Saturday, May 25, 2013

Let It Die


Dave Grohl needs to scream more. He's really good at it.

Is he singing this song about a lover who wronged him? Did he wrong somebody and is singing it from their point of view? Is he singing to himself about the spark being gone from his life?

This song came on my Pandora station recently. I was laying in bed thinking about life and this song started resonating with me. There are a litany of things that I have allowed to wither away and die over the years.

Perhaps the most shocking thing I've let die has been my will to succeed. I feel like I used to be somebody. And if I wasn't "somebody" I was on my way to doing big things and being important.

Then I went to sleep one night and woke up 3 or 4 years later. I had nothing to show for it. No career goals, no degree, no "real-world experience," nothing. I realized it and then proceeded to do nothing with that information. I let my passion die.

For the last several years, I have sat back and let life keep moving after I stopped. Why? Laziness? Apathy? Depression? Alcohol? Drugs? Probably some combination of them all and more.

"Why'd you have to go and let it die? In too deep and out of time." That feels like the story of my life right now.

I ruined a decent-enough relationship with a decent-enough girl because of it. And maybe it was doomed from the start, since the best adjective I can use to describe my couple years with Candace is "decent-enough."

She pushed me to succeed. She was supportive in the beginning, then she kept prodding and I started to resent her. I constantly questioned her motives. She said it was in my best interest to succeed. And, while it definitely is, I wondered if she wanted me to succeed for her best interest.

An imaginary conversation with her would be, "So, what does your boyfriend do?" "Well, he sleeps all day, then works a shitty job he hates, then he complains about it and drinks a lot." Imagine if I graduated and got a decent job. Her imaginary response would be so much better.

Maybe it was paranoia on my part. Maybe I'm just too insecure. With Ashley now, it's almost comical to listen to her talk about her first impressions of me in 2007-2008, and then see this shell of myself that I am now.

I was listening to Oasis recently and one of their lyrics hit me: "Gonna start a revolution from my bed." That's what I have been trying to do for so long now. I'm not so lost in the sense that I don't know how talented I am. That's what's probably the most depressing thing about it - I know where I could be had I applied myself. But, I have had these grandiose ideas and plans, but I tried to start a revolution from my bed. And it didn't work.

I guess the first step is realizing you have a problem. I've done that. My problem was that I wasted the last half-decade of my life and didn't care. I'm starting to care now. I'm in a little hole and I have decided to start digging myself out of it.

Will I get out of it? Judging from my past few attempts, there is no chance. But, I'm going to try and channel my inner 20-year-old version of myself who wasn't so jaded and didn't hate the world so much. That guy was filled with a lot of potential and I need his help to get my life back on track.

We'll see how this goes.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Low



Close your eyes and groove. Has anything ever made you feel this good? Or bad?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Finally read the last issue of The Concordian

About two weeks ago or so, I saw a post on Facebook by Scott Noble, the Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian, Concord University's newspaper. It hyped the final edition of the paper for the 2012-2013 academic year, and specifically the piece by Cody Neff in the opinion section.

Maybe it's ego. Maybe I yearn for the spotlight. Maybe I just like people to talk about me. But, for some reason after reading that I thought to myself, "I wonder if Cody is making fun of me."

I had critiqued the paper a little bit over the last few months. Some people on the staff didn't seem to be big fans of me, in particular Cody Neff, who had left a blog comment or two here previously that was very critical of me.

Wednesday, May 1 came and I was on campus so I grabbed a copy. The first thing I read was the piece on the front page detailing Scott's conversation with the outgoing President of Concord, Dr. Gregory Aloia. Fine for what it was - a fluffy piece where we pretend he didn't fuck over Concord by leaving with very little notice.

I went to the opinion section and looked for Cody Neff's name. I found it next to a piece entitled "Top 5 Things I've Learned in College." Looked like he wasn't making fun of me, so I didn't read it and looked elsewhere in the newspaper.

I read Richard Babich's piece on the opinion section about his interactions with President Aloia. Then I looked over Sara Cameron's piece where she talks about all the rumors running rampant at Concord. I read the anonymous "Concerned Student" piece which was very critical of several aspects of Concord (and which I would later be accused of writing). I had a chuckle about the CSI: Miami parody of all the gazebos on campus. Honestly, I don't mind the gazebos.

I put the paper down and ate dinner at the cookout Concord was hosting for Spring Fling week. Not a wide selection of side dishes, but the hamburgers and hot dogs were pretty good. Then I went and wrote that blog talking about why I gave up on the SGA. That kind of became the topic of conversation for a few days. A lot of comments on Facebook.

A couple days ago I saw my copy of the final issue of The Concordian and realized that I had never read it after that fateful day a few weeks back. I picked it up and started reading about the lessons that Cody Neff learned in college.

The five lessons are kind of generic and things you would expect. But, what he writes about his experiences in how he learned those lessons is where he starts to shine. It was a really good piece about how college helped him step out of his comfort zone and how he became a better person as a result. I really liked it.

Then I read the end.

