A Slice of Fried Gold

Chuck Klosterman in Alaska

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

So this past evening, Amy, Hannah and I went to writer Chuck Klosterman's speaking engagement at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium at UAA here in Anchorage. Predicting that it would be ridiculously full within seconds of opening up, I got there at about 6:25, a full hour and five minutes ahead of time. Of course, even during the presentation it never reached capacity, making me feel a little stupid. Due to the fact that's how I regularly feel, I was okay with it.

Of course, this early arrival time allowed me to do a few things. Most interestingly, it let me talk to Zac Clark, the guy who was putting this show together for UAA and an events coordinator for the school. From him I found out comedian Brian Posehn was coming up (yes!) while I am in Europe (no!), that they're looking to keep getting bigger and better artists (he asked who I would love to see, and I suggested Sigur Ros - cross your fingers!), and that UAA Events coordinators have very, very little interest in you once they find out you don't go to school there. Whoops!

No less, the main event came and Klosterman was predictably an incredibly entertaining speaker. From Bill Simmons' podcasts with Klosterman, I knew before hand that his voice was bit odd, but when seeing him in person it's even odder. Such a tall guy, such a strangely nasally voice. Combined with his mannerisms, I turned to Hannah in the midst of it and suggested that he's like a 6'2" muppet come to life. It was really entertaining to watch.

While the engagement was called "Life Through the Prism of Pop Culture," Klosterman quickly shared with the audience that this was something his literary agent (or something of that sort) had created for him. Really, what he spoke about was his life and how he got his start in the industry, and some entertaining anecdotes along the way.

My personal favorite anecdote from him was probably the one where he revealed that in his first book (Fargo Rock City, a book about growing up listening to hair metal in North Dakota) he included his home phone number at the end of the introduction and encouraged people to call. While he stated that most of people who called were "drunk people who were listening to Motley Crue albums," one of the people who called was David Byrne from the Talking Heads. Apparently he was sitting in an airport reading Klosterman's book and loved it, and wanted him to speak at this engagement for McSweeney's in New York City before he went on. So in a way, Klosterman was opening for the Talking Heads, which was really freaking cool.

When we got to the Q&A section, amazingly enough the whole thing kind of slowed down a bit. I'm not sure if it was because of the questions asked or because Klosterman works better as a speaker rather than an interpreter of ideas, but either way, the event took a bit of a downturn. Actually, I know it's a bit of both, but I did want to share - one person at this event asked the single most monumentally terrible question I've ever heard at any sort of event like this. It was an impenetrable question about someone named "Rushkoff," things called Disinfocons, and the synthesis of media.

Klosterman, quickly trying to gather his thoughts to not embarrass the guy for asking what may be the worst question in the history of questions, effectively destroyed the guy by eventually admitting he wasn't even sure what the question was. Chuck, I hate to say it, but no one in the audience did. It was seriously so painfully awkward, I could hardly do anything but look absently away from everything to forget what was happening in my presence. Of course, I turned to Hannah afterwards and said "I called that," as this was the same guy who came across as the prototypical hipster type, even going so far to deny knowing who Michael Jordan was before the show as he discussed things with the people near him (yes, I am an eavesdropper).

Anyways, while that was a bit disappointing and the book signing afterwards was a little wham, bam, thank you Chuck Klosterman for me, it was still a really entertaining event and something I was very glad to see. Alaska has been getting better at providing quality pop culture events to its denizens, and this one was most appreciated. Now let's start working on improving our concert output, mmmk.

Music Mondays

Monday, March 30, 2009

Album of the Week: Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Phoenix has always been a band I was entertained by. Ever since 2004's Alphabetical came out and it was full of some really, really tasty pop tracks, I knew that these guys were a pretty fun band. While they were fun though, I never really took them that seriously and never really got that into their sound or any of their other albums. It seemed like it was a great fit on the surface (Phoenix and myself, that is), but it never seemed to add up anywhere else besides on paper.

Then I heard that they were going to be the musical guest on April 4th's episode of Saturday Night Live and my mind immediately went all "que?!" on me. Phoenix? That Phoenix? They haven't exactly had any radio hits, nor do they have the argument of "ear piercing buzz" like Ray LaMontagne or Fleet Foxes had. Why the heck are they going to be on SNL?

Of course, I looked online and saw that there was a new album coming out, entertaingly titled Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Predictably, given that it is an easily convertible to digital format, it also made it's on to the intarwebs some 2 months before its release, thus being acquired by yours truly in an entirely too excitable way (there may have been drooling involved).

After about four or five listens, I have to say, Phoenix and I are starting to add up on more than just paper. As I love to admit on occasion, I'm really something of a pop fiend. I may listen to music some people may not have heard of, but when you drill down into my favorites it's all pop music. What Phoenix is releasing on March 25th is really one of the top renditions of straightforward pop music that I've heard in quite some time.

The best thing I can say about this album is that the second time I listened to the album, I was already singing along. It has instantly catchy vocals from frontman Thomas Mars, tight and fun instrument arrangements from the rest of the band, and everything is presented in toe tappingly perfect manners. Most every track on this album could easily be a giant single, and I really think this is the album that this band blows up with, as it comes highly recommended from yours truly if you're looking for nothing more than a great time from your music.

In a weird way, I think nothing explains this album better than the video below. It was created for the leadoff track from the album, titled "Lisztomania," and it's set to a montage of dance sequences from John Hughes movies from the 1980's. Strangely, those movies are a perfect filmic representation of everything that this album does right. Fun, light, and something that warms your heart at the best of times and reflects upon your own life at others. Check it out.

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix: A

The Weekend Edition (now with couch surfers!)

What a crazy weekend.

Going into this weekend, it was looking like it could be a very good one. Good plans and entertaining ventures were within my grasp, and then a mild natural disaster reared its ugly (although in reality, strangely cool and definitely epic looking) head. Mount Redoubt erupted and sent ash into the Anchorage area, causing Brand New to cancel their show and my big Saturday plans to go up in ash (see what I did there?). I was distraught, no Saturday plans? What's a guy to do?

Have significantly more fun doing something else entirely.

What did I do?

  • Dinner with Hannah at Kim and Josh's in the valley (Italy planning, great music, great times - thanks Kim and Josh!)
  • GCI event at our Elmendorf store with the AK Wild and all kinds of ridiculousness
  • Trip clothing shopping with Joanne (hello future man jacket!)
  • The Humpy's dinner trip heard 'round the world with Hannah, Amy, Jason, Joanne, and myself
  • Enter the two irish guys
  • Wait a second, these guys aren't irish - enter Ben and Dan
  • Puma Circus world tour at my apartment
  • WHOOP WHOOP! The Crewnit plus their New York transplant friends taking over downtown Anchorage
  • Snow City with everyone for breakfast
  • Coffee with my sister to recover
  • The Conference Call of Conference Calls to finalize Hannah, Kim and I's Italy plan
  • Word that CHUCK KLOSTERMAN DIDN'T CANCEL! Suck it Redoubt!
So yeah, I had a good time this weekend. Definitely the highlight of the weekend was going out Saturday night with Joanne, Hannah, Amy, and Jason, and the two strangers we met and the explosion of fun that ensued.

