I've crunched the numbers and all I came up with is this.
I'm teetering between committing myself to a life of fun and discovery or one of purpose and meaning. Maybe there is a middle ground, but I can't find it. I've picked these two paths to mull over because I haven't engaged in either one my entire life. I'm also not sure if they will involved blogs and podcasts.
Yeah, so I still want to talk. I have found employment, yet it is still a job where I am alone most of my day. I keep doing this. It must mean something to me.
You may see me driving in the neighborhoods of SE Portland or the uppity and hilly suburbs of Happy Valley. I'll be the one listening to the Jimmy Pardo podcast, eating a ham sandwich on wheat bread and swerving through roundabouts. I may pull over and write a few notes down about old movies or cereal or Bill Clinton; all for a podcast that has almost no listeners. But that is definitely me.
much has changed in such a brief amount of time. I should have guessed; the big occurrences in
my life always seem to turn with the leaves in the last part of the year. Amy got a decent job, I got a job I can hang
with, I've lost a nice amount of weight and I am officially on Zoloft. All of this transpired in the last month,
most of it in the last two weeks. I am
relieved. I am trying to enjoy the
feeling of relief as it is.
thoughts now are to what to do with my time.
My job is about 45 hours a week, M-F, and I get home at about 6:00 each
night. Amy’s chef job is naturally at
night, which means we are back to having no days off together at all. I was spoiled having her around every evening
for the last six months. It was nice.
Now, it’s me an a dog and the TV. The
kids are around usually, but they are teens in their rooms most of the
time. They are in their own worlds. It stings, but I am getting used to it.
how to occupy my time? It may appear
that this is a no-brainer of a problem; I mean, who can’t just do what they
want when they have time to themselves?
Well, me. I've never been very
good at this. When my kids were younger,
I had excuses. I had to be with them,
for them, about them. Now, it had
changed. But who the hell am I?
the pills. I feel the anxiety
slipping. I don’t freak out when the
questions come. There are points where
there are no questions at all. They have
given me a little peace of mind. I can
relax. It’s difficult to express in
words. I feel present; in the
moment. I’m not so concerned all of the time.
The energy I used to worry so much is not being used. I just need to find something or some things
to do with my time.
I turned 40, I can put my old job behind me and I’m medicated I want to do new
things with my time. I don’t know if I
need to express myself the way I used to.
I still want to podcast. I’m
hoping to record again next week, but the writing bug may relent. I think I might be okay with that. I like using it when I want to; instead of
one more reach for a life preserver. I
never really wrote much that wasn't some sort of opinion piece. I liked my books. Maybe one day.
want to do new things and maybe meet some people. I want to do something with my hands or
something active. I've never really gone
down that road before. I don’t
know. I kinda still want to play the
banjo. Or at least pick on a
guitar. I want to impress myself with an
achievement. Or just learn new
things. Or, or, or…
Fun. It’s what’s been missing for 20 years. I want to find it again and hold on. When me
and the Mrs. can enjoy it together it will be better, but in the meantime, I
want some. I just have to find out what
I enjoy. The good news is, I’m not
freaking out about it, thanks to the medication. I’ll find it.
still have restaurant plans. That could
be the answer. That may take enough of
my time so there won’t be questions. But
that’s not today or in the next week.
Until that time, what will I do?
It'll all become clear when you give in to the undeniable magic of the podcast.
My chef wife Amy will tell you that getting into the restaurant game is not for everyone, and a a lot of it sucks. Stupid schedules, egos, criminals, incompetence, sore feet and shoulders, third-degree burns, and smashing stone crabs are just a few of the pitfalls. But, I've told her that I'm jealous. Not just because she found something she's good at, but that its a real thing. Food is a tangible thing we all need, and a lot of us just love it.
She didn't want me in her game at first. I'm a person with a lot of interests; and my trivia knowledge gives me the illusion that I know a lot of things. She wanted the food world to be hers. But, just like I'm not a musician and I still enjoy music, I'm a food fan. I like to cook but I'm no cook. With the talk of the cart and the new talk of an eventual restaurant business, my role now is essential. I'm the support. I'm management. I get to help the chef girl shine in her own kitchen, which has been her dream for fifteen years or so.
I'm fine with all of that. Thrilled, actually. As hard and crazy as all this is, it is a genuine product. An honest exchange of goods for money. There are so many people who don't need their work to mean anything. Some of us can't feel good about working without meaning.
I want to create Mindbook. It's exactly like Facebook, but the people who post on it are honest about what's going on in their lives. There's no need to show off or try to remain brutally positive. It's just a giant collection of fears and problems and maybe, just maybe, connections through honesty. I hope that doesn't sound cynical; I'm truly honest here.
Even though we are barreling toward disaster right now, I bought two tickets to see one of my favorite comedians, Dana Gould. Amy has no idea who he is, and I think that will be fun for her. I would love to be able to talk to him, but I have no idea what I would say. What do you say? Do I really want to talk to this stranger or do I just want the opportunity to thank him? I know he shouldn't meet our heroes, but I don't have heroes. I have performers who I respect. Hmmmmmm.
"Thanks, man. I really love your work."
Generic? Well maybe, but how many dipshits out there try to be cutesy and cool and hip and instead of a compliment, the guy gets insulted or embarrassed?
I swear, I had a dream
about this last night and I had to write about it.
