A Slice of Fried Gold

V-I-P! V-I-P! V-I-P!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Amy and me - Prom pose right after the VIP Awards

Last night was my company's VIP (Very Impressive Performer) Awards and it was held at Josephine's on the 15th floor of the Sheraton Hotel. For those that have not read previously, go here for a breakdown on why exactly I was getting this award. Anyways, even though it was a great honor and the concept of it was cool, I was kind of dreading it because it was a lot of people I didn't know, it was three hours long, and I feared that the event would be boring.

Thankfully I invited Amy along as my "date" (we always corrected people and stated that she was my college friend, which is also a lie strangely as we may have went to the same college but I did not know her there), which promised to make the experience interesting at the very least.

And good god, did she make it interesting. At one point while eating a remarkably delicious piece of cake (inhaling may be a better descriptor of what I was doing to the poor, defenseless dessert) Amy looked over at me and simply asked "are you still gaining weight?" for everyone to hear.

Great, even my date was insulting me.

Before you feel bad for me, think about this: this is precisely why I invited her and why she was perfect to go along with. Everyone else at the dinner was interested in being formal and "professional" , but very few people were interested in fun it seemed (professional and fun do not have to be mutually exclusive concepts). Which is why Amy and I imported our unique brand of fun, as believe it or not I may or may not have incited the "gaining weight" question with my own, similarly insulting one. We went back and forth all night, and it was great fun insulting each other and making jokes about nearly everything going on around us.

So not only was this a night where I was being lauded with an illustrious award, but the night ended up feeling like a weird mixture of Prom and Graduation (in a good way - they gave me a boutonniere!), albeit one that had an open bar, very delicious food, sweet prizes (clock with my name engraved on it and a $100 stock certificate - count it!), and I got to share it with one of my best friends and someone who was equally willing to be ridiculous and jokey just to make the experience a fun one.

Right before I left to pick up Amy, I spoke to a coworker who was a previous recipient of the award who confirmed my fears: yes, it is dreadful, and yes, it is boring.

Thankfully we defied history and expectations last night, as it was a great time. Can't wait for my next one. Don't forget to keep your schedule open Amy. At this pace it should take me another year and 2 months, so make sure late June is open in 2009.

Capitalist Pig Tuesdays

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This Capitalist Pig Tuesday is coming out earlier than usual due to the fact I have my VIP award banquet here in an hour and a half, but no less, it's a decent week. Pretty light on purchases, but there are a few gems to check out along with some other things that I have not managed to get my hands on quite yet. What are they? Let's look below.

Album of the week: Jamie Lidell - Jim

It's a pretty light week in music (for me), with there being plenty of releases but my interest ranging from "plenty, but cannot find any streams" (Portishead's Third), to "a bit because of recommendations" (Bearsuit's Oh:lo), to "zero...absolutely zero." (Madonna's Hard Candy).

However, Jamie Lidell (another Sasquatch-ian!) does release a new album this week and it's a funkified blast, perfect for those that are currently dealing with nice weather and can drive around with the windows down bumping Lidell's particular brand of soul. It's a very interesting summer album, one that takes you back to yesteryear when music was soulful and fun. It does get a bit repetitive in feel at times (but overall is quite diverse - the tracklisting could have used an edit), but it's good overall and definitely something you will find yourself yearning for time to time.

If anything, it's worth picking up just to hear Lidell belt out some of the lyrics. The arrangements of the instruments are diverse and interesting throughout, but Lidell's delivery is bar none the best instrument within the album. This album will likely garner comparisons to Amy Winehouse's last album, and they would be fair. Except this album is fun, and that's a big deal for me and something I felt was missing from Winehouse's album.

Check it out yourself, as it is streaming here for free.

DVD Release of the Week: The Golden Compass (Directed/Written by Chris Weitz; Starring Dakota Blue Richards, Nicole Kidman, Daniel Craig, Sam Elliott, and Ian McKellan)

Who wouldn't want to watch an adaptation of the first book in a stunning trilogy of stories that featured bear fights, Steampunk influenced devices, girls with supernatural abilities, fully developed characters, sharp wit, and blasphemy? Especially one that featured such a stunning cast and had an incredible trailer going in? I mean come on.

I know I wanted to.