Amy, Hannah, Jason, Dan, Balto, myself, and Joanne - not pictured: Ben

So Saturday night we had an epic "Crewnit Reunion Special" planned, with everyone in our group planning on meeting at Humpy's for dinner, drinks, and going out on the town. Of course, that ashy bastard started spewing on Anchorage, causing Colver and Lorna (plus all flights to and from Anchorage) to cancel, downtown to go into panic mode, and the entire night to start having a distinct air of uncertainty to it. I have to admit, I was really looking forward to my party night.

However, Hannah, Joanne, Amy, Jason and I still went down to Humpy's, had a delicious dinner and had a great time.

While we were sitting though, a point of frequent discussion were these two guys who were sitting opposite of us in a booth. They had all of their suitcases with them and laptops out, and one of their suitcases had what looked like an Irish flag on it. Plus, it seemed as if they were a huge hit, with everyone in Anchorage seemingly taking interest in their table. We of course remained unimpressed, sitting on our high horse from 9 feet away, as we planned a movie night at my place given the fact it sounded like downtown may get shut down due to ashfall.

Then, after a little while and a table switch, Joanne (she of the fabled overtly forward nature) went up to the two guys and introduced herself. Thirty minutes later, she came back to the table and said "I hope it's okay, but I invited them to stay at your place and come to movie night."

"Sure!" I said out loud, as inside my head alarms went off.

All alarms turned off within five minutes though, as Ben snuck by, introduced himself and said "by the way, we're not from Ireland."

Turns out he and his brother Dan were on a heliskiing trip from New York City, and that we were in the presence of celebrity. Ben was actually what may or may not amount to the Wii Tennis champion of the nation, winning a 1,000 person tournament in Rockefeller Center in New York City. He won a year lease to a Lexus and two VIP passes to the U.S. Open finals. How's that for a slice of fried gold?

Anyways, we all went back to my place and I managed to coerce everyone to go out instead of having a movie night, but not before we all had a great time with Rock Band and our new Alaska/New York fusion band "Puma Circus" got together. Bad news was I was amazingly terrible. Good news was it was incredibly fun.

As was the rest of the night, as the seven of us went downtown, dominated the Anchor's dancefloor, inducted Balto into our group, and had a blast at the Avenue. Not only that, but we managed to even expand the party to outside the Avenue, as we were a force of nature walking away from the bar, assailing everyone with our "whoop! whoop!"'s and jointly singing some 80's song that no one seems to remember. Then we ended the night with twelve double decker tacos and How I Met Your Mother and that was all she wrote.

All in all, it was another great night for the Crewnit, and a great first experience in the arts of inadvertent Couch Surfing. You guys are welcome on my couches any time Ben and Dan.

Mt. Redoubt can go to hell

Friday, March 27, 2009

I hate you large mountain of disappointment

Because our big bastard of ash and lava Mt. Redoubt decided to blow its top, Brand New and the Get Up Kids cancelled (or possibly postponed) their show that was this Saturday. I hate that stupid, stupid mountain, but I'm okay with it because I've seen Brand New already.


If Chuck Klosterman cancels, that mountain will know my wrath. Here is a hint of your fate Redoubt - me, you, strategically placed dynamite, the villain from Cliffhanger, your demise.

Do not mess with me. You may be a force of nature, but you haven't seen me pissed.

That is all.

Where the Awesomeness Is

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spike Jonze + Arcade Fire + Maurice Sendak = gold mine.

It's math. You can't question math.

Where the Wild Things Are is going to be a ridiculously awesome movie, and I really never thought that was possible until Jonze got involved. Can't wait for October 16th. If you haven't seen the trailer, watch it above. What are you waiting for?

I Love You, Bro Montana

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

This past weekend, another hysterical comedy starring former supporting men turned comic superstars Jason Segel and Paul Rudd came out and made a tidy sum of money (over $18 million, coming in second place for the weekend behind Nicolas Cage's most recent masterpiece) and further entrenched the pair as honest to god bankable movie stars. To me, it's about time Brian Fantana and Nick Andopolis took it to the next level, but their successes coincide with a very interesting time for America.

The Age of the Bromance.

Over the past few years, the word bromance has quickly ascended up, up and away into the cultural lexicon of America. Whether it's in Brody Jenner's unfathomably stupid (and entertaining!) reality show Bromance or on Team Apatow's onslaught of comedies on celluloid, the nation is fully aware of this term for the first time.

Sure, it came about in the 1990's (seriously, there is a wikipedia entry proving it and everything) when some skateboard magazine editor coined it to explain skater to skater relationships, but it's really only taken off lately, existing simultaneously in the stratosphere of pop culture studies like the Soup and Bill Simmons' mailbags, and the gutters of the written word on blogs such as my own (or the Dark of the Matinees study on best movie bromances).

I mean, the biggest comedies these days are no longer grounds for Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. Sorry guys, the romantic comedy is dead. The stage is set for bromantic comedies to take over the world (don't you dare call them buddy comedies), and there is really nothing we can do about it.

Of course, if they are anywhere near as hilarious as I Love You, Man, I say bring on this new age! More Jason Segel, more Paul Rudd, and for gods sakes, more Rush please. I'm pretty sure that any comedy that heavily features Rush, Lou Ferrigno, an awkward and tall character riding a vespa everywhere, and a high pitched work out addict yelling "take it to the top!" will always be welcome in my book.

The point is, take some friends and go catch this flick. You might as well embrace this new day because it's going to be around for a while I feel.

Go AK Wild?

Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm not entirely sure how it's possible, but for the third time Colver and I went to the season opener for Alaska's "Intense Football League" team the Alaska Wild. This time we were joined by Hannah and Jason, and it was quite possibly the most ridiculous thing I've ever attended. There are many good reasons, but in order from worst to...least worst, they were:

1. The DJ
2. The horrible, horrible on field personality
3. The Alaska Wild's QB
4. Caged Cheerleaders
5. Mush Mouth McGee
6. Stallion

The DJ was maybe the worst DJ on the planet. I'm not sure if he played anything that was made in the last year, and most everything he played was popular (and terrible even then) in the 90's. At one point, I turned to Hannah and Jason and asked "do you think this is what it felt like to go to a dance club in 1992?" This is a huge downturn from the last football game I went to (Pats vs. Seahawks at Qwest Field), where Colver was seemingly DJing as the DJ only played butt rock (mostly AC/DC) and super ghetto rap. I really wished Colver would DJ this time.

