Wednesday, November 11, 2009

gripes stripes

I remember 8th grade vocabulary learning. It was very, what's the word I'm thinking of.....helpful. Very helpful for learning words. Seriously, dumb joke above aside, learning new words is good times.
I remember learning the word querulous. The definition - given to fault finding and complaining. I remember thinking it might be hard to think of a good use for that word - hard to fit naturally in a sentence.

Today I have been nothing but querulous.

In 8th grade, i couldn't even think of a situation in which that word would be useful, much less a person I knew who I would qualify as querulous, other than several sitcom characters. And here I am embodying it - all day, all night.

Does anyone else sometimes think the bits on the Daily Show might have a whiff of the classist about them? Not all the time. Just sometimes. Like primarily when they visit the South.
Which I find funnyish because Stephen Colbert cites the cultural stereotype of Southern accents being equated with stupidity as the reason he does not have a Southern accent. I know, he has his own show now.

Can I take a moment to communicate my support for the idea of Pirate Radio? And I do not mean the story of the about to be released radio station on a boat to cut through censorship inspired by true events Focus Features film with Philip Seymor Hoffman and many pleasurable British actors that seems to be getting a lot of advertising time on the forms of media i consume in a given day. I mean actual radio stations run by pirates. WKRRRRRRP? npRRRRRRR? If I could get Steve Innskeep to remain calm while describing a pirate takeover of his work station, I'd like it. Or a Fresh Air segment wherein pirates describe salty sea air, or actually read news items and conduct interviews, I'd like it. Like, a pirate saying, in all seriousness and with full NPR decorum, "And now we turn to our Washington correspaawwwndent, Nina Totenberg, for more on the story, yarr." I would listen. I would friggin' pledge during the pledge drives if NPR were to be taken over by pirates during those pledge drives. Hey! Marketing idea! Get pirates to demand ransom for the safe return of public radio. I gurantee you'd get more funding than you do promising a 1% discount at specific chiropractors' offices in the city, or tickets to some indie rock shows. I'd also enjoy a pirate deejay discussing his favorite deep cuts. Would that be on flesh? Or on records? Only the pirate could tell. And I would listen. I can't even choose the format I'd like best for these deejays! Most! Let's say that. All pirate or partial pirate, I am pretty sure I'd add that channel to my presets. In my carrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

To Continue - the Shift

When I was young and my heart was an open book, I used to say live and let live. And occasionally I would write something.

There is a crusty residue in the crockpot that is surely of my own making. I have left this in the sink without soaking. A mess.

I would say that, lately, shiftless would be an apt descriptor for me. But tonight at least, I will be using the shift key. Words will be capitalized. The story, long-neglected, will be continued – as promised in the June 25th crockpot installment.

To truly get to the heart of the matter, we must visit the 25th installment of the crockpot, and then the 46th, where Prince leveled a challenge to Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson by means of sequins, purple, Easter eggs, and a hologram.

It is Easter Eve in the mansion of Sir Paul McCartney. Paul has just returned from a covert Cadbury mission to buy MJ surprise Easter candy to find Michael at the kitchen table, holding the more covert work of Prince in his hands. The hologram inside the Easter eggs in question has revealed that the next day, Easter, will be the day when Prince, per the specifications of his Jeopardy! victory against Sir Paul, will challenge Paul to a game of his choosing. Paul takes the news fairly well, coping by means of bacon. For his part, Michael is excited, as a visit from Prince may mean he will get to spend time with Bruce, the surgeon keyboardist from Prince’s Revolution. Paul, having finished his lentils with bacon unsatisfied, has just asked his chef for a BLT. Michael, who is dyeing several free-range Easter eggs, asks to join in the meal.

MJ: Paul, can I have a BLT too?

Paul: Certainly, Michael. I love BLTs. Why wouldn’t you feel the same?

MJ: I want to love you – BLT – bacon lettuce thing! HEeeee heee!

Paul: You said it.

MJ: Paul, are you nervous about tomorrow? What do you think Prince is going to make you play? Lead guitar?

Paul: Hm. I’m a little nervous, yes, primarily because I have no idea what Prince has up his sleeve. There’s a lot of room in those ruffles. I just hope it’s not a contact sport. Prince is fast. And surprisingly strong for his size. I wouldn’t be surprised if “Raspberry Beret” was actually an ode to his drill sergeant. Ha ha!

MJ: You mean like your Sergeant Pepper song? Hey, is Sergeant Pepper related to Dr. Pepper? Do those two guys know each other?

Paul: (sighing) Of course, Michael. But Dr. Pepper is a woman! Don’t forget women can be doctors too.

MJ: Right! And egg donors! And Diana Rosses!

Paul: Right. Hey, lemme dunk one of those eggs. It is almost Easter after all.

MJ: You are the egg man!

Paul: (touched) Very good, Michael! Very good..

MJ: So what are you going to do to get ready for the game? Do you want to practice with a game of Battleship? Or Chutes and Ladders? Or Beatles Rock Band?

Paul: No, thanks. Heather and Yoko get all the money from that anyway. I think I’ll just live and let dye. Now eat your sandwich, Michael.

MJ: Ba-con! Sha’mon!

Paul and Michael contentedly eat their sandwiches, worry-free for the moment, as Easter promises new beginnings, miracles of the impossible for believers of all kinds, and, quite possibly, chocolate. The mansion hums quietly – a fire crackles, spoons clink gently against china as they turn eggs upside down in bowls of dye – the eggs turning submarine yellow, apple green, and Beat It t-shirt turquoise. Outside a breeze blows. Clouds from the west move too quickly to be explained by nature alone. Somewhere in the distance, a dove cries.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

With the Barkers and the Colored Balloons

I got a new dog today! He’s adorable. He’s brown. He has a tail that wags. I have decided to name him Bobby Dog. He reminds me a lot of Marty, my at-home, stuffed dog. But Bobby Dog is less drunk, yet surprisingly, fairly equally animated. Bobby Dog is the dog that does searches in Microsoft Word on my work computer. While others may have pet paperclips with eyeballs to do their bidding, I found that to be a bit unnatural and opted for Bobby Dog as my default helper. Actually, you know, he may have been a stray. I don’t recall changing my settings from paper clip with eyeballs to Bobby Dog, so I might

have found him and kept him. What a find!

Well, today I performed a file search, and Bobby Dog went to work, digging in file folders and subfolders and hard drives – all the usual places. But then I left the search window open even after he’d found what had been buried, and that’s how I discovered Bobby Dog would keep me company all day at work! He would sniff at the desktop air a bit. Then he’d wag his tail. Sometimes he’d paw at the ground. And after lunch, when I’d left him to his own devices for a while, he had a food dish and was scratching at it, just like a real dog. But more silent. Though I had to cover the window containing Bobby Dog from time to time, it was very exciting to return to his view to watch him play with a bone, or take a nap, or generally hang out, excited to be around. I think the other thing that makes Bobby Dog so great is that he smiles. All day! Fun dog. Fun dog.

If you want a pet at work, I recommend finding a word processor’s best friend quite immediately!

Also, a big thanks to Mama V for my sock bunny! Love him too!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yarrr, 'tis an especially hearty crockpot me hearties!

Yo ho ho to all the wayfareres whose drunken or otherwise disastrous perusals of the internets may have left them washed ashore in the salty brine of the crockpot today! 'Tis talk like a pirate day, and my affinity for both pirates and theme days led me to change the tone of the crockpot accordingly. 'Tis also the anniversary of the birth of one of the sauciest wenches on the seven seas, the dastardly Doc Robins, a loyal crockpot follower, and the originator of the only crockpot merchandise in existence! Twas the dread Doc Robins herself who sent me a crocker stalker tshirt, complete with celery stalks, so well does that scallywag know my love of hardtack is only surpassed by my love of puns, and so efficient is her memory of things like birthdays, anniversaries, and rap lyrics. Ah and as true as the beard of Poseidon, may it be said there is no wench more worthy of being birthed on this day, as she was born with the spirit of piracy in her bones and took to impaling others on the sword of her sharp wit as easy as a dolphin to a tuna net. ARRRRrrrr indeed, her eye patch is nearly as famous as her booty. Many are the days I walk the weathered, structurally unsound boards of the high decks of the shopping center that used to house Doc Robins and me in one office, watching the horizon for any hint of her flags flying in the crafts in the sea of cars in the parking lot. Her colors now feature a devil, teeth bared and fork readied. Tis true, Doc Robins has land-locked herself in the desert of academia found in Arizona. While the won't give a degree to Obama, they will to her, and I can personally say her competence would lend well to fixing the economy. A wiz with spreadsheets like the hand of Old Ruddy Randy with the twine for macrame. From all of yer mates in the crockpot, happy birrrrrrrthday matey!!!

