Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The State of Skub Address

For those of you unfamiliar with skub, it was first brought to light as an issue by Perry Bible Fellowship. Since then, pro-skub and anti-skub factions (and even anti-pro-skub factions) have divided this country. I am a vehement anti-skubber. In the past few years, skub usage has gone up, but the issue has been moved into the background of American politics as the economy, terrorism, and unemployment have been more visible. However, what people do not realize is that skub is interlinked with and the cause of many of the problems that plague the United States today. I prepared a State of Skub Address today, in hopes that I may rally the public to the cause. It follows:

Ladies, gentlemen, skub-hating Americans. In the past half decade, the crusade against skub has waned. I know it is easy to be disillusioned seeing how skub usage has spread across this great land, but we must prevail. Osama Bin Ladin, the world's leading producer of skub, has now been eliminated; but it doesn't end here. Being anti-skub is a full-time job. Skub has destroyed the rainforest, leaving orangutans, three-toed sloths, and the screeching rihanna with nowhere to go. Skub is being used at an earlier age than ever, causing elementary schoolers to be kicked out of their homes and become skub-pushers. Skub has allowed Justin Bieber to become famous and influence other children to use skub. Skub has promised to marry various girls, only to get them in the sack,impregnate them with little skubs, and run off with their sisters to Havana. Skub has let loose angry trolls in hospitals. Perhaps worst of all, skub has shortened the rotation of the earth by six milliseconds in the last year, causing global warming and mild constipation.

Now, more than ever, is the time to address skub. For every one person who joins the cause, ten dolphins are saved, 50 pounds of CO2 is eliminated from the atmosphere, a baby kisses a kitten, a double rainbow appears, three people decide not to get a Bieber-cut,traffic on I-94 clears up, Radiohead writes a new song, and someone gets a rock out of their shoe.It is not the time to stop anti-skub protests. I propose a million anti-skubber march in the near future. Jon Stewart, Dan Akroyd, and Ernest Borgnine (whose pet rock was eaten by skub) should be keynote speakers. If we don't use our voices, skub wins. I dread the day that skub destroys my America; on that day I will go down guns blazing. An America ruled by skub is no America at all. So join me in a pledge to fight skub as vigorously as if it were a pack of rabid iguanas (which, coincidentally, skub is building an army of). Rid America of skub today, experience peace and freedom tomorrow.

Thank you all, and God bless America.
Please join me in the fight against skub. We cannot afford to sweep the issue under the rug any longer. If you would like to join the fight, please visit the Anti-skub Facebook page.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Anybody else...

Think it's odd/funny/sad/worrying/sympathy-inducing to see U.S. Presidents gray, wither, and wrinkle before our eyes? Just do an Inauguration-Day-to-Farewell-Speech comparison, and it's a change that you wouldn't think four-to-eight years (or even as little as one or two) should make. Obama already looks a good ten years older to me. It's one of the most coveted positions, but I often don't envy Presidents. You deal with millions of lives, and sometimes you decide who dies and who lives. I think I'd crack. I wouldn't be able to sleep. How Dubyah supposedly slept ten hours a night... you know I was going to say "is beyond me", but when all I want to do is escape from the world, I sleep. Other times, I can't. I'm no President, but I could see it would work much in the same way except more violent. Plus, being on such a tight schedule, I'm sure it takes a toll on the body.

I'm no scientist, but I feel that looking at Presidents offers the answer to the disputed question of whether stress causes premature graying. I did some investigation, and it turned up that this link has never been proven, but it's suspected by many scientists. The debates seems to revolve around melanin, an a pigment polymer in our body that determines the color of hair, among other things. I won't talk too much about it, as I'm unsure even of that last statement, so I'll direct you to some links that discuss different sides of the issue.

The bottom line is that Presidents seem to age much faster than us commoners. Maybe it's because of the stress. Maybe it's just because we look much more at pictures of Presidents than ourselves or the people we know. Or maybe it's because the U.S. government has mastered time travel and Presidents spend years in the future finding out what issues they have to change to resolve the problems in future America. Which is your money on?

Friday, April 8, 2011

If I had the power...

So it's been a long time (This is becoming the standard start of my blogs). Sorry.

This is also going to be pretty random. Today, despite having an exam, all I could think about on the way to class was tours that I would put together if I had the power. Not only that, but what they would be called. I put these bands together because A) I like them or did at one time, B) Some are influenced by the others, C)I think they have styles that would compliment each other and attract many of the same fans.

Here's a few:

-WHY? / P.O.S. = The Indie R.A.P.? Tour

-The Dismemberment Plan/Local Natives/ The Velvet Teen = The Adjective Noun Tour (Although, is Dismemberment a gerund in this case? I might have to rethink it. Besides, misnomers are hip)

-The Thermals / Matt and Kim / Headlights = The Feel Good Fun Time Tour (Matt and Kim and The Thermals are in fact touring together)

-Broken Social Scene / DFA 1979/ Chad VanGaalen = It's a Tour, Eh?

-Weezer / Smashing Pumpkins = The We Promise to Play the Stuff from Before Our Lead Singer's Went Crazy Tour

-Janelle Monae / Mugison = The Don't Put Me in a Box Tour

-St. Sat B / Nick Miller and the Neighbors / The Static Sea = The Futures Tour

-Grizzly Bear /Local Natives / Bowerbirds / Colour Revolt = The Sweet Harmony Tour (Obviously it'd have to be when LN wasn't on tour withe The Adjective Noun Tour) (Additionally some would add Beirut or Yeasayer, which I would allow, but I have never really listened to their stuff. It's not that I'm against it, it's just I'm poor and have to prioritize purchases sometimes)

-Radiohead / almost any indie band formed after the millennium = The Opening Bands Grew Up Wanting to Be Us (and That's A Good Thing) Tour

-Menomena (original lineup) / Lackthereof / Ramona Falls = The Solo Projects are as Genius as the Band Tour

