Friday, May 28, 2010

Why I hate plant life (Vol. 1)

Allergies!!! Ugh.

I'm supposed to, by my own design, post today. My head feels like a dense fog. Yesterday's post was written under similar circumstances and look how that turned out... (not good)

Today's post was going to be epic, too. The plans called for an invocation of the muses, drama in three acts and a wet, wild ocelot.

Baby monkeys were going to ride on the backs of cats, who in turn were supposed to ride on the backs of dogs.

Bruce Willis was rumored to make a cameo, alongside Lady Gaga and LeBron James. (Sorry for the LBJ reference, SFTC... if you read this!!)

The post was going to unite the world as one, eliminate war and end hunger all over. It was to be a new day for mankind!! No wonder those plants, armed with their potent pollen, had it out for me.

Score: Mother Nature - 1, Ducks Out Of A Row - 0

Dang it.

Have a happy (and safe) Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!!!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Major Announcement

I'm not sure if Thursday is the right day of the week to launch this bombshell (yes, that's for all you Nancy Grace lovers out there), but I figure this will impact hundreds of millions of schedules worldwide and it should be conveyed ASAP.

Note: If someone is googling "Nancy Grace lovers" I hope this post pops up as the number one page. It'll be an Internet phenomenon the likes of which the world has never seen... well, since the whole Tiger Woods thing. And you heard it here first!! Let it never be said that the Ducks is not the foremost source of relevant news in the world.

Note to the Note: I have no knowledge of any potential Nancy Grace "lovers" out there. So, Nancy, please don't sue me for defamation of character or anything. I think you are probably a fine, upstanding woman who should not be mentioned in the same breath (or paragraph) as El Tigre Woods.


p.s. Your twins are the most precious beings to call this little planet of ours home.

Note to the non-Nancy Grace watchers out there:
Every caller to her show starts his or her (usually "her," I've noticed) call by sucking up to Ms. Grace and talking about how precious her twins are... and then they usually say something about her kids. (I'll be here all weeks, folks...) Seriously, though, she draws more brown-nosers than an A-list actor walking into a Hollywood meeting.

[Brad Pitt walks into Hollywood meeting room]

Brown-noser #1: Brad, your beard looks fabulous.
Brown-noser #2: You make the whole "homeless" look very chic and sexy.
Brown-noser #1: I would make out with you right now, and I'm not even gay.
Brad Pitt: Fellas, fellas, fellas. I'm just a dude with some facial hair.
Brown-noser #2: Brad, I'm not even worthy of being in the same room as you.

[Brown-noser #2 runs out of the room, into the street and is promptly hit by a bus.]

Brad Pitt: That was tragic.
Brown-noser #1: Your powers of observation must be heaven-sent. I'm in love.

Alright, back to the lecture at hand. [Quadruple reader points for anyone who picks up on the reference.]

Major news! I've been fairly sporadic with the posting here at the Ducks until last week. Last week I went five-for-five in weekday posts. That was certainly fun for all of us, but it's not great for my productivity as a whole. As such, I've determined to follow a specific schedule.

Starting Wednesday next week, Ducks will be new every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Three days a week seems like a manageable schedule.

There will be a new post tomorrow. Monday may or may not have one, on account of the holiday. I was thinking about doing something with the theme of "remember what this day is all about," but that might be a bit more "preachy" than I generally aim for here.

We'll see.

In the meantime, clear your entire schedules for all Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays over the next couple of years. Thank you.


Disclaimer: Everything in this post was intended for nonsensical purposes, except for the scheduling update. All thoughts expressed are solely my ideas and opinions. No factual basis was used in the writing of this post. I do not know Nancy Grace, Brad Pitt or any respective lovers, haters or brown-nosers of either celebrity. No one was harmed in the writing of this post, except the guy who was hit by a bus. He was harmed pretty sufficiently.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Location, Location, Location

I have an important declaration today. This will directly affect all my 6,664,195 Washington readers and my 1,545,801 Idaho readers, but everyone really needs to know about this!

