Friday, December 26, 2008

About three things I am absolutely positive.

First, the movie was bad. While I was home for Thanksgiving break I went with some of my family to see the movie Twilight. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to movies -- not that I love every movie I see, but there is usually something that I like about most. But when I left the theater after seeing this one, I sincerely struggled to find something I liked about Twilight. The acting was unconvincing, the visual effects were laughable, and the action was too short to be satisfying. (Sure, Twilight is a love story so it's not about special effects and fighting, but c'mon, when the acting is that bad you've gotta give us something.) How could a movie with no redeeming qualities be so popular? (OK, so I liked Jacob, but a character with ten minutes of screen time hardly saves the movie.)

Second, the book was better. They usually always are. I was curious to see what the hype was about. I've been interested in reading Twilight before, but after an attempt to read The Host by the same author, any desire to try Twilight was extinguished. But this time curiosity got the better of me, so while at the airport last Friday I picked up a cheap paperback copy at one of the newsstands. I finished it yesterday. It was OK. I'm hesitant to say that I liked it. I didn't hate it, it wasn't terrible, and I might even go so far to say that parts of it were better than I had expected. But I'm not gonna lie, it didn't take long for me to get sick of Edward's smoldering eyes and marble forearms. The characters were OK. I think the only one I really liked was Carlisle. And maybe Alice but probably because I imagined her being a superbabe. As far as the writing goes, at the beginning it seemed like she was just reading off some list, "I did this, then this happened, and after that this person said this and this is how I reacted." I found less of this happening as the story progressed, which was good. But overall, there was nothing in the book that made me say, "Wow, she's such a good writer." The book was OK. I'll probably end up reading the others but not anytime soon.

And third, I think I somewhat understand the hype of Twilight. Yeah, I can understand why a teenage girl would be into this book. It's easy to read, it's about a girl in high school who falls in love, Edward is a dreamboat, etc. and so on. Do I think it merits the hype? Not really. Other than a good story (which is arguable), it really has little value to the world of literature. It's not thought-provoking and the characters are bland; in short, it doesn't really offer anything that hasn't already been given. Which is completely fine, I read and enjoy plenty of books like this. It simply goes to show what people are looking for in books these days: fluff.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

made glorious summer

It's been a while since I've gone this long without a post. It's because whenever I come home for breaks I always switch into turbo-reading mode to catch up on all the books I wasn't able to read while I'm at school.

Friday night I finished reading my sixth novel by John Steinbeck. He's my favorite deceased author (Orson Scott Card being my favorite living). The Winter of Our Discontent is probably my third favorite Steinbeck Novel, after East of Eden and Cannery Row, though it has the coolest title of any of his books (taken from Shakespeare's Richard III, I believe).

This book reads differently from the other Steinbeck novels I've read; it has a much more modern feel. It's told through the main character Ethan Allen Hawley, heir to a squandered fortune. Instead of enjoying the status and fortune of his father and grandfather, Ethan is forced to work as a grocery store clerk to support his family. The story is an account of Ethan's stuggle to regain the position and dignity his family once enjoyed.

I really enjoy Steinbeck because his stories are so original and far from predictable. You feel less like you're going through the process of a story and more like you're experiencing what the characters experience. I wish I could explain the (dare I say?) majesty of writing; it's really something you have to experience for yourself. The best part is there is a Steinbeck novel for everyone. Looking for a sprawling, multi-generational family epic of grandiose proportions? Check out East of Eden. Don't feel like making that kind of investment? Try Cannery Row or Of Mice and Men. Average length novel with a far-from-average story and even better characters? I suggest Grapes of Wrath or The Winter of Our Discontent. You can't go wrong with any of these. It's just a matter of what kind of read you want. Let me know if you want to borrow one of these, I own them all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It's official

I've been a blogger for a year now.

I was going through some old posts and I found one from a year ago that I liked so I thought I'd post it again so you could read it if you so desire.

Here it is:


Saturday, November 22, 2008

They've got it all, but they ain't got emotion

A few weeks ago my brother and I were talking about how 2008 has been the best year for new music. After discussing new releases and concerts by Weezer, Neil Diamond, Sigur Ros and more, Matt and I decided that the only thing 2008 was missing was something new from Jeremy Enigk. As fate would have it, a week or two later I got a text from a friend telling me a short tour would be bringing him through SLC the weekend before Thanksgiving. Well, one show just wasn't enough because when I checked his tour schedule I discovered another show scheduled the night before in Pocatello, Idaho, of all places. Attending only one wasn't an option.

Now, Jeremy Enigk isn't your typical singer-songwriter. In the 1990s, Jeremy sang for a band called Sunny Day Real Estate, the Nirvana of the indie/emo genre. (Strangely, SDRE is tied many ways to Nirvana; they too were from Seattle and SDRE's drummer and bassist were founding members of Dave Grohl's Foo Fighters.) I don't think it's a stretch to say that Sunny Day Real Estate influenced, directly or indirectly, around 60-70% of the post-1994 indie/hipster-neo-folk/alternative music you listen to.

I invited all my friends who I thought would be interested in seeing him, but sadly and understandably no one could come to the Pocatello show with me. No big deal. He didn't bring a band with him, it was just him and a friend who backed him up on guitar. The set was interesting. He played four songs from his first album, which I don't get into as much, but it was cool to hear him play those old songs and it's cool that he still plays them. He played three songs from World Waits, his second album, two of which were piano songs rearranged for guitar; "Canons" sounded especially awesome with the new arrangement.

Jeremy in Pocatello

After about ten songs, his guitarist left the stage and I thought the show was over. But at this point the show was just reaching its climax (that's what she said). I never had a chance to see Sunny Day Real Estate live, but what ensued was the next best thing I could hope for. Jeremy began strumming a familiar chord progression, though it wasn't easily distinguished because it was missing the accompanying lead guitar. But when he started singing I immediately recognized the tune: "In Circles", a SDRE jam from their first album. The next song was much easier to recognize, since it's one of my all-time favorite SDRE songs: "Guitar and Video Games". With a smile on my face and chills down my spine I sang along unabashedly as Jeremy belted out, "Never again my dear / should we come dancing here / we'll play guitar and video games".

With Jeremy and Caden

The SLC show was more or less the same but with three times as many people and equal proportions of cigarette smoke and beer. I had mixed feelings about the SLC show being packed; it's awesome that Jeremy is getting the support he deserves but I'd rather not have to endure his set being elbowed by drunk girls that smell bad. I guess that's what happens when the venue is a bar.

Jeremy in SLC

I talked to Jeremy in SLC about his new songs. He's planning on releasing a new album in February. This video is my favorite of the new songs he played. It's choppy in the middle but it was the best I could find as far as sound quality goes. It's called "Same Side Imaginary".

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I'm having a love affair with this ice cream sandwich!

So about a year ago I wrote a song. I was too lazy to write a second verse at the time so I've been singing the first verse twice. Sunny Day Real Estate did all the time so I thought I'd try it. I couldn't pull it off as well as they did so a week or two ago I sat down to write a second verse. Anyway, in order to say what I wanted to say, I wrote twice as much as I had planned; I'll probably end up rewriting the rest of the song because the new verse doesn't work well with what I had written. But I thought I'd post the new verse anyway because I think it stands well on its own.

I don't know what to name this song so I've been calling it "Then Why Don't You Marry An Ice Cream Sandwich!" -- a gratuitous shout-out to Arrested Development. Let me know if you come up with something that fits the lyrics.

