100 I’s

Leave it to Trista to stir the blog pot and cause me to sink an enormous amount of time and effort into a trendy posting on the subject of "100 Things About Me". I’ll do anything to be accepted by the blogging community at large, so here goes:

100. Goof off a lot because I believe it’s healthy and necessary, but then I worry so much about important things not getting done that it cancels out the healthy effect of goofing off.
99. Never used illegal drugs, and I only take legal drugs when absolutely necessary.
98. Can make myself have mild hallucinations.
97. Was overweight as a kid, but then got tall & skinny as a teenager.
96. In the years after college I used to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s for dessert every night.
95. I’m a dark chocolate man, almost to the point that I don’t like milk chocolate anymore.
94. Believe the absence of God would be as much of a reason to live a good life as would the presence of God.
93. My parents gave me small sips of beer when I was a kid. It was mostly just the foam, but I loved it. Especially with salt.
92. Don’t like alcoholic drinks much. I’d rather have a milkshake.
91. Think I’m addicted to sugar.
90. See no point in being around people who are drunk or high.
89. Music, movies & books are essential to my existence.
88. Wish I had more time to watch movies, but for now music is my main source of entertainment.
87. In the late 80’s I was in a band called The Ancient Astronauts. We had only played together for one week before our first gig. We only played 8 more shows, but that first one was our best.
86. Tried to learn how to play guitar just so I could play "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd. Floyd was the first non-Top 40 music to become my favorite. Never learned much guitar beyond a few essential chords.
85. Wrote a bunch of songs with some guys on my hall in my freshman year of college. We called ourselves Object of the Experiment, and some of the songs were pretty good. I still have the cassette and someday will digitize it for posterity.
84. "Murmur" by R.E.M. was the first album I bought without hearing it first. It was love at first listen, and it marked my giant leap into the expansive, mind-blowing world of independent and underground music.
83. Harpsichords–hate ’em. Fine as an instrument for texture, but not as a lead.
82. Love soggy cereal, and like to mix different cereals together.
81. Enjoy being a parent & love my kids, but the "rewards of parenting" hasn’t exactly kicked in for me yet.
80. Confused about my religion. I’m not religious, but have strong morals and try to live according to a combination of Christian and Buddhist teachings.
79. Met my wife online in ’95, way back before it was a socially acceptable (or even easy) thing to do.
78. When I was a teen, I used to save ticket stubs for every movie I attended. Back then the stubs were small and weren’t printed with the movie title & date, so I wrote the title on in tiny letters along with the date, time and the name of the person who went with me. If I went alone I recorded a capital "A".
77. Got my first speeding ticket soon after I started driving. I was on a trip with my parents and driving their ’77 Thunderbird. I was clocked at 66 in a 55 MPH zone on the highway. The speed limit had been rolled back from 65 to 55 by President Richard M. Nixon (who was busted for worse things than speeding) during the 70’s "energy crisis", and it was eventually restored to 65. But not soon enough to save me from that ticket.
76. Once stayed awake for 48 hours on a 4th of July weekend while attending summer session at college.
75. First car was a ’75 Mustang II hatchback. V8.
74. First animal I ever hit while driving was a large possum. Sorry, Mr. Possum.
73. My favorite broadcast news shows are on NPR. Most everything else seems too shrill.
72. I’ve used the Internet as my primary "print" news source for the past few years.
71. Used to be a consistently negative and cynical person, but now I’m only that way when the situation calls for it.
70. Sometimes I feel like the only thing I do extremely well is amusing myself.
69. Homophobia is not the reason I don’t want to see "Brokeback Mountain". I’m just not into the cowboy lifestyle.
68. Before spending money on anything, I try to research the product or service extensively.
67. It’s strange to me that we have health and sex ed classes for kids, but not money management and consumerism. In a capitalist society, isn’t this just as important as brushing your teeth?
66. My teeth are, and have always been, free of cavities.
65. Don’t get enough sleep. Only 5 or 6 hours on average.
64. Attended a lot of Disney movies as a kid and loved them, but a turning point came when I was 11. That summer, my parents took me to see "Jaws". It changed my life, and for the next 10 years I was sure that I wanted to be a filmmaker.
63. Tend to be a generalist who’s average at a lot of different things, though I lack the drive (or attention span?) to be truly great at one thing. Once I start to master a task I get bored with it and move to something else.
62. At any given moment, I have a bizarre random shuffle of songs playing in my head. Quite distracting.
61. Don’t want to ever attend Mardi Gras. Seems too out of control.