While talking about the kind of person he wants to be, he also made note of the kind of person he doesn't want to be: "As the semester winds down and I get ready to head out into the workforce, I can only hope that I don't end up boring or worse, like writing some lame blog and bouncing from minimum wage job to minimum wage job."

I'm never one to assume, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he's taking a shot at me there.

It's one thing to make fun of my blog. I get it; some people don't like it. It's like The Concordian - it's something written that people can decide for themselves if they like it or not. Cody Neff, I guess, has decided that he doesn't like my blog. Honestly, I think there's enough stuff out there for everybody. If you don't like when I critique the newspaper or the SGA, read about me getting fired from my job, or I write about music a lot. There's a variety to what I post.

But, anyway. Cody has decided that in addition to taking shots at my blog, he is also going to make fun of how I pay my bills. Here's what I wrote about one of his pieces back in October, followed by his response:

An example of a bad opinion piece was the thing from issue 1 where the guy talks about an unprofessional professor. He is so vague and trying not to cause a stir that it's pointless. It reads more like he's talking about the idea of an unprofessional professor as opposed to him being fed up with the one he deals with. You read it and don't care. Name names. Be specific. You might create enemies, but you might also walk into a bar and have 5 drunks tell you they love what you write.

I wrote earlier in the blog about how I was at a bar and 5 people came up to me and said they liked my blog. Cody's response is below:

First off, why would tell me to name names and then not even have the decency to put my name in? I'm not going to mention names. It's unprofessional and calling the professors out by name borders on petty gossip. Why would I intentionally make an enemy out of someone that I would have to sit with for an hour each day? Besides, I WAS talking about the idea of an unprofessional professor. I didn't write names because there were too many to name. I'm not making a "best-of" list. Besides, I don't write so that I can gain the undying adoration of five drunks. Don't try to tell me how to do my job. Do I come to your work and tell you how to flip burgers? Leave me out of your childish ramblings.

You haven't been relevant for years and almost no one on the staff even knows who you are. You're just some pizza manager with a blog who thinks that he's Citizen Kane. The Concordian isn't going to change just because you don't like it. Stop being such a self-entitled baby. You haven't earned it.

Ouch. Here's what I said at the time:

Sorry it took me a while to reply. I'm horrible about checking for blog comments. Here are a couple replies...

I'm usually good about tagging people on facebook when I mention them in a blog. But, I didn't have the newspaper in front of me when I wrote this and didn't remember your name. But, it seems to have worked out since you saw it.

You write, "Besides, I don't write so that I can gain the undying adoration of five drunks." I meant the number 5 in a figurative manner, meaning that if you named names and stood up for yourself, you could gain the respect of those around you, which is what I have accomplished over the years.

I don't flip burgers. I am no longer a pizza manager. And, I've never seen Citizen Kane, so I don't get that final reference. I'm sure it doesn't paint me in a positive light lol.

On a more serious note, the ability to take constructive criticism is a very important skill to have. Nobody is perfect; you're not, I'm not. Everybody can improve in some way.

And, there's that. The thing that troubles me a little bit about this is that Cody seems to take a particular joy in making fun of my job situation. It's one thing to make fun of this blog. I wrote about his writing, so he writes about my writing in response. No big deal. 

It doesn't bother me necessarily; I'm a thick-skinned guy, I'll be okay, but it does sort of come across as mean that his best defense is to make fun of the fact that I don't have a good job.

The Concordian is a learning experience. I've always said that the best way to learn is to make a mistake. You see what you did wrong and realize that you shouldn't do that. People are going to read the two occasions where Cody Neff made fun of how I pay my bills and they might get the impression that he's an asshole. That's probably not what he's going for.

And, I don't think that's accurate. He seems like a nice guy. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I think I've seen him at RadioShack twice. Maybe next time I see that guy I'll ask him if he's Cody.

I've elected to write a blog and occasionally be controversial with it. That's fair game. Make fun of that all you want. I work at RadioShack so that I can pay my water bill to take a shower and buy groceries to eat. That's not really something that you should make fun of somebody for. I'd even be okay with him making fun of the fact that I'm a 26-year-old college dropout. That's funny for everybody except me. I'm cool with poking fun at that, as long as it's not malicious.

Maybe one day Cody will look back at this article and show it to his kids. They'll say, "Daddy, what's this line about the blog and jobs about?" And Cody will look at it for a second, sigh deeply, and say, "You father was kind of a douchebag there and probably shouldn't have made fun of him for working hard and trying to make an honest living."

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My look at the #TKE formal

I attended the 2013 Tau Kappa Epsilon formal event as the date of Ashley Green, a TKE sweetheart. I only knew a handful of people that were going to be there, so I considered that it could be potentially be awkward, so I tried to think of a way to make things interesting for me. I decided to keep a running log of the night on my phone.

It's what I do; I like to document things. I thought it would be a fun idea. I think it provides an interesting look into an outsider experiencing one of the biggest nights of the year for a fraternity.