Then there was the on field personality, who did everything from make fun of children, openly mock one of the cheerleaders, and punch a baby in the face. Alright, the last part wasn't true, but given his previous actions, I wouldn't have been altogether surprised.

Not to be outdone, in the offseason the Alaska Wild apparently took DNA from Michael Vick and Vince Young and spliced it together to form their new QB. His passes (he had three completions) were what happens when you combine Vick's velocity with Young's horrific accuracy, and he really just liked running the ball...poorly. His favorite play was either the fake option to the two yard loss or the "hike the ball and then trip," which really was one of his stronger plays.

This team is incredibad. From top to bottom, this is maybe the worst ran franchise in sports, regardless of level or sport. After the little girl who brought water bottles to the opponent Fairbanks Grizzlies fell down, the Grizzlies all came over and helped her up and made sure she was okay, at which point we began openly cheering for the Grizz (and their three eyed mascot bear with a pick axe - only in Alaska).

Yet we'll probably still go to more games, because they are still massively enteraining. As we left the arena to cries of "they are who we thought they were" and "playoffs?! playoffs?? who said anything about playoffs. playoffs?!" laughing hysterically and bringing mirth to other exiting Alaskans, I'm pretty sure we all realized we had a blast. I can't wait for my next chance to go "go AK Wild," although I'm very glad I get free tickets. I would never pay to see them.

Also - Erik, see below for my recently drafted fantasy baseball roster (we start two of each position, five OF, one utility, 5 SP, and 5 RP, plus four bench):

C: Mike Napoli, Ramon Hernandez
1B: Prince Fielder, Joey Votto
2B: Jose Lopez, Felipe Lopez (aka the Brothers Lopez, or Bropez)
3B: David Wright, Alex Gordon
SS: Orlando Cabrera, Elvis Andrus
OF: Nick Markakis, Carlos Quentin, Matt Kemp, Shane Victorino, Andre Ethier
U: Adam Jones
Bench: Cameron Maybin, Elijah Dukes

SP: Tim Lincecum, John Lackey, Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester
RP: Mariano Rivera, Matt Capps, Brian Wilson, Joel Hanrahan, Kevin Gregg
Bench: Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson

I think it's a contender, but I thought last years team was super stacked, so who the hell knows really?

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Another action packed weekend down, with just two more weekends to go before the big Europe trip. This one had a great balance to it, and featured a ton of fun events and some rather glorious ones at that. What happened?

  • Battlestar Galactica's amazingly incredible series finale
  • Europe planning with Joanne
  • I Love You, Man being ridiculously hilarious
  • Going to Boston's with Amy, Colver, Jason, and Nick
  • Interrupting girls night with Jason and having a grand ol' time
  • Suckout Central's yearly Fantasy Baseball draft (my team is weird, but pretty good)
  • Rock of Love Bus with Hannah and Jason
So yeah, the highlight was definitely the interrupting of the girls night and turning it into a big dance party at the Anchor. So, I know I'm an a bad dancer. I'm pretty convinced of it in fact. But for some reason, I really, really enjoy it. There is something awesome about going to the club with friends and just taking over the dance floor with ridiculous and terrible dancing that everyone watches and is entertained by.

Not only that, but dancing with really cute girls is always fun too. I'm kind of a dominant force at that, mostly because I think girls appreciate the fact I'm trying. Definitely not the fact I'm dancing well. Because I'm not. I'm dancing terribly. But you better believe I'm trying, and having a damn good time while doing it. It's part of the recipe of a perfect night out on the town.

Battlestar Galactica: Best. Finale. Ever.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Obviously I'm a complete homer when it comes to this, and I'd never own up to disliking the Battlestar Galactica finale if I thought it was actually bad. I'd say "oh, it's how they wanted it to end" while secretly cursing Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. Thankfully, it was unnecessary to lie. Why?

This was the most action packed, emotional, amazing, revelatory, and perfectly choreographed episode of television I've ever seen. It answered all of my remaining questions, and did it in such a way that I was simply entertained to the maximum level I possibly could be. As we watched the episode, my sister and I started sitting on the couch, moved to the edge of our seat, and during one section actually were sitting on the floor openly yelling at the television while grappling each others arms.

In. Sane.

I don't want to say anything about anything that happened in it, but man, I just can't even say enough about it. This is the ultimate swan song for my favorite television show, and I really figured there'd be no way they could satisfy me so completely.

So thanks Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. Thanks Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell. Thanks Jamie Bamber and Katee Sackhoff. Thanks Tahmoh Penikett and Grace Park. Thanks Aaron Douglas, Michael Hogan, Kate Vernon, Michael Trucco, and Rekha Sharma. Thanks Michael Rymer, Jane Espenson, and Bear McCreary. To say you're amazing is simply because I don't have any more words to use.

Stupid TV shows getting me all emotionally attached and then leaving me.

You will be missed Bstar.

Check another great review fron the LA Times here. For an after finale interview with show architect Ronald D. Moore and a great review from one of the shows biggest champions Maureen Ryan (from the Chicago Tribune), go here.

So long, farewell, auf wiedersen, goodbye!

Tonight is the last episode of Battlestar Galactica, my much loved favorite TV show series ever (you could make an argument that I enjoy it more than any other form of visual entertainment I've ever experienced), and I had grand aspirations. A post with links to my favorite five episodes (which would have come from the New Caprica Season 3 launch episodes, the season 3 finale, the Oath/Blood on the Scales episodes from season 4, the Hand of God and Six Degrees of Separation from season 1, the Flight of the Phoenix and two part Pegasus episodes from season 2, Lay Down Your Burders parts 1 and 2 from Season 2...I have a lot of favorites), breakdowns on favorite characters, etc. etc. It would have been quite comprehensive.

However, laziness and work came first, and it just didn't happen. But I did want one final post before the series finale. This show deserves viewership, and while it's been extremely critically acclaimed and well loved throughout its existence, I really feel like it is an important series and one that should be viewed by anyone and everyone. So go out there - Netflix it, buy it on DVD (worth it!), watch it on Hulu or online, do something. Just stop being a bum and missing out on one of the most entertaining and thought provoking TV series out there.

Goodbye Bstar, we hardly knew ye...

