Saturday, July 29, 2006

All By Myself . . .

Sorry for the long absence. It’s a combination of blogger’s block, not having much time to spare, and not wanting to be in my apartment due to the broken air conditioning.

I became inspired to write a blog when I saw The Headphones Guy at the Cubs game the other day. My friends have had a nights and weekends season tickets package for a number of years, and I have been able to weasel my way to ball games fairly consistently, alternating weaseling with all of them. In these season ticket seats, two rows in front, and about seven seats to the left, without fail, sits a middle-aged man with one of those big, whopper, headphone radios. He has a very elaborate scorecard and sometimes he talks to himself while violently penciling in statistics. One thing we have noticed about him is that the outcome of the game is decided when he leaves. Whoever is leading when he leaves, and usually it’s whatever team is visiting at the time, even the shitty ones, that team will hold that lead. So, we’ll be like, “Oh, fuck. The Headphones Guy just left. It’s all over.

I took a picture of him on my cell phone with a dorky border around it that says, “Waz’ Up!?” but I don’t know how to get it into my computer. For now I had to settle for this Empire Strikes Back photo, but you’ll just have to trust me when I say that he looks like that guy at your work who doesn’t talk to anyone, and you suspect he may come to work tomorrow with an AK and mow down the entire office.

With one of my days off, I feel I should go during a day game to see if he’s there. Does he have a job or is he ALWAYS there? If I spot him I’m going to plant myself in a seat directly next to him and get the life story of The Headphones Guy. Either that or I’ll get a headset and a scorecard and not talk to a soul to see what it’s like to be in his headsetted dome . . .

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cornholing and Dilly Shops (Oh the Accidental Hits I Will Get For This Title)

I played in my bean bags league last night. ‘Bags is a game similar to horseshoes in which teams of two people throw beanbags at a board with a hole in it. A bag in the hole is 3 points and a bag resting on the board is 1 point. If you ask someone in Indiana what this game is called they will tell you, with a straight face, cornholing. In any event, I was riding high after winning 3 out of 4 games, propelling myself into sole possession of 2nd place, so I didn’t want to go home just yet. My mom told me she was reading about a new sex shop, The Pleasure Chest ™ on Lincoln Avenue in my neighborhood that was very controversial, in that the residents didn’t want it there. Many of these shops are in the “Boys Town” area, a heavily gay area of Chicago on Halsted Street, and those residents don’t seem to mind, but my area of Chicago has a lot of families, and evidently some conservative ones.

So, I popped in to have a look-see. What I found was a very classy, clean, little dilly shop. I call these types of places dilly shops. I made it up, so, of course, I think it’s very funny. Maybe classy isn’t the right term for a place that had like 12 of those leather shorts with a hole for the one-eyed monster to poke through, but again, they were nicely displayed on little mannequins that only went from above the knee to the navel. They also had a ball spreader. What the hell is that for? I know, to spread one’s balls, but for what purpose? Is it to isolate each ball? Anyway, the shop was the LEAST sleazy dilly shop I’ve ever been in.

You know me, or maybe you don’t, but I’m a curious man and a man of the people, so I chatted up the gal with numerous piercings at the counter. She told me that the shop moved out of the Halsted area because customers were complaining about the lack of parking. I guess when you have a need for certain items time is of the essence, and hunting for a spot might not be high on your list of things to do. What is on that list is not a list I care to see, but I’m glad they can now get their parking spot, get their items, and start checking things off theirs lists. She also told me about the complaints of the residents, but I assured her that I am one resident who has no problem with her dilly shop or anything her dilly shop stands for. While I did just stop in there for kicks, I am also a paying customer. Mom, if you’re reading this, my items were VERY basic and I am in no way a sexual deviant, I swear. Now, if I did buy one of those ball spreaders, and I’m not saying I did, you would have yourself to blame for telling me about the dilly shop.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Girls' Night Out and Man Boobies

I went to this horrible bar last night because my roomy wanted to get with this one girl. This is always the start to a bad night, and this is no exception. We get to the bar to discover that we are intruding on a “Girls’ Night Out.” Translation: “A bunch of us are going to get dolled up the best we can possibly look, with our hair done, our newest outfit with our tits on display, but what we DON’T want is any guys talking to us. Our goal is to draw massive amounts of attention to ourselves, but fight off the advances of the hordes of men who try to hit on us. The best way for us to catch up with old friends is to dance seductively with one another. Talking? No way. My old friends and I can pick up right where we left off in college when she grinds herself on my crotch or when I slowly sink down to the floor and put my face in her crotch.”

Would you believe that one of these girls actually asked me to tell a guy to leave who sat down at the table with them? Hey, I barely know you girls. I’m not about to get my ass kicked because you decided to get dressed up and draw attention to yourself at a bar that brings in every stripe-shirted hardass in Chicago.

The guy that was the biggest hit was my engaged friend. These girls were ALL over him. Hey, he’s engaged, so the threat of him coming on to you is lowered, especially when his bride-to-be is in the room, but has it occurred to these women that chicks all on his jammy might make him have thoughts about the whole one woman for the rest of his life thing? Hey, never mind that. This is Girls Night Out! So, he’s dancing with his bride-to-be’s sister, and she gets behind him, reaches around him, and fondles his man-boobies. Shortly there after, he gets behind her, reaches around, and feels her woman-boobies. This led to bride to be hollering at him and storming out. Now, I don’t happen to have man-boobies, but if I did, I’m pretty sure I’d be self-conscious of them. I certainly wouldn’t want a chick trying to tune-in-Tokyo (movie reference?) in front of everyone, including a bunch of good-looking girls.* BECAUSE, I believe I’d be sensitive about something like this, I can’t say I’d blame a guy for thinking, “Fuck you. You’re grabbing my boobies, I’m grabbing yours.” I guess when it’s your bride-to-be’s sister, one has to keep those automatic thoughts and gut reactions in check. I remember him saying, over and over, "I think I'm in trouble." Gee, you think? I will say it made for some fun people watching and good blog fodder. Okay, I have to do some push-ups so that, God willing, I never have to discover how I’d react in that situation . . .

