Ahh Portlandia

June 17th, 2011 No comments

Because it is one of the most touted places in the United States for somone of my proclivities, I was elated when faced with the opportunity to flee the Texas heat last week and nestle into the cool green lushness of the Pacific Northwest.

What I knew about Portland was what I’d seen on television and heard from friends who absolutely swore by it: a hipster mecca full of vintage clothing stores, pinball machines, record stores and coffee shops. When Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s show Portlandia came along, my view was cemented.

Here’s the thing, though: Portlandia’s cliches and generalizations aren’t that far off base.

The reason for my trip was two-fold: attend the girlfriend’s mom’s wedding (that’s a mouthful) and to visit and spend some quality time with the girlfriend’s sister who is a bike messenger and musician in Portland (how awesome is that?).

After flying into the Portland airport (an interesting descent if you’ve never seen massive mountains) we met up with said sister, grabbed our rental car and started out on the highway to the Oregon coastal town of Manzanita where the wedding and activities were to take place.

Manzanita and surrounding townships were amazing. The locals were incredibly nice and the locally-sourced food was amazing. Love you some Tilamook cheese? We freakin’ drove through Tilamook! At an amazing dinner at the Rising Star Cafe in Wheeler, our newly befriended innkeeper told us where most of the veggies in our salads came from. I don’t mean “That arugula was probably grown near Nehalem,” but freakin’ “Those cucumbers were probably grown by Bob at the top of this hill.” Wow. Just wow.

On the coast we did touristy things. We drove into Seaside and played video games, pinball and skee ball at the giant arcade there, we drove past the incredible rocks off of Cannon Beach which are quite memorable from the movie Goonies and we made fires on the beach (in a roast marshmallows way, not a ‘set fire to everything’ way). Coastal Oregon was quaint and awesome. While everyone back in Dallas was melting into the pavement, I was wandering around in jeans and a sweatshirt.

After a few days on the coast we made our way back into the Rose City for some “real” Portland time.

My first impression? Portland drivers are freakin’ insane. It really didn’t help that I was given a Chevy tank as a rental car when I’m used to driving a Prius, but many of these folks are downright insane. My second impression was sheer awe at the sight of actual bike lanes on the streets. For someone who has been living in the car-centric state of Texas for the past twenty years, it almost brought a tear to my eye.

Now down to the good stuff.

Indeed, Portland is a mecca of everything I mentioned before. We wandered around the downtown area for a day and a half building up our record collection with some of the most amazing finds ever. Shopping for records in Portland is religion and we had descended into one of the lower levels of the temple. Albums that were on the “I would like to own this record, but will probably never even see a copy” list were knocked out left and right, and almost all for prices that really made me feel like I was stealing from the shop owner. When all was said and done, we had about 45 pounds of vinyl and sleeves packed into my amazing Timbuk2 messenger bag and strapped to my back. That was a fun one to explain to airport security when we were leaving.

I loved Portland. Hell, I can’t wait to get back. Despite the assault to my allergies and the fact that the sun is only a sometimes visitor, it’s a pretty cool damn town to hang out in. And, contrary to the generalization, most people have jobs. My one big regret was not hitting up Voodoo Doughnuts. Sure, we walked by the original location several times, but it was closed for remodelling/exorcism.

I guess I’ve got yet another thing to look forward to on my next trip…

Houston who?

May 25th, 2011 No comments

The rivalry between Houston and Dallas isn’t anything new. For decades these two cities have sniped at each other over a variety of topics that both either feel important to be best at, or deny being worst at. All-in-all some pretty basic civic rivalry.

In 2005 Houston joined Dallas in the MLS when the San Jose Earthquakes shook themselves over to the gulf changing their name to the Dynamo in the process (I still like the originally planned name of “Houston 1836,” but apparently it was offensive to Hispanic fans).

It was always figured that FC Dallas and the Dynamo would have a pretty good rivalry, but Dallas already had been butting heads with the Chicago Fire since the beginning of the MLS and fans were pretty invested in that. Top that with a hatred for the Colorado Rapids that started up around the same time that the Dynamo hit the stage and the Dallas/Houston thing just got rather marginalized.

