Sunday, August 31, 2008

Musical Seasons of September

Someone actually told me that they were anxiously awaiting what was being chosen for September... so, uh... here we go!

I will say this... some music, like some great movies, have a few concepts which aren't necessarily on the up and up. So for some of you, especially you EMMY TURNBOW, when you hear the words, "Hello daddy...", its time for you to skip to the next song. And I think if you hear the fiddle and bluegrass, you'll want to do the same.

"You're So Vain" by Carly Simon... of course. This stays.

"Learn to Fly" by The Foo Fighters... Just awesome. Epitome of the 90s rock sound, and just a fun driving song.

"Seasons of Love" by the Cast of Rent... I have to say that I liked the show, I didn't love the show. I also enjoyed the movie, perhaps because I think Idina Menzel is as hot as rock fire, in a Jennifer Herndon sort of way, and I've always liked Anthony Rapp, who you might recognize as Daryl from "Adventures in Babysitting". This song, however, is magnificent.

Here's the video from the movie, and yes, its That Guy from Law & Order. Personally, I like the Broadway version better, but this is still a pretty good version. Also, I recommend Anthony Rapp's biography.

(SOAPBOX ALERT!!) Can I tell you why I like this show, as a Believer and Christ Follower? This show is a great example of who we are supposed to be about. Its easy to sit in church, and pray and encourage each other, and love on each other, and fellowships and so on... and yes, that is what Jesus wants us to do. But you know what else He wants us to do? Love on the people who aren't Christ Followers. And that means more than the potty mouth guy in your office, or the somewhat promiscious secretary down the hall... but it also means the people in Rent. The bisexuals. The transvestities. The drug addicts. The lesbians. The straight people. All of them. Every one of them. So when Angel dies of AIDS in this show, I can only think of how many Angel-type people in this world die everyday without the full knowledge of The Gospel, because people like me don't care enough to deal with them.

Oh, and I don't mean The Angel, because that's Heather Hanson. I mean Angel Schunard, in the show, the transvestite. There is a difference. We'll be back to The 700 Club after this break.

Where was I?

"You Give Good Love" by Whitney Houston... For Michelle. Inside joke.

"Better Man" by Pearl Jam... For KT, though its not an inside joke. We just both like this song.

"Sitting, Wishing, Waiting" by Jack Johnson... one of those elite few artists who can continually be popular and much loved without ever having much mainstream success. Good tune.

"Best of My Love" by The Emotions... Disco at its finest. Well, "finest" might be the wrong word, but Disco at its best... hmm, "best" might also be a strong word. Um, how about, a great example of Disco. I love this song. It makes me smile, and any song that can make me smile is worth it for me.

"Push" by Sarah McLachlan. This one might be for The Lovely Steph Leann. "You stay the course, you hold the line, you keep it all together. You're the one true thing I know I can believe in." Well, her and The Messiah. And since I'm not a Democrat, I mean Jesus, not Barack Hussein Obama. Just sayin'.

"Who Am I/Grace Flows Down" by Watermark. One of my all time favorite worship songs, from a band thats a guaranteed future Dave Hall of Famer.

"Live Like You Were Dying," by Tim McGraw. The Lovely Steph Leann and I went out the other night (how old are you when date night includes a stop at Wal-Mart?) and we were joking around and listening to the radio and talking and what have you... and this song came on. And we both sang. Its such a simple, perhaps silly song, but its really genius.

"This Song Remembers When" by Trisha Yearwood. In May of 2006, on this very blog, I ranked this as the saddest song ever written. I stand by that assertion. How painful is it when you think you've gotten over someone, and a song comes on that takes it all back for you? Ouch.

"Sin Wagon" by The Dixie Chicks. I'll admit it... I'm a fool for chicks with guitars and fiddles, and this has both. Another song I love to hear in the car, as I beat my steering wheel with reckless abandon, and move my head unintentionally. With any luck, you'll hear "Who Am I/Grace Falls Down" immediately after this, just to keep you straight.

"Hook" by Blues Traveler. I thought perhaps of "Run Around", and thats on the list for October, but I really liked this one too. John Popper is pretty talented on the harmonica.

"Someone Saved My Life Tonight" by Elton John. This is The Lovely Steph Leann's favorite Elton John song, and thought I was a fan of "Tiny Dancer" and "Take Me to the Pilot", I have to admit, this is right up there. Great piano, great tune, great voice.

"Loungin' (who do you love?)" by LL Cool J. I'm a huge Cool J fan, always have been, even with the crappy stuff from the 80s ("I Need Love"? Puh-leez...). Anyway, the song officially has no dirty words in it, though it has a few (!) innuendos. So, this is the PG-13 part of the blog.

Again, with any luck, you'll hear "Sin Wagon", followed by "Who Am I/Grace Falls Down", only to finish with "Loungin' (who do you love?)"... because that's what just happened to me. I'm so conflicted.

