Friday, November 18, 2011

Changes Abound

I know it's a bit of a cliché, but it's also pretty much true: You never really know what life is going to throw at you. All you can do is hold on for the ride and hope to get some fun out of it in the end.

A year ago, my husband and I were ramping up for the holiday season. He would need to be working insane retail hours, and I would need to be investing unhealthy amounts of time gazing at shopping sites and deciphering the maze of downtowners as they hustled through the department stores. Not that I really enjoy shopping, mind you, but there's a certain allure to watching the madness of it all.

This year is a bit different. This year we're hankering down and learning to enjoy the quieter, family-focused side of life while celebrating the end of old things that Winter has been known to represent.

My husband isn't working retail anymore, so gone are the days of never knowing when we would get to see each other for the next six weeks. In fact, that's one of the ends we're celebrating. He's starting back at school in January and he's going to be working toward a brighter future for us while doing work that he wants to do.

As for me, I'm celebrating another kind of end. I'm leaving the company that I've spent the past five years working for and moving toward the career that I've really wanted since college. I'm currently working in logistics for a large food service company. It's a very corporate environment with the typical corporate trappings: politics, red-tape, HR. It's been great work, and I've met some amazing and intelligent people, but it's really my time to move on.

My new company is quite a different direction. It's a marketing research firm that focuses on social media. They have a very progressive concept of employee relations and they are still a very young company with a strong sense of "start-up" still built in to their core. But most importantly, I'll finally be able to start working in the field I fell in love with back in 2003 when I took my first marketing research and consumer psychology course.

It's scary. Our lives are full of changes right now. New jobs, new careers, new schools, new lifestyles… Lots and lots of new. It can be difficult to say goodbye to the things we know and are comfortable with, and that's what we're working through right now.

I always had a vision of the 30-year old me (well, when I got to an age where I could conceive of myself being that old) that was put together, calm, and settled into his life. I just knew that the "adult" me would be the bastion of security and boring repetition. I'm learning now that things will always be changing, and I'm becoming OK with that.

I can't always plan for changes and I can't always be prepared when they come, but what I know I can do is learn to accept them as they happen and realize that, with just a little work and effort, things will turn out alright.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I Have Seen The End And It Is White And Flakey

It happened today. Our first snow of the year. Our closest call yet to an actual freezing temperature. Our first flirtation with The End... Of all things fun in Chicago, at least.

I already mentioned my disdain for winters in general, but Chicago's winters in particular are the very definition of "not fun." I won't cover that again. However, what I will say is that the feeling of impending doom and the feeling of watching said doom actually pend are quite different and certainly unique experiences.

While there is still a small sliver of hope in the impending doom scenario, the actual doom being rendered removes all hope and supplants it with the correct emotions of dread and despair. The sun is gone, the warmth is gone, and all we have left are our family, friends, and pets to keep us going for the next 4-6 months.

I first heard reports of snow flurries this morning after getting to work, but I was easily able to ignore said reports as hogwash because I hadn't seen these flakes. Therefore, they did not exist. End of story.

But as the afternoon drudged on and I was forced to exit my building to find warm food I was also forced to come face to face with the conclusive evidence that winter has arrived: snow was falling from the sky. It landed on my head, my skin, my eyelashes. Big, thick flakes coming down at an utterly unacceptable pace for early November. I was shocked and, indeed, appalled.

I'm afraid that there's nothing to do for it now. We're stuck praying for an end to the protracted frost-bite inducing temperatures from now until some point in the unforeseeable future when Momma Nature decides to wake the hell up and turn on the heater again.

Until then, I don't suspect I'll post anymore self-loathing anti-winter stories. My position is clear and my petition has been received by those who govern weather (although, it's clearly being disregarded). I suppose all I can do now is pretend that snow is pretty or that wearing so many clothes that I now look like I qualify for The Biggest Loser are good things. I hope you "winter people" are happy now!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Burgers, Beer, And Scream 4

The husband and I decided to have a little celebration last night, mainly reflecting on the good things that have been coming our way lately. Not that we've been overwhelmed by goodness or anything, but in time of drought, even the little things are worth toasting.

Our little party included beer, burgers and a movie. I'm not sure what could have been more perfect about that.

We don't watch horror movies that often in our house. Well… correction. My husband doesn't want to watch horror movies that often in our house. There's something about me being a jumpy, screaming mess who likes to latch on to his leg and leave bruises that he just doesn't like. I can't imagine why…

In any case, not many horror movies are viewed in the house. But as it was a celebration, and as I am a huge fan of the series, my man broke down and suggested we watch Scream 4 last night. It may have been that he just wanted to stuff that blu-ray back in the mail to Netflix since it's been sitting on our coffee table for weeks, but he told me that it was because he knew I wanted to watch it, so I'll just have to believe him on that one.

Being a kid in high school in the 90's and college at the turn of the century, the Scream flicks were all pretty much canon for my cadre of friends. Knowing the movies, getting the internal and external references, and appreciating the nuance of how they transcended the traditional horror/slasher flick while maintaining the heart of the genre were all prerequisites to hang out with us. So you can understand that when Scream 4 was announced and released, I was just a tiny bit excited.

Except we didn't go see it in the theater. Again, something about me whaling like a banshee and my sudden bruise-inducing kung-fu grip embarrasses my better half. Whatever…

Back to the point: we finally watched Scream 4 last night. Conclusion: I don't think I could have been any happier with the movie.

I was thoroughly thrilled, spooked, and fooled. I relished in the nostalgic feel of the movie, and pleased by their ability to update the franchise and keep it current and relevant. And I loved that the main characters were back AND that we were still drawn in to a new cast of characters to love and appreciate.

Yes, I squealed and yelped, and yes, I may have Vulcan-death-gripped my husband's leg once or twice (I've gotten better at this, assuming there are helpless pillows around to squeeze), but that's all part of the fun for me. And although he rolled his eyes at both my antics and the silliness of some of the gore, I think that my husband liked the movie too and that he secretly enjoyed watching me squirm.

I don't think this is going to change our horror movie watching habits. I doubt that Halloween marathons or that regular viewings of Prom Night or Carrie will be on our future agenda, but I am glad that we were able to enjoy another spookfest together. Next up is getting him in to a haunted house with me. Next year, though… Next year.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I Love Halloween!

Halloween has to be the absolute best holiday of the year. Lets take all sorts of men wearing revealing or just plain sexy costumes, add obese amounts of alcohol, and then throw in piles upon piles of sugary treats and goodness, and you may have discovered the secret recipe to my heart.

My diet and waistline, however, are not fans of this holiday.

Those whiney bitches aside, I always look forward to this holiday. I love dressing up and just getting silly with my friends. I love it so much that I've even been able to convince my husband to be completely enthused about it, which is no easy feat.

My office this year decided to have a Halloween party-ish... thing. Really, they just asked people to bring food and snacks and drinks and a few of the women decided they'd dress up and give each other awards like "cutest costume" and "spookiest cube." Offices being what they are though, absolutely no one brought any real food. All we had was junk food, including this loverly rendition on the "mud pie" concept:

They called it the Kitty Box Surprise. I called it quite possibly the most disgusting thing I've ever seen set on a table generally meant for consumption.

