Sunday, December 24, 2006

And Now, A Musical Interlude....

A few weeks ago, I got a phone call from my pal Andy, inviting me to a concert that had, in fact, already begun when he called me. "It's Paul and Storm! You should come!" he said. Now, Paul and Storm are one half of a now-defunct acapella band who I deeply love, and my feelings about them were a little mixed--they're not DaVinci's Notebook, after all, and while they've got a lot of good comedy material going, as a two-man band they're a little more limited musically than DVN. But still, I felt an urge to be supportive, and I went to the show, enjoyed it a lot, and bought their new album, Opening Band. On that album (among several other gems and one extensive running joke) is a song called "The Ballad of Eddie Praeger." It's a song about the death of a urinal cake; imagine Gordon Lightfoot's "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald," only with a urinal cake instead of a boat. (And if you'd like to hear it, go here and scroll down.) I found this song utterly hilarious--mainly because I am convinced that "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald" is one of the primary selections in Hell's Jukebox. I hate that song. It just goes on, and on, and fucking on. So this brought to mind the question of what other songs are on the jukebox in Hell. "Sherri Baby," by the Four Seasons, I'm pretty sure. Possibly "Dust in the Wind." There must be more.

At any rate, since it's Christmas Eve, I got to thinking about the Christmas selection on Hell's Jukebox. Everyone has Christmas songs that they utterly hate, and those of us who've worked years in mall retail have more than most people just because we heard them on infinite loop during stressful moments of our lives. My special nemesis is "The Little Drummer Boy." There is NO version of this song that is anything other than plain awful to me. It strives to be a religious carol, and fails utterly. (My favorite carol is We Three Kings, so it's not that I prefer the secular ones. It's just that I hate the Drummer Boy.) So that's on Hell's Christmas PA System. I can think of a few others, but rather than descend even further into holiday cynicism, let me tell you instead that Grinchy ol' me made a Holiday Mix CD of GOOD stuff, with the help of iTunes and the spirit of the season:
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen - Barenaked Ladies
Christmas Wrapping - The Waitresses
Jingle Bells (banjo instrumental) - Earl Scruggs
I Saw Three Ships - Sting
Father Christmas - The Kinks
Backdoor Santa - BB King and John Popper
Carol of the Bells - Mannheim Steamroller
Winter Wonderland - The Eurythmics
We Three Kings - The Roches, who mess up the fourth verse but I forgive them
Baby Please Come Home - Joey Ramone
The Dreidel Song - DaVinci's Notebook
Wizards in Winter - Trans-Siberian Orchestra
So, are any of my faves on YOUR personal Christmas Hell list? What's in your mix instead?

Friday, December 22, 2006

To Fret, or Not To Fret.

I can't decide if I'm stressed or not. On the up side, I finished all my holiday shopping in plenty of time, I didn't run out of money before the end of the year (a distinct possibility, what with the new roof and all) and got my grading done and grades posted by the end of the day last Saturday. And all my art app students passed, except for the dude who stopped coming to class back in October but inexplicably didn't bother dropping the course. Which incidentally boggles my mind--IUPUI, unlike my own college, allows you to drop a course without penalty practically up to the last day of class. Why in the name of god wouldn't you do that rather than take an F on your record?? Amazing. Anyway, so they all passed and most did quite well, and some of them liked the class enough that they sat around after the exam to talk about art and eat the homemade fudge one student brought as an end-of-semester treat.

On the downside, I'm working a contract that has to be completed by December 31, so not much free time; the house is a horrible mess post-semester, with piles of paper and dishes everywhere that I can't seem to make myself deal firmly with; and I seem to have had a bout of the norovirus that is working its way around Indy, which peaked over the weekend but has left me feeling tired and unhealthy in its wake. Also it's raining a lot, which means fear of flooding in my neighborhood. So far this winter hasn't been bad in that respect, it helps that it's been warm, and that there hasn't been a ton of snow to suddenly melt off in a warm snap and swell the river. But after the last two winters, it's pretty much always at the back of my mind.

So am I stressed? Hmmm..... I wonder.....

Oh well.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Life Lessons

Last year's lesson from art history TAing was, "Don't smoke pot before the midterm." A lesson we can all learn from! This year's ancillary lesson: "Don't drop acid before you write your final paper." Remember this, folks. The grade you save might be your own.