All in all, it was a fun night. I think Ashley thought I wasn't enjoying myself because I was kind of sitting there not doing much for the most part, but it doesn't take a lot of stimulation to excite me; I'm content to sit there listening to music, drinking my drink, and people watching. She likes a lot of stimulation (no jokes, please), so she went and had some fun while I hung out and watched her wallet.

Below is the log. It starts on Saturday, May 11 and goes into the early morning hours of Sunday May 12, before one final entry after waking up Sunday afternoon.

* * *

3:30
Laying in bed shirtless listening to the foo fighters station on Pandora. I should probably be getting ready for the TKE formal. I'm a little apprehensive about it, but I'm like that with any unfamiliar event. Ashley is really looking forward to it and wants me to come along, so I think it could be fun.

The awkwardness could possibly stem from the fact that she's probably one of the few girls going who is bringing a male date. So I'm likely going to be the only guy who doesn't really fit in. But, I know enough of them that it shouldn't be an issue. I'll just have to find a spot to go sit down at if they start breaking out chants.

I'm going to go get ready. I'll try to maintain this throughout the night. It could be entertaining.

4:35
Sent Ashley a picture of me in my suit w/ the caption "Do I look presentable?" She thought I did. I'm kind of surprised she left me to my own devices in terms of getting ready. I figured she would micro-manage me getting dressed more. She tends to think I dress like a slob for the most part.

I'm wearing Toms with my suit. I feel like I should wear comfortable shoes. The girls wear uncomfortable shoes, but as soon as they start getting drunk they take them off. I can't go barefoot, so I decided on comfort over style.

I told Ashley to make sure the girls start taking off their shoes before I get too drunk, or I would make fun of them. I've been given strict orders not to say, "Don't take any of those girls home tonight - their feet are dirty!" or anything along those lines.

4:53
Outside Ashley's apartment picking her up. It has started to rain.

6:15
Finishing up at Kimono, the Japanese restaurant. It was a little awkward at first, because Ashley & I arrived after everybody. But once I started eating a little bit I relaxed. The hibachi guy threw food at my mouth but I didn't catch it. The server combined mine & Ashley's bill. She always hates when they do that. I think it's funny how she reacts to it. Watching a guy steal a glass. I asked his name. Ashley wouldn't tell me.

7:05
Ashley doesn't like the idea of this blog. I told her people would think it's interesting. I also promised not to document any out-of-control debauchery.

8:08
Arrived at Winterplace for the formal. On the shuttle ride here, there weren't enough seats and I had to stand. I kept accidentally bumping my crotch into some girl sitting in front of me. She didn't seem to notice. Time to start drinking.

8:39
So far, I've spotted 4 girls that aren't wearing any shoes. Ashley still has hers on. There's a girl here who looks to be under 5 feet tall. Extremely short girls are cute. Still on drink 1.

9:09
Went to the bathroom. Heard a knock on the door. Opened the door and a girl asked if there were any other guys in there. I said no. She came in. I left. Just finished drink 2.

9:17
This DJ is annoying. I wish I had some hand sanitizer. No real reason, I'm just weird about germs. Already lost count of how many times I've witnessed something & said to Ashley, "I'm not putting that in the blog." Working on drink 3.

9:33
Some guy came up to me, real respectful and all, and asked what my numbers were or something. When I told him I was Ashley's date, he said "Oh," and walked away. Still on drink 3.

10:38
Made fun of some girls for acting like whores. They were Ashley's friends. Oops. Lost track of what drink I'm on, but I know I'm not drunk enough.

11:02
They're giving out awards. Basically, they're inside joke awards about fucking girls or whatever and I don't get any of the jokes, so I'm just kind of hanging out waiting for them to be done.

A couple fraternities have given me bids over the years. One of my biggest reasons against joining was the fakeness. The guy I spoke to earlier tonight has stuck with me. He thought I was TKE alumni, so he came up to me and was all respectful, then as soon as he realized I wasn't TKE, he walked away. He's walked past me a couple times tonight & has avoided eye contact. He was being so fake and it's ridiculous. It's the only thing I have against Greek organizations.

11:37
Guy asked me to smoke pot with him. I said yes. He asked, "You're not gonna write about this in a blog are you?" I said, "Oh no, of course not." Ashley gave me a look. It was funny.

1:47
I'm home now. Ashley drove me home. I felt like I was good, but she didn't. So, that probably means I wasn't good. Interacted with an older TKE member who I felt went out of his way to make fun of me. But, that'll happen.

2:36
Decent night, overall. I'm okay that I went. I feel like I would have enjoyed myself more if I had known more people. And I feel like more people would have approached Ashley, had she not been with me. Aside from a couple assholes I dealt with throughout the night, it was an enjoyable evening.

2:38 PM
Approximately 12 hours have passed since I laid in bed with my head spinning writing that last post. Still trying to piece things together. I couldn't tell you the last time I smoked marijuana. Indulging in it last night definitely helped up my enjoyment level. It may have also created some memory problems.

