Hot Rats

Wow. I am finding it difficult to believe that I have never before listened to Zappa’s Hot Rats. It is, truly, the necessary companion piece to Burnt Weenie Sandwich, while somehow simultaneously both bridge and precursor to later works like Jazz From Hell. Hot Rats is like the missing link.

And it’s awesome. I find myself hearing some gorgeous melody in it and wondering if this grouchy, practical man actually had that voice somewhere, or if he was merely exploiting music theory, and if Willie the Pimp is meant to tip the scales on that question.

Anyway, I’m amazed that I’m a Zappa nut at my age who’s never heard this one. That’s the lovely thing about Frank. He did so much that you can always learn something new.

(By the way, did I mention that eMusic carries a whole lotta Zappa?)

You Better Get Right…

Whilst in sunny Illinois: I couldn’t help but read the bumpersticker out loud in the back of the cab. I wish I hadn’t. But it made use of an ol’ Southernbaptisism that I only know because it’s a Jennyanykind song. It was sort of in rhebus form somehow, and it said, “you better get right with God,” and so I read it out loud and went “hmmmmph.”

The coworker next to me said, “That’s right.” Then said, “What, are you not a true believer, Aaron?”

Now, my religious beliefs cannot actually be written on a notecard. I tend to follow the thinking of many of our Founding Fathers, most of whom were Deists. However, I also tend to believe in some form of reincarnation. But I do not tend to accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior. Call me a skeptic, or call me a person who was not * raised * with any particular faith. More certainly, call me someone who has noticed that belief in Jesus Christ has been one of the most politically misppropriated forces of the universe, evar, and that this trend has been on a spectacular rise as of late. You may also call me somebody who has found more universal truths in Frank Zappa’s Only In It For The Money than from any book in the Bible. Finally, call me someone who thinks a tale that spans from virgin birth to resurrection is only slightly less goofy than the one about the winged horse flying thousands and thousands of miles in an evening or the fella what found holy documents based on the advice of an Indian ghost. But how do you explain this to the Suthun belle sitting next to you in the cab after the wine and the prawns and in a still semi-work environment yet?

So I mumbled something like, no, but I appreciate folks who do have faith. Which I do. As my answer trailed off, she chimed in with a “Veddy intedesting.” Which I thought was weird. Her editorial comment was as if to say, how very strange it is that you say you don’t believe in the Christ. Wow. You really are a weirdo. And I find it sad as a progressive that this country hasn’t gotten further than this, that in fact the government has been infiltrated by the Lubavitch of Christianity, and that just admitting that you believe differently than a Christ-worshipper grants you an eyeroll.

I once, seriously, had a fella tell me that the Constitution guarantees us freedom of religion, not freedom from religion. Seriously. So, by this guy’s mandate, I’d be game to be locked up in the stocks because I tend to believe that some fortuitous spark, not an ethereal being who watches over us like Santy Claus and requires us to kiss his ass every Sunday, is what led to all of this?

Anyway, I know I’m probably overreacting. I often do. Still, I sort of wish I hadn’t read that stupid bumper sticker out loud.

Play Spy at the Airport

I have just got back from the Chicago trip. It was a good meeting, and I’m glad I went. I schmoozed with members of the trade association I work for as best I can and schmoozed with a few coworkers as well. Six of us took a train into the city and ate Chinese last night at a trendy little joint called “Opera.” I had the prawns.

I left the hotel right after the noon meeting. I didn’t need to, as it turns out. One of my colleagues at the D.C. office had overnighted me the replacement driver’s license I’d ordered after I lost my wallet, so the full cavity search I received at Dulles (okay, so it wasn’t that severe) was not a concern. And, as it turns out, my plane was delayed. But I got to snoop around at O’Hare. Ate lunch at the Chili’s, which seems to be the only reasonable place at O’Hair where a man can get a beer and lunch and sit down and enjoy it. Then I wandered around to the usual suspects, book stores, gadget stores. Picked up a Rolling Stone and a Computer Shopper. There’s some good stuff in RS about the atmospheric C02 that’s ravaging the planet and such.

I flew one of them new-fangled big-ass planes. That was nice. Each seat had a little screen in front of it, and you could call up a map to show you where your plane was and how long it was before you’d get there and such. Very good for the little kid inside of you going, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”

So I’m home and I’m glad and I haven’t yet seen my cat, who I assume is upstairs snoogling with the housemate who’s been taking care of her. Time to catch up on e-mail and Tivo. Good to be home.

