you wouldn’t know a diamond if you held it in your hand

For complicated personal reasons, I recently started listening to local radio after not having heard it for about four years.What I’ve learned from this experience is that local radio is, on the balance, fucking terrible.There’s one station that’s like “Double-you whatever, Boston’s craaaaaziest mix!Our variety will blow your nose clean off your face!We play everything!”but what they really mean by “everything” is “everything from dickless rock from the late nineties, to dickless rock from the early 2000s”.It’s bloody awful.And since I only listen to the radio in the car, it often occurs to me that if I get into a wreck, this crap could be the last thing I ever hear.I’ll be goddamned if I die listening to Coldplay.

So this brings to mind a semi-recent conversation over ice cream, in which the topic of The Worst Songs Ever came up.Years ago, a friend told me her list, which notably featured “The Heat is On” as well as the Bruce Springsteen Christmas song.It’s a charming list, really.Most of the songs on my own list were on heavy rotation when I was in high school and either trapped in friends’ cars or sitting in a depressed, listless heap in front of VH1, but some others have snuck in as well.The list includes:

“Barely Breathing” by Duncan Sheik

“Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman

“Kiss From a Rose” by Seal (I was delighted when another member of our party volunteered this himself!  Though, props for being married to Heidi Klum)

“Daughters” by John Mayer (ask me about the time I quite literally almost vomited when this came on during a particularly stressful day)

Basically anything by Steely Dan (though props for naming yourselves after a dildo)

There are plenty of others, but they don’t spring to mind as instantly as the aforementioned.  I am currently accepting submissions.

gary puckett: secret perv

On my way home from work today, the song “Lady Willpower” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap came on the radio.  I was jamming along, as you do, when I was struck by duel realizations.  1) Every time I hear that band’s name, I say to myself, “Gary Puckett and the Anion Gap!  Haha!  Someday I will share my hilarity with the world.”  Like, I think it’s pretty funny, but let’s call a spade a spade here:  it’s a lab values joke.  And I’ve been making it to myself, consistently, for years.   2) The lyrics to “Lady Willpower” are vaguely threatening, and the concept of the song roughly translates to, “You’d better fuck me now, because I’m tired of waiting.”  I’ve been singing along to this song for years, since I was just a young girl in the wilds of central Massachusetts, and that sinister undercurrent never occurred to me before.  If you watch the aforelinked video, you’ll notice that dude’s eyes are sort of…rapey.  They make you want to say, “No, Mr. Puckett, I will not let you give me yours.”

Reflecting upon this, I thought about some of the other hits in Puckett’s catalogue.  Obviously there’s “Young Girl”, which is more blatantly pervy but always struck me as okay because, like, he’s turning her down!  He’s not going there!  But then if you listen a little more closely, you notice that he has actually already hit that, and “now” it hurts to know the truth.  Hm.   Later in the song he desperately implores his own personal Dolores Haze to leave “before I change my mind”.  Woah there, stallion!  Are you a gentleman or aren’t you?  You aren’t.  Maybe this could have been overlooked back in the sixties, in the era of free love and whatnot, but if you watch this video you’ll see that Puckett is still singing this song today, only now he’s all old and has a bouffant and it’s that much more unsettling.  Apparently at some point he stopped worrying about how Young the Girl was and penned “This Girl is a Woman Now,” possibly the ickiest ode to taking a chick’s virginity I’ve ever heard.  “She cried a single tear?”  The hell?  There’s not supposed to be any crying in sex, Puckett…unless you’re, you know, doing it with a “baby in disguise.”  And let us recall, Gary, that I am someone who recently publicly defended Roman Polanski…and even I think you’re gross.

I could go on, but I’ll leave on this note:  “Woman, Woman” is the same goddamn melody as “Young Girl”…but it does appear to be about someone who at least has grass on the field.

where your blood comes from

The other day at work, some of the clients and staff were looking up music videos of a recently deceased pop star (you get a cookie if you can guess which one!).   In the crowded room, I found a place to stand next to my friend, who is in a family way and enjoys hugging and leaning on whoever’s closest.  As we embraced each other, the ode to racial unity “Black or White” cued up on the computer screen.  It bears mentioning at this point that I am, in fact, white and she is, in fact, black, and that it quickly became one of the single cheesiest moments of my entire life.  I made a joke about it, which diffused the tension somewhat…but holy christ was that shit cheesy.

in which wall street prevents me from being mighty-mighty, and lettin’ it all hang out

So the global economy is sort of collapsing, except sort of not, and those of us in the middle class (i.e. me and pretty much everyone I know) don’t much know what to make of it.  In fact, until very recently, I counted myself among those who were totally unaffected by the crisis.  That all changed with one fell instant message, in which Jared informed me that his office’s holiday party has been canceled this year due to financial constraints.

