Archive for March, 2009
As you may or may not have noticed, I haven’t posted much this month. My life has suddenly become quite busy over the past few weeks, which leaves no room for the Quarters. At this point I’m not at liberty to discuss the events that have kept me busy, but I will be addressing them in the near future. I also plan to blog quite a bit more in April, so stay tuned.
I’ve been under a good deal of stress lately and I hadn’t really noticed that it was affecting me until a few nites ago. For some reason periods of stress always tend to produce the same result: the “Oh shit, I’m gonna fail one of my classes” dream.
This dream begins with many different scenarios. Sometimes it involves me studying for semester finals and realizing that I completely forgot about one of my classes. Somehow I didn’t remember to attend biology class for the last month or two, and now I have to cram a whole semester’s worth of studying into three hours.
Sometimes the dream begins with me studying diligently for a final and inadvertently dozing off during the process. When Dream Captain wakes up, it’s half an hour after the final has begun. Now I have to run across campus/high school/the woods and hope to make it to the test with enough time to answer at least some of the questions.
Every once in awhile, the dream begins after I’ve finished my finals. I’m cruising around campus/one of my college apartments/the arch-front and I realize that I somehow forgot to take one of the classes required to graduate. I rush to the registration office and discover that I will be stuck in school one more semester.
No matter how these dreams begin, they always end the same way: me waking up in the middle of the nite in a cold sweat and engulfed in a layer of dread. These dreams always leave me with a profound sense of urgency, which is about the worst feeling to have at two in the morning.
Over the past couple of years I’ve actively fought back against these stress dreams. After the dream, or some times during it, I will repeatedly tell myself that I am not actually in school any more so there is nothing to fear. This seemed to work for awhile.
Recently the stress dreams have found a way to fight back. Now the dream begins with a phone call from some authority figure. This principal/dean/coach informs me that I am required to return to high school/college/grad school to make up for a class that I somehow failed/forgot to take/didn’t exist. The now adult me is forced to return to an imagined updated version of a former school. This feeling of being an old outsider adds a brand new layer of stress to the dream, one that is even harder to shake off.
Thursday nite I woke up around three a.m. and actually had to tell myself that I wasn’t back in high school. So yeah, needless to say I’m looking forward to relieving some stress this weekend. Next week look for more regular updates. Until then, I’ll be on campus and perpetually late.
St. Patrick’s Day – Ach, Ja
Normally I would give this worthless holiday a Nicht Nicht. Why would I want to celebrate the Irish, especially when I don’t even like the things Ireland is known for?1
This year the fates aligned and decided to make the 17th an unusually nice day in St. Louis. 80 degree weather brought the whole town out of hibernation and led them straight to bars, myself included. I met my Sister, D and Tim at Jack Patrick’s after work and enjoyed a few beers outside on a beautiful afternoon.
It was so nice in fact that I am ready to declare that St. Patty’s Day was the First Nice Day of 2009. It was nice while it lasted.
Music in 2009 – Nicht Nicht
This time last year I was overwhelmed with the amount of great tunes that were released early in the year. 2009? Not so much. Most of the music in 2009 has been mediocre thus far. What happened?
I was excited for the release of Nikolai Fraiture’s, the bass player from the Strokes, first album The Time Of The Assassins. I tried to like it, but it was really bland. It’s time for the Strokes to get back together, dammit!
Past Modern Rock stars like Franz Ferdinand, the Von Bondies and M Ward have been disappointing as well this year. There have been some notable exceptions, namely the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s It’s Blitz. Holy shit is this album good; it was the soundtrack to my recent trip to Chicago. I’m not quite sure how a band on the verge of breaking-up managed to get back together and make a dance album, but I’m glad they did.2
Besides The YYYs, Norman Cook of Fatboy Slim put out a collaboration album as BPA that is worth a listen. Especially the track featuring David Byrne and Dizzee Rascal. Also, local band Living Things are taking a shot at the big time with their new album Habeas Corpus. It’s uneven at times but there are some great tracks here, especially their first single “Let It Rain.”
