Known Johnson

August 31, 2005

The Unknown is Known!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 5:53 pm

Amanda Grace Johnson
Born 2:53 pm, Monday August 29, 2005
7lb., 9 ounces
20.25 inches long
Totally cute. (Check back later for a more in-depth report.)

Flashing her gang sign:

“Whatchoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”:

Deep in concentration . . . or maybe just filling her diaper:

Occupied with her favorite hobby, sleeping:

August 28, 2005

Voivod’s “Piggy” D’Amour dead from cancer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:47 am

I’m really sad to read this:

VOIVOD guitarist Denis “Piggy” D’Amour passed away Friday night (August 26) at approximately 11:45 p.m. due to complications from advanced colon cancer – so advanced that the disease had spread to his liver. D’Amour slipped into a coma Thursday night and died less than 24 hours later in the palliative care unit of a Montreal hospital, surrounded by family and friends. He was 45 years old.

While I don’t really listen to them much anymore Voivod was one of those “turning point” bands for me. They were such an oddity at a time when rock music was all about image – hair, leather, cars, and girls. Voivod was writing complex, sometimes abrasively weird music, the subject matter of which I can only guess most of the time, but it’s all freak-out sci-fi. For whatever reason, Voivod forced me to ask more of the music I was listening to – once I heard their odd, shifting textures and manic time-signature shifts, not to mention Denis “Snake” Belanger’s choked, nasal voice (and, non-musically, really cool, low-fi graphics from drummer Michel “Away” Langevin,) nothing could be the same. And Piggy was one of those guitarists who didn’t dazzle with pyrotechnical displays of skill but instead relied on really unusual guitar figures and sounds to make his presence known. His unusual choices in sounds, and this band, were more influential than it may seem – going as far into the mainstream as to inform the structure and sounds of Foo Fighters’ “All My Life” from 2002’s One on One. If you like metal at all and somehow don’t know Voivod, you’ve probably enjoyed the influence of Voivod and not even known it. Do something about that today.

Voivod: Inner Combustion (5.22mb) from 1989’s Nothingface.

Note to mother Nature

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:20 am

Please try and concentrate your energies where they are best used. Currently, you’re ravaging the southern US with a hurricane, but closer to home, you gave me a completely random bloody nose last night, and I know this was you because I never get bloody noses. (There’s few things like waking up in the morning with a superbly stuffed-up nose, blowing said nose, and finding blackened bloody chunks.) Let’s think about aiming all that power somewhere useful like, say, Alissa’s uterus. Think “birth, renewal, happiness,” mother Nature, not “destroy!

Baby news

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 12:08 am

For those checking in for the latest baby-related news, let me make it short: no. Not yet. Anything can happen between now and 11pm Sunday night when Alissa is due to be induced, but at this point it’s looking like modern medicine will step in for mother Nature.

Oh, and in case anyone pregnant out there is looking for tips where to walk at night to help encourage your little one out, skip Walmart at 10:30 on a Saturday night. (Well, try and skip Walmart altogether if you can. Walmart sucks.) Plan your walking time earlier in the evening when you have a choice of where to go to walk . . . not only do most Walmarts exhibit a disturbingly strong, sewery odor upon entrance (what is up with that?!) their cashiers are also painfully slow when there’s no urgent need to get through your line. Seriously, it feels like we spent nearly as much time waiting in line to buy the one package of film I needed for the hospital as we did walking around. The cashier, “Pat,” may also have succeeded in being the worst cashier I’ve ever dealt with. First she completely screwed up the very simple purchase of the guy in front of us, then added my film in with his purchase. When I told her that was mine, she removed it from his stuff and stuck it in the piles of many things of the lady behind me. I removed it from her pile, put it back down in front of the little separator that I had laid down specifically for that, and when she used the film to remove the price from the total of the guy in front of me, she once again put it back down in the stuff belonging to the woman behind me. She then advanced the belt, driving the flat hanger portion of the box under the spot where the belt goes under the scanner. I slipped it out again and just held it until she was ready for me, and when she finally got to me, she started to grab at the items from the lady behind me until I held up my film and said, “Just the film,” to which she said, “Just this?” I stiffly smiled as best I could and nodded.

