Day 10 (confirmed): Autobiographical Saturday.

April 23, 2011

A thing I like.

You don’t know much about me other than the dirt, so I’ve decided that on Saturdays, I’ll talk a little bit about my more wholesome biographical features. The desideratum of my 30-something years will hopefully provide some contrast and context for the  flotsam and jetsam that is the principal subject of the blog. Specifically, I’ll identify three likes and three dislikes a week. There’ll be some explanations and descriptive images and links, and maybe even some sweet tea.

Gimmicky? Sure.  A little hokey? You betcha. Self-indulgent? Absolutely.  It’s not even particularly creative – I’ve seen ads for protein powder that are more clever. “EXPERIENCE MIND BLOWING GAINS AND OTHER CAPITALIZED STUFF!!!!”  But my shareholders demand page-views – you know how advertisers can be – so I’m gonna do it anyway. Editor’s Note: I have neither shareholders nor advertisers, just for the record.

Three things I like:

1. Bill Watterson: This meek little man from the mid-west had a disproportionate impact on my life, considering the fact that I do not know him personally, we do not share a profession, and we really don’t have all that much in common. Bill Watterson is the creator of Calvin and Hobbes. Maybe the most understated genius in the history of genius. He is kind of a recluse, so far as I can tell. When he retired a decade or so ago, he kind of just rode off into the sunset, and he’s done little for public consumption since. But Calvin and Hobbes made me love words. I learned no less than a third of my vocabulary reading Calvin and Hobbes. Bill Watterson also inspired me to be an artist. He  was an old-school guy who drew his strips by hand and with ink and his Sunday-edition strips  delivered an absolute masterpiece every time, without exception. Sustained excellence is a truly rare thing on this earth. Bill Watterson lived it, and he is one of my favorite people of all time. He is still perfectly alive, by the way. That last sentence kind of implied that he wasn’t.

Two of my life coaches.

2. Squash (the game): I am neither rich, nor old, nor living on the Upper East Side in 1984. But I love this game. Back when I worked out more and did drugs less, I played this game so much I lost ten pounds in a month. The ball is small and dead (unlike racquetball). And, also unlike racquetball, you have to chase the ball, rather than wait for it to come to you. Squash is chess to racquetball’s checkers. Well, it’s like chess until I start breaking racquets. Then it’s more like a game called crazymandestroysproperty. Seriously, when I lose, I completely lose my shit. I get so mad, it’s hilarious, because it’s not my nature to fly into a blind rage ordinarily. And the courts are just glass enclosures, so I’m going nutso for the entire gym to see. I wonder what people – say nothing of my partner – think when they see an otherwise-rational, adult human being go completely apey on the squash court. Anyway, all the great tennis players play squash. People are often surprised to find out I like it too.  

3. Beethoven: the theme for Armageddon (not the one directed by Michael Bay, the real one) and the return of Christ undoubtedlywill be written and conducted by Beethoven. Beginning with the trumpet solo at the rapture (a little evangelical Christian humor there; my father is a minister, did I mention that? Yeah, I know you’re not surprised). This will of course hurt Bach’s feelings on account of all the church music he wrote in his lifetime, but tough cookies; he’ll just have to settle for a co-writing credit.

 I grew up playing the piano (still do, for fun), and I can tell you there is no greater feeling than being able to play a Beethoven piece well, and no poorer feeling than making him turn over in his grave with an awful rendition of one of his masterpieces. Moonlight Sonata might be the most beautiful music ever written for the piano. 

As if setting to music the maxim that true power means never having to raise your voice, Lud also gave us the allegretto of the Seventh Symphony (the second movement, sometimes called the slow strings) which is one of the most powerful movie scores ever: it might have even won Colin Firth an Oscar.  I don’t care if it’s a home video of a burlap sack race at a family reunion, if you score it with the slow strings, it will take on a life-or-death solemnity. 

