The Fell Clutch of Circumstance

A blog detailing a road trip by two brothers from Seattle to Albuquerque. There will be beer!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hip to Be Square was their Costanza Moment

And I'm not talking about the time he stood up to Steinbrenner. Yeah, that song was pretty much the end for "The News" - and for them ever being IN the news again. It was like when George started wearing jogging pants around town. It signaled to the world, "I give up!" I mean, dude, you are certainly entitled to your opinion that it's "Hip to be Square", but when you sing a song about it, never mind using terms that were about a decade old, you're finished. 'Nuff said.

But about the game, you said originally that we were scoring our own history with bands that "in retrospect, were clearly crap bands". But now you're saying that figuring out which ones were crap is part of the game? I don't get it. I guess I'm thinking that I just have a "bigger tent" for my musical tastes and it's highly likely that there will be many, many artists that you think were totally worthless and I figure were decent in one way or another.

Your post brought up another potential game, though - pick an artist and debate their worst and best song. And don't worry about which members of which bands have different talents - I can let you know who could do what (in terms of what instruments they play), and then you can still have your opinion about how you would put the band together.

Besides, after all this, are we really going to need much more to talk about other than how the Yankees no longer have any home field advantage? Followed by a series of high-fives?

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Determining the Crap Bands is Half the Fun

That's the whole point. There could be an extensive discussion on some groups. How do you identify a crap band in the first place? I think it can be tricky. Maybe we could just halve the points for bands that are on the fence.

Personally, I think Huey's borderline. I definitely liked them, but stopped short of buying an album. What's the worst song they have? Hip to be Square maybe? That's a pretty terrible song. Or maybe that duet he did with Paltrow? That song makes me want to slit my wrists and do pushups in a bath of acid.

I like the idea of discussing how to merge bands, but I don't have anywhere near as much insight as you do as to which of these musicians have a whole lot of talent individually. So that might last maybe a half hour or something.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Nice Diversion

That's a great idea for a diversion, and I'm also glad you changed the subject, because if we had to dwell on Timmy McVeigh any longer I was going to light myself on fire. But then first I'd have to issue a disclaimer that said self-immolation would take place far away from any public buildings.

I was actually a bit more confident in our plan of mix CD's and Simmons podcasts, but mixing it up is definitely an option. The problem with your game (besides that fact that I would probably lose) is that we'd have to agree on what bands "were clearly crap". We can agree on Whitesnake (0 points for me!), but what about bands like Huey Lewis & the News, my first concert? Nineteen top ten singles is obviously pretty successful, but their sound quickly became dated when grunge hit. Does that make them "crap"? Probably under some opinions, but not mine. I no longer listen to them, but I won't agree they are (or were) crap. And before you pass judgment, you have to watch this:

If we can come up with a random or arbitrary way to pick bands to score (tune into "classic rock" or "all 80's" radio stations and pick whatever comes on?), I'm in. Otherwise we'll be stuck debating whether or not Depeche Mode should even make the list.

If we can't do that, I was thinking more along the lines of Seinfeld-like debates, like what you would do if you had to create a supergroup from two existing bands. For example, with REM and U2, would you go with the lineup for Automatic Baby? Or would you swap Clayton for the Edge and put Mills on bass, which I think would be awesome? Then what if you had to combine the Beatles with Led Zeppelin (living or dead members count)? Nirvana with Pearl Jam? The possibilities are endless.

This all predicates, of course, on us not needing the entire trip for me to figure out what exactly it is you do for a living.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Road Games

We are probably going to need to get a little creative to keep it interesting on the road. I think we might burn through our music collection pretty quickly.

But along music lines, one game I thought we could play would be to revisit all the bands that were "popular" when we were growing up that, in retrospect, were clearly crap bands. Like Whitesnake, for example. I remember a kid from our high school who wanted to debate the question of which band was better, Whitesnake or Zeppelin.

Then we see which one of us liked the band at the time or bought an album. The game works like this:
2 points for not liking the band at all
1 point if you liked them but stopped short of buying an album
0 points if you bought an album
-1 point if you bought more than one
-2 points if you went to a friggin concert

I think this would be kind of a fun game, mostly because I'm pretty sure I'll win.

