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it just doesn't stop more crap you won't read useless pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! I'm Kind of a Big Deal previous previous
if I were an attractive female you'd all pay more attention
Lately, I've started to get really annoyed when I see those stupid "Stand Up For America!! Be American!!" bumper stickers.


Because I don't know what it means, and if it means what I suspect it means, it's sort of fascistic and ignorant. I think, if we're speaking of what it means to be "American," it's not something that you can summarize on a bumper sticker anyway. Everyone's "America" is different. That's what makes it better than everywhere else. If we're talking about the ideal "America," there's no agreement on that either.

But it got me thinking. What would my ideal America be like?

Well, for starters, in my America, there would be no Republicans or Democrats. Instead, we would call them Elephants and Donkeys. Because it's much harder to get angry and curse about "how those fucking Elephants hate the poor" or "how those liberal Donkeys are stealing our money" without sounding ridiculous. And nothing derails ranting like unintended comedy.

In my America, every kid would have health care courtesy of the tax payers, and every able-bodied adult would have to pay for it. Because I work hard for my money, and for the ability to choose my doctors and level of care. I don't want to pay for other adults who made the wrong choices.

In my America, you would be required to have a job to collect a welfare check. Assuming you are able bodied. Being morbidly obese is not an acceptable disability. There are not a whole lot of fat homeless people.

In my America, college football's overtime rules would have each team starting at the 40 yard line, not the 25. You should have to make a first down to get into field goal range, and we wouldn't have those ridiculous 7-overtime games.

While we're on the subject, in my America, we would have a college football playoff consisting of the top 8 teams in the BCS. Three rounds, using the current major bowl sites. The NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament is the biggest sporting event in the country. This would blow that out of the water.

In my America, anyone who spouted off about how great Apple is would get beaten within an inch of his or her life.

In my America, Better Off Ted would get a third season.

In my America, the Super Bowl halftime show would not feature a band with members over the age of 50. The Who were a disgrace this year.

In my America, we would not presume that because someone goes to church (or temple or mosque or whatever) that they are a good person.

In my America, we would sack up and admit as a people that evolution is true, and the early books of the Bible, while interesting, is not a historical record in the strictest sense. And therefore, can not be used as evidence to refute readily apparent biological fact.

In my America, sex education would be taught in school. Including contraception. The statistics don't lie.

In my America, gay people would be allowed to get married. And on their tax return, it would say, "married." Whether or not they're allowed to do it in a church is a totally different matter.

In my America, we would get rid of the designated hitter. Seriously, that rule is just bullshit.

In my America, you would have to be 2 years out of high school to play in the NBA, and no contract could be guaranteed for more than 50% of its total value. It's ridiculous that the Heat are paying $23 million this year for the corpse of Jermaine O'Neal.

In my America, the "SyFy" channel would stop deluding itself and go back to being the "Sci-Fi" Channel. Also, I would require a written explanation as to how they can justify airing ECW. What the hell does wrestling have to do with science fiction?

In my America, we would actually have a Highlander sequel that didn't suck a box of puckered assholes.

In my America, professional athletes who claim to only have used performance enhancing drugs "once" would be forced to submit to urine tests before every game. On the field. If you admit the full extent of your transgression the first time, once you serve your suspension, all is forgiven. That would teach them to insult my intelligence.

Along the same lines, in my America, if you begin or end an apology with, "if I offended anyone," you will be forced to repeat your apology properly, except this time with your pants around your ankles, a dunce cap, and a clown nose.

In my America, anyone wearing more than one polo shirt at a time will be stoned. And not in the fun way.

In my America, there would be a new Muppet movie every other year.

In my America, we would get a do-over if the President looks incompetent after his first 365 days in office. Even if it's his second term.

In my America, collegiate athletes would be paid a basic living stipend above and beyond their scholarship money. No kid should get disqualified because he has to borrow money from a booster to buy a suit for an awards ceremony. They're professionals. Just admit it.

In my America, there would be expanded revenue sharing in baseball, so I could stop hearing the whining of the Kansas City and Pittsburgh fans for a little while. Also, the Cubs should be sold to Mark Cuban.

In fact, in my America, Mark Cuban would own one of each of the major sports franchises. My picks for the other two would be the Boston Bruins and the Oakland Raiders.

In my America, the Memphis Grizzlies would be forced to change their name. And the Jazz and Hornets would be forced to exchange names.

In my America, David Stern would be the commissioner of Major League Baseball. Then we'd see some shit happen.

In my America, Jay Leno would not have his own TV show. Neither would David Letterman.

And lastly (for now), in my America, everyone who likes cats more than dogs would be kicked in the crotch. Except for kids under 13. There's still time for them to change their minds.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: accomplished

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Can we please top deifying Ted Kennedy? Please? He was a fucking drunk and a ski-slope Democrat. And USA Today is running headlines like, "Kennedy Took Public's Battles to Heart." Right. I'm sure the public's woes kept him up late nights, wringing his ascot and grinding his teeth on his ivory cigarette holder.

By the way, this may be ignorant, but why do you call a guy whose first name is Edward "Ted?"

I'm so confused.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: confused
soundtrack: Malcolm McLaren - About Her

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How do I explain it? I spent five months avoiding this space because I've been scared of where I am and what's been going on. I got laid off from my job in April. Scared the fuck out of me. And while I've gone on to start my own business, and been reasonably successful at it, I'm still scared all the time.

And tonight I went on what can only laughingly be referred to as a "date," which hasn't put me in a great mood. Then I went through some of my old entries from this site, and they made me want to cry. I hurt and I don't know why. I'm thinking I need to start being funny soon, but it's not coming. This is so much harder when I don't know what I mean by anything. I'm both more and less self-assured than ever, and I worry that being confused this way will be of some long-term detriment. On the other hand, I had a very frustrating day today and maybe I'm just being emotional.

Focus, focus.

I don't know if I'm angry, sad or both, and I wish I was drunk enough to blame all of this on chemical interference.

I don't spend every day this way, which is in it's way strange, because you would think this kind of confusion would be all-encompassing. But it's not. It's meant for quiet Saturday nights after two days of late nights and a week of really poor sleep.

I worry that anyone reading this is going to think that I'm a lot further overboard than I am. Being colorful is often a detriment, when employed in such a dark avenue.

I'm OK. Really. This is just a challenge I never expected.
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Two more songs I love, because that's just what I felt like posting today-

Better Than Ezra - Sincerely, Me

The Black Keys - Have Love Will Travel

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: awake

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I've got nothing to post today except a song that I enjoyed immensely on my flight today.