At least he didn't eat the sofa…

My girl, her housemate and I returned to her house Saturday night apprehensive. Said housemate has a big floppy mutt (previously pictured here, but he’s a lot bigger now) that she figures has some Great Dane in him, and, well, as they say in the South, bless his heart.

They were apprehensive because he tends to eat furniture. They walked in and were very happy to find that he had not eaten any furniture. Then they explored the rest of the house.

He had eaten a copy of the housemate’s dissertation and had laid a turd in the middle of the kitchen.

I wish I could say I had come up with something as witty on the spot as to lean down to the beast, pet him on the head, and to say, “Not so crazy about the dissertation, eh, buddy?” No, I just thought of that this morning. Damnit. Instead, all I could think to point out was how glad these two were that the dog hadn’t eaten any furniture. But. But. But. But.

But he SHIT in your KITCHEN! That’s like the worst thing a dog can do! I don’t think they quite grasped that. I think perhaps the neo-medieval code of “you don’t shit where you eat” is something that only rings genuinely true if you’re a fella. And I can’t tell you how this real-life representation of this metaphor tickled me.

Over and Over

Attention, practitioners of the American English language: Can we please stop using the word “over,” which most directly is meant to explain a specific spatial relationship, when you mean to say “more than,” which is meant to explain a specific relationship regarding amount?

No, goddamnit, Takeru Kobayashi did not eat “over” 40 hot dogs in 12 minutes to win the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest this year. He ate “more than” 40 hot dogs. When you say that Kobayashi ate “over” 40 hot dogs, I imagine 40 hot dogs on the floor and Kobayashi hovering over (you see?) them while eating a TV dinner.

“More than.” Say it with me. “Mooooooore thaaaaaaan.” Very good.

Because you’re on TV, dummy. I watched Network again last night. That is such an incredible movie. The folks who made it told the future, didn’t they? You have to keep slapping yourself on the back of the head to remind yourself that this movie was made WELL BEFORE television ever had anything like The Howard Biehl Show on the air. Don’t even get me started about the movie’s commentary about Saudi ownership of the U.S. of A.

The Dude Abides

We decided last weekend that the groom was, indeed, “The Dude.” It’s the hair, I guess. And the attitude. It was a nice wedding. Sorry about denting your open bar bill so badly, dude. Thank goodness there was a nice big bed after.

This Otto crashed the reception. That was funny. Overheard him talking to a waiter. “So, like, what, you just have a happy hour right now or something?” he said. The waiter explained to him that all of these people dressed up in monkeysuits were there for a wedding reception. Oops.

I was winner of the Ralph Wiggum Award for the weekend. The elevators at the Marriott made a funny, metallic noise when they arrived at the floor. “It’s like a robotic elevator or something,” I said, realizing in the next beat that, actually, an elevator kind of IS a robot. I swear to gosh I’m really smarter than that.

We lunched at a Retarded Wendy’s. It’s like a normal Wendy’s except that everyone who is working there appears to be “special.” I swear, these are people who should be wearing helmets, always. Not fast food, but food served slowly and without any sort of system to expedite efficiency. I swear I’m going to book a bus and bring 150 people there sometime for lunch, just to see what happens. I will, however, suggest that everyone pack a lunch.

It was a very nice weekend, so nice I’m still thinking about it. The dude abides.

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It's Geena…not Gina

From a friend, regarding Commander In Chief

I believe you called Geena Davis’s new show a lumpy sugar turd because its writing is not up to WW level. “An Hour I’ll Never Get Back.” You didn’t even spell the woman’s name right. For once I wish you could look at the big picture. I like to think of things in terms of “The Cause.” You are one of the people who can see the injustice in the democratic system when 56% of its citizens are denied access to the highest office? I would have sworn you were, but maybe I’m wrong. The show is by no means glaringly bad. It continues to dominate its timeslot, the reviews are rather good & its viewership is increasing. Yes, it is not as well made as the Sheen Show, but it is about a woman as the Chief Executive Officer. At the very very least, it serves to desensitize the public to the notion of a woman as Prez. It plants a wonderful seed. For the first time in history, there are two viable female candidates that are being seriously considered & a drama on TV that tries to show the possibility. Tabloids, news shows & talk shows are discussing the issue. It’s not the content of the show, my friend, it is its concept that is important. It is not particularly well-done, but its message is loud & strong….& millions are watching. It represents the concept well. Despite its shortcomings, Donald fucking Sutherland is in it. They could have him balance on a giant ball in a tutu while juggling & he’s still going to lend class, dignity & talent to the project. Geena ain’t no slouch either, let her settle into this part. She’s a member of MENSA….she’ll work it out.