Tis true, crocker faithful, that a football team of mine that I may spend hours rowdily cheering forward in their pillaging of the end zones of opponents was felled today, by a pack of scurvy dogs. Like an outcropping of rocks below the surface, our bow was busted by the huskies! Arrrrr-ghhh. I kept some hope alive that we might find safe harbor with the friendly assault of the Red Raiders of Texas Tech, but arrrrrr twas also not to be. Hooked by horns, it is possible, in Texas, to be land Lubbocked. But tonight it was once again Austin City that provided the limits to pirate ambition. YARR! Twere that it were possible to not give a crap about college football, but nay, this would be as idle a way to pass the fall as the leaves on the palm trees changing not a hint of a hue. All that's left to do, next week hope for positive yarrrrdage. Yar!!!

Now I find myself watching the movie Sweet Home Alabama, the commercial air time for which has been nearrrrrly exclusively purchased by companies selling dog food and cat food to lonely pet owners home on Saturday night! Yar, tis heartening to me that me stuffed pup Marrrrrty is by my side, loyal ole' sea salt that he is, and he only asks for occasional lodging and endless nips of the ship's rum. Yarrr the delights of piracy! Watching this movie again (tis true, I'm a sap of a scallywag apparently for Skynard-titled cinema) I find it remarrrrkable that this movie's Southern town is very close to the fairytale Southern town in the movie Big Fish. YARrrrrr twas a fish tale I followed then too! Oh the mystic South versus the actual South, and the amazement I find that despite knowing the exaggeration, I still am taken in by Hollywood Southern accents. Let's say it's Ethan Embry and call it a draaaaaaw....l.

Well mateys, let me pass along humble wishes for a wonderful talk like a pirate day from my crockpot to yarrrrrrrrs.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Block Party: What Cheese Means to Me

Hi everyone! Today I am cross-posting an essay devoted to cheese that was commissioned by my best bud and fellow cheese nut, Erin (pictured left. We made some arts and crafts hats for New Year's Eve - and as an aside, a happy Jewish New Year to everyone too!).

Also, in working on this project, I realized that being commissioned to write about cheese was really a good thing. If you have any crockpot suggestions, please let me know! I am nothing if not extremely suceptible to peer pressure. But don't take my word for it, just read it in the Chinese character tattoo I got while on Spring Break with friends! We each picked one of the signs of the Planeteers from Captain Planet. Love it! Because there is no other choice as it is permanently affixed to my flesh.

Aside over - on to the cheese! Erin, thanks for letting me cheese up your blog!

What cheese means to me.

I was recently introduced to the Donald Hall poem “O Cheese” and instantly wondered why Donald Hall hadn’t been named poet laureate much sooner. I was unable to find the text of this poem reproduced in its entirety on the interwebs, but here’s a very special hunk of his cheese.

O cheeses that dance in the moonlight, cheeses
that mingle with sausages, cheeses of Stonehenge.
O cheeses that are shy, that linger in the doorway,
eyes looking down, cheeses spectacular as fireworks.
I read this poem as part of the required reading of a poetry class, and was instantly judgmental when several of my classmates suggested this poem was silly, saying things like, “Cheese can’t be wistful!” and “There are no shy cheeses.”

To me these comments made it clear both that their speakers had no taste when it came to what seemed to be Hall’s obviously staggering gifts of language, and that they had never tasted mild cheddar, a distinctly shy cheese.

When looking for this poem by internet search, I was not surprised to find a multitude of cheese devotionals – some as songs, some as poems, some as bad poems, others as recipes. All were sharing a sentiment that I certainly share with all of my being – cheese is awesome.

Cheese is so good that even imitation cheese is often good. Cheez-its. Nacho cheese. American cheese. Velveeta, certainly. And then there’s the pantheon of cheese flavorings and dusts added to crackers and chips and snack foods that turn our fingertips orange and encrust themselves in our bicuspids with regularity. When one reflects on the sheer genius of Doritos and Cheetos, it is humbling to realize those products are but mere imitations of a food so delicious, so varied, so beloved, that its ad slogan “Behold the power of cheese” is an understatement.

Things cheese improves:

Though originally inclined to say “everything,” I hesitated when I considered there might be some smart alecks out there who would say things like, “Oh yeah, does cheese improve murder?,” and I’d be presented with a both a moral quandary, as I might think even horrendous things would be helped by cheese, and the task of coping with the imagined crime scene covered in cheese. What can I say? I watch a lot of Law & Order. Really, I’m sure by now you’ve imagined the same. What cheese did you choose in your imagination? One you dislike? Because I didn’t. And that’s going to take some work to get that cheese out of the mind’s eye and back between some bread, on top of some meat, shredded on a salad, or straight from the fridge making a beeline for my face, where it belongs.
So let’s compromise and say cheese improves almost everything.

Short list of things cheese improves:

Any vegetable, most fruits, pie, cake as a category, bagels, bread in general (in on over under around between), salads, sandwiches, soups, snack foods in general (real or artificial cheeses or both together), meat, burgers, the foodstuffs of all countries whose food groups I’ve consumed (Italy, Spain, I mean, come on, you could be cheese-based economies with a little more effort), leftovers, nuggets of any kind, snack time, lunchtime, dinnertime, drunk snack time, hangovers, heartaches, headaches, horseradish, hors d’oeuvres, fried stuff, Fridays, family functions, family function, friendships, relationships, reputation of the state of Wisconsin, vacations, road trips, hiking, camping, fishing, humans’ love of cows, humans love of each other, humanity, and crackers.

And that’s a short list.

Cheese can be a solid, liquid or eazy-gas. Behold the power!

Cheese is a word every child knows means “smile big!” Coincidence? I think not. Behold the power!

Cheese is so revered that rappers have taken to calling their money “cheddar” or “chedda’” if they prefer not to bother with that final consonant. That’s ok, it’s not Wheel of Fortune. Really, what rappers have done here is ingeniously eliminated the linguistic middleman, as I spend a lot of my chedda’ on cheddar. And lately, Swiss singles from the folks at Sargento. Not bad. Good for snacking. Behold the power!

Really, and I am absolutely sincere in the following: many of my strongest bonds with people are cheese-covered, and stretch from heart to heart like the mozzarella that hangs between two pieces of pizza when you try to put one on your plate and it’s still connected to the pizza pie. For starters, my family certainly shares quality moments together hacking enormously large chunks of cheese off of a single block of cheese to stave off hunger in the ten minutes before dinner is served, effectively ruining our dinners, and allowing us to communally relish the deliciousness of the cheese. This is family custom. Cherished tradition. Always has been. Behold the power!

And I am, after all, only a visiting contributor to Erin’s blog because she too shares the understanding that cheese is such a superior, amazing, powerful food that it almost surpasses description as merely food. Cheese is a pretty integral part of our friendship. And we’re really good friends. Ask someone, it’s true!

Cheese – I’d stop the world and melt with you. I’m only ever as bleu as you. I’ve got to admit it’s getting cheddar, getting cheddar all the time. I love you cheese!

And how much do I want some cheese right now?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Whoops! I forgot to write. Ever.

It's quite true. I have neglected the fish crockpot for such a length of time that I worried I did not remember the password to get back into it and jaw at cha for a spell.

My excuses: the usual
reality television
stayed home to wash my hair....
et cetera

It's good to be back, though, even if only to babble. The first week of school for some this week, it works for me. Even when you're old enough to know your name on the first day and how to write it on a seating chart when it was passed to you, teachers still took care of clerical business, not calculus, on the first few days - locker assignments, rules, schedules, textbook assignments, so on and so forth. So it's ok if this too is a cataloging, an inventory of loose ends in my head that probably will be rolled into a knotted ball for cats to play with, rather than tied into a hammock capable of holding actual weight and providing leisure and relaxation, or knotted into a sail that will hold a force capable of moving us anywhere new and interesting and exciting, or moving us anywhere at all.

Even in describing the ways in which this writing will be worthless fluff rather than something worthwhile I am writing worthless fluff. I believe there was a toilet paper commercial that featured clouds making fluff for the toilet paper. I have missed my true calling, obviously.
Please don't squeeze the crockpot!

The cats draw near, intrigued, as my thoughts are dragged slowly across the floor, zig-zagging them into a frenzied, silent anticipation.

Things i miss right now:

Pittsburgh - the Steelers return and family and friends are swept into their season and out of life itself.

Fall - even though it is still too early to miss the east coast fall, somehow the dying light of California summer days is less bittersweet. Knowing the transition will be more calendar-imposed than dramatic by nature's own hand somehow dulls the pain of losing summer, but in so doing makes it more painful, as a proper mourning is not done for something that doesn't really seem to be gone, until suddenly, it is. And it's dark at 5 p.m. The smell of dying August humidity is totally absent. The trees are silent, free from locust hum that is the sound of fading honeysuckle. And the telltale crunch of leaves fallen under foot - missing.
What's changing in the forest here is doing so by fire. Cosmetic changes in California are done quickly and dramatically, even in the trees.

