Monthly Archives: January 2015

The Ubiquitous World

It’s an early show, small crowd, mostly young kids, a couple parents sprinkled about. I’m pouring my fourteenth water for the night (doors opened 12 minutes ago) I overhear someone use the word ubiquitous. Wow. Nice. I know I’ve heard that word, but not sure I know the exact definition. I’ve got time to shoot it, I ask the guys at the bar, did I overhear someone use the word ubiquitous? Guy with bleach blond hair laughs, says, yeah. I did. I say, nice vocabulary dude. I’m not sure what that word means. What was the sentence you used it in? He says, the Angry Orchard is ubiquitous. It means omnipresent, like you can find it in every bar.

He orders two cranberry vodkas, seems excited about it. I make them for him, give it to him. I hope he’s not buying one for a person underage. It’s ubiquitous that every night somebody buys a drink for an underage person.

Minutes later, I look over, he’s double fisting both drinks, he’s drinking them at the same time, both straws in his mouth.

It’s funny. It’s always ubiquitous that you’ll find a guy with bleach blond hair, drinking two vodka cranberry’s

Ubiquitously at every bar in the ubiquitous world.

-Clint Curtis

Download Card With Skittles Release Party

I’m chatting with this guy at the bar. He’s got this great, full mustache. One of those that almost looks fake.

We’re talking about music, he says, I stopped listening to music. I say, I’m getting there. You know, sometimes, when I’m working at the bar, I hear a band I like, I’ll talk to them after their show, they’ll give me a CD, or I’ll buy one. Be honest, it’s rare I buy a cd. But when I get one, I give it a chance. I get in my car, end of night, put it in the old CD player, push play, listen to the first track, ok, not bad, not bad, move onto the next one, ok, going downhill a bit, the next one, no, dropping off, then, when I’m at an intersection, I’ll roll down my window, and toss it out. I make sure to get it off the street, onto the sidewalk part where pedestrians wait for the light. Then, next day, kid comes up, finds the CD, takes it home with him, puts it in his computer, listens to it, maybe loves it, shares it, see, happy ending.

Mustache guy says, who gets CD’s anymore anyway? You get the download card, you’re done.

This is what you should do, bands. Have a download card release party, but tape the download card onto something people would want. Like a bag of Skittles.

Who’s going to throw out a bag of Skittles out the window?

Nope. Not me.

-Clint Curtis

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The Overweight Dietician

My wife texts me in the afternoon, can you pick up some grocery items at the store? She gives me the list. A lot of it is canned food, for a food drive at my son Liam’s school. I text back, sure. No problem.

I get to the grocery store, it’s a Hy-Vee. I look at my phone, refer to the list, find the canned food. The last thing on the list is to get a bag of Iams Mature dog food. I find the aisle, unfortunately, they don’t have the Iams Mature, so I just buy a bag that says ages 1 plus.

As I’m leaving the pet aisle, I pass by the pharmacy. Something catches my eye. It’s a large picture of a woman, and it says that she’s the dietician of Hy-Vee. It has some text to it, pick up a pamphlet, go online, yada, yada, yada. Here’s where I get to the un-P.C. part of my post. The woman in the picture, the dietician, is overweight. I’m not talking a little overweight, but a lot overweight. Really? That’s acceptable? She’s the DIETICIAN. She gives you advice on your diet, right? The kinds of healthy foods you should eat. And I’m supposed to listen to this woman, how to eat healthy? NO. She is not possibly qualified for this job. It’s an impossibility. I don’t think it’s asking a lot to have your dietician be in good shape. Right? It’s UNACCEPTABLE.

It’s like going to the gym, getting with the trainer, and the trainer is overweight. Same thing. You don’t want to work with some trainer with a paunch. You want to say, yeah, you’re getting me on the treadmill, maybe you should get on the one next to me.

It’s like if somebody wanted me to do a hair commercial, said, we need you to grow out your hair. No. That’s not possible. I’M BALDING. I’m unqualified to do a hair commercial. I am not the right person for the job.

I play tennis. I’m probably an intermediate. It would be like someone saying to me, we want you to play Wimbledon. Oh, not with the #1 seed, just like the 20th. NO HELL WAY. I would get slaughtered. I am not qualified to play with a tennis pro.

It would be as if someone came to me and said, we want you to teach a college course on physics. Oh that’s funny. I’VE NEVER EVEN TAKEN A PHYSICS CLASS. I am not the man for the job. It would be an embarrassment. I would be mortified if I had to go up in front of people and teach them physics. I’m not right for the job.

