Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday Question

(a new weekly feature, at least until I start forgetting to post it or lose interest)

Friday afternoon? You're not getting any work done, dude. Come on. I think it's a good time to think something over and contribute your thoughts on something. You can think about it other times, too, like Monday morning.

Question is this: What element in music gets you every time? Maybe it's a harmonica or a falsetto vocal or cowbell. Something that, if a song has it, just makes it infinitely more likely it will be a favorite song.

I have two, both of which have to do with lyrics:

1. Proper names! When they skip the pronouns and mention people by name.

Like in Old 97's "Big Brown Eyes":
"'Cause if Robert's dad is right, We might not make it through the night, And I'd hate to go alone. Please pick up the phone."
Or, from Ben Folds' "Not the Same":
"You took a trip and climbed a tree
At Robert Sledge's party
And there you stayed 'till morning came
And you were not the same after that"
Not to mention Ben Folds' song where Steven charms everyone here except Tamara Easter.

Proper names! They give specificity, which pop songs often lack!


I love revenge in popular music. It's compelling, it's audacious, it's terrific.
Like the Decemberists' "Mariner's Revenge Song".

And the Mountain Goats' "Up The Wolves":
"I'm going to get myself in fighting trim,
scope out every angle of unfair advantage.
I'm going to bribe the officials.
I'm going to kill all the judges.
it's going to take you people years to recover from all of the damage."
And, of course, Viva Voce, a husband-wife team who do the song "We Do Not Fuck Around":

Revenge! Hooray for Revenge!

My question, again,What element in music gets you every time?


Thank you all for your overwhelming support for the Overnight. We went over the top today, surpassing our goal of $2000 raised. It's an excellent cause and your donations are deeply appreciated. I've been walking to and from work every day since I got to St Paul, 3 miles each way. I'm going to have to expand my distances to get ready for June but I will be ready. Thanks again. I have great friends, including friends I've never actually met in person.

Go here to see the dorky coda to the dorky graphic/sound effect on the donation page.

UPDATE: Goal exceeded by $100!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Accurate Yet Perhaps Not Entirely Prudent Suggestions For St Paul Tourism Slogans

"St Paul: Go ahead and cross at the crosswalk, but that doesn't mean any cars will slow down."

"St Paul: Come for the snow and stay for the snow. Because there's apparently always snow forever or something."

"St Paul, Minnesota: Where people apparently never want to get off the phone even if they're the guy calling to tell you he just set up the phone and that your phone should be working now and you're like, well, that's great maybe we should stop talking so I could call someone I know but oh, what?, okay, let's talk about what you think some more about politics, that's cool."

"St Paul: You will need a hat."

"St Paul: Why are you smiling at me? Have we met? Oh, I'm sorry. You're just smiling at me even though I'm a total stranger. Wow, now I really feel like an asshole."

"St Paul: Park for free downtown after 4:30. 4:30!"

"St Paul: We know it's cold here. And we would like to talk about it almost all the time, please."

"St Paul: Now that you're here, try to understand hockey! We dare ya!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

68%! $1365!

I am humbled and heartened by all the donations for the walk. We are getting ever closer. And contrary to Jane's comment in the post below, I won't reset the goal after I hit two grand (though donations after that will be not only welcome but extraordinarily helpful). Once I hit the goal, we're done. Hey, this is sounding awfully public radio pledge drive. No tote bags offered, though.

UPDATE: Now up to 85% of goal and $1700! Thanks to all. We're almost there. I will put up some non-fund raising content soon, not holding out for 100%. Just trying to wrestle a particularly challenging radio story to the ground.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Two days in to fundraising and 33% of the goal met! Thank you to all who have donated so far.

Update update: 52% of the way there and climbing! Damn, you people are all kinds of awesome.

Update update update: 54%! And because I have no way of emailing the Anonymous donor: thank you Mr./Ms. Anonymous!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I'm going for a walk. Perhaps you'd like to help.