Friday, May 22, 2009

About Our Title

Loosely speaking, one might view "the clutch of circumstance" as a play on words given the context of our trip. The circumstance being our trip across the US together, the clutch having vehicular associations.

Those with some literary knowledge (not Mike by the way, who was clueless as to the reference) will recognize the line as coming from William Ernest Henley's poem Invictus. Not exactly the lighthearted type of thing. It helps to know that Henley had TB. The key passage:

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Anyway, I've always liked the poem. It's about responsibility to me. But when discussing this blog recently with a friend, he mentioned that this poem was also one that Timothy McVeigh referenced just before he was put to death by lethal injection. Jesus.

We are traveling through OK city on this trip. Kinda spooky. I want to assure readers out there that we have no other plans in OK city than to stay in a hotel and maybe catch the new Terminator movie. This whole thing shouldn't be interpreted as some kind of metaphor for blowing things up, even though I've been known to do that from time to time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"Get to the Choppah!"

Well, now we know I'm getting into Albuquerque at 9:30, and if we spend 8 hours on the road to OKC, that's 5:30 PM at the earliest. But a 7 PM arrival might be more realistic, given our steak house stopover and any recovery time from that. That MIGHT make a film a push. But if we do go see something, I could be up for Terminator, even though Ahhhnold will only appear as an "image of Ahhnold" or whatever he agreed to. He's too busy saving the state of Cauliflower. The other thing we could do cheap is, if you've never seen it, I have all the UK episodes of The Office on DVD, and we could watch those on a laptop or our portable DVD player. David Brent will definitely fuel us through OKC:

Hmmm...NIN vs. Des'ree. That's a cage match I would watch. "Look OUT!"


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

This Might Not Suck

That's a great Seinfeld scene. I suspect Larry David wrote it.

I'll take care of the reservations, no worries. I think we're going to be in pretty good shape in terms of evening entertainment at each stop, with the exception of OK city. Depending on what time we get into Oklahoma, I think we should think about catching a film. Something our wives would never be interested in watching. I'm thinking about something that actually might not suck:

I admit it, they had me at the NIN theme song.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

That was precisely my reaction

I didn't even turn on the sound. I played it for like 30 seconds before deciding, "I would rather set myself on fire." That would be pretty apropo, actually, given that Cohn's third album was "Burning the Daze". Talk about a bad excuse for a link.

Anyway, that's sweet that you're picking up the lodge. If that's the case, then, I don't feel like calling much of the shots on where we stay. I guess if I had to pick, I would go as old school as possible for Beale Street. Does that mean we should get reservations? Which brings me to my all time favorite Seinfeld scene:

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I'm Not Even Going to Play That Clip

I actually like Marc Cohn about as much as I dislike Cher, so no thanks. Just imagining her singing that song bothers me. I keep thinking about that video she made when she was in some ridiculous outfit on top of a carrier singing to sailors. Yikes. Nightmare material.

I got the hotels buddy, no problem. We got a ridiculous tax rebate this year because it turns out all of our living expenses in Cambridge were deductible. We're not going to go nuts mind you, but we're not going to go with No-Tell Motels either.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Walkin' in Memphis

Well, it was only a matter of time before I pulled out THAT line as a title. So then I go and try to find a video worth embedding, and what do I find? THIS abomination!

I mean, it's not like I'm some Marc Cohn worshiper or something, but Cher? C'mon, man! Some things are just wrong. We're going to have to work hard to erase this from our brains. Beer may be required.

In any case, I suppose I should ask who's PAYING for the hotels - just because we've never discussed it. I'm OK if you want to split the cost, if you want to pay but only go cheap, whatever. I can sleep under a bridge if it comes down to it. Just as long as they don't charge by the hour, I'm good. I really only get the urge to splurge on accomodations when I'm with my wife.

I found out from a friend at work when the dudes on Beale St. sell you a $20 pass to "get into all the clubs", it's fake. Good to know.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Hotel Options in Memphis

Here's what we're looking at for hotels in walking distance of Beale:

Peabody Hotel (A): Looks old-school, and failry upscale judging by the amount of effort they put into their web page

Westin (E): arguably the most comfortable hotel chain I've ever stayed in. Could be worth it for a great night's sleep. I would splurge for this if you've never stayed in one.

Hampton Inn (D): one of the cheaper options, always a safe bet. I would be fine with this.