The real kicker for me though was the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, which encapsulates my three favorite treats into one massive pile of artery jamming concoction: Pumpkin-flavored anything, Pumpkin Pie, and Cheesecake. It wasn't even that good, but I simply couldn't let it just sit there. It had to be consumed!

Lucky for me, I'll be back in the gym tomorrow. I've been avoiding it lately due to some back pain issues, but either that's resolved itself or the sugar is blocking the pain receivers in my head. Either way, I'll be getting back to running and lifting things and grunting and sweating, all in the effort to lose the 15 pounds I'm sure I gained yesterday.

Monday, October 24, 2011

If Gay Men Went To Summer Camp

If you've ever been curious what a gay cruise is all about, I can sum it up for you: it's summer camp for gay men. But I'll get back to that in a moment.

This being the year of gay travel for us (P-Town, Southern Decadence, Vegas... It's close enough), we picked a gay cruise as our final big gay trip for 2011. Like many of our vacations, we went in to this event a bit blind, but relying on the information we had gathered from friends and the ever-trusty interwebs, we decided to book a room with Atlantis Events for their Mexico cruise.

We truly had no idea what to expect.  Originally, I assumed that this trip would be a lot like our vacation to Riviera Maya. We stayed at an all-inclusive there and really enjoyed our time on the resort. I just assumed that the cruise would be more of the same kind of thing as the resort, only with a throng of gays. But that turned out to be very, very incorrect. At the resort, we barely met anyone, we spent the majority of the day lounging about the pool or beach, and the entertainment, while not horrible, was just OK. In comparrison, on the boat we met several great people, we spent our time between lounging, partying, and socializing, and the entertainment options were all top notch.
I have to admit though that I was a bit mortified to be going on the cruise. The idea of it sounded great, but the realization that I'll be on a boat floating over the ridiculously vast ocean while millions of unknown and unseen critters swim beneath us just waiting for one of us to fall off and become the next sharktopus snack… well, that spooked me a bit. So my husband wisely drug me to a bar shortly before we were scheduled to board and ordered a pitcher of beer that we just had to drink in 40 minutes, which went a long way in relaxing me enough to be able to get on the ship.

Once we were on the floating kraken feeder boat, I was fine. The room was nice, if a tiny bit small, the layout of the ship was pretty intuitive, and there was plenty enough room for everyone to be able to kick back and relax. And this is where the summer camp feel started to kick in.

Every day we were greeted with a little pamphlet listing all the various activities going on that day, when and where. For someone like me who is a habitual planner and someone who if given a schedule must follow it, these little booklets of "fun" soon became an ordeal. Luckily, I have an understanding husband who quickly learned to hide the packet from me and only allow me to choose one activity throughout the day that we could plan for. Everything else would just be happenstance as we lollygagged through the boat or lazed about the pool.

Really though, there was just a ton of stuff going on every day, so there was no need to plan unless there was something in particular you wanted to do. Shows, shopping, game show things, bingo, comedians, string quartets, cabaret acts, Broadway stars, singles and couples meet-and-greets, movies, gambling, and that doesn't even cover everything. Through it all, these abundantly nice crew and staff members were around to help direct you to events or provide you with whatever you needed. Oh, and then the requisite camp boat announcements from the camp cruise directors.

What really amazed me though was that with a boat packed full of 1900 gay men, I believe we only encountered one genuine act of bitchiness, and even that was rather mild. Everyone was just nice. And there was a pretty solid mix of people on the boat too, although the demographic certainly skewed well in to the mid-30's or later for average age range, but even the age and other differences didn't stop everyone from just kicking back and having a great time together.

I was also surprised by how many people on the boat that were interested in sparking up friendships. The boat was fairly big (the veteran cruisers said it was average, but for us newbies it was huge), and there were plenty of people on the boat, but we did manage to meet quite a few people that we enjoyed hanging around. By the second day of the cruise we had made quite a few new acquaintances, most of whom we talked with and hung around with throughout the rest of the trip.

True to the summer camp feel, the cruise directors threw a huge going away party on Thursday night and one last t-dance on Friday, which allowed us all to say farewell to the trip and to get the contact information for everyone we met that we wanted to stay in touch with. Of course, keeping in touch is vastly easier these days with Facebook and all, but we still heard quite a few people saying "keep in touch, ok?" Atlantis even offers an alumni website to help facilitate these connections, which is pretty nifty.

When Saturday morning rolled around, everyone's face shared the same somber yet wonderfully tanned look. Except mine. Because I somehow failed to inherit the tanning gene that allows the rest of my family to so perfectly tan. Anyway… we all knew we were heading home, but we all had a great time on board. Certainly, there will be quite a few memories from the trip. Especially for that one couple that decided that 4 a.m. Wednesday morning was the perfect time to go through a nasty breakup. In the hallway. While drunk. I'm sure they'll remember the trip quite fondly.

So you can see how this Atlantis cruise really was like summer camp for gay men. With alcohol. LOTS of alcohol. The husband and I really enjoyed the experience and will likely do it again. We've reserved a cabin for the same cruise next year, basically just in case we do want to go. From talking to the people on the cruise, it seems like cruises are much like tattoos: once you do one, you want more. And even though I'm certain the next time I get on that boat Cthulu will rise up out of ocean and devour us whole, I think it's a fair trade off for a great week with some like minded travelers!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Putting In Your $1.05

One thing people tend to forget is that Freedom of Speech also means that individuals have the Freedom Not To Speak. Perhaps we should all exercise that freedom just a little more often.

We're hearing more and more stories about anti-gay weirdoes spouting off their beliefs in unnecessary or unusual places. Some of those people, like this guy, are being punished for their inopportune and unwelcome comments. And some of those people, like that same guy, are being propped up as martyrs in the fundamentalist Christian community.

The thing is that, while he does have a right to speak his mind, he doesn't have a right to do so without repercussion. We all have rights and privileges in this country, but those come with responsibilities as well. The responsibility to speak about appropriate topics in appropriate ways and in appropriate settings strongly correlates with the right to free speech.

For example, I am free to discuss topics like my bedroom activities with whomever is around me. But that may come at a cost. If I choose to speak of these things with friends at a bar, that cost will be laughs or friendly jibing, but if I choose to do so in front of my boss, that cost may be the loss of my job, or if I choose to do so on Facebook, that cost may be the "unfriending" of family and friends who are not keen on participating in such discussions.

You see, I am free to discuss my bedroom antics, but I am also subject to the cost of that freedom. Conversely, I am free to simply not speak of such things, thereby avoiding any cost, and I am free to selectively share, thereby incurring only the costs I am willing and able to pay.

Clearly, there are people who are unaware of the costs of their Freedoms. Perhaps if people continue to lose focus of the societal costs of their freedoms, we should enact the $1.05 policy advocated by Team America: World Police.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dreading Another Chicago Winter

As the chill starts to settle in here in Chicago, my well-documented hatred of the cold and winter and snow is resurfacing. Chicago is not known for it's lovely and majestic winters. This city is pretty well plagued by piles upon piles of snow each year coupled with sub-zero temperatures and winds that are fond of knocking me off the sidewalk onto my ass in the middle of the street. Oh, and those winds have the magical ability to drop the temp another 10-20 degrees.

