Getting what you want out of life 

You can't always get what you want the rolling stones

I guess this proves that life is full of inherent contradictions. (Either that, or you can’t take musicians seriously.)

I was having a bad day at work, so I decided to treat myself to lunch at a diner. The waitress came over to take my order.

“Can I get you a drink?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said. “Can I have a Coke?”

“Pepsi OK?” she asked, chewing on gum.

I sighed. “Yeah. Pepsi’s fine.”

“Perfect. I’ll be right back with your drink, and then I’ll take your order.” The waitress turned and started to walk away, snapping her gum.

“Hey, wait!” I called.

The waitress turned.

“Can you come back for a second?” I asked.

She sauntered back to my table. “Yeah?”

“I don’t want to be rude,” I said, “but if you want to know the truth, Pepsi’s not OK.”

The waitress’s eyes widened. “Oh.” Keep reading…

So my boss said to leave the report on his desk…

boss patting employee on back.

When my boss is brutally honest….

When I first got my new job, my boss, Steve, asked me to write a one-page report for the executive manager.

“Be sure to send the report directly to me,” Steve said.

“You don’t want me to send it to the executive manager?” I asked.

“I don’t. I want to check it before he sees it.”

“I’m a fairly good writer,” I said. “I got As in high-school English, and I run spell check on all my correspondence before sending it out.”

“It’s not that I don’t trust you,” Steve said. “It’s that I want to review the report’s content prior to the executive manager reading it.”

“Are you afraid I’m going to say something offensive?” I asked.

“I just have to review it before he sees it. Employees are not permitted to e-mail the executive manager directly. Only managers can e-mail the executive manager.”

“So I have to write the report and send it to you so you can send it to him?” I asked. Keep reading…

Church-Lady meets Lars Ulrich

Music Review: “25 Organ Favorites”

Author’s Note: My great-grandmother bought me this album when I was in high school. I imagine she ventured to Tower Records and asked the clerk what kind of music a teenage boy would like. Snickering, he probably handed her the CD and said, “Try this, lady. I’m sure he’ll love it! Huh huh!”

I was delighted to find this album is now on iTunes, and to show my appreciation, I decided to pen the below review. The album is a compilation of songs played on the organ … with an inexplicably aggressive drummer providing the backbeat. Yeah.

“Thanks, Grandma!” I said, biting my lip as I examined the CD. “This is exactly the kind of music my friends and I listen to!” 

When you combine a little-old-lady organist with a heavy-metal drummer, the result is this explosive album featuring some of the most head-banging licks ever pounded out by a blue-haired virtuoso. From the opening track of “Shine on, Harvest Moon,” thundering backbeats bludgeon the listener’s sensibilities while the organist’s gnarled, arthritic fingers tickle the Hammond’s ivories in a geriatric gusto. Not since “Toccata and Fugue” has the organ mourned with such a melodramatic flair. With pulse-pounding drum flourishes reminiscent of Metallica, the rumbling percussion crashes and reverberates, providing an epic, frenzied accompaniment to the churchgoing organist. The monumental standout is “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” which swells with uncontrollable insanity as the organ’s tenacious tonewheels deliver a powerful, melodious sermon worthy of the grandest cathedral. This ain’t your Bingo-playing grandmother, here; this organist is blasting out Herculean hits like a modern-day Goliath. So loosen up your cardigan and slip off your orthopedic shoes, because with this heavy-metal hitter, the organ bellows with Bach-esque grandiosity.

September 11: My written window to the past

American flag

I was a college freshman when 9-11 happened. Like many Americans, I remember that day vividly. Grappling with fear and uncertainty, I wrote an essay that night detailing the events that had unfolded. That essay was a way for me to cope with what was going on, and today it’s my window to the past — a past that’s now 15 years old. I can’t believe it’s been that long.

It’s been 15 years since 9-11.

Fifteen years.

In some ways, it seems like a lifetime ago. In others, it feels like only yesterday.

If you were alive, you probably remember what you were doing when you heard the news. You probably remember the fear, the confusion, the angst, the uncertainty.

I was a 19-year-old college freshman at the University of Nevada, Reno. That night, I took my laptop to Getchell Library (since demolished) to write about what was going on. I wanted to document, in my own words, the fear I was feeling, the chaos that was unfolding.

That essay is like a time capsule for me. It takes me back to that day, to the very table I was sitting at as I wrote it. I’ve read it several times since 9-11, and it never fails to roil up those frantic emotions I was feeling — emotions I imagine every American was feeling that day, in their own way.

On today, the 15th anniversary, I felt it appropriate to publish the essay here. Only close family has read it. I usually post only humor on this site — as humor is the only way I know of grappling with an often-insane world — but this essay for me helps to mark a significant event not only in our nation’s history, but in our lives.

I was a kid when I wrote this — a kid who hadn’t yet set foot in a Journalism 101 course — so the bulky paragraphs make me cringe, and some of the historical facts aren’t accurate (the attacks killed 2,996 people, not 10,000).

However, I’m glad I wrote it, because it captures for me a time and a place — as well as the accompanying feelings — and it helps me to frame that day in my mind, so that I’ll never forget. Human memories fade, and time tends to numb pain, but it’s always important to remember.

And as a country, collectively and individually, we will always remember.  Keep reading…