Monday, October 1, 2012

Meanwhile, on One of My Other Blogs...

...I've made a couple of updates to my music blog, The A-Plus. I review (by "review" I mean "discuss the Robert Christgau review while offering my own uninformed observations about") the Randy Newman album 12 Songs, plus I describe some of the ways in which Christgau uses the word lubricious.

Scintillating stuff, I'm certain. Check it out!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Time I Was Almost Possibly Horribly Assaulted by Frat Guys

His dying regret was being unable to personally
run over Hitler with his wheelchair.
Franklin Roosevelt once said that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Considering FDR lived most of his adult life in a wheelchair while putting himself through four presidential elections and carrying on at least one affair while married to a cousin who also happened to be Eleanor Roosevelt, the guy clearly was one of the more fearless people who ever lived.

But I've had fear. Several kinds:
  • The fear that the angry black cricket in my basement will locate me before I locate it
  • The fear at Disney World during the Tower of Terror ride, which required special tools to pry my carpal-tunnel-locked grip on the so-called safety bar.
  • The fear in bed, haunted with the visions of Nazi face-melting the night after I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The kind of fear I'm writing about today is a different kind of fear, a fear you experience right before something really really horrible is going to happen. That something hasn't happened yet, but it's the anticipation that ratchets up the horror.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Like Pulling Teeth, or, uh, Fixing Them

Right now, living alone, it's as if I'm not the father.
Last I blogged, a tooth that was bothering me for some time finally chipped on Sunday, my first full day living alone while the wife and kids relax (read: drive each other crazy) in Florida. On Monday I was able to secure an appointment with my dentist for the following day.

Unfortunately, the only time that I could snag was at 12:30pm, and smack-in-the-middle-of-the-day appointments usually mean I have to burn a personal day. But I was permitted the rare option of working at home, which meant I was kept company in the morning by Maury Povitch and his time-honored techniques of dispelling the ambiguity of disputed paternity. One of the episodes on this particular day was called, and I'm not kidding but I wish I was, "Your Baby Doesn't Have 12 Fingers...He Can't Be My Son!"

Spoiler alert: Mr. Dozenfingers was right.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This Is Why I Shouldn't Be Left Home Alone

Yes, they made a fourth one. With French
Stewart as a robber. French Stewart!
So. My kids are with the in-laws in Florida for a month, and the wife joined them in the Sunshine State for the next two weeks, meaning I've 10 days by myself.

Ten days. By myself.

For some guys, a week and a half without the wife and kids would be a blur of cigars, strip clubs, and shotguns. (All right, maybe not for you, specifically, but you get the idea.)

But for me, however, things haven't gone off to such a great start.

I should mention that the last time I was left alone, Mrs. The Anthony Show and her friend went backpacking through Europe — this was less than a year into our marriage, and we didn't have kids yet — and one night I lost track of how much angel-hair pasta I was inhaling while watching a rerun of Everybody Loves Raymond and discovered I had overeaten so much that it felt as if the pasta was backing up from my stomach through my throat.

In other words, I can't go very long without adult supervision.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Light Fuse; Get Away

NOT what my neighborhood fireworks
shows were like.
The Fourth of July — or, as we sometimes call it, July Fourth — doesn't excite me the way it did when I was much younger. This year it means I'm off from work and I might go to the beach in the morning and a party in the afternoon and I will likely get drunk, so it's not that bad, but still, the fireworks shows don't exactly light my fuse.

During the typical summer vacation that I enjoyed between the ages of six and fifteen — the years after I was first allowed to roam the neighborhood sans grownup and before I started working — July 4 marked one of the few milestones in a season when every day seemed to blend into another.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Time I Almost Got Fired From My Job in High School

This can get you in a lot of trouble.
Hi! It's been a while, yes? Well, let's get right to it.

When you're an adult and you work in a field where you're an "at-will" employee — meaning you can get canned for pretty much any reason, and you don't have the backing of a powerful tax-enhanced union that guarantees job security and mandated break times — you can never be very confident when it comes to job stability.

I've had three situations involving job loss or potential job loss:

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shoulda Coulda Woulda, Part 1

So, like, what was that smoke monster again?
Loose ends. Unsolved mysteries. These are the things that can keep you up at night, or cause traffic accidents while dwelling on them as you navigate rush-hour traffic on the Long Island Expressway.