Lemonade - i cannot explain why i am in love with lemonade lately, but i am. And I am out.

Things i love right now, inexplicably, indisputably, often inordinately:

In addition to lemonade, pretzels.

But aside from that, soft rock. (More than usual, yes). I have recently become a driver of a car that contains speakers that function on both sides at all times. The salesman, Brian "Big B" Wilson (not the Beach Boy, a different Brian Wilson) laughed that I would now be driving around with the volume way up all the time, and people would know not to mess with me because i'd be too intently focused on my music, that's how in love i would be with the audio capacity of this vehicle.
In reality, nothing has made me happier than blaring soft rock in the dark with the windows cracked and me singing like i might be able to out sing the radio. "Never gonna let you go, I'm gonna hold you in my arms forever, gonna try to make up for the times, i hurt you sooooo--oo-ooo. Gonna hold your body close to mine! From this day on we're going to be together, and I swear this time, I'm never going to let you go!" Yes, I am talking about full refrain. I am talking about singing both the male and the female part of the duet. I do mean both parts equally loud. And I do mean that this time I'm going to "dedicate myself to giving mo-o-o-re."
This time you can be sure.
Shania Twain? Yep. Still the one. Is that Danny's song you want? Well, even though we ain't got money, i'm so in love with you honey, that i'd love to belt it out. I do not know why the soft rock outshines the option of say, playing something with a little more bite, but it sure does. It's hard for me to say i'm sorry. Probably because, unlike Peter Cetera, I'm not. But I will sing like i am.

Very excited kids carrying band instrument cases after practice. It's like they're walking with secret magic tucked away, like they know they've just put a unicorn in an ugly black suitcase, and they could let it out at any time to run wild, but they know decorum does not allow for it. I don't know. There is something about not being able to hide their unadulterated joy at being in the band when they know that for social advantage they might consider doing so that makes me very happy.

Also not sure why. P's and Q's. i's and t's. I very much fancy things working as they should right now.

Despite knowing I'm ruining my own sense of order by concluding conclusionless, I'm going to do just that.

Tomorrow, I better remember where i sit without needing to see the chart again.
We shall see.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Serendipity of Rabbits

Why I wish there were bunnies in my sock drawer - by Ginny DeFrank

A lot of people have been confused as to why I want to find bunnies in my sock drawer, as I had indicated in a facebook status update.
Answer appears below:

My friend Marina found these baby bunnies in her garden, hidden under a leaf big enough to hide baby bunnies. In addition to their undeniable cuteness and being nearly perfect scale to chocolate Easter bunnies, I found them incredibly attractive as something by which one could be surprised. Wouldn’t it be nice to come upon baby bunnies in one’s daily living?

Lacking a garden, I decided I would like to find them in my sock drawer, looking up in simultaneous surprise, suspicion, and fear, wondering what I wanted with the soft spot they had discovered prior to being discovered. Much like under Marina’s leaves, my sock drawer would provide comfortable shelter free from detection. Only in possibly looking for something else would I find them. What serendipity that would be, to find baby bunnies balled up like socks, promising even more warmth than the socks themselves.

My fantasy expands, of course. Once the bunnies and I become acquainted, and establish we are not threatening to one another, we will agree to harmonious and shared living. For their part, they will agree to never: chew on things which I deem of some sentimental value, poop in places mutually deemed inappropriate, or grow up, as that would be too heartbreaking to bear. Not one to find comfort in being seen as a bunny overlord, I in turn, agree to honor requests for certain fine vegetables, consider requests for trips to local points of interest like the beach or the car wash, and respect requests that they not be hugged, if my persistent need for their affection should prove too intense for any young bunny to endure. Understanding the power of their teeny ears to overwhelm the affections of human beings everywhere, this last caveat was one passed through genetic inheritance rather than practical experience. It is hard to stay wild when suffocated.

Over time, the baby bunnies would learn my habits and forgive most of my faults, so long as the swiss chard was delivered as promised and their musical discretion was respected on most occasions. They would be partial to both John Denver and Stereolab, nature lovers and dancers one and all, though hip-hop is a common human misconception of their taste, given their association with the latter portion of the genre.

Some days they would have matched a pair of socks for me to save me the minor, utterly human inconvenience of trying to match a mismatched sock. One would have a polka dot sock ready in his mouth when suddenly, from the flurry of stripes and cartoon animal patterns in socks behind him, the other would appear, wearing a polka dot sock like a party hat, covering both ears. We would smile at one another, and then I’d take the sock, and close the drawer.

The best would be the myriad opportunities for bunny surprise. Digging for the remote in the couch cushions, my hand would instead find itself tickled by warm fur, like finding a twenty dollar bill in one’s pocket when looking for a Kleenex. Wearing a wool sweater on a winter morning, one hand would find car keys in a pocket, the other, a sniffing bunny nose, followed by a tiny bunny face that would peek out of the pocket top for a better view as we walked toward coffee. And every now and again, one bunny, either wanting adventure, or sensing my mood was bad, would sneak into my purse, only to appear under my desk, eyeing me as warning that I should not react negatively or we’d both be in trouble in the workplace. And at lunch, we’d go play. Maybe sit on some grass and smell the ground where it had scent, or on a bench or sidewalk, warming ourselves on already warm concrete.

Surprise baby bunnies. A delightful notion. I am glad Marina was willing to split hares.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mama say ma ma sah ma ma kuu sah: Help me sing!

I almost called this entry "The biggest understatement and inadequate generalization in the form of a headline ever" in response to seeing a Yahoo article regarding the sudden passing of Michael Jackson that read "Superstar Died to Soon," but then I thought about what I was going to write here, and realized that the sweeping scope of what there is to say about Michael Jackson and his influence makes it hard to summarize what one wants to say about Michael Jackson in any sentiment aside from the one-word answer - "Thriller."

As crocker stalkers are aware, this blog devoted several entries (though the story remains unfinished) to exploring the cartoon-imagined-in-my-mind world of Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson living together under one roof - that of Paul's English mansion. Saddened and lonely since his divorce, Paul takes on the bankrupt and lonely Michael Jackson for one final collaboration of musical geniuses - living as roommates! Paul hopes to win back the Beatles catalog from Michael, and Michael, functioning in reality only as much as he is guided by those who may visit his fantasy world, is happy for the company of an old friend.
Prince was a visitor to, and rabblerouser in, this exclusive world, and I for one loved imagining the daily foibles of superstars who lived in such rarefied air that it sometimes made even them lightheaded.

Now I feel more obliged than ever to carry on with the tale of Prince leveling challenges at Paul and Michael, because the Michael that lives with Paul is indefatigable and, so I must believe, immortal.

The problem today became discovering Michael Jackson was not immortal in the physical world. The words spoken to me by a coworker after a seemingly harmless trip to the bathroom, "Michael Jackson died," were incongruous with my understanding of Michael Jackson. Back from the bathroom, my world order was rocked. Michael Jackson as idea, memory, commodity, influence, music, dance, insanity, reclusiveness, inventiveness, abuser, abused, amuser, amused, talent, motion, emotion, and era could not be beaten by death. Michael Jackson, with a barely audible speaking voice, could not, to my mind, be silenced. Michael Jackson, transformed by the world that so adored him to the shell of a person whose fame isolated him impossibly from the one thing he desired most - authentic love, was bigger than the body that trapped him in its recognizability and elevated him away from the common by virtue of its superior and nearly inhuman dance maneuverability.

When I heard the words "Michael Jackson died," I simply refused to believe them.

The buzz swept through our cubicles like prairie fire. Until I saw a reputable website use the word "dead" in print with my own eyes, I refused to believe it.

The experience of learning the news or almost news was incredible in its own right.
When I first heard the proclamation of Michael Jackson's death, I immediately assigned this news the same weight for my generation as a hybrid of the JFK assassination, Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe's deaths. This was the surprise toppling of a bigger-than-life icon by life itself, and it was the first time I remember thinking "that just can't be true," without any hint of "oh, that's bad news," because my refusal to accept the fact as truth was that complete. Acceptance of that rumor as truth would mean the world as I knew it had lost an icon whose presence in it was powerful and persistent.