As I’m walking to my car, with my bags of canned groceries, I daydreamed about going back into the store, going to the pharmacy, and talking to one of the technicians. Here’s me: I’d like to discuss something with you. Yes, she says. What’s that? It’s about that poster over there, of the dietician. Yes, she says. What’s your question? Well…

Is that really the dietician, or just a plus-sized model, as a little inside joke?

Oh…I’m such an asshole.

-Clint Curtis

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Knock

Have you ever heard the saying, when opportunity knocks? Sure you have. It’s as old as your great-great grandmother Ethel. But does it work? Is that what you should do, wait around, until opportunity knocks at your door? I don’t think so, my friends.

Imagine a house on top of a hill. Lush green grass surrounds it. The opportunity that awaits you is inside the house. But first, you have to figure out a way in the house. What do you do first? Let’s knock on the door. Like it’s going to be that easy. Nope. Nobody’s answering. You look through the window next to the door, you can’t see anyone inside. Let’s go to the back, maybe there’s a back door. You go back, knock on the door. Nope, nobody’s answering. Ok, do you walk away? Oh, can’t get into the house where opportunity awaits, guess it’s not going to happen? Nope, not this guy. I start trying the windows. I go around the house, checking each one. Nope. All locked. Let’s look around for a ladder, maybe we can get to a second story window. You find one, in the garage in back, you set it on the house, extend it, climb up, nope. Locked. Huh. Ok, doors all locked, windows all locked, what’s next?

Your opportunity, THE opportunity you’ve been working so hard for. The job you studied 10 years for. The record contract your band has bled for. The girl you dream about. The opportunity is inside the house. You HAVE TO get in there, it’s life or death stakes.

You get down from the ladder, return the ladder to the garage, come back to the house, and just stare at it, for a while. How else does one get in a house? Well, the easiest way is to have a key. Maybe there’s a key hidden around the exterior of the house. You start looking. Under the front door mat, of course, above the door, you keep on going, scouring every place you can imagine someone hiding a key. You look under every rock, every hide-y-whole. Nope, no key. Ok, let’s stop and think for a minute. There must be another way.

You could throw a brick through the window, climb through, but that’s probably not the best idea. Let’s not cause damage to the house. You could climb to the roof, make your way down the chimney, but you look, and there’s no chimney. You’re stumped. How ‘bout we take off, rest on it, think of another way.

You come back the next day, nope, same thing. OK, do you give up? I’m sure some do. They start to question, maybe the opportunity’s not really inside. Maybe I should just go home, sit in my living room, wait for someone to knock on the door, give me an opportunity.

And then the opportunity is lost.

You’ve got to think of another way.

The one who perseveres thinks of another way. They don’t stop, because they know there’s an infinite number of ways to get into the house of opportunity. Let’s learn to be a plumber, an electrician, a house keeper, a grounds keeper, a carpenter, start a business, write a letter to the house, offer your services, free of charge, for the first visit. You have to ask yourself, how determined am I to go after my “golden” opportunity? But wait, step back. IF I do get into the house, and I’m given the opportunity, WILL I BE READY? Have I worked tirelessly on my songs, are they ready, for the opportunity to take it to the next level? To get signed, to go on tour. Do I have the right experience, studied my ass off, to get the job I seek, so when I get it, I will excel?

Maybe you’re not ready to get in the house? Maybe that’s why the doors are shut to you. Maybe you need to step back, reevaluate yourself, work on yourself, so when the time comes, you will knock on the door forcefully. You will stand there with confidence. You will wait, and wait and wait. You will wait some more. You will knock again, you will knock again, you will be incessant, you will knock again and again, until you hear a noise in the house, and then footsteps, and then someone will say, behind the door, who is it? And you will say your name in a way that will demand the person to open the door, and find out more.

And then the door will open, and the rest will be up to you.

-Clint Curtis

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Zealot

I just finished reading an amazing, eye-opening book by Reza Aslan called Zealot: The Life And Times Of Jesus Of Nazareth. I have always been curious about Jesus. He’s such an interesting character. In the book, Aslan strips down all the BS in the bible, to find the true, historical Jesus. And in many instances, it goes against how we’ve been led to understand this complicated character in undoubtedly the most profoundly absurd book that is the Holy Bible.

