but this isnt how i thought my vacation would start

I never write about my job here. I make it a point to keep all the parts of my life separate. And, for the better part of the last two years Ive been successful at it. In some instances, Ive turned down offers to be interviewed in the local press for my magazine and my blog. In other instances, Ive gone to bizarre lengths to hide my identity. I write my comic for the Ann Arbor Paper under the name Anonymous. A few moths ago, when the Current did a cover story on Linette and me, I made them promise to only identify us by our initials, and I wouldnt allow them to take photos. Maybe I went a bit overboard, but I didnt want to mix the two things together. I didnt see how it could possibly work to my advantage to tear down the wall between these two parts of my life.

Well, thanks to a local monthly by the name of the Ann Arbor Observer, that wall started lowering yesterday. I knew it would happen eventually. I knew my hold on this was tenuous at best. I was always just sitting out there, just one Google away from exposure. I cant really blame the Observer (but it would have been nice if theyd told me that they planned to mention MM.com).

So, today was the first day that I heard the word Blog uttered at work and it was directed at me.

My boss, a guy that I happen to like quite a bit, passed me in the hallway and said something to the effect of, Whats all this about a blog? That was it I mumbled something, shook my head and then went back to my desk and started working on the, Please dont fire me, my wife is six months pregnant letter.

That was a joke, actually. I didnt play the pregnant wife card I did tell him, however, that my hope was that all my stupid humor and my political ranting wouldnt change his view of me or of the work that Ive been able to accomplish on behalf of our office.

The scary part for me, scarier than all the stupid jokes coming out, is the fact that Im pretty honest on this site about the fact that I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Thats not something that Ive really ever told anyone that Ive worked with, and Im concerned that it might color peoples judgment of me, in spite of the fact that Ive got a good four year record of running projects, initiating programs and furthering the objectives of our office.

So, thats what happened this afternoon. Now Im just sitting here and waiting for the response.

When I got home, I checked my non-work account and found two notes waiting for me, both from people that I interact with in my job. Fortunately, both were positive.

So, with that, my vacation starts. My friends should be arriving shortly. Now, I need to get busy with the vacuum.

While Im not looking forward to the ramifications of these two worlds colliding, I am, in a way, relieved. To some extent, it feels like a monkey is off my back Its kind of cool, I think, that this happened before the baby came. Im nervous, but at the same time Im hopeful. Its nice not to have a secret.

So, yes I am the inventor of the Ypsipanty. I am the man behind MM.com. I am the publisher of Crimewave USA. And, I am the lead singer of the Monkey Power Trio.

These are good things.

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the tenth reunion

Those of you who have been reading MM.com for the past two years already know about my music band, the Monkey Power Trio. For those of you who are new here though (and for some odd reason our readership has jumped by almost one hundred people a day this month), heres the deal: We meet once a year, each of us traveling across the US to some pre-determined location, to record a 7 vinyl recording. We never practice. We never discuss song ideas ahead of time. We just set aside an afternoon, book a studio, and then go in and see what happens. (We also tend to drink and quarrel, but thats not really imperative.)

The best thing about Monkey Power is that it keeps the five of us together when we might otherwise have drifted apart.

Oh, I left the very best part out Weve agreed that we will continue this tradition until the very last one of us is dead and in the ground. Every year it gets more and more difficult for us to get away from our families and our responsibilities, but every year, I think, we each become more resigned to the inevitability that we really are going to keep doing this, even if it becomes a painful, miserable experience.

I look at the band more as a collaborative art project than as a musical entity. (If you listen, I think you might agree.) You see, we arent really competent with our instruments. For the most part, we just beat on things and yell out the words that pop into our heads. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it’s very good, but that goodness, I think, comes from the fact that we aren’t necessarily trying to sell anything. We’re just trying to make ourselves happy.

The thing I enjoy most is listening to recordings from the past and thinking about the circumstances that gave rise to certain songs. For instance, theres one song where I yell, Falling down a flight of stairs. I remember exactly what that was about. It was about the bathroom at the Tasty Fish studio in New York. To get to the bathroom, you had to walk by this stairway to the basement that didnt have any guardrail around it. (It was just a big, open hole in the floor.) I worried about it the whole session and it made its way into the song, as many things that worry me do.

So, each record becomes a kind of soundtrack for that session and for that year. Each year the subject matter changes. Some years are heavier than others. Some are more contemplative. Some are more adult in theme. Some years have themes. Last year we went on a tour of the Natural History Museum in New York right before the session, so there were lots of songs about pickled snakes and the costumes of various native tribes.

I probably dont speak for everyone in the band, but I think that theres also an element of psychotherapy involved, not only in a sense that we get together and talk about our lives before the session, but that we force out ideas (sometimes pretty, sometimes ugly) that have been incubating inside of us. The way I think it of it, we walk around 364 days a year just passively absorbing stuff (like the news, advertising, etc) and this is our one chance to vomit it all back out and start fresh. Maybe thats not the most pleasant image, but I think it’s appropriate.

