July 3rd, 2012

Ranking Running With Scissors

Some of these albums I have not had to re-listen to in order to rank them This album I actually had to listen to a couple of times to reacquire a feel for it.  It’s “so 90s” in a way, but not more pidgeonholed to a time than any of his other albums.  I’m not sure how to explain my feelings on it other than to say this album felt like a turning point for Al, but maybe the turning point was mine.  This seems to be about the time that Weird Al started transitioning from “offbeat comedy songs guy” into “representative of geek/nerd culture icon.”  I don’t know, maybe that’s just my perception.  I was 27 when it came out, a number that Al has used in several songs. Maybe it’s that intersection that makes me confused about this album.

11. Jerry Springer – A song about the Jerry Springer show. I feel like we already had this song, in “Talk Soup” on Alapalooza, and it wasn’t my favorite then.

10. Pretty Fly for a Rabbi – Parody of “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy), and pretty much a lot of Jewish jokes. It’s catchy, but… it’s pretty much a lot of Jewish jokes.

9. My Baby’s in Love with Eddie Vedder – An original, about how his girlfriend loves 90s darling Eddie Vedder, to the point where she’s “knitting him a sweater,” even.

8. Truck Drivin’ Song – Our church had a couple of long-haul truck drivers when I was growing up. I even went on a trip once, down to Georgia and back. That was enough for me to know I’d never be a truck driver. They’re a unique breed, and I heard plenty of truck drivin’ songs (like “Convoy” and “Gimme 40 Acres”), but none of them were ever about a cross-dressing truck driver. Weird Al saw a gap in the trucker musical library and he filled it. No other truck drivin’ song has the phrase “darling little rhinestone pumps” in it, I’ll wager.  He really nails the feel and sound of those old songs, while giving them an update no one knew they needed.

7 Albuquerque – A long-form exercise in randomness and absurdity. I enjoy this one, but can’t listen to it very often.  It’s a little too random and goofy for my tastes most days.  I am a little jealous that Brian got to hear him sing “Albuquerque” while in Albuquerque, though.

6 Polka Power! – Here’s this album’s polka, featuring songs by the Spice Girls, the Beastie Boys, and Chumbawamba. Again, I feel Al improves on the originals in most cases.

5 Grapefruit Diet – A swing (ska?) song about food, based on “Zoot Suit Riot.” Lots of fun.

4 Your Horoscope for Today – Al runs through each of the Zodiacal signs and gives you the horoscopes for each of them. The highlight of this song is the bridge, which I’m still trying to learn all the words to.

3 The Weird Al Show Theme – Exactly what it says. I loved the show, and I loved the theme song opening. Here it is so you can enjoy the many different kinds of animations to go along with it.

2 The Saga Begins – The story of Star Wars: Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, told in song form from Obi-Wan’s point of view. This song, based on Don MacLean’s “American Pie,” is so much better than the movie it’s based on, but wouldn’t exist without the movie, so… yeah. That’ll make your brain hurt.  If you haven’t seen the movie but want to know what happens in it, just listen to this song.

1 It’s All About the Pentiums – Not only is this my favorite song on the album, it’s one of my favorite songs of Al’s in general. Lots of computer terms, used correctly, and in humorous ways.  I absolutely love this song.  It contains such wonderful insults as “you’re waxing your modem trying to make it go faster” and “in a 32-bit world you’re a 2-bit user.” Yes, the references are a bit long-in-the-tooth now, but they’re still fantastic.

Not too many albums left, though I’ve considered going on after the albums with my Top 10 of all his songs, the Top Ten Food Songs, the Top Ten TV songs… I’m not sure how much Weird Al this blog can take!

June 20th, 2012

Bravery Takes Different Forms

I am not a courageous man. I do not take risks. I rarely even watch a movie or TV show without knowing what I’m getting myself into. I can’t remember the last time I got mad at a spoiler – even if I wish I hadn’t heard it, it isn’t the end of the world for me.  Knowing how magic tricks are done is more enjoyable to me than the viewing of the actual tricks. I don’t like surprises. This is just how I’m built. It leads to as much stability as a person can have, but I do know that the accompanying danger is that you can get stuck in ruts.

A few years back, as a byproduct of improv, I made the conscious choice to say “yes” to more things. I wasn’t going to get all crazy about it and say yes to everything, just more things. To the outside observer, it probably wouldn’t look like I’ve changed much, but from in here, I can see some big steps I’ve taken.

One of the steps has been with food. I’m a meat-and-potatoes guy, always have been. “Fancy” food is wasted on me, and there are plenty of tastes and textures that make me gag. A while back I said yes to trying some salad, and now there’s a salad at Texas Roadhouse that I actually crave every so often. I still don’t like lettuce on my burgers, but it’s something, at least. I eat broccoli on occasion now, but I still despise peas and asparagus. It’s a process, and I’ll never like everything you want me to.

This calendar year has had me trying some new things that apparently gross a lot of people out. Here’s the thing: I don’t think you can be all “Hey, you should try more stuff!” and then be all “No, I meant this other stuff, not that gross stuff!” That pretty much tells me you don’t really want me to try new stuff, you just want me to like what you like. Secondly, the next thing out of your mouth is going to be, “Ugh! that is SO unhealthy! You eat terribly!” I will grant you that these things are not the healthiest, but I will also tell you that these are not my normal day-to-day diet. Yes, I eat things that aren’t good for me. No, I don’t only eat things that aren’t good for me. If you’ve ever eaten and enjoyed ice cream, pizza, candy bars, or crème brûlée, than you’ve done the same thing I have here.

