Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Little Piss & Vinegar

Yeah, I'm feeling a little feisty this morning. Two things caught my attention on the morning news. I know, I know...I ought to know better than to listen to the news, 'cause I just get all worked up. Still...sometimes it's worth hearing, I dunno, the weather forecast, right? (About this winter: It's gonna be's gonna be grey...and it's gonna last you the rest of your life.) But these other stories...well, I'll admit it right off: I'm feeling some combination of righteous vengeance, furious anger, and arrogant haughtiness. None of which contribute to overall good cosmic vibes. Which, the hell with it. Today, this is how I feel:

1) Upon hearing that the financial rescue package passed the House without a single vote of Republican support: FUCK 'EM!! Look, early on after the election I wrote a letter to Republicans to the effect that we can manage to work together. Now, though, I must say that those good vibes are fading fast. Look, Reps, you can either get on board, or get outta the way...'cause the Dems have a shitload of political interest saved up, and they are gonna spend it. You complain that you were left entirely out of the process, that this bill is basically being crammed down your throat. HELLOOOOO! What the FUCK did you think you were doing to Democrats between 1994 and 2006?!? How's it taste, you cock-smoking shitstains? You can all go fuck yourselves. Tried it your way. It dinna work. Look where we ARE, you cum-drenched nincompoops! Now, we gonna try it OUR way. If that offends you so much that you can't muster a single "Yes" vote in favor of it...fuck it. Go down in flames, for all I care. You got, at a minimum, two years in the wilderness...that ought to be enough time to see if our way works for a fuckin' change.

2) Upon hearing that groups who supported the hateful Proposition 8 in California do not want to release a list of donor names: TOUGH SHIT, fuckwads! I heard one guy say that "donors are being harassed with threatening letters, and people are going and picketing their houses," and that releasing donor names isn't in "the best interests of a civil society." Ha-fucking-HA, you weaselly turd-suckers. Like, you were oh-so concerned about keeping a civil society while you were out proselytizing on behalf of division and hatred, trying to eradicate the Constitution and deny equal rights. You mean THAT concern about civil society? Yeah, I guess you flushed that one down the crapper, right along with your moral compass. Again: go fuck yourselves. I want that list...I want it made public, and I want very televised pubic shavings with a rusty ice-skate blade for all those involved.

So, yeah. Not very Yoda-like or forgiving of me. Today, I ain't feelin' it so much. I'm tired of shitty attitudes coming from conservatives who have their heads both on backwards AND stuffed up their nether-regions. Time they learned there's a price to pay for political fuck-waddery, and I mean to see that collected. Starting now.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fun Commuter Illusions

My daily commute to & from work is about 90 miles, round trip. It's super-easy, too: I have only 2 guaranteed stops getting out of town, and 3 on the way back home. Granted, there are some other stoplights in there, but I don't always hit 'em. I drive straight north on a highway that's well-plowed in the winter, but I'm going opposite the direction that most traffic is, so there's never any hassle...which means, naturally, that I have the same good fortune on the way home.

I don't love my commute, but I don't loathe it either. It's a natural result of the world most of us seem to inhabit, which is to say that two working adults don't have jobs in the same town, so we try to settle somewhere in the middle. That means my daily drive to Mt. Pleasant is balanced by Miss Tessmacher's slightly longer - but less frequent - drive to her work in the opposite direction. I'm pretty settled into my commute, and while I don't care for the carbon footprint all that driving is leaving, I'm enough of a realist to admit that, right now, living in-between our jobs is the only option.

One of the actual joys of the commute is that I occasionally get recurring optical illusions. I wish that I had the foresight to take my own photos of these, because in most instances what I actually see is better than my Google-fu could find. Still, you'll get the general idea.

Illusion #1: Sun & Moon
This is pretty simple: depending on the alignment of those two celestial bodies, I think it's really cool to be on my way to work with the sun coming up in my passenger window while the moon is still fairly high in the sky out my driver's window.

Illusion #2: Cloudy Mountains
I've seen way better examples of this than the photo I could find...but again, alas, this is what I have to work with. I just love it when I'm driving - usually to work, not home from it - and see a long, low bank of clouds on the horizon that, no matter how closely I examine them, seem to be a mountain range. Very sweet.

Illusion #3: Color B&W
I just really noticed this one this winter, but for a moment it was so cool that I had to forcibly remind myself to look at the road, and not just gape in wonder around me. Simply put, the morning light was just that right non-shade of grey/purple/blue, and the newly-fallen snow was so purely white, that even though I knew the world was in color, it looked exactly like a black-&-white photograph from the 1930s or '40s. Which, of course, made the occasional splashes of true color (like the green road signs, or a brightly-painted house) all the more garish.

