Archive for December, 2011

Five Songs, Part 60 (Good riddance, 2011)

December 30, 2011

Hi. Let’s get 2011 the hell over with. The weirdest and most trying calendar year of my life, less than two days away from disappearing from my life. After which all good things are gonna come in a huge, onrushing ball: the great (and great-paying job), the move back East, the soulmate/love of my life, the bestselling book on my life. As The Remains once sang, all good things don’t have to end. As Chicago sang, it’s only the beginning of what I want to feel forever.

Anyway, I leave 2011 behind with a free-association of things related to this week. Zooey Desachanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt reunited to break out a YouTube of “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” What I’m doing, unless I get called into work, is seeing my pal Blake Jones and Nate Butler and their Beatles band, The Beetles, at the Starline in Fresno. And Monday and Tuesday of this week, some of my friends at home were lucky-dog enough to see a two-night reunion of arguably the greatest blue-eyed soul group of all, Connecticut’s Wildweeds, fronted by Al Anderson, at the Iron Horse in Northampton, Mass.

So anyway, here’s to hoping you find better things, as Ray Davies so sweetly and wonderfully put it. And as I say at the stroke of midnight every Jan. 1 — and will scream unequivocally and not so eloquently, at the top of my fucking lungs, this time around — ONWARD!

What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? — Zooey Deschanel & Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Any Time at All — The Beatles

No Good to Cry (Iron Horse, Northampton, Mass., 12/27/11) — The Wildweeds

A Celebration — U2

Auld Lang Syne — The Reducers

Love those fortune cookies, Part 19

December 29, 2011

My friends Jay and Brooke are good-luck charms.

They were married back in September; an hour before the ceremony, I stopped at a Walgreens I don’t usually frequent (Blackstone and Clinton, Fresno) to buy a card. And since the boy in me always trolls for Hot Wheels, in the faint hope of finding an elusive Treasure Hunt car, I did just that. And, to my shock, I saw a card on the pegs with a green stripe down the right edge. It was a Treasure Hunt, all right. A gold ’62 Studebaker Avanti. Little pleasures.

And, on this third-to-last night of a weird and trying 2011, I found myself getting together with the two of them for the first time since the wedding, for a long-threatened trip to the Chinese/sushi buffet at Tang Dynasty.

We were oblivious to the Baylor-Washington bowl game on multiple screens and oblivious to everything else, too, save for the food. Two hours of conversation. Much fun.

And, once again stemming from them, good fortune. Literally.

As I’m looking forward to a much better 2012 than ’11, this is what came out when I cracked open my fortune cookie:

“Your talents will be recognized and suitably rewarded.”

God, I’m hoping that means something positive. After all, “suitably rewarded” is a term with a lot of wiggle room — just like “interesting times.” I’ll assume it’s a good thing until the universe tells me otherwise. I need 2012 to start wonderfully and not let up.

Five Songs, Part 59

December 23, 2011

It’s Christmas Eve Eve and the last of the (extended) Christmas Five Songs for this year. And the end to my weirdest and most unsettled holiday season ever. The 26th can’t come fast enough because then I’ll know I’m looking forward. To something. Something better.

And I threw an 11th song in at the last second. Because nobody oughta be alone on Christmas. And it’s one of the best Christmas songs ever. (How did Darlene Love get lucky enough to snag two of the best, let alone one?) And because Clarence is all over the song.

Anyway, have a good Christmas. Or at least a peaceful one.

There’s Always Tomorrow — Clarice (from Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer)

There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays — Perry Como

Santa Claus — The Sonics

She’s Coming Home — The Wailers

Christmas on Riverside Drive — August Darnell

Merry Christmas — Otis Redding

Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas — Carla Thomas

Merry Christmas Baby — The Poets

Christmas of Love — Little Isidore & the Inquisitors

All Alone on Christmas — Darlene Love w/The E Street Band

Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) — Darlene Love

Dear Santa, 2011 version

December 23, 2011

Hi Santa. I wrote you last year and asked for a couple of things. Well, I got them, kinda sorta, but I have a feeling your delivery guy lost them in the shuffle.

The most important thing I asked for was a job. A real job. Well, it took until September for the job to finally arrive after 2 1/2 years without one. And part of it came true, part of it didn’t.

I did go back to a place — my previous place of employment, actually — where people are decent and respectful, and the bosses have treated me like a human being. And I have felt useful again. And human. But it’s still a precarious living, I’m still on shaky ground, with no benefits, and through nobody’s fault, my hours are gonna be cut again after Christmas. And I’m not sure I can make it through the winter without something better coming along.