-DFA1979 / The Black Keys / Local H = The Dinner for Two Tour

-The Strokes / M.I.A. / Liam Finn = The Nepotism Tour (This is in jest, as all the people whose parents were famous in these bands are very talented at would have likely made it on their own)

- Nirvana / Jeff Buckley = The Live from the Next Life Tour (I wish this was possible)

- Mugison /Chad VanGaalen / Liam Finn / tUnE-yArDs = The Kali Tour (A reference to their mult-instrumental, DIY nature. Kali has many arms, and if these artists did, they could do many things. Liam Finn and Mugison especially got their start as multi-tasking solo performers. I'm not sure about CVG's live show, but I know he records all his stuff in a home studio and mostly by himself. tUnE-yArDs, Mugison, and LF all have touring bands now I believe, although again, I'm not sure about CVG)

-Of Montreal / CSS / Bat for Lashes = The Face Paint Tour

-Arctic Monkeys / The Fratellis / The Kooks = The Fight in a Pub Tour

-Phoenix /Department of Eagles /The Dodos / Bowerbirds = The Flock Together Tour

-Modest Mouse / Avi Buffalo / Minus the Bear = The Indigenous Species' of the West Tour

Ok, I think I'm out of them. At the beginning I tried to choose bands that I'd always thought would compliment each others' sounds well, but at the end I think I was just trying to think of plays on names, although I did only put bands that I thought would go well together. There were some that fit the tour name, but I didn't include them.

Some of these bands aren't necessarily the same style, but again, I think the same people would like them. M.I.A. and the Strokes may seem different on paper, but most everyone I know that likes one is a fan of the other. When I saw Dismemberment Plan in Chicago, they played with a 60's-ish soul act complete with horns. People loved it! Sometimes acts you think have nothing in common are perfect compliments.

Most of the tour names should be pretty straight-forward. If you don't get it, it's probably because it's a horrible, tacky joke.

I also acknowledge that some of the opening bands could easily pull off headlining shows. But this is MY fantasy, and if you have a problem with it, imagine them as co-headliners or at a festival or something. Bug off.

Anywho, I know I'm a nerd and I spend a lot of time dreaming about stuff that is probably not productive at all. I acknowledge that. Wow, I feel like I'm getting super-defensive here and justifying myself to a computer screen that seems to be unmoved by my words and just continues staring blankly at me. Good times.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Guest List

Hey all, I did a music guest list for the Scott Collection. Head over there to check it out.

Update: I also did an article on tUnE-yArDs. We haven't decided on whether this is going to be a regular thing or not yet. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Janelle Monae: The Rebirth of the Cool

The title pretty much sums it up. I want to write about this girl for hours. I want to talk about how she will not be restrained to one genre (a clue could come from her collaborators on Archandroid. She works with Big Boi, Of Montreal, and another ambassador of cool, Saul Williams). I want to discuss the amazing plotline of her music and how each track flows seamlessly into the other. I want to speak of how amazing her stage presence and choreography is. I want to speak of her eloquence and articulacy in the face of critics who stereotype the R & B community as unintelligent and shallow. I want to declare her the Miles Davis of this day and age because she breathes awesomeness. But I won't do any of these things. I will post some videos, and let you become so enamored that you want to research these things and come to these conclusions yourself.

"Sincerely, Jane" Live (Original track from Metopolis)- Janelle Monae

"Wondaland" off Archandroid - Janelle Monae

"Make the Bus" ft. Of Montreal off Archandroid- Janelle Monae

"Cold War" music video (Original track on Archandroid)- Janelle Monae

Friday, June 4, 2010

"Metal" and "Taylor Swift" Used in the Same Sentence

Check out the YouTube station AndyRehfeldt. This guy is insanely musicly gifted to begin with, but he takes it to a whole new level, taking the vocal tracks from pop songs and recording metal tracks behind them. He's not a one-trick pony either, he also has crafted metal tracks into Radio Disney songs. The one that caught my eye was his polka-metal version of Ke$ha's Tik Tok. There's never been a bigger contrast of talent within the same song (And his fart sound effects during the polka parts seems to acknowledge it). Below is his metal version of Taylor Swift's "You Belong with Me".

Taylor Swift - You Belong with Me (Andy Rehfeldt remix)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Tool Rools

So, as anyone who reads this blog will know (all two or three of you), I'm a fan of the Format / Fun.'s front man Nate Ruess. This weekend my girlfriend, her roommate, and I went to Minneapolis to see Fun. in concert. I enjoyed their segment. Unfortunately, they were opening for Jack's Mannequin. Now, there was a time in high school that I liked this band. It was during my emo days. I saw them in concert at Summerfest (I think in '06?). It occurred to me after watching Andrew McMahon that he is a giant tool. This weekend, older and wiser as I am, my beliefs were only affirmed.

Now, if any of you want to learn how to be a tool on stage too, I'll educate you in a segment I will call "Tool Rools". Mr. McMahon followed all of these.

#1 First thing you do when you get out on stage is yell "How the f*** you feeling tonight (insert name of city here)?!?!?! This question follows or is similar to other tool rools to follow, but it deserves it's own rule because it's so cliche and one that tool rockers will always follow. Naturally, Mr. McMahon was not an exception.

#2 Have two mics, a foot apart, with absolutely no difference in effect/volume, that you switch between constantly so you can make spastic dramatic movements.

#3 Spastic dramatic movements. Now, there is a right way and wrong way to do it. But McMahon makes ridiculous faces when he plays that in no way are necessary and are clearly meant to be emotive but just come off as douchey. Dude looked like he was having sex with his piano. He clearly was thinking, Yeah, I look awesome because it totally looks like I'm rocking out hard when I'm playing chords on a piano.

#4 Insert the name of the town you're playing in into the song. This is what you do if you're a cheer whore. And yes, it happened.

#5 Stand on the speakers and sing. Unless you take a dive into the crowd (which is only okay if your music is dive-worthy and not sappy ballads disguised as rock), you are a tool.

