“Half Of My Heart”: music versus Music

Thus far, my blog has played host to talk of my writing, snippets of prose, and the occasional rant about something writing-related that irks me (or about my podcast, which is its own animal and I don’t feel like counts as what I “write about” exactly). Today, we’re going to take a break from Authorship and focus on one of my other loves: Music.

This isn’t the same as “music”, which is stuff that technically involves notes, a rhythm and sometimes words (I’m looking at you, Miley and Bruno Mars). This is Music, capital-M, which is music that is so well-crafted and/or well-performed that it graduates to Music. Most people tend to think what qualifies as Music is in the eye of the beholder, but I disagree; if it’s truly done with exceptional acuity and skill, the fact that it’s big-M Music should shine through regardless of genre or preference. That is how I can hear the rare rap or country song (genres I mostly detest) and still be able to tell that it’s decent.

I have spent my adult life trying to define Music versus any old music, and I’d like to think I have a pretty good handle on it. Of course, occasionally I can be surprised, but for the most part my ear has become very keenly honed. When I tell you certain Music is good, I’m usually at least partially right. That might sound like bragging (and it kind of is), but the truth of the matter is, Music matters so much to me that I spend an inordinate amount of time second- and third-guessing what I listen to and why. It’s a somewhat-unhealthy obsession.

Today, out of the blue, I suddenly got the itch to put on some John Mayer.  A lot of people are going to stop reading at this point, and that’s fine; the entitlement of being able to disregard someone’s viewpoint based entirely on the fact that they mentioned a celebrity you have some preconceived notion about is part of what’s great about living in a Free Society. It kind of makes you an even more pretentious douche than I am, but hey, freedom!

Back to Mr. Mayer. I have no particular love for him as an individual, I don’t know much about him other than a handful of articles I’ve read, some crap about his on-again-off-again relationship with Katy Perry. What I do know about him is that he can make a guitar sit up, beg and roll over, and that his semi-bluesy voice is perfectly suited to his craft and style within that craft. He writes Music – it’s definitely poppy and mainstream, but it qualifies. My friend Scar (yes, he killed Mufasa, but we’re past that in our relationship) handed me a copy of Room For Squares several years ago, which pushed me beyond the tiny snippets I had heard on the radio and made me a casual fan for life. That said, I haven’t actually thought about his Music in a year or so… but today, when I said to myself, “Why haven’t I listened to ‘Half Of My Heart‘ in so long?”, I fired up Google Play just to see if I had it backed up there.

I did. I listened. I smiled.

Those who aren’t Mayer fans can skip this paragraph: Squares and Heavier Things are incredible but for different reasons. I will always rock out to “Neon” and “Bigger Than My Body“, no matter what is happening when they come on. Continuum was… not as good, but had one or two golden, indispensable tracks (mostly “Say” and “Waiting On The World To Change“). Battle Studies, however, was ridiculously awesome and saw near-constant rotation in my CD player (kids, ask your parents what CDs are) after its release. I’m sorry to say I lost touch with him after that, but I know he has newer material I may have to check out soon.

As a quick aside, I love the fact that I can go “DUDE, that song from that one time, I haven’t heard it in forever” and be listening to it five seconds later. Which I Tweeted, but that’s beside the point.

Before my high school years, my notion of what was music and what was Music had no strong foundation. Unfortunately, my mother (and stepfather, her eventual accomplice) were very Christian, which is fine for them, but based on this they limited my exploration of Music severely in my formative years. I had oldies, Christian music (most of which doesn’t even come close to capital-M status), and “Fun Radio 95.5”, which was a station that catered to a younger audience (IE, they played Disney soundtracks, Joe Scruggs, Raffi, and the theme song to Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?). Cutting out HUGE swaths of my patchwork childhood (you’re welcome), this continued to be the case exclusively right up until my Freshman Year of high school, when Fun Radio underwent management change and started playing some mainstream pop alongside the kiddie songs. Suddenly, I was introduced to strange new animals like Will Smith, Sugar Ray, Aqua, Smash Mouth, Spice Girls. To most people, this is nothing; you’re probably laughing at my “discoveries” right now, which I totally get. To me, it was like a door to a glorious landscape opening the tiniest crack. On the other side was Music.

Slowly throughout my teen-age, my tastes evolved. Sugar Ray led to Third Eye Blind, which led to Vertical Horizon, which led to Toad the Wet Sprocket, which led to Tears For Fears, which led to Smashing Pumpkins, which led to Nine Inch Nails, which led to Ween, KoRn, Tool, Stabbing Westward, Placebo, and it continued to rabbit-hole until I couldn’t even recognize where I had started compared to where I wound up. For a while, I even tried to make music, but I soon gave that up as a lost cause and a chapter better left forgotten. As the years wore on, I developed this strange dual-sensibility; my love of alt-rock, metal and industrial spread like poisonous weeds in one half of my heart, while pop and light rock thrived like a pretty rose in the other.

