Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Introducing The Human Rules: Things We All Should Obey

I think it's time to put together a book of guidelines and rules that outlines how humans should treat other humans. We could call it The Human Rules. This book would not only focus on common courtesies and manners, but would also address other actions and reactions that are quite obtuse and unnecessary. So, while we're on the subject, I thought I'd get a list of suggestions for the Human Rules Lawbook. Here are 5:

Human Rule #1: 
If There are More than One Humans Walking Down a Busy Sidewalk or in a Crowded Mall, Those Humans are Not Allowed to Spread Out and Walk in a Single Line that Spans the Entire Width of the Walking Area.

You've probably been victim to this before. You're walking--minding your own business--when up ahead, there is an obstacle in your way. A group of people walking in a single line taking up the entire width of the walking space. You keep walking as you're sure they will see any oncoming walkers and appropriately adjust to let said walkers through. But they don't. They're so engulfed in their conversation about reality television or how their boss is lame that even though they look and see you coming, they ignore the issue at hand. Instead, it is you who must adjust, contorting, twisting and swerving to avoid getting trampled.

Human Rule #2:
When a Human is Clearly Acting in a Way that is Generally Jerky, Said Human has No Right to Get Angry When He/She is Confronted.

Example: Human 1 is driving the normal speed limit. Maybe a little over. Human 1 is aware of his/her surroundings and is a good, normal driver. Human 2 is in a massive hurry and decides to tail Human 1 in a manner that is dangerous for both parties involved. Now, Human 1 makes sure not to add to the situation and drives on, being safe and aware. Human 2, however, starts honking the horn, tailing even closer and yelling to nobody in particular. Then Human 2 accidentally hits the back of Human 1's car bumper. They both stop and get out of their cars. Human 2 gets out yelling and screaming, mad and angry--even thought Human 2 is the reason the accident has happened. This behavior should be forever banned.

Human Rule #3:
Humans are Allowed to Not Look at Their Phones for More than 5 Minutes when there is Actual Real Human Interaction Happening.

I think this one is pretty self explanatory.

Human Rule #4:
Humans Must Not Stand Uncomfortably Close to the Person In Front of Them in a Long Line

No matter how close you stand next to the person in front of you, the line will not move any faster. So, please give the person in front of you some space to breathe. 

Human Rule #5:
Humans Must Not Buy Designer Clothing for Infants and Toddlers

No, you're 15-month old does not need a North Face jacket, Gucci pants and Nike sneakers. Unless that is, you enjoy owning expensive clothing that will inevitably be soaked in some sort of spit up, urine or feces. Your child is growing at a rate that will allow any clothing he/she wears to be worn approximately three times. It's the equivalent of buying gold-leaf lined toilet paper. 

Have a Rule to add? Post it to the comments box below.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Top Four Most Inconsiderate Habits of Train Commuters

Thousands, if not millions, of Americans use a train to commute to work. For those who do venture into a tracked car for your daily commute, this entry is for you. It is the top four most inconsiderate habits of train commuters. 

#4 Riders Who Must Ensure Their Bag is More Comfortable than a Fellow Commuter
You board an almost full train full of join in on a great scavenger hunt for one of the few remaining places to sit. Few things are more annoying than seeing somebody sitting comfortably and, in the seat next to them, their bag taking up a perfectly good seat that was ergonomically designed for a human (to be generous), and not so much made for carry on storage. And this inconsiderate person won't bother to move his or her bag to his or her lap because...well there really is no reason why other than they are inconsiderate. Even if a senior citizen with a cane and oxygen tank stands before them, they just can't be bothered to move their bag from the seat to their lap. 

#3 McDonalds Eaters
You walk into a train car and the smell hits you right away--that typical McDonalds smell of fried fats, oils and sugars. And the first waft sort of makes you and the rest of the train car hungry. Who can resist the almighty power of the french fry? But then, five minutes pass and the McDonalds odor makes its typical transformation into that putrid, dirty grease gas smell that stinks up the entire car. These inconsiderate people know this is going to happen, but they still bring that bag with the golden arches on it into the train anyway. The rest of us leave with a coat of grease on our faces.

#2 Wide Sitters
You enter a train, see an open spot next to a perfectly normal-sized human being. You sit. But you feel cramped into a small space and small because said human being has not done the things that considerate people do when somebody sits next to them which include: tucking in ones elbow; scooting a bit to the opposing end of the seat and tucking the nearest knee in closer to the other. Rather this person sits like he's plopped down in a lazy boy and you're just an added armrest. It's as if you're a ghost and they had no idea another person was there. 

#1 Smoke Walkers
You get off the train, eager to get to your destination. Up ahead of you, somebody is stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, looking down. But the, you see a plume of smoke rise above his head. Oh no. You just got behind a smoke walker--a person who insists on smoking upon first chance after leaving a train. With every step you take, you do not breath in the fresh, McDonald's grease-less air; rather you not only suck in the second hand smoke that is coming from the end of the cigarette, but also the smoke that has traveled through the smokers lungs and back out into his trail. You get to your destination smelling like an ashtray.

Have one to add? Post it in a comment below.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Five Not-So-Obvious Things I Enjoy

Well, I stopped writing blog entries, because I assumed nobody was reading them. And I'm pretty sure my assumption was correct. However, I feel the need to stimulate the writing muscles these days, so I thought I'd get back at it with another entry.