I find it interesting -- but not surprising -- that all of these West Coast peeps swing by on a daily basis, even though those numbers surely include: children who can't read just yet, those without Internet access and blind people. Although, I've been told that Ducks Out Of A Row is huge with the blind population.

Anyhow, all you Washingtonians and Idahoans are about to experience a simpler life. You can thank me later.

In true Ducks Out Of A Row fashion, a little back-story...

Someone who is very close to me -- may or may not be the lovely wife -- is originally from out west. She -- assuming this person is a female -- grew up on, or close to, the border of Washington and Idaho. She went to colleges in both states, held jobs in both states and even lived in, you guessed it, both states.

I'm not the smartest man in the world. (Stunned, right? No? Eh, I guess that's to be expected...) Sometimes it is difficult for me to keep track of where she was living or working or educating when she tells me stories about the not-as-wild-as-advertised West. It can be rather confusing and results in a lot of this:

Unnamed female: "So when I was working at [name withheld to protect the innocent]..."
Me: "That was in Idaho, right?"
UF: "No, Washington. When I was working there, it reminded me a time when I went to [name withheld for the heck of it] College..."
Me: "So that was in Washington?"
UF: "No, Idaho. Do you ever listen?"
Me: "What?"

Unrelated side note: I've heard this before, but it's a great point... Why do the innocents need to be protected? They didn't do anything.

Alright, so the moral of the story is that I get all sorts of confused trying to keep up with what school or job was in which state. It's really tough.

I am, if nothing else, a problem-solving kind of dude. I came up with a solution that can make everyone happy. We are simply going to merge the states together and create a new, super state. Unlike superheroes, it will not have any particular powers... unless we define "not confusing the hell out of that one guy from Michigan who writes the weird blog" as a superpower, and I think we really should. (At least, let's talk about it.)

So the two states are now one. (Thank goodness they aren’t “same sex” states!!) But I'm not done, folks. After you create something/combine-two-states-without-technically-having-any-authority-to-do-so (either way…), you generally have to name it. Since Idaington clearly doesn't work, the new state is hereby called Washaho.

Yes, I just named a new state "Washaho." I don't know what the previous coolest name for a state was, but this far exceeds it.

All you Washahoans can now thank me.

You're welcome!

Monday, May 24, 2010

On my dual life as minimalist pack rat...

Before I begin, a note to the wife: Wife, cover your ears. Got 'em covered? Good...

I am a pack rat. There, I came right out and said it. Said it on the Internet for the whole world to see, too.

At some point in life, preferably sooner rather than later, there is nothing more important than being honest with whom you are.


Someone famous once said that... I assume. If not, someone famous should have said that because it would make for a great one of those "Successories" posters. It could have had a picture of kitten wearing a firefighter's helmet next to a puppy with an identical helmet. It would be both inspiring and too cute for words. But I digress...

Anyhow, I'm a pack rat. My home is rife with stuff I will probably never use, but containing the slight possibility that "Someday I just might need this instruction manual from a phone I no longer own. You know, in case I was to buy the same kind again, even though they don’t make that model anymore."

It drives my wife nuts. (Thus the reason she has to cover her ears for today's post!)

Besides being a pack rat, I'm also a minimalist. I tend to be a non-materialistic kind of writer guy. I don't need the latest gadgets and am, by my own admission, a rather bad consumerist. Now, I am not perfect and consume more than I wish I did, but I really don't need a lot to get by. Sure, a computer is rather helpful, given my love of writing, and soccer equipment is appreciated, because futbol is a great stress reliever for me. Other than that, I'm fairly low maintenance.

A minimalist pack rat seems like it’d be quite the contradiction, huh?

"So why do we have all that crap at home?" my wife is asking.

Me: "Hey, aren't your ears supposed to be covered?"

Wife: "I can still read, you dolt."

NOTE: My wife never calls me a dolt. Not that I'm complaining.

