rest of the Boyz in the Hood. As it turns out, that street is a little more “active” at 6pm then it is at 8:30 am. Just turning and looking down that block I knew that I was going to stick out like a turd in a punch bowl. I ventured down half a block and noticed some people playing softball. Here is my internal monologue as best as I can remember:
“Okay, softball. That means they have bats. Don’t look at that game, just keep looking straight ahead. Do I look tough? Probably not. I don’t look like I have money though, right? I wouldn’t be wearing this uniform if I had money. Okay, I can see my car another block down on the other side of the street. It’s still there and it looks like it has at least two rims left. There are dudes approaching on my side of the street, so what I’ll do is start a slow crossing the street process angling directly towards my car so that I don’t have to cross paths with any of these guys. Deer God, there are like 7 of these guys on the corner and they all have white shirts. Maybe they’re school uniforms. No, school is out for the summer. Maybe they got next in the softball game. Yeah . . . Shit, they’re ascending towards me. Okay, pick up the pace, but don’t look like you’re picking up the pace.”
What I did next was jump into my car, start it up, and peeled out of there without even taking my backpack off, despite the fact that I was crammed tightly against the steering wheel. If any of the Hudson and Locust white shirted gentlemen are reading right now, I’d like to thank you for not pulling out your strap and laying a buster down.

3. I broke up with the girl I was seeing for over two months. Two months is the longest I have been with a girl in about 2 years since splitting up with the girl who I was with for over 5 years, and I’d say this recent one was the closest thing I have had to a girlfriend; all the rest I’d classify as ‘very short term.’ She was really sweet and great in a lot of ways, but I’m really happy to be single for the summer.

4. I have been really good about not talking to my ex who I was with for over 5 years, because I know it’s good for me. It’s hard for both of us to stop talking to one another, but she has been kind enough to stop trying to contact me, until very recently. In a last ditch effort she texted me the following: “I need you to make me a workout play list of indie rock and actual good music.” At first I got all excited and thought about all the awesome up-tempo indie cuts I could put on that list, but then I thought, “That bitch.” I texted her back: “You are baiting me with a fun project. Dirty Pool.” To which she texted back: “I know. By the way your u r on the Swedish soccer team. #5 I think.” She ADMITS it and then just moves on. Now you see why it’s so hard to let someone out of my life who knows me so well and is so damn funny.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stop! Thief!

I just had a bike stolen for the 2nd summer in a row. It's a new summer tradition I'm starting. It's getting to be an expensive tradition, but it's one that I think will continue whether I want it to or not.

Whenever shit like this happens it just makes me so mad that there are people out there who do this kind of thing. One wonders if they even feel bad about it. I'll tell you one thing, this asshole won't make any money off the my $150 Target bike, but he has horribly inconvenienced me, because now I have to take the fricking bus to work. You know what I hate about buses? Waiting. You know what else? Stopping. On m bike it may take me a while to get somewhere but I never stop.

Would anyone object if in the future I catch a bike stealer and beat the ever-loving* shit out of him? Objections . . . ?

*Where did this phrase come from?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Unorthodox Workout Planners and the Roommates Who Love Them

One of my roommates is out of shape, and he has a hard time motivating himself to exercise after working hard all day. Today he called me up on his way home from work and asked me if I’d like to accompany him on an exercising excursion. I really didn’t want to, but because he so rarely gets the gumption to propose such a thing, I got the feeling that if I said no he wouldn’t go at all. However, while his plan on the phone involved taking a long walk to a basketball court and shooting some hoops, his plan upon arriving home was almost identical except we were to end up at a bar somehow. Oh well, I wasn’t going to argue with him, because whatever it takes to get him exercising is okay by me.

So the brisk walk there goes well. Then we do a rapid paced shooting around with one guy rebounding and giving the shooter his lay-up when he misses, and then switching roles. If this is done fast, it can be a decent workout. If you’re horribly out of shape like my dear roomy, sorry if you’re reading big fella, this is enough to make you sweat like a whore on Nickel Night.

