Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009


So, I live with this really awesome married couple. They have two equally awesome kids. Anyway, today Curtis (the man of the house) asked a simple question: "What is your favorite?" Not what is your favorite book, what is your favorite band, what is your favorite color, what is your favorite gladiator movie; simply, what is your favorite?

I responded, "My favorite is the Flaming Lips." Ever since purchasing The Soft Bulletin last April my hunger for The Flaming Lips has gone unstated. I'm in luck, because when a band has been around since 1983 like the Lips have, there is plenty of music to catch up on. (Putting things in context, 1983 was the year The Police broke up, the year Journey released "Faithfully" and "Separate Ways," and the year the original Star Wars trilogy was completed with Return of the Jedi.)

Around the same time (that is, last spring, not 1983) I was delighted to learn that the Flaming Lips were in the studio recording a new album.

In August, the Lips released a digital EP featuring three tracks from their then forth-coming Embryonic. A drastic change from the Bulletin-Yoshimi-Mystics pop trilogy, at first I found these tracks hard to listen to. Sure, minor keys and less-than-discernible lyrics aren't unheard of when it comes to the Flaming Lips, but they've never really been the norm, at least not in this decade. While I wasn't disillusioned, I didn't expect much from Embryonic.

I would've liked to have been more excited for this album but I just wasn't. When October rolled around, I nevertheless dutifully purchased Embryonic on its release date. After the first two listens I was largely uninterested; I found the digital EP tracks to be a fair representation of the rest of the album.

But I knew I couldn't give up on Embryonic, not yet. After all, didn't it take me over six months to finally fall in love with Yoshimi?

Around the fourth listen I don't know what happened. In the past I've tried to explain why I like or love someone or something. Recently I've learned (took me long enough) that often love needs reason or explanation.

And so it is with Embryonic.

Earlier, I mentioned that the Flaming Lips have been around since 1983. Having said that, for a band to experiment and reinvent themselves the way Lips have with Embryonic is really something rare. I feel like they could have produced an album in the vein of Bulletin-Yoshimi-Mystics -- all of which, for the most part, are smart, quirky pop albums -- and still have made a great record. It speaks to their musical integrity to take a step in the dark toward the dark; a step toward a tone that is somewhat less accessible while still maintaining their style. And this makes me glad. Because when a band seeks to redefine themselves -- in their 27th year, even -- it tells me they're going to be around for quite some time. I can't get enough of The Flaming Lips.

On a side note, remember how I mentioned that the couple I live with is really awesome? Well, here's proof:

They have not one, but two DeLoreans (for the time being anyway; they're both up for sale I believe). They set this one up for their Christmas card photo and were kind enough to let me pose in front of it because, well, who wouldn't want a picture with a DeLorean?

P.S. What is your favorite?

Monday, December 14, 2009

up and up I keep on climbling

So at the end of every year, all the indie/hipster/I'm-cooler-than-you website/magazines make all these "best of" lists. Most of the stuff I disagree with or I've never heard. I guess I'm not that cool -- which I'm totally cool with -- but at least I'm not so conceited as to claim that my favorite tunes from this year that are "the best."

So here they are, my favorite songs of Make it Mine, 2009:

11. "Blood Bank" from Blood Bank EP by Bon Iver -- Heart wrenching never felt so good.

10. "Mind Idea" from OK Bear by Jeremy Enigk -- This song takes the weird off-keyness of Return of the Frog Queen and combines it with the pristine production of World Waits -- a perfect synthesis.

9. "Song of Remembering" from Songs About Time: Chapter One: The Story of A Thousand Seasons Past by The Rentals -- Sounds like old school Rentals minus the Moog sounds -- Return of Return of the Rentals.

8. "Song About an Angel" from Diary (Reissue) by Sunny Day Real Estate -- OK, so this track debuted in 1994, but I thought it only fitting to include my favorite song from the 2009 reissue of SDRE's seminal debut.

7. "Ambulance" from The Fire Kite EP by Eisley -- I'm not the hugest Eisley fan but when it comes to this song I'm phased.

6. "Possibility" from New Moon by Lykke Li -- The New Moon soundtrack: medium-quality songs from high-quality bands. With a few exceptions. This track is one of them.

5. "Watching the Planets" from Embryonic by The Flaming Lips -- I can't get enough of Wayne Coyne and company. It's nice to know I can always count on the Lips.

4. "Introducing Palace Players" from No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away by Mew -- The name of Mew's latest album is longer than this comment: The best guitar song of the year.

3. "Little Secrets" from Manners by Passion Pit -- I was ever so pleasantly surprised by this band. This song pumps me up with every listen.

2. "A Diamond and a Tether" from The Open Door EP by Death Cab For Cutie -- Why bother articulating my feelings when Mr. Gibbard does it so well for me?

1. "(If You're Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To" from Raditude by Weezer -- "El Scorcho" for the new millennium. I feel like I'm in eighth grade again.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

je me souviens

So eight years ago today I began a strange albeit rewarding and defining period of my life. It seems like I don't talk or think about my mission much these days. (It's funny how I can mention something so vague as a "mission" and most of you, if not all, will know exactly what I'm talking about. I can't help but assume that those not in the loop would think I was part of some exposed/failed top secret government project and that I now only refer to in an ambiguous manner.)

I spent roughly two years in a country called Canada -- to be precise, in the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. When I arrived in Montreal on February 12, 2002, (I'm an accountant, I'm allowed to be good at precise dates without coming across as overly-sentimental, weird, or self-important) it looked something like this:

(I didn't take this picture, nor will I be posting any pictures that I took during my mission; digital photography was beyond my means at the time. And to prove what a procrastinator I am, after six years of being home I still haven't scanned any photos I took as a missionary.)

Of course, my mission still crosses my mind and it comes up in conversations regularly (at one point or another, almost any new LDS friend you make will ask you where you served), and I even talk with a few of my companions (again, a term that might come across as strange to an 'outsider') from time to time, but it's not something I ponder on too often or talk too deeply about. Not on a regular basis anyway. I've been reflecting on it lately because Christmastime was the time of year I started and (two years later) finished my mission... but mostly, it's been on my mind because my youngest brother returns home from his mission in Australia in mere weeks.

(August 2004: In French "fleuve" means "giant river that flows into the ocean." Or something like that. This piece of artwork in Lachine, Quebec, is appropriately placed in front of the fleuve Saint-Laurent, or the Saint Lawrence River as us anglophones might say. This was taken during a trip to Canada with my folks the summer after I got home.)

It's not a bad thing that I don't think or talk about my mission that much anymore. Because I've had just as many (more?) rewarding and life-defining experiences since leaving my mission on December 17, 2003 (again, accountant here, not being overly-sentimental/ dramatic). It would be silly -- and sad -- to assume that such experiences would only occur during such a brief period and, furthermore, that such experiences would be at their best or greatest during that short -- in a strange way fleeting -- span of time.

