Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Blog Has Moved

Do me a favor, please: Forget all about this Blogger bullcrap and go to my new, hopefully more functional and prettier version of The Prettiest Denny's Waitress. And update your readers, links, bookmarks and what-not so that together we can continue filling the internet with our witty musings. See you there.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Feelin' Kinda Funky

Some say Sunday is the Lord's day; that's fine with me, just so long as the Lord wants to rock out a bit. Either way, rock will be had, seven days a week. Or eight, if you're a Beatles fan.

So it was that the lady and I, along with four friends (sure, two of them we were meeting for the first time, but I found them wholly agreeable, so I'll be loose with the "friends" tag) found ourselves at the Buckhead Theatre on a drizzly Sunday evening. It was only 5 o'clock and the doors weren't scheduled to open until 8, so we went around the corner to a tiny Greek place for dinner. The owner of the joint was the real thing and had either no concept of or no interest in following the pacing that accompanies a typical restaurant experience in America, which was fine by me. Upon pushing together some tables for us he deduced, with no input from anyone in our group, that we wanted an appetizer and a round of waters. Out came a platter full of hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush and an assortment of other spreads and random vegetables, accompanied by a pile of sliced up pita on a paper plate (?), all of it delicious. And then... nothing. We hadn't seen a menu and no one bothered us for a good 15 minutes after we had eaten up our paper-plate's worth of pita. When the owner eventually came over again, we asked him if there were menus or if we just order off the pictures of food above the counter.

"Oh, you want menus?"

Um, yes please.

And then after we had looked over the menu, he tried to talk the second person who ordered the falafel gyro into getting something else. His English, I should add, was enthusiastic but broken, spoken in the way of an immigrant who has lived here probably for decades but who became confident in his language skills far sooner than he should have and makes up for it with volume and frequent laughter. We did end up getting what we ordered (which was surprising,) and it was all fantastic. It was definitely a strange dining experience, but I will absolutely go back there (Cafe Agora) next time we're in the area looking for food. Just not if we're in a hurry (although they do have takeout.)

So back around the corner through the drizzle to the Buckhead Theatre we went. Recently reopened after extensive renovation, the theater was formerly The Roxy and I'd seen three shows in that incarnation: the Verve (my first real concert, freshman year of college,) Drivin' n' Cryin' (for the second time,) and Frank Black (for the fourth time.) It's basically just been snazzied-up: new carpet throughout, fresh paint, uniformed staff (friendly,too,) and big, gleaming restrooms. Every time I end up in a place like that for a concert (meaning a place with a little class,) I think back to what I came to expect in my youth from a rock venue: surly staff, sticky floors, a thick fog of cigarette smoke, decrepit bathrooms and a sense of impending violence.

None of this was to be found at the Buckhead Theatre last night, although I doubt violence has ever accompanied the band we were there to see: Better Than Ezra. If you're like me, your memory of Better Than Ezra begins and ends sometime in the mid-90s with their radio hits Good, Desperately Wanting, and In the Blood. Actually, I do have a little more history with them, as Courtney and I caught the very end of their set at Voodoo Music Fest in New Orleans in 2001, which was the college trip from which we came home a couple. Courtney's a fan and our friends are fans (and I do know much of their first two albums by heart), so we made sure to park ourselves right in front of the stage.

Better Than Ezra were good, playing all the crowd favorites, but I honestly didn't get into it until relatively late in the set, when they broke out their fantastic cover of James' "Laid." The sound could've been a lot better, but that's a common complaint and I've heard much, much worse. All in all it was a good time and I managed to let loose with some singing along from time to time.

The highlight for me, though, was the opening act, Big Sam's Funky Nation. If I had a band, I would not want to follow them, a compliment Better Than Ezra's Kevin Griffin actually articulated on stage. It was the best opening set I've ever seen: an opening band only gets so much time to impress the audience and these five guys hardly paused between songs, ripping from one funk jam right into the next. The two guys up front on trombone and trumpet also handled vocal duties and danced almost non-stop. On top of the ridiculous level of energy, they were also amazing players, the guitarist shredding hard enough to break a string and the bass player bringing that fat-bottom sound right to the forefront. The trombone player, Big Sam himself, had some wicked dance moves and had himself soaked in a combination of sweat and the output of his horn's spit valve in the span of just a few songs: that guy really worked for his audience.

