Thursday, June 19, 2008

Every meal tells a story.

I'm sorry I haven't posted in a while, but times haven't been conducive to my former late-night blogging schedule. I started a day job along with my night job, so last week I worked 67.5 hours. My brain is fried. Fortunately and little unfortunately (as I will miss my rebel teacherly friends) my exam scoring job ended on Tuesday night. So my nights are now free.

What will I do with my free time, you ask? Oh, the usual. Bowl, drive around, the occasional acid flashback. Maybe a yoga class. Hopefully I'll get back on the arduous Upstate NY Comedy Circuit. I think my lack of personal productivity is contributing mercillessly to recent stresses and upheavals. That must be changed!

For this post, I'd like to share an experience from someone other than me. Turn things around a bit. I'm a bit sick of myself.

Recently, my friend Steph - the same one who fell in love with the young busboy - shared an uplifting story with me. She currently subs at a Nursery School, and is finding it rather rewarding. She feeds them, washes their grimy faces, teaches them the alphabet, and sings songs about manners and baby animals. Steph attends to the kids' every need and whim - even their budding sexual desires. What can I say? She loves the youths.

But it's not what you think: "We were outside on the playground. I was just standing there. Two kids came up to me joking like aahhh I'm gonna get you or something like that, and one was hugging my leg. And that one became the humper." A three-year-old boy humped her leg, which brings about two questions that I would like answered, no matter how prudish you readers may be, and because I know you two readers, you have no excuse. Here are the hard-hitting questions:

1) Does that action even feel "good" and "special" at that age?

2) Should Steph stop taking the kid to Chuck E. Cheese every Friday night to "play" with him in the ball pit?

In other news...

On Tueday a friend and I purchased cheesy gordita crunches before our last night of exam scoring. It took forever as usual, but it was also worth it... as usual. As we stepped out of the car to go inside, we noticed that two infants were sleeping in their carriers in the back of a sedan next to us, with only one of the back windows open. At the very worst we hoped the parent was just running in to use the bathroom or to get something quick. Not that this would be acceptable, but it's better than what we ended up witnessing.

After we had waited 15 minutes for our tasty helpings of tortilla, beef, cheese, and vegetables in various combinations, we made our way back to the car to speed off. Following us out the door was a young couple in their late twenties. They sauntered over to the sedan with large fountain drinks in hand. They got in the car. They drove away slowly.

This winning boyfriend and girlfriend duo (no rings) had ordered a meal and ate it inside while their infants slept in the oppressive car heat. If everything we do is an argument, this one's a doozy. Their actions argued that eating inside Taco Bell is of more value to them than the comfort and well-being of their TWO babies. What disgusts me is the fact that they value eating inside the Taco Bell establishment at all. It's sticky, badly lit, uncomfortable and - worst of all - plays the "number one hit music station" of the Capital Region. I would rather eat in oppressive car heat with screaming infants surrounding me. Couldn't one of them have gone inside to get the food? Then they could have gone home and ate together as a family, fighting over the television remote and who was going to get the last cinnamon dessert twist.


A few days ago my friend Jackie and I dined at the Macaroni Grill and we had an excellent dinner for a chain restaurant. At the Mac Grill they have paper tablecloths and the servers write their names on it upside down in an act of friendliness. Like a party trick to break the ice. They leave the crayons on the table, and for some reason at tables with only adults at them the crayons are left undisturbed. It's okay for children to amuse themselves while they wait for sustinence but adults have been conditioned to sit quietly and make inane small talk until they glance their meals coming to the table from the corner of their eye.

"Yeah, yes. . . it's uhh terrible that they uhh in the news I saw ummm. . . Oh, here's the food!"

Fun and colors and art and doodles are nothing to be ashamed of. Jackie and I had a grand old time drawing cartoon cows and stars and writing our names and playing games and it really took the edge off our hunger. We discussed that a trip to an establishment like the M. Grill would be a great place for dinner in the early stages of dating. I'm not saying I endorse testing those you date and I'm not saying I ever have, but I think we've got something here. Does your date even notice the crayons? What color does he/she choose first? What kinds of pictures or words do they draw? Do they press hard or shade lightly? These answers could serve as an intriguing litmus test of personality.

