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Living in Chicago, by way of Dayton, OH and Havertown, PA. Contact me at atozpod@gmail.com.



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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Friday October 27th

Day 127, Session 49:
Location: Training away from work before hitting reheasal
First song: Christmas of Love by Little Isidore & The Inquisitors
Last full song: Circles by Soul Coughing
Progress: 646-659 of 4482
Total Songs Heard: 574

Made it through all the Christmas songs today, or at least all the ones that start with the word Christmas. Turns out there were 16 of them. That works out fine for writing this now, but was a bit strange in late October when these first came around. The Christmas Eve shopping trip with my sister once again worked to perfection. In fact, this year we improved on the trip by finding the back exit from the shopping center. Waiting in traffic to escape the Best Buy/Barnes and Noble parking lot? Totally for suckers.

I can't quite understand why Christmastime (Oh Yeah) doesn't get play on any of those 24-hour-a-day-from-Thanksgiving-through-Christmas stations. It's family friendly, it's got nice Christmas style harmonies, Barenaked Ladies will play on any radio station that isn't hard rock or R&B (and how many of those stations play Christmas music anyway?) but I've never heard it. I imagine it's almost impossible to break a new Christmas song on to one of those stations. I'm pretty sure they've been playing the same loop of music since the mid-80s (right after Do They Know It's Christmas? came out.) Just one more super annoying thing about the state of corporate radio.

The only thing that does change from year-to-year on those stations is those horrible "Special Christmas Wish" promos that they play. You know the one. The radio station (through the generous support of listeners like you) has bought Christmas presents for the poor family that is undergoing some hard times this holiday season. You know, Ma was laid off from the whoopie cushion plant and Pa is still in prison and Grandma has the scurvy and Junior has that terrible speech impediment that leads to all the other kids calling him "Stinky" (kids can be so non-sensical when they're cruel.) "Well," the soft-voiced DJ says, "we know how hard this Christmas is for you, so we've bought Tickle Me Elmos and Nicorette gum for everyone. All it will cost you is your dignity cause we'll be playing this promo every 22 minutes for the next 32 days." And then Ma blubbers into the phone, but not before remembering to drop the station catch phrase in there.

Meanwhile, I throw up in my car, but at least I wasn't waiting in traffic.

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Tuesday October 24th - Evening

Day 124, Session 48:
Location: Heading home, actually awake on the train for once.
First song: Chiron Beta Prime by Jonathan Coulton
Last full song: Christmas Medley by Barenaked Ladies
Progress: 633-646 of 4508
Total Songs Heard: 560

First things first, obligatory Coulton plug: you need to go listen to (and download) Chiron Beta Prime right now. It's even timely for when this post is actually being published. I mean sure, a Christmas song about robot overlords in October, the timing was little off. But now... perfect.

In fact, there were lots of Christmas songs to be heard here. Good thing I've managed to fall almost 60 days behind. Obviously it was all part of some master plan. Let's talk about Christmas for a minute. I'm very pro-Christmas. Most years I'm at least semi-proactive about getting my Christmas shopping done. Especially since they invented the internets and Amazon. This year... not so much. 2 days before Christmas and I have purchased exactly zero gifts. Zero. This should be somewhat alarming, but for some reason it isn't. The Wife and I have already decided that there are too many things that need to be bought around the house to buy a lot of gifts for one another. Without The Wife to worry about, everyone else is pretty easy. I can probably take care of everyone else during one 2 hour shopping trip on Christmas Eve. That trip has become something a tradition for me and my sister, so hey, Christmas traditions are good right? But it still doesn't quite feel right to have no presents bought this close to Christmas.

The good news is I finally got The Wife her birthday present... and it was totally within 30 days of her birthday this year. Diamonds fix everything though right?

If you need me, I'll be on the couch.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Tuesday October 24th

Day 124, Session 47:
Location: The train, the desk, the first hour at work
First song: Change In Speak by De La Soul
Last full song: Chinese Baby by Clem Snide
Progress: 614-632 of 4508
Total Songs Heard: 546

Two different versions of Chicago by Sufjan Stevens was the big song of the day. Normally having two versions of the same song on the same cd would seem like a waste of time to me. Not in this case. The two songs are different enough that it's justified. Chicago...