Too bad what came out was the Cliffs Notes version of the story, cutting out a large portion of the book (not in a "I'm a reader that's fickle" way, but in a "where did the ending go?!" way), speeding through the rest, and outright altering another large portion of it.

Needless to say this is not coming recommended from me, except if you rent it or borrow it from someone else.

Do yourself a favor and read the book, and then the rest of the series.

Video Game Release of the Week: Grand Theft Auto IV (Rockstar Games)

What the hell? Am I writing about video games? That's new, especially considering I hardly ever play them anymore. However, this is not just any game. No, no sir. This is the new installment of Grand Theft Auto, also known as the bane of Lieberman and McCain's existance, Satan's favorite video game (and yours too!), and all in all one of the most complete experiences for any video game ever.

Or at least that's what I've surmised from the reviews so far, and why isn't it possible? GTAIII and GTA: Vice City were two of the best games of the past decade, and this is the first one that is testing out the new generation systems. I have my copy sitting right next to me, and I am ready to play. Point in fact, I'm going to stop writing right now to play because, to be honest, if you play video games at all you're probably already doing that yourself. And if you don't, you're probably not that interested.

Oh yeah, and according to GameRankings.com, it has a near perfect rating to date and is the highest rated game of all time. No big deal.

Top 10 Reasons How I Met Your Mother is the Best Comedy on TV right now

Monday, April 28, 2008

I have a tendency to speak in hyperbole near constantly. It's something I cannot stop and is permanently ingrained into who I am (by the way, while writing this I am eating the best brownies ever made and drinking the best glass of milk ever poured - no kidding). I'll totally admit it too, as even I know I can be ridiculous with some of my statements (I once said Daredevil was a really good adaptation of the comic, which anyone who knows the latter and saw the former knows is an utter lie, sheer denial, and hyperbole up the ying yang) at times.

However, I feel ok with saying this: CBS' How I Met Your Mother is the best comedy on TV right now (shocking, because I hate CBS - this is the first show I've really ever watched on that network). I know I'm rather late to this party and I have not seen the second or the current third season, but I don't care. After tearing through the first season recently (I got on a Jason Segel kick after Forgetting Sarah Marshall) I feel that even though I love 30 Rock, the Office, and Weeds, that this little guy surpasses them all. Why's that? Here's a breakdown in this week's edition of Monday Lists.

1. Arrested Development being cancelled

I figured I'd get this out of the way. It isn't my all-time favorite comedy. That honor goes to Arrested Development, which was prematurely cancelled thus opening the door for HIMYM to take the top spot.

2.Ted Mosby

Ted Mosby is the central character of this show, and is the key to the success of the whole show in reality. His character is from which the majority of the plots spin out of, and his obsession with love and getting married is the key to the whole story. How is this? The central idea to the show is that Ted is telling his kids (in 2030) about how he met their Mother, so the whole show is a big flashback revealing to the kids (and to us) how they got together.

Back to the point though, his love obsession could be grating in others hands, but Josh Radnor (the actor who portrays Ted) handles the situation with a charm and realism that lesser actors likely couldn't lend to the character. If someone besides Radnor had taken the role, the whole thing could have crumbled by now.

3. Heart

Ok, I'm a total sucker for shows with heart. This is of course shocking to some, as my favorite shows all time are Battlestar Galactica and Arrested Development, which are pretty cold really. However, as my Mom used to tell me, I'm a hopeless romantic and frankly, the story to this show really sucks me in. I always loved the concept of a storybook love (or at least the romantic comedy version - also, leave me alone, I can't help it!) and the heart displayed by the characters within this story are fantastically reminiscent of that concept.

Also, in case this is a concern for some...it's full of heart without being cheesy.

4. Marshall and Lily

Marshall and Lily (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan) are the emotional constant to the show, and one of the funniest on screen couples I've ever seen in TV. Of course, that has a lot to do with the fact that Segel is a comedic genius and Hannigan is unfathomably adorable, but still. Segel and Hannigan manage to be cute without cloying, couply (new word: couple + y) without being annoying, and great together and when apart. They really fit together unbelievably well, and do a great job of tying the rest of the cast together.

