Thursday, August 27, 2009

It Was Four Years Ago Today

Well, another August 27, another year gone on the GMYH calendar. That's right, just four excruciatingly long years ago, I started GMYH with an aptly named post, "I have created a blog." To paraphrase The Hold Steady, there is so much joy in what I do on here. I want to thank you all for being here to share that joy with me -- even those of you who post comments anonymously. Seriously, though, thanks to all of you who read this on a regular basis, as well as those who just read it occasionally, as well as those who just happened upon it after Googling "Fuck Purdue" or "I hate Purdue."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Beatles Anthology on VH1 Classic

VH1 Classic -- the greatest channel ever invented -- is showing the Beatles Anthology each Wednesday at 9E/8C beginning tonight. The people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry.

Shit I Hate: Giant Umbrellas

It's raining today. I was walking to work from the L, and there was a guy coming the other way down the sidewalk with a golf umbrella. This made little sense, since the sidewalk along the south side of Madison Street is, in fact, not a golf course, and this guy's body was nowhere near six feet wide.

Heed my words: if you are using a golf umbrella in a city, everyone else thinks you are an inconsiderate asshole. Because you are. I should not have to walk into the street or, God forbid, into a Starbucks, just to avoid getting my appropriately sized umbrella (or eyes or face or arm) punctured by some giant barb hanging down from the umbrella of some overly dry asshole who can't even see me given the size of his ridiculously large umbrella.

If your umbrella's diameter is as wide as the sidewalk, then you need to bring a smaller umbrella to work. For less than the price of a bucket of balls, you can get a nice, small umbrella that not only keeps you dry, but also fits into any size of messenger bag, briefcase, or backpack you might be carrying to work, and, most importantly, doesn't piss off everyone you force to move out of the way.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tuesday Top Ten: Anniversary Edition

I generally don't talk enough about my wife here on GMYH, mostly because I don't want her to get entangled with the paparazzi. But today's Top Ten Tuesday will be a celebration of the Jester, or, more appropriately, a celebration of the last ten years. You see, it was ten years ago tonight that Jessie and I met.

Many of you know the story, but just in case, here is a not-so-brief retelling. It was a Sunday -- a holy day -- a week before classes started at IU. I was going to be a senior. Going into the year, my mindset was that I was not going to get into any serious relationships, since I would be going to law school the next year. That night, as was standard for every night before classes started, people were having room parties in my fraternity. At some point early in the night, I walked down to Hanig's room to bum a cigarette, and I saw a couple girls come in with Hanig's roommate Jon and put their stuff down in their room. I thought nothing of it.

Over the next several hours, I drank Keystone Light two at a time out of an awesome giant stein that Bohmann had purchased for me when he studied abroad in Germany. I was walking down the hall to fill up again, and likely to wallow in self misery for another few hours before going to bed alone, again. As I was walking down the hall, however, I heard Jon's voice behind me blurt out what turned out to be the seven most important words in my life:. "Hey [GMYH], have you met the twins?" I had not.

Little did I realize that Jon was a high school compatriot of the legendary "Huntington North Pope Twins." He introduced me to the two of them -- Jessie and Ari, both about to be sophomores -- and suddenly my gloom-filled, desperate life was a little bit brighter.

While Christoff and Jamie argued with Ari (the elder twin) about who cheated off of whom in a class the three of them had together the previous semester, Jessie (the younger twin) and I regaled each other for hours with tales of Maine and London, respectively. We went into Jon's room (which was a full-on party at that point) and talked some more.

You always hear about people "knowing" when they meet that they've found the person they will marry, and you dismiss it because you think no one can really know that. I kid you not when I say that after talking with Jessie for about an hour, I suddenly had an all-consuming feeling come over my body and in my head, I thought "this is the girl I'm going to marry." I can't explain it or offer any rational explanation, but I do know that it happened and it was very real.

Anyway, with LFO's "Summer Girls" blaring in the background, I eventually drank up the courage to ask Jessie for her telephone number. She obliged, providing not only her phone number, but also her apartment number (although it was without the corresponding address). And the rest, they say, is history.

Over the years, I've given Jessie a variety of nicknames: Clucker, Pen Ganker, Pea Head, Peach, Creole Martha, Dirty Mistreater, Jester, Jesterio, Jesterio the Magnificent (only when she performs sleight of hand tricks). Whatever I have called you, I love you, and the last ten years have been great.

With that, I give you all a moment in our relationship from each of the previous ten years (and this year).

August 27, 1999
I waited two days to call Jessie, since I didn't want to come across as too needy (even though I was). Ironically, when I didn't call the next day, she thought I was never going to call. Anyway, I invited her back over to the house. After a couple hours, I walked her to her car, and things seemed to be going well, so I leaned in to kiss her. She recoiled rather violently. In my mind, I thought "Holy shit, I really misread this one." But in reality, she just turned her head to the side to spit out her gum, and then we kissed for the first time.

May 6, 2000
It was graduation day, for me anyway. John Mellencamp was nice enough to speak at my ceremony. In addition to family that was in town, Amy was in town visiting Jamie. That night, we ran into a conundrum, as Jessie was still not 21, but we all wanted to go out. With the kind of creativity only college kids trying to get alcohol possess, I went to Kilroy's early, got a stamp, came back to Jessie's apartment, and drew it on her hand with a drawing pencil (it was asymmetrical, so the "lick and flip" method would not have worked). Jessie got into Kilroy's with no problem, and we all had a great time, highlighted by watching a couple Acacias shatter every glass that was given to them on the floor under their table. Good Lord, we look young. Summer and much of Fall 2001
The break-up. Yes, you read that correctly, Jessie and I did, in fact, break up for a while. It started in May 2001, when Jessie and I decided to go "on a break" for the summer. Then when we got back to school, I was starting my second year of law school, while Jessie was starting her senior year (i.e., I was the busiest I've ever been, and Jessie was not). Per a mutual written and notarized agreement, we decided to make our "break" a "break up." It lasted for a couple months, and then we realized that, in order to fulfill my prophecy from the night we met, we must be together. I mention this dark period in our relationship only to tell you kids out there that breaking up, while hard to do, is sometimes necessary.

November 1-3, 2002
Jester and I go to Boston, in what was our first non-driving trip together. It was wicked awesome.

May 2003
Jester and I go to London, in what was our first international trip together. It was a present to myself for graduating law school without killing myself or anyone else. We had a wonderful time, highlighted by Jessie's graduation gift to me: a surprise trip to Munich for two nights to see Paul McCartney in concert. We also went to the Hofbrauhaus Needless to say, that was pretty cool.

January 16, 2004
I made an iron-on shirt for Jessie with the worst picture of myself that I could find (the picture below from sophomore year Halloween -- that's real blood!), and I put that and "Marry Me!" on the shirt. I visited Jessie in Bloomington for the weekend. When I got to Bloomington, I told her that I made a shirt for her, which she somehow found to be acceptable. I folded it so she couldn't see what it said, and then threw it on a chair, got behind her and down on a knee. She opened it up and said, "What? I don't get it. Is this for real?" Then she turned around and saw me on one knee, then freaked out, and called me a "crazy beast" (seriously). And then she said yes. Then we went to Arby's.

June 11, 2005
Jester and I get married in a small, but violent, Wyatt-Earp-funeral-themed outdoor ceremony at a forest preserve in the western burbs. Tom Mix wept. Granted, I'm biased, but I believe that our reception was one of the best wedding receptions of all-time, highlighted by the stealing of my sunshine, a hotel employee going out to buy a couple more bottles of Jager after those we purchased ran out, the guy Jessie used to nanny for slapping down his Amex Black card to get the hotel bar to reopen for us for a couple hours, pretty much every single person hooking up (some to applause as they left the bar), and approximately zero hours of sleep before our cab picked us up at 3:45 a.m. to take us to O'Hare for our honeymoon in Jamaica.

April 29, 2006
Jester and I move back to Chicago. God cries. Tradd and Ryan sit on a couch in our alley.

September 23-30, 2007
Jessie and I spearhead a trip to Oktoberfest in Munich, along with 20 other friends. Since I have previously recapped that trip in excruciating detail, I will not do so again. Suffice it to say, that was a great time.

April 25, 2008
Jessie and I become part of the landed gentry, having purchased approximately twenty percent of one-sixth of a small plot of land in the rail city of Chicago. Since then, our fiefdom has grown by approximately one percent.

March 20, 2009
The Year of Feelin' Fine™ thus far has turned out to be all that and more. On March 20, Jessie woke up earlier than I did, as I was taking the day off to watch the NCAA Tournament. She emerged from the bathroom and woke me up with a huge smile on her face. The stick she had just pissed on indicated that she was with child. And it's mine! Had this been written in several more months, obviously March 20 would be replaced with the fetus's actual birth date because, on that day, the prophecy will be fulfilled.