In short, I really hate the winters here.

By contrast, the summers in Chicago can't be beat. It could be a bit warmer for a bit longer, but I think the shortness of our warm season is what makes the summers here as amazing as they are. The city comes alive, people are out and about, street festivals are packed into every weekend, and the beaches are always full or sun-loving people soaking up every minute of warmth they can get. This city celebrates the warmer months like no other place I've lived.

Which just makes the winter months even more despondent. It's almost like we are forcing ourselves to have fun in the summers because we know that once December rolls around, we won't be going outside for anything less than absolute necessities for a good 5 months. Everyone shuts themselves in doors, socialization slows to a crawl and the memories of summer are all we have to keep us going.

OK, that last paragraph may be just a little melodramatic, but it does mostly convey my thoughts on the issue.

So each year around this time, the husband and I talk about moving. When we first met, he was steadfast in not wanting to leave Chicago, but over the years he's become more open to the idea. I want to live somewhere warm. Like no snow kind of warm. Where sunlight isn't a precious commodity and houses are only equipped with heaters for "just in case" moments. Where 90-degree weather isn't seen as the second sign of the apocalypse and being outside in January doesn’t involve 3 layers of clothing, 2 coats, a hat and a prayer that the wind gods won't take you as a sacrifice to their cruel sense of justice.

Of course, when he asks where I want to move, my only answer is "South." "Where South," he asks. And I say "I don't know, just not here."

Very helpful and direct.

Truth is I don’t know where I'd like to go. Atlanta has been mentioned several times, but I just have a bad impression of that city for some reason, and a strong opposition to Georgia in general. Austin and Dallas have been bandied about, but then there's the whole living in Texas thing to contend with. New Orleans sounds interesting, and we both really love that city, but that whole finding a job thing might prove difficult there.

Then there's the West Coast to consider. We're both open to pretty much any of the big West Coast cities: San Diego, San Francisco, L.A. We've even considered the northern ones like Portland and Seattle because we hear snow isn't a real issue there, although the lack of heat may still be an issue. But we've never been to any of those places, so right now they sound like these mythical places of wonder, but we have no clue what they'll really be like.

There's also this notion of starting over again socially. I have experience moving around, did it a lot as a kid and I uprooted myself to Chicago a few years back. But just because I've done it before doesn't mean it'll be easy and/or fun. I love the friends that we've made here in Chicago. It's taken a few years, but the friends we've cultivated here are really great people. We have to ask ourselves if we really want to start over again and forge new friendships.

All that said, it's just an idea. The logistics of moving all of our stuff, finding jobs and transferring schools, finances, and all the other stuff that comes with moving is a bit overwhelming. Yes, I'd love to move South and get out of these wretched winters, but I'd also like to be making 3 times my current salary and shopping for a summer home. I'm not sure how many more of these Chicago Winters I can take though. I'm guessing at some point the hatred I have for this season will finally out weigh our apprehensions about moving and we'll make it happen. But I don't think that's this year.

Meanwhile, I'll just come back here to bitch and whine about the cold.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smells Like 30-Something Spirit

I can remember thinking in high school that at some point, much later in life, I'd look back at the music I was listening to at the time and reminisce about the "good old days" of music and how the "music" them there kids was listening to was just plain garbage. I'm thinking that the "much later in life" thing may have crept up on me sooner than I thought it would.

Slacker Radio is web music service like Pandora, and in any tangible sense that won't take paragraphs of tech blah-blah to explain, they are pretty much identical, although I generally prefer Slacker's iPhone app over Pandora's. Anyway, Slacker creates these special stations from time to time to celebrate whatever is going on in music at the time, like they had a VMA station a couple weeks back. Right now their featured station is "Grunge: 20 Years Later."

For those reading from my generation, I'll let that sink in for a moment. It's been 20 years since Nevermind and 10 came out, 20 years since the most significant cultural shift in the music industry of the 90's hit the scenes, 20 years since flannel shirts were not solely owned by lesbians and boys with long, ragged hair were the cool thing.

In other words, we are now old enough to say "remembered when" and for the music we grew up on to be considered "old school." I about cried when that dawned on me.

I still love grunge music though. I still listen to old STP and Live and Nirvana and Alice in Chains and Foo Fighters and Smashing Pumpkins. And I may as well be waving my cane at kids screaming "get off my lawn!" while I listen.

I'm not too fond of this feeling, but I suppose it's just one of those feelings I'll have to learn to deal with. I'm only more likely to have these type of moments as life goes on. And hell, if Slacker having a station dedicated to Grunge helps a few young pups out there really understand why Smashing Pumpkins Siamese Dream was such a big f-in deal of an album, it can't be that bad.

In the meantime though, I need to go sit on my porch and rock in my wooden chair while I whistle Smells Like Teen Spirit through my dentures...

Friday, September 9, 2011

It's Like Crack

Buying musical equipment should come with a warning label. Perhaps something like what they put on cigarette packs in some places, but instead of cancerous lungs it should be empty wallets and weeping bank accounts. This shit is dangerous!

I've had a hankering to start writing and recording music again. I've barely touched my guitar in a few years, but I've been feeling really inspired lately and, perhaps more importantly, I've been missing the outlet that my music offered me. With amateur home recording becoming easier and offering better quality than in years past, I've also had the urge to start recording my music for posterity.

Not having much luck in the past getting even decent sounding tracks on to the hard drive, I decided I should probably defer to people that might know a little more about recording than I do. So off to Guitar Center we went.

The idea was really to get an idea of what basic equipment was needed to start recording and price it all out. After about an hour of questioning a very nice, very hipster kid about various gear and techniques and tools, we walked away with approximately $300 price tag in mind. Just to get started.

And I wanted to buy it all, right then and there.

I remember reading about The Smashing Pumpkins' recording process while making Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness. They used over 300 different guitars, at least as many effects pedals, and a sizable amount of different microphones just to record that one album. In essence, Billy Corgan is a perfectionist. I'm not saying I'm near that bad, but I am saying I understand where he's coming from…

So we didn't buy anything. We didn't because it was $300 we weren't planning on spending. We didn’t because I'm not quite ready to start recording stuff just yet. Most importantly, we didn't because we knew that once I started buying stuff, I wouldn't want to stop. I'd get the first batch of gear, but then I'd just need another cable. Oh, then there's a new stand that might work well. And I can't forget about that other thingamajig that will surely make this one song just perfect… and on, and on…

But at least I know what to plan for now. I know what the entry level will be and I can spend some time learning a bit more about the equipment and the whats and hows of it all. Now I have to try and invoke some semblance of will power and hold off on rushing out to buy it all!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New Orleans Is A Blast Even In A Tropical Storm

Rain makes for an interesting companion during vacations. It seems that during pretty much all of our travels over the past couple years, rain has decided to come along with us. Mexico, Vancouver, Provincetown… all had some rainfall. Now we can add New Orleans to that list.

