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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, November 26, 2008

from If I Never See Your Face Again to Impossible Germany

Day 881, Session 146:
Monday November 24th - car/Target/car/Best Buy/home
First song: If I Never See Your Face Again by Maroon 5
Last full song: Impossible Germany by Wilco
Progress: 2172-2196 of 6108
Total Songs Heard: 1893

It was busy afternoon of choring. For the first time, the wife and I are hosting a major family holiday. Both of our immediate families (Us, 4 parents, 2 sisters, 1 brother, 1 brother-in-law, 1 sister's +1, and a nephew in a pear tree (plus 2 dogs)) are coming to town for Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We bought the turkey and most of the dinner supplies Sunday afternoon. Since we were shopping together, I went iPod-less, which saved the good folks at Jewel another shot at hearing me sing as I walked through the aisles.

The Wife's birthday is on Thanksgiving
(She claims it's on Thursday and Thursday just happens to be Thanksgiving, but I know for a fact her birthday is on Thanksgiving every year,) so I had to go out shopping again Monday to do some birthday shopping as well as final family prep. What Jewel got to avoid became Target's cross to bear, and what a cross it was.

Not too far along into my Target search for a baby gate (in order to nephew proof our basement stairs) came one of those songs that stops me in my tracks every time I hear it. I think I've mentioned before, I don't have a very complicated romantic history. I've had enough serious long-term relationships to count on both hands... as long as you limit yourself to not using fingers and only counting the entire hand as one. I did some sporadic dating in between the two relationships (sporadic in this case being code for "not much") but other than the high school girlfriend and The Wife, nothing really progressed beyond 'dating.'

Since I've ended half my long term relationships by getting married, I don't have a lot of relationship related regret. That's the weird thing about If It's The Beaches by The Avett Brothers. The song is so good, that it makes me wish I could apply it to my life. The longing lyrics and
plaintive music hit hard, even at the start where it's just one voice and a guitar. And the way it builds... voice and guitar, then violin/cello/second guitar, then finally at 2:35... piano. The piano isn't playing power chords either, but it fills the space in the song in such way that it sounds like Seth Avett has spent the whole song building up this alternate relationship history and if you, the other end of this lost relationship, could just hear it... Hear the words, hear the music, hear how the whole world will be full again if only you could go back.

Like I said, I can't really relate, and yet, apparently I can.

If It's The Beaches - The Avett Brothers (highly recommended as a headphone song, the build of the song through headphones fills my entire head.)

As an added bonus, here's a high quality video (you are watching all your youtube in high quality right?) from a show I went to in Newport, Kentucky earlier this year. I can't be seen in the video, I was slightly behind the throng on the left.

But wait there's more: I also don't understand working on a farm with my family and some migrant workers, but that doesn't change the fact that this song will be my official morning wake up once I do go back to work. I hate the morning, but I think if I'm waking up to the Sunparlour Players I won't hate it quite as much. (As long as the creeks don't actually rise.)

If The Creeks Don't Rise - Sunparlour Players (also headphone recommended)

Now for something I do understand: Swedish furniture. In my little section of the living I am surrounded by Ikea. My computer desk is Ikea and we have three Billy-the-bookcases ("Hello.") I was living in Philly when the first U.S.-based Ikea opened in New Jersey. I never understood why it was such a big deal until I needed to buy my own furniture (as opposed to stealing it from my parents basement.) Now I totally understand why New Jersey has a "God-damned Swedish parade." The only downside of this song is once you hear it a few times, you'll never be able to go to Ikea again without humming the song to yourself. Ah the genius of Coulton.

Ikea - Jonathan Coulton

Happy Thanksgiving everybody. If we manage to survive the family visit, I'll see you next week.

Friday, November 21, 2008

from If I Had $1,000,000 to If I Had...

