Ants on a Blog

'We cannot get out. The end comes. Drums, drums in the deep. They are coming.'


Best Goalie Mask Ever

The Force is strong with this one

If only an awesome helmet made for an awesome goalie. Good luck, Martin Gerber. Ever notice the really good goalies don't have fancy helmets? Artistry, notoriety--a Jedi craves not these things.

And if half of the other goalies with awesome masks were half as good as their masks, the other half who are actually good goalies would get half as much more respect that they deserve. The above link, however, is lacking severely of Josh Harding's several thoughtful masks--except for the Rascal Flatts homages. Ugh.

Mace... out.


Day of Doom Playlist

First I'd like to thank a few music-related people without whom I wouldn't have gotten so many gracious comments about the music at my wedding. So shout outs to DJ Kool Hanz, my oldest brother, and DJ Drewski for hooking up the amazing sound system and light show. Shout out also to Hip Replacement trombonist and general awesome dude, Kris James, for taking care of the more important MC duties throughout the evening.

And since I've received so many compliments about the music, I thought it would be appropriate to give the entire playlist here. I don't know what good it will do, except to show the makeup of what has been declared "the best wedding dance EVAR." Maybe we can go so far as to burn off copies of the music for those who are THAT interested. I don't know. We can talk about that. :)

Some general comments:

I was warned and warned and warned and Amanda worried and worried and worried about having an iPod wedding. Now that it's all done, however, the only thing I can think of saying to all the naysayers is "BOO YAH, BITCHES!"

Then again, I wouldn't recommend and iPod wedding to just anyone. I am extemely confident in my expertise with iTunes, iPods, my intimacy with my music library, and my ability to obtain necessary tracks at cruch time. For some rube without these comforts who's just looking to save $1,500-2,000 bucks that he'd be spending on a DJ, I would say "tread this path at your own peril."

If you have a sound system you trust, someone who you know can operate an iPod and minor MC duties, and your own confidence in knowing what makes a good playlist, I'd definitely recommend an iPod wedding. Putting the music together was one of my only personal touches on the whole event. Yeah, there were battles of what "needs" to go in there (fucking Chicken Dance), and there were battles on how to prioritize requests from guests, it means something to me to know that just about every track in these lists means something to me. The profundity of each meaning varies, from obligatory to call-off-the-wedding-if-this-song-isn't-in-there.

So, anyway, the music. I decided to map out the reception revolving around MC duties. I made a playlist for each section of uninterrupted music. So Cocktail hour, then a playlist for the Grand March, then a playlist for Dinner before speeches, etc. etc. It's important to make sure "Shuffle" and "Repeat" are turned off in the iPod's settings so that these playlists play through without--duh--repeating or shuffling. That way, you choose the order of songs, hit play once, and everything sails smooth.

So, anyway (again), the music:

When I'm Nintendo 64

01 Pre-Dinner
(18 songs, 1.2 hours, 104.8mb)
[Track # - Artist - Song - Album]
01) The Beatles "When I'm Sixty-Four" - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
02) Johnny Cash "A Boy Named Sue" - The Legend of Johnny Cash
03) Herbie Hancock "Milestones" - Columbia Years 1972-1986
04) The Spinners "I'll Be Around" - Spinners
05) Silly Wizard "The Queen of Argyll" - Kiss the Tears Away
06) Howard Shore "Many Meetings" - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings OST
07) Planxty "Cunla" - The Well Below the Valley
08) John Coltrane "Giant Steps" - Giant Steps
09) Radiohead "Let Down" - OK Computer
10) Kool & The Gang "Summer Madness" - Ganthology
11) John Coltrane "Summertime" - My Favorite Things
12) Planxty "Bean Phaidin" - The Well Below the Valley
13) Beck "Sing it Again" - Mutations
14) Howard Shore (featuring Isabel Bayradkarian) "Evenstar" - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers OST
15) Bobby Womack "Across 110th Street" - Across 110th Street OST
16) Planxty "The Jolly Beggar" - Planxty
17) Stevie Wonder "For Once in My Life" - The Definitive Collection
18) Miles Davis "Milestones" - Denial

Not so White Wedding

02 Grand March
(1 song, 4.1min, 3.9mb)
01) Billy Idol "White Wedding" - Billy Idol

My vote for the Grand March was Carl Orff "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi, No 1: O Fortuna" - Carmina Burana. That would have been just... just... epic. Nope: vetoed by her. Instead, it was White Wedding, and several people in the wedding party didn't even remember. :(