Well, my better half brings up a terrific point. Why do I have all sorts of random stuff? Without having given it too much thought in the past, I think everything I have falls in one of three categories: stuff I use, stuff I could potentially see using, and stuff I'm sentimental about.

Hopefully it's obvious why the first category doesn't get tossed. Admittedly, this category probably constitutes 1.79% of my property.

The second category is one that I'm working on changing. I think I've mentioned this here at the Ducks, but to recap -- or "cap" for the first time, if I haven't done so already -- I'm an idealist. I live in a world full of ideals and possibilities. It makes me an eternal optimist who is subject to idealizing the world and living in daydream land.


It also makes me keep stuff, evidently.

The items which compose this category are things which I'll say to myself -- we talk frequently, which is something I should probably tell the therapist -- "Self, you just never know when you might need to use a lug nut from a 1986 Dodge Aries." So I keep the lug nut, never to be used.

That final category, sentimental stuff, is collected because of two facets of my personality. As was discussed the other day (and in other posts, I'm sure), I'm a feelings-based guy. When someone gives me, well, anything, I treasure the thought that he or she was thinking about me. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

Has anyone actually felt "fuzzy" inside? Seems like a hair growth problem which should be addressed by medical personnel to me...

The other component to my personality which adds to the third category is the fact that my "Love Language" has something to do with receiving gifts. It makes me feel all smooshy inside.

I'm not questioning "smooshy,” because I'd imagine that a lot of my internal organs are smooshy, especially the intestinal region. [I hope you weren't eating just now.]

Between being an idealistic, sensitive guy with a particular love language and propensity to actually use 1.79% of stuff he owns, I'm doomed to be a pack rat forever.

Note to Wife: Go ahead and open your ears now...

So, in conclusion, I'd like to say that Mexican food is rather tasty. Thank you and Godspeed.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Grammar rules and calendars

We are experiencing technical difficulties. And by "we," I mean "I." So, essentially, I are expecting technical difficulties...

But I'm not experiencing them here! See, one of the sites for which I write is apparently having some issues, and this means that you, the loyal Ducks readers, benefit!!

I've been on a blogging roll this week. This marks my fifth straight day of posting and I have been bringing my "A" game the past couple of days. Sorry, folks, it doesn't get much better than that... or does it? I don't know. You don't know. We are all in the same boat and will just have to keep writing and reading (respectively) and see how gooder it can get!

I know that my readers are a very intelligent bunch and maybe one of you will know this... Why do we use "better" and "best" instead of "gooder" and "goodest?" I'm sure there is some sort of "roots of the English language" answer, but the goodest, I mean "best," I can come up with is that "gooder" sounds too much like "Gouda" and that would be rather confusing for cheese enthusiasts...

Eh, maybe I'll google it later. (Wait, let me rewrite that sentence.)

Eh, I'm going to think about googling it now, but will have forgotten about it within five minutes. It will never come back up and life will go and I'll be none the wiser. (Ah, much better!)

Anyhow, this week has been going pretty well from a "blogging productivity" standpoint and now it is time for a confession... I invented the Internet. Hmmm, that's not right. I mean, "I was going to slack today and work on other stuff of the 'for pay' variety." But, as mentioned somewhere up there, I'm having technical issues. So instead, you get an official, honest-to-goodness Ducks Out Of A Row post.

What you don't get is a calendar.

Note: Before you get to the next section, let the previous sentence soak in and marinate a bit. Later, when you tell all your friends, family, strangers and enemies about the very awesome/amazing/peculiar blog you are now addicted to, you can be sure to mention "... and the way he segues from one topic to the next is simply breath-taking."

I think that having children draw up pictures of safety issues to put on a corporate calendar can be a little morbid. Hypothetically speaking, the corporate calendar at my day job might be the inspiration for this opinion. Safety is important, no doubt, but the gruesome picture of a guy who has been decapitated because he didn't tie his steel-toed safety shoes tightly enough, while the plant explodes and people are yelling things like "Noooooo!" and "My eyes are on fire and it hurts so bad!!" simply gives me nightmares.

