Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007 Recap - Motion Pictures

[Very good movies in BOLD, except for those very good movies that everyone already knows are very good movies.]

Movies seen on the big screen:
Children of Men
Spider-Man 3
The Simpsons Movie
Hot Fuzz
Live Free or Die Hard
The Bourne Ultimatum
Knocked Up
Blades of Glory
Reno 911!: Miami
No Country for Old Men
Movies borrowed from the Floyd Masterson collection:
Movies borrowed from Kim:
Bend It Like Beckham
Movies Netflixed in 2007, from most recently viewed to least:
Strangers on a Train: Special Edition
Cannibal Holocaust
His Girl Friday
Where the Truth Lies
This Film Is Not Yet Rated
The Hudsucker Proxy
Rosemary's Baby
Live Free or Die
Anatomy of a Murder
A Streetcar Named Desire
Less Than Zero
Melvin Goes to Dinner
The Lives of Others
To Have and Have Not
The Maltese Falcon
Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: Special Edition
The French Connection
A Hard Day's Night: Collector's Series
The Big Sleep
Shallow Grave
Little Children
A Fish Called Wanda
Wings of Desire [attempted and abandoned]
Goodbye, Columbus
Raising Arizona
Show Me Love
The Last Picture Show
Harold and Maude
The Science of Sleep
Splendor in the Grass
No Man's Land
In the Name of the Father
Half Nelson
Zach Galifianakis: Live
Hard Candy
Mysterious Skin
David Cross: Let America Laugh
A Clockwork Orange
The Puffy Chair
Strangers with Candy
Winter Passing
Slacker [attempted and abandoned]

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Nick Has A Blog

And finally, someone had the BALLS to blog about oral hygiene.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007 Recap - Printed Words

Modern Fiction Novels Read

The Road - Cormac McCarthy
He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins. As in a party game. Say the word and pass it on. So be sparing. What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.
The Emperor's Children - Claire Messud
Herded out of the subway and into the harried steam of suited men and women that flowed along the early morning canyons of the business district, Julius held himself upright and strove to maneuver with his usual grace.

Classic Fiction Novels Read

All Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque

Breakfast of Champions - Kurt Vonnegut

Sirens of Titan
- Kurt Vonnegut
[NOTE: How cool am I? I bought a used copy of Sirens of Titan BEFORE Vonnegut died.]

Sort-of Fiction Novels Read

What is the What - Dave Eggers

In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
He had merely fallen face down across the bed, as though sleep were a weapon that had struck him from behind.


Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote

How to be Good - Nick Hornby

Paul McCartney: Many Years from Now
- Barry Miles
John later complained that Paul took over and led the Beatles after Brian [Epstein, their manager] died, but no doubt if John had come up with some suggestions of his own instead of drifting in a haze of heroin and LSD, then the others would have been equally responsive.

Attempted and Abandoned

Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

Portnoy's Complaint - Philip Roth

[NOTE: I am not an anti-Semite.]

Non-novels Read

Loser Goes First - Dan Kennedy

Love is a Mixtape (Audiobook) - Rob Sheffield

Best American Nonrequired Reading 2006 - Dave Eggers (editor)

Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon - Chuck Palahniuk

The Areas of My Expertise - John Hodgman

I live in New York City, yet I am surprised almost every day by the number of people here who want to talk about Chicago all the time.

These people tell me that they once passed near or through Chicago, and some claim to be living there, even as we speak. This is strange enough. But what really surprises me is how many of these self-appointed Chicago experts seem to believe that Chicago actually exists. Not as an idea or as an allegory. They really believe that the city stands there, in all its legendary green-rivered, fire-prone glory, and that once every 100 years, when it rises out of Lake Michigan, you can visit it.

Now, I understand why the concept of Chicago is so alluring. It has been sung to us, like a lullaby, by our culture in story and song for nearly as long as there has been an Illinois.