Got a song you'd love to hear in October? Let me know.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

She Might Be a Prostitute... and other ramblings tonight

I'm walking. I'm walking down a covered path, not covered by any manmade roof, but by a thatch of branches, shadowing the path from trees to the left and right. There's a small hut up the way a little. Men and woman are walking past me, behind me, in front of me. As I approach the hut, I see a table, a long legged, small surface table. It stands tall, at the back of the small hut. I can see plainly the book, as the day is warm and sunny, the light creeping through the branches of the trees into the open walls of the hut.

There's a book on the table. Its made of leather and parchment... its obvious its been man-made, but it has been beautifully crafted. As I open it, it strikes me as odd... this is a book... a book of... prostitutes? There are names of women of the night in this book. Many, many names. I recognize one of them. I know her! I know who that is! But certainly, she's not a prostitute? I mean, I would have heard of this... I would know this, right?

This can't be. This mustn't be. Not her. No. NO! I throw the book down, and race back down the path... I've got to find her... I've got to ask her... I've got to know, "Are you a woman of ill repute???" I've got to discover, "Are you a lady of the night???" I've got to find out, "Are you in the oldest profession???" And I've got to know why, according to the book, her prices are so cheap!

There she is... I'm going to ask her. But I see light. Bright light.

For some strange reason, The Lovely Steph Leann has turned the light on. Please understand, I'm exhausted, getting only a few hours sleep the night before... and I have to open at Starbucks the next morning. I've gone to bed at 10:30, intending on at least 6 hours of solid sleep... but the lamp wakes me up. I lift my head to look at my lovely wife, who, mind you, has come to bed maybe an hour after me... she looks at me and screams. Now I'm really awake. Completely awake.

"What the heck?" I ask. "What's wrong?"
"Uh... you scared me..." she says in a stupor
"Scared you? What? I've been in bed for two hours now... you came after me... how did I scare you?"
"You just... you just did... I dunno..." The Lovely Steph Leann struggles with comprehension for a minute, then turns the light back off.

You know how, when you're really tired, and you end up sleeping for only 2 hours, and you wake up still exhausted? Like, your eyes hurt, your arms are sore, you just feel like dying kind of exhausted. This was me after The Lovely Steph Leann turned on the light, screamed, stared at me, then turned the light off, and was asleep within five minutes. Not good times. Bad times, bad times.

And I don't know if she was a prostitute!!!


We were a part of the job fair at UAB, recruiting for The Happiest Place in the Mall. Dan, the Other Happiest Assistant Manager at The Happiest Place in the Mall, and Yours Truly set up a table, tablecloth, a few Mickey & Minnie items, and some applications. And we waited.

I had observed some of the other tables around the perimeter... there were about 34 or 35 other businesses that were also hitting the freshman and upper class pool of people, which is ingenius, because they are all in college and broke.

The McWane Center was a hit. They had the table in front of the door, so as you walk in, you see them, and many people went straight there. We were diagonal from McWane, so you passed by The Happiest Table in the Job Fair on your right as you came in the room. Across from us was Alabama Telco Credit Union, which, though they were nice, I gotta say wasn't the most entertaining, fun idea for a part time job.

Don't get me wrong, I think you do what you gotta do when the time arrives, but if I walk into the job fair such as these kids did, I'm looking at McWane, or The Learning Express (complete with their lot of fun toys on the table) or Ross Bridges Golf Course or something like that. The Credit Union, be it Alabama Telco or Legacy, cause they were both there, wouldnt be my first choice. And who wants to work at freakin' Newk's Express Cafe? Or Panera Bread? Or a dental office?

Victoria's Secret was there, and I'll be honest with you... if I ever walk into that store again, and they've hired some of the people that I saw apply, trust me, I will not want to think about women's underwear. Not in the slightest.

International students can't work off campus, so half of our morning was spent telling Habeeb and Ismish and Rjnrnwvn that we were located at the Galleria Mall, about 10 miles from campus. I'm not sure some countries actually know about vowels.

The result is that I've got 9 interviews on Monday set up. I expect a few of them to not show up, there are one or two that I'm hoping will work out cause they were awesome, and there's some that I could go either way on.


I did my first interviews for The Happiest Place in the Mall last week, and really, sometimes its just funny. One girl was so quiet, I had to lean forward to hear anything she had to say... "So what are your favorite Disney characters?"