While the rain during the other vacations was more of a nuisance, like a harmless cousin that shows up at your door with luggage in hand looking for a free room to stay for the night, the NOLA rain was more like overbearing grandparents showing up just when you're about to have that hot date over for the night.

Lee Rises In The South

If you were watching the news, I'm sure you heard about Tropical Storm Lee and how it was headed straight for New Orleans. Given that it waited till Friday to start in force and was pretty much over by Monday afternoon, I might have even thought that this storm was sent just so that it could put a damper on our vacation, but if that was Lee's intention, I'm sure he forgot that us gays are more likely to have spontaneous wet T-shirt contest in the street than to run for cover when the sky just happens to turn in to an outdoor showerhead.

Friday night was a bit rough and even a tiny bit scary. Having been through a few hurricanes in my life, I started to get a little antsy, but when I realized that we were witnessing the worst of it and it wasn't likely to get much worse, I calmed down a bit. We made it back to our condo before the worst of it fell, but our condo-mate was still out around 2:30 am when the rain had turned the streets into little rivers or empty cups and cigarette butts.

The rest of the weekend was as nice as we could have hoped for given the weather reports prior to heading down there. There was a little rain here and there, we got soaked through a couple times, but overall it was fine. Like I said, we gays know how to make a fun party out of any situation, even if our hair was getting ruined. If nothing else, it provided for an endless supply of Flashdance impersonations.

A Decadent Time

Southern Decadence was everything we had hoped for this time around as well. As I mentioned, this year we knew quite a few more people than we had last year, and it was nice to see them all, but we also made time to make some new friends. One thing I love about events like this is that whenever we leave, we've made a few more new friends across the country, which gives us even more of a reason to go visit places like San Diego, Houston, or D.C.

Again, the charm of New Orleans really swept me away. There's just something magical about that city. Sure, there's the hokey factor, but more than anything the old-world feel of the French Quarter and the genuiness of the city's residents is just something you have to experience. I fall in love with it again every time I visit.

A Few New Eats

We tried a few new restaurants this year that I would be remiss not to mention, one upscale and one completely not-so-much, but both delicious. First, the higher-end place: Restaurant August. This is John Besh's place in New Orleans and features "modern French" dishes mixed with Cajun and Creole stylings. We popped in for lunch and everything from was just amazing. Our server was knowledgeable, patient, fun, and professional, the drinks were delicious and hand-crafted and the beer offered was from the best of the local breweries, and the food was perfectly prepared and unique. A friend of ours shared this recommendation with us last time we went, but it took us this second time in NOLA to make the effort to go and I'm very glad we did.

The more authentic and down-home place that I think everyone should try is a place the cleaning staff at the condo recommended: Coops Place. A few things to mention right up front, the restaurant is small, the wait staff are rude, and the bathrooms are in the scariest bowels of the building possible. That said, this could have been the best, most true-to-memory Louisiana cooking I've had in all my trips to NOLA. The fried chicken was perfectly spiced, the red beans and rice had just the right amount of pork sprinkled throughout, and the gumbo was piping hot and full up on the ingredients. Do yourself a favor, check your tourist ego at the door, and get the waiter to laugh and you'll be in for a real, authentic New Orleans meal.

We'll Be Back

Even though our second annual (hopefully more to come) Labor Day excursion to New Orleans was just a bit rain-soaked, I have to say that we probably had a better time this year compared to last. Of course, that's like saying last year was an 8.5/10 and this year was a 9/10, but still. We made some promising new friends, had some excellent food (something that was lacking last year), and even made the best of the rain and still had a blast!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

All I Ever Wanted Was A Little Airborne Toxicity

I don't often obsess over a song. I'm more of an album kind of guy. Albums can be great or miserable, and so can individual songs on those albums, but usually the strength or weakness of a single track just weighs in to my overall estimation of an album.

Of course, for every rule there is an exception. A few weeks ago I went on a new music binge. I opened Slacker Radio on my iPhone, fired up their Alternative channel and listened until I found five songs I really liked, then went and grabbed the albums those songs were on, hoping that the albums would be good enough to break me out of my music funk.

One of the albums I downloaded was All At Once from Airborne Toxic Event. This is one of those times that I realize I'm behind on finding this artist, but honestly I just couldn't care. The album is good and I'm just glad to have found it! I love the instrumentation the artists use, the range of sounds they are able to command, and, probably most inspiring to me, their lyrics.

But one songs on the album, All I Ever Wanted, has really stuck out to me. I'm not even sure if the track has been or will be released as a single, but it certainly needs to be! Take a listen:

I can't define what I appreciate most from the song, the lyrics or the arrangement, but I don't think it matters because it's purely amazing. The lyrics take you on a journey of fear and hope and realization and self-doubt and love… you know, all the things us neurotics think about pretty much daily! And the strings came through with such simplicity and the intensity of their delivery is perfect.

It's a song that I know I can relate to, and one that I think so many others can too. I've read the explanations across the interwebs of what people think the song means, and from a literal stand point I'm sure the abandonment idea makes sense, but the beauty of a song like this (as with any good art) is that there is still room for interpretation from the viewer/listener.

When I hear these lyrics, I don't hear a man saying that the relationship is over. I hear a man that knows that shit just got real, as the kids say. He knows the honeymoon-period is over. It's a flash-point perspective on the moment that it dawned on him that he's with someone and that he's not sure he can be everything to them like he always wanted to be. And that leads to his fear that maybe this won't work out, that maybe the person he's with isn't exactly who he thought either and maybe that'll end badly. But in the end, I feel like he comes back and says that he's in love anyway, despite the fears and the insecurities and the short-comings. He's going to defy his self-doubt because he knows that nobody is perfect.

I've been listening to this song a lot. I mean, like on repeat. I've been learning to play a version of it so that I can play it in the short windows of time that I'm not listening to it. I've been reading (*shudder*) fan-site message boards to get other opinions on the song. I'm quite obsessed. And I think you should be too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can't Hardly Wait

The husband and I are preparing to embark on yet another trip to New Orleans this weekend. We went to NOLA last year this time as well and had a great time just hanging around, drinking, eating and relaxing amidst the festivities of Southern Decadence, so we figured why not go back again this year?

I think saying that we had a blast last year is a bit of an understatement. We went with no expectations of Southern Decadence, not knowing what to expect and not knowing anyone who had been. Turned out that a friend from college ended up going as well and we ended up spending a good amount of time with him catching up and catching the sites, but we also met quite a few new people to talk to and hang around with.

New Orleans is one of my favorite places to visit. It has a very unique quality to it, a certain charm that is hard to define until you are there. There's a real, distinct old world feel to the French Quarter (and several of the nearby neighborhoods) that meshes with the modern world just enough to feel familiar yet old. And for the most part the bars and stores and such don't cheapen that. Most of the residents relish the cities uniqueness instead of trying to bastardize it into a tourist trap from hell.