5. Chemistry

Speak of the Devil! This cast is greater than the sum of its parts, and that is because each character works so well together. These people seem like the five best friends on the planet, and they did from day one. That's the incredible thing about this cast is how seemless their relationships are. Their relationships remind me of how people described the cast of Friends, except one thing: Friends may have invented this game, but this cast perfected it. Inside jokes feel like inside jokes, ridiculous stories feel like ridiculous stories - everything feels organic, and there is something to be said about that.

6. Robin

Robin (Cobie Smulders) is told by Ted in the very first episode that he loves her. Really, in terms of early frontrunners for being the titual Mother, Robin appears to be a favorite, if not an absolute lock. Her transition into being friends (but perpetual love interest) with Ted and his crew is very well conceived, and Smulders manages to make one of the most thankless and obvious roles in Hollywood (the love interest) her own by imbuing the character with a charm and a wit that are quite often absent from said characters. She feels real, as opposed to just some idealized "dream girl," which ironically makes her the ideal fit for the show.

7. The Music

This is a show that succesfully uses Otis Redding, Belle and Sebastian, and the 88 as plot points. Who couldn't love that? I mean come on, the season ends with Bloc Party's "This Modern Love" playing throughout the final scenes. Want to see how to use music in TV shows? Check that scene, as the instruments and lyrics are perfectly tuned to the on screen happenings.

With so many other shows being considered the harbingers of cool for music, it's incredible that the one that tries less hard than the rest can manage to pull it off better.

8. The Writing

The last sentence of the music breakdown really sums up this show and the writing style. This show seemingly tries less hard to achieve more, and really that stems from the fact that everything is written in an organic and believable fashion. For a sitcom with a (ugh...) laugh track, it's unbelievable that this show can feel so real and that you never feel the disconnect that you do with other shows. The writers cannot be applauded too much for their ability to achieve such a connection with their viewership (or at least with this guy).

Oh yeah, and did I mention the writing is hilarious? Every character is written to be funny, and every episode is packed with laugh out loud moments. There were a number of episodes in which I was crying I was laughing so hard, and those are pretty much the pinnacle of Mt. Laughter.

9. Barney Stinson

Barney is a jerk. Barney is somewhat one note. But Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) is pretty much the man and unbelievably funny. Over the past few years (thanks to this show and the Harold and Kumar movies) NPH has subverted his persona and made himself into one of the best comedic actors around. His sex and suit obsessed Barney has been the breakout character for the show, being constantly quotable ("Suit up" needs to be available for me to use more often) and consistently awesome.

Even though NPH himself describes the character as "part David Spade, part David Letterman and part Regis Philbin," don't hold that against him. He's about 425,326 times better than that description. Really, he's like the depravity of George, the bizarre of Kramer, the mean of Elaine, and the sexual success rate of Jerry combined into one character. Essentially, he's the Fantastic Four if you combined them into one character. Barney is legendary, simply put.

10. Relatability

This is what really makes this my favorite right now. While I cannot relate to the horribly awkward situations in the Office always, the office hilarity and askewness in 30 Rock, or the drug dealing in Weeds, I can definitely relate with a twenty something guy looking to find Mrs. Right. Ted and his friends remind me of me and my friends, and being able to picture yourself in that place is the key to the whole show working really. If you went into this show and thought, "well this isn't like me at all," then it isn't for you. For those that sit down during that pilot and say "yeah...that's about right," well, this one's for you.

This show is perfectly relatable for me if only for the episode "The Pineapple Incident," in which Ted's friends get him to drink heavily so he can turn off his brain. Not that they do that to me often, but it's funny how overthinkers seem so different (and impulsive) when drinking. It's pretty hilarious, and hits strangely close to home - just like the rest of the show.

I Turn My Camera On

My new baby!

While preparing for my venture off to the Pacific Northwest to visit with friends and check out Sasquatch Music Festival, I made a list of must do items. How am I doing? Let's consult the check sheet.
  • Familiarize myself with lesser known bands: Check!
  • Spend more time in the sun so I don't burn myself alive: Check!
  • Work out camping plans: Check!
  • Get new sunglasses: Complete and utter failure to this point.
  • Get a new camera at an affordable price that has great stability features and optical zoom: CHECK!
Friday afternoon, right after work, I went and picked up a new camera. It's a Canon Powershot SX 100 IS, and it pretty much rules. I was going to do direct photo comparisons between the two, but I didn't want to make my old Fuji Finepix feel bad about itself. It'd probably develop some sort of complex, because the difference? Let's say it's significant. It's like me with glasses versus me without glasses. I love it oh so much, and now all I need to do is get sunglasses for the trip.