I previously did a series of blog posts about things that annoyed me. Well, looking back at that, it's a bit negative. So, I thought I'd be positive this time and write a list of 5 not-so-obvious things I really appreciate. I'm avoiding the obvious posts here--as it should be assumed how much I appreciate my wife, daughter and family and friends! Listing such things would not be very interesting nor funny. And I am here to amuse. So, let's get started:

5. People Who Pause and Listen for an Answer When they Ask You "How are You?"
We have this strange custom of asking people how they are doing after we meet, but many times, people don't actually stop to listen for an answer and respond to it accordingly. This isn't because people are generally rude--mostly it stems from the fact that nobody really does give an honest answer so in the interest of time, we assume the response is going to be of a positive nature. Imagine if you said "how are you?" and a a stranger responded, "Horrible! My back is killing me. My nephew is getting into trouble and I can't stand this weather!" It would catch you off guard, wouldn't it? 

But I do appreciate the people who ask and pause with that beat of sincerity that says that it wasn't just a obligatory or rhetorical question--but rather, they genuinely care what the response is going to be. I just hope they won't mind me going on about my trick knee.

4. Cheese. For making the blandest tasting stuff taste good.
Cheese. People love it. But think about how important it is. A pizza without cheese is just a hard disk of bread with some tomato sauce dumped on it. Think about how great broccoli is when cheese enters the mix. What would go best with wine?!?! And there are so many cheeses out there! A trip to the Whole Foods cheese counter is like a culinary trip around the world. Cheddar from a small farm in Ireland. Hard Parmesan from a village in Italy. And so on. Cheese is fantastic.  Heck, even American cheese tastes good when it's melted on stuff--and I'm not entirely sure American cheese is really cheese. Same goes with the powdery stuff that makes Kraft Macaroni and cheese. So, there you go. Even stuff that is pretending to be cheese is tasty--that's how good cheese is!

3. Breakfast with the Beatles on WXRT on Sunday Mornings
If you're not a Beatles fan, then you must have something wrong with your ears. But when it's Sunday morning, you're in the house working away at making breakfast or doing odd chores, what makes a great soundtrack for those moments is a bunch of random Beatles songs and covers playing in the background. Beatles and Sunday mornings just go together. 

2. S-Curved Roads (Especially Those that Slope Up or Down)
Admit it. When you get to a cool looking S Curve, you get a little excited inside with a feeling like you're about to slalom with your car in a Grand Prix race. For whatever reason, the act of pitching left, then right (or vice versa) is just fun. If it wasn't so much fun, they wouldn't use this shot in every car commercial ever. 

1. Waking Up Thinking You Only Have Minutes Until Your Alarm Goes Off--Only to Discover You Have Several Hours Before You Hear the Alarm Go Beep
We've all done it. Wake up with that little streak of panic or dread that you'll have to get up very soon. You feel like you've slept all night and the sun is going to rise very soon. So, you roll over, swinging your arm towards your alarm clock in a preemptive strike to prevent its sonic boom--but what do you your eyes see? It's only 1:45 AM and you have several more hours to sleep. It happens so rarely, but when it does it's like a bonus night sleep. (FYI: the opposite event of this is know as work sleeping, whereby you dream you are at work all night, only to wake up and go in for real--which is like a mental double shift.)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Best Albums of 2012

10. Animal Collective - Centipede Hz
The critics dismissed this album as a group trying too hard to be commercially successful. As somebody who was not fan of their often inaccessible earlier works, I found the shift to more traditional, pop-based song structures and melodies to really expose the band’s talent as it is more difficult to create within a structure. While some songs on this album miss, others rank up there with the best the band has created.

9. Cloud Nothings - Attack on Memory
This album pays homage to Kurt Cobain and the 90’s Sub Pop Seattle-era sound. Yet, the band do so in a unique way that doesn't sound like a bad parody. Moody, hard-rocking at times and melodic, but also well-crafted and catchy.

8. Sigur Rose – Valtari
Two Icelandic groups on one list? What are the odds? Known for lyrics created from a made-up language, many overlooked this album as more of the same layered, cosmic, operatic sounds. But it is a patient and beautiful album.

7. The Walkmen – Heaven
A band that consistently makes great albums, I first found Heaven a little hard to embrace. I wanted to hear a band looking to expand its repertoire. But after another few listens, this album grew on me and made me appreciate artists working with a sound they have perfected.

6. Willis Earl Beal - Acousmatic Sorcery
This album is the equivalent of walking down a city street and encountering a street musician that is mesmerizing and brilliant. As lo-fi as any album I have ever heard, but genius in its simplicity. Part blues artist, part Jimmy Hendrix, but in whole a unique, creative artist.

5. Of Monsters and Men - My Head is an Animal
The best thing out of Iceland since Bjork and Sigur Ros, this delicate little album is a fun, playful listen. They are a happy, chipper version of Arcade Fire. 

4. Alabama Shakes - Boys  & Girls
If you haven’t heard or heard of Alabama Shakes by now, you’ve been living under a rock. Anybody who loves Otis Redding, Sam Cooke and Al Green knows that singing with true, heart-wrenching soul is not something that can be faked or mimicked. You have to have that God-given talent. And lead singer Brittney Howard has it.

3. Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
Super groups almost never work. Many times, you get artists who collectively compromise their sound. But this combo of Britt Daniel of Spoon fame and Dan Boeckner from Wolf Parade joined forces, we got a group that knew how to capitalize on that talent. You get strong essences of Spoon and Wolf Parade in this album, and that’s a very good thing.   

2. Lotus Plaza - Spooky Action at a Distance
What makes this album so great is that it doesn’t sound like a guy fighting to get a single on the radio, yet each song is so elegantly and expertly crafted, you want to listen over and over again. With simple lyrics complimenting well-crafted melodies, this is a must own work.

1. Tame Impala – Lonerism
An album that harkens back to the days of 60’s and 70’s rock, yet has a sound all of its own.  Perhaps I have a soft spot for Aussie rockers, but these guys take more from the psychedelic-era Beatles than they do AC/DC.