Spoiler warning: the flower killed the weeds eventually. While I still put on NIN or the Pumpkins once in a while, well-crafted pop-rock and alternative “shoegaze”-type fare dominate my playlists these days. The last concert I went to was Stars, a bunch of Canadians who write euphoria-inducing Music like this. Definitely not the insubstantial “Contemporary Christian” pablum my mother listens to, but me-at-17 would have thought me-right-now was a loser for liking it. Dumb punk.

I’m not really going anywhere with this, I realize, other than to offer you a glimpse into something I haven’t yet discussed: I love Music. A lot. When people insult my musical tastes, I take it very personally, but I also don’t fold or back down, because I know what I love is worth loving. New Placebo album (which is insanely good, by the way)? Just as important for me to critique as the new Katy Perry (which is more “snore” than “Roar“, other than one or two cuts). Not normally critique to other people, but to myself: “Do I like this, or do I just feel like I’m supposed to like it?” “What might listening to any more of Suchandsuch Band do for me?” “Am I viscerally angry at forcing myself to listen to this for another second, or is it growing on me?” That kind of thing.

And therefore, I started to second-guess myself when I cued up “Half Of My Heart” today on a whim. “Why do I need to hear this right now? I’ve been listening to Fall Out Boy, Cibo Matto, Ben Folds, Jonatha Brooke and random German folk lately… how does that even relate to a sudden craving for Mayer?” I’m honestly interested in my own answers, because from a more objective standpoint my musical selections seem arbitrary and make no sense. However, there had to be some kind of pattern there… not that I can fully untangle it. I just wanted to hear “Half Of My Heart”, despite an artist of middling talent like Taylor Swift being a guest vocalist. It’s catchy, the melodies are woven so precisely that it seems like they took no effort at all, which is an under-appreciated talent in and of itself. Also, its lyrics are totally relateable. Possibly to me currently, but we won’t speak about that.

These are all the things I factor in when I try, in my infinite ignorance, to distinguish between music and Music. Most of the time, I like to think I make wise decisions. Doubtless you just think I’m crazy, which is your prerogative. Meanwhile, I’m over here grooving as I type this entry. Who is happier? Who has a grip on the situation?

~D.

Brandy

“Brandy”

A writing exercise that got wildly out of control
By D. Lawson-Hart and Divine Shade
(WARNING: NSFW.)

—————————————————————

 

Might cuddle up with you when I get home tonight.

 

I think I would love the attention.

 

Really? Because I plan on drinking of you deeply.

 

Just the way you should.

 

I always roll you around on my tongue for a while.

 

I love when you taste me like that.

 

Sometimes you go straight to my head, you know.

 

Sometimes I like to go straight down.

 

Straight down, no waiting?

 

Straight down until you burn.

 

I promise not to choke; I can handle you.

 

Are you sure?

 

Hit after hit after hit.

 

Use me until I am spent and done.

 

Just keep in mind I have been known to get every last drop before I’m through.

 

It pains me to think that, when all is said and done, I might be tossed aside for another.

 

I have been known to do that… but usually I just pick the same poison all over again.

 

So night after night, am I to be used and used well to drown your pains?

 

Most nights, you’re the only thing that works… but I think you get something out of it, too.

 

The taste of you on me… the feel of your lips on my cool glass body.

 

My teeth, too, if you don’t mind it.

 

I make such lovely sounds when you run your teeth across me. It makes me shiver.

 

I shiver, too, but it doesn’t stop me because I’m still thirsty.

 

The more you take, the more I give.

 

And the more you give, the more I take you over and over.

 

Give until the point of no return.

 

It makes me dizzy when I’m full of your flavor.

 

The knowing that another cannot satisfy you as I can makes me want to never let you hit bottom.

 

You alter my reality and quench me in ways nothing else can.

 

I become one with you and take away your stress. I relieve you better than anything else can… I love when you struggle to keep your hands off of me.

 

I always do, and they always find their way back… opening you all over again.

 

Our love affair shall be a never-ending one – one that keeps you warm at night and has you crawling back to me.

 

Every nerve ending tingles and my vision blurs when I get too much of you, and yet I don’t even care; I just want more.

 

I try desperately to keep up, but I can only take you so far. I weep when it is all over.

 

By the time you’re spent, my mind is so on fire I can’t even tell where you end and I begin.

 

Deep within you, when all is done, I twist my self around your soul and offer you my comfort and warmth once more… with hopes and wishes that we will soon be one again.