A great cover by a band with an awesome name:

B.A. Baracus Band - Africa


hey little fella, how are you doing today?: tired tired

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It's not often that something as awesomely awesome as Vince Shlomi (the ShamWow guy) punching a hooker who was biting his tongue comes along. And while the resulting headline: "ShamPOW! " is pretty funny, it's too obvious. Take these examples:


The bottom line: funny, but sort of a missed opportunity. Give credit to the staff of bestweekever.tv for coming up with the very best ShamWow headline:

OMFG: Shamwow Guy Shampows A Prostitute In The Face

It's a beautiful touch of postmodernism when not only do they make the obvious pun, but turn it into a verb. A limited-use verb, to be sure, but wonderful. Limited use because only Vince could "shampow" someone, you see. Nevertheless, I am amused.

PS- I'm not too proud to admit I had to check and make sure I was right in my application of the word "postmodernism." Nailed it!

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: amused amused

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Gators have Kiffin in their sights

Lane Kiffin says he's glad that the Gators' have the Tennessee logo all over their locker room. He shouldn't be. Ask Mark Richt what it feels like to be hovering in the Gators' sights. Urban Meyer is not the sort of person to take shots at.

And I hate Tennessee. If the Vols lose every game from now until the end of forever, I would never feel sorry for them. And for Kiffin to come after Meyer and the Gators, I get it. He's trying to stir things up, get people talking about the program, which had been falling off the map. But dude, seriously. There's an old saying, "if you kick a tiger in the ass, you better be prepared to deal with his teeth."

I doubt they are ready.

This is the game to bet the over. Take the points.

When Florida plays Tennessee this year, in the Swamp, they're going to see something new. And I can't wait.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: excited excited

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Five things that I'm loving right now:

1. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
Holy shit, Joss Whedon is the fucking man. For those of you who don't know what it is (if anyone still reads this), Dr. Horrible is a 3-part web series that was released in mid-2008 following the TV writers' strike. It follows a mad scientist, the girl that he loves, and her superhero boyfriend, and it's a musical! What Joss did with "Once More, With Feeling," he improves a thousand times. It's funny, well-acted and has actual emotional heft to it. I have watched this an embarrassing number of times; I got the soundtrack from eMusic, and I've worn that out too. My favorite moment, I think, is when Felicia Day refers to Bad Horse as "the Thoroughbred of Sin?" Brilliant. Anyway, it's worth a watch for anyone, and it kind of pisses me off because I got my idea for a loser superhero independently of this thing, but most of my best ideas about it are on display in Dr. Horrible, and better than I could have done them. The lesson? I'm no Joss Whedon.

2. The finale of Battlestar Galactica.
If you didn't see it, but plan to, skip this. If you didn't, and don't, SHAME ON YOU. It is (was), plainly, the best show on television. It ended in a way that I found eminently satisfactory; it does help that I had predicted the storyline relatively well (if not perfectly), and I'm always happy with something that ends the way I think it should. It's rare that any television show, but especially sci-fi, gets to the place it intended on going. Angel did (if not of its own free will). Deep Space Nine did. But too often, you end up with something like Buffy, which went on too long, or too short and incomplete, like Firefly.

Anyway, this finale had satisfactory and believeable conclusions to every character arc, and rather than watch all the action and shooting that they spend so much time on, I've found myself revisiting everything after they find the new Earth. Of all the characters, I'm happiest that Helo survived, but I think my favorite moment was watching Baltar break down as he said, "I know about farming." They had mostly left his flashbacks out of the second part of the episode, so calling back to it was especially striking, reminding us that the part of Baltar that he was most ashamed of - his provincial past - and his faith, things he didn't have at the beginning of the trip, were the things that were most central to his new future. For a character that his spent his entire arc a complete cipher - I've never been confident I could believe anything he said - I was pleased to see him humbled and truly empathetic.

The ending - that we are the descendants of these two civilizations, and that we are poised on the brink of creating life ourselves, and must consider that carefully - was elegantly and powerfully (if not exactly subtly) conveyed, and for a show that was always called out for being an endless series of down notes, it proved to be anything but. I had faith that they wouldn't Twilight Zone us out of a good ending, and they did not disappoint. (which is not to say that Twilight Zone endings are bad, but if handled wrong, they end up feeling cheap and unfulfilling.) I'm just glad to have been around to see a show so fully realize its potential.

3. Twitter.
Hoo, doggy, have I become a Twitterphile. I especially like Twitpic, which allows me to take pictures of things and comment on them in realtime instead of waiting until later (if I remember). Among my recent favorites are: When Reba McEntire smiles she looks like one of those robots from the Carousel of Progress, and My dog thinks she's Pizza the Hutt. But more than that, it's a way to entertain myself on the go at any time. Never mind business applications, I just want to laugh occasionally.

4. The music of Jay Brannan.
A few weeks back I Netflix'd a movie called "Shortbus." Shortbus is one of those high-concept art films that never gets released in a place like Jacksonville, and even if it did, it would have played in an art house theater I would have been unlikely to go to. Either way, I was interested in it because it was controversial- the actors actually had to commit to performing unsimulated sex acts on camera as part of the making of the movie. It was supposed to explore sexuality and relationships in a "revolutionary" way; to be frank, all I saw was a condemnation of heterosexual marriage and elevation of polyamory as the worthier option. I guess there was more to it than that, but the bottom line is it was not as artistically skillful as the filmmaker probably hoped.

Anyway, one of the actors, Jay Brannan, is actually a singer-songwriter living in New York. And he's gay. G-A-Y-gay. Suck-a-dick-on-camera-because-it's-art gay. But he writes great music. And more than that, it's some of the bravest music I've ever heard. Because he doesn't hide in his music. Think of every gay male singer you've ever known of - Elton John, George Michael, David Bowie (well, his gate swings both ways), Clay Aiken. All of them at one time purported to be straight, vagina-loving hetero heroes. Because that's how you sell records. Jay Brannan has the looks and songwriting ability to be huge- like, next American Idol huge. Teen sensation huge. But he'll never get there, because he's gay. And to me, that takes enormous courage, to insist on being who you are, and make art that's representative of that, instead of co-opting that to become famous. Sure, there are lyrics that make me cringe - there's an entire song where he sings about wanting to be a housewife - but I'm continually struck by how well the songs are crafted, and how true he is to himself. Despite myself, I can't help but be impressed.

5. My doggie.
Lucy, pictured in my "Pizza the Hutt" tweet earlier, is my five-month-old Labrador/Golden Retriever mix. My brother and sister got her for me for Christmas. And she has the makings of being the best dog ever. She's beautiful, smart, obedient, willing to learn, friendly and fearless. She's made me look awesome because she's been so easy to train, saving me, in fact, since I've spent so long being critical of other dog owners for being idiots, and if my dog was a terror I would look like a hypocritical douche. It's funny- I've been traveling for work a lot lately, and it never occurred to me how attached I would get to having her around. She's just too much fun.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: calm calm

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One of my favorite websites is the Onion A.V. Club. Good interviews, good TV blog, Dan Savage, reliable movie reviews, it's very entertaining. One of their common features is the AVQ&A- they ask their staff a question and then collect the answers; TV guilty pleasures, favorite books, etc. This week's AVQ&A centered around my least favorite holiday, Valentine's Day, and what songs you would use if you were trying to "woo" someone. It's got some good recommendations- see the link here. In fact, they stole a couple of the ones I would have put on my list: "Strange Currencies" and "The Luckiest," to name two.

