Monday, September 24, 2007

Banshee Wail

Today, whilst stuck in traffic on the way home from work, I slowly rolled by a house for sale on Rte 9. This abode, from the outside at least, seemed rather unremarkable and the fact that it was situated on a fantastically busy thoroughfare made it that much less so. Still, it managed to catch my eye for one simple reason, namely the "For Sale" sign out front. The house, you see, was being sold by Susie Hsu.

While the music buffs among you have already gotten the reference immediately, the rest of you are undoubtedly scratching your heads. Susie Hsu? Huh? What's all this about?

Not much, really. Just a delightful little play on words and an excuse to play some music. You see, Susie Hsu, whom I'm sure is a top notch realtor, also has a homonymed compatriot (or, if you're feeling really adventurous, an evil twin sister) named Siouxsie Sioux, who is more famously known as the front woman for Siouxsie and the Banshees - one of the more famous Goth/Post-Punk bands to come out of England in the late 70's and early 80's. I didn't get into them until the early 90's, when I hit musical appreciation puberty, and when they were decidedly more pop (they somehow managed to chart a Top 40 hit - an event which caused many of their "loyal" fan base to that point to label them sell-outs.) Regardless, Siouxsie was one of the original and more influential "not to be messed with" front women in punk and modern rock, and she (and her band) have influenced countless popular music acts since their dawn - including, I might add, a certain fiery redhead who cites her as her biggest influence ever and whom I've written about before.

So, needless to say, I was delighted to find she was selling houses in Massachusetts. I can only imagine what the interiors of the properties she sells look like - all the walls painted black and gray with decaying statues of gargoyles and saints. Sheer magnificence! Remind me to look her up if these damned housing prices ever drop. In the meantime, I got some tunes to tide us all over. Enjoy.
  • Spellbound - From their 1981 album, Juju, Spellbound is one of their most classic and most recognizable tunes. I love the guitar work and frantic energy throughout this track. Fun stuff.
  • Cities In Dust - The newer more pop sounding Siouxsie & The Banshees. This one's off the 1986 album Tinderbox, and this tune with it's synthesizers and electronic bells in the beginning definitely raised some hours. The rather dour lyrics however confirmed that it was indeed the old Siouxsie, though, and besides, the tune is just so damn catchy.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Long Distance Information...

As alluded to in the previous post, I recently made another trip down South - this time to accompany Goof to a wedding in which she was a bridesmaid, and I, her fortunate date. Unlike all previous trips to Dixie, however, the city of New Orleans was not involved. Alas, it will probably be a while before ol' NOLA and I cross paths again, as Goof no longer lives there, and there aren't too many legitimate reasons for me to be on Bourbon St. otherwise.

Not to worry, however, as the trip still had plenty of noteworthy moments. One does not have to travel to Louisiana to have a journey worth writing about. One can actually spend their entire vacation in the state of Tennessee and have a fantastic time - hard as that may be for us Northern folk to believe - and that is, in fact, exactly what I did.

You'll have to trust me when I tell you that I made four previous attempts at writing a sort of "travelogue" for this post. None of those attempts proved fruitful (I'd write a few paragraphs, stop, erase the whole thing, and start over again) and I am thus forced to admit that as a formerly lapsed blogger, I'm struggling to find my voice once again. So, rather than start attempt #5 in "story form", I decided to list the highlights with bullet points. Believe me, it'll be easier on your eyes. So, without further ado...

