Regret-A-Day

Exactly what it sounds like. Life's full of regret. And I've made it my mission to post at least one per day. Join me, won't you?


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DAY 1321

Okay, so the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

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I know a LOT of people who’ve done it. Friends of mine, who I respect & love. And just so we’re clear, this is NOT a slam on ANYBODY who’s participated in it.

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I think it’s great that it’s raising money towards this cause.

If it really has, that is. I don’t fucking know. If it hasn’t, this all seems like a waste of time.*

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Oh. And a SHITLOAD of water.

At least I’ve gotten a chance to see Katy Perry getting sloshed in her bikini.

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And it looks like this is the closest I’m EVER gonna get to watching Andy Cohen get waterboarded.

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All in all, every one of us has gotten SOMETHING out of it.

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Anyhoo, I regret the way my mind’s been working lately about this thing. It goes a little something *ahem* like THIS:

Has anybody tried pouring heart-stopping, freezing water on someone with ALS yet?

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Maybe it’d cure them. 

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I mean, the scientific community has gone ALL the conventional routes & come up with bupkis.

Could it be that all ALS needs is a non-rational approach, like the tennis balls in “Awakenings?”

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Oh, too far? 

Well, don’t blame ME. Blame the evil, baseball-playing bastard who unleashed his disease on the world.**

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Damn you, Gehrig. You’re truly the green monkey in all this.

For my money, I’m still waiting for the Lena-Dunham-Eating-Olives-In-Her-Underwear challenge.

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Now THAT’S a cause I can get behind.

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In all seriousness, if you’re as done with this silly, 21st century chain letter as I am, DONATE HERE.***

Hell, Charlie Sheen called psyche on the whole ice bucket thing & was good for $10,000

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And would YOU want to be known as the guy/gal who was outdone by Charlie fucking Sheen?

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I didn’t think so.

* As of 17 hours ago, $22.9 million has been raised thanks to this, so please ignore my bitterness. 

** I’m not serious, you spinach chin.

*** And while you’re at it, READ THIS ARTICLE. It’s got some good info on how to things are progressing & how to successfully donate to a charity in need.

DAY 1320

CAVEAT: I don’t suffer from depression. This isn’t a cry for help. It’s a slump for me just like any other. One of those days. Don’t read into this too much. There are millions out there suffering from ACTUAL depression. And I don’t want this to take away from that.

Okay, done. Read on.

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Never sprinkle any Vince Guaraldi onto your solipsism, my friends.

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I can’t emphasize that enough.

When you’re so far into your own head that the trappings of everyday things have fallen by the wayside, the melancholy moods of this piano-playing genius have the potential to put a serious zap on your head.

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Don’t get me wrong. I fucking LOVE Guaraldi. 

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He was pretty much my introduction to jazz, thanks to every bit of music he contributed to the Charlie Brown specials.

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Which were my introduction to the idea of something being so sad that you’re almost happy at the same time. Bittersweet, I guess would be the closest word to describe it.

Like the ending to “Brazil.”

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It rips you apart that Sam’s gone, but you realize he’s exactly where he always wanted to be.

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Life’s obviously full of that. Moments when you feel like you’re at the bottom of a well, when you’re actually on top of the world. Or, say, the polar opposite.

Well, I was listening to a LOT of Guaraldi yesterday morning. Specifically these two:

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This is off topic, but there needs to be at least 20 volumes of these things. Some are half-songs, semi-cues or what-have-you. But a good portion of these songs are better than what was released.

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Not shitting on what WAS released, of course. I couldn’t live without “The Charlie Brown Suite.” 

Alright. Back to it.

Listening to Guaraldi puts me in that mood I was talking about. Happy, but emotionally fragile, in a way. Again, “Brazil.”

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After a morning of Guaraldi, I took a smoke break & I saw a little bird sitting against a set of stairs. He just sat there, shivering, not flying away.

I felt powerless. Almost like I was that bird. It shook me deep.

I smoked & headed back inside, but couldn’t shake the thought of that bird. It plagued my fucking mind.

A few hours later, I went back out for a smoke. But before I hit the down elevator, I looked down to see if he was still there.

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No. Thank God. 

I headed down, crossed the street, lit a cig & stopped where he’d been.

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Okay, settle down. That’s NOT him all squished. I’m not a sadist.

That’s where he was from before. A pile of feathers & random leaves. 

I walked up the stairs, fairly relieved. “He’d gotten away,” I thought.

When I hit the top of the stairs, I happened to look over & see THIS:

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Yep. There he was, huddled next to the brick, still shivering a little bit, but seemingly okay. 

Had he climbed the stairs? Had someone picked him up & put him there? Either way, I felt a little better about the situation. 