Jester, here's to what was hopefully only the first 10% of our lives together. Yes, I do plan on both of us living well into our 120s. The fate of our great-great-grandchildren depends on it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Can you please pass the placenta?

So this weekend, Jester and I went to our friend Amanda's family's lake house in Michigan. Joining us were Amanda (as you might guess) and her husband Adam (of 30 in 8 fame), Alex, and Alex's anonymous wife. Originally, there were several others who were supposed to come, but had to back out for various (and surprisingly legitimate) reasons at the last minute. Thus, the food and drink that Alex and his anonymous wife had purchased was enough for 9 to 10 people. Needless to say, it was a weekend of gluttony. The motto for the weekend was "You're Never Not Hungry."

We each likely gained several pounds over the course of 48 hours, but that's beside the point. Friday night, we were sitting around the fire pit, telling scary stories and the like. Predictably, the conversation turned to placenta. As I'm sure we're all aware, placenta is the organic mass that supplies fetuses (or is it feti?) with oxygen and food while in the womb. I will spare you a picture of the placenta, but if you're curious, click on the Wikipedia page and scroll to the bottom. Remember that image as I tell you the rest of this tale.

Alex's anonymous wife mentioned one of her acquaintances is pregnant. This other woman -- we'll call her Crazy -- is, from what Alex's anonymous wife describes her, kind of, well, crazy. For example, Crazy cut out an article -- presumably from Crazy Ass Pregnant Voodoo Chick Magazine -- for her husband to read. The article was about keeping and, gulp, eating the placenta. And just to calm you down, Crazy's husband is not Crazy nor crazy, so he dismissed this as an option, although in her defense, Crazy supposedly claimed she never actually intended to eat her placenta. Nonetheless, this is something some apparently people do. I'm sure every single one of us would be lying if we said we haven't been at least somewhat interested in what pan-seared human flesh might taste like, but this seemed a little savage to me.

As a True Blood fanatic, I immediately imagined something along the lines of the Hunter's Soufflé that Maryann recently prepared with a human heart, resulting in an unknowing Tara and Eggs going crazy and punching each other in the face. Curious, I asked how one might eat placenta. Is it sautéed? Baked? Deep fried? Cubed and skewered, kebob style? No, no, hell no, and no. Get this: it is pureed into an afterbirth smoothie and then drunk. Holy. Fucking. Shit. This, of course, begged the question: does eating your child's placenta give you superhuman powers, sight beyond sight, or everlasting life? The answer might astound you: No. This means that there is literally no good reason to eat your (or anyone else's) child's placenta.

The rest of the weekend involved a lot of food consumption, a small bit of rain-soaked golf, some horseshoes, a lot of fire watching, some Swisher Sweets, not enough beer consumption for how much was purchased (apparently 132 beers is too much for three guys and one drinking gal to consume in a two-day period), mosquito bites, sleep watching, and zero discussion of how to prepare human placenta.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Video from The Answer at Beat Kitchen

Someone recorded The Answer at the show I saw last Saturday at Beat Kitchen.  It was linked off of one of the WLUP DJ's blogs.  Anyway, the audio isn't the best, but it gives a taste of the kind of live show these guys put on (i.e., pretty damn good).

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Live and Dangerous

Thin Lizzy: Live and Dangerous is on VH1 Classic right now.  You should probably be watching it.

Backpacks and Sneakers

You know what I find odd? When a man is wearing a suit and, at the same time, either a backpack or gym shoes. I saw both on the train today. The first was a guy who looked to be in his forties wearing a nice navy blue suit. And a red backpack. Then I saw another guy -- this one was in his mid twenties -- wearing a nice charcoal pinstripe suit. And Nike running shoes. Both of these people looked ridiculous.

Now, admittedly, I don't have much fashion sense. Hell, I prefer t-shirts and shorts. It's a comfortable combination. Breathable. But I do have some common sense. Wearing a backpack with a suit makes you look like a kid going to school on picture day. When you're wearing a polo and khakis, fine. But not when you're wearing a suit.

As for the gym shoes, I can understand why women wear running shoes on their commute, since I have been lead to believe that women's work shoes are generally uncomfortable. But dudes wearing suits and gym shoes look like dufuses. I've never owned a pair of work shoes that was so painful that I felt the need to wear different shoes for my commute. If I did, I suppose I'd either suck it up or get another pair of work shoes.

More Sundance Vacation Shite

I'm sure you recall Sundance Vacations (and their co-scammers Sunstream Travel). They're the sons of bitches who prey on patrons of sports events by promising a chance to win an "Ultimate Sports Giveaway."

Well, Trubblinparadise sent me a link to a story from the Philadelphia Inquirer about Sundance Vacations's shady ways. As you might imagine, nothing comes for free -- not even a free cruise.

Remember folks, when someone comes up to you outside a sporting event and asks for your address and phone number, punch them in the face. Alternatively, yell at them so that everyone can hear. And by God, demand to speak to Melanie.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Shit I Hate: "We are pregnant."

Guys, let's get one thing straight: we are not pregnant. We are expecting, but WE are certainly not pregnant. Not only would I be lying if I implied that both Jester and I are pregnant, but I would also be doing a great disservice to introductory biology teachers everywhere.

Sequestered in Memphis: Part 4

I've come to the conclusion that anorexics are morons. Being hungry sucks, not to mention the thin layer of fur that grows on you because your body temperature drops. Plus, protruding pelvic bones aren't hot on anyone.

After not eating for nearly 24 hours, that's what I thought Sunday morning. Everyone but Greg and I had left, either via motorcar or horseback. Our flight didn't leave until 6, so we had some time to kill. We checked out around noon and headed to Rendezvous for another round of rib-filled goodness (see Part 2). The entrance to Rendezvous is in an alley, so we turned off of the main road into the alley. After about a hundred feet, we hear someone yelling "Hey!"

We turn around to see a man speed walking after us. He explained that he tried to catch up with us before we turned the corner into the alley, but he was unable to do so. Then, he told us that Rendezvous is closed on Sundays. Fucking blue laws.

Greg and I then started to walk towards Beale Street, where there are a variety of other restaurants that serve ribs. This man was nice enough to walk with us and give us various suggestions. Amazingly, all he wanted was $1.75 for his services. After all, the man did need to "get a spot at the shelter tonight," which I assume meant "a blowjob from some chick named Ashy Betty."
Anyway, after disposing of his body, Greg and I went to Blues City Café -- another of Liz's favorites and recommendations -- where we each at the better part of a pig. There is just something liberating about having ribs for breakfast. In fact, several days later, I was discussing with Alex (the husband of the anonymous wife of Alex) that, if they have steak and eggs, why not ribs and eggs? He agreed. Look for Ribbed for Egg's Pleasure to open sometime next spring in Chicago. We're still working on the name. Let us know if you can think of something better. If we use your name, we'll give you a free Full Slab Scramble Skillet and your choice of juice.

Meanwhile, the driving crew was busy gorging themselves on what appears to be a meal for eight at what appears to be a Waffle House (presuming they weren't north of the Waffle House-IHOP line). After gorging ourselves on ribs, I realized I needed to do some souvenir shopping, so we went to several stores on Beale Street. Unfortunately, I didn't find any Elvis crap that piqued my interest. I did, however, buy this awesome onesie for my fetus:
From there, we went to the nearby Gibson Guitar factory, where we signed up for a factory tour. However, we had an hour to kill before the tour started. Instead of shredding in the factory store, we hit up the Flying Saucer, which is a couple blocks away. The Flying Saucer is, apparently, a chain that has 200 beers available and waitresses who wear very short skirts. Predictably, we enjoyed the Flying Saucer. I wish I would have had more time there because there were a bunch of beers that they had on tap that are rarely found on tap. I hope I'm not chastised by anonymous posters, but I did enjoy a Belhaven Scottish Ale and an Old Speckled Hen, the latter being an beer made from yeast, hops, barley, malt, and the ground carcasses of marked elderly female chickens.

One thing I found interesting at the Flying Saucer is the "Ring of Honor." If you drink all 200 beers on the menu, you get a saucer with your name on it that hangs on the top of the wall just below the ceiling. There were several hundred saucers up at this location. Most interesting is that they will change the inside color of your saucer depending on the number of times you have drank all 200 beers. There was one saucer with a color indicating ten times. This person has consumed over 2000 beers in this exact location. Nice work.

The Gibson Factory tour was pretty cool. At this particular location, they make a couple of the big, nice hollow body Gibsons (including, but not limited to, the ES-335, which is the model of B.B. King's Lucille), the EDS-1275 doubleneck (used often by Jimmy Page back in the day), and Les Pauls with an Alpine White finish (because this factory has the best ventilation, and therefore, no pollutants can get into the color). Every guitar is hand made and painted. And it is actually someone's job to test guitars all day before they go out the door.