So cool

03 Dinner 1 (14 songs, 1.2 hours, 118.1mb)
01) Miles Davis "All Blues" - Kind of Blue
02) The Beatles "Blackbird" - The White Album
03) Planxty "As I Roved Out" - The Well Below the Valley
04) Howard Shore "Concerning Hobbits" - The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring OST
05) Frank Sinatra "East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)" - The Golden Years
06) Beck "Feather in Your Cap" - It's All in Your Mind
07) Silly Wizard "The Valley of Strathmore" - So Many Partings
08) Dave Brubeck "Take Five" - Take Five
09) Opeth "Windowpane" - Damnation
10) Silly Wizard "If I was a Blackbird" - Wild and Beautiful
11) John Williams "Princess Leia's Theme" - Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope OST
12) Joe Henderson "Mode for Joe" - Mode for Joe
13) Planxty "'P' Stands for Paddy, I Suppose" - Cold Blow and the Rainy Night
14) Frank Sinatra "My Blue Heaven" - Legendary Concerts Vol. 3

--Best Speeches Ever--

So hot

04 Dinner 2 (16 songs, 1.3 hours, 117.2mb)
01) Peggy Lee "Fever" - The Best of Miss Peggy Lee
02) Planxty "Three Drunken Maidens" - Unknown
03) Opeth "Death Whispered a Lullaby" - Damnation
04) Silly Wizard "Wi' My Dog and Gun" - So Many Partings
05) Miles Davis "So What" - Kind of Blue
06) Planxty "The Blacksmith" - Planxty
07) Dave Brubeck "Blue Rondo a la Turk" - Unknown
08) Howard Shore (featuring Annie Lennox) "Into the West" - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King OST
09) John Coltrane "Blue Train" - Blue Train
10) Silly Wizard "Fear a Bhata" - Caledonia's Hardy Sons
11) Frank Sinatra "Fools Rush in" - The Golden Years
12) John Williams "Parade of the Ewoks" - Star Wars Episode VI: The Return of the Jedi
13) Rod Stewart "Forever Young" - Out of Order
14) Planxty "Three Reels" - Unknown
15) Frank Sinatra "Begin the Beguine" - The Best of Vol. 2
16) Bill Withers "Lovely Day" - Lean on Me: The Best of Bill Withers

So hip

05 First Dance (1 song, 3.2min, 4.9mb)
01) Al Green "Let's Stay Together" - Let's Stay Together

We were originally torn between "Let's Stay Together" and The Spinner's "I'll Be Around," but upon further inspection of the lyrics of "I'll Be Around," we realized the song's message was basically: "Hey, yeah we're broken up. But if you ever want to you know... hook up booty call do it, I'll Be Arooooouuunnnd." So we thought "Let's Stay Together" had a somewhat more wholesome message for a wedding.


06 Father Daughter Dance (1 song, 3.5min, 4.8mb)
01) Heartland "I Loved Her First" - I Loved Her First

Aside from a certain Hallmark, manufactured quality of this song, there's no denying the power it has over fathers who are proud, grown men. One such gentleman, who was at the wedding and who will remain unnamed [Editor's Note: Dave Schottenbauer], had to leave the room when this song started playing. There's definitely something to that that even I can't dis.

So junior high

07 Mother Son Dance (1 song, 4.7min, 4.4mb)
01) Jane's Addiction "Jane Says" - Nothing's Shocking

A weird pick for a mother son dance, but somehow fitting since she was forced to listen to the song, oh, about a million times through junior high. It was Mah's idea--though, I think she was kidding--and I loved the juxtaposition that helped illustrate a beautiful merging of two failry different families. That, and Mah and I ran out of time to find another song.

I'd do 'im. There. I said it.

08 Wedding Party (2 songs, 7.9min, 7.3mb)
01) Prince "Kiss" - Parade
02) James Brown "Get Up Offa that Thang" - Unknown

At the beginning of "Get Up..." the wedding party ran out and grabbed people from the crowd to join the dance. Halfway through the song, everyone did the same again. By the time the song was over, and the next playlist started, the dance floor was overflowing and stayed that way pretty much all night, as will be evidenced by the awesomeness of the following playlists.