60. In college I climbed through a second story dorm window to unlock the door for a friend who was using illicit substances when the fire alarm went off. He had rigged the door with an "RA lock" (cleverly twisted wire coat hanger) that prevents entry with a key, and in the haze and haste of leaving the room he inadvertently left the device in place. All his paraphernalia was sitting exposed in the middle of the room. Since I’m tall, they thought I was the perfect candidate to stand on someone’s shoulders and gain access through the window. After I got the window open but before I had gotten even a finger inside, everybody took off and left me hanging. I either had to make it in or risk breaking something in the fall, so I struggled to climb through and scraped up my arms on the sharp metal window frame in the process. But the day was saved and his druggie secret was safe. John Belushi would’ve been proud.
59. I’m a published poet.
58. Tried to be a vegetarian for about 5 years, but my metabolism demands that I have meat. If it’s good enough for lions and other predators, then it’s good enough for me. Still, the whole vegetarian experience was positive because I learned to eat less meat overall and to avoid the red stuff outside of special occasions.
57. My childhood best friend is still a good friend today. I can’t seem to get rid of this guy! Though we followed separate paths for about 20 years after high school, Daniel and I still have a lot in common. And we share a twisted sense of humor that nobody else gets.
56. An uncomfortable percentage of my major worries eventually come true, and some of my nighttime dreams have, in one form or another, become reality.
55. Much of my creative writing comes directly from my subconscience, so there’s often an expanse of time between the act of writing and understanding exactly what I have written.
54. Frequently have what I perceive as "million dollar" ideas, but I have no clue how to bring them to fruition.
53. Don’t like to tackle major construction projects. I’d rather hire someone to avoid the inevitable aggravation and to make sure it gets done right. And if it’s still not done right I have someone to berate other than myself.
52. Used to be very liberal–a real left winger. Attended protests, hated Republicans, couldn’t see a half inch beyond my own ideology. Then in the 90’s I worked for a liberal academic institution for a few years and it was hell. This helped open my eyes to the other side, and I realized that both the Left and the Right have legitimate ideas.
51. In ’85, I paid a scalper $35 for a ticket to Springsteen’s "Born In The USA" show in Greensboro, NC and thought that price was an outrageous ripoff. Today, a $35 concert ticket to see a major act would be a heckuva bargain.
50. Even at 42, I’m not feeling all that old yet.
49. One of my first jobs was working in a kitchen at a nursing home. It was a dull, low paying job, but the schedule was my idea of perfection–Noon to 7:00 PM, Monday through Thursday.
48. Used to believe in UFO’s, ghosts & such, but not anymore.
47. I’m a big supporter of the scientific method.
46. I first consider situations from the worst-case-scenario perspective, then I work backwards.
45. Identify more with females than with males.
44. Sports interest me only mildly, though I really like to watch the Olympics.
43. Have few close friends, and many more out there somewhere in limbo.
42. Often miss interacting with the students at the colleges where I used to work. Hanging out with them was a lot of fun (more fun than I had when I was actually IN college!), and I’ve even stayed in touch with a few.
41. The TV show that has influenced my life the most is the classic "Star Trek".
40. I’m an only child.
39. Before I was born, my mom had a premature baby girl who lived for one hour. The thought of this haunts me, especially considering that she might have survived if she had been born just a few years later with more advanced medical technology.
38. Have a lot of respect for technology, and it gives me more hope than fear.
37. The least surprising thing about me is that I love electronic gadgets!
36. Have mild obsessive-compulsive tendencies (not Monk level, but he often reminds me of myself) and issues with anxiety. Their severity often depends on how tired or hungry I am.
35. Sometimes obsess over the imagined details of what it’s like to die in an unnatural situation. For example, I wonder what it was like for the astronauts on the space shuttle when it broke apart, for miners who are trapped in a collapse, for the people on the planes or in the buildings on 9/11, or for those who are taken hostage and beheaded. It’s not concern over it happening to me as much as wanting to know what it’s like to face that kind of horror and what thoughts go through your head.
34. I’m a fan of horror films, and I think they’re a great way to explore the dark elements of life without anyone getting hurt. I have a high tolerance for disturbing images and never look away from the screen. The only horror movie that I find disturbing to the point that I don’t care to watch it ever again is "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer".
33. Lately I’ve had a compulsive urge to buy a new car. This always happens when the odometer nears 100,000 miles on my old car. I’ve never had one go much past this magic number without becoming mechanically unsound, so this urge does have a basis. No problems so far, though. Darn the luck.
32. I’m so tall that I’ve given myself semi-concussions by bumping into low doorways and other obstacles.
31. "Law & Order" bores me to tears.
30. Just after leaving college, I was called repeatedly by a movie production company to work as a volunteer helper on a Hollywood production being filmed near VA Tech. I turned them down repeatedly because it was too far to drive, and because I was Mr. Art Film Guy who had too much integrity for the Hollywood crowd. Based on the title of the movie, I was sure it would be a flop that nobody would see or care about. The title was "Dirty Dancing".
