“The Batcave” Playlist for 2/24/10!

Wednesdays from 11 p.m.-midnight, podcasting at krfh.net, yo! It was a sexy hour, not gonna lie! This is what I played this evening:

“Dirty Harry” by Gorillaz

“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” by Vampire Weekend (!)

“Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by Jet (for Hannah, long-time friend of the show!)

“Sunrise” by Yeasayers (great song!)

“Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye (for all the ladies in my audience, you know who you are)

“King Kong” by Tom Waits (for my brother Matthew, who listened to my show for the first time tonight!)

“Cotton” by The Mountain Goats

“Radio Sweetheart” by Elvis Costello (for my brother, with love)

“Me and The Moon” by Something Corporate (for Amanda T!!!!! A beautiful person)

“The Davy Crockett Song” from the “Fantastic Mr. Fox (soundtrack)”. It’s a great movie! Check it out, if you haven’t already!

“Leeds United” by Amanda Palmer (for Manna!)

“Pistol Grip” by The Blakes (who are coming to HSU on Friday for a freeeeeee shoooooooooow!!!!)

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Baseball and a broken window: A cautionary tale

The only time I ever remember hitting anything that remotely resembled a “home run” did not occur in a baseball diamond, but rather, in a suburban neighborhood in California. When this remarkable feat took place, the sound that I heard was not that of a crowded baseball stadium erupting in cheers and carrying me off the field of victory on their shoulders and chanting my name; instead the sound that greeted my ears was that was that of shattering glass and the sing-song melody of expletives that would make a sailor blush coming from my neighbor, having had her shower interrupted rudely by a rogue baseball flying into her bedroom window.

When I was a kid my parents moved around a lot. My father held a series of odd jobs throughout the years, including a job as a DJ at a gospel radio station, a quality control taster for a bakery, and a personal fitness assistant for a Gold’s Gym in San Diego.

The first place that I remember settling down and taking root was a nice suburban home in Salinas, California, the home town of John Steinbeck. I had just turned 10 years old, and my brother Matthew was 8. I remember him bragging about the fact that I was now 2 digits of age to my neighbors David and Aaron, who were both 13 at the time and seemed unimpressed by the whole thing.

One thing I’ve noticed is that kids don’t really need anything in common to become friends. All that is really necessary is that you live near the other person, and that your parents and the parents of your neighbors like each other enough to allow their children to run wild through each other’s lawns, backyards, and living rooms, leaving a mess of destruction in our wake. Kids will be kids, they tell each with a laugh, while they sip coffee and talk about personal finance and the economy.

My mother felt that all boys should be physically active, and as such I was enlisted in all the sports you can imagine: Baseball, basketball, soccer, football, track and field, gymnastics, and even Tae-Kwon-Do! Yes sir, I was quite the athlete when I was younger. My parents were very proud.

On one sunny, summer afternoon me and the kids from the neighborhood decided that it would be a good idea to play a friendly game of baseball. Why not? It was a beautiful day and none of us had jobs to go to or house payments to worry about. Life was pretty care free back in those days.

The first few innings passed pleasantly enough. Aaron stole third base (my dad’s blue car) in the first inning, so my team was winning quite comfortably.

David’s mom had just bought him a new Boston Red Sox hat, and when he took the plate he did so with the confidence one feels knowing that your head is properly adorned and that all is right with the world. Unfortunately he struck out in no time. I think he felt betrayed by his ball cap, because he removed it in shame after the third strike was called.

“Better luck next time, sucker!” Aaron called from outfield (near the rosebushes).

When it was my turn at bat my team called out words of encouragement. At this point I had had 2 grape sodas, so I was feeling pretty good. Flush with confidence and determination I strutted over to the plate (an old pizza box). I pointed my bat in the way that I had seen Babe Ruth point his, and made myself ready.

“Strike one!” Damn! I took a deep breathe and waited, squinting at the sun.