I paid cash and Pat went to the trouble of putting my change on the little raised platform for the debit/credit card machine – cash here, coins there, reciept next to them – which I then had to maneuver into my hand. She then turned and immediately began handling the woman behind us – and I still didn’t have my film! When I asked, she pointed to the front of her rotating bag-dispensing merry-go-round, where my film was not to be found. “Oh, ha-ha, I forgot to turn it around.” Yeah, ha-ha. Hey, I’m not an expert or anything, but how about just handing the customers their bags? And, while you’re at it, their change?

I think she was just jealous. We got to leave Walmart and she didn’t.

August 24, 2005

Sufjan Stevens’ “John Wayne Gacy, Jr”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:28 pm

From Sufjan Stevens’ gorgeous new album, Illinois, comes one of the most powerful songs I’ve heard in a long time, the kind of thing that just pounds into your gut and makes you kind of ill, and yet it’s so beautiful. I very, very rarely put up album tracks for download, but I’m so stunned by this song that I feel this great urge to share and hopefully get a few of you out there to pick up some of his music.*

Sufjan Stevens: John Wayne Gacy, Jr. (4.5mb)

His father was a drinker
And his mother cried in bed
Folding John Wayne’s T-shirts
When the swingset hit his head
The neighbors they adored him
For his humor and his conversation
Look underneath the house there
Find the few living things
Rotting fast in their sleep of the dead
Twenty-seven people, even more
They were boys with their cars, summer jobs
Oh my God

Are you one of them?

He dressed up like a clown for them
With his face paint white and red
And on his best behavior
In a dark room on the bed he kissed them all
He’d kill ten thousand people
With a sleight of his hand
Running far, running fast to the dead
He took of all their clothes for them
He put a cloth on their lips
Quiet hands, quiet kiss
On the mouth

And in my best behavior
I am really just like him
Look beneath the floorboards
For the secrets I have hid

*As with most things like this, if someone connected to Stevens or his label somehow stumbles upon this site before this track is removed after a week or so and is offended at the offering, please contact me and I’ll remove it immediately. I’m only trying to spread the word about one of the best albums of the year . . .

Things learned at the mall, vol. 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 9:13 pm

Ancient Egyptian King Tutenkamen, like many modern car racers and other public performers, had a sponsor. That sponsor? None other than See’s Candies, Inc. That’s right, See’s Candies is the official candy of King Tut, a relationship that is being celebrated with this “one of a kind” truffle box (may I ask the question how a mass-produced box can be considered “one of a kind”?) I had no idea they’ve been around for thousands of years. No wonder they’re so good at making candy. They’ve had eons to perfect the art.

August 23, 2005

Walkabout, or “The Reluctant Johnson”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:51 pm

The stork has two days left to appear on the radar screen before we officially declare his flight late. Unfortunately, we’re not even sure he’s left Stork International Airport with his precious cargo – there’s not even a sign of any impending births happening. So we wait, hoping that maybe the stork simply got held up by weather. Failing that, Alissa’s doctor scheduled her for induction Sunday night at 11pm, four days after her due date, a disappointing prospect simply for the fact that things just don’t seem to be progressing. The important thing, of course, is that the baby appears to be perfectly healthy. The baby just happens to take on his or her parents’ most annoying traits: laziness and procrastination.

And if you’re wondering “Why 11pm on Sunday?” it’s because induction takes about six hours, with three rounds of a gel being applied to Alissa’s cervix that will hopefully get that thing opened up the way it should be. They like to schedule these things over night because it helps prevent families from hanging out at the hospital for no reason, for far too long. If, at 5 am or thereabouts, things seem to be moving along, then it’s time to give the families a call and let them know. Otherwise, it’s not just us that’s in for a very, very long day, and there’s simply no point in that.

So we’ve been walking at night when we can, one of the methods people suggest for helping to get labor started. We’ve actually willingly gone to the mall for absolutely no other reason than it’s someplace air conditioned and it’s big enough that you won’t feel foolish doing laps around the place. If you know us, you know that malls and us do not a pleasant mix make. That we willingly, and actually happily, choose to go stroll around the mall indicates the level of desperation we’ve reached.