Just kidding. There isn't any picture like that.

But, if memory serves me right, we do have: a woman dying because she took someone else's medicine, a child predator trying to get information in a chat room (only the computer screen is shown) and an unattended child drowning in a pool.

Now, I'm not criticizing the pictures themselves, or even the way the children approached the topic. Rather, I just think the topic was rather dark for a calendar drawn by kids. Here at Ducks Out Of A Row, we promote safety. What we don't promote are disturbing calendars, even if they are intended to raise safety awareness.


I suppose I have more thoughts on the issue, but I'll revisit them later on...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Thank you, Billy Shakespeare

Disclaimer: The following disclaimer would probably not be defined as a disclaimer under normal circumstances... but this is my blog and I'll make up the rules around here.

Disclaimer: Please don't forget to check out the final thought of the post. To get there, you will need to read everything else -- it is physically impossible to just skip ahead, according to my team of Blog Quality Assurance Testers -- so I tried to make the experience as enjoyable as possible for you, my highly-intelligent (and very attractive, I might add) readers!

I always like spreadin' some blog love when I feel someone has contributed something which needs to be shared.

I did so the other day for Lindsey at The Write Words.

I've done it for Speaking from the Crib, Spilled Ink, Steph in the City....

Well, today I'm doing it for a Ducks-Out-Of-A-Row-love-getting-virgin (hmmmm, not quite as catchy as I had hoped...).

See, this morning I was perusing the blogs I follow and came across a wonderful, easy to use tutorial over at
I've Been Thinking. Lluvia tackles "How to Organize Your Google Reader" and it's good stuff for anyone looking to become more organized and efficient... Yours truly wishes to become more organized and efficient... It was the most natural hook-up since Romeo met Juliet!

As a note: I wonder how it worked out for those two kids. I never finished reading the story, but I'm sure it had a happy ending. I'll bet they went on to become pop stars...

As a thought: It just occurred to me that, if one was so inclined, he or she could prioritize it so Ducks is the first blog read. I'm not saying you have to do that or anything, but it's probably in your best interest to do so. Probably.


Anyhow, I just wanted to let the millions of Ducks readers out there know about Lluvia's post and recommend checking it out.

As we -- apparently I've taken to referring to myself as "we"... I should probably talk to my therapist about that -- like to say around here: "Mission Accomplished!" (I'm getting some real value from that banner I bought for cheap from the previous administration!!)

Final thought for the post: A duck by any other name would still smell like a duck... but we don't know it for sure because that IS what they are called!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Caw, Caw, QUACK!!!

Facebook...

I have this love/hate relationship with that particular social networking site. On one hand, I like being able to keep up with family and friends. On the other, I'm kind of an extremely private person (well, except for my very public habit of blogging...) and Facebook is the pinnacle of the "f' it, let's just get rid of privacy all together" mentality that seems to be so vogue in society nowadays.

I'm severely conflicted over the whole thing.

Anyhow, conflicted as I am, I use Facebook. By "use," I mean that I mostly check out my feed and see what other people are up to. I change my status every couple of weeks, give or take. Last night, though, my beautiful wife insisted that I take the "Spirit Animal" quiz. She found out she was an owl, much to her dismay. They are known for having a dark sense of humor, and this particular spirit animal doesn't fully express her intense care for those who are close to her. So she's bummed about that.

My spirit animal was "ocelot." Well, no it wasn't. It should have been... Instead, it was "crow" and now I'm pissed.

Apparently crows embody the inquisitive nature that I'll readily admit to possessing. But still... they're crows! They kind of just "caw." Besides, as my loyal readers -- or anyone who checks out my initial post! -- know, I'm the quintessential INFP, using Myers-Briggs personality typing and the F stands for Feeling.

The other day I asked my loving wife which of the four letters (Introvert, iNtuitive, Feeling and Perceiving) she thought might be the weakest for me. Well, we both pretty much agreed that I'm strong in all of them across the board -- thus, the self-proclamation of "quintessential INFP" in the previous paragraph (in case you missed it...).