I also asked for a car, since I’d been nursing my ancient Celica to the bitter end. I finally got it a month ago, with the help of the job. But the Camry’s 16 years old and gave me problems right at the get-go. Had to replace the radiator two weeks after I got it.

Lousy delivery, but it’s a start.

So anyway, Santa, I’ve been hearing — and editing stories about — how the economy is getting better. So here’s what I want this year — again, things you don’t have to pack in your sleigh, and hopefully, they won’t take 9 to 11 months to arrive. I’m not asking — I’m envisioning. I’m putting out the feelers to the rest of the universe. These will make me happy and not use up any batteries:

(more…)

Five Songs, Part 58

December 16, 2011

Well, I’m doing my damndest to keep my chin up for Christmas. I’m not sure whether these past three months have been either a step in a positive direction or the universe pulling a humongous tease on me.

In any event, I’ll be glad when this one is over. Something tells me there’s something wonderful about to happen, but at the moment it feels like worst Christmas ever.

So to keep thinks on the positive side, here’s this week’s Five Songs. While they didn’t play this last Friday when I saw them at The Knockout in San Francisco — a much-needed respite for me — I’m leading off with my favorite band, The Fleshtones, doing a remake of one of my favorite Christmas songs. And as a bonus, I finally got down all the words to the second song on the drive to SF. (And me without a karaoke machine …). And the third one was just foisted upon us yesterday — a Christmas medley from our pals from home, The Big Fat Combo (who accompanied me on my only recording to date a long time ago):

Mr. Santa Claus — The Fleshtones

Merry Christmas From the Family — Robert Earl Keen

Away in a Manger/Silent Night — The Big Fat Combo

We’re a Couple of Misfits — Rudolph and Hermey

The Bells of St. Mary — Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans

Five Songs, Part 57

December 9, 2011

Well, the Charlie Brown tree is up and all seems at least okay with the world at the moment. And last night, Kris, our boss, gave all of us copy editors tiny strings of LED lights to plug into our USB ports. (And mine change color!) And I’m actually listening to my Christmas tunes. So maybe this won’t be such a bad Christmas season.

So on to this week’s Five Songs, and maybe some more because you’ve been such good girls and boys. Well, most of you …

Winter Wonderland — Aretha Franklin

Christmas Wish — She & Him

Snoopy’s Christmas — The Royal Guardsmen

Jingle Bells — Booker T. & the MG’s

Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag — The Lazy Cowgirls

Six White Boomers — The Fleshtones

Swiss Colony Beef Log — Eric Cartman

I Want an Alien for Christmas — Fountains of Wayne

Sleigh Bell Rock — Three Aces and a Joker

It’s a Marshmallow World — Dean Martin & Frank Sinatra

Five Songs, Part 56

December 2, 2011

Okay, Five Songs poses a dilemma this week. Namely, I’m having a hard time with Christmas this year.

Sure doesn’t feel like it. I mean, I see the trappings — how the hell can you not? — but things, like Charlie-in-the-Box’s name, are all wrong. It hit me this week as friends and relatives were posting about watching “Rudolph” and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town.”

That, unto itself, was fine, and being back in the working world is surely a good thing. But I was reminded that, unlike the last two years, when I managed to get home to Connecticut, I’m out here, in my rented room in a joyless place that doesn’t celebrate Christmas. And for the third Christmas, my trees and all the fun things are in storage. My Christmas tree this year will be a Charlie Brown tree, complete with bent branch, ornament and music box, from Walgreens.

So yeah, I’m working on coming around to some semblance of joy. And next year, Iwill be in a better place, physically and emotionally. And be able to put up my trees and have a party that will be the social event of the season — just like the ones I used to know …

Meanwhile, here’s this year’s first Christmas installment of Five Songs. With one notable surprise. Was looking for The Sonics’ 1965 classic “Don’t Believe in Christmas” and also found Pearl Jam, who apparently recorded it for their 2002 Christmas single. And what, on paper, seemed like pure blasphemy is actually pretty good. Not bad at all for a band that didn’t know how not to suck its first 15 years. So have fun and go trim those trees.

O Tannenbaum (From A Charlie Brown Christmas) — The Vince Guaraldi Trio

X-Mas Time (Sure Don’t Feel Like It) — The Dogmatics

A Five Pound Box of Money — Pearl Bailey

Christmas Spirit? — The Wailers

Don’t Believe in Christmas — Pearl Jam