Dang it All
Trials and Travails of a 20-something
Friday, August 31, 2007

Today's column from David Brooks:

Every year we go to the beach, and every year it becomes more obvious that beach vacations are a metaphor for the human predicament.

Ooh! A metaphor! How far can we stretch it?

For while in his soul the contemporary man seeks to realize the loftiness of his essential nature, in actual life he finds himself whacking a ball against the windmill arm in an eternal game of mini golf.

Is that it? Will it snap? Can we possibly take this any further?

Middle-aged man seeks the spiritual grandeur of a mountain vacation but is trapped in the saltwater taffy of a beach vacation.

Can there be more? Is it even be more comparisons to be made?

Our lesser self is our beach self, which is a banal bimbo-ized version of the person we think we are. Our beach self munches on cheese fries while browsing through strip malls of unnecessary objects. Our beach self suffers from sandzheimers syndrome, which is manifested by the tendency to spend hours staring at oncoming waves, making scientific observations like, ``Here comes a big one.''


Summer must be a slow time for columnists.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I feel I'm finally coming into my musical own. Not that I have any musical talent. Kelsey can attest to the fact that my singing voice mainly conists of a nasal falsetto that I warble Christmas carols in. No, I'm finally finding music for myself that I like.

Growing up there were two types of music in the Golden household: gospel (The Cathedrals) and folk music (Harry Chapin). I still enjoy Harry Chapin and Carole King. And, in the right mood, I can appreciate the harmony of a good gospel quartet. Hitting the teenage years, I was firmly ensconced in the contemporary Christian music scene. DC-Talk, the Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline were my bands of choice. And while they're not horrible, looking back at them now I find schmaltzy lyrics, bad cliches and sloppy, heavy-handed melodies. But then, those are the sort of things that actually appeal to teens.

Off to college and all of a sudden a whole new musical world opened up. I discovered there was much more out there than Christian knock-offs of popular music, and I found the popular music itself. I devoured Green Day, Offspring, Live, Rage Against the Machine and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. It seemed that everybody else was 5 years ahead of me. If it wasn't in a movie soundtrack I totally missed every popular song of the '90s. It took me years to rediscover bands that had been hot, had their one-hit wonder and died out a decade ago. Then Dave introduced me to punk. And I took in Bad Religion, the Ramones, Black Flag and Die Toten Hosen.

At this point, I listened to anybody who had suggestions on music. Coming from a background where I had very little exposure to different styles or genres, I was willing to try pretty much anything. I didn't like all of it, but I tried. I went through a lot of phases. There was the pop era. The pop-punk era. The punk era. The rapcore era. The new age era. The hard rock era. The classic rock era. The singer-songwriter era. So much to listen to; going to college and finding all this free music (I was a bad bad man) was like being exposed to a whole library of books I didn't even know existed.

But upon graduating, I still didn't really have a sense of what I really liked. And I wasn't confident enough in my musical taste to support any opinions. There were certainly some bands I enjoyed more than others. But I couldn't tell people why I liked They Might Be Giants more than System of a Down, or why I had a soft spot for Kid Rock, but didn't really appreciate Eminem.

I met and married Kelsey, and she exposed me to even more great music, Le Tigre, Ryan Adams, The Proclaimers. And finally, I started finding my own taste. It's probably a process everybody goes through. First enjoying music because everybody else does. Then enjoying a genre that your friends recommend. Then picking the music you like and not caring if other people think you're weird for listening to The Born Again Floozies. I'm sure I'm not alone. I'm also guessing I was never as behind as I thought I was. Those years of back catalogues of thousands of artists you've never even heard of are just a little intimidating at first.

But I think I found the secret. It doesn't really matter if you're an expert on alt.country or Phish's biggest fan. Nobody cares. Nobody will even remember. What matters is that you close your eyes, tap your toes, hum along and dance to the music.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Kelsey and I are getting old. We shake our wrinkly fists at the wall when the young'uns next door make noise at 1 in the morning. We scowl at the whippersnappers zipping around the streets on their crotch rockets. And we just don't appreciate MTV at all.

We were invited to a going-away party on Friday night for one of my colleagues on the copy desk. Working at night, we're used to staying up pretty late, and the revelry wasn't even scheduled to start until midnight. Unfortunately, Friday night was my night to stick around at the paper until the first copies actually started rolling off the presses and make one last check. And on Friday night, the people manning the presses got off to a late start. A very late start. Most nights, we finish up around midnight and the presses start spitting out papers around 12:15. On Friday, after a series of unfortunate events, the presses didn't start until 1:40. I didn't get home until around 2.