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Still, he was scared. And so was I. 

After seeing this, all I wanted to do was walk into traffic. Or wish that a meteorite would come hurtling down from the sky & take me out.

It was more than a horrible feeling. And no amount of Vince Guaraldi’s “Happiness Is" could soften the blow. In fact, it’d probably make it worse.

I just had to put on some Weekend Nachos to grudgefuck the pain away.

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DAY 1319

So, I was at a friend’s birthday party on Sunday.

This gal, right here.

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Sometime during the celebration, we were trying to explain to a mutual friend who Matthew McConaughey was.

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Long story short, it took longer than it should’ve. We named off every McConaughey film we could think of. 

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Nothing. Lights on, nobody home. I’d say we lasted about 10 minutes before giving up completely. 

But that’s not really the point. If that’s all you’re latching onto, just stop reading. I’m not going into the fact that there’s somebody on this Earth who can’t identify McConaughey. 

Again, not the point. 

Thanks to the power of zeitgeist & just a sprinkle of synchronicity,

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McConaughey was taking in a Red Sox game at Fenway at the exact same time that day.

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And somehow the switchboards lit up because the dude was wearing a fanny pack.

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Here’s why this is “news.” Because McConaughey said THIS:

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Look, I don’t care where you stand on fanny packs. Doesn’t really matter. I live in a state where rollerblades never died out.

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I blame “The Mighty Ducks” for being shot here.

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AND the fact that rollerblades basically STARTED here.

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So, I’m cutting that bullshit a little slack. VERY little.

But FANNY PACKS?!!?

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Sorry, but I can’t abide by the “it’s-so-uncool-it’s-cool” rule on this one. There’s too much of that shit going on these days. We need to start putting a fucking limit on this shit.

Okay, so here’s the litmus test:

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"If you see somebody at Coachella rocking a trying-to-be-retro look, just consider it played out. It’s dead as disco."

But the worst part about this McConaughey fiasco? I regret that this’ll probably become the new “That’s what SHE said.”

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Another piece of pop cultural detritus that died long ago, but was revived to show how clueless & vapid a character was.

And now it won’t go the fuck away because it’s embraced by dimwits who can’t see it for what it is.

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Okay, okay. So, let’s say you’re actually one of those people who never let fanny packs wane.

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You don’t wear them ironically or because they’re trendy with celebs.

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You just NEVER FUCKING STOPPED.

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Well, I hate to say it, but kudos. YOU, my friend, are a brave, brave holdout. And I have to respect that.

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Okay, not respect necessarily, but you’re off the hook. 

Conversely, if you’re a dillhole who’s scrounging for fanny packs at your local thrift store,

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let’s remember that I started this rant using Matthew McConaughey as the national fanny pack champion. 

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THAT Matthew McConaughey. A dude who could pull of THIS look

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& still probably got wall-to-wall ass/BJs/HJs/FJs from women AND men wherever he went. 

So, just consider that before you drop any money.

The gorgeous people of the world can pretty much pull off ANYTHING. The rest of us, however, will wind up looking like THIS, no matter what we wear.

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DAY 1318

I’ve been a G.I. Joe fan from WAY back. You know, back when he was just one guy.

Owned the action figure,

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a complete cache of accessories (which I quickly lost),

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all four book-and-records,

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etc.

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Then the the 80’s rolled around. And THIS glorious thing hit the comic racks:

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I was naturally confused from the get-go.

12-YEAR-OLD ME - So, wait. First G.I. Joe was one dude. Now you’re wanting me to believe that it’s the name of a team of specialized Army guys?

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12-YEAR-OLD ME - SOLD!

Man, that first issue really pulled me in.

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Could’ve been that everybody had code names. Or the high-tech training center they had.

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I don’t know. But I DO know that I was infatuated with one Joe in particular. One that would keep my interest well beyond 50 issues.

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Nope. Not the reasons you’d think. Although that’s a good guess.

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It was all about good, old Snake Eyes for this guy.

I mean, c’mon. A stealthy badass who never spoke, but let the music do the talking?

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And a mute ninja with this kind of background to boot? 

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There’s NOTHING about this that turns off a pre-teen boy. ESPECIALLY when this pre-teen boy hasn’t discovered girls yet. Which (I hope) clears up why I wasn’t completely smitten with this comic for the obvious reasons.

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Needless to say, I was hooked. And I’m sure it was obvious to Marvel that millions of other boys were hooked on this dude, too. 

Which is why when THIS issue came out,

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all of the Snake Eyes fanboys in the world collectively jizzed.