I Did On My Summer Vacation, 2067
Louis O’Dowd Garcia-Wellington
of going to the space station for Gravity Camp like all my friends, I had to
work. At first, I was bitter and
resentful toward my parents, who are always trying to teach me self-reliance
any way they can. Then, they told me I
would have to work the Time Travel Visitors Week at Disney World. They pay is pretty good, there are a lot of
pretty girls that work there and the entire job also counts as a history
eight years ago, after scientists at Stanford perfected time travel, Americans
went crazy for it. The rules were
simple; visit anywhere for a day and you could only watch and enjoy. No interference or passing on of lottery
numbers. Nothing that would affect the fabric of time. Travelers were monitored, and after a few
hiccups (as you know, the Statue of liberty is still nude) we went back and
forth in time in droves.
with most miraculous achievements in technology, we got bored. Travels dwindled. Americans looked ahead again to the first
flying car, which has still not been invented.
year ago, one of the original researchers at Stanford went on an undocumented
trip. He told no one about his
experiment. He came back an older man
only moments after he first disappeared.
He told his story to his colleagues; he had been traveling through time
confronting historical figures.
this was outlawed, his colleagues were furious.
They demanded a reason. They
demanded to know what he was up to. The
researcher told them he informed these pivotal people in history about the
future. He shared as many details about
the modern world as he could. He also
asked them if they would like to travel back to 2066 or so and see the world he
came from. Almost all of them said yes.
the strange part about all of this? When
asked where they wanted to go, they all answered: “Disney World”.
brings me to my job.
10 -16 , 2067. Time Travel Visitor’s
Week. A few thousand park attendants at
the Magic Kingdom, closed to the public, a few hundred photographers and
cameramen, and people from all walks of life and time periods meandering around
the happiest place on Earth wondering where the bathrooms were.
was a guide. I’ve been to Disney a few
times, and I know the nooks and crannies of the park pretty well. The gateway was set up at the front of the
park, just under the train station.
Sunday morning, we awaited the researchers. They would escort each
person through the time portal smack dab into the smell of popcorn, roasted
peanuts, and the view of a giant fake castle.
though the gateway? Teddy Roosevelt. He
was definitely from his Rough Riders period; the tailored uniform was a
giveaway. I was a little underwhelmed.
Not because of his significance, but that he himself seemed
underwhelmed. However, after about
thirty seconds of scanning the welcoming committee (and their Disney info
iPads), he shrieked with joy. A cute
blonde girl from Georgia took him up to the train. After that, they were pouring through the
gate. Presidents, authors, scientists,
musicians…it was insane. For some
reason, Da Vinci stepped out, paused, and stepped right back through the
gate. We never saw him again.
got Medger Evers, Henry VIII and Abigail Adams on my first day. (John Adams also wasn’t into it.) It really
wasn’t much of a job, to be truthful. Once
they got a hang of everything, it was like a surreal family reunion. These people usually admired each other, and
while standing in line to get on the Jungle Cruise, you’d have a quartet of
writers chatting about God-knows-what and holding up the line. Hemingway just jumped into the water, he
almost broke his neck.
saw Pierre and Marie Curie eating turkey legs in Frontierland. I saw Gene Krupa and Jimi Hendrix at ‘It’s A
Small World’. All of the musicians broke
off into little groups. They usually
weren’t big on the rides; they just wandered around eating ice cream and
caramel corn. Van Gogh just laughed at
everything. The idea of a fake mountain
with a fake train running through it was the craziest thing he could imagine.
closed the Hall of Presidents after George Washington complained. The story was that he wasn’t a fan of the
portraits. The line for the Raceway
bumper cars was packed all day. Somehow
cars with lawnmower engines were more impressive than anything else.
what made it worth it. This is the sight
you wish you could see, and I actually saw it.
Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln on the Tea Cups. You know, the cups that spin around and make
you sick? These guys were giggling like
nine-year-olds. They went three times in
a row. Thomas Jefferson wanted in, but Lincoln’s
legs were too long.
eating cotton candy. Lincoln in line
with Winston Churchill and Picasso at the Haunted Mansion. Stupid.
seven straight days of madness there was only one unpleasant incident. (If it ever comes up, don’t invite both of
the Wright Brothers anywhere. Just one
or the other.) I was paid well, and I
got a few numbers. Two girls from
Georgia, one from California, and some detailed help from Albert Einstein on my
AP Physics summer assignment.
ago, in a misty, neon-drenched time called the late 1980’s, I was a
mullet-headed teenager in a high school classroom. I wore the same jeans every day, my high-tops
had holes in their soles and all I cared about was goofing off. In my morning English class, as a daily
classroom assignment, we had to write from a prompt on the blackboard. I was tentative at first; the prompts were a
little hackneyed and junior-high, and I better things to do like ignoring adults
and letting my grades slip. After a week
of toying with the chore, which needed to be done the first thing in the
morning, I took to it like a puppy to your favorite sock.
a month, my journal entries were longer and more detailed. I titled them and kept table of
contents. I wrote essays and jokes and
stopped caring about the prompts. I made
my own prompts. I read some journaling
to friends. I got attention. I think I got a girlfriend from that
attention. Writing was everything. I knew I wasn’t that good; I didn’t have the
discipline and I certainly was not well–read in high school. But writing kept the ideas stirring. I was in love with the process. It was all by hand in those days. Just me and a pencil. After the school year was over I have to buy
my own notebook and keep going. I soon
learned that choosing a pencil was a ridiculous idea; most of my old stuff is
nearly faded away. I switched to a
Papermate black pen. (Papermate’s
require less force than Bic’s and I hold my pen like a lefty). After I got my perfect pen/paper combo, I
wrote every week for the next ten years.
I graduated, I had two more English teachers take notice of my scribbles. First I was singled out as exceptionally
organized in my class essays, and then they complimented my maturing style. That’s all I needed. Combine that with my first reading of The Catcher In the Rye, a book my young
brain was convinced it could write, and writing became an integral and deeply
inseparable part of me. My ego and my
innate need to ‘get it out on paper’ were off to the races.
never been published. Almost no one has
ever read me. Outside of college, there
has been no editing or review. I write
this today because even though it hasn’t earned me a dime and probably never
will, I don’t think I will ever stop writing.
