Everyday minutiae about my world and the people and places in it.
I thought this was an interesting snippet from Henry Kissinger regarding the temperament, so to speak, of the late President Gerald Ford:
Shortened by a day and firmly lodged between two major holidays, this is probably the oddes work week of the year. For one, the office environment is a bit askew when you come in each day and I wonder sometimes if I am in the right place or right time. Traffic is light to nonexistent, the days are inevitably short, the vibe is super casual, and it is almost if we are getting paid to do nothing at all. Unsettling. I would not be at all surprised to find cellophane flowers, tangerine trees, and marmalade skies when I step back outside.
I thought I had Christmas shopping down to a simplified science of Spartan efficiency. Outside of one gag gift, I was only going to buy gifts for my immediate family. My sister and I brilliantly decided to divvy up the ‘rents this year with her buying something for my mom and me shopping for my dad and both of us taking credit for everything. Cake. I got online and ordered one big box item that was delivered to my door. Then I went to Williams Sonoma, bought one big box item for my sister and with very little sweat or aggravation was done shopping. Or so I thought.
It's Christmas time kids, so today's theme was yet another no-brainer. I only wish I could have come up with a Festivus-themed selection. I got all nostalgic with this week's installment and it came surprisingly easy. Enjoy.
I've always been a little jealous of Post writer David Segal. Mostly because he got to interview GBV and play with them on stage at a show in Philly, and because he gets to publish things like this in a national newspaper:
Donald Trump's business acumen and net worth have been fervently debated
for as long as he and his inexplicable hairdo have preoccupied this city. But
there can be little question about the guy's hunches as a publicity-ravenous
egomaniac and preening huckster. In that department, the man is an artist -- and
Tuesday, quite frankly, he made his masterpiece.
Tonight is the annual Fellas Night Out in honor of the holiday season. Stretching our heterosexuality to the limit, a group of me and my buddies get together each year for the Double Secret Santa Gag Gift Exchange followed by a Caps game (Jesus I hate hockey, why can't Christmas be in the spring?). I'm rather proud of the gift I picked up this year as it has everything to do with my buddy living across the hall from his ex -- check that -- twice ex'd girlfriend. Stupendous.
Happy Hannukah, kids! This week's 8-Track is dedicated to some of my favorite Hebrew rockers.
Shipped 'em. 27 Christmas cards and counting. I don't even like Christmas that much but I always do Christmas cards. It must be one of those nature-nurture things that you just cannot stamp out. The list is the usual mix of friends, family, and friends' family...save for one. One card for which I wrote at least four revisions. One card that I honestly do not know why I am sending. Alright, that's a blatant lie.
Today's WaPo had an obit of sorts for Tower Records, the currently liquidating and soon to be out-of-business music store chain. I will miss their Fairfax store that although pricey, always had a pretty decent selection where one could find back catalogue albums not typically stocked at Borders, Best Buy, and the like. While the article reported on the impending closure the main thrust of it was a lament over the impending death of the tangible, physical album due to the multitudinous legal and illegal music downloading mediums. And I sympathize. I wonder how long it will be before market forces make it no longer feasible for labels and distributors to pour resources into the manufacturing of CD's. Even worse, will consumer demand for the physical album dry up altogether?
I hated Titantic. I never even saw the entire movie but I just thought it was a lot of overwrought blokbuster swill. Seeing Kate Winslet semi-nude was kind of awesome (I think there was a bare-ass shot but that may be a bit of revisionist fantasy on my part) but I mostly thought the movie sucked. And because of that, I never bought into the hype about Leonardo Dicaprio. I thought he was good, fine, passable, whatever but all of the talk of his brilliance and depth as an artist -- I didn't see it. Not in any of his films.
The nominations for this year’s Grammys are out and it is of course time for me to chime in with my quickly-depreciating 2 cents. Lest you think I am some cranky contrarian obscurantist tilting at Establishment windmills, let me be clear that I bear no grudge against the Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences itself. Its members get together annually to categorize and rank the year’s musical releases and then celebrate their choice. That is their trip and that’s cool.