Most of the novels of Charles Dickens were set in a fictional Chicago so vividly realized that it truly did seem real. Who can forget Fagin's immortal line from Oliver Twist when instructing that eponymous orphan on the pickpocket's code: "They pull a knife," said Fagin, "you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital. You send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago Way."

For many years, Hugh Hefner presented Chicago as his snowy, rainy pleasure dome, before revealing his true location in Los Angeles, living in a hyperbaric tube. And most recently the musical Chicago was adapted to great acclaim for the screen under the title Uncle Buck.

Undoubtedly there is something in us that needs Chicago as an idea: a dream as fanciful as the notion of an elevated train. But when you attempt to bring the train to ground, to put it on a map and say this exists, it is not merely insane, it threatens to make what is magical merely banal.

So perhaps it would be wise at this point to review what we know about Chicago. The fables, of course, are numerous and varied...

1. Depending on whom you believe, Chicago first appeared to either American soldiers stationed at Fort Dearborn, or a Haitian fur trapper named Jean-Baptiste Point du Sable. It was 1772 when Du Sable supposedly saw the city rise out of the lake, named it Eschikagou, and founded a fur-trading settlement there, right in the shadow of the Sears Tower.

2. In 1892, word spread of a fantastic "Columbian Exposition," to be held in Chicago, a glowing white city-within-a-city built in anticipation of the glorious twentieth century to come: a carefree future of civic corruption, gang rule, and innovative public housing. Twenty-seven million people, a quarter of the population of America, left their homes to visit the exposition. They were never heard from again.

Still, the exposition provoked so much heated discussion that New York Sun editor Charles Dana legendarily dubbed Chicago "The Windy City." This is, of course, a misremembering of Dana's original wording, which was "Blow Town." But in fact the New York Sun did not even start publishing until 2002, and one now wonders if Mr. Dana even existed.

3. Then, in 1900, it is said that the Chicago River actually reversed direction. Some accounts say that this was followed by a hailstorm of snakes and that the river turned bloodred in honor of St. Patrick. In any case, I say: creepy and improbable.

(Which, by the way, will be the title of my new reality television program about human oddities and unusual stunts, each week featuring clips of me having dinner with a man sporting a beard of bees: Creepy and Improbable.)

4. The poet and explorer Carl Sandburg asserted in his poem "Chicago" that the city was populated by half-naked, white-toothed, magnetic dog-men who had enormous shoulders. At first it was believed that Sandburg was merely a dope fiend. Later, it would be learned that he was in fact speaking of Omaha. Also, he didn't exist either.

Time and again, the Chicago-is-real theory simply does not stand up to scrutiny. There are no man-eating vines on the wall of Wrigley Field. No Al Capone. No John Wayne Gacy. These are stories invented to frighten children.

This is not to say there are not Chicagoans. But I would suggest that they are a nomadic people, whose lost home exists only in their minds, and in the glowing crystal memory cells they all carry in the palms of their hands: a great idea of a second city, lit with life and love, reasonable drink prices at cool bars, and, of course, blocks and blocks of bright and devastating fire.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Monday, December 17, 2007

I Still Wish I Was Taller

I mentioned this in 2005, but with everyone looking to waste time on the internet over Christmas, I will bring it up again. hosts a weekly contest: readers submit the worst possible entries for the New Yorker caption contest. The anti-caption:

• so completely misses the point that it changes your entire perception of the cartoon.

• is not just not funny but agressively unfunny.

• fits the picture, but does not actually work as a punchline.

• pays attention to details that the artist probably hoped you would overlook.

• reads like a caption that would actually appear in The New Yorker only without the being-funny part.

So, given this cartoon...

...the real, New Yorker winning caption was "I always figured Hell would be less ironic."

...and the winning anti-caption was "Man, fuck Ostrich-Heaven! That's all I'm gonna say."