Reasons why I enjoyed Tennessee, and which you may or may not (some of them, hopefully not):
  • Arriving in Nashville to be greeted at the baggage claim by Goof and her mother. Now we see where Goof gets her good looks, charm and sense of humor.
  • Eating lunch at the White Trash Cafe in Nashville immediately after landing. The White Trash Cafe is built out of cinder blocks and has an old metal bathtub and sink right outside. Inside is full of all sorts of kitsch, and you could spend the entire day just scanning the walls. Thankfully, however, we were distracted by our waiter who greeted us by saying, "How do?" Not to be outdone, Goof's mother, upon hearing this, looked up from her menu and said, "Oh! How do?" I, of course, was delighted, and immediately gave Goof a grin that would have made Guy Smiley jealous. You see, way back when we first started dating I used to greet Goof on the phone by saying, "Howdy do?!?" When she asked why I always said that, I responded by asking, "Don't all Southerners say that?" Truthfully, I didn't need to even ask, because I already knew the answer. Of course they do. I'd seen it on Deputy Dawg when I was a kid, and more recently in the movie The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada when Levon Helm (yes, that Levon Helm, from The Band), playing the role of a blind 80 year old Texan, greeted authorities as they visited his shack. So yes, Southerners say it. However Goof, refusing to see the light, has protested vehemently against this fact for the entire year and change that we've been dating. Yet, how does the first person I encounter in Nashville (aside from Goof and her mother) greet me? With a hearty "How do?" He even did me the favor of dropping the '-dy', making it sound more authentic. And, how does Goof's own mother respond? With the exact same phrase. Case closed. (Side note: To be fair, Goof's mother mentioned afterwards that she had NEVER used that phrase before that moment, and I believe her. It might have been an unthinking reaction type of thing. Still, precedent has been set. Let there be no doubt.)
  • The drive down I-40 from Nashville to Memphis, known as the Music Highway. The reason for the naming is obvious enough. Memphis and Nashville are (or was at one time, in the case of Memphis unless you count Hustle and Flow) music industry powerhouses. Both have contributed mightily to American music history. Still, the highway didn't really seem to reflect this, and for the first half of the four hour trip, I wondered why they bothered to name it the 'Music Highway' at all if they weren't going to have some sort of other recognition/roadside memorabilia to go along with it. That was until we stopped for a break at a rest area and found out that it was, in fact, the 'Johnny Cash Rest Stop.' There was nothing to indicate this other than the sign proclaiming it so. No guitars, no Johnny Cash music wafting overhead. Just a sign saying 'Johnny Cash Rest Stop', but I could only conclude that the other rest stops along the highway were named after other famous musicians. So, it was a little boring in that respect, but still, it's comforting to know that I took a long piss in Johnny's urinal.
  • The Memphis Public Library. Now this, my friends, is a cool library. Yeah, they might lack the tomes and treasures that Boston may have but at least the "new addition" to their library doesn't look like the headquarters of an accounting firm. In fact, the entire library is new, and architecturally, is VERY pleasing to the eye. Plus, the layout makes perfect sense. Things are easy to find, and they were selling remainders for cheap, cheap, cheap. Good books, too. I bought a Dennis Lehane offering in hardcover for a whopping $2.00.
  • Eating dinner at Charlie Vergo's Rendezvous. Located in an alley in downtown Memphis, the Rendezvous is perhaps one of the most famous restaurants in town. The ribs and sauce were excellent (although not the best ribs I had on the trip - I'll get to that in a bit), and the place was surprisingly crass, yet comfortable. Paper plates and napkins are pretty much thrown at you, and the whole restaurant has a loud, boisterous atmosphere. I left the place a barbecue sauce covered mess - but a very happy one.