Your soul is numb, can't feel the ache
Jaded, spent, the same mistake
You've made before, you'll make again
Nothing's changed

(You'd rather) turn your back than feel the pain
Than help the ones that praise your name
'Cause caring means they'd let you down
You'd feel their shame

But you said you wanna feel alive
And leave behind your life contrived
Sacrifice your apathy
That numbs the ache

'Cause feeling means you loved, you cried
Heartbreak means you cared, you tried
Living doesn't mean success
Living means you gave your best

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Have you ever received a gift so great that you didn't feel you deserved it? Just such a thing happened to me this very morning. Just before 11:30 I arrived at my accounting information systems class. I sat at the same computer I always do, logged on, and checked my email, as I do every other day. Nothing new in my inbox but I had one new spam message. I'm pretty OCD when it comes to my spam folder; even though its contents will be eventually deleted automatically, I always delete spam messages immediately anyway. I decided to get the better of my compulsions and let it be. But as seconds ticked by my compulsions got the better of me and I opened the spam folder. The message was from Stateside Presents, a booking agency from home that periodically announces shows and tickets sales happening in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. I almost deleted the email without opening it when I saw the words "Jimmy Eat World" at the end of the subject line. I was semi-curious -- they are one of my favorite bands -- so I opened the email. I scrolled down and read this:

Clarity x 10 Tour
Playing the 1999 album in its entirety
March 7 @ Marquee Theatre

At first I didn't understand. I read it again. My second reaction was disbelief. My heard started to race. Let me explain: Jimmy Eat World and I have quite a history, which I won't delve into. Anyway, in 1999 Jimmy Eat World released an album called Clarity. Commercially, the record didn't do well; it wasn't until their follow up album originally titled Bleed American that they "hit it big" so to speak. Nonetheless, when it comes to hardcore fans like myself, Clarity is often our favorite JEW album. And it's cool because they still play three or four songs from Clarity at their shows today. But to hear them play this album in its entirety? Start to finish, all 64 minutes, hopefully all 18 minutes of Goodbye Sky Harbor? Attending this show is not optional.

I decided to investigate further. The band's website confirmed as much; starting in February the band will embark on 10 show tour in celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the release of Clarity. The tour starts in NY and finishes in the band's home state of Arizona. Beneath the list of tour dates I noticed the following:

Reuben's Accomplice will support Feb. 23-Mar. 4.

"Oh awesome, I love Reuben's Accomplice," I said to myself. I read on:

No Knife will support Mar. 5-7.

My heart stopped. Now, there are few of you readers who realize the gravity of that simple sentence (the one about No Knife, not the one about heart stopping). Few of you know who No Knife is, which is cool, they never really made it out of the underground classic emo/indie genre. I never had a chance to see them because they broke up at the beginning of the decade. But apparently Jimmy Eat World playing the entire Clarity album was reason enough to get back together.

So on this evening of evenings I praise and honor the gods of music who have bestowed this invaluable gift that I am unfit to receive. I don't know what I did to find myself so highly in their favor.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Heart Songs

Last week Zach was kind enough to share some of his favorite Ryan Adams jams with us. His kindness inspired me to do the same thing with my favorite Weezer tunes. All of my friends back home and my brothers and I are huge Weezer fans. If their tours skipped Phoenix it wasn't a question of whether or not we would drive to California to see them, the question was in which city in California we would see them. Nothing to do on a Friday night? Never, not when we had acoustic guitars, vocal chords, and every lyric and melody from Weezer's first two albums wedged snuggly in the creases of our brains. It's hard to truly assess the impact that my extreme Weezer fandom has had on my life (my first kiss, for example, was a girl from Seattle that I met at a Weezer concert in San Francisco).

So, when I came to Rexburg and made friends with so many people with great taste in music (like my friends from home) I was somewhat surprised that some weren't really into Weezer. Why wouldn't they be? My hypothesis: there's a lot of good music out there so maybe they just haven't made their rounds to Weezer yet. My remedy: I've created and uploaded a mix my favorite Weezer songs. If a song made it on this list, it's because it has either had, in one way or another, a huge impact on my life, or it's simply an awesome song.

Here's the list and why I love these songs:

"My Name is Jonas" -- My older brother Spencer brought home the Blue Album when I was in 7th grade. Either this or "Buddy Holly" was the first Weezer song I heard, I can't remember. It's hard to describe the feeling I had when I first the acoustic guitar intro and pounding distorted guitar that followed. It was similar to nostalgia, but what I was nostalgic for I have no idea. Whatever that longing feeling was, it quickly translated into a longing to hear more Weezer. Thanks Spencer.

"Say it Ain't So" -- I remember listening to this song on my discman at the tender, impressionable age of 14 while driving in a rental car in Utah with my mom and brother. As Rivers and Brian ended the soaring guitar solo that led back into the last chorus I came to an important conclusion with what I wanted to do with my life: "I wanna rock!"

"Only in Dreams" -- In high school I was in a band called The Manhattan Project. This band disbanded in December 2001 when I left to serve a mission. The last song we ever played together at our last show was this one. People cried.

"Susanne" -- In high school we had this great friend named Suz, which is short for Susanne. About every Sunday night my junior and senior years we had waffle night at her place. Our first Weezer sing-along took place in her basement at her birthday party. Oh, and this song is awesome too.

"Jamie (Live Acoustic)" -- Please do not confuse this with Dashboard Confessional's painfully inferior cover of this song; "it hurts me so much" when people do that. I especially enjoy Rivers' vocal treatment of the bridge compared to the original rock version.

"Tired of Sex" -- The first track from possibly the greatest album of all time, making it Weezer's best album, Pinkerton. I chose this song because it represents almost everything I love about Pinkerton: it's raw, rowdy, and it rocks, complete with shredding solo and buzzsaw guitars. The other thing I love about Pinkerton is that is incredibly easy to relate to; while I find the subject matter of this song quite unrelateable, I do enjoy the line "Oh, why can't I be making love come true?"

"Across the Sea" -- Wow. This might be Weezer's most emotionally evocative song ever. "As if I could live on words and dreams and a million screams, oh, how I need a hand in mine to feel!" I think we've all felt like that at one time or another. I dare you, no, defy you, to listen to this song at full volume and not get the chills. What a song.

"The Good Life" -- I don't know what Weezer did when they recorded Pinkerton but somehow they managed to capture the energy and excitement that's only really present during a live performance. "The Good Life" is a great example of that.

"El Scorcho" -- I listened to this song almost every day before school in 8th grade. Listen for Matt Sharp's falsettos ("How cool is that?!") and killer screams right before the bridge and in the middle of the last chorus; I miss that guy (he quit in order to devote more time to his band The Rentals). It's impossible not to sing along with this one. Great music video too.

"You Gave Your Love to Me Softly" -- A b-side from the "El Scorcho" single. This is possibly my favorite Weezer song. Ever. From the start of the pick scrape at 0:04 to the last cymbal crash 1:54 later, this song never lets up. Go ahead and listen to it twice. I usually do.

"Waiting on You" -- B-side from "The Good Life" single, also called the "Oz EP". I really love the guitar intro/interlude, and when Rivers sings to the same melody ("I asked you had a good heart / You answered, yes, I'll never do you harm"), backed by Matt's complementary falsetto, it just doesn't get any better.

