Getting down to the wire… Only 2 kitty trunks left, 2 urinals and two Sixpack box sets…

Getting down to the wire… Only 2 kitty trunks left, 2 urinals and two Sixpack box sets…

Come visit us this weekend! We’ll be in the gay ghetto.

Come visit us this weekend! We’ll be in the gay ghetto.

A while back a friend of mine made reference to the genre of commercial indie music that sounds as if it was written for children. He pegged its emergence to the Postal Service a decade ago and was referring, if I remember right, to “Somebody That I Used To Know.” I liked the Postal Service way back when [a little less so now], and was fine with the Gotye song the first 675K times that I heard it [a little less so now], but WOW is there a lot of dreadful children’s music on the radio right now, especially if you click on over to the Hot AC stations. There’s Mary Lambert’s “Secrets,” which sounds like someone held a seance to conjure up the spirit of Meredith Brooks; there’s that “Girls Chase Boys Chase Girls” song that came out eight years too late for whatever iPod commercial it was intended for; and there’s also that one “Cool Kids” song that manages to convey maybe eight to ten percent of the angst that John Mayer felt when he wanted to run through the halls of his high school and scream at the top of his lungs.

Do better, everybody.

First enchiladas of the season!

First enchiladas of the season!

Songwriter Bob Crewe died yesterday at the age of 82. He wrote some really good ones, including “A Lover’s Concerto,” “Music To Watch Girls By,” “Lady Marmalade” [which I hadn’t realized], and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” a hit for the Walker Brothers which I first heard in Truly Madly Deeply, a cutesy and rather insufferable movie [that I used to love!] wherein Juliet Stevenson and her dead husband Alan Rickman sing it to one another when first he returns from the afterlife.

This Week In Eighth Grade: My top 40 songs from this week in 1994

Position. Artist, Title (Last Week)

40. The Maverick Choir, Amazing Grace (34)*
39. U2, All I Want Is You (DEBUT)
38. REM, What’s The Frequency Kenneth (DEBUT)
37. Aaron Hall, I Miss You (31)
36. Crash Test Dummies, Afternoons and Coffeespoons (28)
35. Tracy Lawrence, Renegades Rebels and Rogues (30)
34. Garth Brooks, Hard Luck Woman (26)*
33. Toad The Wet Sprocket, Fall Down (23)
32. Joe Diffie, Third Rock From The Sun (40)
31. Counting Crows, Einstein on the Beach (32)

30. Wet Wet Wet, Love Is All Around (32)
29. Living Colour, Sunshine of Your Love (29)
28. Salt N Pepa, None of Your Business (37)
27. Seal, Prayer for the Dying (20)
26. Sarah McLachlan, Good Enough (33)
25. Green Day, Welcome To Paradise (35)
24. Milla, The Gentleman Who Fell (14)
23. Jon Secada, Whipped (27)
22. Frente!, Labour of Love (16)*
21. Martina McBride, Independence Day (4)

20. Vince Gill, What Do Cowgirls Do (26)
19. Edie Brickell, Good Times (24)
18. Mariah Carey and Luther Vandross, Endless Love (25)
17. Kathy Mattea, Nobody’s Gonna Rain On Our Parade (10)
16. Indigo Girls, Least Complicated (21)
15. Green Day, Basket Case (19)
14. Anita Baker, Body and Soul (15)
13. Aretha Franklin, Willing To Forgive (6)
12. Amy Grant, Lucky One (17)
11. Boyz II Men, I’ll Make Love To You (15)

10. Gerald Levert, I’ll Give Anything (13)
9. Harry Connick Jr., (I Could Only) Whisper Your Name (9)
8. Stone Temple Pilots, Big Empty (12)
7. Sheryl Crow, All I Wanna Do (8)
6. Elton John, The Circle of Life (11)
5. Melissa Etheridge, I’m The Only One (1)
4. Pam Tillis, When You Walk In The Room (5)
3. Gin Blossoms, Christine Sixteen (7)
2. Sophie B Hawkins, Right Beside You (3)
1. Celine Dion, Think Twice (2)

There are some lost classics in there (Milla Jovovich, Jon Secada), some really awful pop cultural moments (the theme song from Third Rock From The Sun!), and quite a few quiet storm moments.

In case you’re wondering, the 40th song was the Gin Blossoms cover of “Christine Sixteen”, from the same Kiss tribute album as Garth Brooks’ “Hard Luck Woman.” Speaking of which, sorry for the karaoke versions. Who knew Frente! was such a rare thing these days.

