A Slice of Fried Gold

The square peg meets the round hole

Thursday, May 31, 2007
I have only one rule to my blog, and that is at least every other day I must create a new post. This is a pretty easy to follow rule, as so far the only thing that has been hard to follow is the small print rule of "must not exceed three blogs in a day." I very much enjoy posting and find it hard not to continue doing it. However, with my opportunity for a fantastic blog passing by yesterday (The greatness of Trivia Night and Frisbee Golf), I headed into this evening with an issue. There was nothing on the agenda this evening that could be considered blogworthy, as I was going to take it easy before the weekend due to the pain caused by my "Devil tooth." Quick aside, the "Devil tooth" is a tooth (naturally) that has been causing me great pain lately, and it was discovered today with the help of a dentist/extortionist that I would need a root canal and crown on that bad boy. Like I said..."Devil tooth." No less, taking it easy is in no way conducive towards an interesting and exciting post. Until an epiphany hit. My aha moment struck at last. This square peg fitting into a round hole issue was not an issue at all. I love doing nothing! So in the vein of an episode of Seinfeld, this is my blog about nothing.

As I sat at my desk reading and listening to some Sufjan Stevens (when having an epiphany, "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts" by Sufjan must ALWAYS be listened to...this is a rule passed on for centuries, look it up on Wikipedia...everyone knows that site never lies), I realized that there is nothing I like to do more than nothing. See, there are two kinds of people in the world. The people who always have to do something just because they have to do something, and the people who sometimes just like to kick back and relax. I definitely fit firmly in the latter category. As my friend Colver once said, "I've never known anyone to enjoy putting their feet up on a desk more than you in my entire life." That is an absolutely true statement. I love sitting at my desk, feet propped up and just listening to music and reading. I find it hard to think of anything that could better fill me with absolute contentedness. Everyone has their own personal chi focuser. My buddy Sam plays Frisbee Golf. Cats lick themselves. Some people play World of Warcraft to feel right with themselves. Me? I do nothing. And it is everything I imagined it could be.

Previously in my history, I would do things for the explicit purpose of removing the guilt of feeling like I should do something. These days, that guilt is gone. I receive calls from people saying "hey, what are you doing?" I reply with a simple "nothing, eating some Ice Cream." "Oh yeah? Want to hang out, go get a drink?" "Nah, I'm good." I'm not sure if you would call this personal growth, but it is something. It is something beneficial to who I am as a person, and I am very pleased with that change. It isn't that there is anything inherently great about doing nothing and being content with that. It's that I've grown comfortable enough with who I am to really do what I want and not really care about how lame or boring someone else may find that. Now that...I find very exciting.

It is very ironical that I am making this post even, especially because it is the aforementioned evening of nothing. But it felt like a very necessary post, not just because it is a self established requirement, but because I felt as if this was something that needed to be shared about myself. Hope it was as great to read as it was to write, but I have to go now. Nothing calls.

"You put me in a building with pie and I will find it"

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Yours truly and Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Chabon

This evening at the Loussac Library in Anchorage, Title Wave Books and the Anchorage Daily News had none other than Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon in town as part of their new joint Book Club feature in the newspaper. The author of personal fave The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and the recently released New York Time's Best Seller The Yiddish Policeman's Union spoke to a much larger than usual Title Wave crowd. In fact, it was so big that it had to leave its original home at Title Wave due to fire code violations. No less, it was definitely another success for their program of bringing up big time national writers to little ol' Alaska, continuing in the string of previous successes such as David Sedaris, Jodi Picoult, and the hysterical John Sandford.

Chabon spoke candidly to the crowd for a very solid hour, going on to first take the audience through a little bit about himself and about his experience so far in Alaska, and then taking us into the creation of the concept behind Yiddish, which stemmed from the response of his laceration of a travelers phrase book called Say It in Yiddish in an essay he wrote. From there, he took us into a lengthy bit of the actual essay, which led into his reading of a section of the book. Entertaining, but run of the mill stuff overall, until Chabon went into Question and Answer, where he really shined. We learned of his lack of fluency in Yiddish (besides what he learned for the book and the words he and his wife use for their baby's body parts), why he chose Sitka (actually based in history, the Slattery Report was a proposal to move European refugees to one of four locations in Alaska, including the Matsu Valley and Sitka), and most entertainingly, whether or not the pie shop in Yiddish was in fact inspired by the pie shop in the Sitka Airport (It was).