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Well, this was the first story I’d ever read that was done completely without ANY dialogue. And since the emphasis was on Snake Eyes - a character who never spoke - it kind of made sense in my mind.

Here’s writer/artist Larry Hama’s take on it:

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It was pretty kickass, reading it for the first time in ‘82.

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And as if comics aren’t already a quick read, this particular one took all of 30-45 seconds to zip through.

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A minute tops if you studied each panel close enough.

But this was also an interesting comic when it came to G.I. Joe canon (Christ, I actually TYPED that), since it was the very first appearance of THIS dude:

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Yep. Storm Shadow. And the first time we would make a connection between him & Snake Eyes.

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It was like Marvel was giving me two Boba Fetts for the price of one. 

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So much mystery, so much they weren’t telling me in this story. Which might’ve been why I’ve been infatuated with this kind of minimalist storytelling all these years. 

And yet, people my age who read the same comic at the time felt differently, I guess.

There was a “Letters To The Editor” section I read a few issue later, where wave after wave of readers bitched about how they felt cheated by this issue.

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Most complained that if they were shelling out a whopping 75¢ (?) for a comic, there’d better damn well be at least a five-to-ten minute reading experience involved. Or at least sound effects.

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Yeah, I know. Sounds stupid now. But read the comments under your favorite YouTube video sometime. A GI Joe letter section is nothing.

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All this amounts to the fact that Marvel has released a 30th anniversary edition of this Snake Eyes adventure.

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Now, when I initially found out about this, it linked to the Amazon page, where I found THIS price tag:

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Goddamn. Really? I mean, it seems to have some interesting extras, but…

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Mostly, I regret that people buying this may have the same gripes as some of the dunderheads from “Letters To The Editor” back in the day.

And why shell out so much for a story that you might not get much out of (regardless of the fact that I think it’s an undisputed work of genius)?

I mean, why not just buy the individual issue at some comic shop? Or, I don’t know, off Amazon?

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Ohhhhhhhhhhh.

After a little snooping, I found that THAT was a pretty good price for it.

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Jesus, save your money, people.

The “Classic GI JOE” is out in trades. I highly recommend starting with volume 1, but if you REALLY wanna read “Silent Interlude,” it starts in volume 3.

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D A Y  1 3 1 7

I did a regret a while back about the saddest Power Records book-and-record I ever owned. It was a pretty amazing one about Swamp-Thing & a suicidal ghost clown.

Just click on that last sentence if you have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s some fairly horrific shit. Certainly a story that wouldn’t fly in this politically correct, white-washed, fearful society we live in today.

Anyhoo, in that regret, I listed off the book-and-record sets that I owned as a kid. But apparently, I’d completely forgotten about this Conan book-and-record I had.

I’d never really been a Conan fan, especially at that point in my childhood. But like Swamp-Thing before it, I guess I saw it as part of my comic book education. A widening of the genre that I generally assumed was simply about caped crimefighters. 

Well, I regret the fact that this book-and-record set somehow popped back into my brain. Mainly because this one, simple story caused me to absolutely fear the ass out of snails. 

I mean, how could I not? This shit is about as mentally scarring as the suicidal ghost clown.

Luckily, the John Milius movie would pull me back into Conan’s world, but if that hadn’t happened, this one Power Record joint could’ve potentially killed it for me.

DAY 1316

So, “Led Zeppelin 3.”

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Like most of my long-winded, old fart stories, I need to set up why I regret not embracing this album sooner.

But don’t worry. At least I’m breaking it up into two parts, right?

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I know, I know. It’s a cold comfort. But bear with me.

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PART 1 - THE ALLURE OF THE BOX SET

This beautiful thing was released in 1990.

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A pick of the litter, this was 289 minutes of remastered Zep. My best friend at the time owned it, even though I think he owned every Zep album already.* 

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One afternoon, I was over at his house, spotted the box set & asked if I could make a copy. He immediately said yes. The next day, I bought the most expensive cassette tapes I could find

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& made my own Zep greatest hits that spanned roughly four of them.

And this would become the official soundtrack for my Super Mario 3 obsession.

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When I beat that game for the very first time, the Led Zeppelin box set was cranked up to 11.

But I’ve told that story scads of times. The point is, there are worlds in that game that are still inextricably linked to certain Zep tunes. And those Zep tunes have been close to my heart ever since.

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PART 2 - THE DEATH OF COLLEGE RADIO

Shortly after that event, I signed on as a DJ at a little radio station, where I was attending college.

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My time there (ESPECIALLY at the radio station) was pretty awesome. But I’m not going too deep on that. 