Your Kung Fu(nk) is strong

09 Dance 1 (16 songs, 1.1 hours, 96.5mb)
01) Earth Wind & Fire "September" - September
02) Sister Sledge "We are Family" - The Definitive Groove Collection
03) The Isley Brothers "Shout" - The Essential Isley Brothers
04) Lee Ann Womack "I Hope You Dance" - Greatest Hits
05) Tower of Power "So Very Hard to Go" - What is Hip Anthology
06) Roy Orbison "Pretty Woman" - Classics Vol. 3
07) The Emeralds "Chicken Dance" - Unknown Uncared About
08) Bee Gees "Stayin' Alive" - Bee Gees Greatest
09) The Contours "Do You Love Me" - Unknown
10) David Bowie "Rebel Rebel" - Diamond Dogs
11) Kenny Rogers "Through the Years" - Share Your Love
12) Kool & The Gang "Ladies' Night" - Gangthology
13) Beastie Boys "Brass Monkey" - Licensed to Ill
14) Bobby Helms "My Special Angel" - Unknown
15) ABBA "Mamma Mia" - ABBA
16) Kool & The Gang "Celebration" - Celebration

Lord of the Ringos

10 Dollar Dance (6 songs, 21.4min, 35.1mb)
01) The Beatles "In My Life" - Rubber Soul
02) Ryan Adams "Two" - Easy Tiger
03) Billy Joel "She's Got a Way" - Cold Spring Harbor
04) Billie Holiday "Blue Moon" - Unknown
05) Van Morrison "Tupelo Honey" - Favourites
06) Tori Amos "You Belong to Me" - Mona Lisa Smile OST

Ugh. Mona Lisa Smile. Brutal. What wasn't butal was that we had to play this playlist twice since we were making bank. Another brutal thing is a nasty little Schottebauer wedding tradition of putting all Dollar Dance funds into a bottle of Karo Syrup. The (once) happy couple then gets to somehow retreive the money from the jar, rinse off the bills, wait for them to dry, and then try to explain to a poor teller why exactly the bills are so wrinkled and sticky when they deposit the cash.

Amanda and I won this battle, though. We just cut open the plastic bottle, rinsed, and wiped each bill before placing them in front of fan. The whole process took only about an hour. Amanda also told her family that we had to do it the hard way, just to let them have their satisfaction before knowing the easy truth. :D

Are you down wit' da boogie?

11 Dance 2 (44 songs, 3.1 hours, 251.1mb)
01) Kool & The Gang "Jungle Boogie" - Gangthology
02) Michael Jackson "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough" - Off the Wall
03) McFadden & Whitehead "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" - McFadden & Whitehead
04) Glenn Miller "In the Mood" - Unknown Uncared About
05) Ella Fitzgerald "Night and Day" - The Cole Porter Songbook Vol. 1
06) Jackie DeShannon "Needles and Pins" - Unknown
07) Madonna "Vogue" - Madonna
08) James Brown "Super Bad" - Super Bad
09) The Brothers Johnson "Stomp!" - Stomp!
10) Bryan Adams "(Everything I Do) I Do if For You" - The Best of Me
11) Bon Jovi "Living On a Prayer" - Slippery When Wet
12) Jamiroquai "Canned Heat" - Synkronized
13) Peaches & Herb "Shake Your Groove Thang" - Unknown
14) Peter Cetera "Glory of Love" - Solitude/Solitare
15) The Bangles "Eternal Flame" - Everything
16) ABBA "Dancing Queen" - Dancing Queen
17) Prince "I Would Die 4 U" - Purple Rain
18) Stevie Wonder "Superstition" - The Definitive Collection
19) The Commodores "Easy" - The Ultimate Collection
20) Cyndi Lauper "Time After Time" - She's So Unusual
21) The B-52s "Love Shack" - Cosmic Thing
22) Earth Wind & Fire "Let's Groove" - Greatest Hits
23) Andre 3000 "Hey Ya!" - Speakerboxxx
24) Tower of Power "You're Still a Young Man" - What is Hip Anthology
25) Mr. Big "To Be with You" - Lean into It
26) Right Said Fred "I'm Too Sexy" - Good God Who Cares?
27) Michael Jackson "Remember the Time" - Dangerous
28) Bee Gees "Night Fever" - Bee Gee Greatest
29) The Scorpions "Wind of Change" - Crazy World
30) Etta James "At Last" - Unknown
31) Rick Springfield "Jessie's Girl" - Unknown
32) Rick Astley "Never Gonna Give You Up" - Wherever You Go
33) Barry White "Never, Never Gonna Let You Go" - Stone Gon'
34) Prince "Purple Rain" - Purple Rain

We had to stop the playlist at this point because it was after midnight. While we missed out on the last ten songs, it was already a great success, and what a better way to go than with "Purple Rain!" Here are the rest of the songs on the playlist that were forfeited:

So Pokorny

35) The Whispers "Emergency" - Anthology
36) Lionel Richie "All Night Long" - Unknown
37) Guns N Roses "Sweet Child of Mine" - Appetite for Destruction
38) The Police "Every Breath You Take" - Synchronicity
39) Weezer "My Name is Jonas" - Weezer
40) Michael Jackson "The Way You Make Me Feel" - Bad
41) Poison "Every Rose has its Thorn" - Open Up and Say... Ahh!
42) Journey "Don't Stop Believin'" - Escape
43) Night Ranger "Sister Christian" - Midnight Madness
44) Meatloaf "I'd Do Anything for Love (but I Won't Do That)" - Bat Outta Hell II: Back into Hell

Thanks again to everyone who thought the music was great, who helped make the music possible, and who danced--well or otherwise.

