Thursday, December 16, 2010

Putting the "Lay" in "Layoffs"

It is with a heavy heart that I relate that *sniff* the local dick bar has closed.

Arrow, we barely new ye, but a light that burns so bright can only burn so long … no matter how large your candlesticks may happen to be.

I had so many more alternate things to call you! The cocknasium! The dong-a-teria! The penis pantry! Wasted.

To fill the Arrow-shaped void in my life, I plan on visiting a college-adjacent sports bar, ogle guys at the urinals, and pay double for my drinks.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Untimely Travel Tales - Seattle Edition, Pt. 3

It's been a long time between drinks, so without further ado I give you...

On Saturday morning, Blake and I met some of his friends at Coastal Kitchen for brunch. They had enjoyed a raucous evening on a party bus, so they related their scandalous escapades as they ate, much to my simultaneous delight and chagrin. Charlie and Brett (see "Day One") joined us, but sadly they had to sit at the other end of the table, well outside of comfortable chatting distance. We contented ourselves with knowing glances and sarcastic eye-rolls for the duration of the meal.

Afterward the four of us walked to Volunteer Park, climbed the steps of the water tower, and enjoyed the 360 degree view. The change in elevation came along with a considerable drop in temperature, so we didn't stay for very long.

Brett left us to go to work (I honestly forget the reason, but it was something like that), and Blake, Charlie and I caught a bus to Pioneer Square. We purchased tickets to Underground Seattle, but since we had to wait about a half-hour until the next tour, we walked over to the Seattle Public Library. If you want to know why, just do a quick internet search for pictures of it. The design of the building is absolutely phenomenal. Truly something to behold.

We returned to Underground Seattle for our tour. In Seattle's early days, they had lots of problems with mudslides, tides, sewage - you name it. Eventually, the city filled in the downtown streets and essentially buried the first floors of many of the buildings effectively making them basements. (It's a bit more complicated than that, but you get the idea.) Our guide took us through several dark and dripping corridors, cracking jokes as we went. I found the whole thing intriguing, and the other guys were glad they had a visitor in town so that they had an excuse to go on the tour. :D

We walked from Pioneer Square toward Pike Place Market, passing the Lusty Lady on the way. The Lusty Lady was a peep show operating right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum. It shut its doors back in April, another victim of the poor economy. Still, folks in Seattle will always remember the funny phrases on the marquee. When I was there, it read "We Give Raises" on one side with "Look to the Thighs" on the other. Love it.

After a quick Starbucks stop-off across from the market, we hopped a bus for Seattle Center. Once we were there, we walked underneath a huge art installation titled "Olympic Iliad" on our way to the Space Needle. (I typically don't do a lot of touristy stuff, but there are always exceptions, y'know?) After we got Blake's friend's pass confiscated by trying to use it fraudulently (can't blame us for tryin'!), we zoomed upward to the Observation Deck. The view was absolutely breathtaking. The wind whipped past as we peered out over the city. I'm sure it's nice during the day, but the view at night was fantastic.

We were all a bit worn out at this point, so we returned to our respective homesteads for a disco nap and costume change. Once we met up again, we drove to some part of town (I can't remember which) and had dinner at a nice Latin-themed restaurant (I don't remember the name) before heading back to Pike Place for a show at Can Can.

While I can probably describe Can Can itself with relative ease, the shows you can see there defy explanation. The venue itself made me think of a pocket-sized Moulin Rouge. Located underneath the market, the walls are covered with dark red fabric and the air is filled with energetic, accordion-heavy, French music. The atmosphere is cozy, electric and Bohemian. As for the show? Hmm. Let's say it's equal parts dance, circus, performance art and burlesque. For instance, a sexy dance routine would be followed by someone twirling from a rope. A hot piece of ass named Faggedy Randy performed a lap dance dressed as a unicorn followed up by the whole cast dancing in unison to MGMT's "Kids" in plushie costumes. I absolutely loved it. It served as a fabulous way to end the evening.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

... And They're Super-hungry, Dude.

My brother Brent just got home with food for our dinner and - more importantly - a first-hand account of the most coolest thing ever:

Right now two hitch-hikers are standing at the top of the on-ramp near our house.

They’re both holding cardboard signs.