I've been in Chicago for 5 and a half years now. I did not arrive in Chicago under the best of circumstances. I had been fired from a job I loved. I had been unemployed for 4 months. Chicago wasn't really on my radar of places to go next except for that one minor point... it's where the girl was. I spent 4 more months unemployed once I moved here, so while I was free for an entire summer in a great city, I was also broke which meant not a whole lot of actually being able to do anything. And nothing I did! I had a standing date with the television every day for 4 or 5 hours.

I tried to jump into the improv scene in town, but I found a few problems... 1) I had never done any improv before and there was no improv at UD so 2) I wasn't very good and 3) I wasn't very good at meeting new people. So while the folks I was in class with either had A) preexisting bonds from past improv experience or college, or B) were able to mesh by being good on stage together or at the very least C) had basic people skills, I didn't have any of those things. It left me feeling like an outsider among the group I was with. The only thing better than being an outsider among people you're hanging out with semi-regularly is paying (a lot) for the privilege (when you're already kind of broke.)

(I should note here for the record that as far as I remember, no one actively rejected me or anything. I just wasn't able to make it work. It's possible that people actually didn't like me, but no one ever said so to my face.)

To recap for the first few months in town I had no job, no new real friends and an expensive new hobby that I wasn't very good at.

Eventually I did get a job (which kind of sucked) and then another job (which didn't suck at first, but eventually, unless you're doing something you really love, all jobs suck.) Eventually I made some new friends, but still no one all that close. (Which raises the question of whether it's even possible to make new friends after a certain age.) Eventually I even became not terrible at the whole improv/theater thing. Luckily, the whole reason for moving here (the girl) worked out in the end.

But still... looking back, I'm pretty sure I still haven't gotten over the way I arrived and the first year in this city.

I'm not sure Chicago and I will ever feel good about each other, but now I'm stuck here. Married home owners can not just up and leave any time they feel like it.

So maybe Chicago and I need to reevaluate our relationship. Maybe it's time to (finally) move past the rough start.

I made a lot of mistakes in my mind, in my mind

Monday, December 11, 2006

Monday October 23rd

Day 123, Session 46:
Location: Heading home
First song: Caught With A Smile On My Face by The Jayhawks
Last full song: Champagne Supernova by Ben Folds Five
Progress: 601-613 of 4508
Total Songs Heard: 527

Huh. 13 songs today and I got nothing much to say about any of the songs... so here's something different.

Match the songs with the artists. Answers next time!
A. Caught With A Smile On My Face (Demo)
B. Cause A Rockslide
C. Celebrity
D. Cemetery Polka
E. Central Reservation (Remix)
F. Centrepeace
G. Century
H. Cha Cha Cha d'Amour
I. Chad Maloney
J. Chale Jao
K. Chamber Of Commerce
L. Champagne Supernova
M. Champagne Supernova (live Oasis Cover)

Badly Drawn Boy
Ben Folds Five
Moxy Früvous
5. Beth Orton
The Jayhawks
7. Oasis
Tom Waits
Paul Westerberg
Badly Drawn Boy
Dean Martin
Barenaked Ladies
Garrison Keillor

Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section. Winner gets something. Mix CD? Eternal devotion? Link to your blog over on the sidebar there? You know, whatever you want. In case no one answers... well honestly that wouldn't be too surprising. Less brain cramping next time hopefully. Unless everyone likes this, in which case, hey that's easier for me!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Friday October 20th - Into the evening

Day 120, Session 45:
Location: Going home on the train, then driving around looking for pants
First song: Captain Jack by Billy Joel
Last full song: Catching on Fire by They Might Be Giants
Progress: 580-596 of 4500
Total Songs Heard: 514

Hooray! Song 500! 500 songs in 120 days. That puts me right around 4 songs per day, with approximately 4000 songs to listen to... 1000 days. So I've cut the overall project time to just under 3 years. 400 to 500 only took 18 days (or just over 5 songs a day) if I can keep that pace up this should take even less time. I suppose my goal is to actually have this whole thing wrapped up during 2007. So I'll have to push the pace a little more.