Well, to me, there's two kinds of "woo"ing that one can do. There's "I'm so fucking in love with you!" and "Let's fuck!" Depending on what your Valentine's Day message is, here are eight songs that I would suggest:

"I'm So Fucking In Love With You!"

Jeffrey Gaines- "In Your Eyes" I'm not a big fan of the movie "Say Anything." I didn't see it until after college, and despite all of the hooplah about it, I've never really understood what people love about it so much. The main character is a schlub, the love interest is... boring, and mildly annoying to boot. There's nothing that I find credible about the two of them getting together. The father's nursing home scheme adds nothing to the story. And finally, I will never be able to shake the silliness of John Cusack's character's best gal-pal playing her weepy-song "vehemently" while staring at her ex-boyfriend during the party scene. I'm not sure I've ever seen something that should have been played as a subtle thing so poorly executed. Anyway, I think the only good things that came out of this movie were the song "In Your Eyes," and the fact that its success allowed Cameron Crowe to go on to write "Jerry Maguire" and "Almost Famous." And as much as I like the Peter Gabriel original, I like this version more.

Aqualung- "Strange & Beautiful (I'll Put a Spell on You)" This one reminds me of "Strange Currencies" by R.E.M., which I would choose for a list like this except that the article I was referencing to write this already picked it. Anyway, to me, this song is exactly like it's title... strange and beautiful. I've been told it's a little bit creepy too. I can see that.

Tom Petty- "Wildflowers" ...off of the album of the same name. I think this song is one of the prettiest love letters ever written. Things that might otherwise seem hokey in a song like this - the triangle and the piano that chime in at the end - just add to its charm. Good stuff.

The Spill Canvas- "Sunsets and Car Crashes" Now we're going to go hard-core emo for a minute and dig into The Spill Canvas. The more I listen to this song, the clearer it becomes to me that this is a profoundly guilty pleasure of mine. The music is very pretty, but the lyrics are pretty melodramatic, and the vocals are, well, they're delivered in a style that would make that dude from Dashboard Confessional blush. Despite that, I enjoy it, and I find it to be fairly romantic, if juvenile.

"Let's Fuck!"

Outkast- "Spread" This is really a stand-in for the numerous Outkast songs that are little more than "I want to freak you so hard" mantras. Which is not to say that they're bad, just dirty. For the record, dirty is good. In the case of this song, very, very good.

Jump, Little Children- "Body Parts" I was introduced to J,LC by one of my first college roommates, Greg. Greg was nearly fanatical about them. He used to play this album all the time. Anyway, "Body Parts" has always held for me a real sensuality and passion. It also helps that it's really, really great when performed live.

Janet Jackson- "That's the Way Love Goes" I think I was accelerated a year further through puberty when I heard this album. Hell, I still have an acne breakout every time I hear it. Needless to say, Janet Jackson had a profound effect on the adolescence of a great many young men born between 1976 and 1980. I often struck by how much of an issue was made of the whole "Nipplegate" thing- we should be thankful it happened when it did. If it had happened in 1993, I'm fairly certain that the universe would have come to an end. At the very least, I would have died of a heart attack/stroke/aneurysm.

Dana Immanuel & the Greeks- "Motherfucking Whore" If you never thought banjo music could cause a stirring in the loins, this song will convince you. It could convince Mother Theresa to search out a piece of strange. It's like sonic porn. Love it!

Valentine's Day has never been one of good luck for me, and I guess it doesn't help that I never really have liked it even when I haven't been single. It's manufactured- and every year it gets more so. The jewelry commercials, the stupid alternative gifts (giant teddy bears, "pajamagrams," etc.), all of it is just aggravating. I know I work in advertising, but sometimes it really pisses me off when advertising goes out of its way to tell you how to behave, and what standards are acceptable. Something like how you express love for someone else shouldn't be ground down to a checklist of jewelry, chocolate, flowers and stuffed animals. I find that depressing. Either way, enjoy the music.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: complacent complacent

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I was just reading an article on GOPUSA (which I think my mom signed me up for, because I certainly didn't) entitled, "Why Do We Love Profanity?"

Easy. Because it's fucking awesome.

That's a glib answer, of course, but let me tell you why I L-O-V-E-love profanity:

It's transgressive.

It's expressive.

It's funny.

It's real.

So let's start at the top. Transgressive. I love it because deep down, I know it's bad for me. Like eating a whole box of Twinkies bad. At least, I guess I suspect it's bad for me- I can't really back that up. But the fact that it feels a little bit naughty (or a lot naughty, if I say something particularly colorful) is part of what I enjoy about it. It's like your soul smoking a cigarette. Every time. And that's something that saying, "oh, poopy!" can rarely achieve.

And it's expressive. You can't tell me there isn't a difference between, "You've got to be kidding me!" and, "You've got to be fucking shitting me!" It elevates and improves communication, if properly executed.

And if improperly executed, well, we come to the third reason, funny. Because you can't tell me that, "You've got to be shitting fucking me!" isn't funny. And there's not a joke that's ever been told that wouldn't be improved by a well-placed vulgarity. Or at least the implication of one.

And lastly, it's real. Yes, real. Do you think that someone at a checkpoint next to a road in Iraq doesn't have the f-word (or its Arabian equivalent) on the tip of his or her tongue when the 1981 Volvo 240 next to them explodes? Do you remember the first time you heard one of your parents swear? It was probably in a moment of stress, wasn't it? What that means, dear reader, is that profanity is true, and politeness is false. Because under almost every person's civil veneer is a foul-mouthed, vulgar animal, waiting for a stressful moment to come out.

I just don't wait for the stress, because I don't see what the big fucking deal is. Really. Why not admit the truth? I sincerely cannot understand people who are offended by swearing. I can understand people who don't want their kids to hear it, but not because of the words themselves. Words are just words. But profanity does introduce content that maybe kids aren't ready to properly process. So, for the sake of children, I can understand being moderate, but what about when kids aren't around? What's the problem with slinging the f-word around like pizza dough? It doesn't hurt anybody... unless it does, so only call someone a "fuckwit" if you really mean it or you know that they're cool enough to handle it like a grownup.

In closing, profanity is fucking awesome. It's funny, it elevates the communicative content of language, and it's part of the root truth of who we are. The fact that it's against the rules is just an exciting side benefit. So loosen up those tightie-whities and toss a few f-bombs into the crowd. See what happens.

On a last, and mostly unrelated note, I was trying to describe what I found offensive about the Nancy Grace show to someone last week and the only illustration I could find that was potent enough was: "Watching her show is like watching someone rape a corpse for an hour." And in my heart I don't believe I've ever said anything truer than that. I was too proud of that not to share it.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: cheerful cheerful

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[edit: I promised to post the list, and, so no one has to read all the way to the bottom of this again, here's a link to a .rar of "The 24."]

