Monday, December 10, 2007

Top Eleven Independent Albums of 2007

11. Battles - Mirrored
Even though this collection of outstanding artists settled on the greatest possible band name and signed to one of the top record labels (Warp) around, they still managed to deliver a thunderous, rhythmic album that puts many of the releases from their former bands to shame. One listen to this record should get anybody fired up for a two-hour commute!

10. Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals
An album that I had no expectations for when I downloaded it a month ago, but which I cannot go more than a day or two without giving a listen. It has influences all over the place, and it sounds like something XTC would have performed if they were from Tehran.

9. The National - Boxer
I must admit that this album went unnoticed at first, as I simply believed them to be another morose band from Brooklyn after they released Alligator. However, after two cross-country drives of constant listening and a show at the 9:30 Club, I am pleased to realize this band possesses more dynamic than their counterparts who released the limp, Our Love to Admire.

8. Dan Deacon - Spiderman of the Rings
This Baltimore Freak-out’s response to being unknowingly used in a Greyhound advertisement: “Like many evil companies they are trying to use subversive advertising and I will not allow myself to be a cog in their wheel of lies and deceit. These rats stink like rotten cum. Fuck them with 1000 fires.” Brilliant.

7. Sunset Rubdown - Random Spirit Lover
The night Olivia returned to Portland, we went to view this “side-project” at the Wonder Ballroom. Although we entered midway into their set, we had an opportunity to listen to them introduce a number of these tunes. I was thoroughly impressed, but she would later describe their sound as being “too zizzy (sp?).”

6. Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
This is their most accessible album to date. Yet, nothing was more awkward than watching them perform on Late Night earlier this year. The Collective is creating spectacular, experimental pop music that may not be fully appreciated for years to come. I may have placed this album with a more lofty position, but one of its member’s decided to mix an album on his own (see #1).

5. The Arcade Fire - Neon Bible
The sound on this album is muffled and the lyrics may even be darker than those on Funeral, but somehow the ensemble managed to compose an amazing compliment to their debut while facing seemingly impossible expectation. A record that kept me company for many of my return commutes from the Crystal Ballroom.

4. Deerhunter - Cryptograms
Not only does this band have the namesake of one of my all-time favorite films, but they are also a great rock band from Atlanta. What an anomaly! If they could have included the songs from their Fluorescent Grey EP on this album, it may have been as high on this list as they were when they recorded it. Either way, I hope they can find a way to record a follow-up, as Cryptograms was a “Fuckin’ A” (movie quote).

3. Radiohead - In Rainbows
This band is slowly, and quietly, making a name for itself.

2. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
An album that is loaded with dance-party singles, with a wonderful ode to NYC as a closer that will allow you to momentarily relax before you jump back up for another listen. One of the few acts that helped to usher in the sound’s revival that haven’t already become an obscure footnote in recent musical history.

1. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
A beautifully layered masterpiece that possesses a myriad of complicated samples and sounds, which seamlessly piece to create one hell of an album. Easily the best album released in a number of years.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

A Reason to be Thankful.

The last fourteen hours had been spent traversing the mid-Atlantic and Midwestern interstates en route to a holiday weekend with my family in the Chicago suburbs. We passed the time discussing academic programs, professional relationships, fast-food consumers, and an assortment of memorable/forgettable holidays with our minds dreaming of a tranquil expedition far away from any distractions or troubles we’ve experienced in “The City that Needs Work.” Despite an afternoon start to our travels, we hoped to avoid delays in relation to weather or traffic and arrive late on the eve of this holiday. However, as the final hours of night were upon us, and we still remained hours from our destination, the likelihood of this presumptuous pace taking us home seemed impossible. A further compounding factor to this delayed realization was the transformation of the misting rain and forming puddles on the asphalt into heavier sleet and black ice on the arterial. Conditions in weather and personal fatigue had now cemented the realization, and we exited on the next ramp to get some due rest at a lodge just inside the Michigan border. We were approximately three hours from our holiday destination, and would wait until morning for more favorable surroundings to finish our lengthy trek.

Sunrise arrived a short time later and there was enough anticipation and anxious emotion within myself to compensate any lethargic feeling I may have had from a deprived rest. Checking the television set, we noted a weather system moving eastward, and directly in our future path, which left snowfall in the areas already crossed over. This is the sort of news no traveler wants to hear, but I figured that the risen daylight would warm temperatures enough to break the clouds from the prior evening, or at worst, leave us with some morning showers to dredge through. So we loaded the car back up and departed from the lodge with clear skies and roadways, around. The interstate towards South Bend was bare and fairly free of traffic, so we now anticipated making good time and being at the parent’s home, Thanksgiving morning, by the noon hour. Shortly after our morning drive began, we noticed the landscape had altered from endless stretches of green fields and plowed agricultural grounds to white-covered flats with scattered patches of foliage sporting a coat of newly fallen snow. Then within a few minutes, we started to find the cause of our changed environment dropping from the sky at an increasing pace. The interstate was now littered with freshly deposited snow, except for the worn paths of the leading automobiles that had left parallel streaks of dark gray for trailing drivers to wisely follow. It was in this immediate moment that I am warned to slow down, as the weather was poor and the driver, myself, was not compensating for such. I was pressing along with traffic, but shouldn’t be, since traffic was not a flock of Chevrolet Malibus, but instead a pride of eighteen-wheelers with enough weight, protection, and experience to ready them for any slight created by the elements. But before I came to this necessary realization, I was passed on the right by one such vehicle, which caused enough distraction to lead our car’s wheels off the beaten path and into the slippery unpacked snow outside the parallels. The car began to slide a bit, and my cell phone vibrated in my left pocket, and before I had time to understand what was occurring, I was now trying to re-correct the slide of the car. I was unable to effectively steer back into the slide, as taught, and the car had now crossed over the centerline and into the right lane. There was no traction between the tires and the asphalt, and I was completely helpless at this point, with the car traveling over sixty miles per hour towards the shoulder. I had long since released the gas pedal and was reluctant to test the anti-lock brake system, for I was not headed in any straight line. The rear passenger tire then touched the eased slope of the grass beyond the shoulder, and the car instantly spun into the white expanses of a field with light foliage in the forefront of a thicker wooded area. We were moving forward, in reverse, beyond the expressway’s path and down a slope. My head was now turned around and facing the rearview window, attentive to the light brush that the bumper was mashing through. There was still some distance until the denser woods would arrive, when the car final comes to a complete stop some seventy feet or so from the road. We were both alright, the car was undoubtedly damaged and still running when I switched the ignition off, but most importantly we were alright.