 

I try to hate myself in the morning because you make me ache, but I can’t, and we end up back where we started.

 

It is my dearest desire to keep you coming back to me. I make you ache to remind you that what we have is real, and you need me to chase the dark lonely shadows from your dreams.

  

Trouble is, I can’t tell if you’re lying to me or not… I believe it when the darkness retreats in the face of you setting me ablaze, and even during the pain, but what if I’m just deluding myself?

 

I push you ‘til you see no reason, and that is our reality; there can be no other way. I do not taste of lies when on your lips… I am fire and honey… wind and glass… sweet and smooth on your tongue.

 

There it is; the reason this continues, the reason I can never put you aside. You drown me in my own sorrows as I devour you, make the darkness seem like light for a while.

 

I stay with you for as long as the dawn does not dwell over the horizon like a damning witch to claim you from my embrace. I am forever your companion when all others fail you.

 

Sometimes, the only thing that gets me through the wicked daylight hours is the knowledge that, at the end of it all, you’re waiting for me at my bedside, so innocent until unleashed.

 

I wait so silently, so patiently, for you to claim me; I anticipate it with eager joy and suspense. I love how you use me.

 

There are times I nearly break you in my haste to open you wide, to have you again, to make you erase the nightmares of this life

 

The wicked grip you hold on me in your desperate need to have me makes me take you faster to the core of the vortex that is so close to Ecstasy, no one can compare to what we have in our darkest hour together. I need you to break me and to take me… take me down with you, let me burn you as you are meant to be burned.

 

What we do to each other is unnatural and disgusting to most people, and I couldn’t care less because I need it. I need the pain and the misery because I don’t feel alive without you on my lips.

 

I am innocent, for all intents and purposes… it is what we do to each other that makes us dirty and unaccepted by gentle society. I do what I do for you, and only you… I was made for you. You consume me as one would the last drop of water in a dead oasis. You hold my loyalty and my body to you alone.

 

You’ll never leave me, because you have nowhere else to go but into the gutter, but I never think about you that way; I can’t. It’s much more important to draw you into myself and experience every atom of you as you change my worldview, make wrong seem right and dark seem light.

 

I pray you never cast me aside; I wish never to be replaced with a warm body that would lie to you as they try to recreate what I give you freely. I am yours for only a small price, where another would be the bane of your existence in mere months’ time. I am everlasting in your thoughts… I am calling to you and want to be in your hands.

 

My stomach clenches and I sweat under your ministrations, and I reach for you repeatedly, touch you and draw you to me, allow you to serve your purpose and give me a reason to go on, even as you kill me a little at a time.

 

I am yours to do with as you please, to serve you as you wish. I will be what you need and, in the darkest of nights, I will be who you need me to be. You are master in everything; I am made for this… I am made to fit your needs in the only way I can. I am the key to the figments of your imagination; let us walk through and wander for a bit. Give your self over to my keeping… let me love you.

 

How can I let you love me if in the morning you will be gone? Yet it is all you have to give, your shining, fleeting role in my bleak reality. And I take it from you, I encourage it even while I know it might be the worst mistake I could ever make. Because I love what you do to me. It’s indescribable and profanely sacred.

 

You care for me. You do not always use me to my last drop; sometimes you keep me hidden for the night to come. You take care of me. I am precious to you… I am never a mistake… I am here to please, never to disappoint. Your ache when the dawn comes is to show you how much passion can be had if not tamed. It will leave you with little of yourself to love.

 

Only when we’re alone do you satisfy my desires; in the waking world, you’re a shadow in the back of my mind, teasing me with the promise of your embrace later, the taste of you like the bait in a snare. And ensnare me you do in your unbridled heat, and I descend into it willingly, burning alive and giving as good as I get all the way down.

 

I sate you in ways others only dream of. You can have me in any way your heart desires. I sweetly melt across your tongue with the heat of a burning goddess of pain that can only bring your deepest desires to light when we lay in bed and you bring me to you. I come alive inside of you. I ever wait for the caress of your lips at my opening.

 

That nectar inside of you is worth its weight in gold to me, though the only price for me is a few shekels and my self-respect. But self-respect does me no favors where I am right now; I pay gladly whenever I can and drape you across my mouth, dipping my tongue inside as your gift to me courses through my veins.

 

I cannot deny you anything; I am bought and paid for to use as your pleasure. I am your secret… I am your beloved little whore. I relish the thought of knowing I am forever ingrained in your mind. I make you whole… I am your weakness, I make you crawl… make you come back for more. I make you love me.

 

And come crawling is exactly what I do; some days it’s all I can do just to make it back to you. Part of me knows you’re weakening me little by little, that if I keep coming back one day I won’t survive the space between our perverse unions… or the unions themselves. One way or the other you’re going to destroy me, and I’ll gladly let it happen because you’ll be destroyed too, and we will lie in the rubble of ourselves forever. All because I love the way you taste.

