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.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Scandinavia does it again!

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

Some cute poem I just wrote? Hardly! No, that's the title (seriously) for Mew's fifth album, due on August 25 (just in time for someone's birthday).

I've been waiting so long for this. My brother Matt and I have been counting the days. In anticipation of this release, Mew just released No More Stories EP. The EP includes two album tracks and three b-sides. If "Introducing Palace Players" isn't the hardest guitar song you've heard all year, I'd start to question whether or not you really exist.

One of the best descriptions I've heard of Mew is "Sigur Ros covering Sunny Day Real Estate." This doesn't apply to all their albums or songs, though it definitely fits, but only as a point of reference. With each successive release Mew continues to define themselves and set themselves apart as something truly unique.

If you don't already love Mew or if you have yet to hear them, you really owe it to yourself to check them out. I recommend starting with And The Glass Handed Kites (this album is best appreciated in its entirety) or Frengers.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Outside the sun is shinin'...

The first thing I do when I get to work each day is check out this website: Astronomy Picture of the Day. Two of my favorite classes at MCC were Physical Geography and Astronomy. I chose these classes because I heard they were good alternatives to Biology and Chemistry, two sciences I hated in high school. So it was ironic that science classes ended up being two of my favorites since I dreaded science in about every other form.

Every now and then, my astronomy teacher -- who had one of the raddest mustache's grown by man* -- would pull up this website if it had something to do with the day's lesson. I used to check it out occasionally to enjoy the pictures, but I've since become an addict and love reading the explanations and exploring their links as well.

I thought today's picture was particularly awesome:

(Click to enlarge for a better view.)

This is a solargraph taken with a pinhole camera, which is basically "an aluminum can lined with photographic paper," as the picture's explanation puts it. What's crazy about this picture is that it was exposed over a period of six months -- from December 21, 2008 to June 20, 2008 -- from winter solstice to summer solstice. The wire frame in the foreground is in fact a radio telescope, which, incidentally, bears no resemblance to an optical telescope. Through the frame you can see the path of the sun as it moves across the sky -- higher in the sky during the summer and lower during the winter. The breaks in the paths of light are where clouds had obscured the sun.

I enjoyed this picture a lot because, not only is it an excellent showcase of the sun's pattern as the seasons change, but it can also be admired for its artistic qualities (although the color is a result of digital editing, but still). I took a photo class in eighth grade in which we made pinhole cameras, although we didn't expose them for near that amount of time and they looked nowhere near this great. If fact, the explanation for this picture gives a link with instructions for making your very own solargraph -- I think I'm gonna try it!

*At the end of the semester, my astronomy teacher had us fill out teacher evaluation forms. Under the section labeled "Things the teacher did well," I wrote, "He grew a killer mustache!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hope for us!

Sunny Day Real Estate reunion tour? The Jealous Sound is opening?? I think this is just too much for me to bear!

I think the only thing that could top this would be a Weezer Pinkerton tour reunited with Matt Sharp back on bass (but let's face it nothing would top that).

I've seen the J Sound twice. I never got a chance to see SDRE before their 2001 demise. The closest thing to SDRE I've seen is Jeremy Enigk rocking a few SDRE jams by himself at this solo shows. I thought it was awesome then, but with the entire band? Not sure how I'm gonna sleep tonight...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

We still believe in miracles

Don't we?

"I hold that a writer who does not passionately believe in the perfectibility of man, has no dedication nor any membership in literature." -- John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize acceptance speech (1962)

While Steinbeck is speaking specifically of writers, I feel that the words "writer" and "literature" could be replaced with "person" and "humanity".

I was at a wedding in Utah at the beginning of May and I had brought along my trusty copy of East of Eden to get me through the dull moments that are a part of being involved with a wedding party and being out of state. My aunt, a retired English teacher, noticed the book and wondered why I would willingly subject myself to reading Steinbeck. "He's just so depressing," she said. As Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors, I was strongly tempted to respond by putting my left hand on my hip while snapping my fingers and exclaiming, "Oh no you di'n't!", but I instead replied politely, "I like him because of his ability to so accurately portray real life."

I've given a little thought to what my aunt said and to how I replied and I'd like to revise my statement: I like Steinbeck because his books so accurately depict humanity. This is hard for me to describe. Maybe this will help. Often Steinbeck would sign his books by drawing a small pig with little wings sprouting out its sides (click here to see it). He called it "Pigasus" and would often accompany the small drawing with the Latin motto "Ad astra per alia porci," which means, "To the stars on the wings of a pig." I think his wife did a pretty good job of explaining this symbol:

The Pigasus symbol came from my husband's fertile, joyful, and often wild imagination. Often his signature on letters or inside his books, he would draw a fat little pig with wings, and lettered his name "Pigasus." John would have never been so vain as presumptuous as to use the winged horse as his symbol; the pig said that man must try to attain the heavens even though his equipment be meager. Man must aspire though he be earth-bound.

Again, I'm having a hard time explaining my thoughts. Here's what I think, and I think this jives with Steinbeck's "perfectability of man" quote and his wife's explanation of Pigasus: humanity's mortal perfection is not a state that we attain through our outward actions -- it is only attainable in our hearts.