That's not to say there isn't a little bit of tourist trapping going on. There are quite a few restaurants in the Quarter that claim to be "Cajun" or "New Orleans Style" yet deliver bland substitutes of Creole/Cajun cuisine. It takes a bit of trial and error to find the good stuff, but once you do you won't regret the search.

This year should be just a tad bit different for us. Like I said, we had no expectation last year and ended up having a great time, so we obviously aren't going into this blind. But we've also got quite a few friends and acquaintances that are going this year, whereas last year we barely knew anyone. Part of the charm of SD, for me at least, was forcing myself out of my usually tight shell to be social and meet new people, but with so many people we know going this year, I'll have to make the extra effort to open up to new people as it seems likely that we'll have people we know everywhere we go. That should be fun though too: sharing something as unique as NOLA with good people you already know should make the whole experience more robust.

This trip is coming at a really good time for us as well. After the past couple months, we're both ready for a getaway, particularly one that we've both been looking forward to so much. A very good friend is travelling with us this time as well and staying with us in the condo we rented right in the French Quarter, which will give us a chance to really bond and hang out, something that we just don't get to do as much these days with our work schedules.

The weather report for NOLA is looking bleak for this weekend, but every vacation we've ever took has had a bleak weather forecast going in to the trip only to turn out to be either mostly nice or perfectly wonderful. Humidity is inevitable this time of year in Louisiana, so I'm not worried about that, but I suppose we'll just have to wait and see if this weekend brings the rain and if that rain will stop the people from partying in the streets still.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I'm Not Bored, But They Really Are That Long...

I mentioned a little while ago that I had started reading Game of Thrones and I had also started playing Fallout: New Vegas. In that post, I worried about the time investment of those books and games and pondered whether I'm getting to a point in life where that commitment wasn't realistic anymore. Essentially, I was worried I was too old to enjoy the kind of things I did as a kid.

I'm now almost finished with A Clash of Kings, the sequel to Game of Thrones, and am more than 20 hours in to Fallout: New Vegas, and am I extremely happy with both!

The difference between when I started the game and the book and now, I supppose, is that nostalgia kicked in somewhere. A love of long-form fantasy with twists and intrigue and a love for open, fleshed-out worlds packed full of stories and interesting tidbits to find. It also helps that the series of books and the F:NV are phenomenal products.

What George R.R. Martin has done so perfectly in this series of books is create characters that you feel for. You may not like the character, but you certainly have an opinion about them. You cheer for them or revile them, but you are never bored with the characters. They feel real. And the storytelling mechanic he uses is just great. Each chapter jumps between a different characters point of view, but the timeline never goes backward. You learn of new events happening to one character while following the adventures of another. All in all, it's very engrossing.

Fallout: New Vegas does so many things right so far that I can say my only true complaint is the inclusion of zombies. I HATE zombies in video games. Usually, their inclusion is enough to get me to stop playing a game altogether. But Fallout's don't bother me. In fact, I just helped out a charismatic pack of zombies pile into rocket ships and fly off to a highly radioactive area of the country. My character is that nice of a guy.

While F:NV was made by Obsidian (who also made some other great games, like Neverwinter Nights 2 and Dungeon Siege 3), the basis for the game comes from Bethesda (who made Oblivion), so the game still holds true to this grand scale of a huge world to explore with danger and mystery around every corner. The characters you meet are believable and the stories are still shocking to me, like when I found out an adorable town matron was responsible for selling one of the town guard's wife to slavery… then I hauled her off to the desert so the guard could kill her. Disturbing, but amazing!

I plan to keep on with the Song of Ice and Fire series, even if I have a feeling that'll keep my reading log full for the rest of the year, and I have every intention to keep plugging away in Fallout. Maybe that adventure-loving kid in me is still there, I just had to wake him up a bit.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Trading One Service For Another

Like pretty much every Netflix subscriber out there, the husband and I received an email last week informing us that, "to better serve their customers," Netflix had decided to hike their prices again. Well, really they broke out their pricing to be to different plans, one for streaming movies and one for the DVD/Blu-Ray rental-by-mail service.

Bottom line: they want an additional $5 a month from us.

It's an interesting move, because Netflix's streaming plan is now $7.99 a month. Alone, that's not a bad price point for hundreds of movies and TV shows to instantly stream to your laptop, iPhone, gaming console or other internet-connected device. But since it used to be included in the price of our Blu-Ray by-mail rentals, being charge anything extra for it feels a bit insulting.

So we've decided to give Hulu Plus a shot. Hulu by itself is a fantastic service. I've been using it since it's beta days a few years back and my husband and I have been using it heavily for the past couple years to catch up on the shows we never get to watch when they air live. But Hulu Plus gives us the ability to stream those same shows to our laptop, iPhones, gaming console or other internet-connected device (sound familiar?). It also gives us access to full seasons of shows and quite a bit of other content that free Hulu users do not get.

Hulu Plus also has movies, but that selection is a bit limited. I haven't perused the movie selection in a hot minute, but last time I looked it included all the best of late 80's and early 90's cinema… thrilling.  Like Netflix, content on Hulu is served up at the studio's whim: when they decide that they tire of allowing people to enjoy their decade-old show they simply tell Hulu to remove the show and that's that.

Plain old Hulu includes ads in the shows you watch, just like watching TV except that there's only one ad, maybe 2, during each commercial break and it's almost always the same tired ads over and over again. Hulu plus also allows you the opportunity to view these ads, which is a bit annoying. If I'm paying to use your otherwise free streaming service, I should not be required to watch the ads. That gripe aside, the streaming quality is almost always nice and the player works well.

I'm not sure what to think though. Hulu Plus also costs $7.99 a month. And you can't always stream all their content on your various devices. We're basically trading a large selection of streaming movies and a smaller collection of streaming TV shows for a large collection of TV shows with a smaller collection of movies. For the same price. And adding ads to the mix. And we're doing this because Netflix decided to hike the price on us, but we'll still be spending the same amount of money in the end either way.

I'm not sold on the idea yet, but I'm definitely up for giving it a try. As it is, we watch way more TV shows than movies (of which I watch virtually none while my husband watches lots of anything that involves explosions and cheesy acting), and we do use Hulu on a daily basis whereas we use Netflix streaming occasionally to rarely. I'm just not sure whether paying for Hulu will be worth it for us either, but I suppose we won't know until we give it a shot.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Am I Bored, Or Is This Just Too Long

As I get older, I've noticed my taste for entertainment has changed, but I'm not sure what aspect has changed. Have I grown impatient of longer form entertainment, or do I just lust for more diverse entertainment options?

I've been reading Game of Thrones lately, George R. R. Martin's epic modern fantasy novel. The book is the first in a long series of book called the Song of Ice and Fire and has recently been adapted into an HBO show. The book is a monstrous 800 pages in paperback form. I suppose for a fantasy novel that is probably normal, but for someone that hasn't read a true fantasy epic in a while it seems a bit much.

I've also recently started up playing Fallout: New Vegas on my PC. The game comes with rave reviews and has a spiritual ancestor in Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, which is at the top of my favorite video games list. Both Oblivion and New Vegas feature huge, vast open worlds each with more than 60 hours of gameplay, and that's at the low end of game time.