Mace... out.


Cool Animator Dudes v. Corporate Zombie Trolls

Part One

The Cool Animator Dudes with whom Zen Bank shares a building are just flaunting it now. Two more small episodes today were sobering reality checks to just how awful corporation jobs are.

Zen Bank had an all-employee staff meeting this morning, like we do every two months. Here's a run-down of one of these artifices of corporate importance:

7:30am - I walk in no earlier than I need to be and fill a plate with mini-muffins, cinirollettes--anything--and a styro cup with scorched-earth coffee. Why? Because the pain from the subsequent gutrot and lava-flayed mouth is a more welcome feeling than the upcoming forty-five minutes of pretending to like each other and pretending the banking world isn't being hit hard.

"Not this early in the morning!"

7:35am - Mini-muffins and cinirollettes decimated; flayed skin hanging from the roof of the mouth. Let's get this over with.

"Generic weather comment!"

7:36am - Birthdays! For the people who have been attending these meetings for decades, this event is exciting. Each employee whose birthday lands that month or the next gets to reach into a plastic pot full of ping pong balls. Everyone is granted a half-day of Paid Time Off for their birthday, but if they pull out a ping pong ball with the month or day of their birthday written on it, they get a full day of PTO. There's a wild card too: a orange ping pong ball for another chance at a full day!

"Competitive saying left over from my high school football days thirty-five years ago that will somehow inspire someone to pick the orange ball!"

The trolls and zombies love this part of the meeting because it's the only one left up to chance. The rest is dictated by the dooming reality of statistics, trends, and some other third thing that resembles the worst episodes of the Twilight Zone--not worst-chilling or worst-thought-provoking, but worst-campy, -produced, or -cheesey.

"Playful ribbing about your golf swing!"

Anniversaries are thrown in here at the end: this could be you! You could be hobbling up there to receive your crystal paperweight for thirty years of service. At year thirty-five, your paperweight has a clock in it. This could be you. Watch and remember.

7:47am - Slideshow... if they can figure out how to simply connect a laptop to a projector and if the viruses with which they infect the entire network haven't made it impossible to run Powerpoint. Graphs... stats... "... n% under the goal..." We're doomed.

"Next quarter, right?"

8:15am - Guest speaker. This morning's guest speaker was a police officer who spoke about new trends in fraud and theft. Moral of that story: they're faster, smarter, and more creative; we're doomed.

"Buck up! Go team!"

This is where it got interesting this morning. During the ending speech meant to keep solidarity and employment pride soaring, in the ironic face of a completely hopeless and routinely superficially-themed staff meeting... booming, industrial techno falls heavily from the Cool Animator Dudes above us.

I heard it; Demon heard it; but everyone else pretended not to. It was obvious that they were having a better morning upstairs than I was downstairs. I imagined they were having a staff meeting too, but there staff meetings kick off their mornings with a Quake LAN party, an early-NIN soundtrack, 'sage egg McMuffs, and Bawls for some real gut rot.

The juxtaposition of pathetic silver linings and pseudo-inspirado pep talk accompanied by a far-off rave, was wonderful. Ampliphied in my head, it was perfect.

Score one for Cool Animator Dudes.

Part Two

INT. Office Building shared hallway - Outside of the communal bathroom

Mason exits the bathroom and pockets his DS. His morning gut rot, to which he added the largest, most-promising piece of birthday cake he could find, and coupled with a McDeez lunch of three dub-chee-burgz, had escalated his status into a suitable misery. Having just dropped off his misery and failing to solve a Puzzle Quest session, he heads back towards his department at Zen Bank.

A door in the hallway swings open as Mason walks by. A Cool Animator Dude walks out, talking on a cell phone.

(into cell phone)
What's up, dude? ... Just rockin' to some
Screamin' Trees, poundin' out some animation. You?

Mason's shoulders slump as he walks away, and from his core emanates the forlorn theme from The Incredible Hulk.

Score two Cool Animator Dudes.

Mace... out.


Logic Problem

Despite a somewhat slow spring and early summer, over the last two years Hip Replacement has been doing very well. We've averaged about a gig per month with exceptions both ways and have landed a lot of great gigs. This is a complete turn around from our early days, which consisted of very few gigs and none of them great (Kings of Ice Cream Socials).