This is an accurate, but incomplete depiction of the unfortunate events that occurred early this past Thanksgiving morning. It is difficult to describe the accident in detail, which is far different than stating that it is difficult to remember every detail. I can vividly recall the terror I felt with the recognition of loss in control of the car’s direction, the image of looking into Olivia’s beautiful eyes and seeing a desperate plea to avoid disaster, the flash moment when you believe it may all be over, and it is all too hard to effectively convey. Later that day, we would remain startled, but with our health and in the company of those whose care we are thankful for. And today, I am thankful to be typing this entry in my Baltimore apartment, with the love of my life quietly seated steps away from me diligently studying for an upcoming examination.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lama on the Lawn.

While up the coastline this past weekend, news was brought to my attention that a certain holy monk would be speaking on a hill in the coming days. It was explained to me, as I was walking my bicycle through plagues of sensory-overloaded gapers flocking between photo-ops, that the Dalai Lama was appearing this afternoon inside a structure whose marquee was announcing the imminent performance of some whining indie figurehead. The two of us discussed how it would have been pleasant to witness the religious idol this particular day, but that it would have been hard to have known whether we had the available time following our thirty-mile jaunt around the perimeter of Manhattan a few hours prior. Although the two of us had missed this opportunity, she suggested that I attempt to make it to the West Lawn to witness his acceptance speech of the Congressional Gold Medal. And after the logistics of skipping out on the second half of the coming workday were planned, I seized the chance to do so.

I rushed out of the office after a light shift, and met up with a co-worker at the pizza shop a few stories beneath. He had just settled into a slice of cheese pizza that seemed to be detaching itself from the crust, as I forced open the building’s doors and pressed him to continue his lunch as we rambled towards the red line. The travel was pleasantly uneventful, with simple banter and office politics passing the time until we arrived to our final stop outside the mall. Upon pulling in, we briskly traveled the streets of this political scene, with our brows collecting the sweat contributed by this alarmingly warm October day, to the West Lawn where the recipient was now due to speak. There was a relatively short inspection line, so the two of us were skeptical as to whether or not we had missed the event. I had surely figured the pageantry would have possessed more than enough bells and whistles to prolong the beginning of this acceptance speech past the scheduled time. So as to investigate, I cautiously approached a gentleman masked in shades and clasping an automatic weapon whether the man of the hour had spoken yet. He murmured some inaudible reply with a mouthful of chew, and once asked to repeat said the man had already spoken. When I continued as to inquire the duration of the allocution, he told me something to the effect of thirty minutes or so. A story confirmed by his sidekick who was pensively inspecting the affair with the most handsomest of lip covers. I had a hard time believing the smirk of these true blue heroes and decided to hang around for a bit to see if anything to the contrary would transpire. Co-worker and myself stood outside the fenced boundary watching the festival as it continued with musical performances until we were no longer satisfied with the obstructed view.

We then decided to enter the premise and enjoy the festivities, which after receiving the doubtful outlook seemed little more than going through the motions. Yet it was in the following moment, as our bags were being rifled and scanned that we heard the most glorious of words upon our unworthy ears. The Dalai Lama was to speak in the near future, and he was to be introduced by a speaker collared in power pearls and the legendary Buddhist himself, Edward Lewis (Richard Gere). Such a divine orator could only find the true wisdom in having Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) speak on his behalf, because no situation (no matter how nervous, unpolished of diction, or secretly damning of our Western ideals you may be) exists wherein this particular jackass is going to one-up you with his fleeting celebrity. So upon entering the West Lawn we were no longer entertained by Tibetan nationalists, but instead, by a gloating Golden Globe winner. Doctor T (Richard Gere) spent the proceeding twenty minutes seemingly trivializing the Dalai Lama’s countless accomplishments through his lack of coherency and tangent ranting concerning the plight of Nancy Pelosi to the congressional chambers. But, even the infinite patience of the Gold Medal winner must have even been pressed at this instance, as the verbal disgrace was interrupted by the sudden blasts of percussion by a row of Tibetan Monks lined along the entryway to the congressional building. The time, which was previously described as having passed, had arrived and the fourteenth Dalai Lama was promenading along the elevated platform, past the drums, down the pristine flight of stairs, until finally reaching the immaculate podium. There would be a little more filler by the Speaker of the House and a clerical representative from a South Asian nation, but, alas, the culminating appearance was upon my senses (co-worker left once the man of gerbil lore began uttering squawk). Through eased dignity, the reluctant mahatma shyly deflected the uproarious applause by offering the crowd to ‘hush, hush.’ He then released a pleasant giggle and vacated the stand to accept the medal that he had absentmindedly forgot to have dressed around his neck prior to accepting the deserved gratitude of thousands present. A noticed event, which brought satisfaction to someone cynical towards the accumulation of materialistic wealth that a man could exist so detached from such. Unfortunately, being that he was at the disposal of those frowned upon, he was now donning a visor decorated in the crimson and yellow colors of his wardrobe and, more intentionally, a local sports franchise. However, once this odd display was completed the Dalai Lama arose once again to great appreciation and delivered a concise speech in the Tibetan language that was separated into short breadths for eased English translation to an attentive audience. A political agenda in opposition to China was gently alluded to, as was the positive applications concerning non-violent disapproval, the importance of diplomatic relations between fractured factions, and the selfless meaning of this award to the Tibetan people he is exiled from. A shivering presentation that was inspiring in every aspect, but at times a bit unfulfilling due to the juxtaposition of the altruistic icon and the backdrop of imperialistic power stabled by ivory pillars. There was some hope, I suppose, he would have expressed his beliefs at a complete alleviation free of the surrounding political motives being persuaded upon his indispensable being. No pressure to genuinely thank the bureaucrats, sympathize to those who attempt to nullify his spirit, or play mediator between those two nations. Simply an expression of what is right, and how to live an exemplary life.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Warming Pursuit.

