A Slice of Fried Gold

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ahhhhhhhh. Thanksgiving weekend, how I love you. Sure, at the end of the weekend I'm probably ten pounds heavier than before, but it was so worth it. Plus, any weekend where I get an additional two days off are very well appreciated. So what happened that made it particularly quality?

  • Making two delicious meals for my parents (salmon cakes plus David's club scramble = crazy delicious)
  • Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends
  • Black Friday mania!
  • Checking out Baz Luhrmann's Australia (good, not great so disappointing to a degree, but still a worthy movie to check out)
  • Staying up for twenty hours on Friday (crazy tired)
  • Finishing another book (nearing 52!)
  • Enjoying the heck out of Bolt
  • Out on the town with Amy, Jason, Nate, Nick and more
  • Watching the Pats get supergatored by the Steelers at the Peanut Farm with Jason
  • Supergator, quite possibly the best bad movie ever
  • Thanksgiving the sequel with Amy, Arianna, and more (two Thanksgivings? hell yes!)
So it was a great weekend and one that as packed to the gills with fun, family, friends, and food. All of the best f's really. Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally one of my favorites of the year because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. While I love the tomfoolery and fun of Halloween and enjoy the family, fun, food, and presents of Christmas, the purity and the good will of Thanksgiving is really hard to beat.

Even better than that this year is the fact that I not only had one Thanksgiving (filled with incredible green bean casserole, delicious mashed potatoes and gravy, and oh so glorious pie), but a second awesome Thanksgiving after the initial one. Arianna (Amy's roommate) had to work on Thanksgiving and came up with a plan to put on a magnificent dinner Sunday night, and I managed to get on the guest list. The meal came complete with all the turkey day standards, but with the addition of the most delectable candied yams ever. Arianna's grandma's special recipe, and apparently it's pretty much magic.

Of course, there is the whole "oh man, I need a nap right now" thing, and the whole "I'm fairly certain my stomach is splitting in half" thing, and the whole "why don't my pants fit anymore?" thing. But that's a small price to pay for pure unadultered food joy.

Winter is really, really here

It's been pretty much snowing for four days in a row here in Alaska. I know we're Alaska, so it shouldn't be that surprising, but come on now. Every time I go out to my car it's buried again, and the area surrounding my car is mid shin deep.

This is just getting ridiculous, and I demand that it quits like right now. Seriously.

Booyah for Black Friday

Friday, November 28, 2008

I braved the Black Friday lines once again, ready for full out combat shopping, and this time came out more successful than I've ever been before (or I suppose that would depend on your definition of success - in this case, success would be measured by getting what I desired and spending an absurd amount of money very quickly).

For some reason, every year my mom and I (at the very least, we are usually partnered up with others) venture out into the insanity of Black Friday, not so much looking to pick up 12 DVD players (as I've seen someone toting around at Best Buy before) but really, just to take in the crazy. You haven't seen people act crazy until you've seen them act crazy over "deals" and things of that sort, and you'll never find that more (in "quality" and quantity) than on Black Friday.

This year however, I had a specific mission as Best Buy had a very slick Toshiba laptop for super cheap. As I had a good experience with my last Toshiba laptop and these specs checked out to be pretty much exactly what I wanted, I decided another plunge into the darkness was worth it. This time, my mom, niece, and sister had an inside person, with my nephew and his friends getting to Best Buy at an absurdly early (or late) hour by getting there around 10:30/11 PM. We got there at about 3:20 AM, and were early enough to get a laptop for both my sister and myself (although I nearly had a panic attack after they claimed to have handed them all out).

So now I'm writing this from Kaladi Brothers on Title Wave's wireless network as I sip from a coffee. I've been up for 13 hours and it's only 3:35 PM, but you know what? Worth it. I got some cool stuff, killer deals, and some Christmas shopping done. Sleep? I'll sleep when I'm dead.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving to all! See above for the most ridiculous Thanksgiving picture I could find.

It's official

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I had a meeting with my boss yesterday over something else, and I broached the question of a lengthy amount of time off (3 weeks to be specific) so I could go to Europe some time in April through June of next year.

"Do you have the vacation time?"
"Yeah, enough for that and plenty more."
"Oh yeah, you have like 5 or 6 weeks saved up, huh?"
"Well sure. That sounds great. Feel free to take it off."

I then proceeded to gleefully jig in his office as my boss looked on laughing.

Now I just need to drop some serious bank on a ticket and wrap up that whole passport thing, and I'm doing this, but for real real. Consider me excited.

Too bad

Monday, November 24, 2008

Is it possible for me to hate your sunglasses more?

Strangely enough, I was beaten to the punch by Amanda on this subject today. More specifically, I was beaten to the punch by a site called "Mama Pop" which wrote up "the Top 10 reasons why Kanye West is a douche" here.

I wasn't going to write about why Kanye is an ahole (although there is plenty of material why - three things Mama Pop missed include the monumental hissy fit he threw after the Grammy's when Maroon 5 won best new artist instead of him, the infamous "George Bush don't like black people" moment, and the fact he made sunglasses that you cannot see out of popular - I hate those so much) but about how it's too bad he is one, because he's really freaking talented.

I picked up his new album 808's and Heartbreaks and I have to admit, I really, really like it. It's more electro pop than rap and it completely abandons the ridiculous skits that would hamper his previous albums, and it is all the better for it. It has a ton of soul and some of the best beats featured in any of his albums. It's a really hard album not to like.

Of course, with a guy who is assuredly very intelligent and matches that with a natural charisma and immense talent, why is it that it's impossible for him to not be needlessly controversial? Is he just an attention whore? Can he not live unless someone is paying attention to him at all moments? He surrounds the release of his album with such tomfoolery as claiming he's the "voice of the generation" or other such nonsense seemingly just to draw attention, when the album can stand on its own with clear cut number one singles like "Heartless" and "Love Lockdown."

The worst thing is he spent so much time establishing himself as intelligent and focused on different things than the rest of the artists in his genre, and then progressed to destroy that by developing what may be the single biggest ego on the planet.

It kills me. I'll continue to enjoy his album, but man, the guy needs to stop being so in love with himself and stop being so in to being controversial. It makes me want to hate the guys music, just because of his personality.

Lock it up Kanye. There's no reason to be so ridiculous. You make good music. Sell yourself on that, not on the controversial things you brew up in the old noodle. Next time you come up with something ludicrous to say, sit the next few plays out and stop talking for a while. You'll be thankful for actually not talking for once, as unbelievable as that seems.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, November 23, 2008

This was one of the best weekends in recent memory. I have been stuck in either Disney weekends or twenty something party comedy weekends lately, and while I like relaxing and I like parties, all of one and none of the other is a split I'm not particularly interested in. This weekend was an ideal mix of both, and for that reason amongst others was great. There was so much goodness, I'm even going to break down the whole weekend as opposed to just Cliff's Noting it up as per usual.

Lucky you!

Friday: This week sucked, to put it nicely. After a long hard week, I wasn't sure if I wanted to lock myself in my apartment and not let anything go wrong or go out and party myself into oblivion. Thankfully, I chose the middle ground.

To start the night, as planned Jason, Amy, Hannah, Nate, Jon, and I went out to dinner at a new sushi joint in Anchorage named Dish (contemplating starting to review Anchorage restaurants on here - if so, this will be the first one reviewed). It's a place that Amy and I have both went a couple times before and had recommended to the whole group for good reason. Everything was delicious.

Our group consumed a ton of delicious food (highlighted by Hannah's freakishly delectable EC Roll and the bizarre but alluring Kimchi Jon ordered) and had a great time doing it. Amy, Jason, Hannah and I hang out all the time, but I don't get to see Jon and Nate nearly as much as I used to so it was great having more of the Crewnit back together again.

