I spent the night dancing with dingoes and dragons and tigers. My blood and face and clothes were both hot and cold from Kevin’s gin flask. He’d already gone up to bed, and Michael and I staggered across Pittsburgh at three in the morning to our respective rooms. I was excited about sleep.

"Is she alright?" I thought aloud upon seeing a lump of a blouse on her side on the grass outside the Double Tree. I knew that the faster I went to bed, the sooner the world would stop spinning. The adrenaline I willed into my veins kept me alert, reactionary and rambling.

The girl sat up. “Oh, good.” She smiled. She was pretty with black hair over face. Two sets of noodle straps, one black and one white, adorned her slender shoulders. She caught my gaze and patted the grass next to her, brushing the hair from her eyes while beckoning me to sit. “Hahah, no thanks dude, I’m good.” Mike and I had already shrugged off one beggar that night, and I was in full beeline mode: priority number one was Go To Bed. Immediately I regretted my reflexive dismissal of the nice-looking girl. Why did I call her “dude”? I passed through the revolving door and was on the elevator before it occurred to me that I could go back - Mike had his own room to get to, and my roommates were still partying. I should go back, I thought in the elevator. Go back to the girl in the grass. My drunken brain was unable to parse the suggestion before priority one was in my sight.

I sat in my bed with my laptop illuminating the room. The towels on the floor made the room smell like chlorine. I checked Twitter in a trance while trying to will away the energy preventing my body from sleeping away the exhaustion of another day filled with sparkling, shimmering creatures. I thought about that girl while not-reading the goings-on of people I know or wish to know, thought about going back and sitting next to her on the grass in front of the hotel. “Hi,” I’d say. “Hi,” she’d say back. We’d sit there, on the grass, staring at skyscrapers that stood like tree trunks whose leaves were unmoved by the dank breeze of the city. We would sit there while I slowly sobered up, her too, maybe, and I’d make another friend, another person to add to the list of people I desperately wanted to populate the rest of my life with.

I’ve never been afraid of talking to strangers. I’m never afraid of singing in the car when other drivers might see me. The chances of me ever meeting whoever saw me are practically zero. The chances of meeting said person with either of us recognizing the other is even smaller. If we were to meet without memories attached to the other person, then the event never happened. It wouldn’t be the same person as our first encounter if there are no experiences associated with one another’s face. For all intents and purposes, I think whenever someone cuts me off in traffic, or catches me swaying my hips to some tune in my head in the checkout line, I’ll never see you again for the rest of my life.

Last year, three thousand people were at this convention. There were more this year, probably.

I will never see that girl again for the rest of my life. I thought this while swaddled in my pocket of crisp hotel sheets, and for the first time in recent memory, the thought made me slump.

My roommates arrived soon after that. We breathlessly recounted the events that took place in the short period we spent apart before collapsing into our beds. There were still two whole days left, I thought, momentarily forgetting about the girl.

The low point of my trip was a moment’s regret in not talking to a stranger on the street.

Needless to say, it was a pretty special weekend.

Thanks for making it great, guys.

Jamie Cullum — Catch the Sun

M was a big guy. The kind of big whose back was bent from the weight of his belly, but he never looked uncomfortable on his own two feet. Always smiling, always joking. Good guy.

I was still at the front desk the day he interviewed for the Ops Supervisor position. He seemed super friendly, almost too much so. Not in an inauthentic way, but he came off as one of those types who made a decision to be friendly and upbeat all the time while in the workplace. Goal-oriented. People pleaser. Guess that’s why he got the job.

There aren’t many songs that I’m guilty of listening to on repeat. I’ve burnt myself out on three, maybe four albums in my life, and I try not to let that number grow. One song, though, was on near-constant rotation when I first started college: Jamie Cullum’s All at Sea. Something about the lyrics’ celebration of introversion was obscenely attractive to me, and thus began my fascination with singer-songwriters that made a living off of being a singer-songwriter. I wanna be Jamie when I grow up, said 20 year old me about once a month.

I gobbled every track of Cullum’s I could find on LimeWire. These days I consume music by the album, but back then I was content with my music library filled with scattered singles. Catch the Sun was another such single - and it too got a lot of playtime.