A high afternoon sun pressed fatigue upon the elderly man. He had endured countless days similar to the present along this particular trail, but failed to remember a time when his readily resources felt so depleted. Perhaps he was not fully prepared for the unseasonable warmth. The satchel was loaded a bit hastily this particular morning, he thought, maybe his pace was quicker than usual. There seemed to be more anxious energy upon him when he initiated his strides today. Such vigor, in combination with knowledge of a pending change of season, appears to be adequate explanation to why he rested under the shade of an aged Pocosin Pine. At once his worn denim embraced the leave-covered soil beneath him, and the soft fleece covering his back leant upon the tree’s bark, residing the man comfortably situated and reminiscent of past expeditions along this trail. He had always appreciated the aroma of the coastal autumn air and the assortment of fauna, which happily lingered in its greeting until the brisk and heavy air of the winter months forced them to seek out hidden comfort. He denoted the hardening months as ideal for witnessing a variety of shorebirds fleeing the rough, surrounding mid-Atlantic stretches for placate, inviting air to the south. Or, the white-tailed doe edify her impressionable fawn with skills in forage and meticulous alertness. Truly splendid glimpses of life that rewarded the early mornings and restless evenings brought upon by stiff joints and sore muscles attributed to ripened exertion. With minimal reluctance, the man believed these cherished occasions were becoming stale, and more and more unfulfilling. However, there was always one moment, beautifully etched in his mind, which he coveted more than all the other lasting, and now passing, occasions. It was with this thought that the man found inside him the sentiment that caused his unease, and suddenly lifted his formerly weary person off the consolidated ground.

At the apex of his reflection, the man felt a surreal connection to this instance of his past. He continued along the rocky trail, lifting his refreshed limbs and bearing the fallen canopy beneath his soles. The cover above now separated the red star from him, and he pushed forward towards an overview, which had been the setting of his prior fulfillment. Jubilant thoughts marched through the forefront of his mind, and seemingly instantaneously he approached the ridge above the steeply graded relief. Peering down the hillside at the stream’s meandering banks, the man reviewed the familiar scene. He rested his satchel in a bed of marsh grass and hoisted his body up a set of stacked boulders to scan the horizon. With great care, the man searched each cluster of Sassafras, every protruding Maple, in search of the elusive and disappearing moment. The notion was outlandish, but not unqualified. He may have only shed eyes upon the canid for several seconds within the hundreds of hours spent in these coastal woods, but the man was eager and his motives were clear.

The meticulous dissection of the view continued for the remainder of this afternoon, but the man would not be satisfied until dusk had suppressed all but the final rays of light. This rehashed memory had brought the man an insatiable delight he was not going to allow to subside on his accord. He knew the Red Wolf had only survived the excessive hunting and elimination of natural habitat, which forecasted its eminent doom, through cunning and resourceful habits. The fleeting illumination was ideal for the nocturnal hunter, but the man had by now realized his opportunity, though pursued, was now futile. He turned his slumped shoulders away from the setting sun, and locked his fragile fingers into the grooves of the boulder, readying his slight decent. But it was at this precise point when the man heard an anticipated rustle of dried leaves that pricked his attentive ears. The sound sent elated hope, as he suddenly twisted his attentive eyes to the source that was now to his back. Gazing into the nearest tree line, the man caught a glimpse of the cause to this encouraging commotion. Darting in between the jutting deciduous trees, the man witnessed a matured doe confidently racing with her fawn along the streams edge. The man reluctantly released a half-hearted smile at the two magnificent creatures, as he admired the pursuit of the idyllic predator with endowed fervor.

Friday, August 31, 2007


I took a plane; I took a train. Ah! Who cares? You always end up in the city.

The following event happened one week ago today. It provides insight to my everyday commute from Baltimore to the District for my profession with a public transportation firm. Oh the pits of irony are deep in this one.

The end of the workweek has arrived and I made plans with Liv to go to a baseball game at Camden Yards. I have no allegiance or reservations towards either of the participating teams, but being an avid fan of baseball, I look forward to seeing a stadium that is one of the better legacies of baseball in the nineties. The first pitch is at five after seven, which means I need to depart the office a bit earlier than usual. A worrisome, yet minor, probability of being discovered leaving early was averted when both the president and office administrator had noticed the beauty of a sunny day and split. Even so, I left no encounter to chance and slid down the stairwell instead of standing around in the lobby for the elevator. I open the back door and hit the concrete running hoping to catch the light rail at the station a few blocks away. Usually an addition of an aggressive walk here can mean minutes, or possible hours, of commute time saved. The light rail is not the lengthiest portion of my overall commute, even though it comprises about twenty minutes, but catching one at the right time can determine what MARC train I am able to catch at Union Station. This particular day I am hoping to make the four twenty-four train that makes fewer stops, leaving me with plenty of time to have a beverage with Liv and still view the lead-off hitter for the Twins.

All went smoothly on this small and crucial leg of the greater commute, which is to say, I was able to board the intended train. But here is where an average day’s events became hellish. I find a seat on the quiet car in the front of the train, which is called such because of the regulations against loud communication – cell phones, banter, etc. This provides me with a welcomed relief to the unpleasantries of any workday, and enables me to listen to some tunes and/or read one of those fictitious novels I enjoy. The engine of the train clicks over and the initial push sends the commuter into motion along the rails, but two minutes into the relaxing journey all power in the car turns off. The lights go out, the air-conditioning ceases, and the eerie silence of complete absence of sound fills the car holding sixty or so passengers. The train is to capacity and coasting along the tracks to an eventual complete halt two hundred feet from an overpass. It turns out this obstruction would have proven to be a blessing in the coming hour. Yes, I would spend the next hour on a broken down train, filled to capacity, on a day where the swamp air of the Eastern Seaboard has reached the high nineties. The commuters sit and sit, with no inclination to whether the train’s power will return in the immediate future. I am against a window on the western side of the train, making inquisitive glares to the gentleman seated next to me who is reading an installment of the Hannibal Lecter series. This is bizarre on a number of levels, but I must not digress. A woman who is seated five rows in front of me begins to cry after forty-five minutes pass without any announcement as to what caused the inconvenience or how any of these passengers can continue with their interrupted lives. In the midst of this stall a man across the aisle to my right receives all incoming calls on the quiet car, and is not alone in his action. The quiet car is now unbearably warm, as it has been baking in the sun for close to an hour, and people are opening their orifices to blow out more hot air. This one particular loud mouth is having an open-ended conversation with his partner during this stressful state of suspension, and stating the method in which he intends to get out of this cart – each time more vocal and angst-inspired. He expresses a scenario where he takes his shoe and kicks the mother-fucking window out. I am not completely in disagreement, but my man needs to pull it together, he is only compounding the car’s disgruntled mood.

