Million Dollar Idea: Party In The Kitchen

It’s common knowledge that at any house party, people will gravitate to the kitchen. Why? There are many theories, but current research* into the kitchen’s superpower as a social hub cites its physical dimensions and furnishings, which allow a large number of people to casually arrange themselves at good conversational distances.

Think about it: there are lots of surface areas to lean on, and maybe some stools, all of which lend themselves to people coming and going with ease. Having an awkward conversation? No problem! Just take a step or two towards the hummus, and voilà–you’re interacting with someone else. The same escape from a living room couch? Awkward! And in any well-designed home kitchen, you’re usually never more than 2-6 feet away from where others are standing or leaning, which is perfect for either small group gabs or one-on-one talking.

So the question becomes: how can this knowledge be harnessed to make money? ANSWER: a catering hall or nightclub that’s nothing more than a series of interlinked kitchens (“Party In The Kitchen” for the former; PITK the later). Sort of like if you had a soiree at Ikea or a home improvement store with model kitchens, except that the fridges and ovens all work, popping out brewskis and pigs in blankets on-demand. Larger kitchens would have full bars; even the bathrooms would look like very small kitchens. And not only will PITK feature a variety of kitchen sizes and styles, but the windows will be LCD screens to give the illusion of being on the 60th floor of a Manhattan condo, or in a prairie farmhouse–or at the bottom of the sea, or ON THE FRICKIN’ MOON.

Yes, you DO want to go party there, right now. I do too! But aaaargh, it doesn’t exist! So although I have neither the time or funding to pursue its development, I’m offering this idea at no charge to the world in the hopes that someone will make it real. As ever, if you do make a zillion dollars with this concept, I’m not above accepting a token gratuity, such as a three foot high solid platinum sculpture of Chilly Willy, a chocolate factory, or a PITK franchise of my own.

*G. “S” Dicostanzo. “Kitchen as Social Nexus.” The Journal of Pulling Stuff Straight Out of My Ass. 2011.

Happy Coffeeday!

Let’s face it: Western culture’s names for the weekdays are getting a bit long in the tooth. Sure, it might have made sense to the Greco-Roman astrologers to honor Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun and the Moon. But here in the 21st century, with our more comprehensive understanding of our solar system and the cosmos in general, the only thing keeping the old names alive is pure inertia (Sailor Moon fans excepted).

We should have modern names for modern times. Yes, it will be difficult reaching consensus, but that’s no reason not to try. And while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and formally acknowledge that the day soon-to-be-formerly-known-as-Monday is the true start of the week, and put it on the far left of the calendar. Done and done! As for the names, I took a first cut at what the new weekdays might look like:

For the benefit of those on mobile devices, the proposed names are Blahday, Coffeeday, Internetday, Spaceday, Pizzaday, Funday, and Slackday. No, not every name is completely universal. But it’s hard to deny coffee and pizza’s influence on our civilization, even if one does not themselves partake. That said, it’s open to debate. And handily enough, I’ve put together some polls to make it easy for YOU to have a say in what the days of the week will be called as we hurtle towards the 22nd century. And yes, once it’s settled, we’ll remodel the month names. Have at it! – “S”

Storm Fail?

No, not exactly. But if you’re one of the (few) regular readers of Longer Thoughts, by now you’ve noticed that there hasn’t been a new post in a while. Yes, it’s mostly attributable to the fact that I’ve been on the road a lot, but not entirely.

When I first gave myself the assignment of writing and posting at least 250 words a day, I had several goals in mind (not necessarily in the this order):

  • To see if I could do it
  • To discover my writing strengths
  • To develop an engaging style
  • To enjoy it

At this point I feel that I’ve made a lot of headway on the first three, and mostly succeeded in the fourth. But I’ve also realized that I don’t have the time and energy to maintain a daily pace at a high enough quality level without detracting from the things I do that actually put bread on the table (most notably, writing and recording music). On any given week I probably spent 3 hours putting links into posts for every 15 minutes I spent with my guitar. Untenable!

Does this mean I’m giving up? Never! I’m far too stubborn to stop. But I’ll only post when something truly moves me to write, or when I have a completed short story or longer critical/analytical piece to present. I simply don’t have any interest in being a general blogger, or in becoming the curator of a specialty area.

Oh, and I’ll still give bad advice now and then. That takes no brainpower whatsoever.


