Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Mix Tape

Tape and pen after whoopee
The hardest emotion for two people to display to one another is love.  Sure they can write poems, or send flowers, or cook a favorite meal, or kiss, or canoodle, or go on romantic vacation cruise through upper Mongolia, or even say "I love you," ... but do any of those things really say love?  What's needed is a method of communication that can woo the heart and rock out the soul.  What's needed is a mix tape.

A mix tape conveys what you could have said if you kept practicing the guitar and didn't scare young children when you sing.  It's the first step of a real relationship and takes you from the "like" stage to the "like-like" stage.  For a teenager or hipster, a mix tape become the unspoken statement or, "I really think you're swell.  Now here are some songs that should help me get to second base."  You could use it to try and round third and slide into home, but that's some pretty tricky mixing.  Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On may work, but don't oversell your position with a song like George Michael's I Want Your Sex.  There's a fine line between romantic gesture and restraining order.

In the heyday of mixes--after 8 Tracks and before MP3s--you had to have a physical copy of the song before you could transfer it to a cassette or CD.  This usually meant that aside from borrowing your sister's Bryan Adams and Eric Clapton: Unplugged CD's, you had to rely on whatever music you owned.  If you were a music aficionado, you were OK.  But if you were like me and all your tapes could fit inside a shoebox, then you were in trouble.  One of my best friends tried to make a mix for a girl during his sophomore year in high school and he only owned three Guns and Roses tapes and one Pearl Jam CD.  When he got to track four and had to resort to Welcome to the Jungle, we both knew that he should look elsewhere for dates.

The key to a mix tape (or playlist for the iTunes generations) lies in mixing up the themes and genres.  Love songs hit a nice chord, but after five or six in a row, they all sound the same:
I love you like [insert metaphor] 
and more than [insert another metaphor]
Why don't we [sexual innuendo]
Throw in a power anthem to shake it up a little.  It will show that you have some depth and can find interest in a variety of topics.  Besides, 20 love songs in a row becomes pretty creepy.  Stalkers fill a playlist with 20 love songs.

For an added degree of difficulty, try to select different genres and eras.  Like theme choice, this shows that your personality has many sides to it.  You like Rock AND Country!?  Frank Sinatra and Jay Z?!  Why, you are complex and interesting and need some lovin'.  Selecting a smattering of lesser known bands also helps your "interesting" level, but do so sparingly.  Filling the entire mix with "indie" artists makes you a condescending douchebag.

Every year since 2007 I've actually created a mix for the Queen for one of her Christmas presents.  I find that it keeps the marriage interesting, especially during a stressful time of the year.  Now that the Princess is around and cognizant, all music must carry the all-important Princess Seal of Approval.  And although its kinda testosterone-heavy at the end, I think we did alright this year.

Here's the list:
  1. Princess intro (a days of the week song recorded by the Princess herself)
  2. Princess Cupcake -- Marion Call
  3. Roar -- Katie Perry
  4. Home -- Jack Johnson
  5. Calico Skies -- Paul McCartney
  6. The Luckiest -- Ben Folds
  7. Free to Be Me -- Francesca Battistelli
  8. Carry On (iTunes Session) -- Fun.
  9. Head over Feet -- Alanis Morissette
  10. I Don't Know a Thing -- Lucy Schwartz
  11. I Will Wait -- Mumford & Sons
  12. That's When I Love You -- Mark Aaron James
  13. Odds Are -- Barenaked Ladies
  14. What Would I Do Without You -- Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
  15. Superman -- Lazio Bane
  16. Marry You -- Bruno Mars
  17. Turn Up the Music -- Lemonade Head
  18. Rhythm of Love -- Plain White T's
  19. OK, It's Alright With Me -- Eric Hutchinson
  20. Gone, Gone, Gone -- Phillip Phillips
  21. Close your Eyes -- Michael Buble
  22. Monday -- ALO
  23. Cherry Bomb -- John Mellencamp
  24. Waiting On the World to Change -- John Mayer
  25. This Song Would Be Better -- Mark Aaron James
  26. A Pirate Looks at Forty -- Jimmy Buffett
  27. Brave -- Sara Bareilles
  28. Flowers in Your Hair -- The Lumineers
  29. Save the Last Dance For Me -- Michael Buble
  30. Merry Christmas, Mommy/You Are My Sunshine -- The Princess
Long, but needs to last an exhausting car trip to whatever parents house we visit for Christmas.  I think its one of the better one's I've made, although last year I did get to slip in "Dumb Ways to Die" by Tangerine Kitty (which is really an Australian train safety PSA).  At least it should help me get to "Like-like" stage, and perhaps we could even hold hands at the malt shop.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When haircuts ruled the world

For my whole life, I had horrible hair.  My 217 cowlicks and penchant to produce roughly 2.1 liters of hair grease a day had previously led the EPA to declare my head a public disaster area.  My right side always stood straight up as if a ghost constantly hid behind every door frame just to jump out and shout "Boo!"  My left side of my head declared war on the right side, and while the right side was clearly distracted, it launched a sneak attack with a sweep and started to take over.

Frankly, I given up.  I decided that the only way to tame the mane was to let it take over my entire body.  I let the back grow into my shirt collar.  My bangs overtook my eyebrows, making all looks of astonishment obsolete.  My ears also disappeared underneath the sideburns from hell, which accounts for all times I could not hear important chore lists from the Queen.  At the same time, I decided not to trim my beard so it would not conflict with the homeless motif I had going on.

