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Do you take sugar?

In the beginning...

I can't remember exactly when I first heard Def Leppard, although it had to have been via MTV during the Hysteria era. I only remember being singularly obsessed. I started playing guitar right around then, and if there was any single group that made me believe wholeheartedly that this was absolutely the right thing to do, it was Def Leppard.

Initially I idolized Phil; I thought it was great that you could rock out with short hair. As my hair slowly grew out, I switched to Steve; buying a Les Paul a few years later had every bit as much to do with Steve as it did Slash and Jimmy Page. I painstakingly tore my jeans as correctly as possible, slung my Japanese Strat low enough to get a great jump on carpal tunnel syndrome, and went to work.

The first TAB book I ever got was for Def Leppard's Hysteria album; I practically owned this before owning a guitar and an amp. In hindsight, the thing was probably loaded with inaccuracies but I studied it day and night as if it were gospel. The next step was to attempt to play along with the record...

I had this record player/radio/tape deck thing that I'd been using to listen to soundtrack albums (Top Gun, Footloose, Ghostbusters, etc) and American Top 40; I put my Hysteria LP on and started to play along. It was off right away - I wasn't in tune with the record player. I had to tune my guitar about a quarter step flat to match the record player; at the time I figured the band must've tuned slightly flat, but in my advanced age I've come to realize the record player wasn't exactly top shelf.

I hear everything on that record every time I play; it's probably what initially led me to play simple melodic ideas in solos, rather than try to burn through the whole thing while cramming every trick in the book into the minute and a half. After studying rock music for the next 20 years, of course I now know that what I'm hearing on that record is a young group's interpretation of its influences (all of which I adore, obvy), but there's nothing as magical as the first time you hear this stuff. It's a first love, I suppose - nothing ever quite like it.
They don't put CD players in new cars. Instead you get an auxiliary input, a USB input, and a computer that will instantly sync to your phone so you can listen to whatever you listen to at the office and the gym.

The first time this made me sad was yesterday; I was browsing through CDs at the library, but decided not to check anything out because I couldn't listen to it in the car. I'd gotten in the habit of checking out a CD whenever I was at the library, listening to it for a couple of weeks in the car, and returning it; I never even bothered adding them to iTunes or anything.

My first CD player was a gift from my mom - a Sony boombox she bought for me the summer before I left for college. I still own it, although the last thing it was used for was propping up tree branches so Roger and I could run a chainsaw through them; the tape deck was long dead and the CD player had finally started working only sporadically. The first CD I ever bought was Queen's Innuendo, and I can remember playing it like yesterday - I listened to the final track, Who Wants To Live Forever," first. I also read magazines backwards for some reason.

Next I got my first portable CD player - the Sony Discman. The original one had no skip protection so you had to listen to it immobile, which I mostly was at the time anyway. What I recall mostly is borrowing CDs from this dude I worked with at Prudential who showed up to work each day with about 500 hip-hop CDs, in one of those massive carrying cases. This was when I was simultaneously introduced to the Wu-Tang Clan and the realization that you have no job security.

The best CD player I ever owned was a Sony 300-disc changer; you'd load this beast up with a fifth of your collection and have a blast. You could manually add CD info but it was incredibly time-consuming - hours of spinning wheels and pushing buttons just to make the display say: VAN HALEN II. I don't think you could add song info, but I know at some point I bought a CD where the title info was preloaded so the player recognized it; in hindsight, this was probably the beginning of the demise. In any case, this CD player, I'd put it on random every night when I got home from work and not turn it off till morning.

My most recent CD player was a portable one I bought from Amazon a while ago. I keep meaning to plug it into my car's AUX port and see if it'll play without skipping, but maybe I won't get around to it, maybe I'll just keep streaming music from my phone. Having extra wires around seems to take the romance out of the thing - like you wanna plug your music right into the dashboard and hit the gas. LPs and tapes have both enjoyed a resurgence; like there's still something romantic about both, but will that ever be the case with CDs?

For old times' sake...

Happy birthday, talekyn!!


For the record, I never EVER spend money on Candy Crush. Except last night right before the screen was wiped away I noticed I was one move away from clearing the level, so I bought five additional moves. And then there was an "undefined error" and the game crashed.


Zuigan called out to himself every day: "Master."

Then he answered himself: "Yes, sir."

And after that he added: "Become sober."

Again he answered: "Yes, sir."

"And after that," he continued, "do not be deceived by others."

"Yes, sir; yes, sir," he answered.
Raindrops falling and
the world drops out of focus
in a sea of gray.

Part I

Here for no good reason is my work history, beginning with my first job:

Cook @ Barnacle Bills Steak & Seafood, in Brooklyn Center: Technically, I started as a busboy but was promoted to cook as soon as they realized I generally managed to show up. This, by far, was the most glamorous job I've ever had as well as the hardest I've ever worked. You'd never know it now, but in the late 80s/early 90s Barnacle Bills was on a wait every Friday and Saturday night from around 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. I would have hundreds of tickets at a time - double broiler overloaded with steak, six different things going on at the stove, and everything had to come up at the right time and it all had to be good. Initially (11th and 12th grade mostly) we had a great crew. In later years, I got to work with alcoholics, dudes on the work release program, and so on. What a great time. I worked there all through high school (logging way more hours than they probably should've legally given me) and off and on throughout college.

