Thursday, August 26, 2010

Open Letter to Mumford & Sons

Hey guys,

I'll just cut out all the, "OMG I LOVE YOUR MUSIC IT CHANGED MY LIFE! XOXOXOXOXOX LOLOLOL!!!" bullshit and get right to it: please come to Florida. More specifically, please come to Tampa, Florida, because, quite frankly, your current U.S. tour dates are frigging breaking my heart. There can be only two reasons why you all are shying away from gracing this fair city with your awesome music: it's hot as Satan's balls and you're afraid of getting a sunburn. So let me address these concerns now.

1. It's hot as Satan's balls. I know. I deal with the weather every day. It's hot. It's muggy. You feel like you need a shower just walking from the store to your car. And I understand how this can be a deterrent from coming to the Sunshine State. But if you look at the heat as being sexy instead of being suffocating, it makes tolerating it, like, .01% better. AND you guys sweat anyway when you're on stage, so you've gotta be used to a little heat. And our stores, apartments, restaurants, places of businesses--you name it--are automatically equipped with air conditioning, so cooling off won't be a problem AND hello! It's effing Florida. We're surrounded on three sides by water. The beach is not that far away.

2. You're afraid of getting a sunburn. Look, you guys are based out of London, so it's safe to say you don't get a lot of sun. I'm sure there aren't a ton of Londoners who are all glowing and tan and smell of coconuts, and the thought of visiting a more tropical environment could be a little scary. I mean, your skin has probably never been fully acquainted with Mr. Sun and his Merry Men of UVA and UVB rays. I'm sure you're thinking you'll go up in flames the moment you step off the plane and into the Floridian environment! But I've got good news! See, you guys and me, we're kindred spirits, as I'm pasty white too! I've lived in Florida my whole life (not counting the first year where I lived in California, where I was born, but I don't really acknowledge that) and if I can survive the atmosphere, you can too. I am also well-equipped with SPF 100--100!--sunblock so I have your back. The sun and his rays won't even penetrate your delicate complexions when I'm through with you.

So now, you guys really have no excuse not to come to the Bay Area. I'll even go another step and suggest possible venues you guys could play at:

-Jannus Landing (This one is really fun; it's got an outdoor stage where you can drink beer and carry on. I saw Flogging Molly here a few years ago and it was a great show.)

-State Theatre (Indoor venue. Saw Blue Oyster Cult back in 2004. It was fun!)

-Ritz Ybor (Not gonna lie, this place looks hella sketchy on the outside but is really nice on the inside. The concert area has plenty of room for people to mill about and enjoy the music.)

So whaddya say? Please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top, COME DOWN HERE! Just look at the photo up top. That could be you and all the fun you could be having in Florida!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Screamer

In an earlier entry, I mentioned that I had a next door neighbor whom I nicknamed The Screamer. The nickname came about when one day, as I was watching television, I heard him yelling bloody murder at someone in his apartment. To give you an idea of just how loud he is, let me describe the set-up at my complex: I live in a one bedroom, one bathroom apartment. It's just the right size for me and Ava: not too big, not too small, just right. A wall AC/heat unit is enough to cool and heat the entire thing. With me so far?

So one day a few months ago I was watching television with the AC unit going (which makes a bit of noise, but not too much). Over both the noise of the wall unit and my television, I heard sporadic cursing, more specifically, sporadic use of the word fuck: "FUCK!...FUCKING!...FUCK!..." It was faint, as he was in his apartment, but it was there. Because I'm naturally a nosy person (although I prefer to be labeled as "naturally curious"), I muted my TV and turned off my AC, tip-toed to the door that was closest to where the screaming seemed to be coming from, and listened. I still couldn't make out all of the tirade except for a few of those F-bombs, and I wondered who was on the receiving end of his rage--I concluded that he must have been screaming at someone on the phone, since I never heard anyone fight back.