What does irk me however, is the general public perception that this award show is somehow, I don’t know, true. As if the Grammys actually mean anything or even deign to acknowledge noteworthy artistic achievements. I enjoy list-making as much as the next hipster poseur, but I would never assume the activity to have any real import. The opposite, I think, is true of the Grammys. Here is my wholly subjective and unsubstantiated argument:
The Colour and the Shape. Like any organization of its size and influence, the Recording Academy has a shape and feel to it. Collectively it cannot help but possess certain political and social proclivities. Fro example, the Bush-whacking pop of the Dixie Chicks earned three nominations while Toby Keith’s waaaaay right-leaning jingoism got zippy. (As a corollary, the Country Music Association opted to not recognize the Dixie Chicks at all this year.) Style- and talent-wise, I think it is fair to say that the Chicks and Keith operate within the same stratum of Corporate Country fluff but it seems as if it was their politics that distinguished each of them this year.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. The Grammys love volume, as in quantity. Be it awards or nominations, if you are going to do it, do it with gusto I suppose. Mary J. Blige gets the most love this year with 8 nominations (one of which is for her horrible U2-collaborated retread of “One”). Eight. That seems excessive to me. John Mayer and the Dixie Chicks each got 5 nominations while the Red Hot Chili Peppers got a whopping 6. And again, really? I guess it just raise my eyebrow (either Shorty or Kevin) when I se the Academy dole out honors in chunks.
Bring out your dead. Speaking of which, Mary J. Blige? The Chili Peppers? Neil Young? F’ing Dylan? Come on. Is it really necessary to continue recognizing artists who are well past their artistic prime? It is much like the old broken down veteran occupying a spot on the roster. Remember the Mary J. collaboration with Method Man after 36 Chambers was released? That was cool. Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magic were albums that caught my ear. But all of that was a long time ago.
Safety first. One of the hallmarks of a Grammy list of nominees is that it is unchallenging. It’s safe. James Blunt, Corrine Bailey Rae, the Chili Peppers, Carrie Underwood; for all of their merits none of them are taking any chances. The listener is not going to be challenged by these artists which I would think would be a contributor to a major artistic award. Gnarls Barkley is this year’s token “edgy” selection but would they be here if “Crazy” was not a huge Top 40 hit? Doubtful. Very doubtful.
So what is the point of my bitter, old man, Andy Rooney-like rant, you ask. It is that I just wonder sometimes, I just wonder what the uninitiated music listener who enjoys the kinds of albums and songs recognized by the Grammys, would think of the albums that the proactive music-obsessive gushed over this year. If you came in neutral and sat down with James Blunt’s album and Tommy Keene’s, would you really that “you’re beautiful, you’re beautiful” song is that great? I gotta believe not.
It's 80's Movie Soundtrack Day!
On Saturday my friends and I celebrated the 30th birthday of one of our good friends. As he is the first in our circle to watch the odometer roll over he is a little anxious about being alone in near-middle age. Of course in three months the remainder of the Class of '95 will begin to topple like dominoes so we can all together wallow in abject wheredowegofromhere. Which is very appropriate since, like everyone else in this little digital realm of ours, I constantly focus on four things:
The last item being something that a few of my cohorts and I enjoy talking about regularly since we are all suffering from the some condition; aging. It's not as if some switch is thrown the instant one turns 30, but there are noticeable changes (whether they be sometime before or sometime after that day) that are ultimately associated with one's third decade. I have recently discovered, at least for me, some important rules to the new 30 Paradigm.
Exercise. If you work out and are not doing it four to five days a week, you are wasting your time. Yeah, it takes twice as long now to recover from serious physical strain but it also takes three times as long to metabolize all of the carbs I can't stop eating. Listen to Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try."
Running game. 30 is approcahing something like mature sexy. At least that is what I hear (or depserately hope for). The point is that at around 30 you can confidently get away with things you could not as when you were younger. Specifically going in dead cold, no introductions, to a group of women at a social event and simply saying "hi, my name is ----" actually works. At 23 you didn't have the ocnifdence to pull it off. At 30 you don't give a fuck anymore, you know what you want.
Owning property. You either do or you do not. If you haven't bought anything by now you are not going to unless circumstances drastically change for you. And that's just fine. Sign another 12-month lease and let everyone else sweat the interest rate hikes.
Mug Night at Whitlow's. It 's out of the question, just let it go. There are plenty of other options.
Work. If you are at all career-oriented, these are your Hall of Fame years. You are experienced enough to do just about anything but young enough (corporately-speaking) to keep accelerating your advancement. Now's the time to make your name and then you can ride it out through your 40's into early retirement.
Rock. You still can.
For no particular reason, this week's theme is The British Isles...but not England (too easy). I was going to include any and all fromer British provinces but could not think of any cool bands from the Faulklands.