Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Baton Rouge -> Dallas -> Bizarro World -> Baton Rouge

Okay...most of you reading this know I'm a "weekend warrior" drummer. This past weekend, we had a few shows in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. The weekend started Friday night at "The Prophet Bar" in Dallas. The club was decent and the crew was nice, but we felt a little rushed, which is never good. There were five bands playing that night and, unfortunately, we were first, meaning we were the "P.A. guinea pigs". You see, the first band is usually nothing more than an opportunity for the sound guy to get the house mix sounding good. Thus the sense that we were being rushed by the crew to get going.

After our set was over and we had our gear torn down and safely locked away in the trailer, we had some time to have a few drinks, relax and watch the other bands. Oh, yeah...the other bands.

Before I get to the other bands, let me provide a quick explanation of the artist I play drums for. Her name is Lindsay Rae Spurlock and her music could be classified as Indie/Alt-Pop; think of Bjork or The Cranberries. Well, the band that went on after us that night consisted of a drummer and a bassist. That's it. Their music could be classified as Post-Grunge/Punk/Sh*t. The bassist used a ridiculous amount of distortion which, combined with his not-quite-screaming vocals, made it difficult to endure; the club cleared out quickly and remained mostly empty until the end of their set.

Next up was an Afro-Cuban/Mambo band made up of a bunch of "older professional-types." They were quite good at what they did and they succeeded in repairing the damage done by the previous band.

Finally, at around 12:30 Friday night, the "headliner" took the stage. I can't quite figure out how or why this particular band was given the headline slot. You see, the band's online information indicates they've played no shows prior to this one and, as of this past weekend, had no subsequent shows booked...?? But that's not the only reason I'm amazed that they got the headline slot.

They were bad. Not bad as in, "Wow, this band kicks ass". I mean bad as in, "Holy crap, this band SUCKS!", bad. You see, this band had a shtick. That shtick was a strange blend of two eras:

1.) Late-80's hair-metal.
2.) Late-60's spaghetti western movies.

The hair-metal era was represented by the singer's uncanny resemblance to Stephen Pearcy, the lead singer of Ratt. Hair, leather pants, stick-on tattoos and all. Also paying tribute to late-80's hair-metal was the singer's red Ibanez Destroyer guitar. Wow...

The spaghetti western movies were represented through the band's song lyrics and through video images projected onto a screen behind the band. The images of the spaghetti westerns were interspersed with home-movie footage of the lead singer lying in a graveyard wearing a vampire costume and a wrinkly, topless Marylin Monroe impersonator (I know, WTF?!?!?)... The spaghetti western image was furthered by the bassist's cowboy hat and western shirt, which barely contained his bulging beer-gut and man-tits. By the way, the bassist was the singer's step-dad. And he looked every bit his age, too.

Now, none of this would be gag-inducing, strange or insulting at all if there would have been some indication that the whole thing was a joke. But, sadly, there was none. These guys were freaking serious. They struck serious rock-star poses on stage. They wore serious expressions on their faces. They said serious things into the microphone, such as the singer grunting, "I'm really workin' up a sweat here. Any of you ladies wanna come down front and have a taste?"

From my perspective, the most insulting portion of their set was when the Stephen Pearcy imitator played "Folsom Prison Blues" by himself while his "band" took a break. I felt as though I had been kicked in the stomach. But, my wife and I, and the rest of the band, ultimately had a good time at the headliner's expense.

Saturday night's Ft. Worth gig went as close to perfect as it possibly could and we started our trip back to Baton Rouge on Sunday in good spirits. Unfortunately, exhaustion set in about two-thirds of the way home in addition to the onset of a nasty head cold for me. With less than an hour to go, we happened upon a police road block due to a horrible car wreck. The highway was closed and wouldn't be reopened for at least an hour. Luckily, we had a few iPhones which we used to find an alternate route from the highway we were on to Baton Rouge. The alternate route we found would take us south to Interstate 10 via a small road that followed the Atchafalaya river. Little did we know that this road would turn from asphalt to gravel...to dirt...before finally reaching the interstate. We joked, nervously, about how we expected Leatherface to step into our path wielding his chainsaw. But, thankfully, that didn't happen and we finally...made it...home...

