Off the Wall

29 10 2009

I lack any notion of practical wisdom; my genius (such as it were) I prefer to believe is something less tangible, more creative. I believe this because when I put it this way, the definition is vague enough to provide me considerable leeway when proving such aptitude.

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The Best I’ve Ever Had

21 10 2009

On this side of the pond, the British fascination with a cup of hot tea has always baffled us Yankees as a somewhat quaint, slightly ridiculous and totally unnecessary obsession, akin to driving on the left side of the road or standing in a queue. I belonged firmly in this American camp until recently, when my mother gave me a box full of bagged leaves and insisted it would change my life. Internally, I scoffed at her suggestion, but took the carton nonetheless, confident my opinion was sure.

A tea worth fighting for.

A tea worth fighting for.

A week later, I’m completely dedicated to my daily cup of PG Tips English tea.

I’ve always liked and enjoyed tea but mainly relegated it to cold days or spells of sickness.  In my mind it was one beverage option among many, hardly an integral part of my day. So, I took my mother’s advice, boiled some water and tossed in the bag along with a slice of lemon and prepared myself to not be impressed.

The first sip, and indeed the whole first cup, seemed nothing revolutionary. Enjoyable — sure; a deeper, stronger flavor — definitely; but did it make me want start pronouncing “aluminum” like a fool — not really.

The next day, I came home exhausted from a long shift at my new job and decided to brew up a cup for myself. The effect upon finishing the hot beverage astounded me; I felt rejuvenated, full of pep and vigor but also relaxed, even serene. It was better than a cigarette (and better for you), and I suddenly felt the urge to build an armada, initiate an industrial revolution and colonize a few African nations. I had always wondered how Winston Churchill had become such a bad-ass, now I know he must have drunk nearly as much tea as he did booze.

The dumping of a bunch of tea into the ocean had never really impressed me as revolutionary, but now I understand that refusing to drink such a vital elixir could indeed be interpreted as an act of war.

In fact, I have found this tea so fulfilling that it inspired my first fully formed guitar composition. It’s a simple song, but it captures the essence of my feelings. The words go something like this…

My dark, English tea
It’s my dark, English tea

It’s my favorite kind of tea
It’s the only tea for me

…Now, I never said it was a very clever song (or even any good) but you should keep in mind the fact that I am a terrible guitar player/song writer. I’ve been attempting to achieve some level of mediocrity on the damned six-stringed instrument for the better part of two years now, so the fact that I could finally string together some words and chords, then play and sing them simultaneously (thanks to PG Tips tea) surprised me.

If all this seems a reckless exaggeration,  I would say please withhold your judgment until you have sampled this most pleasant of concoctions yourself. Just don’t forget the slice of lemon.

The Grass is Always More Blue on the Other Side

8 10 2009

After months of continuous searching, applying and being rejected, I have at last convinced a newspaper that I would make a worthy addition to their staff. Those poor fools at The Kentucky Standard. My stint of table waiting has come to an end (Thank you, sweet Jesus), and now I’m heading down south to Bardstown, Kentucky, to the land of Bourbon and Bibles, in service of democracy, freedom of the press and special sections promoting unbelievable deals by local merchants.

This will not be my first experience working at a community newspaper. Before I hopped a plane to Korea, I had been employed as reporter/editor/fall guy for the prestigious Lake Sun Leader, covering everything local and happenin’ for the Lake of the Ozarks area in central Missouri. As it turned out, there wasn’t really a lot happening, but I covered it any way. Are you a middle-aged cover band playing “Mustang Sally” three times a night for other middle-aged hoosier tourists? Congratulations, front page of the weekend Entertainment section.

I also wrote a video game column which contained slang and terms that vexed my publisher endlessly. He was convinced such language was the result of grammatical error rather than an intimate understanding of the subject matter. In fact, not a single person on the staff played video games or very much understood them or the culture surrounding the hobby. Yet, when I announced my departure from the paper, the first thing everyone said to me was not “Oh, too bad, we will miss you” but rather “So, are you still going to do that video game thing?”, even the moms from the sales department.

The job involved more editing than writing and as such allowed me to be blamed for all the mistakes that my editor did not catch. For some mistakes, however, I can claim sole responsibility. For example, the last of my nightly tasks involved sending the finished PDFs of the newspaper pages to the printer. A simple job that I usually finished with complete success. Yet, through a process still mysterious to me, I once managed to substitute the next day’s paper’s opinion page for the archived version of that page from exactly one year ago. Though this greatly enraged my publisher, I’m convinced most of our readers didn’t even realize the switch.

My new gig will involve considerably more writing though not really anymore prestige. My concern will cover two primary beats, Education and “Cops n’ Courts.” Though the latter may sound like a poorly conceived reality TV show, it’s basically means reporting on any sort of serious crimes, trials or accidents that occur. So, if you live in Bardstown and manage to drunkenly knock over the giant fiberglass rooster at the gas station on Rt. 245 before plowing headlong into the Baptist church’s Halloween display (splattering pumpkin guts everywhere) only to emerge nude from your vehicle and protest your innocence when the cops arrive, I’m probably going to put your name in the paper.

Hopefully, events equally adventurous and hilarious will occur during my tenure at The Kentucky Standard, which I will chronicle here. Though I do not own any guns, have never voted for a Republican and can read above a 5th grade level, I’m sure I’ll have no problem fitting into rural Kentucky life.

Author’s Note: The above remarks are only meant in jest and in no way do I mean to offend or insult the fine people of Kentucky. Both my parents were born and raised in Lexington. I have visited the state many times and have always enjoyed myself, and I am looking forward to taking up residence there.