The first sign says: “I-40 West”

The second one says: “Zombies are chasing us”

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Untimely Travel Tales - Seattle Edition, Pt. 2

Since I'm absolutely livid that I just spent a motherfuckinggoddamnshitballs hour dutifully typing a halfway entertaining description of my second day in Seattle that the internet swiftly swallowed whole, this replacement version is going to be very, very brief. In fact, I will be using bullet points, so here goes:

Day Two
- Relaxed on the couch for a bit and soaked up as much info from local travel tomes as possible so that I wouldn't get lost while exploring on my own.
- Wandered around Capitol Hill and the University District, eventually finding myself in a secondhand bookshop called Twice Sold Tales. Unfortunately, there were cats roaming all over the place, so I quickly purchased a well-worn copy of Agatha Christie's The Big Four for $1 and left.
- Met up with my friend Dean who took me to Pike Place Market, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
- Ate fish and chips at Lowell's and caught up with Dean as we looked out over Puget Sound.
- Traveled underneath the market to Post Alley and the infamous Gum Wall, which is exactly what it sounds like. Chewed a couple pieces of gum and contributed to the wall. As luck would have it, "Brian" and "I 'heart' Dean" were already on the wall right next to each other, so I added a dot to the "i" in my name while Dean added an "o" to the end of his.
- Explored Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, ogling oddities, coin-operated contraptions and all sorts of touristy trinkets.
- Purchased a mocha from a cute, nerdy guy at the original Starbucks.
- Visited a magic shop that was far more interesting from the outside than on the inside.
- Bought a silly wind-up toy for my brother from a shop called - appropriately enough - The Wind Up.
- Saw a sign that read: "The Miniature Car Dealer Been Relocate It To Suite 525 Next To Sound View Cafe, Please Visit Us There. Thank You."
- Took us way out of our way to visit a tiki bar called Hula Hula and enjoyed some tiki-themed libations
- Begrudingly dropped Dean off with his boyfriened
- Went to dinner with Blake at a neat gastropub called Smith where I had a shepherd's pie the size of my head.
- Waddled over to Oddfellows Cafe and Pub for more drinks. Fun atmosphere and very cool waitress.
- Got sweaty on the dancefloor at R Place.
- Shuffled home past the ravenous hoardes outside Dick's.
- Purchased a couple more sodas from the Spooky Coke Machine.
- Went to bed.


Friday, June 11, 2010

On the Bullet Train to Hell

My brother Brent and I were walking through a parking lot one day, and we saw a car with a bumper sticker that said, "Keep Your Eyes On Jesus."

I agreed with the advice, saying, "He's a sneaky son of a bitch."

Saturday, June 5, 2010

"Pour some shook-up Ramen!"

There was a time when I hated karaoke with the heat of a thousand suns. I would go out with friends, and after two or three beers the urging would begin:

Peer Pressurer #1: (Looks up from a plastic basket full of breaded molten cheese that is being consumed an alarming rate.) "Hey, B5. You gonna *munch* sing somethin'?"
Me: "Hell no."
Peer Pressurer #2: "Awww, c'mon!"
Peer Pressurer #1: (Crumbs fly across the table.) "Yeah, dude. Man up. No one cares anyway."
Me: "I don't want to sing, damn it. I just want to drink my Corona/Yazoo/Stella/Whateverbeerbrandthatwillpaytobementionedinthispost and judge people in peace."
Peer Pressure #2: "But you have a lovely singing voice! You did eight years of community theater, for pete's sake! What's with the stage fright?"
Me: "While I appreciate the compliment, you'd have better luck winning a land war in Asia armed with only a blunt penknife and a catcher's mitt made out of gelatin than getting my contrarian ass up on that stage, so drop. it."
(Peer Pressurers #1 and #2 collectively back off, having shat a little. Fin.)

Or something like that. You get the idea. I was very opposed to the whole notion. Here was the equation: Stage fright + the fact that my verbal acuity is always the first thing to go with consumption of alcohol + consumption of said alcohol = no karaoke for Brian.

I'm proud to say that my days of fear and loathing of karaoke are long gone. What changed the game? Dare-aoke.

For the uninitiated, dare-aoke (also known as "kamikaze karaoke" among white ethnocentrists) involves submitting a song for someone else with or without their knowledge. In the case of the latter, there is typically a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth on behalf of everyone involved.

In much the same way we approach personal hygiene or the Dewey Decimal System, my friends and I came up with our own set of rules. Once we determine who will be participating, each of us picks a person to submit a song for, taking care not to have any two people submitting songs for each other. Then we shuffle the submission slips and hand them to the host. Finally, each of us gets called up in turn; discovers his/her song; curses the person who submitted it; butchers it; and sits down. This is repeated until everyone has had a chance to make everybody in the joint seriously consider making out with the business end of a howitzer.

But wait! There's more! You may wonder, "What's the fun in singing a song horribly that you don't know?" Here's the beautiful part of our particular brand of dare-aoke: the revenge round. For us, the first round is just a warm-up. A necessary evil, if you will. The revenge round is where the REAL fun starts. It's exactly what you think it is: Each person gets to turn the tables and vent their frustration by submitting a song for the person who dared them in the first round.

It's truly brilliant. The revenge round frames the whole endeavor. You can't be too mean-spirited in the first round for fear of getting annihilated the next time you step up to the mic. And even when you think you're being kind with your choice, the singer might hate the song you picked and take it out on you exponentially. Frankly, you can't predict what is going to happen. The revenge round is, in a word, awesome.

But we didn't stop there. Dare-aoke was just the beginning. Before long, we came up with...