And while technically more of a comedy album, The Lonely Island’s Incredibad has some exceedingly funny songs. And the video for “Jizz In My Pants” is hilarious.
Still, it’s been a pretty weak start musically this year. Hopefully the upcoming release of the second album by Silversun Pickups will change that a bit.
Crystal Meth – Ach, Ja
Geez, that sounds bad. Let me clarify; Methamphetamine is a terribly destructive drug that is destroying large portions of our Country. But while meth is horrible for society, it’s great for television. Some of my favorite shows on television are about Meth. For example, Intervention on A&E.
Meg and I have been hooked on this show about addicts for quite some time. And while nothing can beat the episode with Allison on Duster, most of the good ones lately have centered on Meth users. Like this one.
Meth also makes for a good documentary. The National Geographic in depth special on Meth was pretty amazing, especially when the interviewed some of the people involved in the infamous Faces of Meth campaign.
But the Frontline special that traced the origins and growth of the drug was probably the most informative hour of television I’ve seen in quite a while. This should be required viewing in every prison and rehabilitation facility in the country.
Besides reality, Meth also makes for some pretty amazing drama. Breaking Bad on AMC is without a doubt the most original show on television right now. The second season just started and it’s already incredible. The story of an chemistry teacher with cancer who takes to cooking Meth may not sound like essential viewing, but trust me it’s so worth watching. Walter the meth cook beat out Don Draper the Ad Exec for Best Actor at the Emmys last year. That’s impressive!
So to recap: Meth is bad; shows about Meth are bad-ass.
The Return of Chris Carpenter – Ach, Ja
Chris Carpenter is a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals and also my favorite pro-athlete. I’m not sure what it is about him, but I can’t get enough of the guy. Maybe it’s his athleticism, or his talent on the mound, or maybe it’s the fact that he’s the only guy I’ve ever seen who can pull off the soul patch without looking like an ex-con.
The last two years of baseball in St. Louis have sucked in part because he’s been on the disabled list for most of that time. In fact, for the last five seasons the Cardinals have only made the playoffs when he was he healthy. Chris is scheduled to return this year, and I’m trying really hard not to get my hopes up. He’s looked great so far in Spring Training and looks to be on course for another good year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
Missouri Voters – Nicht Nicht
This is a repeat of a Nicht Nicht I issued last November. At the time I expressed frustration at County voters for turning down Proposition M, which would have helped fund public transportation in St. Louis. As a result of this not passing, public transportation has necessarily reduced service across the area. I found out recently that at the end of the month, this decision will cost me 35 minutes of sleep a week!
Allow me to explain. My preferred mode of transportation to work, the Metrolink, will be soon be reducing train service weekdays from every 10 minutes to every 15 minutes. This means that I will now have to catch a train seven minutes earlier in the morning if I want to arrive at work on time. That adds up to 35 less minutes of sleep a week. Curses! Still, it could be worse. Public bus riders in St. Louis got hit with much worse cutbacks both in schedules and routes due to Prop M failing.
I just don’t understand why people in St. Louis continue to vote down public transportation. In my view it’s one of the main reasons that St. Louis has not sustained any real growth in the past few decades. Public transportation provides the density that urban centers need to survive. It’s time for St. Louis voters to embrace the future, man!
Propecia – Ach, Ja
I know that it’s probably still too early to tell, but I think my hair pills are starting to work!
I’m not sure if you can see it from this picture, but in person the effects are noticeable. Meg is constantly remarking that my hair is starting to look fuller, and it actually feels a bit fuller to me. One thing that I’ve definitely noticed, and that didn’t really occur to me before I started this process, is that my hair is growing faster.
I guess I just kinda thought that the missing hair would start slowly growing back. Instead, the Propeica has accelerated the growth of all the hair on my head. I’ve already had to increase the frequency of getting my hair cut to once a month, and I might need to start going every three weeks soon. Not that I’m complaining. Far from it. I’ll get my hair cut once a week if that’s what it takes.