And at that time, most radio stations relied heavily on basically two methods:

• RECORDS

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• CARTS

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That basically meant you could cue up a record

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or, if you were running out of time (being on the phone, taking a piss, etc.), you could slap in a cued cart into something like this.

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Once it was done, it would self-cue, so the next DJ could simply come along & slap it in if he/she were running short on time, too.

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Well, these carts were responsible for me hearing the following for the very first time:

• Butthole Surfers’ "I Saw An X-Ray Of A Girl Passing Gas"
• Nirvana’s Floyd The Barber
• Frank Zappa’s Yo Mama (radio edit)
• Genesis I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe) (“Seconds Out” version)

WJSR’s program director at the time also included three Zeppelin songs on carts:

Tangerine
Since I’ve Been Loving You
Gallows Pole

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All of these songs were on (you guessed it) “Led Zeppelin 3.” All songs I’d basically chosen NOT to include on my Super Mario 3/Led Zep 3 tape.

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Short-sidedness on my part, I guess. 

To be fair, there were only seven songs from “3” in the box set. That’s out of 54 songs, mind you. And before working at the radio station, I’d pretty much only heard half of those anyway.

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None of them really hit me right. I also used to hang out with a Zeppelin expert in middle school who ASSURED me that “3” was their “acoustic album” & therefore their weakest.

I’m also a MASSIVE fan of THIS album,

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which rocks 10,000 tons of solid ass.

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Trust me. It fucking does. So, why would I ever buy a follow-up that wasn’t nearly as sick, Zeppelin or not?

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Fine.

Well, I actually bought a copy of “Led Zeppelin 3” a few months ago & I’ve been listening to it a SHIT-TON in the car recently.

And like I said, I regret never giving this album its full due until 44 years later. 

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Yep. I figured you wouldn’t. 

Bring it on, rock snobs. I’m ready for the backlash.

* I honestly think he dropped the cash so he could own those previously unreleased songs, even though he also owned the singles, too.

DAY 1315

I remember the first time I saw this ska-tastic shitpile a few years ago. It made me sad on a lot of levels, single-handedly causing me to hate:

• Ska
• Christianity
• Slim basses
• Chubby back-up singers
• Denim vests
• Goofy band names

And, I don’t know, the world in general. 

Thing is, I’ve actually been in my fair share of “church bands.” And besides the fact that it always felt like the most soul-crushing event EVER, it made me regret not attending more black church services.

There’s usually nothing boring about a black church service. The pastor is always amped, meaning the congregation is always amped, meaning the band is always amped.

But it’s more than that. Even at the height of my “born again” days, I regret that I was NEVER inspired or moved by any services I attended. I’m talking 15+ years of Sundays here. 

However, the smattering of times I attended a black church, I remember being completely taken by what some may call “the spirit.” This feeling energized me, invigorated my faith & put me in a fantastic head space.

I don’t know. Maybe I should’ve just cut the white Baptist chord & gone with my heart.*

* It should also be stated for the record that I regret having “Jesus Is My Friend” in my head for a majority of the day (which was the original reason for this post). Hell, listening to minimal synth, coldwave & Zappa hasn’t helped one iota. 

DAY 1314

So, I was copping a squat over lunch, having a smoke near the Lund’s parking deck.

Somewhere around here.

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And like most days, there’s usually somebody else hanging around here smoking. In this case, it was a Subway employee & a woman.

While I was catching up on a little reading,

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I overheard them talking about her going back to school. That’s when I met Gwen.

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She was one of those people who seemed to need someone to talk to. But not in a homeless person way. Once the Subway guy went back to work, I learned a few things about her during our conversation:

1) She’s 45 with three kids (the first one she had when she was 17)
2) She got laid off after 12 years being an architectural engineer
3) She’s actually going back to college to pursue her dream
4) She suffers from crippling depression she can’t control

There’s a LOT more, but all those bullet points really sum up her character. I’ll take them one at a time.

1) YOUNG MOM

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Talk about having to grow up on the fly. Her kids are basically a year apart. I mean, say what you want about contraception, but this woman basically had to find strength while her adult life was just starting.

2) BEING LAID OFF

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She’d actually survived seven layoffs before they let her go. And she was responsible for the working infrastructure of the following:
- Walker Art Center
- The Ordway
- Weisman Museum
- Pantages Theater

3) BACK TO SCHOOL

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She’s nervous as hell, worried that students are gonna make fun of her. She also told me a story about buying books, where the girl behind the counter told her that her financial aid wouldn’t cover the $600.

4) DEPRESSION DISCUSSION

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She brought up Robin Williams & we got talking about her own battle. The layoff didn’t help. And she spent most of the summer in bed, but she was beginning to see some positivity in her future.

