The ballad of Bee Girl

It wasn’t a costume. That’s what nobody ever got. The same way Batman was the real person and Bruce Wayne the mask, Bee Girl was who she was. Who she is to this day.

Hell yes, she’s still wearing the outfit in 2015. You don’t peel out of your own skin, do you? She wears it to the store, in the carpool line, to the annual office Halloween party — the one where everyone who’s been hired in the last  year thinks it’s a brilliant retro costume, a callback to the early ’90s, and everyone who’s been there a little longer holds their peace.

They know the story. About how everyone at one particular talent show laughed, and how many unexplained accidents unfolded in its wake. That doesn’t just happen, does it?

So they let her dance, badly. And they shiver as she blissfully breezes by.

The Rolling Stones get cringeworthily political in “Highwire”

Getting the morning writing engine going with some musical thoughts.

Here’s the weird thing about how time works. This particular Rolling Stones song, a forgettable little tune called “Highwire,” appeared as one of two “bonus studio cuts”* on a 1991 live album called “Flashpoint.” At this point, the Stones were thought to be over and done with, these last songs just the death rattle of a once-great band.

(*-The other song was called “Sex Drive,” and it was the kind of slinking groove that the Stones could create in a two-minute cab ride, about as finished as a runny egg.)

But that was a quarter-century ago, and the Stones are still around, still making plans for yet another tour. Now, flip that same length of time back the other direction, and you’re in the mid-’60s, right when the Stones were starting. It’s disorienting, how much can happen in a short period of time, and how much time passes when absolutely nothing’s happening.

Anyway, this song is one of the Stones’ few overtly political tunes, released right as the Gulf War was kicking off. It’s tough to remember now, but America had been told that we were in for a struggle for the very soul of American freedom, that our enemy was vast and without number. It turned out we were in a struggle to reopen some oil pipelines and our enemy got his ass handed to him in about six weeks, but let’s not focus on that, shall we?

What Jagger, Richards & co. do best is summon up the spirit of an age, not the actual events. “Gimme Shelter” is one of the most terrifying songs ever when you consider it in the context of the time it was written (the late ’60s). This one, by sharp contrast, feels grafted together, an oddly specific set of lyrics referencing the 82nd Airborne and Munich and dictators who “need a slap on the wrist,” a bouncy chorus that doesn’t fit the moralistic message against “hot guns and cold nights.”

Plus, this is straight out of the pre-grunge ’90s, with the ultra-slick production that wraps the band in an antiseptic sheen. In the video, they’re in one of those factories that apparently manufactures nothing but sparks, with a camera style obviously modeled on those missile cams that were in vogue during the early ’90s.

So there you go. “Highwire” is a relic of its age.

Creation > Consumption

We only have so many hours in a day. It’s true. I checked.

You can do your own math, but if you’re the working type, if you’ve got a kid or a significant other to whom you ought to give at least the bare minimum face time, you’re probably looking at three or so hours each day in which you’re not working/eating/sleeping/driving. You’ve got a choice of how to spend those three hours. More often than not, it’s easy to just spend them in a passive state, letting it all wash over you like you’re half-buried at the beach.

Let’s see what I’ve got here: DVR’d eps of Better Call Saul, The League, Archer, and a dozen 30 for 30s. At least ten Spotify albums I want to dive deep into. A good 12 hours of podcasts, with more arriving in the queue every hour. Hundreds upon hundreds of articles-I-have-to-read saved in Pocket.

And Christ, that doesn’t even account for the actual physical objects, the books and magazines and video games and what-have-you stacked up in my office. Some of it’s work, sure, but much more of it is just Stuff, stuff to be consumed. I’d bet you’re the same; the Internet is a vast Vegas buffet of fascination, and we’ve all overloaded our trays.

Here’s the deal, though, and this is as much self-motivation as it is attempted inspiration: rather than trying to cut down this pile of Content, why not add to it? Why not create some of your own Stuff to add to this mad pile of nonsense? Sure, it’ll probably be awful — 90 percent of everything is — but awful work you’ve done yourself is still better than work never done.