...and a runner-up for anti-caption was "You know, I'm beginning to think, the halos and clouds and so forth notwithstanding, that this isn't actually Heaven, but is in fact Hell. For one thing, the boredom here is so oppressive that it feels like we're being punished, not rewarded. For another, I was a rapist."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

2007 Recap - Music

[Note to the general public: While I do have a blog, and while many posts discuss music, I am not a Music Blogger, nor do I consider myself an expert, critic, or an expert critic. These are my opinions on the music I was exposed to exposed myself to.]

I bought fewer albums this year than in previous years, trying to save money for other irresponsible purchases. Still, thanks to mp3 blogs, podcasts, and streaming audio, I heard a lot of new music and kept myself reasonably well-informed. With that said...

2007 Albums Purchased

The Shins - "Wincing the Night Away"
Arcade Fire - "Neon Bible"
Modest Mouse - "We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank"
Elliott Smith - "New Moon"
Feist - "The Reminder"
The White Stripes - "Icky Thump"
The Polyphonic Spree - "The Fragile Army"
Spoon - "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"
The New Pornographers - "Challengers"
The Fiery Furnaces - "Widow City"

Favorite Album Released (and heard) in 2007

The Shins - "Wincing the Night Away"
This was released in January, and it's still in rotation in the Camry stereo. It's simply wonderful ...but this album did prompt me to develop a "Life is too short to listen to 'Red Rabbits'" philosophy.
Runners Up

Spoon - "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga"
Every song is a winner. Although there is no "Red Rabbits" on this album, the highs of "Wincing" are just a bit higher than Spoon's.
The Polyphonic Spree - "The Fragile Army"
I was disappointed with the album at first. As Dave put it, "There aren't as many Meatloaf moments" compared to their previous effort, "Together We're Heavy". Almost every song grew on me. Seeing them live twice didn't hurt, either.
The New Pornographers - "Challengers"
Critics call this their most "mature" album, which really means "there are slow songs on it". And those songs are really something: "My Rights Versus Yours" is the best track #1 this year, and "Adventures in Solitude" would make me weep if I could make any sense of the lyrics.

"Songs for Silverman" Memorial Award: Worst Album by a Previously Solid Artist

The White Stripes - "Icky Thump"

I can't believe how much I hate this album. It's been months, and I'm still in shock.

Most Refreshing Album
Elliott Smith - "New Moon"

How nice is it to have "new" Elliott Smith songs? Songs that aren't yet connected to a depressing time in your life? Let me tell you how nice it is: very nice.

Best Overall Lyric
Feist - "Intuition"
And it's impossible to tell
How important someone was
And what he might have missed out on
And how he might have changed it all
and how you might have changed it all for him
and how you might have changed it all
and how he might have changed it all for you
Did i miss out on you?

Worst Couplet

Wilco - "You Are My Face"
I trust no emotion
I believe in locomotion

Soul Asylum Funeral/Urinal Memorial Award: Best Half-Rhyming Couplets

Modest Mouse - "Dashboard"
Well, we scheme and we scheme but we always blow it
We've yet to crash, but we still might as well tow it
Standing at a light switch to each east and west horizon
Every dawn you're surprising
And the evening was consoling
Saying, "See, it wasn't quite as bad as"
Well, it would've been, could've been
Worse than you would ever know
The Shins - "Australia"
Watching the latern dim
Starved of oxygen

Best Alliteration

Bright Eyes - "Four Winds"
Your class, your caste, your country, sect, your name or your tribe
There's people always dying trying to keep them alive
There are bodies decomposing in containers tonight
In an abandoned building where
A squatter's made a mural of a Mexican girl
With fifteen cans of spray paint in a chemical swirl
She's standing in the ashes at the end of the world
Four winds blowing through her hair
Okkervil River - "Unless It's Kicks
What gives this mess some grace unless it’s kicks?