Flash forward a couple of years. Houston had already come out really strong by winning the MLS Cup in their inaugural year of 2006 and followed up with a repeat in 2007 while FC Dallas just couldn’t get their act together.

From a fan’s perspective, things were just nasty. At a couple of the FCD/Dynamo matches I attended at Pizza Hut Park (Dallas’ home turf), things were downright nasty. I watched in awe as Houston fans paraded up and down the concourse, ripped out seats in their designated section and even, after one match, attacked a FCD fan. Hell, even me and my friends were hassled by a couple of Houston fans in what has got to be one of the funniest war of words I’ve ever seen (more on that at a later date).

The 2010 season, however, changed everything. FC Dallas started out by winning the Texas Derby (which claimed El Capitán) and then pushed their way to the MLS Cup Final while Houston did not even qualify for the playoffs.

To say this didn’t sit right with the Dynamo organization and their fans is an understatement.

At the beginning of the 2011 season, this lovely billboard was put up on the tollway leading to Pizza Hut Park. It annoyed the hell out of me, but I thought it was pretty funny.

When it didn’t get the reaction Houston was looking for, they followed up with this gem of a commercial.

That’s what finally got people pissed off. We are allowed to joke about things like our home stadium being way up in Oklahoma, but we don’t need the stinkin’ Dynamo making cracks about it.

Dallas quickly retaliated by putting up this banner at Robertson Stadium (the Dynamo’s home turf). Funny right?
Dallas then turned around and got the San Jose Earthquakes involved with this little stunt

All of this “frivolity” leads up to Dallas taking on Houston at Houston on Saturday, May 28. FCD will be coming off a Wednesday away game in Seattle, and Houston will be coming off a Wednesday away game in LA against the Galaxy.

Needless to say, both teams will be sufficiently riled up for this match. Who can say what will happen out there, but it’ll be a doozy of a match with FC Dallas leading the Dynamo going into the match by four points (that doesn’t include the result of the matches that both teams have tonight).

Houston who?

In case of Rapture, I’ll be right here

May 20th, 2011 No comments

Well, the Rapture is upon us (again). Harold Camping of Family Radio has freakin’ “guaranteed” that the Bible says we’ve got until around 5PM EDT on Saturday, May 21, 2011 and then that’s it for all the “chosen.”

Part of me really hopes Mr. Camping is right. Aside from his predictions about massive earthquakes and the world splitting and all sorts of unpleasantness, I really can’t wait for a little more elbow room. I, being the terrible heathen I am, will be right here like I always am. If I were a smarter man, I would have gone door to door offering to take care of people’s pets for a nominal fee (paid up front, of course).

As is, I’ll just have to make do with some of the post-Rapture looting. According to the event on Facebook, I’ll be among the almost 500,000 folks who clicked the “attending” button on this Facebook event. Come on along, it’ll be fun!

Here’s the thing, though. Harold Camping made the same prediction in 1994. Hell, lots of people have predicted the end of the world over the past bunch of years. When the time for all Hell to break loose comes and goes, we typically get the “We calculated wrong.” or “God, in his infinite mercy, has chosen to spare us” answer. I am very curious to see what Harold Camping will have to say around 9PM EDT when we are all still sitting here twiddling our thumbs.

This is, however, a great time to screw with people. Here’s an easy one: lay out a full set of clothes (including shoes) on the sidewalk outside your house. Another good one is to write your kids a note to the effect of “Been raptured, food is in the fridge,” hide somewhere in the house, and watch the hilarity ensue when they find the note.

Needless to say, I have a strong feeling that Mr. Camping is going to have to eat a whole lot of crow tomorrow afternoon. In the way way way off-hand chance he is correct, however, you will be pleased to know that this blog will continue (sporadically) as it always has. That’s just my dedication to you, the reader.

Jesus is coming. Look busy.

Categories: monkey, Ravings, Religion, Stupidity

Habitual Creature

May 5th, 2011 No comments

“Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up I noticed I was late”
–The Beatles (A Day in the Life)

A routine, I haz it.