However, the mall can actually educate. In walking the mall, I noticed something pretty clever: there’s a fresh-pretzel shop on the lower level, and if you go upstairs, there’s a competing fresh-pretzel shop right off the escalator. Initially, I thought that this must just kill business for one of the two, but then I realized how very clever the placement really was, and how beneficial it was to each business. See, you may pass the one pretzel shop, smell the delicious fresh-baked scent waft out from the one, but not decide you want a pretzel until you’ve already gone to the other level. You’ll immediately see that pretzel shop and decide to grab a pretzel. It works both ways, upstairs or downstairs. You may be thinking to yourself, “Damn, that smelled good! It’s PretzelTime,” but you probably won’t balk at stopping at Wetzel’s – or vice versa. It’s a symbiotic relationship.

We may have to come up with a new location to do our walking, if the Unknown remains so reluctant. There’s only so many times you can walk the mall before you need a change of scenery. However, tonight, besides the great pretzel-shop revelation, I was entertained for free by a clearly out of shape guy wearing a way too snug Athlete’s Den t-shirt. Unintentional irony is one of the better entertainment values to be had.

August 20, 2005

Spic, span, etc.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 11:58 am

After an anxious morning the other day where it seemed some mild contractions were starting, we were both a little disappointed when everything simmered down later that day. I might have been a little more let down than Alissa, actually. From my outside perspective, I see nothing different than what’s been going on the past couple of weeks – Alissa’s tired of carrying around the weight, tired of not being able to find a good position in which to sleep, tired of being inconvenienced in general, actually, and I can’t say I blame her. So when it appears some action is starting to take place, it’s pretty exciting – there’s at least something for me to react to.

I spent that morning at work in a kind of daze, my head light, my eyes wide and scared and bright. I read over the stages of labor and delivery a couple of times, just to make sure I was good and prepared, knowing at least something helpful that might prevent us from overreacting, or just reacting too early. I checked my cell phone and my work phone often, fearing I’d somehow missed a call from Alissa that would say something to the effect of “Come get me, it’s time!” It was not to be, however, and the day wound down and my alert level descended to somewhere around the optimistic yellow “cautious.” It’s tiring being at panicky “orange.”

And so yesterday followed suit, a calm, non-event of a day aside from the last-minute cancellation by Alissa’s doctor, with whom we’d had scheduled a regular weekly visit and which was now rescheduled for Monday. I’d hoped we’d go in and the doctor would tell us that she was magically dilated to the point that she needed to go straight to the hospital, that she’d somehow managed to not feel any seriously labor and the whole process would be a breeze. Again, not to be, not that day anyway.

I woke up this morning with a few goals in mind, most of which centered around getting the final bits of the house cleaned. Due to the chaos I’d inflicted on the house while painting, everything’s been in disarray for quite a while. As I’ve noted, we’ve been slowly working through the piles of stuff, sorting the things we didn’t want into stuff headed to Goodwill and stuff headed to the garbage. There have been a few nagging little things, things that didn’t really fit with anything else, which remained to find a home. I opted to scoop what we absolutely could not figure out what to do with into a box, and maybe someday we’ll actually find a place for them. I’m guessing that place will be “garbage,” but as long as we don’t have to deal with it right now.

Another issue is the growing stack of baby-related boxes. As we unpack each item, every one of them in an excessively large cardboard crate, my only choice it to stack it – not knowing exactly what we need and don’t need. If we have a return, do we need those original crates? I don’t know the answer to that so I’ve been holding onto these things for weeks now, making sure I thoroughly check over each item before I commit a box to the recycling. The problem is that some of these boxes are huge. Even broken down, one or two will take up most of the recycling can – and we still have other recycled crap to fit in there, too. So I figure later today I’ll open everything up, look every item we’ve gotten over, and break down each box. Then I’ll load up the back of my car and find a nice dumpster in which to deposit them. At some point you just have to get rid of this junk, and since it’s been several months since our house looked comfortable, and since we have at least this time to get it all taken care of, why not do it all at once?

So now the house is picked up, cleaned up, ship-shaped up, vacuumed, and finally feeling like home again. I even vacuumed places I’d forgotten about, just in case the throng of visitors that is sure to make its way to our house after the baby arrives manages to find these places. Of course, all of this is really not done for any visitor. It’s all in preparation for the new permanent resident who should be moving in any day now . . .