(Source: Spotify)

Lately I’ve been keeping pretty close track of how many hours I’ve been working, mostly to make sure that I’m actually working and not just, you know, goofing around or whatever. I worry that I’m doing that, sometimes, because I have a pretty bad tendency to take fun leisure activities and treat them like they’re actual jobs.But I’ve been making To Do spreadsheets, and lots of them. I budget fifty hours of work time a week, not including breaks of any kind, and I color code each project and then clear the cells as I go along. That way I can see what I’ve done already but also clearly visualize what I need to be doing next. I spend between fifteen minutes and half an hour on this every Sunday. It’s maybe neurotic, but it seems like a good system for me, at least for now.Anyway, I took most of Monday off, so this week I’ve worked a total of 29 hours so far. That’s not bad for just under four days, really. But only two—two!—of those 29 hours were what you’d call billable hours. Two. Yes, I did spend time looking for jobs and then writing cover letters, and then there was the time I spent pitching ideas and, more specifically, trying to track down the contact info for one specific editor. And then there was the time looking at grad programs, and the time doing volunteer work, and the time doing general officey things. And other stuff. Prepping for the Spelling Bee. And so on. It’s all work, right?This afternoon one of my clients let me go rather unexpectedly, mainly because he was looking for a blogger and not a Wordpress expert. I found this terribly frustrating, because I actually am a blogger more than I’m a Wordpress expert. Or I’m pretty good at both, I guess. (He’s the orange part of this week’s spreadsheet.)I could have really used the money from this project, especially since I was expecting it to take up a good chunk of the next two weeks. And this happened on top of another project getting pushed back three weeks, or maybe more. This is going to be a lean and sad September for me! Which isn’t really the best timing, since I’m also spending five days in New York at the end of the month and not just in New York but at an event full of books for sale. I hate being broke in New York and probably I am going to spend whatever money I can scrape up on books I can’t really afford.

Lately I’ve been keeping pretty close track of how many hours I’ve been working, mostly to make sure that I’m actually working and not just, you know, goofing around or whatever. I worry that I’m doing that, sometimes, because I have a pretty bad tendency to take fun leisure activities and treat them like they’re actual jobs.

But I’ve been making To Do spreadsheets, and lots of them. I budget fifty hours of work time a week, not including breaks of any kind, and I color code each project and then clear the cells as I go along. That way I can see what I’ve done already but also clearly visualize what I need to be doing next. I spend between fifteen minutes and half an hour on this every Sunday. It’s maybe neurotic, but it seems like a good system for me, at least for now.

Anyway, I took most of Monday off, so this week I’ve worked a total of 29 hours so far. That’s not bad for just under four days, really. But only two—two!—of those 29 hours were what you’d call billable hours. Two. Yes, I did spend time looking for jobs and then writing cover letters, and then there was the time I spent pitching ideas and, more specifically, trying to track down the contact info for one specific editor. And then there was the time looking at grad programs, and the time doing volunteer work, and the time doing general officey things. And other stuff. Prepping for the Spelling Bee. And so on. It’s all work, right?

This afternoon one of my clients let me go rather unexpectedly, mainly because he was looking for a blogger and not a Wordpress expert. I found this terribly frustrating, because I actually am a blogger more than I’m a Wordpress expert. Or I’m pretty good at both, I guess. (He’s the orange part of this week’s spreadsheet.)

I could have really used the money from this project, especially since I was expecting it to take up a good chunk of the next two weeks. And this happened on top of another project getting pushed back three weeks, or maybe more. This is going to be a lean and sad September for me! Which isn’t really the best timing, since I’m also spending five days in New York at the end of the month and not just in New York but at an event full of books for sale. I hate being broke in New York and probably I am going to spend whatever money I can scrape up on books I can’t really afford.

It’s an odd thing. Every year for the last I don’t know how many years I have made the same vow each September: this is the year that I am going to care about football. This is the year that I will pay attention to NFL rankings, and players, and other stuff that millions of Americans are somehow able to fit into their weekly schedules.

And every year it doesn’t happen. I want it to happen, but it doesn’t happen.

I don’t really like the Patriots, the local team, for ideological reasons, in the same reason that I don’t like the Redskins (despite owning a Redskins jacket in sixth grade, one my dad still wears when he shovels the driveway). I’m not into the Chiefs, either, although I find their quarterback, Alex Smith, to be very dreamy. Terrible at his job, clearly, but dreamy. He’s the dreamiest QB in the whole NFL, I think, except for maybe the Ravens’ Joe Flacco on certain days and possibly Colin Kaepernick on others. A couple of years ago my boyfriend and I had a Super Bowl party, despite the fact that no one we know cares about football even a little. (A Destiny’s Child reunion, though!) Hunky Joe Flacco was leading the Ravens against the young Kaepernick and his 49ers, and a friend of mine, unfamiliar with the game, uttered a magical phrase upon seeing him that I still remember to this day: “Well look at YOU, Pumpernickel!” It was hilarious enough to me that I’m still thinking of it, two or three or however many years later.)