As much as I would like to believe that I have spontinatiy coursing through my entire existence, I have recently realized that much of my “get up and go” time is incredibly regimented. Unfortunately I think it has to be so I don’t end up “eaten by a grue” every morning (read: snoring loudly while the sun tracks across the sky).

It’s pretty simple (to me, at least). At 6AM (really it’s 5:51AM because I keep my clock nine minutes ahead) the alarm goes off. I don’t mess around with playing “snooze-tag” because that’s a likely way to be eaten by a grue. I pop up, turn on the shower and brush my teeth. Shower, shower, shower until the clock across the room (also wrong as can be) is around the 5:20 or 6:20 range (depending on Daylight Savings: I don’t believe in changing that clock), and then get slapped together so I’m decent for public consumption.

From there I plop myself down in front of my computer for a quick glance at email and weather. The weather check became necessary after I realized that I don’t actually see the great outdoors until I’m pulling out of the garage. This way I can grab the appropriate outer covering for the current climate.

Then it’s out the door and off to the office. Because I love me some god-awful earliness, I’m typically the first person in the office. I turn off the alarm, pull out the laptop and fire it up. While the gods of Windows go through their stretching routine known as “booting up,” I unlock the two back doors. I then come back to the laptop, log in and go to the kitchen to make the first pot of office coffee. Then the day can officially begin.

Deviation from this routine always throws me for a loop. I’ve gotten very used to the 45 to 50 minutes it takes me to get from slumberland to fully functional developer. On very rare occasions I run into snags such as fashion crises, falling asleep in the shower (more common than I’d like to admit) or dreaded Windows Updates that put small kinks in my kickoff, but, because those are few and far between, I can generally just roll with them.

What I find utterly facinating is that I am far from the only person locked into my morning track. I can always tell those individuals on my drive down the highway to work who have fouled their routine in some manner. You know the type: 85 miles per hour, weaving in and out of lanes while either stuffing their face with what passes for breakfast or gesticulating wildly at fellow drivers who don’t have the “courtesy” to accommodate their fellow commuter who is obviously late for something or the other. These people stick out like a sore thumb.

As for me, tomorrow my alarm will go off at 6AM (5:51) and I’ll start it all over again. Like the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace or the noon lunch whistle, it happens just because it does.

Categories: Deep Thinking, monkey, Ravings

May the Fourth (grumble, grumble, grumble…)

May 4th, 2011 No comments

So, basically all day today I’ve been trying to pithily pontificate the joys and wonders of Star Wars: this being the unofficial holiday of one of the greatest Sci-Fi properties in the history of Man.

For all that Star Wars means to me, it is a downright crime that I haven’t done much writing about the subject.

Basically stated, I’m a huge Star Wars nerd. I couldn’t tell you how many different copies of the original trilogy I have on VHS and DVD, and the amount of Star Wars ephemera that occupies my house borders on ridiculous.

I’ve read all of the novels of the Expanded Universe (and actually like those characters and scenarios better than what I’ve seen on the screen so far), collected trinkets from the four corners of the Earth with “Lucasfilm, LTD.” stamped on them and I’m a tad embarrassed at the amount of money I’ve spent on individual action figures.

All that and I find it incredibly hard to write about. It seems that only when I get hot under the collar (reference my “heated” Why, George, Why? blog from last year) do I delve into my Lucas-inspired nerdery.

To be honest, I often only talk about Star Wars to address the things I’m not happy with. I guess that’s all part of being a “critical” fan. Why can’t I just be happy with Wookies, Mandalorians, Jedi, Sith, etc. and ignore the horrible gaffs like Episodes I-III, the Marvel Comics and Rokur Gepta? To that end, why must I justify my love of the Expanded Universe to “purist” fans who find it anathema to look beyond the six movies (does the Christmas Special count?)?

Oh wait. I know. Star Wars fans just LOVE to complain. We bitch about “special editions,” proposed “ultimate editions,” lack of Blu-Rays, lack of the “Yub Yub” song, being a little short for a Stormtrooper and a bajillion other little things that just bug the ever-loving shit out of us. In general we will sit in awed silence for ninety minutes at a time, and many of us will still tear up at the “I know” line on Bespin during Empire Strikes Back, but when that is all over, it’s right back to the bitching.