I can’t. It’s my other brain, my
other arm. I can’t function properly
without sorting it out on paper or a keyboard.
filled ten notebooks before I moved to computers. I have no idea how many words that might
be. I don’t know how to how much time
and patience and frustration and overall silliness that translates. I know the finished books, half-finished
books, the script, the poetry, and the whatever sits in my journals in the last
nine years is just over half a million words. (Thanks, Word Count.) Maybe that means nothing at all. Maybe no one will ever read it. Truth be told, they could all use some
polish. It used to hurt a little. But you know what I did? I wrote about that, too.
English teachers introduced me to a method of staying attached to the world
around me. It’s as if another sense is
involved; one that interprets sensory input and records it while still reliving
it. It is my brain at work and on
vacation. Books were coal for this fire.
Reading taught me how to relax and breathe.
I sipped information and art rather than shotgunning it through a
face-hole. When I’m done with a book, I
have a new array of themes and ideas and vocabulary. I don’t need to learn the lesson. The journey to the end was the point of it
can think clearly because I write. I
organize my thoughts on the fly; I outline as I wash dishes or walk my
dog. The most amazing thing writing has
given me? Therapy. When emotions are crooked and broken and when
you truly feel on the cusp of stupidity or insanity, writing always gives a
perspective. For free. Your subconscious is allowed to come forward
and tell you if you are okay, if you are whining, or if you just need to shut
up and watch cartoons for a while. Another human is a nice substitute, but
every person has their limit of how much of your crap they can take. Writing has no restrictions. You can keep going as long as you need to.
I have a stack of notebooks and a My Documents file full of stuff. I can look back if I feel the need. I don’t just remember the events in my life;
I can remember how I felt at the time. The minute details; the bills that were
due, the temporary worries, the bits of joy and appreciation of my children are
all there. You don’t need these things,
but when you are in the process of working things out, it’s helpful to have
shadows from the past who figured out how to press on. I love reading an old story and not remembering even writing the thing. Who is this
character? Why would I set a plot in
Chicago? Who is this female character
based on? Where’d the talking goat come from?
all came from me at some point. I was just
working out some things.
would not have had this in my life without someone telling me to write it all
down. It’s that simple. They’re called
English teachers and professors, but they are your reading and writing
coaches. They give you a few basic tools
to learn how to listen and think. If used correctly, these tools are powerful
and wonderful. They become
necessary. They become a part of you.
I wonder why I feel the need to personalize all of my creative endeavors. I realize that this element has kept me from commercial success, or at the very least, a few more readers or listeners. But that's what I do. All the essays, stories, podcasts, articles, poems and whatever I write when i'm bored always have something I need to say to myself or the world inside. I don't try to impress. I try to connect. Nobody pays for that. And apparently, not many people read it, either.
Sooner or later, you stop feeling self-conscious about sounding like an old man. Complaining about the weather is about as old-fart as it gets. But it happens every year. So be it. I'm hot and I'm cranky.
I'm is an essay-writing mood but there's nothing at the tip of my brain today that's worth 900 words or so. It'll come to me sooner or later. Maybe when I stop sweating.
Show 114, your order is ready. Show 114, your order is ready here.
I'm still mesmerized by the Olympic athletes. The dedication, the sacrifice, the pain.... the weird bonnet-like swim caps the men on the water polo teams have to wear. Is it a sport, or a floating Princess Leia lookalike convention?
August makes me want to give up. It makes me feel slow and old and beat. I fight through it every year. I guess therein lies its merit. It keeps me strong; so I can enjoy better, cooler, sweeter months of the year.
March of 2011, I started streaming episodes of the revamped and updated version
of Doctor Who.The original series was never that appealing.I realize like all things this old that
purists will profess that the original run, especially when the portrayal of
The Doctor was Tom Baker, was better in some way.Well, good for them.My few glimpses of the old show when I was a
kid left no pleasant memories.The show
was cramped and dark and cheap to an American kid weaned on Star Wars and Indiana Jones.
many good things were said about the new Who
I wanted to give it a go. I really
enjoyed it. I was a fan of 9th,
10th and 11th doctors, but we all know that the Tenth was
the best. David Tennant, dressed in a
casual suit and sneakers like an early eighties new wave guitarist, ripped
through space and time with intelligence, humor and well-written dialogue. The old villains were alive to placate the
purists, but the story arcs and time-travel twists and turns were so modern in
pace and reverence for solid sci-fi. My daughter, eleven at the time, hopped on
board as we watched five series in a month or so.
is my responsibility in an essay like this to relay why I was so drawn to this
mainstay of British television. It’s
still unclear. I know there was this
feeling of it being wholly different. Themes and pace are so outside most of
American TV. There was no sense of
repetition or blatant pandering to the slower members of the audience. You have to keep up. In fact it has a lot in common with the best
of American TV like The West Wing,
Deadwood, Lost, and deal old Firefly.
Imaginative and quick.
wife, an experienced chef, was also diving deep into the 3,000 or so programs
by Gordon Ramsay, specifically the ones for the BBC. Ramsay has many American shows and he’s well
known, but something about the British shows was a little more interesting. I’m not a person who things that just because
we revere some British accents as eloquent and elevated that the Brits are
automatically smarter than Americans.
(Have you seen the depths of bad British sitcoms? Somebody’s watching those.) But there are nuances. There are less safety restraints. Like The Doctor was allowed monologues about
crumbling civilizations or the quasi-technical feats of the Tardis, Ramsay is
allowed to be honest. When he is
screaming about a chef who is too lazy at his job, you agree that it’s the
chef’s fault and he deserves the tirade. You aren’t coddled by British TV. You are responsible for your own emotional
reaction and acceptance of the material.
sampled Spaced. I was not as enamored by the show as much as
the movies Pegg and Frost have put out.