Last night, we played at a most prestigious Minneapolis venue. The sound man at this bar is perhaps the best sound man I've ever worked with. We've only worked with him twice now, but I would never hesitate to play any gig this guy runs.

Bands are treated really well where we played, what with being given a couple cases of beer and 50 complimentary tickets to give out in order to fill the room. So with a great sound man, an awesome location (practically right down the street from our rehearsal space), and being treated well, it's hard to think of reasons not to want to play there. Last night, however, the bar left me with a bad taste in my mouth--and it wasn't the complimentary High Life.

The Shitpagne of Beer.

When it came time for them to cut our check for headlining on a Saturday night, the invoice included a curious item: "cover songs $-6.00."


Out of our 15-song set list last night, five were covers--and a vast majority of the people possibly never heard three of those five (unless they've seen us play before). None of us have ever seen anything like this before, and a lot of us have played a lot of shows (covers and otherwise).

Granted, we're still pretty much a no-name band, but they were only going to pay us $100. After being invited only five days in advance. To headline. On a Saturday night. After we had to be there since 5pm (we went on at 11:45). On a night when one of the opening acts was a no-show. I'm not trying to sound ungrateful, but we've been paid more for less work and fewer pains and to play in front of fewer people (thanks again if you came out to see us!).

On top of all that, we get docked $6 for playing covers? Of course, it's only $6, but are we supposed to look the other way just because we're being nickel-n-dimed?

The irony struck me stupid for a few minutes. Original acts have to fight to get any gigs in Minneapolis or anywhere without playing covers. I guarantee that down the street last night at any given bar, a cover band was paid $300 to play the same top forty hits that they played last weekend and the weekend before and before (back until those songs were contemporary). Would those bars dock $6 if a cover band threw in a few original songs? F no. They wouldn't even notice; they'd too busy raking money like so many leaves into piles for diving into like Scrooge McDuck.

At some point in every musician's career, covers are a necessary step. You have to prove that you understand how songs become hits, and also prove that you can play them, in order to prove that your original music is worth a damn. It's a competitive market in which there is an innumerable amount of people with the shared dream of playing music for the masses. I will always prefer original music to covers, but at base I respect anyone out there playing. It might not seem like all that big of a step from the basement to the stage, but it's one that puts a musician ahead of a gear-fetishist and brand-snob who never puts all that technology nor specialized equipment to use.

The fallacy of every music scene is that covers were once new, original music that became popularized by radio and video. They became people's favorite songs, and when those people go out, they want to hear their favorite songs because they know them. Bars know this, so they are more likely to hire bands that will make their general occupants happy. Happy occupants = drunker occupants = richer bar. Bands know that bars know this, too. If music is the supply, it will naturally follow the demand. Bands with more gigs = richer bands = happy bands.

The bar we played at last night has always prided itself in being a supporter of live, original music. That's great. But is charging an original act that happens to play a couple covers really supportive? In a music scene that, again, breeds cover bands? When they're only paying the headliner $100, anyway? Or is it greed, thinly-veiled with altruistic policy? The $5.25 they charge for a bottle of beer certainly supports that thought. It's perfectly fine if a venue picks and chooses who plays for them based on their music policy. If you want covers, hire cover bands. If you want original acts, hire original acts. In our case, if it's a slight mix of both, give us a heads up. That's how to be supportive. Is feeing us a solution to anything? I didn't know you can fee music.

When it comes down to it, I'd play any gig for free. HR is happy when we make enough gig money to pay for our monthly rent at the studio. So I don't mean to complain--though I'm sure that's exactly what it sounds like. I'd like rather to plead to venues not to make it harder than it already is to play music for people. We want to play at your bar for your thirsty occupants. But really, we just want to play.

Mace... out.

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Calm Down. Everything's Fine: I Did Not Lose My DS Afterall.

Don't be mad, Precious!

Yesterday after work I headed to dreaded Target to pick up some toilet paper. Now now. The toilet paper is an important detail that will be fulfilled later in the post--not just another excuse for poop jokes. On my way out of Target and before picking up beer at Byerly's, I realized that my DS was not in my left hip pocket, where it would normally be after work.

There was an initial wave of panic and heavy breathing (and not the normal kind that's also associated with toilet paper). I calmed down, though, once I decided I must have simply left my DS in my desk at the bank. I fired up the truck, Grond, blasted the 'Pod through my new aux-out stereo deck, and crossed the street to Byerly's, in search of delicious, discounted beer without another thought for my stranded DS.

This morning I expected to slide open my desk drawer to see my DS frowning up at me, impatiently tapping its stylus like a mother having stayed up all night waiting for a naughty son to come home. My DS, however, was not there.