After the dinner, Amy and I split off to meet up with Nick and then head to a birthday party (with beer pong...fun!) which would feature one of the most brilliant party inventions: the party bus. Legal vehicular mobility combined with consumption of booze and free entrance into any bar is one of the better ideas ever, and it was a really fun time, although it ended up being a really early night as Amy and I clearly started too early at night (we had a couple beers at Dish).

Regardless, any night featuring a great meal, great friends, and a party bus is hard to complain about.

Saturday: I woke in the morning on Amy's surprisingly comfy couch covered by a beyond warm feather comforter that hadn't been there when I went to sleep (thanks go out to Amy's roommate Arianna in this case - thanks!) in time for my 8 am conference call for work - booyah! After that's completed, Amy and I make the needlessly complex and entertaining journey to acquire some McDonald's breakfast and reacquire her car.

Even though I'm feeling pretty good considering the early hour and what I'd been doing the evening before, I decide to read a few comics and then nap for an hour or two that turns into a solid three or four. This leads to a mouthwatering meal at frequent haunt Middle Way Cafe with Hannah (her first time!) and then a few hours of reading at Kaladi's, as I finally finish Bill Bryson's travelogue Neither Here Nor There (7 months in the making!) and begin fresh on a new book.

By this time, it's nearly time to meet up with Brian for the grand selection process for bad movie night. Bad movie night, for those that are unaware of the intricacies of this glorious event, is a night where we sit around and watch a series of terrible movies and give them the Mystery Science Theater 3000 treatment by ridiculing every single event that transpires. Plus we drink beer and eat delicious foods (ranging from the occasional massive pot of mac and cheese as gloriously shared by Lorna, Brian, and I to the Moose's Tooth pizza we ate on Saturday night).

The Howling 3: the Marsupials

Bad movie night this time featured one good movie (the surprisingly haunting Right at Your Door) and two legendarily bad movies - the Howling 3: the Marsupials and Sleepaway Camp 3: Teenage Wasteland. The latter was watched just to complete our viewing of the "thrillogy", but the former we jumped in excitedly as the cover looked too promising to pass up.

Sure enough, it was about as good as you can get, earning a place in the Bad Movie Night Hall of Fame (along with Cyborg Cop, Sleepaway Camp, Bloodrayne, and Surf School) with such gems as a character named "Jerboa Jerboa," werewolf/marsupial crossbreeds, random chase scenes that develop into love stories, a teleporting aboriginal man, and the best werewolf transformation scenes ever.

In short, we laughed, we cried (because of the laughing), we kissed our troubles goodbye.

Thanks bad movie night!

Sunday: I got up bright and early to get to the crafting of breakfast burritos featuring eggs, hot Jimmy Dean sausage, green and red peppers, diced onions, and feta cheese for Jason, Hannah, and I. It was a big day, as we were making the sojourn to the Peanut Farm for football Sunday, as today featured only the Ravens/Eagles on cable and every game imaginable at Peanut Farm (they have NFL Sunday Ticket) and I had a big game with the Pats facing the Dolphins and Amy and Jason had a showdown between their teams (the Cowboys and Niners respectively).

To start: the Peanut Farm is heaven for football fans. You have loads of passionate and knowledgeable fans (i.e. the Buffalo Bills fans who chanted the Bills fight song after every score - which was often as they dropped 54 points on the Chiefs), everyone is dressed up so I don't feel weird in a Wes Welker jersey, and every game is playing. I'm pretty sure I'm going to go there every week from now on.

It was a great time, as my team dominated, so did Amy's, and Jason's team sadly got killed (but they're the Niners...it's kind of what they do at this point). I excitedly watched every down of the Pats game, with Matt Cassel continuing to grow up in front of our eyes. Gotta love it.

This led to us going back to my place after the early games and watching Wall-E on Blu Ray and the Shawshank Redemption as no one had seen the former besides me and Hannah had not seen the latter. Needless to say, they were both great.

One note: nothing shows the difference better between Blu Ray and standard DVD than those two DVD's, as one is a brilliant visual movie on next gen tech while the other is a stark drama and one of the earlier DVD's ever released. The difference between the two was huge. I love you Blu Ray!

That's pretty much it for the weekend. It was a great mix of lazy and party, and I love that. Plus, I ran two miles in 12 minutes and 47 seconds today with a belly full of McDonald's. Not too bad, if I do say so myself.

I'm a commercial boy

Unsurprisingly, on no day do I spend more time in front of the TV than on Sunday. Considering I'm a maven of football, I gorge myself on every down, taking in every play (at least if it's the Patriots) as if this is the most important play of the game. There is a rotating lineup of people watching with me every week, consisting of Amy, Jason, Hannah, and Colver, and the shared laziness and football watching leads to great days.

Of course, the volume we take in leads to something else.

Commercial domination.

Seemingly every week during a game we're inspired to do something or the other during the game by the commercials we see. Example: week 1, Jason, Amy, and myself are watching at my place. After eight straight hours of being bombarded with commercials about Bud Light with Lime (or BLL as Jason calls it) and Taco Bell's Volcano Tacos, in the break between the early afternoon game and the late afternoon game (or late afternoon game and early evening game for most of you) I collected around six Volcano Tacos and Jason picked up a sixer of BLL.

They were consumed very quickly.

This week was no different, as repeated "Nuggnuts" commercial from McDonald's led to Jason and I both downing ten piece nuggets (as collected by the incredibly giving Hannah) while we watched a movie.

It's funny how I find myself commenting on some commercials, openly asking "who would be suckered by something like this?" and then on others I am completely overcome and lose all sense about the situation and must purchase that item immediately. Maybe it's a volume thing, as some commercials really get slammed home after a while. Probably not. It's probably just a delicious thing, as nuggets, BLL, and Volcano Tacos are freaking tasty man.

With that said, see below for the best commercial ever. I may not purchase Guitar Hero World Tour after watching it, but I definitely appreciate what it has to offer.

Anathallo Contest Winner

Sadly, I only received four entrants into my Anathallo contest. No big deal, because the point was to share the album with someone, and share it I will. The winner was no less than my mom, whose haiku was quite good if I do say so myself (see below). Very soon you'll be saying hello to your very own copy of Anathallo's Canopy Glow. Congratulations!

Today bloom again
As tomorrow might not come
I live completely

Only in Alaska

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Earlier today, I was pulling up to my house while talking to Kim on the phone, and I looked over to the left and saw a wolf sniffing the sidewalk as if somewhere in the mix of ice and leaves there may be some sort of tasty treat.

"Oh my god. There's a wolf in front of my house."
"Are you sure it's a wolf? It's probably just a dog."
"I know what a dog looks like. This is a wolf."
"Huh, that's weird."
"It's Alaska, this is what happens in my neighborhood. I don't know if I should get out of my car. It looks hungry."
"Wolves are fast, I bet it can jump your fence."
"You're not exactly helping here."

I open my door and it turns to look at me.

"Oh god! It's looking at me!"
"Just go inside, you'll be fine."

Sure enough, I did go inside, and I was fine, but still, how many of you out there have the legitimate concern of wolves attacking you as you're walking inside with groceries? That's right. Not that many. Alaska is freaking weird.

Win me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Whenever I love something in terms of media related things that have not really received a lot of attention, I quite often go above and beyond when sharing it with others. It's something I really have a hard time not doing, but in the end it normally works out well for those around me.

With that said, Anathallo's Canopy Glow came out this week to not exactly a ton of fanfare, something I think can be cured by a little word of mouth and a little buzz. I'm trying to do my part with this post, because if you haven't heard it, you can't really spread the word about it yourself.

