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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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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

from Hopscotch to How Do You Like...

Day 679, Session 125:
Tuesday April 29th - At the desk scoping Craig's List for work and then running a hard mile around the neighborhood.
First song: Hopscotch by Mothfight!
Last full song: How Do You Like the Sound of That? by Amplified Heat
Progress: 2007-2031 of 5907
Total Songs Heard: 1613

After my senior year of high school I finally moved to Ohio to live with my parents. (I think I mentioned that they moved after my junior year, but allowed me to stay back and finish high school. My parents are smart.) This was not a good summer. Everyone I knew (at least everyone I knew that I wasn't related to) was an 8 hour drive away. Now-a-days this wouldn't be such a big deal, I'd be able to hop online and e-mail, chat, even game with those folks no problem. I'm not much into going out, so interacting with friends that way would suffice. But... this was 1994, the internet was still in its nascent stages. At least at my house it was (we had Prodigy.)

So yeah, I was pretty miserable. To compound matters, I had to find a job. My previous 3 high school summers had been spent volunteering/working at a camp for handicapped kids. I loved it there. I knew of no place like that in Ohio, so I was reduced to going door to door at a local shopping mall filling out applications. After about a week of that I was hired at Famous Footwear. Yep, I was spending my summer at a discount shoe store.

I'm pretty sure I was hired to fill a stock boy role, but before long I was moved out onto the floor where I got to spend a lot of time looking at stranger's feet. Have I mentioned I was miserable?

The store featured a never changing line-up of muzak designed to lull the suburban mind into purchasing an additional pair of sandals, or maybe (and this was big if you could get people to buy this) some shoe cleaner (which I took to calling shoe-poo.) I went through most of the day paying no attention to the muzak (truthfully most of my focus was going towards trying to entertain an attractive co-worker (I don't think I need to say that this didn't work.)) There was however one song that consistently drew my attention every time it came on (which I think was once every 6 hours:) House At Pooh Corner by Loggins & Messina.

Every time that damn song came on I went from miserable to disconsolate for the length of the song, longer if it was slow and I could take time for some self-pity. The strange thing, I like the song. I'm a big Winnie-the-Pooh fan. I had a stuffed Pooh Bear of my own that was one of my favorite "guys." (The "guys" were the assorted stuffed animals that made up my band childhood friends.)

Hearing this song in the middle of a long shoe related day made me look around and wonder how exactly I had wound up in the middle of nowhere, er Ohio, so far away from so many of the people I cared about. It also made me sad that that particular era of my life was on the verge of passing on. I was now based out of Ohio. Even when school breaks would come, I wouldn't be going back to Philly and to my friends there for anything more than a visit. I could go back, but I wasn't ever going to be part of that place in the same way.

Sigh (it all seemed very dramatic at the time.
Of course many people who would go back faced the same thing, but hey, I was 18, I wasn't looking at the bigger picture.)

In the interest of making this perhaps the wussiest post ever, I will admit there was also a secondary sadness in the song. Despite the fact that I was 18 and didn't exactly play with the guys anymore, that didn't mean that I had completely forgotten them. In fact, that summer, having no other friends in the area, I had taken to talking to some of them when I needed someone to talk to (including Pooh.) I knew that this was not going to be acceptable behavior in a college dorm setting and I would thus be leaving the guys when I went to school. The idea of leaving the guys behind? Also sad.

Stupid song. (Muntz would have a field day with this.)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

from Home Soon to Hopelessly Devoted

Day 672, Session 124:
Tuesday April 22nd - Mopping the kitchen floor - ah glamorous life (someone please give me a job!)
First song: Home Soon by Oh Susanna
Last full song: Hopelessly Devoted To You by Clem Snide
Progress: 1983-1996 of 5889
Total Songs Heard: 1588

Three versions of Homeward Bound today, two proper Simon and Garfunkel versions and one off the cuff concert version from Fruvous. Hearing these songs got me to realizing that this particular musical treasure has absolutely no application to my life whatsoever.

When I was growing up, my Dad (at approximately the same age I am now) was going out of town all the time for work. He spent days upon days working and driving around Nowhere, West Virginia and Middle Of, Kentucky. Actually I believe he used to go to Hazard. Every time he got back from Hazard I asked him if he saw the Dukes. He never did (probably because the Dukes were in Hazzard, Georgia, not Hazard, Kentucky.)

Back when she was an engineer, the wife spent a lot of time on the road, mostly in Florida.

Even my professional student friends take extended trips away from home to exotic places like Antarctica and Rwanda.

