Friday, May 18, 2012

All Prologue (everybody has a story)

(the title of today's blog comes from the title of an episode from HBO's THE WIRE)

My girlfriend and I went to Dave and Buster's on Wednesday to take advantage of their "half-priced games" deal. It's become our new favorite place. For those of you who haven't been there, think of a more grown-up version of Chucky Cheese's (is that how you spell the name of the place? I could look it up, but I'm too lazy right now). They've got games, and they've got booze.

How can one not have fun?

I guess this would be my version of gambling, although gambling doesn't seem as fun. At least there, I'm well aware that all I'm doing is spending money to win tickets. Tickets that I may never end up using, yet I still feel proud when I hit a jackpot.

Anyway, there was this sad looking man who was sitting at one of the games. He was there long before we got there. He just sat there and played the same game over and over again. He must've been in his late forties or early fifties. He had to keep calling the workers over because he'd clean the machine out of tickets.

He didn't look like he was having fun. He looked like a character I'd written about in a short story, In Decline (which also inspired the title for my short story collection). He just sat there and played the same machine over and over again. When his card would run out of points to play the game, he'd simply run over to the re-charge machine and drop some more money on it.

We heard the man say he was trying to win a new iPad. Now, I don't know if there was one in the actual machine, or he was saving up tickets to buy one at the store. Either way, the man must've blown close to a grand or so.

A bag full of stacks and stacks of tickets rested by his feet, as he played the machine more and more.

It was kind of bumming us out, if you want to know the truth. It was just a sad scene. This must've been Dave & Buster's version of a degenerate gambler. My girlfriend wondered if the man had a family, and if they thought he was at work. Maybe they laid him off because he was spending too much time at D&B's. Those one hour lunch breaks turned into three hour lunch breaks one too many times for his boss to stomach.

Maybe he didn't have a family. It could've been that he was trying to win an iPad so he could sell it to somebody. Or, the iPad had become a sick obessesion for him. Maybe it started innocently enough at the start, but then he grew determined to win the blasted gadget.

This is all speculation, of course. But that's what a story teller does. He looks at somebody and tries to think of a back story. What brought that person there and what was his or her motivation.

Everybody has a story. We may not know exactly what that story is, but it doesn't stop us from coming up with one on our own. You don't have to be an author or a writer. It's something we all do from time to time.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Effin' Mondays...

No, I didn't steal this "act" from Garfield... then again, maybe I did. I always have a hard time starting the week, especially since now I'm always doing something fun on the weekend. After two mornings of not having to worry about setting that friggen' alarm clock, it's a grind when the reality sets in that I have to wake up at around 5:30 the next morning.

I don't even really hate the whole day. It's usually the mornings that are rough. It takes me a bit to get used to the weekday, but as soon as it's over then I'm usually good to go for the rest of the week.

While I've always had my dislike of Monday, I think I really only started playing on that fact in public for maybe the past year or two. Why? I dunno. It's fun to gripe about a day that most everybody hates. I already know what I can put up for a status on Facebook, and I already know what my first tweet will be on Twitter.

It even gave me a blog post to write about.

No... I won't thank Monday for that. Effin' Monday...

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pennywise gives it their "All or Nothing"

I became a fan of Pennywise around 2008, I believe. I always heard about them but never really gave them a listen until then. I heard their latest album, REASON TO BELIEVE, and immediately I fell in love with them.

And that wasn't even their best album. I quickly bought every album they had on iTunes after that and they became one of my favorite bands. They're always playing on my iPod now, along with NOFX (who I also just discovered a few years ago--yes, I'm always late to the party on these things, but better late than never!).

I was crushed when I learned the lead singer left the band. After watching the documentary, THE OTHER F-WORD, it seemed like he was burned out and wanted to spend more time with his family. I could respect and appreciate that.

When I heard that they found a new lead singer and they were going to come out with a new album, I had my doubts. I sampled the album when it was free on KROQ for a week or so, but I didn't give it a fair listen. Immediately I thought, "Man, it's just not Pennywise without Jim." The songs were good, don't get me wrong, but I just couldn't get into it.

Replacing lead singers is one of the toughest things bands have to do. Very, very tricky to pull off, but there have been successful bands who were able to pull it off. I just listened to the new Alice in Chains not too long ago, and I have to admit it's a damned good album.

Yesterday, I found out that Jim (former lead singer of Pennywise) didn't leave the music scene after all. He started up a new band of his own. And that's when I realized that he probably was having other issues with the band, and it wasn't only about spending more time with his family.

So what's a band to do? Everybody else in Pennywise still wanted to move on as a band. Jim's happy doing his own thing. And while we'll always love the "Jim" days, there's no reason to hold a grudge against the new guy. Bands have to move on.

I decided to give them another shot. Not only that, but I bought the album. Because I love the band, I wanted to support them. I gave it another listen, and this time I really did keep an open mind.

I'm glad I did.

It's a really, really good album. The lead singer might sound a bit different, but the overall Pennywise sound is still there. I've listened to the album at least three times now, and it just keeps getting better for me.

I know some people out there won't be able to love the new Pennywise. There's nothing wrong with that. But still, give them a fair chance. You may surprise yourself.