I spend my time doing many useless things in a fairly rigorous manner- when I decided I had to write a stupid story about imaginary, preternaturally intelligent wabbits, I took it to the extreme of writing three stories about them. When I decided I had to tell stories about songs and what they meant to me, I decided I needed to write about 500 of them. That quest has stalled because I can't remember some of the stories, and others of them are too recent to have stopped hurting completely, and so I can't bring myself to write them. I post list after list of songs I like, to discover and share, and now, after years and years of saying what everyone says - "that song is one of my favorites!" - I'm going to do something else that's useless in a rigorous, completely excessive way.

I'm going to share my 24 favorite songs. Why 24? Fuck you, that's why. It's my list, and my own private numerology that told me it had to be 24. You'll find out soon enough why my insistence on 24 will end up having almost screwing me over in the end. Now, on to my methodology:

Because I could literally name hundreds - probably thousands - songs that I love to listen to, I had to start with a list of candidates. So I went through my music collection and selected 275 songs that I considered as candidates, on a by-artist basis. In other words, I went through my Metallica albums, and chose my favorite Metallica songs. Then Tom Petty, and Aerosmith and so on. Once I had my choices (it was originally was going to be 150, but I blew by that before I got to the K's in my list), I had to decide on criteria upon which to rate the songs. Then, I had to choose a scale. I chose 5 dimensions of preference, based on the things I value about a song- Artistic Merit, Replay Value, Power, Emotional Resonance, and Singalongability.

Artistic Merit (AM)- Every song that has ever been written has some person behind it who thiought they were creating art; on the high end of the scale, we have Iron & Wine, on the low end, Nickelback. But we're talking, for the most part, about pop music here. Pop music is a unique craft because it spans so many different artistic styles that it isn't fair to compare things that have meticulously crafted instrumentation by design with those that are sparse and rough for the same reason. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" is a gritty, rough piece of music that undoubtedly has more artistic merit than anything ever written by Poison, but if we get hung up on "craftsmanship" instead of "artistry," we fall into a trap. Hence, Artistic Merit, in this case, means how well the song hangs together, not how technically challenging it is.

Replay Value (RV)- is self-explanatory, but subjective. I don't care how often you or your brother or your pet chimp likes to hear the song. I mean how often I like to hear the song, or how often I have in my history.

Power (P)- Yet another subjective measure. Power is different than Emotional Resonance because, while I find the driving ferocity of "Bulls on Parade" to be arresting, I'm hardly thinking back of to my days on the protest circuit with Abby Hoffman when I listen to it. Neither does Power mean volume- plenty of songs have volume without real, palpable intensity. And to me, some of the most powerful, exciting music is the kind that has vocals that barely break a whisper. Power, to me, means, to what degree does this song remove me and my attention from the here and now? Good art is supposed to alter your state of mind. This rating is meant to measure that.

Emotional Resonance (ER)- It can be very difficult to separate Power from Emotional Resonance. One often lifts the other and vice-versa. Emotional Resonance doesn't just mean, do I have a story about this song? (though it often does). It also means, whether or not I have a similar experience, does the song cause me to empathize with its singer? " Keep Me In Your Heart," for instance. I've never died of cancer, but I can feel what Warren Zevon is talking about, and it sometimes chokes me up.

Singalongablility (S)- I had to make up a word for this category. And again, it's subjective. I like to sing along to some songs that others don't. But if I've ever belted out the song drunkenly in a bar, it's going to get a high rating.

Each of these dimensions was rated from 1 to 10, 10 being the highest. I then aggregated the 5-score total and ranked them. But the problem was, with 275 songs, there were a lot of ties. Also, I personally value each of these dimensions differently. So when I created the formula, it worked out like this: preference=AM+(1.05xRV)+(1.07xP)+(1.2xER)+(1.15xS). In other words, I value these dimensions in this order: Emotional Relevance, Singalongability, Power, Replay Value, and Artistic Merit. Despite being a big indie music fag, I value many of the shallower elements of a song's appeal over its quality. So sue me.

As a final aside, a while back I posited that rock music always addresses one of five main ideas: "Let's Fuck," "You (or Life) Fucked Me Over," "I'm So Fucking In Love With You" (also stated as, "Let's Fuck Forever"), "What the Fuck is Going On Here?" and "Fuck Yeah!" This "rock message" is appended to the end of each of these entries.

So now, having bored you to tears, here's the list:

22t. All-American Rejects - Move Along (7/10/9/8/10). Right off the bat, I dodged a bullet. I insisted on 24 songs, and on my final list, three songs tie at 22, 23 and 24. I stared and stared and stared, and couldn't find a way to separate them- I stood by their ratings relative to the other songs around them, and so I was stuck. Originally, because I can't count, apparently, I thought I was stuck with three tied at 23, 24 and 25. That would have torpedoed the whole thing. I can't imagine what I would have done then. Anyway, "Move Along" is the last among equals because it ranked lowest in Emotional Resonance. Either way, this song is an expertly crafted pop song, with a fun, unusual drumbeat and an inspiring message. It plays loud and strong, people sing along, and fuck you if you thought I was going to continue rhyming. Rock Message: "Life Fucked Me Over"

22t. Everclear- Learning How to Smile (8/9/9/9/9). Another well built pop song that tells a nice, romantic story about the ups and downs of relationships. It's escapist, which adds to its Power rating, and it ranks high in Emotional Resonance because I always remember my first date with Beth, and how we both discovered that this was our favorite Everclear song. While that relationship did not end up being successful, it was still a memorably good first date. Rock Message: "I'm So Fucking In Love With You"

22t. Patrick Park- Your Smile's a Drug (9/8/9/10/8). This is the first of two Patrick Park songs I have in the top 24- I was surprised, but I was simply unable to downgrade either one. My brother likes to say that Patrick Park writes the best choruses in pop music. This song is living proof of that fact, as it is incredibly catchy and singalongable. It replays well, it's arresting, and well, it scores at 10 in ER because it ties back to my breakup with Brooke, which you'll find leads to a high ER in many cases because it's probably the most painful thing I've had to deal with in my life. That may sound lame, and most of you are probably saying, "lucky you," but it ripped the floor out from underneath everything going on in my life for over a year. Nothing else really even comes close. Rock Message: "You Fucked Me Over"

21. Michael Jackson- Give in to Me (8/8/10/9/9). Amazingly, there were no more ties in the top 24. "Give in to Me" is my favorite Michael Jackson song, owing to Slash's inhuman guitar work. The song is spartan, with a simple drum machine and synth track laid under Michael's vocals, which are all about unrequited love, which is one of my favorite musical subjects. It's OK, but not great. But when you add the superhuman, electrified howl of Slash's guitar, it elevates the song to a whole new level. Slash makes this song work with a ferocious, desperate series of guitar solos and bridges that make my skin tingle and my hands tumble into air-guitar mode. Rock Message: "You Fucked Me Over/I'm So Fucking In Love With You"