I have been on exactly one business trip in my life. I went to Portland, Oregon and wasn't gone long enough to start thinking about Homeward Bound. I know everyone who does travel for business eventually tires of it, but there's a part of me that is really excited by the idea. So, yeah, if you've got a job to offer me, don't hold back just because it involves travel. I'd even be willing to get a passport.

Two other things I head today that I wanted to share. Being a nerd, I'm a big Weird Al fan, and one of my favorite things he does are his mash-up polkas, so here's one I heard today:

Hooked On Polkas - Weird Al

And being a theater nerd, I suppose I'm contractually obligated to be a fan of "Grease." The movie is ridiculous and I hold a grudge against the stage version based on the time I was on the crew and I almost had my ankle crushed while moving a piece of scenery, but I do like the music well enough. I especially like this cover by Eef Barzelay. He takes all of Olivia Newton John's manufactured Australian-playing-1950's angst and completely blows it out.

One more thing about "Grease." At the end of the movie when Sandy goes from good-girl to bad-ass-leather-girl... am I the only one who finds the transformation totally unattractive? I mean, completely ignoring the "you have to change yourself to get your man" message that it sends, I just find her hotter when she's playing the good girl. Am I the only one? Please use the poll over on the right to tell me whether I'm right, or whether I'm crazy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

from Holly Up to Home For A Rest

Day 665, Session 123:
Tuesday April 15th - Walking to the post office to mail taxes, then running home.
First song: Holly Up On Poppy by XTC
Last full song: Home For A Rest by Great Big Sea
Progress: 1975-1980 of 5894
Total Songs Heard: 1574

Good news and bad news from the running project. The good news: This particular run was the first time I managed to go a full mile without breaking into a walk. Now I know, you're probably thinking that a mile isn't all that much, and I tend to agree but I've gotta start somewhere right? The key to this whole project (both this one and the running one) is to keep everything from getting painful. If things get painful, they're no longer fun and if something isn't fun, why in the world would I keep doing it? So yeah, a mile and it wasn't that bad.

The bad: What was bad was when I decided to walk back from I.O. that night in a different pair of shoes. It was a two mile walk and by the end I knew I had new and exciting blisters on my feet. Stupid feet. As a side note, the single most looked at page of this blog is the entry that has a picture of my blistered foot. Makes me wonder if besides my 10 (that's right we're in double figures!) loyal readers, all I'm really doing here is disappointing a bunch of foot fetishists.

As far as the music goes, there were 4 straight songs about home. On a recent trip back to Philadelphia for a cousin's wedding my entire family stopped by our old house in Havertown. The family that owns the house now (not the people we sold to) were all out in the yard, so (much to our embarrassment) our parents got out and started talking to them. They invited us to come in a look around and see the changes they had made to the place. It was strange. (So strange that all the significant others stayed in the car.) The house looked like I remembered it, yet at the same time I couldn't muster up any connection to the place. I lived there for 5 years, but it may have well have been the first time I walked in there.

This only furthers my earlier theory (a theory that I'm sure I'me the only person to ever come up with) that a place doesn't make a home, people do.

I will say though, when you're out running and you're tired and you've gone farther than you have in a while, the physical place is home enough. Home For A Rest came just as I was finishing the mile and doing a quick cool down walk, sometimes song timing is eerie appropriate.

Home - Barenaked Ladies
Home For A Rest - Great Big Sea

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

from Highway One to Holly Tominack

Day 664, Session 122:
Monday April 14th - Back to the traditional running (around to the post office and grocery store.)
First song: Highway One by William Topley
Last full song: Holly Tominack by Moxy Früvous
Progress: 1948-1974 of 5894
Total Songs Heard: 1568

Two bad songs (not surprisingly from the Metal Ballads collection) get the boot. Hold On by Roko (who?) and Holiday by the Scorpions are no longer part of my music collection.

The weirdest thing I heard today came from Rockapella. You may remember them as the guys who sang the theme song to "Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?" Well, now you can also remember them as the guys who included a Folger's commercial on their cd.

Holiday Wake Up - Rockapella

That's weird, right? To include a commercial jingle on your CD?

I was also surprised to find that Hold Her Down by Toad The Wet Sprocket had been censored at some point while I wasn't paying attention. Hold Her Down was the first song I ever owned that contained the word "fuck." I remember how red faced I went when I forgot about the expletive and we listened to Fear on one of those long family car rides to Pittsburgh. Mom and Dad didn't say anything about it, but I know they were silently judging me (and probably still are.)