I - pretty obviously - would enjoy someone who draws and doodles furiously without hesitation. Preferably elaborate stick figures or other amusing illustrations. No mundane boxes, please.

Speaking of a a dislike for the mundane, I'm not so much excited for my actual birthday weekend as much as the two weekends that follow. Although I've planned this weekend chock full of karaoke, parties, and Cranium, I'll still be in waiting. For next weekend one of my best friends, whom I admiringly refer to as just "Givney" is having me up to her camp on Lake Champlain.

Many a good time and life lessons have happened up at that there beach. Her family and I get along well. I'm pretty sure, after attempting water-skiing, that one of her uncles wiped the snot from my nose. We've bonded. I think everything was solidified after one enchanting occasion.

Givney and I were sitting in the camper enjoying refreshing beverages. This day I was partaking in Mountain Dew: Code Red, as when I was younger I used to consume it every day of my life. Just as I was taking a sip, Givney's father walked in the room from his shower with a silky royal blue Hawaiian shirt bearing an eye-catching pattern.

Givney brightly remarked, "Wow, Father, don't you look dapper today!"

Tears flowed into the ducts and my body convulsed. I felt the cold cherry flavor travel up my sinus cavity and to my nasal one, surging out of my nose while simultaneously an eruption of soda charged back up through my esophagus (accompanied by other stuffs, but I won't get into that) and out of my pie-hole.

I laughed so hard I puked.

And that is true friendship.

I rarely laugh heartily to the point of tears, so time with Givney and her posse is always top priority. Puke seems to be a common topc of discussion, and not just because of this incident. But, I'm legally and socially obliged not to give up the rest in public. Sucks to be you on the outside, that's all I"m gonna say.

I'm excited to have a bash with them to celebrate me still being younger than everyone else. I think I'm looking forward to this weekend more than returning to NYC for the 4th of July. I look forward to stepping into the camper again, where there lies a fabulous stain on their carpet, constantly reminding me of good times.

I am looking forward to going back home, though. Yes, home. It will be there that I celebrate my day of birth for the third weekend in a row. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I guess I can celebrate America, too. Does anyone know of any 4th of July festivities to be had? If you're in the city, I think on Saturday night I'll be dropping by the Sidewalk Cafe to see the afforementioned Frank Hoier and Feral Foster. I'm going down on a Thursday night so I will have 2 full days of summer in the City, plenty of time to take what it has to offer and not enough time to get so sucked in that I hole myself up in a stranger's apartment, refusing to return to the place I was born.

Here's something fun that was a major belly-laugh initiator towards the end of this past semester:

Hasta luego.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I've Made Up My Miiiiiiind...

...Don't try and tell me otherwise! I can't keep from talkin' 'bout these guys.

These are a couple NYC musicians that must be recognized. Before Washington Square Park was in disrepair, Feral Foster and Frank Hoier, were often found in their own musical world under one of the cozy tree spots. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Feral Foster on the edge of the fountain one day and he asked to borrow my pen. I let him keep it. Feral Foster is a raggedy-haired, passionately gruff belter and Frank Hoier croons like a bird. One evening my friends and I sat with Feral and Frank and enjoyed a sing-a-long. I've been following their careers ever since. At the Sidewalk Cafe, the home of Anti-Folk, The F's are often found. One time I went there and Feral did a fantastic version of the classic "John Henry." They both have great respect for traditional and new folk/blues/bluegrass/etc and put their own fascinating spin on it. Frank's song "Jesus Don't Give Tax Breaks to the Rich" was featured on some new political song list created by Neil Young.

The "41st Street Blues" are fantastic. My favorite lines are:

You're ridin' downtown in that old wheelchair,

But I can't stop starin' at your pretty brown hair!

You look good to me, you look good to me

Oh, ou look good to me and I hope you like me, too

Here's and interesting live version:

Frank & Feral:

Feral's rendition of "Orange Blossom Special":

Alright, had to get that out of my system. Hasta luego.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

If y'all become disorientated you lose your accuretzy.

Just one of the gems found at my worthless day of orientation for my office job at Albany Med. It was a waste of time. I will be working on the computer hid away in some office not even in the hospital, I do not need to know a lick about latex allergies or disposing of syringes or how to be culturally sensitive to my patients. The only patience I'll need is enough to sit through another few days of boring computer training.