An aside: When I lose things I react in subtly different ways. When I lose a round of Smash Brothers, I congratulate the winner and resist the urge to happy poke their ribs. When I lose a softball game (happens a lot), I remind myself I'm playing for fun, tradition, and pitcher beer after the game. When the Wild lost in this year's playoffs to the Colorado Avalance in six games, I wrote an epic, season's end post that took ten hours to compile (all on company time, of course). When I lost my cat, Fizzgig, in Jr. High to a urinary problem treatable only by euthanasia, I was down for a month but not wailing my lamentations. In all these cases, my reactions are (usually) pretty calm and collected.

R.I.P. Fizzgig

I had already reacted poorly to this most recent loss of my DS the night before. Then, I was more disappointed about not being able play. I had thought I knew where the DS was. This second realization of the contrary was different. More panic, heavier breathing, a tear or two etc.

I asked myself all sorts of questions starting with "who," "what," "when," and such, but nothing came to mind. There are only a few places my DS ever rests: my pocket, my desk at home, my desk at work, and the toilet paper dispenser in the bathroom at work (echo... echo...).

Everyone's got to pull up their pants some time, and most of us need two hands. I have left it there on the dispenser a couple times. Before long afterwards, though, I would race back and snatch it up with an apology and a buffing of the screens. This time I had left it there over night, not just a few minutes.

Time was my enemy in more ways than one. The longer it sat there, the more likely I would never see it again. And I had all morning to worry. I emailed friends for consolation. I drafted a mock-up for a potential "Have You Seen Me?" poster with important info like: "Hello. I'm a DS who's only a year old. I respond to the name 'Precious,' I'm afraid of the dark, and my previous owner misses me so much!"

I called three fellow employees, one of whom cleans the whole bank and the community bathrooms for the building in which the bank is located. That bathroom is my paradise away from my desk and the trolls on the phone. He didn't see it when he cleaned the previous night. I wanted to grill him, squeeze the facts and the truth out of him. But I restrained. No one else knew how to get a hold of the building maintenance guy, or if there even was a lost-and-found. As if, I thought, anyone would give up such a sweet find...

That is, unless they worked in the building and thought someone might come lookin' for it.

Another aside: I have a peculiar relationship building with the Cool Animator Dudes and Cute Animator Girls who work at a medical animation company that shares the second floor of our office building. The only time I see any of them and share a greeting, is en route to and from the bathroom. Many of these guys I only see while in the bathroom. They're all genuinely friendly, young, tattooed, and hip--a fresh breath compared to the sterile, back-stabbing, stressfest goings-on at the bank. When I see these people, it's like I'm at The Herkimer having a Dunkel Weiss and sharing The Onion headlines that we picked up from a rack in the entry way.

It's a bizarro relationship built solely on intersecting bowel movement cycles.

I found some hope in another realization of good chances: that one of these guys could have found the DS on the TP dispenser and felt pity, because maybe he has forgotten something of his on the same dispenser--maybe even his own DS! I hoped whoever found it would fire it up and noticed the homebrew card, with a fully marked calendar and planner, and I hoped it would make them realize the owner takes far more than casual enjoyment from the device.

I put my faith in betting on honest, office cohabitants, sucked up my pride and went forth to ask an embarrassing question.


MASON enters the wide double-doors and scans the room, awe and jealousy evident on his face. The vivid, colorful design in the room is testament to the creativity and imagination necessary for their line of work. They even have life-giving plants. The institutional sterility of the bank's decor speaks to dollars-and-cents, overdraft fees, performance reviews, and cover-your-ass customer service.

There is hope here. Hope smells like ideas,
Peace Coffee, and 3d-rendering.
I can smell the DS too.

A Cute Animator Girl and the owner of the company are chatting at the front desk. Both see Mason enter and welcome him. The girl recognizes him from their intersecting bowel movement cycles. Mason has only seen the owner twice: once when the animators moved in a year and a half ago, and the second time being now, just before asking a humbling question.


How can we help you?

Umm. Well, I work at the bank...

Gestures pointlessly through the door in the general direction of the bank, just in case they save lost DSes and can see through walls.

Anyway, it's rather embarrassing actually. Did
any of the fellas here find a Nintendo DS...
in the men's room?


A Nintendo DS, you say?

Yeah. I might have left it there yesterday
after I... was in there.

I'll just go ask around, if you can wait
a couple minutes.

Thank you.

Several awkward moments pass.

That's what I get, ya know? For stopping
there after work to wash my hands.
Not anything else of course, just to...
and ohp! Left it on the counter, ya know?

Right. That happens.

She at least appears to appreciate his lie and courteous attempt to sidestep the obvious.