Day 874, Session 145:
Monday November 17th - Afternoon chorefest: car/Jewel/home
First song: If I Had $1,000,000 by Barenaked Ladies
Last full song: If I Had A Rocket Launcher by Bruce Cockburn
Progress: 2133-2141 of 6069
Total Songs Heard: 1868

First of all, once again, F you iTunes. I won't bore you with the details of exactly why it happened, but when I started iTunes this morning, I had to rebuild my iTunes library. Just like the last time, after the initial rebuild, I had to re-rebuild the library because iTunes couldn't find over 1000 songs. I can understand why it would miss those songs since they were hidden away... in the iTunes folder. It's not a huge deal, except for the part where a big part of doing this project right means being able to track stats. Now all the stats are f-ed.

9 tracks, but only 4 different songs today. Started with 3 versions of If I Had $1,000,000. This is the song that launched my fandom of BNL. I had never heard of Barenaked Ladies (despite my affinity for scantily clad women) before my freshman year in college. 2nd semester Joey and I got a radio show and BNL showed up on our playlist. We were hooked immediately.

That started a whirlwind affair with BNL that saw me attend something like 8 shows in the space of 18 months. Of course this was also pre-One Week which meant you could go to a BNL show and actually get to be close to the band and do fun things like throw mac and cheese at the stage when they sang the "we wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner" line. I still love the guys today, but it hasn't been the same since their shows moved from mid-sized clubs into full-sized arenas.

If I Had $1,000,000 is also my "go to" karaoke song. The down side is you need someone to sing it with you, so I've occasionally ended up singing it with complete randoms. The upside is when you have someone who knows the song as well as you do, it's always a crowd pleaser. Kaylor and I have gotten compliments from strangers after our rendition.

If I had $1,000,000 I'd buy something nice for the wife, then we'd take a fun vacation. I'd bank the rest and attempt to live off the interest. After building up a few years of interest I'd probably buy a new place to live. I like where I live now, but if I could buy a really nice new condo or single family place that'd be even better. The new place would have a game room and I would buy an Addam's Family pinball machine and a pool table for that room.

I'm guessing everyone here is familiar with the song, so instead of the Gordon version here is live version from a 2004 Philly concert:

If I Had $1,000,00 - Barenaked Ladies

The 2nd song (actually the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th) heard was If I Had A Boat. It's a Lyle Lovett song, but the Lyle Lovett version is the last one I actually heard. I first found the Dave Matthews Band thanks to Napster in 2000, then the Eddie From Ohio and Jimmy Buffett covers. It's one of those songs that speaks to me for some reason. I think it's my chronic urge to get away from things.

If I really had a boat, I'm sure I'd have no idea what to actually do with it. I'm don't think I would take it out onto the ocean. Knowing me I'd sink the thing 1st time out. If I'm going to sink a boat I'd rather do it in a nice recreational lake. So I guess that means I don't really want to get away from things, I just want to be somewhere I can float and drink a beer. The pony would be a nice though. I could rent it out for kids parties and finally have a source of income. That is assuming of course that you make more money renting a pony out than you spend on the costs of pony upkeep. This may be a losing proposition all around.

If I Had A Boat - Lyle Lovett
If I Had A Boat - Eddie From Ohio
If I Had A Boat - Jimmy Buffett
If I Had A Boat - Dave Matthews Band

So if you had $1,000,000 and/or a boat (and pony,) what would you do?

Friday, November 14, 2008

from I Wish to If I Ever Feel Better

Day 870, Session 144:
Thursday November 13th - Car/Post Office/Best Buy/Car
First song: I Wish by Skee Lo
Last full song: If I Ever Feel Better by Phoenix
Progress: 2175-2192 of 6109
Total Songs Heard: 1859

I Wish - Skee Lo
Despite the fact that I'm almost exactly the average height for a white male I think, like Mr. Lo, I will always wish I were a little bit taller. 6 foot even would be awesome, but unless I'm having the world's most delayed growth spurt I don't think that's going to happen.

I'm still bitter that I was ripped off by puberty. Other guys I knew went through growth spurts, adding 5 or 6 inches of height in the course of a few months. I never spurted (and yes, let's all take a moment to giggle at the fact that I just typed that.) I think I was something like 4' 10" when I was 12. 6 years later I had topped out around 5' 9" but at no point during that time did I grow more than 2 or 3 inches in a year. I had one friend who grew 6 inches between the end of one school year and the start of the next. One minute we were approximately the same height, next thing I knew he turned out 6' 6".