#6 Swear as much as you can when you talk. Especially if you're not angry about anything. Like, fine, if there's power behind your statements, by all means, exercise your Constitutional right. But come on, if you're saying "I'm quitting music to become an f***ing ice dancer" (actual wording from the concert), then save it.

#7 Have other tools in the audience. So many stories. The girl behind us that was singing at the top of her lungs horribly, the guy in front that would be like "DID YOU HEAR THAT SOLO? IT WAS SO F***ING AWESOME. HE'S THE BEST MUSICIAN EVER! READ MY SHIRT, IT SAYS JACK'S MANNEQUIN! I GIVE HIGH FIVES IF YOU LIKE JACK'S MANNEQUIN!" (Again, actually overheard from the concert. Another unrelated thing I heard was a guy say "I just did something with a man that I never want to do again...").

#8 Jump on your instrument. I'm amazed he didn't destroy his piano. There was really no need for it. I really hate being at concerts when people destroy their instruments. It's like, "Yeah, it's a crappy economy, and you paid $25 dollars to my show, and I really could have charged you $3 less if I didn't have to replace this instrument, but bah, it's so worth it right?" No. It's cliche and it was originally done by people way more talented and rebellious than you. Your music is about wishing someone knew how you felt about them and crying in your pillow, not a corrupt government.

#9 After each song make it look like you just ran a marathon.

#10 Announce to everyone that you're drinking alcohol on stage. Especially when it's a martini.

Basically, I've seen a lot of bad concerts (mostly in my high school days), but if I were the Pitchfork of concert reviewers I'd give a Jack's concert a 0.0 or probably even this.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Politics on the Pot?

So I'm sitting on the toilet and I read "Don't forget to spay and neuter your liberals". Liberals had been crossed out and replaced with 'conservative bigots'... Next to it said "Bush Cheney Oil". The stall was full of commentary about politics. I thought to myself, You know, it seems like about 75% of stall comments are about politics. Maybe it's because I'm on a campus. But I feel I've seen it just about everywhere I've gone. Do people instinctively think about politics on the pot, or is it just the idea that bathroom commentary has to be bold and powerful? What do these people mean to accomplish by doing this? Are undecided votes won on the toilet? Do people think their deepest when they're squeezing one out? Maybe it's because they're alone with no distractions. Or maybe they're reading the paper and are enraged by something they've read. This phenomenon just fascinated me. I leave it up to you.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Year in TJ

No, that's not the title of my new porn flick. I've already gone over the year in music, and since this blog is basically centered on music and myself, I thought I'd go over my own year. I don't blame you if you skip over this post, but it'll be nice to look back at in a couple of years. Some of these things I've already written about, others I haven't.

Basically my year started in April, when I started to hit a string of good luck. Katie and I had been hanging out a lot, and on the 24th we went to Milwaukee to see Company of Thieves. Two days later we were dating. There's no way to describe how happy she's made me since then. Well, I probably could, but it'd be agonizingly long and sappy, and believe me, I have been known to be sappy.

About two weeks later I went in to see my advisor. The previous year I had been denied enrollment in Education. I wasn't feeling too confident because I had basically done nothing worthwhile in the last year to make myself more appealing. I went in to the meeting asking what I could do to make it the next year. The advisor looked at me and said, "Um, I can't really tell you anything flat out, but I wouldn't be so pessimistic about this year". I walked out of that meeting feeling more angry than anything, because I was convinced that she didn't actually know if I made it. However, when I got home I looked in the mail and I had already gotten my acceptance letter. I was completely unprepared and it was like my whole future had changed drastically in one day. Really, it had changed a lot in the last two weeks. I am very naturally pessimistic and the way things tended to be going right past my expectations was mind-boggling.

In addition, for the last couple months, there was a growing number of people that had been asking me to move up a level in coaching the women's club hockey team. In this, I mean that I was the C team coach, and the B players were asking me to come up. I was quite flattered, as I didn't see it coming. I had coached the C team for three years, but this year I had substituted for the B coaches at a couple tournaments. When a position opened up, they asked me to fill it for this school year. Though I had a great time with the C team, I obliged because I felt I could be of more help at a higher level of play. The C team had a new batch of beginners every year, and as i've been playing hockey since I was in third grade, I had trouble remembering how I learned the basics. Coaching the B team's been a lot of fun, and I think things really have begun to click.

The summer was quite bittersweet. I worked grounds at the golf course for the fourth year. The golf course is a great deal, as I get paid well and get about 45 hours a week. Every once in a while a meal gets thrown in there. I worked from 5:30 am to 1:30 pm on weekdays and went in on weekends worked about two to two-and-a-half hours. The hours were nice in the sense that it left nights open to do things. However, this was probably my least favorite year at the club. First off, I was 6 hours away from Katie. This led to seeing her twice over the summer. Both of the visits were amazing and I wouldn't trade them for the world, but it was hard being so far away. Lack of sleep made me more prone to being sad and moody. The politics were really getting to me, as there were numerous tensions between people. Some weren't doing their jobs because they thought other people were getting unfair treatment. I think I worked harder this summer as a result of picking up other peoples' slack. I was so ready to go back to school once it came around.

The psychological effects of this summer probably made the transition back pretty difficult. I had some major social anxiety over the summer, and when you start a program right after that where you have all your classes with the same thirty people in the midst of that problem it makes things quite difficult. Luckily I began to relax after a while and ended up making some good friends within the program.

Practicum was another story. I was placed in a classroom on Mondays and Wednesdays for four ninth grade US History classes. I'm an interesting case because I want to be a teacher, but I'm a nervous public speaker. I've noticed there are others like me within the program, however. My cooperating teacher was great in the sense that he would bluntly tell me my flaws and my strengths. When I'd teach lessons, he'd give me specific things to focus on. He didn't hold my hand, and he put me in some really difficult situations. He had to leave often because one of his children would get sick, and he'd leave me in charge. These were scary times, but I became a lot better of a teacher because of them. I developed a voice at some point within it, and I finally began to relax in front of the kids as I got to know them. I still doubt myself every once in a while, but I think it's normal of people in my position.