So, there ya go. Observances from my commute. Consider this your encouragement to, as they say, "Stop and smell the roses." Take a look at the world around you; revel in every small delight.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Broadcasting "Cool"

D'y'ever pay any attention to what other people broadcast to the world as "cool"? Or, contrarily, think about what your outward appearance, and the choices you make therein, say about you? I got to thinking about that this morning as I turned a corner and got behind this guy:

Ahh yes, the once-ubiquitous Yosemite Sam "Back Off" mudflaps. I remember seeing these all the time in the truck-heavy '70s. Thing is...why does it seem like they're always sported by some dude who ain't driving all that well to begin with? In the first place, it's kind of an arrogant thing to be saying to the world behind if we can't judge for ourselves what the "personal space" boundaries are on the road, and have to be reminded. By you. You, who are telling me what those boundaries are via a tempermental cartoon character who communicates by shouting and is just a little too itchy on the draw for my comfort. Secondly, I practically have to be sitting on my own hood, just two feet behind your bumper, to read your message anyway...which kind of kills the whole point. And're going 45 fucking miles per hour, man! I wouldn't have to back off if you'd go the damn speed limit! Gah. Anywho...I suppose that, whatever else the guy who affixes these to his truck is thinking, he probably thinks they're cool.

And, so what? I have Kiss Army stickers on my rear bumper. (Well, on the rear bumper of my car, see...not actually on my rear "bumper," if you get my drift.) There are two, and they sit on either side of the "Coexist" sticker that is spelled out in religious symbols from all over the world. And yeah, I do think the Kiss stickers are cool! And the "Coexist" is...well, it's just a good message, right? Positive...apolitical. Nice! But I wonder if people behind me are thinking "Oh, great: nice hypocrisy, man! Like, you say 'coexist,' but you have that sandwiched between advertisements for an 'army,' which connotes war!" Actually, I'm pretty certain that most people behind me wouldn't know what "connotes" means, but that's just me bein' petty and snobby now. So, yeah: I think I'm cool.

Really, really loud music blasted from you car stereo is a similar thing. Sometimes high school punks will go by on the street in front of our house, and they'll have that bass-heavy "music" thumping so loud that their whole car will sort of bulge out comically on every beat, and I'll think "You dorks! Get a fuckin' life, 'cause whatever you think that ain't cool!" But naturally I think I'm just about the bees fuckin' knees when summertime hits and I jump into my Vibe (which, despite it's sleek styling is, after all, a station wagon! - the antithesis of cool), open the windows and sunroof, and turn I Stole Your Love up to 11. Hey, I have to turn it up that loud...I need to drown out the dorky punks with their bass music, man!

Think about it: nearly every choice we make about an aspect of what we present to the world says something about what we value as "cool." Some people dramatically light their house at night. Why? Is the house afraid of the dark? Or, do the people inside want to demonstrate "Look how cool our McMansion is!" Our clothes, our hair, makeup and handbags and everything, man - every...fuckin'...thing! - says something to the effect that "I think this is it!" And by default, becomes a sort of judgement about those who do something different. Oh, you might respect those differences - maybe! - but basically, by wearing a Kiss t-shirt, I'm saying not only "I think Kiss is cool!" but also "My cool is cooler than your fact, your cool isn't cool at all, it's just fuckin' dumb, barely a step above Napoleon Dynamite and his unicorn t-shirt. Jackass!"

'Kay. That's it from me. Go be cool, y'all. (In your Kiss t-shirt, natch!)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Bloggity Suggestions

So, I'm in the mood to be bloggity, and I have a few niches of time open during which I could potentially post. But, like many fellow bloggers trapped in the depths of January blahs, I'm a little short on ideas. I'm feeling wiped about political blogs, at least for awhile; I could be introspective and philosophical, but really, does anyone need that from me?

Tell me. What do you want to know from yer ol' Uncle Animal? You want Rozzle updates? Stories from my past? Do you WANT the self-introspection? How about new memes? Tell me what would draw you in and make you comment.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Worst Version Of Myself

So, I've been on a bit of a spiritual deterioration lately. Nothing huge, mind you: this can't compare to, say, crisis in the Middle East, or people unprepared for the switch to DTV. (*Rolls eyes*) And those who know me well would be perfectly right in pointing out that, as a confirmed agnostic, I'm not really all that "spiritual" to begin with. Still. I'm kind of awash in "odd thinking" lately, and I'd like to try to get my head on straight.