With both Game of Thrones and Fallout, I've jumped head first into the venture with a lot of anticipation and excitement. I've been loving watching the HBO adaptation (we haven't finished it yet) of GoT, and I adore the idea of a post-apocalyptic spin on the Oblivion-style gameplay with updated mechanics that Fallout offers. But in both cases, I'm wondering if I didn't bite off a bit more than I care to chew with regard to the time commitment it'll take to finish them.

It's not that I'm not enjoying reading and playing. Both are fascinating and very well done. Each time I crack open the book or fire up the game, I'm enthralled by the world presented to me. But when I step away from them because I'm getting off the bus or because diner is ready or it's time for bed, I'm left wondering if I'll ever reach the end of these gynormous adventures.

That feeling, for me, is both awe-inspiring and annoying all at once.

When I was younger, I can remember burying myself in the Lord of the Rings books and relishing every moment of their often-times dense text, regardless of how long it took me to read through them. I can recall racing home from class in college to figure out what was going to happen to Yuna next in Final Fantasy X, or even coming home from work a few years later and not being bothered at all by losing my entire evening and even some of my scheduled sleep hours to dungeon crawling in Oblivion. I enjoyed the time I spent in those worlds and I did not once think that I was missing out on something else.

Now though, as I read Game of Thrones or fire up New Vegas, I find myself wondering what else is going on that I'm missing. I'm not enjoying the time spent any less, but I'm wondering if I'm cutting myself short on other experiences. I know that I can tear through the new Sookie Stackhouse book in less than a week and that I can blow through a game like Dungeon Siege 3 in less than 15 hours of game time, which then allows me to move on to something else, some new experience.

But I can't say that I enjoy those experiences as much as I enjoy what I'm reading and playing now. I like them, and they are fun, but not quite as deep and rewarding. Which makes me wonder if I'm just becoming impatient. I need the reward of completing, of knowing I've finished X books/games this year and I liked them, even if saying I've completed (X-5) books/games and I LOVED them seems like the wiser thing to do with my free time.

So I can't really tell if my tastes are changing because I want to have more and varied entertainment options at the expense of better or more rewarding options, or if I just bore easier with longer-form entertainment now that I'm older. /sigh...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cruisey Eyes

An interesting phenomena occurs when you go off on a "gay vacation": you develop what my husband and I have termed Cruisey Eyes.

Quick aside: Gay Vacation defined is a vacation to attend a wholly or mostly gay-themed event, such as Bear Week that my husband and I just got home from or the cruise we're doing later this year. It can also refer to attending a non-LGBT themed event with a large group of your queer friends, thereby transforming the event from whatever it was into a Gay Vacation.

Back on point. One of the most fun things about a gay vacation is that the people attending the event quickly let their guard down from their everyday lives. At home, many gays will put up a wall to try and try to hide the most overt parts of their sexuality from the outside world, which can oftentimes lead to confusion on the streets about who is and who isn't gay.

For example, when gay men are wandering down the street at home and see an attractive man across the way, they may look but they typically cut it down to a brief glance. After all, we don't know if that man is gay himself or if others in the vicinity might take unkindly (read: violently) to witnessing us checking out another dude. So while heterosexual dudes can be a bit less discreet in their scoping of women, gay men tend to put up a wall for protection.

But what happens during gay vacations is that those walls come tumbling down. Like, fast. The subtlety many of us employ back home when checking out mens is gone the moment we arrive at our destination. Spotting a hot man can, and most likely will, involve pointing, smiling, waving, winking, cat calling, and any other number of flirty behaviors. It also usually involves a full head to toe scan from both individuals and quick introductions if both are satisfied with what they see.

So while we were in P-Town, the husband and I both developed a hard case of Cruisey Eye. We appreciated the hundreds of good-looking fellas around us, waved, winked, flirted, and said hello to many of them. That Cruisey Eye is facilitated on Gay Vacations because we know everyone there is gay. There's no fear of embarrassing yourself by trying to flirt up a straight guy because we know we're all there for the same reason.

Sadly, though, we have to come back to the real world, and in the real world, Cruisey Eye isn't appreciated as much. It takes some adjustment to get back in to the mindset that you shouldn't be openly checking out every cute guy that wanders down the street, or that giving the bank teller a flirty smile and a wink may not be appreciated. And it's a damn shame too because life is so much more fun when everyone around you is open to a little flirtation!

That's how it goes though: no more Gay Vacation means no more Cruisey Eye. I'll just have to save up my Cruisey Eye now for when I go to my Gay Gym...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oh My Hotness!

It's been hot here in Chicago the past few days. Well, for Chicagoans "hot" is anything about 72 degrees, but for some of us Southern kids, hot doesn't even come to our tongues until the thermostat reads 95. And so yesterday and this morning, I said it was officially hot!

We're down to 90-ish now, so it's cooled off a bit. To me, this is very nice weather (minus the 50%+ humidity) and I've found that anytime I say that around people born and raised up North, they look at me like I'm crazy.

The thing is that I spent most of my childhood years down South. With the exception of a 2 year stint in the upper peninsula of Michigan, my pre-teen life was spent well below the Mason-Dixon line. Even my teenage and college days were in Northern Kentucky, which is pretty Midwestern in temperament but still very Southern in Summer Heat.

To me, Summer equals Heat. Summer also equals no school, no responsibility, lounging on the back porch or playing with neighborhood friends. Therefore, by some mathematical theory thingy I've long forgotten, Summer equals awesome-happy-sunshine-time!

Sadly, as an adult, those times aren't quite as frequent as I'd like, but I simply adore spending time outdoors in the heat if only to reminisce. I've been spending my lunch hour outside, and finding ample excuses to go outside during work hours just so I can have a few moments in the heat.

So if you see me strolling down the sidewalk dripping sweat from my forehead with a big ol' smile plastered on, you'll understand: I may be perspiring like I'm losing every ounce of water I have in me, but I'm loving every single moment of it. No worries, no responsibilities, no cares… at least until I feel the cold blast of A/C hit me hard when I walk indoors.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Provincetown, The Perfect Getaway

The husband and I have been off on a vacation this past week in Provincetown, Massachusetts.  It's both of our first times here in New England, and I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying this town!

P-Town, as it's otherwise known, is a beautiful little village.  It's a beach town at the very end of Cape Cod, and it's known to be a very gay-friendly town.  Not exactly a gay specific town, but a town that is very open and accepting of many different walks of life.

We came specifically for Bear Week with a few friends, and I have to be honest when I say that I was a bit worried that this would turn into a week long party similar to Southern Decadence.  I've been pleasantly surprised that the week has been a nice balance of high and low activity time, with beach lounging, partying and friend time being balanced quite well.

If I were to have one complaint, it would be that P-Town is a bit pricey, so it's not the vacation for those looking for fun and relaxation on the cheap.  But if you prepare and budget for this place, it's amazing.  It's been exactly the vacation I've needed.