Here's the deal: Anathallo derives from Greek and it means "to renew, refresh, or bloom again." I task you, the reader, to come up with a haiku featuring one (or bonus points if more than one is used) of those words - renew, refresh, or bloom. Not a deal breaker if you don't, but bonus points if you can tie your haiku into music. The winner will be decided entirely objectively by me (sorry friends and family, I will not automatically choose you because I know you). Please email me at davidlharper2@gmail.com with your haiku, or if you prefer, leave it in the comments with a good contact email.

The prize? You'll be receiving Anathallo's Canopy Glow, and an actual album, not a burnt copy (have to encourage those first week SoundScan numbers, dontchaknow?).

So get writing - entries have to be in by noon on Sunday, Alaskan Standard Time (not one of those other silly time zones the majority of you are in). I'll have the winner and the winning haiku posted by Sunday evening.

Slices of Fried Gold (11/20/08)

More recommendations for one and all, with a diverse list this week featuring a graphic novel, a performance on a TV show, a online compilation, and a CD. All are definitely worth checking out and come highly recommended from me.

TV: Jimmy Smits in Dexter

Dexter continues to be one of the best shows on television in its third season, with this season possibly being the best yet. This show is incredible because it started out great and has consistently surpassed its own quality with each season.

One of the big reasons this season has been the subtraction of the distracting character Doakes with Jimmy Smits as the incredibly engaging Miguel Prado. His progression from possible enemy to Dexter's first real friend has been the most interesting plot point of the season, as it adds a dynamic to the story that has never really been present.

Smits is an actor that has always been praised but I've never seen act, but after seeing this season, I can safely say that every bit of praise he has been given has been earned. He's a top notch actor, and his role as Dexter's first real confederate singlehandedly has escalated this to the peak of Dexter seasons. That says a lot.

Comics: Maus by Art Spiegelman

Even though I'm a huge fan of comics, I'd never checked out Spiegelman's Maus, the Pulitzer Prize winning and most critically acclaimed comic ever about Spiegelman and his relationship with his father who survived Auschwitz. For some reason every time I looked at it, I was turned off by the simple and grimy art.

However, as years past my tastes changed, and it was time to read Maus, and I'm very glad I have, as it is about as good a story as the comic medium has ever produced and the perfect example to show why comics are a very real and very powerful medium. I'd put this on par with Elie Wiesel's Night as the best piece I've ever read about the Holocaust, and that is saying something (I love that book).

While the art is still not spectacular, it gets the job done and acts as commentary in its own right (especially with the anthropomorphic character designs - all characters' nationalities are displayed by the animal that represents them the best - example: the French are frogs). It's the story and writing that really make it what it is, as it is truly haunting. Of course what else would you expect from something about the Holocaust? A must read for anyone and everyone.

Music: the Slackers - Self Medication

Of course I discover the perfect summer album right as winter is really taking over in Alaska. This is the seventh album by the Slackers, but the first I'd ever heard. It's an excellent mix of ska and reggae into a very mellow and fun album that never stays too serious for too long. Just what you would want from an album of this sort.

Sure, this doesn't really reinvent the wheel, but if you're a fan of ska/reggae, this is a great album to check out as this band clearly has a solid grip on their home genres.

Music: Guilt by Association 2

This is a mixtape by Engine Room Recordings, and it's incredibly bizarre and full of covers of songs you would never imagine the artists performing. But strangely, they work out really well. On this mix, you have Matt Pond PA covering My Chemical Romance's "I'm Not Okay," you have Max Vernon covering Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," and most excellently, you have the incredibly underrated Robbers on High Street covering New Edition's "Cool It Now."

These covers are quite often shockingly different (especially the Matt Pond PA cover), but are at the very least interesting. The talent on this mix is worth at least one listen through, and if you like it, I strongly encourage picking it up on iTunes. Most of the covers are pretty awesome though. Check out Kaki King's cover of JT ("I Think She Knows") if you don't believe me.

If not now, when?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I want to be in you!

I'm twenty four years old and I've never been out of North America.

That's really bizarre to think about, especially considering I've wanted to travel since I was little. For some reason I always have wanted to go to Italy and rent a Vespa and just travel around cities, enjoying the warm weather and a nice book while downing some delectable (and strong!) coffee, drinking in the culture and the history that comes with it.

Yet, here I am, nearing a quarter century old (it's more fun and dramatic to put it in that sort of perspective) and I've yet to leave the confines of the continent.

I know there are plenty of other people my age who haven't had the opportunity to travel either, but why not me? I have nearly thirty days saved up of vacation time. I have a ton in savings. I am entirely fine with traveling by myself. The desire is there.

All I know is I go on Facebook and I see friends making trips to Thailand and China. I check out blogs of my friends and they're posting pictures from the surely wonderful trips they take to a large portion of Europe. I read Bill Bryson books and he goes pretty much everywhere you can think of (and plenty of other places that you can't).

It's time to make the leap.

I just checked up on rates for traveling to London from Alaska (London strictly as a starting point, I mean come on, I have to go there right?), and they aren't that bad. Around $1,400 round trip. Totally affordable.

I'm going to ask my boss what the odds are that I can score three weeks off sometime in early 2009. Considering the job I'm doing, I'm going to hazard a guess that they are high.

Finally, as a Christmas present to myself, in the next few days I'm going to take some time to go to my local post office. It's about time I got myself a passport.

I'm going to ride a Vespa in Italy!

Cage the rage

Monday, November 17, 2008

I had an absolutely abysmal day today. Actually, to be more accurate, the beginning of the day was terrible and was bad up until around 3:20 PM. From then on the day was great, but the point of this story is the bad beginning.

While at work my boss suggested that I just "change my 'tude" as a way to get around it, to which I responded with "Doesn't work like that for me. When I go down, I go down hard." Most people responded to my attitude with a mixture of confusion and general dislike of being around me, which is fine, but I think a lot of that is because typically I'm about as easy going as you can get (at least in terms of being in the office).

If you're perpetually cheerful and let things roll off you, when you even have a slight change in your personality you're met with mixed reactions, most of which couldn't exactly be confused with positive ones. Then, if you're a person like me who is all or nothing (another thing I'm all or nothing on, great) which in this case means that I'm always good, except when I'm not, in which case I'm incredibly bad.

I've preached my need to learn moderation in all facets of my life numerous times in my blog. This all or nothing business is for the birds and quite often is a rather major detriment to whatever situation I'm in. I guess I just need to chalk anger management in as another thing I need to learn moderation on because I really need to not get so angry about things.

This post really has no purpose of existing besides simply sharing the state of my mental health today. It wasn't good, but a good workout and catching a flick at Bear Tooth with Hannah did wonders for my well being. Therapy comes in many forms, mine just happened to feature Ben Kingsley and Halibut Tacos tonight.

Now that's therapy I'm willing to pay for.

Oscar Watch 2008

Is this the worst Oscar year of my life?

Tonight I watched Elegy, an absolutely gripping movie featuring an incredible performance by Ben Kingsley, and I started to wonder to myself how this movie wasn't going to be nominated for an Oscar. Last year it wouldn't have even been a contender probably, but this year? I can't even think of anything that's been released that could possibly have been nominated last year for Best Picture, besides possibly Wall-E (but that will of course never be nominated).

It's late-ish November and pretty much all of the Oscar bait this year has either underperformed or gotten moved to 2009 (damn you the Road!), so unless Milk, Australia, the Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, and Reservation Road all turn out to be knockouts (and to be fair, that's totally possible, although unlikely) I have no clue what will be nominated.