“Strike two!” Come on! I felt my confidence waver, but I kept my faith. This next one is going to be great, I promised myself.

The pitcher threw the ball and I swung with all the strength and all the fury that I could muster…. BAM!!! My bat struck the ball with such force that my arms and teeth rattled. All eyes were on the ball as it hurtled mightily through the air. I felt as if the world were in slow motion. I could feel the earth as it slowly rotated. The sun beat down on my brow as I gazed with wonder at my incredible feat of strength.

CRASH!!!!!!!!! The ball flew across the street into the upstairs window of one of my neighbors. Well, it’s been a good life, all things considered. Too bad it had to end this way, I remember thinking.

“Oh shit!” cried Aaron, “My mom’s gonna kill me!”

“Mine too!” said David, not wanting to be left out.

The neighborhood kids scattered before I knew it, leaving just the three us in front of Aaron’s house, staring at each other, not sure of what to do.

“Well, somebody has to go over there and get my ball back,” said Aaron.

“I nominate David,” I said. “He’s the oldest, he’ll know how to handle this situation.”

David looked at us both in disgust.

“I’m only 2 months older than you, Aaron!”

Aaron shrugged his shoulders.

After a while David mustered up the courage to walk over to walk over to the house and knock and the door, while Aaron and I hid in the bushes, trying not to make a sound.

The door opened ominously and there stood Michael’s mom, hair still full of soap suds, eyes full of rage. Heated words were exchanged and after a while David came back to where we were hiding.

“Well, she’s not going to press charges,” said David, visibly relieved (he watched a lot of “Cops” that summer), “but we have to promise never to break another of her window’s as long as we’re alive.”

Aaron and I looked at each other and solemnly promised to never again violate the sanctity of this gracious woman’s windows.

“Whew!” I said with a laugh, “that was a close one! I thought we were dead meat for sure!”

Then the three of us strolled off into the sunset, humming “Take Me Out To The Ball Game,” content in the knowledge that we would all live on to see another day.

“The Batcave” Playlist 2/17/10!

Max was my glorious guest DJ…. It went okay I suppose. Ah, who I kidding? It was epic, as usual (podcasting on Wednesdays from 11 p.m.-midnight at krfh.net). This is what we played:

Batman theme song!

“Basso Profundo” by Devotcha

“Loser” by Beck

“I Was Made For You” by She & Him (for my mum)

“Wilco (the song)” by Wilco (for Max, who just so happens to be sitting right next to me, even as I type this. Aaaaaaahhhh!)

“Take it or leave it” by The Strokes (for Zak!)

“I and Love and You” by The Avett Brothers (for my mumsy, again)

“He Doesn’t Know Why” by Fleet Foxes

“Mahgeetah” by My Morning Jacket

“Set Fire To The Third Bar” by Snow Patrol (for Hannah the Mighty!)

“Fixed” by Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip

“Soup is good food” by Dead Kennedys

Calvin and Hobbes: A love story

I love Calvin and Hobbes. Always have. Always will.

I was first introduced to Bill Watterson’s timeless creation while I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Oregon. I distinctly remember sitting around their dinner table, listening while the adults chatted about the events of the day. Being ten years old at the time, current events could interest me less, so I decided to go exploring the Great Kerns Estate.

My aunt Angela and uncle Mike have owned a private school in the small town of Cottage Grove for as long as I remember. It’s a place that I will forever cherish as one of my favorite places in the world. Even when I visited them last year I still felt like a little kid, giddy at the sight of the swing set and the familiar green trees that I had climbed in my youth. Ah yes, I remember thinking, it’s all here, just as I remember it.

The school is full of books and old computers and odds and ends and strange looking antiques (my uncle is a antique junkie, much to the amusement and occasional dismay of his wife, who has one of the loudest laughs I have ever heard, other than my fathers), I stumbled across a scattered library of sorts. Behind some rusty antique instruments was a bookshelf that had seen better days. Dust was everywhere, so as I pawed through the book, I sneezed every time I picked up a new one.