What a weekend.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Good, The Bad, & The Holidays

Well, another Christmas has come and gone and, despite my high hopes and lowered expectations, this Christmas turned out alarmingly similar to last Christmas...and the Christmas before that...and the Christmas before that. Sort of a cross between National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and The Exorcist.

I live in Louisiana, but the majority of my family, including my parents, live in Dallas, Texas. So, more often than not, when the Holidays arrive, I find myself wrestling with the guilt of having not seen my parents since the prior Holiday Season. And, more often than not, I wind up dragging my wife with me to my parents' home in Dallas.

And...more often than not...we wind up regretting the decision. You see, I really enjoy spending time with my baby sister and my younger brother (my older sister lives on the East Coast and has the good sense to stay there for the Holidays), and I really enjoy spending time with my Dad. However...

...my Mother is another story. I love my Mother, don't get me wrong. But I really have grown to dislike being around her. My childhood memories of my Mother are of her storming around the house, brow furrowed, scowl on her face, cigarette pinched between her fingers, yelling at whoever happened to be within earshot. She was always pissed off about something or at someone. Unfortunately for my Dad, it was usually him.

Now that she has gotten older, instead of being pissed off all the time, she is "in pain" or sad because my Dad's job keeps him out of town, or sad because her grand-kids are out of town, or angry at my baby sister and/or her boyfriend, or...you get the point. My mother craves the experience of people patting her on the shoulder and saying, "Poor thing. Is there anything I can do?"

So...anyway...that brings us to Christmas '08. The first day was good. Mom was in a fair mood, apparently happy to see the wife and me. We had a nice time that day. But, by the second day, the scowl had returned to her face, she was groaning with every move she made and she was bad-mouthing my baby sister, baby sister's boyfriend and my grandmother...??... Wow.

The day after Christmas was even worse and the day after that was the "last straw". That morning, when I woke up and stepped out of the guest bedroom into the hallway, the first sound I heard was dear-old-Mom calling my Dad, who had just gotten home a few hours earlier and was trying to get some much-needed sleep, a "son-of-a-bitch" because he wouldn't take her dog into the backyard. Her dog. The dog she bought to keep her company while my Dad traveled for work and she sat in her recliner watching TV for days on end. Sorry, I seem to be having some sort of flashback. Moving on...

Moments after hearing what Mom said, the wife and I packed our bags and fled the scene, swearing to ourselves that. "We won't do that again!" But, when the summer of 2009 finally fades into autumn and the Holiday Season rears its ugly head yet again, something tells me I'll find myself in yet another wrestling match...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Driver #1, Crazy Driver, and My Wife...

I recently had my very first run in with someone who I believe is certifiably batsh*t crazy. It happened a few weeks ago one morning when my wife and I were on our way to work. We normally follow each other until I reach my office; she works a little farther into the city, so she continues on, obviously, until she reaches her office.

Anyway, this particular morning, she made a turn onto a street she normally doesn't turn on, which puzzled me. So, I sent her a text message asking her where she was going. She responded by saying that she really didn't know why she'd turned and hadn't even realized she'd done it until receiving my text message. I let it go at that.

Five minutes later, she called me and, when I answered, told me she had been "in a wreck". I asked her where she was, told her to stay in the car and that I would be there as soon as I could. She proceeded to tell me that she had turned onto the highway, which was heavily congested with traffic. Everyone was crawling along at a snail's pace when the truck in front of her tapped the bumper of the vehicle in front of him. My wife hit the brakes, stopping so close to the bumper of the truck in front of her that she couldn't be sure if she made contact with it or not. For clarification purposes, I will refer to the driver whose vehicle's bumper was tapped as "Driver #1" and the driver my wife thought she might have hit as "Crazy Driver".