~D./Shade

The Ballad Of Spider Sushi: 2013 Holidays

Boy, quite a bit happened this year – some good, some bad. Some podcasty. Following is the account of my insane, bittersweet holiday in my hometown.

DAY ONE: I fly in. Things are already ridiculous because I have to catch a BUS to the airport, when I thought I was getting a ride from a friend. Oh, well. Also, I was running on a pathetic 5 hours of sleep (thanks to Shannon) and a bagel-with-cream-cheese from the BWI terminal. Still, I manage to make my flight, connection in Cleveland, and I’m suddenly back in St. Louis, trying to explain to my parents what part of the terminal I’m in while watching for my suitcase. Blah blah blah, I hang out with my immediate family for a few hours and eat a couple rice cakes, then borrow my mother’s car for a very special dinner date. Not the kind YOU’RE thinking of, but one of equal importance to me.

I haven’t seen Jennifer in at least 7 years, probably closer to 10. Another lifetime ago, we were best friends. Back in elementary school, our relationship was of an amorous nature (as much as it can be, haha). To blow the lid off a pretty open secret, we were both interested in each other at points when it mattered, as well, but never at the same time. Over and over, life and familial obligations got in the way, and we lost touch. Until this year, when we started corresponding via FB (that magical glue that holds acquaintances together). A plan was made: Pantera’s Pizza, where I’d always meant to eat but never had, and she swore up and down they were the best in the area.

Despite my grandmother trying to force me to teach her how to use my USB mic as I’m going out the door, I’m only a few minutes late and she’s already inside. I sit down, and I feel The Awkward trying to settle over us. “Who the hell is this across the table?” we were both thinking. Still, we powered through, going up to order and get drinks and such until we had more or less defeated the foul beast and settled in for a rousing game of catch-up.

After one beer, five breadsticks, a large half-pepperoni and three hours, we had swapped life’s battle scars and compared notes. Mostly about vomiting. A gregarious waiter added some color here and there, and the lights randomly going out gave us a fun “WTF” moment. Toward the end, I learned there was a particularly good reason she hadn’t ordered any alcohol for herself. I was honored; she hadn’t even told most of her family yet. She and Donnie, her fiancée, had my sincere congratulations.

Then we took the obligatory selfie in the parking lot (is it still called a selfie if there’s two people in it?), stood on the borderline between needing to get out of the cold and back to the rest of our lives and not wanting to prematurely cut a fun evening off at the knees. No regrets, though. We’d have to do this again sometime, and so forth. I listened to Dan Fogelberg’s “Same Auld Lang Syne” on the way home, and had a hard time not overly-identifying.

 DAY TWO: After a good night’s sleep and a somewhat lazy morning, I went to see Frozen with my mother/stepdad/halfbrother/halfsister (the immediate family to which I previously referred). It was really good, and I highly recommend it; a cut above most Disney fluff. Then we went back to my parents’ place, ate spaghetti, and proceeded to watch Despicable Me, which I am very late to the game on. Entertaining, and surprised me toward the end. Solid stuff. Then we watched the Minions short films, which weren’t nearly as good as the movie, but whatever.

I’ll take this opportunity to explain that I usually spend any hometown visits staying with my grandparents instead of my “immediates”. There are three reasons for this:

1. They have not just one, but two extra rooms, even with my aunt and uncle staying with them. My parents have… a couch. Really, this is the only reason necessary to provide, isn’t it?
2. After high school, I spent a few years living with my grandparents. I’m very comfortable in that house.
3. Not to bring everybody down or anything, but… they’re in their eighties now. I have a finite period of time left to spend with them.

Therefore, when I tell you that after Despicable Minions we went back to their place and chatted for a while before my mom left, you’ll get why.

DAY THREE: Being a Sunday, this is kicked off with a pre-Christmas church service. Now, I’m no longer a very religious person. The reasons are my own and fairly uncomplicated, but suffice it to say I still love and respect the God of my formative years. I just seldom see eye-to-eye with His well-meaning people. It was a nice, quiet service, and most of the congregation was happy to meet the grandson of two of their elder members. Lovely.

Afterward, we were off to Ravanelli’s. They’ve been around in the southwest Illinois area which I call home for as long as I can remember. A lot of other places I loved have either disappeared (Brenda’s) or moved (Dave’s Movies & More), but Ravanelli’s has stood strong, merely redecorating once or twice. Their toasted ravioli is a true treat, and nobody makes house dressing like theirs. This time, however, I went for broke: ravioli, cream-of-chicken soup (also superb, but only served on Sundays), salad with house dressing, and tenderloin steak tips seared with onions and mushrooms (sorry, Joanne). I stuffed myself and enjoyed every freaking second.