The Pizza Time Analogy

Technically I’ve written way more than 250 words today, including quite a bit involving JoCo Cruise Crazy II. But none of those words appear here.

I actually find it’s much harder to write “fun stuff” after spending the day doing drier writing, versus when I have lots of fallow time. Yes, it’s partly because I’ve already spent a lot of brain energy stringing words together (which certainly disallows me from writing a well-honed rant). But the larger problem how difficult it is to switch mental gears after having one’s brain marinated in unfunizone all day long.

Not even wearing my jammies, feet up as I sit on a big comfy couch, and in the presence of two purring cats can shake me out of Business Mode tonight. Frankly, right now it feels like I’m sitting in the ball pit at a Chuck E. Cheese’s wearing a business suit. No, that wouldn’t be awesome. You’d be worried the whole time about getting crappy pizza on your tie, or that you’d be arrested. Because why else would someone be in a kid’s arcade wearing business attire, except to lure children through the power of professional demeanor?

See? See what happens? I tried to shift gears with a metaphor for my mental state, and instead of coming off as light-hearted and fun, it was downright creepy. Which I suppose validates my Pizza Time analogy: I’m completely out of place writing for Longer Thoughts right now–and the more fun, innocent side of my mind knows it, and wants it arrested.

So good night. Hopefully I’ll be bored enough tomorrow to peck out something more fun and/or interesting. Or at the very least, less creepy.
Business Suit Man photo from Matt Gibson (Flickr)

Guacamole Pre-Salvation

In our career working together, Paul and I spend anywhere between 70-130 days each year on the road, and have racked up over 50,000 flown airline miles apiece for each of the past three years. I don’t mention those stats as a way of saying how awesome it is to travel all the time, nor to use it as a springboard for bitching about how terrible the road is.

As with most things, the truth is in between. Yes, it’s fun visit new places and old favorites, but it sucks that you rarely have much free time to explore or hang out. Sure, the audiences at shows are as much fun for us as a day at Disney World is to a seven-year-old, but the airports, airplanes, and long drives in between gigs soak up most of the energy we get from performing, like an old dirty dish sponge dropped into a fresh, steaming mug of hot cocoa.

Today? A good day. The photo to the left is the actual view from my hotel room (or was, about five hours ago), smack dab in the middle of Chicago. Through the miracle of (and Paul’s skill with) modern online booking services, it didn’t cost more than a generic sleepatorium in the suburbs would have. And so for at least one night, I do feel like the jet-setting adventurer that people imagine we rock stars* to be. (Through a glitch in our travel planning, I’m here alone, sans Paul or Jonathan.)

Never mind that all I did was walk around the open-air architectural museum that is downtown Chicago, ate dinner on a barstool next to another (rather sad-sack) party of one, and tweeted as I wound my way back to my granite aerie. The important thing is this: in a few days when I’m operating on three hours of sleep and need to drive 400 miles, I will have the memory of guacamole and chiles rellenos to sustain me.

And that will make all the difference.

*I’m pretty sure you would have interpreted “rock stars” as an ironic statement, but I just wanted to be sure.

A Lawn Pimp, I

I tend to analyze everything I see, do, and think to an unwarranted degree, which today means explaining why I find Steely Dan to be the perfect sound track for doing yard word. But to get there, I have to start with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

During our most recent road trip, Mike Phirman and I found ourselves discussing CSNY’s cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”. Mike told me he hadn’t encountered it at all until college, and I audibly gasped. He elaborated by stating that he bonded with it immediately, but it seemed inconceivable to me that a musician of his caliber, with his wide-ranging musical sensibilities, wouldn’t have had it chiseled into his mind at an early age.

Of course I quickly realized I was projecting onto him my own mind’s reaction to the song. And after apologizing for staring at him like he was a five-legged chimpanzee, I explained that, to me, CSNY’s “Woodstock” is a song that has always existed. Not just in the sense that it was on the radio even before I was born, or because it was one of the first songs I can remember hearing. It’s more like a feeling that it was formed whole at the dawn of time, waiting patiently for billions of years until there were hippies and suburban kids soiling their diapers in the 1970s, and college students in dorm rooms in the 1990s, to listen to it. I still get the tingles and my eyes go kaleidoscopic when I hear the sweeping harmonies on the line “…and we’ve got to get ourselves…back to the ga-a-a-a-ARRRRRR-DENNNNNN!”
Read More »

Ground Kontrol to Major Storm

One of my core geek competencies is constructive obsession. Once a book, activity, food, historical period, or just about anything else catches my fancy, I want to know everything there is about it as well as its primary, secondary and tertiary tangents. As I child it was trains and railroads, followed by science fiction. Most recently it’s been breakfast cereals, their mascots, and circus clowns in American popular culture (much more on all of that another time). But the largest sustained obsessive period in my life revolved around video games, starting from the age of ten or so and lasting well into high school.