As we were leaving last night, some guys were making a few sophomoric jokes about how Ashley & I were going to "have fun later." I don't really remember much after getting home and one of the first things I do remember is Ashley waking me up on my couch at 8:30 am asking why I left her alone in my bed. So, that's how much "fun" we wound up having, for anybody curious. I vaguely remember tossing & turning and she fell asleep, so I got up so I wouldn't bother her.

When I got in my car earlier, the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "One Hot Minute" was blaring loudly. I kind of remember that song coming on and turning it up and telling Ashley about how it was my favorite RHCP song.

We gave two people a ride to the Chaucer apartments. I kept over-pronouncing it and saying "shosh-er." The people crammed in my backseat thought it was funny.

I feel bad that my drunkness got in the way of my chivalry. As I got out of my car and watched this girl struggle to get out of the backseat of my two-door car, I realized that I should have let her sit in the front. If I had a little more sense at the time I would have offered.

Struggling to remember how much I tipped the bartender. I'm sure it wasn't enough. At one point I went up for a drink and the lady remembered what I had. I made some lame joke to the effect of: "I'm becoming a regular around here." She laughed.

* * *

And, there's that. As I said, I like to document things. It felt like something fun to do.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Notes about life

I was driving through some heavy rain earlier. Like, that kind of heavy rain where you're driving super slow, the windshield wipers are on the max setting, and it's still hard to navigate out. While I was doing that, it reminded me of my car wreck I had in 2011. I realized that the 2-year anniversary had passed and I didn't notice it.

Here's the blog I wrote in 2011 a few days after the wreck: http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2011/04/wanna-know-how-i-spent-my-saturday.html

Here's the blog I wrote in 2012 looking back at it: http://chrisslater.blogspot.com/2012/04/one-year-later-looking-back-at-my-car.html

If you don't want to click any of those links, the short story is that I hydroplaned on the interstate, flipped my car over in the median and was trapped in there for a little while until help arrived. I was fine from a physical standpoint, but mentally struggled with driving in the rain for a while after it happened. And, I still don't like driving in the rain.

* * *

I wrote a blog shortly after leaving Outback about how I shaved my beard. I did it partly because I was so closely associated with it among my coworkers and I really wanted to disassociate myself with that place. I was "that guy from outback with the beard" and I didn't want to be that anymore.

I realized the main reason that I enjoy growing a beard is because I'm lazy. There's less upkeep involved when there's more hair on your face. And, as we've all figured out at this juncture of my life, I'm incredibly lazy. So, the beard is back. Come to RadioShack and look at it if you'd like. I'll sell you a phone or batteries. I'm supposed to push the batteries.

* * *

It always surprises a lot of people when they discover that I don't play video games. I like to consider myself a recovering gamer. I got my first gaming console when I was 6 years old and played pretty much nonstop until I was 20 or 21.

I never graduated past the Nintendo 64. A little over a decade or so, the gamecube replaced it and was followed shortly by the first x-box and the PS2. I never graduated past the 64 because by that point I wasn't playing any new games. This shouldn't come as a surprise, but my favorite video games were professional wrestling games.

"Back in my day..." But, seriously, back in my day, the professional wrestling video games were a lot more simplified. Now, you can plug a wrestler into a storyline mode and stuff happens around you. They didn't have that in games when I was younger, and when they finally did, it was basic and fairly predictable. So, as a result, I created my own characters and concocted my own storylines.

I had my own universe that spanned like 6 different wrestling games and characters who jumped between companies and had these backstories and whatnot. It was pretty complicated stuff.

Anyway, I was laying in bed a couple weeks ago thinking about how I missed my Nintendo64 and started thinking about the unresolved storylines I had going on. I thought about how cool it would be to find another Nintendo64 system and pick up on where I left off. I might still do that; we'll see. I'd have to get a 64; if I got an PS3 or X-Box, I'd jump too far in and you'd never see me again. I need something simple that I can just play with when I'm bored. After you read that last sentence, say to yourself, "That's what she said."

* * *

Away from video games and into interacting with real people... I'm going to my first "formal" Saturday night. It's the Tau Kappa Epsilon formal event. It's like a dance-type thing. I'm Ashley's date. She's a TKE "sweetheart." I don't really know a lot about Greek lifestyles, but I figured out pretty early what that meant - "You can't actually join, but we think you're cool."

Probably one of the weirdest moments of my life was when I went to a party with a bunch of members of Sigma Tau Gamma and they all got drunk and started doing their chants. I just stood there awkwardly as they told a tale of digging up a dead girl to fuck her one last time.

For the longest time, a lot of TKE members didn't like me. I think that was mostly because a lot them held prominent positions in the SGA and they usually didn't like what I had to say about them either in The Concordian or in my blog.

The younger ones that I've been around seem to like me. Or, maybe it's just because I'm around Ashley. I think they have to like me because of that. Or, at least just tolerate me.

The irony of the TKE's not liking me back in the day was that for the first 2 years of college my roommate was Alex Hosseini. He became a TKE our sophomore year and he and I remained friendly while a lot of his peers didn't like me.