Also, I picked up the check. This is going to sound like a braggy thing, which it kind of is, but I include it because this is the kind of thing I would have been completely unable to do as recently as last year. Now, however, I can as long as it doesn’t turn into a regular habit. It was a good feeling to treat my grandparents to a meal for once, when it was normally the other way around.

Shortly after this came a little last-minute Christmas shopping with my cousin, Shannon. Now, I hadn’t seen her in the flesh in over 3 years (Facebook correspondence doesn’t count), and that last time was a passing howdy at best. She’s a tall drink of water these days, nearly up to MY height! It’s actually a little unnerving. Anyway, we exchanged gifts (both books) and took off for the city.

We hit the St. Louis Galleria, which is a very pricey mall. Nearly every store in it was perused. Shannon had a cold, which meant we had to stop so she could catch her breath several times. A little Teavana and Auntie Anne’s gave her the strength to soldier on. I didn’t even get anything besides food there; she only got a shirt for her mom and a keychain for me (it was a buy-one-get-one deal). Still needing something for her dad, we headed to Trader Joe’s, which I had never experienced before this day. I find it to be beyond acceptable. I got chocolate, sunflower kernels, and cheese – and also a free wine sample, which is a very weird thing to stumble upon in a supermarket! Her dad got a gift card.

Following this, I’m pretty sure we went from there straight to Shameless Grounds, which is a slightly alt-scene coffee house in the southern part of St. Louis. By which I mean anything BUT straight, both because it’s LGBT-friendly and because we got abysmally lost on our way there. But I digress. I ordered the “Chauvinist Pig”, which is a ham-and-bacon sub that I fell in love with. They played BINGO (not that we won, but it still added to the experience). It was fantastic, and I’d gladly visit again.

DAY FOUR: More of the fun shopping times, this time with my mother and sister; the other half of the family decided to sit around the house and be lazy, I guess. At the Fairview mall, I picked up my rugged new leather boots that make me look like some kind of steampunk cowboy thing for about half their retail price. We also poked around Build-A-Bear (for my sister’s benefit), and checked out the sugar bears (see previous parentheses). From there, we went to Five Guys, which nobody in the Midwest has ever tried, it seems like. Even though my sister only had a grilled cheese, they all liked the food, which pleased me since it was my idea and all. I also sprang for this. That reminds me, I need to check my bank balance…

Next, we hit Ross, Marshalls, and Five Below. From those places, I got a pair of Levi’s (that actually FIT me), some Turkish Delight, and a couple of discounted Blu-Rays (one of which I ended up giving Shannon later). I also tried on some hoodies but never found a good one for a decent price, which was a futile search that would last the rest of my trip.

Eventually, I struck out for the city again, where I met Pat and Donna for dinner at The Vine, a middle eastern place. Yes, at least that one time this year, I ate the food of my people. I also met Ruth’s niece and a couple of Pat’s friends (through his mushroom hunting adventures, I do believe). We all ate lamb and chicken and hummus, and tried sips of their VERY strong coffee. The waitress who took our orders – who had been the ONLY waitstaff person on duty when we got there – received an extra tip from us for putting up with such a crappy night. Gifts were exchanged, pictures taken, hugs and holiday well-wishes passed around. Then I was braving the cold again.

DAY FIVE: Christmas Eve on Aunt Kitty’s farm. Firstly, Shannon had to work, and therefore she swung by to give us her seven-layer-dip-that-only-has-four-layers to keep refrigerated and deliver to the farm on her behalf since she was going to be late. Only problem was… while trying to ring the doorbell, she dropped it. We managed to sweep up the spilled lettuce and most of the cheese, but some of it was smooshed and had frozen to the pavement. It’ll thaw by spring, I suppose – and anyway, the rest of the dip was fine, and we had lots of spare shredded cheese to replace what had been lost. All’s well that ends well. I did that while fixing my grandma’s recipe for potato casserole.

Then we were on the farm. It was decidedly a poor showing this year; in my age bracket, Ryan was sailing around the world with his boat buddies (though he did call to wish us a Merry Christmas), and Dawn was off on a romantic liaison with her fiancée. Then there’s Casey, who almost never shows up to these anymore, Peter and Lauren, who… I honestly have no idea when the last time I saw either of them was, and Alyssa, who elected to flounce off to Alabama with her beau. That left me and David to hang around and shoot the breeze, which we did.

And this was the year I spiked the punch.