Most Obscure Rhymes

Spoon - "Black Like Me"
I spent the night in the map room
I humanize the vaccuum
The New Pornographers - "Go Places"
Deus ex machina
Good morning, Christina

Best Simile (tie)

Spoon - "Don't Make Me a Target"
He smells like the inside of closets upstairs
The kind where nobody goes
The New Pornographers - "My Rights Versus Yours"
You left your sorrow dangling
It hangs in air like a school cheer

Worst Simile

Modest Mouse - "Parting of the Sensory"
This fit like clothes made out of wasps

Most Awkward Grammar

Feist - "The Park"
It's not him who comes across the sea to surprise you
Not him who would know where in London to find you
Arcade Fire - "The Well and the Lighthouse"
So down I fell, down into the water black

Worst Song-Ruining Couplet (tie)

Modest Mouse - "Missed the Boat"
While we're on the subject
Can we change the subject now
Arcade Fire - "Black Wave / Good Vibrations"
Stop now before it's too late
I'm eating in the ghetto on a hundred-dollar plate

Lyrics That Sound Profound But Probably Aren't

The New Pornographers - "Myraid Harbour"
All I ever wanted help with was you
Dntel featuring Jenny Lewis - "Roll On"
There's muscle memory for love

Lyric That Sounds Profound And Just Might Be

The Shins - "Girl Sailor"
You made it through the direst of straits all right
Can you help it if plain love now seems less interesting?

Lyrical Mindfuck

The Polyphonic Spree - "Get Up and Go"
You would like to think you're in denial
Ok. Ok. Ok. So. If I would like to THINK I'm in denial, then that means I am NOT in denial, but I want to be. Put another way, this lyric would be, "You have accepted it, but you wish you have not yet accepted it." Huh? I had a dream that I asked Tim Delaughter about the meaning of that sentence. Honestly - it bothers me that much.

Lyric That Makes Me Hungriest For Sandwiches

Arcade Fire - "No Cars Go"
We know a place where no subs go

Least Accurate Lyric

The White Stripes - "Effect and Cause"
well you can't take the effect
and make it the cause
i didn't rob a bank
cos you made up the law
It's likely true that Jack White didn't rob a bank because there was a law prohibiting bank robbery; however, neither lawmaking or bankrobbing caused the other. Laws against bankrobbing were simply an extension of standard laws against theft. The crime is usually accomplished by desperate men, driven to the crime by the promise of a large payoff, or "score". Anyway, while it's technically true that he didn't rob a bank because of the law that was in place, he should have used an example of two things that actually have a cause/effect relationship. It should read something like:
well you can't take the effect
and make it the cause
it didn't start to rain
cos you grabbed an umbrella
Take note, Mr. White!

Most Overplayed

Plain White T's - "Hey There Delilah"

1996 : The Verve Pipe :: 2007 : Plain White T's

Least Overplayed: Songs I Will Never, Ever Get Sick Of

Spoon - "Don't You Evah"
The Shins - "Sealegs"

"Steady As She Goes" Memorial Award: Song I Made Myself Sick Of

Against Me! - Trash Unreal

I heard the Ben Lee cover of this song first, was startled to find out that Against Me! ROCKS THE SHIT, and put it into heavy rotation. (Quote from Shawn after seeing the video: "That makes me want to break something.") One long night, I woke every few hours to hear the chorus repeating in my head, and that was the end of that. I plan on reintroducing myself after another few weeks.

Best Studio Cover

Queens of the Stone Age - "Christian Brothers"

"Christian Brothers" is track #2 on Elliott Smith's lo-fi, self-titled debut. There, it's plaintive, lonely, and soft. Queens of the Stone Age turned the song into something more urgent and dangerous.

Best Live Cover

Of Montreal - "Tropical Ice-land / And She Was"

I'm sure I listened to this song more than any other during 2007. It's my favorite Fiery Furnaces song merged with my favorite Talking Heads song. It's Exhibit A for why I bookmark mp3 blogs.