When the other two vehicles pulled over, she decided to err on the side of caution and pull over, too. She sat in the car for a few minutes, thinking one of the two other drivers involved would get out to begin the process of checking the damage and exchanging insurance info and blah-blah-blah. That's not what happened.

Crazy Driver didn't get out; he just sat there, not moving. Driver #1 did get out, however, checked the damage and walked back to Crazy Driver's truck. After seeing Driver #1 get out, my wife got out and walked up to the driver's side window of Crazy Driver's truck (this is where the story took a detour from Run of the Mill Avenue onto Bizzaro Drive). Crazy Driver rolled his window down, looked at my wife and called her a "white motherf**ker". He then looked at Driver #1 (which is what caused this whole mess in the first place) , called him a "black motherf**ker" and said, "call the police", before rolling up his window. So...my wife and Driver #1 looked at each other for a second or two in disbelief at what Crazy Driver had just said, turned and went back to their respective vehicles.

Now, when I heard this, my blood began to boil. I knew I wouldn't be able to control my temper when I got there, but at the time, I didn't care. Someone had just called my wife a disgusting name, and that someone was about to pay for it.

When I pulled up, I checked on my wife, who looked fantastic. Then I checked the front bumper of her car and found...nothing. Not a scratch. My wife drives a Toyota Camry, which has a plastic bumper designed to give way and absorb energy in the event of a frontal collision. If she would've tapped Crazy Driver's bumper, there would have been some kind of mark.

Moving right along, my next stop was the rear bumper of Crazy Driver's truck. Again, no damage anywhere. Now, my blood was really boiling over. I ignored my wife's pleas to get in her car and walked up to Crazy Driver's window. He was sitting in his truck, arms folded, staring straight ahead. After ten or fifteen seconds, he looked at me and I asked him to roll his window down so we could talk, to which he responded with, "Aw, f**k you!" My response? I gave him the middle finger and turned to walk away.

My memory after that point is a little blurry, but the next thing I know, I'm demanding that Crazy Driver show me some evidence that my wife hit him, which caused him to begin showing signs that he was genuinely mentally unstable. I remember him cursing at me and my wife getting between him and I. I remember threatening to knock the glasses off of his face and him taking the glasses off and throwing them into traffic on the highway. I remember me trying to keep him from groping my wife while he sobbed, "Please don't let him kill me, please!!" I also remember him screaming random things like, "Jesus is Jehovah!!" and, "F*ck Jimmy Swaggart!!" I was content to let it continue to escalate to the point where I actually saw a chance to throw a punch at the turd.

That is, until I saw my wife's face. She was crying and obviously scared and, since I couldn't get her out of there, we got in her car and sat there until the police arrived. Crazy Driver didn't make the State trooper wait very long before revealing his batsh*t craziness. While the trooper was asking my wife questions about the accident, Crazy Driver got out of his truck and started screaming, "Hey faggot! Hey, you! Faggot!"

The trooper reacted as you might expect. He was clearly in shock at what Crazy Driver had just said, but the shock quickly turned to rage as he got right in Crazy Driver's face and screamed, "You better calm the f*ck down, buddy!" The next few minutes were consumed by the trooper trying to get Crazy Driver under control, after which the trooper took one glance at my wife's bumper and Crazy Driver's bumper before telling us we could go. The trooper's parting comment brought it all home: "You didn't hit him and, if you did, he wouldn't have known it anyway."

What's the moral of this long story? I have no idea...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Phantom Senior Citizen Poot

Alrighty. Here I am at work, in my office with the door open. My coworker is at her desk, and I hear her talking to Mumbles. Those of you who have read some of my previous posts know exactly who Mumbles is...

The conversation slowly morphs from the upcoming election to caring for the elderly. As some of you are aware, Mumbles is nearly 65 years old and is scheduled to retire next May. He is also an ex-police officer who loves nothing more than the sound of his own voice as he regales whoever is in earshot with tales of his "policing" back in the 1960's during the civil rights movement when he spent countless nights exhausting himself from swinging his night stick at the skulls of "suspected marijuana users"...

