Archive for July, 2010

The Captain Finishes It Up

I was strumming through the Captain’s Quarters archive last nite looking for some inspiration when I came across this entry from two years ago.  In my second installment of Top 5 I made the following statement:

In my mind, the most important two songs on any mix tape are the first one and the last one.  The last song is usually the most memorable, but the first song has the difficult task of setting the mood.

How can I make a statement like this and leave out half of the equation?  I fully meant to follow up on this with a corresponding entry on final songs but somehow I forgot.  Time to close this one out.

Top 5 Songs To End A Mix Tape

1.  Glory Box – Portishead

Usually when I’m ending a mix tape I go for mellow; something to ease the listener into the finish line.  This has been the gold standard for ending on a mellow note for over 15 years now.  Portishead did so many things right on their 1994 debut, Dummy, but ending it was their masterpiece.

2.  Across The Universe – Fiona Apple

In keeping with the mellow theme, my runner-up for best ending is Fiona Apple’s 1998 cover of Across The Universe.  Back before musical downloads were common this was my go-to song due to its rarity1.  But it still holds up today as a marvelous way to unwind a mix.  Something about her dreamy take on Lennon’s classic instantly puts me in a relaxed state.

3.  Ooh La La – The Faces

The idea for using this as a final track was totally stolen from the ending of Rushmore.  I couldn’t help myself from stealing the idea; it just makes too much sense.  The track manages to end on an upbeat note no matter what the rest of the mix contains.

4.  California Stars –Wilco

This little gem came from Wilco’s 1998 collaboration with Billy Bragg, Mermaid Avenue.  The album was set up as a way to add music to unused Woody Guthrie lyrics provided by his daughter.  Thus, it’s a Wilco song without any of Jeff Tweedy’s goofy lyrics.  This was a genius move as far as I’m concerned.  The song has the perfect mix of hope and warmth, which I attribute to Jay Bennett still being in the band.

5.  Mercedes Benz – Janis Joplin

Sometimes the best way to end a mixtape is with a quirky little wink to the listener.  To that end nothing beats these 1:46 seconds of Janis singing acapella.  The song is good for a chuckle, but it’s the way she says “That’s it!” followed by her strange cackle at the end that really make the song.  And speaking of endings…

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  I actually had to plop down six bucks for a used copy of the Pleasantville soundtrack just to get this track.

The Captains New Definition Of Summer Madness

For a summer with not much to do, I’ve been remarkably busy lately.  Most of my days lately have been filled with answering procedural questions at work, despite the fact that I wrote a training manual that covers these procedures in explicit detail.  And while I actually had a couple of days off last week, I wound up busier than ever.

My two eldest uncles on my dad’s side of the family were in town last weekend and stayed at my house a couple of nites.  As I would guess is probably typical for bachelors over fifty, they were in town from Philadelphia on a baseball stadium tour vacation.  They came to St. Louis to catch the Cardinals-Phillies game last Tuesday nite.

We also found our way to the Budweiser brewery tour and we managed to polish off a Big Ben at Pappy’s Smokehouse.  You know, dude stuff.  And in an act of kindness, they singlehandedly finished off every project on my home-repair list!  Almost all of the projects involved dog-proofing something in my home, but they also installed professional looking shelving in my laundry room. I must be getting old, because I was THRILLED by this shelf.

We put in a full day’s work with only one trip to an Urgent Care facility.  Real dude stuff.  I also took the Uncles to see my sister’s band, Paper Dolls, down at Off Broadway.  The Dolls opened for Pretty Little Empire, and both put on one hell of a show.  Those Paper Dolls are going places I tell ya.

This past weekend I had the distinct pleasure of showing up at a theme party as the only one in costume.  The theme was jean short cut-offs, or so I thought.  I marched into the party wearing recently hacked jeans so short that the pockets are hanging out the bottom.  Megs and I quickly discovered that we were the only ones wearing cut-offs.  Luckily no pictures of me in said jean shorts are available at this time.  Instead, here is an artist’s rendering.