"Oh, I likes Mickey. He's so fun..."
"What about your favorite Disney movies?"
(thinking, and it looks as if it takes effort) "I like Winnies the Pooh"
I then ask, "Tell me about your shopping habits. What do you look for in a store?" (now, I know she might not understand this question, so I clarify) "I mean, not really what you are shopping for, but what makes a store or shop stand out to you?"
(thinking again) "I like... I like to shop for shoes. And jew-ree. And clothes. And ak-cess-rees."
(pausing a second to remove the blue, fine point sharpie out of my eye) "Okay... well, give for me a great shopping experience you've had in the past. When you went shopping and was just made very happy with the whole time. What happened?"
(thinking again) "I like... I shop at May-says... and Pennies... And Sears--I love Sears"
(pausing again to pull the paper clips out from under my fingernails) "Okay, well, tell me what you think will be the most challenging thing about working at our store..."
(thinking again) "The register. Probably working the register."
(nodding, for once, as she gives a sensable answer) "Tell me what you think will be the most enjoyable part of the job?"
(thinking one final time, as this might be all she's got) "Um... probably the register"

She didn't get the job

You know, I want to like the Olympics... I really do. I mean, the gymnastics are unbelievable, even if they are a little creepy, and the track is awesome, cause its simply, "Who can run faster?" and the swimming is fun, because its simply, "Who can swim faster?" But overall, its hard to get all excited for most of the Olympics, because none of you... and I mean NONE OF YOU care about fencing, nor water polo, nor women's sand volleyball, nor the decathalon, nor the trampoline, nor handball except for every four years. And let's face it, you take out swimming and gymnastics, then you lose 58% of your chick audience.
Don't get me wrong... I love my country, and I'm proud of the fact that as of this moment, we've to 107 medals, and am second--and a distant second--to only China in gold medals. Michael Phelps? He's a beast, seriously. Possibly the world's greatest athlete, until we find another one who is just as good, next week.
But really, will you remember anything beyond Michael Phelps? Maybe, and that's a solid maybe Nastia Liukin, but only because of her name. I mean, who remembers Carly Patterson?
And is it just me, or did Nastia and Shawn Johnson's Gold and Silver medals feel tainted, as both have heavy foriegn influences? Nastia was born in Russia, and brought to the US but trained under Muther Rusha's reign of premature growth. Shawn Johnson was born here, grew up in Iowa and trained under Laing Chow, from China.
Which led to this exchange with Mikey Nipp over lunch:
Mikey: Nastia is kinda hot
Me: Yeah, but dude... she's like jailbait
Mikey: Oh no she's not. Shawn Johnson is, but Nastia is 18. She's totally legal, dude
Me: Oh yeah...
Did you know, though, that softball is coming out of the Olympics in 2012? The rumor is, because the US Girls have won the gold every single time since it was introduced in 1996, though they just lost this time. And no lacrosse, no rugby... but there's badminton and handball.
Personally, I think they should make MMA an Olympic sport, and have countries that don't get along face off. Can you imagine the scene when Russia's Olympic MMA champ Igor Krhrzaovic takes on Georgia's MMA champ, Viktr Lozrovich? Or Israel's Ismael Epstein up against Palestine's Mahmeed Amajendade? THAT would be something I'd be up for.
The Lovely Steph Leann is home. She's lying on the futon behind me, in the guest room here, and I'm web surfin'. On the blogsite here, comes Carly Simon's "You're So Vain". Whether we meant to do it or not, I'm not sure, but we both end up singing the first line...
"You walked into... the party... like you were walking onto a yacht... your hat strategically placed below one eye... your scarf it was apricot..."
Then, the next line. She sang, "With one eye in the mirror, you watched yourself go by..." and I sang, "With one eye in the mirror, you watched yourself cravat..." She looked at me, and said, "That's not what she's singing." I said, "It's something like that... I mean, I know its not 'go by'." She looked puzzled. "But that doesn't make any sense, does it? I mean, a cravat? That's a scarf, I think."
I replied simply, "Well, whatever it is, I know its not 'watch yourself go by.' I know that because that used to be the line I used, but I looked it up one day and found out I was wrong about that." And this was true.
She replied, "Well, I can't imagine she would sing 'you watched yourself cravat'. That makes no sense whatsoever." So, I turned to look it up. And the line? "With one eye in the mirror, you watched yourself gravotte..." I read the line to The Lovely Steph Leann, and she sat up. We both wondered... what's a gavotte?
Turns out, its a french dance of some sort. Apparently, in this context, it means pretentious or egotistical style of dancing.
You wanna know what else about this song, which is my Dave Hot 100 Ever? "then you flew your Lear Jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun..." stems from the fact there were 2 solar eclipses in Nova Scotia in the 70s. It's also noteworthy that Warren Beatty, who has been rumored to be the subject of this song, has a mother who lives in Nova Scotia.
And, when "I hear you went up to Saratoga, and your horse naturally one...", it refers to the Saratoga Race Course meeting held in late July, August and early September in Saratoga Springs, New York. The meeting is known to be frequented by the rich and famous of New York and other places on the East Coast.
I had some dreams, they were Clouds in My Coffee, Clouds in My Coffee...
And, finally... I'm behind the Box Office, at The Happiest Place in the Mall last week. Up walks three guests, one with the merchandise, one who apparently is her son, and another who seems like the son's friend.
She is buying some Tinkerbell pajamas, a Tinkerbell shirt and a little soft baseball with Tinkerbell on it. I chat with her for a moment, mostly about Disney and Tinkerbell, whom I admit I've got a cartoon crush on--she's silent, and 2D hot... and yes, I'm in therapy right now--and she tells me how she's loved Tinkerbell for years and years and years.
She pays with a credit card, and I ask for ID. The son pipes up, and says, "Wow, rough joint, you get carded here!"
And I smile and reply, "Well, you know, I have to make sure she's 21!" to which the mom grinned.
The friend looks bewildered. "You have to... show ID here to buy stuff?"
The son looks at his friend, with surprise, but I don't miss a beat, "Yep. You have to be over 21 to buy stuff here. It's the law."
The friend looks at me, then looks at the son, then back to me, and whispers to the son, "Really?"
I said, "Yeah... its to make sure you don't Tink and drive."
Thanks. I'll be here all week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

