Wednesday, April 28, 2010

accepted stroke, left

Tonight I went with friends - my America-tourin' out-o'-town pal Anna Borg, and Lisa McGuire, who's local but with whom I hadn't hung out in an embarrassingly long time - to see Julian Casablancas, aka "That Strokes Guy," at the Cannery Ballroom.

I know, you're used to detail-filled concert reviews, but in this case, I'm not the man to provide one. I owned the first Strokes album for about a minute, wasn't thrilled with it, sold it, and haven't kept up with the Strokes or Strokes-related things since. Setlist? Not when I don't know the songs!

Actually, none of us fortysomethings were really expecting much of anything. We were mostly just looking for something fun to do together, it seemed like the best entertainment option available tonight, and Lisa could get us in for free. Winner!

Anyway, if anyone wants to know where the hipster doofi of Greater Nashville were tonight, it was at the Julian Casablancas show. In fact, tonight I had the revelation that I listen to Old Person Music, because I realized that the hemlines at the shows I usually attend are no longer nearly as short as those sported by even the most conservative young women at tonight's festivities. So I guess I also no longer listen to Short Skirt Music, since I don't see them anymore when I go out.

I also wasn't prepared for how LOUD the show was! I wore earplugs to almost every show in the '90s, but hearing loss plus the fact that I listen to Old Person Music in small clubs had led me to abandon the practice with no discernible ill effects. But tonight, the sound was so loud that I could barely hear all the songs I didn't know.

Anyway, That Strokes Guy played That Strokes Song - actually very early, three songs in - plus some other songs that are probably from his recent solo album. The crowd was enthusiastic, bopping and singing along between trips to the bar for more PBR.

That Strokes Guy also played a faithful cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark." When it first started, I thought "huh, he's playing a song that sounds like... wait a minute, IT IS!" And to close the regular set, he played "I Wish It Was Christmas Today," the latter-years Saturday Night Live yuletide staple (Anna recognized it long before I did). I would have been even more amused if he had covered Courtney Love's "But Julian, I'm a Little Older Than You."

Still haven't quite figured out what That Strokes Guy was wearing, and we also didn't figure out if he was bored or if that's just the way he rolls, super mumbly and hanging on to the microphone stand for dear life. His band did rock out effectively, and the crowd was eating it up, so he was indeed able to connect successfully to the Short Skirt/Hipster Doofi demographic.

After we felt like we'd seen enough and were tired of standing up - after all, we are consumers of Old Person Music - we prepared to exit at what we thought was an early departure point, but it turned out to be the end of the regular set! We were out of the building by the time the encore(s?) started, beating the crowd to the exits and returning across the Cumberland unhindered by traffic. Having observed Hipster Doofi in their natural habitat, we were relieved to be back to our homes and cats and physical media before midnight. It was a great evening mostly because of the company, but That Strokes Guy didn't hurt it either.

(Photo courtesy Lisa McGuire; title reference courtesy Game Theory)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

sweet cream of jesus

When I was in high school, if one of our athletes had muscle aches and pains, the remedy our teams used was an analgesic cream. While I was merely the statistician for our basketball teams, and only played baseball my senior year (and even then, not often and not well), I spent a large chunk of my extracurricular time involved with our athletic programs. And the distinctive aroma of this product - somewhere between ammonia and Ben-Gay - still wafts across all of my high school sports memories.

I had remembered two things about this substance besides its smell, only one of which turns out to be true:

  1. It was called "Creamogesic."
  2. Most of our players inevitably called it - and they weren't joking, they really thought it was the actual name - "Cream of Jesus."
Misunderstanding the name kind of makes sense. Jesus healed the sick. Why wouldn't a cream named after Him miraculously cure your inflamed bicep? I can still remember basketball star Antonio Martin, who had a notoriously balky knee even as a junior, always calling out for the "Cream of Jesus." Jesus-infused or not, the ointment helped Antonio lead Northfork High School to the West Virginia AA final in '82-'83 and to a championship in '83-'84, so maybe it did have that saviouriffic touch.

Since those days, I had tried to Google "Creamogesic" a few times, with no success, but for some reason, I found it today. I also found out why I hadn't stumbled upon it earlier: I had misremembered the name. Turns out that it's Cramergesic, a product of (surprise!) Cramer Sports Medicine.

Despite my surprise at discovering that I too had goofed on the name, this makes Cramergesic's etymological transformation into Cream of Jesus even more amusing to me, since it involves misinterpretation of both halves of the product name.

Even though it turned out to be merely Crameriffic, this sports cream will always have a heavenly glint for me, especially when I look at those two West Virginia State Basketball Tournament plaques on my wall. Can't tell me that there wasn't divine intervention involved.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

the secret of a happy marriage, as determined by me at approx. age 9

My mom and dad divorced, acrimoniously, when I was six years old.

I certainly wasn't one of those classic "kids of divorce" who went around thinking it was their fault. I didn't believe that for a minute! But thinking ahead even then, I desperately want to figure out what had gone wrong with their marriage. That way, when I became an adult and entered a relationship, I could avoid the pitfalls that ultimately drove my parents apart.

Unfortunately for me, there wasn't a lot of information about their troubles to help me out. My dad and mom were rarely together under the same roof (yes, I see as an adult how that in itself was a huge issue), and I don't remember seeing them fight when they were, so I completely lacked observational data.

"Why not ask your mom?", you might say. Well, my mom ain't one to be talking about that. She rarely brings up anything about my father or their relationship. Even now, 37 years after the divorce, it still hits a nerve for her. Since we live 400 miles apart and see each other rarely, our time together is precious, and I certainly don't bring up my dad or the divorce unless absolutely compelled to do so. And when I was a kid, under the same roof? No way was I going to cause her pain or antagonize her. So I didn't ask, and and she didn't tell.

But one day, out of the blue, she volunteered something. It was the first thing she had ever confided in me about their troubles. And it was this:

She and my father had fought about which way to put the toilet paper roll on the holder.

I held onto this piece of information like it was gold during a recession. I vowed to myself that when I got married, I would find out which way my spouse preferred the toilet paper to go, and that's how it would go, forever and ever, amen. To my little kid mind, this small bit of spousal consideration would ensure that my marriage would succeed where my parents' had failed.

As it turned out, my first wife did not have a preference. Perhaps our willy-nilliness when it came to putting toilet paper on the roller symbolized larger inconsistencies in how we conducted our lives, or violated some basic feng shui tenet, since she and I ended up splitting.

Mandy and I have had no toilet paper incidents thus far, but it occurred to me the other day that we really haven't faced this crucial relationship hurdle yet. "How can that be?" you ask. "Haven't you guys been together for nearly three years? Surely you use toilet paper and not corncobs or the Sears-Roebuck catalog, unless you carry on your West Virginia outhouse customs?"

Why yes, Dear Reader, Mandy and I have been together for nearly three revolutions around Old Sol. Nevertheless, we have not had to broach this issue, because our tiny bathroom in our tiny house does not have a toilet paper holder. Instead, we have one of those free-standing roll-holder dealies, where you can stack three rolls on top of each other.

So the number one most important pressing concern for any cohabitating couple, as determined by me from the evidence I gathered as a child, has never come up. If Mandy and I move to a new place next year and get divorced not long after, you'll know that it was an Under-Over marriage, and ne'er the twain shall tolerate each other for long.