Oh, and one other thing. Will someone pick me up in Portland on Wednesday, May 21st around 11:45 pm? That'd be super if someone could! Anybody? Anybody? Anybody...

De-hoboing David

Me: Before and After

So last week I made a decision. After a while of my hair garnering me looks and the occasional "go back to your shanty, hobo" comments from my coworkers, I had to get a haircut. It was likely long past time, but for some reason I was convinced I looked good with the shag. Professionally though, it was time to take a step in the cleaner cut direction. Additionally, it may have looked good (and made me look super young I've heard) but long/thick hair is REALLY hot. When I run at the gym now, I feel much lighter and I get so much less tired! It kind of boggles my mind to a degree.

So far responses range almost entirely in the positive, with my super hot daily barista being the most effusive with her praise (she loves me...no big deal) but most everyone else being supportive as well. Strangely the first person at the office to see me asked me why I looked like a bum, which confused me greatly. I thought that was exactly what I just got away from?! Oh well. No less, it was about time and it feels great, and I look pretty dapper if I do say so myself.

The Weekend Edition

To wrap up my ode to Alaska that has taken place over the past few posts...thanks Alaska. Thanks a lot. I'm not going to say you ruined my weekend, but I am going to say you significantly altered my weekend. It was still a good weekend, but one that was hampered greatly by 17 inches of snow being dumped upon the greater Anchorage area and quickly followed by the rapid melting of said 17 inches.

For those wondering what exactly that is like, it is not good. It makes driving interesting and even though I get bored bored while driving, I'm definitely not looking for this kind of excitement. However, I'm not one to let Mother Nature bring my chi down, regardless of how evil she is being. Oh no, no I am not. Here's your weekend edition.
  • Deciding on a Foosball Table (for the most part)
  • Getting my camera (Booyah! See above post)
  • Finally catching Lost (explosions, and Benjamin Linus, and smoke monsters! oh my!)
  • Going out to Koots with Amy, Chris Sharpe, and Nick
  • Dancing like an idiot and getting owned at Foosball
  • Harold and Kumar go to Guantanamo Bay
  • Bad Movie Night
  • Snow City with Brian
  • Bstar ruling...ho hum
  • Finishing Season One of How I Met Your Mother (more on this later)
  • Suite 100 with my parents
  • Rocking out with Amy
So it was a good weekend, but one that was forced to take place almost entirely inside when it was originally planned to feature the Heart Run and a hike at a nearby mountain. Oh yeah, and it was also planned to have nice weather. Thanks for ruining plans Alaska!

Anyways, what am I going to elaborate on this week?

Well, this weekend's highlight had to be the bad movie night. Although less good than previous successes (but really, what night can top two times ago - Sleepaway Camp AND Surf School? Nothing. That is the only answer) it was still a fairly successful one. Really, the keys to any bad movie night are fairly simple:
  • Good mix of people
  • Alcohol (or sugar/caffeine if underage)
  • Movies must try to be good - cannot try to be bad
  • Must include one Uwe Boll movie
  • Must mix genres (although horror movies from the 80's are seemingly always good picks)
We had a strong mix, with Colver, Lorna, Amy, Brian, and myself being involved (stalwart Kim is off in the Carribbean having the time of her life - damn her!), plenty of drinks, we had Dungeon Siege to cover our Uwe Boll base (you haven't seen someone phone it in until you've seen Ray Liotta phone it in), and we had a fine mix of genres that all thought they were great (Dungeon Siege, Ski School 2, Bounty Huntress, and I Know Who Killed Me). On top of that, we had the unnecessary but wholly welcome addition of a Manhattan Pizza (amazing pizza).

It was a great time, however we made two huge mistakes - we started with Dungeon Siege which was over two hours long (total rookie mistake) and we Lorna somehow managed to pick a Skinemax movie for the third consecutive bad movie night (we knew it, but we thought we could make it work...again). They definitely brought the night down a bit, but we made it work great anyways. It was a great time like always, and any night I get to spend with my great friends is always one well worth spending. Especially when we're impersonating episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000, which is always great.