"Crab" -- I don't care that much for the Green Album. In fact, I have a hard time listening to more than two consecutive Green Album songs. But this song is good. I have no idea what it's about though.

"I Do" -- This one is a b-side on the "Hash Pipe" single and the eleventh track on the UK import of the Green Album. They opened with this song when I saw them in San Francisco on March 17, 2001 (possibly the greatest concert of my life), and I've loved it since.

"Keep Fishin'" -- I first time I heard this song was at Subway in Ottawa, Ontario, while I was on my mission. Other than that I don't have much to say about this one. Another great video.

"Perfect Situation" -- Weezer's best song (at this point) since Pinkerton. And the story of my life.

"The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" -- I don't have much to say about these last few songs, mostly because they're pretty new and I haven't had the chance to associate very many memories with them yet. But let's be honest, there's probably two of you who read it this far so it doesn't matter. This song is just plain cool.

"Pork & Beans" -- It took me a while to warm up to this song. What eventually got me were the Pinkerton-esque guitars on the chorus and the overall message of the song.

"The Angel and the One" -- It's been 12 years since Weezer has been this emo. I really dig the soaring guitar at the end that matches Rivers' vocal.

"Longtime Sunshine" -- This isn't technically a Weezer song but I include it because it could've been. It's from an album that Rivers released last year containing demos he recorded by his lonesome over the years (In Michael Cera's opinion, "The greatest thing to happen to music since 1996 [the year Pinkerton was released]"). I like it because evokes that same nostalgic feeling I experienced when I first heard "My Name is Jonas".

"Lover in the Snow" -- Good song. That's all.

Kudos to you if you've read this far. Here's your reward, download and enjoy:

Myke's Ultimate Weezer Mix

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bound by hope and love

So a weekend or two ago we were singing Weezer and Neil Diamond at Leah's and somehow we ended up deciding to write a song for Music Outlet. Rather than trying to describe this life changing experience, I'll let our song speak for itself:

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I choo-choo-choose you!

Maybe you're like me and you're a little disappointed with both of the candidates for the presidential election only a week away. Honestly, if America is a land of choice and freedom why do we only really have two options when it comes to choosing our president? It's quite ironic. My lack of excitement about this election's candidates got me thinking of people who I'd rather for . . . .


Most likely my first choice. Not only did he serve as a general in Clone Wars but Obi Wan "Our Only Hope" Kenobi was an invaluable member of the Jedi Council; there's no doubt this Jedi Master knows how to be a leader. Furthermore, he was one of two Jedi to survive Emperor Palpatine's Jedi extermination order, and when he was finally done in by his former apprentice he became "more powerful than you can possibly imagine". Luke Skywalker is the obvious choice for Kenobi's running mate. While a great military commander in his own right -- he destroyed the Death Star and turned one of the galaxy's most traitorous Sith Lords away from the dark side, even before actually beginning his career as a Jedi -- Skywalker truly represents the everyday working man, his own roots planted in the moisture farms of Tatooine. Not only would they bring order to our country, but to the entire galaxy as well.


Tom Joad is the protagonist of John Steinbeck's classic The Grapes of Wrath. We first meet Tom on the road to meet his family after serving four years of a seven year sentence in the state penitentiary on charges of manslaughter. Tom's case was clearly a matter of self defense, having been stabbed by the man he would beat to death with a shovel. Tom would fight with equal fierceness and without mercy to protect and defend the ideals and morals upon which this country was founded. Samuel Hamilton of Steinbeck's East of Eden is Joad's complementary running mate; Hamilton's calm, collected, considerate manner is the perfect balance to Joad's hotheadedness.


I know I know, neither of them are American but my other candidates are either from another galaxy or literary characters, so why not nominate "New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo"? They probably wouldn't do much for our country; in fact, we probably wouldn't have much of a military, thanks to their "blondes not bombshells" policy. To be honest, I just think it'd be cool to see Jemaine and Bret in the White House. And Murray Hewitt would probably end up in their cabinet; it'd be silly not to put his great managing skills to work for our country.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I'm it

Chelsea tagged me. Seven random facts:

==> I have awesome grandparents. My mom's dad passed away when she was five, and her mom remarried when she was 11. So my maternal grandfather is technically my step-grandpa, if there is such a thing. I've always known that he's not my mom's biological father but that fact never hit me until I was older because he's always treated my mom like a real daughter and us kids as if we were his biological grandkids. Anyway, he's really impressed me for that reason in addition to many others. My other grandparents are rad and deserving of mention in a blog post as well.

==> I strongly dislike the cold. (I'm trying to have a good attitude about, so I refrained from using the word "hate".) I'm definitely a product of having lived in Arizona for the better part of my life. And I think I have seasonal affective disorder. It seriously bums me out when the sun goes away. While I do love rain and clouds, you seriously can't beat a warm sunny day.

==> I have a mancrush on Michael Cera. If there's anyone I'd like to get bromantic with it'd be him.

==> My Google searches come up in Spanish. Not sure why this happens, I must have hit something that switched languages (at least it's not Arabic or Chinese). Whenever I search something it says at the top of the page, "Buscar sólo resultados en español." If anyone knows how to change this any help would be appreciated.

==> I'm amazed at how many guitarist can't tune their guitar. Every Monday night I go to Music Outlet with my friends, which is essentially an open mic night, and it always surprises me (and annoys me) how many people cannot tune their guit. I didn't know it was that hard. Honestly, if I can do it, just about anyone should be able to.

==> I'm all about keyboard shortcuts. Anything that keeps me away from the mouse or the touchpad on my laptop. They're so much faster, and people (especially the ladies) are so impressed when you use them. My faves right now are Alt+Tab (cycles through open programs on Windows) and Crtl+PgDn or PgUp (cycles through tabs on your Internet browser or sheets of an Excel spreadsheet). Let me know if you know any cool ones.

==> I'm kinda over the whole neo-folk trend that's been going on. A lot of it's great and extremely well done, but right now I need me something that rocks. Distorted guitars, heavy drums, and an anthemic chorus would be great.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

"The songs I keep singin'", part 2

Most nights I try to get a good six hours of sleep, and it's usually enough to get me through the day. But I'm always surprised how well I function on just two. I'm not one to deprive myself of sleep; when I do it's usually to complete some homework assignment I've procrastinated. Tuesday night's deprivation, however, was purely recreational. I spent last weekend debating whether or not I would make the three hour drive to Salt Lake City to attend my sixth Weezer concert. Several friends planned on making the journey with me but they had to bail for monetary reasons, which was understandable, since tickets were about $55 after the ridiculous service charges. I'd have to make the trip alone if I was to go at all. I was prepared to pay for gas but what worried me more was making the trip back to Rexburg by myself immediately after the concert. Staying the night in Utah wasn't an option thanks to my early 7:45 a.m. class I couldn't miss.

When I rolled out of bed Monday morning the first thought that came to me was how hard it would be to get of bed on Wednesday, the day following the concert. I was discouraged and felt that driving down alone was be a bad idea. I debated the idea in my head while I prepared for school. I usually rock my iPod on the way to class; I made sure it was on shuffle and hit play. The first song? "Tired of Sex." It was hardly a sign from above, I'm pretty sure God wouldn't use that song to send a message, but it was a sign nonetheless. So, I made up my mind to go even if I had to drive alone.