Unfortunately, coming soon there will be another decided downturn in song listening productivity. (You might be wondering how I could possibly be less productive when I'm 30+ days behind in my writing at this point.) I'm currently appearing in a play here in Chicago. It's my first actual theater gig in 8 years and I was incredibly nervous about it. The thing is, I'm not very good at remembering lines. That's one of the reasons I ended up in improv. I still get to be a goof on stage occasionally, but no one is depending on me to remember exactly what to say and do every time. Well October 20th is right around when we started rehearsing the show. Once rehearsals really started in earnest and I was supposed to be learning my lines, I put this project aside for a few weeks and concentrated almost exclusively on the show. The good news is twofold. One, since I am 30+ days behind, I still have plenty of music to write about. Two, all the hard work on the lines paid off. The show is going very very well. If you're here in Chicago or will be in the next two weeks, I encourage you to come see it. For more information on the show you can either visit the Rogue Theater website or click the link over on the right there for my other blog where I've done some more writing about it.

As for song number 500, it was Caramia by the Indigo Girls. I've seen the Indigo Girls in concert once. I went with The Wife and her roommates summer after junior year of college. At the time The Wife was not even the girlfriend, she was just the girl I had a crush on. The thing that made it weird was one of The Wife's roommates had just recently stopped being my girlfriend. Well, if you want to get technical about it, I don't think we ever passed the "just dating" phase into the "going out" phase, so I'm not even sure you could call her my ex-girlfriend, but she sure seemed to think of me as her ex-boyfriend.

While at the concert I was flirting a little with The Wife, much to the annoyance of the roommate. In a drunken "argument" later that evening the roommate accused the wife and I of having sex right there in front of everyone on the blanket in the middle of the concert. I tried explaining that I didn't think that maybe touching someone's leg exactly counted as having sex but the roommate would have none of it! (This is why we never passed beyond "just dating." She was CRAZY!) The good thing was, this gave the wife and I a little joke to share and actually brought us closer together.

Eventually The Wife and I did have sex (but certainly not until after we were married. Hi Mom!) Every time I hear a song by the Indigo Girls I think about the first time we allegedly had sex... right there on the blanket we were sharing with 5 other people... in the middle of a crowd of 2000... probably while Galileo was playing.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Friday October 20th - During the workday one track special

Day 120, Session 44:
Location: Sitting at my desk in the loop in Chicago
First song: Capitol City Comedy, Austin TX 2001-11-25 by Mitch Hedberg
Last full song: Same thing
Progress: 579 of 4500
Total Songs Heard: 497

An unreleased comedy show from Mitch Hedberg. It was unreleased for a good reason. It sounds a lot like the guy recording the show was holding his equipment in his lap (heh.) Every time the guy holding the recorder finds something particularly funny, you can only hear him laughing.

I met Mitch Hedberg during my radio days. A lot of the comedians who came into the studio would not be "in character" until we went on the air. Mitch, it seemed, was in character all the time. Unfortunately his character was a drug using slacker type. He was very nice and extremely funny (I laughed so hard I actually teared up,) but definitely a little strange. He wore his oversized tinted sunglasses the entire time he was in studio. The following week we had another comedian in studio and talked to him about how hilarious Mitch was. The comedian agreed but said it was a shame about Mitch's drug issues. At the time I remember being a little surprised cause I figured it was just an act. It was a little eye opening for me to find out that some folks in the entertainment industry actually lived up to the hard partying image that is often portrayed. I was unfortunately not surprised a few years later when it turned out Mitch died of a drug overdose. His unnecessary death doesn't change the fact that he was one funny motherfucker.

"I was at a restaurant and I ordered a chicken sandwich, but I don't think the waitress understood me because she said 'How would you like your eggs?' So I tried to answer her anyhow. I said, 'Incubated and then raised and then beheaded and then plucked and then cut up and then put onto a grill and then put onto a bun. Shit. It's gonna take a while. I don't have time... scrambled.'"