Well, I spiked my punch. The thought of getting the entire family drunk filled me with wicked glee, but I knew in reality it would end up being a mess so I exercised restraint. Therefore, all I did was add a few drops to my own cup and no more. Then I followed David outside while he took a few puffs and we compared notes and family in-secrets. Since most of you are not privy to this information, I’ll leave it at that. Then he showed me his new rifle, I got him a copy of my newest book, and we rejoined the slowly-shrinking crowd inside the farmhouse. Eventually, Shannon showed and added to the conversation, and then she gave me a lift home so we could run by Walgreens for some random crap.

DAY SIX: Christmas Day. Not much to say about this. Got up and helped with the food as much as I could (which wasn’t a lot, but I tried), then took a shower while we waited for the time when people began to filter in. It was nice. Ham was great, despite Jeff’s somewhat-butchering of the carving (at least it was cooked to delicious perfection, which he can also take credit for). “My” casserole turned out great. Enjoyed some geektastic conversation with Alyssa’s younger brother, Caleb (who I don’t even remember if I ever said more than two words to before), and at some point with my stepfather (who is a nerd in the most classic of senses). Presents were shredded and children did cute things, and Christmas music was played in the background. Awwwwwwww.

If memory serves, I also had some fun chatting with everybody online once all the festivities ended that night. Whee for staying connected!

DAY SEVEN: So this is when the sushi comes into play, in case you were wondering about that. Had a late, lazy morning, and was expecting my parents to come by for some lunch-of-leftovers. Therefore, I invited Shannon to drop by for that around one or two, after which we’d head out for the fabled sushi she’d been telling me about. Thing was, apparently my family was planning on dropping by for DINNER, not lunch. So we simply stood around in the kitchen, eating leftovers and talking to my Uncle Mike. I promised to bring him back a little sushi, since he said he hadn’t tried any since his days in the Korean war.

First up was TRYING to get Starbucks, but they were out of chai (which was all either of us wanted), so after picking up a present from one of Shannon’s friends, we stopped by Aunt Kitty’s farm again to literally kill some time before happy hour. I can think of worse ways to kill time, though. Chatted amiably about this and that for a while, then went to Wasabi.

Or tried to. Apparently, the restaurant only opened AT happy hour that day, so we had to kill time next door at Creve Couer Camera. I didn’t realize Shannon was into photography, but she was looking for a lens to go with her old film camera. They didn’t have one on hand, but said they could get it in. Was kind of pricey, so she said she’d check back.

Probably we ordered too much sushi, but it felt worth it to me, even though they forgot my tuna nigiri (but put a rush order on it when I reminded them). That bottle of sake probably helped smooth my mood over, if you know what I’m Super Saiyan. The spider-sushi, which has these crispy bits of fried nothing sticking out the sides to make it look arachnoid, was delicious, but the crunchy roll… well, the mayo concoction they drizzled on top was just a little tangy, and I didn’t realize precisely how low Shannon’s tolerance for spicy things is. Sorry, Shan.

For those of you still sitting there going, “Raw fish?! Eeewww!”, allow me to drop some knowledge on your Western head: http://local.dexknows.com/how-to-order-sushi

After that, we hit Annie’s for a dessert of concretes. I’d never been there to my knowledge, but they were good. Frozen custard is just something that people on the coast don’t seem to believe in (we had a similar conversation about deviled eggs, which both of us pounced on at Aunt Kitty’s), so I was thrilled to death. After this, I think we went home and that was it.

DAY EIGHT: My old buddy Scar had been trying for MONTHS to nail down our schedule for when I was in town, and the last thing I wanted to do was disappoint him. Alas, I managed to do just that when my Uncle Leonard showed up to say hi that morning. It bumped my departure back by several hours, even though his visit was only about 30 minutes.

Anyway, my grandpa drove me to the MetroLink station. Then he (unintentionally, or intentionally by way of good-natured ribbing) slid some guilt on me about spending so much time out with friends and ignoring my family, which was partially justified… but I told him “Look, I’m just trying to find enough time for everybody. It’s hard.” He agreed that it is in that kind of situation and told me to have fun.

In case you didn’t understand this already, my grandpa is awesome.

An hour-long train ride later, Scar meets me outside the platform and immediately drags me into Best Buy. This is not a surprise, because he’s pretty much a native New Yawker; speed and efficiency are just part of his DNA now. He buys some more RAM for his laptop and I get a new mp3 player, since… condensed version, my current one doesn’t have enough storage. After that, Vietnamese food and coffee, and back to his place for a little PS3, plus leftover Vietnamese with Emily eventually. Fawned over the baby for a while. Also watched Elysium, which turns out is a pretty decent flick. Skyped with Shannon for half a second to make sure we had the plan for Sunday morning ironed out (she was to pick me up from the Metro). Sadly, of course, the time came when we were too tired to soldier on, and we passed out.

