Tuesday, October 31, 2006


My sister called from her cell yesterday: she had cysts.
I never thought I would be so elated to hear "I have cysts," but I was euphoric.

I sort of celebrated in my own way by going to see the Twilight Singers at Sokol. For those who are unfamiliar with the band, it's a makeup of Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan. Dulli was his charismatic best while Lanegan's presence was the type of presence that he could get a crowd in a frenzy, but not move a muscle and barely raise an eyelid on the stage.

I went solo. The few friends I have that know who Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli were had to work early, so they skipped out. Few social outings are more awkward than going to a concert alone. If you were to look at Sokol Underground through a petri dish, you would see clusters of two and four, ambling their way between the bar, the restrooms and the stage.

I wasn't about to let the fact that I was going alone prevent me from seeing The Twilight Singers. There are some shows that you don't miss - regardless of your social status. Still, it was like a flashback to high school dances and parties.

Good show though...

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Tomorrow's Daylight Savings time for much of North America. When I was in college, this was a welcome extra hour of sleep. Now...I see it as one full hour to myself. It's like an hour given to me. Wasting that extra hour on sleep seems, well, wasteful. I could use it to work on a book review I have due for a paper on Monday, but I don't want that hour to go to work. It's my hour - I don't want it to go to my employer. It's supposed to be awesome outside, so I'm either going to give it to a very long run or a lengthy run of my sister's dogs.

Speaking of which... my mom called today and told me my sister discovered a lump in her breast. She hasn't even told her husband yet, since she thought he had a bad week at work. What she doesn't understand is that any of that stress that her husband is carrying around will instantly turn benign when she tells him this. People are like that. If your biggest worry is that the coffee machine at your work is broken, then, yeah, you're going to get bent out of shape when you discover that coffee machine is broken. We're naturally wired to handle what we're usually accustomed to.

I told my mom I was very concerned.
"You're concerned?" she snorted, as in setting up a "How do you think I feel?" remark (my family has a bad history of martyrdom).

I guess it hasn't sunk in yet. One thing I am grateful for is working in the radiology department for a hospital for six years. I reassure myself that scores of instances, these lumps turn out to be calcification or cysts. I reassure myself that this was detected early, by a self-examination. I reassure myself that I know scores of breast cancer survivors. I tell myself not to go into worry mode until she goes in for a biopsy on Monday and gets the results later in the week.

Still, this shit has a unique way of putting things into perspective, mainly...
  • Instantly renders all of the insecurities and petty shit that I've obsessed over, occasionally in this blog, meaningless. After hearing the news, I called my best friend. Fuck it if he didn't call me first. We laughed, he said he would spend a few days up in Omaha and it was like we never lost contact with one another.
  • Unfairly classifies my sister's story as some lame "Lifetime" story. It seems that each time the phrase "they found a lump" comes up, people who have never went through this (and even people who have) automatically think of a "Lifetime" movie.
  • Serve as a critical reminder of mortality. Contrary to popular belief, you honestly cannot live "every minute as if it were your last" because the mundane stuff that makes up daily life over time can be just as important as the monumental shifts in your life that determines your character. But moments like these crystallize your beliefs and outlooks. I'm hoping that for my sister, these next few weeks will serve as just one of those "scared at a glance of ones own mortality" moments and nothing more.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Writing and Confidence

It's no secret that writers, even journalists, have sensitive skins. For various reasons, I've wrestled with lack of confidence. Lack of confidence in the fact that next year, I'll be reentering the journalism world at the ever-creeping age of 32. Lack of confidence in that I'm growing farther apart from some lifelong friends due to the natural progression of age. Lack of confidence in my desire to go into this low-paying, unappreciated profession.

So anyway - with that in mind, I opted to skip out on my routine 20-mile ride and catch a book reading from one of my former journalism professors at the Joslyn Castle in Omaha. The castle - a mansion with lush mahogany throughout its four-story interior - was a marvel to just walk through. I initially heard about this book reading via an NPR 'public billboard' announcement. "Free and open to the public" and "book reading" - I came dressed in jeans. To my horror - the majority of the people there were in upscale dresses and suits with bold ties. Luckily there were two other older guys in jeans.

I met my old journalism professor and immediately I felt like I was back in my element. I was the only former student present, a fact that she pointed out during her talk. It was intimate enough of a setting that virtually every person went shook each other's hand. For some reason, shaking the hands of that many people and saying I was a freelance writer gave me a much needed confidence boost. My professor asked for my email address in case "something were to come up the pike."