I was hoping he had forgotten the bar portion of the exercise plan or maybe after such a good workout it would dawn on him how counterintuitive that part of the plan was, but no such luck. He was intent on going to the bar. Well, if I was going to go to a bar on a Monday, I figure we should at least try out some new ones, so my dumb ass suggests we should hit all 3 new bars on Ashland that we hadn’t been to, since they were all on the way home. Here’s our results.

The Foundation: This bar was a little bit too classy for us. They were playing Postal Service, which is encouraging, but we felt out of place wearing gym shorts and carrying a basketball. We asked for a menu and left. I think I’d go there, but there’s a similar place a little closer to me, so it’s not very likely.

Four Shadows: As I walked in, an a-hole knocked the basketball out of my hand with a big shit-eating grin on his face. He meant well, but I still wanted to punch him in the ear. I have this thing about people doing stuff like that. Whenever someone knocked my hat off my head I really wanted to go ape shit on them. It’s weird because I’m not at all an angry guy, nor do ordinarily have a fiery temper. I think in a former life I may have been an Old West guy who shot people for doing that. I hope that past life guy was careful about who he told his pet peeve to, because in my experience it only makes people do it more, which for him would have meant budgeting for more bullets.

Sorry, about the tangent. When we asked for specials she named a few so-so ones and then she said they $6 pitchers of Stella. Now I don’t think it’s good for two people to drink pitchers on a Monday, but you have to understand how good a deal that is. You can’t get pitchers of CRAP beer for fewer than 7 bucks in Chicago, and Stella is a damn tasty libation. As we sipped our frothy brews we chatted up our rock-hard body, yoga-obsessed, female bartender who was planning a trip to China to study yoga under the Shao Lin monks. We both really wanted stay there and hear more off-the-wall shit from this gal, and there was plenty of it to be heard, but we HAD to make it to our third and final bar.

The Ashland: This bar looked exactly like it did when it was the Skylight, which is the bar we had our New Years party at in which we had over 150 of our closest friends. It was a smashing success. Anyway, the only new element in this incarnation is that you can play beanbags, or corn-holing if you’re from Indiana, there on Sundays, and you can play video games at the bar. I wowed the bartender and my roomy at my ability to rapidly flap my ostrich’s wings to jump on my opponents’ eggs before being killed by other ostrich riders and the dreaded Lava Troll in the game of Joust, and then we were on our way. We thought about going back to the previous fun bar, but opted to go home. Well, roomy opted to stop off for a bottle of jack, which I think he’s still working on, and then we went home.

I think if I accompany him on another exercise trip, I’m going to have to insist that his regiment is not capped off with copious amounts of alcohol, but I’m glad I got out there to explore these new establishments. You HAVE to know all your local watering holes. Anyone want to share his or her favorite spot and why he or she prefers to spend his or her money at said bar? I think some of you know that my loyalty lies with The Liar’s Club, but I also like this dive around the corner called Cody’s which has a bocce ball court out back. I haven’t played yet, but when I start throwing some bocce balls around regularly my blog entries may be even more inconsistent. Good night.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Long Deserved Idle Time

My summer off from my real job started today. I start my full-time summer job tomorrow, but here’s what I did with my first day off in a long time:

1. I cleaned my bedroom. Since I live with 4 dudes, my bedroom is my safe-haven. I spend a great deal of time here, and as a result, I accumulate a lot of SHIT. Here are some things I found:
a) A wig, 2 joker hats, and numerous wristbands
b) A stamped envelope filled with a credit card bill and a check, signed by me, from February. This must have gotten buried and never sent. When I found things like this I kept thinking of Naked Gun when he’s cleaning out his desk, and he’s like, “The missing evidence from the Kelsey case; I’ll be damned, he WAS innocent.” Then the other guy tells him he got the electric chair years ago. Sorry if the quote wasn’t exact, but the sentiment of me losing important shit rings true.
c) Enough change to buy a summer home sompeplace, and in a related matter, I foresee a trip to a Coinstar real soon. Don’t you love those things? We pay money for a machine to count our money and give us another form of money . . . But the change IS money. ‘Well, yes, but it’s so cumbersome . . . ‘