Anyway, Mumbles is talking with my coworker, and they're having a ball. Then comes a knock at the back door. Mumbles finishes his statement with a guffaw and, as he stands to go answer the back door, he...

...well, he rips one, if you know what I mean. *Skwooomp* Yep, he floated an air biscuit loud enough for me to hear it from fifteen feet away! Initially, I wasn't sure if I had heard what I thought I'd heard.

So, to get some sort of confirmation, I emailed my coworker and asked her if Mumbles had just farted. She confirmed that he had, in fact, tooted his ass-horn. What we couldn't figure out, though, was why he didn't say, "Excuse me", or "Oops", or something of that nature. At first I just assumed that, due to his pompous personality, he didn't give a rats ass about what he'd just done.

But then I had an epiphany. He is 65, after all, right? I think my coworker and I witnessed Mumbles' very first Phantom Senior Citizen Poot. You know exactly what I'm talking about, don't ya? The sound of a poot slams into your ear drums, causing you to spin around and search for the source, and there he is: Salt and pepper gray hair, slightly stooped posture, sans-a-belt slacks, and a cardigan. No one else in sight. "But this dude never broke stride!", you say to yourself. That's right. He gave you a taste of the Phantom Senior Citizen Poot.

It's a rare occurrence among the younger elderly so, if you ever catch one, like me and my coworker caught today, consider yourself lucky. I rank a personal Phantom Senior Citizen Poot experience right up there with sightings of Bigfoot, UFOs and Elvis. That's how rare they are...

I'm a lucky guy...

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Football...Why Do I Keep Doing This to Myself?

I think it might be time for me to "give up" football. I've gotten to the point where I'm so emotionally invested in my teams that, when they decide to play crappy football, I tend to get way too angry.

I say things I shouldn't say. In fact, I say things no man should say in front of his wife. I know I shouldn't get so pissed off about a dumb game that's not putting any money into my bank account, regardless of which team wins or loses. I tell myself to try and stay calm...

...but it just doesn't work. Before I know it, I've reached the end of my patience and I'm cursing my team, the opposing team, the referees and the commentators, my breathing increases to the point where I almost feel out of breath, and I can barely stave off the urge to throw the remote control at the television.

Football is supposed to be fun to watch, but feeling that way is no fun. It's simply not worth it and, ultimately, it's a waste of my time. Time I could be spending doing something else with my wife...

So, at least for now, my teams (and they know who they are) can kiss my ass. I'm done rooting for you, and I'm too loyal to start rooting for anyone else. So, my only option is to tell you all to kiss my ass...

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Smell of Nitro in the Morning... Smells Like Victory

So, I'm a dude. I like dude things. Football, sports cars, steak and potatoes, my wife in her birthday suit...you know, stuff like that. Well, I had the opportunity to experience a true "dude" event this weekend in my home town of Dallas, Texas.

That event was an NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) drag race, which included top-fuel dragsters and funny cars. Wow... Just writing the words "top-fuel" gave me goosebumps and caused a flashback of yesterdays action. You may be saying to yourself, "So? What's the big freaking deal?"

I'll tell you what the big freaking deal is. Unless you have stood on the deck of an aircraft carrier during the launch of a fighter jet or been present at the launch of the space shuttle, you have never, never, ever heard a sound as unbelievably loud as a top-fuel car streaking by at 300-+ miles per hour, right in front of your face...

And the sound is only half of the goosebump-inducing, adrenaline-pumping experience. As the cars passed in front of me, the ground shook so intensely that, combined with the deafening roar, made me feel as if the world was coming to an end, or that the race track was being bombed. It's that violent.

The only disappointing aspect of the entire experience was that, from the time I entered the gate 'til the time I exited the gate, I don't think I drew one breath of air that didn't contain cigarette smoke, B.O., beer fumes, or some combination of the three. At some point after constantly (and I do mean constantly) smelling cigarette smoke, I became acutely aware that, in every direction, in the stands, lining the fences and in the pit area, were rednecks.