Our tour guide was mediocre at best. He never really changed the tone of his voice, so every time he told a joke or cracked wise, no one knew until he said "that's a joke" or "I'm just kidding." Not that we believed that photography was prohibited because Fender regularly sends spies.

I would also recommend taking the tour on a day when there are actually people working in the factory.

After that, we headed to the airport, since I guess we had to leave. TSA hassled me because I had two containers of Rendezvous dry rub in my bag, which they mistook for liquid. I can see the confusion.

Our flight was supposed to leave at 6. We got there early, so we got something to eat and drink, and I bought an awesome Elvis shirt for Jester. Then we boarded the plane, as is the custom. Our plane was a puddle jumper with only 2 seats on each side of the aisle in each row, and only about 15-18 rows. After buckling up, the captain comes on and says that there are thunderstorms that are going to hit Chicago, so our "wheels-up time" was going to be 8 at the very earliest. Sweet.

Everyone had to de-board. With 2 hours to kill, Greg and I went back down to the Varsity Bar & Grille for a couple more beers (egad!). Of course, I called Jessie, and she was less than thrilled, especially since it was sunny in Chicago, and there were not thunderstorms anywhere close on the weather map. Greg and I checked the gate every now and then, since the PA system was below average. At about 7:35, we had just paid our tab and were enjoying our final beer when we faintly heard our names on the intercom followed by the phrase "your flight is about to leave." It's been a good while since I've sprinted through an airport.

The flight home involved a crossword puzzle race, which either Greg or I won. We arrived safely at O'Hare and parted ways. Jester was nice enough to pick me up, despite her lingering, weather-fibbing-related anger directed at United and/or SkyWest.

All in all, it was a great trip, and it was a great choice for a bachelor party. Next time I'm in Memphis, I hope to hit Graceland, and travel down to Clarksdale, Mississippi to go to the Delta Blues Museum, the Crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil in exchange for wicked chops, Muddy Waters's cabin, and anything else blues-related I can find.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Top Ten: All-Time College Football Programs

With the college football season almost upon us, I am predictably excited. To fan the flames, I decided to throw my two cents in about what I believe to be the ten best college football programs of all-time. ESPN.com recently released what it calls Prestige Ranking of the 119 FBS schools since 1936. My list differs from theirs, in that I give more weight to how a program has done over the last 30 years. Frankly, the fact that Notre Dame won four national titles in the '40s is all well and good, but it doesn't mean as much as if they had won four national titles in the '90s. Of course, a program that has consistently been at or near the top consistently will be rewarded accordingly.

Four notes:
1. These are only FBS (formerly D 1-A) teams. Mount Union, be damned!
2. I'm only counting "national championships" since 1936, when the AP started naming a national champion, and I'm only including national champions as those named by the AP, Coaches poll (UPI, USA Today, ESPN), or the BCS.
3. From 1918-1945, the Big Ten did not allow its teams to participate in bowls, and from 1946-1974, only the Big Ten champ was allowed to attend a bowl (the Rose Bowl), and no team could go two years in a row.
4. From 1926-1969, Notre Dame did not allow its team to participate in bowls.

With that, here are my top ten (unless otherwise noted, national titles are AP):

10. Miami (FL)
32 Bowls (18-14); 5 National Titles (1983, 1987, 1989, 1991, 2001 (BCS/AP/Coaches))
Losing seasons since 1936: 20
Miami is a relative late-comer to the college football scene, but has been pretty dominant over the past 30 years. 24 of their 32 bowls have come since 1981, and their five national titles since 1983 is two more than the next closest teams (Nebraska and Florida). Miami also holds winning records over both Florida and Florida State. However, their (many) scandals and their relative dearth of pre-1980 success prevent Miami from leap-frogging the team that upset them for the 1986 national title. While the Canes have had 20 losing seasons since 1936, only 2 of those have been since 1979.

9. Penn State
41 bowls (26-13-2); 2 National Titles (1982, 1986)
Losing seasons since 1936: 7
JoePa's squad is hurt by the fact that he had four losing seasons in the first five years of this decade, and the fact that PSU only has 2 national titles (although they were undefeated in 1994). Nonetheless, Penn State has been a consistent force in college football since the late '50s. Frankly, their addition to the Big Ten in 1993 has probably hurt their status, since they have to go through Michigan and/or Ohio State (not to mention the other eight teams) if they want to play for a national title. However, Penn State's .659 bowl winning percentage is second highest among FBS schools, and the school has a pretty solid 14-6-1 (0.690) record in "major" bowls (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton). Between 1939 and 1999, PSU had only one losing season (1988).

8. Notre Dame
29 bowls (14-15); 8 National Titles (1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988)
Losing seasons since 1936: 10
If this list was being made twenty years ago, Notre Dame would certainly be in the top four. The Domers have the most national championships (8), but their last one was in 1988 and, as mentioned above, half of their national titles came before 1950. They have also been to the fewest bowls of any team on this list, which is due in large part to its own athletic department's policy (see note #3 above). Of course, if the present is any predictor, then maybe it was for the best. Last season, Notre Dame's Hawaii Bowl victory snapped its record of nine consecutive bowl losses.

7. Texas
48 bowls (25-21-2); 4 National Titles (1963, 1969, 1970 (Coaches), 2005 (BCS/AP/Coaches))
Losing seasons since 1936: 10
Now the second-winningest program in D-1 history, Texas has had a resurgence over the past ten years under Mack Brown. Also, they hold an all-time lead in their Red River Rivalry with Oklahoma. The Longhorns, in my opinion, have the coolest uniforms on the list (not that that has anything to do with where they or other schools were ranked). Had this list been made in 1977, Texas would certainly be higher.

5 (tie). Michigan
39 bowls (19-20); 2 National Titles (1948, 1997)
Losing seasons since 1936: 9
Yes, they have a 15-game edge over arch-rival Ohio State, and yes, they have the most wins in D-1 history (872), the largest stadium in the country, the most winning seasons of any program (110), the most undefeated seasons (25), and the most Big Ten titles (42). Before last season, Michigan had been to 33 consecutive bowls and had 40 consecutive winning seasons. But they only have 2 national titles (1948 and 1997), and the latter was a tie with Nebraska. Also, their bowl record is under .500.

5 (tie). Ohio State
40 bowls (18-22); 5 National Titles (1942, 1954, 1957 (Coaches), 1968, 2002 (BCS/AP/Coaches))
Losing seasons since 1936: 5
In good conscience, I couldn't put Michigan or Ohio State above the other. Originally, I had Ohio State above, but then took a look at Michigan's overall accomplishments, and it's hard to argue, especially considering Michigan has more wins, a higher winning percentage, a bigger stadium, a higher bowl winning percentage, more winning seasons, more undefeated seasons, and a winning record against OSU. That said, OSU has more national titles (5 to 2), the fewest losing seasons since 1936 out of any program, and OSU has been more dominant over the past 15 seasons than Michigan.

4. Alabama
56 bowls (31-23-3); 7 National Titles (1961, 1964, 1965, 1973 (Coaches), 1978, 1979, 1992)
Losing seasons since 1936: 10 (not counting forfeited wins); 13 (counting forfeited wins)
The Crimson Tide have been to more bowls than any other school, and are tied with USC for most bowl victories. The Tide has a record 8 undefeated and untied seasons, and has a winning record against every other SEC school. However, a steady stream of NCAA infractions over the past 15 years have taken away victories, resulted in post-season bans, and hurt the reputation of Alabama. Also, they haven't quite returned to their Bear Bryant-era glory. Since Bryant left after the 1982 season, Alabama has only 4 SEC championships and six "major" bowl berths (Rose, Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, and Cotton). By comparison, over that same span, USC and Oklahoma have each been to 13 major bowls, and Nebraska has been to 18. Had Alabama been better over that span, this would have been a much tougher list.

3. Nebraska
45 bowls (23-22); 5 National Titles (1970, 1971, 1994, 1995, 1997 (Coaches))
Losing seasons since 1936: 20
Nebraska is the winningest program (both wins and percentage) over the last fifty years, and has fared very well in each of the last five decades. Of their 45 bowls, 32 are "major" bowls, and between the 1970 and 1997 seasons, the Cornhuskers went to 24 "major" bowls, which is amazing, even if they did only win half of those games. The 20 losing seasons since 1936 is somewhat misleading, as 18 of those came between 1938 and 1962 (and the other two were in 2004 and 2007).

2. USC
47 bowls (31-16); 7 National Titles (1962, 1967, 1972, 1974 (Coaches), 1978 (Coaches), 2003, 2004 (BCS/AP/Coaches))
Losing seasons since 1936: 10
This was a tough call between USC and Oklahoma. Both have been relatively dominant for a long time. Both have seven national titles, and USC has the highest bowl winning percentage of FBS teams. USC has been to 33 Rose Bowls and has lost only 9. Of course, it's in their backyard, but still, that's impressive. Overall, though, it's tough to argue with USC's track record, unless of course, you're . . .