It never ends

Friday, April 25, 2008
Taken from at my office around 2:45 PM

Good lord. It's still snowing. Looking like Anchorage will pull down 14 inches today, and there are accidents everywhere. Plus the Heart Run is cancelled for the second time in its 30 years...well postponed to be accurate. I can hardly believe this. It's almost May! MAY!

I continue to hate Alaska.

Just call me Jinx

My office today at 11:45 am

I need to stop talking about the weather, because Alaska always takes whatever I say and does the opposite. After four consecutive nice days, we got dumped on again.

In other words, I hate you Alaska. Running the Heart Run is going to suck tomorrow.

That's more like it!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Good god, I love springtime/summertime. It's my favorite time of the year bar none, and it's finally turning that way in good ol' AK. It just seems like yesterday that I was complaining about getting snow dumped on Anchorage right and left, and all of a sudden it's 55 to 60 with sun pouring down upon us for three straight days. Just in time for the Heart Run on Saturday too! Not only that, but I've played Frisbee Golf for three consecutive days and there is even talk of hiking in the near future. Gasp! I can't believe it!

Regardless, keep it up AK. I'm loving this weather and want it to be exactly like this (just a smidge warmer perhaps) until at least September. I'm not asking for much at all, simply a small gift for one of your loyal residents.

Capitalist Pig Tuesdays - Week of 4/22

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Once again, I'm back with my Capitalist Pig Tuesdays segment, where I break down the best buys being released on this very day, along with convenient links to where you can purchase it and stream the album if you so please! If there is anything that stands out to you that I missed, please let me know because I am always looking for new things.

This week is a week of a few very exciting purchases, namely on the music side. Without further ado, here it is!

Album of the week: Tokyo Police Club - Elephant Shell

Ho hum. Great album, one of the best of the year so far. Already wrote about it, so I won't waste your time - I'll simply link you to it here.

Also, feel free to stream it for yourself in its entirety here.

Best album this week not made by Tokyo Police Club: Flight of the Conchords - Self Titled

This week we see the debut release of New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo, also known as Flight of the Conchords. For those that are not familiar with their comedy or their superbly hilarious HBO show (that I wrote a bit about last August, clink link to read), they are also known as Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement (or by their rapping alter-egos the Rhymenocerous and the Hip-Hopopotamus) and they may have released the best indie album pretending to be a comedy album (or is it best comedy album pretending to be an indie album?) of the year.

This album does it all, from taking you through PG rated raps about having tea with your grandmother, to Barry White/Marvin Gaye inspired ditties about getting down with your old lady, to a bizarre track influenced by David Bowie which also happens to be about David Bowie, shockingly titled "Bowie." In the show, most of their songs were only acoustic guitar based, but here they bring in a slew of other instruments (including a beat laid down that is an electric mandolin - booyah!), and it makes their sound far more full.

I can't tell if I should be even trying to review this seriously, as I don't know if it's serious or not. Either way, it's awesome, and should be checked out (along with their show) immediately. I'm extremely excited to be seeing the deadly duo in May at Sasquatch. They will definitely rock my party.

Feel free to stream the album in its entirety here.

Hip Hop Album of the week: Atmosphere - When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint that Shit Gold

Well Slug and Ant are back, but it hasn't really felt like they've gone anywhere as they just released a compilation of previously unreleased tracks called Strictly Leakage at the end of last year, along with three EP's just last year. So the Minneapolis duo is nothing if not prolific. However, does that dilute the quality?

Not one bit. This album is every bit as good as previous releases like Seven's Travels or You Can't Imagine How Much Fun We're Having, but perhaps there has been a bit of maturation in their sound. Track "Guarantees" shows off this maturation quite a bit, as it is for the most part all soulful guitar combined with some light singing and rapping from Slug. It's stripped down rap at its best and something new for the duo. Atmosphere continues to produce some of the best hip hop in the industry today with this album. This comes very recommended.

The album is no longer stringing, but feel free to check out a couple tracks on their Myspace page.

DVD Release of the Week: Cloverfield, directed by Matt Reeves, written by Drew Goddard.

Although everyone thinks that there is a one man show behind this film (JJ Abrams, I'm looking at you), I think Reeves and Goddard deserve a lot of credit for putting together both a top notch monster movie and one where we actually care about the characters. A lot of the kudos I think have to go to Goddard on the latter subject, as his characters are developed quickly and are taken in consistently interesting and surprising directions. The key to a good monster movie is you have to want the people to survive, and they make that happen. If that didn't happen, all of the CGI in the world couldn't do anything to save this movie.

