Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Some of it's magic, some of it's tragic"

"A long, long time ago, I can still remember how that music used to make me smile..."

I had the Thriller LP growing up. Vinyl. 33 1/3 RPM. Played it so much that it skipped terribly. Still I continued to listen so often that I knew all the places it skipped and could still sing right along without missing a beat. Well, without missing any additional beats.

By the time Bad was released, I had progressed to cassettes, and bought it the first day it came out. I transcribed the lyrics to every song onto loose leaf notebook paper and I'm sure I had them all memorized within a week.

I know I've mentioned this before, but as a kid, I would imitate Michael Jackson at holidays and family gatherings. Mom would put on the Thriller album. I would leave the room, wait for the music to start, and emerge with a dizzying array of movements and yelps.

I had a Michael Jackson poster hanging in my room. Specifically, this one. In sixth grade, I begged for and got a zippered pleather jacket. I also may or may not have tried to go to school multiple mornings wearing just one glove. One black glove, as Mom wouldn't buy me a white sequined glove.

When I was 12 or 13, I won tickets from a radio station to The Jacksons Victory Tour in Knoxville. Mom and I rode a chartered bus six hours one way with all the other winners. I don't remember a lot about that concert, but I remember that I was there. I got to see him.

In later years, I remained a fan of his music. I vividly remember when I was a Freshman in college, seemingly every morning for weeks, the same car would drive down the road in front of the student center blaring "Remember The Time." I bought the History double album. And several years later, I got the Number Ones CD for Christmas.

I never thought about how I would feel if Michael Jackson died. Even when I first turned on the TV Thursday afternoon, after I'd awoken from a nap to a voice mail from Mom telling me the news, I still wasn't sure how I would or should feel.

Then after a few minutes and with no warning whatsoever, tears came. And I knew. I felt sadness. Nothing but deep sadness.

For the rest of Thursday night and part of Friday, at random times I would find myself on the verge of tears, having to gather myself for a couple of seconds before I could speak. I wondered why this was affecting me so much.

I think almost as much as his death, I mourn because of sad and troubled his life so often seemed. And maybe selfishly, I also mourn the loss of a part of my youth.

Michael Jackson was my generation. His star burned as bright and white hot as any ever did. He was our Elvis. When a star like that burns out, there is darkness--an empty space that is never filled. And also the reminder of our own mortality.

But before that, there was music. And moonwalking.

And it was magic.

"I spread my wings for greener pastures. I still ain't found what I was after. I got the blues and that is why I sing. I just want to do my thing. I'm goin' back to Indiana. Indiana, here I come..."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Unfriending is (not that) hard to do

Dear Facebook Friend #70,

This just isn't working. I'm sorry. It's not me, it's you.

To be honest, I've been somewhat hesitant about our relationship from the start. Yes, we went to the same high school, but you were three years younger than me. The only class I ever recall having together was when I was a teacher's aide for your 8th grade civics class. (And honestly, my memories of that class are pretty much limited to sneaking out in the hall to make out with LG, who was an office aide that period, and grading the 6'5" basketball player's tests on which he barely made above his per game scoring average, yet never missed a single game.)

So I wasn't sure why you friend requested me. But due to my non-confrontational nature and my inherent need for everyone to like me, I accepted.

Lately, your incessant posting has just become too much. You fill up my homepage daily so that I have to scroll way down or click "older posts" to see updates from my actual friends. Your 8 posts in a 17-minute-span last night was the final straw.

Look, I understand that you must be very busy, what with running your own zoo, not to mention a very successful farm. All the while you've apparently become caught up with the mob, and also seem to be in the middle of a gang war. And I'm sure you're very proud that your zoo just successfully bred 6 Fiji Banded Iguanas.

But frankly, my dear. I. Don't. Care.

And so the time has come to unfriend you. Unfriend--it's quite possibly the ugliest word in a Facebooker's vernacular. I'm not even sure it was a word until Facebook came along. But that's neither here nor there.

I hope that this will not be too hard on you. Surely, you can busy yourself in your Lil' Green Patch and find consolation amongst your other 379 friends. You probably won't even notice I'm gone. After all, you've never once written on my wall and I've not written on yours. We never hurled farm animals in each other's direction. Never even poked one another, thankfully.