This surprised me, because I had actually met The Screamer about a month prior, and he seemed hella cool. He's British, and he and his family had moved in earlier this year due to job relocation (whether it was for his job or his wife's job, I don't know). He said they'd be in Tampa for the next four years and really liked Davis Island and would probably stay in the neighborhood the entire time. He was actually the first one of my neighbors I'd met personally (everybody pretty much keeps to themselves in my complex) and I liked him immediately--he was friendly and easy-going. Hearing him scream like that was pretty alarming--like a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde switch--but I figured we all have a blow up every once in awhile and, other than telling a few friends because it was a little bizarre, didn't think much else of it.

Until the next time it happened, about a month and a half later. And then the time after that, which was a few weekends ago, which leads me to believe he has some anger issues. I mean, I get that we all blow up once in awhile--but three screamfests spaced months apart? That's not the occasional blow up; that calls for a trip to a counselor.

Sometimes, just for my own amusement, I like to make up back stories for people. I like to think The Screamer is really a stock broker and the reason for his tirades is because he lost a lot of money for a few of his major clients due to the incompetence of a person on his team--probably the new guy. My friend AA thinks that maybe he's part of the mob, and that he's threatening to put a hit on those that fail him. If he is part of the mob, then he's pretty sloppy, in my opinion--Don Corleone would never succumb to outright screaming. That's just not as classy or effective a solution as sneaking a couple of horse heads into a bed in the middle of the night.

One of these days, I really hope he takes his screaming outside, or at least to a room in his apartment that's not far away from mine. One of my guilty pleasures is watching other people's drama, and I don't think he'd disappoint. I just hope he doesn't give himself a heart attack first.

EDIT: I have since learned that The Screamer is actually Irish, bad. I'm terrible in identifying accents, unless they're stereotypical.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Random Thoughts

Seriously. I'm not even going to try to tie this all into one cohesive entry, it's that random. Gotta love the list format.

1. The other night I had a dream that the killer from the "No Country for Old Men" movie tried to kill me. That's right, folks--Javier Bardem, complete with pageboy haircut and his little doo-hickey thing he carries around (haven't seen the movie or read the book, sorry), was after me, as Anton Chigurh. He was sucking out the brains of my friends and family with his doo-hickey thing and every time he started to go after me, I would scream and run to the next place, watch him kill people I know, and then scream and run again as soon as he started for me. I don't remember the exact details of where this all took place, but he kept killing in very public, crowded places, which even in the dream I thought was a little odd.

2. Last night's dream was even weirder. Me and a few other girls had our pictures taken for a magazine, and when the pictures were developed, we handed them to this lady who was making critiques on them. I have no idea who she was, or why she was even critiquing them in the first place, but I do know that when she saw mine, she called me ugly. I told her to fuck off, and then Mike Rowe showed up and asked me why I was being all smart-mouthy. I told him it was because the lady was kind of a bitch and said I was ugly, and then he disappeared and I woke up.

3. I've hired a home-based dog trainer to get a jump-start on training Ava. RELIEF. (Even though I know I'm still freaking out unnecessarily.) We have our training session this Saturday, and it's through a company called Bark Busters. I found them via the IACP website and they have tons of good testimonials, a lot of which say that dogs improved even after the first session. I'm optimistic and can't wait to see how it goes.

4. Is it just me, or is it really annoying when you go to a website based in another country and try to look at some multimedia and you get the message, "This content is not available in your country?" I get a bit put off, to be honest. I mean, it's the internet--there should be no territorial boundaries online! Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of the stupid thing? We're supposed to be connected, not turned away because we want to watch a video. Stupid.

That is all. Told you it was a random post.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gone to the Dogs

This little lady is Ava, and she's the newest addition to my household. She's cute. She's good company. She's also a good challenge--at least, that's what I am telling myself.

Don't misunderstand me--Ava is a good little dog. She has a sweet disposition and she loves nothing better than cuddles and snuggling up next to me. It's just that she has a few unacceptable habits of which I'm trying to break her:

1. Alerting on everything. I keep reminding myself that she's only been with me for two days, so she's still not used to her surroundings. Every noise she hears outside causes her little ears to prick and her to growl, make a little gruff, or sometimes a bark. I've been working on this with her, and slowly, but surely, we're making progress. My method is to grab her snout and say, "SHHH!" and then praise her and give her treats when she's quiet. She's pretty receptive to this, although we've still got a ways to go. I also think some of it may be her testing my authority and seeing how much she can get away with. Just a few minutes ago, she made a little bark, with no provocation, and then looked at me as if to say, "Your move, counselor."