This morning I read in a book that means a lot more to me than this one, written by an inspired man far wiser than John Steinbeck:

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
Moroni 10:32

I wonder if Steinbeck knew about this. I wonder if he knew that the "perfectability of man" would come not from man itself, but from the Son of Man, the only One with the "equipment" to attain perfection in action and heart. I wonder if he knew that perfection comes not by our own will and power, but by submitting our will to the One with ultimate power, even the power of bestowing perfection.

As an aside and an illustration please enjoy (or at least try to) a product of my humanity. I recorded two songs on my old four track tape recorder. You'll recognize "I Endorse This Message", the song with which many of us made Music Outlet history. Absent is Ford's rabblerousing, and even more missed from this track are your voices. The other track is my arrangement of Weezer's "You Gave Your Love To Me Softly", possibly my favorite Weezer song. Please listen to them in the spirit in which they were created, a spirit of love for and a longing to be with you, my friends.

Listen here.
Download here.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rocky Mountain Hi!

Hey everyone!

Bet you haven't seen a bathroom-mirror pic like this since 2003 when you opened your Myspace account. And no, that's not Thome's Broncos t-shirt, I bought this guy at the thrift store. When in Rome!

So I've been semi-absent from the blog world for a while because I've been devoting a great deal of my free time to some creative projects. I should be able to share them with you soon; I just ordered a piece of hardware -- which will be here in one to three business days -- that will allow me to make said projects computer friendly. In the meantime, I thought I'd post this awesome picture and do this survey thing that Leah posted on her blog. Everyone else is doing it -- when have I been too good to follow the crowd?

1. What's your favorite non-food/supporting food (e.g. ice cream cones (the cone itself), whipped cream, marshmallow creme)?
I had to save this one for last it's so tough. I'm a pretty picky eater but I love eating so it's hard to call something I love so much a "non-food/supporting food". Right now I'm really missing the bean dip and salsa verde from Gecko Grill. No one does Mexican food like AZ (oh yeah, and Mexico).

2. Favorite book pre-high school?
My Side of the Mountain. Thunder Dan (aka my dad) and I would read this together once a year or so when I was in elementary school. It's a pretty rad book. I think I'm gonna add it to my list of to-reads.

3. Whose handwriting do you envy?
No one's really. Jeff has cool handwriting. My dad's is pretty gnarly too; it seriously looks like hieroglyphics or some kind of primitive language. I think I'm one of the only ones who can read it.

4. What does your blog title mean/where did it come from?
I'm not telling what it means. It comes from a song on my favorite album of all time though. That's as much as you're gonna get. If you happen to know already what it's from or if you figure it out please don't tell. Let's keep things fair for everyone. Thanks.

5. Favorite chore (or least hated)?
Is cooking a chore? I guess to some people it is. With my last comp on my mission -- I was a district leader at the time (I hope this is still funny) -- he would do the dishes and I would cook. That is, when we weren't out celebrating our companionship. We would only eat cheap food at home -- usually PB sandwiches, potatoes, and pork chops -- so we could go out to eat as much as possible, what we affectionately referred to as "celebrating our companionship" (looking back, that sounds even more gay that Zach's penmanship awards). But hey, we had one of the only Mexican restaurants in the mission in our area, so can you really blame us?

6. What's your favorite kind of chip (baking and dipping)?
Baking: Guittard Milk chocolate chips. Depending on the recipe, their semi-sweet chocolate chips are awesome too. I'm quite a fan of white chocolate chips as well. I haven't had Guittard's but I can only assume they're as good as the others.
Dipping: I'm not a huge dipping chip guy, but just try to pull me away from a bowl of tortilla chips with an above-average salsa. Just try it.

7. Favorite animal (mythological and real)?
Real: Anything from the Mesozica era: if it ends in a "-saurus" chances are I love it.
Mythological: I was gonna say the Centaur but I think they get offended if you call them an animal. I'm gonna go with the Chimera. Head of a lion, snake for a tail, and, just for fun, a goat's head sticking out of its back. Google it if you don't believe me.

And Leah said we could add a question if we wanted so I'm doing just that.

8. CD that hasn't left your car stereo since Monday (this is rare -- I usually have a one-day turnover rate)?
Manners by Passion Pit. This band is my hardest. Think Phoenix but a bit more electronic, less Euro-pop, and better. I was hanging at my friend Sara's Sunday night. As I perused her roommate Melissa's CD collection I came across a copy of Rajiv Patel's Obey The Cattle. I was naturally curious how she had procured this album since Rajiv is a buddy of mine from home (who incidentally can shred a guitar like nobody's business). Turns out she knew Hans of Shark Speed fame back when he was still rocking with Before Braille. Rajiv was also in Before Braille, thus completing the circle. Small world, eh? Anyway, I let Melissa borrow my Shark Speed CD and she returned the favor by burning me a copy of this album. Go listen to the track "Little Secrets" and get phased. (BTdubs, you can download a free track from this record on Amazon.)