In fact, his discussion about pie was fantastic, as he revealed to the audience that "You put (him) in a building with pie and (he'll) find it" and that the Sitka pie is so revered and famous, that when he was "walking around the miasma of the Seattle Airport, (he) was approached by a man who eagerly asked him 'is that a Sitka Pie'?" Came out a lot better from him, but it was a very entertaining story at the time (I swear!). As it stands to reason, the author came out the most in his ability to actually storytell, and when he got into that type of speaking it was far better. The main disappointment from the evening was the lack of any discussion about Kavalier and Clay, however, it just was not its' night. You have to appreciate a Pulitzer Prize winner who claims that the biggest influence on his writing (besides his religion) is his love for Genre writing. As a big fan of Genre fiction, it is great to hear someone well respected say that.

Two additional things for this evening's blog...I am totally weak, my favorite teacher EVER was at the Chabon event and I didn't even go say Hi. I suck at teacher. Oh well. Second off, check out this awesome video of Sufjan Stevens performing the Innocence Mission's "Lakes of Canada" on a rooftop in Cincinatti - as brought to you by another fellow Blogspotter, colorfully named "The Music Slut", by way of music video blog Lablogotheque. It's a wonderful video and song performed by one of the most talented men in music today.

F&%@ the Police

Monday, May 28, 2007
To quote the preeminent philosophers on society's ongoing relationship with law enforcement...also known as N.W.A....f&%@ the police. As anyone who has driven with me within the last year could attest to, I wear my seatbelt 99.9% of the time. I have gotten to the point where I am not comfortable unless I am wearing it while driving, so I wear it at all times. Yesterday morning, when driving to meet my sister for coffee at a Kaladi Brothers near her home (much Kaladi love), a CD fell off the seat in the back of my truck. When I reached a stoplight, I put my truck in park, unbuckled, and reached in the back to pick up the CD. Then I immediately put my seatbelt back on. Time off? 5 seconds...10 at the most. When I look across the street after doing that, I see on the other side there is a cop facing me going the opposite direction. Due to my youth being filled with many a moving violation (aka I really like getting places quickly), I am naturally paranoid of cops turning around and following me, even if I obviously have done nothing wrong. Needless to say, after the light turned green, I stared intently into my rear view mirror and watched in horror as the cop flipped his lights on and did a U turn.

Then I immediately felt better as he turned off on a side street. I exhaled and went back to singing along to my blaring tunes as I turned on my sister's street. As I continued down the road to the coffee shop, I look off to the right down a side street and much to my chagrin, there is my police officer. I continue down the road at exactly the speed limit as he turns, follows, and begins tailgating me. I think he was trying to incite me into speeding, when finally we neared the turn onto the frontage road that takes you to the coffee shop. It was do or die time...is he going to pull me over? He did, the bastard.

He comes up to my truck and I roll down the window...
  • Officer Jerkface: The reason why I pulled you over today is because you were not wearing your seatbelt.
  • Me: I'm currently wearing my seatbelt.
  • Officer Jerkface: Well now you are.
  • Me: I've literally been wearing it the entire time I've been in the car today.
  • Officer Jerkface: Well when I passed you earlier you were not.
  • Me: I was at a stoplight, I reached in the back to get a CD...
  • Officer Jerkface: Mmhmm.

Then random BSing occurs as he goes back to look into my info. He comes back and says...

  • Officer Jerkface: Alright, instead of giving you the higher degree of ticket that costs $70, I will let you off the hook and give you the $15 version.
  • Me: But I've been wearing my seatbelt the whole time except when I was in park.
  • Officer Jerkface: Well, I don't believe you. Why did you try to hide?
  • Me: Excuse me?
  • Officer Jerkface: You turned off on a side street and tried to get away.
  • Me: I'm going to get coffee down the street with my sister, I wasn't trying to hide, this is the only way you can get there.
  • Officer Jerkface: Mmhmm.
  • Me: Would you like to come and meet her with me? It's right down the street.

Needless to say he declined. First off, why are there multiple levels of fines for not wearing seatbelts? Is the $70 version some sort of "not wearing a seatbelt with malicious intent" thing? Second off, is this really the intent of the newly intensified "Click it or Ticket" campaign? Punishing people who wear seatbelts nearly constantly except when parked at stoplights?