The History of the Civil War? “Ahhhhhhhh chew!”

The Time Machine? “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh chew!”

I tossed books off to the side with disregard (this was long before my bookworm phase), unimpressed with what I was seeing. Come on, I thought, there has to be something cool here somewhere!

And then at long last I saw it: A big book with dogeared corners and a picture of a kid a little younger than myself and what looked like a tiger of sorts flying through the air above a lake. Hmmmmmmmmmm….. This looks interesting!

Calvin and Hobbes, the title said. I flipped it open. Calvin had transformed into a dinosaur and was terrorizing a small village! I changed the page, Calvin had transformed into his alter-ego Spaceman Spiff and was hurtling through space at break-neck speed, pursuing two hideous alien creatures in their spaceships. I changed the page again and Calvin and his tiger Hobbes were flying down a snow-covered mountain discussing philosophy. Cool!

I read the entire thing in one sitting. I was mesmerized. In a trance I put the book under my arm and ventured back into the Kerns’ house.

“What you got there?” my uncle asked me, noticing the book under my arm, which was a unique look for me at the time.

“Ummmmmmm…. I found this.”

My uncle looked at the title of the book and smiled a far-off smile, as if remembering something precious.

“Ah yes, Calvin and Hobbes. I love that book. You can have it if you like.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, go for it! It’s good for you, reading. Strengthens the mind.”

“If you say so…..” I said doubtfully as I quickly rushed into the guest room to pack the book into my bag of belonging, lodged next to some G.I. Joes and T-Rex t-shirts.

Thus marked my life-long love affair with the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. To this day that book remains one of my favorite books to read when I’m feeling blue. Calvin and Hobbes always lifts my spirits. My only sadness is that I own all the Calvin and Hobbes books and so there is no more new Calvin and Hobbes to read. But that’s okay. Calvin and Hobbes is perfect just the way it is.

Chicken and Broccoli: A story from my childhood

For the life of me I cannot remember how I survived my childhood. I hated to eat. Such a waste of time, I remember thinking.

There were only two things that I remember eating as a kid, and even then my mother had to practically force feed them to me: peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and those little packets of flavored oatmeal. But even then, it had to be specific. I only would eat strawberry jam, and as far as the oatmeal was concerned, it had to be the “brown sugar” flavor.

They say that our pallets grow and mature as we age, and I am living proof of that.

I remember going to my grandparents house during the Clinton Administration (aka my pre-teen years) and my grandmother (on my mother’s side, we’re not that close with my dad’s side of the family, to tell you the truth) would take one look at me and shake her head in dismay.

“Are you feeding this boy?” she would ask my parents, while her fingers pinched and prodded my skinny arms and legs. I remember she always wore thick amounts of makeup, having plucked her eyebrows to near extinction in her youth, and her breath always smelt of cinnamon gum. She was a habitual gum chewer and she always had a tiny mirror in her purse to make sure she was looking just right.

“Of course we are,” my mother would say with some exasperation, looking at my father for support. My dad would smile innocently, and then quickly excuse himself, muttering something about having to chop firewood.

“Well I don’t think that whatever you’re feeding him is working,” my grandmother said, looking over her glasses at my tiny frame with some suspicion. “If he was eating meat and potatoes like he is supposed to be doing, then he wouldn’t be this size. He’s nearly 12 and he’s skinny as a rail. It’s a tragedy, really.”

At this point, I excused myself to find my dad. He was hiding in the workshop with my grandfather. The two of them spoke of construction with great seriousness. My grandfather was a self-taught carpenter who really knew what he was talking about. My dad, on the other hand, had no idea what he was talking about, but that didn’t stop him from having an opinion. Then the talk turned to politics and I gracefully exited the back door into my grandparents backyard, where my brother Matthew and I had built a fort the previous summer.