  • Southern Accents. Back when I was 12 years old and had nothing better to do on a Saturday night, I used to watch the TV show Cops, largely because there was little else on. Of the multitude of episodes that show aired, my favorites would be those that were filmed on location in some area where the cops in question had an accent (except if they were in New York - then I knew to skip it.) Invariably, they'd go to some Southern state, and the show would be that much more enjoyable. A Southern drawl has to be one of the best accents this country has to offer. Charming, yet not too sophisticated, the accent just puts you at ease in a way that other accents can't. And, if you're really unfamiliar with it, it might just make you laugh (although that might be considered rude. Still, sometimes I can't help myself.)
  • The Stax Museum of American Soul. Located on the site of the former Stax recording studios (where Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T. and the MG's recorded) this small little museum has some great exhibits, displays and memorabilia. Well worth a visit, and at $10, a very cheap entrance fee.
  • Presbyterian Weddings. I'd never been to a Presbyterian church service before, much less a wedding, and it was, without question, the quickest nuptials I've ever been fortunate enough to witness. Clocking in at just about 30 minutes, it was as if the celebrant had one eye on the bride and groom and the other eye on the time clock for the UTennessee football game (and make no mistake, Southerners LOVE their college football. Wedding guests were constantly checking scores, starting immediately after the proceedings and into the reception.) It was a delightful ceremony which, while quick, still maintained it's poignancy and seriousness throughout, and the bride and groom and their families can look back and remember a very special and meaningful celebration. Plus, one of the bridesmaids was shockingly attractive. Were I not already a lapsed Catholic, I might have considered jumping ships.
  • Home cookin' (and hospitality.) My last night in Tennessee, I had the pleasure of driving back to the middle of the state (although unfortunately chose to stop at a Phillps 66 with the nastiest bathroom ever as opposed to Johnny Cash's Rest Stop again) and spending a night under the roof of Goof's parents, who are the very definition of Southern hospitality. They served a feast of Southern food for dinner, with the highlights being the ribs (cooked by Goof's father, and which were the best ribs I've had - seriously) and the Key Lime Pie (made by Goof's mother of 'How do?' fame - simply delicious.) Dining with us were several members of their extended family who came up from Alabama (and surprised me with a 'Bama football t-shirt) and later several neighbors stopped by to say hello. This being the first time I'd met any member of Goof's family, immediate or extended, I fully expected to get grilled and ribbed (pun intended) about my "Yankee" heritage. Nothing of the sort happened, however. In fact, everyone managed to make this northern boy feel quite welcome and at home. Goof and I closed out the day with a nice walk around the town square (exactly as you'd think it might be - city hall and the common in the center, with lots of independently owned shops and boutiques surrounding it - very Southern, and very nice) and it ended up being a great ending to a great trip.
And, as if all that wasn't good enough, I somehow managed to snag a free round trip ticket from the airline by volunteering to fly on a later flight (the plane I was on was over its weight limit. I didn't know such things were possible, and I was only too happy to let them book me on another aircraft - even if the flight they booked me on was delayed by two hours.) That means, of course, that I can do it all over again. Although next time, I think I might look out for the Faith Hill Rest Stop, as long as the bridesmaid don't object, y'all.