I don't mean broad enigmas like "Where is Jimmy Hoffa buried?" or "What the hell was Lost really about?"; I'm blogging about dilemmas of a personal nature, like:
  • How different would my life had been if I'd accepted that job in Chicago?
  • Why did Grace really break up with me?
  • Why does my physical appearance resemble that of "Uncle" Fred more than of my father?
Eventually, some of these mysteries will be solved (hopefully before either Fred or your father is on his deathbed) and some won't (Grace's restraining order against you won't expire until 2075). Here's an example of one of the unsolved mysteries from my own life.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Cross-Promotion: Meanwhile, on My Other Blog...

I discuss the Creedence Clearwater Revival album Willy and the Poor Boys on my music blog, The A-Plus. Check it out!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

In Praise of Young White 1990s TV Stars Who Tried to Rap

Possible inspiration.
I don't know if praise is the right word, but the headline is long enough without having to say "Wow, I can't believe these actors from popular shows in the 1990s attempted hip-hop careers even though the casual observer would likely think it's not a good idea."

Well, I can't believe these actors from popular shows in the 1990s attempted hip-hop careers even though the casual observer would likely think it's not a good idea.

And, uh, wow.

Crossing over from one entertainment genre to another is as old as entertainment itself. I'm sure Sophocles considered himself a very good tap dancer, but the Athenians had banned all sorts of soft-shoe, so he worked out his frustrations in his play-writing, which is how Oedipus the King went on to inspire Footloose, which has an unfilmed scene where Kevin Bacon kills Dennis Quaid to sleep with Julianne Hough, and I know none of that makes sense because I saw neither the 1984 film nor last year's remake so bear with me here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gunter Glieben Glauben Globen

The reason for this image will become clear soon enough.
One problem with having more than one blog is that you might have trouble deciding under which blog a post should run. (Another problem is having two [or more] reasons for people to not give a shit about what you have to say.)

I'm been working on a music blog centered around the highest-reviewed albums by Robert Christgau, one of the best-known rock critics of all time, and I was going to place this post in that blog, but I feel this particular idea is more personal that what I usually post there, so it's going here.

ANYWAY, here it is.

I was discussing the Marshall Crenshaw album Field Day, which was released in 1983. I'd never heard of the album, which is somewhat understandable because I was in sixth grade at the time and the album was a sales disappointment. However, the album is considered (by some) to be one of the greatest albums of the 1980s.

As I typed up my little blog post about the album, I'd wondered, What was I listening to at the time?

The fact is, I wasn't up on music much (not that much has changed since). For most of my childhood I listened to whatever my brother was listening to, and this is what he was listening to in 1983:

The only other music I remember from sixth grade was "Tom Sawyer" by Rush, but my brother didn't own the Moving Pictures album yet. (He soon would, though, and parts of my brain would be forcibly fed "Limelight" until my ears bled.) But the Pyromania album was huge, and nearly every boy in my grade would be saying "Gunter glieben glauben globen" at least once a day.

It turns out, according to trusty Wikipedia, which quotes from the "official Def Leppard FAQ" (yes, one exists):
These four words that you hear at the start of "Rock of Ages" mean nothing, though the band sometimes jokingly claims it means "running through the forest silently." It's actually just German sounding gibberish, said by producer Mutt Lange during one of the later takes of the song. Lange was a perfectionist and would often do dozens & dozens of takes, and after repeatedly beginning so many with the standard count, "One, two, three, four" he simply started saying nonsense words instead, the band liking this one so much that they included it on the album.
Def Leppard was probably my first experience with what was considered "heavy metal" at the time, later called "hair metal," and in retrospect lumped into a category, coined in a Simpsons episode, called Crap Rock.

In sixth grade the music was unlike anything I'd heard — note that I didn't listen to much of anything prior to 1983 that wasn't sung by Sha Na Na or a Muppet, and my parents didn't have cable until after I was married — but it sounded edgy and dangerous.