Online Ticket Presales – Ach, Ja
I’ve tried several times previously to get concert tickets online using a pre-sale promotion and it has never worked. Inevitably the pre-sale tickets website gets flooded and crashes, or the pre-sale tickets sell out in less than a minute. Well I’m happy to report that it finally worked at the perfect time, for the NIN/JA tour. That’s right, I got some sweet seats for the Nine Inch Nails/Jane’s Addiction tour in Tampa! I booked my whole trip earlier this week and I can’t wait!!!
I’m flying into Sarasota the second weekend in May, and heading up to Tampa that Saturday nite with my buddy Rob for the show. Besides that I’ll be busy hitting the beach and causing some mischief with Amir. The perfect weekend getaway and just in time! This week marks one year since I’ve seen a beach, and I am missing the ocean terribly. The NIN/JA tour and the beaches of Sarasota are the perfect combo of two of my favorite things. I imagine it’s gonna be something like this
Crazy St. Louis Spring Weather– Nicht Nicht
I forgot how unreasonable spring is in St. Louis. I’ve had to switch from air conditioning to heat and then back to air-conditioning every day this week. It’s absurd; it’s spring in St. Louis.
Resident Evil 5 – Ach, Ja
This glorious game was released this past weekend, and I’m already hooked. Resident Evil 4 ate up a good portion of my summer in 2005, and RE5 is looking to consume my spring 2009. I’m not gonna geek-out here, but damn I love the Resident Evil franchise. The only thing better than blowing the head off of a zombie is blowing the head off of a super-fast zombie wielding a chain saw.
The Filet-O-Fish – Nicht Nicht
I completely forgot that this sandwich even exists. People in Florida tend to go for fresh fish, not deep fried cod chunks. Can you blame them? Look at it.
Right after Mardi Gras, billboards popped up all over town advertising this monstrosity. I know that this is supposed to be an option for meatless Fridays during lent, but I can’t imagine a world where eating this sandwich demonstrates any kind of self-denial or discipline.
Even worse, McDonalds has started airing a commercial that features a singing fish requesting a Filet-O-Fish.
I’ve always despised any advertising that prominently features the animal that I am about to eat. I don’t want to think about it; nobody does.
Television sweeps – Ach, Ja
This time last year the writers’ strike decimated some of my favorite shows. In 2009 these writers seemed determined to prove their worth because shows this year have been outstanding. I mentioned earlier that Breaking Bad has been cranking up the drama on Sunday nites. The same can be said for Big Love, a show that has really hit its stride in season three.
Thursdays are giving Sunday a run for the money with more killer episodes of The Office and 30 Rock. But nothing compares to Lost Wednesdays. Season 5 of this show singlehandedly makes Wednesday the best nite for television. I mean, the cast joined the Dharma Initiative! Unfuckingbelievable!
Addition of a Fellow Captain – Ach, Ja
Finally, I want to give a big shout-out to my good buddy Mike. After what seems like forever he is finally ready to graduate from his Doctorate program in counseling. Congrats on finally being done with school!
What’s even more amazing is that he just accepted a fantastic job with the U.S. Air Force and is finally gonna put all that learnin’ to good use. In a strange turn of events, Mike will be enlisting as an officer in the Air Force and will officially be a Captain. I finally have another Captain to hang out with!
Congratulations on your pending graduation and enlistment. And from one Captain to another, welcome to the club.
artist’s approximation of Captain Mike
1 I prefer American whiskey, German beer, and Italian women.
2 Apparently Karen O decided that Nick Zinner, one of the great young guitar players, should put down his axe and learn to play a synthesizer and he went along with the idea. Regardless of the reason, the result is chocked full of ass-shakin’ righteousness.
As you may recall, last year I wrote a Top 5 list of things that I was excited about for the future. Number one on the list was the possibility of a full-fledged Jane’s Addiction reunion complete with the band’s MVP, bassist Eric Avery.
Well the future is here!
They boys are back together and are taking off on a North American tour! Special thanks to Rob in Bradenton for giving me the heads up last week about this monumental event.