According to Aslan’s book, Jesus was not born in Bethlehem, but Nazareth. So, let’s just throw out the whole born in a manger in Bethlehem myth. Nazareth was a very, very, small town a ways away from Jerusalem. Population 100. Most, if not all the residents of this town were illiterate. Which means Jesus was probably illiterate. If you’ve read any of the New Testament, you’ll know that from after the time of his birth, to age 30, there is little to no information about the man they call Jesus. Jesus WAS NOT a carpenter, but a day laborer, which was one small step up from a slave. I believe there’s one short story about Jesus following his family to Jerusalem, getting “lost”, and having philosophical and religious discourse with the elders of the town. That’s about it as far as we know about Jesus as a young adult. I think the reason we know nothing about Jesus at the time is because his real life didn’t fit into the messiah myth. He wasn’t special. But by 30, he meets up with John The Baptist, learns from him, then begins his own ministry.

Aslan points out from the very beginning of the book that the New Testament is NOT a historical account of Jesus, but a bunch of stories written as an agenda for tampering down zealotry of revolutionaries. As the stories of the bible progress, you can see how they change to fit in with the agendas of the Roman people. In one instance, the way Pontius Pilot, the Roman who condemns Jesus to death, is characterized changes a great deal. At first, he asks Jesus, are you the King of the Jews? His answer condemns him to crucifixion. In later stories, Pontius Pilot considers Jesus an innocent man, and proposes to the Jews of Jerusalem, that they can free Jesus, or another bandit. They scream for the death of Jesus. Pontius pilot “literally” washes his hands of Jesus’s death, placing the blame completely on the shoulders of the Jews.

This creative change in the Bible, Aslan attests, was the cause of the next 2,000 years of Anti-Semitism.

By the end of the book, you’re left wondering if there’s any truth about Jesus in the Bible. Let’s throw out all the hocus-pocus and the magic tricks. Let’s throw out a lot of what Jesus says. His ministry was not about turning the other cheek, but bringing the sword to the hypocrisy of the times. Throw out the passion stories. The Last Supper, for one. Stories used to create religious rituals. Throw out all these things,

And what you are left with the Bible, unfortunately, is a clouded view of a man that could’ve actually brought us some truth on how we should live our lives, if we just knew who he really was, and what he truly stood for.

-Clint Curtis

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Clint’s Vlog From The Bar (#6)

Time for another edition of Clint’s Vlog From The Bar. Appreciate you guys baring with me, while I find what I want to do with this. Things are getting clearer, more focused, on what I need to do. I’ve got stories to tell, if you played the Mews this weekend, attended one of our shows, or just want to find out what happened at the Mews, check out the vlog.

Tootles,

-Clint Curtis

The Art Handler, The Saudi Arabian

When bartending, occasionally I meet interesting people.

I’m just kidding. You’re all interesting, in your own peculiar way.

Last night, because it was a bit slow, I was able to talk with some of my customers. This guy, with his cell phone, sipping at his beer, wearing a brown leather coat, looks interesting. Maybe I’ll strike up a conversation. You from here? I ask. He says, no actually, this is my first time in Des Moines. We get to talking, he tells me his job is to transport works of art around the country. I ask him some questions. Have you ever handled a Warhol, one of my favorite artists? He says, oh yeah, all the time. That’s like bottom of the barrel. I’m almost sick of seeing the soup cans. I say, what artist have you transported that you were impressed with? He says, I don’t know. There’s so many. He says, recently, I held a 7 million dollar painting. He adds, a lot of times, I’ll look at the art, and think, are you kidding me? This is crap, I wouldn’t pay a $100 for it. I ask, where do you take it to? He says, all over. Art museums, private homes. You wouldn’t believe the homes I go into. They’re like showrooms. And I think, most of the time, that these people have so much money, but they’re not happy.

Later on, two guys come in, sit at the bar. They look Middle Eastern. I serve them, then they start talking in a foreign language. I’m half-Lebanese, my mother is 100%, but my family is straight up American. My great grandfather moved when he was a young kid to Iowa from “the old country.” I think he spoke Lebanese, but the rest of the family doesn’t. We know about 40 words that we say, but from talking to other Lebanese people, they’re all BS. I tell them the words, they look at me funny, and say, I don’t know that word.

I go up to them, say, are you speaking Arabic? One of the guys say, yes, we are. I tell him I’m half-Lebanese, I ask him where he’s from, and he says, the eastern part of Saudi Arabia. We get to talking, he describes his hometown. 1,000 years old, people live in homes made of mud and stone to keep them cool inside. I ask him what his hometown is known for, and he tells me seafood. I ask him if he’s sick of seafood, and he says, no way.

The most interesting thing he told me was that his grandmother lives in a home that’s 750 years old. Can you imagine that? That’s incredible. My house was built in the 40’s, I thought that was ancient.