heading to the ham... '98 through '03

I wanted to go to Nashville. I wanted to go to Atlanta. I really wanted to go to Mobile. Perhaps I could go to Knoxville. Or maybe Savannah. Best laid plans work out, sometimes... and sometimes, they don't.

As much as I'd like to say that it was fate that led me here, or that it was chance, or a job, or something else, I really have to put the blame on two entities in my life... God and Amy Wible. I thought Birmingham was terrible. It was a big, convoluted city, comprised of about two dozen small towns crammed together to make one big metropolis. I didn't want to be here. But I kept feeling it. And finally, about a month before the move, I was driving down I-65... actually in Birmingham, for some reason, and it just clicked. I nodded my head, and said, "Okay, God. I'll do it. This is what You want, and I guess I'll have to comply."

Here's what I wrote, in an essay called "A Love Story In Three Acts", and this was Act Two, Scene Two. (for the whole thing from the beginning, you can click here... its quite a great story, methinks).

June passes and July is almost over. Though I really, really want to go to Mobile, I feel God is calling me to Birmingham. I'm fighting it in my prayerlife, not wanting to admit this is what God wants for me, even though it was pretty evident, since none of my interviews in Mobile was going to lead to anything. Through some random conversation with Amy, I mention a possible move to Birmingham, possibly working for this new Christian station starting up called Reality Radio 101.1. She tells me how great that would be, because with her in Tuscaloosa, I'd only be 45 minutes away, not two hours, and how great it would be dating the DJ for a Christian radio station. Much like God led me to Christian drama through Chrissy, God finally sealed the deal with me for Birmingham through Amy. --July 7, 2006

So, randomly, Claire Baldwin and I drove up to Birmingham to find me an apartment, and I managed to find a small, two bedroom loft apartment for only $475 per month. I'm imagining this apartment's rent has gone up slightly. Anyway, I paid the deposit, and was excited to finally move!

So, on August 17th, 1998, Shelby Logan, Eddie Hamner, Troy McConnell, Allyson Guy and a select few others helped me load up the vehicle(s), drive to Birmingham, unload the stuff, drive BACK to Troy, then drive back to Birmingham to unload the rest of it. My friends rocked. They still do. Allyson, I still miss you, friend...

Anyway, they stayed the night, Eddie and Troy at the Loft, the girls at Allyson's home in Alabaster, and they left early the next morning. And... I was alone. It was hard for the first few months... the job that I thought would be my ticket here in Birmingham ended up being a disaster, after a week....

And that led me to the Adecco Temp Agency, where I met a temp consultant named George Marling, who, after hearing I had just moved to Birmingham, said, "Have you found a church yet? (I nodded my head no) Well, here... (setting down a green pen in front of me)... this is my church. Valleydale Baptist. You should give them a call. You might like it."

I tried it a few times over the course of the next few months... and liked it. I was officially baptized in January of 1999, and for the first time in my life, I became a church member. Several of my closest friends--Troy, Allyson, Shelby, AmyAlex, Melanie, etc--were there, and it was amazing.

I still didnt have a lot of local friends, though, as I made frequent weekend trips to Troy, staying with Joey Hinton and Tad Roose (whom I know I annoyed after a while, crashing on their couch...), but I did have one friend that I grew close too... a chick in my singles class, Rebecca Jourdan.

I met her not only at Valleydale Baptist Church, but also figured out we worked together at Parisian Corporate, the job I took after being hired on through Adecco. She was five or six years older, but so darn good looking. In October of 1998, I had my wisdom teeth removed, and Rebecca volunteered to take me to the dentist, wait for me, and drive me home. It's important to note that I had quite a crush on Rebecca at that time, so when she took me, full of drugs and gauze, home, and helped me to my couch, I vaguely remember expressing my true devotion to her, and I vaguely remember her smiling.

Not too long after that, early 1999, I was hanging out with the high schoolers and Big Eddy Mac, and Downtown Jerry Brown at the house across from the church, when I met the high school intern, Tom Johnson. It felt like a "Anakin... this is Obi Wan Kenobi" kind of moment. Unbeknownst to the church, but beknowst to many of us, Tom was liking this chick named Stephanie Nipp.