All in all, I just think the general state of things within the Anchorage Police Department is truly sad. When my car was broken into in March and my friends purse was stolen, they claimed that they couldn't do anything for me or my friend, even though we managed to track down a ton of information about the person who stole it. Is this because they are too busy reaching their quota of fines and pulling people over for "gross misconduct involving a seatbelt" or something similarly ridiculous? I guess it just goes to show you, what Ice Cube says in rap songs really is gospel. It may be a $15 ticket, but I am a man who believes in principles. Which is why I am contesting it and going to take that good for nothing police officer to court, either to get it overturned or, even better, to embarrass him. Wish me luck!

Best of 2007?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Well...we're 5 months into 2007, and we have an early front runner for Best Movie of 2007 in my book. With Grindhouse, Zodiac, Hot Fuzz, the combo of Bridge to Terabithia/the Last Mimzy, Reign Over Me, and 28 Weeks Later leading the pack so far but with no real separation, it was about time something came out and created some distance between the pack. That something is Adrienne Shelley's last film, Waitress.

Waitress is a simple story about a young woman named Jenna (Keri Russell) whose life is not at all what she wants it to be. She's in a horrible marriage with a terrible man (Jeremy Sisto doing some of his best work ever) who mistreats her, she is constantly belittled by him in public (wait until you hear the honking...), plus, she is pregnant with his child that was conceived when he got her drunk and...well...you know what happens there. Her life begins crumbling once she discovers she is pregnant, as she begins an affair with the new OB/GYN (Nathan Fillion) in town simply because he is a good man who befriends her and treats her well, she begins falling more and more into her pies (which are used as a wonderful tool to more accurately describe her current emotional state), and she begins latching onto a grumpy old man (Andy Griffith) who owns the diner she works at. She knows only a few things...she doesn't want to be with her husband, and she doesn't want to be having his child.

What follows is a wonderfully quirky story about the wonder of life, an uplifting tale about how much a child can change a persons life for the better, and just a life affirming look into how you do not have to take the hand you were dealt. How regardless of how hopeless a situation can look, you can always do more with it given a little inspiration. The entire ensemble cast is a knockout, but Keri Russell is an absolute revelation. She's always been gorgeous, but now she definitively has the talent to match. Her on-screen chemistry with Nathan Fillion of Firefly and Serenity fame definitely helps, as every time they are together they sizzle and make the screen brighten with their earnest relationship. Her relationship with co-workers played by Shelley and Cheryl Hines (of Curb Your Enthusiasm fame) also is a highlight, as they display great chemistry together, as a band of true friends and Jenna's one true support group. As mentioned earlier, the use of pie in the movie to give us a description of Jenna's current emotional state - "'I want to leave my stinking husband' pie...3 sticks of Hershey's chocolate inside a chocolate crust...pour melted chocolate over and bake..." - is a very creative one, and a wholly entertaining one at that. It weaves perfectly and logically into the fabric of the movie, as everything else does as well. There is no fat on this movie, just a warm pick me up of pure emotion as we near full out summer time.

This is just one of those movies every year where you do not see it coming and it hits you like a pile of bricks. Do not miss this, as it is something everyone should see. Not to mention it features the legendary Andy Griffith in a major role and is the last movie Writer/Director/Star Adrienne Shelley will ever make, as after completion of the film she was tragically murdered. Support this most excellent film, then tell your friends and get them to tell their friends. This movie deserves appreciation and love, and if it doesn't find its audience now I am certain it will on DVD.

Waitress: A

My new place plus other random observations

Thursday, May 24, 2007
So on May 1st I moved into my new place, moving out of my parents place after living there since Graduation from the good ol' U of I. I looked for a while, not looking at THAT many places before finding this place...which just seemed to seem right for me. First off, I originally had a good feeling about it. Second, as soon as I walked in and saw the size of the bedroom and living room, I was in. As per usual, picture do not do the place justice. Due to funny angles (It's behind you Tyrone...name that movie!), pictures of homes never turn out right. With that said, here is my attempt. It's like Tobias in Arrested Development when he suggests an open relationship for he and his wife..."It never works for them...but maybe for us..."

Up first...the Kitchen...

The bathroom...

The bedroom...

The breakfast bar/bookcase area...

the Office area plus future home of the a Fooseball table?

The living room angle #1...note the Serenity...

The living room angle #2...still note the Serenity...