2. Socialization. She's not socialized. At least, not a lot, and this is evidenced by her being scared of other dogs when we encounter them on our walks, or other people. I've only had her for two days, but I can tell I've got my work cut out for me on this one. I felt like we took one step forward yesterday and two steps back today. My method to get her socialized is full immersion--walks around the block where she's bound to run into other animals or dogs, taking her on errands with me when I can, and tomorrow we're going to the Davis Island dog park after work, weather pending. Yesterday she did so well--didn't bark at anybody on our walks, and on our errand to Petsmart she was quiet once I got her in the cart and started walking around. I could tell she was a bit overwhelmed and scared, as it was a sensory overload, and she was shaking (which broke my heart), but she seemed to relax the more I petted her and told her she was being a good girl. And she let the Petsmart clerk pet her without any protest. When we got ready to go on our walk after work today, though, she barked bloody murder at a guy who was coming up the stairs as we were going down. The grabbing her snout trick and going "SHHHH!" didn't work--at all. I think the guy took me closing her snout as me trying to stop her from biting him, which wasn't the case at all, and he eventually walked to his apartment via an alternate route.

Later on our walk, we ran into a guy named Jeremiah who had two dogs, and this experience went a bit better. I could tell Ava was scared, but she didn't bark, and allowed the dogs to sniff her and she sniffed them back, even though a couple of times she tried to run away from them (didn't get very far, though, since she was on the leash). She did allow Jeremiah to pet her, and I explained that I just got her and we were working on socialization. He said she was a good dog, and said that the dog park was a good place to take her as well. After Jeremiah, we ran into an old guy who was walking his dog, Samson. I honestly couldn't tell whether Ava was scared or was trying to play with Samson (who was also a little dog--littler than Ava, in fact). I do know that she ran around the old man's legs, which had me frantically following her, trying to untangle the leashes. The old man was nice, but he and Samson did walk on the opposite side of the sidewalk after the leash untangling bit.

3. Separation anxiety. She barks for a minute or two after I leave, then settles and is quiet. It's not a huge problem, but out of all her traits, this is the one that bothers me the most, mainly because I don't want to annoy my neighbors. Yesterday when I was heading out the door, my next door neighbor, The Screamer, (look for a post on him later) came out and complained about her barking. I was nice and explained that I had just gotten her and that I was working on breaking her of her habit, but he just mumbled something about "if she carries on..." and walked back inside his apartment. Everybody I've talked to all have said the same thing: I shouldn't stress, her barking for a few minutes after I immediately leave isn't a big deal, and she's not doing it during inappropriate hours, like late at night. And it's a pet-friendly apartment, he knew that when he moved in, so he should expect to hear a dog bark once in awhile. I know they're right, and that's what I keep telling myself as we work on training, but it still makes me paranoid as all get-out. I freak myself out by imagining worst-case scenarios, like The Screamer rallying all his other friends I never knew he had in the complex and then the whole angry mob comes pounding on my door, demanding I get rid of my dog. Not unlike that scene in Beauty and the Beast where the mob demands to "kill the beast."

I know this one will take some time and I need to be patient, but I have started taking steps to get her more comfortable with me leaving, like putting her in her crate for a few minutes when I'm home and giving her treats through the bars so she'll begin to associate her crate with treats and not always with me leaving. Today after our walk we spent a few minutes going over my "getting ready to leave" routine up until putting her Kong toy in her crate, so she can begin to get used to it. Tomorrow after the dog park will be more of the same. Right now I'm listening to the CDs I play for her when I'm not home so she can get used to the music and not associate music with me leaving. As mentioned before, I bought her a Kong toy (recommended to me by all my other pet parent friends) which I stuff with peanut butter and freeze and give to her so she'll have something to work on while I'm not home. I also give it to her when I am home so she can figure it out, play with it and enjoy it so that when I do put it in her crate, hopefully she'll think "Kong time!" instead of, "Oh, no, she's leaving!" I've also tried to make leaving and coming home as low-key as possible, so she'll know they are not big events. It's a work in progress. We're only two days in; I know I have a long way to go.