I would say that I hope we can remain friends. But as I am unfriending you, that would seem impossible, not to mention counterproductive. So I'll just say that I hope we can remain people-who-once-met-each-other-but-have-no-business-being-Facebook-friends-as-we-were-never-really-friends-to-begin-with.

Thanks for the memories blog entry.

PS: Also, please accept this as my declination of your invitation to join the mafia.

"So don't invite me, throw a sheep or bite me. I hate applications. There are far too many, and I don't use any..."

Friday, June 19, 2009

Of hailstorms and June weddings

We've been having the sort of weather the past few days that I suppose Alabama, and the Deep South in general, is famous for. The sort of weather that makes people say things like "it's not the heat, it's the humidity." I rather like it. Highs have been in the mid-to-upper-90's all week. You wear the humidity like a heavy coat. I can't wait for summer.

Earlier this week, LJ and I unintentionally reenacted The Perfect Storm, except in a car instead of a boat. We were golfing Monday when it began to pour on the 17th hole. It was also thundering a bit, but being the true golfers we are--and let's face it, not having that much to lose--we finished the round.

On the way back to LJ's, they were giving thunderstorm and tornado warnings on the radio. The rain intensified to the point that I was having trouble seeing. I distinctly recall the phrase "Where is the road?" being used at least once, and also running over my mental checklist of what to do if I spotted a tornado--which pretty much consists of halting the vehicle and jumping into a ditch. At one point I may or may not have been cruising down the turn lane for an indefinite period time, but I'm pretty sure I was.

Then it started hailing, like I have never seen in all my 36 years of mostly unfulfilled potential. We were still probably 4 or 5 miles from LJ's and by this time, traffic had slowed to like 20 miles per hour. My vehicle was getting absolutely pelted, so I decided to try and find some sort of shelter. I noticed a couple of cars had pulled into a church parking lot and parked underneath trees, so I joined them.

Didn't help.

The sky was angry that day, my friends. For about five minutes solid we sat there 'neath a cedar tree, listening to and watching quarter-to-ping-pong-ball-sized hail bounce off the hood. It felt like the windshield was going to shatter at any second. We both agreed we had never seen anything like it. I may or may not have been cursing the entire time, but most likely was.

Driving home that night, there were widespread power outages. It was quite eerie to be driving along with no street lights or lights from houses. At one point, I saw what looked to be several flashlights up ahead in the otherwise pitch blackness. As I was trying to figure out what was going on, I nearly crashed into two trees that were completely blocking the road, forcing me to backtrack and take another route home.

Tuesday morning shed light on even more destruction. Trees were down all over town. On my way to work, I saw several that had fallen onto houses. By that time, I felt pretty lucky to just have some scratches and dents on my car.

Speaking of harrowing experiences, my old roomate is getting married this weekend. And you guessed it, I'm in the wedding. This despite the fact that I never see him and we talk maybe once year. Those are the best.

This will be my 5th or 6th wedding to be in. You know what they say: Always a groomsman, never any cute single bridesmaids.

For some reason, someone with apparently no appreciation for convenience and common sense came up with the brilliant idea that the groomsmen would buy their suits for this wedding instead of renting them.

Wha-? Why? I'm befuddled.

First of all, no guy wants to be in a wedding, ever, no matter what he tells you. I mean, sure it's a great honor. (Not really.) But at least when we do find ourselves in this unappealing situation, the tuxedo rental makes things as painless as possible.

The tux is the prostitute of the fashion world. It's convenient and relatively hassle-free. There's no commitment. You know where to find them and you know what you're getting. You pay a hundred bucks, use it for a few hours and return it, barely worse for the wear. So why would anyone want to complicate the process?

On top of that, come to find out that we're not even getting the whole ensemble. We have to furnish our own white dress shirt, socks, and black shoes. And there's no vest or anything. So basically, I'm buying a jacket, pants, and a tie. And I'm still not 100% sure we get to keep the tie.