Hello friends.

A little break from comedic programming here for a pledge drive of sorts.

It's been almost a year since I lost my brother Rick to suicide. It's been a year of walking in darkness and searching for light. Fitting then that I should be participating in the annual Out of the Darkness Overnight, a walk to raise money for suicide prevention and to raise awareness of one of the leading causes of death in this country. Every 16 minutes in America someone dies by suicide.

Since I first heard about this walk, I've found it absolutely fascinating. It's in Seattle on June 21st (New York has one on June 7th) and the idea is that you start walking around sunset then walk about 20 miles, ending at sunrise the next morning. You walk through the darkness into the sunlight, hopefully bringing some attention to the cause with you into that light. Most of the people walking have been affected by suicide in some way, either within their families or circle of friends. I'm coming back to Seattle, however briefly, to be in that crowd and to walk those long miles. I've never been one for causes but I am now.

And oh yes: the fund raising part of it all. It's organized by the American Society for Suicide Prevention. The money goes to research and prevention programs, specifics of which are described here. All participants are asked to raise at least $1000 for the cause. I've set a tentative goal of $2000 since I think I may know a few more people than the average participant.

I would like your support at whatever level you feel comfortable with. In return, you will receive gratitude, some photos later on, and knowledge that you helped spread some sunlight on this terrible darkness. It's not about me, it's not my therapy, it's a chance to help other people.

The event's website is here. To donate, please go here. I've also included an ongoing link in the upper right hand corner of the blog up there.


UPDATE: $355 in so far! 17% of the way there according to the thermometer with dorky sound effects on the web site. Thanks a million to all.

Monday, March 17, 2008

And because it's been a while...

I'm on to you, Jay Leno. And I have been for years.
I'm on to you, Quinoa.
And Eva Longoria? I'm afraid you've been found out. I'm on to you, too.

(see previous posts)

(also, I just Googled "I'm on to you" and this blog trails only a couple of references to a Neil Diamond song. Nice work, y'all! I'm on to you, algorithm!)

And what/who are YOU on to?

(update: and for the record, yes, I realize everyone is on to me as well. Thank you for your that.)

We Are In a Different Part of the World

Japan, specifically.

Only quarrels: the omission of a Japanese Kim Carnes to drop in "when we" (Japanese Diana Ross steps in instead) and the omission of Japanese Dan Aykroyd to stand around in the background making people wonder "what the hell is THAT guy doing there?"

Japanese Cyndi Lauper is all kinds of awesome, though.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's It Like in Minnesota?

Well, there are trade offs. Things tend to even out.

If you want beer, you must work for it. It is not at the convenience store or even the grocery store. It's at liquor stores. And the liquor store near my house closes at 8pm. Because who would ever want to buy beer after 8pm?
This is a place where they have The Onion free on newsstands with local entertainment sections.

Temperatures have soared to the high 40s here lately which means all the ice and snow are melting and I may yet avoid learning to work my new big flat shovel.
It gets cold again at night so in the morning when I walk to work (3 miles!) I step on wet sidewalks and puddles that are actually tiny ice rinks causing me to slip and flail about madly as though in a cartoon.

People are very nice.
One of my co-workers thinks that many Minnesotans are kind of superficially nice. Like they're just acting nice but they don't mean it.
That's fine with me. I don't want to share my soul with the lady at Caribou Coffee, I just want pleasantness. Isn't superficially nice just another term for polite? And I'll take that over the folks at Uptown Espresso in Seattle where I felt like I was really ruining their day with my perpetual demands to engage in some sort of "cash for coffee" business arrangement.

