Untrue Tales: The Thanksgiving train

Disclaimer: A series not fully based on actual events. Poorly written. Read even less.

Such romance! My girlfriend is already annoyed at the use of an exclamation point, but the point here is that we’re eating strawberries and chocolate while swilling Perrier on a train bound for Omaha. She’s also probably annoyed at run-on sentences, but I’ve given her another strawberry as a bribe.

But that’s not all.

112514_diningonrailsShe’s packed a set of tall, white candles. She sets them gently in pewter candlestick holders, even though I mumble something about the train swaying quite a bit. There was an announcement from a conductor about smoking being so very illegal and that they wouldn’t hesitate to throw people off and into the desolate Iowa winter. This is a girlfriend, people! She’s ready to fight for her right to light.

We’re soon surrounded by a soft glow and catapulted back to the 1940s. A wayward skunk is splayed on the tracks ahead of us. Our engine slams into it, assuring that the entire train is coated with a fine mist of pungent odor. The candles seemingly float before us, then slam down into our overpacked belongings – these same belongings that are covered in skunk essence.

There’s a fwoooop sound and our seats are ablaze. Our row. Our train car. The melting countryside.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beware the street teams

My presentation topic is “newspaper street teams” and I’m sitting in a coffee shop at 10 p.m. in Columbia, Mo. while desperately searching Google for band flyers.

I’ve chosen a Creative Commons image of a small child with cigarette dangling from his lips, matches in his hand. “FREE BYOB” screams the flyer and it will be my introduction to this group of publishers and executives.

Around me are dozens of college students, shuffling papers, dragging trackpads and wasting time. This is better than my hotel room, though.

My girlfriend sends me a note: “you’re really going conversational, eh?” I mumble something about it being the only way to rise above the fray.

There are massive contradictions sitting side by side in this presentation. These land mines are how I work – a bomb planted to catapult me into Mr. Extrovert.

I sometimes speak to college students, but it’s always with expletives carefully exploited. A “damn” reference is retained this time, but nothing stronger.

There will be a confidence monitor tomorrow, ready to show me a typo forgotten and a good idea gone bad. Hook me up.


Rundgren in Peoria

My vision goes red during a cover of Arthur Brown's "Fire."

My vision goes red during a cover of Arthur Brown’s “Fire.”

I didn’t want to go to a Todd Rundgren show alone. Why? Because I knew I’d be struggling to convey to you what exactly happened if I didn’t have a witness.

We were warned, of course. It was billed as “An Unpredictable Evening with Todd Rundgren.” Some of the reviews of this tour were rather mixed, but I really don’t see how anything could be surprising.

Todd came out on stage at Limelight Eventplex on Saturday night and said our most hated phrase almost as a threat:

“Will we play in Peoria? Yes, we will.”

He then went on to warn us about calling out requests (they wouldn’t be honored) and bragged that his band had “a slush pile of songs” to choose from.

“How many of you are on a date? Expecting to get laid afterward?”

There’s something Howard Stern-ish about Todd. His hair? His obvious intelligence? His dirty uncle vibe?

But his voice was never in question. He may not hit the falsetto range with as much gusto anymore, but he has perfect pitch. I can’t say the same of many of his peers.

At some point, I glance over at my friend Nate to make sure that I’m not stroking out. TODD IS PLAYING A RECORD FOR US THAT ISN’T EVEN HIS.

He did land a few jams, though. “I Saw the Light” and “Hello It’s Me” were all Richard Cheese‘d out and only recognizable by lyrics alone. He’s apparently been doing this weirdness with his hits since 1997.

“If a Todd concert is on your bucket list, then this is your chance, young dude.” $25 to fulfill my dad’s prophecy, even if Todd never stood up.

Setlist after the jump…

Continue reading “Rundgren in Peoria”

Episode 86: “Cool Hand Luke”

Paul Newman is pretty. He’s a pretty man in Cool Man Luke, or any other movie for that matter. It’s also a Top 3 Thirsty Movie. One of our members is grilled about his egg habits. Eight in one session? Now, time for a groundhog update from our resident expert. Could you let us know if anyone self-identifies as a dweeb? There’s no playing grab-ass or fighting in the building. You got a grudge against another man, you fight him Saturday afternoon. Any man playing grab-ass or fighting in the building spends a night in the box.

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Episode 85: “Scanners”

What if we promised that this is the longest synopsis we’ll ever foist on you? It’s dreadfully long – Scanners somehow brought out the worst in us. So we try giving this episode the 1000 cuts treatment and only partially succeed in saving your attention. Meanwhile, there’s dual defecation distracting us from important discussion of our desert-island movie picks. Do we even carry on? There’s no need for that. It’s just internal switching.

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