By the time the Queen had enough and ordered my haircut, I approximately looked like this:

Very distinguished, but I had the nagging suspicion that soon I would get fleas
I was skeptical at first.  No one ever cut my Cthulhu-like hair without going a bit insane.  Could I ruin another person's life like that?  Perhaps I could if they were a horrible person, like one that goes out after work and sells crack cocaine to baby seals.  But never someone normal with a family and dreams.  That would be barbaric! (Get it?  Barbaric...barber.  I'm hilarious!)

I relented because I subscribe to the mantra, "Happy wife, happy life."  On Saturday, we bundled up the Princess and braved the elements to Platinum Black and happened to run into a miracle worker.  Lizzie took one look at the hot mess in front of her, rolled up her sleeves, and gave a viking yawp that would please the gods.  I admit it, I blacked out a bit and don't know exactly what happened, but I heard from others in the shop that it was like watching Da Vinci paint the Mona Lisa.

When I came to, Lizzie talked about my hair as "hip" and "stylish."  I'm not too sure how "hip" a work-at-home dad who has seen all three seasons of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic can be, but for one shining moment, I'll take it.  So how do I look?  Pretty damn good!

Picture under protest because of background issues. The Queen just wanted you to know.

I may even amount to a "Hey, Bud" guy.  You know when you meet someone who has it so together that when they shake your hand for the first time, they also give you a arm slap and say, "Hey, Bud," like you have known them for years.  The guy who always wears his jacket at a party because he's "only staying for one drink."  With this new do and some new clothes, I could attain that unreachable milestone.

Or I could become a model.  A husky model with awesome hair.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Oh boy, a present with strings attached!

With Pre-Christmas behind us and real Christmas fast approaching, it has been shopping time in the Kingdom of Grubb.  The Princess, being three and all, finally understands that Christmas is a wonderful time of year in which we celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus through his second in command, Santa Claus.  She loves the pageantry of Christmas with the lights and the cookies and the Jingle Belling and whatnot.  From helping decorate our tree to assembling our Elf village, every day belongs to some part of Christmas.

Of course the big pay off to Christmas for this young lass is the presents.   Like when the light went off that she can shake down our neighbors for candy at Halloween, the Princess figured out that if she's good, we are morally obligated to give her stuff.  In preparation, she's written a long Christmas list including every item in the Disney Store.  The Princess needs more of her kind, especially if they are little, plastic and painful to step on when barefoot.  She especially needs a Rainbow Dash that she can color herself.

I would try harder to dissuade this fascination with gifts, but she genuinely feels thankful for everything she gets.  I could give her a 1964 red Mustang convertible or a piece of belly button lint and the reaction would be 100% grateful.  Seriously, the child was just as excited getting an IHOP gift card as when she unwrapped her pink, big girl scooter.  This attitude makes you want to buy things for her.  Not anything expensive, mind you.  I'm not made of money, especially when everyone leaves the front door open and heats the whole outside.

With present d-day approaching, I was stoked about the $10 Toys-R-Us gift card offer in the Wendy's Chicken Nuggets kids meal.  $10 to Toys-R-Us, that's fantastic!  Watch out Rainbow Dash that you can color yourself; consider yourself bought.  I think I'll go to Toy-R-Us right now!  Or at least after I pick up some milk at the grocery store!  And go to the bank!  And finish cleaning the garage!

Then I saw the fine print.  You cannot use the gift card offer on:
  • Baby Food
  • Diapers
  • Formula
  • Wipes
  • Red Hot Deals
  • Hot Price and Unbeatable Price Items
  • Ameda
  • Baby Jogger
  • BOB
  • Britax
  • Bugaboo
  • ERGObaby
  • Mamas & Papas
  • Maxi-Cosi car seats
  • Medela breast pumps (why they would sell this at a toy store, I'm not sure)
  • Motorola
  • Pediped
  • Peg Pergo
  • Phil & Teds
  • Quinny
  • Robeez
  • Thyme Maternity
  • Electronic learning toys
  • Netbooks
  • Tablets
  • Video game hardware
  • Video games
  • Apple products
  • FAO Schwartz toys
  • Buyer Protection Plans
  • Gift cards
  • Photo studios
  • Phone orders
  • Special orders
  • Assembly fee
  • Breast-pump rental fee
  • or Shipping and handling
Whew, what a pretty exhaustive list.  It seems like the only thing the $10 gift certificate can buy is a Rainbow Dash that you can color yourself.  Except when you look harder, you find it's not even a $10 gift card.  It's an offer for a $10 gift card IF you spend $50.  So, if I read this correctly, I have to spend money to save money to spend more money.  That's marketing genius!

But I suppose I could spend $50 worth of crap on one ticket and then turn right around and spend the gift card on the elusive Rainbow Dash that you can color yourself.  Nope.  The gift card doesn't activate for 6 hours after they give it to you.  That's me coming back to a toy store during Christmas after I already bought stuff!  Toys-R-Us is perpetually crowded with other people's kids during the holidays and some of them don't like waiting in crowds while their parents buy stuff they can't immediately play with.  It's a loud, sad place that breeds anger and smells like unchanged diapers.  I hear they even have to talk Geoffrey Giraffe off the roof with promises that everything will be all right after New Year's.

Well, at least I can save the $10 bucks in my wallet for her September birthday.  Nope.  The card must be used by February 1, 2014.  The choice I  have to make is to re-shop for Christmas after I just bought $50 worth of junk OR come back after Christmas when the child is already up to her eyeballs in plastic Princess paraphernalia.  Talk about a lose-lose situation.

You know, Toys-R-Us, I appreciate what you're doing here.  Spreading a little holiday joy by giving a mostly worthless gift card that's fairly limited in what you can buy or when you can use it.  I think I'll buy my Rainbow Dash that you can color yourself on Amazon.  That way I can still play full price and I won't have to leave my jammies.  And my jammies are freakin' warm.