"Love Is Like A Rock" is a gem that's almost as awe-inducing as Donnie Iris's "Ah Leah!" from the prior year, it strips down that single's bubblegum-metal into a simple-yet-tasty mix of chants, disco/metal guitar riffing, and a killer chorus. The background singers feat of pulling off multiple miracles in this one - to wit: 1) shouting "hey!", 2) starting the chorus, 3) sliding into "ahhhhhh…" mode, and 4) gleefully finishing the chorus - is in every way remarkable. Plus there's a drum break for you to bust moves to. The tune ends in an extended mix that was likely just put together by producer/keyboardist Mark Avsec using loops. ("You can leave, guys. See you at the bar in an hour.") Being a Bubblegum Statement of Purpose, it has no "meaning" - you could argues it's a lessons-not-learned-from-authority-figures followup to The Who's "The Real Me" - but mentally I keep trying to tie it to the wise Finnish proverb that states: "Love Is A Potato."
Distractions can stop a writing habit cold. In my case recently it was Saturdays delayed with sports; there was the NCHC tourney, then the NCAA regionals, then the hoops semis, all weaved into this was a desire to go for a long walk late Saturday afternoons because Sundays were similarly sports-booked and a weekend walk clears the mind so effectively. So out the window went the 6 pm scotch-and-writing that is the crucial approach shot to get Tuesday Tuneage done. In fact, many times ninety percent of the work is complete in that late afternoon/early eve rush before hockey faces off on Saturday night, then left for final clean-up and posting on Tuesday.
So last week, I thought hey I’ll just take the laptop to the coffee shop Tuesday afternoon, load up on caffeine, and hammer out a Tuesday Tuneage in ninety minutes or so. That’s how I started them in the early days five years ago. But then on Tuesday, some utility workers outside of my building started work on replacing a telephone poll and woke me up with truck-beeping about ninety minutes before I normally wake up. And I am not a morning person, so early rising does not mean an early mental start. When the utility guys ended up disconnecting the electricity for what they said would be two hours, I figured I'd walk over to Our Diner on 36th and Bryant and get a huge ol’ breakfast prior to heading over to the coffee shop, and set things in place for what could be quality time with my laptop. At the coffee shop I decided to read first to get my mind loosened up. I was enjoying a great science fiction story on my phone, when some gal took a table a couple of down from mine with her two little kids. Needless to say these kids were noisy. They cried, they whined, they demanded. For the life of me, I don’t understand why people feel the need to be Cool Parents and take their kids to the neighborhood coffee shop. Take your little noisemakers to McDonald’s where they belong. Why ruin our workplace?
So I pounded my coffee, booked it home, finished that short story on my phone, and took a nap to try to claim back some of the sleep that had been taken from me that morning. Then it was time for a workout (breakfast was about 900 calories, oof), time to read the paper, time for dinner, time to watch hockey, time to watch The Sopranos. And that was Tuesday.
I play a system. The system dictates that time spent on Tuesdays and Saturdays is when these blog posts get written. When the system is disrupted, I cannot adapt quickly.
Because even if things are in place to finish Tuesday Tuneage at the coffee shop, The System applies in micro also. I must set quite the scene when I approach the little table at the local coffee shop. First, I make sure the table is set so the wide side faces me and not the short side. This is so that if I am typing notes, there is room for my notebook to sit next to the laptop while also leaving room for the all-important mug of coffee. Then hang my jacket on the other chair, make sure the collar isn’t sticking up in some funny fashion and place my UND hockey hat on the table so that the brim is facing out towards the public. Get all the necessary tools out of the bookbag, then make sure the bookbag sits on the other chair comfy and isn’t about to tip over. Then the chair I sit in has got to be right. Sure, they all look the same but some of them wobble and (worse) some of them have flat backs rather than the curved ones where my back fits comfy into. Hard to concentrate when I’m constantly distracted by worries of back pain. After all this, I can sit down to work on writing.
What does any of this have to do with “Billie Jean”? Well it goes back to a bit from the early days of David Letterman’s Late Night show on NBC. There was a claim floating about that in the song's chorus it sounds like Michael Jackson sings “that chair is not my son.” So Letterman played a clip of the song, and his crew so deliberately overdubbed an announcer voice saying “CHAIR” into the chorus it was so dumb it was hilarious. Every time I hear “Billie Jean” on Jack FM (which is frequently, which is great, because it is an awesome, timeless song), in my mind at some point I sing “CHAIR”. And for me to write effectively, chairs everywhere - literal ones, figurative ones - must be in their correct places. And that is (one of the many reasons) why there hasn’t been a Tuesday Tuneage in three weeks.