Best Songs Ever #12 – ELO “Four Little Diamonds”

Everyone has a favorite ELO song (unless they’re unfeeling monsters), and most will tell you that the band’s 1970s singles were best.

Forget “Mr. Blue Sky” and “Evil Woman.” “Four Little Diamonds,” a less-successful single from 1983, hits all the right notes.

And if the law don’t get her, then I will…

Fast food cockiness

I cook a lot of meals at home. I really do. More often than not, they even involve green vegetables.

But life moves fast, and it’s not always easy–or possible–to settle into a kitchen routine for an hour or two. Sometimes a fast food solution is too easy to resist.

After an early evening spent at a middle school “away” basketball game, I pulled into a Portillo’s drive-through. My local Portillo’s is always busy, to the point where its parking lot traffic squeezes the business out of neighboring chains Chipotle (totes Chipotes) and Jimmy John’s.

The drive-through line was easily 10 cars deep when I joined it. I was probably six car lengths behind the outdoor menu when a Portillo’s employee came up to my driver’s side window. “Can I take your order?” she asked.
“Sure. I just don’t know what it is yet.”
“You don’t know what you’d like?”
“No. Can I have a menu?”

Her reaction would’ve been less incredulous If I’d ordered a sofritas burrito bowl with tomatillo salsa and corn. She cocked her eyebrow, paused for a moment, then said, “just pull up.” Cars were already stacking up behind me. I did as she said.

Apparently you should know exactly what the fuck you want before you even pull into Portillo’s territory. I had to pick out dinner for my family of four, so I needed to have some reference to work from. I also hadn’t been to Portillo’s for a while, so I wasn’t sure if they served a Maxwell Street Polish. For that matter, I wasn’t sure if I wanted an Italian Beef. Or a beef/sausage combo. Or hell, I heard their salads are good. Point is, I came to Portillo’s looking for inspiration. Instead, I got a sneer.

I pulled all the way around to the pick-up window. The person behind the window started to hand me someone else’s meal. “Nope, that’s not mine,” I said.
“I’ve got a burger, hot dog, shake …”
“No. I didn’t order anything. That’s not mine. I wasn’t allowed to see a menu, so the order-taker had me move on. I finally saw a menu, though. Can I order here?”
“Uh. Sure?”

I placed my order (which came with complementary eyerolls!), and was asked to pull around to one of Portillo’s meat-purgatory reserved spots to wait for my order. I waited there for about 10 minutes until someone brought my food out.

It’s cocky … arrogant, even, for Portillo’s to expect its customers to know exactly what they want, the second they pull up. Even if I had gone to McDonald’s–a place where every menu item is known worldwide–I’d have needed to look at the menu before ordering.

Corporate Nursery Rhymes

I hate corporate jargon. My “ask” is that people stop using it, or I’m going to demand a “come to Jesus” meeting.

To make a point that probably doesn’t need to be made, I’ve rewritten a few nursery rhymes using corporate speak. I expect to fail fast on this effort, because I honestly don’t have the bandwidth to keep doing it.

TWINKLE TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

Twinkle, twinkle, little star,

I-don’t-know-what-I-don’t-know about what you are.

Up above the world from a 30,000 foot view,

Like a diamond in the cloud.

ttls 

RAIN RAIN GO AWAY

Rain rain go away,

Let’s table this for later.

rrga

HEY DIDDLE DIDDLE

Hey diddle diddle

Herding cats and a fiddle

The cow jumped out of the box

The ducks in a row laughed

To see such sport

And the dish doubled down with the spoon

hdd

One Song Per Day, and the courage to “audible”

I have lots of creative ideas. Most of them are pretty awful (case in point: “Supes totes soup totes,” tote bags for soup), but I generally believe in following creative sparks or inclinations, and seeing where they go. Sometimes those sparks pay off; other times … not so much.

I try to give the “good ideas” time to grow. Case in point: One Song Per Day. As I got older, and was cut off from the music industry, I realized I’d become detached from new music. Music discovery can be a challenge for an adult whose work/life commitments make it difficult to scour for new music, let alone find the time and money to go to shows. My solution was a music blog that featured a new song every weekday. It was done for myself, and (in theory) aging music fans like me.

Relatively speaking, it was a lot of work; probably 10 hours’ worth per week. But I thought I was on to something, so I kept pushing the blog and myself. Beyond that, I was spending a minimum of $10/week on songs, for streaming use and for future consideration. And after all the work, thought and writing … no one paid attention. I tried to augment the blog with a daily “recap” feature on Rivet, but the referral metrics were astonishingly low. In short, I created a dud. And once it stopped being a point of passion for me, it was time to “audible” and move on.

Rather than putting a bullet in the blog outright, I decided to put the blog “on hiatus,” to see if anyone noticed. That was October 14. Since then, I’ve received not one email or tweet about it. Not a “hey, when are you coming back,” or “I want to hear more music!” My decision was the right one. Time to move on and embrace the next “big idea” (which I’m convinced is THIS).

(If you were a fan of the blog, thank you so much for reading! I appreciate it.)

Road Rage and Tailgating

I don’t get tailgating. It’s bullying, only behind the wheel.

It’s a behavior that creates unnecessary stress for a driver and his victim, and could easily lead to an accident. Or in Chicago, a shooting.

I was encouraged by this video that’s been making the rounds this week. A (supernaturally fast) bike rider in Skokie was being tailgated on Oakton Street, and a local cop took notice.

If you’re a habitual tailgater, just stop, okay?

The gleeful mispronunciations of Run For the Cube

Since late last year, I’ve been working as a reporter for Rivet News Radio. As I work each morning to write and produce news stories, it’s critical that I pronounce every name, country and concept correctly. That frequently leads me to do a little online research.

A few months ago, I wanted to be certain I was correctly pronouncing the name of Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos. A quick Google search led me to a bunch of results, and the first video link on the page was this “pronouncer.”

It was wildly and intentionally wrong (the video’s incorrect pronunciation: Jeef BEE zohs; correct pronunciation: Jeff BAY zohs). I laughed my ass off and played it again. Then once more. And then I brought my co-workers in the studio to listen with me.

Fascinated, we started listening to other videos done by the creator, Run for the Cube. They were all completely insane. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with the Run for the Cube’s “work,” such as it is. Besides pronouncing well-known names, he does on-demand pronunciations for five bucks a pop. I shelled out the cash to have two co-workers immortalized. Here, for your amusement, are Rob La Frentz and Chris Mezyk.  (Rob returned the favor last week. Here’s my name mispronounced.)

Most recently, I’ve discovered that Run for the Cube has branched out to recording twisted, uncomfortable, “I’m not sure I should be watching this” product reviews. This one manages to be unsettling without doing anything certifiably inappropriate.

I needed to learn more about the Oz behind the curtain. I recently tracked down the man behind Run For the Cube and asked him for an interview. His response was the second best thing to actually getting the interview: he politely passed, and said he likes to use the free time he has to focus on his “craft,” and chooses to let his work speak for itself.

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My new idea

Once in a while, I have an idea that I get really, really excited about.

This is one of them:

http://www.carconcarne.com

We’re going to record this week to see if it’s a viable concept. Wish us luck.

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