I still enjoy video games, but not to the same smothering degree. I don’t know if it was because I was a weird kid who had a difficult time relating to my peers, or because the space/robot/racing game themes aligned so well with the smaller obsessions that were colliding together in my mind at the time. But I was ravenous, especially for arcades and arcade games. Read More »

Road Thought #1

I really did intend to keep writing at least 250 words a day here on Longer Thoughts, even while on the road. I actually did write 500 words last night after our show and subsequent celebration at the 13 Coins in Seattle, but deleted it after realizing it was exactly the quality one would expect at 4 a.m. after a night of gigging, moderate drinking, and consumption of a chicken-fried steak.

Tonight isn’t much better. It’s 1 a.m., and I honestly haven’t had the hour or so necessary to think of something interesting to say and weave it into a funny/well-thought-out/weird bit of writing. I could certainly do a simple chronicling of where we’ve been (Seattle; between Seattle and Portland; Portland), what we’ve eaten (Thai food, gas station grabby grub, Indian food), and what we’ve done (gigged, slept, drove, podcasted, played arcade games at Ground Kontrol in Portland), but frankly that’s not what I set out to do with Longer Thoughts.

And so I’m declaring that unless I actually do have an hour so of genuine downtime, there’s not much point in forcing it while on the road. Maybe it’s a matter of practice, but I find that unless I have real isolation, I can’t really get my brain to work its joojoo beyond the descriptive and blandly factual.

Exhibit #1: this post.

Good night.


Top 10 Things I Do Every Day (and Enjoy)

The second after we announced Longer Thoughts, and with it my commitment to write at least 250 words every day, the dread began, like someone was forcing my mouth open and pouring some kind of thick, bitter pudding down my throat. Of course that “someone” was me, and in reality I’m a fan of bitter pudding (if dark chocolate counts).

But the metaphorical pudding was not delicious, and in fact made me want to retch and hide under my desk. One week later, the dread has been replaced with a sour whipped cream-like doubt about my ability to produce something interesting every day. So to bolster my morale, I decided to compile a list of ten things I do every day and enjoy.

I only came up with seven. Still, that’s seven things I do consistently, enjoy, and do well. And so I proudly present…

Storm’s 7 Top 10 Things I Do Every Day (and Enjoy) (does not include autonomic nervous functions*)

1. Talk To Mrs. Storm and Paul – piece of cake!
2. Eat – also easy, especially if it involves pieces of cake.
3. Drink Coffee – sometimes accompanied by cake.
4. Check E-mail – not only every day, but pretty much constantly.
5. Read the News – I’m the champ! And on multiple devices!
6. Poop – yes, our bodies more or less force us to poop every day, but I’m really, really good at it.
7. Get Dressed – although there are days when I wear the clothing I woke up in for most of the day, it’s rare that I don’t at least swap out the under-gaskets at some point.

Wow; I feel better already! And for the record, I’ve also started spending more time writing short stories, so as far as I’m concerned, the pressure to write long, boring, non-controversial essays is OFF. Hooray!

*Autonomic Nervous Functions is the name of my Talking Heads cover band

That Outer Glow

It’s been less than a week since we launched Longer Thoughts, and I’m already starting to repeat myself. I am of course referring to the photo mashups, the first two of which made prominent use of Photoshop’s outer glow layer adjustment.

In the interest of not being labeled as “That Outer Glow Guy” (because what could be worse than that?) I’ve decided to use it not more than once a week (“That Guy Who Uses Outer Glow Once a Week” is not nearly so odious.)

That said, I stand by my use of outer glow, and will go so far as to say that anything awesome can be made awesomer by its application. Why yes, I HAVE put together a Flickr slideshow to demonstrate my bold assertion:

If the embed isn’t working for you, click here to view the “That Outer Glow” Flickr slideshow.