It is intense though, and it is very scary at times. It's a very riveting experience, and I fully recommend watching in darkness with a group of people who will take it seriously. It is a movie that really fits in theaters better than anywhere else, but considering that is no longer an option, do what you can to simulate it.

However, I'm unsure as to whether or not this is a "buy now" movie. It's very entertaining, and it's engrossing, but I'm unsure about how well it will work on repeat visits. I'm looking around for a good price, otherwise I may wait for Black Friday like I am with Juno, as this is assuredly going to be bargain basement on that glorious day. But it's a must rent for sure, and I recommend it to anyone in that regard. I'm just tentative to say it's a movie that deserves to be purchased.

MxPx and Poison the Well co-headlining Summer Meltdown 4?


I've never been to the Summer Meltdown concert in Anchorage. Its fourth iteration is going down this summer, July 19th, and apparently they're going to announce the national headliners May 2nd at the 36 Crazy Fists show. Considering I'm not a huge fan of all that business, I shouldn't care.

However, when doing my daily perusing of Pollstar to see if any shows were coming here, I noticed that MxPx, a band that was partially responsible for me becoming so obsessed into music, was playing here. Then I checked their website and according to it they are playing Summer Meltdown with Poison the Well, a metal band that isn't my cup of tea musically but man, they really rock live. I saw them open for AFI once and they were rather...intense. But fun! No less, don't feel like paying $35 bucks to find out who is headlining Summer Meltdown? You heard it here first. Should be another cool show for Anchorage this summer, but $35? Not sure about that at all.

Favorite Albums Ever

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's List Monday once again! After last week was seemingly pretty successful (50% increase in visits!) and a lot of fun, I decided this was definitely a tradition I'd carry on. Once again the list is music oriented but it's an even harder subject than last time. This time it's favorite albums ever (not "best," but favorite), and I judged each album over a number of factors.

Primarily, I looked at how long I've been listening to it, impact on my listening habits, how much of the album I love, standout tracks, worst tracks, and overall appeal of the band. I also limited each band to a maximum of one album on the list, although if I hadn't there only would have been a couple repeats.

I also excluded compilations (such as the Beatles Love and the Rushmore soundtrack) as they felt like cheating. With that said, on with the list!

1. Gatsby's American Dream - Ribbons and Sugar

Favorite track: Recondition, Reprogram, Reactivate

This is Gatsby's second album and the first one I ever listened to of them. They are my favorite band ever, and this album never ceases to be as great as it was the first time I listened to it. Every track of this album is superb and fits perfectly within the album, and every element of each song works perfectly. It's strangely danceable, rocking, fun to sing along to - it's everything I want in a CD.

The only thing I don't understand about it is the fact that it is supposedly a musical interpretation of George Orwell's Animal Farm and I never figured out how exactly it is that. But I digress.

2. Anathallo - Floating World

Favorite track: By Number

Everything about this album is beautiful. From the exquisite (and freakishly delicate) packaging, to the lyrics, to the instruments, to the sheer grandiosity of the sound, to the vocals - everything is gorgeous. This album is the perfect chi balancer, and I have used it many times to study, stretch, work out, work, and to just refocus yourself on the task at hand. It's not for everyone, but I wish that everyone would give a chance because this band from Mount Pleasant, Michigan (by way of Chicago) put out one of the most incredible albums I've ever heard.

3. Cake - Fashion Nugget

Favorite track: Friend is a Four Letter Word

This was a tough choice. Originally I was leaning heavily towards Cake's album Prolonging the Magic, with Comfort Eagle as a close second. Then something snapped, and the history and memories tied to Fashion Nugget made it so this had to be the album chosen. Truth be told, it's probably the right one to be picked if only because this is before they started including their "radio hits" that were great as well, but managed to be killed by repetition (Short Skirt, Long Jacket - I'm looking at you).

Cake is not a complicated band. They're a band that puts out records that are perfect for every situation. Having party? Put on Cake. Depressed because your girl left you? Put on Cake. Taking a road trip? Put on Cake! (See what's happening here? Bet ya do.) Just because the music isn't complicated though does not mean it's bad. Fashion Nugget is fantastic throughout, and gets bonus points for being one of the albums to really get me into music.