My dress shirt and shoes have long been removed when we finally receive word from an insightful man who used his laptop to find out the status of the train. The outside world knows our condition, but we do not. It turns out we will be having our train pushed back to Union Station by another commuter and should remain on the train until it departs again at six forty. Meaning I will miss the majority of the baseball game and arrive in Baltimore after a commute surpassing three hours. After some mechanic wizardry, our train is pushed back to the station we departed from at five fifteen, which leaves me with a slim possibility of making either the five twenty or five thirty-four trains to Baltimore. I decided minutes earlier that if I were to meet Liv in time for the game, I would have to board that train in five minutes. We return to the platform and the automatic doors swing open, hoards of people are now trying to make the five thirty-four train, but I have ambitions to see the slumping Orioles lose another game. Once I step out there is a large cluster of wandering wonderers congregating, with the one exception of a black gentleman that hits the concrete running. This is just the carrot I needed. I weave through the beleaguered, following closely to this track star as we run from track twenty-five, up an elevator, through a turnstile of sorts, through hallways of congestion, through a loading lobby at five eighteen on a Friday, through the gate entrance, and finally down the platform of track eleven. I hadn’t run like this since high school, well before I betrayed my fitness and lungs in favor of an extracurricular social life. Myself, and presumably the gentleman, who I lost once my eyes noticed the five-twenty was still in port, were likely the only two to make it through its doors seconds before the initial push would send this train into motion along the rails.

With the train now gliding along the railway, I am winded and searching for a place to sit. I discover a vacant seat next to a gentleman, and throw my exasperated self next to him. Minutes pass before I fully recover my breath, by which time I have noticed my neighbor is wearing an Amtrak button-up shirt. I proceed to shoot him an unnoticed smirk, lean back and turn on my headset, which is cued to Apparat. Now succumbed by relief of the knowledge that I will be with Liv in time for the opening inning, and that all could be much worse. It hadn't been the greatest of commutes, but no commute ever is, I just sometimes sugarcoat the bad ones with those that fall in accordance to planned departures/arrivals.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Tohoscopic Visions and Abstracts.

There has been a great amount of isolation since my physical relocation two weeks past. Not necessarily an inviting wear on the psyche, but nonetheless the state of the present. While incurring introspective periods of your life it is important to be creative and to seek and embrace constructive influences to maintain mental progression. It is also of significance to preserve perspective and seize said moments as opportunistic events to cherish simple sources of entertainment. Cinema has recently accomplished the demand of filling a void vacant of primary innovation with a source of creativity. More specifically, it has been the directorial efforts of Akira Kurosawa. The intentions of this entry are simple, a brief review of seven of the influential directors films, most of which I have viewed since my arrival to the East.

Ran (1985)
Influenced by Shakespeare’s King Lear, this is an extravagant depiction of the fall of a powerful patriarch leading to an irreplaceable power void that is fought for among three sons. The highlight of this film was when the deranged patriarch is unable to commit seppuku atop his burning castle and chooses to maniacally flee out the castle’s gates. I viewed this film on a couch with a floral print last autumn in Portland, alone.
Rating: よい

Rashomon (1950)
Kurosawa’s masterpiece, which recounts the events surrounding a rape and murder in a forest setting through the conflicting views of five different characters: woodsman, priest, bandit, samurai’s lady, and the samurai’s specter. The highlight of this film was the fight sequence between the bandit and the samurai, where the majority of the action is the two flailing at and falling over one another. I viewed this film on a couch with a floral print one-month ago in Portland, two friends present.
Rating: 優秀

Throne of Blood (1957)
Film adaptation of Shakespeare’s MacBeth, where two great samurais are anointed separate castles with one character being convinced by his wife to rid the other from the future power struggle. The highlight of this film was when the secret behind the murder is revealed to the evil samurai’s followers, who proceed to send a barrage of arrows at their deceitful leader. I viewed this film on a couch striped with indecency one-month ago in Portland, housemate present.
Rating: よい

The Hidden Fortress (1958)
A film credited as being a large influence upon Star Wars, where two vagabonds stumble across a hidden cache of gold that is protected, along with a princess in guise, by a former general hoping to transport the treasure from the desert abode to the princess’ land beyond guarded walls. The highlight of this film was when the princesses’ protector slices three enemies to the traveler’s well being while on horseback, and then defeats the attacker’s master in a spear fight reminiscent to the mirror scene of Enter the Dragon. I viewed this film on a bed with three pillows in Baltimore, girlfriend present.
Rating: 平均

Kagemusha (1980)
Warlord of the Takeda is mortally wounded and directs his closest followers to hide his death from enemies for three years through the use of an impersonator, whose follies lead to the collapse of the clan’s rule culminating with the massacre at the Battle of Nagashino. The highlight of this film was the humiliating defeat of the Takeda clan at the Battle of Nagashino, with the late warlord’s son in command and the impersonator making a crazed battlefield run to his eventual death. I viewed this film on a bed with three pillows in Baltimore, alone.
Rating: よい

Yojimbo (1961)
A film with Western influences that was later remade as A Fistful of Dollars, where a solitary samurai generates great profit by ridding a corrupt village of the feuding crime lords and their followers. The highlight of this film was when the lone samurai slays six gangsters who had been holding a woman hostage, which is the event directly leading to the escalation of deaths in the village. I viewed this film on a bed with three pillows in Baltimore, alone.
Rating: 優秀

Red Beard (1965)
The last film of Kurosawa’s starring Toshiro Mifune as the titled-doctor of a rural clinic, who alters the ideology of a difficult intern through consultation and the pairing of the intern with a young patient rescued from a brothel. The highlight of this film is when the mild-mannered Red Beard breaks the appendages of several men attempting to disallow him from removing the young patient from her brothel in Edo. I viewed this film on the wooden floor of a spare room in Baltimore, alone.
Rating: よい

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Swiss Peaks in the Willamette Valley.

It is fifteen past six o’clock and the sun is beginning to peer above the valley’s ridge with its earliest rays protruding through my exposed bedroom window. My cell phone is ringing in accordance to this morning hour, which I had preset five hours prior as a wake-up call. I alertly reach across my surprisingly rested body and grasp the device, pressing my index finger against a button on the side of the phone that will quiet its noise. Immediately after doing so, I feel a bit disoriented since I hadn’t awoken in this bed in a couple of weeks, but I soon remember where I am and why I had set an alarm for such an early Sunday morning start…Wimbledon. The All England Club’s Gentleman’s Championship Match was scheduled to begin at nine o’clock EST and with my body still in sync with the daily’s activities of the east coast I had decided it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for me to awake around six o’clock PST and view the featured contest. There are many favorable connotations in my life that surround this particular sporting event; I spent a number of childhood, and later adolescent, summer days participating in tennis practices, camps, tournaments, etc. which were early memories for me that arose from viewing past Wimbledon tournaments. Initially I had taught myself the sport of tennis by spending early summer mornings with my breakfast in front of the television learning the unique system of scoring and specific mechanics displayed to near perfection by players such as Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Boris Becker. So it was on this morning, in a similar manner, that I flipped on the television and stretched my body out on a living room couch in anticipation to this year’s final between the current top two players in the world: Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafeal Nadal of Spain.