There was the British Office,
and I know I’m in the minority, but I enjoyed the American version better. I also loved Extras, which was technically an American show.
my wife and I caved and sought out Downton
Abbey to see what the fuss was about.
American drama is entering a new age with shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Dexter and Boardwalk Empire among others. These are well-written artistic serial dramas
of movie quality in a time of reality TV. I wanted to see this PBS show that
was nominated for awards alongside of them.
in my life would I have imagined that a TV show about the class struggles of
servants and the noble family they serve in a giant estate in World War I-era
Britain would keep my interest. But we
are into it. It’s right up there with
the meth-cooking cancerous high school teacher and the serial killer blood
it is what the show isn’t that pulled me in.
The pace was slow. The accents took
time to get used to. The plots weren’t dire.
The world might as well been a Japanese colony on Mars. I had nothing with
which to relate. As the episodes go, you
felt for the characters, you invested in all of the mini-plots and you learned
to truly despise Mrs. O’Brien. It is an
entire village of characters completely constrained by antiquated social mores
and you feel even better to live in a freer time and a freer country. (At least I do.)
Downton Abbey, there are servants
wanting to break free of the shackles of thankless labor, and rich, privileged
elite looking for purpose. Everyone longs
for something and nearly everyone waits an eternity for a chance to have
sex. I’ve never seen this sheer amount
of sexual repression in one show. It’s
but why am I now watching Top Gear? I don’t care about cars. I don’t even like cars. I think of them like dishwashers; loud,
wasteful, just a means to an end. But I
watched an episode a scant three weeks ago, and now I’m digging deep into
eleven seasons of a car appreciation show.
If I take a step back, I think I know why.
Ramsay, the hosts are honest. They are
encouraged and expected to review these cars and crap on the ones they
despise. They argue, and they assume the
audience is on board. I’ll never drive 99%
of these cars and I’ve only seen a handful in real life, but I’m vested in what
happens on the show. And so is my
daughter! Why? She’s twelve now, and about as interested in
automotive technology as Katy Perry is in a grey pantsuit.
fans. Not sure how, but we are.
you haven’t sampled what England has to offer for any reason, ignore your
prejudices. Just sample something. They aren’t all hit shows, but I guarantee
you will be surprised. I don’t want to say that if you want sophistication
you’re only option is British TV. That’s
not true. But they have different
flavors. Just like food, it’s important
to refresh the palette and be adventurous.
Even if you’re just watching some TV.
If only science existed to help me understand this.
Prepare for the inevitable! Download this or perish!
Don't hate on the Olympics. I watch the Olympics because it's unpredictable and a little weird. I know some of the events are a little corny, but that is the point. It only lasts for 2 1/2 weeks every other year, and you can watch unusual people do unusual things very, very, well. It's a lot like a Vegas show.
internet has given us an absolutely insurmountable pile of opinions. Besides porn, the internet’s true bounty is
millions of opinions that are cast into the ether to be argued, disseminated,
and mostly forgotten. Everyone wants
their voices heard, as I do. I want
people to know how I feel. My friends
and family aren’t enough. I want
strangers to weigh in, for some reason.
But that’s my problem.
are one of the bigger targets because they are one of the last bastions of
shared experiences we have. We watch The Dark Knight Rises and we shuffle out
into the hall and craft an opinion on smart phones before we get back to our
cars. I, personally, have class. I wait until I come home.
I love giving my opinions. I have a podcast, for God’s sake. I love when my kids ask me my opinion and I
get to be a long-winded old fart. It’s
one of my only gifts.
cannot blame anyone for wanting to be heard and using the discussion or
entertainment and its attempts to be art as a subject. But in the race to be
different, edgy, or have your blog post get picked up by an aggregator or news
site, we are all trying to come up with our own angle. This
film was fantastic, except… The purists
will love it, but… It might be okay for
a superhero film, but…
think we’re lying.
believe this because I don’t think we care as much as we say we do and I don’t
think there can be millions of differing opinions out there. Sure there can be…say…20 or so angles for the
last movie in the Nolan trilogy, but 709
million results on Google? For a
Batman movie? Somebody’s padding out
there. There are a few of you desperate
to stand out so you are fudging the numbers and doctoring the books. You are just looking for something to
nit-pick. If so, and you had that agenda
before you bought your ticket, it’s not a legitimate review. You’re a big faker-face.
loved the movie. Here’s what I thought. I think I liked the previous one a
little better because of Heath Ledger, but this stood alone as an epic with a
brilliant villain and it was a successful finale to the franchise. Are we having spaghetti for dinner? What’s
next on Breaking Bad?
the pseudo-hype: the notion that modern politics seeped its way onto the screen
cannot be surprising to anyone. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. If it did, is
this a shock to people? Aren’t movies
one of the first red flags of discontentment?
