Toilet (Seat) Humor

I consider myself to be a pretty smart guy.

I did extremely well in school. I can solve problems relatively well. I can come up with creative solutions. But one seemingly simple group of tasks has always gotten the best of me: home and auto repair and upkeep. I don’t know what my problem is, but chances are if I have a hammer or a screwdriver in my hand, I’m going to mess up whatever chore is in front of me. I have had my foot pinned under a car while changing a tire. I’ve put a hole in a ceiling while installing surround sound. I’ve caused a leak in my roof by installing an antenna. (UPDATE: I’ve also locked myself IN a bedroom while changing a doorknob. Forgot about that one.) But my chance at redemption came this weekend, a shot at getting a home improvement project right.

Somehow, while babysitting for Avery, my sister broke the master bathroom toilet seat. I have no idea how this is possible, but it happened. (I should probably ask her about that sometime.) So it was off to Home Depot, where I learned something surprising. Toilet seats come in two sizes: round and elongated. I thought about all the times I had stood over that toilet, and came to the conclusion that I needed an elongated seat. When I got home, I held the still-wrapped seat over the broken one, and it matched up well. Or so I thought.

The installation was amazingly satisfying. I removed the existing seat, then used a series of “washers” and “braces” to install the new seat (I don’t know what these things are). It took about ten minutes, and when it was done, it looked fantastic.

The seat lined up perfectly! The outside edge of the seat aligned with the bowl. The bolts were snug, and the seat didn’t slide one way or the other at all. It was my most successful home improvement job ever, and the feeling I got standing over my freshly-installed toilet seat was one of victory.

Then I moved from standing over the seat to standing in the middle of the bathroom.

Of course, you fans of literature and movies will see the technique I employed in the post known as “foreshadowing”, and knew this was coming. And those of you who are adept at these types of projects are no doubt rolling your eyes at me now (don’t worry, my wife did the same thing). Of course, my toilet bowl is round, not elongated, resulting in a drastic overhang of the toilet seat.

So now I’m at a loss for what to do. Obviously I can’t return it (I mean, surely Home Depot wouldn’t take back an opened toilet seat. Surely.). I could remove it and go get the right size, but then there’s $30 right down the…well, you know. So at the moment, it stays. A testament to my prowess at handyman tasks. A reminder for all that the tools I use best are a typewriter and a chef’s knife, and not a hammer or a drill. A humorous conversation-starter, if you will.

At least, that’s how I’m pitching it to my wife.

Best Songs of 2011

So yeah, I’m bringing back the blog. Never should have let it go this long, and what better way to do it than to put out a top 20 list that nobody will agree with?

For me, this was a fantastic year for music, and it’s due in no small part to the U.S. debut of Spotify. For those of you who aren’t on Spotify, it’s a service that basically allows you to play any song you can think of. It’s free to use on your desktop/laptop, but pay 10 bucks a month, and you get to stream it on your phone or tablet, wherever you go. For a music lover like me, this is a steal. I was spending at least three times that buying albums.

But even if I didn’t get Spotify, the year in music was still fantastic. So many good albums came out, I was having trouble making time to enjoy them all. Still, I was able to pick out a list of 20 favorites. The Spotify playlist I’ve created isn’t in order of my favorites, it’s more in the order I thought would work best for sitting down and listening all the way through. Still, there were two songs this year that will stick with me for a long time.

Holocene” by Bon Iver

I really believe Bon Iver’s self-titled album is not only the best of the year, but will probably end up being my favorite of all time. The song is a master class in climax and denouement, rising and falling at the exact perfect times. Every single instrument works together to perfection, from the clear, golden tone of the guitar to the swelling clarinets and achingly precious bass line. Most of the lyrics are non-specific enough so that the listener can glean any number of meanings from them (“Not the needle, not the thread, the lost decree/Saying nothing, that’s enough for me.”). But the chorus is at once humbling and exhilarating (“And at once I knew, I was not magnificent…/Jagged vacance, thick with ice/And I could see for miles, miles, miles.”). I’ve probably listened to this song 40-50 times, and every time it moves me to my core.

Midnight City” by M83

Wow. That opening four-note progression. You’ve probably heard this playing under a Victoria’s Secret commercial (and yes, dear, I only looked up at the TV because I heard the song). But that strained synth-line is only the amuse bouche, the insistent, delicate opening to an impossibly layered, frantically paced four minutes of unrestrained joy. While all of “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming” is triumphant, this one song delivers like nothing else on the album. And just when you think it’s over, in comes one of the most unexpected saxophone solos I’ve ever heard. This is a rare song that can get stuck in your head after just one listen, yet still reveal new depths and secrets with repeat playings. More than one publication has named this the Song of the Year, and while I prefer “Holocene”, “Midnight City” is stunning.