Funny story: About a month or so ago, Ashley and I were at a bar. We ran into a TKE member from back in my day who knew both of us. The drinks had been flowing, and he was very friendly to me. It had been years since he had been programmed to dislike me, so I looked at it as water under the bridge.

Later, Ashley and I were ready to leave. I went to the bathroom. When I came back, I noticed that that guy had his arm around Ashley's shoulder and they were talking. I figured they were saying goodbye, so I stood off in the distance to give them their time. After noticing me, Ashley gave me a look with her eyes that said, "Let's get out of here."

I approached. He removed his arm. We left. She then told me that this guy was talking shit about me, asking her how she could be with a guy like me, etc and etc. So, I guess old habits die hard for some people.

So, the TKE formal should be fun. Or, as fun as something like that can be. I'll let everybody know how it goes.

* * *

To segue from a Concord University fraternity to Concord University news:

If you haven't heard by now, Kendra Boggess has been selected as the interim President of Concord University. At the time of her selection, Boggess was an interim Vice President. So, I guess we'll see where things go from there.

She'll probably be the interim President for the entire academic year, definitely at least the fall semester. There will be a national search for a new President. I assume Boggess will probably apply to take it on fulltime.

A search committee will be formed (or maybe has been formed already) with members representing the different constituency groups at Concord. They will narrow down the applicants and interview them. They will make a decision and give that information to the Board of Governors, who will then decide who the next President of Concord University will be.

Honestly, if Kendra Boggess does apply for it, I could see her getting the job for the simple fact that Concord has never had a female President. If not her, then I foresee a woman getting the job. Now is a good time to do it. The only thing I could see stopping Boggess for it is that she's already here. With nationwide searches, it's almost held against people in-house that they're already here. "We're looking for the best, that means we need to look everywhere but here" seems to be the motto.

So, that's something to keep an eye on if you're a student at Concord University for the 2013-2014 academic year.

That seems like a good stopping point for now. I'll let you know if anything exciting happens in my life anytime soon.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Top 10 Johnny Cash cover songs

Johnny Cash has been regarded as one of the greatest musicians in the world since the 1960s. Over his 40-year career, Cash released nearly 100 albums of mostly country, bluegrass, and gospel songs.

In the 1980s, the kind of music Johnny Cash was making wasn't cool and as a result, Johnny Cash wasn't cool. So, he had sort of a lull in his career there for a while. He was getting older and country music was moving in a different direction. In the early 1990s, popular record producer Rick Rubin, who was mostly known for working with rap and metal groups, signed Cash as the first artist to his new American Recordings record label.

Cash recorded his final six albums with Rubin, two of which were released posthumously as Cash died in 2003. The American series of albums invigorated Cash's career and introduced him to a new generation of fans. Part of the appeal of the new records was that they were not typically what Cash had been known for. They were heavier in some aspects and featured a wider array of musical genres.

Recording cover songs was nothing new to Cash, as he had covered a lot earlier in his career. As he got older and worked closely with Rubin, the two heavily relied on cover songs and used Cash's vocals to give the songs new meaning. As he aged, Cash's voice changed and got weaker and sounded more mortal. He was an old man who was going to die one day and that comes across when he sings about mortality, loving his family, and finding God.

The following are ten of my favorite cover songs from Cash's six American albums, loosely ranked. I'll list the song, who performed it originally, what album it was from, and give some thoughts about it. Since something like this is very subjective, let me know how you feel about it. There are a lot of good ones I left out.

Hurt ... American IV: The Man Comes Around ... Nine Inch Nails ... The song that brought Johnny Cash back into the mainstream shortly before his death. Released in 2003, the song is almost haunting in how Cash sings it. It's basically about demons ruining your life and finally realizing it once it's too late. The music video features a look back at Cash's life, with older footage of "the man in black" used as a sharp juxtaposition of the man seemingly too weak to move. Cash's wife was filmed in the video with him but died before it aired, giving the video an extra air of creepiness. In subsequent performances, Trent Reznor has adopted the Cash minimalistic approach to "Hurt."

I Hung My Head ... American IV: The Man Comes Around ... Sting ... This is where the brilliance of Cash's vocals comes into play. I don't like Sting's version, but Cash gives it the right touch of sorrow and angst to make it special. "I Hung My Head" is about killing another man for no reason. It's a heartless song and Sting makes it too pop-sounding. Cash sings with pain and hurt in his voice.

Personal Jesus ... American IV: The Man Comes Around ... Depeche Mode ... While this song isn't necessarily about the actual Jesus, but rather somebody in your life who represents that person to you, religious songs were a staple of Cash's catalogue. Easily the biggest hit of Depeche Mode's career, Cash strips it down and makes it his own. Marilyn Manson covers it too, which is fun to listen to if that's your thing.

One ... American III: Solitary Man ... U2 ... Powerful enough when Bono sings it, it gets taken to a new stratosphere when Cash gets ahold of it. With lyrics like "We're one, but we're not the same" and "You asked me to enter, but then you made me crawl" and "I can't be holding on to what you've got, when all you've got is hurt" the issues with relationships and interactions with people makes this one of the most thought-provoking songs of all time.