The "logic" I was given behind this idea was that it would be better to pay a little more and be able to keep the suit than pay a hundred bucks and have to return it. Well, riddle me this: Where else am I ever going to wear this suit?

Every wedding has a different, specific style of tux. The chances of this suit matching the tuxes for any future wedding I may be in are astronomical at best. I'd have a better chance of being killed in a hailstorm. Actually, in light of recent events, I would like to redact that last sentence.

And finally, since he was my roomate for a year, and since I most likely won't be allowed asked to speak at the wedding/reception/after party, I would like to impart a bit of advice. Actually, you know what, let's make it a toast.

To the blushing bride: Don't ever leave any food sitting anywhere that it might be found unless you are OK with it being eaten.

Hear, hear!

"Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry. In five days from now he's gonna marry. He's hopin' you can make it there if you can, 'cos in the ceremony you'll be the best man..."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What you missed this week on Facebook

I was Wiki'ing tonight. And, well let me get right to the point. So in that old windshield wiper commercial, that wasn't really Laurel and Hardy? And not only wasn't it them, but they were already dead?!?! I feel so disillusioned.

It was a fine week here in Bone Diego, USA. Several of us attended the Braves/Brewers game in Atlanta last Saturday where we enjoyed seeing the Braves light up the scoreboard with zero runs. The week also included a round of golf, dinner with Lil Bootay, as well as spending time with the nephew, the godson, and the Darryls (all at different times and different locations). Wow, all that wouldn't even fit into one Tweet. I guess I really was the proverbial social butterfly this week. As opposed to my usual anti-social caterpillar-that-likes-to-nap persona.

But enough about life away from the computer. Let's get to the important stuff. Here at IYROOBTY, we are all about inclusion. So here are a few things you might have missed on Facebook this week. You know, if you actually have a life and aren't on Facebook, or if you are on Facebook and just haven't accepted any of my repeated friend requests.

Little Joe and Wolfgang each created "How Well Do You Know Me" quizzes. I scored 50% on Wolfgang's and 66% on LJ's. I was pleased with those scores--not terrible, but low enough so as to still appear hetero. Wolfgang, however, scored 100% on LJ's quiz. I suppose that's only natural though. After all, they are the Darryls.

What's even funnier--if that's possible--is that LJ's girlfriend took the quiz and only got 83%. We joked and joked about that. Or, I joked and joked about it.

Oh that's right, we finally got to meet the girlfriend last weekend. A few days before the big event, I had "the talk" with LJ:

"Does she watch General Hospital?"
"I don't know. I haven't told her about that yet."
"Well, what are you gonna do when we start discussing it Saturday, just pretend you have no idea what we're talking about?"
"I guess I need to tell her."

He did. She doesn't. But she has agreed to accept his lifestyle. Wolfgang and I have decided this is it for LJ, you know because clearly that's our decision to make. He asked me the other night,"If LJ gets married, where does that leave us?" I've often wondered the same thing. I mean, what are you talking about? There is no "us."

In other what-you-missed-this-week-on-Facebook news, I took the "What Kenny Chesney song are you" quiz and got the result "Soul Of A Sailor," which I don't even really know. Soon thereafter Wolfgang and LJ took the same quiz (because apparently I'm their leader). Thankfully, they each got different results.

Then last night, I noticed LJ had taken the quiz a second time. Odd, I thought. Even more odd was the message that had been typed above his result. Evidently, his girlfriend had taken the quiz under his name, and had typed a little love note on his wall for all the world to see. But as she was signed into his account, it appeared like this:

Little Joe: "I love the man I'm with, and always will."

Clearly, that needs no further embellishment or explanation.

Let's close now with some final tidbits from the past week in Facebook, or what I like to call, Facebits:

I received a friend request from a girl I made out with one time in high school. She, of course, is married with two teenage kids now.

I managed to avoid being poked, prodded, or kidnapped the entire week.

I scored a bingo in Lexulous (aka Facebook Scrabble) with the word "detente."

And last but not least, I posted this picture of Uncle Bone and Nephew Bone (but mostly Nephew Bone):

(Memorial Day 2009, circa 9 months)

And that's the week that was in Facebook.

"Too old to be wild and free still. Too young to be over the hill. Should try to grow up, but who knows where to start..."