So here's to me, eight years ago, six years ago, today. (Now, if I weren't so lazy, here I'd have a photo of me toasting, well, myself (in a mirror perhaps?) with a bottle of Spruce Beer or a glass of Red Champagne in hand (don't worry, both are non-alcoholic).)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

the table and the light

Right now, a lucky few hundred in Phoenix are about to enjoy something special:

While a live Reuben's Accomplice performance is rare and certainly special, it's the 'special guests' that really excite me. The following tweet (wow, that just sounds so dumb) was hyperlinked on Modified Arts' website in reference to these special guests:

Jimmy Eat World for $5 at Modified? What is this, 1999? Because that was the last time I saw JEW at that price and at such an intimate venue.

The current temperature of -1°F is one thing to deal with but missing this is another indeed.

On the bright side, Jimmy Eat World has been working with Mark Trombino -- who produced Static Prevails, Clarity, Bleed American and Stay On My Side Tonight -- on a set of new songs.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

seven! seven cookies! ah! ah! ah! ah!

My brother suggested Dracula probably a year ago but I finally got around to reading in October. And I finished it two nights before Halloween. How fitting.

Honestly, Dracula freaked me out. More than once I was slightly scared to turn off the lights for bed after reading this book. More than once I expected to look up and see Dracula's pasty face, sadistic eyes and red lips hovering over me as I slept. The dude is pure evil.

That said, I totally enjoyed this book. I don't necessarily enjoy being terrified, nor am I a horror fan, but I do enjoy a classic good-versus-evil tale. Furthermore, there's something to be said for any book that can evoke a certain feeling or emotion; this one does terror quite well.

Today though, that vampiric sense of terror seems to have vanished. Instead we're stuck with this:

The contrast is laughable*.

Of course, that's not to say that nothing good has come from the Twilight series. I give you three examples:

"Meet Me on the Equinox" by Death Cab for Cutie. I kind of like the fact that this is a mediocre Death Cab song. As if they didn't want to 'waste' their best material on the New Moon soundtrack.

"Hearing Damage" by Thom Yorke. I might start liking Radiohead. Not that I've ever disliked Radiohead, I've just never taken the time to get into them.

"Possibility" by Lykke Li. I was totally surprised by this track. Not the first time I've heard Lykke Li but probably the first time I've given her an honest listen (I guess my taste in music is somewhat sexist). I also thought this song fit well in Bella's emo montage in the movie. My favorite track from New Moon.

*Speaking of laughable, as I was perusing Amazon.com for reviews on Dracula I unearthed this gem:

Me being the avid vampire fan that I am, I'm always willing to read new vampire fiction. The librarian suggested this one to me so I thought I'd give it a shot.

What a terrible read. I couldn't stand it for long, so I started skimming through the thing. Turns out the vampire in this book is an old guy, and he lives in a castle! What?! Any vampire fan knows that vampires roam the streets of upper middle class suburbia and high schools. Whoever this Bram Stoker guy is, it's quite clear that he doesn't know a thing on vampires, and his attempt to cash in on the vampire craze is indeed a failure.

I'll be returning this on my next trip to the library and sticking to the teen reading section for finding my next vampire novel.

(New Moon comes out November 20th, woooooo!)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

how Myke got his groove back

Turns out is was right here all along:

When I returned to the glorious homeland this weekend for Thanksgiving I was slightly nervous that I wouldn't enjoy being in Arizona as much as I used to. I even mentioned to a friend that I was afraid that I was losing a bit of my Arizona-ness.

Then late Friday night on the way to Applebee's with Matt, Whit and Rachael, I caught myself feeling something I haven't felt in a quite while. I felt comfortable, I felt that I belonged. But really, it was more what I wasn't feeling that stood out. I didn't feel a desire to be aloof from my surroundings; this vague, constant nagging doubt that I've apparently grown accustomed to and oblivious of was absent. In short, I felt like it would be OK if I were to sprout roots and let them grow. As if almost everything I really needed -- close family and friends who really get me -- were in that car with me.

I've lived, more or less, in four different states -- Arizona, Idaho, California, and Colorado -- in a fewer amount of years. After bouncing around and back and forth for a while you get used to preparing for the next phase of your life, you get used to living out of boxes. It was nice to not feel that for a few days.

My Arizona batteries are recharged and I can't wait to be back for Christmas.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

if death were good

Taggart, Justin and I DJ'ed our ward's Halloween party, but with style: vinyl only.

However, our combined collection was missing one song that I would've liked to play. So a day or two later I got on eBay and bought this:

And if the album version of "Never Gonna Give You Up" isn't enough, this 12" single comes with an instrumental version and three sick remixes. With all the different versions of this song it's likely that I'll never get sick of it.

After spinning Rick on my turntable, I decided that I want this song played at my funeral. And that got me thinking, what else would be great to hear at a funeral? This is what I've come up with:

"You Make My Dreams" by Hall and Oates
Anything by David Bowie
"Friends In Low Places" by Garth Brooks
"The Good Life" and "The Greatest Man That Ever Lived" by Weezer
"Do You Realize??" by The Flaming Lips (OK, this one might actually work)
"Dancing Queen" by ABBA
"I Am The Walrus" by The Beatles
"Rocket Man" by Elton John
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor

What would you rock at your funeral?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

three dollars, well spent

A month or two ago I had the serpentine belt in my car replaced. I don't mind having my car worked on for small stuff like that (other than having to pay for it, of course) because there's a great thrift store in the same strip mall. And a super boss middle eastern restaurant across the street. Anyway, during my car operation I spent some time at the thrift store and found this gem for a mere three bucks:

OK, I didn't take that picture, nor is this the actual camera I bought; I'm just too lazy to take a picture of it right now. But it is the same type of camera, a Minolta Hi-Matic G. I did, however, take these'nes, with said camera:

Myspace style, right? I like the light leak on the left border and the other one in the middle of the shot.

Ice storm style. I don't care too much for this kind of weather but it makes for some gnarly photos.

Snoqualmie Falls, WA. Somehow this photo got exposed twice. I think it looks awesome.

Melissa's feet. She's an awesome photographer and an even awesomer person. She'll be helping me with some Christmas card photos this weekend. I hope they turn out sweet.

Anyway, I had a blast shooting and developing a roll of film, which I haven't done since late 2003. I've got a color roll going in this camera right now that I'll hopefully finish up this weekend. And when I go home for Thanksgiving I'm gonna see if I can indefinitely borrow my dad's old film SLR. I love that thing. Film is like the vinyl record of photography.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

What man? Which man? Who's the man? When's a man a man? What makes a man? Am I a man? Yes, technically, I am!

The other night Brianne had a bunch of us over for dinner. It was very delicious and she no doubt put a great deal of time and effort into it. As we were leaving the table Sara said, "OK, boys do the dishes!" Phil looked at Sara and then to me and responded, "Sara, we're not boys, we're men!" A fist pound ensued.

I've heard a few times said among these friends and among people in my ward that a guy is not a man unless he is married. I don't think I've ever heard anyone say this in a serious manner, but I nonetheless wonder if there are some out there who honestly believe it. And for that reason I'd like to give my opinion on the matter: this statement is a load of crap.

First, if I were a woman, I wouldn't marry a guy unless he were already a man or well on his way to becoming one (and I imagine most ladies would agree with me here). Second, I have evidence to prove otherwise. No, I'm not talking about my hairy chest or mustache, I'm talking about this guy:

Meet David "Fatcat" Lowery. Dave's not married but he's more of a man than plenty of married guys I know. There are few guys I admire and love as much as this dude. If Dave -- a single guy -- is not a man, then manhood is dead.