Honestly, I should really focus my attentions on mocking continuity-lacking Trekkies or those freaks who stuck through Battlestar Galactica (and I don’t mean the one with Lorne Greene).

RIP: Higgins

April 22nd, 2011 No comments

When I first met Higgins he was a spry little kitten who managed to get himself into all manners of trouble due to the pure nature of his obstinate will and curiousness. Being a Cornish Rex, Higgins had a built-in nature to climb and explore and generally cause all sorts of mayhem.

I’ve gotta say, Higgins and I have not had the best relationship over his fifteen years on this planet.

During a particular period in my life between school and career, Higgins and I were left to our own devices during work hours and it was more of a circus than a manageable coexistence. Often, he would make the extreme effort to hustle his furry black butt across the room just to bite me on the shin and chase would ensue. I can honestly say that I didn’t appreciate that mirth for a very long time. In talking about him, more often than not I’d bring the word “spite” into the conversation. Hell, I even did it this week.

Today, after a wonderful life of fifteen years and loving experiences with three other wonderful brothers, one of whom was taken far too soon, Higgins had to move on to his next adventure.

It’s never easy to lose a pet: especially one who has been there for all the pivotal points in one’s adult life, but with the good things in life must also come the bad.

I’m sad for the fact that I’m not going to hear Higgins’ “complaining” yowl every day, and I’m sad for his two brothers who love him very much and took wonderful care of him during the period in his life where his health started to fail. At the same time, I’m happy for all the things he helped me get through and the companionship he provided when he knew better than I that I needed him.

Higgins was always very proper and very accommodating. When his mom and I thought it would be a hoot to dress him up in a little devil costume and humiliate him with pictures, he tolerated our giggles and calmly waited for the “horrible” experience to be over. When we brought home other cats to join our little family, Higgins stepped up and acted in just the way an older brother should. When family life turned upside down, Higgins stayed his stoic self. If that’s not a fucking rock, I’m not sure what is.

For some ungodly reason, whenever I have ever heard the Bouncing Souls’ song “Undeniable,” I have always imagined that Higgins sings it. I see him stretched up a mic stand with his furry little walnut paws wrapped around the microphone crooning about his “red shoes.” It’s bizarre, but always brings a smile to my face.

Rest in peace, little furry bastard.  Know that we are thinking about you always.

Categories: cats, monkey, Ravings

A Mind for Music

April 11th, 2011 No comments

Driving around in the car the other day listening to KXT (like I typically do) I heard a string of tracks I hadn’t heard in years. What struck me first was the fact that I’ve been listening to some pretty damn good music for a very long time (insert self-indulgent pat on the back here) and that my brain is packed chock full of old lyrics.

I know I’m not anymore special than other hardcore music fans, but it was quite striking that I could still sing along with a song I hadn’t heard in a least a decade.

What is it about our brains that allow a person to forget where they put their keys minutes after placing them “someplace safe,” driving away from the house to be stuck with the fear that they didn’t close the garage door, or to even forget a birthday or anniversary; but to remember all the words to a random song?

It’s almost uncanny.

A goodly chunk of us has also experienced the spontaneity of sitting in a bar when an overly familiar song comes on the jukebox just to look around and see other patrons mouthing the words over their beverage. It’s almost a horrible cliche. I am a firm believer that given the right amount of social lubrication, any given dive could burst into a Glee-esque karaoke bar with the right set of tracks. Maybe that’s just a secret wish of mine.

Moreover, what is it about some songs that bring back specific memories? Whenever I hear certain Echo & the Bunnymen or Love and Rockets songs, I am immediately taken back to one particular summer in my youth where I spent my days reading Tom Swift books and eating State Fair Brand Corn Dogs.

In that same regard, I seem to learn the words to songs I hear on the radio or live pretty damn fast. I wonder all the time what “important” information is being pushed out of my head as I learn the words to the newest Iron & Wine or Dawes song I hear on the radio. I know for a fact that records from Catherine Wheel and NOFX are responsible for me losing most of my German grammar and vocabulary. One would think that committing the last couple of KMFDM records to memory would have jogged some of that back into the ol’ gourd, but I think all those oat sodas and brown liquor helped keep that fine learning at bay.