I know that I jokingly mentioned team-building exercises in my last post, but it turned out to be more than a joke. My "team" and I had to create a product, a jingle, a sloga, and a celebrity spokesperson. Then we had to present and sing our jingle in front of everyone. I usually don't mind making a fool of myself, but my group lacked an interesting sense of humor. They laughed when, after the obligatory loud, piercing, fuzzy BEEEEEEEEEEEEP that accompanies all professional audio/visual presentations, the speaker said, "Heh, everyone awake now?!"

On a side note, is it a rule that any kind of video presentation given in a professional setting can never run smoothly? It seemed like it was every single presenter's first day giving their ungodly speeches. They stared at the DVD player controls and light switches like they were Neandertals delivered to our confusing world of flashing lights and shiny knobs.

This is what my group came up with:
- Product: Zippy Clean Self-Cleaning Bed Pan
- Jingle: "Twinkle, twinkle, little John..."
- slogan: "You don't have to touch to flush!"
- Celebrity spokesperson: Mr. Clean

They didn't like my ideas for Wilford Brimley being our spokesperson. They didn't even know who Wilford Brimley is. I even tried the more mainstream Hugh Hefner. No dice. What the hell!

This is what I would've gone with, keeping the same self-cleaning bedpan idea:
- Product Name: Waste-Away
- Celebrity Spokesperson: Aaron Neville
- Slogan: Look at me, I'm so hands-free, when I pee!
- Jingle: (to the tune of the famous Neville song) "I don't kno-ow much, but I know I don't have to touch my poooooooo. . ."

The other groups would've been dead in the water.

Then we had to watch a fantastic safety video, which I've luckily found on YouTube to spare myself the grand efforts of describing its gloriousness:

The snarky comments were the hosts of the "Found Film Festival" and, unfortunately, were not on the recording I saw today. My favorite is the person who leans over non-chalantly and BAM! gets a face full of acid. The guy who gave us the safety talk was very much like my Health teacher, Mr. Novak. Only a bit more Scared-Straight. The kind of guy like in that movie Mean Girls who said everything will make you pregnant. Only in this case, everything will make your eyes and hair fall out. Another highlight was the head security guy. His presentation consisted of a slideshow of pictures of the security officers posing in their different seasonal uniforms. They looked like the cliche vacation photos you always see in the talking picture shows nowadays.

I don't mean to be Negative Nancy or Debbie Downer or Molly Malcontent, but... well... it's funnier that way. Comedy wasn't made out of puppy dogs and ice cream.

More to come some day soon, as usual.

P.S. I've been obsessed with a musician named Mike Doughty lately.

Check him out. He does a cover of Mary J. Blige's "Real Love" on the guitar. Got his first cd for free in some Sony BMG package and became entranced, then saw him at Barnes and Noble this past semester and was very impressed by his cadence. He has something called his "Dude Theory" - what's not to love?

P.P.S. I've got tickets to Wilco at Tanglewood in August, and am looking to go see The Police w/ Elvis Costello and perhaps even Bob Dylan when they all come to Saratoga at various times this summer. Only problem: I need someone to go with. Contact me if you're interested! The only requirement is that you don't absolutely hate the music. And you have to be ready for a kick-ass time.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Regression Session

I don't mean to always talk about my job, and I promise it's not all-consuming. Actually, it's far from it. It just happens that things that happen there parlay into other thoughts and it always seems to provide great little intro anecdotes.

Friday nights are always very brutal. It's the ultimate home stretch. We don't get out until 10:30 and although most adults do not really kick off their weekends until then, all us workers are too tired. We end up driving home by ourselves with the windows open, listening to the oldies station or a Van Morrison greatest hits album. Usually we stay up late anyway, reading or blogging or passively televisioning. Or maybe that's just me. But I don't think it is. Everyone at my job comes very much from the same mold. We all have a little bit of a rebel in us, not afraid to sacrifice our weeknights. We're teacher-types with a bit of an edge. We have no problem sharing personal stories with people we've only known for a few weeks or making fun of one another mercilessly. If there's a slower, less sharp person at our table, we let them know (in a good-hearted way). And if you are that slower person, you love the attention and we all laugh. This past Friday night was an especially grueling ordeal. We were short by 20 people and the place was filled with empty seats to remind us all of the parties and dinners and laughs that were going on without us. Things got so boring that everyone in the room seemed to regress back to the age of the kids' whose papers we were grading.