Student Worker @ Gage Cafeteria, in Mankato: Firstly, how many people actually get to see a place they worked at for four years blow up? Seeing Gage Towers collapse filled me with a myriad of emotions, a few of which I'm not sure I'm entirely comfortable with. Anyway, back in 1992 I capitalized on my restaurant experience to transition into cafeteria work during my time at Mankato State. My favorite job by a long shot was the one where you just sit there at the door scanning student ID cards; you have to put in your time before you get this job, I think I was in my fourth year before I scored it. Technically you weren't supposed to, but it seemed like you always ate for free. Like, when they're dumping out all the food at the end of the night what's the difference if a few chicken patties get dumped down my throat, right? Dishroom was the worst job - sharing a room with an industrial strength dish cleaner while all the horrifying things college kids do with their food go parading by you on a conveyor belt. I worked on the "burger line" quite often, grilling up hockey puck burgers for hungry football players; I used to be recognized as "the burger dude" at house parties. "Beverage runner" was also pretty great - you ran around with a cart full of bags of milk and the syrup that somehow turns into Coke and whatnot making sure nothing out there ran dry. It was a little like a video game from the 80s. I used to dream of spiking the orange juice machine with vodka during my (ill-advised) morning shifts.

News Editor @ Mankato State Reporter: I never wanted this job. I started as a staff writer after I'd decided to major in journalism. From there I went to Copy Editor and Assistant News Editor. There was a bit of trouble with the News Editor at the time; honestly I can't remember much and I'm sure neither can he, if you get my meaning. Generally, this was a fun place to work but I moved up the ladder way more than I was comfortable with - I mean, I can't be in charge of anything, right?? I got super good at this old Mac game called Maelstrom during my tenure there - an Asteroids clone that you could download Star Wars graphics and sound effects for. I still play it.

Claims Examiner @ Prudential Financial, in Plymouth, MN: Other than a depressing "let's just see how low I can get" six months where I returned to Barnacle Bills post-college while living in Mom's basement and drinking ALL THE BEERS, this was my first "real" job. In the 80s, it seems life insurance companies successfully swindled their clients by guaranteeing dividends would remain high enough to fund the additional insurance they were selling them. Things did not go as planned. Eventually, a class action lawsuit resulted in the need to throw a bunch of temps into cubes over in Plymouth and get to the bottom of things, which is where I came in. This is the job I was at when "Office Space" was released, and for that I will always sort of love it. RIP Alleygators (which was right across the street).

Good grief, I guess I'll continue this later...

i am just a copy of a copy of a copy

I'm pretty sure I've been having a bit of a midlife crisis; typical 40-year-old behavior, I guess. I keep feeling plagued by the thought that somehow every time I've made a decision it must have been the wrong one, and it was making it increasingly hard to make any decisions. Something about turning 40, it hit me in a way that it's never really have before that I can't go back and change anything - this is all I've got and it's probably about half over. There were at least a few days there, when I was unemployed, where I did nothing. I mean, not even really get out of bed - just lay there all day weirdly immobilized by abstract fear of all the trouble leaving the house could get me in. I know none of this is rational. But trying to reconcile what you feel with what you know can be an exercise in futility.
A while ago I drank too much and ordered a Ke$ha ticket. I'm glad I did! The concert was tonight; I just got home. I'm not ashamed to admit that I knew all the words to all the songs.

The opening band, Semi Precious Weapons, was also Lady Gaga's opening band. They have great energy live, but they still feel like a band I wish I could get into. It's hard not to like a singer who's so obviously into Bowie, though. The other opening act was Mike Posner - I'd never heard of this guy but he was okay. Actually, the thing that stuck out to me personally was how he was backed by two guys - a DJ and a drummer. I thought that was kind of neat. You get all the digital stuff but there's live, acoustic drums in the mix.

I can't be too objective about Ke$ha because I love her too much. The show was probably the biggest spectacle I've ever seen at the Myth - dancers, smoke machines, non-stop glitter raining down on everyone, etc. At one point she implored the crowd to go "extra fucking crazy," which is funny because that's exactly what Ozzy always says. Like Lady Gaga, she had a kickass guitar player in her band that filled out the sound on all the tunes, not just the guitar-based ones. I can't pick my favorite song because THEY'RE ALL MY FAVORITE, but "Take It Off" was really cool. They added tons of electric guitar to it and it sounded totally metal. But sexy.

Phone's ringing, Dude.

I bowled a 229 today, missing my high score ever by THREE PINS. Spares in the first two frames, strikes in the next six, and then ruined everything by missing an easy spare and opening up the ninth.

Lots of excitement in this game, too. In the second, I picked up the 1-5 by barely hitting the 1, which then slid into the wall and bounced back, knocking down the 5. I've never seen that happen in my life, and didn't even think it was possible. In the tenth, I knocked down nine with the first ball, and right as I picked up the 7 pin the power went out. It came back a few minutes later, and then after the system rebooted I saw that it'd saved my game through the ninth. I re-rolled the first two balls in the tenth rather than manually enter my spare; I think if I hadn't screwed up the ninth (which would've meant a potential score of 240+) I'd have entered the score manually. As it turned out, I rolled the exact same thing and then knocked down 7 for a 229. If that last ball had been a strike I'd have rolled a 232, beating my high score by one pin.