Friday, April 17, 2009

hello, it's been a while

I've been looking through my phone's contact list and there are a lot of old friends who I have not called in a long time. The hardest part of calling someone after a long time of not talking is where to begin. Here's a bit of scripted small talk to help get the ball rolling:

Old Friend: Armin, how have you been? What's new?
Armin: Not much. Did I tell you I'm gay now?
Old Friend: Shut up!
Armin: Geez, (old friend), I would have expected you of all people to be the most open minded about this.
Old Friend: Stop it. You are not gay.
Armin: Tell that to the penis in my mouth.

Why would I reveal this nugget of small talk gold with you all, considering many of you are probably the very same old friends I need to use this line on? Because, I'll still use this joke, even if you already know I'm going to use it. That's just how persistent I am with a joke that is no longer funny.



Anelyn writes: i still don't understand what you have against steve perry and bono.

It's inexplicable. I hate Journey, but love Chicago and Foreigner. I think my dislike of U2 is a little more understandable. I'm pretty sure people who love U2 still sort of hate Bono.

Anonymous writes: do you like fishsticks?

I hope this post answers your question.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

more on pandora

More on

Again, I love this website. But, just as with my future children, my love will not preclude me from exposing and criticizing all the slightest faults of Pandora. And just like I will do with my future children, I refuse to give Pandora any hugs or words of encouragement until it lives up to my unrealistic expectations, which will never happen., in case you have not visited the site (and if you haven't, shame on you) boasts that its program, the Music Genome Project, studies and categorizes every song in the universe using over 400 attributes, thus creating a genealogy for all music, a family tree binding songs and musicians based on similar characteristics. You want to hear the Beatles? Well the smarty pants at will play you a Beatles song, then suggest, "Maybe you want to try some Herman's Hermits, too." Soon, you're supposed to be listening to a bunch of songs you love, or didn't realize you loved until Pandora opened your eyes, and you make a nice little personalized radio station out of it: "Sixties British Invasion." Pandora is replacing that know-it-all record shop owner who always knows what you should be listening to in order to be as cool as him.

I made a radio station called "Death Metal as Droning Background Noise." It is comprised of songs with the characteristics of "a gravelly male vocalist," "an unintelligable vocal delivery," and "angry/offensive lyrics." My "wuss rock" station, on the other hand, is dominated by "easy listening qualities," "a smooth male lead vocalist," and "romantic lyrics." And this works out fine for the most part. Pandora never suggests I listen to Barry Manilow when I'm playing my "Death Metal as Droning Background Noise" station. And conversely, it never plays Dying Fetus after playing Kenny Loggins on my "wuss rock" station. But, sometimes, on "Wuss Rock," it'll play an early Bee Gees song such as "How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?" but then follows it with a later, disco Bee Gees song like "Jive Talkin'." Not the same to me, Pandora. I do not include disco in my "wuss rock" station, regardless of whether the song was performed by a wussy band. I understand this might be confusing because right after saying no thank you to "Jive Talkin'," I'll turn around and demand Mr. or Mrs. Pandora play me "Too Much Heaven," which is a disco-era Bee Gees song. What's the difference? Fuck you. That's the difference. I want to hear "too Much Heaven," and put it in my Wuss Rock station whereas I like the song "Jive Talkin'" but do not find it appropriate for a Wuss Rock station, and would find it more appropriately suited for a radio station called "Armin wants to Get Down with his Bad self" which would also include "Funky Town," by Lipps Inc. I don't need a Music Genome Project to explain the beating of my heart and the instincts of my gut.

If Pandora boasts playing only music I like, then I want the musical qualities to be more specific for my personal needs. Song qualities should include categories like "songs Armin remembers from the summer of '99 when he was graduating high school and the whole world was opening up for him like a steamed clam for him to pluck and dunk in drawn butter." Or "songs Armin once hated, but enough time has passed that he might like it now if you played it, due to nostalgia factor." Or "wussy male vocals, but under no circumstance, sounding like Journey or U2." Or "Elton john, but absolutely no Elton John Disney songs." Four hundred attributes might seem useful, but it doesn't help me for shit when I'm suddenly hearing "Can you Feel the Love Tonight?" when all I wanted to really hear was "Rocket Man."