The one terrible thing, though, is that I have a terrible time with song titles and, in some cases, artist.

Recently I was on a cross-country flight where I whiled my time away catching up with season three of Being Human (the UK version, not that wretched version they have tried to put out on SyFy, but that is a topic for another post). In episode six a song was playing that I knew all the words to, but had no idea what the song was or who might have originally done it. I racked my brain for several hours, singing the words to myself over and over, trying to figure out how the hell I knew the song. Almost a day later, in the middle of a meeting when my mind was wandering far and wide, it struck me that what I had heard was an odd cover of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.” That’s the kind of crap that occupies my brain when I’m staring off into space and/or sitting in meetings.

On Growing Up

March 4th, 2011 No comments

 

The other day I became engaged in a conversation with a close friend as to the nature of immaturity. As a fastly-approaching-middle-age male, I pride myself on my personal qualities that have allowed me to stay rather immature while, at the same time, remaining very responsible.

That seems like a incongruous dichotomy (hell’s yeah with the big damn words!), but it’s really not that hard. In becoming the adult that I developed into, I came to the realization that one of the only ways I was going to survive the day-to-day drag of going to work, earning a livable wage, paying bills, lather, rinse, repeat, et al. was by reverting in some other aspect.

Sure, I went whole hog with a bunch of aspects of my life/personality, but I have really been working over the past few months to re-figure out who I am and how I should act/be to keep myself sane while also not compromising the things that make me happy.

Basically, I’m twelve years old. I still get excited about cartoon movies, love a good fart joke and would probably eat cereal for every meal if I wasn’t on the verge of pushing forty. I love the fact that my close group of friends is basically the same way and this really helps perpetuate my “lifestyle.”

At the same time, I am a fastidious worker and take deadlines and responsibility incredibly serious.

This balance, over the past several years, has caused me much turmoil. I have a tendency to push both sides of my personality to unhealthy extremes, so I have had to work very hard recently to reign both sides in and find some sort of balance.  I’ve screwed up personal relationships, lost perspective on a lot of the good things I had in life and spent a good amount of time in self-destructive cycles.

I’d like to say that I’m “fixed” now, but I liken my newish balance to a junkie cleaning up: the pressures and pitfalls are always around me, I just have to choose what I need to do to maintain without falling into familiar traps.

Yeah, that’s a huge downer.

That being said, I’m in a really really good place right now. I’m still not really what I would consider “grown up,” but I have more together in my life than I did a year ago.

This, I have found, seems to be the key to “growing up.” Much like everything else in life, “growing up” does not come with an instruction manual and many people, myself included, half-ass it. This isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it just is what it is. It pains me that it took some extreme situations for me to come to this realization, but I’m a better person for that. Yeah, more downer stuff.

What it all boils down to, I have recently discovered, is truly being happy with yourself. I really wasn’t good at that and lied to myself for a very long time to the contrary. People are really really good at lying to themselves.

Whatever. I now like to think that all that is behind me now. I’m sure certain aspects will rear their ugly heads here and there, but I feel I have earned the right to pat myself on the back for the progress I have made so far. At the end of the day I now go to bed thinking I have done right by myself during the previous day. That’s all that I can ask for. I’m going to continue to work my ass off everyday and make my bosses proud of the decisions they made in giving me their trust, and I’m going to go home at the end of the day and play with my friends as hard as I can and repeat that cycle every day.

“Growing up” is harder than hell: don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. To make matters harder, everyone does it differently and with different results. We do what we can to successfully navigate our lives and hope for the best. Now excuse me while I pay my bills and watch Voltron.

Categories: monkey, Ravings

Friday Playlist #7 – Wednesday Edition

February 16th, 2011 No comments

Wow! It sure has been a long time since I wasted your time with a random playlist from the bowells of my finicky iPod, so today seems like the perfect time to do so. The typical rules apply: I hit shuffle and then explain myself. I don’t get to skip tracks and I don’t get to edit out “embarrasing” selections. I, being a man of honor, embrace the fact that I have some not-so-savory tracks in my library. Let the games begin!

