Archive for November, 2008

Grouchin’

 

Over the weekend, I finally finished an old Groucho biography written in 1979 by Hector Arce. Now normally this wouldn’t have been such a huge victory, but I’d actually started reading it 14 years ago!

This was one of my dad’s books that I would always find in the “library” underneath the stairs back in our Texas home. I saw it enough times, and I was big enough of a Marx Brothers fan, that I started to read it for one of my 8th grade English assignments (I think we had to read a biography). However, I only got halfway through the beast since it was way too mature and thus boring for my 13-year old tastes. It’s amazing how much I would remember as I read … sometimes I even knew how the sentences would be finished!

Anyway, it’s obvious that Groucho was an amazing, once-in-a-generation talent whose stories and quips now approach legendary status. I’ve added all the Marx Brothers movies to my Netflix to give a more knowledgeable and older eye to his work, but the wildest part of the book was actually at the very end. I had no clue the last year or so of Groucho’s life involved a very nasty and very public battle between his live-in pseudo-girlfriend and his family over his assets. It was heartbreaking reading about the inevitable deterioration of a person so vibrant physically as well as mentally, but the pettiness of those who surrounded him made everything seem so much … lonlier.

Well, as the Schumie would say: “all in all” it was a good, if a bit dated, read. The writer of the book was actually working on this book with Groucho’s help so there are a few “real-time” Groucho-isms scattered throughout that were a nice touch. However, this posed a strange twist during the last few chapters. As Arce was involved in Grouhco’s life when the famous comedian died this means he was involved in the legal battles as well. Near the end I longed for an impartial voice as the author’s sudden use of “I” rather than “he” started to read like a Rolling Stone interview where the writer cares more about talking about himself than his subject.

Current Mood: Deadly (like Dirk’s shot) emoticon Deadly (like Dirk’s shot)

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Cover Me!

By the time I decided to quit my band earlier this year, I was completely frustrated with my music situation. Every time I’d pick up the guitar it felt like work and I wasn’t happy with my limited role in the band. I still knew I wanted to play music and longed to get back to the productivity of years ago but I didn’t want to force myself into doing so. So, I instead chose to take a hiatus from playing and writing music. I spent the next couple of months throwing myself into NBA Sim and moving into the city.

However, I was also listening to new music constantly. I discovered old albums from artists I had always respected but never really explored. I gave new bands the old college try. I even listened to (and liked some of) a Mariah Carey album! I really just gave myself no rules and enough room to get excited about music again, to find what I liked it about it enough to dedicate massive amounts of my life towards pursuing it in one fashion or another.

About two weeks ago I finally found myself excited enough to start searching for musicians to play with again … ah, Craigslist. I talked to a couple of guys who had similar musical styles, but they both were only looking to play their own songs. My main interest is in songwriting so I had to pass on both opportunities. While trolling through the countless ads, I also came across one for a forming cover band. It sounded as though the guys (a keyboardist and singer) hadn’t played in a few years and were just interested in having fun – a zero pressure situation with no expectations. I felt it would be a cool way to ease myself back into being in a band so I responded to them and we decided to meet up (along with an Irish drummer!!!) last Saturday.

Though I had continued to fool around on acoustic on random nights of the week, I hadn’t really practiced since moving to the Upper East Side. So when I found myself getting ready to leave I suddenly realized I didn’t have my guitar strap! Now, I live in New York City: there are only three rooms in my small apartment so there are a very limited number of places for a guitar strap to hide. Plus, I had seen it just a month before sitting out. And yet I ransacked the place until it looked like I owed the mafia money … AND NEVER FOUND THE DAMN THING! Making things worse was the knowledge that I actually own a second strap and couldn’t locate that bitch, either. I finally ripped off the strap to my Rock Band guitar and headed out half an hour late.

I arrived at a building just three blocks from work (can I ever escape Union Square on the weekends just once????) and trudged up the four flights of stairs (didn’t realize there was an elevator) and knocked on the door. An elderly lady opened the door and asked if I was the guitarist. I suddenly was very nervous … what the hell had I signed up for? There was NO ONE else in the room with this lady but a large dog. She took my coat and dried off my guitar case (???) and then took me into another room. Apparently she actually lives in a music studio – the studio being the place where men my age were. Whew!