4. Phantom Planet - The Guest

Favorite track: Anthem

In the summer of 2005, I lived in Moscow, Idaho and Lewiston, Idaho selling advertising in a campus directory for the University of Idaho and managing a three person sales team. During that summer, I was constantly in a car or on my feet, and perpetually listening to music. Before that summer, I liked sections of Phantom Planet's album the Guest, but never really got in to it. Enter listening to the album on repeat for three months, probably putting down a couple hundred full album spins.

Front to back, this is a perfect summer album. It's warm weather, sunshine, windows down, shorts, sandals, and t-shirts recorded as music. That job was crap, as I made very little money and it was stressful, but I'm thankful very often that I did it if only for discovering the truth about this album.

Also, don't get down on this album because of the track "California." It's only one song, and a good one no less, but it is nowhere near the best this album has to offer. Trust me.

5. Taking Back Sunday - Tell All Your Friends

Favorite track: Ghost Man on Third

This is the album (much to Colver's chagrin) that really, really got me in to music. I had listened to a lot of music before this album, but hearing this album more than anything sent me spiraling into the wide world of music more than anything. The dueling vocals, the shredding guitars, the incredible drums, the brilliant singalongs, everything about this album is stellar. Taking Back Sunday led me to the world of emo/screamo/punk, and from there I took the logical progression into indie, all the way to where I'm at now - listening to whatever I can get my hands on.

Although only ten tracks long, there is a lot of power on this album, and even though both albums since have been downgrades, this one maintains it's hold on me. Seeing them three times live (they're incredible) definitely helps, but listening to tracks like Ghost Man on Third and Cute Without the E takes me back to a time when it felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time. I hope some day they can get back to the level of greatness they were once at, but even if they don't they'll always have put out this marvelous record.

6. The Shins - Chutes Too Narrow

Favorite track: Gone For Good

Disclaimer: I got in before the explosion they experienced after Garden State. Barely, but I got in before by just a tad. Not trying to be that guy to say "oh, I liked them before they were huge," but this band faced some of the biggest bandwagon jumping of recent memory in music.

These guys only put out great music, and maintain their position as one of my favorite bands, but Chutes is flat out their best album. Another short album for my list, as it only has ten tracks as well and clocks in at barely under 34 minutes, but that doesn't matter. This is the crown jewel of the barrage of indie pop records that came out over the last six years, all because of the sunny retro-tinged (and slightly country at times - gasp!) disposition to all of the tracks.

These guys aren't writing songs to be popular or to be critically acclaimed, they don't have an agenda. They just make brilliant pop music, and Chutes Too Narrow is where they brought it all together.

7. Sigur Ros - Agaetis Byrjun

Favorite track: Olsen Olsen

This band is impossible to explain. Their music is ravishing, emotionally powerful, lush, gorgeous, , and it's all that without one understandable lyric. It's all in Icelandic, or all besides standout track Olsen Olsen, which is actually written in a dialect of Icelandic invented by the band. The amazing thing about this album is it is another ten track album, but this one clocks in at slightly over 71 minutes, and that I really like only half the album at a slighty-above-average level. I can definitely skip tracks.

However, tracks Svefn-g-englar, Staralfur, and Olsen Olsen would be in a "Top 10 favorite songs" list if I ever got around to making it. All three of them. You could call this album top heavy, I call it my seventh favorite album ever. Pick up the album and try not looping those three tracks for hours on end. It's tough.

8. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - Let's Face It

Favorite track: The Rascal King

If Tell All Your Friends is the album that took me to the next level of getting into music, this is the first album that really made me appreciate the album as an art form. I'll be perfectly honest, when I was younger I would listen to only single tracks off CD's. It blows my mind now, but it would happen often. This is the first album where I was taken aback by how great it was all the way through.

It's still a great album, one of my all time favorites, but it's definitely this high because of legacy as much as anything. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

9. Pete Yorn - Musicforthemorningafter

Favorite track: For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is)

This is another somewhat top heavy album, but what a half an album! The second half of the album is very solid, if not occasionally boring. But the first half? My god. Perfection. Standout track "For Nancy" is both the song most often associated with me by friends (good friend Sobo says that song always make him think of me) and also my favorite single track ever. Besides that, the rest of the first half are also delicious little ditties about love and heartbreak, all told through simple guitar rock that is just fun as heck to sing along to.