I've still been playing as much hockey as I can, but it's been limited due to my schedule being out of my hands and the lack of funds I experienced in the last couple months. I owed my parents some money (a large sum) and paid it to them in October. It resulted in me being left with little of my summer earnings. Constant illness kept me from working much (see Pneumon-YEAH!). I was left with enough to live on for a few weeks when I paid my parents and the instruction that I should take out some money from some investments. In order to due this, I had to take over managing my own accounts, as my family had been doing it since I had never taken any money out. I legitimately thought I'd have my money in a matter of weeks. I got it on Christmas Eve. A month or so of owing people money and having literally no money to spend on food or bills except maybe the $50 I might manage to make over the course of two weeks really put things in perspective. It's been a big relief having that problem solved in the last two weeks, and now I'm able to set straight some debts I owe.

As for 2010, I'm really excited for it. I'll be teaching in a middle school next semester, I'm planning on staying in Madison this summer, and Katie and I have some awesome stuff planned. Hanging out with Katie's awesome all the time, but it's going to be cool going to the Fun. concert in Minneapolis and hanging out in her hometown, going to the Badger hockey team's outdoor games, going to the Lion King play while it's in Madison, and watching the Olympics together.
It's gonna be a good year.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Top Ten Albums of '09.

So it's been a while since I've written (how many posts have I written this year starting off with this sentence?). Education has me constantly working and I think my lack of writing is a good sign. Right now, howeverm I'm practically the only person in Madison since most people will be coming back from Thanksgiving break tomorrow. Things will be busy for me again soon, so I figured I'd get a post in while I have time. So here's my Top 10 albums of 2009, a few honorable mentions, and some albums that were intentionally left off the list. Hit it.

1. Veckatimest - Grizzly Bear
This is probably going to be the number one on a lot of lists, and deep inside I don't want to make it #1 just for that reason, but it's too good to not (I can feel better because #2 probably won't be on many people's lists). "While You Wait for the Others" is probably the song of the year as well (the original version, not the one where Michael McDonald sings). It's hard to believe they could top Yellow House, but they certainly did. Daniel Rossen's voice is amazing, the harmonies are great, and even though Ed Droste's "Two Weeks" received considerable airplay, it never gets old. And come on, people, if Jay-z thinks they're cool...

"While You Wait for the Others" at YouTube

2. Intuit - Ramona Falls
Who? I'll tell you, calm down. Seriously, take a step back. I can smell your breath, and it's not charming. Ramona Falls is the side/solo project debut from Brent Knopf of Menomena. Yes, another Menomena band, but until they make a bad album you have no reason to complain. This is Knopf's first, and it's amazing. His angelic voice can get wicked at times. He can serenade you or rip your face off with words. He's always right, but willing to admit he's wrong sometimes (don't worry about the logistics of that sentence). There's not a single weak track on the album. It has not only held me over until the upcoming release of a new Menomena album (date still tentative...), it has furthered my confidence in each member's genius. PS the music video below is probably the coolest of the year in my book.

"I Say Fever" at YouTube.

3. Two Suns - Bat for Lashes
Natasha Khan knows she's good. She knew it before anyone else did. Pitchfork thought her first album was good, but nothing special. She likes glitter and sings about having split personalities. She's weird. It's amazing. Both everything that's good about a female vocalist and a bit of every good female vocalist is in Natasha Khan. You can hear Bjork, Tori Amos, Fiona Apple, and PJ Harvey in her music. She's by no means a ripoff, she's a unique bird/flower/butterfly/anything that's beautiful (and maybe a little bit scary and unstable).

"Daniel" at Yahoo!

4. Eskimo Snow - Why?
Despite having horrible pains from pneumonia at their show and having to go to the ER before they played, the amazing-ness-ocity of Why? is undeniable. Eskimo Snow is the calmest child in the Why's discography, but it's also the most introspective. Where Alopecia talks about jerking off in an art museum bathroom, E.S. asks its mother if its failing. If you love the mallet percussion, you'll love this album.

"These Hands/ January Twentysomething" at Pitchfork

5. Never Better - P.O.S.
The rap I had in my collection before P.O.S. was limited essentially to Why? and K-Os. Why? is a Jewish guy who sounds like a cross between that dude from the Decemberists and that dude from Interpol, and K-Os raps about going to church. P.O.S. is still far from "gangster", but it was my first delving into an artist that was primarily a rapper and a little bit angry. I admit, I got this album initially just because The Velvet Teen's Judah Nagler guests on its title track. I had seen P.O.S. on tour with TVT and Minus the Bear, so I knew his stuff incorporated live band. P.O.S. is the epitome of indie rap. The music to his songs is amazing, and his rhymes are enormously clever. If you've never seen his cover of Pearl Jam's "Why Go", I feel sorry for you, and this injustice must be corrected quickly by clicking on this link.

"Never Better" at YouTube

6. No One's First and You're Next EP - Modest Mouse
I thank God everyday that He gave Isaac Brock a lisp. The band has had mainstream success, yet Brock's maintained his lunacy. They'll still put out 8 minutes songs even though the radio stations will search their music for a hit to play. This is a B side album, but it plays like a coherent thought (which might be the first time anyone's used the word "coherent" to describe anything Modest Mouse has done).

"King Rat" at Yahoo!

7. Upper Air - Bowerbirds
Like Andrew Bird? Like Bon Iver? I have a friend that described Bowerbirds as the illegitimate child of those two artists. If that doesn't sound like a beautiful kid, I don't know what is.

"Northern Lights" from Pitchfork's Cemetery Gates

8. Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix - Phoenix
I've claimed to know a lot of bands before they made it success in the mainstream. You'll never hear me say this about Phoenix. Well, I shouldn't say that. I bought the album about two weeks before it started getting played on the radio and in commercials. But I can't say I was far ahead of the curve on this one. They're so infectious. And while their earlier albums are better, 1901 is probably the best song they've produced, and this is definitely their most mature album.