What does Wayne Coyne have to say about all this?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

checking out; checking in


I just got back from Dodge City, KS. Went there for work. My first real 'business trip.' I'm big time now. Watch out. Seriously though -- watch out. I'm supposed to go to San Diego and Seattle for work as well -- probably in early 2010. Looking forward to both of those trips.

I don't have Internet for my computer at my new place yet; hence minimal bloggings for October (I'm actually at work right now). Expect a blogging explosion soon.

During my last semester of school one thought that helped me endure the terrible Rexburg weather (which really wasn't too bad last winter) was that I would never have to deal with snow and cold again -- at least not on the basis where I was living in the midst of it. Somehow I ended up in Colorado. I'm in the middle of a blizzard that rivals anything I ever saw in Rexburg; it's only October.

That's all for now. Be back soon.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

the grass is always greener

Be it known that I do like Colorado. Although my relationship with her has been at times adversarial.
+I have really great friends here, the type I normally might not have befriended otherwise. For example, my friend Sara was in my singles ward in Arizona for a while; we never really talked to each other then because we had our own groups of established friends. I move to Colorado and she's in my ward and we've become good friends. Small world. Interestingly, most of my close friends here are from Arizona and Idaho. The others have either lived in Arizona or are thinking about moving there.
+I've learned a lot about the military... Colorado Springs is a military town, home to Fort Carson (Army), Peterson Air Force Base (Air Force, duh), and the US Air Force Academy. One of my good friends is a green beret and two more are Air Force cadets. It's interesting to hear their take on Iraq and other military matters.
+The weather in the summer is (mostly) fantastic.
-The weather this weekend has been nothing short of terrible. I spent about an hour collectively today and yesterday scraping ice off my car -- the first sign of what is supposed to be a 'long winter'.
+I have a job that pays me money. I'm lucky and grateful to have one because some people don't.
-I don't always love my job.
-My options for grad school in Colorado Springs are pretty limited -- UCCS (doesn't have the degree I want) and various online universities (not my style).
-I'm 12 hours from home. SLC is nine hours away but that's a lot of driving time to justify a weekend road trip.
+I get to do a bit of travelling for work.
+I've been able to explore hobbies and interests I might not have taken as much time for elsewhere. (I kinda wanna learn to sew... amongst other things.)
-I've met very few people who share my enthusiasm for music, at least when it comes to live shows and/or the kind of music I prefer. And all the good shows are in Denver... going alone + long drive = less likely that I'll end up going.
-Interesting girls are few and far between and/or they go to school somewhere else and are just in town for the summer (which is now over).
+Casa Bonita is only an hour away.
+Denver is growing on me. And it's a pretty cheap airport to fly out of.
+Colorado Springs has some of the best thrifts stores I've been to in years. I could devote, and have considered doing so, an entire blog post to my amazing thrift store finds. From cameras to t-shirts to turntables to dishes to just about everything else. And most are half-off on Saturdays.

I really, really, really miss Arizona and Idaho. Yes, Idaho too. It's strange... because some of the things that I dislike about both places have become endearing now that I'm not there to hate them. Arizona is insanely hot in the summer, then just 'normal' hot in the fall and spring... but, you know what to expect -- your travel plans are never upset due to weather and you never have to scrape ice off your car. Rexburg is a one thrift-store town devoid of record stores and authentic foreignness but its petit size makes for a great social environment. Somehow the things you hated have become the things you now miss.

I just wonder what I'll end up loving about Colorado that I just don't like right now. Leaving my college life behind was one of the most soul-mangling experiences of my life and it continues to be so, though to a (much) lesser degree. But the self-discovery and growth (hopefully permanent) that have come as a result is so invaluable.

Ultimately, I wonder if this is a pit stop on my way to somewhere else or if this is the 'somewhere else'. I wonder if I should be planting roots or getting to ready to sow elsewhere. Because sometimes the grass is always greener but sometimes it really is greener.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Against All Odds

Something statistically unlikely happened to me at work today. After finishing the audio of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters -- which, by the way, is great -- I decided it was time for some tunes. It seems that these days I'm even too lazy to decide what I should listen to. Luckily I have a playlist on my iPod of around 2,000 songs I'm usually in the mood for -- I set the iPod to shuffle and the playlist does the rest.

In 1979, The Police released their second album, Regatta de Blanc. Really worth checking out... punk, reggae, and rock rolled into one... it might be my favorite Police album. But I digress. The fifteenth song to come appear on my shuffled playlist was the semi-ubiquitous Police track, "Message in a Bottle," the opening song on Regatta. The next song -- to my surprise -- was "Regatta de Blanc," the second track on the identically named album.

What are the odds? That two songs appearing consecutively on an album would appear consecutively on a shuffled playlist?

Well, if my calculations* are correct, the odds are 4,551,882 to one. Which, according to C-3PO are even slimmer odds than successfully navigating an asteroid field (which, since you're dying to know, are 3,720 to one).

*The boring part (cuz the rest of this post was so entertaining):

Total songs in mix = 2148
Message = song 15
Regatta = song 16

P(Message) = 1/2134
P(Regatta after Message) = 1/2133
P(Message then Regatta) = P(Message) x P(Regatta after Message)
P(Message then Regatta) = 1/2134 x 1/2133
P(Message then Regatta) = 1/4,551,882

Monday, September 21, 2009

I will be anxious arms

Flew solo to the show tonight.

Didn't realize how much I missed the Jealous Sound until tonight's opener, "Hope For Us."

Blair -- J Sound singer -- looking skeletal as ever.

Couldn't bring my Canon in, had to use my old Sony:

Where have you been? Great to have you back.

New J Sound track -- "New Loves" -- pretty hard. Nabbed the setlist from Pedro (guitarist).

Enter Messieurs Enigk, Hoerner, Mendel and Goldsmith.

Been up close and personal with Jeremy Enigk before but never as the singer of Sunny Day Real Estate. Surreal.

"Song About An Angel" and "In Circles" blew me away. "Seven" and "Grendel" hit pretty hard too.

New SDRE track. If they don't record an album, at least a single or 7 inch. Please. Or an EP.

T-minus 25 till round two, Seattle, WA.

Dan Hoerner (left, guitarist) and his eternal smile (though impossible to see in this photograph). Contagious and infectious.

Not cool enough to hang at the Denver Diner with the hipsters after the show.

I miss having show-going friends.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

sometimes you see right through me

Can't wait to hang with these guys tomorrow night.

Sunny Day Real Estate's reunion tour was announced in June but it's only recently that I've really let myself get excited. Don't get me wrong though, I've still taken all necessary precautions to ensure attendance at two of their shows. Which just seems weird, going from never having seen them to seeing them twice within the span of a month, Denver on Monday, Seattle on October 16. I tried to make it three shows (Tempe, AZ, on October 9), but I just couldn't justify the cost of another plane ticket.

Last Tuesday, Sunny Day released remastered reissues of their first two albums, Diary and LP2, and each contains two bonus tracks. I lost my copy of Diary who knows how long ago and my copy of LP2 won't play without skipping on several tracks. I felt more than justified in picking up the new remastered copies at lunch on Friday.