The sterility and McCarthyism of the 50’s, the generational clash of the
60’s, the frustration of Vietnam in the 70’s, and the cultural divide of the
80’s, all can be found in serious films and Spielberg blockbusters? It’s in the air we breathe!
for this stuff, the superhero movies of the summer; the problem isn’t the
studios. We can’t decide whether or not
we take them seriously or not. We all know
the stuffed shirts and old codgers out there who regard Batman as the spandexed
goof who talks like Adam West and throws the Kiff! And Pow! jabs. That’s all he’ll ever be to them. Frank Miller never existed and Robin is
always at his side. Spider-Man is in his
jammies all the time and Superman doesn’t deal with inner struggles of
loneliness and abandonment, he kicks incoming asteroids into the sun. You know, kid shit.
a new generation who think differently. The
heroes are part of the psyche and the lexicon and the folklore. This stuff means something to us. We know they are stories and fables. But they’re American and they are ours.
the movies come out. And we can’t help ourselves. Our versions of the stories and characters
and dialogues don’t match up and we have to blame Tim Burton and Christopher
Nolan. Sam Raimi and Joel
Schumacher. Zack Snyder and Bryan
Singer. Then we say they’re just
superhero movies. There’s no need to get
our panties in a bunch.
happened here? Are these our folk heroes
in action or are they just movies meant to entertain us for a few hours every
May through July?
heroes are awesome and cool and fun and the impetus of young imaginations. They are a root system for power and
individuality and creativity. But, in
the end, you only need them for so long. At some point, you take a step back and enjoy
them as a whole. As your life becomes
more complicated you appreciate the stories for having endings and resolutions
you wish were around the corner for yourself.
shouldn’t nit-pick. It’s unseemly and douchey.
It isn’t becoming and it isn’t very manly. I know Spider-Man
3, X-Men 3 and that Hulk movie
were clunkers. Yeah, that was a waste of
money. I got over it pretty
quickly. The latest Batman may have been
a little long, but I don’t care. It was
a good film and I’m satisfied. Maybe you
thought differently and the entire 7 or 8 hours of Nolan’s superhero series was
a giant waste of time. You’re wrong, but
you are entitled to your opinion. What I’m
sure of is, we’ll both get over it.
received a smoker for my birthday this year.
It is a charcoal and wood smoker; not one of the fancier, smarter, and
more efficient electric models. This is
basically a black water heater sitting on its side, propped up by four legs,
with a stove pipe sticking out of one side.
It is as simple as can be for the smoking process.
one of my side projects to become a more employable writer, I am rewriting the
manual to use this behemoth. The
original was bare-bones; and the primary concern of the two pages of
instruction was to keep you from burning your backyard down with a misuse of
charcoal lighter fluid. I was lost when
it came time to smoke my first few chickens.
The manual detailed nothing of realistic cooking times, the size of the
fire, the type of fuel that should be used, and extra equipment needed to
actually complete the desired task. There was also nothing about how much of
your day would be consumed by cooking your dinner.
is a running theme in my life these days.
How much should food be a concern?
It is just fuel and deserving of no fanfare? Eat the required vitamins, stay near your
calorie count and get on with your hectic American existence? Or, since there are entire cable networks
dedicated to preparing, caring, exploring, and discovering food, is there more
for the brain itself? Can you spend time
on the planet devoted to nourishing your palette? We have art and music for the
eyes and ears, what about my tongue?
What did he ever do to be so ignored?
Nothing, I say!
our house, we cook. There are no
prepared frozen entrees of anything, save an occasional store-bought pie. We never made a formal decision to put some
thought into our food. It is just the
way it is. My wife is a chef; but there
were never home-schooled classes on how to chop onions or sear meats in a
skillet. Both of us come from families
who cooked whatever was around. Nothing
fancy, nothing too exciting or even worth passing on to younger generations. Cooking was an effort. You burned a few
calories before eating a few.
that labor to create our own food comes an appreciation when it’s done with
flair and expertise. I know the
precision it takes to achieve perfect uniform pieces with a chef’s knife. I can tell when the seasoning is just right. My kids now know that a dinner with a
protein, a starch and a vegetable doesn’t fall from the sky. It’s not a magic trick. It takes practice and time.
I smoke my first slabs of ribs on July 4th, it took six hours of
work. The smoker’s fires have to be
continually rebuilt. I monitored the
temperature of both the heat and the meat inside. I have a remote thermometer that beeped when
things were getting too hot or cold. It
was my afternoon. I played some cards in
between, but for an entire afternoon, I was tethered to my backyard.
make homemade pizza when it’s a bit cooler outside. My process for making pizzas for company can
take up to three hours. Preparing
ingredients, dough work, and fighting with my oven to operate correctly. My wife makes a giant mess to make chicken
and dumplings. She also discovered a
fantastic fried chicken recipe that takes 30 minutes per batch to complete.
There are no less than four batches whenever she gets the urge to fry.
are rib places out there that serve them up hot in 15 minutes. I could snag three pizzas from Costco for
$30. I am renowned Popeye’s Chicken fanatic that has no qualms about the 20
minute drive to the nearest location.
why? Why all the effort? Why do people
show up to all my wife’s restaurants over the years? Why, in a time of chronic obesity, should we
care at all about food?
art and music and television and athletics, there is a skill to this. Because an appreciation exists out there for
a juicy hamburger, coq au vin, and leek soup, there are those of us who want to
perfect them. It’s another thing we can get good at. The entire willing world is out there ready
to sample these creations. You only need
teeth and a modicum of bravery. Most
food needs no explanations, artist statements or librettos. Granted, nuances are lost to the
uninitiated. But that distinction just
upholds the similarities between art and cooking.
or not you’ve ever spent ten seconds in a kitchen, you have some preferences to
what you like to eat. Keep an open
mind. It may seem insane for someone to
spend a day working on chalk sketches on a sidewalk, or a sandcastle at the
beach, only to have all the effort eventually washed away by the elements. Is that so different from my wife’s chicken
or my ribs? Or a vegetable garden? Or making mac and cheese from scratch?
going outside to smoke ribs now. It
looks like it may rain on me today. In a
few hours I will smell like sticky sweat and apple wood. Before you even ask, I will tell you. It is worth it.
Yeah, I've been thinking over and over lately about my place in the creative spectrum. I think, if I'm honest, I have no place. I'm as I've always been; a student, a questioner, a mocker and a learner of everything. I'm just a vocal member of the audience. A re-creationist, an editor. A critic. A reviewer of other's work. I make mix tapes, not music. A sampler.