Allmusic, an online music resource I visit frequently, calls Pyromania an "enduring (and massively influential) classic," but Robert Christgau, who inspired my other blogs, sums it up like this:
Fuckin' right there's a difference between new heavy metal and old heavy metal. The new stuff is about five silly beats-per-minute faster. And the new lead singers sound not only "free" and white, but also more or less twenty-one. [Grade C]
Don't try to figure out what that means. Just revisit "Photograph," whose opening riffs make you want to rip donuts in your dad's car in the parking lot of wherever you're working that shitty summer job.

The most memorable memory I have of Pyromania is not directly about the music, per se, but what would be a contribution to the pamphlet Things I Used to Do to Piss Off My Brother on an Almost Daily Basis: A Study in Antagonism, 1975–1993. One of the lesser-known songs from the album is a ditty called "Foolin'":

It starts off as a slow "Monster Ballad" about empty beds and lonely nights and dead fires and extinguished flames but it eventually leads into a faster (I don't have a metronome, but it sounds faster) chorus where Longhaired Lead Singer wants the world to know that he's not foolin' around.

Only he doesn't say, "I'm not foolin'." He says that BABY I'M NOT...FUH-FUH-FUH-FOOL-INNNNN'.

My brother took this song very seriously (he took a lot of things very seriously) and when I would claim that Longhaired Lead Singer was actually singing BABY I'M NOT...KUH-KUH-KUH-KOOL-AID!!, I must have ruined the innocence of the song for him because my mocking would send him into a seething rage. It probably didn't help that I'd yell that revised chorus every single time he played the song.

But at least what I was saying was actual English. I could have been yelling Gunter glieben glauben globen all day long.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cross-Promotion: A New Post on One of My Other Blogs

Just a note that I've posted a new update to one of my other blogs, The A-Plus. I discuss Marshall Crenshaw and early-1980s pop.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Lost and Found Money, Part I

Historical re-enactment.
Sunday morning I found a twenty-dollar bill at the bagel shop. I spotted the folded double-sawbuck on a table full of baked goods near the counter. There were no customers around, nor was there anyone walking out of the shop as I walked in, so the person who'd left that twenty was unlikely to be nearby -- and I don't think it was part of some kind of found-money social experiment.

I've blogged and vlogged about my encounters with losing money, and Mrs. The Anthony Show and I have endured several ebbs and the occasional flow of cash throughout our lives. Just last week I'd been alerted by a helpful automated phone call from Chase that my bank card was being used in California to purchase nearly 300 dollars' worth of perfume.

Fortunately, the bank put a stop to those fraudulent shenanigans and mailed me a new card within a week's time, but I had to hit up my father for a short-term cash loan since being super-fluid is not how I usually roll.

Anyway, when I saw that twenty-dollar bill, I could feel the pain of the person who lost it. Maybe it was someone like me, who shouldn't be buying bagels and egg sandwiches for breakfast anyway when there's perfectly good cereal and eggs at home. Or maybe it was some well-to-do fellow who parks in the fire lane in his BMW X6 and peeled off a twenty from a roll he carries in his pocket, secured with a rubber band used to keep broccoli in line. After all, if he wasn't carrying a bouquet of twenties, surely he would have noticed his missing money when it was time to pay.

I didn't think it would have been practical to give the money to the cashier and assume that the person would have returned looking for it, and because it was twenty dollars and not, say, the ninety or so I misplaced in a parking lot last summer, and because I figured someone else would have just pocketed the money anyway (and I don't mean that in a moral relativist kind of way) I just concluded I was experiencing one of those few times that some random event worked in my favor, even if it had to be at the expense of someone else.

Still, I felt guilty buying my breakfast with it.

POSTSCRIPT: Later that day, I took the kids to Target, and my son found a bank card on the floor. We dropped it off at the customer service desk. I'll never know if the owner of that card will realize that she lost it at Target, but at least I'll know that she won't be losing any money because of it.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Quick Note on the Passing of Gary Carter

Here's my one-and-a-half cents regarding Gary Carter, who died today.

Back in the early 1980s, my brother and I and another pair of brothers who lived a couple of doors down supplemented our baseball card collection with a baseball sticker collection. Baseball sticker books contained two pages for each team, and something like five spots per page where you were to pasted the stickers for the appropriate players. The best player on the team arrived in a thicker, foil sticker.