Later on I ran into Kari and Leah. I can't remember how it happened but Kari and Leah agreed to come with me and hang out in SLC while I go to the concert with Matt. This was a huge relief because I'd have people to talk to on the way back up, and also because Kari and Leah are rad and it would be fun to road trip with them.

The concert was at the E Center in West Valley City, which is, you guessed it, west of SLC. I was expecting a full-size sports arena but it was refreshingly smaller -- about the size of a college arena, which meant closer seats and fewer people. We arrived in the middle of the first band, which should've been Tokyo Police Club but turned out to be some local band instead. Too bad cuz I was interested in seeing them but not a major disappointment. Angels and Airwaves was a joke and impossible to take seriously. After all, this was one of the singers for Blink 182. And it didn't help that he spent most of the show prancing around on stage like he was in a musical.

Our time was better spent doing this:

I know, borderline sacrilegious to substitute my face for Matt Sharp's, but what can you do?

Weezer went for the painter look as they took stage, wearing white jumpsuits. Rivers took things to the next level with white head sock thing painters wear to keep crap out of their hair. After a few songs they stripped down to red track suits (they should've sold these at the merch table, I would've bought one).

Here's the setlist, as transcribed on the back of my ticket:
My Name is Jonas
Pink Triangle
Perfect Situation
Say it Ain't So
Keep Fishin'
The Sweater Song
Pork & Beans
Dope Nose
Hash Pipe
El Scorcho
What's the Story (Morning Glory) (Oasis cover)
The Greatest Man that Ever Lived
Island in the Sun
Beverly Hills
Heart Songs (played on a record player that Rivers kicked over when they came back on stage)
Sliver (Nirvana cover)
Buddy Holly

"Perfect Situation" was probably my favorite song of the night, followed by "Susanne", which started off a capella, barbershop quartet style. It was also rad hearing the songs from the new album, especially dancing the Ben Jackson and the Urkel (ask for a demonstration at the next dance party) with Matt during Pork & Beans. "Pink Triangle" was great too, since I'm pretty sure I haven't heard that one live. "King" was a song I didn't expect to enjoy as much as I did. It's a bonus track on the deluxe version of the Red Album; I don't like it that much because the lyrics are kinda lame and Scott sings it. But live, I was quite impressed with Scott's voice and the overall arrangement of the song.

It wasn't the best Weezer concert I've been to (San Fran 2001 holds that title, probably always will), but it did deepen my love for them and reminded me how much fun they are live.

I really enjoyed the drive back; Kari and Leah are great driving companions. I'm super glad they came with me; I don't think I had realized how hard it would be to make the drive back to Rexburg alone. Although, if I did fall asleep and die, doing so right after a Weezer concert would be the way to go. Anyway, thanks for coming Kari and Leah, and helping a bit with gas, I totally owe you guys.

And yeah, it was pretty difficult getting out of bed on Wednesday after a mere two hours of sleep, but not as difficult as I had anticipated.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Way To Normal

I got my copy of Ben Folds' Way To Normal in the mail today. I think Amazon needs to adjust their shipping so I get the album on the day it comes out, not the day after. Anyway, I bought it on beautiful vinyl, which has become my preferred format, but only if it comes with free mp3 downloads, or if it's old and cheap. The former applied to this album.

I've been texting back and forth with Trevor for a good part of the day about our feelings on the album (it's OK for guys to discuss their feelings -- after all, it's the 00s). Trev said that he saw it as Ben Folds' Pinkerton (if you don't know what Pinkerton is, please leave). It's not a conclusion I would've come to myself but in some ways I agree with Trev; the album is full of rowdy sing-along songs, fuzzy 90s bass distortion, and introspective and/or intensely personal lyrics -- a side of Ben we've seen before, just not in this way.

One of my favorite tracks -- the "Butterfly" of this album, if you will -- is "Cologne". I'm pretty sure this song is about leaving his wife. Actually, pretty much the entire second half of this album -- namely "B**** Went Nuts" and "Brainwascht" -- seems to deal with divorce. This got me wondering about Ben's personal life and what relationship it might have to his songs. I did a little research. According to Wikipedia, he was divorced in April 2007 and married again in November of the same year, which explains much of this album.

I've always thought of Ben as a pretty shameless guy. This is evident in the fact that he doesn't mind involving others in his songs. Sometimes for the better ("Gracie", "Still Fighting It") and sometimes for the worse ("Trusted", "Give Judy My Notice"). And he's been dropping names (from "Kate" to Lisa to Fred Jones) since his Ben Folds Five days. Probably most are fictional, but I can't help but think they're based on real people and true events. While Ben goes easy on the name dropping this time around, the subject matter comes across as very real and extremely autobiographical. Which, incidentally, makes me wonder what his ex-wife and kids feel about his songs. What does she feel about how she "went nuts"? How does she feel that thousands of people will hear about it? I'm probably reading way too much into this, I'm just a little curios, that's all.

It's hard not to like Ben Folds, and Way To Normal is hardly an exception. It's a little more profane than Songs For Silverman and Rockin' The Suburbs, but it's still quite accessible and easy to get into. "Hiroshima", "Cologne", and "Brainwacht" are my favorite tracks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

turn and face the strange

I saw a moose today. I'd say it was my first but my first moose was a small calf (?) (when I say small I mean the size of an elk) while in transit between Sherbrooke and Drummondville, two city-sized towns in the Eastern Townships in the fine province of Quebec, Canada. Anyway, Billy and I (Billy's my roommate) saw the moose at the start of tonight's impromptu fishing expedition, right as we were pulling up to our fishing spot. The moose hurried into the brush before I could whip out my phone for a pic. Oh, and we didn't catch anything.

Besides running into awesome wildlife, my first week back at school has been marked by a few other milestones:

*I don't eat sugar. I've tried for years and years and years to cut back. It's never worked. I'm the kind guy that can't eat just one cookie; I have to eat them till they're gone. Limiting myself has always been easier said than done. So instead of limiting, I'm eliminating. I had two bouts of no sugar over the summer, each lasting two weeks or more, and it was surprisingly easy. What I like about it most is how amazing fruit tastes; grapes, apples, peaches, and pineapple never tasted so good.

*I changed my name. My roommate Dan, er, I mean Alan, and I decided to go by our middle names (mine's Lewis). We're in a brand new apartment complex and, therefore, in a brand new ward, so why not? It's something I pulled every now and then in high school and lately I've been wanting to give it a try. On Sunday, Alan and I went out to meet some of the girls in our ward . . . it's was pretty funny because we kept forgetting we had changed our names . . . but it's no big deal because most of them probably forgot them anyway.

*I can make bread. When I was home in AZ for a bit during the summer I had my madre show me how to make bread. I've always enjoyed baking, but I had never tried bread. It's pretty fun, if you're into that sort of thing. Nowadays I guess people have their fancy mixers (we have one at home) that knead the dough, but it's actually quite enjoyable and therapeutic to do it yourself by hand. Plus, homemade bread is at least a million times better than anything store-bought and probably healthier (no preservatives).

*I study. OK, so it might be a little early to claim this one but I'm off to a good start, or at least a better start than most semesters. Today I stayed in the library for about three hours to work on tax homework. I rarely do that for routine homework. To study for a test or work on a project, maybe, but rarely for the day-in, day-out stuff.

*I'm running again. This isn't that big of a deal because running is always something I come back to. I ran periodically when I was home in the summer because it's just too hot to do it consistently, especially when it would have been the only thing getting me up in the morning. My goal now is to not take a break--I won't have to "come back" to it because I won't have stopped doing it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

a habit, a nostalgia, a dream

This is Monterey, California:

Pretty awesome, huh?