Once the glow of the television warmed the living room’s interior, I was delighted to see the match underway and that I had only missed the first game, which was a rare break of serve on the four-time defending champion, Federer. This was a pleasant omen of sorts since I had my doubts to whether Nadal, the second seed, would pose much of a challenge to the consistent dominance of the Swiss on his choice surface of grass. However, Nadal is unable to consolidate the break and hold his own serve in the second game, and Federer sends a message that he understands the encapsulating sense of history surrounding him as he attempts to tie the modern day record of consecutive Wimbledon titles held by Bjorn Borg (5). Soon a confident Federer pounces on the tightness of Nadal and finds himself ahead two games to one, but Nadal eventually settles into the intensity of the moment and brings the first set to a tie-breaker through some great counterattacking ground strokes. The tiebreaker was controlled by the Swiss player until an overrule was announced on the apparent set-clinching point that initially halted his momentum, but once collected, Federer was able to cleanly strike a crisp backhand volley to take the first set tiebreak at nine to seven. The second set continued the high quality of play that characterized the end of the first, with players holding their serves and hitting a strong ratio of winners to unforced errors. Federer played to character in a manner that was consistent and never seeming to be extraneous, which may have been too relaxed of a prose when opposed to the Spaniards grit and sense of timely urgency. With the Swiss serving at four-all, Nadal struck a spectacular backhand from the seat of his pants that landed crosscourt for an unforeseeable winner and subsequent break of serve for the twenty-one year old Spaniard. Now having gained momentum of the match, Nadal was able to capitalize on what would be the best shot of the match to hold his next service game and win the second set by a score of six to four.

The closure of the second set presented an appropriate time to take a break, since it was becoming apparent that this best of five set match might go the distance. So I quickly ran to the kitchen and scanned the empty cupboards for an instant breakfast. Not having anything in the cupboards remaining to my possession, I decided on a bowl of couscous, which is not exactly the traditional strawberries and crème associated with the tournament, but will fill the immediate void and not leave the housemates too unsettled. Once the meal was hastily prepared, I returned to the living room and posted up on the other couch to note the two players are even on serve at two apiece. The players continue to exchange games, as Federer sends the match to three-all following a winner off of a diving Nadal volley that was initially ruled out, but swiftly overruled by the chair umpire. Federer plays the next games with uncharacteristic emotion, with the less experienced Nadal playing tentative with the culminating affect of netting an open court forehand, which could have produced two set point opportunities. Seizing the opening accompanying this rare miscue, Federer produces some needed momentum by stringing together a series of points and sends the third set to another tiebreaker, which he displays impressive skill to dominate at seven to three. The following set begins with Nadal abruptly ending Federer’s force from the previous set with a break that earns him the first game for the fourth straight set. This continued as the theme of the fourth set as the Spanish phenom would consolidate the break and then again win the next Federer service game and his own to take a commanding lead of the set at four to love. It was then, just as the match appeared to be slipping away from the champion, that Nadal requested extra time at the changeover to receive treatment for an apparent slight injury to his right knee. He would play the rest of the set with hesitation and ginger mobility, but nonetheless hold onto his large lead to win the fourth set at six to two.

The fifth and final set was now upon the captivated audience, myself included, and it appeared that the four-time champion might fall to the young Spanish professional, who is one of a few players to actually have a winning record over the world’s top player. Federer would win the first game, and the players would exchange victories in the following games, including the fifth and match’s most critical game. It was with the set tied at two that Nadal had double break point on Federer’s serve to gain a lead in this decisive fifth set. Unfortunately for Nadal, he hit a tentative forehand into the middle of the net and Federer regained his seemingly lost poise to retake control of the critical game. Furthering this momentum, the champion broke Nadal’s next service game for the first time since the first set, after connecting on a series of tremendous shots that skipped off the lines comprising the perimeter of the single’s court. It was after this second break of the match in which Federer would gain an insurmountable four to two lead that he would progress to a six to two fifth set triumph. The nearly four hour match would be completed by a punctuating overhead slam by Roger Federer into the advantage court, with the now five-time Wimbledon champion crumbling to the grass surface in a mix of astonishment and exhaust. He did not play his best tennis on this particular fortnight finale, but he performed just well enough to solidify his place with the greats of the game like Bjorn Borg and the player I viewed more than anyone else during my long past zenith in actual tennis performance, Pete Sampras.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Mechanical Melodies in the Murder City.

Breaking News! Steven & Belvedere have surfaced onto the musical scene with the announcement of their debut album.

And that was the headline my awakened eyes scanned past this morning on one of the final pages of the most recent Baltimore City Paper. I cannot even begin to fathom the implications of this announcement upon the sleepy independent music scene of this quiet harbor town. This simple blurb in the depths of a free street-dispensed weekly will undoubtedly give the suits a little fodder at the water coolers, send bloggers to their iMac powerbooks to frantically develop fervor, and leave the five hipsters of this town in absolute awe. I mean, damn, this is unbelievable. I can remember just moments ago when I first read this declaration and my fingers went numb in a euphoric bliss causing the paper to slide out of the loosened grip of my hands and plummet onto the bare apartment floor. Compose yourself, I thought, there is not a great deal of substance within that simple line. So I bent over to pick up the newspaper, and once accomplished, looked over the room for a place to sit and finish thumbing through the periodical in hopes of elaboration. I just moved in and there is nowhere to sit, so I hop onto the mattress tucked over in the corner and carefully continue on with my morning read. After some leafing through of pages, I once again read the headline and begin to conjure possibilities to what their sound on this first album will be. It is to my understanding that a great deal has happened in their relationship since its inception on that fateful overcast morning nearly eighteen months past. It was then that Belvedere came to the doorstep of Steven’s soon-to-be-former home in Portland disheveled, disassembled and flung from the reaches of a carrier dressed in a brown collared shirt with corresponding shorts and raised dress socks. It is believed that Belvedere is a Dell Inspiron 6000 complete with a recalled battery pack and over eighty gigabytes of memory; a Cadillac of a laptop that is a pleasant medium between a one-trick pony and the fuss of spending four-plus figures on a glorified word processor. Yet, this is about the extent of the public’s knowledge pertaining to Belvedere, but we all, myself included, understand that when in the care of his travel companion is capable of composing some of the most inspiring basement pop the ears of this continent have ever experienced. Yes, yes, this is all very exciting news; the simplest of headlines has unmistakably sent musical shockwaves from the right to left coast about this reemergence of the musical prodigies originally spawned in Portland now prepping an album in Baltimore that hopes to capture the essence of a Steven & Belvedere house show. As I sit in my empty apartment with some apparent spare time, I decide to connect to a pirated online connection from someone in this apartment complex and see that the good word has already raced to Chicagoland, where a certain renowned music page has posted a review of the album and divulged the tracklist of the debut album. It appears the rest of this nation is now too awakening and gaining attention to this splendor, so it is the following information posted on the webpage, just minutes ago, that I will leave you with.