The logistics startup I worked at was still in its infancy when I was hired on. I put in a lot of hours back then. It was nice, though, sometimes, having the office to myself to do mindless data entry or filing or other ISO-9000-friendly tasks. I’d listen to books or music or podcasts or anything else that my brain could consume without interrupting my hands. Overtime pay was nice, too.

I’d been obsessed with Doves’ Last Broadcast ever since Allison exposed them to me in 2007. The whole album’s a winner - not a single skippable track. One day of idle Wikipedia dickery revealed that they had quite the discography, and I decided it was high time that I expanded my collection. I made a Doves discog playlist, added it to my iPhone, then woke up early one Sunday morning so I could catch up on something or other terribly mundane at the office.

The giant window I sat in front of poured morning sunlight over the front half of the office. It was just the right temperament to justify leaving the fluorescent lights off, sparing me from their unforgiving hum. With the cubefarm all to myself, I donned my earbuds and got to work.

The eighth track of Doves’ debut album made rolled around, and I stopped typing. My brain spent a full minute doing backflips in my skull before I realized that my jaw was open. Wait. Wait, wait, hang on. Is this…?

It was. Catch the Sun - Jamie’s song. So did Doves cover Jamie? Or did Jamie cover Doves? Are they both covering some old Sinatra tune? One hand covered my mouth while the other hastily navigated the album’s Wikipedia page. I listened as I read, thrilled and shocked and amazed and conflicted as I heard this UK rock group cavort about on guitars to the tune of what I had only previously known as a jazz cabaret track.

M’s a big guy. I think I said that already. But as entranced as I was with my serendipitous auditory discovery that I hadn’t heard him enter the office. From around the corner he lept out, arms and legs spread wide, while yelling my name at the top of his lungs. The floor shook when his feet hit the floor.

"Corey!"

Fuck!

Expense ledgers, productivity reports, and one computer mouse flew into the air before tumbling to the floor.

By the time my hand finally unclutched my chest, M was on his back, rolling on the ground.

I futilely tried to explain to him why I’d been so entranced to have not heard him enter the office. He was my boss, sort of, by that point, and I thought it was important that I told him why I was so focused on a Wikipedia page while “on the clock”, even though it was the weekend, and how I had heard on my headphones just now - I held them up, having ripped both buds from my ears - that’s why I didn’t hear you, see? I tried telling him how great this song was, especially now that I had heard two versions of it. My voice, along from everything else, was shaking from the rush of adrenaline.

He didn’t hear a word. He was laughing so hard he was crying.

Throughout the following year, he’d start chuckling to himself whenever I spoke to him - and then proceed to apologize. “Man,” he’d say, “I still feel terrible about scaring you that day. That was totally not cool, man, I’m sorry.” He’d keep giggling throughout the rest of the conversation. “Damn, was it funny, though.”

I still get a little nervous when either version of that song comes up on shuffle.

Fucking Pavlov.