What does this have to do with anything? Well, to be completely honest, I'm very sensitive (Oh, how it pains me to say that publicly!!). On a positive note, I tend to be more sensitive to the feelings of other people than my own. So it's not like I'm just sitting around, moping and listening to The Cure all day.

Note to The Cure: No offense, guys. Bloodflowers is an amazing album and I rather enjoy a lot of your music, but you're kind of my go-to-band for when I need an example of depression. Please don't hate me!

Alright, so we've established that I'm this touchy-feely girly-man (who somehow has a hot wife...). Do you associate crows with being "touchy-feely?" If you are struggling to decide whether you do or don't (or perhaps you are asking yourself "wait, why am I even thinking about this?"), the correct answer is "hell no." They are as insensitive as birds come. I mean, didn't you see that one Disney movie back in the day? Might have been Dumbo... The crows were assholes. (Pardon the language.) That is so not me!

Basically, Facebook really dropped the ball on this. I think I'm going to start a campaign to get Facebook to change my spirit animal to "ocelot." We all know that a successful Facebook campaign can do anything. Ask Betty White!

I do have to admit... They did get it completely right with a different quiz, though; I'm totally Charlotte from “Sex and the City.”

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When you find a treasure, you share it!! (says the horrible capitalist)

Courtesy of Agnes' Pages... Why you must keep blogging

Check it out!

Note: See, I told you yesterday I'd do better with my next post...

p.s. Lindsey's (The Write Words) advice from yesterday is working for me so far. If you don't know what I'm talking about, please see yesterday's rambling mess!

Monday, May 17, 2010

I get by with a little help from my friends...

Time for the truth... I don't necessarily read every blog that I follow every single day. Once upon a time, I did, but not anymore. It's terribly time-consuming and -- even more detrimental to my productivity -- rather attention-stealing. It's hard to focus when you feel compelled to constantly ask "what's new over there?"

A.D.D. U.S.A.

I think that's kind of a symptom throughout society. I mean, obviously this doesn't pertain to everyone (well, the only things that do are "need food, water, air and shelter" and "yes, I danced the Macarena in the mid-90's") (you know you did!). But the overwhelming majority of people feel as though they need to know what's going on, regardless of how trivial. Or maybe because of how trivial?

If you think about it, the things that people feel like they "need" to be updated about are rather inconsequential... Who is getting voted off of DWTS? Which celebrities are breaking up now? Is that one kid with the funky hair still on American Idol? Who cares?

Now, I have my own trivial things I get caught up on -- Are the Brewers winning? Is Brett Favre really coming back for another year? Is that one kid with the funky hair still on American Idol? -- so I'm not trying to call the kettle "black." I just think it's something we all do.

NOTE: This is taking a WIDE turn from where I was planning on going...

Well, this gets me thinking, what's really important to stay on top of? As someone who writes, I'm actually a bit scared to ask that question. I mean, I hope people read what I have to say (even though I've learned to "not obsess about it, write the words that I want and then if anyone does actually read, that's super!").


It's not often I'm writing about extremely profound topics, though. Maybe I need to change that? I don't know... I need to think about it.

Where I'm Going With This

Anyhow, today I went around and revisited blogs, which I do periodically (instead of a-couple-times-an-hour). I caught up on some that I hadn't been to in a while and found some great content on one them which I'd like to spotlight.

There is a simply exceptional post over at The Write Words. Lindsey is a fiction writer and her post from last night is in regard to prioritizing one's time. This was a very apropos post for me to catch, since prioritization is tough for me. I get rather distracted with all sorts of stuff, some of which she mentions (keeping up with Facebook or Twitter, as examples).


Now, Lindsey has some methods which work for her and I'm going to steal one (You didn't know I was a thief? C'mon, I'm a writer. That's what we do!*). She comes up with a list the night before of things she is going to tackle the following day. Brilliant!!

Before signing off, I would like to mention -- for anyone who clicked on the second link, but not the first -- that Lindsey has a contest going with fantastic prizes, so be sure to check that out!