All I know is I bet Warner Bros. is starting to gas up the machine, getting ready to start on a multi-million dollar campaign to get the Dark Knight nominated for Best Picture. They've got to be licking their chops as the one thing that could possibly get that movie past Titanic as the biggest box office earner of all time would be a bevy of Oscar nominations, and with each disappointing release it's growing increasingly likely.

That really blows my mind.

If someone suggested after Batman & Robin was released that someday a flick about the Caped Crusader could legitimately jockey for a Best Picture nomination, pretty much everyone would laugh hysterically.

Who's laughing now?

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This was an incredibly chill weekend, as I had to kind of sort of but not really work on Saturday (I put in one hour on a conference call and a little over two hours at an event we were putting on) so I didn't want to get too crazy. Which is good, because I need weekends like this where I just keep the sanity levels down to normal. What'd I do?

  • Dinner at Crush with Amy, Hannah, and Jason on Friday
  • Failed attempt at going to see Quantum of Solace leading to a foray at Barnes and Noble instead with Hannah and Jason
  • Finishing Fahrenheit 451 (amazing and worthy of its status as a classic)
  • Being a cell phone guru at a live radio remote for my company
  • Dinner with my sister and mom at Humpy's (super fun!)
  • Finalizing the complete and utter reorganization of my comic collection (so much better)
  • The weekly coffee with my sister
  • Actually trying to finish a video game (and failing miserably)
  • Running a sub six minute mile
  • Watching the Cowboys/Redskins game at McGinley's with Amy and Jason

So yeah, it was definitely a chill weekend. No crazy parties attended, no drunken bufoonery to be had. That's okay, because it was constructive and I feel good for both my mental and physical health.

Speaking of physical health, the big thing I wanted to talk about in this Weekend Edition is that I'm now committing to running the Portland Marathon next year. October 4th, 2009, Sheri, Troy, and myself are going to run it. To help with motivating each other, we're even starting an as yet untitled blog where we share our progress in terms of running times and what we're doing to improve (note to self: cut down on beer consumption).

It's going to be really fun and really tiring, but that's okay. It's one of my life goals to complete a marathon, so I might as well get it out of the way before I come up with some sort of legitimate excuse (or at least more legitimate than "my foot hurts" or "partying is way more fun"). Today kicked off with me running a sub six minute mile in our first time trial (5 minutes and 59 seconds - oh yeah!), so I have to say, I like where I'm starting.

Please say a prayer for my ongoing safety (clumsy people should not run long distances, I fear) and check out that blog on occasion. We'll try our best to make it a fun running blog at the very least.

Slices of Fried Gold (Canopy Glow edition)

I'm an unabashed fanboy of Anathallo. I want this to be known in the beginning, as I think their album Floating World is one of the best albums I've ever heard and that they make some of the most beautiful music period. I've also heard that their live show is incredibly awesome, but that is not something I can personally verify. However, I do say I feel like I would freaking love it.

Their new album Canopy Glow is coming out this Tuesday, and I strongly encourage everyone to pick it up. The majority of the planet has likely not even heard of this band, let alone is excited about this release, but I'm here to give you reasons to do just that. I've had it for a little while (a bit over a week) and just received my preorder of the actual album, and am in love with it.

Canopy Glow is, comparatively to Floating World, a dark album. It maintains all of the beauty and the grandiosity of their debut LP, but it is assuredly a more solemn album overall. Tracks like "Tower of Babel" and "Sleeping Torpor" really demonstrate a darker direction for the band, replacing the foot stomping and hand clapping splendor typically shown on songs with what one could describe as minimalism, solitude, and even a modicum of restraint.

This is not a bad thing, it just allows the band to stretch their legs in a different direction while maintaining the beauty they exude on a track to track basis. The amazing thing that they do as a band is filling a track with a variety of instruments and expansive layers, but cultivating a melodic and exquisite sound within all of the tracks. Thanks can be given in particular to primary vocalists Matt Joynt and Erica Froman (who is given more to work with in the original cut - nicknamed Engine Glow, which is actually preferable as her vocal layers really kick the sound up a notch) who are featured more heavily than on World, but the structured chaos the instrumentalists provide us give you a listening experience that is never the same twice and quite the treat when you have a great pair of headphones.

Nothing demonstrates the album's grandeur better than tracks four and seven, "the River" and "All the First Pages." Both tracks provide very literary lyrics (primarily "All the First Pages" which tells the story of an astronaut who returned with his relationships forever altered) that are laid out with intertwined vocals between Joynt and Froman, while providing provocative and perpetually developing instrumentals. These songs best exhibit the bands overall ability as not just a musical group but as storytellers, drawing us in with their intelligence but ultimately capturing us with the emotion they imbue the music with.

This is a strong contender for my favorite album of the year and I wish the band the best of luck in receiving the attention they deserve for this stellar album. At the very least, I hope Pitchfork actually gives them a legitimate review this time and that they pick up plenty of new fans.

Also, for those that are interested, standout track "the River" is up for a free download at Music for Kids Who Can't Read Good. Check it out here. If I haven't convinced you to check this album out, the song will do that for me.

Slices of Fried Gold (All music edition for Erik)

I've been listening to a ton of new music lately in preparation of the end of the year special I plan on doing and the yearly CD I make for my mom for Christmas - my top 20 of 2007 (and by yearly I mean it started last year and will continue on for the foreseeable future). Most all of it has been very good, with some degree of weirdness quite often standing out about it. Well, maybe they all seem weird because of the last album I'm writing about because it has enough weirdness to share with everyone else.

No less, here's an all music edition of Slices of Fried Gold, specifically for Erik who said he needs new music. Here I am to the rescue!

Frightened Rabbit - The Midnight Organ Party

This album is something I'm amazed that I had never heard of until perusing discussions about what the 2008 album of the year may be, because simply put, it's awesome. It's a trio from Scotland who make very tuneful and lyrically intelligent indie pop in the vein of...really, I can't think of anyone that really makes sense here.

They don't really sound like anyone in particular, whether it's because of their unique sound or Scottish brogues, I'm not sure. But the point is, it's a great album that has such clever lines in it that it made me even take notice to the lyrics - and lyrics are normally the last thing I notice.

Example: On the third track, "Good Arms vs. Bad Arms" the lead singer drops a line that I thought was both funny and really fitting. He's talking about an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend and he admits that he "may not want you back, but I want to kill him." The lyrics stand out because they are so honest and feel so real, and it presents them in such an engaging atmosphere with strings, a soft repeating guitar beat, and drums simply there to set a beat.

Seriously though, there's something about a Scottish singer that makes the lyrics seem even more soulful. This album is highly recommended.

Frank Turner - Love Ire & Song

Staying in the United Kingdom, we have Frank Turner with an excellent release that is mostly a guy spilling his guts with an acoustic guitar, but not in a cheesy Dashboard Confessional sort of way.

Turner has a full band with him, with electric guitars, strings, bells, drums, and more all making appearances to add more depth to his sound. Really, it's all in support of Turner as a storyteller sharing everything he has on his mind with us a listener in occasionally mournful, sometimes aggresively passionate, and with a bit of humor from time to time.

This isn't one of those releases that is going to bowl you over because of something new it brings to the table, it's just one of those albums that takes an existing formula (in this case, singer-songwriter) and takes a big step towards improving on weaknesses and maintaining the strengths of it.

Mutyumu - Ilya

I described this in a text message to Erik last night as what you would get if the makers of a fighting game snagged Nobuo Uematsu to make a soundtrack for their game, except they didn't realize that he added metal as one of his influences.

So yeah, I'll say it's really freaking weird and definitely not for everyone.