Don't even make me go through the bother of clicking on the Thumbs Down. Just do it right the first time, Pandora. Maybe then Daddy will hug you, but probably not because you are a terrible, ugly child that we never wanted in the first place.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I was out for lunch recently with a half dozen forty to sixty year old teachers, when one of them, a mom of a soon-to-be college graduate, was lamenting how her son turned down two jobs. TWO JOBS! In this economy? The other forty to sixty somethings shook their heads in empathy. The mom then asked the question, "What's the deal with this generation? Are they lazy or do they just feel entitled?"

There was a 21 year old fella with us, the son of another teacher at the table, who was suddenly interrogated by the "adults," picked as the representative of his age bracket to explain the failings of his generation. He was polite, saying that many kids he knows do feel entitled and believe many jobs are below them. He added, "But, I'd take any job if I could," having recently been laid off.

Then, the attention was turned to me, when they realized, despite hiding behind my overgrown facial hair, that I'm probably a twenty something as well. They asked me the same question, "Is your generation just lazy or do they feel they are better than a lot of the jobs out there?"

I could have made a number of arguments against their assumptions, such as

1) growing up, you told us kids that we could be whatever we wanted to be, to follow our dreams, and to not settle for less, but now that we are picky about what we want to do, you tell us just to slut it up for any employer and spread it for any job offer
2) if we don't have kids, we have no one to support but ourselves and so we have the right to turn down jobs
3) most of the older folks who settled on a job when they were young complain about what they wish they had done if they had it to do all over again
4) if you as the parent are supporting your twenty something financially, you are giving him the okay to turn down jobs, and I'm sure if he were on his own, he'd take whatever job kept beer in his fridge and spray cheese on his generic triscuits.

But, I didn't make any of these points because I was busy eating happy hour nachos my friend Sarah got for me.

Maybe it's a natural biological phase all people go through; sometime between "puberty" and "menopause," homo sapiens go through a stage called "wistful," in which nothing current is quite as good as it was in the past. TV shows. Athletes. Music. Especially music.

I always wondered how old people stopped being aware of what was cool at the moment. You know why? Because most of them don't watch TV for 14hrs a day, and if they do, they are not watching the CW for 14hrs a day. So now Armin, who used to go to metal shows and laugh at all the old dudes wearing faded Iron Maiden tees from 1982, is now that old guy holding out hopes that White Zombie will reunite and Dimebag Darrell will return from the dead.

I'm fighting it, though, with the help of which lets me know what the young kids are listening to these days. Of course, as you get older, if you try to stay current, you risk being the old guy that's still trying to be cool, which, aside from rapping grannies, is horrible. Sometimes, you have to let nature happen to you. Let your hair grow grey and lecture kids today on how much more significant Debbie Gibson was to our global consciousness back in the 80's than Miley Cyrus is today.

Here's the first new band I've discovered since 2003: In Flames. That is, with the exception of this spunky, little act who put out the best song of 2007, though, to be honest, I didn't listen to much radio that year and, so she didn't have much competition in my book.

By the way, if you couldn't tell, I just figured out how all the other bloggers in the internet world put links into their text, so I'm putting links everywhere until this blog becomes a virtual pop-up book. Oooh! Look! A snail!



J writes: Your heart of darkness is intimidating to behold. How long will you let it grow?

Until my girlfriend thinks its too scraggly and disgusting to look at.

Shana writes: whaaaat!? boy do we need to talk. i have news of a similar nature!!

Wait, you mean your mom also would rather liquify her food than try driving on roads posted at 55mph or more?

Maria writes: We'll have to have another AmeriCorps reunion... maybe in NYC... since you're making your way back to the East Coast.

Sounds good, let's round up the troops! but I don't think there's much to do in NYC.

Anelyn writes: we'll meet you there (pompton queen diner)! that's our favorite one, second only to park west diner.

I've only had Park West breakfasts, which are solid. But a diner really makes its mark during the midnight to 5am time slot, when they have to prove their dishes don't taste like used grease and pissed off waitress.

Tricia writes: makes me want a doughnut!

The point of that blog entry was to make you not want a doughnut because those damn plain donuts are so bland and dry and boring! Dammit! I've completely failed as a writer and now I'm getting worked up again about those plain donuts!