10. Eels - Electro Shock Blues

Favorite track: Last Stop, This Town

This is a very tragic album, as it is the album Mark Oliver Everett wrote after his sister and mother both died. What came from it is one of the most captivating and engrossing albums I've ever heard, at times being incredibly sad and others being marvelously uplifting. It's quirky and peculiar, but that is all part of E's charm.

I really think it's a very influential album, as this is a forefather to a lot of the indie pop that came from after it. It's definitely the best album E ever produced - which is saying something as this band has produced a lot of wonderful material. This is an underappreciated gem that should be loved by more, but for now, it's at least loved by me.

11. Gorillaz - Gorillaz

12. Muse - Absolution

13. Spoon - Gimme Fiction

14. Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism

15. Weezer - Weezer (Blue Album)

16. The Strokes - Is This It?

17. Blink-182 - Enema of the State

18. Incubus - S.C.I.E.N.C.E.

19. Fenix Tx - Lechuza

20. Foo Fighters - The Colour and the Shape

21. NOFX - So Long and Thanks for all the Shoes

22. The Postal Service - Give Up

23. Say Anyhing - ...is a Real Boy

24. The Killers - Hot Fuss

25. Radiohead - Kid A

26. Arcade Fire - Funeral

27. Coldplay - A Rush of Blood to the Head

28. Sufjan Stevens - Illinois

29. Sublime - Sublime

30. The Offspring - Ixnay on the Hombre

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, April 20, 2008

To keep with tradition, this evening I present to you the weekend edition of A Slice of Fried Gold, also known as "Why the previous weekend rocked." However, once again due to my forgetful nature there was no camera present (others did have cameras though, so we'll see what I come up with later) and sadly I have absolutely no pictures. My bad! In standard fashion, I'll break it down in a Cliff's Notes format, and then go into details about a one or two specific happenings.

  • First dinner ever at Ginger
  • Cirque Dreams at the Performing Arts Center with Colver, Lorna, and Kim
  • Palmer Open House for GCI
  • Being recruited to be a mascot performer
  • Dancing at a busy intersection in Palmer with a coworker
  • Making sushi for the first time with Amy
  • Jason's Bday BBQ
  • Rocking killer vocal/guitar duets on Rock Band with Amy
  • King's Cup again
  • Wrestling and rap battling
  • Tragedy striking Battlestar Galactica
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall with the crew
  • Finally watching my How I Met Your Mother DVD's and falling in love
So yeah, busy weekend as per usual. Fueled by coffee and tons of delicious food, it all went really well and I had a ton of fun. Plus the weekend was gorgeous, with blue skies and sunlight in every direction along with 55 (!!) degree weather - leave us alone lower 48, we're Alaska, that's as good as we get. I really do think that nothing beats Alaskan summers, and I'm already getting that feeling even though the snow hasn't even left us quite yet.

What stood out this weekend? Well, in particular the GCI open house was a huge success, and I had a ton of fun joking around with coworkers, high fiving Bob the Builder, dancing at intersections to attract traffic, and being amazed at various networks ability to only hire attractive girls to work for them (at our open house there were two PBS Sprout reps, and they were both very nice and very cute).

In particular, I was pretty jazzed and my energy apparently stood out to a lot of people around me, including one of the people involved with the "talent" - aka the guys in the Bob the Builder outfit - who asked me to send in a resume to do mascot work in Alaska. Obviously, I won't do this, but if I'm ever in need of a third revenue stream (along with my primary job at GCI and my side business with Amy) I can always act as an Eagle or Tony the Tiger for a few hours and make bank. Seriously funny though, and I'm glad I seem to have the skill set necessary to run around in an oversized character costume.

Also standing out this weekend was the performance of Cirque Dreams that Kim, Lorna, Colver, and I attended, which was spectacular and very entertaining. My good friend Sobo always raved about the Cirque events, but I was never really interested in it. Now? Pretty impressed, as the show we went to was extremely well performed and visually arresting in a way I didn't really think it would be. Sure, it was still cheesy like I thought it would be, but it was a lot of fun and I love trying new things. This was definitely new, and I'm glad I had another weekend with so many new and exciting experiences.