Battlestar Galactica Meets the United Nations

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

This week, Battlestar Galactica, the greatest television show that has ever existed in my opinion, will be unveiling it's swan song with the last two hours of the series finale airing Friday night. I've went on and on about how awesome this show really, really is, but some question it. "It's sci-fi" or "you do know it's called "Battlestar Galactica" don't you?" are frequent responses (admittedly, that is a deterrent as the name comes across as quite dorky to the average person). Regardless of that, it's hard to really top this story that came out yesterday, as it blew my mind and really lays a ton of legitimacy at the feet of those people questioning the show.

Yesterday, Bstar co-creators David Eick and Ronald D. Moore and co-leads Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos were asked to speak at the United Nations in a retrospective of the show, as part of a program in which the United Nations is trying to connect with the general public about major world issues like terrorism and human rights via the media.

No less, the event sounds like quite possibly the single coolest event ever. The room was filled with UN members, activists, politicians, moderator Whoopi Goldberg (who is apparently a huge fan), the Bstar folk, and 100 high school students who were requested to have prepared questions for the cast, all of which apparently were awesome and said to draw a lot of amazement from the UN members, who were shocked by Bstar's power to get young people to think about issues. As Robert Orr, the Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Planning put it, "(Battlestar Galactica has) people thinking about issues that we try and get people thinking about every day." That's some power right there.

Absolutely, the coolest moment was when one of the UN members continued to use the term "race" to describe different ethnicities, which led Edward James Olmos (long a activist about racism) on a scathing diatribe of the United Nations, stressing that there aren't different races, there was just humanity, and that was something he's fought for all of his life. He got very heated, and even finished his oration with his patented line, as he yelled "So say we all!" to the audience - all of whom responded back with the same line, and they chanted back and forth for a good measure. It was apparently so touching to Olmos, that he shed a tear or two, which McDonnell reached over and wiped for him.

Intense. Impossibly cool.

In short, you may question Battlestar Galactica and it's ability to be good television when I say it, but come on now. The United Nations are preaching how great it is. You never heard them say that about CSI did you?

Didn't think so.

Watch Battlestar. Better late than never. So say we all.

Music Mondays

Monday, March 16, 2009

Recommendation: Amadou et Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako

It seems kind of strange to review an album that's almost four years old on here, but it's kind of hard to ignore when I enjoy the album as much as I do.

When researching for my "Best of 2009" albums list, I kept coming across world music artist Amadou et Mariam. Every site I would look at would highlight their new album and rave about it, and Metacritic had it perched up near the top of their assembled scoring for albums in 2008. From what I could tell, it was the bomb diggity, so to speak. But I passed, as I scoffed and said "world music isn't for me."


A couple months later, I relented and downloaded their album. I listened to it once. Glorious! I was hooked! Next thing you know I was listening to it while working, while driving, while exercising, while reading...you name it. I was listening to it. This album was fantastic. "I'm going to have to write about this!" I thought. Then, while I was looking up info on them, I found out the album I had acquired was actually an older album by them, and I had never actually heard their new one.

Double oops.

Oh well, what are you going to do. Whatever album it is, it's some of the most catchy and fun music around, being a fusion of every genre of music known to man, with the most frequent elements coming from reggae, latin, and jazz influences. I have no idea what they are saying, as I believe it's in French, but it doesn't even matter. It's just remarkably inventive and incredibly well crafted, with all 15 tracks being absolute delights.

I think it kind of goes back to part of the reason why I loved Vampire Weekend's debut album so much - it reminds me of Paul Simon's Graceland so much. Obviously, African music and the burgeoning afro rock genre was of great influence on Simon's album, and this album is a fantastic musical representation of that same genre, except a lot more eclectic and with many other influences. But the Graceland feel is there enough to perpetually remind me of Simon, and that's enough to kick this album up a notch with a blast of pure, unadultered nostalgia.

However, if you're not a fan of that album, don't worry. This is just a really fun album for fans of music, as at its heart it's brilliant pop music from another part of the globe. Plus, Amadou and Mariam have an incredible story, as they're a blind couple from Mali who met at Mali's Institute for the Young Blind who pursued living off doing what they love, and doing it well. You owe it to them to at least give them a chance. Not to mention, when they blow up after opening for Coldplay all summer you can say "I've been listening to these guys for a while now."

And who doesn't love saying that every once in a while?

Amadou et Mariam - Dimanche a Bamako: A-

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Awwwwwww yeah.

That's what I'm talking about!

This past weekend was ridiculously fantastic, on par with any ever. That's right, any weekend ever. It's right up there with the weekend where the Patriots surprised the Rams in the Super Bowl, the one where Battlestar Galactica premiered, and the one when Columbus discovered America. It was that good.

What happened to make it so spectacular?

  • Moose's Tooth and Bstar with Hannah
  • First hour of the Battlestar Galactica series finale (I'm scared of a world without Bstar!)
  • Tons of Europe research at local coffeshops and bookstores (thanks for letting me treat you like a library Barnes and Noble!)
  • #7 - DMZ Vol. 6: Blood in the Game (Awesome, one of the best comic series on the market)
  • Work events and fun with that
  • Crewnit Extravaganza: Amy's Cabin edition
The highlight was without a doubt the Crewnit Extravaganza out at Amy's cabin. I'd heard that Amy's cabin is pretty much guaranteed awesomeness. It's been chronicled as such for a long time, but it was my first experience. Now? Now I want to go back all the time. Instead of writing about it though, I've decided I'm just going to share a ton of pictures. Enjoy!

Family Portrait!

Singing along to the Immigrant Song on the way to the cabin

I stuffed that in my pipe and I smoked it

Ror Monster couldn't handle this

Colver palletizing

Colver, Ror Monster and I sitting on snow thrones

Ror Monster dominating David Leroy Harper the Third

Glorious Alaska

Fire Bar!

Lorna trailed by Myka with a hilarious face

Home sweet home!

Amy loving Alaska...mostly

Snuggie sleeping bag!

Colver impersonating the smoke monster from Lost

Jo Jo Jee Jo Jo and I

"Only you can prevent beaver abuse"

"YAY! The Islander!"

More Colver Smoke Monster business

Jason being fancy

Amy vs. the pipe

Lorna, Jon and myself


Book Bonanza

Thursday, March 12, 2009

One of my New Year's Resolutions (and last years) was to read 52 books in the calendar year. It's a rather difficult task to follow through on, as that's a lot of freaking reading. However, I'm doing okay so far. I just wrapped up three books recently, and I wanted to write about them. However, that's a lot of writing, and if I'm going to read 52 books, I better not write so much!

This is how I reason to myself at least. Really, I've already written about one and the other one I don't have a ton of interest in writing about. No less, here they are.

#4 - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
#5 - Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs by Chuck Klosterman

#6 - Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

I've always heard from people that Ender's Game is just an amazing book. I've known a lot of people who are into sci-fi books (I'm a dork...is it that surprising that I know other dorky people?) and people consistently rave about this book. Yet I never ended up reading it, regardless of how much admiration was showered upon the story.