Being the old duffers that we are, Kelsey and I decided to call it a night and pack it in. We couldn't imagine the party would actually drag on that much longer. I didn't want us to be those people who show up right when the place is winding down and everybody's thinking of leaving. And then all of a sudden everybody has to stick around another 30 minutes just to be polite. So we went to bed.

Lo and behold, come Saturday I find out that the merriment continued until 9 in the morning. We went to bed just as the fun was getting started. Upon being told, Kelsey said, "Ugh. I'm too old for that."

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today's lesson:
When putting on new socks, make sure the sticker ends up in the trash. Do not lay it on the bed, where it could end up on the back of your pants.
I spent 6 hours at work today walking around with my butt advertising its "Oooh! Ahh! Cushioned comfort."


Thursday, August 23, 2007

It is yet another measure of how far our culture has fallen when The Associated Press sends out a nationwide NewsAlert that "Lindsay Lohan has reached a plea deal."

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just in case anybody's still wondering what to get me for Christmas:



Or there's always the Mockers. (Key quote: Pants are lame, and Dockers® are the lamest pants we can think of. They’re so lame that we decided to come out with a Utilikilt so sleek and clean and stylish that your Docker wearing friends would cry in secret shame.)

Please, please realize I'm joking.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Kelsey noticed yesterday that today is the five-year anniversary of this blog. So be prepared for some serious navel-gazing.

A few things that have changed in the past five years:
Musical tastes (From Enigma and Goldfinger to Jon Troast and Toots and the Maytals)
Weight (From 150 to 185 to 165 to about 170)
Fashion (No more plastic shirts, Kelsey, I promise)
Waist size
Drink (I'll have a Guinness, please)
Job (Good riddance, telemarketing)
Hair color (auburn to blond to crimson to pink to blond to auburn)

A few things that haven't:
Literary tastes (Just finished J.R.R. Tolkien's latest posthumous work)
My fondness for cheese
Glasses (John Lennon frames never go out of style)
UHF is still funny
Avoiding sidewalk cracks
I still read Sinfest

Friday, August 17, 2007

One of the advantages of working in a business where I deal with words all day: I get to learn new ones. Today I came across complaisant. What's the difference between that and complacent, you ask? I'll tell you!

Complaisant means 'eager to please' and 'showing a cheerful willingness to others' wishes'. Complacent is quite the opposite, 'being pleased with oneself; contented to a fault'. However, they share one meaning, which may cause them to be confused - each also carries the sense of 'obliging, agreeable'.

So, for example, when Kelsey was stung by a jellyfish on Tuesday, I was not complacent about it. Instead, I was complaisant and quickly helped her back to the car and home where she could pour vinegar on her leg.

Monday, August 13, 2007

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Exude animal magnetism to capture prey. The time could be ripe to go on the prowl for a passionate pairing.

Rowr.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Intuitions seem to give the wrong message. An atmosphere that seems tranquil may hide a disturbance, but a feeling of foreboding could be groundless. Hang tight and don't make decisions.

If we can manage to stumble out of bed at 5 in the morning, we plan to see the big meteor show tomorrow. I'm guessing there's at least a small chance the alarm will be turned off.

We're nearing the end of our semi-annual viewing of As Time Goes By, with only 2 episodes left of the dour, sallow-faced Lionel and his Pooh. In one of those serendipitous coincidences, a recent episode featured Lionel singing ''I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," a song apparently made famous by the now-deceased Merv Griffin. Strange how such strands weave.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Put something away for a rainy day. It's far better to save your pennies and buy the best than to squander them on something of little value. Loved ones share your ambitions this week.

Kelsey and I are scrimping and saving for the next few weeks as she awaits the launch of her new job. In the meantime, we're catching up on our Netflix queue and discovering the simple joys, that is, the free ones. Mad props to Ben Franklin for that library idea. Great one, Benny.

I brought a trio of tea back from Darjeeling in April with a sample of first flush (Spring), second flush (Summer) and Autumn tea leaves. We brewed all three the other day to see which we liked best. The consensus? First flush is too strong, unless you're trying to wake up in the morning. If given the choice, second flush is the way to go. And avoid that Pu Erh, for heaven's sake. That's some nasty stuff.


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