I apologize for the rambling today. Next one will be better, I promise…


* My Creative Writing Poetry professor -- the eternally awesome Jack Ridl -- told us that "great poets don't borrow... they steal." So that's where that comes from!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A.D.D. Nation (Part... Hey, isn't it weird that we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway?)

So Betty White hosted SNL this past, well, Saturday. For those who are unaware (although your average Ducks Out Of A Row reader is highly-informed and generally of extreme physical attractiveness... tell your friends!), this was the result of an extensive Facebook campaign. This gets me thinking... If I got enough people on board, would they let my cat host? Maybe I'd sell it as a two-for-one package with Tweak Dog.

I am enjoying watching the Orlando Magic absolutely throttle the Atlanta Hawks. It gives me great pleasure to see the Hawks being embarrassed the way they are. The thing is, if Atlanta hadn't swept my Milwaukee Bucks, I'd probably root for them. I love cheering for the underdog... but the underdog should be the Bucks in this series. Well, that and I think Atlanta's Josh Smith is a punk.

Radiohead - I used to think I was in the "The Bends" camp, but I've been listening a lot to "OK Computer" as of late and am wondering if that is the better album. On one hand, "The Bends" sounds like a cocky, headstrong British band struck out to create the perfect rock record, and then nailed it. On the other hand, "OK Computer" is such a unique, otherworldy album. Suffice it to say, I can't claim either as my single favorite Radiohead disc. Perhaps I'll have to dub them co-favorites...

Yes, I'm having fun with bold today. Thanks for asking!

Next topic: Thirst quenchers. I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Of course, I'm not "The Most Interesting Man in the World." Hopefully I will one day crack the top-ten, though!! Stay thirsty, my readers!

Beer actually doesn't quench my thirst. Please disregard the previous paragraph. I actually usually prefer water. Given that most people opt for soda or juice, perhaps that makes me a little interesting? Just a bit? No? Shoot...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Travesties - Great and Small, Vol. 3

This one is for my millions of A.D.D. fans out there... Okay, that should be "fans who have A.D.D." If you are a fan of A.D.D., Ducks Out Of A Row might not be the right place for you. Or it might. I suppose I can't really make that call for you. Anyhow, welcome!

It is an absolute travesty that I was not able to get around to writing my second post yesterday. I know that I began the series with a commitment to one per day, but I really thought I'd be able to get the other one out yesterday. I shouldn't have mentioned it until the second one was actually up...

Mea culpa, folks. I'll try to write the one I intended to write yesterday today... much later today.

Anyhow, I'm sorry about that gentle readers! Much like Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon, I'll try to do better next time. Good night, Canada!

Bonus "reader points" go out to anyone who picked up on the references in the previous paragraph. Don't forget to keep track of those points and there will probably be a prize. Well, let's turn that "probably" into "possibly, but I wouldn't really count on it."

Ah, just read the previous section with the modification and it totally works as it should. Bonus "writer points" are cordially awarded to me!!

This whole post is a travesty...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Travesties - Great and Small, Vol. 2

Gentle reader, you are in luck... two Ducks Out Of A Row posts for you today!

There was going to be just one post in the Travesties - Great and Small series today, but a new one just came up. As per my usual style, a little background...

Recently I ordered a new charger for my laptop from Overstock.com (nope, not getting any money from them for the shout out - as a matter of full disclosure). Yesterday afternoon, I checked the delivery tracking and saw that it had gone to the apartment office. Cool, I thought (my thoughts use lame terminology like "cool"... it's rather sad), I'll swing by before 6 p.m. and pick it up.

So I left the office a little before 5:30, stopped by the bank to order some checks and stopped home to get the mini-form UPS (once again, no corporate dollars are being funneled my way!) leaves on the door. I get to the office at 5:50 -- plenty of time to spare -- and find out they actually close at 5:30 (those slackers!).