Near the end of my internship in the Bay Area last spring I took a trip with my roommates to Monterey. When we got there I was immediately disappointed that there wouldn't time for a second trip before I left California. The reason for our voyage was a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which could've been more enjoyable had we not gone on a crowded Saturday. The aquarium is located at the north end of Cannery Row, a waterfront street named for the sardine canneries that occupied the avenue until the 1950s. Last week I finally got around to reading Cannery Row by John Steinbeck, which, as you can guess, is set in and inspired by the street I just mentioned.

The book is a quick read -- only 118 pages -- more of a novella than a novel. But even in a small amount of pages Steinbeck manages to develop characters that are consistent, deep, and memorable. The plot is simple: Mack and the boys, a handful of Cannery Row's resident bums, decide to do something nice for their friend Doc, a marine biologist who owns Western Biological Laboratory. Cannery Row has quite a dynamic feel, from humorous to somber, from cynical to upbeat.

The chaptering of the book is somewhat unique: odd chapters move the story along while the even chapters are short contextual vignettes that describe Cannery Row and Monterey in general.

The theme of the book revolves around Mack and the boys and the ease with which they find contentment in their simple lives as bums. While referring to Mack and the boys, Doc notes:

|| Doc said, "Look at them. There are your true philosophers. I think," he went on, "that Mack and the boys know everything that has ever happened in the world and possibly everything that will happen. I think they survive in this particular world better than other people. In a time when people tear themselves to pieces with ambition and nervousness and covetousness, they are relaxed. All of our so-called successful men are sick men, with bad stomachs, and bad souls, but Mack and the boys are healthy and curiously clean. They can do what they want. They can satisfy their appetites without calling them something else." ||

Earlier in the book Steinbeck mentions:

|| In the world ruled by tigers with ulcers, rutted by strictured bulls, scavenged by blind jackals, Mack and the boys dine delicately with tigers, fondle the frantic heifers, and wrap up the crumbs to feed the sea gulls of Cannery Row. What profit a man to gain the whole world and to come to his property with a gastric ulcer, a blown prostate, and bifocals? Mack and the boys avoid the trap, walk around the poison, step over the noose while a generation of trapped, poisoned, and trussed-up men scream at them and call them no-goods, come-to-bad-ends, blots-on-the-town, thieves, rascals, bums. Our Father who art in nature, who has given the gift of survival to the coyote, the common brown rat, the English sparrow, the house fly and the moth, must have a great and overwhelming love for the no-goods and blots-on-the-town and bums, and Mack and the boys. ||

And finally, back to Doc:

|| "It has always seemed strange to me," said Doc. "The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second." ||

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I quit

About two months ago my sister was reading a book that caught my attention. The cover was distinctly reminiscent of the artwork of the Twilight series. Which makes sense because she was reading The Host by Stephanie Meyer, author of said Twilight series. For some time now, I've been toying with idea of reading Twilight. Not because it's so popular (although mostly among teenage girls) but because two of my friends whose literary opinions I trust (Afton and Fat Cat) have read Twilight and enjoyed doing so. So, I asked my sister what she thought of The Host (she also being a Twilight fan). She said that it was different but also awesome. Afton gave a similar opinion as did my mother. "Alright, I'm gonna do this," I told myself. "If I enjoy The Host, I'll read Twilight."

I returned to AZ from school three and a half weeks ago with nothing to read. I wandered into my sister's bedroom and happened upon The Host. I remembered my decision to read it, and I was desperate for a new book, so I started that night.

Fast forward three weeks. I'm only three hundred pages into The Host. Now, I'm by no means a fast reader. But c'mon, I can do much better than a hundred pages a week. I start to wonder. Have I lost my love for reading? What's happened to me in the recent weeks or months that has killed the joy of a good book? I decide to try an experiment. I stop reading The Host and pick up Cannery Row by John Steinbeck instead (loved it -- a blogging forthcoming). I finished that in mere days (granted it's only 118 pages, but I was traveling at the same time, and I don't read much on the road). Last night I started Lost Boys by Orson Scott Card and I got that "can't put it down" feeling in the first chapter. These books brought me to a great realization: I hadn't lost my love for reading, I had simply been reading a bad book!

OK, let's be fair, The Host isn't a bad book; I certainly have no right to say so since I have yet to finish it. But if we're gonna be fair, let's be honest too: I really didn't enjoy reading it. The Host is very character based, and I never ended up really caring for any of the characters. In fact, some of them bugged the crap out of me. First, let's take Melanie (the one doing the hosting). "Oh my gosh, it's Jared, Jared's here, Jared, Jared's alive, Jared! JARED! Barf!" Just lame and annoying. Then there's Jared himself. I can't say why he bugged me. You know how sometimes people just rub you the wrong way and you can't say why? That's what Jared does to me. I didn't like Jamie either. He just wasn't convincing. At times, Wanda would be pretty cool, but most of the time I could care less what happened to her.

And I never really cared about the story. I was rarely excited to find out "what happens next" and was sometimes disappointed when I did. I'm honestly not one to quit a book, especially one as superficial as The Host, but I just didn't feel like going on. Yeah, I'll probably finish the book at a later date, if only to say that I gave it a chance and not so much because I care.

Maybe Stephanie Meyer just isn't for me. She's not a bad author, her characters and stories just aren't that appealing. In the meantime, the rest of my summer reading will be in the hands of Orson Scott Card, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, authors who have never let me down, who I doubt ever will.

Monday, July 7, 2008

"These are the songs I keep singin'"

I haven't been this excited about Weezer since the Green Album; however, I don't think I've had as big of let down since the Green Album. During the last 7 years, Weezer has failed to release an album that rivals ol' Blue or Pinkerton in greatness. That is, until the Red Album.

Here's what Rivers himself had to say about the production of the Red Album:

"Our approach was to get into the studio and try to blow our minds with whatever we wanted to do. To just have fun, so that when we pressed play and listened back to what we did, our minds were just blown. That was the goal."

While I've never considered Weezer to be "mind blowing", nor do I consider their latest release "mind blowing". But, whatever it is they did to blow their own minds seems to have worked. The Red Album was the record Weezer fans (like myself) were waiting for back in 2001. Instead they got less than 30 minutes of effortless, impersonal song writing -- all ten songs follow the verse-chorus-bridge structure with only slight deviations, punctuated with incredibly weak guitar solos that repeat exactly the preceding chorus or verse. A casual listen to either the Blue Album or Pinkerton reveals that the band is capable of much more in regards to every aspect of song writing and delivery.

The Red Album is Weezer doing what they do best: having fun -- an approach the band should've taken on previous albums. (Go listen to "El Scorcho" or "Holiday" and tell me the band wasn't having fun with those songs. I dare you.)

A few highlights from Red include:

"The Greatest Man That Ever Lived (Variations on a Shaker Hymn)" -- A Bohemian Rhapsody-esque epic.

"Heart Songs" -- Mentions Gordon Lightfoot and Cat Stevens in the first 20 seconds of the song. What more do you need?

"Thought I Knew" -- Sung by Brian, Rivers on drums, Pat on guitar.

"Automatic" -- A sweet jam written and sung by Pat.

"The Angel And The One" -- Weezer hasn't been this emo since Pinkerton and I love it!