Rusty Cage ... Unchained ... Soundgarden ... One of my all-time favorite vocalists is Chris Cornell. With that said, though, "Rusty Cage" is one of my least-favorite Soundgarden songs. The problem with Soundgarden's version is that the music is too fast for the lyrics that work better slow. Cash solves that problem by starting out with the acoustic guitar in the beginning, then adding the right touch of rock as the song kicks it up a notch.

Won't Back Down ... American III: Solitary Man ... Tom Petty & The Heartbeakers ... On the second album in the American series, Unchained, the backing band was actually Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. On that album, he covered their song "Southern Accents." One album later, in 2000, Cash covered one of their more anthem-like tracks, "Won't Back Down." Tom Petty gave the song his personal blessing, as he performs backing vocals.

God's Gonna Cut You Down ... American V: A Hundred Highways ... Odetta ... One of those songs that's been around for forever and nobody really knows who wrote it. Elvis Presley recorded a version of it back in the day. This was the first album of new material released after Cash's death. It's a song about getting your life on the right track, because God's gonna cut you down at some point. Star-studded video featuring a multitude of actors, musicians, and celebrities paying tribute to Cash.

Redemption Day ... American VI: Ain't No Grave ... Sheryl Crow ... From the second and final posthumous album, released in 2009, this Sheryl Crow song from 1996 is one of the few that Cash sounds vibrant and full of life on. The final album was noteworthy for Cash sounding especially frail, but he seems to come alive here.

Ain't No Grave ... American VI: Ain't No Grave ... Bozie Sturdivant ... Perhaps that line about coming alive would be more appropriate here. Creepy-sounding song released six years after his death about how there "ain't no grave can hold my body down." So far, the final single released from what was seemingly a never-ending career. However, if we listen to the lyrics, it would imply that he can't be stopped. I believe him.

Rowboat ... Unchained ... Beck ... For alt-rock god Beck, this song was seen at the time as a stylistic divergence from what his fans were used to. He wrote a country song about a girl who doesn't love him anymore and sang it with a country twang. All Johnny Cash had to do to cover it was to be Johnny Cash and it worked. For the most part, Cash covered country artists and rock groups who were fairly well known. At this point, Beck was still an up-and-coming musician. While he had the ability to make it on his own, being associated with Cash so early in his career definitely helped bring new eyes to this perpetual "Loser."

And there we go. There's a lot of stuff that didn't make the cut. Covers of The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, Kris Kristofferson, The Eagles, and more. Who do you like? Who's on your list? If you have thoughts on it, let me know.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Me & Ashley Green

I've gotten some good feedback about the last blog I posted, about why I gave up on the SGA. There are a lot of comments on facebook and some on the actual blog itself. One thing I always like to do is foster a discussion. I hope that most of the SGA officials are mad at me for what I wrote. That means that they haven't given up on the SGA.

I haven't talked much with Ashley about it. We have sort of a general understanding that we don't talk much about the SGA, because we don't tend to agree on a lot of things. It's surprising then, that we focus on other things, because one would assume that that's all we have.

That's actually what we initially started bonding over, then things progressed from there. The thing about Ashley and myself is that we sort of had a friendship for a couple years that was about having a friendship. For the last couple years, most of our conversations when we saw each other or occasionally over Facebook were variations of "We should hang out sometime." And we never really did. I even told her I would give her free Pizza Hut if she'd come see me.

We reconnected over the summer when some of her friends worked at Pizza Hut and our two worlds combined. A friend of mine from Pizza Hut was at a party at Ashley's house. She didn't know that I knew Ashley. She got drunk and called me. I was asking where she was and she wasn't sure. I was then asked, "Do you know Ashley Green? This is her apartment." Ashley then got on the phone, invited me over, and the rest is history.

I'm oddly good at remembering my first interactions with people. For those people who like odd trivia, here's the story of my first interaction with Ashley Green:

It was the fall of 2008. It was my fifth year and Ashley's second. We knew of each other. I had been Editor-in-Chief of The Concordian the previous year and she was in the SGA. I was writing a blog about the SGA and had it finished except for one technical detail. I forgot what somebody's position was. It was something late, like 2 a.m. and I went on Facebook to see if my usual SGA source was online - Jeff Yeager. Usually when I had a question about something I would ask him. He wasn't online, but I noticed that somebody else was - Ashley Green.

I thought about it for a second. I was a little hesitant because I didn't really know her. I didn't think it would be too weird, because I knew she would know it wasn't completely random. So I clicked on her name and typed: "Hey. Is Chris Matheny the Chief Justice or Prime Justice?" She responded. I finished my blog. The next afternoon, we passed in the Student Center. We smiled at each other and that was it.

That was a nice interaction. Here's an awkward one we had a few years later:

It was the summer of 2011. It was the weekend. I finished up at work and a few friends told me to meet them at Danny's, the local bar in Princeton. I got there and they had already been drinking for a while. I talked to them for a minute, then headed up to the bar.

