Saturday, August 31, 2013

Vote Early and Vote Often For the Reverend.

I like to think that I have always had some influence over people with the use of my charm and wit.  This dates back to the time in the 5th grade where our class had an election to vote in the primary election for the president of the United States.  During the weeks of campaigning, we made posters to hang up and tried to get others to vote for our guy, mine being Jesse Jackson.  I'm not sure why I chose him for my horse in this race, but I guess I have always just liked Black people.  If it is proof you are looking for, I had a Black Cabbage Patch Doll and my favorite G.I. Joe was Roadblock.

Looking back, it was rather racist that being the Black G.I. Joe, he rapped his dialog.
After the votes had all been added up, our teacher asked us why so many of us voted that way, and the students couldn't really put it into words.  I kicked back in my chair, folded my hands behind my head and smiled, loving what I had created.

"I need that 11-year-old white kid vote!"

I have always used my influence for good instead of evil, and I have had mixed results over the years, but perhaps my greatest achievement will always be convincing 20 to 30 upper-middle class, suburban 11-year-old white kids with conservative parents to vote for the Reverend Jesse Jackson. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

If you were a Bear fan in 1991, then you no doubt still have fond memories of Bears' receiver, Tom Waddle, and his series of unbelievable catches in a playoff game against the Cowboys, catching a series of passes thrown across the middle and getting absolutely creamed over-and-over.   I just watched his highlights again, and the poor guy was slow to get up after some of those hits, looked really woozy and disoriented, and was given smelling salts and sent back out on the field.  He caught what was then a Bear record for receptions with a late fourth quarter touchdown, but he just didn't look excited about it.  In fact, something looked very wrong with him.  As it turns out, he doesn't remember getting that touchdown or anything else that happened in the fourth quarter.

Waddle is a sports radio host here in Chicago, and when the often talked about NFL head injury issue came up, Tom's co host, Mark Silvernman, asked him about the concussions he had during that famous game.  Tom said that he not only forgot that quarter, he scared the hell out of his wife when they were driving to the hospital for tests together and he had no idea who she was.  Despite the fact that Waddle and "Silvy" have worked together for a number of years, seem to be friends, and have no doubt talked about this very game on and off the air numerous times, Silvy admitted on the air today that it's the first time he ever heard that story about him not knowing who his wife was.

Waddle was then asked if knowing what he knows now about traumatic brain injuries and their lifelong effects, if he would take that game back.  He seemed unsure, admitting that it didn't matter that much because they lost the game anyway.  But he did say that at 46-years-old, he can now put his ego aside and admit that the right call is for a doctor to make the call that a player can't return to the field in times like those because now what is important to him is spending time with his wife and kids and being able to have the brain capacity to have the memories of his family's life events.

Today was one of those days where I parked my car but stayed inside to listen to the end of this piece because I was so moved.  Waddle was a hero of mine as a kid.  He was a slow, blond, white guy around 6'1" and 185 pounds.  About the same description as me when I watched him play that game as a kid on my television in Chicago's suburbs, only now I'm an inch taller and afraid to say that I'm a little on the wrong side of 200.  I still idolize his gutsy performance from that playoff game, but like Waddle, now that I'm a little older and wiser, I now see the importance of protecting the players.  The game wasn't that long ago, and just give it a look.  Is there any way in hell in today's game that he would have been allowed to keep getting back onto the field taking those licks and looking the way he did?  I sure hope not.  Yes, I consider him a hero, but I'm also very thankful his brain weren't more damaged, and he still has that wit to make me laugh on my ride home from work in the afternoon.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Part 2 of That Thing I Was Working On Last Post

Last post I took a look at the first ten on the list of things that annoy you if you're really into music, or whatever the author called it.  So far 5 out of 10 on the list I had to answer with a "Yes, that bothers me."  Let's see how I do with the final 11 . . .

11. "When you can't talk about a band without saying everything about the band."

Yes.  I catch myself doing this.  I need to work on just dropping that one anecdote and just stop.  Just get in, get out.  But I always get on tangents that could potentially be bothering those around me, and certainly bothering the female I'm with at the time.

12. "Only being able to start things when you've found the perfect playlist."

Yes.  I can't do any work around the house until I have a good record picked out, and I certainly can't exercise in any way whatsoever without assembling a bomb playlist.  In fact, I'm more likely to end up going to the gym if I know that a good playlist is waiting for me on the shuffle in my gym bag.  