Maybe it's a little harder for tall guys to find clothes that fit but that's about the only disadvantage I see. I'm a firm believer that at general admission concerts, there should be a line on the floor that separates the crowd into those under six foot (the front) and those over (the back.) Ladies if your 4-inch heels put you over, it's behind the line for you. (You deserve the back anyway. Who wears 4-inch heels to concert?)

(I became reacquainted with Skee thanks to the flashback inducing "It Came From The Nineties" feature at Can You See The Sunset... If you'd like to share in the time travel, I suggest checking it out.)

I Wish I Could Go Back To College - Avenue Q
It has occurred to me during my period of unemployment that I could go back to college. Unfortunately going back to college would not solve the fundamental question: "What do I want to do with my life?" At this point, people go back to college with a specific goal in mind. Until I have a better idea of what that is, going back to college would be a lot like unemployment only with a lot more textbooks and a tuition bill where there currently isn't one.

If I Could've Been - Working
In case you didn't notice, I'm featuring back to back songs from musicals. You probably didn't notice because if you haven't been in the musical Working, you probably haven't heard of it. It's based on a book of conversations about people's jobs by Studs Terkel (R.I.P.)

As tempting as it is to take this song as another opportunity to complain about the current state of things and what I could've been*, instead I'd like to point out two things:
1) The end of the first verse "A tower of strength, a center of power, for TEN BUCKS AN HOUR." This musical was developed in the '70s. Many of the people featured had jobs at the lower end of the job scale and yet they were still making (and rolling their eyes) at ten bucks an hour! Ten dollars an hour in 1970's money is something like $47.69 an hour now and yet many of the jobs I see everyday in my search for work are still offering $10 an hour**! (and I live in a big city!) I guess what I'm saying is... Where the hell did the economy go completely off the rails (I'm blaming trickle-down Reagan when executive pay started expanding greatly while base employee pay didn't move much) and what the hell is it going to take to get a real living (minimum) wage bill passed in this country??
2) We did this song in my college production with different folks soloing each verse. If you want to try to imagine me on stage pay attention to the second verse. (From "If I could've done..." to "Paid all my bills.) I enter slowly from stage left in my meter reader costume. It sounds just like this except an octave lower***, without any vibrato, and without any of the vocal flourishes. Once my solo is done, I'm going to find a seat and sing the chorus parts as more folks come on stage and we rebuild to the tableau that we started the show with. I loved this show and will surely be mentioning it again in the J's.

*If you've read the whole post you know that if I could've been something different, it would've been taller.
**Which isn't to say that there shouldn't be some $10 jobs. Temporary seasonal employment, fast food, dog walker...sure. It's when I see jobs with titles like "Marketing Associate" and "Executive Assistant" that want a college degree and experience offering $10-12/hr that I shake my head.
***Despite not getting the growth spurt part of puberty I did get one overnight adjustment. I went from pre-pubescent alto to pubescent baritone overnight. Which in retrospect was kind of great. I avoided the whole voice cracking a lot stage, and the juxtaposition of my size vs. my voice's pitch was quite a surprise in the school choruses I performed in back in the day.

Friday, November 07, 2008

from I Was Hoping to I Wish

Day 862, Session 143:
Wednesday November 5th - The aisles of Jewel (I never realized before my unemployed stretch how much time one spends in the supermarket.)
First song: I Was Hoping by Alanis Morissette
Last full song: I Wish by King Missile
Progress: 2161-2172 of 6110
Total Songs Heard: 1841


I Was Hoping to get a job with Chicago Public Radio. A friend got my resume looked at, and I ended up with an interview which I thought I nailed. Found out Wednesday I was no longer under consideration for the job. Rats. Believe it or not, this was the first time I've gotten as far as an in person interview where I did not end up getting the job. I was holding that fact as my ace in the hole during this whole employment drought. I figured if I could just get an interview, I'd be back to work shortly. Now I don't even have that going for me.