2. I watched 3 of the 4 episodes in the History of Metal series on VH1. Just when I’m ready to write that channel off as shit, and think that they might as well go back to just showing adult contemporary videos like Gloria Estefan and Phil Collins all day, they come out with something really kick ass like this. The part of the show that really made my day was seeing my second favorite clip from Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years in which guitarist Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P. (rumored to be an acronym for We Are Sexual Perverts) attempts to drink himself to death in his pool while his mother sits pool-side. He’s everything I want to be. In case you're wondering, odds are you're not, but just in case, my favorite clip from that film is when the girl wins the Miss Sunset Strip contest, or whatever they call it, and when asked what is next for Miss Sunset Strip, she says she is going to work on her ACTRESSING.

3. I finalized my Summer: Fuck Yeah disc (The title of the disc is an homage to a song from Team America). It was my roommate Neil’s idea for the two of us to each make 80 minutes of music which embodies summertime in Chicago, and we’ll debut them this weekend with some cocktails and friends. Here is the track listing for my disc:

1. Baby, Now That I've Found You 2:34 The Foundations
(Great oldie here, and you’ll see lots of oldies on the list cause any other time of year they can annoy me, but they rock in the summer. When I searched for a photo just now I noticed that they were an interracial band, about half and half no less. I always like to see that for some reason. I suppose there is something about me being two parts social worker and one part rock and roller which equates to the idea of a good interracial band being likely to give me a warm, fuzzy feeling, which it did.)

2. Lively Up Yourself 5:11 Bob Marley & The Wailers
(I needed a Bob song, and I always liked this one. How it’s not on the Legend disc I have no idea.

3. I Gotta Feeling (Just Nineteen) 3:30 Eagles Of Death Metal
(I just saw these guys live and they’re a lot of fun. No real reason for this song to be on here, except that I wanted a couple of friends to hear this track.

4. Just Like Heaven 3:32 The Cure
(This song makes me want to frolic around an open field like a nymph. No, not the type that sleeps with everything that everything that moves, the type from mythology full of whimsy and carefree fun.)

5. Brandy (You're A Fine Girl) 2:55 Looking Glass
(This is a tale of a lonely bar maid on a pier in love with sailors who will never be able to marry her, due to their devotion to “the sea.” The nautical theme is kind of summery I suppose, but again, I think all oldies qualify for summertime songs in my book.)

6. Shake Your Rump 3:19 Beastie Boys
(This is booty shaking good time)

7. Bananas And Blow 3:34 Ween
(I had to get Ween on the list, and this song qualifies for summer with that cabana flavor)

8. I Saw Her Again Last Night 3:14 Mamas And The Papas
(Another good oldie)

9. Me and Julio down by the schoolyard - Simon & Garfunkel (live)
(I like this live version a lot better than the recorded one. Fun song.

10. Werewolves of London 3:20 Warren Zevon
(Does anyone else picture Tom Cruise wielding a pool cue in Color of Money when they hear this song?)

11. Stay A Little Longer 3:25 Willie Nelson (live)
(This song sums up the summer lifestyle and friends being bad influences upon someone).

12. Fantastic Voyage 5:34 Coolio
(Who can forget that video when Coolio puts a gazillion people in his trunk and takes all their asses to Da Beach for one big ass party?)

13. Lake Shore Drive 3:49 Aliotta, Haynes, Jeremiah
(This is the perfect song to play when you’re riding down the highway for which the song was named. I could not believe a band that made such a cool song could possibly suck, but I played their greatest hits once, and sure enough, they sucked.)

14. Train in Vain (Stand by Me) 3:11 The Clash
(Fun song for a band that’s supposed to be all about Punk and fuck everybody sentiments.)

15. Panama 3:32 Van Halen
(I wanted to put Jump on here for the Chicago Cubbies, but when I played the start of this one, it just seems more about the summertime cruising and rocking, etc.)