"I'll pay you four dollars to eat that nasty piece of black licorice."

There's a day shift, too, and I think things are the same for them. Every night we come in, we find toys and little amusing signs and candy wrappers crowding our desk. Hovering over our table is a goofy picture of trumpeter Chuck Mangione, which must be some kind of inside joke. (I recognize the pattern because around the group I was in charge of last year we had a shrine to Aaron Neville. It seems that those led into the exam scoring business are fascinated by C-list musicians with awkward looking faces. We chose Aaron Neville because I do a wicked impression and somehow it came up. Ask me to do it. I will not disappoint.)

At my table this year is a small toy horse, a little squishy cat, a wind-up car, a galactic robot, and a large Darth Vader action figure. Who knows how those came to be brought in. They're coming in handy, though. Whenever the boss comes by I knock over Darth in warning to be a little quieter. For some reason we all call him Steve. Massive amounts of "quality time" spent in any group formulates a certain genre of humor that only that group finds hysterical. Giggles and tears and snorts (unfortunately, those are mostly by me) are common noises to be found in our quarters. We've found that this genre of humor only sometimes translates to other tables in the room and we tend to get shushed a lot. I guess somehow the most rebellious of the Capital Region's free-spirited teacher-types found themselves at my table.

This weekend has been an odd one. I felt caught in the ultimate battle between childhood and adulthood. I still feel like a child in that I'm living at home and coming to grips with the fact that by the time I'm just turning 21, all of my friends will be "in the real world" with "real jobs" and perhaps even starting with their "real families." I guess I'll be in it, too, but it will be a bit different. Will anyone take me seriously? Will my friends be bored of going out by then? Will they be all elegant and educated and prefer a quiet night in drinking wine? Maybe not. I don't know. Sure, I'll be educated, but I won't have gone through that important "going out" stage that most people do in college. Although I do have fun, I don't go OUT because. . . I can't. And I won't be able to without a hassle for a long time. For all the kids who resented me in grade school and high school, you have the last laugh! The "shush girl" who quieted the class with her hands folded because she was deathly afraid of getting in trouble can't have a drink with her educationally equal colleagues!

Everyone around me is a couple years older, which is kind of a big deal at this point in our lives. 18 sounds a LOT younger than even 20 or 21. When I was in grade school I was already friends with the older kids from having certain classes with them. In high school it was a novelty that everyone poked fun of. I liked the attention, it worked out pretty well. In college, it's a little weird. We're at the same point in our lives, but simultaneously we're not. I feel that I'm on the same level as everyone else in most important aspects, but there are some where I know I'm not. I dread the day I have to start going to all of my friends' weddings. Don't worry, I'll go, but if I'm single and I don't have anything awesome going on in my life I ain't gonna be the cheeriest. Christ, The Wedding Planner was on Friday night and I could hardly handle that. . . maybe I'll just send you all a toaster now. A couple of my friends have been in serious relationships for a while, and that scares me. The slow trains a-coming. Sure, I will always be able to flaunt my youth, but not when I feel so old.

On Saturday my family and I went to this restaurant we used to go to every week when I was little. Ralph's. I would always order a grilled cheese with a root beer. I still remember the day I felt like a big girl because my parents let me get two since I was so hungry. This time I ordered a slightly more sophisticated dish, spaghetti and meatballs. I was sitting with my niece, who was drawing on the back of the placemat like I used to do. Things had changed there, but not that much. I'm thankful for still being young when I don't have to pay for meals.

