Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unified Theory of Flenker, phase the third (in which I realize my dancing problems, and therefore, life)

Weekend before last, I was in Iowa City for the wedding of two friends. I've known them both for a long time, it was a wonderful ceremony, on a beautiful day. Here's a picture of me and the groom from years and years ago

(That's the perfect picture, right? Yeah.)

So it was a good time. And I was looking like the money.

(I'm bringing back hats and suspenders. Trust me)

Anyways, I digress. There was drinking, and there was dancing. Of course there was, it was a wedding. Now, I'm sure many of you who actually know me know that I don't take to dancing very frequently or very well at all. I did this night, because come on, I had to. The usual slow stuff, where you just sort of transfer your weight from one leg to the other. No problem. But it got me thinking (after my head cleared a few days later), anything outside of that, I'm pretty clueless. Then, yesterday, it hit me. I know who to blame. Misters John Linnell and John Flansburgh.

Exhibit A:

In my "formative years," I was kind of dorky. To put it lightly. I flipped out at the episode of Tiny Toons that featured two They Might Be Giants songs. I didn't talk to girls, instead I played Zelda. I went to a total of 0 dances throughout high school and my rather extensive college career. Most of my friends are also inept at the art of talking to females (sorry pals, you know it's true), and few have married, so there were never many opportunities for me to dance. And so, I learned solo. Anyone who has seen me dance can attest, I look like the fellow in black in this video (appearance about 22 seconds in, then again at 1:11 [my birthday is 1/11!!!! coincidence? I'm drunk]).

Now, being a "musician," I have an excellent sense of rhythm (apparently not an excellent sense of how to spell rhythm, THANK YOU SPELL CHECK). This actually does help, to an extent. It's more of the "where" and the "why" for my extremities. I'm sure there's video evidence of this somewhere out there, and if you have any, send it my way, I swear I'll post it here. I have no shame.

So yeah. My early influence in moving my body to the music were these guys

And as much as I loved them (and really love them still), I never stood a chance.

(OK, I think I had bigger plans for this one, I think. It's a good start. But I had a bottle of Seagram's gin that was opened, so I had to finish it before it went bad!)

Also, this is post #400. What a wild trail we've blazed, friends. I'd have a little speech prepared, but feel that it would be a little cheap, since we haven't spent much time together over the last, oh, year or two. But thank you for hanging around, if indeed you are hanging around. Maybe I'll get a little retrospective put together, but just be patient with me. I'm still finding my stride.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jernigan by David Gates

About, oh, a decade ago, give or take a few years (probably give), I finally got to reading Catcher in the Rye. I wasn't required to read it in high school, and in those days, if it wasn't Tolkien or a Dragonlance book, I wasn't doing much outside the requisite (I was a cool dude).

This was at a point in my life when I was really filling the "jaded and disillusioned late-teens-early-twenties" role quite well, changing schools, majors, thinking about moving, all that jazz (good to see I've matured so much, and have changed). So Catcher struck a particular chord with me, as it has with probably 80%+ of those who read it, and became one of my favorite books.

Why all this lead-up? Well, I'm now a nearly-30 disenchanted fellow, who has developed a taste for beer and fine liquors, especially gin. And, well, that starts the description of the narrator of Jernigan, Peter Jernigan. Sure, he's a little older, and lives with his son, his girlfriend, and her mom, he lost his job a year after his wife died, and he's MUCH more self-destructive, but, I can't help but feel some kinship there. Probably more than a little forced on my end. But still.

I won't go through too much of the plot, because really, I think each and every one of you should read it for yourself. Basically, Jernigan is floundering through life. And he doesn't care. He lives in New Jersey suburbia with a son who tolerates him as far as he has to, a woman who (minus the rabbits that she keeps and slaughters herself) these days would probably be classified as freegan, and her possibly abused, definitely drug-abusing daughter (who is dating Peter's son. Got it?). Quite the picturesque family. Throw in Peter's penchant for popping Pamprin chased with gin, and you start to get the idea. He is at once both self-righteous and self-loathing. As a friend described it, "It's the washing away of standards and expectations and walking off a cliff with a drunken smirk." I can't think of a better way to describe it. And as far as relating to the character, the same said fellow says, "It's fucking beautiful. Somehow, I feel, Peter Jernigan and I stand at a crossroads, doing doubletakes. Have we met? Oh yes, we have." Really, I should just have him write this review for me.

Told with flashbacks of Peter and his wife, or Peter's misadventures with his best friend Uncle Fred, Jernigan gives a personal, first-hand look through the "anti-hero's" eyes at how he's gotten to where he is, and gives glimpses of his bleak future. This book has been compared to Catcher in the Rye by most of the reviews I've read (including my own), for damn good reasons. Both narrators are sort of feeling their ways through life. Neither really have a "home" home, but wander aimlessly, calling on old acquaintances, looking for some cheap thrills while in New York City, avoiding their family, or what substitutes for a family. (ok, so I'm a little over generalizing here, come on, give me some slack. This is my first time "writing" in months) Had Holden Caulfield been a few decades later, would he have become Peter Jernigan? Well, probably not. Jernigan is from consequences. Holden didn't seem as self-destructive, and not nearly as pessimistic. (Holden gets upset seeing "Fuck You" scratched into a wall. Jernigan probably put it there)

As things start to spiral out of control, the last few chapters get pretty brutal, uncomfortable, and awkward, but in a beautiful, chaotic way. To say it gets wrapped up neatly is probably a bald-faced lie, but I can't think of a better ending. Makes sense? Good. Read it for yourself. It's funny, depressing, at times hopeful, and ultimately leaves you sort of numb, but in the best possible way. Promises.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Maybe this time it'll stick... and a "confession"

Yeah, I know. I said this 4 months ago. But this time, I really mean it. I want to actually get back into this thing. For whatever reason. Inspiration has struck, I suppose. Or I've become even more lonely and pathetic, and can turn to only you, my internet. Ahh, yes. My one reader out there, thank you. (I can count myself as my one reader, right?)

Actually, I think I've just been stressing myself out lately. I feel some "life decisions" must be made in the next few weeks/months, and big ones. Not quite sure what will change, if anything. But the possibility is there. I swear. It'll become clearer as I make my moves/decisions. If I do. You see, if you recall, I'm basically a big wimp. But this time, I'm going full-assed on this. I feel like I did Austin only half-assed. Chalk it up to a learning experience.

Now, for the "confession." For, oh, over a year now, I've been on Twitter. Yeah, I know. I wasn't really keeping it from you, it just never came up! I go in spurts, swear a lot, and am just generally unfunny, everything you look for, in 140 characters! So, if you're interested, here - http://twitter.com/rod_leviathan. If not, I really don't blame you. Mostly I use it for reading up on/talking about the Hawkeyes, music, and beers. So sort of like I do/did here. I'll just start being more active here, more in-depth, and more insightful? As if I've ever been that insightful.

So, there you go. I'll try to be back tomorrow, with a review of a book that was recommended to me by one of my better Twitter friends. It's a doozy. Until then, enjoy what has become a new favorite song of mine - Frightened Rabbit with "My Backwards Walk"