1. Dethklok – Kill You
What is there to not love about Dethklok? They’re metal, they’re from Mordhaus and they’re cartoons. I love this song because it starts out with an epic drum solo and then launches right into one damn catchy guitar riff. How can you not adore a song that has “Na Na Na Na” all through it while, at the same time exclaiming “Like to smash all your brains with a vase.” That, people, is talent.

2. Smashing Pumpkins – Tristessa
Ahh, Gish era Pumpkins. B0lly wasn’t completely apeshit crazy and, to my knowledge, no members were dead or in jail (Note to self: don’t forget to tell D’arcy to “hold her horses” next time you see her). Anyhoo, Tristessa is just about as core to Gish as it gets. The lyrics are typical early-90′s fare. I still love this stuff.

3. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground
The Chili Peppers cover Stevie Wonder. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, musicians and scientists, alike, should use this track to calibrate instruments of all varieties. Following the Pumpkins with this makes me a very happy man.

4. The Crash That Took Me – Two Yellow Suns
I love Crash. It’s really not hard to believe that I would considering the makeup of the band and/or their music. This shit is just solid and “Two Yellow Suns” is damn perfection. I’m often afraid to ask Dylan where these lyrics come from, but I have got to remember to make an exception for this one. I have a sneaking suspicion there is some base in tiki drinks, but I could be wrong.

5. KMFDM – Vogue
It is almost single-handedly KMFDM’s fault that my hearing sucks. I’m not bitter, it’s just a statement of truth. Too many times in college and after, I’d end up way too close to the stacks at a KMFDM show in some state of inebriation screaming lyrics at the top of my lungs. Those were some of the best shows I’ve ever seen and “Vogue” is one of those fan faves that has evolved quite well through the years.

6. Nine Inch Nails – The Day The World Went Away
Ahh, the iPod is in a “clumping” mood this morning. During my “formative” late-adolescent years, Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM were two of my absolutely favorite. I like this track because it is short, sweet and has one of the best “droney bits” I’ve ever heard.

7. They Might Be Giants – Mr. Klaw
Ahh, the Johns emulate the Velvets. I like this one. Silly and short.

8. Centro-Matic – Supercar
Mr. Will Johnston is a genius and a national treasure. Centro-Matic is one of those bands that I get annoyed when their shows don’t sell out. “Supercar” is pretty typical Centro-Matic fare. I do have to say, however, that any and all Centro-Matic, Will solo efforts and/or South San Gabriel live performances are better with beer and BBQ. If you happen to be outside rural Goldthwaite, TX (there’s not really an “urban” Goldthwaite, TX, so I’m not sure why I feel I need to qualify “rural”), all the better.

9. NOFX – Franco Un-American
NOFX is one of those bands that I can’t help but to love. Sure, I’ve missed their last seven live shows here in Dallas, but damn I love these guys. Half-political, half-goofy and all drunk, it’s a total party. This particular version of “Franco Un-American” came off of their recent live release They’ve Actually Gotten Worse Live, so, as per normal, Fat Mike took some liberties with the lyrics. Following the song is an excellent rant on some kid for yelling out “Jerry Garcia.” It just has to be enjoyed on your own. Little tiny Nutzies.

10. Blur – My Ark
A gem off of Blur’s 10 Year Anniversary Box Set. Originally one of the b-sides to “Chemical World,” I’d kinda ignored “My Ark” until it came out in this box set. It’s got a really great swirly guitar part that really identifies it as a Modern Life is Rubbish-era track. Brings back some interesting memories of bad beer and good conversation in tiny Waco, TX apartments.

11. Ennio Morricone – The Desert
I’ve said it a couple of times in other posts, but I have a Western problem. I’ve seen hundreds of terrible Westerns and a remarkably small subset of good ones. This amazing track of Ennio Morricone’s is from The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, one of my favorites. What I like about this track, and most of Morricone’s work, is that it really draws the emotion in exceedingly well. I’ve never watched a Sergio Leone movie on mute, but I’m guessing they aren’t nearly as good without Morricone’s score.