The next day, today, we went to the Albany Med employee picnic and while my sister and mother and Emma went to go get food, there was a terrential downpour. My cousin and I sat under a golf umbrella trying to brave the storm but to no avail. I thought I was protecting my phone by sitting on it, but soon I was sitting in a puddle. After a little while, thunder was angrily applauding everyone's attempts to scrape up whatever free food was left. Fights broke out over seats under the metal pavilion. It was starting to resemble a refugee camp, only some of the people were dressed a little better. Not many, though. My sister and I scampered out barefoot into the muck and the mess and the blankets of water while my mother and Emma shuffled to the van under an umbrella. Jenn and I found our way back to the van only to find that none of us had the keys. There was a lot of screaming and yelling and tears and chaos. I kept calling my cousin because my mom believed she had the keys. I also kept offering to go run back and look to see if we dropped them or to see if I found Renae. No one paid any attention to me. They just kept yelling at me and at Emma and at the world.

I handed them my phone to keep calling my cousin and I decided to get away from their unwarranted outrage at no one. We were already soaked. What was a few more minutes? I ran as fast as I could, and it felt good. The mud felt like wet clay that I molded with my small but full-grown feet. I slipped and almost fell into a welcoming, murky puddle and part of me wishes that I had. I combed the grass with my eyes and heard my name being called. It was my cousin, she had our keys. I ran over to her. The rocks were sharp but did not hurt my feet, and I swiftly returned back to the van where my sister and Emma were under the umbrella with my mother. I had the keys and we could now go home. My sister and mother hardly even noticed I was the one who got them. They stood there ready to call someone to pick us up, but I took action. I didn't say anything to them, and it was then that I realized I was an adult. With dirty feet and wet undergarments.
That and I wipe my own ass.

Well, I'm off. I've got orientation for my new office employment tomorrow. I think there are going to be icebreakers and a few "team-building exercises." I need all the rest I can get not to overturn the cheap coffee in everybody's faces.

Friday, June 6, 2008

And I'd Really Love To See You Tonight. . .

I saw this video a few weeks ago, and by chance caught the song on the radio just yesterday, and had a dream about Mr. Galifianakis last night (we went to a concert!). If there ever was a sign I needed to post something, that would be it. Enjoy!

You can check out any time you like. . .

but you can never leave.

I've been kind of a wreck lately so I haven't really had a clear enough mind to develop one strong flowing post. However, as usual, my nights have afforded me some fun things to share.

The kids have to write about a skill they have developed or wish could develop outside of school. If I have to read about another kid who thinks playing baseball makes him unique, wants to be a "machanik," or likes to draw because it expresses her feelings (When I'm sad I draw a frowny face in dark colors, when I'm happy I draw a happy face in yellows and oranges!) I'm going to hurt myself or others.

"Have you ever heard of a sport called soccer?!? Well, I'm gonna tell you aLL about it!" Some of the worst papers are the sports ones. The kids who write about sports tende to explain every single piece of equipment involved, including the brand. They then explain how the sport is played as if the person reading had never even heard of basketball before. I don't even read them anymore.

Bubbly handwriting? They get a C.
Kids who skip lines between paragraphs? They get a C, too.
Did they write 4 pages? B+.
Kids who ski to "spend time with their family"? Definitely C-.
Anyone who uses the word "canter" get's a B.

Last night there were a few gems. Once you've seen thousands of papers, any kind of flavor or personality that comes out in a kid's writing is a wonderful comic relief. Some of my recent favorites:

"Someone's art can be seen through many different persektives. Some people might think that Jackson Pollock's paintings look like puke."

"Whenever I dance, I always hear a lyric from my favorite song in my head. It is 'Hotel California' by The Eagles. 'Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.' I always dance to forget."
(What are you forgetting there, girlie? How your friend got gum in your hair last month?)

The best one for me, if only for "The Break-Up" reference is:
"When Michelangelo painted the 16th chapel, he didn't just wake up and do it in one day. You have to practice."

When you sit with the same group of people for 5 hours straight every night, several weeks in a row, you can't help but bond over your mutual desire to stab every 13 year old you see. Lately, however, we've been grading eachother's stories and quips.

"Hmm, I'd give that story a C in content and a B- in grammar. I didn't really understand where you were going with that story about your angry mother one and your sentences were a little choppy."

"Yeah, I'll give that one a B and an A because you didn't really give me any vibrant details about why the conversation you had with your love interest is giving you a bad day. But it was very well said, though. Very complex sentences. I appreciate your effort."

"Boy, sounds like you have a crisis, there!"