Now it doesn't say fuck anymore. I'm not sure why they felt the need to remove it. I remember being surprised that Toad had a song with "fuck" in it, but it made sense since it's a song about sexual assault. (Toad was heavily involved raising money for women's crisis centers.) Apparently some time between 1992 and 1999 the word fuck became so offensive that it had to be eliminated. Strange. (Fucking strange even.)

Hold Her Down (Remix) - Toad The Wet Sprocket

Finally, I love songs that start with counting.

Holland, 1945 - Neutral Milk Hotel

Edited much later to add: Lots of folks have ended up at this page in search of the Fruvous tune about Holly Tominack. Let it never be said that I am not hear to serve (as long as the song I'm serving is not something I'm going to get a lot of shit from the RIAA for reposting.)

Holly Tominack - Moxy Fruvous.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

from High Enough to Highway Blues

Day 657, Session 121:
Monday April 7th - Running for the third time. This officially makes it a pattern.
First song: High Enough by Damn Yankees
Last full song: Highway Blues by Marc Seales, composer. New Stories. Ernie Watts, saxophone
Progress: 1933-1937 of 5869
Total Songs Heard: 1541

Shockingly the run this time didn't go well (as the fact that I was only out for 5 songs can probably attest.) 15 minutes of movement are ok, but the last 8 or so were spent with angry burning lungs. I can't remember the last time I ran my way into a stitch in the side, but I somehow managed to do it this time. (I do remember when I was 5, I told a fundamentalist Christian friend that "Catholics don't get [stitches]." Apparently I was very proud of my religion then. I was also a liar as I specifically remember having a cramp while I was claiming that my god prevented me from getting them.)

I believe the problem here was two-fold. 1) I had a long weekend. My improv team, Wing Night, threw a fund raiser party/flip-cup tournament over the weekend. I remember when I could stay up all night partying and then still be worth a damn the next day. I think that era may have passed. The party didn't start until midnight and I didn't get home until sometime early in the morning. (7am maybe?) Things were actually find while the party was going on. Everyone had a great time, funds were raised, cleaning went smoothly (the part I helped with anyhow.) The only bad part of the evening, er morning, was deciding that the best thing to eat at 6am was a bar-b-que bacon cheeseburger. All of that has nothing to do with the music. Sorry.

The second reason: my music for the day peaked as I was walking out the door.

High Enough by Damn Yankees is one of my favorite songs ever. Seriously. It's the only song I owned as a cassette single. It came out my freshman year of high school. That was an awesome time for groups that you knew for 6 months and then never heard of again: Nelson, Extreme, Mr. Big, and the rock super group Damn Yankees. Super group you say? Sure, Damn Yankees was made up of members of Styx! Night Ranger! and... TED NUGENT himself! How much more super could a group get?

If you don't remember this song, you own it to yourself to take a listen. It starts with an orchestra(!), moves to solo voice with acoustic guitar and then it takes off. Harmonies! Orchestra! Electric guitar! More Soaring Harmonies! and don't forget Rocking Guitar Solos! I'm telling you, this was the apex of early 90's rock/pop.

Well unfortunately, 4:45 after it started, it was over. Every song after seemed like a let down, so I packed it in early and trudged home.

High Enough - Damn Yankees

For more on the 1990's awesome contributions to music, please check out Can You See the Sunset? Their occasional feature It Came From the 90's is chock full of awesome.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

from Hidden Place to High Council Meeting

Day 653, Session 120:
Thursday April 3rd - Running around the neighborhood, again.
First song: Hidden Place by Bjork
Last full song: High Council Meeting by John Williams
Progress: 1921-1926 of 5833
Total Songs Heard: 1536

Here is what I forgot about running (or really exercise in general:) the next day's soreness. It wasn't awful, but I did notice it any time I was going down stairs and by notice it, I mean I was saying "ow, ow, ow, ow, ow" every time stairs happened.

This run went faster, but it seemed harder. I covered the same distance in less time but the third running portion of my run walk alternating was aborted early. I realize I'm just starting out here, but I'm still waiting for the part where the actual running makes me feel good instead of shitty. I know the last entry said I was pleased with how things went, but I just meant I'm glad I didn't die, and I'm glad I didn't immediately notice a body part straining or breaking. As far as why someone would enjoy running... I still don't get it. I've heard about that thing called a runner's high but I'm pretty sure that's only for people that are going real distances for an extended period, so what is the point for short distance pavement pounders?