It was at a party that I first heard about Michael Nipp, who went to school in North Alabama, and was managing a band called Soul Pilot. His parents told me that I should meet him, and not too long after that I did. And it was Michael who took me to Sybil Johnson's Bible Study, where I met Meredith Quintana, Shawn Sharp, Jill Berthon, Amy Valdmanis, Jennifer Pritchett, Ty Coffey and so many more, people who would add to the backbone of influence already given by Troy, AmyAlex, Shelby, Claire, the BCM, Cristie Wright, Chrissy and so many more.

Michael and Tom decided to move in together... they invited me along. I jumped at the chance. So for the summer, it was Michael in one room, Tom in the other, and me on the couch of our apartment in Pinebrook, on Little Valley Road. When September came, Tom moved to Samford, I moved into Tom's room, and Shawn Sharp moved into Michael's room, with Michael still there. When Christmas rolled around (and we had our first Apartment party, a precursor to big parties to come) Tom moved to the couch. It was here that I met Tommy McLeod, mostly because I came home one night and he was randomly sitting on our couch, watching tv. I'm not sure Mikey was even there, or if he was, he might have been asleep.

And then... one day in May, Michael came home and said, "Hey Dave... I found this four bedroom apartment not too far from here, over behind Ellis Piano. What do you think?" And so it was. The Deuce was born. The legend was made. Common Ground was born not too long after that.

Passion One Day was in May of 2000. Incredible event. Will never forget it, or the fact I spent a month going out with Jill Berthon.

My dad passed away in 2000... it was a devestating blow to me in so many ways. The hardest part was that I didn't cry at the funeral. I had so many mixed emotions. And I remember, a week later at Thursday night Bible study, when Nathan Tutor was teaching, we were in prayer... and I just fell apart. It was terrible, and yet, wonderful. I remember Ty Coffey putting his hands on my feet, and Amy Valdmanis and Meredith Quintana both leaning over and touching me while we prayed. It was beautiful.

Speaking of beautiful, Wookiee, Yours Truly, Michael, Shawn, Tom, Jennifer Hudson, Tommy, Brook DeRamus (our downstairs neighbor--he was an oceanographer who spent alot of time in Mobile, so we didn't see much of him), Matt Latta, David Mark Osborne and Daniel Powell started this football game... we called it The Deuce Football Championships, or The DFC, for short. We figured we'd do it this year, and just have fun... I mean, who expects this to go past a single football season?

I let go of Amy Wible in 2001. The closure wasn't there, at least all the way, but it was finally over. My heart begun to heal... and I had already been introduced to Stephanie Campbell. That was a saga over the next two years I won't recount fully, but during such time, The Deuce lived, survived, and stayed strong. I witnessed Stephanie Nipp break up with Tom, which was rough on all of us. We watched Ginger and Matt get married, which was blessed on all of us.

I started a new job in May of 2001, hired away from Parisian to Cox Radio, to work with 106.9 Oldies, WZZK and Rock 97.3. I met Michelle Carr, who would quickly become one of my heroes. Plus, she's a great chick.

WalkAbout was going strong too... started in 1999, it had begun to be a major part of my life, as it is now. And in 2001, the first ever WalkAbout dinner theater was presented, starring Meredith Osborne, Andrea Brobst and Katie Noland, among others. Sometime around 3 in the morning, on July 4th, I also had my first kiss with Stephanie Campbell. She was, and still is, fantastic.

September 11th happened. It was tough on everyone, as we all sat mesmorized by the footage. I wrote about it here (part one) and here (part two), and then again in 2006, here and here.

In 2002, we knew The Deuce was bigger than itself when I came home to find Mikey sitting on the couch, watching tv... nothing unusual here, except for the five or six Samford students sitting around the kitchen table, playing cards. "Dude, who are they?" I whispered to Mikey, sitting down beside him. "I dunno... I thought you knew them..." he replied.

I went out with Amy Vos once, on a single date. Seriously, she was just so awesome. I was quite disappointed, at that time, that things didnt lead to a second date, though I look back and see all the things going on at that time in both of our lives was truly God making sure she would end up with Tommy... a relationship I saw born in and around The Deuce, just like I had seen Justin and Jennifer's relationship born in a conversation on The Deuce floor.

My friendship with Melanie Dill grew, and then, over the course of the summer, faded, just like my friendship with Allyson had done a few years go. My friendship with Stephanie was still there, though. I went on the toughest mission trip ever, to NYC, with Melanie, Alex, Fish, Liz, Chad, Mark and several others. And when I came back, my head was spinning. I sat down with the guys during our weekly Bible study, and said, "Um... I think I'm going to go out with Stephanie Campbell. Like, seriously, chase her. This is what I'm supposed to do."

Once the meeting was over, I was in my room, and Michael came in, closing the door behind him. He told me how happy he was about me and Stephanie. He told me that he had been praying for us, how he had--and all the other guys--had been hoping that something like this would happen. And it did. Tom had already started dating Jill Berthon, Tommy and Amy were together, Michael had already met Ashley O'Neal, Justin and Jennifer were going to be together forever by now, and somehow, it was my turn.