I left on a high. Still, I realized how much my mood hangs on these sort of things - the need to be constantly validated. When one of the panel members said of the author's subject that he was oftentimes pleased, but never satisfied with his work, I felt like that was a trait way too familiar with me.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Solitary mix

My best friend who has been in New York the past six months has come back to Omaha for a quick visit. We were roommates for about a year before he moved to New York earlier this year. Though there were no blow-ups, shouting matches or stolen CD collections, I knew when he left that both of us reached the saturation point for each other.

So, he's back, and he has yet to call. I'm being stubborn and not calling him due to the fact that I emailed a few times over the summer and sent him a few CDs that he should probably have in his collection. It seems that everything, be it friendships or intimate relationships, have a bit of a power imbalance: one person inevitably needs another person more than that person needs them (sorry for the awkward phrasing).

So, I'm waiting for the call. In the mean time, my soundtrack is consisting of...
Liz Phair - Exiled in Guyville
Portishead - s/t
Lucinda Williams - Essence

Monday, October 23, 2006

Man tits don't make great advertising

First off, I'm coming off a writer's high from seeing David Sedaris speak at the Orpheum. His timing is amazing. I won't lessen the moment by trying to recreate some of his best moments, so I'll just say by all means - see him live.

So, I went to work this morning and checked my Yahoo mail after checking out Pitchforkmedia and Popmatters (waiting for their reviews of the new My Chemical Romance album - NY Times and Rolling Stone have already crowned it one of the best albums of the year - something I never would have imagined two years ago) - and I saw the ad for the new Yahoo. It features a guy covered with hair and while shaving, he decides to shake the hair off of his pale, flabby chest. For someone who's just waking up and having a queasy stomach, I'm wondering who the hell at Yahoo thought this was effective advertising.

Yes, there are some scum advertising exes out there that say "If you remember it, it did its job and thus it's good." Those are the people who diminish my faith in humanity.


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

ID unleashed

I'm currently debating with a friend about what event to attend in the next two weeks. Both of us have about $50 of disposable income. Two great acts are coming: David Sedaris aaand... Bob Dylan. I've seen Dylan twice. She's seen Sedaris once. I told her for $50, a live music event would probably be a better investment (especially since Kings of Leon is opening up - never heard their stuff, but I've heard good things about them). But, plain and simple, Dylan is a touring monster. He's been in this area a lot. Sedaris - who knows when he's going to come here again.

So - as I'm burning Robert Johnson's The Complete Sessions to my newly-recovered iPod, I thought I would use this time to address my time mismanagement. For the past three nights, I've tried to get to bed early so I can get up early and exercise, write - just get my blood running. But, certain things keep coming up. Mainly YouTube and Pandora radio. Both offer almost infinite possibilities and both are totally addictive.

First off - Pandora Radio. Yeah, I'm glad I got my iPod back, but with an invention like Pandora Radio, who the hell needs an iPod if you have a computer and a sound card? 100 radio stations you can create - totally accustomed to your tastes. The site pulls in old reliable favorites and throws in an obscure selection from a band you probably haven't heard of every third or fourth song. So far, I have Aimee Mann, TV on the Radio, Talking Heads, Neko Case and Pulp radio operating in perfect harmony. The possibilities are almost limitless. One of the few things at work that honestly keeps my ass planted at my desk.

Secondly...YouTube. Before I went to bed last night, I just wanted to see some highlights from The Daily Show before trying to finish Cobra II before bed. Just a few Daily Show highlights. Then, before I go to bed, maybe an old highlight from The Rush Limbaugh show, just to see the audience, which looked like a casting call for Children of the Damned. Then... well, after seeing a few live performances of "Bittersweet Symphony" - I had to check out The Verve's 1988 performance of "Lucky Man" - good god, Richard Ashcroft is amazing. Then - maybe a few broadcasts of the September 11 attacks - JUST as they were happening to see how some news organizations first reported this defining moment in our history. Then... well, you get the idea.

YouTube reminds me of when I first surfed the Internet. In a blink, hours were gone. Movie snippets, TV snippets, highlights of shows you don't watch because you don't have cable, racist comments by public officials - anything is just a search entry away. And it sucks you in. I hate to say that $1 billion is a bargain, but Google scored a huge coup with YouTube. The way Google operates, users are on the site for a half second: type in what you want and then go to it. With You Tube, it's like a community, you hang out - you stick around. Contrast that with Yahoo's laughable courtship of Facebook. As Slate Magazine so aptly put it: $1 Billion for Facebook? LOL

For those curious as to what the hell I was talking about earlier...