Fast forward to this morning... Before leaving the apartment, I make sure I have my: milk, granola bar, keys, cat (just checking to see if you're still with me...) and slip from UPS so that I can swing by the office when I go home for lunch and pick up the charger.

When I park my car, I take in the stuff I need (milk, granola bar, cat, etc.) and leave the note in the car. Now, I had made an additional stop this morning and was a bit behind -- not late, but not as far ahead in space as I would have liked to been at the time -- so I was fine with the mini-note being sticky-side up.

I was just chilling at my desk -- that is the hip way of saying "working very diligently" -- when I received a call from an unnamed loved one (may or may not have been my beautiful wife...). Something came up and my assistance was needed.

As a sidetracking note -- my regular readers know how I work by now -- I like being of assistance. Helping other people out makes me feel good, makes me feel like I've contributed something to the greater good and all that jazz. Note to self: Google the origins of phrase "and all that jazz."

Anyhow, I ran out real quick and took care of something. (Yes, that is intentionally vague. The loved one in need of assistance, may or may not be the wife, would most likely prefer it that way.) I came back to the office and resumed my "chilling," which we discussed earlier for those who are just tuning in. It dawned on me that I needed to run upstairs to our R&D department, so I did. Let it never be said that I can't do things! Upon returning to my desk, I paused for a second before sitting down. I had a sense that something was not right, felt a grave disturbance in The Force. (If you are unfamiliar with Star Wars, go back to the previous sentence and re-read up to the coma, then jump to the first parenthesis and resume your reading from there. Thank you. - The Management)

Being a man of action (well, I'm more a man of "mostly thought and not as much action" but that just doesn't flow...), I reached behind me and located the source of the "grave disturbance"... It was the UPS form. The sticky side had latched onto my behind and I was walking around the office with a UPS thing affixed to my lower end.

THAT is a travesty!!

As a note: Today's other entry in the Travesties - Great and Small series will be more serious in nature. Not as heavy as the planned series wrap-up, but certainly not nearly as light-hearted as groups who deserve recognition or a fool walking around with a UPS sticker on his butt.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Travesties - Great and Small, Vol. 1

When I decided to get back into blogging, I determined that I would make it a goal to post every day for one week. Furthermore, I actually came up with a theme for the week. Now, yesterday's "The Ducks are back" post wasn't related at all. I didn't plan on doing a rambling ode to Colson Whitehead's marvelous writing (and you know it's serious when I bust out the word "marvelous"!!), but Elana Johnson's blog inspired me...

Anyway, the theme for this week is back on. Without further fanfare, I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, Travesties - Great and Small.

There are major travesties to be addressed, this is for certain, but I'm going to start small. I was driving my stepson to school the other morning and listening to Nada Surf's "The Weight is a Gift." It is a beautifully-crafted pop rock album. Perhaps the most popular (if such a term can be used, but more on that later...) track is "Always Love." It's a positive, upbeat song imploring/cautioning us to "Always love/Hate will get you every time."

Now, I listen to a lot of different music, but I usually veer towards "different" music. I'm not a fan of top-40 and have little use for the radio. For a year or two, there was a radio station here in Happy-but-not-as-happy-as-Boulder-Colorado Holland, MI (96.1 FM) which played great stuff and I was a devout listener.

No one would really know this except for me, but I would even listen to the commercials to "support" them in my own little way. Other stations, I change the channel quickly once the music dies. Especially 97.9 WGRD. If you advertise on that station, you aren’t getting my business by doing so (no offense intended). My problem with WGRD began via the fact that every time I started my car, they were playing a commercial. Without fail I would hear a salesman trying to pitch me on something instead of tunes. I get that stations need commercials to survive, but let's keep it reasonable folks!

Also, now that I'm getting older I just don't like as much of the music they play. I've become a curmudgeon.

Anyhow, since the painful death of 96.1, I rarely listen to the radio and mostly rely on cd's to soothe my restless soul as I cruise down the highways of life.