Hilariously enough, it took a comic book.

Recently, Marvel Comics started releasing comic book adaptations (and elaborations) of Orson Scott Card's book, and I picked them up (because, as many local comic shop employees point out regularly, what don't I pick up) and enjoyed them greatly. So for Christmas my sister picked me up a collection of four of the books from the series, and over the last week I absolutely tore through the book whenever I had the opportunity. I'd read before bed, I'd read during lunch, I'd read while exercising.

To say I appreciated this story is quite the understatement.

I was completely and utterly blown away by the story of Ender Wiggin, a small boy who may be humanity's last hope against the formidable bugger forces. After humanity was nearly eradicated before and only saved by a particularly savvy commander of a small fleet, the powers that be realized that they would need a new champion for the next time the buggers were to be confronted. From then on, they studied children and developed them from the age of six at a Battle School, learning tactics and everything it would take to lead their forces.

Except Ender was the only one that really mattered, and this was all about what it took the turn him into a military leader that could save the world, all before puberty.

It's a remarkable story, told in a spare and agile tone. This is not a book that looks to bog down it's pages in style, it's all about filling the pages with real characters, taut situations, and continuous development in as believable and true a fashion as such a story could possibly be rendered. Card uses an economy of words to bring out the tension in the story, in a story where you never really think this brilliant child could lose. It's all very engrossing, from Ender's development to the intensely visual Battle Room sequences, from the Giant's Drink to the Speaker of the Dead, it all connects in a very visceral way. Everything about this book feels right.

Also, I do have to point out that for a book written in 1985, Card had an incredible grasp on what the Internet would develop into. The chapters that highlighted Locke and Demosthenes, two characters (I won't reveal who they are) that use the "nets" to spread fear and gain power, are prescient and remarkable into their insight on what the power of such a then unrealized technology could be.

Quite often sci-fi gets pigeon holed as just sci-fi. As in, it's not worth any true literary consideration because it's sci-fi. However, like sci-fi's more visually oriented cousin (you know...comics), it's a genre that is quite literary and thought provoking in its' own right. Ender's Game is a perfect example of this, and I'm very excited about diving off into the rest of the series soon (although I've heard from the same people who recommended this book that the rest of the series is not nearly as good).

Ender's Game: A

Trouble with dreams

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

When I was little, I would occasionally have nightmares that would totally jar me from my sleep in a heartbeat. They'd be terrible, but everyone has those. No big deal, plus I was a little kid so it's to be expected.

Now I'm 25, and I never have nightmares. Actually, excuse me, I used to never have nightmares until lately. Lately? Man, sleeping has been a major problem for me. I've pretty much not been sleeping well at all for the last month or so, waking up 3 or 4 times a night in a panic, which has led to me not sleeping and waking up late for work way too often. It's all because of stupid nightmares! I keep having this recurring dream involving my teeth falling out, or more accurately, knocked out. It's ridiculous! It's like I'm the bad guy in Out for Justice, and Steven Seagal is in every dream.

If you couldn't guess, that scene where Seagal knocks the bad guys teeth out with a shotgun haunts me.

No less, this is pretty wack if you ask me (wack is a perfectly viable blog term) and it needs to stop right now. I think all I have to do is channel my energies towards confronting Steven Seagal in my dreams. While he may break many of my bones in said dreams (as Seagal has a tendency to do), I feel as if a good metaphysical asskicking of dream Seagal is definitely in the works to stop this run of bad dreams.

It's on, Seagal.

Music Mondays

Monday, March 9, 2009

Recommendation: The Boy Least Likely To - The Law of the Playground

A little while back, Hannah and I co-created a new genre of music. We titled it "precious pop," and it fits all kinds of artists. At it's best, it's twee pop music that captures the heart of the listener, and it's side effects include effortless singalongs and endlessly tapping toes. Good examples of this genre include Dr. Dog (the inspiration), Jens Lekman (the grand chairman of the genre), and perhaps the most precious of these pop stars, the Boy Least Likely To.

This band is a duo from the United Kingdom, and on their 2005 debut the Best Party Ever they completely surprised me with their infectious cuteness and instantly hummable tracks. That album was laden with pop delights like quasi-hit "Be Gentle With Me" and true delight "I'm Glad I Hitched My Apple Wagon to Your Cart," but after that album they managed to disappear until now, with their new album the Law of the Playground being released today.

You'd think after such a long delay they'd be a tad rusty perhaps, but you wouldn't know if from the album they produced, as it infectious and addictive just like their last album, perhaps even a little more immediately moreso. Why do I say that? Because I did that horrible, horrible thing I do every time I get a new album and listen to it to a disgusting degree. It's good for two reasons I suppose: you quickly find out what works and what doesn't, and you find out the replay value of the album.

So what works for this album?

While their previous album may have achieved higher peaks than this album, the new album is more immediately pleasing, accessible, and consistently quality. Also, at some points the precious aspect would overtake the pop part, making it so saccharine it'd be hard to get into. This album tones it down a notch, and it's better for it. It's still extremely fun, but it avoids some of the pitfalls of being so damn cute. As per usual, vocalist Jof Owen does a great job, but multi-instrumentalist Pete Hobbs really is the star here. The banjos, glockenspiels, fiddles, and xylophones really add to sound, and make this band extremely unique and add to the fun vibe.

However, that leads into the main problem of the album - it's a tad forgettable so far. The Best Party Ever was layered with tracks that would stay in your mind for hours afterwards, and so far very few of the tracks stick with me. As soon as I turn the album back on, I get back to humming along and enjoying it, but it's just not that memorable.

Besides that, there isn't a lot wrong with this album. It's a dreamy and fun album that's perfect for these dark and dismal times. It's definitely mood music, and something that can wear thin after a while (as most albums in Hannah and I's favorite genre can), but it is a high quality addition to the world of precious pop.

At the very least, you have to appreciate a band who was described by Rolling Stone as what would happen "if all your childhood stuffed animals got together and started a band."

The Boy Least Likely To - the Law of the Playground: B

Track to check out:

Silversun Pickups awesome new song "Panic Switch" at Stereogum.

The Weekend Edition

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Yay! More relaxation! For the last few weekends, I've just been chilling in anticipation of my big Europe trip. I'm convinced that I need to rest up and condition myself to make sure I don't get sick while over there, plus I've been doing all kinds of planning. This weekend was excellent for said planning, amongst other things. What went down?