29. Love my wife Jennifer deeply, even though she watches junk like "Dirty Dancing" and she’ll never forgive me for turning down that offer!
28. Allergic to cats.
27. Had a pet kitten when I was a kid. Poor little Frisky was hit by a car right in front of me as I was waiting for the school bus. One of the most traumatic experiences of my life. The bus came minutes later and my mom made me go to school, which pretty much sucked. I was crying on the bus, but I think the other kids just laughed at me.
26. Pets I’ve had include the aforementioned ill-fated kitty, an ex psychology lab rat, tropical fish, a hermit crab (which I sadly neglected and let starve to death) and several guinea pigs. I loved the fish as a kid (they tend to stay off busy roads), and the guinea pigs were my favorite pet as an adult (though they’re no match for fish when it comes to swimming).
25. Since we didn’t live in a neighborhood with the other kids, I was bullied horribly on the school bus. Daniel withstood the same treatment, so to appear cool we pretended to hate each other. At one point we started to have fake fights on the side of the road each day after getting off the bus. We would push each other and roll around in the ditch until the bus went out of sight, then we’d laugh about it and go home for supper. Those gullibullies believed it all.
24. Only black eye I’ve ever had was courtesy of a kick from a girl who rode my bus.
23. This one time while camping as a kid, I got locked in the bathroom of our camper.
22. One of my best memories of youth happened at the same campsite. I was about 7 or 8, I think. An older girl who was camping with her family nearby befriended me and just after sunset we found a log by the lake that someone had been burning but that now was smoldering. We blew on the embers and started the fire again, then popped Jiffy Pop over the flaming log and ate popcorn by the lake.
21. Have a long history of winning things on the radio.
20. Swimming & dancing are two skills that escape me.
19. Have a bowling trophy. Second place in a Jr. League tournament.
18. Big fan of Richard Brautigan.
17. Some say I resemble Henry the Octopus.
16. I’m sad about not having the time to read books. I was the proverbial avid reader from grade school to college, but since then other things have stood in the way. Reading is probably my biggest retirement plan.
15. My experience with adoption was one of the most surreal and wonderful trips I’ve ever taken. And since this was my first child, I think it encouraged me to be a better parent because I felt an additional responsibility to the birth family. Because of this, both of my children have benefited from the experience.
14. No information or advice I ever read, watched or heard from others prepared me for being a parent. And little of it has helped along the way.
13. Love my family, and they have made me a better person. I’m grateful that they put up with my sorry butt.
12. I like the way Allison makes clicking noises with her tongue when she’s happily exploring.
11. I like the way Emma makes up nonsense words for people and things, even though she knows the right words.
10. I have a blast working on this blog and my podcast, even though the world hasn’t discovered its greatness yet.
9. Long ago, on a dark and stormy night during a bad case of writer’s block, I blatantly plagiarized an obscure sci-fi short story for a class. The teacher liked the story so much that she wanted me to submit it to various contests. I dodged that bullet and vowed to never ever plagiarize anything ever again under any circumstance. Since then I have placed a great value on originality and have been careful to always give credit where it’s due. Call me Ishmael.
8. Learned everything I know about computers entirely on my own, thanks to the kickass 486DX2 my parents bought me in ’93. That was almost a better investment than my college education.
7. Have a degree in film & popular culture, of all things.
6. Made a mistake calling this blog "Ashamblesburg". "Ashambles" isn’t a word. Maybe I should change it to "Shamblesburg"?
5. Most of the time, I’m a frighteningly good speller.
4. If I was forced to pick an all-time favorite band, it would probably have to be The Fall. But the singer-songwriter who’s closest to my particular wavelength is Robyn Hitchcock.
3. Strive to wield my opinions in a more productive and creative manner than wallowing in petty hatred of public figures. Some of my favorite music and film artists have let personal vitriol and vendettas poison their work over the past few years.
2. Consider myself to be politically moderate.
1. Even after reading this mess, there’s still a lot about me that you don’t know.

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2 Responses

  1. The Fall…. yes, yes, yes.Danny, P.S.: I don’t think I ever thanked you for introducing Richard Brautigan to my life. He’s been an inspiration ever since the day I got that book from you.P.P.S.: Do you know the song "Margaret vs. Pauline" by Neko Case? I’m 99% certain it’s about In Watermelon Sugar.

  2. You’re welcome, Andy! And you are probably 99% correct about that Neko Case song. I read that she’s a Brautigan fan, so it would make sense.I’ve always though of John Prine’s work as being the musical equivalent of Brautigan. It has the same mix of humor and sadness.

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