The fort was quite simple really, but I was proud of it nontheless. It was a place to be alone with your thoughts. Though, since I was 11, those thoughts were focused on the latest episode of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Donatello was my favorite turtle at the time, and remains so to this day) and my schemes of how to amass more G. I. Joes and Legos for my collection. You know, kid stuff.

My mother’s voice interrupted my daydreaming.

“Nathaniel, come in! Dinner time!”

Oh God, why me? I thought, as I slowly walked to the house. Why must we waste time eating when we could be playing outdoors? This was thought process at that age.

As I entered the house the smell of chicken and broccoli filled my nostrils, and I sat down glumly at the dinner table, and watched in horror as my grandfather piled my plate high, handing it to me with a smile. The plate thudded on the table in front of me.

“Here you are,” he said with a wry grin, “eat this. It’s good for you.”

I stared at it for awhile, and then picked up my fork and unenthusiastically took a few bites, unimpressed.

“What’s the matter?” my grandmother asked, after noticing that I wasn’t really eating the food, but rather rearranging it on my plate.

“I don’t like chicken” I said. “Or broccoli.”

“Well that’s what I made so that’s what we’re having,” she said rather matter of factly.

“But grandma, I hate it.”

“Well what do you like?”

I shrugged.

“Eating is so boring. I’d rather play baseball instead.”

My grandmother laughed loudly and long at this declaration. After awhile, she cleared her throat and said something I will never forget:  “There will come a time in your life when eating a meal is the best part of your day, you mark my words.”

Who knew my grandmother was such a prophet? These days I love to eat pretty much anything and everything with great gusto. I’m a self-described foodie, really.

My grandmother is very proud (pictured below on my 24th birthday).

“The Batcave” Playlist 2/10/10!

Oh la de da! My radio show was a blast (as always)! Podcasting from KRFH.net from Wednesday from 11 p.m. until Midnight. Here’s what I played tonight:

Batman theme song!

“Cotton” by The Mountain Goats

“I was made for you” by She & Him (for Ariel!)

“Now We Can See” by The Thermals (for Brian, who is apparently a big deal on Twitter!)

“Will You Return?” by The Avett Brothers (it’s been stuck in my head all day)

“A Crazy Litte Thing Called Love” by Queen

“Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz (for Max, for God only knows what purpose. Hahaha!)

“Cars” by Gary Numan (which I play at least a dozen times every semester, so you’d better get used to it!)

“So What” by Ani DiFranco (for Manna, whom I love dearly)

“Cousins” by Vampire Weekend

“It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” by R.E.M. (for Alex ‘n Christian)

“Love Love Love” by The Mountain Goats

“Song 2” by Blur

“The Batcave” Playlist 2/3/10

“The Batcave” is a little college radio show (podcasting on Wednesdays from 11pm-Midnight on KRFH.net) that I have been hosting for the past few years. I’m quite proud of it, and I’ve even managed to build a small following of friends who tune in weekly to hear me talk about music and my life (you know who you are). This is my final semester at HSU, and thus, my final semester doing my radio show. It’s been fun, I must admit.

Here’s to a grand last semester!

My playlist tonight:

“Cannibal Resource” by Dirty Projectors

“While You Wait For The Others” by Grizzly Bear

“Young Girl” by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap (for Max!)

“Damn It Feels Good To Be A Gangsta” by Geto Boyz (’cause I’m a gangsta who thinks deep)

“Trouble Is A Friend” by Lenka (for Hannah!)

“Boyz-N-The Hood” by Dynamite Hack (for Breanna AND Tiffanie!)

“Backwards Walk” by Frightened Rabbits (for David and Ellie!)

“The Piano Has Been Drinking” by Tom Waits (for Arial!)

“Theologians” by Wilco (for Max!)

“If I Ever Leave This World Alive” by Flogging Molly (for Tiffanie!)

“My Night With The Prostitute” by Beirut

“The New Year” by Death Cab for Cutie

“Dance Music” by The Mountain Goats