Best Video

Bright Eyes - "Four Winds"

Granted, I only watched about a dozen videos this year, but this was a simple, memorable concept, well-executed.

Worst Video

Rihanna - "Shut Up and Drive"

Also a contender for the "Why is this Shit Popular?" award, but I know why this video was in heavy rotation: men want to have sex with Rihanna. (I can't embed the video on my site, but if you hate yourself, you can watch it here.)

Best Live Act

The Polyphonic Spree - Gothic Theatre, Englewood, Colorado


Most Disappointing Live Act

LCD Soundsystem

From what I read, everyone loved this band. Even Kelly from "The Office" raved about them. By the time Gavin and I found some seats for the Kansas City show, I expected a life-changing set. Instead, I got really bored and decided to walk around the amphitheatre by myself, checking out the desperate teen couples, wondering why the only elderly attendees were seated way up at the top of the bowl. The only thing I gained from seeing LCD Soundsystem live was puzzlement: why have some poor sap press the same two keyboard chords for 7.5 minutes of "All My Friends" instead of using a loop? Strive for authenticity, but not at the sake of wrist health.

Best Shuffled Pairs of Songs Delivered by Windows Media Player

No Doubt's "Hey Baby" followed by Radiohead's "The Tourist"

The Fiery Furnaces' "Straight Street" followed by The Shins' "Pam Berry"

Elliott Smith's "No Name #1" followed by Spoon's "The Underdog"

Smashing Pumpkins' VH1 Storytellers performance of "33" followed by The Beta Band's "Broken Up a Ding Dong"

Alison Krauss' "Down to the River to Pray" followed by U2's "Do You Feel Loved"

Saturday, December 08, 2007

2007 Soundtrack

A Tornado Slide tradition continues for another year. Songs included on the disc meet relatively strict criteria. In order of importance, those criteria are:

1. Each song must evoke a snapshot of my year. For example, if I were compiling the soundtrack of my 1996 (?), I would include "Naked" by the Goo Goo Dolls, because that's the year (I think) I saw them play with Bush and No Doubt. (Of course, that song also reminds me of this year: I placed it on my 10-year reunion mix CD, and I wore a vintage Goo T-shirt to a 90's-themed party. This kind of confusion led to its disqualification from the 2007 soundtrack.) If I were compiling the soundtrack from my 1993, I would include a song from the David Coverdale/Jimmy Page album, because I insisted my country-music-loving classmate Andy listen to "Shake My Tree" during recess.

2. I must enjoy each song. (This year’s disqualifications include: Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend", The Spin Doctor's "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong", and Scandal's "The Warrior".)

3. Songs shall not be placed in chronological order or in order of importance. They should simply fit together well – one song should merge into the next in a way that is pleasing, if not smooth. Audio files should be manipulated with Audacity software to this end. If you get a physical copy of the soundtrack, there might hear a slight gap between tracks that seem like they should run together. Please trust that this is a function of software, CDs, and CD players. The mp3s fit together flawlessly.

4. Songs that hold no greater significance than “I performed that at a karaoke bar this year!” or "I saw them in concert this year!" shall not be included.

5. Including two songs by the same artist is discouraged.

6. Significant songs with poor audio quality (such as live recordings or terrible bitrates) shall be pushed toward the end of the disc, if not excluded altogether.

7. One song per occassion. If several songs are reminiscent of the same occasion, the most important will be chosen for the soundtrack. (This year's disqualifications include the chaff of the Portland trip: Talking Head's "Take Me to the River" (on the radio as we drove along the Columbia River Highway -- eerie!) and The Decemberists' "Oceanside".)

8. The CD shall be as close to 80 minutes as possible. Songs can be added to up the runtime even if they don't evoke a specific memory, given that the song was a 2007 staple.

Some readers should expect delivery via USPS very soon. Now then. The tracklisting...