Lyrically, the album has a few weak spots. At one point it sounds like Rivers wrote lyrics with a rhyming dictionary, but apparently even that took too much effort so he threw it out ("Troublemaker"). Then Scott must've picked it up to write "Cold Dark World". In addition, there's a severe lack of guitar solos, which is not the norm for Weezer. Luckily, this doesn't detract from the album, though solos would certainly add to it.

Then there's the Deluxe Edition. Of the four extra tracks, "Miss Sweeny" (reminiscent of Blue Album b-sides "Jamie" and "Susanne") and "Pig" are best.

I certainly hope Weezer follows the "mind blowing, having fun" formula to record their future albums. They should work to please themselves and write for the sake of the music, not the industry or even the fans. I look forward to future albums, but in the meantime I'll enjoy, to quote Michael Cera, "the best thing to happen to music since 1996."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

halvsies (sp?)

My legs hurt. Probably has something to do with the 13 miles I ran today.

(This would be a good spot for some kind of picture but I foolishly didn't take any before/during/after the race and the picture I found online (not of me) isn't working.)

Anyway, this morning I ran the Teton Dam half marathon, right here in quaint Rexburg, Idaho. I was expecting to finish at the 2:30 mark . . . but I slaughtered that with my time of 2:07:37.9 (a pace of about 9:45 per mile). Not necessarily a fast time, but a time that I feel really good about because I put my all into the race.

I enjoyed the course. Most of it was potato fields, which is prettier than it sounds. And it was the most amazingly sunny, cloudless day. The first four miles were mostly flat followed by a four-mile uphill stretch (which was probably the prettiest part of the race). Then course leveled out for about three more miles as it left the potato fields back into Rexburg. The last two miles -- passing the Rexburg temple, BYU-I, and my neighborhood -- were downhill until the very end, which was a staight-away to the finish line.

They were handing out orange slices at the 7 and 12 mile markers -- the best tasting oranges I've ever eaten.

I placed (I think) 88th overall for the half marathon and 12th in my division (25-29 year olds).

When I got home I slept, showered, slept, ate, and slept.

Anyway, training for and running this race was awesome for me because it really made me get serious about my running, and really improved my eating habits. For the past two and a half weeks I haven't had any candy, cookies, etc., and my red meat intake has been kept to a minimum for an even longer time. I'm gonna keep it up because during the time I went without sweets I lost over five pounds.

I'd like to try the full marathon next year, but if I'm not ready by then, it'd definitely be fun to do the half again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Chelsea tagged me, so here they are, my fives:

Five regrets
1. Not allowing my brother Matt to come see Return of the Jedi with my friends and me when it was re-released in the theatres 1997.
2. Just about everything I eat.
3. When I make something or someone else more important than a family member or close friend.
4. Not saying "hi" or just giving "the nod" to that person walking down the street.
5. Not putting up a fight when things go against what I feel is right.

Five bands/artists I would love to see in their prime
1. Weezer (1996)
2. Neil Diamond (1972)
3. Cat Stevens (1974)
4. Sunny Day Real Estate (2000)
5. Chicago (1984)

Things I would do if I could live on two hours of sleep a night
1. Read more books.
2. Play guitar . . . my trusty Takamine or my dad’s older-than-me Ibanez sound the best at 2 a.m.
3. More all-nighters with my roommate Dan – not for the sake of homework but for the sake of a great discussion.
4. Sit outside and look at the stars and think about stuff and write about it.
5. Homework. (But seriously, who am I kidding?)

Things I would rather study than accounting
1. Culinary arts. Specifically baking. Who wouldn’t want to spend the day making cookies?
2. English. My roommate Dan is an English major. His homework consists of reading short stories by John Steinbeck, one of my favorite authors.
3. Ceramics. I just don’t have what it takes to be an art major. But what’s comforting is art majors have less of what it takes to be an accounting major.
4. Geography. My teacher who taught this class at MCC was such an awesome guy. I would study geography just so I could be like him.
5. French and other romance languages, Arabic, Chinese, [insert foreign language here]. A great way to learn about another culture is to learn their language.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Accountant's Catharsis

I finally figured out why I chose to study accounting.

Sure, it pays well. Yeah, I'll be able to live anywhere in the country and find a job. And one day, of course, it will allow me to provide for a family, or at least for myself. While this is what attracted me to to accounting, it's not why I chose it.

I guess I could study something that I actually enjoy, like English or Sociology or even French. So why not study one of those subjects? Because they require opinions. They require thought. And they require emotion. Feeling. And emotion and feeling are things that, frankly, I've had quite enough of. I chose accounting because somehow I knew that I would need something in my life that would provide an escape from disappointment and hurt, happiness and love.

Numbers don't feel. They don't hurt if you neglect them. They don't swell with joy when you tell them you love them. They don't care if you hate them. When you touch them you can't send a chill down their spine because you can't touch them and they don't have spines. Numbers don't feel; they simply exist.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Payoff

Before I came here to California one of the things I was most excited for was to go to legit band shows. Having spent the better part of last year in Idaho, I've definitely been hurting for quality live music. However, due to long hours at work, few show-going friends, and not many familiar bands passing through the Bay Area, I went almost three months without going to a show. So, when I found out Jimmy Eat World would be coming to San Jose, I resolved to go, even if it was in the middle of the last week of tax season.

Last night I snuck out of work early, changed into show-appropriate attire in my car, and drove to the venue, a small arena on the San Jose State University campus. After taking a leak in the men's room (in which two women oddly-but-not-so-oddly-in-a-Northern-California-type-of-way also decided to relieve themselves) I hiked down the steps to the floor. I was somewhat late but still early enough to catch the end of Dear and the Headlights' set. And I'm glad I did because who should I see on stage rocking bass? None other than Rajiv Patel.

I was surprised to seem him but at the same time I wasn't. In an effort to get his attention before he packed up and walked off stage, I quickly became "that guy" and forced myself to the front. After a few minutes of yelling and dirty looks I finally got his attention. He packed up his gear and joined my on the floor, scoring me a bottle of water and orange. Paramore played well ... not my style, but they played well, even if their singer did rip off lyrics from "One Armed Scissor" by At The Drive-In.

For Jimmy Eat World I started off on the floor but after two songs Rajiv snuck me backstage.
When I was on the floor, it seemed that Jim had lost his man boobs; but watching from the side of the stage, much closer, I could see they were still there and, in fact, larger than ever.

I really enjoyed the set -- Big Casino, Sweetness, Crush, Dizzy, Always Be, Blister (glad Tom is still singing, as rarely as he does), Work, Your New Aesthetic, Authority Song, Here It Goes, Kill, Just Tonight, A Praise Chorus, Pain, Bleed American, Get It Faster, and Let It Happen ... for the encore: Hear You Me (Rajiv and I rocked together arm-in-arm on this one), Futures, and I almost thought I would go the entire show without hearing The Middle, but alas, it was their final song. It would've been awesome to hear a Static Prevails song, but I wasn't expecting it so it wasn't a big loss.

Thanks to Rajiv, I definitely got a bit more than I bargained for this time around ... but having seen them eleven times before, I see it simply as the payoff for my years of devoted fandom.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The original Mr. Stevens

And I'm definitely not talking about Sufjan...