However, it's pretty awesome. It's primarily instrumental, with only soft female vocals and occasional yells from a male vocalist coming in. The thing that really makes this album stand out so much is the fact that the violinist, the drummer, and the pianist in this group are pretty much world class, and when you combine that with gorgeous vocals, solid bass and guitar, and incredible song structure, you get some seriously epic music.

The second track starts out sounding like a new reimagined theme song to the anime Trigun and slowly transitions into a string, bass, piano, and vocal bridge that is flat out gorgeous, and then about a minute and 45 seconds in becomes almost entirely drums and vocals laid out in the most triumphant way possible. This is a 6 minute and 14 second track that transitions like this pretty much throughout, existing as almost a chameleon to the bands myriad influences.

I love it, but I would completely understand someone else hating it. I also realize that it's not something you can listen to all the time, but when you're working and really buzzing off caffeine, it's like a stimulant in its own right. Bizarre and awesome.

The Cardiac Kids

Friday, November 14, 2008


Last night, my favorite team on the planet, the New England Patriots lost 34 to 31 to the New York Jets to fall out of first place in the AFC East the latest in the season in seemingly a decade. That isn't true, but it sure feels like it because they've been dominant for so long.

Lost in the sadness over the Pats losing is something bizarre. The game last night was probably the most I've enjoyed watching the Patriots in years. With Tom Brady and a fully healthy of offense and defense, we're a wrecking crew that is favored in every game and wins most of them in convincing fashion (Super Bowl? What Super Bowl?). Most of my enjoyment last year was taken from the fact that I could say I'd been a fan of an undefeated team for 15 years and that they were so clearly the most dominant team in the NFL.

But games weren't close, and as I always said when I was younger, one of the main reasons I loved the Pats, the Pacers, and the Mariners was because they were "cardiac kids," a term I crafted to signify that every game they played went down to the wire and made me feel like dying a little bit, but in that good way only sporting events make you feel.

Last night the cardiac kids were back, and I loved every second of it. We had Matt Cassel have his best game as a pro, we had all kinds of young players step up because pretty much all of the Patriots starters were dying, and we had one of the best finishes of the season with Cassel to Moss with 1 second left in the game to tie it up (immediately followed by me jumping and spinning and pretty much acting like I was chugging coffee while on a pogo stick for a minute straight as Jason, Hannah, and Amy frantically looked for cover).

It's about the most fun I've had watching the Pats in forever, even though we lost. All I know is, we can beat anyone and we can lose to anyone, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Also, to those Jets fans who were claiming that proves that they're the class of the AFC East and that the game signified a changing of the guard in the division, I have this to say to you - you were playing our JV squad. When we're not starting backups at 4 key defensive positions and the most key offensive position, then you can talk.

However, I really want to say that Matt looked like the man last night. 400 yards passing, 3 TD's, no INT's and 62 yards rushing? First time in history that someone threw for 400 yards and ran for 60+. Incredibly impressive. Although that montage mid game of Brady deep balls made me yearn for him, especially after watching Matt overthrow Moss twice in the game with his patented "uncatchable line drive" deep ball. But that's okay. We're the cardiac kids - deep balls aren't in our repetoire this year.

I'm in hell

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Alright, that title is obviously a bit overdramatic, but still, when designing a version of my own personal hell, the actual atmosphere would likely be rather similar to Alaska in the winter. I love Alaska. It's beautiful. It's provides many great opportunities. It's home.

But good god, sometimes enough is enough. Today has pretty much represented everything I don't like about the state in one big mega mix of absurdity. There are many reasons why I find this place extremely frustrating to live, but the primary ones are below.

1. Perpetual darkness

Today it was light out from 8:56 am until 4:32 PM. In case you're not willing to do the math (and who would be really) that is 7 hours and 36 minutes of daylight. Less than one third of the day was light out and I was working for the entirety of that. Of course, some people are into that. Vampires for one. They'd love it. You can be a daywalker like Blade in Alaska, because odds are it isn't going to be daytime ever.

2. Freezing.

When I was at the gym I complained to a coworker about how it took me thirty minutes to get from my office to the gym. He asked "didn't you grow up here?"

Yes, I grew up here, but that doesn't mean one ever necessarily gets adjusted to living in thirty degree weather on a good day. The worst part is the fact that Alaska is seemingly mean spirited to its citizens. It has this nasty of habit of snowing, getting really freaking cold so everything freezes, thawing out a little bit, then getting cold and snowing again simultaneously. Then you're left with what it was like after work today - a car buried in snow, cold to the bone, and everything is so slick you almost fall everytime you get in or out of your car.

And I did. I ate it bad. I was on the phone with Brian when I crashed to the ground so hard he actually was about to get off the line because he thought I got in a car accident. That's how you know a fall is serious business - when you do it and someone openly wonders if there was a car accident. I feel as if I need to lose weight.

3. People drive crazy slow and slowly crazy

Due to the fact it's dark, cold, and icy, everyone on the road in Alaska turns into some fusion of a drunk driver and a senior citizen while driving. God forbid you actually come across a senior citizen or a drunk driver, because you better start praying. Earlier today during my ten minute jaunt turned 30 minute sojourn from work to the gym, an older woman took a right through a red as oncoming traffic crashed down upon her, but it wasn't a standard right.

Oh no.

It was one of those ten minute slight anglings that takes a person all the way to the far lane on a three lane road. She nearly caused the biggest accident this side of a demolition derby as the furious and terrified drivers that approached her harmonized their horns.

No less, the Alaskan driving experience becomes so bad that you pretty much don't want to drive. Every venture triples in length of time. You find yourself telling nearby friends that you don't want to make the trip because it would take too long. Essentially, because the driving is so bad (or just slow, as I insist) you feel permitted to become a shut in. Hibernation I say, but some would disagree.

4. I can't do anything outside...
5. because I suck at all winter sports

This is a combination reason. I love pretty much all summer sports. Basketball, baseball, football, frisbee golf, ultimate frisbee, golf, soccer, hiking...hell, I've been known to partake in badminton and croquet if the situation arises. I'm good at all of them too, and I have a blast doing them. Perhaps that's because I can play them effectively or perhaps it's because I genuinely enjoy them. Obviously, with Alaska how it is during the interminably long winter, I can't do any of them.

My alternative is any and every winter sport, but there are two truths about them - I don't like any of them, and that is mostly because I'm bad at all of them. I can't really stop in hockey. The last time I went snowboarding I got a concussion that was so serious the doctor said if I hit my head again in the next three months I may die.

I can't even sled. I wish I was joking, but I'm really not. Seeing me try to sled is one of the more awkward things you will ever see, as even negotiating my way onto the sled is problematic for me. The concept of getting onto it always troubled me, as even the larger sleds I act like it's thimble sized disc that I must wedge myself in to. Then when the movement begins, I have a tendency to fall off. I have absolutely no confidence in my sledding skills (or lack there of).

In summation

Alaska sucks during the winter. You know a person is an Alaskan when the first snow fall happens and they immediately tell friends how much they can't wait until the next summer. Summers rule in Alaska. It's pretty much perfect.

Alaska - where you survive 8 months a year to enjoy four months a year.


I need winter hobbies badly.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The weekend started out heavy on the fun and ended extremely lazy and relaxing. Like all weekends should be. Really, my ideal weekend is one filled with all of the things I can’t accomplish over the work week due to such reasons as “needing to be on time to work,” “reading throughout the day is counter-productive,” and my personal favorite, “hangovers are against company policy.”

Of course, I’m not questioning these rules. These are fairly good life rules, especially the last one. Hangovers are against life policy, so that business is strictly not allowed. Nothing is worse than waking up in the morning fully clothed and burning up because your six hours younger self decided he was cold so he would turn the heat up to the max. The ramifications of our younger selves’ actions rarely come to fruition faster then when dealing with activities of a more socially lubricated fashion.