I've often wondered about folks who go through some sort of "mid-life crisis." I always thought that was a bunch of shit, personally...people too scared to do what they really wanted when they were 18, now they're 40 and hate being a lawyer so they kill the wife & kids, take the barely-legal babysitter they've been shagging for months and hightail it to Mexico to be a parasail instructor. Hmmm. Maybe that's a bit extreme. Okay, I know: a friend of a friend (you know how that goes) remarked that his life "wasn't what I thought it would be." And my hard-nosed imaginary response was: well, tough shit, muthafuckah! What, you thought it would all be like college? A blissed out nirvana of permanent semi-stonedness and 24/7 Halo? GET. REAL. Welcome to the world, dickweed.

Yeah. Not a lot of sympathy on my part, as you can see. I guess, at my center, I'm too damned logical about things to allow for any sort of empathy for this stuff. But I'm wondering if a situation like that above - not the wife-killing part, the other one! - is just that guy's way of saying what I think I might be feeling. Don't get me wrong: this isn't any kind of web-wide announcement of separation or divorce from the scorchingly-hot Miss Tessmacher...far from it! Hell, if it wasn't for her, and the way she listens and intuits what I need most to hear, I doubt I would have survived THIS long! Heh. No, I'm just feeling a little...vacant right now, as if there are two versions of myself. One version is the way I actually am, a dude I like pretty well, actually, and he goes about the business of living my day-to-day life. But, every so often (and maybe more often than not, lately) I get this sense of a second version of myself. THIS guy, when I catch a glimpse of him, is the guy I actually want to be...but for some reason am not. Being a logical guy, that inconsistency drives me batshit. A couple of "for-instances"...

Guy I Am: pretty carefree, not prone to too much daily stress. And yet...when I walk down the halls, I notice I'm usually pulling my shoulders up around my ears, and not just from the arctic temps here in the Midwest. I also tend to have a "tight mind." In the Susanne Deason yoga video I like, at one point she encourages her practitioners to "strengthen your resolve without hardening the mind." I totally get that's like, there's this thin sheath of muscles all behind your face and around your skull. I hold that sheath tight. All the time. When I become aware of it, I can consciously relax...but seven seconds later I'm right back to Mr. Tight-Ass...Head. Or whatever.
Guy I Want To Be: still carefree, but much more "in the moment" about my physicality, so that I'm aware of stresses AND their causes. I sometimes wonder if I don't simply ignore stress, or downplay it as "unimportant"...and then I harden my mind all day long.

Guy I Am: hard-working, but with little time for enjoyable reading. I love to read...but work and parenting have become (easy?) scapegoats for "no time."
Guy I Want To Be: still hard-working, but maybe turn OFF Roadhouse for once and open a book. I've been trapped in the same novel since early August (Blue Mars, the third of a trilogy no less!), and I have at least a dozen books on the nightstand screaming for my attention. Plus, Tess is hipping me to some vaguely spiritual books by Lama Surya Das and Eckhart Tolle that I think would be beneficial to the process as a whole.

Guy I Am: sometimes, I become aware that I'm having these incredibly dark "fantasies" about what would happen if Roslyn died, or if I came down with cancer, or any other kind of grief-ridden mindplay. Maybe even more simple, like imagining an argument with Tess, and how it might unfold, and what I might say to "win," and then I'll realize that I'm actually all riled up and kind of spoiling for an argument...and think, "Wait a minute, here! I'm not actually in an argument...what am I doing?!?"
Guy I Want To Be: someone who focuses more on the NOW, and not what might happen down the road. Or what happened yesterday, when the cosmos "slighted" me, and how I'll "get back" at it. I want to be someone who says what he feels - within reason - and doesn't hold back for the most passive/aggressive way of dealing with a situation just to "prove" I'm right, or better, or whatever.

I guess I get concerned sometimes that there's this much more peacable person just under the surface of the skin I present to the public, and that's who I really want to be, but I'm not always able to figure out HOW to be him. I know he's there...I recognize the qualities of his that I'd like to display...but somehow I end up spending more time as the worst version of myself, instead of the best. If I was a guy given over to New Year's resolutions, I suppose that would be mine:

Live Better.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Merry KISSmas, Part Deux

Okay,'s no longer even REMOTELY the Christmas season. That ship has sailed, bee-yotch. I can't even try to slip one past by claiming that, somehow, January 13th is one of the fabled "12 Days of Christmas." Or, can I? After all, what ARE the 12 days of Christmas? No one really knows, do they? I mean, think about it: you got Christmas, and Christmas Eve...that's two. New Year's, and New Year's Eve...that's only four. I guess there are two Saturdays and two Sundays in there, that's eight...but what's next? Boxing Day? Even that would only make nine!

