Sunday, March 29, 2009

Presenting: The Online Book Club *for* Awesome People [TOBCAP]- or - What Fucking Free Time Are You Talking About, Asshole?

During the shooting of this video, I decided I wanted to start an online book club. You can watch it's birthing.

Music by Goner - Dollar Movie

Here is the list of books I put on an online book club, some were specific to individual people, but these are all great books.

A Dirty Job - Christopher Moore
Rant - Chuck Palahnuik
What is the What - Dave Eggers
The Year of Living Bucolically - A.J. Jacobs
The Oddsey - Homer
The Alchemist - Paulo Cloeho
The Inferno - Dante
Shalimar the Clown - Salman Rushdie
Big Foot: I Not Dead - Graham Roumieu
Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs - Chuck Klosterman
The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
Looking For Alaska - John Green
Anything by the Brother's Grimm

These are books that have been recommended to me so far. Please add to this list by sending me a comment. I love to have a huge list of books. It makes me feel like I'm not wasting my life away. If you feel so driven as to subtract a book, be my guest; a little destructive criticism against the product of someone's creative outlet always brings a smile to my face.

So much to tell you - John Marsden
Tomorrow When the War Began - John Marsden
The Crucible - Arthur Miller
The Silence Trap - Gloria Whelan
My Sweet Audrina - VC Andrews
Flowers in the Attic - VC Andrews
Cowl - Neil Asher
The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett
No Country for Old Men - Cormac McCarthy
A Separate Reality, Journey to Ixtlan - Castaneda
A Brave New World - Huxley (seconded)
A Clockwork Orange - Burgess
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Thompson (seconded)
The Fountian Head - Ayn Rand (seconded)
Atlas Shrugged - Ayn Rand
The 48 Laws of Power - Greene
You Shall Know Our Velocity - Dave Eggers
American Psycho - Bret Easton Ellis
Lunar Park - Bret Easton Ellis
Number 9 Dream - David Mitchell
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle - Haruki Murakami
Kafka by the Shore - Haruki Murakami
Time's Arrow - Martin Amis
The Master and Margherita - Mikhail Bulgakov
The Secret Rulers of the World - Jon Ronson
Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
On The Road - Jack Kerouac
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe (jeers)
Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Nausea - Jean-Paul Sartre
The Beach - Alex Garland (seconded)
Then We Came To the End - Joshua Ferris
The Historian - Elizabeth Kostova
The Egyptologist - Arthur Phillips
The Time Travelers Wife - Audrey Niffenegger (seconded x4)
Utopia - (Saint)Sir Thomas Moore
Violin - Anne Rice
Look Me in the Eye - John Elder Robison
The Glass Castle - Jeannette Walls
Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides (seconded)
anything by David Sedaris
The Life of Pi - Yann Martel
Villa Incognito - Tom Robbins
Cruddy - Lynda Barry

Send me a book recommendation, send it to anyone who stumbles upon this site, send it into the ether of porn and teeth whiting scams.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Back To Work - or - How Dry I Am

Cathartic. Momentous. Catalytic. Imbued. These are the most potent words I can come up with to perfectly describe what today absolutely wasn’t. My triumphant return to the world of the day job was less meaningful than anyone predicted it to be, save one, me. I wanted it to be just as it was before I was let go in December. I wake up without my alarm clock, I walk out the door right on time, passing the hordes of people waiting 45 minutes to an hour for overpriced Sunday brunch at the restaurant on my first floor. It's the type of restaurant that puts an intricately cut mango flower carving and a piece of spearmint on the side of your $15 pancakes. The rich people who wait say that it’s worth it. They are lined up around the block, hidden behind huge bug-eyed sunglasses and tall white paper cups from the designer coffee shop with amazing light fixtures and free WiFi just down the street. They are blocking the sidewalk so that no one will sneak ahead of them in line. I will see many of these rich people again in a matter of hours. I am punched in at 10am exactly. Something has changed in my absence; they have new time cards, monochrome and hard to read, thin gray text on off yellow card stock. Sunday is the last slot on the pale card, right at the bottom. With a mechanic buzz and a “ka-chunk” from the time clock, I am punched-in for the first time in almost three months. I scribble my name at the top of the card and walk into the greenhouse. I am back at work. It’s not a cathartic realization of self-worth, or a momentous celebration of cosmic rebirth. This day is no a catalyst for change in my life, nor is it imbued with hope and prosperity. It is just another day at work. But, as always, it is beautiful in here.