DAY NINE: Up and at ’em early! Had some simple breakfast, then took a long, luxurious shower in their whirlpool tub (!) to ready for the day. Lunch was pizza though, which I was late for due to the length of my shower.

After lunch, we went out for a little walk, which was kind of nice since the weather had warmed up just enough to make it not unbearable. This, I believe, was part one of a twofold mistake. Having been cooped up with Shannon in her car on three separate occasions now while she had a cold, my working theory is that the virus was incubating in my system, and that most likely, walking around outside with slightly damp hair was the kicker. Also, throwing around a baseball for 10 minutes. Also, recording a podcast sitting on his deck. Yeah, spending over an hour in the cold can sometimes result in a cold!

Anyway, we had plans to meet a former coworker of ours, Yvonne, at the movies, so tiny tickle in my throat or not, off we went to the Des Peres cinema. Once she finally fought her way through the traffic and we exchanged “Long time no see” hugs, we treated ourselves to the latest Keanu flick, 47 Ronin. Pretty darn good, actually; I don’t know if it was fully worth the $10 ticket price, but yeah, definitely Netflix that when it comes out on disc.

From there, we hit the Elephant Room, an African(ish)-themed spot Scar had been raving about all day. He had a Blue Moon, she had an appletini, and I, being the only non-driver present, had not one, but TWO special extra-tropical Mai Tais. We also ordered a bunch of appetizers and shot the breeze, laughing at the weird decor and finding out what everybody had been up to all these years. At the end of it all, I ordered this weird flaming-hot cookie topped with ice cream dessert. It was delicious.

I had wanted to go bowling and Yvonne seemed up for it, but Scar announced he was kind of cached for the evening so we left things there. Yet he had just enough energy left… to go to White Castle. This still baffles me, since we had just eaten all those appetizers and the cookie for dessert, but hey, if it’s What You Crave… anyway, we took that back to his house and scarfed while channel-surfing and playing some Max Payne 3 until we couldn’t keep our eyes open anymore. Literally, he was snoring and everything. The life, my peoples.

DAY TEN: Vacation is almost over, and I have a cold.

Yep, when I pried my eyes open that morning, there could no longer be any denying that I had the dreaded Man-flu; I gargled with peroxide-water and everything the day before to no avail. Still, I pulled myself together as best I could, had some meager breakfast of a turkey sandwich and got ready to bounce out the door – but not before Scar got a few last pictures of us with his daughter. In his defense, she really is a cutie-pie, though.

From one station to another, where Shannon mostly arrives on time to pick me up. Another attempt to get our chai lattes from Starbucks – which succeeds! YAAAY! Once I have a little caffeine in my system, the cold starts to take a backseat and I can have fun again, after a fashion. Walgreens for drugs to fight off this nasty infection that makes my nose feel like there’s a balloon in there, a trip to Walmart where she gets groceries and I pick up a present for my grandfather… and then she surprises me with Her Plan: we’re going to get every single type of fast food I can’t find out East. This sounds like a really bad plan, but we decide to do it anyway: Jack In The Box, Dairy Queen and Hardee’s are either rare or nonexistent in the DC-Metro area, and I had a little from each in the span of an hour. Stuffed to the gills, we headed for home so I could meet my family for some hangout time.

So we kinda stood around and chatted for a minute with my grandparents before Shannon headed out. My grandpa loved the hat (it was a near-clone of mine), but it was too big so he’s going to exchange it. My parents, as it turned out, went home and ATE dinner instead of picking it up to bring to us, so I ended up snacking on stuff while blowing my nose until they showed. Then we all watched some Tim Hawkins DVD of theirs (which was actually pretty funny), chewed the flab for a while, hung around, yadda yadda. A little while after Immediate Family left, Aunt Sheila came up and said she was taking Alyssa’s oldest son over to her, since she and Boyfriend had just breezed back into town. We do so, it’s very brief, but at least I get to give her a hug and meet the new guy, who seems okay (though apparently they fight a lot). And then, I crashed.

DAY ELEVEN: This is kind of a non-day. Mom drove me to the airport while I ate my leftover mushroom-swiss-Thickburger from Hardee’s and drank the Jarrito that Shannon bought me. The cold made me feel miserable, and my ears popped twice as much during the flight. I just kind of listened to David Bowie the entire time (an airplane trip tradition of mine for many years now) and tried to doze off, both on the first flight and the connecting one out of Newark. Then I was home… riding the bus AGAIN, and hailing a CAB from the bus station. Because that’s what friends are for; when you’re suffering with the Cold From Hell, they leave you to fend for yourself.

What? It’s awfully hard to be forgiving when you feel like you’re two steps from your deathbed.