(Special thanx to eternal heroes Bob & Doug McKenzie)

So, the long & short of it...break was fine, if hectic. Lots of seeing family, good meals & conversations with little-seen friends, and hey, a bonus! None of us were sick for, like, at least a week there at the end! Sheesh. I thought it was bad enough that Miss Tessmacher and I were bringing home crud from our The Rozzle brings home EVERY-fuckin'-thing from daycare. Blech. But, we had a good run, and we're more-or-less recharged and ready for the new semester. More on that later, however, as I do need to tidy up my blog life by closing out the second half of my Kiss concert experience. Yeah, that's right: last time only got us through the end of 1992, and hell, that was a LONG time ago! So here we go...

Reunion tour

I've said it before, but it bears repeating since I claim to be such a major Kiss fan: I thought the fabled reunion of the original lineup of Gene, Peter, Paul & Ace would be a tragic mistake. Seeing such a lineup perform live would be a dream come true, but I worried that it would spell the end of "forward progress" for the band from a musical standpoint...and as we've already established, for me Kiss was always about the music. I thought that the Revenge album was fantastic, their best in years, and that the lineup including Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer was musically the best and tightest Kiss had ever been. I was looking forward to their new album, Carnival of Souls, when the MTV Unplugged session happened, and the seeds of the reunion were sown. For the Unplugged show, Paul & Gene brought Ace & Peter out for a few songs, and the fan response was enormous. From there, the original four - in makeup - dropped by "unannounced" at the Grammys in February to co-present with Tupac. And so it goes...eventually, a huge tour got underway, with Kiss doing something like 200+ shows over the course of two years, playing to over 2 million people before they were done. I saw the tour opener, at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. Kiss has always given Detroit special shit: live albums get recorded there, a song gets written about the city...mostly because Detroit was the first place outside of New York that accepted Kiss, and it's where they first headlined a major arena. So, we got the tour opener, and I tell ya: hesitancy about the reunion aside, June 28, 1996 stands as one of the great nights of my life. I was with all of my best friends in the world, about to see the hottest band in the world, and it was a scorchingly hot day and evening; I remember that it still must have been about 75˚ when Kiss took the stage, well after dark. It was everything I wanted it to be, and more, if possible. I saw the show again in October, at the Palace...inexplicably taking (once again) an ex-girlfriend. What's my deal?!? Anyway, I remember when they first came on the stage she started cracking up. When I asked her what was so funny, she said they just looked so SILLY and TINY down there on the stage, in all their costumes and gear. I guess the non-fan gets used to seeing Kiss in photos, so the costumes, while unique, don't really come across as all that...but, when you see them live, it's a different thing. *shrug* So, reunion shows = great. Worst fears confirmed = yes.

Psycho Circus tour

Well, I'll give 'em credit: after finally releasing the dark, acoustically dry and punishing album Carnival of Souls (by the tail end of the "old" band), the newly-reformed original Kiss put out a much more rock-&-roll record: Psycho Circus. I enjoyed the previous release, but Circus was much more a Kiss record, sonically. There was still some forward musical momentum, and it was great to once again hear Ace & Peter singing harmonies, leads, and playing their instruments. Lots got said at the time that Peter actually didn't drum much on the album at all, but that's not the point of this blog. Suffice it to say, Detroit once again got blessed by Kiss during the resulting tour, because we got the New Year's Eve show of 1998. I finally took my CURRENT girlfriend (Miss Tessmacher!), and we headed out into a very snowy evening from my mom's house in the Thumb. We met Mike & Fun Guv for dinner, then proceeded to the show. The catch this time was that, to go along with the holographic CD cover of the album, the show was "in 3-D." Right. Because, you know, life is always so two-dimensional. But really, they actually pulled it off pretty well. You got your 3-D glasses at the door, and at certain points in the show, the cameras played back 3-D on the stage screens. Like I said, it worked well, but there's only so much of Ace poking his guitar neck at the audience or Gene waggining his tongue "in your face" that you really need, y'know? A clever idea, but probably way more expensive than it needed to be. Still: new music, new tour...THIS was a Kiss I was happy to have. Alas...the new dream would soon become the old nightmare...