  • I watched the Watchmen with Colver, Brian, and Morgan
  • Dinner at Mixx with Amy
  • To the Buckaroo for some darts
  • This week's Bstar (2 more episodes...three more hours...ahhh!!)
  • Lunch with my sister at Middle Way
  • Dinner with Hannah, Colver, and Lorna at Bear Tooth
  • Tons of Battlestar with Hannah
  • Finished another book and started Ender's Game
  • Did TONS of planning for my trip
While it may not have been the fun highlight of the weekend, the best thing that came from this weekend was finalizing my plans in terms of in Europe travels and sorting out where I'm going to stay while in England - with good friend Sobo's parents! They have a five bedroom home 45 minutes outside of London, and apparently it's only 7 miles from Windsor Castle and really close to all kinds of really cool places.

In short, it sounds like it's the perfect place for me to stay.

I have to admit, to a certain degree, I was a little freaked out by my first Europe trip. It was starting to look a little daunting, but it's all coming together so well, and it's now bookended by spending time with people I know really well (meeting up with Hannah and Kim in Italy) so that will make the rest of it seem like nothing. Well, nothing besides the best time ever. Now the only thing that blows my mind about the trip is that it took me 25 years to do it. What the hell!

Daylight Savings is a crime

I love it when I walk outside for the first time in the winter, and you can see that hint of light as you are walking out to your car and driving to work. Most people in America don't have to experience this sensation, as it's a purely Alaskan thing. It's dark every morning going to work, and then one day it's like the sky is finally glowing instead of being pure black. Slowly but surely it gets brighter and brighter until one day it's bright and shiny out, signaling we're well on our way to spring and then summer.

That first day when the glow comes around for the first time has to be one of my favorite days of the year.

However, today we skipped forward an hour so when we get up, it's going to be like day in the morning, which is good in the way of it being crazy bright out when I go to work, but bad in the fact that it robbed me of an hour. At this point, does daylight savings time really do anything besides rob us of a precious hour of time? I don't feel as if it does, and I want it back!

Stupid daylight savings. Why can't this happen during the week when I'm at work, and it's 3 PM and all of a sudden it's 4 PM, and I'm like "well guys, gotta go!" That's the dream I guess.

I Watched the Watchmen

Saturday, March 7, 2009

When talking about relationships, Amy always tells me that she's interested in guys that are interested in her, but not too interested in her. I always found that kind of silly, who doesn't want someone to be interested in them?

"They have to play the game David."

I always contested that people needn't play the game with me, they simply need to be interested and if I'm interested, it will work perfectly. Amy predictably scoffs, says whatever, and then I push her over because simply put, that is what Amy and I do.

Strangely, that little story perfectly explains how I feel about Watchmen.

Whenever I go see an adaptation of a favorite comic or book and I leave, I always think "man! why could they not just follow the source material? Is that so hard?" I've actually blogged about this a time or two, and at the time, I really believed what I wanted was a faithful adaptation of my favorite works. Otherwise you'll end up with some bastardization of the materials like what happened with Daredevil or Christmas with the Kranks (the latter wasn't even that great of a book - it was a cute one, but the movie was monumentally terrible so I had to include it).

However, similar to the relationship discussion, it really works a lot more like Amy thinks than I think. Don't follow the source at all? Failure. Follow the source so meticulously you're watching essentially a shot for shot remake of the comic? Not failure, but something doesn't feel right. It's like the Rolling Stones say, you can't always get what you want, but you'll get what you need.

I think the ideal adaptation is mostly faithful but kind of not like the Nolan Batpics, the Raimi Spiderpics (excluding the rise of emo Spider-Man), and the Singer X-Pics. They carry on the spirit of the source materials beautifully, pay tribute often with little moments, but dn't obsessively reshoot what happens in the comic, because then you'll capture everything that happens plotwise and character wise, but you'll miss out on the subtext and spirit of what happens on the pages.

Now, to speak less in generalities and more in specifics.

Watchmen, for all intents and purposes, is the single most faithful comic adaptation ever. Zack Snyder and team managed to condense a 12 issue maxi series into 2 hours and 43 minutes, reproducing shot angles, using exact lines, and never missing character beats. Nearly everything was exactly the same, save for changing the endings significantly (but seriously, a squid monster from another dimension psychic blasting downtown New York City? I know it's a comic movie, but that is ridiculous - good change Zack). Many of the characters were captured perfectly, or in some cases, even managed to improve.

For example, Patrick Wilson (of Little Children fame) managed to somehow turn one of the weaker characters in the story (Dan Dreiberg aka Nite Owl II) and turn him into arguably my favorite character in the entire movie. Dreiberg's weakness was still evident, but it was not his defining characteristic like it was in the comic. They managed to turn him into someone you really believe could win over Silk Spectre, and someone you really believe could be out there kicking ass on a regular basis.

Jackie Earle Haley has to be mentioned, as he managed to perfectly capture Rorschach. Rorshach, in my opinion, is the best character from the comics. He sees things in a simplified black and white while everyone else in the movie sees things in shades of gray, and his hyperviolent and fiercely vengeful representation in the film lit the screen with intensity whenever he came about. Some will say that Haley stole Christian Bale's Batspeak from the Nolan Batflicks, but to be honest, Alan Moore originally wrote the character to speak like that. No less, Haley's performance as Rorschach ensured the movie would, at the very least, capture the most interesting character well.

Really, Billy Crudup was excellent, Jeffrey Dean Morgan did a great job as the Comedian, Matt Frewer did a lot in his one scene as ex-villain Moloch, and a lot of the supporting cast was superb. Malin Akerman was definitely a weaker point in the primary cast, but to be fair, Silk Spectre was always a character defined by the men in her life, not really by herself, so in that regard she did a lot with her work by turning her into a more three dimensional (and badass character) who balanced the movie a bit from what could be perceived as misogyny from the rest of the film.

The biggest acting complaint: Snyder's decision to actually film scenes with Richard Nixon, who was acted by possibly the worst actor ever and given the single worst makeup job ever made. Every time he appeared on the screen, I wanted him to go away immediately.

On to Zack Snyder.

Zack did a bang up job in this movie. He managed to do the impossible by not holding back at all and filming this movie exactly like the comic, and successfully adapting the unadaptable. Very impressive. His obsession with overt violence and slow motion actually worked out very well in this (although come on now, slow motion sex scenes are just bizarre and hilarious, and then a little awkward), as what I believed would be the biggest downfalls of the film ended up being strong points. His usage of music (besides Leonard Cohen's truly abysmal rendition of "Hallelujah" in the midst of the aforementioned sex scene) was superb, with high points going to the opening expository credits being framed with Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'."

Some scenes Snyder nailed so perfectly I would find myself thinking "God! I can't believe I'm watching Watchmen. Who's watching the Watchmen? I'm watching the Watchmen!" One scene really blew me away, with the contrast of Silk Spectre and Nite Owl II getting in a alley fight AND Dr. Manhattan's ill-fated television appearance. It worked unbelievably well, and Snyder's passion for the project really, really came through in scenes like that.