4. Me. This one isn't one of her habits, but it does affect how she acts, I think. Quite simply, I need to chill out--big time. The process of training her has been a bit overwhelming, and I don't even have the extra stress of crate- and house-training her. Since I brought her home Sunday night, I have been in tears at some point every day from sheer panic, and my sister and several very understanding pet owner friends have been on the other end of my tear-filled neurotic venting. I know I need to stop worrying about my neighbors, stop getting overwhelmed and emotional and just focus on enjoying Ava and training her, but it's easier said than done. At one point today, I was sure I wasn't able to handle it, but luckily I had enough foresight to talk to my sister and my friend Taylor who talked me down from the ledge. I also understand that this is a transition period for Ava, too, and try to keep that in mind. She's probably had to make a bigger transition than me, considering that two days ago she was uprooted from everything she knew (my sister and her apartment) and forced into new surroundings. I know things will get better once we get used to each other and develop a routine, and I'm pretty sure I can probably smooth the entire process a little if I can just get it together, take the bull by the horns and focus on training her. This is a challenge, and I'm trying to look at it as a good one. In the end, I will have the patience of a saint, and Ava will be the best dog she can be.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Obsessed: Mumford and Sons

So my obsession with Mumford and Sons' song, "Little Lion Man" has escalated into an obsession with the whole damn band. Since Amazon is selling digital copies of their album Sigh No More for $5 during the month of August (thanks for the heads up, David!), I had to buy it, and have been listening to it pretty much non-stop ever since. ALL of the songs are good. I guess the sound is technically classified as folk rock (that's the description that I keep reading anyway), although to me, it sounds a bit Celtic--I think it's the mandolins and banjo. And the lyrics are some of the best I've heard in a long time:

"But it was not your fault but mine
And it was your heart on the line
I really fucked it up this time
Didn't I, my dear?"
--Little Lion Man

"But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck."
--The Cave

What I especially like about it is that the song material is a bit melancholy. Don't get me wrong, I love a good tune about butterflies and rainbows and love and puppies and kittens and all that good stuff, but there's something to be said about a band or a solo artist that can adequately capture the feeling of heartbreak and going through shit in life in general. Matchbox 20 and Counting Crows used to be able to do that before Rob Thomas started waxing philosophical and Adam Duritz did a song for one of the Shrek movies. God, I miss angry Rob Thomas and depressed Adam Duritz--let's hope Mumford and Sons retains at least some of its haunting sound as it makes more music. Although, not gonna lie, a rousing song about getting drunk in a pub somewhere does sound pretty appealing. Anyway, now I'm just thinking out loud and getting off subject, so let me wrap it up with this: Sigh No More is awesome, and I want to take the gents of Mumford and Sons out for tea. Except I don't drink tea, unless it's iced and cavity-inducing sweet, so we'd have to go to a coffee shop. But we could go to a coffee shop that also serves tea so it wouldn't be a complete culture shock for the guys. Alright, thinking out loud again. Bye.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thoughts on Mary Poppins and Aerosmith

Earlier today (well, I guess technically it's yesterday now), I went to a Mary Poppins sing-along movie at the Tampa Theatre and then to an Aerosmith concert afterwards. Talk about extreme opposites. Anyway, as the title suggests, here are some of my thoughts on and observations of the two events.

Mary Poppins

1. Mary Poppins is kind of cocky. I never picked up on this as a kid, but watching it as an adult, it was the first thing I noticed. Girlfriend has an incredibly high opinion of herself. She constantly admires her image in the mirror throughout the movie and rigs that tape measure to say that she's "Practically Perfect in Every Way" when she measures herself. (C'mon--you know it was rigged. Who owns a tape measure that just so "happens" to say that one is perfect every time one measures him- or herself?) The really crazy thing is, even though she makes no effort to hide her love of self, everybody still loves her. In fact, their admiration is almost to the point of worship, and I include myself in the mix. I can't help it! Like the tape measure says--the bitch can do no wrong.