1. David Cross - (Edited portion of "Women, Please Rinse Off Your Vagina And Anus!", wherein he discusses electric scissors and Evanescence)

I viewed the entire catalog of "Mr. Show" in 2007, thanks to the glory of my continued Netflix subscription. This David Cross standup comes from a comedy album, but I'm counting it anyway, because it's my CD and I can choose to include whatever I want, regardless of the rules I just outlined above.

2. The Polyphonic Spree - Light to Follow

When this song began at the Denver concert, I realized that the Spree had a Macbook connected to the PA, which meant that it was highly likely that the typewriter sound effects would be added to their performance of "The Fragile Army". And they were. I played this song for Corinne on the way to Einstein Brothers bagel shop, and to anyone who would allow me to tout its great opening lines.

3. Belle & Sebastian - Women's Realm

Heavy rotation at work.

4. Elliott Smith - Rose Parade

I listened to a lot of Elliott before heading to his adopted home of Portland, and assume that "Alphabet Town" would be in my head for most of the vacation, as we were staying in its namesake, the Northwest neighborhood of the city. Instead, "Rose Parade" played in my head most often. It's not a terribly uplifting song -- "When they clean the street I'll be the only shit that's left behind" is not what most folks would like to consider while they're vacationing -- but I found it to be a relaxing soundtrack for my walks around the city. Superb, superb imagery in this song.

5. Arcade Fire - (Antichrist Television Blues)

I was in KC for a conference the day this album came out, but I drove back to Lawrence that evening and bought the CD just before our basketball game. I listened to it for the first time driving back to the hotel in KC, and this song began to play when I was near the bridge over the Missouri river. I literally heard "I don't wanna work in a building downtown" as I looked at the Kansas City skyline. (Of note: this song is about Joe Simpson, father of Jessica and Ashlee.)

6. Jay-Z - What More Can I Say?

We were waiting for our showing of "The Bourne Ultimatum", and "Gladiator" was playing on TNT. Again. "Gladiator" is really a silly movie, especially for a Best Picture winner, and it's much easier to notice this after you've heard the dialogue placed within a rap song. I provided this service immediately. Then we headed to the theater, and saw Jason Bourne almost kill a man with a book (hardcover).

7. The Shins - Australia

This might have been everyone's favorite first impression from the 2007 Shins album (although in the end, I probably listened to "Sealegs" most frequently). Barbara said she couldn't get enough of it, particularly "your shape on the dance floor will have me thinking such filth I'll gouge my eyes". Matt kept it on repeat on our trip to and from our worst, last-ever meal at Stone Creek, and requested it be replayed during the coldest Catholic School Party on record.

8. Spoon - Black Like Me

Heavy rotation in the Camry.

9. Feist - One Two Three Four

Heavy rotation in the Camry, most notably after a night with Anastasia and Erin in KC. I gave a copy of the Feist CD to Corinne. On the way to Einstein Bros, and she said it was her favorite track. Then Apple used it during their campaign for the new generation of iPods, and engulfed everyone for a month or more. When she played on SNL in November, there were 3 banjo players on stage. I fell asleep on the couch afterward.

10. Bright Eyes - Four Winds

Heavy rotation at work. It got a little airtime in the Camry as well. It was playing when I drove Molly and Casey home from the "Jesus Christ Superstar" tribute. The opening fiddle prompted Casey to ask if it was a John "Cougar" Mellancamp song.

11. Cat Stevens - Trouble

I caught up on HBO's "Extras" through Netflix, and hearing "Tea for the Timmerman" close out every episode made me look for more Cat Stevens tracks to download. I also moved "Harold & Maude" up in my Netflix queue, since Cat provided the soundtrack. I was always interested to see that movie. It's referenced a lot -- Matt Dillon uses it to seduce Cameron Diaz in "There's Something About Mary", for example. I had high hopes, but the movie pretty much sucks. Cat Stevens doesn't, though.