1. Oklahoma
42 bowls (24-17-1); 7 National Titles (1950, 1955, 1956, 1974, 1975, 1985, 2000 (BCS/AP/Coaches))
Losing seasons since 1936: 6
The Sooners have only six losing seasons since 1936, second only to Ohio State's five. By contrast, during that same span, my beloved Indiana Hoosiers -- who share the colors of cream and crimson with Oklahoma, but little else -- have had 50 losing seasons. Oklahoma is also the winningest Post-WWII program. The Sooners rank at the top of the list of most 10-win seasons (30 -- eight more than second-place Alabama), most 11-win seasons (17), most weeks ranked #1 in the AP poll (97), and most weeks ranked in the AP top 5 (324 -- 30 weeks ahead of second-place Nebraska). Enough said.

Other teams considered, but rejected: Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Tennessee.

Discuss.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sequestered in Memphis: Part 3

The door to our hotel room sucked. Something was wrong with the latch, such that when you stuck your keycard in and turned the handle, the lock didn't always pop. Thus, it was not rare for it to take ten or fifteen tries before the door would open. Most attempts were accompanied by a shoulder banging into the door and unimaginative cursing.

Around 9 a.m. Saturday, I awoke to someone fervently turning the door handle and a shoulder repeatedly slamming against our door. Seven tries later, Butch Rifle walks in the door with bloodshot eyes and a shit-eating grin, plops down in the desk chair, and asks how we're doing. Greg and I were each sleeping in our own queen bed, so we were doing pretty fucking great.

It turns out that Butch brought his lady back to the hotel after leaving Raiford's. But being a nice temporary roommate (and realizing that this girl probably didn't want Greg and me intently watching her get plowed while we barked out commands and clapped or hissed, depending on what the situation called for), Butch got another room at our hotel -- since dubbed Butch Rifle's Champagne Room. Butch had just seen his lady off into the Memphis morning. For some reason, he then plugged in his iPod and asked if we were up. I thought it was pretty obvious that neither of us were up, since we were both asleep when he walked in, so I politely asked him to turn his iPod off because I was going back to sleep. He obliged and said that he was going to see what everyone else was up to. Then he left the room singing "In bar light, she looked alright / In daylight, she looked desperate," or at least that would have been both awesome and apropos.

I re-awoke around 12:45, feeling pretty good about myself. Soon thereafter, everyone met up in the lobby. When Butch attempted to check out of his Champagne Room earlier that morning, the front desk clerk explained that, due to the time he checked in (sometime after 6 a.m.), his night had technically not yet come (even if he had), and he had the room until Sunday. Bonus!

Several people were visibly or audibly struggling on Saturday -- most notably, the bachelor. We headed over to Beale Street to get some food, deciding on a place called Dyer's that was rumored to serve good burgers.
Dyer's was founded in 1912, and it has used the same grease since then, which means that the grease has never seen the Cubs win a World Series. The burgers were good, as were the fries. I did wish I would have gotten the chicken tender, which Greg got. I had a chunk of a tender, and it was phenomenal. They do good things with fried food down there. As the song goes, "Everything's fried here in Memphis," which I found to be true, both literally and figuratively.

I forgot to eat for the rest of the day.

After Dyer's, we walked down Beale Street, saw some kids doing backflips down the block, and hit up a couple stores. A stranger took this picture of us using Butch Rifle's daguerreotype. We had to hold that pose for eighteen minutes, which wasn't nearly as hard as convincing the people in the background to do the same. Adam was in rough shape, internally, at least. On the outside, he looked like a hundred dollars. He claimed to have fallen victim to "food poisoning," not unlike one of my roommates senior year who got "food poisoning" at Bamba's after drinking 15 beers. It was especially odd, considering he had eaten pretty much the same thing everyone else had eaten, and drank the same drinks as everyone else as well. I blame the Russkies.

While we were in the gift shop next to B.B. King's, Ryan made some horrible reference to Tombstone, so bad, in fact, that I can't even remember the quote. Out of all of the great quotes in that movie, he picked something that kind of made sense in the context of the situation (i.e., waiting for Adam to buy something), but not as much sense as "Your friends might get me in a rush, but not before I make your head into a canoe, you understand me?," which Ryan quietly told every group of women we walked past.

Anyway, after we returned to the hotel and got our wits about us, we headed in two cars down Highway 61 (aka, The Blues Highway) towards Tunica, Mississippi. When we crossed into Mississippi, I crossed state number 44 off my list. Only the Dakotas, Alabama, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont are left. Residents of those state, be warned. I'm coming for you.

As you may or may not know, Tunica (or, more properly, the area around Tunica, which is commonly referred to as "Tunica" by the outside world) is home to eight casinos and is now the third-largest gaming region in the U.S., behind Vegas and Atlantic City. In addition to casinos, Tunica is home to cotton fields, despair, and little else.

Greg, Dave, Mike, and I (I think that was the group) were in one car, while the rest were in another. The other car hit a couple of snags, namely the several stops they had to make to allow Adam to vomit on Mississippi.

On the first stop, we see Adam staring at his shadow through some sort of futuristic 3-D eyeglasses. The self-hatred is captured quite nicely.
Uncomfortable with his silhouetted likeness, Adam grabs a concrete post for physical and emotional support.
Despite his fragile and unstable emotional state, Adam agreed to continue south. "Fuck this state, and fuck you guys," he might have said. No more than ten minutes later, Adam unleashed his fury just off Highway 61. And by "fury," I mean "cheeseburger."
Dylan did not approve. He just sat there scowling, rambling about "putting some bleachers in the sun," while Waldo chilled in the back with his camera.
Special thanks go out to Butch and JD for the action shots. Adam, I'm sorry I forced myself to publish these photos, but I think they serve an important purpose. People must remember that the purpose of a bachelor party is the amusement of everyone but the bachelor. Let this also be a lesson for you future bachelors: don't let your friends bring camera or camera phones or Nineteenth Century photographic devices to your bachelor party. Also, don't get food poisoning. Also, strap on a pair. I'm just sayin'.

We decided to go to Gold Strike Casino because we're idiots.
After what seemed like days there, we left. While none of us won all that much, it is fair to say that none of us left Memphis with a tattoo of Adam's face on any part of our bodies. After a brief jaunt down the wrong road, we revisited Highway 61 and headed back up to Memphis.

Back at the hotel, everyone was getting ready for the evening. No lizards were harmed this time around. However, we only had five warm beers and one small ice bucket at our disposal, since people were using the sink. Thus, I ably cooled each beer one at a time using the tried and true "spin the can in ice" method. The ratio of people to beer was too many, so I refused to give a surprisingly cold beer to any of the naysayers. I also didn't give one to Adam, since he still looked like he was one whiff of anything away from shuking.

We decided to head out anyway. Here's the part of the story where I don't tell you that, on the way to a club, we took two cabs, and one of the cabbies was admittedly drinking Miller High Life out of an Arizona Iced Tea tall boy can while driving, and appeared to be extremely high as well. Luckily, I was not in that cab. Instead, my cabbie was 350 pounds and had no qualms with exceeding the speed limit while cranking "Cross Eyed Mary" by Jethro Tull.

That's about all I can tell you about the several hours that occurred from when we left the hotel to when we returned, also via cab, but without an openly intoxicated driver or Ian Anderson's presence.

Upon our return from the club, it was about 3 in the a.m. Butch Rifle went back to his Champagne Room because his horse back to Chicago left about seven hours later, and he was running on zero hours of sleep. Everyone else but Greg and me was driving back to Chicago in the morning. Ergo, Greg and I were the only ones who decided to get a late-night drink. We headed to Beale Street to Alfred's, which was open until 5. While sitting on the patio and enjoying several Newcastles, I continued to get devoured by mosquitoes. To reiterate, I hate mosquitoes. When leaving, the bouncer said that there was a nearby bar open until 7 a.m. That seemed unnecessary at the time, so we headed back to the hotel for the second night in a row without the help of James. Upon entering the hotel, we bee-lined to the front desk, since an 11 a.m. checkout seemed unreasonable. The clerk was able to give us until 12:30, which was nice of him. "Be safe," he said, as we strolled towards the elevator bank.

In the next and final installment: More ribs, guitars, and walking out of Memphis.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Answer!

Last night, Australian Andrew and I had the pleasure of seeing The Answer at Beat Kitchen, a fabulously small venue, the likes of which they will probably not be playing the next time they roll through town. They put on a fucking awesome show. As I said before, they're a hard rock band from Northern Ireland, and they generally kick ass. Get their debut U.S. full-length release, Everyday Demons, and their EP, Never Too Late, immediately.