2. Dick Van Dyke was hot back in the day. Watching the movie resurrected my little girl crush I had on him, when I would watch that movie over and over again, just to see him. Even his incredibly fake Cockney accent didn't take away from his charm. Like my friend AA said: "Bert, take me away!"

3. Speaking of Bert, what was the deal with him and Mary Poppins? Were they lovers? Good friends? Was it unrequited love on Bert's part? I spent the entire movie trying to figure it out. On the one hand, you could infer from that song Bert sings about it being a jolly holiday with Mary that they're dating, but then at the end of the movie, as she flies away on the wind, he tells her not to stay gone for too long, which could mean that they're not. Personally, I think their situation is like this: Bert is head-over-heels for Mary Poppins. She likes him too, but she won't admit it, because, let's face it, she's practically perfect in every way and he's a chimney sweep, a guy who draws murals on the sidewalk and a street performer. He's blue collar all the way, and that doesn't exactly make enough tuppence to wine and dine a woman like Mary Poppins. She needs a guy who can fill that carpet bag with Rolex watches and high-end furniture, and the best Bert can do is a couple of coppers he got for one of his chalk drawings. But that's okay--Bert can come over here to the land of the free and home of the brave and spend the rest of his days with me. I like his chalk drawings.

4. Where does Mary Poppins live? At the very beginning of the movie, it shows her chillin' out in the clouds, and at the end, she flies away, presumably to another family in need of her magical nanny touch. But where does she go in between jobs? One of the girls in our group suggested that maybe she just goes from house to house, which makes sense, but doesn't explain what she's doing up in the clouds at the beginning of the movie. Who knows. Maybe she does live up in the clouds. With the Care Bears. She and Love-a-Lot Bear are roommates. Bert stops by once in awhile.

5. Apparently all you need to do to unite a family that's falling apart is sing songs and do magic. Who knew?! Mary Poppins needs to ride that umbrella of hers across the pond and fix the sky-high divorce rate and help families communicate with each other better. Better yet, she can team up with Dr. Phil! With his no-nonsense approach and her penchant for musical numbers and playing around in chalk drawings, together they would be unstoppable!


1. They can still rock for a bunch of old dudes. Let's not beat around the bush here: the members of Aerosmith are no spring chickens. According to Wikipedia, Steven Tyler is 62 years old, but watching him perform, you'd never know it. On stage, he and the rest of his crew have the energy of men half their ages, and they put on one hell of a good show.

2. With that said, Steven Tyler needs to lay off the spandex. Like, lay off it completely. Look, I know spandex pants and scarves are his thing, but he really really needs to retire those spandex pants (the scarves are still cool, though, he can keep rocking those). During tonight's show he was sporting a pair of silver metallic ones, and it was blatant that he was suffering from a condition that I believe the medical community calls Old Man Ass (OMA). (It also manifests itself in women as Old Lady Ass, or OLA.) It happens to all of us: after a certain age, no matter how skinny you are, or how good a shape you are in, things start to sag. Gravity is a vindictive bitch, and she screws us all over in the end. I'm sure that back in the seventies and eighties, when Steve was a much younger sprite of a man, his rear end probably looked amazing in spandex pants. But it's 2010, and homeboy should consider something more appropriate like jeans. I don't think he'd look bad in a pair of snug jeans (not ones that are so tight they look painted on, though) and a wife beater. He could even rip holes in the knees of his jeans to keep with his rock n' roll persona. Anything but those spandex pants.

Like I said at the beginning, this is just a list of my random thoughts about and observations on Mary Poppins and Aerosmith. You may go back to your regularly scheduled reading.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mumford and Sons--Little Lion Man

These guys are VH-1's "You Oughta Know" artists, and after hearing the song this morning, I gotta say, I'm a little obsessed. I think this is going to be one of those songs I love so much I'm going to listen to it, like, fifty times every day until Friday. And does anybody else get a Ricky Gervais vibe from the lead singer or is it just me?