Sunday, February 21, 2010


Sometimes I feel like a man without a country.

I can feel them pulling away as I'm resigned to stay the same

I feel like there is a distance growing between my family and me. I'm the only one who doesn't live in Arizona. When I stop and think about it, it seems kinda random to realize that I'm in Colorado when my whole family is in AZ. When I retrace the steps that brought me here it makes sense and I understand why I'm here, but that doesn't always make it easy to be away.

I miss 'em and I sort of feel like I'm missing out on things, especially now that my brother is home from his mission. Sure, when I was away from home for school I missed them then but I thought that my being away from them was temporary because college is temporary. After each semester of school, I returned to AZ for a few weeks at a time, sometimes for over a month. When I was going to school, I didn't plan on moving back to AZ immediately but I just didn't realize that there would be a time when I wouldn't be going back to AZ every three months. Well, I did realize that, I just didn't understand the implications.

I have a buddy who is a cadet at the Air Force Academy just north of Colorado Springs. He graduates from the Academy in May and he's planning on spending some time in Tunisia with the Air Force to learn French before he heads to flight school in the fall in Florida. I'm kinda sad that I can't really get away with something like that anymore. I have a "career job" now and I think the time in my life where I have the freedom to go live somewhere random for a few months has passed. While the experience of living somewhere like Tunisia would be pretty rad in itself, what interests me more about such an adventure would be eliminating some of the ties I have now. Because I feel like cutting myself loose would allow me to feel close to my family and friends and everything I'm missing right now.

P.S. Happy 100th post, Myke.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

oh no, there she goes

Not sure how many of you have read Ender's Game. It's a sci-fi novel by Orson Scott Card. It's about little kid geniuses who head out to space to learn the ways of warfare in order to prepare for an imminent attack on Earth by, you guessed it, aliens.

I can't say I've met anyone who read this book and hated it. Which cannot be said for a lot of popular fiction out there.

As much as I love Ender's Game, it's its sequel, Speaker for the Dead, that really gets me.

Hanging with Brother Card at BYU-Idaho, November 2007. Yeah, he's LDS.

Be warned: if you read Ender's Game and decide to tackle Speaker for the Dead, remember that Speaker is an entirely different book. The things that you will end up loving about Ender's Game will be absent from Speaker. And be warned also that there are two (technically three*) books that follow Speaker. So if you want to find out what happens to the characters you will undoubtedly grow to love, you will need to read all four (five) books.

OSC is an interesting writer because he uses a science fiction setting not only to tell a great story but also to explore philosophical, psychological, emotional and moral dilemmas that don't exist in our world today. Which I think is a pretty rare thing to find in sci-fi nowadays (although it's abundant in classic sci-fi). And the characters. You fall in love with them. You wish you could be friends with them. You feel sorry for them; you cry when they do. And not all of them are human. When you start to sympathize with beings you know are not human -- I don't think you can develop more convincing characters than that. No sir, no ma'am.

Go. Read.

*There is an enormous gap of time between Ender's Game and Speaker. OSC recently wrote a fifth novel for this series that bridges the gap between these two books. Even still, it's better to read them in the order in which they were published, not the order in which they occur chronologically.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

absence makes the heart grow fonder

Today is a special day. Sure, today is Valentine's Day but you can hardly call a holiday that celebrates contrived love a special day. Today marks the 98th year of existence of our nation's finest state: Arizona.

Circa November 2008, 6:00 a.m., Billy, Dan and I, on our way from Rexburg to Las Vegas.

Saving the best for last, Arizona was admitted to the Union on February 12, 1912, as the 48th state.

I love my desert.

Here are some fun Arizona facts:

- The saguaro cactus -- the large iconic, tree-sized cacti in the picture above -- is native to Arizona (though very small populations have been found on the edges of New Mexico, California, and Mexico).

- Arizona has had more female governors than any other state.

- The cities of Mesa, Chandler, and Gilbert were all listed in Forbes' "America's 10 Most Boring Cities" (although Gilbert is actually a town, not a city). Clearly, here there is more than meets the eye.

- Some of the greatest people in the world -- namely my family and many of my friends -- live there.

- The Grand Canyon. Yeah, that's in Arizona.

- Area-wise, Arizona is the sixth largest state.

- The official state neckwear of Arizona is the bolo tie.

- I daresay that Arizona has the raddest flag in the nation.

- The average high for Phoenix in January is 67°. I really don't know how to beat that.

Happy 98th birthday, Arizona! I love you and I miss you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


I was emailing back and forth with a few friends today and I decided to challenge myself by speaking only in haiku. For those unfamiliar with haiku poetry, an English haiku (apparently an English haiku is not a true haiku because of the differences in the English and Japanese languages) usually consists of the following:

-> A 5-7-5 syllable pattern
-> The use of season and/or nature words
-> A two-part juxtapositional structure (I don't know what this means)
-> Objective sensory imagery (I'm not sure what this means either)

This is a painting by Hiroshige, my favorite Japanese artist. Just thought it was appropriate.