  • Corey: lol: http://fuckyeahpokememe.tumblr.com/post/605513816
  • prguitarman: what
  • prguitarman: haha
  • prguitarman: yeah that happens in the show
  • prguitarman: chimchar suffers "bawww i'm no good" syndrome and ash is like "YOU CAN DO IT I BELIEVE IN YOU" and chimchar is always like "*_______*"
  • Corey: hahah oh man, i shouldn't be surprised that the show is still going, but i kinda am
  • Corey: how many seasons? like, 14?
  • prguitarman: uhm i am not sure
  • prguitarman: but it isnt stopping anytime soon
  • prguitarman: they're going to 5th gen region soon
  • prguitarman: like, watch the beginning to the indigo league then just skip 10 years worth of stuff till DP era
  • prguitarman: it's almost the same stuff but the gym leaders are all over the place
  • Corey: iunno i might start from the beginning - i remember when you first found that one bbc show, the spy who was trapped on the island/town/villa with the giant sentient bubble that ate people i started watching it too but that first night i got distracted with NOSTALGIA and watching the first couple eps of the original pokemon series on youtube instead
  • prguitarman: lol
  • prguitarman: man i never finished that show
  • prguitarman: i want to though
  • Corey: man, i was fucking emotionally invested in EVERYONE in that show
  • Corey: pokemon i mean
  • prguitarman: haha really? there wasnt much to invest
  • Corey: i was 9 or 10 when it came out, i was the fucking key demographic, i cared so much
  • prguitarman: just root for the good guys and laugh at team rocket
  • prguitarman: but yeah i get what you mean
  • Corey: it was the most intense nostalgia i think that i've ever enjoyed
  • Corey: maybe i'll do that while season 6 of lost downloads tomorrow :V
  • prguitarman: would you jump up and down on your couch when the show was on?
  • prguitarman: i'd run around the living room when the opening credits were rolling
  • Corey: yes
  • prguitarman: just jumping on things
  • Corey: my grandad would tape it for me and i'd watch it every sunday after church at grandma's house
  • prguitarman: HAHA
  • Corey: and she would cook me a grilled cheese with bacon
  • Corey : every week
  • prguitarman: aw
  • Corey: years
  • prguitarman: you should put that on youtube
  • prguitarman: you'll be the next n64 kid
  • Corey: hahah i don't think i have a video of myself freaking out over it
  • Corey: oh man there was one episode
  • Corey: grandad would always watch it with me, he is the Sweetest Grandpa
  • prguitarman: aw
  • Corey: and it was an episode full of puns
  • Corey: like meowth saying something something pillow when they meant something else
  • Corey: and psyduck was being derpy and anticlimactic
  • Corey: and meowth chipped a tooth and was all "AHHH MOMENT OF TOOOTH"
  • Corey: and grandad, this skinny old black man who unironically wears bowties to do his gardening, and i were on this huge cushy couch, crying from laughing so hard
  • Corey: man that is a good memory
  • Corey: a good memory to have, not "man, i am so smart - i'm remembering!"
  • prguitarman: aww
  • prguitarman: that sounds sweet
  • prguitarman: you'll never get that moment back 8(!!!!!
  • Corey: i will cherish it forever

A large portion of the music I listened to in 2008 was spawned from the Helvetica soundtrack.

Sam Prekop (Helvetica track listenable here) is one of the artists on that compilation, and just recently I learned of a band he is in called Sea & Cake. This track in particular I want listen to on headphones on repeat while lying on my back in a room with those carpeted-concrete floors that were never really that comfortable, industrial but presentable and dirty but intimate and authentic and practical and hell on your backbone and shoulderblades when you’re trying to get a quick nap in the band room before the busses arrive for the next competition in whatever city this week’s marching band competition was in.

I met the members of El Ten Eleven in a dive bar adjacent to one of my favourite concert venues in Ohio - they were very kind, and encouraging and humble when after their show I told them that they were equal parts inspiring and soul crushing in their display of talent and joy in music making.1 There were only 30 or so skinny white boys in the crowd that night, and my drinking buddy (also the owner of this delicious spawn) and I were right up at the front of the tiny little stage. In between each song it was dead quiet, everyone present evidently such fans of the two performers on stage that their excitement after applause was displayed through stunned, rapturous attention to the stage to see and hear how these sounds were made from just these two people (answer: double neck Gibson and a loop pedal.2). In an attempt to break the strange tension created by the shoe gazing white boys shiftily standing before delightfully bouncy math rock I had muttered “Reaganomics!” at the trailing end of a round of applause. The band heard me and laughed, commenting on it, saying “That’s great! Who said that, that’s awesome” and I just grinned some, but didn’t raise my hand or anything because, man, skinny white boys be judgmental like skinny white boys be and I didn’t want anyone to think that I was trying to be the “outrageous” guy at a concert, even though muttering such a thing, trite and tiny as it was, was clearly the action of someone trying to be “outrageous” in a public setting in this particular instance, at least in comparison with everyone else there, so I never really identified myself and just shifted a little where I stood, grinning until the corners of my mouth were shaking because in tandem with the liquor I was genuinely happy to be here, in front of these musicians I admired so, and now having made them laugh, even anonymously, filled me with more joy than it should have, probably, and I had been grinning all night already, so much and so long that my entire face hurt but in that cathartic way that makes you think, This pain is a direct result of being happy, This is a good pain to be thankful for, Remember this pain in your cheeks and your temples and your teeth, Remember and associate it with all the other times that your face hurt from prolonged genuine grinning, and while standing there in front of them I secretly hoped that my utterance would become a story that they tell other bands they go on tour with, or a story they tell on stage while tuning a guitar in between songs in some far off city.