20. John Parr- St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion) (6/10/10/8/10). The first embarrassing truth to be revealed by this list, "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)" is a relatively new addition to the top 24, even though the song is 24 years old (spooky). I found a collection called Like, Oh My God! (the '80s Collection) because I was looking for Toni Basil's "Mickey" for a kickball list. I'd always liked this song, sort of, but didn't know who it was by. It's an antique, really, a relic of a different kind of songwriting, but I love it. For one thing, it contains the single greatest moment in rock history - perhaps even the reason that rock was created in the first place - the "Ooo Oooo Ooo Ooooooooooo" that follows the second verse. For another, it contains another which is maybe in the top 50: a pre-chorus bridge where Mr. Parr sings, "you broke the boy in me / but you won't break the man[!]" Now that's just awesome. Add to that it's a song about a guy who overcomes and perseveres despite his paralysis, which is eminently respectable. Rock Message: "Fuck Yeah!"

19. Less Than Jake- The Ghosts of Me and You (7/9/10/10/8). I love me some Less Than Jake. If I were to make another list of my favorite artists, Less Than Jake would be very near the top. This song scores high in AM for the same reason many LTJ songs do- it doesn't exactly sound like anything you've ever heard before, but it sounds somehow familiar. And before anyone goes to the that's because all LTJ songs sound alike place, fuck you. No they don't. What I mean by familiar is that they really are a perfect pop synthesis- they take parts of other things, lyrically, instrumentally and melodically and turn them into something unique and different. There's no new ground broken here, but it's a good song anyway. It always reminds of Gainesville, and how every time I drive through there, I can see my life in that town. I don't miss it, exactly, but I value what it meant to my life. Rock Message: "I Was So Fucking In Love With You."

18. Queen- Fat Bottomed Girls (7/9/9/9/10). This song is just plain fun. And I have great affection for it because I reminds me of middle school and the early years of high school, when I was beginning to discover music. Rock Message: "Fuck Yeah!"

17. New Found Glory- All Downhill From Here (6/10/8/10/10). Say what you want, I love New Found Glory. I love this song, and since I got this album, this song has been way up at the top of my replayability scale. Then, relationship stuff happened and suddenly it was emotionally relevant. I don't listen to it to wallow in that, I listen because it's cathartic. But, above all, in this song I find something that I like to play really loud and sing along when no one else is around to be annoyed. Rock Message: "You Fucked Me Over"

16. Jimi Hendrix- All Along the Watchtower (10/10/9/7/9). If you've ever heard the original version of this song, you'll understand why I rated this one a 10 for AM. It took a song that was... well, just OK, and turned it into a masterpiece. Everything about it is just right, and for almost 40 years, people have been trying (and failing) to improve upon this cover. This is the first of three covers on this list, and I was surprised to find this ranked this low, but the key ended up being the low ER score- a fantastic, powerful and engaging song, but I don't have any one strong memory to associate with it, other than the first Vietnam scene in Forrest Gump. Rock Message: "What the Fuck is Going On Here?"

15. Led Zeppelin- Stairway to Heaven (9/10/10/8/8). This song would score lower on AM and P if it weren't for the last two minutes of the song. The solo, and the final verse just make "Stairway" a masterpiece. It rocks me out of my socks every time I hear it. It's magnificent. And it scores high on ER because when I was younger, I used to write a lot, and when I would write, I listen to certain songs to get flowing- "Stairway" was one of the big ones, and so I remember certain things I've written in the past when I hear it. Rock Message: "What the Fuck is Going On Here?"

14. Tenacious D- Tribute (9/9/10/7/10). This one surprised me a little. I love this song in an almost indecent way, but I didn't expect it to rank this high when I rated it. But the facts are these: for a comedy rock song, it's superbly crafted, insanely catchy, and contains a power moment that rivals the greatest that rock has ever produced. When the demon asks, "Be you angels?" and the guys reply, "Nay, we are but men. ROCK!" what follows is simply sublime. And it scores somewhat higher than you might expect in ER, because I always am reminded of the times Damien, Brad and I would rock out to this song in the car. Rock Message: "Fuck Yeah!"

13. Patrick Park- Something Pretty (10/8/10/9/8). This is the Patrick Park song I expected to make it onto this list, though I sort of expected it to be higher. It's beautiful and sad, with a chorus that reinforces what my brother says about Patrick Park's songwriting abilities. And, for something so... moribund, for lack of a better word, it's surprisingly catchy and singalongable. Rock Message: "Life Fucked Me Over."

12. Gemma Hayes- Time After Time (8/10/9/8/10). This song has been stuck in my head since about the time I could comprehend music more complicated than "Jesus Loves Me." Of all the versions of it that exist (and I have many, many of them), this is my favorite, edging out Eva Cassidy's, because while Eva's voice is beautiful, the smoky, sexy edge that Gemma's voice gives it, along with the simple acoustic delivery just nail it for me. It's a beautiful song with a message that appeals to the romantic in me, even if it doesn't have a particular focus. Rock Message: "I'm So Fucking In Love With You."

11. Poe- Hey Pretty (feat. Mark Danielewski) (8/10/10/10/7). I l-o-v-e-LOVE Poe's voice. Like Gemma Hayes, it's got that slightly throaty, rough sound to it that just grabs me. But this song is not on the list because of Poe's voice, it's here because of the poem that Mark Danielewski recites over it:

We never even kissed, or looked into each other's eyes, our lips just
Trespassed on those inner labyrinths hidden deep within our ears,
Filled them with the private music of wicked words
Hers in many languages, mine in the off-color of my only tongue,
Until as our tones shifted and our consonants spun and squealed, rattled faster, hesitated, raced harder
Syllables soon melting into groans or moans, finding purchase in new words, or old words, or made-up words
Until we gathered up our heat and refused to release it,
Enjoying too much the dark language which we had suddenly stumbled upon
Prayed to, carved to, not a communication really, but a channeling of our rumored desires,
Hers for all I know gone to black forests and wolves, mine banging back to the familiar form,
That great revenant mystery I still could only hear the shape of
Which in spite of our separate lusts and individual pride, still continued to drive us deeper into stranger tones,
Our mutual desire to keep gripping the burn
Fueled by sound, hers screeching, mine...
I didn't hear mine, only hers, probably counter-pointing mine
A high pitched cry, then a whisper dropping unexpectedly into practically a bark, a grunt,
Whatever, no sense anymore, and suddenly no more curves either, just the straightaway
Too bad dark languages rarely survive...