The hair, the shirt, the beard, the pants, the pre-song banter, the song, the decade ... I wanna be Cat Stevens.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A few things I just don’t get

License plate frames. You buy a car from a dealership. A few weeks later you get the permanent plate in the mail. When you put the new plate on, you reattach the dealership’s license plate frame. Why? Free advertising for the dealership that made you pay too much for the car you’re driving? Now, I’m not talking about the frame your folks got you when you graduated from South Kentucky University, or the one that says, “My other car is a pirate ship.” By all means, keep those (of course, I’d never have one myself). It’s the dealership frames I don’t understand. Especially one as revealing as the one I saw the other day from No Credit Check Auto Sales.

Business letters. Specifically, the closing right before you sign your name. “Very truly yours,” I don’t even know what that means, but it might just be a polite way of saying “Give me more money.” “Sincerely,” has become so ubiquitous and trite that you might as well be signing “Insincerely”. “Best,” Now this one I kinda like because it’s so vague. Best what? Sure, the recipient of the letter might think it means something like “Best wishes” or “Best regards,” but as the writer of the letter, I like to think it means “I’m the best”.

Eyebrows. At this point in human history eyebrows serve no purpose. “Not true, they keep sweat out of your eyes!” Of course they do, but who sweats nowadays? Professional athletes? I wonder what the professional athlete-normal human being ratio is. OK sure, there are plenty of professions that require a bit of physical exertion. But as technology advances, it’s only a matter of time before robots replace the world’s manual laborers, thereby rendering eyebrows obsolete. Chances are your eyebrows already are.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Trampling Out the Vintage

The other night I finally finished The Grapes of Wrath. Not my favorite by John Steinbeck, but still a worthy read, and definitely an excellent portrayal of America during the Great Depression. The book is about the Joad family, who are booted off their Oklahoma farm as a result of the dust bowl. They make their way to California in search of work, finding only desparation in its place. (That really makes you wanna read it, right?)

I love how this book is written. The odd chapters (1, 3, 5, etc.) are short, 3 or 4 pages, and provide a general description of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, and the challenges the homeless migrant families faced as they headed west. These chapters put the story in context and usually foreshadow the even chapters. Then, the even chapters (2, 4, 6, etc.) are a telling of how one family in particular (the Joads) respond to these challenges.

The book's ending is quite abrupt and, at first glance, anti-climactic, which is something I'm learning to expect and appreciate when it comes to Steinbeck novels. I won't spoil the it for you, but what I got out of this book, especially the ending, is that human dignity is most effectively obtained and imparted while debasing oneself in the service of another.

If you're gonna read only one John Steinbeck novel in your life, read East of Eden. If you're gonna read two, try The Grapes of Wrath.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Your kids can walk to school.

Not sure know why parents don't realize this. For years I've lived across the street from a junior high school. When I'd leave for school (college school) every day, backing out of my driveway was always a chore thanks to the mobile baracade of SUVs and minivans lining the street. Going to school in Idaho has been a bit of a break because I always walk to class. But since I've been here in California I've witnessed a similar phenomenon on my way to work: a snake of cars slithering through an elementary school parking lot. Sure, it's not a big deal here because I don't have to sever the snake to leave my house; I just find it strange that so many children need a ride to school.

Let's think about this. There are, what, two to three junior highs (or middle schools, if you will) per high school? And the same number or more of elementary schools per junior high? That's anywhere from 6 to over 12 elementary schools per high school. I'll agree, not every high school is within walking distance, but when the elementary to high school ratio is so high, there will almost always be an elementary school, and very likely a junior high as well, within walking distance of any house.

It's especially ironic here in Nor Cal, where liberalism is the church of state and everyone's greatest fear is global warming. If your kid is perfectly capable of getting to school her own (she has two functional legs), why waste precious resources and pollute the air by driving her to school?

Parents might argue that's it's unsafe to have their kids walk to school. Well, if you all made your kids walk there'd be more kids on the road, making it far less likely for your kid to be abducted -- odds are it will be someone else's kid, so what are you worried about? Honestly, the world is a dangerous place, but the sooner kids learn how to live in that world, the better. The one place they won't learn that is in the backseat of a minivan.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I dream in color TV

I rarely remember my dreams, but lately, in all the ones I do remember, I'm hanging with characters from TV shows. Sunday night I was at the mall, enjoying a meal in the food court with Jim Halpert, Pam Beasley, Michael Gary Scott, and Dwight Kurt Schrute. Last week I dreamt that I was back on the Lost island -- I say 'back' because it's the second Lost dream I've had. In the first, I was hanging with Locke in the hatch, season two style. In the one I had last week, Ben had been replaced as chief of the Others by some unknown person who immediately enlisted Sawyer to carry out seemingly random kidnappings among the other island survivors. For the end-of-the-episode twist, this mysterious personage was revealed as my friend Marliett, which, if you knew her, would be one of the best twists of plot in Lost history. Of course, let's not forget about Carl Winslow the Cannibal that I blogged about earlier.

I just can't wait for the night when I find myself in cut-off shorts ("There are dozens of us!") painting myself blue with Tobias Funke. Or maybe working a shift at the Banana Stand with George Michael (no, not the 80's pop star). Perhaps I'll find myself appearing as a wisdom dispensing David Bowie in one of Bret McKenzie's freaky dreams ("Am I freaking you out, Bret?").

Sunday, February 24, 2008

And I'm sorry Mr. Jones, it's time.

In memorandum

Jameson Jones, iPod

When I got in my car after church today, I began the normal routine of attaching the car charger and iTrip to my iPod. "Bitterblue" by Cat Stevens was almost over but I wanted to enjoy the rest of it at a louder volume so I reached down to turn it up. When my thumb hit the track wheel and slid accross its surface something strange happened. Or rather, nothing happened. I was confused. I hit the menu button to backtrack to the list of songs of the album I was listening to. I tried cycling through the songs, but with the same result, or more accurately, the lack of one. It was the same when I tried going through albums and artists: nothing. The conclusion I reached: the trackwheel is broken.

I bought my iPod in Spring of 2005. Over the past three years, Jameson Jones has been a stalwart and constant companion. Whether it was a road trip or a drive across town, a long run or a short walk to class, an hour cleaning my room or a long day at work, Jameson provided the soundtrack to which each one of these activities was accomplished. The number of miles and hours Jameson has spent at my side is incalculable.

Sure, Jameson still functions, he still works; however, his functions are now limited. I love the album Teaser and the Firecat, and for that reason, I don't want to end up hating it since it's the only album Jameson is now capable of playing. I love the fact that my iPod can't play videos. I love its monochrome screen and blocky text. So, with a heavy heart I sing to you the words that you allowed Ben Folds to sing to me so many times: "I'm sorry Mr. Jones, it's time."

Sunday, February 17, 2008


Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

O that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I don't remember much from those two econ classes from my earlier college years but one thing I do recall is the concept of marginal utility (probably because Jeff, Greg and I were always making jokes about it). Marginal utility says that when you consume one unit of a particular good or service, satisfaction will decrease from consuming additional units. Take this bag of gummi bears I've been snacking on. The first few I ate were great. The next few, not so much. And so on, till I'm left with half a bag of gummi bears. However, I've found that marginal utility doesn't apply to everything. Using running as another example, the more miles I run, the more I tend to enjoy it.

With the band Sigur Ros, their utility increases with "consumption." Having said that I proudly post these two videos on my blog, "Glósóli" and "Hoppipolla". Maybe you've already seen them; all the more reason to try this marginal utility thing out. For those who haven't seen them, if you're not left with a smile on your face after watching both, then I wouldn't go stand next to any large magnets because you're probably a robot.