Our final Deuce Christmas bash was in December 2002... it was a grand gala, complete with performances by Ben Caver and Joel Blount, and we had an attendance of over 70 people. This success was truly why we never planned a DeuceFest Eye Vee (IV) or a Christmas bash in 2003... I actually didn't want to face the idea that we might not have that many people come. The Deuce was beginning its slow decline, a graceful, gentle drop. We knew when to stop, and we did.

February of 2003 is when the Challenger exploded. It was also my very first day on the job at Starbucks. I was hanging out with Katy Scott, one of my favorite people ever, and a possible first ballot Dave Hall of Famer (when I finally open the doors) and we were at Starbucks in Mountain Brook. Her friend Kerry Walls was working, and being d$, I had to admire that Kerry was really quite cute. Kerry says, "You should apply for the new store... in Vestavia!" So I did.

I worked four nights per week, for over a year, earning money for debt, comic books, a possible proposal, and more. April 2003 found me in kinda hot water, though... I had an expired license. And a ticket from 2000 that I somehow forgot about. No, I'm serious, I actually forgot about it... and the officer who pulled me over for the tag reminded me.

Mind you, I am headed to work at Starbucks. I get pulled over, then quickly arrested and put into the back of a police car. Randomly, Ty, Mikey, Wookiee and Tom are leaving together, and pass by, only to see me on the side of the road in the backseat of a police car. No kidding, the officer looked like Eddie George, and I told him so. For the next twenty minutes, I sat in the back of a car, handcuffed, talking through an open window to the arresting officer about the Titans chances that fall.

Yes, yes, I was taken to the station, fingerprinted, and booked. I never saw the inside of the cell, though, as the Dolla' Posse, made up of several of the guys, bailed me out quickly. Laughing. I went to work, ink still on my hands. Boy, I learned alot from my time in prison. Don't drop the soap.

Summer came, and I was able to save up enough for a ring, to which I quietly and unceremoniously gave to The Lovely Steph Leann. And now we planned for a wedding, while attending Tommy's and Amy's in the fall. Wookiee was now engaged. Tom was now engaged as well. Mikey and Ashley were heading that way.

And this is where we'll leave it... a quick recap of the first five years in Birmingham, with the next five to come later... Sunday, August 17th, 2008 celebrates 10 years in the city, after a plan of only being here 1 to 3 years somehow doesn't work out like I planned.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Happiest Thoughts in the Mall

For research purposes, really, I tried watching Hannah Montana the other night. Not only did I feel sort of creepy, the show wasn't really that funny. I know, I know, I shouldn't be expecting Emmy worthy acting, but still, Billy Ray Cyrus is a pretty terrible actor. How he made all those years of "Doc" on PaxTV (now ION) is beyond me.

Miley Cyrus... I can't look at her without thinking Courtney, one of my WalkAbout alumni. She and Miley look much alike, though truly, Courtney is and will be much prettier. And with her mom, Paula, I don't expect many Vanity Fair cover shoots in Courtney's future.

If your a 15 year old boy, what do you do? One is richer. One is prettier. The answer? You do nothing because, alas, both are out of your league.

Also watched The Wizards of Waverly Place. Thought it was rather funny, actually. The whole concept is that there are this family of Hispanic kids who are also wizards, and they are in training to take some life test (which I can only assume will be in the final episodes of the series). Now, while the show is also poorly acted, it was still rather clever.

Watched the cartoon Phineaus & Ferb... now this show is hilarious. Two step brothers who go one impossibly ridiculous missions (Hey Ferb, they closed the mini-golf course! Let's just build our own! I'll get the crane), their sister Candice, who's life mission it is to get them in trouble, and Perry the Platypus, who is not only Phineaus & Ferb's pet, he's also a secret agent--Agent P. Ridiculous, but its quite clever. It might be worth the whole episode just to hear Ferb speak.

Weirdest feeling, ever... walking through the mall, towards the food court, and glancing over to see one of your middle school students in Victoria's Secret. I shuddered. I threw up in my mouth. I ducked the Dateline crew, headed towards Libby Lu, and went to lunch.

Let me answer the question that is on everyone's... okay, well not everyone's, but many people's minds. Okay, maybe not many people, but a few have asked...

"How are things at The Happiest Place in the Mall???"

And my answer typically is... "Magical."

The truth is, it has been magical. Its been wonderful. Its been so great to not wake up three or four times per week at 4am, or get home at almost 11pm. Its been great watching the kids play, or trying out the new Wall-E foam rocket launcher, or tossing the Power Rangers soccer ball around with another Cast Member, or even doing stock in the back, which is like Christmas sometimes.

The challenge is, that The Happiest Place in the Mall recieves anywhere from 40 to 100 packages of shipment... per day. Per day. And our backroom is not very big. So many a'day I am out there, sweat pouring off my face, box cutter in my hand, cardboard stacked around me, opening up Mickey Lunchtotes, or Cinderella backpacks, or Dalmation snowglobe tumblers, or whatever. So, the organizational skills come in handy.