"1901" at Yahoo!

9. Wildlife - Headlights
Depressing Headlights songs? Where are the four horsemen, cuz this has to be the Apocalypse. Maturity looks good on Headlights. I've heard comparisons of this album to Broken Social Scene's work, and there are definitely a lot more moving guitar parts. If you want them to be their usually poppy selves, then you might be a bit disappointed, but I now look at Headlights less as a "cute" band and more as a creative band.

"Love Song for Buddy" at YouTube

10. Aim and Ignite - Fun.
When the Format broke up I needed a hug. It was just such happy and creative music. Luckily, Fun. is essentially a continuation of the Format, led by ex-frontman Nate Ruess. I'm going to see them in February in Minneapolis and I couldn't be more excited. Ruess has an amazingly pure and flexible voice. Freddie Mercury would approve, as some of their stuff shows shades of Queen.

"All the Pretty Girls" at YouTube


Now We Can See - The Thermals
This album didn't make it just because no album can ever measure up to The Body, The Blood, The Machine. That album was the right way to do political, societal, and religious commentary in a rock opera (I'm looking at you Green Day...). Now We Can See is a great album, it just doesn't have the venom and message that TBTBTM had.

"Now We Can See" at Youtube

Mean Everything to Nothing - Manchester Orchestra
I think it's definitely a progression after I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child. It's not so one-dimensional. ILVLC was just so depressing. It was a good soundtrack to my sophomore year. But MEN had a great flow and explored a wide range of feeling. You could hear the influence the bands M.O. toured with had, as shades of My Morning Jacket, Colour Revolt and Brand New come out in many of their songs.

"Shake It Out" at Yahoo!

Ordinary Riches - Company of Thieves
Gen has wicked pipes. The guitarist showed his skills on Live from Daryl's House, but he could use them in their music a lot more. I could not get enough of "Oscar Wilde".

"Oscar Wilde" at YouTube

Time to Die - The Dodos
Just to show you I don't always agree with Pitchfork (although that should be obvious from previous posts), I thought the new Dodos album was horrendous. Meric Long's interesting riffs died somewhere between albums.

"Fables" at YouTube

Daisy - Brand New
Literally, just nothing special. They were going in a great direction with The Devil and God are Raging Inside of Me, but it just seems Jesse Lacey's gotten lazy and gotten mental help, which makes for much less interesting music. TDGRIM was just so genuine. Daisy just seems like an attempt to quiet the people who said TDGRIM was too depressing and not hard enough. I do wish I could see them with Glassjaw, though.

"Vices" at YouTube

There it is.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


So, it's been a while since I've updated, but I'm going to have a bit of time on my hands for the next five days or so. Coincidentally, like my last post, this story has to do with a concert (or maybe not, since concerts are often the most exciting part of my life).

So, on Friday, I had what I thought to be a fever. I didn't have a thermometer, so I had no way of confirming. I quaranteened myself to my room until Sunday, when I had a 5K I had signed up for.

The 5K was the Run/Walk for Literacy, run by the Literacy Network. I've started my practicum at Verona Area High School, and my cooperating teacher set up a team. At the time I was feeling somewhat better. I hadn't run in a week-and-a-half, so I wasn't feeling great about how I'd finish, but I figured I'd go out there and do what i could. I ended up finishing in 25:19 with an 8:09 mile average. I got 50/276 overall, 35/106 men, and 5/13 in my age group of 20 to 29. I was pretty happy considering the circumstances, and had I known what I know now I would have been even happier. Plus, the finish line snuck up on me, otherwise I would have sprinted earlier and maybe grabbed a few more spots lower.

Anyway, back on track. I went to school Monday without a hitch. I had a cough here and there, and at night it hit me a bit harder, but generally I thought I was still getting better. Last night I coached hockey practice, then I went to the free WHY? concert at the Union. As I was meeting the band, I started to feel a pain on my left side in the rib area. I shrugged it off as either nerves or gas and headed back out into the crowd with my t-shirt. During the opening band the pain intensified and I still didn't have to drop a deuce. I was starting to worry. My first thought was a collapsed lung because that can happen without provocation and I was having trouble breathing. I tried to tough it out until WHY? I only made it halfway through the second band, AU, who were actually an amazingly entertaining duo. The drummer was fantastic and had some unique drumming methods. At that point I called my girlfriend and asked her to take me to the hospital. Katie was amazing and stayed with me throughout the long night.

When we walked in they asked me if I'd recently had flu-like symptoms. I said yes, and it was like an alarm went off in the room. Mask on, into the quarantined area. Luckily it was a slow night so I got into a room pretty quick. It turned out I had an 103 fever. It made me wonder if I'd had a fever for five days now. I went through about 4 people over the course of three hours conjecturing that I had swine flu and what I was feeling was "aches". I didn't believe them one bit. Luckily there was a promise of a chest x-ray somewhere down the road, otherwise I'd have insisted on it. Eventually, I was given some vicodin, so things started looking up. Finally I got my x-rays. The first clue that it wasn't swine flu was when the doctor walked back into the room without a mask on. I had pneumonia. Doctor seemed surprised. I wasn't.

So now vicodin and fluids are my best friend. I'm back in my hometown until at least the weekend. Couldn't have happened at a busier time in my life, but my professors and partners have all been very understanding. In the meantime, I hope to get a ton of work done and finish up Crime and Punishment. My vicodin dosage has been cut in half, so I'm not as pain-free as last night, but I'm assuming things will improve in the next couple days.

Hmm, what to give you musically. In preparation for the concert I listened to nothing but WHY? for about four days. But I have been loving Phoenix's sophomore and junior albums, 2004's Alphabetical, and 2006's It's Never Been Like That. I'll give you two songs. One that's a rare "not-upbeat" song by them called "I'm An Actor" off the earlier of the two albums, and one off the latter, which is the more Strokes-like songs we're used to from their most recent, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. In the Long-Distance Call video we get a bit of a look into their French-ness.

