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.