While I may occasionally bemoan the writing skills of the average student at the art school where I'm an adjunct, may I just take this opportunity to say how much I love teaching at this school? It's the end of the semester, student projects are due, and I walked into the main hall this morning to find three of my past students nailing together what appeared to be an enourmous teepee, made of gauze and a metal armature of some kind, with lights inside it, standing in a pool of water. The entire back hall was full of the most amazing damn woodwork/furniture projects I've ever seen, shelves and benches and tables that leave The Jetsons behind in their space-age, retro coolness, all waiting to be photographed for the students' portfolios. I passed a girl was sitting chatting on her cell phone, who had next to her an angel sculpted entirely of matchsticks (the long ones) and straw. I went to get a drink during the exam I was proctoring, and found one of the two drinking fountains had been enveloped in soft, velvety fabric--it was like Christo came and did a surgical strike on the plumbing at Herron. Went out to the parking lot, and there's three people in a cherry picker hanging round sculptures on the large sycamore tree outsdie the door; they looked like blobs of colored melty wax, or possibly a giant homage to Wham-o's late, lamented Superelastic Bubble Plastic. What can I say? Pure joy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Oy Gevalt.

So I'm thinking about purchasing a menorah of my very own. Indianapolis not being a mecca of judaica (so to speak) I did a quick internet search. Now I am flooded with possiblities. I am particularly drawn to this Ceramic Turtle Menorah, mainly because the idea of a ceramic turtle in itself is so random; sticking 9 candles in his back just makes it all the more surreal. And I don't even see where the candles are supposed to go on this one.... Really, I was looking for something a little more traditional, simple, and.... ok, well, cheap. Not super-cheap, but cheaper than Mr. Flaming Turtle up there. I'll probably go with the basic brass model--simple, but every bit as effective for setting my house accidentally afire. I'll make the quick rounds of possibilities here in Indy before I pony up for shipping. But if anyone has any recommendations for "best menorah ever," I'll take 'em!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Couldn't Stand the Weather...

On the whole, it was a good trip to Chicago; it was the getting there and the returning that left a lot to be desired. And considering I'd been expecting to have to drive part of the way in snow conditions, it oculd have been a lot worse.

I'd originally planned to go up to Chicago for an alumni event--a reception and a talk by the new president of my college, which sounded worth a drive. Then I realized I could add a trip to the King Tut exhibit before it left the Field Museum, so I combo-ed up and bought a ticket online (for which I got charged a $3 service fee, and another $3 delivery charge--for having it held at Will Call. Yes--to "deliver" it across the desk at the admissions gate is $3. Chiselling %$@*#^...) Finally, I realized a friend of mine from the MA program here is now working at the Chi Historical Society, and so I made a lunch date with her. Perfect plan.
When I wake up, it's raining and dark, and so I get a slow start out of Indy. Finally hit the road in just enough time so I can make the lunch date if nothing goes wrong... Which is no doubt why I blew out a tire an hour into the trip. In the pouring rain. In the "Bermuda Triangle" area of I-65 several miles south of Lafayette, where cell phones don't work. I got out to change the tire in the cold pouring rain (in my nice clothes, because remember I'm going to a reception later on. My college does fancy receptions, there are canapes and stuff.) Got the car jack out, which required me to unload several cardboard boxes of leftover floor tiles which I've not yet returned to Lowe's, and with much struggling managed to remove 3 of the 4 lugnuts from the offending tire. The fourth one wouldn't budge. I strained, I pulled, I pushed, and finally put my entire body weight on the jack, only to notice that the hex nut was actually warping rather than coming loose. Reattached the other nuts, got back in the car, and rolled forward inches at a time while staring at my cell phone until I got an intermittant signal. After shouting through a wall of static at several various people, I managed to get hold of Triple A. And a mere 3 hours after my breakdown, I was on the road again with a new tire from McCord, a fantastic and friendly tire dealer in Lafayette who got me in and out in a half hour, and a new cell phone car charger from Pep Boys (who had a 2 hour wait before they'd even have looked at my tire, but since I'd burned out the phone on the road I was grateful for their vast acreage of auto electronics.)

So lunch was out, but I made it to Tut and enjoyed it very much. Then went up to the Arts Center, parked, and killed the hour before the reception walking up Michigan to the Girardelli store for hot chocolate. Had dinner at a fantastic deli called Eppy's, and if you ever have the opportunity to eat there and you pass it up to eat at the Subway next door instead, well.... you deserve what you get, is all I'm sayin'. The proprietor read his sandwich boy the riot act for asking if I wanted mayonnaise on my corned beef sandwich. "This is a Jew deli, Robert! You don't OFFER to ruin their meat for them by putting mayo on it! She asks you, then you can put it on, but you just ask her 'What kind of mustard would you like on that?' " Robert countered that maybe they should just stop serving ham while they're at it, which got the response "Hey, I said we were a Jew deli; I didn't say we were kosher." The soup was 27¢ a bowl, because it was 27 degrees out when they opened that morning. If it's below zero, they give you money back with the soup. What more could a person want in a deli? I almost didn't have room for the canapes. The alum program was nice, and when I left it was only just starting to freezing-rain out. Roads weren't slick, everything was fine.... Until I hit northern Indiana, at which point the heavens opened and i drove home in pouring rain the whole way, with low visibility and high wind.

At least the tire blew on the way up and not on the way back.