I'm An Actor by Phoenix at Yahoo! Music

Long-Distance Call by Phoenix at Yahoo! Music

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's Official: I've Played an Instrument On Stage with a Professional Rock Band

So, it's probably not as impressive as it sounds, but it was one of the most exciting experiences of my summer, so it's still pretty sweet to me.

It was about two weeks ago that I saw that Headlights had posted a concert date in Madison on their Myspace. I investigated and found out it was at the UW Memorial Union Terrace and it was part of the union's free "Hot Summer Nights" series. The Terrace is a sweet place to watch concerts because you can buy pitchers of beer and enjoy the beautiful lake view. Once the band you're there to see plays you'll obviously want to move up, but until then it's nice to kick back and have some nice conversation and maybe get a little alcohol in you. This is what my friend, Jenny, and I did while the opening band, Scotland Yard Gospel Choir, played.

The demographic was clearly mostly there to drink. Much of it was middle-aged and unaware of who Headlights was. Even many of the college students there were just there to get drunk and dance to free music that they'd never heard before. Now, I have to mention Kansas-basketball-jersey-mullet-man. Now, the picture to the right was snapped by a young woman named Kayla Clarke, who also captured the video that will be embedded later. KBJMM as I will refer to him later was the sweetest dude ever. Drunk as a skunk and ready to party, he had a beer in one hand and his other hand in the air all night in various hippy symbols. The band loved him. The people loved him. God loved him.

Now on to my story. By the time Headlights played, I had a bit of liquid encouragement in me. It was my third time seeing them, and I had a short conversation with Erin last time they were in Madison at Forward Music Festival, so naturally in my state, I was determined to impress them. So what did I do? After every song I yelled out what album the song was from. I was standing in front of Erin, and I think she laughed a couple times due to it. After a new song, I yelled out "Wildlife, due October 6th!" Erin went, "Woah, who said that?" I raised my hand, and she said, "Come up and say that into the mic". I went up and repeated myself, and the band and a couple people in the crowd laughed. Feeding off that, I grabbed the mic back and said "AND! If you pre-order now for $20, you get a free T-shirt!" The band found this funny, and Tristan said, "That guy is now on the payroll".

Now, even if this had been the only happening of the night, it probably would have been the best story I'd have to tell from a concert, and I've been to a lot of concerts. But two songs later, it was time for the encore. Now's where the video comes in:

Basically, this is the gist of that video:
Headlights called up some people from SYGC to play percussion. Tristan said "Not to discriminate, because I don't know which of you guys (meaning the crowd) has rythym. I know Scotland Yard Gospel Choir has rythym". However, then Erin decided to ask me if I wanted to play tambourine and I replied "YES!". So I jumped up there. Then for some reason, I felt the need to say something, so I go, "It's in 4-4?" as in the time signature. And replied in the affirmative and clapped on the beat as Tristan played the intro. Then I recognized it as "TV", proceeding to say something stupid, which was "Oh, you know this". This was in response to Tristan earlier saying "Trust me, we don't know how to play it any better than you guys do", but Erin probably had no idea what I was talking about and was thinking Uh, yeah, I recorded the song, but she's really nice and would never say that. Interestingly enough, on their last tour I don't think Headlights played TV, probably because they were sick of it because that was there first "hit".

Anyway, what followed was three minutes of me smashing the crap out of my hand with a tambourine. At the end, I try to high five the lead singer of SYGC, which he meets with a drumstick. Then for some reason I keep my hands raised like a dork. Again, liquid encouragement. After the concert we went over to the merch stand and Jenny bought a shirt. I actually had all the merch they had, so I was unable to purchase anything. I thanked Erin for inviting me up and she and Nick both thanked me for the plug of their album. Afterwards I called my girlfriend, who probably couldn't keep up with my drunken school-girl-esque rambling.

So song of the day = TV by Headlights. I'll include the version without the drunk tambourine so you can decide wihether it sounds better with or without me in it.

TV by Headlights at YouTube

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Inter-Web Gems

I've found a plethora of awesome/hilarious web vids/sites I've discovered lately. Thought I'd share them.

1. First one comes from Myspace. I use my Myspace primarily to keep up to date with music. It's a fake Bill Cosby Myspace I made in high school where I put Bill Cosby's head the body of someone doing a Jello shot and made him say dirty things. Anyway, I saw this on the home page and had to see it. I want to learn more about face pulling and how you train/make your face do such things. Is surgery legal? (Update: Apparently you can at least have your teeth removed)

World Face-Pulling Championship

2. If this doesn't blow (no pun intended) your mind I don't know what will.

3. I'm assuming one of the performers arranged this. The stage direction is hilarious. I've never been a huge video game fan, but that's probably because I never had a chance to be. My first system was an Xbox (if you don't count a Gameboy) in the second half of high school, and that is what I still use to this day, more for DVDs than video games. My parents never let me get games with violence in them, so I was limited to sports games essentially. I was okay for that, because really the only games I played on the computer were EA Sports games. The half-ice flip on NHL 99 anyone (You'd just tap the space bar at center ice and it'd go over the goalie's head and in the net. Worked about 80 percent of the time)? Anyway, I still appreciate the hilarity of this video.

4. This is why I want to go to a big festival like Lollapalooza. We have hippies in Madison that are pretty sweet, but these aren't even hippies. I don't even know what to make of these guys. Rasta-ish dancing with Kiss shirts on? I dunno, maybe I've missed the new wave of hippies. In any case, I'd probably be speechless.

5. The "WTF" tag on Amazon provides for hours of entertainment. Luckily, I haven't been sucked into buying any of these useless/expensive/enraging products, but I can't say I haven't considered. With that in mind, enter at own risk.