Equally interesting to observe, as my mind raced toward denial and simultaneous cultural analysis, was the way in which such major news was being shared and processed by those in my world.
Text messages drove fingers to keyboards to type URLs to check websites to then type to then update and comment on statuses about this news, this hype this rumor, and what others had or had not posted or tweeted on twitter that could confirm or validate the word of mouth born from word of fingers. Suddenly, getting the news of something pop culturally earth-shattering was a communal activity. I took part, no doubt, as I do so now. Like switchboards lighting up when Jerry Lewis hugs a small child, facebook came alive with the banter of disbelief. Interoffice banter became quotes shared from internet banter. We were in this together.

And when the L.A. Times web page finally loaded with the headline I would not believe until I saw it with my own eyes, I too changed my facebook status. Read the one-liners of others. Some RIP messages, some sympathy for Farrah Fawcett's bump down death's totem pole, some lyrics turned epitaphs. All consumed by the news of MJ's death. The news cycle was immediate, but the public online experience of the news cycle was mere nanoseconds behind. And I did it too - judged those who dared to share tidbits about themselves that referred to anything other than MJ's death as completely out of touch. Didn't they know? This was where we came to mourn now! To elevate and deflate! To worship the fallen and wink at death! To get out our feelings and have them justified by the thumbs up icon of others whose mouseclick indicated a symbol be produced to express an emotional response was being shared or approved of by their online user persona. Childhood memories were trotted out, and welcomed to the ring by a chorus of voices who also remembered the wind in their hair on a similar ride.

It was that immediate and intense response that made me look at the internet in a new light, as well as feel confident I was not over exaggerating my response. I was not skewing dramatic, Michael Jackson, as my facebook status read, gave us the only iconic moonwalk witnessed by our generation. That same moonwalk sold us and sells us: Pepsi, red leather, penny loafers, Magic Johnson, Weird Al Yankovic, Geico insurance, State Farm insurance, Disneyland, Disneyworld, Justin Timberlake, Usher, the 3rd dimension, Egypt, the Super Bowl, the occult, Macaulay Culkin, the worth of unpaired gloves, knife fights, gun fights, midnights, Van Halen,
Vincent Price, world peace, Diana Ross, and his entire family. Michael Jackson is the star who collaborated with Paul McCartney. The guy who wrote "Hey Jude" wanted to work with him. He was that big.

He was so big, in fact, that in gauging reactions to his death and talking to friends (electronically, of course) I realized Michael Jackson probably has many of the same characteristics of a language. He is a common tongue for those of a certain age range. Breaks ice, guides one to safety, gets one past check points in new territories. You know, you HAVE to know, a little Michael Jackson. At least conversational Michael Jackson. Most are Michael Jackson proficient. Many, fluent.
Those are my favorites. We converse in dance for hours and relish the long vowels of common phrases like "HEEEheee hoo!" and "OOOOOOOH!" jubilant invective, boisterous agreement with the speaker's point of view.

I realized that Michael Jackson has been there for me.
I remember watching the Billie Jean video in awe with my family, while we had MTV in the rental apartment on vacation, and had the chance to consume new digestible avenues of pop culture.
In grade school, a Michael Jackson medley show was choreographed and performed at recess, as those seeking all the glory and then some possible in the constriction of a grade school uniform could do. The costumes matched, by dress code, and so did the gloves, by sharing. At the time, we were unstoppable. The mime in the mirror choreography to "Man in the Mirror" an inspired touch in a wholly Vegas-caliber revue.
In college, the discovery of "Stop the Love you Save," a less popular, but very catchy Jackson 5 song whose lyrics we disputed while sober, danced to while drunk. Then, as now, you can fill any dance floor with white people who suddenly think they can dance if you strike up the MJ. His gifts are so vast that surprisingly, some find they can dance. If only they'd tried sooner.
When I studied abroad, the bar that began our nights was Jacko's, a bar devoted in theme and enthusiasm to the career and allure of Michael Jackson. The attention to detail in the mirror with an MJ silhouette in it paid off. American kids flocked. Michael Jackson! That's ours! We recognize him too! Buenas! Un Thriller, por favor.
And at the end of the night, when the Tequila and god-knows-what of the Thrillers had set in, we'd carouse-shout our way through the streets until we found the Irish Rover, the Irish bar that played American dance music. It was there that we were reminded to "Blame it on the Boogie" by Jacko himself time and time again. "I just can't, I just can't, I just can't control myself." In the safe embrace of MJ, we didn't even try.
After college, Michael Jackson was even more crucial to announcing the party, declaring the atmosphere festive, and inviting the dance to begin. Man in the Mirror often called us to self-evaluate once more.

I spoke to my brother about the death and explained that I could not believe it. Could not allow myself to. He pointed out that it wasn't really surprising, given Michael Jackson's personal struggles.
Michael Jackson does have the unfortunate Greek tragedy element to his story, that his fame gave him adoration but kept him from love, stole his childhood so profoundly that he spent the rest of life trying to get it back by never leaving what he never had (possibly to the grave detriment of others). For someone obsessed with Peter Pan, it was the power of Tinker Bell to live fueled by public adoration that he had, but Peter's existence he envied.

I agree with my brother, it is not surprising. But for my consideration of Michael Jackson as a pop cultural force greater than the humanity of any one human being, it is shocking to hear the human basis for the machine is gone. I hope he is somewhere happier. And dancing.
No one wants to be defeated.

I suggested a Michael Jackson medley be, if not added to my brother's impending wedding reception playlist, then expanded upon to include more of his work. I was assured MJ already figured prominently. After all, there's one surefire way to get people to dance like there is no other option, because there isn't - play some Michael Jackson. And then play some more.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Much Too Late for Goodbyes

In the past two days I've had interesting experiences feeling the after effects of music and sleep, good and bad.

Yesterday's music made me euphoric and capable. Today's music, after last night's sleep, made me tear up at the coffee counter. And by the end of the day, a jerk on the freeway made me ready for death metal (really, this guy was provoking me by offering mock applause while tailgating and then passing me), but I ended up settling instead for John Denver, yogurt, and the becoming resolved to my inability to buy a plane ticket efficiently, the acceptance of which led me to write this.

Which I meant to do yesterday when I was excited for no reason except starting my day by hearing "Steppin' Out" as the first song on the radio. After Steppin' Out, coffee in tow, I heard "Too much time on my hands" by Styx, which lately and inexplicably, I find myself looooving. I think it's because of lyrics like "I've got no place to go and all night to get there" and the musical stylings that make this song an (in my opinion) obvious precursor to "Mr. Roboto." Um, and probably the driving synthesizer bassline. Yeah....that gets me every time.

So I've been generally loving this song on the radio when, WHOOPS - in looking for a youtube video to share this find with crock pot readers, I discovered there is no WAY i don't love this song. The keyboardist is appareled in a manner very similar to Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney in the "Say, Say, Say" video, which I appreciate, and which offers another tie-in to a topic later in this post, Paul McCartney, and, if you've read this blog at all, you may be familiar with my obsession/animated television show idea about MJ and Sir Paul living under one roof.

Again, once again, the crockpot is a vortex into which all things spin into making perfect sense.
Also, for anyone who is really taken with the literal videos that have become popular email forwards, please note time stamp 1:45 of this video and the lyric to image literal interpretation. And know that I love it.

Sidenote - is Sam Rockwell the lead singer of Styx? A resemblance. Have I brought this up before?

"Too Much Time on my Hands" is a new addition to the list of "hey, maybe i love that song and didn't know it" songs, but it is nowhere near the instant euphoria king of the list at present, "The Boys are Back in Town."

I don't know why, but when that song comes on, I am ready for the drinks to flow and the blood to spill - because if the boys wanna fight you better let 'em!
Love it. You will catch me singing along in the car.

Given this oomph of a start to my day yesterday, I found myself, quite unlike now, able to accomplish things that needed doing. And sometime in the middle of the day, out of nowhere in particular, the song "Much Too Late for Goodbyes" popped into my head.

I cannot tell you the last time I've heard that song on the radio. It's a Julian Lennon song that I remember loving, but I realized I hadn't heard it in years. But thinking about the song more, I realized yes, it was great. It stayed stuck all day, and the more it replayed in my head, the more I began to think that it sounded like a Paul McCartney song. Especially with the quirky instrumental response to the refrain "It's much too late for good byes" that sounds something like "waah waah wuh." Too bad so sad expressed musically, but lightheartedly, but with lyrics that are actually heavy. Suddenly it struck me that John Lennon's son had written a Paul McCartney song, and I began trying to put pieces together in my grand conspiracy for McCartney mansion.

"Hey Jude" was written for Julian, with "Jules" having been changed to "Jude," so maybe Paul was a major player in Julian's life, and music was the natural next step.