“On their debut album, Right Coast Fuss, Steven & Belvedere stretch the boundary of electronic, laptop music to develop a previously unheard of sound that faintly hearkens to the days of yore while pressing the envelope towards the future. With influences ranging from Dru Hill to Philip Glass, the album is a blistering blend of digitized error and sample created by Belvedere, setting a flawless foundation for the harmonious one-man rhythm section provided by Steven. The end result is that of perfection, a manifesto representing a Utopian blend of machine and man propagated through melody and music.”

Tracklist for Right Coast Fuss
1. Intro: this apartment emits an incredibly strong odor reminiscent of kitty pee
2. Baltimore General Electric’s three day policy - no exceptions!
3. Roy (a morning encounter)
4. Storage units in the ghetto, accelerate to destination and then close gate
5. The unavailability of a midnight hour meal anywhere in this city
6. Downtown parking, a nuisance
7. Andy attempts to open her sealed window with a hammer, to no avail
8. Lock your car doors, there’s a man walking down the middle of the street and he looks rather upset
9. Fells Point and its artificial feeling (genital wharfs)
10. DMX and the Rough Riders congregate around the dinner table
11. Do you work here? No, but i will pump your gas for a little change.
12. FedEx print job: 60 day notice.doc

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Silent Shout in the Swing Hall!

I know now fragility, I know there are people I haven’t told, I know of people who are getting old.

I return from school and some of what ensued is as follows: Seated in one of those overproduced blue fold-up chairs marketed towards the outdoorsman with utilization more closely associated to one who enjoys counting cars from the front porch, I rabidly thumb through a dated Premiere article concerning David Lynch in my garage. A tumbler loaded with Canadian Hunter whiskey (chosen for ‘the Bransonesque figure quipped with rifle while sided by two adult huskies’ slapped on the label) and the haunting, Bahaus-inspired electronic output of The Knife set a dreamscape from the academic/“what the fuck do I do after this?” stress of late. After some time passes and pages turn, my studious, great friend accompanies me with some apparently bullshit Tom Wolfe novel from the nineties. The table is set for one of those old-fashioned read-offs. The type of gathering undoubtedly shared under candlelight by a working-class family hoping the better for their children in some single-room home in a time since passed. An extrapolated description far from any present case, but nonetheless, it is a reaching idea of the circumstance. Pages continued to turn, alternating from chair-to-chair, while words were exchanged about our own writings. It was one such conversation that has led to:

Seated upon a bench that interruptedly extends the perimeter of the ballroom’s dance floor, which consists of roughly one thousand square feet of wooden-parquet floors, crisscrossed fivefold in a layered manner, I am entranced in a sleep-deprived glare fixed upon a couple blissfully personifying social dichotomy. The PST is after eleven and the ballroom is entering its eighth and final hour of swing dancing. A style of dance dating back to ca. 1920 with an unnecessary revitalization attempt some seventy years later, which has lingered into the present site of a teenaged lady with the bleach-black hair that is currently gracing the heads of promiscuous youth who is coupled with an elder gentleman. The number concludes and the gentleman separates from the young lady and approaches an available spot on the bench next to yours truly. I recognize the man as someone I had earlier charged eight dollars to at the main entrance, and shared simple talk concerning the weather and an assumption towards few attendees for the event considering the warmth and the lack of adventure related to Mondays. The gentleman is wearing a Reebok sports cap in which I am immediately drawn to since I support the company’s throwback tennis shoes. The cap is a worn salmon that was probably a richer shade of crimson back in its prime when those Dave v. Dan commercials were prepping national fervor for the 1992 summer Olympics. Lowering visual scope, I notice he is wearing a long-sleeved collared shirt alternating between the vertical Boolean factors of ivy green and not, which is lazily tucked into a freshly pressed pair of dark tan Dockers slacks. Our elderly gentleman seems to be nearing eighty years of age and has an olive-colored skin whose origin I associate with a Mediterranean nation, and who speaks in an accent I conclude to be Italian. Seated in conversational silence, I peer to my left after a coughing fit sent me to my right side crooping into my mouth covering right hand. We exchange eye contact, as I recover from this bodily jolt, and he continues our conversation from four hours ago in a redundant fashion commenting on the lack of swing participants. Enthralled by any human contact, I recite a generic reply similar to the one I used in our prior interaction. Our gentleman proceeds to open up our dialogue and explains to me that he used to attend swing events at the ballroom every Sunday night years and years ago; well before any Brian Setzer Orchestra revitalization attempt or McMenamin buyout. However, the elder gentleman is not deterred by the latter concern and oblivious to the prior, when he continues to meticulously describe to me how he has continued to attend every swing event held at the ballroom since its renovation and subsequent commercial exploitation. This would be the extent of our oral interaction during the forty-five minutes seated next to one another, restfully viewing the present dancers to which a mergence of nostalgic age and unknowledgeable youth was occurring. For some reason, perhaps with association to the media exposure of this genre, an entire middle generation seemed to be absent from the ballroom’s dance floor, allowing such heterogeneity. After our time of interaction had expired, the elder gentleman slowly rose from his seat on the bench, apparently hampered by physical limitations that usually come with advancement in age. He reached for and slowly entered his arms into the sleeves of his overcoat that was hung on the backrest of one of the bench’s interruptions. Upon redressing of the coat to his person, the gentleman strolled away, pausing at the water cooler for a final thirst quenching drink, and around the corner out of my view, only to reappear in this swing hall for the next dance.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A Window with a New View.