Here are a couple hazy shots from the show:

After the show, the band hung around Beat Kitchen. I did shots with the bassist, Michael Waters (who was wearing a very awesome Rolling Stones Some Girls t-shirt). The lead singer, Cormac Neeson, was nice enough to take a picture with Australian Andrew and me.
I'm not kidding when I tell you to go see them if they come to your town. They're opening for AC/DC, but they often play small venues the night before or after their big-venue shows, and they're only going to be in North America for a few more weeks. See them in small venues while you can. I guarantee you won't be disappointed. Here is their remaining North American schedule:
8/18 - Grand Rapids, MI, Van Andel Arena (opening for AC/DC)
8/20 - Minneapolis, Triple Rock
8/22 - Winnipeg, MB, Canada Inns Stadium (opening for AC/DC)
8/24 - Regina, SK, Mosiac Stadium (opening for AC/DC)
8/26 - Edmonton, AB, Commonwealth Stadium (opening for AC/DC)
8/28 - Vancouver, BC, The Media Club
8/29 - Vancouver, BC Place Stadium (opening for AC/DC)
8/30 - Seattle, El Corazon
8/31 - Tacoma, WA, Tacoma Dome Arena (opening for AC/DC)
9/2 - San Jose, CA, HP Pavillion Arena (opening for AC/DC)
9/3 - San Franciso, Red Devil Lounge
9/4 - Fresno, CA, Save Mart Center (opening for AC/DC)
9/6 - San Diego, Sports Arena (opening for AC/DC)
9/8 - Anaheim, Honda Center Arena (opening for AC/DC)
9/9 - Los Angeles, Spaceland

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sequestered in Memphis: Part 2

For most of the weekend, I had several lines from The Hold Steady's song "Sequestered in Memphis" in my head, one of which was simply the chorus. Having never been subpoenaed in Texas or actually sequestered in Memphis, it didn't make much sense, other than the fact that it had the word Memphis in it. Other lines seemed more appropriate at various times during the weekend.

Friday morning, the air was dense as the remnants of Denny's wafted its siren scent through the corridors of our hotel. We had decided the previous night that when we all arose, we would be heading to the world-famous Rendezvous for some of their world-famous ribs made with their world-famous dry rub.

I asked one of the doorwomen at the hotel whether we could walk to Rendezvous. Without any condescension in her voice, she said "yes" and explained that it was less than a block away. "Be safe," she cautioned, as all nine of us walked out the door into the stagnant Memphis heat.

For those of you who don't eat a lot of barbeque, first, let me say, you are making a huge mistake. Second, you may not know that there are various ways to prepare ribs, with smoked (the preferred way), baked, and grilled being the most common. Also, there are differing amounts of "wetness" with which ribs are prepared. Some are slathered in BBQ sauce, and some are "dry." The ribs at Rendezvous are dry -- prepared with the aforementioned dry rub. You are able -- and encouraged -- to add your own sauce to the ribs once they arrive, but frankly, it's not really necessary. The ribs were spectacularly seasoned. While they didn't "fall off the bone" as well as some other ribs I've manhandled, they were definitely in the top echelon of ribs that I've eaten over the last 31+ years.

After Rendezvous, there was a fissure in the group. Greg and I wanted to experience some of Memphis's rich musical history, while the others wanted to lose money. A compromised was reached, whereby Greg and I would go to the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and Sun Studios, while the rest of the group would travel to West Memphis, Arkansas to Southland dog track and casino.

Stax Records is a staple of American soul music, and the museum was probably the attraction I most wanted to see in Memphis. Stax was where some of the all-time greats recorded. Booker T. & The MGs were the house band and, along with The Memphis Horns, they performed on nearly all of the Stax songs put out in the '60s. And if you didn't write your own songs, there were guys like Isaac Hayes and David Porter there to help you. Some of the Stax roster (aside from Booker T. & The MGs and Isaac Hayes) included: Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Albert King, The Staple Singers, Eddie Floyd, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, The Bar-Kays, The Mar-Keys, Johnnie Taylor, Arthur Conley, and The Dramatics. On top of that, Stax is a word combination (combining the first two letters of the last names of the two founders, Jim STewart and Estelle AXton), so obviously that goes a long way with me. The museum (and the accompanying music academy) stands on the site of where the Stax studios used to be, and they have replicated the marquee and the storefronts. It didn't appear to be in the greatest of neighborhoods, but then again, none of the places I went in Memphis seemed to be the greatest. I would highly recommend it if you're in Memphis.
The museum is not limited just to Stax artists, but instead covers all of soul music, including Motown, Atlantic (which was affiliated with Stax for a while), Hi Records, FAME studios (Muscle Shoals), and much more. The tour starts with a short (probably ten-minute) video about soul music in America. The museum itself explores soul's roots (gospel, the blues, early R&B music), and then takes you through the history of soul music. Among the items on display are: Isaac Hayes's pimped-out Cadillac from 1971; one of Tina Turner's dresses; the dance floor from Soul Train; a recreation of the former Stax Studio A, where many great songs were recorded; and a bunch of Otis Redding memorabilia on loan from his widow and daughter, including a ton of family photographs, personal mementos, and telegrams sent to his family after he died (which is a temporary exhibit in Studio A).

At the Stax store, I bought my fetus a Stax Records shirt, because I will not abide a kid who doesn't know music. The shirt won't fit her until she's 2. By then, she should have a working knowledge of American soul music. Certainly, she will be able to distinguish the gritty, soulful sound of Stax from the more polished, radio-friendly sound of Motown.

Greg and I walked out of Stax and back into the sweltering heat. Across the street from the parking lot behind the museum is the former home of blues legend Memphis Slim, which appears to soon be getting the help it needs. From there, it was onto what I would consider the true birthplace of rock and roll: Sun Studio.
Sun Studio is, next to Abbey Road, probably the most famous recording studio in rock history. In 1951, Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats (one of whom was Ike Turner) recorded the first rock and roll song, "Rocket 88," at Sun. B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Little Milton, Junior Parker, James Cotton, Roy Orbison, Rufus Thomas, and Charlie Rich recorded some of their early work at Sun. Of course, the biggest name who walked through the door was an 18-year-old delivery man named Elvis, who recorded at Sun for his first couple years, before Sam Phillips sold his contract to RCA. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis all recorded at Sun. On December 4, 1956, Sun was host to the famous "Million Dollar Quartet" photo with Elvis, Cash, Lewis, and Perkins. U2 recorded several songs from the Rattle & Hum album at Sun. John Mellencamp just recently recorded several songs for his upcoming album there.

Anyway, now that you have a taste for the studio's history, let's get on with the tour. Attached to the studio is the gift shop/record store/soda jerk, where everything starts. I had one of the best chocolate malts I've ever had. The tour itself is relatively short, but that probably has to do with the fact that Sun is so small. You start off in a room upstairs that has memorabilia from Sun's past. The tour guide -- a blonde named Cora with whom Greg was enamored -- ran through Sun's history, and played clips of various songs recorded at Sun.

Then, we went downstairs to the actual studio. The front room, where office manager Marion Keisker worked and greeted artists, has been recreated. You will recognize it if you're seen Walk the Line. What I found amazing is that the walls and ceiling in the studio are lined with the exact same sound-dampening tiles that were there when it was built in 1950, even though Sun was closed between 1969 and 1987 and was a variety of other businesses, including a SCUBA diving store. For one reason or another, no one tore down the tiles to expose the bare wall underneath. This was particularly cool, since the same tiles on the walls can be seen in the background of the Million Dollar Quartet photo.
As you will notice, Evel Knievel was on our tour. In the studio -- which is a fully operating studio today -- Cora played us some more songs and played with Greg's emotions. At the end of the tour, everyone was given the opportunity to take a picture with one of the original microphones. I took Cora up on that offer, and wailed while the rest of the tour looked on with a combination of awe, respect, and concern, the last of which was vocalized by many in the group. I'm sorry, but if I'm in Sun Studio, you better damn well believe I'm singing a song by each of the guys in the Million Dollar Quartet.
Here are some drums. Larry Mullen used these when U2 recorded there. After Sun, Greg and I headed to West Memphis to join the rest of the group at Southland. To use a very apt analogy, Southland is to real casinos what the dirt mall is to the real mall in Mallrats. Southland has a dog track, which is cool, especially if you're into watching dogs run fast and losing money while doing so. Other than that, it was mostly slot machines and video poker. The table games were limited and digital. For instance, in blackjack, there were no physical cards -- just screens in front of the dealer and each player. All the dealer had to do was hit a button. It was idiotic, especially considering the fact that 25 yards away were all-digital blackjack machines, which was actually better because there was a virtual dealer who would deal virtual cards to everyone, like in an actual blackjack game.