13. When you play a song for someone and it's not as awesome as you remember.

Yes.  I just recently downloaded the theme from "The Lost Boys," and while it sounds so cool in the movie with all the vampire visuals, just hearing it on your iPod sound incredibly dumb.

14. "When someone refers to 'your music' so dismissively."

Yes.  I was playing some Yo La Tengo at work a long time ago, and a bitchy coworker of mine at the time said, "Does your girlfriend like your music?"  She said "your music" just as the author of this list intended.

15. "When you can't stop yourself from ranking everything."

Yes.  Anyone who has been around this blog page for a while knows that I have made a lot of lists over the years, right down to the funniest douche commercials of all time, so yeah, I rank stuff too much.

16. "When you can't stop planning the songs they will play at your wedding."

No.  But it's close.  I don't care too much about making a list like that until it's getting close to take the time to take the plunge.   However, I do think it's important for every couple to know what their first dance will be because that's their song.  Mr and Mrs Noisewater's song is "The Air That I Breathe" by The Hollies, incidentally, and we will slow dance any damn place immediately upon hearing those soothing sounds . . .

17. "Or Your Funeral"

No.  Not even I do that.  This one might be the one you need to ask yourself to see if your music snobbery has gone slightly over the edge.  Well, if I had to pick a song, I guess it would be "My Heart Will Go On" by Celine Dion.  Just kidding.

18. "When you need to keep a running list on your phone of songs you need to sing on karaoke."

Yes.  I'm afraid to say yes.  This one embarrasses me a little, but yes, I will make a mental note of a song I need to try out the next time I grab the mic.  When next I sing, I was thinking I need to do some Phil Collins, but if I'm too hammered, then I always sing the "go to" songs that I can do on drunk autopilot.

19. "Then you never end up using it."

Yes.  Or I try it once and it's way harder than I thought it would be.  I thought one time it would be good to sing "Nickleback" because it's so bad, but because it's such a bad song, it's really hard to sing.  It's a very awkward melody.

20. "When a song comes on that you just can't not sing along to."

Yes.  But more I would say that I just can't sing one line or phrase that I think is particularly good.

21. "When people think they're super fans but only know the latest record."

No.  This one would have been a definite yes for me a few years back, but I have really changed my ways.  I'm a recovering music snob.

However, music snobbery is like herpes.  It will go away for long stretches of time and then will rear its ugly head when something flares it up, like reading this list.  Once you have it, you never entirely lose it.

Totals: 13 out of 21

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I just saw a list of 21 Problems Only Music Lovers Will Understand and I wanted to see how many of them fit this music lover struggles with. Yes means it bothers me, no means it doesn't, and let's see the totals to see how nuts I am, shall we?

1. "When people don’t realize that a hit song is just a cover of another song."

Yes. I once knew a guy who insisted that Clapton wrote "I Shot the Sherrif." I showed him evidenc (before the internet) that Marley wrote it, and he still insisted he was right.

2. "When someone asks you what your favorite album is and expects you to pick just one."

No. Pick one. Don't be a wuss. Dark Side of the Moon is the best rock and roll album ever recorded. Period. Any good music hard-ass type is nothing if he/she is not decisive.

3. "When you play a song for someone and they start talking."

No. Hearing a song for the first time doesn't always connect the first time through, and someone isn't always in the mood to hear what they want you to hear. Also, if you expect the two of you to sit there in silence while you force them to listen to something, you might be a nut.

4. "When the radio overplays the single from your favorite new album."

Yes. A recent example is the new Daft Punk. I loved it until I saw that it was playing on every station. I know it's stupid to not like something because everyone else does, but damn it, I can't help not wanting to have much in common with so many idiots.

5. "When the new album from a band you love gets a bad review."

No. People have their opinions. Lord knows I have them; only mine are always right.

6. When you have to wait 10 years between albums.

No. A band can take as much time as they want, but when they do wait that long, they usually come back only to suck. Weezer gathered a million fans during their long hiatus, came back with a fairly good record that was nowhere near as good as their first two, and then made a shit album every year ever since. So, you can take a lot of time off, but will likely come back sucky.

7. "When you have your headphones on and forget you’re in public."

No. When I see people air drumming or singing on the train or something, I always think how dorky they look, but it doesn't stop me from punching a low-flying branch as my high hat as I crush a drum fill on a jog.

8. "When no one gets your obscure music references."

Yes. That can be annoying, but the best thing to do is in that situation is just text a friend that you know will get it. What is more annoying is when there is a really cool song is in a movie or playing somewhere it shouldn't be and no one knows that it's amazing that the obscure song is being used, and that's why I have to go with a yes on this item.