August 16, 2005

Walk it off

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:58 pm

Being a father-to-be very soon, and not being particularly good at dealing with completely unplannable things like going into labor, I’m pretty much doing the old pacing-the-floor thing. Get me in the delivery room and I guarantee I’ll work like a well-oiled machine. I’ve been going over it all in my head for months, I have some idea what to expect. But this . . . this unknown amount of time that could be just mere hours or could be as long as a little over two weeks . . . I’m really not sure what to do with myself. I find myself very anxious and jumpy, not to mention adle-minded and very easily distrac- oooh, what’s that shiny thing? What’s that? Where was I . . . ah, yes, “easily distracted.”

(I really did lose my train of thought there.)

After dinner, Alissa mentioned that she needed to get her rings cleaned (as part of the guarantee on her wedding and engagement rings) and I jumped at the opportunity: something to do! And not only that, but walking can be good for helping to speed up the onset of labor. No idea why, I just know the doctors alway suggest it. To indicate how badly I need distraction right now, let me reiterate the key issue here: I happily grabbed a chance to go to the mall. I hate the mall. I try to avoid the mall even for things that it’s hard to avoid the mall for, like Christmas shopping. But tonight? “Let’s go!”

We also managed to figure out some things we actually need at Target, so it made our trip out more meaningful. And, being back-to-school week, I knew this was probably a good time to try and find a new method for carrying things to work . . . because my old method makes me look like a bum. Not kidding: I take everything I need for the day that is not lunch in a plastic bag from the grocery store. I’m not really concerned with looking like a bum more than I am losing everything in a catastrophic structural failure of the bag (otherwise known as “a rip.”) I carry my Ipod, phone and whatever other small items I don’t want in my pockets in these grocery bags. My $400 Ipod upon which my sanity depends is being carried around in an unmeasurably thin bag. So, I figured with back-to-school sales, I might be able to score a decent backpack that might suit my needs. Well, as it turns out, backpacks have just plain gotten weird – they’re all one-strapped now, which makes sense since I never once actually wore a backpack, opting instead to do the carry-it-on-one-shoulder deal. Easy on, easy off. Well, now they don’t even come with that second strap. Unfortunately, they’re also smaller in width to look more streamlined, I guess. So unless they had nothing else, that wasn’t going to work.

And then I saw it – something along the lines of a soft-sided briefcase with a shoulder strap and a big flap to cover everything inside. It was perfect – it was just big enough for all my stuff, shaped just right to carry a book or two, some CDs, my Ipod, etc. In effect it was a purse. And, after some deliberation (“Do I look feminine carrying this?!”) I bought it. I’m living the the Friends episode where Joey starts carrying a “man bag.” It just doesn’t matter anymore – men are expected to carry a ridiculous amount of crap in their pockets and our pockets just aren’t big enough! My daily inventory: Ipod, cellphone, two sets of keys, Chapstick, a USB Flash drive, change, etc. – there’s only so much that can fit in pants pockets. So, man bag it is.

And after that we were both done – I’d gotten the distraction I needed, Alissa hopefully got some help from gravity getting baby Unknown moving down and out. I have a feeling, however, that we’ll be doing this quite a bit for the next number of days – the peace of mind afforded by this night out will only last so long.

King’s X: Ogre Tones preview

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tom @ 10:33 pm

King’s X fans are urged, nay, ordered to head over to either Ty’s or D(o)ug’s myspace page to check out the preview of the first single, “Alone,” from their new album, Ogre Tones. First impressions are that it’s a great song – the kind of stuff we’ve been hoping for from King’s X for a long time. Not to diminish Please Come Home . . . Mr. Bulbous and parts of Manic Moonlight, because there were some fantastic elements there, but this truly sounds like King’s X. It seems like they finally realized that the place for the “King’s X sound” is actually on a King’s X album (as opposed to using their solo vehicles (D(o)ug’s Poundhound discs and solo album, Ty’s solo albums/Jelly Jam/Platypus, and Jerry his own solo album) to express the King’s X sound . . . weird.) Also be sure and check out Ty’s and D(o)ug’s other material – these guys just write great music. Very little of it’s been disappointing (Ty’s Platypus project failed to ignite any interest in me, don’t know why exactly, and Jerry’s solo album seemed, well, amateurish, but pretty much everything else is excellent. These guys put out a LOT of music between the three of them.)

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