We spent what little money we had on these stickers — I cringe when I see that Pokemon cards cost like four bucks a pack today — and, unlike the baseball cards of the time, the stickers have absolutely no value as an investment.

On each team's set of pages, there was a bit of information about the team, including the name and address of its home stadium.

During that sticker-collecting summer, I shared with my friends an idea: Let's write to our favorite ballplayers, using the addresses for the stadiums, and ask for their autographs.

So that's what we did one afternoon, huddled around our friends' picnic table, writing letters. "You can't just come out and say, 'I want an autograph.' That would be rude," I strategized. So we wrote our letters like this:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Music I Love to Hate to Love, Part I

So, Whitney Houston died, and as a result, we've been hearing several of her biggest hits, from "The Greatest Love of All" to "I Will Always Love You." But the song of hers that comes to mind  — that is, my mind — is one of a number of songs I categorize as songs I hate, but listen to anyway.

The Whitney song I'm talking about, by the way, is "Love Will Save the Day," which I talked about in my other blog that discusses the reviews of "Dean of American Rock Critics" Robert Christgau.

Enough about Whitney (for now). I'd like to discuss some other songs that I'm ashamed to have had (and may still have) on various CDs, iPods, and cell phones.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Day I Actually Fixed Something

I should blog about my problems more often. The problems I can actually attempt to fix myself, that is.

After writing my last post about all the stuff in disrepair around my house, I decided to attempt to replace the defective detergent dispenser in the dishwasher.

As I've mentioned before, the little door wasn't closing. The unit is powered and opens, to reveal the detergent, during the appropriate point of the wash cycle. Because the door wasn't closing, my detergent would immediately run down the side of the dishwasher door, and my dishes and flatware turn out cloudy and gross. This would not compel Mrs. The Anthony Show to soak her got-damn oatmeal bowls in the sink instead of letting them air-dry all day like a slow-cooker kiln and cement the leftover oat fragments to the bowl like a dried chicken-pox scabs on an 8-year-old, but I digress.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Crap in and Around My House: An Update

Note: This is not my house.
When you own a house, and I don't suggest you do, there are a number of things that you'd like to eventually improve or fix or remove or add, but time and money and skill and laziness stand in the way of executing these updates.

I noted a number of the things I'd like to have done in my house, in a post I wrote nearly a year ago, and it's no surprise that I haven't enjoyed much success.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What ELSE Has Been Going On?

I haven't completely abandoned this blog, despite all evidence to the contrary. Here's what I've been up to in 2012, so far:

  • Kinda sorta started (again) on a novel, but I actually haven't done a lot of work on it in the past couple of weeks.
  • Trying to hit the treadmill a few times a week.
  • Playing Grand Theft Auto IV, though I accidentally erased all my save files from the Xbox over the weekend, meaning all my "work" for the past two months are gone. But this might be a good thing, if it prevents me from wasting my time with the game.
  • I started ANOTHER blog, about music (sort of), at Check it out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No, Really, YOU Go First

It gives me a headache.
I've been thinking about my last post, which was like a hundred years ago, in which I discussed the chaos that occurred when I tried to play a simple (but in reality, not so simple) game of Sorry! with my kids and they fought over who was going to be red, or maybe it was blue, or whatever.

I forgot to add this tidbit: once we're able sort out which color each player is going to be and repair the broken furniture, a new battle begins over who goes first. As I type this, I realize I could possibly achieve harmony if, for instance, Son chose the color and Daughter got to go first, like how they decide who gets the ball and which side of the field to start a football game.

It's a solution worthy of the wisdom of King Solomon! But I also know that both children will want to pick the color, or vice versa, and like King Solomon, I'll want to pull out a sword and just split the game in two.

The point of this story, to paraphrase the tagline to Alien vs. Predator: whoever wins, I lose.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who's SORRY Now?

There is no forgiveness.
Because my children are now 5 and 7 years old, Mrs. The Anthony Show and I felt it was time to supplement their collection of board games.

Last year we bought our son (the older one) Battleship and Trouble, and this year we picked up Sorry! and Stratego. Both of these new games reacquainted me with old memories passing lazy summer days with neighborhood friends, gathered 'round a board game on a picnic table or stoop or garage floor.

It also reminded me that young siblings can be major pains in the ass — to themselves, and, more importantly, to me.