6. Who hasn't gotten a passive-aggressive note, or at least encountered them? An angry roommate who's mad because you forgot to flush the toilet, a parent who's angry you forgot to call your grandma on her birthday, someone whose dog you ran over... (RIP Mr. Waggles) I love this site, the notes are hilarious. Just the creative ways people say "F you".

7. I may have been living in a hole lately, because apparently everyone knew about this one except me. Myxer is a site where you can make a free ringtone out of any mp3 you own. Can't find one of Joe Namath saying "I wanna kiss you... YEAH!!!!" on the internet? No worries! Just record it off of YouTube using your microphone (which my webcam has), and then select the mp3 on Myxer.

8. Amazing Super Powers. A webcomic I found that's very Perry Bible Fellowship-esque.

9. Who doesn't have that really annoying Facebook friend who posts way too personal things? Heck, it may even be you. In either case, you're going to want to check Lamebook, because it highlights all of the lamest decisions people have made on Facebook. And if you find yourself as one of the culprits, don't worry, you can send them a message and they'll take it down.

I've gotten a lot of music lately, but I've been obsessing over three bands/performers as of late, so I'll give you three songs of the day.

The first is from Bat for Lashes. I've been enjoying her sophomore album, Two Suns, immensely lately. In fact, I even listened to it while I ran the other day despite much of it being slow and beautiful/eerie. I think it'd be really funny if someone was in their car going, "I wonder what he's listening to. Probably something that pumps you up like Nirvana or Pearl Jam, or some heavy metal or something." No, it was a female vocalist who's a step away from singing opera.

"Sleep Alone" - Bat for Lashes

Next is Chad VanGaalen. Chad's known for his high, wavering falsetto. Crazy enough there is no YouTube video - not even a fan video - of my favorite song by the Canadian Sub Pop artist, Dead Ends. So I'll choose another song from the same album, Skelliconnection. Note that Chad animates his own videos.

"Hot Red Drops" - Chad VanGaalen

The final video is also from an artist who used to be connected to Sub Pop. I've been listening to Modest Mouse for many years, and despite their mainstream success, they are showing no signs of becoming less weird. Thank God. If Isaac Brock tried his hand at singing like a normal human being, I might cry. Here's a song off their newest EP, No One's First, and You're Next. The video was directed by Heath Ledger shortly before his death, and let me tell you, the guys from Whale Wars would love this video, because it highlights the cruelty of whale killing by making the whales the hunters and people the prey. It's slightly graphic, but it's a cartoon, so I guess just use your discretion.

"King Rat" - Modest Mouse
Modest Mouse - King Rat

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

When I Die...

I want to be deep-fried and have an open casket funeral.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Fiona Apple, Planes, and Daydreams

This one's mostly going to be a stream-of-consciousness post because, well, I'm bored, so I'll talk about everything and anything that's on my mind.

Basically, I've spent an hour or so watching Fiona Apple videos. And this isn't the first time. She just fascinates me for some reason. Well, I know for what reason. Basically, she's known for being a little off her block, but in a sense, I believe she's one of the most sane people in show business. She knows the whole thing is a farce, she knows it's all fake.

Part of the reason she's "crazy" is for her 1997 MTV awards speech. There were a few outlandish comments like "This world is bulls**t", but essentially what she said is for everybody to not pay attention to what stars are telling you is cool and to make your own path. Psycho, right?

One of the most intriguing interviews with her is on the Howard Stern Show in 1997. First off, Stern is a pig, constantly pointing out how "messed up" and "troubled" she is, even asking her what it was like to be raped at 11, but she totally takes it in stride. It's impossible not to be impressed by how mature the 19-year old is. Sometimes people mistake a lack of child-like naivety for being troubled. Apple displays an ability to see the hypocrisies and injustices in everything, and how much of life itself is theatrical. I feel like she and Dostoevsky would be friends. "Everybody's messed up" she says (Part 1, 1:14), and it's true. The problem is that when people are honest about their insecurities and how they see the world, it tends to come off as crazy. Most of Hollywood tries to keep that part private, and understandably so as there's media ready to pounce at any mistake or flaw. But what will strike you about Apple is how she doesn't feign excitement or perkiness in any interview she does. There's nothing fake about her, she's genuine in everything she says.

I won't declare Apple a victim of Hollywood however, but rather her reputation is the victim. She's pointed out herself in an interview with Craig Ferguson in 2006 that the ugliness of the people that are negative towards her gets processed through her and comes out as something beautiful. How strong is that? And how lucky are we to receive the benefits from that?

Unsurprisingly, this ends with me buying her music.

In other news, I went to the EAA Airventure yesterday. First of all, it was great to get a day-off from my soul-sucking job. It seemed like we missed a couple opportunities because we were a step behind, but it was still an awesome time. The biggest attraction was the A380, the largest passenger plane in the world. Unfortunately, we got in line to view the inside just as they closed it, but it was still a sight to see from the outside. Now, the A380 is an Airbus, which is the competitor for Boeing, who employs my uncle. Basically, Airbus has a far worse disaster record than Boeing, as many of their parts are cheaper and made of less strong material (read: plastic). However, this plane is pretty awesome. The pilot was a regular Evil Knievel. During its demonstration, he had the plane climbing and turning at angles that seemed like they should make the plane stall out or flip (Actual video of what I saw). Basically, it looked like it was doing things passenger planes should not do. He also pulled the plane back to low speed, even putting down it's landing gear, and it almost looked like a Harrier, just floating in the air.

The underbelly
Originally uploaded by ntdlosangeles
The other pretty cool attraction was the WhiteKnightTwo. It's a crazy plane, with two cabins, designed to launch Virgin's SpaceShipTwo into space. The SST will take customers into space for the low low price of 100,000 to 200,000 dollars. Anyway, the fly-by was mostly just interesting because you thought to youself, "How does that not snap in half?". You also could barely hear it. But another cool thing to note about the plane was the paint job on the bottom, which showed the evolution of flight on the bottom of the cabins. It showed what I believed were, in order, Icarus, The Wright Flyer, the Spirit of Saint Louis, Chuck Yeager's X-1, the Boeing 747, the Apollo Eagle landing craft, and the SST.

