Saturday, September 29, 2007

Redemption

I know I've been complaining about my job a lot lately. Since mid-July, things have been pretty much non-stop with renovations, new staff, new leagues, and a whole bunch of people asking questions that I'm supposed to know the answers to. Despite all of the stress and hullabaloo, this weekend is a perfect example of what I enjoy about my job.

Today was the first intercollegiate bowling tournament of the season. Typically this event is held at Rebman's up in Lorain, but this year it was moved to Pittsburgh. The last time I was in Pittsburgh for a bowling tournament, things were less than stellar so I approached this weekend with a certain level of skepticism.

Due to the distance, we stayed overnight. Since we didn't leave Oberlin until well after 7pm Friday, no one was really up for extensive partying and many of us turned in relatively early. Somehow even with 4-5 hours of sleep, just about everyone seemed refreshed going into practice at 7:45 this morning. Tom's goal with the tournament, and with every tournament really, is that every bowler bowls to the best of their ability, supports their teammates, and has a fun learning experience. For some reason, everyone took those criteria seriously. People on both the Crimson (A) and Gold (B) teams were winning their head-to-head matches and also bowled some big scores on really challenging conditions. I don't think the energy dipped once on the Gold team, which featured many bowlers who have not gone through the gauntlet of a bowling tournament. The Crimson team had a slightly more challenging road, but they managed to win 3 out of 5 head-to-heads in their match against Saginaw Valley (the 2-Time defending National Champions) and only lost the team total by 25 pins. I know that sounds like "umm, that's great? I guess?", but if you told me that was going to happen today I probably would have stopped paying attention to you. The coach from Wright State (a really nice fella who has been extremely helpful on several occasions) even commented that Oberlin's marked improvement over the last couple of seasons is creating a buzz among the other schools.

The biggest game of the day happened in the final baker series between the Crimson team and the University of Cincinnati C team. Going into the set Oberlin was leading Cincy by about 50 pins in the overall standings. Cincy won the first match by about 20 pins and they earned a 20 pin bonus for winning the match. Cincy earned another bonus after they took the second game by 10 pins or so. Going into the 15th baker game of the day (which followed 5 team games), everyone was ready to go home and tired of the ever-frustrating lane conditions. Bryan led the charge by chucking the ball as hard as he could, as speed and power were what the lanes called for. The other guys decided to follow suit and managed to string together a 5-bagger that gave them a score of 223. At this point Cincy was mathematically eliminated from winning the third game and the 20 bonus pins. Cincy ended up bowling a score that completely canceled out their advantage from the first two games, allowing Crimson to maintain their position in the standings.

As Crimson finished, the Gold team was in the 2nd game of their final baker series against OU-Chillicothe. Chillicothe joined the conference last year and the best way to describe them would be "ragtag". But like the A-Team, not like the Island of Misfit Toys. The people on the team are really nice and they remind me of the Oberlin C team when I first started. Due to the lower strike percentages on both of these teams, the rest of the center had pretty much cleared out while they finished up. After every shot there was sincere cheering and support within and between both teams. At this point, Tom declared the match-up as the championship final, since both teams were meeting the criteria he established prior to the tournament. The Gold team took all three games, but there was so much mutual admiration between the teams that we were all winners. It's rather Montessori, I know, but doggone it I much prefer leaving a tournament with none of the bowlers pissed off about something. Everyone had some victory or positive experience to take from the tournament and I am now filled with optimism about this season. Afterwards, Brian invited us all to this pizza place in the city that allowed everyone to relax and have a good meal before hitting the road.

No one got lost. No one blew up in the parking lot. Everyone bowled well. Pittsburgh has redeemed itself.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

OLD!

So I'm working on a new mix for the lanes and I'm combing my iTunes library. "Ooo, 'Electric Youth'! I should...oh. Oh, God."

The date on the song is 1987. That predates many juniors and sophomores. Aside from explaining who Debbie Gibson was (aside from her appearance on Celebrity Fit Club) I would feel obligated to include the video as well:



Oh, Deborah. Save me from myself.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The heart is deciduous transliterated

Everybody has the list of concerts they want to see, even if it would require the reanimation of a corpse or two. Until cryogenics steps up production or American Idol sells reanimation technology via text votes, I'll just have to work on the currently alive and kicking artists. The newest check mark: Bjork.