I'll leave you with a couple pictures, one of the view we saw on the dunes bike trail yesterday and one of the baby shark post being eaten we saw on our first day here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Now That I Am Actually 30...

I've been full-on 30 now for a couple of weeks, and I can't say that I really feel much different. I know, HUGE shocker that one more day in your life doesn't change things that much, but I did still harbored an irrational fear that everything would change once the big Three Oh hit.

I have noticed one change though. That irrational fear of aging is fading. I still hold a bit of concern about what life will be like in my later years, but overall I'm more confident that I'm not going to fall over crippled by various spontaneous ailments.

There are still quite a few problems I'm working through: after knee surgery last year, I'm still trying to recover fully. I just learned (the hard way) that running on pavement is a big no-no for me at this point in my knee recovery. I'm still struggling with stomach issues, but it seems I've learned what combination of foods, drugs and activity will keep things under control. And I'm constantly fighting the prime gay fight: what is the optimal hair cut that enables me to look cute and young while maintaining a modicum of professional presence and without looking like one of those ridiculous gays I use to make fun of that still wear Abercrombie and Fitch well into their 50's.

Of course, I am keenly aware of my age these days. And, also of course, I know 30 isn't ancient or old by any means. But there was a few year period in my mid-20's where I would frequently forget which age I was. Someone would ask my age and I would have to think for a minute. Not any more. I'm 30 and I know it.

A good friend told me that when he turned 30, he had a moment of realization that he, much like the honey badger, just didn't give a shit. He stopped worrying so much about what others thought of him and stopped worrying about upsetting random strangers in social situations. I don't know if I've achieved this level of nonchalance, but I will say that I have reached a point where I am growing more comfortable with myself as a whole, which bolsters my confidence.

I'm 30, and just about everyone I went to school with is 30. My husband isn't far behind. Personally, I'm more than happy to welcome the next chapter in my life now that I've crossed the line into 30-something territory.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

When They're Gone: A Farewell To Crazies

I'm really excited for the Rapture. All the hustle and bustle of Christian life will soon be quelled by the Almighty exhuming his professed followers from Earth to Heaven, leaving all the rest to suffer through war, famine, fire, brimstone, etc. You know, the usual.

If you're not familiar with the latest internet craze crazy person doomsday sayer, you can check out some information here. For the short version, this guy has calculated that the Rapture will occur this Saturday, May 21. At precisely 6 p.m. Local time. Whether that's affected by daylight savings time is still unclear.

If you're note sure what all this particular Rapture will involve, or which 200 million people will be summoned to His side, the San Francisco Chronicle has provided a handy-dandy FAQ for you.

So why is this happening now? Cliff's notes: because the world was submerged under water and all life eliminated exactly 7000 years ago on May 21. Obviously. Oh, and Gays. You mustn't forget The Gays.

To all my Christian friends, I just want to say farewell and it's been nice knowing you. I've been furiously reading the Left Behind books (you may need to try the link a few times, it's a bit overwhelmed with everyone trying to cheat and read the abbreviated version), watching the movie and playing the video games just so I can understand what will come of me in the months leading up to the October 21 obliteration of the world. I do wish we could get one more Halloween in, but I understand there's a celestial time line that must be adhered to. Also, according to the video game, you will be able to drop literal prayer bombs on my head that strike with the power of a nuclear warhead. Now that's gonna hurt, but I gotta say that's pretty damn awesome, so good on ya for that!

To the rest of us heathens, I'm looking forward to actually getting some meaningful legislation passed in Congress. Once the Rapture occurs, we can pass all those pro-gay bills that supposedly discriminate against Christians. After all, you can't discriminate against a class of people that don't exist anymore, right?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Discovering Fran Lebowitz

I came across a Martin Scorsese documentary about Fran Lebowitz last night on HBO called Public Speaking and it raised a few questions for me.

First: Why was I familiar with the name but none of her work? I've known the name Fran Lebowitz for quite some time, but only knew it as one of those names I should know to seem like I'm in tune with culture.

Turns out she is (was, really) an essayist and a writer for a few magazines, was part of Andy Warhol's entourage, and has since been a public speaker doing college tours and other venues where people pay her to tell them her opinion. Or, to put it another way, someone who worked for a time, put out great material, and then proceeded to simply exist. Awesome!

Second: Why is she so right? Part of her shtick is that she is always right. She talks about it in the movie as well. That sounds absurd just hearing it, but after watching the documentary, I've come to the conclusion that she's pretty much correct.

For example, this quip from the movie: "writers have to know things." This is in reference to how writing is inherently a different form of art from the others, in that to paint one just needs a pretty landscape, a brush and some paint, or to act one just needs to regurgitate lines in front of an audience. But to write, one must know something worth writing about.

This ties in to her belief that there are just too many writers and that the things we chose to write about are pretty much worthless. Funnily enough, I agree… but that's not going to stop me from writing here anyway!

I plan on picking up her two published essay collections, even if they are 30+ years old at this point, because I'm going to guess that they are packed full of snarky wisdom, and I need that right about now in my life.

If you happen to see Public Speaking on HBO or Netflix or wherever, I'd definitely give it a watch. With a natural born opinionated talker being filmed by an amazing director, the movie turned out to be very interesting even without knowing much about Fran Lebowitz before hand.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Turning 30

I'm turning 30 next month. Or, as The Gays put it, I'm officially entering "Daddy" age and must either be "hot" or submit myself willingly to the tar pits.

I'm pretty ambivalent about turning 30 overall. I'm excited for the future and happy to be moving into an age range where people might not immediately write me off as a chid. But, in general, I'm not too keen on less fun parts of aging, some of which I'm already experiencing (what do you mean I need to take a pill every day for the rest of my life…).

There's an even bigger issue to address than my own fear of aging: what in the hell to do my big 3-0 birthday bash. I think the norm here is to throw an elaborate party where I invite everyone I've ever met to come compliment me on surviving 30 years of being on this earth. Oh, and lots of drinking. Lots and lots of drinking.

But I'm not feeling it this year. I'm not feeling some over-the-top ball designed to massage my ego into to believing that "30 is just the beginning." I'm really OK with 30, but I'm really not OK with hearing dozens of people slur that mantra at me over the course of a night.

Now lets add to the mix that my birthday happens to fall on the Friday that begins Memorial Day weekend. Those familiar with the gay scene in Chicago know that Memorial Day weekend is the start of the Gay Holidays season (otherwise known as "Summer" to straight folk), and is the host to both IML (any link to this event is probably NSFW, so I won't bother trying to find one) and Bear Pride. Being that many of my friends are stoked for one or both events, or are straight and could care less about either one, and that my husband and I enjoy attending events during this weekend, the whole logistics of getting people together to celebrate my birthday is just not a headache I want to deal with.

I mean, most everyone is going to be out and about anyway, right? So I'm not really seeing what the difference would be if they're out "specifically" for my 30th or not. They'll be out, getting drunk, and having fun.

Then there's the people that wouldn't be interested in attending a bar night, for whatever reason. I want them to be able to celebrate with me as well, and an IML party might not be their idea of excitement. And although I'm sure that most of my bar-averse friends would be willing to attend a bar night for my birthday, I'd prefer we all have a good time.