(I don’t mean to sound jerkful here – I just take a LOT of guff about what I like and don’t like. It doesn’t bother me that you don’t eat steak, so why should it bother you if I don’t like beets or mushrooms?)

So here are three new things I have tried this year:

    • Doritos Locos Tacos – And, apparently, I’m not the only one. These things have been selling like the dickens. You know why? Because they are super tasty. My wife makes taco salad for us occasionally – ground beef with some spices that we put over Fritos and put cheese and sour cream on (she also puts tomatoes and other things on hers). This? This is kind of like that, only with Doritos. It is really, really tasty. I have eaten, to date, nine of them. But you know what? I don’t think I’m going to have any more of them, because they kind of play havoc with my stomach.  Too bad, really.
    • Twinkie Wiener Sandwich – Inspired by UHF. I had wanted to try it for a long time, I just had never gotten around to it. So, on the occasion of my 40th birthday, with friends gathered around, I tried it. And it was… not bad. The Twinkie tasted like a sweeter hot dog bun, really.  And having cheese on your hot dog isn’t that strange.  I’m not going make a habit out of eating these, either, but if I needed to, I could eat more of them.
    • Bacon Sundae – Just tried this one today at Burger King. It was okay. Nowhere near as good as the previous two entries. Honestly, if they had smaller, crispier pieces of bacon that were mixed in rather than on top, this would be a lot better.


Burger King’s Bacon Sundae. I went with four coworkers, one was too chicken to try it.

I’ll leave you with one last discovery. I was picking up some things at the grocery store last week, and my eyes landed on some WhoNu? cookies. I decided to give them a try, because why not? You know what? Not bad. Not bad at all. I can eat these things, and they satisfy my sweet tooth.  Take a look at that link there. Turns out, cookies might be the healthiest experiment I’ve undertaken.

Nice work, cookies.

June 5th, 2012

Nutmeg & Dala

We all know that blogs were created so people could talk about their cats. If you have a blog, you are legally obligated to talk about cats at regular intervals or else. A quick search says I’ve mentioned cats 65 times on this blog over the years, but that’s not nearly enough and the blog police have sent me a warning.  So you’re getting a cat post today.

Nutmeg (l) & Dala (r)

Dala, whose full name is “Queen Amidala Curlytoes,” is 14 this year. I don’t know her exact birthday, but she was a year old when I got her in September 1999, so I’m guessing she was born in August of 1998. She is the nicest cat I have ever known – to humans, anyway.  She purrs if you even look at her. She loves to cuddle and sit on your lap, especially if you happen to be my wife.  See, I’ve known this cat for 13 years and she’s always loved me, but when I got married two years ago, all of a sudden I’m not as awesome as I was. Now she’ll only get up from her nap and go to the door if it’s my wife coming home. Me? Meh. “Seen it.”  She’s still nice to me, but she’s not as forcibly wonderful to me as she is to some people (my wife).

A little over a year ago, I took Dala to the vet for the first time in a long time. She was throwing up very regularly, for a while it was even once a day, and she was very thin. The vet couldn’t figure out what was wrong with her, but gave her a steroid shot and put her on some special food and it worked!  For a few months. Then she started back in with the throwing up. And you know, no matter how much you work with a cat to get them to throw up on the linoleum, they won’t listen to you. Often it seems like they miss the linoleum by two inches or less just to mess with you. Carpet must be a better target, I guess.

Took her back to the vet, another shot. Worked for a couple of months again. This time the vet started throwing around words like “leukemia” and “untreatable,” but also used the words “not sure” and “more tests.” Dear vets: do not use the words “leukemia” and “untreatable” if you’re still “not sure.” Thank you.

This time they gave her another shot, but also gave her a pill “in case there are worms we haven’t found.” A few weeks later, I had to give her one more pill. Ever given a pill to a cat? Try it some time. You’ll be amazed at how much stronger a 12-pound animal is than you. It took two of us, but we finally got her to eat it.  That was before the new year. I’m happy to say that not only has she not been throwing up, she’s also put on (a lot of!) weight. She sleeps a lot, but there are moments when she’s ripping around the house and playing where you’d swear she was a kitten. She even chases her tail, the only cat I’ve ever known personally that does that. It’s funny, though, that after she runs around, she is completely conked out for a couple of hours. I understand getting older, Dala!

Then there’s Nutmeg. Nutmeg doesn’t like anybody but me. She has had several different permutations of a full name, but no middle name has stuck for long. I still think of her as “Nutmeg Tsunami,” but that’s because if I had known how she was going to turn out, I would have named her “Tsunami” and called her “Nami” for short. Also, SoBe made a beverage called Tsunami that was Creamsicle-flavored, and was orange-white like Nutmeg is.

Anyway, Nutmeg doesn’t like anybody else. She’ll tolerate my wife most times, but more in a “putting up with” way than anything else. Anyone else that has ever tried to pet her or even move within two feet of her generally gets hissed at, and since her breath is terrible, it’s a two-fer. The real shame of it is she has some of the softest fur of any cat ever, so it’s a shame no one else can pet her.

Nutmeg is turning 10 in August, technically a “senior cat.” She’s been on diet food for as long as Dala has been on her special food, since we have to feed them separately. Nutmeg has not lost any weight at all, a fact you might be able to discern from the picture above. I’ve had her since she was four weeks old and I love her dearly, in all of her crabbiness and misanthropy.

These two might as well be named Yin and Yang. They have squabbles almost daily, but they also take a lot of naps together and groom each other. In a lot of ways, I feel they represent both sides of me – I’m generally nice to people and I genuinely like a lot of people, but I also tend towards crabbiness and will avoid meeting new people if there’s a legitimate out for me.