I also hauled my ass downtown Saturday nite for the Silversun Pickups show.  I wrote a short review for the show over here at a friend’s new local St. Louis blog, the St. Louis Smack.  I’ve been invited to write a weekly column for the site and I’m giving it heavy consideration.  But as you can see from my lack of recent posts, I’m not sure if committing to a weekly column is a great idea.  Then again, it would be a big step toward my Year of Consistency.  We’ll see…

Ciao,

The Captain

The Captain Supports Universal Healthcare

It’s been a long two months since our furry little boy first broke his leg.  And now he is finally back to normal!

Desmond finally has his cast off and his stitches out!  He’s back to being the hyperactive pup that I love.  Now all Desmond needs is for the hair to grow back over his gnarly scar and he should be good as new.

Sitting in the waiting room during Desmond’s last weekly visit to the Vet on Tuesday I started think about all of the times that I’ve had to go to the hospital for something serious in my life.  Of course my brain immediately went into blog mode and I rattled off a Top 5 list in my mind.  And here we go.

Top 5 Trips To The Hospital

1.  The time I hit a concrete embankment with my face

Back in 2004 I managed to smash head first into a concrete embankment.  In one fell swoop I managed to dislocate my left shoulder, break off half of two tooth, bloody my nose and give myself a black eye.  Worse, at the time I was about two miles from the cabin where I was staying and about thirty minutes from a hospital. Even worse, I was six months removed from having health insurance.

Megan and my sister rushed me to the Missouri Baptist Hospital in Sullivan, where I informed the E.R. receptionist that I needed my shoulder popped back into place.  Knowing I was insured, I refused all other treatment.  Accordingly, I sat in the waiting room until a doctor came out and popped it back in the socket right there in front of everyone.  We grabbed an arm sling, wiped some blood off of my face, and headed back to St. Louis1.

Everything was eventually fixed after a long and drawn out process.  I ended up settling with some people and got them to pay for my medical expenses.  The only real downside is that this happened two weeks before I was due to start Graduate School, so I had to go to my first couple of classes looking like Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel.

2.  The time I had a piece of my nose removed

Let me say up front that I did not get a nose job.

I did not get a nose job.

When I was in high school I took a series of allergy test and they noticed that I had a deviated septum.  The cartilage in my nose grew in wrong and it was blocking the air ducts on my nose.  On my allergists advice I signed up for what they said was routine surgery to fix my deviated septum.  It was way more than I had in mind.

While I was knocked out, the surgeon stuck a bunch of sharp stuff up my nose and cut out the pieces of cartilage blocking my air ducts.  On the plus side this left no scarring.  On the negative side, all of the blood from the surgery drained to my stomach.

When I awoke after the surgery, my nose was covered inside and out with gauze and I felt super nauseous.  I spent the next half an hour puking up a terrible looking vomit/blood hybrid before I was kicked out of the outpatient room and sent home.  I know in the grand scope of surgeries, this was pretty mild.  But it sure kicked my ass.

3.  The time that I had cooties

Back in my early teen years I had a case of scabies, which is about the closest thing to actually having cooties.  Scabies are little mites that live in dead skin cells that itch like crazy.  It was like having full body fleas.

After days of scratching myself raw, my mom finally took me to the hospital to talk to my doctor.  He diagnosed it right away as scabies.  After the diagnosis he asked me, right in front of my mother, how long I had been sexually active.  I turned beet red and sheepishly admitted that I was still a virgin.  Most awkward hospital visit ever2!

Getting rid of the scabies was a huge undertaking.  I had to rub a cream all over my body and the try and sleep with absolutely no scratching.  This was nearly impossible.  After hours of staring at the ceiling in my bedroom while I could feel tiny mites jumping off of my body, I broke down and found a pair of disposable gloves and scratched the shit out of myself.  It was a very long nite.

Of course nowadays there is a pill that will kill them all pretty quick…

4.  The time I flew off of a skateboard and landed on my elbow

After the summer of my sophomore year of college I managed to dislocate my elbow in a skateboarding accident.  I managed to land on my elbow so that it crammed the bone all the way into the socket.  Basically, my arm was stuck at a ninety degree angle for a month while it slowly regained mobility.  I had to wear a sling the whole time, but no cast.  As it turned out this was actually an odd bit of luck.  My injury required me to quit my summer job as a mover, so I spent the rest of the summer traveling and hanging out with friends.

5.  The time I slid into the edge of my mom’s coffee table

When I was real little and living in New Jersey, I somehow managed to slide across the floor of the living room and right into the sharp corner of the coffee table.  The impact managed to split open the skin above my left eye, and I was rushed to the hospital to get stitches.  It was pretty minor, but it is responsible for the only scar I have on my body.