I Was Only Kidding is one of my favorite Weird Al originals. The gospel choir style opening into the maniacal ranting is exactly the way I would assume the mind of someone who would sing that song would work. And make no mistake, I believe there are guys out there for whom this song is real. There was a time when I considered trying to be one of those guys, just to see what it would be like. I couldn't pull it off. It still makes me mad knowing those guys probably got laid more than I did in college.

I Will - Coulton + Beatles = Good. About halfway through this one I realized I was singing along quite loudly in the pasta aisle.

I Will Be The One - Third Wish was my favorite college band for two reasons: 1) They put on a great show. The music was genuinely good and fun to listen (especially while enjoying a few under-age beers.) 2) Tara Marie O'Malley. I (along with probably every other male in the audience) had a bit of a thing for the band's female singer. They toured the Great Lakes region extensively in the mid-90s, even being named Cleveland's Band of the Year one year, but have since disappeared. Attempting to Google them has taught me one thing: Third Wish is apparently a very popular band name.

I Will Hold On - My favorite song from the last Fruvous cd, although I'm still not quite sure if it's being sung from the point of view of a stalker.

I Will Survive - Cake This may be the greatest cover song ever recorded. It would also probably make a kick ass track on Rock Band. It came on as I reached my car. I transitioned the iPod over to the car stereo, downed the windows and turned it up real loud. (Don't worry, the version I have backmasks the F-word so I wasn't going to offend any of the folks out trying to enjoy the last nice day of the year.) I don't have the Gloria Gaynor version of this song, but I believe it may be THE WORST karaoke song in the history of karaoke. Every time you go, you're guaranteed to see a lady attempt to perform this. 97 of 100 times it is awful.

I Wish - King Missile. I also wish for everything he mentions in this song, especially the part about the tractor of innocence.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Yes We Did!


Seriously, music next time.

from I Want To Be Alone to I Was Born Yesterday - Election Day Special

Day 853, Session 142:
Monday October 27th - Music to do housework by.
First song: I Want To Be Alone by Green Day
Last full song: I Was Born Yesterday by The Divine Comedy
Progress: 2155-2164 of 6112
Total Songs Heard: 1829

Look, I don't like politics, and you don't like politics (What? You do kinda like politics? Oh, well, I still like you.) We're all a little tired of how long this particular election cycle has gone on. (We can all agree there I think.) But I didn't want to be the only person in the entire blogosphere to not give his opinion. There are two things I will be voting on today and one I wish I could:

1) I will be voting for Barack Obama for President. I feel he offers this country the best opportunity to start heading in a new, more positive, direction. After the last 8 years of Republican "leadership" I believe we need a change at the top and that you can't get change with a candidate from the same party who has seemingly altered many of his previous beliefs in order to manuver himself into the "best" position to become president.
2) I will be voting against the Proposed Call For A Constitional Convention in Illinois. I don't think we really need to rewrite the entire Illinois State Constitution. A Constitutional Convention would end up being a large expenditure of both time and resources that would result in a document that would end up looking awfully similar to what we already have.

If I lived in California I would also be voting like this:
3) I would vote NO on Proposition 8. The official title:
"Eliminates Right of Same–Sex Couples to Marry." I like my rights equal. Imagine how absurd it would be if they were trying to vote for a bill that said "Eliminates Right of Opposite-Sex Couples to Marry." That would seem assinine right? So why does it make a difference what kind of business is being done between consenting adults in the bedroom?

/tacky stand-up comedian
And listen, if homosexual people want to tie themselves to the anchor that is marriage, who are we to stop them? Why should they be prohibited from being unhappy?
/end tacky stand-up

(Hooray for marriage!)

Listen, you may not agree with anything I've written above, and that's ok. We can still be friendly. The important thing is that you take today to exercise your right to disagree with me by going out and standing in a line for two hours before punching out random choices on an absurdly long list of judges that you know nothing about. I suggest bringing an iPod and/or a book.

I'm heading out now. See you there.

p.s. I promise, we'll be back to music next time.

***Updated*** If you're in my neighborhood that iPod may not be necessary, I had exactly zero wait to vote at my local fire station. USA! USA!