For the last couple years my father and grandfather had tried to get me to go on a 1929 Ford Tri-Motor flight, which you can do for just over $50 at the Airventure. I used to refuse because the thing looks like it's made of cardboard, but over the years I've become less afraid of death. So yesterday I finally accepted the challenge. However, we got to the stand as they were booking the last flight, and I was #11 in line for a flight of nine people. All in all the Airventure was tons of fun, though.

Finally, to totally switch subjects, I've been daydreaming a lot, and here are some of a few of the daydreams I've had lately. First, I imagined myself winning the lottery and starting a record label. I was thinking about the bands I would sign. Three came to mind. Obviously, I'm a huge The Velvet Teen fan. Their record label, Slowdance, recently folded in the middle of them recording a new album. I don't know what they have in the works, but I'm hoping they'll still be able to release their album soon. Secondly, I would sign St. Sat B, who is a band from New Jersey that I communicate with often. It's surprising that somebody hasn't knocked on their door yet, considering how talented of a songwriter Jimmy Francis is and how great their sound is. Finally, I'd sign my friend Nick Miller, who is a talented solo artist with the voice of an angel. Check out all three of them.

My other daydream was of becoming a author. I'm going to school to become a history teacher, but I'd love to work on a work of fiction on the side. I used to do a lot of creative writing when I was a kid, just for fun. Back then my influence was Matt Christopher, and I wrote stories about hockey. I had a 20-ish page story called "Skating from the Law" published in my middle school's collection of works that followed a promising juniors player whose unknowingly drugged at Prom, resulting in a car crash that leads to his arrest. Anywho, I haven't written creatively since the sequel to that story, and I'd like to try my hand at writing a novel. I've often thought that if I ever become homeless and have nothing left to lose, that would be my backup plan.

Okay, this post is long enough. On to music. Basically, this song has helped to make me happy because you can't listen to it without singing along and wanting to dance. I've been in a nostalgic phase lately, and this song screams nostalgia. Plus some of the lyrics are so witty you don't know what to do with yourself. "If you're bored, then you're boring".

Harvey Danger "Flagpole Sitta"

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Dostoevsky was the Baddest Existentialest in Russia.

Originally uploaded by holoubek
My girlfriend's got me reading Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky right now, and I'm loving it. My favorite book is another Dostoevsky classic, Notes from Underground, which I'm currently having her read. It's a really short read, so I'd recommend it to light and heavy readers alike. If you like a good rant, both of these books are for you. Notes from Underground is entirely written as stream-of-consciousness (and I use the term "consciousness" lightly here) from an unnamed protagonist commonly referred to by Dostoevsky's readers as "the Underground Man".

The interesting thing about my love for Dostoevsky is how conservative he is. Dostoevsky wrote most of his famous works while Russia was under the rule of Alexander II (r. 1855-1881). Alexander was as reformist a czar as Russia had ever seen to that point, most famous for abolishing serfdom. Alexander's story is fascinating, especially that of his assassination. Alexander was probably one of the rulers that was the most interested in pleasing as many people in his country as he could, but he was also one of the most targeted for assassination. His case supports the theory that if you give the people an inch in an autocratic government, the flood gates open. I wrote a research paper on Alexander II and by the end sympathized with him immensely. But I digress. How does this relate to Dostoevsky?

Dostoevsky interestingly was very liberal previous to being sent into exile to Siberia for four years by the regime of Alexander I, who was notorious for his paranoia of uprising. Although exile often does more to enrage than pacify, Dostoevsky's views seemed to shift to that of a Slavophile, or someone who rejected Western ideals and wanted to return to ideals from Russia's early history. This change of view, however, also came at a time when Russia was moving in a liberal and "progressive" direction under Alexander II. Dostoevsky's writings show a man disillusioned by the fanaticism for change that seemed to be sweeping over the Russian intelligentsia. He does much to point out the flaws in the logic as well as the hypocrisies of these people. He speaks out against trying too hard to explain everything, and how a reliance on science dissolves individualism and often leads to faulty conclusions and pseudo-sciences. Dostoevsky almost pleads for people to see that they are convincing themselves that they are advancing as a society when really many people are worse off and more miserable than ever. The abolition of serfdom essentially put the burden of compensation for the owners of serfs on the serfs themselves, making it impossible for them to pay off their debts and create a meaningful existence.

This all sounds so depressing, but Dostoevsky's books are full of amazing quotes and very humorous moments. Though his main characters are always extremely smart, they are also seemingly mad, which is an amazingly entertaining combination. The opening lines of Notes from Underground are: "I am a sick man... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased." How can you not be hooked?! My favorite quote from the book is: "Suppose... that man is not stupid. (Really, it is quite impossible to say he is, for the sole reason that if he is stupid, who then is intelligent?) But even if he isn't stupid, all the same he's monstrously ungrateful!... I even think the best definition of man is: a being that goes on two legs and is ungrateful." What a rant, and what truth to the words! It also makes you want to write entirely in exclamation points if you can't tell...

Anyway, the parents and I are going out to Madison to pick up my things to prepare for moving into my new house, where I will go from living by myself to sharing a place with five other males. It's going to be a shock to the system, but it also has the potential to be super fun. The car ride will be spent with good ole Fyodor and some tunes.

I'm going to make the song of the day another Department of Eagles song, only to display how crazy of a transformation they made between their two albums. Half of their songs are trip-hop tracks on their first record, The Cold Nose, and the other half sound very Radiohead-esque. Daniel Rossen's voice is almost unrecognizable to those who know him only from Grizzly Bear and the second DoE album, In Ear Park. My friend Scott really likes the humorous track, Forty Dollar Rug, which is a good example of how this album really doesn't take itself too seriously. I'll leave you with the only music video of the album, Romo Goth.

Romo Goth - Department of Eagles