It was busy, so I was standing there for a minute. One the other side of the bar, I noticed Ashley Green talking to some people. She noticed me. As was our usual protocol, we smiled at each other and waved. She went back to what she was doing. I got my drink and went back to my friends.

Some time passed. I believe I was on drink 2. I turned around and saw Ashley wobbling toward me. She had started a little earlier than me. She wrapped her arms around me. She was wearing shoes with heels on, so I was staring straight up at her. She talked about how good it was to see me and how we always talk about how we should hang out but never do. She was leaving and wanted to come say bye to me, so she did. She wobbled out out of the bar and to her apartment.

I went back to hanging out with my friends. The drinks kept coming. Sometime as the night was approaching its close and I was getting a little wobbly myself, I started thinking about what had just transpired. In what is always a mistake, I pulled out my phone. I typed a message:

"We need to hang out more." That seemed to mirror the mood I was in: innocent, but flirty. I hit send. I instantly regretted it.

Thankfully, she never responded. A couple days pass. I'm hungry, so I head to Sheetz. I go to open the door and almost walk right into Ashley. We both stare at each other before awkwardly talking about our plans for the night. She was going to meet up with some friends. I said I might do the same. We stared at each other awkwardly for another second before we parted ways.

And that was that. I told her that story about a month ago. She didn't remember it. It's for the best that she has no memory of that.

* * *

I don't know where all of that came from. I was initially talking about the last blog I wrote, but then I got on this kick. It's probably a more interesting story than what I was initially going to write. If you have any stories of awkward interactions with Ashley, feel free to share them here. Or, don't. That could probably get weird...

Life, or something like it

I've been staring at an empty screen, thinking of the words to fill it with. None are coming. These ones, I guess. But, these are placeholder words in place of the actual words, so they don't count.

Anyway...

Where am I at in life? I've been working at RadioShack for around a month now. That's been fun. I like all of the people I work with. I went to high school and Concord with one guy. He plays Amtgard. His name's Crump. He was my anonymous source in a 2007 Concordian article after the SGA went into closed session and I had to leave. He told me what happened and I anonymously quoted him. Sean Noland wrote me a scathing email about how he didn't like that I did that. During Travis Prince's report the next week, after he was done speaking he jokingly added, "Did you get all of that, Chris?"

Am I talking about the SGA or RadioShack now? I don't know shit at RadioShack. People come in with questions and I just stare blankly and go, "let's take you over here, maybe this is what you need." But, I like it. It's laid-back and I don't hate the idea of going there every day.

I noted in a previous blog that I wasn't having vivid dreams anymore. One of my favorite things about going to sleep used to be waking up and remembering the crazy things I dreamed about. For at least the last year-plus, my dreams weren't exciting. I would dream that I got out of bed, went to work and hated it, then I would wake up and do exactly what I dreamed about.

Perhaps the change in job and stress level has impacted my brain's ability to create dreams while I sleep. That sounds like something possible, right?

I try to look at the positives in things. I look at getting fired from Outback as one of the best things that happened to me. People have asked me if I was mad about it, and I always said no. Most of the people asking were fellow (now former) co-workers who would follow that up by asking if I would ever go back. I would laugh and say some variation of "fuck that!"

As some time has passed, I'm starting to get a little angry about things. It'll pass soon, but let me explain. I was fired. Then I went a couple weeks without a job. Then I got the new job. I just got my first paycheck from the new job a couple days ago. I went about a month without an income. I had saved enough money to basically survive for a month. I didn't splurge or do anything crazy. I paid my bills and went out to see my friends a few times. I'm not irresponsible with money. That's about the only aspect of my life I'm not irresponsible in.

To get to the point, that cushion of money I had saved is running low and this next round of bills are coming up. I'm working and will have money coming to me, I just don't have it yet. Instead of what I usually do, which is check the mail and then go pay my bills, I'm now checking the mail and deciding which bills I can push back for a few weeks until I get my finances caught back up.

The reason money is tight right now is because a woman got angry one night and fired me with no acceptable justification. My life is a little harder right now because somebody couldn't handle the stress of her job and took it out on me. I'm a little upset about that. Or, as the kids call it these days, "salty."

But, if that's the only problem in my life, I guess I'm doing pretty good.

We'll see where life takes me from here. I'm getting used to things at work and not getting as lost when people ask me questions. I've had people say that it takes at least six months to really know what you're doing there.

I'll keep you updated on how that goes.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Why I gave up on the SGA

My name is Chris Slater. Depending on who you talk to, I am a respected member of the Concord University community. I initially attended my first four years at this institution like most do. Then, in a trend that is becoming increasingly more common, I came back for a fifth year. After that, I started what should have been my sixth and final year. I never finished it. A few half-hearted attempts to come back over the last few years have been met with apathy and failure.

I have finally decided that I am ready to quit wasting my life and go back to school. This semester has been spent talking to the necessary people in the necessary offices in order to get things like classes, financial aid, and the like in order for the upcoming 2013-2014 academic year.