On our computer screens, we can label a kid as a "crisis" if we think he or she has issues. There are some pretty bad papers, but you become immune after a while. For anything to be a crisis, it has to mention wanting to harm other people or that the kid is being abused. If the kid writes that he's just been kicked out of his house for not being able to pay rent, not a crisis. If a kid mentions how he's depressed and wants to build things out of wood because his father always tells him he's not good enough, it's not a crisis. If a kid mentions living on the streets, it's not a crisis. But, if a kid mentions wanting to be an axe murderer, THAT'S a crisis. Do these people not realize that the former leads to the latter?

When someone gets a "Crisis Paper" they raise their hand and shout, "I have a crisis!"
My table and I were thinking about how wonderful it would be if one of us yelled "I have a crisis!" and then when meeting with the boss, you would proceed to explain a very embarassing and lengthy personal problem of your own.

I think I'm going to do it on my last day. Making corporate people uncomfortable is something I live for.

Catch you later on down the trail.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gals & Gilgamesh

Thank you, Meg, for sending me this. It made my day a little brighter. A post with substance is coming either today or tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Synchonicity, my dear Watsons.

I've only been in Rensselaer for 3 short weeks, and already it feels like an eternity. I'm trying to stay sane by affording myself little escapes and activities to keep me busy (hence, the blog). One of the activities I've taken a great liking to is briskly walking over the Hudson River via the Dunn Memorial Bridge to Albany's Corning Preserve Park. I nestle under a tree and read for about an hour and attempt to briskly make the return trip. It's all in hopes of using wisely the time I'm stuck in a place I'd rather not be: to better myself in every way I can.

Alright, enough of that crap. I just wanted to explain why I was in Albany by myself in the middle of the day. Clearly I can't keep anything to myself.

As I walked to my usual roosting tree, something caught my eye as I passed by a display box perched on top of a thick wooden pole that I had never noticed before. I must have previously taken it for just another hisorical marking about Albany's involvement with the Erie Canal, as the city is wont to beat it over everybody's heads as much as possible. Gotta take advantage of some positive news when you can get it, I guess. Even if it is old news.

This sign, however, said:



World Peace, Earth-Peace Capital,

Heaven's Promise arrival.

Albany, Albany, Albany!

Fulfilment's epiphany.

Pioneer New York State

Opens God's Victory-Gate.

- Sri Chinmoy

The obvious joke here is, "Albany? A Peace Capital? Cut. It. Out." But oh, there was so much more.

This may not seem like that big of a deal, but it is. Earlier this Spring I was walking east on West 4th street in front of NYU'S infamous Bobst Library. Some shabbily dressed and probably homeless man stuck out his hand in front of me and spouted: "Free concert. It's free." For some reason, I took the thin carboard rectangle when I would usually shrug a faintly polite "No, thank you." I looked at the flyer and thought "A free concert? I know where this is going." Then I actually read the flyer. "Songs of the Soul, A Tribute to Sri Chinmoy. Featuring: Philip Glass. Roberta Flack. Some other Indian instrument musicians." The first two names were enough for me to count myself in right away. I had seen Philip Glass at Carnegie Hall in the winter - the tickets thought of originally as a Christmas present for someone else but I ended up really enjoying it. And of course I knew I liked Roberta. I got out my phone and made a reservation for two. The woman on the phone said that my last name sounded cool. Good karma all around.

I ended up going with my friend Anil, with whom I had shared quite a joyous time pulling all-nighters for our freshman history class, "World Cultures: Empires and Political Imagination." Around 4am in a study room at the library I believe tears were shed over our favorite Ottoman joke: "... more like Suleiman the Fagnificent." He was the perfect person to take to something that I had no idea really what it was about. If we can make learning several centuries of every empire in the world fun, we sure can make it through a concert.

The show was at NYU's Skirball Theater and seating was general admission. I got there very early as usual because those who have ventured to shows with me know that I have a slight obsession about public seating and being adequately close to the stage. Waiting in line, I was the only person there under the age of 30 and the only one who only spoke one language. But I was welcomed with open arms. Free things break down all barriers. I even made friends with an awesome Indian lady by getting her a student discount on an upcoming Sufi music festival.