9. "When you ask someone what they’re into and they say, 'Oh, you know. Anything.'”

Yes. But the wording of this one really matters. When someone says that they are into "all kinds of stuff" and then they are able to at least name some interesting things they like, fine. But if they just have a vague "anything" response, then yeah, that sucks. 

10. "Or they say they don't really listen to music."

Yes. Well, I guess it doesn't bother me; I just pity them. Unless they're into some kind of art, be it film, painting, sculpture . . . something! But it makes me wonder what kind of life they are leading where they're not stopping to appreciate anything beautiful in the world as it passes them by.

- - - -- - - -- - -- - -- - - -- - -- - -

Okay, this list is long. Maybe I'll tackle the other 11 on the list next time. I'm 5 out of 10 so far.  What do you all think? Do you agree or disagree with any of these? Are you a music obsessed nut-job type? Bottom line is this: I would have been a yes to every one of these about 5 years ago, so what does that say about me? I'm growing up? For better or worse?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Crummiest Band to Ever Play a Wedding Reception

For some reason, whenever I am at a wedding reception I always think back to all the other ones I have been to; the best and the worst moments.  Without question, the worst wedding band of all time goes to the reception after the wedding of my good friend, Omega Supreme.

Omega is a 6'5" African American fella who is now happily married to a wonderful 6 foot plus white woman.  They are going to have some giant children whom I hope play for the Chicago Bears, be they male or female.    Now, Omega let me know beforehand that he wasn't too happy about his bride-to-be booking her cousin's band for the occasion, but there was just no getting her to bend on that issue.

The band was not very talented, or perhaps they just haven't rehearsed in a while, and they had a random trumpet player who would sneak horn playing into songs whether the song called for it or not.  They also jammed out self indulgent solos through out the songs, which wasn't really necessary and made the already poorly chosen songs longer and even harder to dance to.  What was perhaps the most uncomfortable part was that they were very, very white.  They only song I can remember them playing was "Hey Ya" by Outkast, a song that was around ten years old at the time, but it seems as if they played it in an attempt to get the Black people out on the dance floor.  But to be honest, the white folks weren't dancing to anything either.

This is not a picture of the actual band, and if this is your band, I'm sorry to use you to be the visual for the worst band ever, but you kind of deserve it.  
When the band would take one of their frequent breaks, the groom would run over to the speakers, plug in his iPod full of awesome songs, and people of all colors, shapes, and sizes would dance their faces off.  Then the band would set back up, and it was like your parents coming home when you were throwing a bash while they were out and the fun is very much all over.  Everyone would go back to their seats or back to the bar.

I was chatting with Omega Supreme over a Budweister, and for some reason I was singing "to the window . . . to the wall!"  And he said to me, in this funny intentionally whining voice that he does sometimes, "Dr. Ken, youknow I want to hear the "to the window to the wall song."  But it was not to be.  The worst wedding band of all time continued their rain of terror well into the evening, but with enough shots of Jameson and enough stories about old times, we still had a great time.

How about you, Seven Readers?  You got a best or worst element of a wedding ceremony or reception?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Bottomless Beers and Exploding Tomato Paste

I had this dream last night set at the supermarket in the town where I grew up, and I was chatting with a guy I hadn't met before who seemed to be the manager or owner.  He was drinking a can of Busch Light and offered me one, and as he did so, he was explaining to me that it didn't look like it was 24 ounces but was, somehow.  He was right.  It looked like a normal sized beer but it said 24 ounces at the bottom of the can, and while I was marveling at the beer that he gave me, he pulled out a gun and yelled at a shoplifter to freeze.  Manager guy fired a shot at the thief, missing him, but he did magnificently explode a can of tomato paste all over the place.  Everyone in the store screamed and ran for the exits, including me, which was odd because the gun wielding manager/owner seemed quite chummy with me just a moment before.
"If you're cool, I'll give you a beer, but if you steal, so help me, I will blow your fricking head clean off."

Running towards the door, I ran past the lady at the register and reached into my wallet to find I had a five dollar bill and a one (which is actually what I have in cash in my wallet now - so dreams are smart sometimes).  Without stopping, I plunked down the five, told her to keep the change, and ran out with my deceptively fathomless can of beer.  As I went through the exit doors, there were a bunch of young men pushing the carts but mostly just hanging out, and as I took a pull from my Busch Light, they all seemed happy to see me and we knew all knew each other for some reason.  Walking to my car, now seemingly safe from the fire fight that continued inside, I heard one of them say to another "Dude, I bet Dr. Ken was just like you back in the day."
"Now with more splatter!"
It's hard to say if that youngster meant that in a good or bad one, but I like to think he was implying that it's cool to take a swig from a beer as you casually head for the door with bullets whizzing by and exploding tomato paste all around, splattering the aisles and aisles of packaged goods . . .