It's a little sad because I thought I had a shot at writing. I really put the hours in. Other than being a family man, it's the only thing I tried to be good at. The truth is, I wanted the audience more than I wanted the work to get done. I think if I felt heard as a kid, I probably would have never picked up a pen and started writing 20 years of journals, projects, and notes.
Even so, I'm trying to make a practical form of writing into a career. The business of interpreting and explaining. Why? Because I've been doing it for 20 years. I can't stop now.
And then there's the podcasts. I still find things to talk about. I also love being a goof. That's a thing, right?
It's warm in July in Oregon, and still not too bad-
1) Order a smoker. A heavy charcoal grill with at least three grates and a separate firebox will do. It will have to be big enough to be shipped to your house attached to a giant wooden pallet.
2) Assemble and move the smoker out of the garage, but make sure to leave the pallet on the floor. The more of an obstacle it is between you and your work bench, bikes, tools, etc., the better.
3) During a smoke in the backyard, forget several necessary items in the garage.
4) This is important: Do not wear shoes. Be barefoot, even if you own a nice pair of sandals.
5) Walk through your garage toward the work bench and completely forget there is a giant pallet on the floor. It helps if you believe you are in such a rush you don't have time to flick the light switch to the ON position.
6) Blindly kick pallet with your right foot, smashing your pinkie toe.
7) Curse nature for the existence of the pinkie toe.
9) Limp back to the cooking area.
PS - That is the correct way to spell 'pallet' for this use. I had to look it up.
Sorry about the glitchiness last week. Something kooky happened during the upload. The rest of the show is here. Can you hear me? Anyone?
Survived my birthday week and it didn't hurt so bad. It is truly amazing what you can get used to in life. I truly believe that. Part of maturing is letting go of all the silly details of life you thought were essential. Turns out that a lot of things are merely cosmetic.
In that vein, watching HGTV should be mandatory. Not because of the programming; for the theme. Guess what? You can't have it all. But, what you can do is pretty up what you have and you will be quite satisfied. On second thought, forget TV. That should be taught in school.
My tomatoes are coming along nicely. I used Mr. Internet this year to discover that I've not only been watering them in the incorrect manner, I have been over-watering. We'll see what happens when I go by the book.
I have a smoker coming to my house as a gift for my birthday. I'm already imagining the amount of crap I can smoke with this thing. It's ridiculous how excited I can get about this stuff, but as these food shows will reveal, it is the truth. Me likey food.
enjoy, taste the rainbow, be a part of the pepsi generation, it's what's for dinner, grab life by the bottle,
Summer is just around the corner. For most of the country, it's been here and made it's presence known. In Oregon, even the seasons are laid back. Winter eases into spring, and spring follows suit.
My goal this year is to face it head on, and do my best to enjoy what I can. That seems sane and easy. For so long I put pressure on myself because of my kids and culture in general; a type of recreational performance anxiety. Now I'm trying to think: If there's a picnic to have, go. If there is a trail to hike, do it. If there's a chance to enjoy downtown, get in the car. If not, I'll hang back.
It's still mostly job hunting and budgeting for me now anyway. But that's no excuse to not rub some sunshine on my face.
Food-oriented podcast coming up next week. Podcaster also turning 40 next week. I guess that's a thing.
I swear I could make an entire podcast about food. I know there are thousands of them already, but my life seems to revolve around food and being an opinionated human, I have plenty to say. I think I just need to have a Food Minute for some shows. Maybe a Food Corner. Eating Time? I'll work on the title later.
My wife and I will have conversations about food while we're eating dinner and watching the Food Network at the same time. My brain is trying it's darnedest to shame mew for this; because we are a nation obsessed with food, and too much is just obsessive. I agree. Well, I don't agree. We are a nation obsessed with eating and consuming. Not food. Well prepared, fresh, original and traditional meals are what we're lacking. If we could manage our plate and serving sizes, then food itself isn't the problem.
But I love telling people I am into Greek food right now. My wife has a killer fried chicken recipe. Brining chicken has changed our dinners forever. I'm completely tired of cucumbers, but I can't get enough cauliflower. And so much more. Okay, I think I convinced myself. I'll have to stick it in there somewhere. I'm glad we had this chat.
It's been awhile since my last post and show. I think my brain was on a holding pattern. We spent a month wanting something we didn't get and now we are experiencing life after that thing. This is a very, very strange time.
A word to the uninitiated - these podcasts tend to get personal; and by that I mean there are bits and pieces of our personal lives that crop up during conversation. I listen back to them and it sounds a little out of place. I have a decision to make, whether or not to edit the talk of kids' grades and water bills. I thought about this for awhile and decided that it's staying in there. I like the informality of podcasts and this is a part that I also enjoy. So, if you don't know what Dylan and I are referring to, listen to more shows,. You'll get it.
Have you ever concentrated so hard on a major decision that your eyes fell out of your skull? That's what I feel is happening to me. I need to pull the trigger on the next stage of my life. Details to follow, but just the intensity of defining my life post 40 is pretty huge. I recommend ibuprofen.
The beautiful and welcomed sunshine cascades over my balding pate and reminds me of standing in line for the Corkscrew slide at Wet N Wild in the early 80's.
Dreaming of one day sitting in a comfortable but firm chair, beset with enveloping work I love, completely forgetting this moment, when I'm wishing I was there.
I am overcome with a sense of fragmented pride over the sheer amount of unfinished projects and hobbies I can call my own.
My black Labrador Retriever sometimes appears to be a very quiet human baby in dog pajamas.