Jared’s Office Holiday Party is something we live for all year round.  It’s a beautiful, magical event that involves things like the renting out of a ballroom in a fancy hotel in Harvard Square, free hotel rooms for every attendee, and such an endless, decadent, ridiculous supply of top-notch victuals and libations that you are pretty much guaranteed to need that free hotel room.  I very much dislike parties, especially parties where I don’t know most of the people, especially parties where everyone gets crazy drunk…but I love this party.  It cannot be explained; it just is.

It occurs to me that I never told the story of Jared’s Office Holiday Party Aught-Seven, which happened to fall on the same night as a friend’s wedding.  And it wasn’t just any friend’s wedding, but our friend Juju who is a delightful guy and whose bride-to-be was immigrating from Pakistan.  It was a very big deal.  But fortunately, the wedding ceremony was brief and in the evening, and the reception was to occur two days later (per Muslim custom), which meant we could go to the wedding and then go to the office party and not miss a moment of either.

On the big night, we obtained directions to the wedding venue (something called the Old State House), and from the venue back to the party. We set out for the wedding, giddy with excitement for both our friend and our party.  We drove into Boston, expecting to wind up more or less downtown.  Instead, our directions lead us into Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, which, for those of you who don’t know, is pretty much the ghetto.  (Yeah, there are some nice parts, but let’s not split hairs here; it’s the frigging ghetto.) “This doesn’t seem right,” we said.  “From the website, the wedding venue looked like an upscale place, and this is Dorchester…but then again, there are some nice parts.”  We arrived at the address and parked on the street.  There was nothing resembling an Old State House, but instead an actual shack covered in graffiti.  Something was definitely wrong.

I got out of the car, determined to ask a local for advice.  I noticed a man walking down the sidewalk in my general direction. “Excuse me,” said I, “is there an Old State House around here?”  And I shit you not, when the man opened his mouth to reply that I was most definitely in the wrong part of town, I saw that he was wearing a full gold grill over his teeth.

Well, fuck. By that point there was definitely no time to make it to wherever the Old State House actually was.  We made some frantic phone calls and found that some friends of ours were also running disgustingly late, but they were able to give us correct directions to the venue, which was not in Dorchester but in downtown Boston (which, no shit?  The Old State House is downtown?  Because we thought it was in fucking DORCHESTER).  We drove there as fast as we could, and made it there and parked and ran.  When we arrived at the venue, we dashed up to the second floor and saw:  our late-ass friends, who had made it there before us, a room full of people who appeared to be deep in prayer (many of whom had travelled all the way from Pakistan just to hear us creaking the floor boards as we interrupted the wedding), and our friend Juju with his incredibly beautiful bride, being pronounced husband and wife.

Well, we had totally fucked that up, but the wedding was over and there was nothing we could do about it, other than go to the Office Holiday Party and try to forget our woes.  So go we did, and we got there and ate amazing food and desserts and drank drinks.  Now, y’all who know me know that I do not dance.  But on this particular night, I not only danced, but I somehow wound up dancing with the singer of the live band while he sang “Brick House”.  I ended up hugging Jared’s boss (the CEO of the company), who later joined the band on lead guitar.  I ended up wearing a lei and eating sushi with my fingers while clinging to Jared, who was drinking out of a plastic coconut.  All in all, it was one of the more successful parties I’ve been to.

All year I’ve looked forward to experiencing that night once again, except with less “missing the most significant day of my friend’s life” and also less “wearing a quasi-gothic black dress to an island-themed party”, but let’s face it, with probably more “waking up in the hotel room in the middle of the night in abject misery, wanting nothing more than a swift and immediate death”.  But because a few people in high places were wicked dumb, I don’t get to re-live that unique joy.  Instead, I now have the night free to go to my office holiday party, which lacks swank hotel ballrooms and free gourmet food, but features a top-forty DJ and two drink tickets!

Hard times are definitely upon us, friends.

shit sandwich

I was somewhat upset recently when I saw a Volkswagen commercial in which Christopher Guest reprises the Nigel Tufnel character from This Is Spinal Tap, one of my all-time favorite movies. I always harbored secret affections for Nigel, and to see him whore himself out in this way was at least a bit unsettling. I tried to put the incident out of my mind until I saw another in what is apparently a series of “rock star guitar solo” VW ads, this one featuring John Mayer noodling away near a shiny new vee-dub.