16. Thank God I'm A Country Boy 3:24 John Denver
(This is a VERY guilty pleasure, but try to tell me it’s not infectious.)

17. Its A Beautiful Morning 2:31 Young Rascals
(It is not an exaggeration to say that this song is beautiful. Who actually says, “It’s a beautiful morning. I think I’ll go outside for a while and just smile?” When that’s the extent of your plans, it truly is a beautiful morning.

18. I Get Around 4:19 2 Pac Shakur
(There’s a lot of, to quote Wedding Crashers, “strange ass” floating around in the summer, and I had to have a song to cover that element; this one delivers in spades.

19. My Sweet One 2:07 Phish
(Phish is a summer band for me. I always revisit them this time of year.)

20. Glad Girls 3:49 Guided By Voices
(Great pick-me-up song on a disc and at one of their live shows. Every show I saw GBV live this song would kick in after 12 b-sides nobody knew, and everyone would jump up and down in unison.

21. Sweet Freedom 4:07 Michael McDonald
(What a dorky song, but it makes me think of Running Scared (a not so great Chicago movie) and the Cubbies (who were not so great in 1986). I guess it just reminds me of a summer in my childhood and gives me a chance to entertain people with my dead-on Michael McDonald impression.

22. Summer Babe [Winter Version] 3:16 Pavement
(Beyond the simple fact that this song title has summer in it and it’s by one of the best bands ever, it also is a song that makes me happy.

Well, what started as a quick blog turned into an entirely too huge blog. If you’ve made it this far, or were nice enough to skim this far, I hope you enjoyed a little taste of what it’s like to be the type of guy who sets out to write about what he did on his day off, but ends up with an entry with track list descriptions being longer than the actual subject matter. Good day.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I'll Take Great Walks of Shame (WOS) In History for 500, Alex

Getting up at 8:30 to go to my weekend job every Saturday and Sunday has been awful for my social life, and working 7 days a week is grueling, but there are a couple of perks. For one, working in the sun is keeping me tan, which is nice, but my scalp is burning, which is not as good. Another perk is the exercise I get on my bike ride to and from work, which is about a 40 minute ride that I have to make a 30 minute ride, since I’m always running late. How am I going to stay in shape when I no longer have to pedal fast out of necessity? On my ride home I pedal like Jesus (Hey Zeus), see previous post. If I no longer bike to a job, I’ll have to steal stuff and make a get-away on my cheap, Target bike; Anything to get the chains turning. Another added bonus about my ride to work is that being that it’s 9:00 am on Saturdays and Sundays, and it’s right through the Lincoln Park area, we are talking PEAK walk of shame time.

I’m sure you all know what a walk of shame is, but I’ll provide a brief definition for those of you who don’t: A walk home after an unexpected stay at the home of someone of the opposite sex. As I ride past a girl with high heels, f-me-pants, make up smeared, clothes disheveled, and her hair all messed up, I’m thinking to myself, ‘sure, you just woke up after a night of drinking, rolled out of bed in the same clothes, clipped a couple of coupons and now you’re merely headed to the grocery store . . . Either that or you had one too many cosmopolitans, which are like breasts because one’s not enough and three’s too many, went home with a 22-year-old DePaul student with a striped shirt, and now you have to figure out where the hell you are at and if there is a Blue Line train nearby.

As some of you know, I live with four guys. Because of this, sometimes I’ll catch a quality walk of shame before I even leave the apartment. Sometimes I’ll be getting ready to leave for work and see a roomy get not one but TWO cups full of water, at which time I’ll say to him, “Johnny, I didn’t know you were ‘entertaining’ a guest.” One time I was watching TV and one of my roommate’s hook-ups barfed all over the stairs, and then he cleaned it up, which I thought was nice because there’s nothing worse than cleaning up your own vomit in front of a random hook-up’s roommate.

Anyone have any good walk of shame (WOS) stories they would like to share? Barf-on-the-stairs-girl, if you’re out there, I probably already shared your best WOS story, but if you got a better one, we’re all ears.