No less, it was a great weekend, full of two awesome events, catching up on lots of things, a fairly successful real and fantasy football Sunday, and oodles of ridiculousness. Such as…

  • ?uestlove’s ridiculously awesome DJ set night at the Anchor
  • The Roots redefining hip hop shows in my mind
  • Reading a ton (finished a book and three graphic novels)
  • Watching Forgetting Sarah Marshall, the Foot Fist Way, and Role Models (surprisingly awesome, who knew McLovin would end up being a pretty decent actor?)
  • Catching up on Dexter
  • Making some tasty dinners
  • The Pats and my fantasy team winning
  • Coffee with my sister and niece
  • Continuing to obsessed with the library
  • Hatching schemes

So once again, the first two items were full of crazy times and tons of fun, and the rest of it was spent relaxing in various locations. The highlights of the weekend were most definitely all events related to the Roots.

I’ll start with Thursday night, not really the weekend, but who’s counting really? That Thursday evening, Hannah and I went out to the Buck for drinks for Mara’s going away party, got some ridiculously delicious dinner and wine at Crush (Hannah became the first person in Crush history to combine the Sausage Flight and Mac and Cheese into one wondrously trashy and delicious concoction), and then onwards to watch ?uestlove’s set at the Anchor.

?uestlove, for those who do not know, is the drummer from the Roots and a man who is very well known for his skills as a DJ. We knew we were in for a treat, but it ended up being an even better time than we initially imagined it would. We get there, grab a drink, and slowly move up front to watch the opening DJ.

Slowly but surely, Hannah and I started to let loose and started dancing our feet off. Sure, I can’t dance, but it doesn’t mean I wasn’t doing it. The opening DJ was flat out awesome, mixing everything from Blackstreet to MGMT into one mix of pure dance party goodness. Plus, they had some of the weirdest movies ever playing on the big screen above the DJ, including Fantastic Planet and some weird cartoon that was like a cartoon hallucination about middle school sex class and ancient civilizations. In short, it was weird.

Picture taken of Amy, Hannah, stranger, and I by the MC

Then ?uestlove came on, and it all got kicked up a notch. Amy showed up and she joined our dance party as we were right up to the DJ booth at this point, and it was an incredibly fun evening of dancing and ridiculousness. Possibly the highlight of the whole evening though, and one of the more funny things I’ve seen in quite some time, was Amy as she developed a strangely close relationship with the MC that was behind ?uest during his set (and the openers set).

Kima and ?uestlove

It was a local Anchorage guy named Kima Hamilton, and Amy and he had some sort of magnetism going on. Two things happened that make me laugh still: Amy managed to make the guy blush, and Amy and the guy pulled an E.T. (meaning they reached for each other and only met by touching index fingers). It was quite possibly the single most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, but I started laughing very hard because of it.

The Roots

No less, now on to the actual Roots concert. I’ll be quick on this one because I’ve been going for way too long already, but I’ll just say there are some key points I picked up from this show.

  • The Roots are really freaking talented
  • Anchorage continues to suck at concert – there was a line to get in for even those who had tickets well into the concerts start
  • Captain Kirk (the guitarist from the Roots) is amazing
  • The Roots are hilarious
  • Fat bald guys dancing on stage at concerts = comedic gold mine
  • Hip hop groups are really good at Led Zeppelin covers

This was a tremendously fun concert, although as I said in the bullet points, Alaska continues to be terrible at concerts. The audience overall was pretty meh and the people running the concert completely failed at getting through lines.

Black Thought and the rest dancing

However, the Roots are so good that it didn’t even matter. Everyone brought their A game, from Black Thought and his top notch game as the MC of the whole thing, to ?uestlove and his drumming, to Captain Kirk killing it on guitar, to the guy on the sousaphone. It was all good.

Some random dudes and I taking a pic

If the Roots come in your area, you really need to see them. They’re really fun to watch and sound great live.


This weekend I was laying on my couch watching TV, recovering from the hectic evening the Roots concert presented and preparing myself for a sojourn into the midtown Mecca (my beloved stretch of road that includes my most frequently visited commerce based locations - Kaladi's, Middle Way, Boscos's), when I found myself engrossed in Hellboy. It was playing on TNT HD, and as much as I hated having to watch commercials and desired to put in my DVD to watch instead, the ramificiations of the previous night strictly disallowed this.

Which was fine.

Commercials allowed mini-naps and jaunts to other locations in my house to perform other duties (a little laundry here, dishes there, drinking a gallon of water and downing four advil as well...), so all was good. However, watching that movie and the barrage of Hellboy II: the Golden Army commercials really got me thinking about all of the things out there that gets ignored because of the whims of the audience and all of the crap that makes the big bucks and earns all the praise. So here I have a few little nuggets I want to share, because you know me: I love sharing my opinion on anything and everything, especially when it comes to what is over and underrated.

Movies: Underrated - Dark City (written and directed by Alex Proyas). Overrated - Any studio movie by Guillermo Del Toro.

While watching Hellboy, I couldn't get over the fact that there was simply something wrong with it. Overall it's a decent enough movie, but there is just something...off about the whole thing. Then the commercials for Hellboy II kicked in and I kept thinking about what a monumental trainwreck that was overall. Then I got to thinking about Blade II. At about that point, I started to wonder, can Guillermo Del Toro, visual genius and well regarded auteur, do anything right when it comes to making American studio films?

Don't get me wrong, I love Pan's Labyrinth, but that was Del Toro on his own turf. Pretty much everything he's made in America has been well regarded, but for the most part it's average at best (or it wishes it was).

Yet you have Dark City, a dynamic, methodical, and flat out brilliant sci-fi film featuring huge concepts and actual substance. Alex Proyas made an absolutely amazing comic book movie that wasn't even based off a comic, it just represented all of the high concept yet grounded in substance style you'd want out of a movie of the sort. Yet it didn't even clear $15 million dollars and to this day it has hardly even found an audience. People even claim that it was a rip off of the Matrix, which doesn't make for a number of reasons, most obviously the fact it came out before the Matrix.

The point is, Proyas made an incredible film, yet has made only two movies since. Del Toro on the other hand is an industry golden boy without any real success (in my eyes) in American film.

Sometimes, there isn't any justice.

Alan Moore Comics: Overrated - Watchmen. Underrated - Top 10.

Oh my! Did I really say that? Did I say the universally praised Watchmen was overrated? How could I do so? Well, I would like to say that I do quite like Watchmen. It's an extremely good comic book and I understand why people like it a lot. What's not to like? Moore is at peak form here, you have Dave Gibbons supplying fantastic pencils, and you have an extremely relevant and engaging story.

What I question isn't it's quality, which it is, just those that claim that it is the pinnacle of the comic book artform. To me, I'd take Preacher. I'd take Y the Last Man. Hell, even in terms of the universally loved comics, I'd probably take Maus over it. It just doesn't have the personal feel that I think makes a great piece of art a masterpiece.

On the other hand, Top 10 is a work from later in Moore's career that many overlooked. It was from his publising line - America's Best Comics - that featured his more highly regarded runs on Tom Strong and Promethea. Lost in that web of incredible works was Top 10, which was like a procedural cop drama in a world where everyone had powers. Except one that was long on interpersonal relationships and short on fictional forensic procedures. Okay, perhaps it was long on that too, but go with me here.

In recent years, Top 10 has started to earn a modicum of the praise it deserves, especially with Wizard naming issue #8 from season 1 the best single issue since I've been alive (whatever that means). But at the same time, I think it deserves to be held in the same regard of his best work, including Watchmen.