Farewell tour

Seems that the dream of a reunited original Kiss was just that: a dream. Apparently Ace & Peter had been "signed" to only 5-year contracts, and by 2000 those contracts were nearing their end. There were rumblings in the Kiss Kamp that the oft-ostracized duo wanted more money, or were sick of the rules laid down by Gene & Paul...whatever the case, old wounds had been reopened and rather than continue to work in a hostile environment, Kiss decided to say "Farewell!" with a lengthy tour that included not just classic songs, but tunes from their entire catalog...even from the non-makeup years when Ace & Peter were gone. When I saw Kiss at the Palace in May of 2000, I genuinely believed I was seeing them for the last time. It was emotional for me, although I was fairly certain that there would be solo material (and possibly tours) from at least Paul & Ace. (Right on both counts, thanks!) Once again I was with some of my best friends, and Tess gamely shuffled along dressed in my now-vintage Lick It Up jersey from 1983...which had long ago ceased to fit me. Ahem. Even without new material, the show was fantastic, and I bid a tearful goodbye to the best band ever. Of course, that was before Kiss came to Michigan State for a show at the Breslin Center! Hell, I couldn't miss seeing them practically in my backyard, could I?!? I even walked to the damn concert!! Alas, I'm a little sorry I went to this one, because the Breslin audience seemed rather dead, and the show had a "phoned-in" aspect that put a sour taste in my mouth for what would be the last time I saw Kiss live...or would it??

Kiss/Aerosmith tour

A bunch of funny stuff happened after the Farewell tour. Paul, who often says he wants to leave the party before he's asked to, was now saying that he wasn't done being the frontman for Kiss. Gene too seemed to be banking on a continuation of Kiss. And so there was set into motion a bunch of odd one-off shows, or tours of little-visited lands like Australia, with a constant series of lineup changes. First Peter left, and Kiss toured Japan with Ace & Eric Singer (controversially wearing Peter's makeup, the rights to which he had long ago sold to Kiss). Then Ace was gone, replaced by longtime Kiss gopher and guitar tech Tommy Thayer, but Peter was back. It was this lineup that toured the U.S. in the summer & fall of 2003, co-headlining with Aerosmith. The combo shows work really well - think Billy Joel and Elton John - and seemed to be a good way for Kiss to continue without the rigors of doing new music. I was beginning to lose interest - I'd lived my dream of seeing the original lineup five times over by now - and was disheartened by the lack of new music. But, when my friend Mike wanted to take me and another close friend to see the combined tour at the new Tigers' ballpark, with close-up seats no less, I of course acceded. That first show was weirdly cancelled, though, because of the multi-state power outage that hit late that August. There actually WAS power in Detroit the night of the show, but with now way to set up the stage or run light/sound checks in the days before, it was deferred for a few weeks. The night of the show was great, though: Uncle Ted opened, and both Kiss & Aerosmith were bombastic. (The three of us agreed, later and indepently, that Kiss was the better live band; Aerosmith seemed to be "going through the motions.") This was also the tour I got to meet Kiss, or at least the 3/4s of them I cared about. No dis to Tommy, but - especially wearing Ace's makeup - he seems to have no believable personality of his own in the band, almost as if he's simply "playing" Ace in a tribute band. I waffled for weeks about spending the ridiculous amount of money it would take to get 2nd-row seats and a photo session, meet-&-greet with Paul, Gene & Peter, but in the end was convinced by Miss Tessmacher that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I should go for it. I drove through the cold rain in mid-November to Grand Rapids, which I discovered is a great place for a concert. Lemme tell ya: sitting up close? IS SO WORTH IT! Seriously, if you have a band or a performer that you genuinely care about, being close is totally the best. Pay for won't regret it. After the show I was escorted backstage and had a great time getting my photo taken with my idols, and chatting briefly with each of them while they graciously signed my shit. The only problem is: I've now sort of done it all. I've seen the original group...I've met them...I've sat in the 2nd do I go back to sitting in the fuckin' nosebleeds, just another faceless scream in the crowd? Answer: I probably DON'T. I skipped the 2004 summer tour altogether, and have no designs to catch any U.S. version of their just-completed Alive/35 European tour. Ace & Peter are both gone again - probably permanently - and with Eric & Tommy in their makeup...well, it really is hard to not see the group as 1/2 of a tribute band. I dunno. Maybe this promised "new album" will change that. We'll see.

Next time: NO KISS POST! I promises.