I drink my coffee out of the same red metal coffee mug I drink coffee out of every day. I eat my roast beef sandwich in the back lot just like I did all summer last year, away from the break room and it’s awkward collection of unbalanced squeaky chairs. I roam the isles of the greenhouse, inspecting my plants and looking to help anyone with the slightest interest in taking my plants home with them. I happily talk to people about their windows and sun-rooms, about air conditioning vents and high-rise window UV treatments, about fertilizers and propagation, about sunshine and soil saturation. They line up behind each other to rack my brain and try to stump me, just like they lined up down the street hours ago for eggs with asparagus, chives and asiago cheese, or bread pudding served with the largest blackberries in Chicago. I talk to these people about flora and fauna, regeneration and amendments, seeds and sex. I sell orchids, ivys, Sansivarias and Spathiphyllums. I sell Jade trunks, palm trees, Hyacinth baskets, Chrysanthemum pots, and Podocarpus bushes. I sell Meyer Lemons, Kafir Limes, Calamondin Oranges, Kumquats and Pomegranates. I sell Dracaenas Tarzanas, Rabbit Foot ferns, 13 foot Golden Bamboo, Easter Cactus, Venus Fly Traps and Calla Lilies. I sell Bromeliad collections, Rosemary topiaries, Philodendron trellises, Wandering Jew peat baskets, Echeveria wreaths, Euphorbia gardens, and Pothos polls. I love my plants. I am happy to talk about them for hours. I coheres these expensive-smelling, make-up painted, bug-sunglasses-eyed, nit-picky rich folks into buying a plant that I wish I had in my tiny apt. I live vicariously through their frivolous spending, wrapping up each purchase and sending it home with a tinge of jealousy. “I wanted that one.” I get dirt under my fingernails. I wipe my hands on my jeans. I shake hands with people who never have dirt under their fingernails. I forget 50 smiling strangers names. I crack jokes with old coworkers, get hugs and handshakes, hear the new gossip, eat homemade cookies, and avoid questions about my “time off”. My shoes get wet while I am watering my plants. I had forgotten about going home everyday with wet feet everyday. At the end of the day, I fall in love with a beautiful girl who buys a purple plant. She leaves once she gets what she wants from me. I watch her go with a smile. “Maybe I’ll see her tomorrow?” I go for a run after work. I do my pull-ups. I check my e-mail. My stolen Internet connection is down again. That means that my neighbors must finally be on to me after stealing their wireless access since October. Nah, it will be back in a matter of minutes. It always is. Until then, I can reflect on the day passed, and think about right now.

Right now, I have a familiar ache in my back, in my shoulders, from hefting trees into the white leather seats of jaguars and BMWs. “Be careful.” Blow me, lady, I know it’s leather, and I know you paid a fortune for it. I know this makes you nervous, me jamming a six-foot plant into your car and you just standing there, wringing your hands on the curb and telling me to be careful. I know you won’t tip me no matter how heavy this fucking plant is. I know you will feel helpless when you have to get it out of your white leather interior without me. That makes it worth jamming it in here. You fucking deal with it. I’ll be careful but it's not me that is gonna kill this plant. That poor $300 plant is gonna be dead in a few months, not because I put it in the car, but because you are too busy waiting in line for over priced brunch with Chas and Muffy to take care of it. I’ll be careful but in all honesty, it’s outta my hands, lady. So it goes. I have a familiar ache in the back of my head from smiling all day. I smile when I show people my favorite plants; Raphis Palms, Fabian Aralias, Haworthias. I smile when I give a wide-eyed little kid a clipping off a plant and tell them to hid it in their pocket and plant it when they get home. I smile when I feed the giant Koi fish and the people looking on say, “Whoa, that’s a big one!” I smile when my boss makes fun of me for being proud that I’m from Vermont and that I like the cold and that I can lift heavy things without complaining about it. I smile when I teach someone how to germinate seeds so they can eat their own homegrown tomatoes this summer. I smile a lot at that job. I have a familiar ache in my arms and legs from the work. I good warmth, like my body is exhausted from being put to use. I’m back to what I was two months ago, the bells and flashing lights and roadblocks are receding and I don’t feel any different, as if a freight train of nothing just blew by me.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stolen Lines #3 - or - Hanging Up The Beer Goggles

There's something that I've been thinking about and wondering about and I'm very curious: am I the only one who knows?