12. Mark Kozelek – Rock ‘N’ Roll Singer
Crazy Koz does an AC-DC cover and nails it (per usual). I’ve written about my adoration of Mr. Kozelek before, but I honestly can’t say enough. I wish Mark constantly came through Texas, because I would (and have) gladly travel all over this state to see him. This cover nails it.

13. The Cherry Cokes – Making a Living With You
Ahh, my beloved Cherry Cokes. Japan seems to make a good living off of creating marketable novelties in all genres of everything. While the Cherry Cokes definitely fall into this brash and general categorization, I just don’t feel comfortable lumping these guys in with Pokemon and Chef Morimoto. As per usual, I can’t especially tell if this song is being sung in English or Japanese (why do I always feel so damn racist when I type that out), but the “traditional” Irish-y punk sound is still striking and excellently executed. It is harder than hell to find releases from the Cherry Cokes, so I’d suggest you grab anything you run across.

14. Social Distortion – Don’t Take Me For Granted
Mike Ness is another one of those individuals who I have looked up to for a very long time. Over the course of the past twenty years, I’ve been very fortunate to have seen Social D perform many many times. I’ve been at good shows and I’ve been at a couple really terrible shows, but I always come back for more. “Don’t Take Me For Granted” is a relatively new track in their catalog, but really has the rips and riffs that hearken back to the early releases. Social D has a new record coming up that I have heard nothing from. I’m ready for it!

15. The Dead Milkmen – Tugena
Filler track!!!!! This five and a half minutes of lo-fi “practice” material and sampled gibberish is the perfect wrap-up to today’s playlist. All manner of bands have dropped a track on the end of their records, but this is one that I can actually listen to. It’s useless, mindless and makes absolutely zero sense. Much like me.

Yoga Class 50: The Half Century

January 29th, 2011 No comments

Yup, this crazy monkey is still going strong with his practice. Today I hit the fifty class mark (woo hoo!) and it’s really caused me to look back on this past twenty-five classes with some introspection. First, Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Rabbit Pose (Sasangasana) are now my bitch. Yeah, that’s bold to say, but both of those were some of the hardest for my inflexible spine to get into. For the first thirty or so classes, Camel made me want to throw up almost as soon as I went into the first part (hands at base of back leaning back). When I finally decided to move my hands to my heels in class forty-five or so, everything became clear and calm. Who would have thought that the full pose was that much more comfortable than the beginning motions?!?! I was totally amazed.

With Rabbit, my issue was getting my damn hairline on my damn knees. As my flexibility increased and my gut decreased, it just kinda happened. Rabbit used to make me feel really claustrophobic and those “tiny sips of air” verged on hyperventilation. Now, however, I comfortably move into the pose and watch in amazement as my belly goes in and out with normal full breaths. It just goes to show that the personal journey of one’s practice really is it’s own reward. Yeah, that’s yogic and obscure as all get-out, but it’s one of those personal victories that make me give myself mental high-fives.

So, now that fifty is in the can, what’s next? My hips are still extremely tight (damn you soccer, you sweet sweet game) and, while I can touch my toes pretty regularly in Tibetan Sit-ups, I still have a lot of problems touching my toes without bending my knees in most of the standing series. That’s something I have to work on and haven’t felt like I’ve made a lot of progress with over the past couple of weeks.

Additionally, I have apparently lost some of my focus in Triangle Pose (Trikonasana). My knees have been giving me fits for a while (one of the disadvantages of getting older and already having crappy knees), so I think I really have to focus on keeping my quads engaged to really protect my knee-caps from popping off towards the side mirrors in the room.

As I am reminded in every class, a person’s practice changes every day. I, just like everyone, I imagine, have fantastic days and some crappy days. On fantastic days, I need to push that motivation into the continuation of my practice; on crappy days, I need to borrow from those fantastic days and move on. Over this past fifty classes, I’ve really focused on doing Sunstone’s Fire class with a few Earth and Wood classes thrown in there to mix up my routine. For this next fifty, I was challenged to throw some Metal classes into my mix. Metal scares the crap out of me, but I agree with the people who challenged me that I’m ready for it. I think I’m ready to attempt King Pigeon Pose (Kapotasana) and not crack myself in half.

Here’s to the next fifty!

Categories: Awesomeness, monkey, Yoga