When I went to Wikipedia, I discovered confirmation that the Breakfast with the Beatles radio show where I'm sure I'd learned the above history of "Hey Jude" was in fact, correct in saying that the song was for Julian, and I also learned that maybe my hunch was not so crazy as this quote popped to life:
"Paul and I used to hang about quite a bit ... more than Dad and I did. We had a great friendship going and there seems to be far more pictures of me and Paul playing together at that age than there are pictures of me and my dad."
So, that found, I became drawn in even further to the Paul/Julian relationship, which makes me want to draw Julian into my fantasy cartoon show. Julian, welcome! And thanks for the great song.

Last night's sleep was bizarre in all respects. I had a dream about a former high school classmate in which she was catching me up on her life, but I was able to watch a montage of her life and love story as she told it. She lived in a beautiful glass front apartment with a bed that overlooked the Pittsburgh skyline. And she fell in love with an older man who shared her passion for the exotic yet simple - there was a montage of them dancing down a hill in a park - out of place in period costume hats -, drinking wine on a picnic far beyond the scope of the picnics of those around them, laughing and looking at things scientifically.

This individual was a high school classmate rather than one of my very best friends, yet I've managed to invent an un-reality for her which she shared with me like I really needed to know. This was puzzling enough to wake me. And when I went back to sleep, I had one of those dreams so intense you wake up crying, and with the sense that what has happened in your mind has happened in the world. A jolt to the day in a more difficult way. Not steppin' out, but more like steppin' in it. And the it is your own brain! Confusing. And for the morning commute, my leftover dream dust made even happy songs sad.
But I guess back to post number two or so, back when i was a loyal contributor, happiness is a sad song.
And if Paul McCartney is to be believed, sad songs are often happy to hear.

I'm off to bed, hoping for a better sleep starter for tomorrow! We'll see what comes, and if any other high school acquaintances have fallen in love with fictional older men. Hope they're happy!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

4: Piss and Vinegar, the corruption of the crockpot

Hello folks,
I am back without organized thought and with overflowing angst for no good reason, but trying to write something as my negligence in writing following Lent's finish has reached a level I would term "alarming."
So I'm trying to get back in the swing of things, even all my swings are whiffs at pitches. Baseball!

I think I may be in one of those stages where I'd be better served to live closer to a batting cage, as I seem to have a lot of negative energy in need of release. Unfortunate and unappealing, particularly to myself, but like Prego, it's in there!

There are some fairly clear indications of contributing factors - change, the new unreliability of things I rely upon: my car, my body, my free time, my television programming schedule in a summer hiatus...a mess.

A few remaining, new episodes of Pushing Daisies are going to air. Instead of being pleased by this development as I find the show to be, like Chuck, an underrated 8 p.m.ish time slot addition, smarter and more pleasant than many give it credit for as they are unable to overlook some of the kitschy, corny parts of these shows, I was flummoxed.

What?!? Is this show back on? Is my DVR lying in listing this episode as "New"? I can't emotionally re-invest in this. I was just getting over that show while confronting Anna Friel's picture all over the Land of the Lost marketing landscape! Now how am I supposed to feel?!?

Again, a reaction far more intense than the situation mandated, but the piss and vinegar instinct is strong in me these days.

As such, and to get some steam out of the valve, I'm just going to devote some time to bitching and moaning, as I seem to be exceptionally good at these exercises now.

Also, may I recommend the song "Let me Go" by Heaven 17 to everyone.
It's very high on my list these days.

Ways to Annoy Me with a Vanity Plate -
Use your vanity plate to reiterate the type of vehicle you are driving a mere 4-6 inches from the silver lettering indicating the model of your car, and probably 1-2 inches below a trunk seal indicating the make of your car. This is particularly annoying when done by people with sporty cars.
Stuff like "Rob's Z" on a Nissan Z. Or "Kims 3 C rez" on a BMW 3 series - really? I want to get a "NO SHIT" sign that would attach to my driver's side sun visor that, when confronted with one of these cars, I could fold down as if blocking the sun in the window, when actually I want to let Rob and Kim know that I was really aware of the type of car they were driving by the branding work their car manufacturer's did so that there would be NO WAY i could follow their car and not know exactly what type of car it is.
Things with numbers strike me as particularly dumb too for some reason.
Like, "JonEz RAV4"
OH OH OH OHHhhhh. Good. Thanks so much Johnny, or is it Joanie? I'm not sure on the phoenetics of that "O" there, but thank goodness I AM sure which rav we're talking about. Would hate to think that's a Rav 6 here when it's a 4.

It's such a waste of a vanity plate!!!
Why pay extra money to give me information I already know because it's already all over the back of your car?!?!!?!!!!! Tell me something new!
Like "Robble" or "Z yr Pants" or something that makes me look twice. Even "Rob ZomB" or "Sleeper" for the Z. I dunno. But give me something to think about other than how unoriginal your use of vanity plate capabilities are.

Category 2: ECO WARRIOR condescension.

Nothing makes me wish for a fleet of Hummer Limos to clog up the car pool lane faster than eco-friendly cars that use the vanity plate to righteously reinforce the virtue of their eco-friendly car to everyone else on the road. Again - please refer to the NO SHIT visor folks.

You know, SmartCar driver, I didn't need your "GaS Less" license plate to know that you were driving that car for reasons other than your love of enclosed spaces. The only other time I've seen a car that size is when it's being lifted by two dudes in Scandanavia in the Mentos commercial, so I have got to assume that it takes less gas than the rest of these monstrosities on the road, including mine, unless you are the living embodiment of a freshmaker, which, I'll assume because your license plate doesn't say that, you're not. But thanks for clarifying. It's not just the car that's smart, it's the driver too! Got it. Yes.

And Priii, the giant yellow uglifying stickers California assigns you to permit your use of car pool lanes do enough to let me know of your environmental virtue far before you leave me behind, impatiently waiting in a line for entrance to an L.A. freeway, with your "50 MPG" license plate blazing it's way to a careful merge that, like your stewardship of the earth, is far more considerate than the rest of us could ever be. I get it.

I want a license plate to say "EcoWank." Because, as you silently toodle past, your NPR blaring and your free trade coffee still warm in your reusable cup, I am pissed off that you are passing me, pissed off that you are so damned smug about your positive impact, and PISSED OFF that you're smart enough to have a conscience about your global impact but apparently not considerate enough to use your vanity plate for something biting or accusatory outright, or hilarious in any fashion! Come on! If you give to the pledge drive every year, can't you at least pledge to drive something with a sense of humor?
Like, how about a smart car owner with "HIGH IQ" or "SMRT E PNTS" or "MENSA"?
Or a Prius that says "ITS A GAS" or "POST US" or "CNTANK-RUS"?
Really, it's a case of me hating things I should love.

Like children or kittens or positive environmental change.

And speaking of children.......

If you buy a loved one a car, don't put MOMTAXI on it!
Or "MomBus" unless she's a geometry teacher driving a minivan that looks like a rhombus.
Or "MamasGrlz"
Or, the combined sin of identifying your mom and the model of car she's driving.

Other things I don't understand - using windshields to either line up cartoon cut-outs of your family, including pets (seems like you're doing a good bit of legwork for people who will end up on "To Catch a Predator" who may be in the Costco parking lot at the same time as you), and people who put stickers memorializing friends, family, or loved ones in their rear windshield.
Stuff like

In loving memory of Roger "Cookie" Linder
1952 - 2002
Always here in our hearts

And sometimes our rear defroster...

I do not understand the circumstances in which a mobile memorial is a preferred method of rememberance. Unless you were a librarian on a book-mobile or died giving blood on a blood-mobile, I prefer my loving memories to not be in decal form.
Could just be personal preference.

One other area of personal piss & vinegar car annoyance -

License plate frames that indicate one is: spoiled, a princess, a spoiled princess, loved and spoiled, daddy's princess, daddy's spoiled princess, spoiled rotten, daddy's rotten princess, or Princess Spoiled, daddy's little rotten girl.

License plate frames that indicate one is: a bitch, a crazy bitch, PMSing, PMSing like a bitch, a crazy bitch with PMS, a bitch with crazy PMS, PMS-crazy, bitch please.

License plate frames that indicate one hates the opposite sex, specifically those they are most intimately connected to, i.e. SPOUSE.

"Dog and wife missing- if found, please return the dog" (saw this last weekend on a car for real).

"Honk if you see my husband- so I can speed up before he finds the car!"

"My girlfriend doesn't know I'm a pimp - you'll never tell!"

"Boyz are dumb - girlz rule!" (really? how about learning to spell, girlfriend!)


My new vanity plate?

"Pss n Vngr"

Beep beep beep beep YEAH!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

3: Gonna Take Some Time to Do the Things...