So, yeah. Today, take a few minutes to create instead of consume. Those shows/songs/sites will be there tomorrow. It’d be badass if you had something alongside them.

14 from ’14, Day 9: NASCAR track tour, Shining emoji, and dog with tortilla

Still life of dog with tortilla on staircaseWe roll on through the year touching on some odds and ends. First off, there’s that shot of my dog Hawkeye, caught red-pawed with a tortilla. Gotta be slicker than that, pup.

Next up, my first foray into supercut moviemaking, an extended NASCAR travelogue naming every single track, in order, in song:

Why did I do that? Hell if I know. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Also, there was this, from Twitter:

More actual writing coming tomorrow.

Previous 14 from ’14:
Day 1: In victory lane for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 win
Day 2: US Open: A father, a son, a wheelchair, and Phil Mickelson
Day 3: Which college boasts the three best cross-sport athletes?
Day 4: FSU-Miami: Why won’t you die, Florida State?
Day 5: NFL playoffs: The refs robbed the Panthers!
Day 6: Behind the scenes at the NASCAR championship
Day 7: At the Masters, the yin and yang of Bubba Watson
Day 8: Brad Keselowski, the driver NASCAR needs right now

14 from ’14, Day 8: Brad Keselowski, NASCAR’s most important driver

Talladega cupcakes!Running down a bunch of stories I wrote this year. Here’s one on the most polarizing driver of 2014. And that photo commemorates the Talladega cupcakes I received this year, the flavor of which I’ll leave to your imagination.

Brad Keselowski made a lot of people very mad in 2014. I wasn’t one of them. I’ve always enjoyed hearing what he has to say about the sport, about NASCAR history, about life, and even when I don’t agree with him I appreciate him breaking out of the usual routine and speaking his mind.

Of course, I don’t have to race against him, and that’s where he’s drawn the most heat. At the fall race at Talladega, the Chase was in full swing and Keselowski was coming off a fight with both Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth in Charlotte. Here’s a quick reminder:

Keselowski came into Talladega needing a win to advance to the next level of the Chase. Now, expecting to win at Talladega is like expecting to tweet at Jennifer Lawrence and get a date. And yet here was Keselowski, outrunning every other driver lap after lap, getting the win he needed to get. It was one of the most impressive all-or-nothing racing performances I’ve ever seen.

Great driving combined with an outsize personality and polarizing showmanship? That’s what NASCAR was built on, and after Keselowski’s win I wrote as much:

Depending on your perspective, he’s either aggravating or exhilarating, a savior or a sonofabitch. But no matter what, you can’t ignore him. He’s responsible for two of the greatest NASCAR TV moments of recent years: his exuberant Miller Lite-fueled championship interview at Homestead in 2012, and his WWE-style throwdown with Kenseth last week at Charlotte. For a sport teetering on relegation to niche status, that’s the kind of publicity a hundred sponsors can’t buy.

Here’s the rest of the article.  Keselowski would be at the epicenter of an even bigger fight two weeks later at Texas, cementing him as the sport’s great “villain.” And that’s very good news indeed for everyone involved, because Keselowski seems to run on fans’ rage. He fell out of the championship hunt before the season finale, but his performance in the Chase showed that he’ll be a thorn in the sides of the people who most need thorns for a long time to come.

Previous 14 from ’14:
Day 1: In victory lane for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s Daytona 500 win
Day 2: US Open: A father, a son, a wheelchair, and Phil Mickelson
Day 3: Which college boasts the three best cross-sport athletes?
Day 4: FSU-Miami: Why won’t you die, Florida State?
Day 5: NFL playoffs: The refs robbed the Panthers!
Day 6: Behind the scenes at the NASCAR championship
Day 7: At the Masters, the yin and yang of Bubba Watson

Sports. Novels. Comics. Poker. Bourbon.