Alright, so now I go into my biggest complaint, and why I can never call this a great movie regardless of what I've said in the previous seven or so paragraphs.

This movie is completely and utterly pointless.

Alan Moore, the writer and co-creator of the comic series, has often said in the past he doesn't want his comics to be adapted into film. For a couple reasons really, but the main reasons are that the comics that Hollywood has adapted have been terrible and because of one thing I really, really believe in. Comic books, in many ways, are the perfect storytelling medium. When done right, you can capture all of the power of the written word within their pages, and the visuals are limited only by the imaginations of the creators of the story. Film is limited by budgets and by the simple fact some things can not be digitally recreated.

Moore and Gibbons created Watchmen and it contains all of the power of the written word and all of the images exactly like they should be. Snyder managed to take the visuals and recreate many of them very well, and he took the characters and their words and applied them to the film to a truly monumentally accurate degree. Why though? As someone who has read the series multiple times, why was this a necessary exercise, short of Snyder's love for the story, Warner Bros. desire to make a boatload of money, or an attempt to share what many consider the greatest comic of all time in a more widely appreciated medium? It was truly exciting to see it all happening on the screen, but it just kind of felt wrong.

As New York Magazine said, this movie was embalmed. The spirit of this movie was choked out by Snyder's intense desire to get it right and his inability to follow through with what he started. Never was this more evident than in the films final parts, in the restructured ending. Ultimately, the ideas are presented in a similar fashion as they are in the comic, but the legendary moral dilemma the characters are put into - the ultimate "what would you do?" finish to a story - the crux of the entire storyline - pretty much falls flat. In a way, Snyder's desire to capture the characters and story so well sucked all of the real world tension from the story, making the ending not relatable and suffocating in application. When Rorschach screams "Do it! Do it!" at Dr. Manhattan (one of the absolutely most intense moments in any written form ever), you want to be screaming in your head in denial of that happening.

Snyder doesn't let that happen, as he uses Dan Dreiberg as a manifestation of the audience and lets him do the emoting for us, eternally robbing us of the bifurcated feeling related to this showdown between two men with two ideas of what is justice and what is right. You can't argue with God, but justice needs to be served. We never get that feeling as an audience. Ironically enough, in the one point where I really, really felt Snyder needed to follow closely (the last meeting of the Watchmen), he takes it a different direction arguably because the way it was originally presented is the least easy to translate to film. Yet it's that ending that ties everything that happened before it together.

To put it back in the relationship perspective, Snyder played the game, but when it was for all the marbles he decided he wanted to play a different game.

Perhaps the ultimate point is that the key to a successful adapation isn't meticulous recreation of the source material. It's cutting the story down to the core, keeping the characters correct in their representation, and making sure you catch the spirit of the story correctly. Snyder almost got it right, and as Jack Nicholson says in Mars Attacks, 2 out of 3 ain't bad.

Watchmen: B-

Who watches the Watchmen...lines

Thursday, March 5, 2009

After work today, in the midst of possibly the stupidest storm in a stupid winter (writing skills go right out the window when I'm annoyed by Alaska - I'm the written equivalent of the Hulk), I ran over to Century Cinemas (or whatever it goes by these days) to pick up tickets for Colver and I to see Watchmen tomorrow afternoon at 3:55 PM.

Tangent: After going to see the Dark Knight at midnight last time and having to deal with people openly ripping on comic books or the people who are there to clown around with their friends and participate in an "event," I decided it was time enough to abandon the idea of midnight showings. Great in theory, stupid in application. I'll gladly go see movies at matinee prices and not have to deal with the tools going to midnight showings, thank you very much (stepping off soap box made out of comic long boxes...now).

As I was waiting in line to purchase my tickets, I looked over to the left to theater 9, where it said "Watchmen: 12:01" (and it also said Underworld 3 playing at a few other times, however for some reason I doubt what I saw was there for Rhona Mitra slaying Lycans) and had two people sitting on the floor in line. This was at 4:50 in the afternoon. No way could they be there for Watchmen could they? When I get up to the counter I ask.

"Those guys at theater 9...they aren't in line for Watchmen are they?"
"Yes they are sir."
"Been there since 3. Weird if you ask me."

They've been there since 3 PM. For a movie that is at midnight.

3 PM.


What. The. Hell.

See, there are certain things I understand getting to places ridiculously early for. Example: Black Friday, when you want to get the doorbuster items that will save you literally hundreds of dollars. Things of that sort, whree there is actually a significant impact on what you are doing.

Getting to a movie NINE hours early is ridiculous. You know what happens if you show up at 11? You're sitting four rows up or down from the people who showed up at 3 pm. It also turns out that you are seeing the exact same movie. What do you gain? Nothing. Nothing at all.

Bill Hader really captured it in his online webisode series "the Line", which was a series about Hader and his friend showing up eleven days early for the midnight showing of the premiere of Future Space (essentially Star Wars, but you know, made for this web series). Basically, it captures exactly how insane it is to go early, through thorough (and hilarious) over exaggeration of course.

Don't get me wrong. I'm excited for Watchmen. As of five minutes ago, I was reading one of the many comics I bought this week (emphasis on many). It's going to be awesome to watch one of the all time best comics represented in perpetual slow motion and overstylization. I mean, nothing gets me more excited than that prospect.

But still people, stop being so freaking crazy. It's a movie, and a movie in which going at 11 pm (oh noes! only an hour early!) is perfectly fine. I'm probably going to show up 20 minutes early tomorrow and be perfectly fine with wherever I sit. I'll probably be a lot more comfortable than those people that were in line today. Know why?

Because I wasn't just sitting in a movie theater for nine hours!


Music Mondays

Monday, March 2, 2009

Recommendation: Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen

You could make a very good argument that Cursive is one of my ten or so favorite bands. They're a consistently good band with one fantastic album and two very good ones (the Ugly Organ, Domestica, and Happy Hollow respectively), and March 10th, they will be releasing a new album, strangely titled Mama, I'm Swollen. This album kind of snuck up on me, but as soon as I heard of it, it quickly jumped up to the top of my "most anticipated albums" list.

The question isn't how anticipated it was though, the question is, how is it? Better yet, how does it compare to other Cursive albums?

For short answers to those, you'll get: okay, and poorly.

To be perfectly honest, this album is a lot more unfocused and all over the place than other Cursive albums. Reliance on repeated vocal lines and what I'm sure they would call "atmospheric" instrumental sections leave many songs instantly forgettable, such as lead track "In the Now."