The gracious and generous gods of have opened their box once again to unleash a spell of wonderment upon me that brings me, rather than chaos, great joy. I was listening to “Africa” by Toto when I noticed that the song was on Toto’s album “Toto IV.” Intrigued by this Roman numeral, I had to click into the link for more information to see if that album was a greatest hits compilation, or if they really had three album’s-worth of songs prior to “Africa,” the song I’d always considered to be their penultimate hit. What I learned was that yes, “Africa” was huge, but prior to that Toto had done a lot of session work, and even some instrumental songs. But it was what came next that was the most surprising and pleasing at the same time – after “Toto IV,” which was to be their biggest success, they went back to session work and both helped write and perform Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” YES! It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from youuuuuu! Like perhaps the firm grasp of the undead, just after miiiiiiid-night!

Finding out that Toto had a hand in “Thriller” is infinitely pleasing to me, as it is like discovering great songwriters sharing work. It’s like finding out Michael Jackson needed help, and that someone as great as Toto (really, think I’m overstating here? Go listen to “Africa” two times in a row and get back to me) helped! Toto helped MJ!

That’s way different than MJ helping Rockwell out with some vocals on “Somebody’s Watching Me.”

For those crocker stalkers who have been around from the start, this is a bit like the Bowie “Electric Blue” super connection. Pleasing.

For those of you who are newer to my ramblings, may I say this is a bit like yesterday, when I discovered that STEVIE WONDER WROTE THE MUSIC TO “TEARS OF A CLOWN” and GAVE IT TO SMOKEY ROBINSON at a party.

Why this was also earth-shattering? “Tears of a Clown” is an insanely good song. Insanely, barely legal, it’s really that good, good song. It is a song that, any time it comes on, makes me giddy, but also makes me wonder (and now Stevie Wonder) how one person could make one thing that good. Because, for those who are unaware, Smokey Robinson is a genius. But this tidbit, casually dropped by the morning dj after playing the song, that it was Stevie Wonder’s music? One person didn’t make that one thing that good. TWO geniuses are responsible. Two. Love it.

You need help! A great message! People don’t do it alone! You do need help to make something good even better.


No man is an island.

Islands in the stream – THAT is what we are!

(again example of something great being made greater by someone else great! Yay teamwork! Yay Dolly and Kenny! Now please stop having plastic surgery.)

I gotta get back in the stew. My apologies for a long absence.

No good excuses.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2: Yinz Should Go See Star Trek

So I went to see the Star Trek movie last night, and may I say it was light years ahead of my expectations in its awesomeness. My expectation that it might be a passable movie was primarily based on the positive reviews of critics. My expectations for awesomeness did not come about until the positive review of a friend who deemed the movie “awesome.” I actually wrote to ask if there was any sarcasm in that estimation of the movie’s worth that I was missing. I was assured it was genuine.

And so the stars aligned.

A friend used facebook to let the world know he was looking for a movie companion for Star Trek. Suddenly, I was on board for what would end up being a summer blockbuster thrill ride that actually lived up to the hype of the term “summer blockbuster thrill ride.” It was good! It was fun! It was good fun!

My friend and I left with the impression that, not only had star trek lived up to its hype, but it also served as the redemption of the summer movie thrill ride blockbuster slate that had been sullied by the Wolverine movie.

Now, I love the X-Men stories and characters, but I had been warned that the new Wolverine movie, despite what we’d all like to see, was actually lackluster. I lowered my expectations, and figured that because I intended to see the movie on a day after I planned on drinking excessively, I would be entertained and pleased as long as the movie theater had a functioning Coke fountain. Even with my lowered expectations and egregious hangover and large Coca-Cola and multiple flashes of Hugh Jackman’s bum, I was disappointed. Multiple flashes!!!

So discovering that Star Trek was funny, action packed, suspenseful, engaging, and larger than life really was a delight.

But more than rediscovering the powers movies have to be escapist romps, Star Trek led me back to banging the noisy gong of Pittsburgh love. Yep, that’s right – Spock is from Pittsburgh. Not Leonard Nimoy, let me be clear (he’d probably be the mayor, by the way, were he to have come from Pittsburgh. The city might adopt the Star Trek emblem as a representation of the confluence of the three rivers – who are we kidding). But Zachary Quinto – that guy. That Spock. That Heroes character Sylar. I saw him in high school musicals! Often! He went to the all-boys school that was the counterpart to my all-girls school. True story.

Zach Quinto actually was, even then, a standout among the acting talent of my high school peers. The kid had a little more talent in him than the other swashbucklers in the Pirates of Penzance, I must say, and I’m glad he took that talent and ran with it, much like James Harrison took the ball and ran with it, all the way to the end zone during the most recent Steeler Super Bowl victory. (I almost skipped the comparison, but it was just too perfect to pass up). His role in Star Trek is also far more substantial than I expected from what I’d seen in previews. It’s his story as much as, if not more than, Kirk’s. And Quinto is up to the task. And so, as a Pittsburgh native, he has now achieved an even bigger status and probably higher position in the long list of “you know he/she’s from Pittsburgh?” fame and infamy list that every Pittsburgher learns by osmosis during their time in the city of champions.

And it is for just such occasions, when someone with Pittsburgh roots does something wonderful, that we trot out the list, and casually mention the Pittsburgh affiliation any and every time we can. Even if it’s something that has made someone infamous, we’re just as eager to claim it. If Pittsburgh had had a Pittsburgh Strangler, no one from Boston would be able to visit the city without hearing upwards of 200 times how much better the Pittsburgh Strangler was than the Boston Strangler. We just need to make sure no one is forgetting that Pittsburgh really is the best city in the world, and don’t you DARE think of us a smoke covered monument to urban decay. That would make you a jagoff. (Note to readers, “jagoff” is a Pittsburgh word for a person of unsavory character, like a hybrid of jackass, asshole, and douchebag).

The Pittsburgh pride, as I may have mentioned in a similarly glowing and excited post about the highly underrated movie Adventureland, and my pleasant surprise in discovering it was about Pittsburgh, is something that you really cannot half ass. It’s tradition, and nearly a legal requirement of citizenship in Pittsburgh that you make sure that everyone knows how proud you are of Pittsburgh every chance you get. And it’s really not until you’re infuriated to see the word “Pittsburg” in print in something written or published by highly educated or reputable sources that you know you’ve achieved a status as a Pittsburgher who will never let anyone forget you are one. So you get more involved with the list.

I also think that the farther away you physically are from Pittsburgh, the more intense your need to express your Pittsburgh pride may become. There’s some sort of Golden Triangle ratio in there to be sure. I haven’t quite perfected the math, but it’s in there.

Just look at the fans at every San Diego Chargers home game against the Steelers. If it weren’t for the dominant sunshine in the picture (very rare in Pittsburgh), one might guess the game was in Pittsburgh.

As a Pittsburgher in Los Angeles, my loyalty to the list and my new status as an L.A. resident have come into conflict on occasion. Actual interaction with a list member puts the onus on the non-list member to let the list member know how appreciated and recognized they are as a Pittsburgher.
We know. We have not forgotten. You are one of us.

In L.A., this comes into direct conflict with the prevailing attitude that you should be as unimpressed by celebrities that you may see on the streets as you possibly can be. The bigger their stardom, the less you should care about seeing them stoop to common man status to consume food or see a movie or shop for lawn furniture in the same store as you – Joe Schmo (the original Joe Schmo from the t.v. show of the same name was from Pittsburgh – the guy that got duped, him. Yep!).

So when I happened to be in the same coffee shop as Pittsburgh’s own Michael Keaton? I was torn.
Do I interrupt his calm breakfast meeting with a good looking blonde to tell him I’m from Pittsburgh and I love him as does everyone else from Pittsburgh – my unspoken duty – or do I defer to L.A. custom and ignore him?

I split the difference. Walking near their table, I said hello when I passed by. Which one should do, as a friendly Pittsburgher. I mean, what am I, a jagoff?

He returned my hello with a very pleasant hello. And so he moved up my personal Pittsburgher list to "confirmed nice guy from Pittsburgh."Man, he’s great.

When I told my brother, who has a knowledge of, and love for, Pittsburgh that far exceed my own, that I had seen Michael Keaton, he was horrified, horrified that I had not identified myself as a Pittsburgher. I did feel as though I had failed him, and the city, in some way. But I remember having had Pittsburgher list regret. And realized that an invasive breakfast interruption, Pittsburgher or not, was not the right move.

I was once on a plane with Merril Hoge, former Steeler powerhouse, and gentleman beloved to many fans. A good-looking, affable guy, Merril Hoge was on the popular Pittsburgh WDVE classic rock morning show quite a bit, and it was there that I learned of his time ranching and roping prior to taking up football - even more exotic.