There is alot to learn, though. The cash register is not as up to date as I'm used to, with Starbucks's systems. So, doing a refund is alot of work sometimes, but I'm getting it. The Cast Members are great--I've taking a liking to Audrey, whom I've enjoyed picking on (those of you who know me know if you get picked at, that means I genuinely like you) and our managers have been very welcoming and helpful and gracious. Another I've taken a liking to is Crystal, whom I've worked with several times, is great on the floor as well.

There are several I haven't worked with, or worked with much to get an impression of, but I'm usually pretty good at reading people. I tossed a beachball at one girl, not aggressively, not mean, just fluttered it up playfully. She swung wildly and tried to duck and looked affronted. I could see I had to be on eggshells around her.

Of course, there's Stephanie... not The Lovely Steph Leann, mind you, but another Stephanie, that I really need to come up with a nickname for, if she's going to make the blog on a regular basis. I thought of "My Friend Stephanie", only I had a feeling that most people wouldn't remember that as the name of a Christian rock band from about 14 years ago. I'll come up with something. Anyway, she's just a... well, a really cool chick.

The other day I was back at Plush Mountain, the big pile of stuffed characters--which sits on a shelf, mind you, so don't let any child just run and jump it, because they could hurt themselves--and I was straightening a rack... this cute little girl, maybe three or four, comes running up. She stops, suddenly, and stares, open mouthed at what must seem like a fifty foot high mountain of Mickey, Minnie, Nemo and all her favorites. She then yells, "MOMMY!!! I'VE HIT THE JACKPOT!!" It was precious.

I frequently see friends of mine come into The Happiest Place In The Mall. Jeremy Jones, and his wife Chrystal, came in last week. Got to say hello to them, and their two little girls. Not too long after that, here comes Vaughn Barron, and his wife Currie, and their kids. A day or so later, I see Jaime Echols... all friends of mine from college. A few days ago, I get a message from Tiffany Abbott McCauley, saying she's swinging through The Ham, and wanted to stop in and say hello. So she did, she did, and it was awesome.

This is Tiffany and me, after 12 years of not seeing each other. She hasn't really changed much since Troy. By the way, you can see another version of this pic, with a better pic of me, in my Facebook "Me and..." album. Now, if I could just get The Angel to come visit.

Perhaps its just the "honeymoon" period, because I did have that at my last Starbucks store. Leaving there was difficult, but I think it was the right time. I'm working now, part time, at Starbucks in Homewood, the SoHo area (stands for So Homewood). Its a beautiful store, and its a shame its closing too. I was there last Tuesday night, and at that point, had gone about 13 days without making a single drink--the longest such drought since I started in 2003.

I stood there, behind the counter, steamed milk pitcher in one hand, making a latte, and it felt... strange. This wasn't Vestavia, this wasn't 280, this wasn't Cahaba, this wasn't 20th Street... this was a different store, but not only that, this was a different role. I'm not manager, I'm not assistant manager and I'm trying not to be either. I'm just a simple barista making a simple drink. And it was so freeing. I was just able to make drinks and not worry about anything else.

Where was I? Yes, The Happiest Place in the Mall. Did you know that Christopher Robin has been replaced? I'm rather torn by this, because while I was never a CR fan, he's been there a long, long time. My guess is, he grew up and left 100 Acre Wood, because they have this chick named Darby there now. I haven't gotten used to Darby yet. I'm currently watching her and the Pooh crew in "My Friends Tigger & Pooh", and the animation is weird. Its not 2D animation, and its sort of CGI... like, cheap CGI, I think.

I've got a button on my Facebook page with Pooh on it. He's dressed all gangsta, and the caption says, "Tigga, Please". Its hilarious.

Saturday night was my 33rd Birthday Extravaganza, and you can tell you are getting older when the party is over around 930 or 10. Lil' Sister Ashley stayed until about 1030, watching the Olympics with The Lovely Steph Leann and myself, then left. We were just getting up to go to bed, around 1105, when I flipped the channel to The Happiest Channel on Cable, and Camp Rock was on.

I've been meaning to watch Camp Rock for a week or so now, having it on DVR, because we're currently pre-selling the DVD.... only 19.95, and you get the Jonas Brothers folder set that you can't buy in stores, plus a 15% off coupon you can use... but we kept it on. And maybe it was because we were tired, maybe it was because The Lovely Steph Leann took a liking to Joe Jonas, maybe it was because I took a creepy glance at Meaghan Jette Martin... for whatever reason, we stayed up to watch the whole thing.

And its rather fun. There weren't as many songs as I thought, and most of them fit into the movie (rather that just randomly bursting out in song, like we do in real life). Some of the songs i knew already, having heard them about 13,000 times in The Happiest Place in the Mall.

Well, its time to go get ready to make smiles!

Friday, August 01, 2008

August and Everything After

If you've come to the blogsite, you might wonder if that song you are hearing (if you do listen to the music) is something you've just missed. Well, no, its a new song. In fact, I've already decided that at the beginning of each month, there will be a new playlist for your perusal.