Whether played as a variation on dare-aoke or just plain karaoke, the idea is simple: Sing as, well, Cher. The only rule is that you can't actually pick a Cher song. This is a simple concept that has had hilarious results. But what really knocked 'em dead was...

I'm proud to say I came up with this one myself: First, you pick a song with frequently misheard lyrics. You know, like Elton John's "Tiny Dancer" ("Hold me closer, Tony Danza.") or "Purple Haze" by Jimmy Hendrix ("'Scuse me while I kiss this guy."). Then you intentionally sing the wrong lyrics. We've only played this once, and the crowd at the bar absolutely loved it. Everyone joined in singing, "There's a bathroom on the right!" (That's misheard CCR, by the way.)

To make a long blog longer, dare-aoke, with its built-in embarrassment factor, allowed me to think of karaoke as more of a game rather than a performance. Once I made this association, my fear of the whole situation all but disappeared. In fact, I've even been known to up the ante a bit by singing as Harry Caray, Fred Schneider (of the B52's), Katherine Hepburn or even Carol Channing.

We've created a monster, y'all.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Untimely Travel Tales - Seattle Edition, Pt. 1

Back in November of last year, I took advantage of the "free room and board" invitation of my very good friend Blake and visited the city of Seattle for the first time. This is the first of a handful of blog entries that will feature my reminiscences and memories of the trip accompanied by the videos I shot each day.

Day One - I arrived in the Emerald City just as the sun was setting. My gracious host met me at the airport and whisked me into the city. We caught up with each other as we drove and after a quick costume change, we headed out for some Vietnamese food. (I won't name the restaurant, because (1) I can't remember what the name of it was and (2) it left a lot to be desired.)

Anyway, we met and ate with my friend Charlie and his boyfriend Brett at ... er ... the restaurant that shall not be named, and afterward the four of us walked down to Bleu Bistro for a cocktail. I'm a big fan of dive bars, and I'm especially fond of eclectic, bohemian-style bars with a long drink menu and multiple warnings from the fire marshall, so I liked it very much. All but one of us ordered drinks with dirty names (mine being the Lawn Boy), and we laughed and shot the breeze for a little while.

Sadly, Charlie and Brett had to leave us after only one libation, so Blake and I explored the area a little, walking through Cal Anderson park and ending up at Purr Cocktail Lounge. We had a couple more drinks, chatted, admired the tumbleweeds that rolled through the nearly-empty bar, and then headed back to Blake's apartment. On the way, we passed an art installation called "Oscillating Field" by Dan Corson. As I watched a pair of green lasers move strategically across a "field" of long tubes that looked not unlike large blades of grass, Blake explained that Seattle devotes a portion of public funds to art exhibits throughout the city, which I think is damned cool. (You can read more about it here.)

That was pretty much it for the first day, although I think we might have hit the Spooky Coke Machine for the first time that night. Blake had heard of it before, but he'd never gone looking for it - even though it ended up being mere blocks from his place. I guess it's the kind of thing you forget about until guests come to town. That is, guests who revel in odd, off-beat stuff. Anyway, it's this old Coke machine that features two "mystery" buttons. I hit that thing at least once a day throughout the trip, and I never got the same thing twice.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Dangers of a Hyperactive Imagination

I have passed a man standing alone on the side of the road on several occasions as I make my way to work. I realize a man standing alone on the side of the road isn't all that unusual, but hear me out.

He is always standing in the same place. I see him just as I turn to get on the interstate, leaning slightly against the guardrail at the beginning of the on-ramp. The location would suggest that he might be thumbing for a ride, but he never seems to acknowledge the cars passing by.

I go to work very early in the morning. Typically, I like to get to work around ten minutes to six, which means I pass this man at roughly 5:40 a.m. At this time of year, it's still dark outside that early, so if he's just hanging out looking at the cars, wouldn't they be easier to see a few hours later in the daylight?

Speaking of this time of year, who in the hell hangs out next to an on-ramp when it's so freaking cold outside? The guy has got to be freezing!

There are a few businesses nearby, so you might think that perhaps he's just passing the time on a smoke break. There's a motel and a Waffle House within walking distance. If he's the night auditor at the motel, he's completely deserting his post. That leaves Waffle House, but he doesn't wear the WaHo uniform.

So, yeah, I'm stumped. And not a little bit creeped out. Damn that Orson Welles and the Mercury Theater on the Air. Back in the early 1940's they performed a radio play by Lucille Fletcher (who also wrote the chilling "Sorry, Wrong Number") that featured a phantom hitchhiker haunting Orson Welles' character as he drove alone cross-country. The man appears on the side of the road over and over and over again, and Welles is eventually driven from mild anxiety to the brink of madness. (Pun intended.)

I wish I'd never listened to that damned episode of Suspense, because now I get genuinely freaked out when I turn onto the on-ramp and my headlights pass over this lonely soul standing stoically in the cold darkness of the pre-dawn hours. This, my friends, is what sucks about having an active imagination.