A brief encounter this morning:
ME: Good morning.
PERSON WHO IS APPARENTLY MY CO-WORKER: Good morning! Wait... are you Roger?
ME: No. I can be if you'd like. I'm John.
PWIAMC-W: John MOE, right? Weekend America?
ME: Yeah. Hi.
PWIAMC-W: I was thinking it was Roger. I guess I was thinking of Roger Moe.
ME: Who is Roger Moe?
PWIAMC-W: Nobody. I've never heard of Roger Moe.
ME: Okay then. Well, nice to meet you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Kid in School

This week, my kids started at their new schools. It made me think about the role of a parent in that situation. I read one time that Eminem would go visit his daughter's school from time to time and that when he did he made sure he wasn't seen as big rap star but just as "Hailie's dad". In that situation, he didn't want to be Eminem as the world knew him.

Got me thinking. He's on the radio. I'm on the radio. But his presence on the radio is kind of the opposite of mine. Maybe I should go the opposite direction of him and be as much like Eminem as possible in the school.

So when I dropped the kids off I made sure to launch into angry violent rhymed tirades about all sorts of people. I made sure to get a really short haircut and glower menacingly. I made sure to bring in a reluctant Dr. Dre to the school (easier to do than you'd think) to be my mentor. And I made absolute certain to sign on with director Curtis Hanson to film a tense gritty drama based on my hard scrabble upbringing (harder than you'd think it being Federal Way). Finally, I made sure to disappear from public view for several years and make people occasionally wonder what the hell ever happened to me.

I think it made a big impression on both teachers and parents.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

What Happened With The House

So you may have noted a rapid embargo of real estate information immediately after the house went on the market and the Hey Look At Our House era ended. Two reasons: rapid sale and the Interweb.

We put the house on the market on Friday the 18th of January. I was hosting Weekend America that week (shrewd planning, Moe, maybe you'd like to adopt a chimp that week too just to keep a bit BUSIER?) and so I went off to work, kids went to school or Grandma's for the day, Jill, well, I'm sure she did something. Life was a bit of a blur. Afterwards, we all went to Tukwila (suburb south of Seattle) and checked in to a hotel so we could be out of the way and so the kids wouldn't spill food and fling toys all over the house we were trying to sell for a whole bunch of money.

Cut to Saturday morning. When I host(ed) the show from Seattle, I would get to KUOW by around 7am to make sure everything was ready to go and to do last minute script tweaks. I check my email and it's our realtor saying there's an offer. After one day. If you listen to the show I hosted immediately after, I believe you can hear many things in my voice, including exhaustion, madness, hope, and cynicism trying to drown the hope. I couldn't quite believe that in 2008 an offer could be made so rapidly. I also knew it was a great house in a great neighborhood at a fair price.

So later on Saturday, we get an email with an attached scan of the offer. I read the names of the potential buyers and what's the first thing I do? Right: I Google the crap out of them. Within less than a minute I have at least a cursory knowledge of who they are. Then what happens? Right: the dawning of the knowledge that they've probably already done the same to me and there are many, many things about me online. And now I knew how people in their 20s who grew up online feel ALL THE TIME: everything I ever did online is out there somewhere. And look, I've always written online as if anyone in the world could read it (not that they'd want to read everything I ever wrote) but still, I lead a sort of public/private hybrid life and much of it's out there. I hope they never found out about My Terrible Secret! (note: no terrible secret).

Part of the staging of the house involved the placement of a bottle of wine (given to us by Jeannie Sleater-Yandel) on this antique radio we have. We decided that when the house sold, we would uncork that wine. We signed the offer, the deal was in motion before an open house was held, the house went through inspection, and that wine popped open.

But in real estate there is the SOLD sign going up and then there's closing, usually many weeks apart. And so: information embargo. Talk about packing on the blog, I figure. Talk about sports and Obama and all that. But as for real estate talk, lips zipped shut. The house closed just as we were boarding the train.

Next time I'll tell you about the train.

Friday, March 07, 2008

It was minus 8 when I woke up today

Which means that Monkey Disaster is now a St Paul based publication.

Many details to follow, including sale of the house.

But first I must huddle by a radiator in terror.