“I’ve got meat juice on my haunches…”

August 19, 2012

I pay little heed to television commercials that do not include bacon. Hell, most of the time I have no idea what they’re even wanting me to buy.

However, there are rare occasions when I am stopped in my tracks, riveted by some marketer’s attempt to get into my head and into my pockets, and, recently, it was hearing one, simple phrase that got my attention…

“I’ve got meat juice on my haunches.”

I looked up from the computer.

(how could I not?)

And what was displayed in high-definition for my wondering eyes to see but a man dressed as a centaur at a renaissance fair and – by the beard of Zeus – he did indeed have meat juice on his haunches.

I was gobsmacked with amusement.

It was far better than my lone, previous renaissance fair experience. I had been duped into attending by a promise of giant turkey legs and hippie chicks pretending to be medieval wenches.

It was a bust. Yeah, there were giant turkey legs but there was something that psyched me out to have each and every wench whose path I crossed hit me with a “m’lord.”

(I was some long-haired, ’90s slacker dressed like a Pearl Jam roadie, not Henry VIII)

The angst of this centaur, though, was the result of a structurally unsound paper plate and gravity leaving the feast which he was about to shove into his gaping maw sullying his horse costume.

(turkey leg, centaur dude, turkey leg)

And I’m riveted when the damned commercial comes on which, thus far, hasn’t been often. It’s that damned centaur’s lament, delivered with irritable resignation, that cracks me up.

In the corporate world, each morning in the office is to run a gauntlet of inquiries as to one’s well-being. Some of the queries are sincere, but, for the most part, it’s a reflexive thing, an obligation meant to be polite and little more.

“How are you?” is asked repeatedly and a soundbite of positivity is expected lest an inquisition begins.

I like the idea of “I’ve got meat juice on my haunches” entering the lexicon as an acceptable reply that conveys “I’m having a rough day and I’d rather not discuss it” and I think that centaur might be able to make it happen.

During the early summer of ’98, I spent a couple weeks wandering through the UK with the same buddy that dragged me to my only renaissance fair and another friend.

Here are four songs that I heard often on that trip…

Texas – Say What You Want
from White On Blonde (1997)

I had heard a couple songs by Texas when their first album came out while I was in college in the late ’80s and was non-plussed. And while the Scottish band led by Sharleen Spiteri had great success in the UK, there was no breakthrough for the them in the States.

Though White On Blonde had been released a year before I arrived in the UK, the album of frothy, blue-eyed soul was a mammoth seller and the hits from the album were still on the stations we’d tune in on our rental car’s radio.

Julian Lennon – Day After Day
from Photograph Smile (1998)

Julian Lennon had burst onto the music scene with his debut Valotte in late 1984 with several hits and a lot of attention. Then, subsequent releases fizzled with little fanfare.

We were surprised to come across Photograph Smile, Lennon’s first new album in nearly a decade, and purchased a copy. The cassette soon became a staple of that trip, a dozen tracks that found John’s oldest son seeming to embrace the legacy of his father’s band.

The Verve – Lucky Man
from Urban Hymns (1997)

I stumbled across the debut from The Verve in early ’94. It might have been from reading about the British quartet in Q or some other music magazine from the UK which was enthusiastic about the band.

I quickly became a fan of their dense, swirling psychedelic-styled modern rock and lead singer Richard Ashcroft struck me as a near-perfect representation of a rock star with his angular features, tousled hair, and indifferent swagger.

Unfortunately, aside from a brief bit of attention after Nike used the song Bittersweet Symphony from 1997′s Urban Hymns in a commercial, The Verve was generally ignored in the States and the masses missed out on one of the best bands of the ’90s.

Catatonia – Mulder And Scully
from International Velvet (1998)

In 1998, The X-Files was at its peak creatively and commercially, having become an iconic pop culture sensation. The Welsh band Catatonia, and their catchy ode to the series’ main characters, was another discovery of ours on that trip and, for two weeks, we played International Velvet into the ground.

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Stuck Inside The Volvo (Behind The #2 Bus) With The Heading To Work Blues Again

February 6, 2009

I commute. I do so relunctantly and under silent protest and, on good evenings, I can block out Sting howling the song Synchronicity II that plays on a loop in my head sometimes during the drive.

“Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race”

The morning trek, though, is typically Zen – no interstate and the bulk of the map, once I get a few miles from home, threads through semi-rural, wooded areas. There are deer, a fox, and an old woman in bright red boots who is always walking her dog in her yard.

As the only people up when Paloma and arise are us, the kid that drowsily mans the counter at the convenience store down the block, and our crack head neighbor who probably never sleeps anyhow (which is good as she needs to devote plenty of time searching for her pet ferret which she loses on a weekly basis), there is little traffic.

Usually.

Today, I was mere minutes behind schedule, resulting in me crossing paths with the #2 bus. As I grew frustrated at not having open road to cruise as usual, with impunity, as though I was on the autobahn, a confusing thought came to mind…

…I don’t want to go to work, so why am I rushing to get there?

I set the controls for the heart of the sun (part of the drive, depending on the time of year, is directly into the rising sun on the horizon) and I set the iPod to shuffle, seeing what might restore the calm – Jimi Hendrix’ Machine Gun.

Jimi, you were a genius, but it’s too early.

I had to scroll forward a number of times, but I managed to find more suitable fare…

(of course, I did find myself distracted much of the morning, pondering where the #2 bus goes)

World Party – Put The Message In The Box
I haven’t heard anything Karl Wallinger’s done in years, but I loved the early World Party records. Put The Message In The Box is breezy.

I met Wallinger once. He was a small, elfin-like fellow with round, Lennon shades. He seemed like a lovely person.

Texas – Insane
Texas always reminds me of my first trip to England with two friends. Their White On Blonde album was out and, at every pub, you were guaranteed to hear several songs from it playing from the jukebox.

There are several songs I preferred, but the entire album is pretty consistent and Insane is a good sample of Texas’ frothy, blue-eyed soul.

Paul McCartney – Heart Of The Country
I don’t really know Wings aside from the hits (most of which I love), so I wasn’t familiar with this song when it popped up from the compilation Wingspan. It is an engaging little song, though. Apparently it was on Ram, which I thought was a McCartney solo record.

Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul – Balance
I liked Little Steven’s albums with his band The Disciples Of Soul in the ‘80s. Though the execution sometimes did not match the ambition, the stuff had heart.

Balance appeared on a two-disc compilation called Greenpeace: Rainbow Warriors which gathered acts like Simple Minds, Lou Reed, and Terence Trent D’arby for the benefit of the titular organization. If I recall, I snagged it for a few dollars as a cut-out.

While Balance is a bit more forceful than the other tracks for which I opted, it arrived near the end of the drive as it was time to prepare for the office. The production screams mid-’80s which, I suppose, is probably like nails on a chalkboard to folks who didn’t come of age during that period. That aside, Balance has a nifty little groove to it.