The remastering is definitely noticeable but not necessarily needed, especially since you seem to not notice much of a difference after continuous listening. The bonus tracks are fun, but they're nothing new since these previously unpurchasable tracks were relatively easy for any hardcore SDRE fan to find online, which really is who these reissued albums are for. What really makes these reissues worth it are the expanded liner notes.

I was surprised to learn that Sunny Day was signed by Sub Pop in 1993 after playing their second show ever. Apparently Sub Pop knew what they were doing, as the band's debut album Diary, released in 1994, went on to become Sub Pop's seventh biggest seller of all time, moving over 231,000 units. Regarding Diary, quoth Ben Gibbard, "I had never heard an album I'd felt was so custom-tailored to me. The dynamics, the singing and the raw emotion in the music -- it's something that really knocked me out."

Ben Gibbard? Who knew the sphere of SDRE's influence was so far-spread. Oh wait, I did.

The fist time I saw Sunny Day's singer Jeremy Enigk play a solo show was as an opening act for Cursive on Halloween 2006. I came away disappointed, not in any way because of Jeremy's set but because of the indifference the Cursive fans showed him. Tim Kasher himself mispronounced his name, calling him Jeremy En-ick (short 'e'), not Jeremy Ee-nick (long 'e', like Enoch). While Cursive has made their way as a band probably without much direct influence of Sunny Day, Cursive and many of their contemporaries are nevertheless in debt to Sunny Day for the market they played a big part in creating.

It made me a little sad that Cursive's fans seemed to be so unaware of Enigk's contribution -- via Sunny Day Real Estate -- to a genre that might not have otherwise succeeded without albums like Diary and LP2.

(I tried to make this post shorter but I just couldn't manage to say what I wanted in fewer words. Sorry.)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fend For Yourself

You're better off dead
When you don't know
An original thought
Where do you go
When all your thoughts
Are hand me downs
Pictures and sounds
Bring back childhood memories
We were humble and meek
With independent confidence
Trust in ourselves
Through imagination
Fending for ourselves
With our superhero powers
Back when curiosity
Made us better in the end
Trusting in ourselves
And our superhero powers
Thoughts of mediocrity
Never entered in our minds

-- J. J. Stock

Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. Think big.

-- Daniel Burnham

Noun vs. Adverb: Round I
The first time I had heard that quote (the one by Daniel Burnham, not Mr. Stock) was right after moving to Colorado. As a BYU-I alumnus (if you can think of a more stuffy, pretentious way to begin a sentence let me know) I was invited to attend a fireside given for students who had traveled to Denver on one of the school sponsored expeditions. In my business casual attire and two-day scruff I felt a little out of place among the all the suits and freshly shaved faces (as if I could have expected anything else from a BYU-I sponsored event). In order to not attract attention to myself, I got there right as it started and sat in the back. But alas, dressed in a red and blue sweater -- I wasn't even wearing a tie *gasp!* -- with growth on my face that would've got me sent home from class, I was positive everyone was looking right at me.

If I didn't feel inadequate enough already, hearing that Daniel Burnham quote sure did the trick. I had just started my first out-of-college job as an auditor. Revenue requirement. Regulatory compliance. Fund administration. Do those words stir your blood? Maybe a light simmer? Yeah, me neither.

Think big indeed, Myke.

Thoughts of mediocrity
Never entered in our minds

I want you to think of someone who is normal. Average. No distinguishing features or talents. Blends into a crowd.

While you're thinking enjoy this picture. These fine gentlemen where the only four stalwart devotees to make it through all six installments of the Star Wars saga in one sitting during the First Annual Olsen Family Star Wars-athon, which took place on December 26, 2005. Left to right: brother Matt, myself (man, I miss those pants), Steven J. Packer, brother Thomas. Talk about ambition!

OK, by now you should've thought of an acquaintance that you would describe as normal or average. Now, how well do you know this person? Probably not very well. Am I right?

I can't say I've ever really known anyone who's normal or average. First impressions can come off as such but once you really get to know someone, you find out that that person has so many facets that make him or her truly unique, far from average, and even strange. Sure, some folks parade their eccentricity more than others, but just because it's not readily visible doesn't mean it's not there.

One day my life got easier
I starting running in October 2005 -- though I've stopped and started many times since -- with the goal of one day running a marathon. I think I can pinpoint with accuracy the reason why I started running. I was pretty insecure about myself at the time. Some of my best friends had just gotten married and others weren't too far off. Friends were transferring to ASU or BYU while I still had another year to go at Mesa Community College, aka High School with Ashtrays, 13th Grade, or my personal favorite of my own coinage, McCollege.

So I started running. "You can have babies but I can run farther than you!" Don't get me wrong, I was happy for my friends and their accomplishments. Trust me, I really was. I was just insecure, that's all. So I kept running. But ultimately my motivation to want to prove something, to outshine someone else wasn't enough to keep me going. I can't count how many times I've started running consistently then stopped because one day my life got easier.

His head was down and his voice was heartbroken
The legititude that is James Dean: he makes one heckuva Cal Trask.

From the movie East of Eden. Don't feel obligated to watch the whole thing; it's kinda long. Do feel obligated to keep reading though. Thanks.

Though I'm not sure how I feel about Julie Andrews as Abra Bacon (great last name, eh?). I don't think the real Abra would've giggled as much. But no one asked me. Had I been alive, I'm sure they would've. And I'm not sure whether I should really like or hate her hair.

It's no secret that East of Eden is one of my favorite books. I'm pretty sure I've mentioned that fact in at least five separate blog posts. From said novel, I love this:

"Lately I've never felt good enough. I always wanted to explain to him that I was not good."

"And now that you don't have to perfect, you can be good. Is that it?"

"I guess so. Maybe that's it."

Noun vs. Adverb: Round II
I've thought a lot about the world 'passion' lately; I've concluded that finding your passion isn't so important but living passionately is.

Fending for ourselves
When I was in eighth grade, after school my friends and I played a fair amount of football. I guess I did OK because after a few days of playing my friends told me I should try out for the school team in ninth grade. The school held early morning practices at the end of the year for eighth graders who wanted to try out for the ninth grade team. I attended the practices but I didn't enjoy them. I had played football with my friends for fun and it was apparent for the coaches and fellow players that "fun" wasn't the primary objective. So, like Ben Folds, "I dropped out and joined a band instead."

Having chosen rocking with my best buds over endless hours of drills, sprints, and butt slappings, I wonder how well I would've done had I gone on to play Toro football at Mt. View High School, Campus of Champions. I mean, the rest of my family is pretty athletic; in one way or another my siblings and parents have all excelled at some kind of sport or other display of physical exertion, from track to football to basketball to dancing (I will add, however, that my interpretive dancing skills are unparallelled; actually, Matt probably has me beat there too).

I wonder because sometimes life happens and we get stuck playing football when we'd rather be at band practice.

With our superhero powers
I get this feeling that comes and goes that my career isn't supposed to be the focus of my life. Granted, one's life contains many foci (or focuses, if it's been a while since your last intermediate algebra class), I just don't think my career is one of the major ones.