And thus endeth my story. Boy, am I exhausted, sick, and still slightly hung over. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. The whole trip was highly… educational, and every single day felt nigh-legendary. If only I could close out every year like that!

HAPPY 2014 EVERYBODY!

~D.

Díadae #3 – COMPLETE!

…sort of.

First of all, most of you are probably aware that right now, ’tis the season for NaNoWriMo, which I am participating in.  This has taken up most of my time over the past week-plus, and therefore I haven’t had time to roll out the announcement about the third installment in the story of Wells and Vivianna.  That’s right, I finally got up off my duff and finished it!  Expect to see a few little changes around the site as I update everything to include new information from this most recent tome.

Now, it still needs to go through one final editing phase (it’s already been through two) before it gets its very own ISBN and becomes a “real book”.  Until then, you can buy the “Advance Edition” from this page; I promise, there will be extremely negilgible differences.

What’s it called?  Click to find out, Cletus!

Meanwhile, my upcoming NaNo project is called “Splysrz”, and will be another stand-alone book like Accelerati was.  Though it is only TEN days into NaNo, I’m already on the cusp of hitting the 50,000 word goal.  It’s been very exhilarating!  As it stands, I fully expect this book to be about 100,000 words so don’t think I’ll be letting up on writing now!

Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled lazy Sunday.  New podcast episode tomorrow!

~D.

ADHDcast 12: Ataris, Legos and Bagels, Oh My!

Great. Much though you have been dreading it, time has come to slap y’all with yet another…

ADHDcast
EPISODE XII – Ataris, Legos and Bagels, Oh My!

Let your spine be tingled by D. the Deejay, Garrett Williams, John Waynick, Brandi Shade, and Aedylon Issyrol taking time out of their not-so-busy schedules to record their awful discussions about the Ballad of Chicken Nugget, John doing cartwheels, muffin stumps, Nelson Mandela, Nightwing: Earth One, crowdfunding away your old van, Man Of Steel versus Snuffaluffagus, Star Trek: Into Brightness?, Doctor Who: the early years, lost episodes of Animaniacs, Canadians, Elvis eating Nelson Mandela while he’s living inside a waffle (Nelson, not Elvis), the Nexus 7 tablet, a girl with a Lego leg, illegal peas, Rocko the wallaby falling into cleavage, reclaiming land, Xbox One again, which gamepad/controller had the best design, Windows 8, what you get from the Navy, new versus old comic book movies, the villains of Smallville, fashion in Logan’s Run, the youngest female Arab doctor in Qatar, forgetting your mother’s birthdate, how TV volume increases with one’s age, the dilemma of leaving to use the bathroom while at the cinema, singing the Ducktales theme in multiple languages, the plethora of WB cartoons in the early 90s, something to the effect of Doug, mac ‘n’ cheese, the transference of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles copyrights, bagel dispensers, sexy Post-It notes, chickens wielding swords, bloatware, the Holy Way of YouTube, Tom Jane being the most awesome Punisher ever, Ron Perlman being the ONLY Hellboy ever, Keaton versus Conroy, the 30-year anniversary of the dumping of truckloads of Atari E.T. cartridges, apps, and Aedylon with sports!

Before we give up the ghost, let’s roll out the cred carpet:

  • Most of the *free* music utilized in this podcast can be found on Kahvi.org [by Blackberry, Lenaid, Brioskj, John Novak, and Island Near The Clouds].
  • The songs “Bee’s Bagel Honey” by Atari Aria, as well as two renditions of “Suddenly” by GiGi Fouquet, were used with permission from the artists. Go give them all money NOW
  • How’s my quality? Aside from the noisiness of John’s daughters at the beginning, I like to think it’s steadily improving. Any questions/suggestions/comments can be submitted to diadae at mail dotkom (that’s an email address I’m spelling out phoenetically to avoid spammbotz), or posted in comments on this blog post. Even if you have audio questions or comments, go right ahead; I can splice them in. This includes questions for any guests, which I’ll bring up next time they’re on the show (if ever… though it’s likely they will be).
  • Don’t forget that you can subscribe to my YouTube channel to catch VIDEO versions of the interviews! (WARNING: the clips are unedited and will likely take longer to watch than the audio-only versions that I condense down into my podcast releases.)
  • This podcast is NSFW for language and crude humor.
  • This episode clocks in at 2 hours and 20 minutes.
  • ADHDcast is released under Creative Commons.

It’s your funeral, so you have a choice of these three luxurious caskets:

ADHDcast Episode 12 Zip files: (mp3) (m4a) (ogg) … and (one long mp3)

And we’re done here. Unfortunately, there will likely be another one next Monday, so let that be a black cloud on your horizons over the coming week. Later! ~D.

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