So yes, that is my place. Very unimpressive from 2-D images I'm sure, but for you folks from the lower 48 it's about as good as you're going to get until you come up here and visit yours truly. I really loveit, as my Mom says "it's the ultimate bachelor's pad" or it's just the supreme lair of an extremely lazy person as I would say. Other awesome benefits of the place include proximity to other places. Its about two blocks from the Sullivan Arena and Mulcahy Field, so sporting events are a check. It is two minutes driving from downtown (35 minutes walking...well drunk walking), 2 minutes from the triumvriate of Kootz, Boscos, and Bear Tooth, and I'm about a minute from a Taco King, Barnes and Noble, and Westchester Lagoon Frisbee Golf course. Plus it's a nice neighborhood. I'm going to go ahead and say I like just a wee bit.

In other news, last night was the season finale of Lost. Let's just say...wow. What was that? It felt like I was just hit by a VW Bus. The season finale may not have been the best episode of TV I've ever seen (not REALLY far off though), but it was definitely the craziest and most mindblowing. I'm not going to reveal any details for those who may not have watched yet or for those who haven't even watched any of the show yet (Sister...) but it was revolutionary in its awesomeness. Plus it featured the return of my boy Locke. Best. Character. Ever. That isn't too big of a spoiler, as everyone thought he would come back. On that note, if you don't mind being spoiled and want to check out an excellent review, see IGN's review of the episode. Note the grade. 10 out of 10? Not too shabby at all. I just have to say...a lot of people complain about Lost. It goes nowhere, it does nothing, the breaks are too long. One way or another, people will complain about anything given enough time. Lost is no different. Regardless of those thoughts it has proven itself at the very least as consistently interesting and extremely well produced, even when we may not get the answers we want all the time. It remains firmly set as my second favorite show behind Battlestar Galactica. Which is depressing as one (Bstar) returns in January and the other (Lost) returns in February. Sad panda.

Follow up on my post about the NBA Draft Lottery...Bill Simmons responds. Mr. Simmons responds with much sadness expectedly, as there is no silver lining this time besides "at least there are the Sox and Patriots. No less, here is the article...it is a sad and entertaining reading by the greatest sports writer ever.

I swear, I must have brought some sort of positive concert karma to Alaska. My number one complaint of leaving the continental U.S. was my coming inability to see concerts. Well I've had no issue of shows to go to since I came back, and even more are coming. Two evenings ago it was announced that the White Stripes would be playing at the Egan Center in Anchorage. Which is so random I can barely even handle it. Also, Blue October will be playing the Alaska State Fair...and for those of you who are saying "what do I care about another random modern rock band from the radio?" Blue October is a cut above other radio bands, not the same as dreck like Nickelback or Hinder, they actually make very good music. So I will have shows to see on September 24th and August 31st now. Alaska, what happened to you. If it becomes 70 degrees very soon I will have absolutely nothing to complain about in regards to you!

Two last things...first off, Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End came out this evening. Join me in a boycott of this movie, as mediocre overly long and self-important movies like this do not deserve the time of day and your money. Beg, borrow, or steal your way into this movie, but don't support a movie like this. It's heartless and has no true creativity, but will make more in its first day than a brilliant and rich movie like Serenity made in its entire theatrical run. I'm sorry if this comes out as preachy, I just found that Pirates 2 was overly disappointing and really wish all of peoples money would go into something worthwhile, well, worthwhile from an entertainment standpoint. Not saying you should throw some money at Greenpeace or something, just support something that doesn't have the support and is...better. This weekend alone at Bear Tooth, Pride, Reign Over Me, and Zodiac are playing. Save some money and see one of them, or still save some money and see all 3 of those! If you really want, spend a bit extra and get some truly excellent pizza at the same time. Now doesn't that sound more appetizing?

Lastly, I have to point this out. World of Warcraft is extremely famous at this point, if not through the sheer largeness of subscribers (not saying the subscribers are large...just that there are many of them) but through the news about the obsession it causes, then the mocking of it in pop culture - namely in a hilarious episode of South Park. This may be going too far however. In this article, it discusses a woman who traded sexual favors for gold in WoW. Seriously. What is the world coming to? All I know is, whenever I write about something like the WoW thing or Pirates...I feel very old. And yes, I am 23, but as they say in the movie films, I'm an old soul.