There were a couple of drone-y electronic songs on the aforementioned soundtrack, one of which was Motohiro Nakashima’s “Meow” that I had 4-starred, which means “Download More” in my iTunes library3. The album that track belonged to was fairly nice, and I was searching for more places to get some of this guy’s (girl’s?) stuff, and upon further googling, I found someone had upped an album of his/hers that I hadn’t been able to find on Amazon or iTunes).

And it’s basically The Loveliest.

Which I suppose is the opposite of the rudest.

I sent the download to a friend of mine and told him such, complete with reference followed by the accompanying link for reference to which I was speaking (which was in turn a reference to yet something else), and then commented to him how difficult for me it is to imagine a world in which obscure references died in obscurity, rather than propagate through exposing the source of it after mere seconds of inquiry, and the original intent of this post was to say just how great it is to be able to have access to and share information with anyone, instantly, forever, and how the unit of measure, the modicum of encapsulation of all bytes, memes, whatever of information can be from a second-hand account, at worst.

Which, in turn, reminded me of this:

[The Tuyuca language] requires verb-endings on statements to show how the speaker knows something. Diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)”. English can provide such information, but for Tuyuca that is an obligatory ending on the verb. Evidential languages force speakers to think hard about how they learned what they say they know.

Difficult Languages, The Economist — which is sadly now-paywalled which I guess kinda detracts from my “information is freely available everywhere these days” bit, but there ya go.


  1. "Nono, I bet someday we’ll be opening for you!” That’s what he said to me! I mean, good gracious, just how lovely those two were, I can’t say enough. Also they had a very lovely merch girl who gave me a discounted shirt because I had spent all my cash on bourbon. 

  2. "Sheer badassery" would also have been an acceptable answer. 

  3. I have several smart playlists populated by rated songs, with the 5 starred tracks being sorted into “Completely Great”, and the remaining ratings into “Download More”, “Revisit!”, “Fix Metadata”, and “Yuck”, respectively). 

The new chair mats I ordered for the inventory office just arrived. They’re sitting on the floor next to my cubicle, waiting for someone with a golf cart to take it to the other side of the warehouse so that the newly-constructed office floors can be spared from the destructive forces of office chair wheels. The mats smell like rubber. A very specific rubber, the pressed, chemically treated kind. Like DDR pads.

I’m suddenly in high school, waiting until the marching band leaves for an away game. A friend and I are bounding and leaping and stomping to something that resembles music while craning our necks to look at the arrows on a TV suspended in the ceiling corner. The kids - fifty or so, the rest are in the band room - at a dull roar behind us.

The song-thing ends and we look at our grades. “Aw, bullshit! The timing on the TV’s off!” he says. He got a B.

I’m grinning and sweaty. I got a C. I’d never passed that song before. I only played it because the guy next to me was really good and could keep me alive. Guess I didn’t need his help after all.

He storms off, distracted by something or somebody at the other end of the room. Two more friends step onto the mats and choose a new song, something terribly Asian. I turn to D and tell him I’m going to the cafeteria to get a drink before the bus arrives, you wanna come? He says sure and we head down. I get a Gatorade. He gets something caffeinated. He says something funny after that, probably, and I laugh, probably.

D is getting married in a few weeks. He gave up pot for this girl. They like each other a lot.

I still haven’t picked up my tux.

In grade school there evolved an unspoken rule that if you stood by the support pole of an occupied swingset and silently counted to 100 to yourself you could then ask for your turn on the swing. It was all very civil. I don’t remember anyone using the same tone used in the water fountain queue. Save some for the fishes!

One particular person, whether it was a boy or a girl or a bully or a friend I cannot recall, was feeling particularly insidious one day and badgered me for a turn of their own mere seconds after I had achieved optimum momentum. I screamed back at him/her something immemorable, then jumped off at the peak of a swing - a favourite past time of mine at any park, but this time out of theatrical passion rather than daredevil glee. I stormed behind the school yard, through the green grass backyards of houses lining the playground and ran into the cul de sac a block behind the school. I sat on the curb with my back to the playground, middle class homes towering over me like adults. Obscured from the other children by houses I cried my eyes out in a then-inexplicable swell of juvenile emotion.

After no grown-ups came to comfort me, I decided that I was done crying. I went back to the playground before recess ended, and with tears still streaking my face, I went to the dirt yard next to the concrete square of the playground to dig for dinosaur bones.