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.