As far as the dog races, those were okay. Dog racing is about as predictable as Chicago's weather in April. Okay, I realize that was a rather hokey analogy, but I couldn't think of anything better (Axl Rose? Carlos Zambrano? A woman's emotional state? The consistency of Harley's bowel movements?). Anyway, in one race, the favorite would win. The next race, the favorite would finish last, and a 39-to-1 shot would blow away the field. This isn't to say that dog races aren't fun to watch. I generally like watching fast things run, even if it is only for 583 yards in 32 seconds. Plus, it's adorable when they immediately take the losing dogs behind "the destroying curtain." Here are Sean and Tony at dog track level.
When we left Southland, our carload vowed that our trip to Tunica the next day would be much better. In fact, we vowed that if we each won at least $3,000, we would all get tattoos of Adam's face on our backs. And I'm not talking some little shoulder tattoo or an ass hat. I'm talking a tattoo that covers your entire back. Other suggestions were that we get Adam's face tattooed on the back of our heads, over our own faces, or on our nether regions. After some spirited discussion, we decided that a full back tattoo would be the way to go.

When we got back to the hotel, it was about 11 p.m., and we realized that we hadn't eaten since Rendezvous. To solve this problem, we ordered five pizzas from Papa John's. While waiting for the pizzas to arrive, Adam noticed something running down the hotel room wall. "What the fuck is that?!" he screamed, tears streaming down his face and urine down his recently pressed trousers. It was a small lizard, no more than two inches in length. As it reached a reasonable height, JD did what any good American would do. He kicked it to death. So now, in room 1010 of a hotel in downtown Memphis, there is a lizard corpse smashed against the wall, behind the curtains, where no one would ever think to look unless specifically looking for a lizard corpse.

Within minutes of the execution, there was a knock at the door. Convinced that it was the ASPCA, we played coy. "Yeeeeeeeesssssssss?" Tony asked, doing his best Frank Nelson impression. The husky female voice from the other side of the door said, "Papa John's. Y'all order some pizza?" Our collective angst turned to elation immediately. Tony flung open the door to reveal what is, in large part, both wrong and right with America all at once: an overfed woman in her forties with diction issues delivering food to ten guys she doesn't even know. "I'm probably y'alls' best friend right now, aren't I?" asked the woman. A chorus of nos didn't seem to break her spirit, nor did the fact that her gunt was unhealthily large. Don't tuck your shirt in next time, sweetie.

After she left, concern was expressed that five pizzas might have been too much. Over the next twelve minutes, those concerns were put to bed.

Uncomfortably full and ready to get into something, we headed to Beale Street. Our first stop was Beale Street Tap Room, which was a live music dive bar that smelled more like vomit than actual vomit. We each grabbed a beer and found a table amongst the other ten people there, and we watched the band, which was really excited about what I assume is their only original song, entitled "Britney Spears." The chorus goes something like "I wanna be Britney Spears / I wanna drink lotsa beers." During this song, a middle-aged Australian man started talking to Greg. Greg's description of the conversation was as follows: "He just came up to me and started talking. I don't think I said more than five words, and I couldn't understand anything he was saying. I think he told me to check out a band named X, but he made sure to emphasize that it was not the American band X, but rather an Australian band named X. When he walked away, he said, 'Don't forget X.'" Greg was under the impression that this Australian X was a newer band. Having just checked out their Wikipedia page, it would appear that, like the American X, the Australian X is a punk band from the late '70s. No one is exactly sure why this man chose to talk to Greg (although I believe it has something to do with his creamy white thighs) or tout a band who released the bulk of their albums over 20 years ago, but it happened, and Greg has to live with it. After the Britney Spears band finished their set with a rousing rendition of "Talk Dirty to Me," we headed out the door to B.B. King's.

The band playing there, which I now know to be called BB King All-Stars, was pretty awesome. In addition to the standard instruments, there was a horn section, and a female lead singer who was wailing out an awesome cover of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" when we walked in. We got a table for all ten of us to the left of the stage. The crowd was considerably older than pretty much anywhere else we had been. Of particular note was a woman on the dance floor whose permed helmet of hair has clearly not changed since the Carter administration. She looked and dressed like Richard Simmons. Better yet, she was dancing by herself, humping the column on the edge of the dance floor and generally trying to have sex with the air. It was pretty awesome. But not even she could save us. Butch Rifle was getting antsy, since we were just doing a lot of sitting. He rallied the troops with a call of "let's get the fuck out of here and go somewhere where we aren't sitting." And so we did.

We walked down Beale Street in search of a new destination. In front of Silky O'Sullivan's a twentysomething male, trying to be propped up by his friends, fell to the ground. He slowly got back up with the help of his approximately Samoan friend, who then put his arm around the drunk dude's shoulder and the drunk dude's arm around his shoulder to try to prop him up and walk him away. That didn't really work. This dude was beyond drunk. He couldn't keep his eyes open or the ground above him. The solution to this was essentially a piggyback ride. The Samoan stood in front of the drunk dude, wrapped the drunk dude's arms around his shoulders and neck, then dragged the drunk dude down the sidewalk. This may seem like a grand plan, and it would have been, had the Samoan held on a little tighter. After they turned the corner onto the next street -- and with a crowd of about fifty watching, including several as-yet unmoved cops -- the Samoan's grip slipped. The drunk dude crumpled straight backwards onto the street and smacked the back of his head on the concrete. Everyone watching let out an "ohhhhh" in unison, and this finally prompted the cops to look into the situation. They managed to help the kid up. Meanwhile, the Samoan is telling the cops the drunk dude is fine and that he is getting the dude out of there. I'm just going to put this out there. I have never been that drunk -- never -- but if I ever get to that point and manage to concuss myself, please take me to the hospital or call an ambulance. Do not -- I repeat, do not -- just get me out of there to avoid cops. A side note: the back of the drunk dude's shirt read: "If whiskey was a man, I would have his baby." Mission accomplished.

Invigorated by a street concussion, we meandered down and then back up Beale, settling on Silky O'Sullivan's. Hell, if it got that guy that drunk, they must be doing something right. Silky's, as I will call it for brevity's sake, has both indoor and outdoor options. Indoors, there are dueling pianos. Outdoors, there is a huge beer garden with a band playing at almost all hours it is open. They also have a giant pen outdoors that houses goats. Yes, living, breathing, shitting goats. I don't trust goats to begin with, and I certainly don't trust them when they are advertised as being "diving" goats. Thankfully, this picture I took the next day was a close as I got to them.

Whereas at B.B. King's, we were surrounded by baby boomers, at Silky's, we were surrounded mostly by kids who appeared to be in their early twenties. It was here that I noticed almost all of the dudes under 35 had the same haircut as Eli Manning, and many of them looked equally as blank-faced. This theory would hold true most of the places we went. We were usually the only ones without shaggy hair.

Anyway, after sweating on the patio for about an hour, we headed inside to the dueling pianos. We failed miserably in trying to get Adam auctioned off, under the guise that he had no money to get back to Chicago. When he was on stage, no one listened to what the piano players were saying, so we had to buy Adam back for $1,000. Soon after, I heard, for the first time and possibly the last time in my life, a dueling piano version of "Mother" by Danzig.

Unfortunately, Silky's closed at 3, so we had to find a late-night bar. JD and I headed down Beale Street, while the rest of the guys talked to a bouncer about places to go. A scruffy, bearded man I mistook for a vagabond approached JD and me. I still have no idea why. He said "hi," and didn't ask for any money or anything. It turns out he was just some dude from Minnesota, and, as a good-natured Midwesterner, he was just being nice.

It also turns out that he was fucking insane. We learned that this man, whose name I believe was Huckleberry, and a couple friends (Jim, Duke, and King) had been -- I kid you not -- floating down the Mississippi River. They had a raft, on which they slept, which was pulled by a small boat with an outboard motor that maxed out at about five miles per hour. They needed the motor to get out of the way of barges, which "are the rafter's enemy." Huckleberry explained that he and his friends had left Minneapolis a few weeks earlier, and planned to go all the way to New Orleans. We asked how they were going to get back, with a smile and a slightly crazed look in his eye, he said, "We haven't figured that out yet." They might sell the boat and raft, and then figure it out from there. He also explained that he and his friends shit off the side of the raft. They do have toilet paper, which is a relief. Of course, they have to keep that out of the elements, which can sometimes be more difficult than you might imagine, although extremely necessary. Wet toilet paper is about as effective as the No Child Left Behind Act.

While Huckleberry provided a nice diversion, he did not solve the problem of where we were going next. Liz, who lived in Memphis for several years and provided us with a fantastic, self-written guide to bars and restaurants, has always touted a place called Raiford's as her favorite bar in town. It was only a few blocks away, so we walked over there, despite warnings from several townies that we should take a cab, "unless we wanted to get harassed by like thirty bums." We were not harassed by any bums.

I can only describe Raiford's as awesome. It is a converted doublewide trailer. Blue Astroturf lines the sidewalks in front of the bar. When you get in, the walls are all painted white and/or are mirrored. Cream colored leather couches line the walls. There is a genuine '70s disco floor (complete with lights beneath) on one end. Fog is rampant. Only 40s are served. There is also a drum kit next to the DJ booth that anyone is welcome to play.