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Saved By The Bell: The Reunion

Apparently, I watch more late night TV than I think. While flipping channels last night, I stopped on Jimmy Fallon as he was just about to bring out a guest. Then I sat there in near disbelief when who should appear from behind the curtain but none other than one, Zack Morris! Well, the actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar, yes. But he was decked out in full Zack Morris regalia!

I sat there with my eyes glued to the television, no doubt grinning like that guy in the Viagra commercial, as Fallon and Zack reminisced about Saved By The Bell. They referenced everything from The Maxx to the Zack Attack to Stansbury, the Harvard of the West. At one point, Fallon even referred to Morris as "Preppy."

Well, here, just watch. If you're a Saved By The Bell fan, you'll think you've died and gone to Bayside.

That may be in the running for the best nine minutes of my life. No, really. I'm trying to think of what else it would be and nothing is coming to mind. And here's the best news of all (in case you didn't watch the video): Fallon is trying to get a Saved By The Bell reunion together!

With all this SBTB talk, I decided to dig up my Where Are They Now: Saved By The Bell post. At that time, I had been inspired by the Dustin Diamond sex tape. Hmm, that doesn't sound right. Anyway, here it is, originally posted in 2006 and only slightly edited. (We should be able to tell a lot about Bone's maturity level now versus then.)

Where Are They Now: Saved By The Bell

With the revelation of the Dustin Diamond/Screech Powers sex tape (Really, did you ever think you'd see those in the same sentence? Download it now for $4.99!), I decided it was time to catch up with the cast of Saved By The Bell. Think of this as sort of like VH1's Behind The Music, but with less crying. Some crying. Just less.

As with any popular television show, no doubt some of the cast have had issues with shedding their SBTB images and being typecast. Diamond, who played the dorky Screech Powers, and Dennis Haskins, who played Principal Richard Belding, didn't help their cases by carrying on their roles for another seven years on Saved By The Bell: The New Class.

Elizabeth Berkley, who played the super studious, sometimes pill-popping Jessie Spano on Saved By The Bell, had perhaps the most infamous role of any of the cast members. Two years after Saved went off the air, perhaps trying to shed her Saturday morning teen show image, she flashed her headlights in the movie Showgirls. Which I always get confused with Striptease. Which is quite odd considering I've never seen either movie. Hmm, suddenly I got a hankerin' for some fried eggs.

Mark-Paul Gosselaar, who played the popular, scheming Zack Morris, has had arguably the most successful career post-SBTB. He continued his role as Zack Morris on Saved By The Bell:The College Years, which aired in prime time but lasted only eighteen episodes, despite the fact that I watched every single week.

Gosselaar's most famous role after Saved was on NYPD Blue, which he was on from 2001 until the series ended in 2005. Although it's never been confirmed, rumor has it that NYPD Blue ended because Gosselaar called time-out during one episode--as he was known to do on Saved By The Bell-- freezing the entire cast, but forgot to call time-in. That would mean that somewhere Dennis Franz may still be frozen in some sort of oddly contorted mannequin-type pose. Which wouldn't be an entirely bad thing.

The career of Mario Lopez, who played A.C. Slater on SBTB, could perhaps be best described by the phrase quantity does not equal quality. Lopez' credits include a guest role on the daytime soap Bold And The Beautiful, as well as hosting duties for Will You Marry Me, America's Most Talented Kid, and ESPN Hollywood. Yeah, I've scarcely heard of them myself.

Many thought Lopez' big break had come when he played the title role in the 1997 made for TV movie Breaking The Surface: The Greg Louganis Story. But it was not to be. He also bared his buttocks on an episode of Nip/Tuck a few years ago. (How is it I have only ever seen one episode of Nip/Tuck, EVER, and this is the episode I see? My only thought was "Eww, that's Slater's @$$!! Make it stop!!")

Tiffani-Amber Thiessen, who played innocent cheerleader Kelly Kapowski on SBTB, was the first of the cast to land a major role post-SBTB. And she probably did the best job of shedding her Saved By The Bell stereotype. Thiessen played duplicitous vixen Valerie Malone on my other favorite show, Fox's Beverly Hills 90210, from 1994-1998. However, she has since been relegated to such box office smashes as Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth. Uh, yeah.