Saturday, August 10, 2013

I stopped into a convenient store in downtown Chicago yesterday to get a Gatorade and interrupted a conversation between two African American clerks, one of which was saying "There was a kid popping off rounds, and this old guy comes out of his house to tell them to stop, and he got shot.  You need to stay in your house, old man, because you don't know what these kids are going to do these days.  These kids are crazy!"

I agreed with her, as she rang up my Gatorade, and she went on to say "Come on, old man.  You gotta get it together."

"Too late." I said.  "He's dead."  They both laughed, but I didn't really mean it to be funny.  This old guy doesn't need to stop doing what he is doing; these young men need to stop shooting each other.  The murders in my city are out of control, and the fact that there are every day, casual, light-hearted conversations about killing going on all across town is a really bad sign.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

I was relieved to finally get a cab after a long wait for one at the airport and a long trip out of town, but I was soon wishing I had taken the train when my cabby launched into religious conspiracy theories.  This guy had some read doozies, and his off-the-wall explanations took the entire thirty minute trip.  As best as I can remember, It was about like this . . .

Dr. Ken: Hey, do you want to take the I94?  I think Lake Shore will be backed up from Lollapalooza.

Crazy Cabbie: No, it should be fine.  Hey, you know Lollapalooza's contract with Chicago will be up in seven more years?

DK: I didn't realize that.

CC: Yes.  And that's the year when all three of the major religions will start to become one.

DK: Fantastic.  It's about time we all got along.  But why that exact year?

CC: It's simple.  The year 2020.  Two plus two is 4, just like the three major religions (Christianity, Islam, and Judaism) and the fourth is for mankind.

(At this point I attempted to change the subject with no success)

DK: You know, cabbie, when I got that gin and tonic on the plane, I didn't get my little plastic sword to stir with.  Don't you hate that?

CC: And I'll tell you another thing, Obama better watch out next year when he turns fifty three.  Want to know why?

DK: I guess so, but maybe you should tell him, and not your customers because some customers might think this is all a little . . .

CC: Because JFK was 35 when he was shot, and Obama will be 53; the reverse!

DK: Uh oh.  So someone is going to shoot him?

CC: Oh no.  Shooting was already done.  This one will probably be from someone poisoning his food.

DK: Hmmm.  He had better have those Secret Service boys tasting his sandwiches just to be safe.

CC: Yes!  He should!  And then the next U.S. leader will be a hot white chick.

DK: Wow.  I'm all for that.  But can't you make her a foxy Black chick?  I like those.

CC: No sir.  A white chick.  And she will be the temptress attempting to lure 80 world leaders with her lascivious ways away from the big three religions.

DK: Well, those hot chicks can be convincing.

CC: But she will fail!  And then there will be 48 hours of darkness, and then the earth will spin in the opposite direction with the sun rising in the west and setting in the east!

DK: Hmmm.  I would think a drastic change like that that would kill everyone.

CC: No, what will kill everyone is when Jesus returns and sends down a great meteor that will take everyone's life, and everyone will be judged to see if they go to the after life.  But first Jesus will be here with us for 40 years.

DK: Wow.  I can't wait to see how badly the press will be hounding him.  He won't get a moment's rest.  That's probably what will make him snap and call his dad for that meteor.

CC: Jesus' return will be amazing.  I just hope that I live to see it.

DK: Well, I'm sure you're a good Muslim, so you'll get there.

CC: Oh yes.  I have been fasting for weeks now.

DK: Does that mess with your brain, all that lack of nutrients.

CC: Oh no.  My head is as clear as ever, and after a while you get used to fasting.

DK: Okay.  Well, I know when I get a little hungry I start getting a little . . . nutty.  Just take care of yourself, cabby.  Pull over right here, if you could.  This is my place.

CC: Yes, sir.  Have a good evening, my friend.

DK: You too.  And maybe stop off for a snack.  Me, Allah, Jesus, and even the Hot White Chick won't judge you.  You need your strength, especially with all these cataclysmic events right around the corner.  Good night.

We should all be naked for Judgment Day.  After all, that's how we all came into the world.