Archive for July, 2009

Whatcha’ Readin’?

July 28, 2009

As it is clearly seen from my writing, I’m really not much of a reader.  Not counting things I was assigned to read throughout my time in high school and college, I’ve really probably only read about 25 books, and most of them were biographies, DIY books, or history/reference collections; certainly no fiction.  There is, in fact, only one author that I regularly read, Chuck Klosterman.  Klosterman typically writes nonfiction stories that revolve around music, film, & anything else associated with pop culture, which is typically right up my alley.  With his last book, though, he decided to write a novel, Downtown Owl, and forced me to read my first work of fiction in almost seven years.

I know what you’re thinking, but this blog is not about how great I thought the book was (though I do think that); this is about the actual process of getting through the book.  You see, the only time I really had to read it was during my 30 minute lunch break at work- so obviously it took me a few weeks to get from cover to cover.  My reading process was simply sitting under the awning in front of my building every Monday-Friday from 12:00-12:30.  It was too hot to sit in my car, too distracting to sit in the lunchroom with everyone else, and under the awning was the only outdoor location within 1 block where you could be shielded from any sun and rain.

So there I sat, smoking a cigarette and buried in a book, soaking in every detail about the novel’s three main characters.  Somewhat to my amazement, I did not identify with the third string high school quarterback going through adolescence and questioning the validity of everything.  Nor did I side with the high school teacher who just moved to a small town (from Wisconsin ironically) and is struggling to fit in.  Nope.  I identified with Horace, the crotchety widowed 73 year old man who immerses himself in resentment and self-loathing (he doesn’t read fiction either).  And it is with that spirit in mind that I present to you the rest of my story of getting through Downtown Owl.

Like I said, I’m outside of work reading this book on my lunch and, of course, everyone else’s lunch period (I can’t say hour because they won’t fucking give us an hour!).  Inevitably, my fellow co-workers would exit the building, ready to hop into their cars to pick up something up from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or anywhere else that would allow them to get their back to work in fifteen minutes, leaving them with less than fifteen minutes to inhale a cheeseburger.  Simply put, these folks are in a hurry, as they should be.  (For some reason, ever since I started working a real job, I’ve never eaten at work.)  Yet what do they do when they exit the building and see me reading while  intentionally making no eye contact with them?  I’ll tell you what they do.  They bend their neck and lean over slightly to see the book’s cover.  Then they ask…

“Whatcha’ Readin?”

First of all, I see these people analyze the cover with their peripherals, so I know they already know the book’s title.  Second of all, these people are on a break where they will spend at least half, if not more, of their time acquiring sustenance, and the other half ingesting it, leaving no time for a real “break,” yet they want me to obviously tell them more about the book than the title without them having to break their stride.  I came up with three ways to respond to this question.  I have tried all of them.   So when faced with said inquiry, I just pick one of these responses arbitrarily.  They’re all a little different, but they all have one thing in common.  They  make me feel like an asshole.

Q:  Whatcha’ readin’?

A:  aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ………… this book called ……..aaaaaaaaaaa ….. Downtown Owl ……. it’s alright.  (This response offers no real information and in no way shape or form attempts to answer the question) 

Q:  Whatcha’ readin’?

A:  It’s called Downtown Owl.  It’s by this guy Chuck Klosterman.  He mainly writes nonfiction stuff, but in this book he…(this is typically where I get caught off by the question asker who attempts a cordial dismissal from the conversation, leaving me to feel like a shit when all I tried to do was answer their damn question.)

Q: Whatcha’ readin’?

A: A book.  (This is easily the most dickheaded way to answer the question, and it took a while before I tried it out.  But I gotta admit it has proven to be the most effective.  Most of my co-workers know me as a pretty nice guy, so when I respond in this way, they walk away chuckling, assuming I’m just joking around.  I assure you I am not.)

Lucky for me, I finished the book today.  I can now return to breaks where I sit in the lunchroom reading a newspaper, praying that no one tries to spark a conversation.  And even if they happen to, I won’t be forced to explain the goings on of a 273 page novel they’re completely unfamiliar with.  Instead, all I have to say is, “Fuckin’ Brewers.”