I expected it to be much busier, but there were only about 15-20 people in the bar. That was all that Butch Rifle needed to work his magic. About twenty minutes after we got there, Butch was on the dance floor with an unsuspecting young woman. Not long after that, they were making out on the dance floor, while Adam played the drums.

Soon, the DJ announced that it was his last song. Not wanting to stunt young love, he decided to turn back on his laptop and play a few more. Finally, at about 4:30, he called it quits, even though it was supposed to close at 4. We all gathered on the blue sidewalk in front, including Butch's prey and her friends. It is important to note that Butch was sharing a hotel room with Greg and me.

The vast majority of us wanted to walk back to the hotel, but Butch, Dave, and a couple other single guys wanted to talk to the ladies. There were no cabs around this part of town, and across the street was a giant old hotel that looked like it had been boarded up for thirty years. But they didn't care. Butch was on his game, and some of the other guys wanted to watch, apparently.

After a few minutes, the rest of us decided to leave them behind, assuming that was the last time we would see those guys alive. We trudged back to the hotel, stopping only at the Red Rooster, where they were nice enough to allow us to piss, even though last call had already happened. Without James to help us home, Beale street seemed that much scarier.

Ryan and I were walking a little bit ahead of the rest of the group, when we happened upon a mildly attractive woman who had just finished talking to an unattractive, possibly homeless man. She asked us if we minded if she walked with us while she was on her way back to her car. Chivalrous as we are, we agreed. She said something about the cops not keeping the streets safe, made a vaguely racist comment, then waived to the cops at the end of the block. When we turned to walk to our hotel, she kept walking straight. Ryan asked her if she wanted us to walk her to her car, and she said no. The reason for this is that she was an undercover cop, apparently trying -- poorly, I might add -- to get us to offer her money in exchange for something of a sexual nature. It was all very confusing, especially since she didn't say anything that was remotely sexually suggestive during our one-block walk. Long story short, no one spent the night in jail for solicitation.

It was about 5:30 when I fell asleep, hoping to get at least seven hours of sleep, which I did, although not contiguously.

In the next installment: Mississippi, vomit, and heartache.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Midwestern Eavesdropping - 8/13/09

Off-duty Bolingbrook cop, threateningly, to a guy who just threw coaster at his head: "Blue barrel."
--Chicago, Resi's Bierstrube, 2034 W. Irving Park
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Late 20s or early 30s couple, after having what appeared to be a business meeting at Panera, attempt to flirt:
Girl: "So how did you get into zombies?"
Guy: "I don't know, my friends were into them so that's how I got into them."
Girl: "Cool."
Guy: "Are you afraid of zombies?"
Girl: "No, I'm more afraid of rapists."
Guy: "What if a zombie was raping you?"
--Cincinnati, Panera Bread
Eavesdroppers: Baboo, Nudes

Twentysomething drunk country dude: "I'm resting my purple eye."
--Chicago
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Hotel customer to male maid: "When can you guys get to my room?"
Maid: "About 11."
Customer looks at his watch: "It's 12."
The maid then turns and walks away.
--Memphis, Doubletree Hotel
Eavesdropper: Szandor

Non-pregnant chick who got hit with a water balloon (around two pregnant women) at a cookout: "I thought MY water broke."
--Chicago
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Twentysomething teacher to husband: "I just got some plums. I don't really know what they are though."
--Chicago
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Drunk guy discussing pig tails: "You don't wear pig tails unless you want to get boned in the face."
--Chicago, Resi's Bierstrube, 2034 W. Irving Park
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Drunk dude in club-level seats at baseball game, as foul ball went past 20 yards in front of him: "That looked like it was in HD."
--Chicago, U.S. Cellular Field, 35th & Shields
Eavesdroppers: GMYH, Dancing Bear

Possibly drunk fifth-grade teacher: I'm going to REPRESENT MYSELF pregnant one day."
--Chicago
Eavesdropper: The Loose-Lipped Lithuanian

Drunk guy 1: "You know Wendy's chili?"
Drunk guy 2: "Yeah."
Drunk guy 1: "Every single bean that goes into that comes from my cousin's bean farm in Minnesota."
--Chicago, Resi's Bierstrube, 2034 W. Irving Park
Eavesdropper: GMYH

Army dude, without a hint of sarcasm, when "Benny and The Jets" is playing on the radio: "This is my SONG."
--Park Ridge, IL, in a limo
Eavesdropper: GMYH

And, as we do now and then here on Midwestern Eavesdropping, here is something that is not technically eavesdropping, but still worthy of inclusion, in case you can't find the eggs:
--Chicago, Dominick's, Sheffield & Fullerton
Eavesdropper: RDC

Thanks to all who contributed. For you and everyone else, when you overhear something funny, email it to gmyhblog@yahoo.com, and it will appear in the next enthralling installment of Midwestern Eavesdropping.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sequestered In Memphis: Part 1

Last weekend was a celebration of Adams's waning bachelorhood. We journeyed to Memphis, Tennessee -- a river town with a history that is both glorious and grim all at once. In the coming days, I will detail our trip, with a post devoted to each day.

Adam, Tony, JD, and Jones arrived via motorcar Thursday evening. Greg and I flew down via puddle jumper, arriving a little before 11 Thursday night. Another carload, comprised of two Riesenbecks and Dave, arrived a couple hours later. Butch Rifle arrived Friday afternoon, presumably by horseback.

I haven't been to Memphis since I was a kid, and I sure as hell didn't go to Beale Street then (thanks for nothing, Mom). If you've never been to Memphis, it's an odd place. In the downtown area, you can have one block that is vibrant and full of restaurants and stores, and then you turn the corner and the next block looks like a bombed-out Detroit street that hasn't seen life in thirty years. I've never been in a place where the hotel workers almost automatically told you to "be safe" or "be careful" every time you left the hotel. When we would ask bartenders or locals about certain places we were thinking about going, the response usually involved something along the lines of "it's safer than [insert name of another bar/place]" or "well, there's ten of you, so you guys should probably be fine as long as all of you go." This isn't to say that we were ever in any real danger, but it definitely colored the weekend with an air of instability and bloodlust.

Also, in Memphis, dogs drive the horse carriages around town. That's fucked up.
Our hotel was about two blocks from Beale Street, shown here courtesy of Butch Rifle's daguerreotype.
You've probably heard of Beale Street. If not, it's a bar-lined street in Memphis where there is no open container law. You can't walk ten feet on Beale Street without getting hassled by a bum or a Southerner. The street is barricaded off for the main two-block span, so that you can just walk down the street or, in the case of some kids, do back flips down the street for money. On the same block, you can buy a "Big Ass Beer" for $7 and battle axe for $94, all while listening to live blues.
Last weekend, it was hot as balls, although I assume that's just what it's like in early August in Memphis. Given how mild this summer has been in Chicago, I forgot what real summer feels like. I got more mosquito bites in three days than I usually get in a year. I don't particularly like mosquito bites.

Anyway, let's get on with the story.

About fifteen minutes before Greg and I landed Thursday night, the pilot decided it would be a good idea to do a very quick quarter barrel roll, before snapping the plane back into regular position. While I was able to get a better, albeit brief, view of the Tennessee landscape below me, I was not amused. When we landed, I yelled, "Now I know what Marc Cohn felt like," and then proceeded to vomit a combination of Diet Coke and Jim Beam onto the head of a Serbian woman sitting in front of me. "You've seen worse," I explained, as I walked past her to de-board.

We paid a company affiliated with Texas history to provide us with transportation for the weekend. Apparently cars these days don't require you to put a key into the ignition in order to start them. It took us several minutes to figure that out.

We raced to the hotel, parked, checked in, and then headed to Beale Street to meet Adam, Tony, JD, and Jones, who were eating BBQ nachos at this place called Rum Boogie. When we arrived, there was a band playing, which is always cool. Memphis-related music memorabilia and guitars used by artists from all locales cover the walls and hang from the ceiling, including, but not limited to, a Winger guitar. More importantly, on one of the walls is the cape -- yes, cape -- that Isaac Hayes wore when he accepted the 1971 Best Original Song Oscar he won for "Theme from Shaft." Not only is the cape giant, but it also has an airbrushed drawing of Hayes's trademark bald head, with a lion head on either side. He wore this to the Academy Awards. I'm still confused as to why I didn't take a picture of it.

After Rum Boogie, we headed down the block to Superior, which was having karaoke night. What we walked in on was a scene I imagine going on at a juke joint back in the day, after everyone had the fill of devil water. People were going crazy, dancing in front of the stage like people dance during Mary Anne's forest orgies in True Blood. Granted, no one had those huge black eyeballs, but we weren't about to stick around to see who got sacrificed.