It's sexy and powerful and I love it in a way that's perhaps unnatural. I'm not a poetry guy, but this particular poem does something to me- it just makes sense. It encompasses all the things that I think are interesting about sex and sensuality and desire: that constant battle between will and instinct, the imperfect symmetry of two people entwined (emotionally, physically or both), and the ultimate choice that we make, to surrender to a moment or to bottle up our passions and savor the feeling. I've never been and never will be that eloquent on the subject, but I hear it and I wish that I could be. Rock Message: "Let's Fuck! (or maybe not)"

10. William Shatner- Common People (8/10/8/9/10). Again, I was torn on the placement of a cover in this list, but this song makes the original by Pulp sound like crap. Shatner weaves his way around the various British-isms that are part of the charm of the song without sounding alien or self-conscious, and he has a certain zeal about the whole affair. It's a novelty, but one that's hard to get tired of. And it may well be Will's favorite song. Rock Message: "What the Fuck is Going On Here?" (or, "That's Fucked Up!")

9. The Postal Service- Such Great Heights (8/10/8/10/9). I know a lot of people believe that Iron & Wine's cover of this song is the superior version, but I totally disagree. Nevermind that this song has been co-opted by UPS; the surging, upbeat nature of the song underscores the restorative nature of love that Ben is singing about. The slow, breathy cover by Iron & Wine pulls out the "shrillest highs and lowest lows" that make the song interesting to me. When I was in a long-distance relationship, the lyrics of this song seemed tailor-made for my situation. And I felt like "God himself did make us into corresponding shapes, like puzzle pieces from the clay." Of course, now we all know I was wrong. Somehow, though, this song has not been ruined for me, the way, say, "Chasing Cars" has been. I will literally run from a room to avoid hearing that song. Maybe it's just because this is just too great a song not to want to reclaim it. Rock Message: "I'm So Fucking In Love With You! "

8. Better Than Ezra- Daylight (9/8/8/10/10). Finally, BTE makes its appearance. This song is off of their latest album, 2005's Before the Robots, or, as my brother calls it, "B-T-Robs." It's an excellent album, filled with catchy songs and very little chaff. "Daylight" is track #2, and it really sweeps you into the album. It's desperate and hopeful, dynamic and fun to sing along to. And it contains some of the best lines I've ever heard to describe the way another person can consume all of your attention:

You're a long walk in a rainstorm
You're a cut that refuses to heal
Or a broke watch, keeping time still
Till you pull me in, pull me in, and
I can't fight...

Anyone who's ever had a crush can understand. Rock Message: "I'm So Fucking In Love With You!"

7. Better Than Ezra- Porcelain (7/8/10/10/10). This song is off of BTE's first studio album, Deluxe. The songwriting is much less mature, and some of it is very clunky now ("Teenager," for example), but it's a solid effort that has four real stand-out tunes: "Good," "The Killer Inside," "This Time of Year," and "Porcelain." "Porcelain" gets the nod for the fact that it has one of my two favorite lines in any song ever:

I wish I could kill you, savor the sight
Get into my car, drive into the night
And lie as I scream to the heavens above
That I was the last one you ever loved

It's dark and a little scary, and damn if it doesn't encapsulate the hurt of being dumped (or cheated on) perfectly. What I think is especially poigniant about it is the stream-of-consciousness feel of the song; the way the main character rails throughout the verses about how this person has screwed him over and broken him, but the chorus always comes back: But your skin is like.. porcelain. I mentioned it during my entry for "Hey Pretty;" there's always that battle between reason and passion. How can we love something that hurts us so much? And yet, that's all some of us ever do. Rock Message: "You Fucked Me Over" (and now you have to die!)

6. Iron & Wine- The Trapeze Swinger (10/10/10/10/6). I don't know exactly what to say about this song. It's so perfect that it makes me want to cry. I don't know why, but I can feel my throat tighten and my heart thump a little whenever he sings, Please, remember me... It's not because it reminds me of anything in particular. In fact, I'm not at all sure what it's really about- it talks about the pearly gates and old lovers and circuses and none of it really seems to hang together exactly. But despite that, it just moves me in a way that not many songs can. The only reason it doesn't rank even higher is because I sound terrible when I sing it. Rock Message: "I Was So Fucking In Love With You." (I think.)

5. Guns'N'Roses- November Rain (10/8/10/9/9). I once wrote about how this song contains the greatest two minutes in rock'n'roll. I stand by that. Rock Message: "You Fucked Me Over" (but it'll be OK)

4. Otis Redding- That's How Strong My Love Is (9/9/10/9/9). I've always said that if I could have any voice in the world, it would be Steven Tyler or Chris Cornell. But there are times when I feel that no one anywhere, at any time, has sung any more perfectly than Otis. As I've written before, when other people are referred to as "soul" singers, it's because they stretch and yank every note into something barely recognizable as melody. But Otis is never that; it always sounds like Otis is broken somehow, and the only way he can put himself back together is to belt out a wall of sound. He just sounds so emotionally naked and exposed; there's a beauty to that that transcends the basic rules of melody, harmony and tempo. Rock Message: "I Am So Fucking In Love With You"

3. Ben Folds- The Luckiest (9/9/10/10/8). I swear I'm not a sap. I just think, like I think most of us do, that love is the central, unifying human experience, the thing we all strive for and wish for. That being said, I love this song for two reasons. The first is that I believe real love is transcendant and should make you feel like it does Ben in this song. The second is that it's really a beautiful portrait; not only could you see yourself in it, but like Ben does so often, in this song he uses imagery in such a powerful way that I can almost see the story when I listen. If it wouldn't have messed with my system, I would have given this song an 11 for Power. Rock Message: "I Am So Fucking In Love With You"

2. The Beach Boys- God Only Knows (10/9/10/10/9). There's a reason that this song is on of the most covered in all of pop music. It's perfect. It's perfect. I'm not sure what else to say, other than that, despite it's perfection as a pop song, and my abiding love for it, it's still number two on my list. Nothing against it or Brian Wilson. But there's something bigger. Rock Message: "I'm So Fucking In Love With You"