I’ve been waiting for this day for about fifteen years now. I first fell in love with the boys from Jane’s around 1993, a little over a year after they called it quits. Since then, they’ve done a couple of reunion tours that I was luckily enough to catch. I saw the Relapse tour in Chicago in 1997 which was by all accounts a pretty amazing show. This was mostly because Dave Navarro talked Flea into taking over on bass for the tour, and far as stand-ins go, Flea’s not bad.1
Back in 2003, the remaining band members hired the bass player from Alanis Morissette’s touring band(?!?) to replace Eric. They put out a mediocre album together2 and headlined a mediocre Lollapalooza that year. I bought the album and caught the tour, but I was underwhelmed to say the least.
Since then most of the band’s members have lost a ton of creditability in my eyes. Lead singer Perry Ferell has done a ton of crappy side projects, including releasing a terrible album as Satellite Party and those super horrendous commercials for NCAA Football with 50 Cent.
Guitarist Dave Navarro has done even worse for himself, basically becoming a media whore. Not only did he host the terrible rock rip-off of American Idol Rockstar, he had that craptastic reality show where he married Carmen Electra. No shame!
And the drummer, Stephen Perkins, well, not much to say here…he’s the drummer. Stephen has always just gone with the flow. He stuck with Perry after the band originally split and helped him with Porno For Pyros, which was pretty awesome. After Jane’s last tour, he stuck with Dave and the shitty replacement bass player to form an even worse side band, Panic Channel.
Of all the band’s members Eric Avery is the only who has not managed to soil his good name. As you know from my Modern Rock 2008 review, Eric released uneven but occasionally brilliant solo album last year. He is still by far my all-time favorite bass player. His absence from the band was obvious on their last tour six years ago; I’m hoping his return will spark a creative resurgence for Jane’s Addiction.
I’m also hoping that the band’s new affiliation with Nine Inch Nails will also help bring an artistic revival of sorts. Trent Reznor has always listed Jane’s Addiction as one of his major influences. His remix of “Ted, Just Admit It” on the soundtrack to 1994’s Natural Born Killers Soundtrack was practically a love letter to the boys from Jane’s.
When Trent heard that the band played a couple of small shows together late last year in L.A., he invited them to join him in the studio. Here are a couple of good shots of the boys from Jane’s with Trent.
Apparently this arrangement worked out well for all involved. Last week both bands announced that they would be touring together this spring. The NIN/JA tour begins this May in Florida, and I am determined to attend.3
I’m planning my first trip back to Florida to hit the show in Tampa on May 9th. The tickets haven’t gone on sale yet, but when they do I’m sure I will find a way to make this happen.
The other big Jane’s Tour news is that the band is all but certain to headline Lollapalooza 2009, the festival they created back in 1991. It has been unofficially announced that Jane’s will headline one of the three nites of the festival, with the Beastie Boys and Depeche Mode as the other two headliners.
I will probably be gathering up a posse to head up to Chicago in August for the event, but this is heavily dependent on my excitement with the rest of the festival’s line-up. I will post an update once Lollapalooza formally announces its 2009 list of performers.
So if you haven’t picked up on it yet, I beyond ecstatic that my all-time favorite band is back together! Thank you boys, I’m like a pig in zen…
Long Live Jane’s Addiction!
1 The major difference is that Flea slaps his bass, and Eric uses a pick. It’s a subtle difference, but significant nonetheless.
2. The only thing memorable from this album is the song “Superhero,” which eventually became the intro music to Entourage.
3 Once again, another great tour is skipping St. Louis. Why bands continue to choose Kansas City and Indianapolis over St. Louie is beyond me.
A few weeks ago I gave a shout out to my buddy Mike for his impending attainment of Captain’s status. This is a great honor; I take being a Captain quite serious.
This got me to thinking about other Captains that have inspired me over the years. While there were a few actual Captains, like Mike, that have inspired me I unsurprisingly realized that the majority of Captains I admire are fictitious creations, like me.