We headed across the street to Club 152, and headed to the upstairs part, which reminded me of a cross between a strip club and Stu's, the dance club at Eastern Illinois. But they had $2 Crowns and $2 Coronas, so we stuck around for a while, careful not to touch anything.

Word soon arrived that Sean, Ryan, and Dave had gotten into town, so we headed out to meet them at a late-night bar a block away called the Red Rooster, which housed an 8-foot rooster that I hope was named Tiny. We were the only people in the bar, which was odd, considering it was about 2 a.m. While there, Greg pretended to be a gay (as in happy) communist cowboy.
The rest of us just drank beers. Then we all headed back to the hotel. A nice man named James, who was wearing a Grizzlies Pau Gasol jersey, walked us home an perhaps prevented us from being on the ass end of a drive-by.

Several people (not including me) went to the Denny's across the street from our hotel. Greg returned to our room with a Lumberjack -- the meal at Denny's, not an actual lumberjack -- and devoured it in relative silence while I slept several feet away.

That night, this image haunted my dreams.

In the next installment: Arkansas, lizards, and concussions.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tuesday Top Ten: Songs Recorded in Memphis

Having just visited the self-proclaimed "Home of the Blues" and "Birthplace of Rock and Roll" (the latter of which I agree with, and the former of which is partially correct), it seems appropriate to pay homage to the many great songs recorded in Memphis. I had the pleasure of visiting Sun Studios and the Stax museum (which stands on the same location as the former Stax Records studio), so it's fresh on my mind. So many great artists have recorded in Memphis, from Howlin' Wolf to Elvis to Isaac Hayes to U2 to Johnny Cash to Otis Redding, to name a few. In fact, when I thought of this list, I had certain songs in mind. Then I started doing some research -- since I'd hate to leave anything out -- and I found that there were even more great songs recorded in Memphis than I had previously known about.

Without further ado, here are what I think are the ten greatest songs recorded in Memphis:

10 (tie). "LaGrange" by ZZ Top.
An unmistakable riff and a song about a whorehouse. I'm not sure if there is a better formula for creating a great rock song.

10 (tie). "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis Presley.
This was The King's last of 18 #1 hits, and it has always been one of my favorites. Cool off, bitch. She's just an old friend stopping by to say hello.

9. "Theme from Shaft" by Isaac Hayes.
This is just a badass song about one bad mother. I'll shut my mouth, even though I'm just talkin' 'bout Shaft.

8. "Green Onions" by Booker T. & The MGs.
Arguably the greatest instrumental song in rock history, "Green Onions" happened by accident, while the band (who was the house band for Stax Records, and played on just about every Stax recording in the '60s) was jamming after another recording session. Incidentally, Booker T. Jones is an IU grad. Holla.

7. "Soul Man" by Sam & Dave.
Co-written by Isaac Hayes, this is yet another soul classic brought to you courtesy of Stax, the MGs, and the Memphis Horns.

6. "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green.
This is Al Green's signature song, and it was also the song that Jessie and I played during our first dance, so obviously it has some special meaning to me.

5. "Rocket 88" by Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats.
Recorded at Sun Studios and widely considered to be the first rock and roll song, this 1951 song might be the most historically important song on this list.

4. "Blue Suede Shoes" by Carl Perkins.
This is a rockabilly classic, widely recognized as one of the most important and influential early rock songs.

3. "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash.
"I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die." That might be the greatest line in recorded music history outside of Wesley Willis.

2. "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis.
This is a balls-out, sexually charged, rollicking one minute and fifty seconds of wailing and boogie-woogie piano. I guess we shouldn't have expected less from a man nicknamed "The Killer," who is insane enough to marry his 13-year-old cousin (his third wife by the time he was 23, mind you).

1. "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by Otis Redding.
Recorded in the weeks before Redding's untimely death, this song is simply a classic, even though it was unfinished (the now-famous whistling was simply meant as a placeholder for a verse that Redding hoped to later write). Nonetheless, it was released after Redding's death and went on to become his only #1 hit, as well as the first U.S. song released posthumously to crack Billboard's Hot 100.

This was a tough list. It was really hard not to put another Elvis song on there, but most of his great songs were recorded outside of Memphis. Plus, there wasn't a song on the list that I could rationalize taking off. Here are the other songs considered, but ultimately rejected: "Cry Like a Baby" by The Box Tops; "I Walk the Line" by Johnny Cash; "Knock on Wood" by Eddie Floyd; "Moanin' at Midnight" by Howlin' Wolf; "Born Under a Bad Sign" by Albert King; "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On" by Jerry Lee Lewis; "Last Night" by The Mar-Keys; "Ooby Dooby" by Roy Orbison; "Honey Don't" by Carl Perkins; "In the Midnight Hour" by Wilson Pickett; "That's All Right" by Elvis Presley; "These Arms of Mine" by Otis Redding; "Try a Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding; "Stand" by R.E.M.; "Alex Chilton" by The Replacements; "Hold On, I'm Comin'" by Sam and Dave; "I'll Take You There" by The Staple Singers; "Who's Makin' Love" by Johnnie Taylor; "Do the Funky Chicken" by Rufus Thomas; "Angel of Harlem" by U2; "When Love Comes to Town" by U2 and B.B. King; "Sharp Dressed Man" by ZZ Top; "Legs" by ZZ Top.

With all of the great songs recorded in Memphis, I'm bound to have missed some. Let me know.


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Monday, August 10, 2009

My Life According to Hair Bands

Okay, so for you Facebookers out there, you may have been tagged with the following note:

Using only song names from ONE ARTIST, cleverly answer these questions. Pass it on to 15 people and include me. You can't use the band I used. Try not to repeat a song title. Re-post as "my life according to (band name)."

I decided to mix it up a little bit. You may not know this about me, but I'm a fan of hair band music. Every Friday I listen only to hair band music in my office, while ingesting various intoxicants and doing ribald things to the fairer sex. Anyway, after former blogger and current friend Jaleh tagged me in her note, I did this with Def Leppard and then Guns N' Roses. But that didn't seem fair to the rest of the bands I listen to on Fridays, so I went with all hair bands. Here is the result:

--Pick your Artist: all hair bands
Are you a male or female: Mr. Brownstone
Describe yourself: Tragic Comic
How do you feel: I'm Insane
Describe where you currently live: Panama
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: The Zoo
Your favorite form of transportation: Crazy Train
Your best friend is: Mr. Crowley
You and your best friends are: Nice Boys
What's the weather like? 99 In the Shade
Favorite time of day: Still of the Night
If your life was a TV show, what would it be called: Ain't No Fun (Waiting Round to Be a Millionaire)
What is life to you: Nothin' But a Good Time
Your relationship: Lovin' You is a Dirty Job
Your fear: Hells Bells
What is the best advice you have to give? Don't Close Your Eyes
Thought for the Day: Make Love Like a Man
How I would like to die: Kiss Me Deadly
My soul's present condition: Runnin' With the Devil
My motto: I Wanna Be Somebody

I invite you to post your own, using a single artist/band or an entire genre. It's quite therapeutic.

Walking in Memphis

I went to Memphis this weekend for Mr. 6,000's bachelor party. In the coming days, expect a recap of the publishable portions of the trip. It will involve ribs, fear, and vomit.

Where are They Now? Fletch and Dazed and Confused

I don't know what it is about "Where are They Now?" articles or shows, but it's something that fascinates Americans (and possibly Canadians too). It is imperative that I know what has happened to the people who starred in my favorite movies, and what they are doing now. Otherwise, I simply wouldn't know those things, and that would be more painful than getting paddled by O'Bannion or watching the Chevy Chase Show. Speaking of which, two of my favorite movies of all-time are Fletch and Dazed and Confused.

Thanks to Dan Weeser* for forwarding an email from Greg Weeser* with a Where Are They Now? gallery for Fletch. Here are some of my favorites:
-James Avery, who played Detective #2 and had the line "Looks like heroin, Gene" (which, for unknown reasons, is one of my favorite lines from the movie), became a judge and moved to Bel-Air, where he lived in a mansion with his wife, three kids, butler, and nephew from Philadelphia.
-The "now" picture of Kenneth Mars (who played Gail Stanwyk's father and head of Boyd Aviation, Stanton Boyd) confirms that Mars is, in fact, homeless.
-They actually did a "now," not of Fred "The Dorf" Dorfman (as he is presumed to have died in 1987), but of the guy who was speaking at the banquet introducing Fred right before Fletch took over the mic. Good work.

Thanks to myself for clicking on the link to the Where Are They Now? gallery for Dazed and Confused. Here's what I found interesting:
-Randall "Pink" Floyd (Jason London) has not thrown for about 2,000 yards next fall.
-Cynthia Dunn (Marissa Rabisi) is married to Beck.
-Mitch Kramer (Wiley Wiggins) now blogs. Loser.
-Co-stars Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, and Renee Zellweger have yet to be heard from.