Boy, it sure is nice in here. Nothing
like the bank! They took away our plants
to cut cut back on "useless spending."
So... No plants.

That's awful.

The owner comes back with a Cool Animator Dude with neck tattoos and several piercings. He holds up the DS and smiles.

Did you lose a white one?

They all laugh because they actually know what a Nintendo DS is, and that it could have been another color if another person had lost their red, black, or any variety of Jolly Rancher-colored DS in the same bathroom, and it is good. Mason keeps his tears in check.

Wow. Thank you. This is amazing.
Who would have thought there would be
good souls in a building that houses

a bank, ya know?

The animators laugh but trail off and look sorry for Mason.

Say, speaking of which, are you guys looking
to hire a writer?

All told, I was parted from my DS for roughly 20 hours, 15 hours of which were blissful ignorance to its true fate.

I promise, DS, to keep you away from toilet paper, dispensed or otherwise. Maybe I'll get a belt loop chain for you like the Cool Animator Dude's wallet chain. Welcome back, Precious, and please don't be mad.

Mas... Out and stylusing again


Cat Proximity -xkcd

Only xkcd would be able to perfectly graph the proximal effect of kitties.

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Reflections on 88 Games

After Saturday's Game 6 loss to Colorado I set my Facebook status to "Jared Mason is sullen, down-trodden, and some other third thing." The last part is a Metalocalypse reference, but the more I thought about it I realized there definitely was some other third thing bothering me. I've been feeling it for months, probably; I only noticed it recently, though. Looking back, this was a very successful season overall. So why does it seem to me that this season stressed me out more than any other so far?

There were plenty of reasons for pride. This year, at least our regular season, was by far our best. But it seemed that for all the bright spots, there was also darkness causing me worry. I think there was more good, yet somehow I let my vision linger too long in the dark.

The Wild won the Northwest Division, their first in their seven seasons and Minnesota's first in 24 years (North Stars '83-84 season). Undoubtedly awesome. It will be a glorious day when we raise that banner to the rafters, the second banner raised in Wild history after retiring jersey #1 for Wild fans.

Gaborik stayed (comparatively) healthy all year and put up record numbers, showing his worth after years of patience from the State. He was held to a single point in six playoff games--more a testament to Colorado's attention than will or effort on Gabby's part.

Rolston was yet again a stud--in different ways, too, since fewer and fewer teams and goalies fall for his one-trick-pony slapshot. He lead the team in playoff points (2g, 4a) and was a +4. He was a calm, wise voice of reason in the locker room.

Parrish, too, said important things all season. This is good, since he didn't do many good things on the ice all season.

We're left to ponder what wonders Koivu could have accomplished if hadn't missed 25 games after Ohlund played Paul Bunyan with his ankle. Still though, producing 3g and 2a in the playoffs, Koivu emerged this season like a mighty narwhal through arctic ice. He lead by example, his teammates playing with him like an inspired murder of narwhals.

Backstrom was Blind Guardian in goal (that's a good thing for you non-BG dorks).

Harding struggled, but his starts tripled and included stretches of excellence.

Bouchard established a Wild record with 50 assists and gave us another (dare I say better) shootout spin-o-rama.

Burns became an historic Wild defender and an intoxicating player to watch. He made us have fun by having fun himself.

Schultz was Eastwood on our blue line. His inspiring Game 6 appearance is illustrative of what kind of professional grace we can expect for six more years.

Veilleux was like the ghost of Wes Walz. Honor Walz! Retire #37! Maybe the day we raise the Northwest Champs banner we'll raise a third one, eh? #37 to the rafters? It would be the height of classiness.

We ought to thank Fedoruk, Boogaard, Carney, Hill, Simon, and even Voros for the gravel in our gut and the spit in our eye. They policed accountability on teams taking liberties on our once namby-pamby physical game. They added fear to our arsenal.

Skoula... tried really hard.

Jaime MacDonald wrote pregame summaries for all season. The only other writer I've read more is Tolkien. The two main things I've appreciated about MacDonald's summaries is his stubborn positivity and accurate eye for aftermath. I was a complete mess after each loss this year. The next day at work would reek of even grimmer death. Maybe the previous night I was looking only for our flaws. Maybe I was watching Skoula too much. Maybe I got too drunk--all three are probable. Then I'd eventually bring myself to read the upcoming pregame analysis, which would include observations and quotes about the previous game, and I'd feel better. Even after Game 4, which looked like the Avalanche against us warming house rubes, MacDonald wrote with hope and complied quotes that kept even me hanging on.