Big Sam, being from New Orleans, threw in a few rounds of Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?, a question to which I never considered a response until I found myself shouting "THE FALCONS!" They also threw in a rip-roaring cover of Hard to Handle, a shrewd move as a sure-fire way to get the crowd to sing along. I don't own a single funk album, but that kind of big-band funk never disappoints when you catch it live.

At one point during one of the many call-and-response parts of the act, Courtney found the microphone in her face as Big Sam leaned down from the stage. She had no idea (I later learned) what the repetitive three-word line was he'd been singing and so she shrank back from it, leaving me to lean in from behind and try to pick up the slack. Until she reads this, she still doesn't know what she was supposed to sing. At least one of us was feelin' kinda funky.

(And this I have to share: Blogger spellcheck doesn't like "Buckhead" as one word [or "spellcheck," for that matter.] What does it suggest I replace it with? "Fuckhead." Seriously.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Eh, so I missed an entire week of NaBlo. NaBlo me.

("Umm," you may ask, "isn't that the kind of crudeness you should start backspacing since your mom reads your blog?" My answer: Probably, but she's a librarian, and librarians are historic foes of censorship. Also, making this blog entirely parent-appropriate would be much less fun for my many readers, who would miss out on witty, hilarious wordplay such as "NaBlo me." On a related note, email me if you want to hear about the time I tried to buy heroin from a Taiwanese prostitute.)

(Kidding about the heroin and the prostitute, Mom. If I had a kick-ass story like that, I'd totally put it on my blog, mom or no mom. Also, I never check my blog email, so that entire sentence was a lie.)

Where were we before my mother so rudely interrupted? Oh, right- NaBloPoMo, or more specifically my failure to make it past day 3. Did I really think I could more or less ignore my blog for a year and a half and then suddenly flip the switch and start posting every day? Apparently, yes. But then Thursday rolled around, I didn't feel like writing anything and I had to bank another three or four posts because I was going away for the weekend, and, well, bleh.

So I'm a failure.

But I did spend a long weekend in the mountains with my friend John at his family's cabin. I actually camped out in the back of my truck the first night and experienced the first snow of the season because John couldn't make it until Saturday. I sleep incredibly well when the temperature is in the upper twenties. My sleeping bag is rated to 20 degrees, but somewhere around 30 seems to be the real sweet spot.

John and I did some light hiking, found some of the largest trees in the state, briefly lost his dog, also caught said dog eating a discarded deer stomach (totally gross), burned through a bunch of firewood and generally enjoyed the crisp, clear, fragrant fall air of North Georgia. And I didn't write about it until now; I refer you back to my opening sentence.

As best we could figure (following the hiking guide,) this poplar is the thickest tree in the Chattahoochee National Forest at about 18 feet in circumference. If trees could talk, this one might say, "Dude, at least buy me dinner first."

This is me admiring (respectfully this time) another behemoth in the so-called Valley of the Giants. To get here you drive several miles off the main highway beyond where the pavement ends, park in an unmarked pull-out and hike an unofficial and unsigned trail. Needless to say, we were the only ones there. My kind of place.

In rural backwoods Georgia, graffiti gets to the point. Bonus points for correct spelling! I have to ask though: Is this a phenomenon found in other states? In Minnesota, do they spray-paint "fuck north dakota" on abandoned silos? It's a thinker.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

There's Always Room For Jello

All day long I've had the Dead Kennedys' "California Uber Alles" stuck in my head. Do you think that in 1979, when Jello Biafra sang the words

I am Governor Jerry Brown
My aura smiles
And never frowns
Soon I will be president...

that he had any idea that 32 years later the same dude would be back in the California governor's mansion? Shit, that was the year I was born, and Jerry Brown had already been in office for four years! Of course Jello was wrong; Brown never did ascend to the presidency (neither did Biafra, losing the 2000 Green Party nomination to Ralph Nader.) "California Uber Alles" isn't exactly a glowing ode to Brown's leadership, so I'm guessing Jello has not been silent on the subject. My guess is he's already updating the song for 2011, having already changed it once for Governor Schwarzenegger.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Among Many Other Things...

Are you?

As long as we're talking stickers, here's the one you get if you go to perhaps the most inspired roadside attraction in all of Georgia:

And where does one become a Goat Ranger?