I have created a list of my favorite comedians of all time. I've been struggling to write some accompanying remarks; reviews, etc. I keep falling short. Maybe I don't have enough to say about enough of them? Not sure. So I want to put it in here so I can move on with my nerdy habits.
Withheld from the list are the two greatest comedians of all time, no argument, George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Also not on here are Dennis Miller, Sam Kinison and Eddie Murphy, three stand-up comedians that used to make me laugh a lot, but really have not done so in quite some time.
funniest Comedians (Stand up):
20 – Sarah
19 – Maria
18 - Paul
17 - Jim
15 - Gilbert
13 – David
12 – Marc Maron
11 – Richard
10 – Dave Attell
9 – Kathy Griffin
8 – Bill
7 – Jimmy Pardo
6 – Bob Goldthwait
5 - Louis
4 – Chris Rock
3 – Dana Gould
2 – Andy Kindler
1 – Patton
Comments? Let me know. Otherwise, at least I got it out there.
all of this before Adam Yauch died. It feels a little douchy that I left them
off the list on purpose. But I will say
this right here up top. Yauch has died
and so has the band. The Beastie Boys
will remain one of my favorite things
for the rest of my life. They’re up there
with Christmas, Disney World, fried chicken, and Sunday mornings. There
probably hasn’t been a week that has gone by without me listening to something
by them. That’s a little crazy, I know, especially
with their limited discography. They were
the soundtrack to so many daydreams as I took endless walks; they were the
pick-me-up I needed when I was down. I
will miss him. I will miss them. They were the most fun band ever.
Now, with the original post.
is a tough one. Everyone has a favorite
music list. A new one is written every
four seconds. That’s a true stat.
I didn’t want to exclude music from
my favorites lists, but constructing one always runs into a few snags. First, there is the sheer volume of music
I’ve heard in my life. I can’t possibly
remember everything I’ve ever heard and put it in order, so I need to choose
criteria. The specific criteria are as
daunting to choose as the actual albums.
Best song? Artists? Most
listened? Desert island music? Love
songs? Driving songs? Songs to plant organic tomatoes by?
But then, all of a sudden, it hit me
like that hackneyed record scratch sound effect. It’s my damn list. And in what way do I
connect to music? Emotionally. I’m not a
musician; I play the drums and I’ve written a bunch of stuff. I know nine chords. To me, music either makes the emotional
impact or it doesn’t. That’s probably
how most humans relate to music without even realizing. I am also a very uncool
I call it my David Bowie
explanation. Bowie is a legend with
decades of great music. He’s respected
by industry, critics and fans. I respect
him, but I have almost nothing in all my stacks of music from David Bowie. I don’t change the channel when his stuff
comes on the radio; but I’ve never bothered to dig deeper because it really
doesn’t do anything for me. I don’t feel
I also have failed to retroactively
pretend that I liked the better music of the past. I think certain music has to get its hooks in
you early or you’ll never truly embrace it.
I can’t really get into the Pixies or Sonic Youth...I missed the boat. Also, I think there are more people claiming
to have liked Elvis Costello today than ever bought his records and showed up
to his shows. I like him fine, but I
feel almost nothing. I keep promising
myself I’ll try Zappa and listen to a full Wu-Tang album and see what the big
deal was with Van Morrison. But I
probably won’t. And I’ll never get Lou
Reed. In fact…Lou Reed sucks.
I will exclude music from the
following bands: The Beatles, Beastie Boys and The White Stripes. Their stuff
is so intertwined with childhood memories and the memories of my own children,
that half the list would be from their catalogues.
So here goes:
Top Twenty Emotionally Satisfying
Albums Of All Time.
20 - Who’s
Next - The Who
I know it’s not the hip Who album. It’s not Sell
Out or Quadrophenia. But this is the album that comes to mind when
I think of classic rock. Power guitar
and lyrics belted out like a banshee --- and ‘My Wife’. I just think of myself as a long-haired
teenager daydreaming with my headphones on whenever I hear ‘Won’t Get Fooled
19 - Brighten
the Corners - Pavement
I have this habit of falling in love
with the more unpopular records of a band’s catalogue. I’ll have a few examples on my list. I have never tried to be cool in my life and
purposely venture off the beaten path; it just happens that way for me. Crooked
Rain, Crooked Rain is the seminal Pavement album, but I like BTC which came
out after Pavement was hip. It’s more
melodic and sweet. Malkmus’ lyrics are
just as imaginative; but there is a cohesiveness here that I just love.
It came out in 1997, during the long
gap between about 1996 and 2002 where the type of music I liked was nowhere to
be found. I have a few representatives
on the list that got me through the drought.
18 - Blind
Melon – Blind Melon
Blind Melon came and went and are
regarded as a one-hit wonder. My wife
and I listened to this album non-stop when our son was a baby, so I have
powerful memories tied to it. They have a another album that some say is
better, but this one doesn’t have ‘Dear Ol’ Dad’ and ‘Change’, which transport
me to a much more carefree state of mind.
Apocalypse ’91 - Public Enemy
Enemy opened up for U2 on the Achtung
Baby tour. It was one of the coolest
experiences at a concert I’ve ever seen. A stadium full of sweaty, bouncing
Bono fans. I went home and got the album and it made me feel like a tough white
boy. Fans will say Fear of a Black Planet is the album to own, but it didn’t grab me
like the follow-up. A common theme. Plus, ‘Shut ‘Em Down’ is still pretty
Wildflowers - Tom Petty
There a bunch of worthy Petty albums
to put in here. I believe this was the
first one I really listened to over and over, beginning to end. I remember the production was what drew me
in…and I always like to hear Petty’s laid back lyrics. Listen to ‘Don’t Fade On
15 - Alien
Lanes - Guided By Voices
This is another album I got into in
‘The Gap’. It’s almost a sister album to
Bee Thousand which is the album
you’ve heard if you know who these guys are.