Around 1:30, everyone is gone, I start cleaning up the bar, and think about how lucky I am to have the job I do, to meet people from all over the world, and have conversations that I occasionally learn things from.

Sorry. You can’t do that working in a cubicle.

-Clint Curtis

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Say Your Name

Guy comes up, orders a couple drinks. I get them for him. He hands me his card, says, my name is Clay. I say, thanks.

I loved the way this transaction was made, in so many ways, by him saying simply his name. See, I have to write down a persons name down when I start a tab. I have to look at their name on their card, and it’s difficult sometimes. My eyes aren’t as good as they used to be, and I should be wearing glasses for the close up stuff. He says his name, hey, I don’t have to scrutinize his card, try to figure out what it says. On top of this, when he said, my name is Clay, I knew right off the bat that he wanted to start a tab. There was no need to go back and forth. Do you want to start a tab? Ummmmm…. I don’t know. This might be my only drink. Ok, you want me to close it? No. Keep it open.

This interaction can get trying at times.

And last but not least, by him “introducing himself”, I remembered his name. And don’t you want the bartender to know your name? Sure, you do.

Later on, he comes up, says, I’d like to settle my tab. I say, your name is Clay, right? He says, yeah. Great. I’ll get it for you. I go get his card, run it, say, you know, weird thing, I really appreciated you telling me your name. Helped me out a bunch. He says, oh. Well, it’s a temporary card, it just says WELLS FARGO CUSTOMER on it, thought you might need my name to go along with it.

OK, this guy bursts my bubble with it, but still it helped me out a great deal.

-Clint Curtis

An Almost Extraordinary Day

On Wednesday night, as I’m driving home from a great night of bartending, I get this feeling that tomorrow will be an extraordinary day. I don’t know why, I just feel it. Now sometimes, we don’t know that it’s going to be an extraordinary day. Maybe the wheels get started in motion towards something. Like your dream job, the guy grabs your resume, thinks you’d be perfect for the job. So, I’m thinking, it might be that kind of day. That I don’t necessarily see it. Or maybe something extraordinary will happen, and I will be aware of it. Whatever happens, bring it on.

I wake up the next day early, ready to take on the day. I get my cup of coffee, read a couple chapters in the book I’m reading, then go meet up with a buddy of mine to play racquetball. The Y just opened a new facility downtown, and it’s really nice. You should see the courts. They’re so pristine. There’s not a mark on the wall. The back wall is all glass almost up to the top. There’s around 9 courts. And the rest of the facility is pimping. Big track around two basketball courts, and all the workout equipment, treadmills, ellipticals, all brand spanking new. We meet up at 1:30, play until 2:30. I want to get home by 3, so I have a solid hour to write. We get done on time, fun games, I get home, write for an hour, crank out some good stuff.

I pick up the boys at school, get them home safe and sound, the wife comes home, we have a delish meal, I clean the dishes, play with the boys until I have to go to work. A great day so far, but I wouldn’t call it extraordinary.

On my way to work, I’m thinking about the word extraordinary. You can break it down into two parts, of course. Extra and ordinary. Does that work? I wonder. Wouldn’t that mean that it’s more than just ordinary. It’s more ordinary? I don’t know, I’ll let it slide. I’m not going to think about it too much, gotta get my head in the ball game, for another shift at the bar.

I get to the bar, there’s about 25 people in the house. Solid. I start bartending at around 9:15. It’s pint night, so pouring a lot of pints. At times I look at my watch, think, well, got two more hours until midnight, then the day will be over, maybe nothing extraordinary.

Then a guy comes up, grabs a martini menu, says, I don’t know what I want. I want something extra-ordinary.

Don’t we all.

When I reflect on yesterday, it was a great day, I’m just lucky to be alive, with a wonderful family, friends, and a great job I like. Did something extraordinary happen? Not to my knowledge. But you know what I did? I set the bar up high, and demanded something incredible to happen. I expected it. I had a positive outlook on the day. And I think, the day turned out better than it would have, if I hadn’t been in that frame of mind. Maybe, at the end of each night, I should say to myself, tomorrow is going to be an extraordinary day, it will be, or at least, a great day.

One day while I was walking on my usual route, a line struck me, and it was, keep reaching for the stars, and you may get the clouds. Now, I know, that line sounds somewhat cheesy and cliche, but let me explain it. If you reach for the highest point, you probably won’t achieve it, but by reaching for it, you may get half of it, whereas, if you didn’t, maybe nothing would have happened. You set your goals so high, you strive for those goals. You set yourself up for something EXTRA-ORDINARY. You say to yourself, I want to be the President of the United States. You reach for that goal, getting into politics, running for office, then at the end of the day, there’s a good chance you don’t become President, but look at you. You’re in the Senate. You’re a Congressman.