The Verve - Lucky Man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CDtiJG7D_1c

CNN - September 11 - as it happened - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9cUEcgQiEWk&mode=related&search=

Daily Show - question mark? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6Xsq7-OIkc


Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Still waiting for BloggerBeta to resolve this issue. But if you're a fan of 'House' - this has to be one of my favorite moments in the series, when he tells Cameron the reason he thinks Cameron is interested in him. I laughed, but I winced as well - as I do when a scene like this comes along that reminds me a bit too much of my flaws...

This election, I can't help but thinking of the Civil Rights movement in the '60s. I know folks like Alan Keys would love this - but I always look to how the Civil Rights movement caused so much advancements in human rights in the '60s and contrast it with the gay rights movement of today. I can't help but thinking of people who may have been anti-segregation, but who had more immediate issues at heart in the '60s - such as the Vietnam War. So...what happens when you come up with an issue that's so important to you that you would be willing to vote for a person who has on record basically said you were second class citizens? I don't believe Chuck Hagel or Ben Nelson would actively rally to ban gay marriage or a total ban on abortions. They would both most likely say that there are far more pressing issues to address. But does that justify a vote in the 'for' column?

I don't know, to be honest. I'm at a crossroads. In my opinion, Chuck Hagel is one of the most knowledgeable and qualified senators to lend his opinion about the Iraq war. He has repeatedly taken a metaphoric 2x4 to the Bush administration and has been lambasted by the Right because of it. Hagel has said that gay marriage is an issue that's for the states. But still, that would be like saying in the 60s or 70s that interracial marriage should be a state issue.

But - personally - I'm single. I plan to be that way at least for awhile, so personally, the marriage issue hasn't really hit me yet. And personally, gay marriage is about sixth on my list of priorities, which are...
1. Iraq/Afghanistan (yeah, that 'other' war)
2. Raising the minimum wage (you would think a lot of these megachurches would be mad at Republicans for keeping the minimum wage the same - thus increasing the risk for millions of families to fall below the poverty line and forcing these types of churches to do more with less to help these families that are below the poverty line)
3. North Korea (but moving up to number two fairly quickly)
4. Education - how the hell can we compete with countries that have far better education systems than ours, but their workers are happily working for a sixth of our salaries?
5. The war on terror (so, when will we ever read that headline 'TERROR DEFEATED'?)
6. Gay marriage


Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Last Foley rant of the week

This thing's been played to death, but it amazes me the audacity and even the stupidity of the Right on this scandal. Right-wing toters like Hannity and Limbaugh have already said that Foley's punishment has been handed down. Funny, because the Right made Bill Clinton turn the summer of 1998 into a crucifixion tour, where he had to apologize and atone at almost every stop. Foley's punishment has been doled out in the past two weeks for preying on a minor?

This is the party that's supposed to be all about personal responsibility. As most readers will probably deduce, I'm more likely to vote Democrat that Republican (but I'll cross over party lines for folks like McCain and Hagel because, honestly, I'm more concerned about resolving this shitstorm in Iraq than the gay marriage issue), but even as a Democrat, I even went through a few weeks of disillusionment when Clinton came clean (Jesus, that's a bad pun) with his affair. Most of what I've been hearing on the far Right has been about how the kid must have led Foley on or even more laughable, blame the culture of tolerance more than blame Foley himself. And sorry to break this to the members of Focus on the Family, but adults have been preying on kids way before Will and Grace ever hit airwaves.

I leave with this great blast from Olbermann -


Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sex and Violence, Melody and Silence...

Actually , the subject's sort of misleading, but it's only been about four days since I've understood the mumblings of Richard Ashcroft toward the end of "Bittersweet Symphony" - so that phrase is buzzing through my head.

A few things...
Tuesday was this year's "super Tuesday" of album releases, with The Killers (meh), Beck (not too bad), The Decemberists (right on...) and The Hold Steady (f**kin' killer) all releasing new stuff. In addition, I've been following the Foley scandal in Florida. A few things...

There's no positive way to spin this. Rush Limbaugh, Fox News can say "well, Bill Clinton did the same thing..." - uh, no. Monica was a consenting adult. Secondly, I think the revelation that Foley was gay really doesn't have anything to do with the case. He hit on a minor - and as a result, may be paying the price for legislation he helped pass. Note to Alanis Morrissette - THAT right there...is irony.