I managed to narrow my favorite Captains down to a Top 5 list for the viewing pleasure of my loyal readers here at the Quarters. Enjoy!
Top 5 Fictional Captains That Inspire Me
1. Captain Kangaroo
When I was a kid I tuned in faithfully every week for the wacky hi-jinks of Captain Kangaroo. The Captain, along with Mister Rogers and Sesame Street, made up the holy trifecta of PBS kids shows on channel 9.
Truth be told, my favorite was always Sesame Street. But there was always something about the Captain I was drawn to; he made me excited and nervous at the same time. Even as a child I could tell there was something not quite right with Captain Kangaroo. Maybe it was the bushy eyebrows, the bright red suit, the bowl-cut-moustache combo, or perhaps his crazy smile.
Whatever it was, it gave Captain Kangaroo an edge that most kids shows didn’t possess. Just look how wild and slightly scary he looks next to Mr. Rogers.1
Captain Kangaroo was a weird guy, but I was the kind of kid that really appreciated weirdoes. My childhood idols were known for being strange: Steve Martin, Gonzo, Cyndi Lauper, Duckie, etc. As a Captain that is known for being odd, I have to give props to the original. Captain Kangaroo, you’re the craziest!2
2. Captain Hook
When I was really young, I had the same affinity for heroes that most boys my age shared. As I got a bit older, I began gravitating more towards villains. Luke Skywalker became boring compared to a complicated guy like Darth Vader. Nowhere was this more evident than in Peter Pan.
For most of my formative years I found the Disney version of Peter Pan pretty dull. Peter always seemed like the know-it-all cool kid that made fun of weirdoes like me. Characters that always win are boring.
Eventually I was drawn into the story through bumbling protagonist, Captain Hook. Here was a guy that I could relate to. He had problems. He was obsessed with trivial things. He was scared of crocodiles. He had the best song in the movie. Years later I discovered that the Captain Hook in the original novel is even better, much more mean and vile. My kinda guy.
To this day I still prefer Villains to Heroes. I still love Captain Hook, and I’m happy to report that my nephew shares my enthusiasm. Before Ben could speak in complete sentences, he was known for chasing the cat around his house with a plastic sword yelling “I Hook!”
I paid Captain Hook tribute back in 2005. He was and still is the best Halloween costume I’ve ever worn.
3. Captain Caveman
I never really watched this show when I was a kid. However, thanks to a late-nite slot on Cartoon Network I caught it on a semi-regular basis in college.
There was a lot to love about the show. The plot featured a hairy protagonist who hangs out with three hot chicks and randomly goes crazy and loudly yells his name. What’s not to like?
Actually, this show sums up my last few years of college rather nicely. I had rather long hair, I frequently did crazy things, and yet I was inexplicably surrounded by beautiful women all the time.
Thankfully I have moved past my Caveman days from college. But I still love that crazy little hairy bastard. Captain Caavveemmaannnnnnn!!!
4. Captain Morgan
Speaking of things I loved in college…
I started a long courtship with Captain Morgan back in college that has only recently tapered off. Here’s a Captain that knows how to get the party started. I got to hang with him at Mardi Gras and he’s the best! He’s cool, has a great smile, and looks great with his leg propped up on anything. Plus, he espouses the virtues of the magic elixirs known as dark and light Rum.
Rum is such an easy alcohol to love. It’s high on alcohol content and light on taste. Captain Morgan mixed with Cola is damn near impossible to resist. For years I was able to convince myself that by drinking Captain Morgan and Diet Coke I was somehow making a “healthy” choice. Because we all know that getting shitty-drunk on rum is an important part of living an fit and active lifestyle.
My sister is still a big rum drinker, but she prefers low-quality nemesis of Captain Morgan.
We both ended up with a little Admiral Nelson in us before heading to Busch Stadium Tuesday nite. It caused us to go a bit wild as was witnessed by our merciless heckling of Pirates right fielder Eric Henske3, and by unfortunate pictures such as this.