The only song that stays is "You're So Vain" by Carly Simon, mostly because its pretty much the lead in to this site... I say that if you are reading this on Clouds In My Coffee. If you are in Facebook, I've got my blog imported, and you can hear the same playlist, but I'd love for you to go over to my real site, where the magic really happens. Anything to make my daily counter go up, and anything to hit that golden 14,000 page loads.

Anyway, here's the new stuff that I chose for the site--and since its on random-play, you probably won't hear them in this order.

After "You're So Vain"...

"The Last of the Mohicans Main Theme" by... well, the song says Trevor Jones & Randy Edelman, but who knows? I'm not really sure this is the official title of it, but this song is just awesome. Its... well, its the main theme from a movie that is not only in The Dave100, but in The Dave20 as far as I'm concerned. How can you not be pumped after hearing this tune? Right now, I want to go run and jump over something, then throw a tomahawk into the head of a rogue Indian named Magua.

"Jimmy Olsen's Blues" by The Spin Doctors. From the album "Pocket Full of Kryptonite", they did a Superman song before Three Doors Down (is that who sang that "if I go crazy will you still call me Superman" tune?) ever did. Thanks to "Attractive Sorority Girl" Kelli for this one.

"Rock Your Body" by Justin Timberlake. Somehow its cool to like JT. It just is. And this is my favorite of all of JT's stuff.

"Clarity" by John Mayer. After really enjoying "No Such Thing" and "Your Body Is a Wonderland", somehow this song just creeped up through everything and became a John Mayer staple on my iPod. The trumpets close to the end are just great.

"Whole Again" by Jennifer Knapp. From the album that changed my life. I'll probably put a Jennifer Knapp song up every month or so, starting here. "I seem to find myself in need to be forgiven, is there still room upon that knee?" I love my grace-giving Jesus.

"Real Love" by Mary J. Blige. I used to sing this song as a senior in High School. However, I'm not black. Rodney Hornsby was (and I'm sure still is) though, so he always laughed hard when I would see him and say "we are lovah's true and tho' we made it thru tha storm...".

"Cable Car (over my head)" by The Fray. One of the most played songs on my iPod, like, top three, and the 6th coolest thing about 2007. Great stuff.

"Miss You Much" by Janet Jackson. I had to make the decision of, do I replace them all, or do I leave a few up? Originally, I was going to replace five per month, but I always remember the phrase "leave 'em wanting more", meaning it would be better to take off a song then to leave it up for months, making my readers tired of it. I mean, as great as "100 Years" by Five For Fighting might be, you can only hear it so many times.

Another song that gave me pause was last months Janet selection, "Love Will Never Do (without you)". I almost left it up, until I made the uniform decision that it all comes down and changes, save for Carly.

The video for Miss You Much is completely 90s. Hair. Outfits. Even the dancing is dated... cool as grits, but still dated. I miss the days when the Jackson family was semi-normal.

Anyway, I will probably have some sort of "waiting period" for a song to re-appear, maybe two months, maybe six months, whatever. But for August, I wanted to continue the Rhythm Nation 1814 groove, so you get this fantastic tune.

"Train Wreck" by Sarah McLachlan. Ran into the same problem as Janet with Sarah. Wanted to leave my favorite song, "Possession" up, but it too came down. Here's a great one, though, from her last CD, "Afterglow".

"Moratorium" by Alanis Morissette. Wow this song is great. And wow, her new album is great too. I've missed the Jagged Little Pill Alanis.

"Waterloo" by ABBA. I had a hard time with ABBA, only because there were several songs I considered... "SOS", "Mamma Mia", "Dancing Queen"... ulitimately, I went with one that isn't on the "Mamma Mia!" soundtrack. I dare you to not smile during this song--its just too fun.

"Hard Luck Woman" by Garth Brooks. Its difficult to pick out Garth in this song, because it just doesn't sound much like him. This is his cover of the KISS song, for the KISS tribute album of the 90s, "KISS My A**". Siobhan Stewart and I were both fond of this song, or at least we talked about it on that one date we had in August of 1994.

"You and I Both" by Jason Mraz. I like the guy. "Geek in the Pink" was an option, but I have heard that song many, many times, with it being on a popular playlist on my iPod. So I chose this one. Enjoy.

"Don't You (forget about me)" by Simple Minds. In honor of my 86th favorite movie ever, and a dedication to the founder of The Dixon Brock Theory, I thought it fiting. Go ahead. Sing it loud. Hey Hey Hey Hey! Ooh ooh, whoaaaa!

So, that's my choices for August. What do you think? And, do you have any requests? What music do you want to hear while surfing Clouds In My Coffee?

(KT, I have Eddie coming in September).

PS... I posted this, then went to check the posting as I always do to make sure it all loaded correctly. And as the page came up, the beats of "Rock Your Body" came out, and Justin started with, "...don't be so quick to... walk away (dance with me)". Its going to be awesome for someone to come to my page and have that be the first thing that they hear. Well, actually, I find it awesome that anyone comes to my page, period.