Everyone was cool and we jammed on:

  • Tonic – If You Could Only See
  • Gavin DeGraw – Chariot
  • Estelle – American Boy
  • Justin Timberlake – What Goes Around
  • Maroon 5 – Not Coming Home

Sure, I wasn’t the biggest fan of all these songs but it was way more enjoyable than playing the ultra serious, “dark” rock of my previous band. I actually played so hard I started to bleed … though that might have had something to do with playing the unfamiliar Parker – my 1995 Fender Strat – “live” for the first time (I can get carried away). The overall jam was pretty messy (as I’m sure most first times go) and I couldn’t tell the exact level of musicianship of everyone but we all got along well and decided to meet up again. I’ll keep you all abreast of incoming details!

Current Mood: Constantly Late emoticon Constantly Late

The Weekend of a Shitload of People

Photo © 2008 Cassie Melnikow

Obviously, before I go any further, let me mention the huge win for this country last night.

Yes, the Mavs destroyed the Spurs.

Oh yeah, and that Obama guy is going to be President. 😉

This past weekend was actually pretty crazy in itself. Friday was Halloween and along with it, New York’s annual Halloween parade in Greenwich Village. I was content staying in and watching basketball, but Cassie dragged me out to watch an insane amount of people dressed insanely, doing insane things. It was actually kind of fun.

Except for one part. When we first got out of the subway we found ourselves at a corner right alongside the parade route. Metal fences had been erected and there was still a walkway between the people watching behind these fences and the building behind them. Unfortunately, that walkway soon got jammed with way too many onlookers and people started pushing and shoving and suddenly we were being crushed. A lot of those around me seemed content with sticking it out to keep the excellent spot, but I was having none of it and started to work my way out.

Just as I started to do so, a voice from directly behind me said “it’s getting pretty crazy, huh, Stan?” At first I thought I had been crushed to death and this was god … or allah … or Bill Maher or whoever talking to me. But it turned out to be Mo, a guy who had rented out one of the rooms in my North Bergen house for a month or so. It was such silly odds of that happening we just started laughing. And kissing. Ok, just kidding about the kissing. Once we had extricated ourselves from the death trap (I feel so much like Batman!), the rest of the night was fine if uneventful.

Then, Sunday, I was awakened at 10 AM (hey, that’s early for me on a weekend) by the soothing sounds of the Spice Girl’sViva Forever” being pumped at an ungodly volume. The brought news both good and bad. The good was that it signaled the beginning of the New York City Marathon which was happening right along my street. The bad news was that “Viva Forever” would be played a mind-numbingly three more times that morning! Cassie and I stood out on our fire escape and got some great pictures. I saw both the men’s and women’s leading packs and got bored quickly after that but she braved the elements to continue snapping pics of people dressed like Minnie Mouse, a lizard, and a guy in just a thong.

There were actually so many people in the race that for several hours we were completely trapped on our side of Manhattan. We couldn’t cross the street because the line of runners were so thickly congested and unending. I took it as a sign to finally get some NBA Simming in … and sim I did!

Current Mood: I was a Halloweenie emoticon I was a Halloweenie

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I Farted … I Mean Voted

Photo Montage © 2008 Stan Syckes

Yep, I voted today. I expected a nightmare of a line outside PS 158 … and I was right! I got in line and estimated my wait to be an hour when all of a sudden an old man came and asked me if I was in district 42 or 46. I said yes and he said I could go right in! I live right on the cusp of two zip codes (my mail goes to 10075 but Time Warner thinks I’m in 10021) and for once this was a benefit rather than a burden as there were so few people from my district at my location. In fact, when I got in there was one person in front of me.

After signing in I stepped into the booth. Last time I was greeted by the friendly presence of a computer screen staring back at me. Before me now stood a giant lever and some small knobs. I felt like I was in the control room of the Titanic or something. I first had to pull the lever all the way to the right, then make my individual decisions by twisting knobs down, and then confirmed everything by pulling the lever back to the left. Memories of dimpled/hanging chads danced in my head so I pulled with all of my might during that confirmation tug and I was out in a total of 10 minutes!!!

Hopefully this time, the results are a little more in my favor. 🙂

Current Mood: Patriotic emoticon Patriotic

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Comments:
  • Zepmoon
    Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 at 15:51 | #1

    Based on the Dallas 09 jersey above your post I assume for president you did a write-in vote for Dirk Werner Nowitzki. WERNER?????? What is he some kind of NAZI ????? You gotta be careful around people with “strange” middle names like Werner or Hussein or Lua!