So, this weekend will mark our tenth day/year as a band and well be recording here in Michigan. Right now, Im busy picking up and getting ready for a houseful of grumpy middle-aged men, wondering what this could possibly be like when were in our 70s. (I have this dream where my grandchild drives me to an MPT session in my old age. Hopefully, I live long enough to see that happen… Hopefully, the world’s around long enough to see that happen.)

If you have an opportunity, were supposed to be interviewed on Ann Arbors WCBN Radio Friday afternoon at 3:00. I havent tested it out yet, but Im told that you can listen over the internet And, if youve got the spare change and the interest, there will probably be an opportunity to call in with a question.

Oh, if you like the idea of listening to the radio over the internet, you might also be interested to know that the liberal talk radio network, Air America, starts broadcasting tomorrow morning. Im hoping to be able to tune in for a few minutes during lunch to see how Chuck D and Al Franken do. Im hoping for the best, but the realist in me knows that things like this usually take a while to find their feet.

And lastly, in case you didnt already know, today is my wonderful wifes birthday. Shes turning 33. So, if you see her, be sure to wish her a happy birthday before just swooping in to pat her pregnant belly.

With that, I need to return to work. I have an article due tomorrow for the upcoming issue of my friend Dan Taylors magazine The Hungover Gourmet, and a comic that I need to get finished for the Ann Arbor Paper. And then theres the laundry and the cat litter.

One last thing before I go though A big MM.com thank you to the people of Angola for lowering that once forbidding parenting bar a few inches more… No matter how bad a parent I might be, I think its pretty safe to say that I probably wont hack my child to pieces for being a witch.

OK, you can read Paul Krugmans new column and go to bed now.

Goodnight, my invisible friends.

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linette’s watching food-tv again

I just went upstairs to see what Linette was up to. She was folding clothes and watching a man on TV who calls himself the “Pickle Doctor.” I didn’t stick around to find out, but my guess is that he was talking about pickles.

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reclusive geniuses

By some strange coincidence, I ended up stumbling across articles about both director Stanley Kubrick and author Thomas Pynchon this evening. The article on Kubrick, from the Gaurdian, was written by a man who was given the rare privledge of being able to pour through the directors obsessive notes on his various projects. While I dont think he really hits the mark with his Rosebud was to Charlie Kane what X was Kubrick analogy, he really does give an interesting glimpse into Kubricks mind. Its worth checking out The article on Pynchon concerned his coming out of hiding long enough to do a guest spot on the Simpsons. I missed the episode in question, but was able to find a digital recording of Pynchons performance here. (You’ll be happy to know that his cartoon self wears a paper bag over his head.)

Why is it that most of the people I respect want absolutely nothing to do with mankind?

People can paw through their boxes after death hoping to glean some faint hint as to what they might have been thinking (I believe that Salinger has indicated that all of his papers would be destroyed upon his death), or maybe, if youre lucky, theyll peak out of their hiding place long enough to interact with a cartoon character, but thats about the extent of it. Thats all theyre willing to share with the masses, the people like me that so eagerly consume their products. Theyre unwilling, for whatever reason, to give in to the Sirens call of fame that folks like Paris Hilton, and 99% of the rest of us, find so seductive.

Ive got other stuff that Id like to talk about tonight, like the Billionaires for Bush movement, the possibility of a Howard Stern satellite radio network independent of either XM or Sirius, and the theory of Newsweeks Fareed Zakaria that the era of state-supported terrorism is dead, but, like the rest of the geniuses, I need to lock myself away tonight and get some work done.

Heres an idea though, before I go. What if we were to launch a fake JD Salinger blog, one in which he attempts to atone for his life of misanthropic isolation? I think, if it was done really well, it could be great. Im imagining that it would be absolutely packed full of the minutia of his life in excruciating detail. Today I awoke, used the restroom, ate a handful of almonds and got back to work answering the fan mail that has been collecting here in the garage of my home since the early 60s. I realize that a good many of these people may have either moved or passed away, but I feel obliged to at least acknowledge their having taken the time to send me their thoughts At noon I will take a break and walk the dog around the neighborhood. I may eat a scone.

I dont know. Like I said last night, Im tired.

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hey, i’ve got a funny idea, instead of just seeing a movie or something, why don’t you tie me up, gag me, throw me in the backseat of your car and then cruise around town while I struggle?

Well, I just did a little research and it turns out that a girl, seen bound and gagged in the backseat of a car a few days ago, wasn’t really kidnapped. No, she was just bored… Here’s a clip:

Authorities determined Wednesday that a report of a teenager bound and duct-taped in the backseat of a car at an Ann Arbor gas station Saturday was a prank among the teens….

Detective William Tucker was able to identify the teens, ages 16 and 15, based on that tip, Seto said. They told Tucker that they were working on a science project Saturday when they got bored and decided to use duct-tape on the 15-year-old girl, Seto said.

The teens were driving to a friend’s house to show off the bound girl when they stopped for gas, Seto said.

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