Overrated movies: Sunset Blvd. (Directed by Billy Wilder)

When I was at the library today, I was checking out works by H.P. Lovecraft due to my recent addiction to anything and everything Mike Mignola related, and while reading the inside cover of At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels by Lovecraft, I noticed something that really struck home about what I wanted to say about Sunset Blvd., the 26th highest rated movie of all time according to IMDB.

About Lovecraft's work, the editor (or someone) said, "At the Mountains of Madness remains one of the few works of American science fiction from the 1930's that can be read today for genuine literary pleasure rather than dutiful historical interest."

That is the exact point I'd like to make about older movies. Because I loved movies so much, in college I started watching much older movies to brush up on the classics. I started light, with the pop genius that was most of the work from the late 60's and 70's. Then I moved onto the hard stuff, and what stood out in particular was Sunset. That movie went down like the molasses my parents gave me when I was little to get over a cough. Slowly and disgustingly. My quest to bone up on the classics became "dutiful historical interest" at that exact moment, and also ended permanently then.

Gloria Swanson may have been anxiously awaiting her close up, but my god, I was anxiously awaiting a good movie to appear. I was not expecting a boring trainwreck. Sometimes though, that's what you get.

Also overrated: Shakespeare in Love, Brokeback Mountain.

Underrated music: the 88 - Over and Over

I came across this randomly one day when I was in at the radio station I DJ'd at in college. I was looking for new albums to review, when I impulsively grabbed this off a semi-interesting description on the cover. This is precious pop defined. Precious pop is a genre Hannah and I invented to describe Dr. Dog, but it works incredibly well for this as well. Full of instantly hummable melodies, hand claps, and more hooks than you'd find in your average marina, I immediately fell in love and waited for this one to inevitably blow up.

I still am waiting.

Seriously people.

This album is really freaking good, yet I could probably poll 1,000 people in my city and I'd say at most, 5 people will have heard of it, if even that. That makes me very, very sad.

Also underrated: Anathallo's Floating World, the Elected's Sun Sun Sun, Phantom Planet's the Guest.

Disappearing act

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Roots

First off, there are two new posts below. Heads up!

Second off, I'll be incommunicado for slightly longer than the usual weekend. I have a big weekend planned that really starts on Thursday (well, kind of) due to a fun event happening. This week the UAA Concert Board (thanks all!) has brought up Philadelphia hip hop outfit the Roots to play a show at the Egan Center in Anchorage on Friday, and it should be a great show. Although hip hop shows aren't my favorite variety, I would be foolish to skip a potentially great show when I consistently complain about the absence of quality concerts in the area.

On top of that, tomorrow night the drummer from the Roots, ?uestlove (or Questlove), will be performing a live DJ set at the Anchor and it should be a marvelous time. Questlove is known for the DJ sets he throws down on occasion after shows or at big events, and for his incredible vinyl collection. As the Anchorage Press said, we should be in for something special because he has to be extra choosy when coming up to Alaska, because carrying all that up here can't be cheap.

I'll have plenty of pictures afterwards I'm sure, so prepare for an extra special, event laden weekend edition on Sunday!

The zenith has been reached

Cover to Amazing Spider Man #576

I have officially reached the apex of my dorkdom. It simply cannot get any higher.

This week in Amazing Spider Man #576, I had a letter published. First letter in the letters page, David Harper, Anchorage, AK. There I am. Raving about a comic book.

My cup runneth over with excitement.

It's pretty much the coolest thing ever to happen to me, and it was the first time I've really felt a buzz from pure excitement in quite some time. I found it hard to purchase my comics without grinning ear to ear, and strangely I didn't reveal to my friendly neighborhood comic vendors at Bosco's that it happened. I think it was sheer disbelief. I've wanted to have a letter published in a comic since I was little, but this is the first time I've ever written in or been published. I mean, they may not admit it, but it's every comic fans dream to have a letter published on the letters page.

I may be insane, but I think this is more exciting for me than when Newsweek quoted my blog. Perhaps if they wanted to quote me about comic books, we may have a winner there. However, it wasn't, so it isn't. Take a look at it if you get the chance, but I know the average person doesn't really come by a comic book store often.

The NBA: Where redemption happens

My new boy Danny Granger

Basketball is without a doubt my favorite sport to play, and besides the last three or four years, it's also been my favorite sport to watch. But ever since the "Malice in the Palace" (which was a brawl - instigated by Ben Wallace - featuring the Indiana Pacers going into the crowd, leading to the suspension of our best three players for a large portion of the season) my team, the Indiana Pacers, have pretty much been dead.

Ron Artest officially went crazy, Jermaine O'Neal shifted into hypochondriac mode, Jamaal Tinsley decided that he loved guns, Stephen Jackson decided he loved dribbling out shot clocks and guns, and everyone else decided they would just be bad and/or crazy. To top that all off, my boy Reggie Miller (my favorite athlete of all time) retired, and all I had left were criminals and ball hogs.

I was not pleased.

However, over the same period, Larry Bird has been busy turning the roster over and filling it with good guys, starting with cornerstone Danny Granger. Now with a couple great scoring wings (Granger and Mike Dunleavy), two great point guards in TJ Ford and Jarrett Jack, two incredibly intriguing rookies (Brandon Rush and Roy Hibbert), and the triple headed white centerbus (that's right, I just combined a mythical creature and a basketball position to describe Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, and Rasho Nesterovic), I'm actually excited about the Pacers this year.

Not only are they good guys, but they actually play exciting ball and they play it the way it's supposed to be played. With lots of effort, with defensive pressure, with good spacing, with good shooting. It's like watching a basketball team again, and I love it.

Sure, we're still not perfect. Heck, we're not even over .500 now that Amare Stoudemire dropped 49 on us to carry the Suns tonight (wait - so an incredibly fast post can dominate four incredibly slow posts? You don't say?). But I don't care. I'm excited about our prospects, and I'm excited about basketball for the first time in a long time.

It feels so good to be back.

The election is over

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations to Obama/Biden in winning the presidency. Also, congrats to John McCain for a truly classy speech while conceding the election.

Now who else is excited to not see another presidential commercial for four years? Now we can watch football in peace, seeing 3,482 Coors Light commercials instead. That I am thankful for.

It's on

Monday, November 3, 2008

Obama is leading, but can McCain pull off the upset?

Tomorrow is Election Day, and it is impossible to argue this point: it's probably the most heated election America has ever seen. With the ascension of the internet and global communication, everyone has a point and everyone wants to share it, and share it they do. This leads to even more dissent amongst voters and an even more clear divide between the left and the right. It has gotten pretty crazy if you ask me.

No less, everyone (assuming you vote) will align themselves with someone tomorrow. I know a lot of people on both sides, and I'm sure a lot of them are wondering which side I'm going for considering I haven't committed to anyone yet (even if, as my boss said, any vote is really a symbolic vote in Alaska, as our two powerful electoral votes are going towards McCain).

A while back I said I was going to stop talking about politics because I felt underinformed and I didn't want to make mistakes and I didn't want to say anything I'd eventually regret (sorry Amanda...). Well, I did my research, I did my time, I talked with a lot of different people, and I ended up just being even more deadlocked than I was before. I see both sides, I like things that each candidate says, it really just comes down to who I believe more.

Some would say I'm just a fence sitter, but I choose to say I find that neither candidate stands out enough to clearly win. Neither won my vote outright, but I have to choose someone. That someone is...blank.