When I got on the plane, Merril was in first class. I thought it was him, but was not sure, and continued to my seat in coach. Once we were airborne, Merril Hoge came back to coach with us. He went all the way to the back of the plane, to a row that was completely empty. The stewardess seemed to be apologizing for the behavior of a woman in first class who apparently, had been trying to get a little more personal with Merril Hoge than he liked, perhaps angling toward his tight end. After agonizing about whether to speak to him or not, I decided I had to – it was Merril Hoge!

So I turned around, partially stood up and asked, “Excuse me, are you Merril Hoge?”
“Yes,” he very politely responded.
“I’m from Pittsburgh and we love you so, I just had to say hello. Thanks.”

He nodded very politely with a look that seemed to indicate familiarity with this common Pittsburgh practice.

And even though I was glad to have talked to him and completed my duty, after the fact I felt a little bad raising his profile when he was actively trying to just sleep on the plane like everyone else, going so far as to sacrifice leg room for the sake of anonymity.

It was then that I realized that though our Pittsburgh pride and communal mental list is well intentioned, its use was a privilege, not a right.

So yes, yes I do stand by my decision not to fully attack Michael Keaton.
But if I happened to bump into him tomorrow, there’s a good chance I might bring up the Pens game that’s currently going on.
I mean, our hockey team is in the playoffs.

Is Pittsburgh a great city, or what?

Lets go Pens!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Square ONE: Welcome Back Potters

I nearly forgot my login name and password.

I’m back!
Because I have to be. Because there are too many songs stuck in my head (see below). Because I have inappropriate thoughts too often. Because I was encouraged. Because I was discouraged. Because a loyal crocker stalker and awesome friend (CARRIE ROBINSON I’m crockin’ at YOU) made me a crocker stalker fishcrockpot t-shirt! And it’s green! And so fantastic! And publicity!

I’d be a bastard not to write again.

I’m a bastard anyway.
But I’m here.
And I’m back with the attitude that I feel I’ve only seen on an episode of Fame where some musical theater kid is singing “GOTTA DANCE!”

I feel it too.
GOTTA WRITE! Even if it’s crap. Woo!

I just googled “gotta dance,” and let me tell you, discovering this has made me very happy:

I will never, NEVER be as talented as that dog. But I have access to the same internet as the people who put him at my fingertips. And I’ve already seen this video. It was an email forward once! All the better.
Let’s do this!

I started a draft of a giant, unwieldy, rather negative post on either Monday or Tuesday of this week. I was rusty. It was called "Live and Let Die." I was a mess of conflicting moods: peeved, inspired, manic, meek, and ready to show no mercy to the readership and blurt it all out there.
Luckily, I think time constraints and my inner knowledge of how rambling and boring what I was writing really was made me check myself before I wrecked myself.

But not today!

I spent much of today resorting to the inner sanctum of my headphones while at work, and once my ears were out of the office air stream, I tuned my station to “Howard Jones Radio.” At times, Howard Jones radio is capable of triggering an escapist montage in my mind that enables me either to do work, or drown out distractions to internet surfing, or imagine myself starring in any number of videos from the 80s. A boon in any case.
Today I was enjoying probably the third Pet Shop Boys song of the morning when I considered the name Pet Shop Boys, and thought it was an odd one. If they were Pet Shop Boys back in the day, what would they be now?

So came my idea to write an open letter to the Pet Shop Boys in the language of Howard Jones Radio.

May 7, 2009

Dear Pet Shop Boys,

I write to you now as I enjoy some of your finest work. Though you came of age artistically at a time before I came of age in any regard, I must assume that now you – like me – have grown up. My next question then, naturally, is are you now the Pet Shop Men? My next question then, desperately, is are you available? Would you like to go out sometime? We could get together for drinks or something…see where the night takes us. The west end perhaps?

Did you catch that? That’s the look. That’s the look. The look of love. I mean, yes, I know this is out of the blue, but I’ve thought about you before. A lot. But I was always too shy shy to do anything about it. Here’s the truth though - I need you. I need you, by day and by night. You are obsession. You’re my obsession. What do you want me to do?

It just seems that our sensibilities are so well matched – the enjoyment of electronically delightful beats, the tendency to ask ourselves lengthy rhetorical questions or deliver monologues and sidebars to no one in particular in the middle of something else, the love of Willie Nelson – things can only get better.

See, you guys are always on my mind, and every time I chicken out of just, you know, putting myself out there and seeing if you’re free sometime, I ask myself what have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this? How am I going to get through? Maybe I’m not worth your time.

I know that it would be a bizarre love triangle with three of us, but I think we could make it equilateral – just like a dream. I’ve got the brains, you’ve got the brawn. I’m looking for a partner, someone who gets things fixed.

Ok, ok, I’m probably being too pushy – a.k.a., love my way. But really, what is love, anyway? Does anybody love anybody anyway?

You know I can’t believe it when I hear that you won’t see me.

Wait, I’m doing it again – I’m letting my doubts get the better of me. It’s the reflex. You haven’t even read this
how could you have responded already! I’m sorry but I’m just thinking of the right words to say. But please know that I’m lying when I say I don't care about this. I may have found you too late in life, perhaps. Musically. Emotionally. I mean, since you went away, I’ve been hangin’ around, wondering why I’m feeling down. But I haven’t really asked if you’d even come back to my life in a more solid manner than song. I’ve just let myself keep feeling fascination. Keep listening to your songs. I can’t say no one is to blame anymore. I’m to blame. And what have you done to deserve this?

Here it is. The truth – I need an everlasting love. I need a friend and a lover divine. A man. Or two. Men who were once boys. But who are now men. With or without hats. At work or at play – men.

So, if you’re free some time, I’d love to get together. I would need advanced notice as I have several pet allergies and would need to take some Claritin if you guys are coming straight from work. That stuff really works! I’ve seen the difference and it’s getting better all the time.

As for your response, I know you’re busy so I’ll wait for it – give it some time. Because I truly do believe this is something worth waiting for. Something special. Something pure. What have I done to deserve this?

Just wrote a letter, that’s all.

May the chains of our love be unbroken! Or at least this chain letter.
From fan girl to fan woman,


Sunday, April 12, 2009

47: EASTER!!!!

We made it! It is Easter! Woohoo!

The cookies have returned, and I have eaten myself silly. Thanks Girl Scouts. Rows and rows of your fundraising devices now line my stomach, and will soon cushion my ass. And technically, I don't have to be writing this right now! But I needed to acknowledge Easter and making it to here. And I had intended to finish the cliffhanger that was yesterday's entry, and then ask the readership what would come next. But instead I find myself announcing that by virtue of making it to a day where I could take the day off, I'm going to have to write that another day! Which is good, because that means - fishcrockpot - I don't know how to quit you!

But I can today.
Because, stuffed with Easter foods, too much food, too many cookies, and too much dread of a new week, I am going to watch The Sound of Music! With commercials! Lazy and worthless!
This movie is on every Easter and I LOVE IT.

The Sound of Music and the Big Lebowski are tied for my all time favorite movies. So tonight, because the Big Lebowski is not frequently shown on ABC Family, I'm going to enjoy the hills that are alive, with The Sound of Music.

Maria is just about to be told that the convent is not a place to hide (FORESHADOWING - IN ACT III IT IS EXACTLY THAT!), and to climb every mountain (WHICH SHE ALSO DOES LATER!). This movie - my GOD i love it.
And the production design! I want to frolic in trees wearing curtains and singing! And I don't know if I have a bigger crush on Maria or Captain Von Trapp. But their wedding is still approaching. That train! The 40-mile-long wedding dress train. And the Salzberg music festival. And nuns tampering with Nazi car parts!!! Christopher Plummer's stares!

AH! I love this movie!
Climb every mountain! Ford every stream.

I will follow every rainbow until I find my dream, maybe tomorrow.
But for tonight - - -

So long. Farewell. Auf wiedesehen goodbye!

To everyone who has taken this journey with me and supported me along the way, I thank you for carrying me over the Alps of self-doubt when I was too tired or scared to carry myself. Hope you visit us again in this fishy mission.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

46: And the temptation has never been greater

The temptation to phone it in on this entry, the temptation to eat all the cookies in my house that I've been saving for tomorrow's breakfast for 40 days, the temptation to eat all the crumbled Heath bar pieces that are supposed to end up on a cake for tomorrow's Easter dessert and be fine with a lackluster cake, the temptation to let myself off the hook for this blog because the big hook I've been on is about to end. The Temptations themselves - Get ready, cause here I come.

But I cannot, in good conscience, intentionally crank out crap on what is supposed to be the final big push here. The Saturday before the ultimate deadline - Easter. I will say I have consumed quite a bit of Cool Whip during my consideration of the many ways in which I could conceivably wimp out, but I cannot let myself be a great big quitter. One - we're so close to making it! Two - there is unfinished business in the crockpot! Three - remember that tease from the Isaac Asimov entry just four days ago in post number 42? That still needs to be resolved. What was so fascinating about him that I found out there? Let's see if we can't get down to business and sort through the unfinished business.