So far the Volta tour has only three dates in the States: one coming up in Atlanta, one in New York, and last night's in Detroit. Oh. Mah. GAWD. That was the best concert I have been to. The show was at the Fox Theatre, a gorgeous venue that totally matched the aesthetic that Bjork was trying to accomplish. The opening act was M.I.A. (by the way, EEEEEEEEE!). Although I love her, the last time I saw her in concert was a bit more enjoyable. There were a couple of major differences: 1) The Fox is an actual theater with seats and no dance floor, a fact that M.I.A. mentioned later in her set when she talked about how "[she] usually does this joint in clubs." 2) The opening act for Bjork is at a different level than the opening act for LCD Soundsystem. When she opened for the latter, I think there were more people in the crowd there to see her than LCD. Not so much the case this time. 3) When there is a Tiger game happening across the street from the theater, parking is a bitch-and-a-half, or maybe three-quarters. So people were running late. As a result she got the standard opening act treatment -- foolish concert-goers.

I'm glad there was an opening act because you then get to see the set construction in between the two artists' sets. As the light guys were getting in position the stage hands were setting up a series of flags. I got the feeling that the show was going to have a plot of some sort, or at least include some of Bjork's more militaristic songs. When the lights finally dimmed, a line of ten women playing a processional on brass instruments entered the stage. It may have been the mythological references hidden through the architecture of the theater, but I interpreted their staging as incorporating the essence of the Greek Muses.

Then the first grunt of "Innocence" and a blast of confetti. And Bjork came out on stage and the rocking out began. The entire band was getting into it, but instead of being choreographed they were all dancing in their own way. So cool. After every song, Bjork would go up to the microphone to say "Thank you." The staging also included video displays where you could watch the different electronics manipulated by her bandmates, which was intriguing.

The sound was awesome. The only problem I had was during "Pluto", partly because you couldn't really hear the build-up of the tension and partly because it was the last song of her set. After a lengthy ovation she returned to the stage to perform "The Anchor Song" in English and, I assume, Icelandic. My only other major critique was that the brass band did not bust it out during I Miss You, which surprised me since that song is all about the ecstasy of the brass section.

The final song was a riveting performance of "Declare Independence". Perhaps it was the M.I.A. performance from earlier in the back of my mind, but I never realized how political Bjork's music is. Though nothing says "Fuck you" better than the song 5 Years, particularly the live version. The way she was mocking the target of the song had me giggling. I giggled more watching her dance. Bjork dances to her music the way my sister would dance while listening to Bjork. I find that validating.

So yeah, Bjork is the shit. As if you didn't know.

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Clubbed

Brad and Kathy are in town this weekend and Sarah and I went to hang out with them last night, in a roundabout way. Brad originally had a DJ gig at this club on the east side and so Sarah and I headed there first. I sort of knew how to get there, since it was only a few blocks away from where Sam lived. Of course, since it has been a year and a half, I did forget the nuances of the neighborhood, particularly every street having the words "Cedar" "Overlook" or "Euclid" in their names. After several turnarounds, we finally found the general area where the club was, parked, and started walking over. I sent a text to Kathy to find out where we could find them.

"We're going to Bounce!"

D'oh. I'm glad we found out before spending an hour playing "Marco Polo" in some place with a bunch of Case Western freshman being all "WOOOOOOooooo! PAR-taaaaYYYYYyyyyYYY!" Besides, we could now have the same atmosphere only with a bunch of drunken queens dancing to some really bad music. After a few more turnarounds (it's a little tough approaching a place from the east when you usually come from the west) we eventually met up with the dynamic duo.

We ended up staying in the Union Station part of the building because the drag show had a $5 cover. Having already seen one female impersonator pushing another around in a wheelchair (and later seeing the wheelchair one walking around mingling), taking the cheapskate route was probably the right call. Instead we were watching the music videos and snarking them to death. The best one of the evening:



Awesome. Of the dozen or so videos that we saw, I was surprised by how many artists I recognized yet how few songs I knew. Not that that is a bad thing. One of the artist/songs that I never heard of gave Kathy a conniption. It was Lucas Prata "And She Said..." I would post the YouTube of the video, but I can't find it buried under all the performances of his at the Staten Island mall. No joke. Apparently he performed at Kathy's little brother's prom this past spring. Oh, Lord.

Eventually, even the videos became to tiresome and we decided to call it a night. Brad will be DJing at the Sco tomorrow, which should be fun. It's good to see them again.

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