Still not at my point just yet, but 96.1 (R.I.P.) not being able to thrive was certainly a travesty. I miss being able to hear The Gaslight Anthem, Nada Surf and Modest Mouse on the radio. These bands aren't terribly obscure (perhaps Nada Surf more than the others...), but I don't think there is anywhere I can catch them in West Michigan radio.

I tweeted about this a while back now, but I feel it is a complete shame that Ryan Adams is not more popular. His music is authentic and has actual messages. He crafts his songs and this is something that cannot be said about such popular fare as The Black Eyed Peas (just saying their name makes me vomit a little...). Mark Kozelek is another true American music genius who doesn't receive enough credit amongst the masses. Sure, critics know the front man for Red House Painters and Sun Kil Moon, but say his name to 99.9% of the other people on the street and you will be greeted with a blank stare. Sun Kil Moon's "April" album is full of hauntingly beautiful songs and I cannot wait for the July 13th release of their "Admiral Fell Promises."

I don't want to give the mistaken impression that I'm some sort of hipster who only listens to indie artists. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Radiohead are some of my absolute favorites and it's not like those bands are local guys trying to make it for the first time. In spite of his flaws -- well, we all have flaws! -- I like Kanye West's music. Jay-Z's most recent album is incredible. The Beatles, Led Zepplin, Neil Diamond... doubt I'll get much street cred from enjoying those artists.

My point -- yes, I do have one! -- is simply that I think it is a travesty that extremely talented artists such as Ryan Adams, Sun Kil Moon, Atmosphere (for hip-hop enthusiasts), and Nada Surf aren't more popular in the U.S.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'd call it a sabbatical, but that's not entirely true...

My apologies for the lengthy absence, but I've been very busy the past month with "for profit" writing and simply haven't had much time to maintain the blog. But that is changing and it starts today! Moving forward, I will make time to at least write a quick post on a scheduled basis... although please keep in mind that my ducks are never in a row and we'll just have to see how it all goes.

I'm an idealist. Ideally, I'll make a post every day. This world is not idealistic. I'll have to settle for a couple of times a week. Not this week, though. This week I'll be posting every day. It shall be an ideal week... at least here in my little corner of the Internet!

Having been out of the blogging world for a bit, I just noticed that Elana Johnson has "Celebrate the Awesome" going on today. This is a celebration of our personal A-list books and I have one that I'd personally like to spotlight.

My favorite contemporary writer is Colson Whitehead. I'm actually reading his "Sag Harbor" novel right now (well, not "right at this very moment"... I'm talented, but not THAT talented!), and it certainly qualifies as some awesomeness which deserves to be celebrated, BUT... that's not the work I'd like to spotlight today.

"The Intuitionist" was Whitehead's debut novel and tells the story of Lila Mae Watson, an elevator inspector who practices the Intuitionist method for conducting inspections. Given that this is an informal blog, and not a review destined to appear in a magazine or newspaper, I feel comfortable saying that if someone had told me ten years ago that one of my favorite books of all time would be about an elevator inspector, I'd have probably run him over with my car. Just kidding (need to make sure you're still reading...). Okay, I would not have committed vehicular homicide, but I definitely wouldn't have believed him.

Well, maybe I should have listened to that fictionalized, hypothetical seer.

The story itself is more than interesting enough (authentic characters, major conspiracy/corruption and compelling mystery), but it's they style which really captivated me. Whitehead's writing is fresh like a jar of peanut butter opened for the first time. He is an original author and the book inspires me to become a greater writer. "The Intuitionist" makes me want to bring my "A+" game and that is, in my opinion, the definition of an essential book. "On the Road" is my all-time favorite and completely embodies this notion. When I read Kerouac's definitive opus on the Beat Generation, it fuels my desire to pen great fiction. Whitehead's works give me the same feeling.

Anyhow, I've recommended the works of Malcolm Gladwell on this blog. They are fantastic, insightful and completely worth reading if you have an interest in human behavior, success, marketing, teaching, sociology, history, etc. Cannot speak highly enough of his books... but skip them -- just for the time being -- and start with Colson Whitehead's "The Intuitionist."