Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Buckets of Fun

Hey ho, folks. Let's tap into the Movie Tavern Mug, and see what you people want to hear about this time around.

"What is on your bucket list?"

Yeesh. This isn't one I think about often, for a couple reasons. First of all, I'm frankly surprised I lived this long. Even if you're in good health, if you go to a doctor when you're about ten, and they tell you, "Gee, there's something wrong with you that might kill you off at some point," you pretty much start automatically thinking, "Well, I'm gonna be one of the ones who dies early, it's gonna happen to me, it's gonna happen to me." Not the doctor's fault by any means. Just the way we're wired.

Secondly, most bucket lists consist of places that one wishes to travel to. Well, most of my traveling experience has been with my family. Unfortunately, for some reason I don't particularly like going places with my family, so that kinda kills the thought process of, "Gee, where would I like to go to?"

Thirdly, and more personally, whenever I've been through a close scrape, I never think, "But I never got to do X, Y, and Z!" Take, for instance, the tornadoes around Oklahoma the other day. Ice Funnels of Death are touching down all over the state, I hear one might be forming at 33rd and Boulevard, just a few blocks South of the house. I'm in the laundry room with a book and a glass of water, waiting for the storms to pass. I wasn't thinking, "Man, I wanna go skydiving," or, "I should go tackle a penguin." I was really thinking of only one thing, and that is frankly none of your damn business.

All that being said, there are a couple things that have come up in conversation that seem to fit the criteria for a bucket list. Might as well stick them here, no?

1. Screwing with Alan Moore

You've heard me tout the virtues of Alan Moore before, so making an effort to pay homage to one of the best comic book writers of all time should come as no shock to you people. However, perhaps even more notable than his excellent writings and his refusal to have anything to do with adaptations of his works, is his utter and abject refusal to travel more than he needs to. He loves Northampton, he loves his house, and he really, REALLY doesn't like to go anywhere that he doesn't have to.

Okay, Alan Moore. You're brilliant, you're crazy, and I love your work, but how can you expect me NOT to have fun with this? If you stay in the same house all the time, and you're a notable writer, I figure SOMEONE in your hometown knows where you live. And I'd love to do things to mess with you. Maybe some ding-dong ditch. Or putting up one of those plastic flamingos in your yard. Or, if I'm feeling really brave and extreme, sneaking into your house, and rearranging your desk.

Of course, assuming I survived the ordeal without being turned into a stuffed animal, I'd also love to take Alan Moore out to dinner on me after that.

2. Making a Pilgrimage to the Stevie Ray Vaughan Memorial in Austin, Texas

Once upon a time, believe it or not, I wanted to learn how to play the guitar. Who was it that inspired me to attempt this? Was it the acid jazz-blues meld of Jimi Hendrix? Was it one of the former Yardbirds, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, or Eric Clapton? Was it the Southern Slide Guitar stylings of Duane Allman?

Answer: None of the above. I remember the day. My brother and I were going to a Best Buy after school. I saw the Essential Stevie Ray Vaughan on one of the shelves, and remembered seeing his name on some of those lists of Greatest Guitarists. Now, I'd heard a couple of his songs before, but nothing that really wowed my socks off. I decided to give him a shot; my brother bought me the album and I paid for our lunch at the local Checkers.

Two songs in, we were pretty much hooked to his thick, electric, Texas Blues Rock. He may not be my favorite guitarist anymore, but he is the one who really got me interested in music. And since he's no longer alive for me to go to concerts, I figure at least I should go down to his statue and pay proper tribute. What proper tribute would be, I have no idea, but hey, I'm sure I could think of something.

3. Chicago Blues Barhopping

I've been to Chicago twice, and I still haven't gotten to do this one. The first time, I was on a Mission Trip and not old enough to go bar hopping. The second time I was stuck waiting for a flight, and didn't think I'd have time (turns out we very well would have). It seems almost criminal to be in one of the hearts of electric blues land and to not be able to go do this. So at some point, I want to go back there with one or two other people, and just travel from electric blues club to electric blues club, having a few drinks and taking in the music.

Heck, if I put my mind to it, I could probably make a whole list of things I want to do in Chicago. There are plenty of restaurants I want to go try there, music to experience, just so much to absorb. And what's more, I can think of at least two different potential traveling companions who want to check out Chicago that I wouldn't mind exploring it with. It's a Helluva town.

4. See The Protomen in Concert

It's weird. I turned a bunch of my friends onto this band, and yet I'm the one who hasn't seen them live yet. For those of you who missed my Top Ten Fictional Settings blog, this band from Nashville took the Mega Man setting, and reimagined it into two dark rock operas (with a third on the way) about the nature of heroism and freedom. Now, when I first heard of the band, I thought, "Geez, the music's gonna be terrible, the lyrics are gonna be corny, and this whole listening experience is gonna be painful."

I was very, very wrong.

And it's not just the music that you go see: it's the experience. All the band members perform in character, as a group of people seeking liberation from the Orwellian Society that Dr. Wily has created. Chanting and singing along to songs is not just permitted, but encouraged. They want YOU to join the Light Brigade, and if you're there, you can't help but be swept up along in the fervor (or so I am told by my friends who have gone to see them).

So, yeah, I'd like to finally get to see the damn band, thank you very much!

5. Eat Real Cheesesteak in Philadelphia, from Pat's or Geno's

I ALMOST got to do this one once. ALMOST. But was prevented by the power of family.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not picky about cheese steaks. Meat, cheese, bread, yum! But still, it's one of those things I'd like to experience. I mean, these are the places that started it, and have been doing it for around Seventy Years. I'd like to try the sandwich their way. Is that so wrong? I mean, I'd even make an effort to learn to order the right way (although given the fact that I've learned it about eight times and still have managed to forget, I'm sure I'll find a way to get myself booted to the tourist line).

6. Eat Ju(i)cy Lucy in Matt's Bar or the 5-8 Club

Okay, I'll be honest. If I really put my mind to it, I could make this entire list based around food. I love to cook, and I enjoy eating local regional takes on dishes. In South Minneapolis, that means the Jucy (or Juicy) Lucy, a beef patty surrounding a core of molten cheese. And much like the cheese steak in Philly, there are two major places that compete over it. Ideally, I would get to try both takes on it, as an impartial observer. But you know how it is: your favorite joint's food is serious business, and those competitors are cheating copycats who make an inferior product.

Still, I think I could get away with sampling both.


I'm sure there are plenty of other things I could come up with if I put my mind to it, but I'm afraid I have made myself hungry. So, this is J. K. Lantern, signing off for now!

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