1. The Allman Brothers Band- Blue Sky (9/9/10/10/10). I was extremely glad when this song made it up to the top. You see, for as much of a sap I am, and as much as I've harped on romantic love, the reason this song, beautiful and romantic as it is, is important to me is not because of romance at all, it's because of my family. My Mom and Dad, brother and sister. I am so proud of and grateful for the relationships I have with all of them- I love them more than I have the ability to attach meaning to the word, the way we all, including and especially I, abuse it. It reminds me of a day when the five of us, riding in a car together after a night out at a Mongolian barbecue that is equally infamous for another reason, all found ourselves singing along to this song together. We sang loudly and clumsily, singing even the guitar parts, which really are what makes the song. We couldn't stop laughing, even as we kept looking around at each other, unable to grasp what spirit had come over us and why we were all so giddy. I guess the answer is we're family, and each day we love each other more than we did the day before. My dad, who is given to the occasional romantic pronouncement, has always said, "No matter who else comes and goes from your life, what makes you who you are, and what will be there for you, is your family." What I think happened, and why we all remember it all so fondly, is because we were heading towards a different plateau in our lives together. We didn't quite reach it that day, but today, all the significant parenting is done- the three of us are adults, college graduates, successful professionals firmly in our twenties. Or, in one tragic case, careening wildly out of his twenties. [sigh.] While my parents are still the people that made me, and are at least as responsible for what I am as I am myself, they are also my friends. I am able to enjoy being around them without needing to be guided, though their guidance is often sought and greatly appreciated. I've gotten to see other sides of them than the authority figures they had to be when I was young and difficult. And my brother and sister and I, for all the crap that we occasionally give each other, are as close as, or closer than (in a totally non-creepy way), any three siblings I've ever met. I'm not a perfect person, none of us are, but in my family I have something that gives me enormous, profound pride; something that, though it may not be, feels... perfect. And while I wait for the "one" that will make all of the other "romantic" songs on this list mean what they're supposed to, I know that I'm far from alone, and I have a firewall against all of the terrible things the world can offer a modern man. And though it seems almost inappropriate to write the following after all that... Rock Message: "I Am So Fucking In Love With [All Of] You!"

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: accomplished
soundtrack: The 24

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Let's see where this goes...

Let me tell you something you don't know about superheroes. They're not at all like you see in comic books. They're not all muscular. They don't all have secret identities. They don't even all wear costumes. And what's worse, they don't even all have cool names anymore. Superheroes have become boring, passe. No one cares about them, and to a large degree, they don't care about you anymore. They just perform the occasional feat of heroism to remind people that they're still around. It's tragic. And more than a little sad.

With that as a preface, I'll introduce myself. My name is Megaman Vanguard. And I'm a superhero. Such as it is.

I know what you're thinking. 'Megaman Vanguard? That's a stupid superhero name.'

Yeah, well, let me tell you about superhero names. All the good ones were taken up years ago. So instead of repeating, we just started combining names from old video games. Seriously.

My parents don't know I'm a superhero, which is amazing, because I live in their basement, and I can bench press a car. They just complain that I need to lose some weight and meet a nice girl.

Again, I know what you're thinking. 'Don't all superheroes have awesome physiques? Aren't you all ripped like Olympian gods under your clothes?' Well, no. And screw you for judging me. I can lift over 40,000 pounds. I'm not fast, but I can run for hundreds of miles before getting tired. And moreover, I can fly. Do you know how many crunches I would have to do to lose these love-handles? I don't have the time or patience for that. But I can kick your ass in some Halo 3, let me tell you.

I work in a video store. I know, I know, it's another underachiever stereotype. But it's in a really bad part of town, and at least when I'm there, I run the chance of coming across some crime that I can stop. I may not actually care, but occasionally I get a twinge of "with great power comes great responsibility" guilt. But for the most part, I say fuck that. Being a superhero hasn't gotten me laid once. I know, I know, Superman has Lois Lane, Cyclops has Jean Grey, Spider-Man has Mary Jane. Well, those guys are the frat boys of the superhero world. Seriously. The Justice League, the X-Men and the Avengers are like the Alpha Betas from Revenge of the Nerds. But me? Not a so much as a "Oh! My hero!" HJ. I guess it doesn't help that my superhero costume is a glitter-painted black sweatshirt with a stylized (I use that word lightly) 'M V' on it, Adidas warm-up pants and some old Skechers. Money was tight when I chose the whole name thing. And spandex makes me look like a Polish sausage.

I'm not alone among the lesser-known superheroes. My best friend, Star Fox Bomberman, works at the Boston Market in the same strip mall as my video store. He lives with his girlfriend, who weighs like six hundred pounds. She also doesn't know that he's a superhero. She just whines that he needs to go back to school and marry her. And stop hanging around with "losers who live with their parents." I forgot to mention I have super-hearing, too. Fuck you, you stupid cow. I hope you get your tit stuck in the garbage disposal.

That was uncalled for. I'm sorry.

So SFB and I were chillin' at the Wal-Mart parking lot the other night after work, eating some Boston Market mac'n'cheese (that stuff is awesome) and kind of doing our "Dark Knight" thing, when some motherfucker scraped the side of SFB's car. It's a cherry '89 Ford Probe with an awesome teal flame decal on the side. Well, as it turned out, that was our arch-nemesis, Gradius Dragon Warrior, in his piece of shit Jeep Wrangler. Totally messed up SFB's clear coat, so we had to throw down. SFB stared at his Jeep until the gas tank exploded, which was pretty cool, except that Gradius is mostly invulnerable. And he has super-speed. So he sped away from the explosion, but he tripped over one of his shoelaces, which was lucky, because I was able to catch up to him, and I threw him a long, long way up in the air. Then he used his heat vision to burn up my tub of mac'n'cheese. So I flew up to where he was falling, and totally punched him in the dick. That is just so uncool. Messing with a man's mac'n'cheese.

Well, he fell to the ground, clutching his spheres of power, and SFB was about to make his ass explode by staring at it, when Gradius' sidekick, Joust Double Dribble (he doesn't really get the whole "superhero names" thing), who works at the MurphyUSA in the Wal-Mart parking lot, rushed over and scissor-kicked Star Fox in the back of the head. So instead of GDW's ass exploding, the El Camino that he was laying next to exploded. SFB got up and tried to make Joust's ass explode, but he was already up and dragging Gradius away. Then Joust used his web gun (Joust's a "gadget hero," not one of us "naturals") to swipe SFB's iPod off the ground where it had fallen. SFB panicked, which is a very bad thing. It's what keeps him out of the top tier of superheroes.

When Star Fox Bomberman panics, he starts farting fire. Nuclear fire. It's really embarrassing. I guess it's why he's always trying to make villans' asses explode.

So he started shouting, "MV, MV, you've got to help me! I'm freakin' out here, man!" So I had to let Gradius and Joust get away with the iPod and pick up SFB before he turned the entire Wal-Mart parking lot into a radioactive glass sculpture garden. So there I am, flying around with my friend, who looks like he has a solid rocket booster jammed up his ass, trying to calm him down without laughing at him. And trying to figure out a way to get that iPod back. He had some really choice tunes on there, man.

Yes, friends, the life of a superhero is complex and full of peril.

to be continued...

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hey little fella, how are you doing today?: accomplished
soundtrack: The Black Keys - My Mind is Ramblin'

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Some people shouldn't be allowed to have kids.