So I'm in a pickle. What to do, what to do? I feel obligated to celebrate my 30th, but I just don't think the standard issue bar-crawl is in the cards for me this year.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Foo Fighters: Reminding Me That I'm Old Enough To Remember The Entire Career Of A 20-Year Old Band. And A Great New Album.

On my (not so) old blog, I mused about the death of Rock and Roll. It seems more and more obvious every day that Rock is now basically a niche music scene. And it is really scary that the only rockers putting out great music lately are well over 55 years old. Not that being AARP-eligible is a bad thing, but we do kind of need some young blood in the mix.

Of course, just as I post about the eminent demise of my favorite musical genre, the Foo Fighters decide to release an album just to spite me and my online opinions.

The Fighters of all things Foo have been a persistent reminder to me over the years of what exactly Rock is suppose to be. And their new release Wasting Light is no exception. In fact, it could be the finest rock record I've listened to in many, many years.

I won't go too "review mode" here, but I will say that the only track that I didn't think was a 9/10 or 10/10 was the remix of Rope on the iTunes deluxe version of the album, but it's not really a core track so it doesn't count.

Even if you were disappointed (and by disappointed, I mean they were just Friggin' Awesome! instead of OMGBestAlbumEvar!!1!!) by the last album or two from The Foo, you should really check out Wasting Light. Don’t just take my word for it though: Entertainment Weekly, Spin and plenty others loved it as well.

The irony of me saying that Rock isn't completely dead based on an album written by late 30-something or 40-something's isn't lost on me. We still need some young, angry, drunken and horny 20-year olds thrashing their guitars and hotel rooms to really reinvigorate the genre. But at least The Foo Fighters haven't started inquiring about retirement homes and live-in nurses yet, and that's a step in the right direction.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Dave Matthews Music Festival I Won't Be Attending

I have some great memories of Dave Matthews Band. My friend Mark and I went to see them in Cincinnati and I got a great contact buzz (you had to try really hard to not be in a constant cloud there). In high school, the drum line and I would spend hours discussing the technical genius of DMB's drummer Carter Beauford. A few hours were spent with my old roommate Shae discussing the "risky" move DMB took on Everyday when they took on the daunting and cutting edge sounds of electric guitars. I think I can easily say that DMB was a pretty big thing in my young life.

So when Dave Matthews announced a new touring music festival with a stop here in Chicago, I was pretty excited! Three days of folksy singer/songwriters strumming and crooning, and it's not Lilith Fair? I'm in! I can't wait to hop on the red line to the loop and skip over to Millennium Park for the festivities!

Wait… what do you mean?

Except it's not in Millennium Park. No, Dave and crew thought it would be more fun to host their festival in the super safe and accessible 87th and lakefront part of town. Which is just a short hour and a half trip from my house. And requires riding the Metra. And requires a kevlar jacket with +2 self defense skills and immunity to fear effects.

But it's Dave! And Ray LaMontagne! And David Grey! And O.A.R.! And Ben Folds! And an ungodly amount of weed and booze!

Short Aside

A few years ago, I attended a Live concert at the Riviera in Uptown Chicago. Live is one of my absolute favorite bands and I never had the opportunity to see them at their height of popularity in the 90's. So when I heard they were on tour I jumped at the chance to go.

It's an odd feeling when you see the rock stars of your youth appearing more like dinosaurs in a museum complete with tweed-jacketed observers and completely uninterested children. On one hand, I enjoyed the music and loved seeing them perform on stage. On the other, it was all I could do to not start crying uncontrollably at the notion that not only were my favorite rockers becoming irrelevant, I was becoming one of those pathetic old dudes that still listen to Led Zeppelin albums and harp on about "real music."

Back to the point at hand

I would love to see Ray LaMontagne live and I'll probably make my way to one of shows sometime soon. But it'd be him headlining. Not followed up by Kid Cudi (for realsies?) or Ben Folds, also known as the guy that used to be a really cool musician but has since traded that in for a judge's spot on a reality singing competition featuring Nick Lachey's dimples and the sage advise of a certain performer who gladly wore the moniker of Head Pussycat up until recently.

And I love Dave Matthews Band. But more importantly, I love the memories I have associated with Dave Matthews Band. And while I'm sure they are still excellent performers, I think 3 whole nights of What Would You Say being sung-along to by women who are constantly checking in with the baby sitter and men who are already contemplating the benefits of Viagra might just ruin it all for me. I don't want the good memories to be mixed with the bitter ones.

So thanks, but no thanks DMB. Have fun down there on the South Side, and try not to unload your tour bus waste onto a boat full of people on your way out of town.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And so it begins...

I'm not sure where it came from. One moment I was dancing the night away in a beer-infested excuse for a night club in Cincinnati, flirting with whatever passed as a "cute boy" or giggling with my flock of gays while pretending to be aloof, and the next moment I have a husband and live in Chicago with two cats, a condo on the lake, and a 8 - 5 job deciphering spreadsheets and databases. Somewhere along the way, I was smacked with Adulthood.

Don't get me wrong: I still work damn hard against that villainous advances of Adulthood. I still party, I still drink, I still go out with the boys. But Adulthood is slowly winning the fight.

I use to go out Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Tuesday night, with an occasional drag show tossed in on Sundays for good measure. Now it's all I can do to get to a bar on a Friday night and not yawn my way through conversations, and Saturdays are like my high-holy day of the week made for rest and catching up on Glee and Ru Paul's Drag Race. I use to start drinking and think of what crazy antics I'd get in to that night, but now I start drinking and immediately mentally check that I have nothing on my To Do list for the next day and that we have ample amounts of Excedrin in the medicine cabinet.

Life has changed quite a bit in the past few years. And this is where my lovely Reliquary comes in to play. I've blogged about technology, video games, and politics (and a whole bunch of other crap), but I think my life has finally gotten to the point where blogging about any of those extraneous topics is just too much work. So now I'm just going to talk about my life. Yay for you!

I want to share the quirks, the good times, and all the random oddities that come with transitioning to Adulthood. This will be a personal adventure for me, and I'm hoping that you'll come along and share in it with me.

To be more specific, my goals for this blog are to share stories about my life, observations about the world I live in, and to generally avoid gross dramatization. And I want you to be a part of that by chipping in on the discussion.

Who Am I?

I'm a 30-something Chicagoan, living in Edgewater with my husband and our two cats. I work for a big, national corporation analyzing stuff. Like most of us, that boils down to me finding ways for the company to makes vast sums of money while I take home just a modest portion of it all. It's good work though, so I don't complain… much.

I'm also a musician, a gamer, and a general nerd in hiding. By hiding, I mean that kind of hiding the cat does when he's running from you and hides under the bed but leaves his tail sticking out. Cute, but ultimately not very effective.

I'm also a big music fan, but I'm very particular with my tastes (otherwise known as a "snob," or so my husband says). I'm also very opinionated, but I like to think that I've learned to be open to opposing positions. Unless, of course, it's a stupid position. I've also been know to be very dry and sarcastic.