Duh. Goats on the Roof! Where they feature... (drum roll, please)... GOATS!... on the ROOF!

Yeah, it's pretty much the best thing ever. Of course the buildings beneath the goats provide you with many ways to part with your money, the best of which are coin operated goat-food dispensers for loading up the hand or pedal crank goat feeders. How else would you feed goats on the roof?

These two were showing off with some full-on head-banging, horn-locking goat shenanigans. But don't worry about the goats; they have access to the ground and (thanks to Courtney) are very well fed.

And as long as we're talking roadside attractions, here's my favorite: Carhenge, western Nebraska.

In summation, election day = rooftop goats = half-buried Detroit steel. Any questions?

Monday, November 1, 2010

This Was the Lead Story Today on AJC.com

More dangerous: Alcohol or heroin?

A new study says drinking alcohol is deadly for you than even heroin or crack cocaine.

And just for kicks, here's the photo illustration that went along with it, in case you needed some help picturing which one is the alcohol and which is the heroin (the one with the citrus wedge is not the heroin, although fruity cocktails taken intravenously may not be a bad idea.)

AJC file photos

The reason I'm sharing this little piece of journalism FAIL from the website of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is not my outrage over the missing modifier in the subhead (this sort of typo is all too common) or the lack of imagination evident in the illustration (I would have gone with Ewan McGregor done up like Renton in Trainspotting with a needle hanging out of one arm while he hoists a bottle of Glenfiddich with the other, because if there's one thing that movie taught me, it's that Scottish people know their narcotics and their alcohol. And also to choose life, or something.)

Nay, the reason I find this moderately infuriating is this: THIS IS NOT AT ALL WHAT THE STUDY FOUND. The study they are referring to looked at the varying effects of drugs on both the individual and society at large. Not surprisingly, it found (among other things) that while drugs like heroin and crack are incredibly damaging to individual users, their cost to the rest of society pales in comparison to that of alcohol. Duh. That's because far more people consume alcohol than heroin and overconsumption of it generally kills you slowly (with all the medical costs, traffic accidents, and idiot streakers interrupting sporting events that entails.)

But again, that's not my point, although I do find any scholarly work that furthers our understanding of substance abuse generally interesting, especially as it relates to our ongoing failure to address the issue with logic or compassion. What bothers me today is the simple and obvious misreporting of facts, right there in a headline. Of course alcohol is not more deadly than heroin! I had two beers just last night, and I feel great!

There are three possible reasons why the AJC would run an erroneous headline like this:
A) The writer and/or editor who wrote the head is stupid.
B) The writer and/or editor who wrote the head didn't really read the study, which is irresponsible and stupid.
C) The writer and/or editor who wrote the head knows what the study findings are and decided to mash up the facts a bit to get a juicier headline, which is stupid, irresponsible and maybe a little bit evil.

I didn't even read the AJC article because I'd already read one that covered the same study on Salon, where they managed to be both accurate and devoid of sensationalism, which is all I want out of my news, which reminds me of another plea I've been dying to make, and this is aimed at every single media outlet there is: Can we please stop reporting the findings of polls as news? Every day I see splashed across the internet the latest numbers indicating the Democrats are in trouble, or they're not, or the president's approval ratings are up or down, or 9 out of 10 dentists recommend Oral-B. At best, a well-conducted, comprehensive poll can give you an idea; at worst, they give you the wrong idea. The questions asked of respondents can be and often are worded in such a way as to guarantee the outcome the pollster is seeking. They are never definitive and should not be reported as such, and because of this I don't think they should be reported by mainstream media at all because I don't believe most of us know the difference. Also, I have never been contacted for a poll. This is suspicious.

And with this rant I begin NaBloPoMo. I keep meaning to get back to the blog and what better way than to post every day for a month.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nucking Futs

You know how people like us, that is to say "earthbound" folks, tend to view skydiving as maybe the scariest thing we can think of this side of a Tea Party rally? Apparently there are people very much not like us (and I don't just mean neo-cons,) people who derive no thrill from simply jumping off of or out of something and plunging rapidly toward the hard earth and certain death, with only the hope of being saved at the last second by a carefully folded sheet of nylon, people who have decided that skydiving is not enough- that they want to skydive really, really close to stuff.

Just watch this short video, and then call your mom and promise her you'll never do anything like this.