Inspired by the oddest cast of characters, I put off cleaning my apartment again, yesterday, March 18th, for the 15th day in a row. Instead, I bought a bottle of wine and spent the majority of the day writing about grade school. The wine was bad, and I was totally fine with that. A day later, after too many martinis and another drunken night in a bathtub, I am becoming worried about my habits. Worried about the novelty of my drinking. Worried about my liver. It might just be that no one really minds that I am drunk a lot of the time, but I am starting to wonder why it seems that no one minds that I am drunk a lot of the time. Granted, this is the end of a long, very drunk week for me; I am in an Irish band and we played 6 gigs in 7 days and were literally hand fed beer after beer and shot after shot by happy people dressed in green. But I am beginning to find it disturbing that even my boss asked me with a smile if I had a chance to get properly shit-can drunk through out the entirety of what has become known as Saint Patrick’s week. At the time of this lighthearted questioning into my cute self-destruction, my eyes were bloodshot, my movement was lethargic, my head was pounding like there was an angry midget with a sledgehammer in my skull listening to slayer, and my hair was pointing in every direction at once. I was completely hung over. A coworker commented that it was the worst case of bed head she had every seen at two in the afternoon. Being the pompous smart-ass that I am, I corrected her, informing her this was not bedhead, but that my scalp was creating an artistic interpretation of the mental distance between the perception of reality as a confusing complexity verses that of a profound simplicity, using only hair as a medium. For some unknown reason, I then cleared my throat and rattled off the one and only thing that I truly learned in 8th grade. The implications of this regurgitated factoid have been on my overly saturated brain since that moment. Let me try to explain. At the end of my 8th grade school year in 1992, three of my friends agreed that we hadn’t learned anything of any consequence, which made the school year of 1992 amount up to a completely wasted year of our youth. We would not let this stand, something had to be done, something had to be learned, something of substance, something worth remembering forever. As if we had been assigned a holy mission from God himself to seek truth and universal knowledge, we went to the only provision for the deepest secrets of the universe that we could think of, an 8th grade Science textbook with a paper grocery bag as a book cover. We opened it to a random page, and blindly pointed to a spot. We were ecstatic. Underneath our fingers lay the euphoric answer to a years worth of intellectual foreplay. A hair is a carotene shaft, formed at the depths of a tubular in growth of the epidermis, known as the hair follicle. The question now arises, how can this one sentence legitimize a year’s worth of bullshit? We had consciously seeked out knowledge in the face of ignorance. We had conquered the fear that nothing had been achieved, nothing had come of this trip around the sun. The fact that, over the course of the next seventeen years, and countless attempts to destroy every damn brain cell I have been bestowed, I can recite that passage, pinpoints the exact moment that my pursuit of knowledge became a legitimate part of my life. It makes that seemingly pointless moment huddled over an 8th grade science book one the most crucial and defining moments in my life. It proves that there are answers to the unasked questions, not only to, “what is a hair?” but almost any question I could dream up. What does this have to do with last week? It formulates a question that needs answering. So sitting in that office, talking to my coworkers about my hair, swaying back and forth and shaking with delirium tremens, still drunk from the night before, a new question emerged into my head which silenced the midget with the sledgehammer. “How much drinking does it take to make me question my habits, and how much self degradation do I have submit myself to in order to put an end to this debasement.” The answer is not a carotene shaft, formed at the depths of the tubular in growth of the epidermis, known as the hair follicle. The answer is eight days of headaches, seven evenings of alcohol gluttony, three nights of vomiting, one morning waking up shivering in the bathtub, and no hint of concern from the outside world. The novelty of my drinking has got to end; I’m drying up for a while.

I stole the first line of this post from Then We Came To The End, by Joshua Ferris as part of Grace's stolen lines project #3. I suggest you follow in suit.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not An Irish Drinking Song - or - I'll Be Coming For You Anyway

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009.
St. Patrick's Day Show
The Spot
Chicago, IL

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

YouTube - or - MeTube

More people have read this journal than have looked at my videos. That is comforting to me. It renews my faith in the written word. I like most of you people more than I like most Youtubers, but there is a small group of people on YouTube that have captured my undivided attention. Here's a list. If you are so inclined, check um out. Or don't, I'll never know either way.

Jordan Middlebrook
Tara & Natalie
Kat Confidential
Moonlight Mitch

This is not even close to the number of written word writers that I check up on daily, but since 2009 started, YouTube has been getting a lot of attention from me. Ahh the joys of under employment.

That last one gives me mustache envy. Those girls are flippin' rad.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Laura Wiley

As APTP's production, Remember Me Like This continues, I am constantly reminded of my memories of Laura. It makes me smile. A lot of people have asked me about her; why she was, and continues to be, such a tremendous positive force in my life. I have no single answer that could come close to doing her contribution to my life, or any of the lives that she has touched though APTP, justice. Here is a link to some articles and obituaries for Laura, as well as links to help her save the world.
Laura Wiley (1965 - 2007)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Letting My Dork Flag Fly - or - I'm Making Dough