After careful consideration and seeing the passion that comes out of candidate supporters (watch rallies for either candidate - you see people weeping in the audience...seriously), I decided that it is my right to not share who I vote for. It's not that I'm ashamed of who I vote for, I just believe that it's my own business and it beats having one group of people unhappy with me for who I chose.

So there that is. Regardless of what (or whom) you believe in though, you should go vote. It's your right and you should stand up for what you believe in with the one weapon you have - your ballot. Tomorrow is the day. Country first...yes we can.

Happy voting everyone.

The (Halloween) Weekend Edition

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Ah Halloween. Strangely one of my favorite holidays, as it is always so full of ridiculousness and costumes. How many other days a year can a person wear a cape and burgers on their tie and feel like not only a normal person, but a really magnificent one at that?

Not many.

That's for sure. So what else transpired?

  • Amy's Halloween party
  • Bars with Lee, Jimmy, and Cullan
  • Impromptu bad movie night with guy dressed in V costume and Amazon girl
  • Zack and Miri with Lorna, Colver, Cullan, and Lee
  • Chilling and reading at Kaladi's (almost done with the Hellboy series and another book)
  • Dinner with parents at Lone Star (boo Lone Star)
  • Loving daylight savings with a passion
  • Coffee with my sister
  • Football with Hannah, Jason, and Amy (the Green Bay/Tennessee game was massively entertaining)
  • Rocking out with Puma Town on Rock Band 2
  • Watching the Pats give it the old college try against the Colts (I would slap you in the face right now David Thomas...you too Jabar Gaffney)

Another very full weekend, although I must admit, Sundays where I sit around and watch football all day, while awesome, do make me feel pretty damn lazy. Not good lazy, like "did I really just spend 7 straight hours watching football?" lazy. But that's neither here nor there.

Halloween is the subject at hand.

Cate, Amy, and I at the party

Amy and her roommates (she lives in what can be best described as a house that has been turned into two connected apartments) threw a party, and I attended dressed as the Hamburglar. It was a really awesome party, full of a lot of great people (attended by such luminaries as Lorna, Colver, Cate, Darren, Eric, Lee, Cullan, Jimmy, Jessie, Forrest, Brianna, and many, many more), good food and drinks, a live DJ, and no less than two smoke machines. Typically, a good party has one smoke machine. If you have two....well.

That's just a great party now isn't it.

Arianna and Amy getting bombarded by the smoke machine

Surprisingly enough, the majority of the crowd stayed at the party pretty much the whole time, and I only ventured out for a bit with Lee, Cullan, and Jimmy to the Anchor. We weren't really feeling it though, so we (or rather, they dropped me off) ventured back to the party for more good times. Now take this how you will, but a rather unforeseen event was the highlight of the evening for me. Also, this doesn't mean the rest of the night was bad in any way. It just means this was awesome.

After trying to find my keys (and other belongings for a good while) I gave up and went upstairs with the remaining party goers. I sat on a futon with two people: Dani's (one of Amy's roommates) brother, who was dressed as V from V for Vendetta, and unknown astrology enthralled Amazon girl (named that because I don't know her name and the only time I really hung out with her before then she went on and on for astrology). Halloween 3: Season of the Witch was on the TV, and everyone else was on full party mode but we all apparently had one thing on our minds.

Arianna and I at the party

Impromptu bad movie night.

We went on to watch the rest of the movie making jokes about nearly everything that happened, jokes that my fellow BMV (bad movie night) hall of famer Brian would be damn proud of. We laughed, we cried (from laughing so hard), we had a hell of a great time. Strangely enough, looking back on it, I honestly think that might have been my favorite part of the night. I guess that's why Halloween is so great. You really never know what it's going to bring you, but odds are it will be stupendous and not what you expect.

You gotta love that.

Slices of Fried Gold - 11/2/08

Yay for more recommendations from me! I hope some people actually follow through on checking some of the stuff out that I recommend. I try to temper my excitement about things before I write about them (if only not to look back and say "wait, did I really like that"), that way you don't go in expecting something different than I present. No less, some more great recommendations below that I fully support. Check them out!

Movies: Zack and Miri Make a Porno (Written and directed by Kevin Smith)

I've always liked Kevin Smith. I feel like what he lacks in dynamic visuals as a director, he more than makes up in entertainment provided by his scripts. They are always pop culture laden, crude as all get out, and nerdy beyond words, so of course I'm going to appreciate them. They also have a tendency to have plenty of heart, or at least be about dealings of the heart at their core. Another check mark for me to enjoy them.

With that said, Smith's newest film Zack and Miri Make a Porno doesn't feel like a Kevin Smith movie. It is his first movie where it doesn't necessarily look or feel like a Kevin Smith movie, although that is probably because it is his first movie he's done that entirely avoids his Askewniverse (let's just ignore Jersey Girl). The movie is all the better for it, as it is full of great comedic performances (Elizabeth Banks is incredibly charming and Craig Robinson is the man), great dialogue, and a lot of heart. It also manages to avoid the pitfalls of goofy antics that Smith has a tendency to go down, and is all the better for it.

I'm not going to call it Smith's best movie (I really love Chasing Amy and Dogma) but it's definitely a return to form and his first step into making really well rounded movies without the same crutches he's always needed before. It is absolutely hysterical though, and features perhaps the single most disgusting thing I've ever seen. Now that is a hell of a thing. Recommended for those who don't mind rather crude...well, entire movies.

Comics: Guerrillas (written and drawn by Brahm Revel)

When I was growing up and just getting into comics, Image Comics was the challenger to the throne of the comic world. Based off the talent of the creators who formed the publisher (well, talent is a fair term for most of them, I'll use deal with the devil for Rob Liefeld), sales were huge at the beginning.

However, it represented everything that was wrong with the industry. It thrived on pure style without the requisite substance, and almost led to the medium losing all power in the public.

The industry survived though, and so did Image, although it's no longer the potential giant it was then. Now it still has some of the same books running around, but it has the support of newer creators who work for them on creator owned projects based around substance - not style. Guerrillas is a great example of that, as writer/artist Brahm Revel started as an artist on books for them, but moved into this creator owned project.

The first issue ($5.99 per issue for nearly 2.5 times the size of a normal comic) set up the story as a young soldier in Vietnam who didn't want to be there, who was surviving the pressures of war but not exactly thriving. He was mostly despised by those around him and was essentially just serving time in a jungle prison. Revel captures these moments incredibly well, and puts us in the strange place to both understand and despise the character, not unlike Jeremy Davies Corporal Upham in Saving Private Ryan.

Then his entire unit is massacred towards the end, and the main character is saved by what can best be described as shadowy combat monkeys. I did not see that coming. I was bewildered, but definitely wanted to pick up the next issue. That issue came out, and Revel's storytelling continued to be excellent even given the bizarre turn. Clayton (the soldier) has to earn the trust of the chimps, while we begin learning the background of them as we meet a slew of new characters. It's all told with a sure hand by Revel the writer, and drawn with style and clean lines by Revel the artist.

Small books like this that are excellent are few and far between, but really deserve support. Comics like this are everything that the average person believes that comics aren't. Smart, personal, and sharp. If you read comics, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you.

Music: Beirut

I've talked about Zach Condon and his bizarre eastern European influenced folk rock outfit before, as they were in my top 10 for albums in 2007 with their release the Flying Club Cup. However, recently I've begun to appreciate them in a whole new way, as I've been completely addicted to both of their albums recently.

I've found that it's a near perfect pairing with much that I've been reading lately, and just reading in general. The string sections, the horns, the organ, the warble of Condon, it's like a Steampunk dream come true, and something I've grown to appreciate more with each additional listen. I'd suggest starting with Cup first as it may be slightly easier for the average listener to pick up, but Gulag Orkestar is excellent as well.