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  The bill for popping an arm back into socket with no insurance: $1,750.00

2.  We eventually figured out I got them from a camping trip with my Boy Scout troop.  Why he didn’t start with “When was the last time you were camping?” is beyond me.

The Captain Is Only 499,999,575 Friends Short Of 500 Million

One of my favorite covers from my 2009 Modern Rock Covers disc was Creep.  I was introduced to it by Stephen Falk by way of Shortcake.  He urged me to listen to it now before it was co-opted into a montage sequence in an indie film.  Today I discovered that his prediction was pretty damn close.  It wound up in a trailer for David Fincher’s movie about Facebook.

So fucking special!

Ciao,
The Captain

The Captains Summertime – Time To Sit Back And Unwind

Something about this summer so far has made me not want to do anything.  I mean nothing.  At all.

A big part of my general melancholy has been in response to Desmond’s injury.  It’s been quite the ordeal.

His surgery last week went much better than I expected, mostly due to the fact that I was ready for the worst.  About three weeks ago our Vet said that he had an infection where the bone was healing that would require surgery.  I asked the same question, “Are you sure this won’t heal on its own,” as many ways as I could think of before getting a definitive answer.  The vet finally had to say “If we don’t operate the infection will spread and we’ll have to amputate the leg.”

Now I’m known to be heartless sometimes, but even I couldn’t let the Vet chop off my puppy’s leg based solely on the price tag.  After a week’s delay waiting for surgery equipment, I signed off on the final $1,400 estimate for the surgery last Thursday morning.

As it turns out, the break had already managed to heal itself as I predicted.  The Vet sliced open his leg and found no need to operate.  Desmond got stitched up and was given a two week timetable for recovery.  Best of all, his self-healing knocked $1,000 off of the price tag1!

And while his surgery went well, the first two days of his recovery were hellacious.  With Desmond’s leg swollen from the surgery, the Vet couldn’t wrap it like normal.  Desmond’s leg needed time to heal in open air, which meant Desmond would have to wear a cone to prevent him from messing with the stitches.  From the get-go Desmond hated the cone.  We quickly dubbed it the Cone of Shame.

And Desmond was not having the Cone of Shame.  His fierce independence would not be restricted by such a shameful piece of plastic.  Desmond spent the first two days after the surgery constantly trying to rid himself of the Cone of Shame.  It distracted him to the point where he wouldn’t sleep or eat very much.  After two days of letting the swelling subside, he was able to get his leg wrapped again and ditch the cone.

Since then he’s been pretty much back to normal.  He’s getting his stitches out on Tuesday.  Hopefully then this two month ordeal will end and he can go back to being the charming little pup we all love.

Besides taking care of Desmond, I’ve mostly been laying around doing nothing for the past couple of weeks.  It’s been pretty sweet.  Megs and I made it through Season 1 of The Wire over the three day holiday weekend2, and I managed to reach 100% completion in Red Dead Redemption.

And while I always appreciate some down time, I’ve recently started feeling a bit too lazy.  As such, I’m making a concerted effort to get active this weekend.  I’m going to my first ARRG Roller Derby event on Saturday, and tomorrow I’m headed to the Loop to pick up tickets for two shows just announced at the Pageant.  I’m buying tickets for the Flaming Lips on September 17th and Band Of Horses on October 13th if anyone is interested.

And speaking of summer and music, I found some awesome FREE summer tracks online this week.  First, check out the Converse annual summer song, appropriately titled “All Summer” this year.

Second, and even cooler, check out this all summer mix just release by DJ Jazzy Jeff.  It’s super rad3!!!  So now I’m officially ready to cruise and layback cause it’s Summertime!

Ciao,

The Captain

1.  I would’ve been unhappy about having to pay for anesthesia for an unneeded surgery, but Desmond was also scheduled to have quite a few of his puppy teeth pulled so it was not a waste.

2.  We started Season 2 this week, but it hasn’t really hooked us yet.  Blue collar criminals on shipping docks just aren’t as exciting as drug dealers in the ghetto.

3.  I listened to it this mix all day today and I’m convinced that Jeff has now had a better post-Fresh Prince career than Will Smith.

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