I'm sitting on a plane next to a large woman with a baby that appears to be about a year and a half old. She has the baby sitting on her lap. She weighs about 180 pounds. And instead of bringing a baby seat, she's trying to buckle the kid into the seat with her. Apparently, no one ever explained to her the purpose of the belt. Yes, it will keep both people in the seat, but what happens if the seat belt does what it's supposed to? What if she's thrown forward, and the seat belt arrests her forward motion? What happens to the baby that is nestled between her belly and the belt when her prodigious adult bulk slams into the infant's back? Does she not realize that the baby is going to be squeezed in the middle like a tube of toothpaste? Now, babies are resilient and surprisingly damage-resistant, as my family fortunately knows. My sister was run over by a car when she was 2, but survived with little damage, none of it permanent. But my mom didn't place her under the wheel of the car, which is essentially what this woman is doing. Why does no one qualified tell her this is a bad idea? It's not my place or my business, but it pisses me off nonetheless. I am in no mood for bisected baby.

I need a nap.
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I have seen the end of American literature and it is this: a NASCAR-branded Harlequin romance novel. Its title? The so-unpredictable "Running on Empty."

I am so ashamed for all of us.
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I left a broken lawnmower and an old, worn-out and slightly broken futon out for trash pickup tomorrow morning. I went out to take the rest of the trash to the street a few minutes ago, and the only thing left was the futon cushion. And I was annoyed.

Don't mistake me- whichever of my neighbors wanted them, they're welcome to a lawnmower that has completely seized and a futon broken in the middle so sitting at its edges was like sitting on the track at Daytona International Speedway. Good luck to them. Caveat emptor.

No, what annoyed me was the fact that those two items have been cluttering up my garage for five fucking months and I thought I couldn't get rid of them because I couldn't find the number for the trash collection company to schedule a large pickup. Apparently, I underestimated the scavenging proclivities of my neighbors. Well, to be honest, I think it's a little skeevy to rummage through someone else's trash. But it does explain the weird sounds of a truck I heard earlier.

soundtrack: Iron Horse- Unforgiven

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I opened my LJ editor for the first time in forever. I had been reading some of my 500 Songs entries and felt half a glimmer of inspiration. Then I looked at the list and it fizzled. All of the songs whose stories I can remember belong on Ruined Music, and while I will eventually write those stories, starting with "Chasing Cars," it's not time yet.

I don't know what it's time for. But it is time to write something.

I haven't written anything substantial on here since last October, when I changed jobs. That was twelve days short of a year ago. Considering what this page has (and does) mean to me, that's tough to reconcile. I should never have given it up. Something got in my way.

Seven days after that last significant post, Brooke emailed me. She said she was willing to talk. I don't know what that meant, and I wasn't willing to guess. I bit her head off. Said everything I could to make sure she knew that I was unwilling to forgive her, and in no uncertain terms, I wasn't willing to listen. I wanted to shut the door on the idea (even if it might have only been in my head) that there could still be something there. I was still too hurt and too angry to let myself consider it. You see, earlier that week, I had been in Atlanta for my first official day on my new job. And that afternoon, I was in the car with my boss and a co-worker, the guy I replaced in Jacksonville. He asked if we could stop by his place to pick something up, and we did. He was in corporate housing... and the corporate apartment was in her condo building. Two of the three bars that we went to that night to celebrate my hiring... were bars she and I had visited before. That whole fucking town was crammed with landmarks of our time together, and I could feel it all closing in on me. Through no fault of anyone's, I had been poked and prodded and had scabs ripped free just days before that email.

I was in no shape to have that conversation, though maybe on any other day I would have wanted nothing more than to have her back. Either way, I did what I did, and I wrestled with it for weeks afterward. I decided I had done the right thing, even if I hadn't really understood why at the time. I was protecting myself. If I never felt anything like I did with her, I would never risk feeling like I did when she left. And let's face it, a bad risk once is a fucking stupid risk the second time. So I choked that part of me off with a swift, brutal tourniquet.

But I didn't (couldn't) amputate it. It just sat there, rotting. This thing just hung over me and consumed me. What had I done? What had she really wanted? Why could I not stop caring?

I couldn't understand why I couldn't just let it go. I went through the 2007 holiday season with just a single thought in my head: Last year at this time, I was happier than I have ever been in my entire life, and now, I don't even know what I am anymore. Where at five months afterwards I had been steadily getting better, I spent October, November, December and January pretty much back where I started. I had this new development to mull over.

It's a funny thing- in April, almost exactly a year after she broke up with me, I was having a conversation with my dad about relationships. Not about me and her, just a general conversation. I was thinking about moving (which I have since done). And suddenly, something clicked. I understood that part of what had made me so angry was something I wasn't right to be angry about. To put it simply, what I learned from my dad is this:

Relationships are like moving trucks. They're a whole lot of furniture stuffed into one vehicle traveling down the road. His and hers. And, like moving trucks, relationships have to have balance. There has to be some sort of give and take- some of her stuff on this side next to his, and vice versa. Because everyone's furniture has different shapes and sizes and weights. So your sofa and her dining room table are not the same thing- not in the least. But if they weigh the same (if they're of the same relative importance), they can balance each other out. Everything from one of you being the one who mows the lawn while the other cleans the bathrooms to one of you handling the finances while the other takes the lead in social situations. Balance. That way, when you're on the highway and you get hit by a gust of wind, your moving truck doesn't tip over.

What I had expected, and was so angry about, was that when things got tough, that she would fight for us the way I had at the start. I hoped that she would have patience to get through it. Instead, she gave up. Had I understood how balance worked better, I would have known it wasn't fair to expect the exact same thing from her. Maybe there was some other way it could have worked. I know I didn't handle it perfectly. But whatever the balance was, it was wrong and we tipped over.

Whether or not it might have been fixed was immaterial. It had come and gone. And it was time for me to forgive, and to ask forgiveness. I had spent the previous year since the breakup in a relationship with being broken up and being hurt. Harboring this simmering anger that was just in the way of everything.

So I wrote her a letter about moving trucks.

She said thank you and she was sorry too, and to have a nice life.

And I will. I'm still not exactly happy. But my job is going well. I'm having fun. My friends are still my friends. I've made some new ones. I live in a nice house. I still have some anger, but it's not quite the same as it had been before. I understand now that it's just a lesson. A horrendously painful, and fabulously useful, lesson.

Hopefully it will stick.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: contemplative contemplative
soundtrack: James Darren - The Way You Look Tonight

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I still hate Brett Favre, but more importantly, now, I hate everyone involved with the University of Missippi, except Edwin Vickery, who saved me $4,000. You all are whores, and will continue to be so until I decdide otherwise.

Will's a whore too.

Because I said so.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: enraged enraged
soundtrack: The pathetic sounds of Ole Miss celebrations.

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I split my right big toe open riding a mechanical bull tonight.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: tired tired
soundtrack: sheer incredulity

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Fuck Fuck Fuck

Fuck the Jets and fuck Brett Favre.



God dammit.





I hate the world.


hey little fella, how are you doing today?: pissed off

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No time for a big update. But I'm getting there. Hopefully I can remember everything I was putting off writing about. But suffice it to say, today I am heading off to the lake with a ballistics gel mold for Francine (the name we gave the potato gun).

We're going straight Mythbusters on that sucker.

hey little fella, how are you doing today?: sweaty

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