I also noticed today that when the running is harder, I hardly hear the music. I know 6 songs played while I was out today, but I hardly remember hearing them. It seems I heard both James Blunt's High and Travis' High As A Kite, so one of those seems like a good idea to apply to today. I'm just not sure if I'll find the high that runner's get, or if I may as well be high (as a kite) for even attempting this experiment. (I sure seem ready to give up quick, eh?)

High As A Kite - Travis

One more thing about this day. I realized as I was running that when I threw a date on this session it was going to be the 16th anniversary of this story. That was 16 years ago. I was 16 at the time. That officially took place half a lifetime ago. Fuck that makes me feel old. Older than sucking wind after a mile run/walk.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

from Hey Now! to Hidden #7

Day 651, Session 119:
Tuesday April 1st - Running around the neighborhood, literally this time.
First song: Hey Now! by Oasis
Last full song: Hidden #7 This Ape's For You by They Might Be Giants
Progress: 1879-1892 of 5780
Total Songs Heard: 1530

**This entry has been expanded from it's original post, much like my running I went out in this post too fast then got too tired to originally post the whole thing.**

This is not an April Fools joke, I was literally running while listening to these songs. Outside. Wearing actual running shoes. Not being chased by anything. For the first time in,I'm going to say 15 years, I went for a run.

The entire decision to try running again was fueled by a few factors: 1) I'm not exactly what you would call in prime shape and since I have no plans on giving up beer any time soon, I figure I have to try to balance out the drinking somehow. B) I've been unemployed for several months now and since this winter is the worst I've seen since moving to Chicago 7 years ago, that means I've spent A LOT of time inside. Even I'm a little tired of inside. III) When the weather was nice for a few days last week, the wife and I went out on a few walks. Even that little bit of walking was enough to blister up my baby soft feet, which meant I had to buy a new pair of shoes that would allow me to walk around without blisters. I may be older, but I'm sure not old enough yet to buy "walking shoes" which means I bought running shoes. As long as I'm spending money on running shoes, I'm going to try to run in them.

Hey Now! by Oasis - This was playing in the house while I was trying to figure out how the to get the lanyard that attaches to my headphones for "active" purposes to work. I found these lyrics oddly prescient:

I thought that I heard someone say now
There's no time for running away now
Hey now! Hey now!

Feel no shame - cos time's no chain
Feel no shame
So on the one hand, Oasis is telling me that this is no time to run (away now,) so I'm like, "Hey, good idea!" Then immediately after they're saying to feel no shame and, well, one of the reasons I haven't run in a long time is that I'm a little ashamed of how out of shape I'm going to look out there huffing and puffing despite moving at a ridiculously slow pace, so I think, "Well, if I'm supposed to feel no shame, I guess I'll run."

Hey Pretty by Poe - So out I stepped into the world ready to take it on. I walked to the corner to warm up and then started jogging. This lasted all of three steps until my ear buds popped out of my ears. This was undoubtedly a sign that I was not supposed to do this. Knowing that I couldn't run without music, I turned around and started heading back to the house.

Hey Pretty (Drive-by Remix) by Poe - While walking back to the house this song came on. There's not much to say about this particular remix other than it's the radio safe version (which I found while looking up the lyrics, apparently there's a more explicit version out there,) and if someone named Kyrie ever offers me a ride in her BMW coupe I'm going.

Hey Ya by Matt Weddle - After briefly considering just giving up, I changed headphones and pants, it wasn't warm enough for what I was wearing first, and was sent back out the door by a laid back acoustic cover of Hey Ya. I walked about a quarter mile again to warm up again and this time I was ready to go. The nice gentle acousticness kept everything calm. I didn't run too hard or too soft, it seemed just right. And at the end of the quarter mile I transitioned back to walking and was surprised at how good I felt.

Hey Ya by Outkast - Even if I hadn't felt good, Outkast probably would have picked me back up. Suddenly in my ears it was 2004 again. I wasn't even 30 yet! This was going great! Time to start running again!

Hey You by No Doubt - Here's where things started to go downhill. I ran another 1/4 mile at a decent pace (I had gone about a mile at this point running half of it) but towards the end I noticed how heavy my legs felt. Then once it was back to walking time I noticed that where I had been breathing free most of the way, now it felt like someone had put a bar of soap in a sock and then whacked me with it right in the middle of the chest.

The rest of the way I pretty much shut it down. I walked the next 3/4 towards home before taking the last 1/4 mile at a real slow jog. I probably went out a little too hard my first time in 15 years, but all-in-all I was pleased with the experience.