*Just as I was typing this, man-booby guy called me! It’s really strange because we don’t know each other that well, so it’s not that likely that he’d call me right as I type about his rather embarrassing affliction. I feel really bad now, and I have to be sure he never gets my blog address.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

"Wouldn't You Miss Me?"

Syd Barrett, founding member of Pink Floyd, who even gave the band their name, died the other day at the age of 60. He was their lead singer, guitar player, and primary songwriter, writing the early singles Arnold Layne and See Emily Play as well as the entire first album, the highly influential psychedelic masterpiece, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. Right when the Floyd stood at the door of world wide success, Syd became so erratic from LSD abuse and general insanity, both of which were probably heightening the effects of the other, that the band was left with no choice but to kick him out of the band. He made two solo albums, The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, which remain cult classics despite the fact that they were reportedly like pulling teeth to make given his condition at the time and full of cracking vocals and other apparent mishaps. Part of the reason these solo records have maintained cult status has to do with the mystique of Syd, being an acid casualty, but the records are laced with flashes of brilliance. He had a natural ability to write songs that could be incredibly simple yet at the same time highly complex with bazaar vocal melody patterns that only he could think of, and only he could pull off effectively. Much of the subject matter during his all too brief Pink Floyd tenure dealt with scarecrows, gnomes, and other far out fairy tales, but on his solo efforts there are tender moments that sometimes seem to hint at his struggles with mental illness, whether he was conscious of these references or not.

An old friend of mine, who knew I was a long time fan of Syd’s, called this morning before I left for work to tell me the news of his death and my heart sunk. I decided to listen to all the stuff of his I have on my ipod on the bike ride to and from work. I discovered Interstellar Overdrive is the perfect song to accompany you if you ever find yourself late for work, pedaling your ass through a torrential downpour along Lake Michigan.

The sad tale of Syd Barrett’s rise to stardom and his eventual descent into madness fascinates me. It also fascinated Roger Waters, who wrote numerous songs about him. I have an expensive Syd Barrett original portrait hanging in my home, which was a gift some years ago. I have just about everything he has ever recorded, including the box set, Crazy Diamond. I have poured through just about everything ever written about him, because there is something about a promising rock star and gifted painter suddenly thrown into the lime light, pressured to write hits, and unsuccessfully trying to hold his sanity together that makes me sad. While other tragic rock heroes died at the end of their tale, Syd’s end left him insane, but until recently, alive! The simple fact you could listen to his music and think, ‘I wonder what the poor guy is doing right now’, is part of what fascinated me about him in comparison to other fallen rockers. I wasn’t alone here. Up until his death Syd would get numerous visits from fans who would usually be turned away by his family members because talk of the rock and roll period of his life upsets him. See, I just got sad typing that . . .

This turned into a much longer entry than I intended, but I did feel a need to do justice to him. I encourage you all to further do him justice by checking out some of his music or reading one of the most compelling rock and roll books ever: Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey, which is full of tales of Syd despite the fact that he was in the band so briefly. Again, the author of the book, and anyone else for that matter, whether they are interested in rock or not, can’t help but be fascinated by the tragic life of Syd Barrett. I hope that if there is an after life Syd, or Roger, which he would more likely be called in an after life, is painting ideas he has conjured up in a completely clear, calm, sane mind, because he deserves that.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Asshole Bird on the Loose!

There is a bird dive-bombing people at Navy Pier on a daily basis. I have been attacked three times myself. He is a small, black bird with red lines on his wings. My dad is more than likely going to look it up, so I will soon be able to discern whether this is common practice for this species or if we have a rogue, psychotic bird on our hands. His assaults don’t hurt, but it scares the shit out of you. He comes swooping in from behind, hits you in the head, with what some have said his feet, but I don’t know how the hell they can tell, he lets out a squawk, and by the time you turn around he’s gone.

Some have said he may be protecting a nest, which I don’t buy. I mean, I’m just walking by with photographs to sell to people, and I’m not even looking at your nest. Now that you’re hitting me in the head I want to scramble up your unborn children and make a hobo skillet out of them, but If you had just left me alone I would have never entertained this notion. My theory is he’s just an asshole. I can tell by his little squawk that he’s an asshole. Keith, a coworker of mine, has been hit a few times too. He said one day he sensed he was coming, so he turned around just in time to see him come to a stop and backpedal flap away like a little bitch. So, we’ve learned that he only attacks those who don’t look. We thought about putting our sunglasses, which I lost the other day (shit!), on the back of our heads in the hopes that he will think we are looking. If that doesn’t work I’m going to get John Rambo on his ass.

I was all for settling this matter peacefully, but the other day I was hung-over and crabby and he delivered his hardest blow to date, knocking my sunglasses (which I need to buy now, damn!) off my head, and causing me to yell, “God damn it!” at the top of my lungs despite the fact that there were kids everywhere. I have come to the conclusion that the ultimate tool to send this little prick to birdie hell is a tennis racket, so I’ll be bringing a Head racket with shock absorbers tomorrow. Sorry if this offended any animal lovers out there, but he started it and I’m going to finish it.