Anil was late, but this was a Songs of the Soul concert. I didn't care. We went in with the woman and her family, a son and daughter past college age. I sat next to the son and Anil sat next to me. Little did we know that we all would be fused together by this grand experience. The stage went black and we watched a short film about the life of Sri Chinmoy. A peace-loving, spiritual musican, artist, poet, athlete. All that jazz. He seemed like a cool guy. Many famous friends and whatnot. All except the fact that a major "accomplishment" of his was drawing over 15 million birds. 15 million. Do you even realize how many birds he would have to draw every day? FIFTEEN FUCKING MILLION BIRDS. Maybe he figured that in the time he was scribbling all those birds is time he doens't have to worry about being unpeaceful?

The whole concert was absolutely ridiculous. A man and a woman, equally stiff, would read a Sri Chinmoy poem in between acts. The woman was so awkward at reciting that the audience either forgot or chose not to clap when she finished. She just stood there gazing out with her bright eyes like a confused toddler and backed slowly off of the stage. The man reminded me of an over-zealous poetry open-mic guy. Every so often, a musical ensemble eerily similar to the Stepford-Wives would take their turn on stage. They would "sing" with huge, frightening grins on their faces, rocking from side to side. They did not all move in the same direction, and I'm not sure if that would have been creepier. Some of them had their eyes closed and some had their eyes way too open. They were all dressed in thin, bright robe-like things. I undertand that they were the spiritual "Sri Chinmoy Bhajans Singers" but their rendtions of Sri Chinmoy's songs were more like chants one might find at a very uncreative cult meeting. Still, we were still suspending disbelief enough to take it all seriously. That is, until, one particular "song":

"Sri Chinmoy was also an athlete. As an older man he began to lift weights and on one joyous day Sri Chinmoy was able to lift 240 pounds over his head with his arms. This is his song about that day."

The colorful Stepford Wives - all caucasion, mind you - started their loud chantlike song:






That was the entire song. For 6 minutes. Over and over. Throughout the night, the woman's son, Anil, and I had been making snarky comments back and forth to eachother, mostly about the birds. We had trouble being discreet and apparently disturbed a homeless man dressed in burlap and his lady friend who were sitting in front of us. This time I had to tighten my whole body to keep the laughter in.

"How much did he lift again? What was it? 180?"

We convulsed in pure uncomfortable joy. The heat of the laughter was almost too much to bear, I was in physical pain. The kind of blissful pain one only gets in church or at a funeral. I cried through the rest of the show. This experience is actually very hard to recount, I feel like a Vietnam War veteran. "You have no idea, man. You weren't THERE!" This was the kind of event that one will always remember, attempt to share with others, and fail miserably. But I had to try. I needed to get it out so that my mind can be free to dwell elsewhere.

The whole audience was so completely into this ridiculousness that I started to contemplate whether I was still alive. Poor Philip Glass. He walked out onto the stage, played his 11 minute piece, bowed, and walked off. He said nothing and his mind was probably filled with confusion at how he'd gotten himself into this mess. I'm sure he really was friends with Sri and his performance was filled with the utmost love and affection towards him, but it just wasn't his scene.

Roberta Flack, on the other hand, was batshit crazy. She stumbled out onto the stage in a tight-fitting sparkly sequined dress that really accents her bon-bon fettish and went into long narrations about her own life, and only one of these had anything to do with peace or Mr. Chinmoy. When she sang she leaned on the piano, not facing the audience. She slunk to one side, and what came from her mouth was more of a Neil Diamondy-Vegas-lounge singer-talksong more than anything else. All of a sudden, from the shadows in the wings of the stage, the Bhajan Sri Chinmoy Singers in off-white robes were joined by their male counterparts weraing off-white leiure pants. These men looked like every stereotype of a pedophile that exists, minus the glasses. Together the lounge singer and the cult joined in a sleepy rendition of "Bridge Over Troubled Water."

At the end, Anil and I could not get out fast enough. We said goodbye to our war buddies and we all agreed that we'd never forget this once-in-a-lifetime happening. So as soon as I saw the sign in the park, I called Anil post haste.

I'm still reeling. There's such a fine line between genius and meaningless, visionary and daffy, fatuous and fantastic. And that fine line, friends, is a dangerously wonderful place.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

And Then There Was Art

Check out this poem written by my friend Ben. It's based on my last post. For this one he used the "cut-up method" a la Burroughs. Hmmm, patterns underneath. . . Looks like my blog is already inspiring others. Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead.