Previously, on post 25 of the crockpot, the McCartney Mansion was visited by the shadowy figure of Prince, debonair deal maker, and Jeopardy! victor over Sir Paul himself. Michael Jackson and Bruce, the guy in the surgeon's outfit in Prince's Revolution, had left to play Keytar Hero. Paul and Prince were left to do battle, and the battle went to Prince. When the final jeopardy question involved a Minnesota loon, Prince was more than happy to say he knew all about it. As a result, Prince gets to choose another game to be played another day, because he likes games quite a bit.

No one has heard from Prince since. And Bruce is no longer making house calls.
The McCartney Mansion went back to business as usual.

Lately, Paul has been listening to a lot of "Mr. Roboto." [aside: how has Eugene Levy never been part of a Styx spoof? I think he very closely resembles the lead singer]
Michael Jackson, in preparation for Easter, has been singing "Bunny Be Hiding Something" all week long, hoping that the bunny indeed will be hiding something around the house for him to find. By mid-week, he'd purchased four boxes of Peeps and announced that he had named them all Tom. When Paul came to breakfast on Wednesday morning, Peeps lined the window sills. Michael, who'd been hiding under the table, popped up and sang "I always feel like, somebody's watching me" to Paul.

Paul explained he'd rather consume his Cream of Wheat without edible animal cruelty reminders adorning the walls, and certainly without peeping Toms all over the place. Michael said he understood, and then hurried off, saying he remembered he'd left something yellow in the shower he'd forgotten about.

Paul was actually kind of fond of the Peeps, as he liked their sunny marshmallow dispositions, but had to make sure Michael knew that hiding under the table before he had pants on was not an appropriate roommate to roommate gesture in the name of fun.

Paul wished he could hide eggs for Michael to find, as eager as he was to partake of childhood activities. And Paul was an expert at hiding things, what with the marijuana he'd hidden high and low (mostly high), back in this heyday. Or hayday, as the case may have been. One of his most famous arrests had actually been a victory. He had served as his own decoy for his own delivery. While his suitcase may not have made it through security, no one heard anything about the dummy piano that had been shipped to a studio and immediately disassembled. Even the black keys of the eighty-eights held surprises inside. That was always a point of pride for Paul - everyone thought the lyrics held hidden messages when, like everything else they did, the music was home to the real power.

Maybe he'd hide a basket for Michael, somewhere obvious he'd be sure to go, like the pogo stick closet. Or maybe tomorrow they could have bacon with breakfast, one of Michael's favorites.

Not many knew that the real sword Heather Mills dangled over Paul was not his abuse of her, but rather, abuse of pork. One of the world's most famous vegetarians was like everyone else on earth - in love with bacon. And when Heather figured out he loved bacon more than he loved her, she began to realize her time was limited and she'd better get a compelling argument together to get out of there with a fortune. And that's when she began operation Helter Skelter, assembling many rumors to spread through the gossip Mills. But she knew the sacred cow she held over Paul's head, ready to slaughter at any moment, was the man's love of crispy bacon. And on his birthday, crispy bacon run through the yellow of his over-easy egg, co-mingling creatures of land and air in one delicious bite.
One shot of that forkful and Paul together, and he would be sunk like a toad in a hole.

Paul was considering a trip to the Cadbury store to procure something small for Michael. He didn't want to send anyone though, he wanted to go himself - catch a little of that outside world engaged in acts of joy like binge purchases of chocolate for binge consumption. As he sipped the last dregs of his coffee, he flipped through disguise ideas in his mind. It couldn't be something from old tymey entertainment without Michael in on the gag. It couldn't be anything from Sergeant Pepper as he'd get asked for Cirque de Soleil tickets to the Love show. And he couldn't go as Ringo, as he might get stopped for questions. His Ringo voice was awful. Surprisingly bad for someone with such a gifted ear. He did a better Louis Armstrong imitation than he did Ringo.
Eugene, the estate's mechanic, entered the kitchen, his coveralls grease-stained, hoping to find some lemonade in the refrigerator.
"Lemonade hits the spot, eh Sir?"
"You bet, Eugene. Hey, lemme ask you, do you have any more of those coveralls around?"
"Sure, extra pairs in the gardening and pyrotechnics shed. You have someone new coming on staff?"
"Oh, I don't know, thinking 'bout it though."
"More than enough pants - and work - to go around, Sir!"
"Indeed, Eugene. Indeed. You have a nice Easter."
"I'm Jewish, Sir."
"Ah. Well then, a sexy Seder."
"I will Sir. Oh, you know, I will."

Eugene winked and went back the way he came, and Paul was left thinking he might go under coverall afterall on this mission. His mind flashed to images of singers in coveralls. Billy Joel and Uptown Girl. Then there it was, clear as day - what had been bothering him all these years. The Styx lead singer in a gray robot suit suddenly transformed into the Styx lead singer in a purple jumpsuit. And it had shoulder pads. That was it. That was the subtlety that Asimov had described that he had refused.

It was all obvious to him now. Styx had taken the idea and run with it. Thank you very much, Mr. Roboto. Life is all just a - Grand Illusion. The song stuck in his head.
Paul had chocolate to find and a bone to pick. He headed for the shed, robe flapping in the breeze.

No one saw the dumbwaiter move.

In December 1974, the former Beatle Paul McCartney approached Asimov and asked him if he could write the screenplay for a science-fiction movie musical. McCartney had a vague idea for the plot and a small scrap of dialogue; he wished to make a film about a rock band whose members discover they are being impersonated by a group of extraterrestrials. The band and their impostors would likely be played by McCartney's group Wings, then at the height of their career. Intrigued by the idea, although he was not generally a fan of rock music, Asimov quickly produced a "treatment" or brief outline of the story. He adhered to McCartney's overall idea, producing a story he felt to be moving and dramatic. However, he did not make use of McCartney's brief scrap of dialogue, and probably as a consequence, McCartney rejected the story. The treatment now exists only in the Boston University archives.

- Wikipedia entry, "Isaac Asimov"
In 1974, Styx released this album:

This iconic image of Isaac Asimov shows a similar face:
Could it be, that Styx and Asimov were also
appreciative of one another's work?

Could Mr. Roboto have been Paul's idea
done differently by someone who deferred
to Asimov's suggestion that the imitation
robot band wear robot-esque clothing and not the clothing that the real band would wear, including orange and yellow tiger striped shirts with a vest over top, as the lead singer always did, as that would cause a confusion too great for an audience that was stoned or more to follow? The transition from gray to purple would not be too difficult to grasp. Though it might be a robot band on the run, it would be a band that anyone could catch, even when they'd been "taking their thinking to a higher plane of thought" for hours on end. And maybe Asimov had been right about having lyrics that rhymed. Robotically.

Paul had been a fool, he now realized. But he wanted to hear it from Styx personally.

* * * * *

When Paul returned from the Cadbury store, and was back in his smoking jacket, ready for tea, he came upon Michael, sitting at the kitchen table with a dozen eggs in front of him.

"Michael, what are you doing? There aren't peeps in there, you know."
"Oh, I know Sir Paul, I'm just going to dye, dye- dye these eggs cause it is Easter, dye - dye - dye them right away. Peeps don't live in the eggs. I'm not lovin' these e-e-e-eggs."
"Ok then. If this Easter is just an apple, I'll let you take a bite."
"Thanks! Oh, and by the way, I FOUND the egg you left for me in the kool-aid pitcher."
"What egg? What kool-aid pitcher?"
"The one with all the grape kool-aid in it over there. And the smiley face!"

Paul looks to the kitchen counter and sees a kool-aid man smile on a glass pitcher full of a dark purple liquid. He notices the handle has a familiar, ambiguous design.

"Where is that egg, Michael."
Michael pulls an egg out of his pocket that is covered in purple sequins.
"Open it," Paul demands.
Michael cracks the egg, and purple glitter flies everywhere. The egg disintegrates. A small projected image appears. It is Prince, dressed in a purple version of Princess Leia's outfit from Star Wars when she was a hologram, right down to the hair buns. His message begins as the last of the glitter falls:

Purple rain. Purple rain.
My friends, I come to you in peace. And to tell you the time has come. The game will be held tomorrow.
And you will attend. And yes Paul, I know it's a holiday, but what better time then, for play?
And Michael, I know you're excited. Everything to you, after all, is a thriller.
Sleep well my bunnies. Until it is time to hop, I remain, PRINCE!

The image vanished.
Michael clapped.
Paul decided to ask the cook to add bacon to the lentils on that night's dinner menu. He needed to be fortified for the challenge that awaited.