5. Captain Stubing
I have never claimed to enjoy The Love Boat. The entire series was just a bit too campy and 70s for me. It was the celebrity reality show of the 70s, where washed out Stars would go to make guest appearances. The only episode I ever remember liking was the one where Andy Warhol was the guest star.
With that being said, I did enjoy two of the characters immensely: Isaac the Bartender and Captain Stubing (Your Captain!)
That Captain Stubing was all man, especially when compared to the rest of the idiots running around that mobile orgy. The Love Boat was one big party, and Stubing was the man in charge. Who could possibly argue with this?
Over the last few years, I have often found myself taking over the roll of Captain Stubing with many of my friends and associates. It seems that everyone is usually looking for fun activity (something exciting and new, if you will…) yet no one wants to be in charge. I began volunteering to a plan activities in college and noticed that I have natural ease in this capacity.
This was especially true when I began boating in Florida. During my time in the Sunshine State I took my job as Captain quite seriously. And I still do now, even though I’m land-locked back in Missouri. Being a Captain requires true grit. Luckily Mike and I are chocked full of it!
1 In retrospect, Mr. Rogers had a mailman named Mr. McFeely. That’s super creepy! Definitely the scariest thing ever on a kids show.
2 I take that back. Making a coffee table out of candle wax, that’s definitely the craziest!
3 Hey Henske, YOU SUCK!!!
So I’m back in freakishly warm St. Louis after an interesting week in Chicago. What ended up being interesting about the trip was had more to do with what I didn’t do than what I did.
Years ago when I used to travel frequently on business, I usually tried to get out and see the sights during my down time, i.e. Niagara Falls, Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon. My feeling at the time was, what’s the point of traveling if you don’t get out. And while those trips were quite memorable, they weren’t always enjoyable.
This thought was on my mind my even before I left for Chicago. I did an internet search of all the fun things that Chicago has to offer for the first week of March, and I came up blank. All of the exhibits at the various museums closed early, there were no good concerts in town except for the ultra-expensive Fleetwood Mac show, and the only sporting event was the Bulls v. the Golden State Warriors.
I decided that this trip I would simply enjoy my surroundings in whatever capacity I could. This proved challenging for the first few days since the temperature didn’t get above freezing. So instead of braving the cold I decided to enjoy the amenities of the Renaissance Hotel. I used their nice workout room, took a couple of dips in the hot tub and pool, and ordered some deep dish pizza from a local place up the street.
By Thursday the weather took an unexpected turn towards warm, and I was actually able to get out in Chicago. With no real plans in mind, I decided to go for a run along the Riverwalk. What started as quick run turned into a two hour trek down Lake Michigan and back.
After a couple of miles it occurred to me that in addition to providing music, my iPhone could also provide some interesting pictures. So I decided to try and snap pictures of myself as I was running up and down the lake. The results were a mixed bag.
Some are actually decent action shots of me, like these in front of the lake and the planetarium.
But my favorites were the ones where I ended up slightly warped due to the wind, like this one of me on Northerly Island Park.
It was really strange to run in 70 degree weather next to a frozen lake, but it made the experience quite memorable nonetheless. I had such a good time zoning out while looking at the interesting sites that I totally over-exerted myself. I paid the price when I arrived back at the hotel. As soon as I sat down my legs were on fire!
I was still sore for my return trip to St. Louis on Friday, but it was to be expected. What I didn’t expect is to return home to a heat wave?!? It was in the 80s when my plane touched down.
The freakishly warm weather really brought out the masses last weekend. Downtown was already crowded due to the Missouri Valley Tournament at the Scottrade Center. But something about warm weather in March really brought out the drunks, me included.
Dr. Chris was in town for an interview, which seemed like a good reason to get sloppy. The only thing that was messier than sake bombs at the Drunken Fish
Was our ill advised trip to the east side. Only sake would make me think going to Roxy’s was a good idea.
Now I am back home and ready to get back to my life. Taking time to enjoy myself in Chicago and this weekend really made it easy for me to transition right back where I was before I left.