Anyway, these are my favorites that I wrote today:

a chill snowy night --
hacksaw makes short work of bone
then, she boil'd a stew

chemicals, concrete
pharmaceuticals man-made --
not fit for haiku

silver floweth straight
wizened, weary, aged locks
shining bright like chrome

I think tomorrow I'm going to communicate using limericks. Or maybe epic poems. We'll see.

Now it's your turn... it'd be really cool if you left a haiku as a comment. No pressure though.

Monday, February 8, 2010

awkward stage

When your uncle fronts The Flaming Lips your band is likely to have certain advantages other bands don't. Like a spot as the opening act on the Lips' tour last fall. Or a stint as co-conspirators with the Lips' on a their collaborative album covering Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. And it almost seems like too much of a coincidence that Stardeath and White Dwarfs were signed by The Flaming Lips' record label, Warner Brothers. But Stardeath's greatest advantage might be that Dennis Coyne, Stardeath's front-man, shares something with his wacky Uncle Wayne that few in this world are privy to: that crazy Coyne DNA.

Dennis Coyne is second on the left.

I'll be honest, the my main reason I purchased The Birth -- Stardeath's debut album released last summer -- was because of the band's relation, musically and genetically, to the Flaming Lips.

When I was in a band in high school -- The Manhattan Project -- we had to do things the hard way. We didn't have Myspace or Facebook as a promotion tool for gigs and other band happenings (though I'd argue that our message board could've held its own against said social networking sites). And recording nowadays is so much simpler, any fool with Pro Tools and a few decent mics can make you sound so much better than most of our "professional" studio recordings turned out -- recordings that required hundreds (thousands?) of our (parents') hard earned dollars.

Yes, we were a few years behind the technology curve. It was the band equivalent of walking to school seven miles uphill both ways in the snow with no shoes.

Now, I'm not saying that Stardeath's success is based solely on their relation to the Flaming Lips or that bands today don't go through similar hardships before they "hit the big-time". I just feel like The Birth would be a more successful album had it been recorded and released under the circumstances that The Manhattan Project was subject to. I'll explain: The Birth sounds like an album from a new band that is still defining itself (aptly named album, eh?). A couple songs seem too calculated; sometimes lyrics are forgettable. And these things sound so out of place on an album so polished and pristine. Part of what makes albums like Pinkerton and For Emma, Forever Ago so great is that they're so rough and raw -- it's obvious they were self-produced, obvious that the artists didn't have to answer to a label-appointed producer. I feel like The Birth could have been better as a do-it-yourself album, like the two just mentioned. (It took me all that to say it's over-produced. Ha.)

But don't get me wrong here, The Birth is still a solid record and not every song bears the markings of an embryonic band. (Get it?? That pun works on two levels, actually.) The tracks "New Heat," "Keep Score," and "Those Who Are from the Sun Return to the Sun" are quite cohesive and original. What's more, the album manages to maintain a certain grit, albeit occasionally polished, that I find quite refreshing, especially in the midst of today's subdued, squeaky clean indie-pop trend.

I think most bands go through that musical awkward stage; the lucky ones pass through it before releasing a record. So with that, I look forward to Stardeath's emergence from sonic puberty.

P.S. You can catch a younger Dennis Coyne in the music video for "Fight Test". He's the kid who gets shoved around and eats dirt at the end.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

the big game

I've had this audiobook subscription with for about two years now, but recently I've been pretty picky about what I download and listen to. For example, if I think a book will be really good, I won't download it because I feel like really good books should be read. So lately I've been listening to some really mediocre books (which is why I'm quitting my subscription after this month).

Afton recommended I listen to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (though I can't remember when this was... when I was home for Christmas?). About a month ago I finally got around to downloading and listening to it. Disappointed by my recent, short-lived foray into young-adult fiction (Twilight, Percy Jackson, Uglies, etc.), I wasn't expecting much from The Hunger Games. I, however, was pleasantly surprised. I like being pleasantly surprised.

Here's what I liked about it:

Post apocalyptica: I'm getting tired of books with post apocalyptic settings, but I found The Hunger Games refreshing because the author uses the setting as an element necessary to tell an awesome story, not as a device to make some annoying comment on society.

Characters: While Ms. Collins may not be able to name her characters that well -- what self-respecting young man would go by Peeta? C'mon! -- she sure knows how to develop them. You're interested in their lives and you care what happens to them. This should be standard with every book, right? Sadly it's not.

Love triangle: OK, there is definitely a Edward-Bella-Jacob aspect to the book (well, more so in the second than in the first), though I won't say with which characters as not to ruin any surprises. And sure, it's a big part of the story, but it's not the entire story. (Sorry about that, things got ugly and I had to pull out that Twilight reference.)

The games: So you leave a bunch of teenagers to fend in the wilderness with more weapons than survival supplies -- the last one living wins. You televise the event and call it the Hunger Games. And that's the premise of the book.

From what I can tell, the author is planning on writing one more book in the series for a total of three books. I listened to the second already, Catching Fire, and enjoyed it more than the first. Conveniently, the third book comes out on my birthday of this year -- just be sure to coordinate with one another because I don't need multiple copies of the same book.