Dang it All
Trials and Travails of a 20-something
Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Captain’s Log. Stardate 10-20-04.

For those familiar with William Shatner’s previous attempts at recording music, his newest cd may be a bit of a risky buy. But fear not. Shatner’s latest cd is a masterwork, combining the 73 year old’s unique voice with eccentric songs, great accompaniment, and an amazing cast of guest artists.

“Has Been” is Shatner’s musical opus. Produced by indie music legend Ben Folds, who also plays piano, drums, and sings on many of the songs, the album is a showcase for Shatner’s lifestyle and personal philosophy.

While Shatner never actually sings on the album, his expressive voice creates spoken word versions of songs that tend to have an even greater impact, which would otherwise lost in the midst of tuneful vocals. In “You’ll Have Time,” a song that repeats the phrase “you’re gonna die” over and over Shatner expounds on his views of death, saying “What was all the fuss?/Why did I bother?/Why did I waste it?/Why didn’t I taste it?”

Many of the songs on the album have benefited from Folds’ collaboration and writing ability. In the title song, a western piece complete with fake rattlesnake hisses, rolling guitars, and mariachi trumpets, Shatner talks to those who call him a “Has Been.” The former captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise names his detractors “Never Done Jack,” “Don’t Say Dick,” and “Two Thumbs Don” and characterizes them as “Riding on their armchairs.”

The twin influences of Folds and Shatner were able to assemble an amazing ensemble cast to back Shatner up. Joe Jackson sings backup on “Common People,” the best sounding song on the album. He also sticks around to play piano on a few more songs. Aimee Mann adds her dulcet voice to the chorus of “That’s Me Trying.”

Nick Hornby, the writer of “About a Boy” and “High Fidelity” fame, co-wrote one of the better songs, about a deadbeat dad attempting to regain a relationship with his daughter. Jon Auer, of The Posies, played guitar and sang on many of the songs. Brad Paisley wrote and sang on “Real.”

Sebastian Steinberg of Soul Coughing showed up to play bass. And Henry Rollins of Black Flag and The Rollins Band showed up to do a seminal duet with Shatner called “I Can’t Get Behind That” where the duo yelled out ideas and items they just can’t get behind.While not every song on the album is a classic gem waiting to be heard, the majority is very good.

Shatner’s poetic readings of “What Have You Done” and “Together” are a bit contrived and could have benefited from a bit more musicality and less hipster poetry jam essence. But overall, the album is better than most coming out this year and fans of either Shatner or Folds will appreciate this addition to their collection. So check it out. If for nothing else, just to hear William Shatner’s unmistakable voice saying “I can’t get behind a fat ass.”

Monday, October 11, 2004

If your parents didn't have any children, there's a good chance that you won't have any.
- Clarence Day
Music playing right now: Belle and Sebastian

A word of clarification before you read the following story. My parents are very conservative, staunch christians, and not normally prone to outbursts concerning sex, bodily functions, or anything of the sort.

So my parents, Kelsey, and I were sitting around last night talking, waiting for the dryer to finish drying. Having a rousing good discussion about Carole King and The Carpenters. For some reason, the topic of goats came up. My dad pipes up and says, "you know, Michael has a goat. Well, a little one. A goatee..." We obediently groaned.

I decided to press the joke a little further. "I've got a calf." More chuckles.

My prim and proper mother chimes in with her own addition. "I've got an ass!" Groans disspeared, followed by shocked laughter. She tried to act as if this wasn't a big deal. "You know, like in the Biblical sense of the word."

We challenged her interpretation. "So does that mean it can be smote?" "Is it hairy?" "Does it talk to you?"

At this critical humor juncture, my dad allowed his mouth to act before his brain. "Does that mean it gets ridden?" Kelsey and I erupted into red faced laughter. My conservative father quickly developed a case of sunburn. My mom looked at him in shock.

"What? Are you sure that's what you meant to say?"

The laughter continued unabated for about five minutes, broken only briefly by my mother leaning over to me and confiding, "You probably don't want me to answer that."

I'm scarred for life.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Christopher Lambert has corrupted my brain.

All I did was watch Highlander a few times and now anytime Scotland is mentioned, I have an overwhelming urge to strap on my scottish accent and yell out, "MacLeod!!" It's no use fighting against it. It just happens.

Friday, October 08, 2004

After two days in the hospital, I took a turn for the nurse.
- W.C. Fields
Music playing right now: The Living End - West End Riot

I have something wrong with my foot. Something inflamed, red, scaly, and pussy to be exact. Not really sure what it is, but it's been on the side of my left foot and steadily growing for the past four months. I kept expecting it to just go away, figured it was a spider bite or something, but it never did. So I finally got up at 6:30 in the morning the other day and went down to my doc to get it checked out.

The doctor, who looked to be about the same age as I was, had no idea what it was. He said something to the effect of, "Yep, that's a rash. You better do something about that." Then he prescribed some hydrocortizone lotion and kicked me out. It was fine with me. The less time I had to waste in a waiting room or on a cold examination table the better. So I headed on over to the pharmacy to pick up my cortizone creme crap.

I took a number and sat down contentedly reading my book. After ten minutes or so they called me up. I marked my place, sauntered up to the counter, and showed my ID card. The girl working behind the counter couldn't have been more than 21. It was a little uncomfortable.

I know I'm not really supposed to notice anymore now that I'm engaged, but she was reasonably attractive, in a pharmacist sort of way. She handed the prescription over the counter and started reading me the printed instructions that came with it. "This cream is generally used for a skin rash of some sort and should be applied four times a day..." I'm not that shy of a person, but there's just something uncomfortable about a stranger, and a peer to boot, talking to me about a rash on my body.

She continued. "The treatment should not be applied orally or anally, but may be used on the genitals sparingly." Neither of us were making eye contact. By this point I was sure she thought I had scabies, or genital warts, or had made a habit of using poison oak as toilet paper. She finally finished up. "If you have any questions about your skin condition or if it persists after two weeks of treatment, please contact your physician immediately."

I said "Thanks a lot!" in an self-conscious, overly jovial tone and walked off, my genitals burning with embarassment.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

The only thing worse than wet jeans is having your boxers wedge up into a sumo diaper inside those same wet jeans.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Wit is educated insolence.
- Aristotle
Music playing right now: K's Choice - Losing You

I'm now a published newspaperman. Watch out William Randolph Hearst.

I've been wondering lately how much more knowledge I'd have if I would actually do all of the reading assigned in my classes. When I first started college, I actually attempted to. Then I wouldn't get it all done and I'd figure, "hey, if I don't have the reading done, it's not worth going to class. Might as well just stay in my room and play computer games." Now I've got the opposite viewpoint going. I do almost none of the reading, but make it to every class. It works much better.

I've found that 75% of the reading is extra. I'll never be tested on it, I won't ever have to write a paper using it, and while my professors might suspect or know that I don't actually read it, I still contribute enough that they don't really care. Just think of all the things I'd know and be able to spout off if I actually put in the 30 hours a week that it would take to get it all done. I could be the next 89-week Jeopardy champion (or however long that guy was on there).

I'm going to be graduating in May with around 140 hours of college credits to my name, not counting all the courses I failed or dropped over the past 5 years. That's a lot of info I should have stored up in my brain. Is it all there? Do I still remember everything I learned about Geography or 20th Century Russia or Texas and the American West? Of course not. But I did manage to pass and, after all, that's the important bit.


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