I heard some statistic somewhere that the average college student (but then again, what is average, right?) changes his or her major like five times. When it came to choosing a major, long story short, accounting just kinda fell in my lap. During my junior and senior years when my course work started getting rough I considered changing my major. I didn't because I knew I was supposed to study accounting. It wasn't my favorite subject and I wasn't always good at it, but I knew -- probably better than I've known so many things -- that accounting was where I should be.

Noun vs. Adverb: TKO
Do I like my job? Yes. Is it my 'passion'? No. Will it ever be? Probably not. Do I want it to be? No.

Friday, September 11, 2009

extended play

I like EPs. Usually for one of two reasons:

1.) It's the signaling of a forthcoming full-length album;

2.) They contain extra tracks that didn't make the cut for the most recently released album, or the songs are recorded for the sole purpose of releasing an EP; either way it means I don't have to wait another year or two for new tunes.

Here are some Extended Plays I've been enjoying as of late:

The Open Door by Death Cab For Cutie, 2009

First of all, how great is this cover? It explains the EP quite well: the repeating tale of some non-committal dude whose open door is nothing more than the stairs to the attic apartment at his mom's place.

I purchased this EP via iTunes when it was released in April; iTunes is usually against everything I stand for (like the fact that you never really 'own' the music and you're stuck with a digital-only copy when the physical copy is only a couple dollars more), but I really wanted to hear it (it was released digitally a week prior to being released physically) and it came with a download of the "Grapevine Fires" video. Like most digitally procured music, I listened to it once or twice then listened to it a track at a time as it came up on my shuffled iPod (see this post here for my feelings on digital music). I enjoyed it but I never really got into it.

Then I saw D Cab in concert last July. The two tracks they played from this EP, "Little Bribes" and "A Diamond and A Tether", stood out a bit sharper than the rest. So I gave it another spin (though not literally because I was still listening on my iPod) and found a set of the most relatable songs since Pinkerton (which is probably the biggest compliment I can give to a piece of music). Gibbard's metaphors are spot-on, per usual, and as modernly eloquent as ever.

Stay On My Side Tonight by Jimmy Eat World, 2005

The parental advisory on this EP is kinda silly; Jim drops the f-bomb on the song "Half Right", which is an Elliott Smith cover, I believe. It's not even a JEW song. Other than that it's as clean as anything.

This guy was released about a year after their album Futures so the production is pretty similar and the songs are of the same quality, they're just a bit darker. Well, "Disintegration" is more than 'a bit' darker. Such a legit track though. It's almost eight minutes long and the song gains more layers as it progresses. Some of the hardest drumming I've heard on a JEW song. "Over" was recorded as a demo for Clarity and for Futures as well but found its home on this EP. "Closer," another Futures demo, is also awesome and rocks a bit harder here than the demo version. Jimmy Eat World can do no wrong.

Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell by The Flaming Lips, 2003

Speaking of doing no wrong, how about them Flaming Lips? This seven track gem is follow up to their 2002 hit album Yoshimi Battles and features four non-album tracks and three remixes, two of "Ego Tripping" and one of "Do You Realize??" My favorites are "Sunship Balloons" and "A Change At Christmas" (Wayne sings uncharacteristically low on this one). Again, it's hard to go wrong with these guys.

Jimmy Eat World by Jimmy Eat World, 1998

OK, I haven't really been listening to this one that much lately but it was the first EP I owned so I figured it was worth including. I picked it up on vinyl for a pretty good price about a year ago, which is awesome because it's out of print, as is the CD format.

The Oz EP by Weezer, 1996

This came out before I really knew what an EP was, in the days when what could be considered an EP was still being called a 'single'. So I always referred to this as The Good Life Single. There's something elusive and highly nostalgic about this EP that I just can't explain. Something about the cover. And something about the awesome synth melodies on "Waiting on You" and "I Just Through Out the Love of My Dreams". There's just something about these songs that are subtly different than other Weezer tracks. Sure, IJTOTLOMD is sung by a girl, but that difference is far from subtle and it's not what I'm talking about. Anyway, these are some of my all-time favorite Weezer songs.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I've made a huge mistake

It seems like my blogging fire hasn't been burning quite as bright as of late. Either I don't have anything to blog about or my blogging plans are just too ambitious and take up all kinds of time and before I finish my feelings change about what I was writing.

The following post is barely blog worthy but it's something that's been on my mind a couple of weeks now. Recently I've had a couple of conversations with friends Kayla and Brianne on the merits of the TV shows The Office and Arrested Development. Said conversations have usually ended with the declaration of my preference of Arrested Development over The Office, or with Kayla or Brianne stating the opposite. While I don't feel a need to defend my preference, I might just be bored enough to blog about it.

Why Arrested Development Is Better Than The Office

By Myke Lewis Olsen

First, you just can't beat the cast. The Office has Rainn Wilson and Steve Carrell. John Krasinski is pretty good. Ed Helms is OK; we'll throw him in there for the sake of giving The Office a fighting chance. But really, Rainn and Steve carry most of the weight for The Office, and on their own they're fabulous, hilarious actors. But pit them against the combined strength of Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, David Cross, Tony Hale, and Jeffrey Tambor and they really stand no chance. And this is without considering Jessica Walter and Portia de Rossi.

What about the secondary cast members? The Office does have Creed Bratton, I'll give them that; anything this guy says is hilarious. And sure, the actors that play Kevin, Phyllis, and Toby do a great job. However, how can you top Henry "The Fonz" Winkler as Barry Zuckerkorn? You just can't.

Barry: So, basically, you’re about 2,000 shares short of being the majority stockholders. Now, unfortunately, it’s a private stock, so you cannot just buy up the shares unless someone is willing to sell.
Michael: Are you sure?
Barry: That’s what they said on “Ask Jeeves.”

To finish off with the cast, let's play the trump card: Ron Howard as AD's narrator.

One thing that The Office and AD have in common is their 'reality TV' feel. For The Office, seasons one and two set a precedent that hasn't been matched in the following seasons. The thing that I enjoyed about the first two seasons -- especially season two -- is that it seemed pretty realistic. Sure there were moments of outrageousness -- after all, we're talking about TV here -- but for the most part, you felt like most of this stuff could actually happen in your office. The show was relatable. Then season three of The Office rolls around, and they immediately shy away from relatability. From the very first episode, when Michael kisses Oscar after finding out Oscar is gay -- sure, it's funny, but c'mon, what happened to relatability?

Again, AD has the advantage because the show never set the precedent of relatability in its first season. As seasons progressed so did outrageousness. However, AD never claimed the pretense of parodying reality the way The Office did in seasons one and two.

Is anyone else as sick of the inter-Office incest as I am? The Jim and Pam thing was cute in season two. It was funny when Michael made out with Jan. Then Dwight hooks up with Angela. Ryan and Kelly date (although to the show's credit, Kelly is pretty funny in how she tries to get Ryan back after they break up). Jim dates Karen (who, BTdubs, is way hotter and more likable than Pam) Angela dumps Dwight. Phyllis marries Bob Vance. Jan and Michael finally hook up. Jim and Pam finally hook up. Angela gets engaged to Andy. Jim and Pam get boring because they are dating and happy together and even when there is any kind of dynamic in their relationship you know that they're still perfect for each other and will always be together and them breaking up would be more suicidal for the show than them hooking up. Jan and Michael break up. Angela cheats on Andy with Dwight. Andy and Angela break up. By the looks of the season five finale, it's pretty obvious that Dwight and Angela will get back together. And because Jim and Pam are boring now, we're to assume because of Jim's elation at the end of the same episode that Pam is prego (I still don't care). I mean, really, do these people have no contact with the outside world? Are suitable mates only to be found in one's working environment? (If that's the case, I'm in big trouble.)