Now, do you think your snippy little comments helped or hurt “The Cause”? The show helps it, you hurt the show….do the math. I love reading your opinions & most often agree with them. When it came to this one, I wish you had just kept your mouth shut & sat there & looked pretty.

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Note to self: Please stop hearing “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” on the radio and insisting that it is sung by a band called “TSOP.” That is incorrect. This song is performed by McFadden and Whitehead. “TSOP” was a song, the theme to “Soul Train,” in fact. Silly.

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R.I.P. Scratchy

There is a tool that exists that is perfect for digging a deep hole deep into North Carolina clay. It is a steel-cast heavy pick that you can lift up and use gravity to do some of the work for you. It has a blunt-sharp end and it’s taller than you unless you’re Shaq.

Me and my buddy walked into a Home Depot in Concord, N.C., looking for such an implement Monday morning. We needed it to dig a grave for a cat.

Yes, I happened to show up the weekend his boy Scratchy decided to exhibit his swan song.

You see a cat who is doing his best not to be seen in broad daylight, and you see a cat who is ailing and ready to go. Sunday afternoon, he was sprawled out in the neighbors’ yard, convinced that nobody could see him.

By Sunday night, he was cooped up in his own litter box, which is where they found him ten minutes before he gave up the ghost. Which led my friend to have to make a seemingly immediate decision while he was in the first moments of grief, what to do with the shell now that his little monkey had left it. I’ll never forget the impossibly silent forever while he sat with his friend wrapped up in a towel, both shrieking inside and trying to lay plans.

His wife and I steered him from floodlights and trying to dig right that moment. He will keep, and you need to say goodbye in daylight, that’s all I could think while I sat on that couch across from them. He and I later toasted his boy, a fascinating feline in his prime, truly tolerant and beautiful and funny and love.

But when they pulled him out from his box and set him on the ground, it was pretty clear he was in his last minutes. This old boy looked like a newborn kitten, his eyes big and wide and unsure of his step. He was shortly wrapped in a towel and brought upstairs, only to say goodbye.

I was rooting that night for cremation, an easier solution, but my buddy kept saying he’s always seen burial at his home.

I was wrong. Not that I had a right to harbor an opinon, which is why I only whispered it that night. It was up to him, and he was right. I dug a little, but he dug mostly, and it took hours and hours and a trip to Home Depot and hours more.

But my friend will always know he took the trouble to commit his little man to the earth. That he made an effort. That he fought for something, even if the fight was only against the cement-hard clay of the planet. That he did something for Scratchy.

God bless Scratchy. Meow.

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…or whatever it’s called…

Dear Dr./Gov. Dean,

I am a proud Democrat but I cannot help but laugh nonstop regarding your use of a certain colloquialism on “Hardball” last evening. I wanted to help you with the following advice.

First off, I imagine that Mrs./Dr. Dean is getting pretty darned tired of you grabbing her by the elbow and saying, hey, baby, let’s you and me go and exercise our executive privilege, and then making that wink-wink noise. No, Doc, that’s not what the kids are calling it these days. So stop it. Just stop it.

Further bits of advice for you, with all due respect:

  • You probably should not refer to President Bush’s plan to overhaul Social Security with private investment accounts as the “horizontal rumba.”
  • Please stop referring to the 2000 presidential primary as a “Mongolian clusterfuck.” While this phrase is a completely accurate characterization of that primary, it is entirely inappropriate to say it in front of cameras.
  • Calling the Bush administration’s domestic policy a “Cleveland steamer” is perfectly acceptable, anytime, anywhere.
  • Under no circumstances, I repeat, under no circumstances, should you refer to the Title IX Education Amendments of 1972 as “reverse cowgirl.”

I hope you have found this information helpful.