The Ninth Symphony (youv’e no doubt heard at least the final movement, Ode to Joy) is arguably the greatest music ever written for any instrument. Beethoven – who in my mind’s eye will always look like Gary Oldman  – was completely deaf when he wrote the Ninth. Let me repeat that: the greatest, most textured, dramatic, and beautiful music ever written, was written by a deaf man. A genius.

Three things I unlike:

1. Squash (the vegetable). Tastes like brains. No, I’ve never had brains. But I’m pretty sure they taste like squash.

2. The phrase “it is what it is.”  Take these letters, and rearrange them into something else, because what you are giving me with this expression is basically as follows: “I’m not good enough at the English language to put words together to describe the actual thought in my head, but I don’t know any other languages, so I’m just going to say these  five words and hope you don’t notice that I am failing miserably at communicating with you right now .” I took the liberty of writing some to get you started. These sentences all use the same letters as the nonsensical phrase above:

a) It shits, I wait.

b) I wait, his tits.

c) I shit, I, Watts, I.

d) I is that wit I is

e) Wii is tat tits.

I could have come up with more, but I wasn’t comfortable with how many times I was encountering the words “tit” and “shit.” My Mom does on occasion read this blog, after all, and – regardless of how many ways I have wrecked my life – my Mom can still comfortably say to herself, “well, at least he never intermingled sex and the scatological.” I’d like to keep it that way. Let her hold onto this one shred of hope for my poor soul. I feel I deserve extra points for incorporating the Wii into the fifth one, but then “tits” makes another appearance. Hopefully this isn’t like the Rorschach test.


There are no wrong answers. Ha, just kidding, there are lots of wrong answers.


3. The Yankees: I do the tomahawk chop for a baseball team located in the southeast, and Jim Leyritz stole my dynasty. We were on the verge of a dynasty and he stole it from us. We had just won our first World Series in three tries, and were on the precipice of a second in a row, up two games to one, about to be three games to one, and we had a six-run lead, which eventually turned into a 6-3 game, and Jim Leyritz came up to bat with two men on base. Mark Wohlers threw a breaking ball that didn’t break, or a slider that didn’t…ummm…slide, and Leyritz came off the bench and smacked the ball “… in the air deep to left field..back, to the warning track, to the wall, WE ARE TIED!!” (I hate Joe Buck for that call; he was happy about it; he was rooting for the Yankees, I know it). The worst thing about this event is that the story of the Series SHOULD have been about how Andruw Jones, only 19 at the time – hit home runs in his first two major league at-bats, which just so happened to take place in the World Series.  

The home run wasn’t even the worst thing Leyritz did. This is. Oh, and while we’re at it, can we talk about the fact that the Yankees had a larger payroll by half than anyone else in baseball, and they still had to juice?


To be clear, I’m booing the Yankees, not the sign. Because the sign says the Yankees suck. Which means I love the sign. Hooray sign, boo Yankees. There, I’m glad we cleared that up.

Brace yourself for some doom and gloom stuff later today. Bummer, I know, but I do claim to be climbing out of the Hell of addiction; it can’t all be fun and games and puppy dogs and sweet tea. I’m planning to update you on my physical condition, as well as talk about the consequences of my little 15-year sojourn to the wrong side of the tracks. I’m nine days sober now, so I have a little clarity that I didn’t have a week ago. Enough clarity to grasp that I really took a flamethrower to my professional life, a profession that took a lot of work to learn, and a lot of school. Real bummer.

2 Responses to “Day 10 (confirmed): Autobiographical Saturday.”

  1. Jimmy said

    I used to play squash at the University of Minnesota (not on a university team, just club play). Al Franken (now Senator Al Franken) used to play there as well. He’s a small guy with a 50-year-old mid-westerner type body. But man, when he’d miss a shot, anyone looking in his direction would know.

    It’s a frustrating, addictive game.

    • rabe76 said

      That is hilarious! Al Franken and I have slightly different world-views, but he is one of my personal heros because he took his divergent interests and talents and cobbled an extremely interesting career together. And above all, he has a sense of humor about himself.

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