In contrast, how hilarious are George Michael and Anne ("Her?")? Buster and Lucille II (Liza Minnelli, another credit to AD's cast)? Even better, what about George Michael and Maeby? Tobias and Carl Weathers (just kidding)? But really, who was dating who was never a main focus of AD and it seemed to do wonders for the show.

Speaking of Carl Weathers and Liza Minnelli, I don't think a show has had better cameos than AD. Zach Braff, Ben Stiller, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Scott Baio, Justine Bateman, Amy Poelher... oh yeah, Charlize Theron? (It's really too bad they never pulled the Andy Griffith stunt in season three.) The Office had that one episode with Jack Black and Jessica Alba but it was somewhat disappointing because they didn't even interact with the actual characters. Granted, Tim Meadows in "The Client" episode was pretty hilarious.

Finally, AD rewarded it's loyal viewers like no other show has. One of my favorite aspects of this show is how so many of the jokes tie back to a previous episode. It makes repeat viewings as enjoyable as watching it for the first time.

If it sounds like I'm biased it's because I am: Arrested Development is a better TV show. Seasons of The Office are like Weezer albums: the first two are incredible, the follow ups have their high points, but they just can't capture that initial magic.


Sunday, August 23, 2009


I'm kinda not a fan of regurgitative blog posts...

...but I just really like this picture.

Rivers and Michael Cera hangin' on the soccer field...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

(If you're wondering if I want you to)

I've probably listened to this song ten times today.

Few things make me as giddy as a new Weezer song.

But No More Stories Are Told Today I'm Sorry They Washed Away No More Stories The World Is Grey I'm Tired Let's Wash Away on vinyl might be one of them.

On an unrelated note, I need some audiobook recommendations. I became a member of audible.com about a year an half ago and I have all these audiobook credits piling up. After the first couple audiobooks I downloaded I realized that I can't just download any book... it has to be something that I probably wouldn't normally read. And this really limits things because I'd rather read almost anything than just listen to it. But there are some things I'd rather just listen to (for example, I just downloaded Pride and Prejudice and Zombies); maybe if there is a good biography out there or perhaps some interesting non-fiction book? Any recommendations would be wonderful!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

the effects of my three hour nap are wearing off

I'm ready to get some serious songwriting and some demo recording done. When I talk to people about things I'm working I feel a little bit more accountable and I'm more likely to make them happen, so this is the purpose of this post.

The other day I made a list of the songs I've written and I was pleasantly surprised that I've written about six and could have a few more done in not too much time if I really focus.

This song was inspired by the third moon of Jupiter and the mythological character for which said moon is named. This song is essentially complete though I'm thinking of changing the chorus.

Too Many Holes (Keep Him Out)
I really like song titles with parentheses (like the first single from the new Weezer record, out in October).

This song is about how I hate the winter, ostensibly. I need to nail down a few lines of lyrics on this song, but it's essentially done. I'd like to add some electric guitar parts -- maybe a solo between the first and second verses?

Then Why Don't You Marry An Ice Cream Sandwich
Thank you to Trev for inspiring me to name a song after an arrested development reference, and thank you to Arrested Development for being such a great TV show. I'm thinking about adding a bridge to this song. Actually, I might just keep it how it is. I feel like I've tried to re-work this song a few times but I've always liked how I originally wrote it the best.

Apology I
I'm working on a guitar solo for this one; I might change one line of lyrics. Other than that, I'm pretty proud of this tune.

Apology II
If The Police can do it (same name for two songs) then why can't I? (Seriously check this video; this one is pretty awesome too. What a great band. Probably tied with Journey for favorite classic rock band. I'm glad I got to see them live last year.) I have a ways to go on this one lyrically but I like where it's going.

Of Paper and Polaroids (Aron and Abra)
This one started out as an ode to my favorite Steinbeck novel but it's turning out to be something different. I'll probably drop the parenthetical "Aron and Abra" and take the first verse and chorus and make the "Aron and Abra Reprise" while tacking on an alternate ending. I really like reprises.

A, D Maj
This song doesn't really have any lyrics yet so it's working title is based on the first chord and the key signature of the song (which are usually the same, but in this case they're not). I wrote the guitar to this song a long time ago when I was listening to a lot of Neil Diamond; I think it kind of shows but without totally ripping off Neil.

G min
I also wrote this tune a long time ago but I've never finished it because the guitar part is hard to sing along to. That, and its tuning is different so I don't play it much. The guitar isn't typical of something I'd come up with (it reminds me a bit of Jeff's style) so it's a guarantee that not everything I write will sound the same.

A Maj, 7th fret
I might make this one an instrumental jam. We'll see.

I'm probably gonna purchase some recording equipment at the end of the month. All I really need is an interface for my computer (most of which come with pretty legit recording software) and a condenser microphone. Both of these items are pretty affordable, so that's great.

I'm also saving up to buy one of these:

The first is a Jim Adkins Telecaster (Jim is the singer for Jimmy Eat World). I tried out one of these guys at Milano's in AZ last weekend through a Fender Deville (the amp I own) and it sounded sick beyond belief. While it's a Telecaster in shape and name, it's really nothing like one. The pickups are super hot, and it has a set neck and a tune-o-matic bridge, which are features typical to a Gibson guitar (which makes sense since Jim was rocking a Les Paul prior to switching over to this guy).

The second is a Telecaster Deluxe. This guitar is probably a little more versatile that the Jim Adkins Tele but I'm just not as crazy about it. The biggest difference between this guy and a traditional Tele are the pickups and the wiring (and the Stratocaster headstock, but that has nothing to do with how it sounds). The Deluxe has two humbucking pickups, as opposed to the the single coils on a normal Tele. The result is a thicker, fuller sound rather than the plucky, twangy sound of the single coils. The wiring is more like a Gibson guitar, a volume and tone knob for each pickup.

Anyway, if you don't know much about guitars, all that was probably meaningless. Regardless, I felt like sharing, mostly because I'm super excited to have a new guitar.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

play my little part in something big

After an eventful weekend in Arizona, I feel like I have a lot to blog about...

Our marathon band practice that spanned two bands and two days:

An extremely well planned and executed reunion show rife with nostalgia, free cookies, and the loudest, proudest rock n' roll Sweet Cakes has ever seen:

Launching Emiglio into the farthest reaches of our fair Earth's atmosphere via weather balloon:

And as collectively and individually awesome all of these things were, they would have been meaningless without these folks:


Sunday, August 2, 2009

location location location

I haven't had a serious blog post in a while, and by serious, I mean a blog post into which I put an exorbitant amount of time and thought, not one that is serious in content. But this blog post will probably end up being more of the latter than the former.

I've had geography on my mind lately. I've always excelled in geography. As a kid I loved studying maps and reading the atlas. In college (I say that like it was so long ago, like I'm so grown up now -- hardly the case at all) the physical geography class I took at MCC was simultaneously one of my favorite, easiest, and most rewarding classes (granted, the teacher was responsible for a great deal of that, but still). Geography has always interested me and it's always come easily.