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Time flew during this discussion. We had a few things in common:

• Similar age
• Cat owners
• Serious readers

And for this reason, I found myself telling a woman I’d just met that college was gonna rock ass for her. 

Did I honestly think that? I don’t know. But the fact that she was actually making this leap made me want to just cheer her on.

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Well, not so much like that.

And as I walked away, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I regret that I’ll probably never see her again. 

I just hope good things happen for her.

DAY 1313

Now that I’m a few days out from recovering from the Minnesota Fringe Festival, I thought I’d put down a few thoughts on the subject.

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First off, how a motley crew of scrappy actors, directors, tech wizards & volunteers can pull this off every year is honestly beyond me.

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There are a LOT of Fringe Festivals out there & I’ve heard about horror stories from most. But ours is the best I’ve personally experienced.

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Again, credit goes to every damn person involved, from the top on down.

For all the complaints people had about this, that or the other thing, we’re fucking LUCKY to have this here. I come from a place where this festival would absolutely NOT be supported.

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Let me clarify. 

If you ever start taking this place for granted, I’ll pay a month’s rent for you in my hometown. Once you’re down there, tell me how many people support your fruity, artistic endeavors this well.

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Then come back up here & thank your lucky stars, buttercup. 

Okay. Corpulent soapbox over.

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For anyone not familiar with our Fringe, here are the main things you need to remember.

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During the span of roughly two weeks, this festival puts on 169 shows, with each show getting five performances that are meticulously scheduled to accommodate this tight timeline. 

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Needless to say, it’s a daunting, thankless task. But it’s a rewarding one for performers, who put out everything from the best to the worst un-juried shows their minds & bodies can produce.

For instance, I was in an utterly goofy, completely perverted, yet somehow sad & touching show this year called “Kitty Kitty Kitty.”

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We got reviews like:

• “John Waters does Aesop” 
• “That was 22 shows worth of fucked-up” 
• “Ugh… I don’t know” 

This is one of the reasons I love Minnesota Fringe so much. It’s filled with wonderfully varied opinions that keep the performers constantly thinking things like:

• Did we make the right choice by doing this show?
• Are these people simply not seeing what we’re seeing?
• It’s all good. We only wanted the RIGHT people to “get it.”

As performers, we’ve all deluded ourselves with thoughts like this at one point or another. 

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Even if we convince ourselves at our lowest point that we don’t, we actually DO care what other people think. 

And if we actually know those people, we care even more. 

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This all boils down to something I spouted just about every day while attending Fringe shows:

I sometimes regret being a Fringe performer AND attendee.

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This is something your average, run-of-the-mill Fringe-goer can’t truly appreciate. 

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A nice chunk of the performers in the Fringe are already a vital part of the theater community during the 50 other weeks of the year.*

Which means that we’ve all got friends & colleagues that we’ve performed with over the years doing the same shucking & jiving we’re doing at the EXACT SAME TIME during the other two weeks.

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That shakes out to feeling like you’re committed to seeing shows your fellow actors are in. And personally, that’s a FUCKLOAD of pressure.**

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I see what I get a chance to see just like everybody else. But ultimately, I feel guilty that I can’t see more. 

THIS, my friends, is something your average, non-actor normal may feel a tinge of, but not NEARLY as strongly. 

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Which segues nicely into another Fringe gripe:

I regret the fact that there are still people out there who ask, “Have you seen my show yet?”

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Sure, it’s a legitimate question. One that was tossed at me several times this year.***

And if you’re one of those people, read this very carefully. I’ve shifted to BOLD/ALL CAPS so it can’t be misunderstood:

I’M NOT BLAMING ANYONE WHO ASKED ME. THIS ISN’T A PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE ATTACK ON YOUR PERSON.

IF YOU HAPPEN TO BE ONE OF THEM, MAKE SURE TO CHECK THAT TRIPLE ASTERISK BELOW.

BUT MOST OF ALL, KEEP READING. YOU MAY LEARN SOMETHING BEFORE WE’RE THROUGH.

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Again, this is one more thing “Fringe normals” don’t have to deal with. And for me, it cakes on EVEN MORE pressure.

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Maybe other performers don’t go by this unwritten theater rule, but it’s one I usually adhere to, ESPECIALLY during Fringe:

TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC - Pimp your show like the dirty ho’ it is
TO OTHER ACTORS - Ask how their show’s going & leave it at that

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I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me. 

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All told, it was a killer Fringe this year. Some bold, risky, freaky shit happened on those 19 stages. And while I’m not giving a list of shows I liked or didn’t like, I’ll say this much:

If I saw your show, I saw your show.
If I didn’t, I’m the only one who’ll ever know.