As a rule of thumb, I think an artist should lead albums with something that grabs the listeners attention immediately and acts as a precursor to the rest of the album. A sign of things to come if you will. The song really only features three different lyrics strings, repeated for effect throughout the track. "Don't want to live in the now/Don't want to know what I know" is the first repeated track, and it's delivered in a Cursive meets "name that aggressive punk band" way that tires out the track and really makes those lyrics ring true for the listener. Not an ideal start, for sure.

It's immediately followed by what has to be considered one of the standout tracks on the album. "From the Hips" starts out sounding like a track off frontman Tim Kasher's side project the Good Life, but slowly unveils itself as a more Cursive styled track - and a great one at that. After the slower, more introspective beginning, it continues the introspection lyrically but speeds up the track with driving drums, horns, and some very quality vocal stylings from Mr. Kasher and quality guitar work from the rest. This song also sets the theme lyrically for the album, as Kasher has stretched his introspection around the whole of humanity on this album, as opposed to just himself.

Is Tim Kasher a single man census for humanity? This album acts as if he is, and it provides a far different lyrical spin to the album as a whole (Note: I don't generally pay attention to lyrics, but Kasher makes it pretty hard not to). Most song writers don't take on human existence as a subject matter for an album, but Kasher gives it his level best.

First single "I Couldn't Love You" is a perfect example of a pros and cons of this album. While the lyrics are clever (Is he saying "I couldn't love you any more" or "I couldn't love you anymore"?) and the chorus is quite the high point, the blase verses don't really do anything for me as a listener. Sparse vocals, barely there instrumentation - it feels like a means to an end in between the choruses. I have to admit though, my affinity for the organs and horns in the track run deep.

In true Cursive fashion, they totally win me over with the last track on the album. With the Ugly Organ being one of my favorite albums and final track "Staying Alive" arguably being my favorite track, that's unsurprising. This last track, titled "What Have I Done?" is Kasher at his reflective best, with a slow burn finish that builds the power of the track and kicks it up a notch at about the 4:30 mark to close out the album in strong fashion.

This track puts Kasher in the position to really connects with listeners, as he laments "I spent the best years of my life/waiting on the best years of my life" early, and then later on, "I was telling everyone back home/That I was taking it by storm/Instead, I watched it by the roadside." These are sentiments anyone can relate to - life not feeling like it's going as it should, not meeting your potential, letting opportunity pass you by. The tragedy in this song is trapped in the reality.

The problem with this album as a whole is two fold however: the lyrical insight of Kasher isn't always at his previous levels and the lyrics are quite often trapped in less enticing presentation than in previous albums. Simply put, the structure of these songs are quite often too muddled to allow the darkly melodious aspects of Cursive's music to come out. When Kasher railed against fighting with his wife on Domestica's opener "The Casualty" or talked about the state of art in the world in the Ugly Organ's "Art is Hard," they were both laid out in ways that made them basely pleasing for the pop fan in all of us and the audiophile looking for something more from the listener.

On Mama, I'm Swollen, we get less of both of those concepts, and the album suffers for it.

The album as a whole is very perplexing. It carries on throughout, occasionally like a Cursive album and occasionally like an album written by an entirely different band. I kept waiting for some sense of consistency, but it never came.

However, I do want to note, I've only gotten about three or four listens in. Cursive albums tend to be growers, and this one easily could come out of its shell with repeated listens. As of right now, however, it's not exactly my favorite album.

Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen: C

The Weekend Edition

This weekend was utterly relaxing. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday just relaxing, and that is kind of the direction I'm headed as I get closer to my big Europe trip. I'm looking to do a couple things before my trip: cut my eating down, save money, and rest more. I think these will all be very beneficial things for me when the trip itself comes, plus they all help me prepare on my actual trip. No less, what did this lead to be doing this weekend?
  • Three hour dinner with Hannah, Jason and Amy at Bear Tooth
  • Finishing one book, nearly finishing another, and finally catching up on my comic reading
  • Plotting out a ton of my trip (so excited!)
  • Battlestar Galactica blowing my mind (three more episodes! four more hours! ahhh!!!)
  • Coffee with my sister
  • Working an event for work
  • Running of the Reindeer at Fur Rondy with Colver
  • Lunch with Amy and Jessie (inadvertently but awesomely)
  • Amy, Jason, Hannah and I watching Rock of Love Bus, and it conveniently rocking our world

It's not every day you see a super drunk girl crying on a speed bump

And this is where I will finally talk about our latest obsession...Rock of Love Bus.

Rock of Love Bus, or ROLB (or Bus or the incredibly quickly spoken "rockoflovebus") as we occasionally call it, is Bret Michaels' (of Poison "fame") reality show about finding the love of his life in a gaggle of intensely trashy women. Predictably enough, this is the third season of it because it turns out:

a) people rarely find love on reality shows
b) people rarely find love with former rock stars
c) people rarely find love with unfathomably trashy rock floozies
d) people rarely find love with people with a cursory knowledge of the English language named Brittanya

Anyways, regardless of the conceptual shortcomings (even though we all know the point of the show is for these women to get on television and Michaels' to maintain some form of relevance), the show is incredibly entertaining for all of the same reasons. This show is all about cat fights, amplified drama, drunken buffoonery, incredibly slutty women, and hysterical challenges. I mean, last episode featured a contestant who got so hammered and frisky that she started fooling around with another contestant, was then scolded and sent to her bus, which led her to run away screaming and crying until she reached her destination: a speed bump. At said speed bump, she laid upon it and cried her eyes out.

That is something I never expected to see on television. Of course, that was something I never expected to see on television until the Bus pulled in. By god, while watching this show, I always expect the unexpected. Want some unfathomably stupid and fun entertainment? Ride the Bus! Amy, Jason, Hannah and I do, and we love it to death.

Mama, I'm Swollen

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Cursive's new album Mama, I'm Swollen

Just yesterday, I was driving around listening to Cursive and thinking about blogging about whether or not Cursive's Tim Kasher is the most underrated musician around today. Between Cursive's Burst and Bloom, Domestica, the Ugly Organ, and Happy Hollow and his material under the moniker the Good Life, the guy is at the very least prolific with 6 albums in the last decade. All of it is high quality as well, plus the guy is a fantastic live.

Then today, while looking for what album I wanted to write about tomorrow, I came across this post on Largehearted Boy that shared a special deal Cursive and Saddle Creek Records are doing up until the physical release of Cursive's new album Mama, I'm Swollen. Starting today you can download the album for $1, with the price going up $1 each day until it is released.

That is a screaming deal. If you're looking for melodic indie rock that is occasionally aggressive and occasionally folky, while always being very well written musically and lyrically, I highly recommend checking this out. I've only heard two songs so far, but both were excellent. Look for a full review tomorrow.