But for something that I've been able to understand completely with little or no effort in a theoretical setting, I just can't seem to grasp it in a practical sense. I just can't understand why I get so hung up on location, as if there is always somewhere else I'd rather be.

Normally I'd apologize for being so vague but I don't feel an apology is necessary because my life right now is so full of vagaries (I love that word). But while so many frayed loose ends are tangled and unmanageable, I've got the important things battened down; they're not going anywhere even if I do.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I hate breakfast

And I'm not that fond of dinner either.

Since when did eating become such a chore?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Hot August Night

The leaves hangin' down and the grass on the ground smellin' sweet

Proudly presenting:

You'd almost bet you can hear yourself sweat

The first line from Neil Diamond's classic 1969 hit single "Brother Love's Traveling Salvations Show" and the name of his venerated live album (which was recorded 10 years to the day before the day I was born), "Hot August Night" is a more than appropriate description of this show: temperature-wise because AZ in August is so dang hot, and rock 'n roll-wise because this evening will be brimming with sultry rock jams.

Pack up the babies, and grab the old ladies, everyone goes

It's quite likely that none of these bands will ever grace the stage again; I hope it will be as epic as I've made it out to be.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Whenever you see a movie that's based on a book -- especially if said movie is based on one of your most favorite books -- you almost have to detach yourself from that book in order to enjoy the movie.

I feel that I did just that successfully with the motion picture adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. The result? I love love love love loovvvvvved it (It kinda annoys me when people do that – it's not something I do lightly; yeah, it was that good).

If you haven't seen it yet, then don't read the comments because that's where I'll be posting my thoughts.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the stars will align, the fates will consent

So a large part of my day has been an enormous waste of time. Wanna know why? Of course you do or else you would've stopped reading already. Before LiveJournal, before Myspace, before blogs, before Facebook -- yes, there was such a time -- there was this.

Most of you probably heard of the Manhattan Project in history class referring to the US's atomic bomb project during WWII. Or maybe you heard it in reference to the Ninja Turtles movie/video game. Well, that's partly why we -- Jeff, Trev, Dev and I -- chose it as our band name in high school; since people were already familiar with the name they would be curiously drawn to our shows in effort to remember where they first heard of the Manhattan Project.

To quote Lando Calrissian, I was the "administrator of this facility" (though I would hardly call a message board a facility; I just really wanted to quote Lando). In other words, I basically maintained the message board... and at times, if things got out of hand, I did so with an iron fist (I often referred to myself as the Supreme Dictator). Anyway, this message board was hardly band related, or at least, hardly related to our band. It was essentially a gathering place for friends (and enemies) of TMP, where we discussed everything from music to movies to, well, everything else. For example, the lengthiest topic, weighing at 133 replies, was a sarcastic debate of pop vs. soda (speaking of sarcasm, I'm surprised we were still friends after some of the things we said on here; jeez!).

Feel free to peruse at your own risk; I can't guarantee that everything on this is board is G rated, though for the most part we tried to keep it clean -- as clean as immature high schoolers can keep it. I just stumbled upon this topic Indie Rock Memories... that was fun to read -- and one of the few unoffensive posts; it would be a fun topic of discussion today.

Since moving to Colorado and being far away from friends and family, my moods have often been nostalgic and reminiscent. I'm a pretty sentimental guy as it is, so this is saying a lot. You'll notice that recent blog posts have been dedicated to old friends and/or the good times we've shared. Upon rediscovering this old message board today I feel my reminiscence coming to a climax; while I've enjoyed the postings and ramblings of yesteryear, I've realized that I'm glad that this period is over and behind me. I'm grateful for the experiences I've had since then and I'm happy to be where I am today.

But, I'm also happy to say that this bout of nostalgia is hardly over. What I'm about to write has been somewhat classified for a while, and I'll probably be labeled a hypocrite for blogging about it, but so be it, I don't feel like waiting anymore. A couple months ago while talking with my brother Matt he told me that he would be playing keyboards with our friends Steve and Tyson's band, The Headline Is Dead. Impressed with the idea of a reunion show, I jokingly suggested that I come home that weekend and play an acoustic set of TMP songs.

This is Tyson's list of top ten local bands and top 20 songs. Notice TMP is three and xyzebra is ten. Two TMP songs appear on the list as does one xy song. Rock!

Matt passed the idea on to Steve and Tyson -- avid TMP fans -- I'm flattered that there is such a thing -- and they loved it. So I told them I'd figure out how to do a couple TMP jams acoustic style and come down and play them, maybe with Trev and/or Devyn (bass and drums, respectively). The date of the show was set for Saturday August 8th. A few weeks later I was on the phone with Jeff (vocals and guitar and principle songwriter). He casually mentioned that he and his wife and childrens (they have two now, crazy!) would be flying home in August. Thinking it would be a funny coincidence that they would be coming the weekend of this show, it was my natural response to ask their date of departure. Turns out he would be flying home on the 7th of August. Thinking this was too good to be true, and almost expecting to be shot down, I suggested to Jeff the possibility of a full band TMP reunion. To my joy he responded positively, as did the other fellas when I told them of Jeff's visit to AZ.

Anyway, we've wanted to keep this on the DL till we have the details ironed out, but, as Cat Stevens puts it, "I can't keep it in!" To add to my excitement, my post-high school band xyzebra will be playing, as will Whit's classic band Felix. That and the date, August 8th, are all I can mention right now since the venue and other bands (except for The Headline Is Dead who is confirmed, of course) are still in flux, though we are very close to nailing them down. Expect a flyer soon.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A good night? Good night.

Just got back from the Death Cab show. Not amazing, but still pretty tight. More inspiring than anything; stoked the flame of rock in my soul; can't wait to rock again.

Went by myself; tried to find someone to go with; people bailed or had other things come up; wasn't my first solo concert ever, won't be my last if I keep living in Colorado -- so be it.

Thought about stopping at a theater in Denver to check HP6 at midnight; glad I didn't; checking it tomorrow or this weekend.

Andrew Bird was pretty rad; legit violin looping and whistling skills. Wish I would've known his stuff better. Got there late so I missed Ra Ra Riot; terrible parking.

First time seeing Death Cab since January 2001; my old band, The Manhattan Project, opened for them at that show; basement of the Nile -- crusty!

Show highlights: "Transatlanticism," finale; "Long Division," I love a good math metaphor:

And they carried on like
Long division
And it was clear with every page
That they were further away
From a solution that would play
Without a remainder

Ben Gibbard is a jittery dude.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bleed American Dream

My life as I know it is in a flux; confusion reigns; a veritable coup d'├ętat has begun. To explain myself I turn to, well, myself. In a blog post earlier this year I wrote:

I put my brother's CD sampler in my Discman and punched the track button till I heard the soon-to-be-familiar feedback swell of "Call It in the Air". Through pummeled power chords I heard a raspy Jim Adkins sing, "Leave home today / Escape your region" (I think that's what he sings, he's so hard to understand on that song). I instantly felt an aching yet compelling nostalgia that I hadn't felt since I heard "My Name is Jonas" for the first time; frankly, it frightened me. You see, at the time -- and throughout most of my junior and senior high school experience -- I was obsessed with Weezer. And any other band capable of evoking a feeling that I had only previously felt with Weezer was clearly a threat. I mean, think about it, if Jimmy Eat World became my new favorite band, then Weezer wouldn't be my favorite band anymore.