The combined length of both videos is about 11 minutes; in other words, 11 of the best spent minutes of your day.

(I tried posting them in the blog itself but apparently they won't let you. Psh.)

Friday, February 1, 2008

It's a Rare Condition

It was either Monday or Tuesday night (or early in the morning of one of the days that followed). I can't remember when. I was on a mission. I didn't know what my goal was, even in my dream I didn't know what my goal was; I just knew that I had one.

It was night, the sky was blood red with black clouds. I had travelled through time to a distant past, only to return to a present where the world I knew was turned upside-down, Back to the Future II style. But who was behind this sinister transformation?

I had a sidekick, though I can't remember his name. I wanna say it was Chuck Norris but that's only because he was in an awesome movie called Sidekicks. Except he wasn't the sidekick in that movie. Danica McKeller (The Wonder Years' Winnie Cooper) is also in that movie. I digress. Sidekick and I found ourselves in an unfamiliar suburban family neighborhood. We could hear commotion coming from a nearby backyard so we hopped the fence to check it out.

It didn't take long to discover the source of the commotion. Huddled in a corner of the yard, we observed a pack of feral children, dressed in rags. They seemed to be huddled around something, or rather, someone. As we cautiously approached the gang of seemingly rabid children, we discovered the center of their attention: Famliy Matters' Carl Winslow. We were instantly relieved and we marched boldly toward to the pack of kids. If anyone knew who was behind the evil transformation of our once pleasant world, it was Carl Winslow.

As we came closer to the band of wild kids, they turned to face us almost in unison. We immediately noticed the wild look of hunger in their eyes. Carl Winslow smiled diabolically. Something was wrong and we knew it. However, our curiosity bested us and we contiued our approach in order to satisfy it.

But Carl Winslow and his children (no, not Laura, Eddie, Little Richie, or even Steve Urkell) had something much greater than curiosity to satisfy: hunger. And Carl explained that Sidekick and I were to be their means of satisfaction!

No sooner had we learned of our intended fate did we turn and run, escaping the pack of hungry children and their "father", literally nipping at our heals. Over the fence and through the nearest time portal, we escaped into another, safer dimension.

So what was this mission I was so determined to accomplish? More importantly, what caused Carl Winslow, loving father and one of Chicago PD's finest, to resort to murder and cannibalism, the two things he had fought so hard to eradicate? I have no doubt that the two are somehow linked. But unless I return to that world of my slumber, I may never know. . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2008

12 Songs

For a few years now I've considered myself a fan of Neil Diamond, but it's been only recently that I've taken my fandom beyond the superficial level of a 'greatest hits' fan. About a year ago I started buying old vinyls from used book stores and independent record shops. When I started my collection I had no way of playing them; I bought them mostly because I thought old records were cool and it was an inexpensive way of owning a piece of music history. For a while I had access to a record player and it didn't take long before I realized that old vinyls are a great way of discovering new (new to me, at least) music. Synchronicity by The Police is a great example. I bought this album for "Wrapped Around Your Finger", a lesser known hit, but a hit nonetheless, and one of my favorites. After a few listens on the turntable, I realized that I had to own it on CD so I could enjoy in my car and on my iPod. Used vinyls opened a whole new portal for discovering music, and it's a portal that's relatively cheap to step through.
As a result I've started listening to a lot more Neil Diamond. While I do enjoy some of his music from the late 70's and 80's, it never appealed to me as much as songs from his earlier career. For this reason I was hesitant to try out his newest release 12 Songs. (To be honest, I'm thankful for this hesitancy. I don't think I would've appreciated it and enjoyed it if I had heard it 2 years ago when it came out.) I like 12 Songs so much because, like it's title, it's so simple and honest. Just an old man and his guitar. It seems that much of songwriting in popular music today is very impersonal. If a song is written to sell, how likely is it that the artist actually experienced what they are singing about? Pretty slim. (How likely is it that the artist actually even wrote the song? Even slimmer.) Sure, the artist can relate to the song he or she is singing, but it doesn't go any farther than that. 12 Songs is such a convincing album because the songwriting is so genuine and the production is so simple; you get the feeling Neil has actually experienced what he's singing about. In fact, he very well may be in the same room singing it to you.
The bottom line: 12 Songs is an amazing record because it is Neil Diamond.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


The other night I was bored (which is very common when I'm not at work) so I Googled (since when did that become a verb?) "record stores". A small list of stores in the Fremont area came up but the one that most caught my eye was a store called Needle to the Groove, which sells only vinyls. Worried that it might be closed, I hurried to my car and punched the coordinates into my GPS navigator (which I have affectionately named Shilo Desiree, a name derived from two of my favorite Neil Diamond songs). About 10 minutes later I arrived at the shop only to have my worst fears confirmed: it was closed. It's located in one of those small downtown-type areas where everything closes at 5 PM. I made note of their Saturday hours and resolved to return on my day off.

Saturday (yesterday) rolls around and I leave my place around noon, which is when they open. I get to the store only to be met with a new sign on the window, "We will open at 1:00 PM on Saturday." Psh. Not far from the shop I noticed a road called Niles Canyon Road. I had about an hour to kill before I could head back and peruse their vinyls so I decided to try it out. After driving for roughly 10 minutes I came to a town called Sunol (sounds like the title of a Sigur Ros song). I got off the highway and drove through the town. There wasn't much to see so two minutes later I was back on the highway. After a few more minutes of driving, the road forked. I took the smaller of the two roads, Calaveras Road. It wasn't long before the speed limit was reduced to 25 MPH and the two lanes became one. The rest of the road was a series of switchbacks that curved up and down the side of a small hill-like mountain.

I took some pics.

Driving on this road made me feel like I was in a John Steinbeck novel (a lot of his stories are set in California, not too far from here).

I tried getting artistic with the barbed wire. The body of water in the background is Calaveras Resevoir. It's funny, you can always tell when it's a fake lake. Either way, it was still pretty.

The road took me to a town called Milpitas, which is sandwiched between San Jose and Fremont. The part of Milpitas I saw sort of looked like it was in the 70's, which wasn't as cool as it sounds.

I made it back to the record shop. I added Led Zeppelin IV, Rush 2112, and Foreigner Records to my vinyl collection.

Next week: the Forest Moon of Endor.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Nothing's coming

It's been over a month since my last post. Probably a couple reasons for that: I spent the last month away from school so I had little to stimulate my brain and we don't have wireless Internet at home so I was unable to use my laptop (I don't like using our home computer for stuff like this for some reason). I've again changed states and now I'm in California, in the Bay Area near Oakland and San Francisco. The past few days have been kinda boring/lonely, but I'm sure that will change soon when I start my internship on Monday.

I wrote a new jam. I recorded it and another and put them up on crapspace ( Here are the lyricals:

Southwestern Hemisphere

Hemispheres and atmospheres
Where the air just isn't quite as clear
Don't waste your breath
Don't say another word
Try to breathe another minute
Try to speak, your heart's not in it
Wasting life or tasting life
Take a trip away from home
A way back home

The memories you thought you'd make
And the promises you'd've had to fake
The curls in her hair
Won't fade
The life that you swore to her
Now buried in that sepulcher
The smile on her face (The taste of her lips)
Won't fade away

Hemispheres and atmospheres
Where the just isn't quite as clear
Wasting life or tasting life
What's the difference?