Walter, isn’t it a shame the way our little world has changed? Do you remember, Walter, how we said we’d fight the world so we’d be free. We’d save up all our money and we’d buy a boat and sail away to sea. But it was not to be.

Such italicized inscriptions I often preface my entries with are simply meant as identifications to time and topic, not indicative to view or tone of personal reflection. Noted explanation concerning this selected mode of introduction cared for, I must further disclose to the reader that this particular entry serves as a personal reminder of two specific incidents with occurance in the past week. The first occurance is more an incident surrounding ill-timed happenstance, whereas the second is a surprising and delightful occurance that happened at a time of least expectance. When events like the latter occur, I am always alarmed because of that pecismistic ‘too good to be true’ ideology I possess.

Incident One: 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Violated
My venue of employment is located across the river, but more importantly on the only street of poor noteriety within the metropolitan area. Burnside. The arterial separates the north and south hemispheres of this city and the river creates the natural distinction of east and west, so one can rightfully assume that near this crosshair in proximity to my venue of employment also lies the action or trouble. I enter the heart of the city every evening in which I dreadfully clock-in while sailing driverside of the epitome of American eloquence and/or global distaste. I should ride my bike, I am in adequate shape, but I have a car, so I drive. I should also peddle since I scrape by on a meager income that is supplemented by this venue that subsequently forces me to park my car in one of the limited sidestreets providing me free-of-charge parking spaces. It is in such a parking space that I craftily navigate the boat in guise of an automobile into, as I mentally prepare myself for an evening of identifcation observance and mopping. In typical fashion, my driverside door is left unlatched for a returned entry to the door locks stripped from the use of an ill-fitting set of keys over the past couple of years. After a logged shift running an hour over projected length, I return to the vehicle colored in a champagne tint with light rust branching out from the undercarriage to notice it now possesses a shattered rear quarter window on the passengerside. And of greater importance to my ears, it no longer possesses the Pioneer compact disc player I had installed when I bought this ride from an elderly women, who had deceased six years past. Contents of my glove box are scattered across the front bench, speckled with writeable discs friends had made over the years. I scan the dispersed papers and nothing of importance seems to be missing. Then, FUCK, my five discs with album work are taken along with the player. All of these albums are backed-up on my iPod, but these were the five albums I have bought this past calendar year. Car insurance companies don’t replace personal items like this, and who in my demographic has homeowners or renter’s insurance. So you can now buy my two kinks, grizzly bear, girl talk, and menomena albums at your local used record shop. SON OF A BITCH.

Occurance Two: Reconnection with a Past Infatuation
A year ago I was locked into an entirely different employment circumstance, engrossed by an environment and interaction that was sterile and monotonous. The cash flow was far better than present circumstance, but the labor left me with an empty feeling comparable to the human interaction it offered. And that was just it, you see, I was a single man who could not find any commonality with the three women I worked in close proximity with except for a superficial enjoyment of their physical appearance that matched their own narcissistic infatuation. This interaction, in addition to an unbelievable amount of downtime in the fractured setting, led me to the seemingly often inanimate world of internet dating. What began as a half-hearted effort to meet a new someone with similar interests, became a two date plunge into this recent phenomena. Date one was a miss, but the second and final effort was a seemingly short-lived success that faired far better than I could have ever imagined. The young lady was attractive, intelligent, and a bit of a cynic – a seemingly perfect fit. Unfortunately, my ideology was simulated as we spent a great deal of time together over a relatively short period of time, because of an internship she had landed across the country. Relationships are difficult and a few thousand miles thrown into the equation makes one near impossible, but the two of us did our best to keep in contact until late summer when she accepted a furthering position out east and I endured a polar summer. So, as much as I desired this relationship to work out, it appeared to be finished. However, this now seems to no longer be the case as she recently returned for a visit to meet up with friends and family, including a grandmother that premature to her visit succombed to a terminal cancer. We spent a couple of evenings together while she was in town and seemed to effortlessly pick up where we were about a year ago. During this shared time, much like our first couple of months, I savored the pleasant moments as I feared once again becoming attached to her as she readies for departure. Not only was she recently accepted to a two-year graduate program back east, but I also sense some sort of intimate relationship awaiting her return. During the second evening together, I decided to inquire about the latter and received a verifying answer, but was surprised to hear of a pending finish to it and flattering remarks concerning our reconnection. It is a few days later when I next speak to her, hoping to maybe see her once more before she departs, but we decide its too late and the distance to convene is a bit too far. Oh well, I think, hopefully we will see one another sooner than later. As she said to me the morning following our second night, “the third time’s a charm.” But then she opens into a tangent during our phone conversation nights later, in which she explains to me she has been persuaded by her mother to spend her months prior to graduate studies, here, in the northwest. Which brings me to present thoughts. What if she does listen to this advice, and we wish to continue the past week’s intimacy? This is where my current hopes are, but furtherly: With my own graduate studies concluding in a couple of months, do I discuss with her a future entailing a personal move, if the relationship evolves? Definitely don’t wish to jump the gun, but this is a thought that will surely cross my mind several times over the coming months. That is if she takes her mother’s advice.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Part II, Chapter LXVI: Which Treats of What He Who Reads Will See, Or What He Who Has It Read To Him Will Hear

Beware, ye cowards; stay your hands! Let it be touched by none. For this adventure, O good king, was meant for me alone.

The drab and dreary winter days of this season are not exactly conducive to socially creative moments, so one usually discovers oneself at the highest level of comfort when enthralled in an introverted fictitious state. I have now passed my last two such seasons in rain city by reading longer pieces of literature that preoccupy my thoughts with ideas of escape; testing both my stamina concerning attention and senility. This winter’s setting is far different from that of the winter passed in both the literary and physical sense. While last winter I had no apparent direction or desire, leaving me with endless opportunities to stay in bed and thumb through the exhausting footnotes and tangents of David Foster Wallace, this current winter I find myself juggling (note the three items that allow this description proper usage) graduate studies, evening shifts at a musical venue, and the sensible dementia of the Man of La Mancha.