Lark Voorhies, who played fashion-obsessed Lisa Turtle on SBTB, has had guest roles on Deep Space Nine, as well as daytime soaps Days Of Our Livesand Bold And The Beautiful. (Evidently, there is some weird SBTB/Bold And The Beautiful pipeline.) LVoor (her hip-hop name) reportedly quit the soaps because she refused to do sex scenes. Dustin Diamond, on the other hand, obviously has no problem with those.

So we are left with nothing but memories of Bayside. Good memories, like Kelly getting a humongous zit on her nose right before Homecoming, Jessie nearly OD'ing on caffeine pills, Zack telling everyone Slater is dying and needs to move to Hawaii, the Bayside radio station and Save the Maxx telethon, and of course, Zack's ginormous cell phone. But memories, nonetheless.

And I'm left trying to get the image of Slater's smooth, well-rounded buttocks out of my mind.

In the immortal words of Jessie Spano, after Zack caught her taking pills, "I'm so... scared!"

"By the time I grab my books and I give myself a look, I'm at the corner just in time to see the bus fly by..."

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Late night thoughts

This week was an historic one for television here in the States. (That last phrase is a nod to my readers in India, the United Kingdom, and parts unknown.) Allow me to be among the last to share my thoughts on the Tonight Show changeover.

Leno or Letterman. For years, the question has been as essential to any get-to-know-me email questionnaire or Facebook quiz as Coke or Pepsi, paper or plastic, Lauren or Audrina. But like my dad said about my weekly allowance when I turned 35, those days are over, son.

I should preface this by saying that I've always been a Letterman guy. I never watched Leno much, unless someone I wanted to see was on. Unlike my Mom, who always seemed to be able to see every second of both shows even though they're on at exactly the same time. She does the same thing with Good Morning America and that show with Matt Lauer.

Ironically, when Leno announced he would be stepping down--like eight years ago--it caused me to start watching Letterman more often, because I suddenly realized he wouldn't be around forever, either.

Leno's last Tonight Show is one of those events that gives tangible evidence of the passing of time. The end of something that spanned several years of our lifetimes. It's the kind of event you want to experience being surrounded by those who mean the most to you. So naturally, I watched it with the Darryls.

The Jay Walking flashbacks were hilarious and the end was cool. But the entire segment with Conan, I didn't find funny at all. None of us did. We were sitting there waiting to laugh, wanting to laugh, but unable to. It's kinda like that dream where you try to scream but can't.

And I'd like to think that our collective sense of humor encompasses a broad spectrum of comedy, ranging from incredibly childish to somewhat immature. LJ enjoys Wipeout and Chelsea Lately. Wolfgang is a fan of "that's what she said" and jokes found on keychains. While I laugh at The Office, Dumb & Dumber, and people with jet wings on their vehicles.

I missed Conan's first Tonight Show as I was on my way back from Nashville, but I did catch him Tuesday night. Again, I wasn't overly impressed. I'm sure he'll become more comfortable in time, but I'm already back to watching Letterman.

That's the great thing about television. If nothing good is on one channel, you can spend several minutes surfing through tens or hundreds of other channels. Chances are, you'll find nothing on them, either. But at least you've killed a few minutes looking.

It's not exactly going out on a limb to say Conan will probably never become an icon like Carson, or even Letterman. I imagine he'll probably wind up falling somewhere between Arsenio and Chevy Chase in the pages of late night history. Just think if Arsenio was still around, the dog pound last Friday night could have been People Who Couldn't Get In To Leno's Last Tonight Show. *sniff* (OK, it's been fifteen years, Bone. Let it go.)

Earlier this week, I was watching that Alex Trebek show and they had a Conan O'Brien category. On nearly all the questions, the contestants just stood there, mouths agape, not buzzing in. I felt bad for him. Conan, not Alex.

Then I thought, maybe really smart people just go to bed early. Which would help explain why I'm up to 1 AM most weeknights.

"I stay up with the late late show. It's just another way I know, to get through one night a day..."