I listened to a lot of this one when I was trying to write and play
music myself. It’s beyond
classification, other than calling it lo-fi.
And anything goes lyrically when it comes to GbV. “I want to start a new life…with my valuable hunting knife…”
Weezer – Weezer (Blue)
I had absolutely no interest in
power pop before Weezer. I can’t
remember if I liked this one right off the bat or not. I was working in a record store when it came
out and if I ignored it at first, the smarmy lyrics and fun, crunchy guitar won
me over. My daughter loves this
album. She’s been singing ‘Say It Ain’t
So’ since she was in first grade.
13 -Yes - Morphine
Everyone loves the album before
this, I know. Here’s the lyrics that
kill me on this brooding and funky CD: “I
had my chance and I let it go. I had my
chance and I let it go. If I ever have
myself another chance like that, I’m gonna grab it and I won’t look back. I’m gonna grab it and I won’t look back…” Awesome. Plus, there’s a song called ‘Super Sex’.
12 - A.M.
I’m not a Wilco fan. They lost me after Being There, which is also a great album. If they kept it close to this countrified
alterna-rock I would still be a fan. I
discovered my secret love of the banjo while listening to this. It’s not connected to anything else; that’s
why I like it.
Boy Soldiers - The Raconteurs
Yes, this is my way of squeezing
Jack White on my list. This was the
first time I got to hear him wail in a full rock band and it did not
disappoint. Far and away my favorite
musician of the last ten years, Jack White plays ferociously and writes
tenderly with a smirk. I love that shit.
10 - The
Moon and Antarctica – Modest Mouse
I’m pretty late to this indie rock
staple. My son Holden’s first venture
into music at all was with Modest Mouse, and I think this is the sweet and
scary gateway recording. I absolutely
love ‘3rd Planet’. I’m not sure why they don’t get enough airplay of
their older, meatier music. M & A is disjointed and warm, like a
late-night party that’s dwindled down to the most eclectic of friends.
Rockin’ the Suburbs – Ben Folds
Ben Folds should be much more
popular. Maybe it’s the occasional
swearing. I have no idea. This is truly
happy and fun and deeply sad all at the same time. It’s one of those albums
that make you sing along, and then you realize what the lyrics are describing,
then you like it that much more.
8 - The Colour and the Shape - Foo Fighters
I love rock music. There, I said it. I’m not afraid. I like guitars both acoustic and electric, I
love softly spoken lyrics and screaming refrains. I love loud drums and songs that build
dramatically. This is a fine rock album and deserves its place among the
greats. All the hits are here, but “Enough Space’ and ‘New Way Home’ are my
favorites. Just pure excitement and fun.
7 - Automatic
For The People – REM
Life’s Rich Pageant, Document and Green
are probably better than this one. I
love all of those, too. But this one is
also melded into the backdrop of my life.
My son was a baby and all we had was a stereo and a channel or two of TV
to watch. There is some sweet sadness on
this recording that is too sappy for some.
I get it. But there is also
beauty and haunting production that makes it list-worthy. Trust me.
6 - Billy Breathes
off to see the man Mulcahey! I like
several Phish albums but this one sits at first, second and third place. I think it’s a success from beginning to end,
and for a guy who doesn’t care to sit through nine-minute jams, it is damn near
perfect. I sing along to nearly every
song. There are emotional peaks and
valleys in there and it was yet another record that got me through The
5 – Guero
Guero came out just a few weeks
before I moved the family to Oregon. I
love this sequel to Odelay; it’s
playful, fun, smart and ridiculous just like everything Beck gives us.
4 – Physical
Graffiti – Led Zeppelin
After I listened to this a dozen
times or so when I was seventeen, I know what type of music I loved. I’ve been told Zeppelin ripped off riffs and
lyrics. I’m been told Page was
sloppy. I’ve been told that other bands
deliver better blues-based rock. Well,
they are full of shit. This double album
has everything; electric guitar, slide, acoustic, instrumentals, banjo, you
‘In My Time Of Dying’ is eleven
minutes of jamming and abrupt stops and starts that makes you feel something. There are songs that are meant for stomping
on a back porch in a rocking chair with good friends, and songs that are meant
for a highway drive alone in the middle of the night.
It’s just cool.
3 - Yield –
Loved Pearl Jam. Still love Pearl Jam. The eight or so bands that the media
categorized as grunge put out their
best work by about 1995 or so. Yield came out in 1998 when the band was
deemed silly or forgetful. This album
has elements of punk and KISS, ‘70’s a.m. radio and arena rock. It’s lyrically beautiful and it feels like
the one truly rounded album by the band.
2 – Odelay
I never listen to a CD over and
over again. I always think I’ll spoil
it. I like to spread it out, savoring
every track. When Odelay came out in 1996, when everyone forget who Beck was, and it
was getting 5 star reviews, I bought it as soon as I could. I listened to it three times in a day. I told everyone about it; that it was the sweetest
thing I’d heard in years. I wish there
was more if this in music. It is
produced without sounding sterile; it’s fun and inventive and mature and
silly. You can rap to it, dance to it, and
sing along with it.
1 - The
Bends – Radiohead
Just before OK Computer made this band one of the biggest in the world, The Bends came out when I seriously
needed new music in my life. There a lot less electronic experimentation and a
lot more emotional ebbs and flows on this album. ‘Bones’ is a song that gives me
goosebumps every time I hear it. There are songs like ‘Sulk” and ‘Just’ that
have no radio play but are better than most of the stuff on the radio in the
late nineties. This is one recording I
could not enjoy my life without.
(After reading through, I think I love albums with a little bit of everything. I love a good buffet.)