Don Quixote became my decision to prevent me from climbing the walls during this bleak season through discussion with a fellow coworker around late autumn. He would have a seat next to me in the break room and immediately ask me how Joyce, Kafka or Pynchon was coming along and I would reply that all are entertaining, but that I am searching for a novel that I may absorb myself in for the coming gloom. You see I was already anticipating that a mood similar to last winters was on the horizon, so I was reviewing shorter accounts of authors whose masterpieces would be exemplary for anticipated conditions. He would explain that he was reading this great adventure, of which I knew of in name and a few pieces that continuously reappear when its title is mentioned (i.e. windmills mistaken for giants and the proverbs of Sancho Panza), and how it has become referred to as the “Spanish Bible” since coined by philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. Continuing on, he would state how there isn’t a lot missed in translation, that it has proved excellent in standing the test of time, and a handful of other clichés that somehow seemed genuine. So it was through this continuous dialogue that I was convinced to select the Knight of Mournful Countenance to help pass the time.

With the weather beginning to shift from warm days and brisk evenings to wet days and wetter evenings, I went to Powell’s Bookstore with my new housemate on one such evening. It was there that I began my illusory escape in between the rows of well-stocked bookshelves in the Blue Room. The adventure of this lengthy novel would keep my thoughts enchanted for the next couple of months, but in fact the real undertaking lied in all of the locales and situations where I would comprehend these retreats. The travels took place in neighborhood coffee shops listening to Grizzly Bear, and coffee shops miles away overhearing the studies of nurses-in-training reciting anatomical features and functions. The journeys occurred during my last moments of consciousness as I lay beneath my covers, and as I awoke to cups of hot chocolate in my living room listening to talk radio. The jaunts passed as I sat stoned on a friend’s couch in Olympia, and as I sat drunk in my Illinois bedroom after returning home from a night of town’s square inebriation. The excursions happened as I sat motionless on an airplane returning to my home in Oregon, and as I sat restless on a stool in the hallways of my place of employment. The campaigns continued as I posted up in a nook on the fourth floor of Cramer Hall awaiting my course on map design, and as I departed campus seated on the number nine bus down Powell Boulevard. The voyages went on as I sat high in the mezzanine of the Crystal Ballroom checking identification during a noisy concert, and as I reclined in the same break room where this adventure was concocted trying to convince myself that I don’t despise the prior. These wonderful and arcane adventures were experienced in a myriad of places and situations that are unique to myself, but through an adventure that has been experienced in innumerable places and situations by millions. My own quest concluded yesterday in two fitting places. It began as I walked over to the Clinton Street Corner with the enduring housemate seated next to a window where I could occasionally peer out of and view puddles expanding by relentless raindrops while sipping on a couple of cups of hot-than-warm coffee. And finished as I sat in a stool at the bookstore where I had purchased this splendid paperback just three months prior. I was seated next to a friend and separated from the drab and dreary day by a window two feet from my eyes as I turned the page for the final time. The great adventure consummated with the last notes of a Will Oldham album and the beloved hero passing away comfortably with those who shared in his tale beside him.

Friday, January 26, 2007

An Urchin in the Watering Hole.

My messenger in disguise makes up for such short goodbyes. You can’t come home; each time is different.

Typically in the world of word association, if I was to tell you I had an intimate encounter with an urchin this past weekend one may inquire where on the coast I had been. The inquirer may be curious to why I would spend a winter’s day along the chilly and uninviting banks of the Northwest’s Pacific Ocean. The inquisitive may then ask how one has an intimate encounter with a marine invertebrate of about three centimeters covered in brittle spines. Oh how the common mind wonders once it has set itself to a generally accepted definition of a particular word: urchin. However, this particular urchin was not aquatic or tiny in stature, but did share some other attributes in a metaphoric sense.

This confrontation would occur at the conclusion of my weekend and as one may guess, or by this time assume, whiskey would have his shaky hands in this pot. A Sunday that began as anonymously as any other had over the past month with a close group of friends congregating in my living room. The five of us would spend the early afternoon eating our breakfasts (some of us bagels and others the traditional chips and salsa), watching an American football game that I had a hopeful interest in, and sharing the events of the prior evening I missed due to work at the ballroom. I was more or less disappointed in being absent to the night’s shenanigans as it was a member of the quintet’s birthday and apparently inappropriate contact with a stripper by another member was involved. Details are still a bit unclear even in the present. The afternoon’s conversation was light-hearted and seemingly jovial as the expressed team of interest performed well and ended the game victorious. My elation was evident through a series of hollers and sly dance steps. The latter is no longer out of character since we are now residing in a dancier world thanks to a New Year’s Revolution. After some subtle celebration I received an invitation from a member of the quintet that escaped minutes prior. “We watched your team on your home field, now let’s watch my team on mine.” Lots-a-Luck.

So I departed with friend in tote to a sports bar located four blocks from my house that I had somehow avoided until this fateful Sabbath. It was there that whiskey joined the festivities, as the quintet would eventually reconvene with the addition of a Wagon. (Unfamiliar, well, he is the professor who spent last winter living in my garage). The six of us watched the team my friend has a vied interest in play a terrific second half and prevail in the end. Cocktails were extensively drunk throughout this game, especially with the uncertainty surrounding the first half. You see, my friend with the vied interest is one that, once drunk, you want to see in high spirits and not envious or upset. After a final round of celebratory high-fives and drinks, we closed our tabs with the eyesore of a bartender and slyly grabbed the Cholula from the bar top. This is an action that a past reader may recall I have a penchant for, but it was a necessary condiment to my hot sauce dance performed minutes later on Powell Avenue.

After leaving the establishment the reestablished quintet headed back to the original home field for some clearing of the mind and delayed decision-making as whether or not to continue. We continued. There was a stop off at the appropriately named Wynnes and then it was off to our local watering hole. And as we all now know the water is the natural habitat of the urchin...The urchin is a bottom-eater that lives off of the defenseless, which can be something as simple as algae or something as complex as an inebriated twenty-something that continues to celebrate well past his prime social capabilities. The urchin is most commonly perceived as being a dark creature typically of a black or dull green color, whether it is the hue of the spines that cover its globular shell or that of its attire, features, and hair that cover its pale skin. The urchin appears inanimate or without any ability towards propulsion yet it is completely capable of free motion when it feels necessary or is summoned over to a bar table by a supposed friend. The urchin has a masochistic ability to destroy its own environment when left unchecked by its natural predators. With no predators in its watery habitat, the urchin will overpopulate and slowly wean out the defenseless, maybe from a bar table, until its final source of food remains and is left with no alternatives but to be consumed by its barely visible eyes and pincers. This is all the inquirer needs to know about how I had an intimate encounter with an urchin this past weekend.