As for MacDonald's accurate eye, he shared an anecdote after Game 6 that I think summed up the entire season and the respect Lemaire deserves:

"It all reminded one of a subtle moment from Saturday's morning skate. Prior to the players hitting the ice, Lemaire was pushing a couple pucks around in one corner. As some of the coaches like to do, like basketball players shooting trick shots at practice, he tried to play a 200-foot bank shot off the far boards at the red line. Lemaire's puck made contact at exactly the red line, which is almost as much luck as it is skill, and it bounced towards the goal at the other end of the rink. The puck slowed down on the soggy, recently Zam-ed ice and eventually came to rest, straight on course for the goal, between the circles and the crease.

Lemaire did everything right, even found a little luck, but his shot, well on its way, just came up a bit short this time."

So back to the original question: why this dread? I think I invested a lot more into the team this year than in the past. Out of 82 regular season games and 6 playoff games, I can count how many I missed on one hand. Those that I missed, I taped... like, on VHS. I read game previews and pregame analysis (there's a difference) on for just about every game. I read postgame summaries from three -.coms: Wild, ESPN, and NHL. I also read any article or segment on the three sites that gave mention of the Wild. I went to four games this year--not a lot but more than in the past--including Game 1 of the playoffs. Coincidentally, the Wild won one of those games (the only win I've ever seen live in nine seasons).

Maybe it comes down to simple logic: the more invested, the greater the risk. Like John Cusack in the rain: invested, soaking wet, yelling, "Wild, you fuckin' bitch. Let's work it out!"

I was angry leading up to Saturday night. I had put so much energy into the season and felt betrayed because the guys had let themselves (and myself) get into such a vulnerable position. Then I felt guilty because I realized I probably didn't have the right to feel betrayed.

So if it weren't for my hangover on Sunday morning, I would have risen early and driven to St. Paul and stood outside the Xcel, a boombox in my raised hands, Peter Gabriel waking the Wild and beckoning them to windows in their nighties.

It would have worked out; there would have been a yearbook ending before this season's credits. Even without an "In Your Eyes" ending, though, it'll still be OK. That's good, because it's probably better not to see Todd Fedoruk in frillies and lace.

It's my fault for feeling unwarranted betrayal. More invested, the greater the risk? There's just as much risk for reward, and it's my fault for not concentrating more on those rewards. Truly, this was the greatest season yet, but two comparisons make it a close running.

Marginally speaking, last season featured the Wild breaking 100 points (104) for a franchise record. It was a fun, high-scoring season with exciting shootouts and unknown players offering surprises each game. The season was soured only by a quick thwarting by the eventual cup champions, the Ducks.

2003 was magical because of heart taking the team so far into the playoffs, overcoming ridiculous odds. The guys made NHL history by wining two series after trailing 3-1. On paper, there was no way we should have done so well, and that's what made it so fun. It will take a Cup year to oust 2003 from being the most memorable season.

I feel better, but now what? There's the rest of the playoffs, another whole month of choking and heroism. Then we enter a dreadful lull. Luckily, though, it's summer and there are other things to distract:

- not getting ten-run-ruled in Park Tavern softball
- getting ten-pitcher-ruled at Park Tavern after softball
- Hip Replacement gigs
- Frisbee golf
- grilling and hefeweizen
- Sunday brunch with the Hawk, Kool Hanz, T-Square and the Hip Hop Nation
- scabs from biking
- garmz (Mario Kart Wii on April 27th! Who's hostin' the tourney?)
- camping/moss masks
- night swims at Cedar Lake
- bistro bar scenes--still looking for a local equivalent to Mankato's Blue Bricks

Hockey hibernates. Updates at come about twice a month--thrice if I'm lucky. A couple important hockey-related events become the focal points:

June 20th:
2008 NHL Entry Draft. The Wild will have a pretty high pick because of their excellent season. Let's hope scouts Tommy Thompson and Blair Mackasey land another Bouchard, Koivu, Burns, Schultz, etc. Will there be another huge trade on draft day, like the one that brought Demitra into Gabby's arms?

July 1st:
2008 NHL Free Agent Market opens. This is the longest and often the most stressful part of the summer. The action really picks up in August, but each day could bring awesome or awful news. For once in eight years, the Wild are thin through center. Do we break from history and trade a draft pick for a big name center? Can you imagine: Demitra-Jokinen-Gaborik? We have a lot--I mean a lot--of weeding to do in our own garden, too. What do we do with Carney, Demitra, Rolston, Bouchard, and Foster? Those are the five biggest names in the list of restricted and unrestricted free agents. Do they let Demitra go or Rolston? Can we afford both Rolston and Demitra? At what expense? What about Gabby without Demo? Who's going to comb Gabby's hair?

See. I'm already stressing out.

Chill it out, Rud. Stay calm and positive, and keeping looking forward to Banner Day.

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