* I’m not sure how many that “nice chunk” would consist of, but I’d guess it’d be pretty low, considering that at least 75% of the “theater companies” that exist during the Fringe usually don’t actually exist after it’s over.

** 1, 2, 3, 4, PRESS-SHAH!

*** Somehow in all of these cases, I’d actually seen their shows. But I usually didn’t let on that I did, since I didn’t want to get into a big thing.

D A Y  1312

I’ve been sitting on this one for nearly a year. Just sitting here in the hopper, waiting to launch. It didn’t seem to have a pressing nature to it, so I kept it in limbo.

Until now.

Look, I’m not a lyrics person. Honestly, there are songs I’ve heard hundreds of times in my life that I still couldn’t sing the lyrics to. Mostly, I’m honed in on the music &/or how the singer’s melody interacts with it. 

And this falls in line with my theory that most guys aren’t lyrics people. In my experience, women are more tuned into the lyrics of a song. Not saying that the musical aspect can’t hit them the right way, too, but again, that’s been my experience.*

That’s not to say that you can’t be BOTH, of course. I’m generalizing here, so there are bound to be exceptions to the rule.

Whew.

Okay, all that being said, I regret that I had never listened to the lyrics of “Shotgun” more closely. 

I’ve probably heard this song thousands of times & never noticed how badass killer the lyrics are (of which there aren’t many):

"I said ‘Shotgun!’"
Shoot em’ ‘fore he run now,
Do the jerk, baby,
Do the jerk now.”

Alright, that’s just the chorus. Here’s the first verse:

"Put on your red dress,
Then you go down yonder,
I said, ‘Buy yourself shotgun now.’
We’re gonna break it down, baby, now.
We’re gonna load it up, baby, now.
And shoot ‘em ‘fore he run now.”

Now, there are people out there who’d dispute that this song is just a bunch of dances that Junior Walker is listing off

The Jerk
Mashed Potato
Twin Time

Yep. Heard of those. But “Shotgun?!?” I mean, it looks like some of the crowd is doing a dance that seems to replicate holding a gun & shooting it. But inherently, this song is about getting your sweetheart to kill people.

Which, by the way, is fucking AWESOME.

* If a guy or gal is a musician, however, I’ve found that they’re more tuned into the music over the lyrics. How a drum fill swoops in, how a series of notes come together or how the overall production of a song is relayed to the listener. 

DAY 1311

I’ve bitched about Masters Of The Universe on this forum before. 

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Mostly about how I regretted being in that weird “I’m-a-teenager-who-needs-to-stop-playing-with-toys” phase around the same time He-Man first swished his way into the public’s consciousness.

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I might’ve also broached the fact that He-Man is about the stupidest name for a hero EVER.

Well, maybe he’d be a close second.

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Never order anything from Newark, NJ for THIS VERY REASON, folks. 

Anyhoo, this isn’t about my toy shunning, He-Man’s name or the fact that this Filmation crap pile is still alive & kicking somehow within the DCU.

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I mean, I LOVE Giffen, but this dude’s just picking up a check here.

See, this regret is going in a decidedly different direction. And all starts with a guy named Fisto.

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No, not THAT Fisto.*

THIS Fisto.

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I’m glossing over the fact that Fisto just sounds like a character in He-Man slash fiction. That’s a given, right?

The point is, Fisto is a REAL Masters Of The Universe character.

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Which is where today’s regret is taking me. 

I’m not saying that the MOTU franchise is the smartest franchise in the world. In fact, I’d go on record by saying it’s probably the STUPIDEST. “Why,” you may be asking?

Well, let’s take a look at a few of MOTU shittiest hits:

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Obviously this was a cut-rate series of toys. I mean, besides the fact that EVERY character was the same damn body with different heads slapped on, Stinkor was clearly just a repainted Mer-Man.

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And although we’re really just talking about a series of toys that are meant to appeal to pre-pubescent boys, I regret the fact that when you look at the massive list of characters, it seems like the most uncreative jack-offs in the room came up with names like:

Snout Spout

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or Snake Face.

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And don’t get me started on Mattel’s obsession with just slapping “Man” on every other character:

Moss Man,

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Ram Man, etc.

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I remember being particularly fascinated by the few that didn’t seem like total gimmick characters. Zodac, for example.

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Or Man-At-Arms. 

imageBut even within the framework of the cartoon, we got almost no backstory with these kinds of characters. Like, why was Man-At-Arms mostly green? 

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Exactly. Mattel probably doesn’t even fucking know.

And I suppose that’s where I find myself, regretting that I never got the chance to be the dude who Mattel turned to for well thought-out characters, backstories & cool names for stuff like this.