I dislike John Mayer more than I dislike any other person that I do not actually know. I haven’t listened to any of his music besides the bits that have assaulted my ears during my searches through radio stations, but that has proved enough for me to develop an intense aversion towards him. My hatred was always relatively benign because I simply avoided him the way I avoid all awful musicians, until the day I heard him doing an interview on NPR. He was describing the authoring of the song “Daughters”, and I have transcribed his self-important blather for your review:

“I wrote this song in a hotel room in New Zealand and I was supposed to be downstairs for an on-camera interview and I was an hour and a half late and I knew I was an hour and a half late and I just excused myself because if you’re late to talk about music because you’re writing music then I think you get a pass. I remember coming downstairs and my tour manager was pretty mad and I was just like ‘Ken, don’t even worry about it’.”

The insinuation being, of course, “I will be forgiven for missing the interview because I have just created a work of such genius that all who hear it will find religion and worship at the altar of my assinine lyrics and garbled singing style”. Here are some more of his musings on the writing process:

“…it was one of the fewest times in my life when I’ve ever said to myself, ‘This is so good, something bad’s gonna happen to me’. I don’t expect anyone else to understand it. It’s a moment of creation where something is leaving so quickly and so well and so effortlessly that you just feel like you owe something karmically…”

I can think of something else that leaves quickly and effortlessly: projectile diarrhea. Which, incidentally, is something I enjoy slightly more than I enjoy Mayer’s terrible songs.

True story: once I was stuck in traffic, exhausted and stressed, an emotional wreck, flipping through radio stations in a desperate attempt to find something to lift my spirits. The only thing I could find other than commercials was the above-mentioned “Daughters”, and the sound of it was so vile to my ears that I literally leaned over the steering wheel and dry-heaved. It was an automatic reflex, as instinctive to me as breathing. This is the depth of my ire.

So you can imagine the pain I feel knowing that not only has my beloved Nigel Tufnel sold out, but he has done so in the company of The Enemy himself. I’m living in a hell hole, indeed.

it’s just the way she pours it for you

I woke up this morning determined to finally put the coffee maker back together and brew myself a nice cuppa rather than walking over to Dunkies. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that the decanter was missing, either not having been packed, or having been accidentally thrown out during the move. So I figured I’d go to Target and try to get a replacement decanter. A few minutes into my trip, some dumb cunt driving on a side street decided to forego the whole “stop the car and look before you merge onto fucking Main Street” thing, and nearly smashed into my car. I slammed the horn and the brakes and swerved around her, feeling the car shudder and shake. As I glared at her in the rearview, I could feel my eyes change from green to red. Tiny horns began to sprout up from my skull. I tried to give her the finger, but my right hand had been replaced by a large block of stone à la Hellboy. Seeing this, she freaked and turned down another side street. I pulled over to survey the damage, and various passersby looked on with terror and amusement as I circled the car, my dagger-tipped tail ripping through my jeans. It turned out there was no damage; the shaking I felt had just been the ABS kicking in. Fine. However, in my bedeviled state, I was pretty furious that my assailant had left the scene of the crime, and I got back into the car all IM’A FIND THAT BITCH, and remained in that mode for about two seconds before I remembered: I still haven’t had any coffee!

So I put my plans for bloody, bloody revenge on hold and continued on to Target. I stood in front of the coffeemakers, noting that the replacement decanters were half the price of the cheapest coffeemakers, and didn’t even look like they would fit my machine. Should I just buy a new machine? I was deep in thought when a middle-aged guy wheeled his cart into the aisle and started mumbling to himself thusly: “Mr. Coffee…twelve cup…Mr. Coffee…” I was already on the verge of tears from my near-accident, and now I had to make a Very Important Decision with a mumbler standing next to me. THE WHOLE WORLD HAS GONE MAD!, I declared in my mind, just as Mr. Coffee turned to me and said, “I have this machine! It’s great!”

What followed was a long and in-depth conversation about a particular model of coffeemaker which this man felt was superior in every way. He described its various features, explained how I should clean it before use and periodically thereafter (with vinegar), and peered at me with the wide round eyes of someone who is clearly a bit cracked. I quickly relaxed, because I have great affection for the slightly insane, and also because he was guiding me through this process like the guardian angel of caffeine that I so sorely needed. He already had this model, you see, but was buying a second one for his other home. It made a great cup of coffee, he said. “Ok, you’ve convinced me,” I said, reaching for a box. “NO! THAT’S THE WRONG ONE! THAT ONE COSTS MORE!” he cried, kneeling down and resuming his mr. coffee twelve cup twenty dollar mumbling. He located the correct box and handed it to me, saying, “It’s this one, honey,” and we parted ways, two lost souls who had managed to find salvation for $19.99.