Keep your eyes peeled for the next delicious post.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Twizzle While You Work


At my job I have a lot of time to think, dwell, and go through vast mental files of word associations and memories. I shouldn't actually have this time, since grading middle schoolers' essays should be taking up 100% of my brainpower. However, I have recently noticed my possession of a special power. I can keep up witty banter, conduct a deep inner-dialogue, and accurately score 7th grade chicken-scratch written exams (on topic development AND conventions) all at the same time. They call me the "Unascorer" (like Unabomber) because every so often I put my sweatshirt hood up and go into "the zone." I click the mouse so fast it's like little bombs going off in the mail to various adversaries. . . I guess. That's when the deep inner-dialogues usually begin. Every few minutes I or someone at my table will temporarily pop my bubble to read out loud something funny that a kid wrote and, if I wasn't the one to share, I usually pop out an amusing comment or two until I feel my table is adequately entertained, then put my head back down and start scoring again. Today, the guy who sits next to me got this in a paper:

"I use a sniper. I also stab people and dinosours in the head."

You don't need to know the context, and I'm legally not allowed to give it to you. But it's damn funny either way. Last week the same guy got a whole paper that said things like "I get to tune up the cat," "My dad spends hours working on our cat," "I can't wait to ride my cat all day long" and "My uncle waxes cats for a living." It really was not until the end of the paper that I realized this child, for whatever reason, confuses his r's and t's. I snorted, chortled, and disturbed the workplace around me for a wonderful 20 minutes. After sitting for hours in very uncomfortable chairs and learning click by click to hate our nation's youth, any respite is welcomed, even by the "bosses." Each table seems to have a never-ending supply of Twizzlers in hopes that the sugar will keep everyone from going batshit crazy. This works until about 9:30pm. The last hour is always the punchiest.

Another favorite misspelling of mine is "raper" instead of "rapper."

"When I get to be a famous raper, I am going to take my mom on tour with me."

While in the middle of a taxing argument about what the hell I'm going to do after college, my mind instantly wandered and my guts just wouldn't let me keep the story I was reminded of to myself. It was a story I had just learned about my comedy mentor, Mike Irwin, who is actually pretty sick right now. There's going to be a benefit show for him in the middle of June at Proctor's.

When Steph was here for the weekend, we stopped by The Comedy Works on Friday night because Rich Vos was doing the show. We got there just in time to watch Vos be miserable as usual and do the last 20 minutes of an hour and 20 minute set. It was bonkers. Also present were John Briggs and Deric Harrington, two local comics whom I enjoy immensely. Whenever I'm in the audience, Briggs tells my favorite joke of his no matter what:

"*blah blah blah talking about the lastest corporate scandal* I haven't seen this many white people in a jury trial box since To Kill A Mockingbird!" Hey, you'd be surprised how many people don't get it.

It was Briggs who told me this hilariously gruesome story about Mike Irwin.

Mike was on a rather lengthy tour with another comedian whose name I don't remember. NoName and Mike were driving together through about 15 states, stopping in each place for one night. It was a colleges and club tour. Mostly colleges. Every night after the show, the two would go off in different directions, Mike and NoName would go out, or Mike would go back to the hotel while NoName was left to explore the cities' nightlives by himself.

As they drove around on the tour, it seemed like every local news station in each town they visited had broadcasted a story about another college girl being raped. After doing the deed, the rapist would make his victims pray with him after. In hindsight, as Mike recalls, he remembers finishing a show in a lifeless Colorado college town. There was nothing to do in this town at all, not even a bar. There was literally only the school.

"Let's head back to the hotel," Mike said.
"I can't, I have some stuff to do." NoName replied.
"What could you POSSIBLY have to do?" Mike inquired.

Well, the news stories kept piling up and finally a police officer in the next place on the tour had heard of the previous stories and realized how similar they all were. It looked like the same person had been traveling around and committing these crimes. Mike Irwin had started and completed an entire comedy tour with a serial rapist.

NoName was not caught until he stupidly tried his schtick in his hometown at the end of the tour.

Like my sassy grandmother whom I never got to meet used to say: Never shit where you eat.