In doing so, I have been making weekly trips to campus. In a previous blog post, a guy left the following comment: "I had hoped that they were exaggerating when they said that you were some loser who still obsessed with Concord, even though you don't go there."

I replied on the blog post itself and I'm replying here. I'm not obsessed with Concord. I'm obsessed (finally) with graduating from Concord. I don't know if people realize how easy it is to stay up-to-date with what's happening on campus. Show up for an hour every Wednesday and you have time to attend a meeting of the Student Government Association and read The Concordian. Add another hour and you have time to write a blog about it. Realistically, I spend 2-4 hours a week "obsessing" over Concord University. The sad thing is, that's probably more time than some of your SGA officials and Concordian editors probably spend at their jobs.

I know a lot about the SGA and The Concordian because I spent four years as a Concordian staff writer, News Editor, [interim] A&E Editor, [interim] Sports Editor, and Editor-in-Chief; and a large part of those four years I covered the actions (and inactions) of the SGA. After I Ieft the newspaper staff, I continued to attend meetings and report on them in my blog. As I started to realize I knew what I was talking about, I started adding my opinion into the mix whenever I felt it was necessary.

I came back and started covering this year's SGA. I knew a couple of them from seeing them over the years, I knew some of them just from hearing their names before, and most of them were unfamiliar to me. I went in with an open mind and wanted to see what this group of students could do for the students of Concord University.

To say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. I saw people who didn't know what they were doing holding important positions. I saw people who didn't care about what they were doing holding important positions. I saw people who didn't care in general sitting there killing time. And I saw a few people who genuinely did care trying to hold things together.

I had accepted that this year's SGA wasn't going to fight for the students like previous administrations. I accepted that this year's SGA was more laid back, more care free, more easy going.

There were so many things that the SGA could have fought for, but didn't. And, honestly, "fought for" might even be too strong. Cared about is more accurate here. There were so many issues this SGA should have cared about, or at least given the impression of caring about.

There are tuition increases as well as room and board increases. They were announced but nothing was done. Budgets cuts are looming for pretty much every single department at Concord. They had Rick Dillon talk about it a little bit, but that's it. The President of the University openly applied for another job, then got it and resigned. They mentioned it, but that's it. Rumor has it that the athletics department is unethically taking funds from other departments. That one hasn't been touched by the SGA.

I had accepted that they weren't going to fight for anything. And then Concord's food provider, Aramark, gave a presentation to SGA officials and CU administrators about the proposed new restaurant, Wingspan (or maybe it's Wing Span?). The idea is to get rid of South of Sicily and Grille Works and make that one big sports bar type of atmosphere. There will be taps that you can drink root beer out of and the hope of many is that one day you might be able to purchase alcohol there.

The SGA made the suggestion of moving the "bar" aspect of the sports bar to a different area. Aramark said no. The SGA took that information back to the weekly meeting and proceeded to get passionate, huffy-faced, and angry about it. They vowed to fight for what the students want! If it's the last thing this SGA does, they will make sure that this restaurant is moved 100 feet down from where Aramark wants it.

And that's when I gave up on the SGA. That happened last week, April 24. There was a meeting Wednesday, May 1. I did not attend. Aside from the last two prior academic years, I have had nearly perfect SGA meeting attendance for around six years. I didn't always agree with what the SGA was doing, but I understood and respected that they felt passionately that what they were doing was in the best interest of the students.

Of all this things for this year's SGA to fight for, a restaurant isn't it. It would have been one thing if they looked around and said, "Okay, what else is there left to fight for? We have a couple weeks left, let's tackle this bar tap deal." No, they sat around doing mostly nothing for the better part of two semesters, then decided to pick a pointless battle that does nothing but make them look petty.

I lost faith in the SGA after that moment. I know something like this would mean more and have more weight if it didn't come before the final two meetings, but for those students who care, this should mean something. Most are probably saying, "good riddance, now that guy won't bother us anymore." But, that's not the case.

I have said for years that the SGA is the most important student organization at Concord. For years, one of my main goals - first through the newspaper and then this blog - was to give students of Concord the information presented in those meetings.

I had an epiphany last week. I realized that it doesn't matter if the students know what this SGA does, because they don't do anything. When the administrators are looking at ways to cut the budget for next year, maybe they'll look at the part where each student pays $26 to the SGA. Maybe they'll decide that $26 x 3000-ish would be better spent given to the athletics department or the psychology department or the daycare or something else that wasn't an embarrassment.

Now, I don't want that to happen. I am going to give next year's SGA a shot. One of the biggest surprises to me over the last two semesters has been the competency of Chelsey Rowe. I didn't see much in her in the beginning, and while she's far from perfect, she has impressed me more than anybody in the State Room not named Andrew Miller or Derek Cline.

Josh Hanna dropped the ball this year. Hopefully Chelsey Rowe picks it up in the fall and runs with it to greater heights than any of us imagined. It's not just the reputation of an organization that is on the line. This organization is for the students. They need to serve the students better in the future.