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Jesus twerking Christ.

WHAT?

Okay, fuck it. I guess Fisto ain’t that bad, all things considered.

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* For the record, nothing in the prequels actually happened. None of those storylines & none of those useless characters exist to me. Let’s just leave it at that.

DAY 1310

Before I delve into this quagmire, I’ll go ahead & state for the record that even though I’m a good-old boy from Alabama, I’d sooner side with Neil Young than Lynyrd Skynyrd in the age-old rock debate.

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You know the one.

Skynyrd pens “Sweet Home Alabama” & includes the lyrics:

"Well, I heard Mister Young sing about her,
Well, I heard ole’ Neil put her down,
Well, I hope Neil Young will remember,
A Southern man doesn’t need him around anyhow.”

Some people still think it was a response to his song, “Southern Man,” but it was actually a jab at him for writing an even more incendiary song, “Alabama,” off of “Harvest.”

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I can see how Alabamians may get hot under the collar, being reminded about this kind of shit. Mentioning lynchings, banjos & ultimate dead ends hits a little too close to home:

"Alabama, you got the weight on your shoulders,
That’s breaking your back,
Your Cadillac has got a wheel in the ditch,
And a wheel on the track.”

But here’s the fundamental problem, my friends. Lynyrd Skynyrd isn’t even FROM Alabama. 

These bumpasses are actually from Florida. 

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PHOTOGRAPHER - Yeah, thanks for dressing up, fellas. Maybe you’ve got a point though. Who’s gonna look at the back cover, right?

Now that we’ve got THAT out of the way, I can get down to the regret. 

You see, if you were to ever cross over into the steamy, death-defying climate of the fair state of Alabama by way of our highway system, you’d normally be greeted by THIS:

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In fact, these highway signs have been that way for as long as I can remember. Sure, the slogans on our license plates have changed a little bit over the years,

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but the word “change” isn’t exactly in my home state’s lexicon.

Case in point: their reluctance to embrace much of it.

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But that’s a COMPLETELY different conversation that I’m not willing to broach here. I’ll stay on topic, I promise.

The Alabama Department of Transportation recently unveiled THIS,

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a brand new set of signs that will soon welcome visitors.

That’s right.

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The title of that famous song.

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And $61,000 isn’t the only price tag on this:

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At this point, I think it’s important to add that the song “Sweet Home Alabama” wasn’t even RECORDED in Alabama.*

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(BTW, that misspelling of Birmingham up there? It’s from al.com, a digital rag put out by the Alabama Media Group.)

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Even MORE reason why I regret that my home state’s shelling out money for highway signs, while our educational system is going down the toilet.

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Now, I did a little bit of knocking around the cyberweb, looking for a possible replacement for “Sweet Home Alabama.” Here are the guidelines I went by:

• It should be a song about Alabama
• That song should be by a band from Alabama
• Its lyrics should still make sense in context of a sign

That second bullet point leaves out songs by Jim Croce, The Doors & Grateful Dead, BTW.

The only one I could find that would apply to ALL of the above criteria was one that seemed the most obvious.

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My Home’s In Alabama" by the band Alabama. I hate to say it, but I actually like this song. There’s a melancholy mood to it that captures what it was like to grown up there & interact with fellow residents.

I don’t know. Maybe a sign that reads THIS wouldn’t work.

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But at least we’d be paying one of our own to use it.

* Also, the movie “Sweet Home Alabama?” Well, you make the call.

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D A Y  1 3 0 9

Well, I had one in the hopper (which I’ll probably post right after this), but after a long day of MN Fringing, a closing night show at 10 pm & drunken debauchery until at least 2 am at Fringe Central, I didn’t post a regret today.

Just as a reminder, if I miss a day, I’ve made a promise to myself that I have to post something random, fucked-up or goofy.

Enter the “Sexy Weather Girl Urinal Game,” which I believe fits into all three categories.

Normally I don’t add a regret to these “missed-a-day” posts, but I’m tossing one in here anyway.

I regret that we don’t have this kind of wonderfully demented shit in the U.S. Or should I say in the part of the U.S. that I live in anyway.

If it’s not a print ad or some stupid video screen playing sports that sits eye level in our urinals, it’s usually sad graffiti. But THIS? 

Hell, I’d actually “break the seal” more often if THIS is the sense of accomplishment I could look forward to each time.

DAY 1308

So, this happened recently:

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A pretty sweet fan fiction contest that was put on by a local paper.

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I submitted a story with no real hope of making it as a finalist. But sure enough, I actually WAS selected & had a chance to read the piece I wrote.

But before I go full bore about the story I read, I have a confession to make. I always thought that fan fiction was a bit of a cheat.