Even more startlingly, these rednecks were the prototypical, quintessential brand of redneck: Deep tan from years of sunburn presumably caused by working outside in the sun and attending hundreds of events just like this one; dirty baseball caps advertising their favorite race car driver, their favorite auto parts store, or their favorite brand of malt liquor; cut-off blue jean shorts; the ubiquitous mullet on both men and women; cigarette dangling from a mouth full of yellowish-brown teeth; and last, but not least, plastic bottles of Coors light gripped firmly in hand.

For a brief time, I was actually distracted from the majesty of the cars racing as I gazed, open-mouthed, at the sheer volume of white trash that surrounded me. My first thought was, "Well, at least now I know why I can't get the smell of cigarette smoke out of my sinuses." Another thing surprised me: There was not one disturbance, despite the vast number of drunken idiots stumbling around the complex. Not one fight, not one verbal altercation, nothing.

The only violence came from the 7,500 horsepower engines of the top-fuel cars. And, you know what? In spite of the company I'll be forced to keep, I absolutely can't wait for the opportunity to go to another NHRA race...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Being Poor

Being poor is knowing exactly how much everything costs.

Being poor is hoping the toothache goes away.

Being poor is knowing your kid goes to friends' houses but never has friends over to yours.

Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won't hear you say "I get free lunch" when you get to the cashier.

Being poor is living next to the freeway.

Being poor is coming back to the car with your children in the back seat, clutching that box of Raisin Bran you just bought and trying to think of a way to make the kids understand that the box has to last.

Being poor is wondering if your well-off sibling is lying when he says he doesn't mind when you ask for help.

Being poor is off-brand toys.

Being poor is a heater in only one room of the house.

Being poor is knowing you can't leave $5 on the coffee table when your friends are around.

Being poor is hoping your kids don't have a growth spurt.

Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn't have make dinner tonight because you're not hungry anyway.

Being poor is Goodwill underwear.

Being poor is not enough space for everyone who lives with you.

Being poor is feeling the glued soles tear off your supermarket shoes when you run around the playground.

Being poor is your kid's school being the one with the 15-year-old textbooks and no air conditioning.

Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.

Being poor is an overnight shift under florescent lights.

Being poor is finding the letter your mom wrote to your dad, begging him for the child support.

Being poor is stopping the car to take a lamp from a stranger's trash.

Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.

Being poor is not taking the job because you can't find someone you trust to watch your kids.

Being poor is the police busting into the apartment right next to yours.

Being poor is not talking to that girl because she'll probably just laugh at your clothes.

Being poor is hoping you'll be invited for dinner.

Being poor is a sidewalk with lots of brown glass on it.

Being poor is people thinking they know something about you by the way you talk.

Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.

Being poor is your kid's teacher assuming you don't have any books in your home.

Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.

Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.

Being poor is knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually stupid.

Being poor is people surprised to discover you're not actually lazy.

Being poor is a six-hour wait in an emergency room with a sick child asleep on your lap.

Being poor is never buying anything someone else hasn't bought first.

Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that's two extra packages for every dollar.

Being poor is having to live with choices you didn't know you made when you were 14 years old.

Being poor is getting tired of people wanting you to be grateful.

Being poor is knowing you're being judged.

Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.

Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.

Being poor is deciding that it's all right to base a relationship on shelter.

Being poor is knowing you really shouldn't spend that buck on a Lotto ticket.

Being poor is hoping the register lady will spot you the dime.

Being poor is feeling helpless when your child makes the same mistakes you did, and won't listen to you beg them against doing so.

Being poor is a cough that doesn't go away.

Being poor is making sure you don't spill on the couch, just in case you have to give it back before the lease is up.

Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.

Being poor is four years of night classes for an Associates of Art degree.

Being poor is a lumpy futon bed.

Being poor is knowing where the shelter is.

Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

~ Author Unknown