As Downtown Owl has shown me, I guess I do share a lot in common with a pissed off old man.  As far as a deeper meaning within its pages, I have some theories, but nothing I’m gonna stick to just yet.  I will say, though, that the process of getting through this book has taught me one valuable lesson.  And it’s a lesson that I’m sure I’ll either forget or ignore when the next Klosterman book comes out:

Never read in public.

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DVD Review: The State – The Complete Series

July 20, 2009

Once again, I must apologize for not updating this blog for awhile.  But outside of all the busyness mentioned in my last post, I’ve been working damn near fifty hour weeks and coping with some huge events in my life:

  1. For the first time, I attended a house party where I was the oldest guest.  (This thoroughly creeped me out.)
  2. And also for the first time, I saw a drunken woman I didn’t know piss in the parking lot after a Milwaukee Brewers game.  (This was nowhere near as sexy as it sounds.)

But I digress.

I’m not here to talk to you about getting old or the lack of bladder control among inebriated sports fans with pink baseball hats.  I’m here to talk about the early to mid 1990’s.  It was a simpler time for many.  And in the case of MTV, it was a better time.  A brief period in the station’s existence when music videos were played regularly, none of us could give a fuck who Paris Hilton’s BFF was, and original shows actually offered an alternative to everything else.  I was still pretty young back then, but I was also a lazy little bastard with basic cable, so I can recollect some of this.

Enter The State, although not even MTV’s most popular show of the period, it is arguably the best and most significant original show the network ever aired.  It launched careers that, as far as numbers go, can only be rivaled by Jackass.  Members of The State have gone on to create and star in movies and TV shows like Reno 911!, Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues, Wet Hot American Summer, and The Ten.  And for the first time, every episode of this groundbreaking show is available in a 5-disc DVD set.

It’s crazy, because outside of a VHS compilation that a friend of mine had, I haven’t really seen the show since it actually was on MTV.  And I must say,  it’s even funnier than I remember it (I guess some of the humor is a little easier to grasp, seeing as I’m not twelve-years-old anymore).  I still laugh out loud when I see the “monkey torture sketch” or the not so rebellious “Doug.”  And as unbelievable as it seems, I actually forgot about “Louie” and his undying urge to “dip his balls” in everything.

I’m sure rabid fans have already picked this one up.  But if you haven’t, check out the videos below to rekindle your love of the show.  Then, go buy the set here and bask in a time when Laguna Beach and The Hills were just considered places, and not everything that is wrong with the world.

Aaah, July

July 2, 2009

Aaah, July, that lovely 31 day span that brings triple digit temperatures to the warehouse I work at.  Aaah July, that glorious month that drives me to wear shorts at least once, often resulting in onlookers shielding their eyes as the sun beats off of my pale, “Powder-like” legs.  Yup, I think it’s safe to say that July was made to piss off three kinds of people:  Goths, albinos, and me.

Lucky for me, there are actually some really awesome things going on in Milwaukee in the next two weeks or so that can keep me occupied; and hopefully make the sweat on my taint a little less annoying.  Here they are.

July 2

Hey, that’s today.  And if you happen to be reading this today, turn your computer off and get your ass to Cactus Club to see The Paper Chase.  Then, when you get back, finish reading this blog.  (I’ll get more hits that way.)

July 4

Celebrate your Independence Day in Bay View at the Red, White, & Pabst Blue Ribbon Street Festival, which is featuring Stephen Malkmus, Maps & Atlases, and a solo performance from John The Savage’s Mike Skorcz.  Once your good and sauced on those $2 PBRs, make the 10 minute or so walk to Club Garibaldi’s where Skorcz will join the rest of the band for a John The Savage show.

July 5

This year marks the fewest number of days I’ve been to Summerfest .  But I’ll surely be there on the fifth for the Brew City Bruisers Exhibition Bout.  If you’re like me and have been getting the itch since the end of the regular season in May, here’s an opportunity to get your derby fix.  And be sure to get your seconds on the 18th as the Bruisers’ All-Star Team faces Madison’s Dairyland Dolls at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex.

July 11

Back to Cactus Club I will be a week from Saturday to see Thomas Function, an awesome band who finds their way to Milwaukee quite regularly.  And I don’t know why I wrote that first sentence in such a Yoda-esque way.  Sorry.  Just go see these guys.

Good-bye I say.