So at the end of the night, say to yourself, tomorrow is going to be an extraordinary day. And then wake up, live it, nothing extraordinary might not happen, but there’s a good chance it will be one notch below, and be great.

Keep reaching for the stars, and you may get the clouds.

-Clint Curtis

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Mr. Tower Of Power

Guy’s at the bar, he’s been pretty annoying all night, asking me, what was the last song that just played? I tell him, you know, this is not my playlist. It’s my fellow bartender’s. He pushes. Can you just look for me? Jesus. And if you know how an iPod works, you can’t just push it, and back up, to see what the song is. When you push it, and go back, it goes to the first song on the playlist, and then you have to scroll down, to find the damn song. Last thing I want to do, when I’ve got customers waiting, and dishes piling up. Unfortunately, my fellow bartender has left for the night, so he can’t quickly give this guy an answer.

Then, he says to me, holding up his phone, pointing to the place where you plug it in to charge, do you have love for an iPhone 5? I say, sorry. My dick won’t fit in there.

Whatever. I grab his phone, plug it into my charger, which I love to do.

Catch my sarcasm, please.

Thanks.

Later on, he grabs a handful of coasters from the bar, and starts building a tower with them. Who is this guy? I have to admit, he’s pretty good at it, but I find it to be annoying, and juvenile. I don’t say anything, he has a tab going behind the bar.

Get me?

It’s about three layers high, I want to take my own coaster, and throw it in the middle of it, to see it collapse. I’m sure he’d get all bent out of shape about that. There’s two female friends of mine at the end of the bar, I go to them, ask them if they need anything. One of them says, I want to throw this coaster at that guy’s tower. I say, no. Don’t do it.

No. I actually say, do it.

Then I backtrack, say, I don’t think he’ll like it. He seems pretty intense about it, might get pissed.

He has a tab going behind the bar.

Yeah, I’m repeating myself, if you don’t understand.

One of them says, I’m going to do it. He catches wind of her plan, and starts covering the tower with his arms, as if protecting a baby from harm. This guy is such a nerd. I just imagine him never getting laid. And he’s an all right looking guy.

Both chicks toss coasters anyway, unfortunately missing.

I watch passively, trying not to get involved, because

He has a tab going behind the bar.

The girls, being as far as they are, give up after awhile. There’s a bunch of coasters all over the place, but at this point, I JUST WANT TO SEE THE COASTER TOWEL TUMBLE DOWN.

About ten minutes later, the girls get there coats on, to go outside for a smoke. While passing the guy, one of the girls takes a coaster, and slams it into the tower, making it all fall down.

He reacts, not in a good way. Oh no. I worked so hard on this.

Get a life, dude.

They leave, he sits there, looking at a mound of coasters.

Five minutes later, the girls return, sit back down on the bar. I would say the girls are about seven seats away from Mr. Tower Of Power. I go up to him, because I foresee trouble about to happen, and say, can I run your tab? He says, yeah. Put another Jack and Coke on it, then you can run it. I go get it, run it, hand it to him, plaster a smile on my face, and say, thanks brother. Here you go.

The card is now in front of him, not behind the bar.

And you know what that means. Transaction done.

He signs it, starts drinking his last drink.

I start doing dishes, begin the process of closing behind the bar. I take the liquors we put in ice, return them to the cooler. I get the mats, take them to the sink, wash them off. This takes about 15 minutes. I look up at some point, I see Mr. Tower grab some coasters, and start throwing them at the girls. I stop, and say to him, please don’t do that. He says, why? They did it to me.

This guy is a child.

I say, they did it to me! In a baby voice, mimicking him.

I turn my back for a moment, look back, and he’s throwing a coaster at the girls. This guy’s done.

All right, I say. OUT! I point to the door. He says, why? I say, I asked you to stop throwing coasters. And you keep on doing it. Get out! He gets up, like a sad puppy, repeats himself, saying, they threw some at me.

I ignore him, hoping this guy will leave peacefully.

Nope. He stands there like a doofus, staring at me. AND THAT’S ANOTHER THING. He’s been sitting there at the bar, just staring at me all night.

Between building his lame tower of power.

He leaves, after saying his sorry’s, and his, you don’t have to be an asshole about it.

I finish up cleaning the bar, say good-bye to the girls,

And pick up numerous coasters off the sticky floor.

-Clint Curtis

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