I declare that today, this seventh day of July, two-thousand-nine in the year of our Lord, Jimmy Eat World has become my All-Time Favorite Band. Perhaps, I make this declaration prematurely as the release of Weezer's purported seventh album is due later this year. However, I'm confident that Jimmy Eat World can hold their own against Weezer as the least of JEW's albums match and often exceed the greatness of Weezer's last four.

Furthermore, I want Jimmy Eat World to be my All-Time Favorite Band because I know they won't let me down.

A few things worth noting in video: Jim's voice cracking at 3:29, and the torrent of sweat Jim flips from his hair at the end of the song (of which I have been a victim many times). This song, "23", has been phasing me like no other:

You'll sit alone forever
If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?
I'm here I'm now I'm ready
Holding on tight
Don't give away the end
The one thing that stays mine

This video (and some others that I wanted to post but I couldn't because embedding was disabled) really epitomizes what I love about Jimmy Eat World: honest songwriting, sick guitar riffs, fantastic melodies, no frills, no gimmicks, no scandal, no sex appeal, just honest-to-goodness American rock. I can't think of another band that's worked as hard as Jimmy Eat World to get where they are based solely on their music.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Bro Hymn Tribute

I was going through some old pictures today and I thought I would post some. This will be kinda long, so settle in.

We used to have rock and roll practice at Whit's house. We ended up spending lots of time there. I ended up sitting on his bed a lot. I ended up wearing his sombrero. Someone ended up taking a picture of me wearing it. The picture ended up black and white and slightly out of focus.

Check out this hard guy: Jeff Stock, in the flesh. Or actually represented as a series of 1s and 0s that results in this blurry nostalgic photo. Jeff and I have been hanging since seventh grade. I'll never forget the day he drank too much Sunny D at lunch just so he could throw up on Mr. Valencia's furniture. Classic.

L to R: Whit "The S**t" Gardner (no one calls him that -- I just had to give him a nickname cuz Devyn has a sweet nickname) and Devyn "D-Rock" Gillespie. This was taken at a hungry party at In-n-Out Burger. Hungry parties are where we go to a restaurant when we're hungry and then we eat so we're not hungry anymore.

David Lowery at same hungry party. He's just as often known as Fatcat as he is by his Biblical given name. This guy is my hardest. If everyone had a friend like him a great deal of the world's problems would disappear. This guy has had my back more times than I can even remember. I could write a book about it. As a matter of fact, we've been meaning to put together a scrapbook chronicling our exploits, adventures, and plunders. He's headed off to BYU-H this fall and I can't wait to visit him.

Matthew "Manwhore" Olsen. He's my brother. Here he is posing in our father's leather jacket he got when he used to sell franchises for Money Mailer. This picture was taken by the legendary Seanathon Tedwerd Huntington at a show/dance party held at his mother's too-legit-to-quit sandwich/cookie shop, Sweet Cakes, in d-town Mesa. Some of the best dance parties/band shows in the Valley of the Sun have occurred at this place.

One of my favorite memories of Matt was when I was a 9th grader and he was a 7th grader at Charles D. Poston Junior High School, home of the Panthers. Like most junior highs we had a weekly spirit day where students were encouraged to dress a certain theme to show their school spirit. One Wednesday it was 70s day at PJHS (good thing we weren't Poston Middle School, right?). As my friends and I gathered at our regular morning hang out spot, we spied Matt with one of his friends, Kyle I believe, from afar. Matt and Kyle stuck out because they weren't dressed as the other high-spirited students, clad in bell-bottoms, polyester shirts, and afro wigs. No, Matt and Kyle were dressed as high-spirited pirates. When asked why he chose to spend 70s day in such attire, he simply replied, "They never specified which century!" This is typical of Matt's sense of humor and personality.

This is my older brother Spencer and me. Bet you can't guess who is who (if the forest of auburn arm hair doesn't give it away... ). To know Spencer is to love Spencer. He has a way of magnetizing people toward him and making them feel good about themselves. I'm not joking when I say he was probably the most popular kid at school when he was a senior and I was a sophomore, my first year of 'real' high school. At least to me it seemed like he was. Naturally, I felt pretty cool in a place where I was seemingly uncool when his equally good-natured friends would say "What's up Olsen" to me in passing on the way to class.

The one and only Trevor Denton. Some gnarly dude named Paul taught me how to play the guitar but Trev taught me how to rock. Trev joined the Manhattan Project when the rest of us (Jeff, Devyn and I) were in 11th grade and Trev was in 10th. He brought a much needed boost to our live shows, rhythm section (he played bass) and background vox (that means "vocals" if you aren't too band savvy; not to be confused with the British amp-maker). Trev was known to swing from the pipes protruding from the ceiling during the shows we played at the Nile. One time at the same venue he and I got into a jumping contest -- he knocked me off the stage. Not as dramatic as it sounds but it was funny.

This is my former pet, a desert tortoise named Joanie (short for Joan of Arc). Sadly, I had to leave her behind when I moved to Idaho for school; desert tortoises aren't allowed to leave Arizona. Anyway, as you can see, she's totally awesome. She probably would've outlived me.

This one's for the ladies: Meet Emiglio, seen here pumping iron. A space traveler from the Galilean moon Ganymede (Jupiter III), he's best known as the famed mascot of the band xyzebra. Like E.T., Emiglio misses the vast expanses of space, and because he means so much to us, Whit and I spent the better part of our work day today texting back and forth devising a way to return him to outer space. Emiglio's tentative launch date is 8 August, 2009. You are all invited to attend (venue and entertainment TBA). Also, don't be surprised/shy if he tries to add you as a friend on Facebook.

My post-mission band xyzebra was a very do-it-yourself type of band. As a result, I ended up making many of our flyers. I'm by no means an artist or graphic designer but I had a lot of fun making them and I miss doing so. You'll notice Love You Longtime on this flyer. This was before I had seen them in Rexburg, and before I even considered going to BYU-I (I would've laughed in your face had you told me I'd end up there -- though I'm very glad/blessed I did). Anyawy, LYL played a pretty awesome rendition of Kip Dynamite's "I Love Technology" at this show.

Another testament of xyzebra's DIY-ness, this is Batmannequin, whose full name -- say it out loud -- is Batmannequinskywalertexasranger... it actually goes on longer than that I just can't remember it (Jeff or Trev, if you read this help a brother out). I drew this for a t-shirt design.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this merry jaunt down my memory lane as much as I did. Chances are you didn't because most of you who read this don't know these folks, but that's OK. The guys I've mentioned in this blog I've been friends with since our high school and junior high days (exceptions are Matt, Spencer and Fatcat: I've known Matt for his entire life, Spencer's know me for all of mine, and Fatcat and I go back to early '05). A few of these guys have since gotten married... I think sometimes when your friends get married there's this idea that your friendship will suffer or be less satisfying as a result. Actually, the opposite has been true. Anyway, I'm grateful to have -- seriously -- the best friends in the world.