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WHY NOT FAN FICTION?

You’re taking already-established universes/characters & spinning yarns that you’ve always wanted to see happen.

Sure, it’s tempting, especially if it’s a slice of pop culture you’re geeky about. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I just never understood why you wouldn’t simply create your own universe/characters & do the same.

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Or, you know, just write some fan fiction, change the names, release it & become a millionaire. 

Well, my mind was changed at the reading. There were some really fantastic writers as well as performers proving me wrong. Some funny, some heartwarming, some - well, you know - neither.

However, I’m not blowing smoke when I say I was up against some stiff competition. 

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Alright.

So, with my opinions about fan fiction already out there, I decided to do something that didn’t fall in the traditional arena.

I didn’t write about 10 or so geeky things I COULD’VE gone hundreds of pages on. Things I’m ABYSMALLY geeky about.

Instead,

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I wrote about 80’s one-ish-hit wonders Spandau Ballet.

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EXACTLY. WHY SPANDAU BALLET? THEY SUCK, RIGHT?

I can’t answer that. But I knew I wanted to write some retro rock geek shit. I just didn’t wanna go, say, the Duran Duran route.

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The way I see it, Duran Duran would be simple to write fan fiction about. Hell, take the video for “Hungry Like The Wolf” for example:

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You could go 1500 pages on why Simon LeBon’s hair changes from chestnut to blonde in that thing alone. In other words, it writes itself.

What this really comes down to is that Duran Duran always seemed like winners to me.

• Perfectly coiffed bedhead
• Devilish good looks
• Shitloads of top 10 hits
• Apparel straight from the highest priced rack at Chess King

I didn’t wanna write about winners. Winners are boring.

I wanted to write about losers, who wreaked havoc on the ones who slighted them.

LAYING GROUNDWORK ON A USELESS SOCIAL SITE

And as it turns out, I’d already been goofing around with a hashtag I’d used as a writing exercise:

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You know, just something to keep the gears turning while working on other stuff, like a sci-fi novel, plays & what-have-you.

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And as it went on, I started to figure out where I wanted to go with it, should I decide to do more.

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That’s how “We Are Spandau” was born.

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I re-imagined them as homicidal supervillains, who used their riches to invest in high-tech weaponry to kill off their competition. 

And it went a little something *ahem* like this:image

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So, that’s about it.

WAKE UP!

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SO, WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED?

This thing may be my next writing project. Still not sure how I’d push it out into the world. A couple of suggestions came my way about making it a comic book or a cartoon. Who knows? We’ll see.

On one hand, I regret that I pumped myself up, thinking I had a chance of winning or even being one of the runners-up, considering the pedigrees of people I was up against.* 

But on the other, at least I got a chance to entertain some people with something I wrote. Even a few who got all the references, including Cy Curnin.**

And I guess that’s more than most people can say.*** 

* I didn’t win. Didn’t even make it in the top 3.**

** Lead singer of The Fixx.

*** Read the ones who did win & decide for yourself if “We Are Spandau” not making the cut was a good or bad thing (runners-up are in the “Related Links” bar)

D A Y  1 3 0 7

I like to think I’ve got a firm grasp on some fairly obscure rock shit. But I regret that I’ve NEVER heard of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons’ “concept album” until today.

Yeah. THAT Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. The massively square, falsetto acrobats who had saccharine-sweet, cheesy hits like “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry” & “Walk Like A Man.”

While most bands were emulating The Beatles in the 60’s, FV&4S stuck to their guns, constantly churning out a sound that was quickly falling out of favor with most of the American record-buying public.

Then 1969 happened.

They released “The Genuine Imitation Life Gazette,” their own version of “Sgt. Pepper’s” or “Pet Sounds.” And it supposedly confused the living SHIT out of Four Seasons fans. When you listen to it, it’s obvious to hear why.

But now that I’m listening to it, I’m spellbound. Hate to admit it, but it’s fucking beautiful. Sure, it still seems as behind the times as FV&4S ever were. It’s fairly innocuous by 1969 standards.

And when it comes down to it, I’ve never given FV&4S much thought. They just seemed like pablum to me. But THIS?

Jesus.

There are some harmonies that give The Beach Boys a run for their money. Other parts aren’t as trippy as The Beatles, but there are some admirable attempts at psychedelica for sure.

Also, I’ll admit that I’ve never seen the musical “Jersey Boys” (& probably won’t see the Clint Eastwood adaptation), but I regret that there’s probably no trace of this phase of their career in it. 

Hell, this album alone seems like it would kind of kill with all the Broadway musical lovers.

Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just wanting what I want. Which usually winds up being horrible in reality.