I do have my favorite teams—the Ravens, the Falcons, the Seahawks (“the bird teams”)—and I’m pretty good at retaining information about scores and standings once I hear it. I also like the pace of televised football, where everything happens very slowly and plays are repeated over and over and the commentators have big shoulders but wear nice suits anyway. In that way the NFL resembles professional wrestling more than fast-moving sports like hockey or soccer or basketball, and there’s a part of me that appreciates that.

But then there’s the part of me who can’t commit to spending an entire day in front of the television. Kind of like when I joined an adult hipster kickball team a bunch of years ago and realized that an 11am-6pm schedule of drinking watery beer and kinda-sorta paying attention to an ultimately meaningless game was actually really stressful when I had to do it for several consecutive weekends. These things might be fine for the nine-to-five crowd, but as a workaholic freelancer with a limited attention span it’s kinda rough!

I prefer watching football in bars, partly because I don’t have cable and partly because of the social aspect. I don’t want to be the guy who yells “OH OH OH OH OH! OH OH!!” whenever somebody on “my team” makes a good catch or runs a lot of yards or whatever, but it would be nice to be able to make small talk with a majority of my gender. (I’m also fascinated by watching football in strip clubs, something I’ve only done once or twice because I’m a poor man and also homosexual. But what a way to take two All-American heteronormative activities and pit them against one another! Except only sort of because strip clubs have a lot of mirrors and if you position yourself right it’s pretty easy to see everything you want to see.)

I understand that the NFL kinda sucks—I don’t need to read a whole book to know that, although there is one—and last year I gave up on paying attention somewhere around Week 2. On the other hand I did get really into Harry Cheadle’s weekly column, though, which I think was really smart and, you know, aware. So I felt sort of engaged even if it was only in the way that passivity on the internet can somehow make you feel engaged sometimes. Which I guess is really all I’m looking for.

Working on the Spelling Bee word list this morning. In 2009 the winning word was tuatara, which is what this handsome fellow is called. It’s also the name of a mostly forgotten supergroup of the 1990’s that featured members of REM, Luna and the Screaming Trees. I thought they only had one album, but they’ve actually released eight, one of which was released just last month.

Working on the Spelling Bee word list this morning. In 2009 the winning word was tuatara, which is what this handsome fellow is called. It’s also the name of a mostly forgotten supergroup of the 1990’s that featured members of REM, Luna and the Screaming Trees. I thought they only had one album, but they’ve actually released eight, one of which was released just last month.

It’s become something of a semi-annual tradition for me to seriously, “seriously,” contemplate grad school. And every year I give up after a few days, or a few weeks, generally for one of three reasons. First, I tend to have these thoughts at the wrong time—in the spring, for instance, when it’s too late to apply for the following fall semester. Another reason is money. Ten years after completing my undergrad I’m still paying it off, at least when I can, which is not the case some months. The thought of more debt terrifies me. But the third thing, the one I can’t really get over, is my complete inability to have one specific interest. I majored in Anthropology for my B.A., but decided a few years ago that I wouldn’t pay for any more school unless I came out with a practical skill, like photography or video (as opposed to the PhD programs in Cultural Studies that had previously intrigued me, say.) Part of me still wants to make ethnographic documentaries, which I think was my life plan circa 2002, but part of me wants to write novels, or work in a museum, or do humanities programming. I mean part of me is just fine right now, producing literary events and publishing a niche art magazine. But, you know, those are side things and not main things.

It’s fall right now, which is actually the right time to be considering specific grad programs. And, while the money thing sure is daunting, it’s not really any more financially daunting than day-to-day living. I am a pretty broke person right now! So I’m worried and also not worried about the idea of up and moving across the country, of living like a professional adult except without much income for a few years, or, hell, of even filling out applications and taking the GRE. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? Rejections? As a freelancer/professional job hunter I’m pretty used to rejection. Just this weekend, for instance, I was offered an interview by a recruiter hiring for a position completely unrelated to my skillset, to the point where I had to google the acronym in the job title. It would be hilarious if it wasn’t all so dreadful, etc.

So, anyway, now that I’m 33 I’m once again contemplating grad school options. Wish me luck?