Save Veronica Mars!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

One of the best shows in television history...in my opinion...was cancelled and ran its last two episodes tonight. Veronica Mars was in its third season and was cancelled far too early in its run. The show was one of the freshest and most well written dramas ever, especially when compared to its contemporaries in the teen drama genre. It featured one of the all time great character turnarounds of all time (Logan going from the biggest jerk in the planet to quite possibly the coolest guy on TV), the best and most realistic Father/Daughter relationship on TV (Enrico Colantoni should be nominated for an Emmy for his work), and one of the best leads in TV history, in the protagonist Veronica (played with much aplomb by the gorgeous and enormously talented Kristin Bell).

Now the CW is going to replace it with new episodes of a reality show based around discovering a new Pussycat Doll. Yes. They need another one. This is even the second season of the show, apparently they need more women acting like prostitutes around the only talent in the group, and the CW is more than willing to take great television off the air for the ability to play crap like that. Don't get me wrong, I love lots of modern television, as it is arguably my favorite medium of entertainment. Yet the networks (and even some premium channels) repeated inability to find an audience for such brilliant shows as Veronica Mars, Wonderfalls, Arrested Development, and Firefly is not only shocking, but reprehensible. Of course I'm not going to switch off my TV and boycott (Lost Season Finale tomorrow night...I mean come on, I'm only one man), but you have to do what you can to get what you want. This is why I am asking anyone who reads this to please sign the petition located here. Ignore that it is a very poorly written letter and focus on the idea. Even if you do not like Veronica, fill it out for that show that was special to you that was stolen from you. You owe us that, you owe yourself that.

In unrelated news, today was the NBA Draft Lottery. The Portland Trailblazers won it, with the Seattle Supersonics getting the second pick. Let's join hands and say thank you to the basketball gods from all of us in the Pacific Northwest (or far further in the Northwest in my case). As a side note, please pay attention to ESPN.com tomorrow for a written meltdown of one man's basketball life. Yes. That is right. The Boston Celtics got the 5th pick, which is essentially my favorite writer Bill Simmons' ultimate nightmare. Have fun with Joakim Noah Bill!

Local H in Anchorage

Sunday, May 20, 2007
Second consecutive week I got to see a concert in Anchorage. As many of you know, I'm a rather large fan of concerts and being able to see a show in Anchorage is just fantastic for me. Last weekend it was Colin Hay, this weekend Local H, and coming up I have Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Matisyahu, Portugal. the Man, Cake, and Rodrigo y Gabriela. Yay for Alaska and their burgeoning outside of Alaska musician scene!!!

No less, last night's show was a good one, with local heroes Jeb opening the show a wonderful hour and forty five minutes after the show was supposed to begin. Hooray for timeliness! Once the show began though, it rocked hard. Jeb is a three piece group who I could best describe as technical rockers with classic rock roots. I quite enjoyed them and look forward to seeing them in the future, as well as other local bands because Jeb gave me a lot of hope for the local music community here. Here is a pic of the lead singer of Jeb, the future leader of many a pit during Local H...

Up after their set was the headliners of the evening, 90's hitmakers and infamously loud rock outfit Local H. They were but a duo of men, but they made music that was louder than anyone could possibly imagine from just two men. In fact, their instruments were so loud, you could hardly hear the vocals, or at least from the front row area I was. The odd thing was, from a distance (outside where you could get air that is) they sounded perfect. No less, they ripped through song after song with no real talking breaks or anything like that, just straight up rock. And they did, playing old favorites like Bound for the Floor and Eddie Vedder while mixing in new stuff and even a Ramones' cover in celebration of Joey Ramone's birthday.

All in all, they played an awesome set, albeit an overly empty one for me as I'm just not a huge fan of the band. They certainly did what they do very well, as no one there left without a nice chunk of rock embedded in them. They inspired some pretty entertaining circle pits, albeit bizarre ones because their version of rock strangely inspired more groove in my shoes than the desire to kick people with them, although maybe that's just me. Here are some pics of Local H...

All in all it was a good time, a good show, and a good night. Drank some good beer with Colver, saw a cool show, and ended the night way differently than I expected. But that's another story for another time.

Also, a tragedy struck my former hometown of Moscow, Idaho today, with good friends Erik and Katie being caught in the middle of it. See this link to listen to Erik's interview on KREM 2 News, Spokane to hear more about it from an up close perspective. I guess I got out when the getting was good...