I’m wearing an apron; something that I don’t believe a man should do unless he is BBQ-ing, which I am not. I am baking bread, from scratch, again. I usually don’t wear an apron, but I don’t want to get flour on my Gangster shirt, a gift from my brother and his wife. It’s not really a shirt that a gangster would wear. It has this picture of a tacky, schmaltzy, Leave-It-To-Beaver, Wonder Bread looking white dude with slicked back hair and sparkling white teeth, and he is tossing up the West Side gang sign. The shirt reads, “I noticed that you’re gangster… I’m pretty gangster myself.” So, it’s more kitschy than gangster. In essence, it makes fun of white people, and, ironically enough, white bread. Baking bread is a long process. Three hours, mostly waiting. It gives a guy a chance to do other things between the mixing, the kneading and the baking. Right now I’m at the baking part, which is the final step. 20-30 minutes in the oven at 425° or until the top is golden brown. Tapping the bottom of the loaf should produce a hollow sound, that’s when you know it’s done. What this all means is that I don’t need to wear this apron anymore, but I figure I’ll should just keep in on until the whole damn process is over and done with. I should probably get the dough out from under my nails. Nah, it looks good there, proves I've done something today. It's interesting for me to note that an underemployed man’s work is never done. Over the last three hours, I’ve feed my snake, changed the water in my goldfish bowl, played Soduku, Kakuro, and Mah Jong, made a mix tape for a someone who is 8000 miles away, finished one book, started another, listened to the entirety of Frank Zappa’s, Joe’s Garage, unnecessarily explained to my landlord why my rent will be two weeks late, listened to my brother tell me The Aristocrats joke, updated my personal calendar to include my old job which I got back earlier this week, watered and fertilized my plants, changed a light bulb, played some bass, bought a ticket to see The Watchmen, checked my e-mail at least a hundred times, noticed that only one of the blogs I read has been updated recently (Ally is consistent and more than entertaining), made a list of my current totally unachievable crushes of which there are four, swept some of the flour off the floor, shrugged off cleaning my desk for another day, resoldered some broken audio cables, and swore off finishing sentences with prepositions… for the afternoon. Bread’s done. It’s tasty.

* The Amazing Adventures of

Thursday, March 05, 2009

St Patrick's Day - or - Get Off Your Ass And Drink With Me

Dear Friends, Lovers, Poets, and Scallywags.

The Irish season is upon us and soon thrill seeking boozehounds and cross-eyed stumblers will take to the streets to watch a river turn green and drink God knows how many rounds of Guinness. It is this time of year that One Of The Girls, Chicago finest Blue-Irish-Folk-Grass Band, arise from the dead, put aside any hopes of having a social life, and book show after show after show for your entertainment. We have dusted off the instruments, we have dusted off the vocal chords, we have dusted off our livers and are about to embark on 7 drunken nights of fun, folk, and formaldehyde. Join us, with all the new material we have been putting together, even if you are a fan from the street corner days, you will be surprised at just how high that Baptist minister can sing. Cheers!

Tuesday, 3/10 – Cubby Bear – 1059 W. Addison St. - 9:30 pm - NO COVER.
This is just a taste of what’s to come, don’t count on this show running more than 15 minutes. None the less, it will be a 15 minutes you never forget. Come support The Girls in a new venue!

Thrusday, 3/12 – Lilly's Bar – 2513 N. Lincoln Ave. – 10pm – NO COVER
One of the Girls will be playing with the Million Dollar Dogs, which is the cast of the hit musical Million Dollar Quartet. Our own Sean Sullivan will be staring as Johnny Cash that night at the Apollo Theater, so take a double dose of Sean’s manliness.

Friday, 3/13 – Duke’s Bar - 6920 N. Glenwood Ave. – 9:30-ish – NO COVER
The happiest dive bar in town. Dukes offers good drinks, interesting conversations with crack heads and one of the friendliest bar owners in Chicago. This is a must see event and the room is small so get to the bar early and often.

Saturday, 3/14 – Rock Bottom Brewery - 1 W. Grand Ave. – 11am – 2pm – NO COVER
We will be playing inside a nice warm pub while hordes of drunk people watch a parade full of drunk people outside in the cold. Come in, warm up, dance a jig, and have a beer before noon, ya nancy.

Monday, 3/16 – Red Line Tap - 7006 N. Glenwood Ave. – 9-ish – NO COVER
Twas the night before Saint Patties, and we will rip the walls off the Red Line. Another Roger’s Park gem. Don’t miss it!

Tuesday, 3/17 – SAINT PACTRICK’S DAY – The Spot - 4437 N. Broadway - $$???$$
With an Irish beer tasting and loads of ways to get into the spirit of being Irish for a day, the Spot is the Spot for this years St. Patrick’s day event. Bring a friend, bring some potatoes, bring a donkey, who cares! If you feel so inclined, I bet you could join the girls for some corned beef and cabbage. To be sure, to be sure!

One Of The Girls .net
our myspace page