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Monday, September 03, 2007

More Thoughts From The Dark Recesses

Some random musings from a mind suffering from lack of use over a long weekend. The purpose of this exercise is simply to jump start things a little bit. As I think it, so I'll write it. If there's a link in there, it's something that I thought of while writing and decided to add it after the post was finished.
  • I really hope I don't write anything profane or pornographic. That would be highly embarrassing.
  • Stop thinking that way. The more determined you are to not think about those types of things, the more likely they are to be thought about.
  • Stop it.
  • Nope - you're not allowed.
  • If you build it, they will come (do NOT read into that, folks.)
  • Red Sox are tearin' the cover off the ball. Go'head, boys! Swing that stick!
  • Jesus Christ.
  • See? Now we're on the right track. Religious thought. No way religion, sex and bad words could all mix it up.
  • Oh... nevermind.
  • If runners score as a result of an error, does it still count as an RBI for the batter?
  • Yawn. Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn.
  • What did I do this weekend? Well, I saw Superbad. That was good. I had dinner with my Pops. That was good too. Who knew Ruby Tuesday had become more upscale? It was actually a very decent meal and salad bar. I went to the batting cages and ate Rocky Road ice cream! I'm sore as a result of the former... still. But, I very much enjoyed the latter. Gorgeous weather, too. See? The weekend wasn't a total loss.
  • Long distance information, gimme Memphis, Tennessee. Tryin' to find the party trying to get in touch with me.
  • You know I'm going to Memphis this week? Actually I'm going to Nashville, and from there I'll drive to Memphis. Why? Goof's got a wedding to go to, and I get to be her 'and guest' (benefits of being a boyfriend and all...) She's a bridesmaid... and apparently the bride actually has some taste. We will not be going to a wedding in which the bridal party look like a bunch of lettuce leaves.
  • Just started Season 5 of 24. How much more can they do with this show? Have I reached the point of desensitization? Jack Bauer must be ready to pass out. Am I gonna enjoy this as much as previous seasons?
  • You know what I love? This picture of the Last Supper with cartoon characters from Popeye replacing all the major players. I love Popeye. I really love old Popeye, circa 1920's and 30's. Sometimes I think I'd like to travel back in time and live back then. It seemed a much more simple and enjoyable life. And God knows, the music was better. Plus, I could still smoke and not have any idea it would be killing me. But then, I wouldn't get to see the Red Sox win a World Series, and there'd be no World of Warcraft. Still, I bet I could hang. Hell, I'd probably make a fortune. Or not.
  • You know why else I like Popeye. I really dig anchors.
  • Dammit! Well folks, I lied. But not on purpose. I got interrupted by my roommate who wanted to have a lengthy conversation on various spectator sports. I tried to give one word answers and drop a few hints. Didn't work. BUT, I'm back now. And in full effect.
  • I love it when you call me Big Poppa! Throw your hands in the air...
  • Wait, what the hell? I hate that song. Thanks Notorious B.I.G. You're a dick.
  • Goof keeps IM'ing me and asking to see an advance copy of the blog post - you know, because it's been so long since I've posted and she's anxious to see something new up here. I told her she has to wait like the rest of the commoners (her words, not mine.) She wasn't pleased. She accused me of being grumpy (in a roundabout way), and said she should get special privileges. This post doesn't lend itself to that. You can't show someone an advance copy of a stream of consciousness post. That's ridiculous. She'll see once she reads it. She'll understand. Sheesh. It's a good thing she makes me laugh.
  • I can't... stop.... yawning.
  • I don't want to go to work tomorrow. Work is a struggle. Has been for months. Not struggle as in, "This is hard" but struggle as in "I really don't want to get started on any of this." Makes me wonder if I'm in the right line of work... but then, I don't have any better alternatives at the moment. Any ideas, folks?
  • I could be a professional baseball player. Some of these people don't look very good. Plus, you should have seen me at the batting cages. I was foulin' off pitch after pitch, and even hittin' some on the fast setting!
  • If you were a musician, what kind of musician would you be? I think I'd like to play the drums, but then again everyone wants to play the drums. I could sing! Maybe. I wouldn't want to be a flutist, though. Maybe the recorder? The triangle?
  • I've been wearing sandals a lot lately. Very unlike me, but I'm finding them rather comfortable which is indeed surprising. When I was younger, my feet would get scratched to shit every time I wore sandals. Made me look negatively on them for some time. It made me wonder why Moses, Jesus, the disciples and all those bad boys made them their footwear of choice. Didn't they get nasty, scratchy feet? Didn't it sting when the sand got in there? Yuck.
  • I've started waking up really early and going to the gym before work. It makes me feel better to have worked out first thing, and I don't have to worry about it when I get home. However, I don't think I'll be doing this tomorrow, because I want to stay up a little later than usual, and I'm still sore from the batting cages. See how easy it is to talk yourself out of it? Pathetic.
  • 1,2,3 o'clock, 4 o'clock rock.
  • I have had WAYYYY too much water today and now I am utterly sodden with drink. I keep having to go to the bathroom. You probably didn't need to know that but hey, am I honest or am I honest?
  • Goof just interrupted me again. Waiting for me to publish this thang. Guess I shouldn't keep her waiting any longer. Man, am I whipped!
  • Alright, how do I end this?
  • Maybe I just end it.
  • Maybe I say goodbye.
  • Nah, too final.
  • Well, hope you enjoyed everyone! No sex, religion, or bad words here today!
  • Whatever. That was a lie. I was foolin' y'all.
  • Now, I'm just being annoying
  • I kinda like it.
  • Fine. O.K. O.K. O.K. Fine. I'm finishing up.
  • BYE!
  • For now!
  • *wave*