12. Travis - City in the Rain

This song popped up twice within a few days, an improbable result of a shuffled 18 GB mp3 library. It's an old Travis b-side, the kind of rock song that they don't make anymore. At least, I think they don't make them anymore -- I haven't bought their latest album. In a dream, I asked music critic Chuck Klosterman when it's okay to stop buying albums released by a band you had been previously devoted to. I didn't get an answer in my dream, but my conscious mind tells me, "Whenever you fucking feel like it." I love the way Fran turns "Came to see the university" into "Chme ne see the yoownivisitee".

13. The Beatles - Maxwell's Silver Hammer

Someone was playing this on the piano and Hobo's bar before we took our tour of the Portland Underground. (At least, I assume there was a real piano somewhere out of view. It seems unlikely that the unaccompanied piano was coming from the stereo.) There were several McCartney vs Lennon discussions this year, mostly versus Molly. Dave had the "Sgt Pepper's" album art on his living room wall, and he thought the idea came from John, and I remembered it was Paul's. My memory was hazy, though, so I decided I'd reread "Many Years From Now", the McCartney biography I first read in my latter college years. Turns out my memory was correct. Dave, Floyd, Bobby, Molly, Kim and I watched not one but two of Dave's McCartney concert DVDs one night after bar close.

14. Hot Chip - Over and Over

The beginning half of this video played before the Lawrence Polyphonic Spree concert, reminding me to download the song. Mike and I bobbed to the rhythm one Tuesday in November as we mindlessly entered forms into a database.

15. The New Pornographers - All the Old Showstoppers

Late September, driving back to Topeka after a conference in Wichita: I'm driving the huge rental SUV, carrying 3 additional coworkers. One of them decides to begin a discussion.

"So what happened? September 11 came and went without anything happening. I thought Al Queda was planning something? What does it say in the Bible? 'They will always fight against the Sons of Abraham'?"

"Jesus Fucking Christ," I thought, and turned up the CD.

16. R.E.M. - Strange Currencies

Prior to a night on the town, Floyd and I sang along while Dave played guitar. Dave might have learned this song after I said it was my favorite, but maybe not.

17. The Hold Steady - Stuck Between Stations

New Year's Eve. After midnight. (Well, ok -- January 1st, then.) I asked Alison if she knew anything about The Hold Steady, as I had heard this track, and was considering buying the album. She didn't know much about them, but did use the term "buzzworthy" in her response. "So it's the kind of song that MTV would play inbetween programs five years ago?" I asked. She scowled.

18. Tegan & Sara - Back in your Head

Heavy rotation at work. I discussed the video (I'd seen it online) to this song with Jeff one night at Henry's, because he knows someone named Tegan. I made Kim watch this video, while trying to find a different video to watch (the aformentioned "Four Winds"), because it was there, free, On Demand, via my recently acquired digital cable.

19. Peter Bjorn and John - Young Folks

This song was kind of everywhere in the first quarter of 2007. I was already getting tired of it, but Nick and Corinne were just getting into it, so the song was played on our drive to Minneapolis.

20. Of Montreal - Tropical Ice-Land (live Fiery Furnaces cover)

Heavy, heavy, heavy rotation at work. I like to daydream about how much money I would pay to have been at this concert, considering they covered my favorite Fiery Furnaces song, and included a snippet of my favorite Talking Heads song, "And She Was", within that cover. Maybe $100. The price is low because I don't really like much Of Montreal. But this is The Shit.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Headline News

Can you find the headline that isn't really "weird"? The headline that would be better described as "tragic" or "disturbing"?

Well done, Wichita Eagle. Well done.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Read What I Read

Michael Ian Black attempts to determine if, given an infinite amount of time, monkeys could type Shakespeare:
I tiptoed into the lab and looked at what they writing. It certainly looked like “Hamlet.” Upon closer examination, however, I realized that what I was reading was not “Hamlet,” at all, but the second act of “Your Five Gallants,” by the lesser Elizabethan playwright, Thomas Middleton. So frustrating!!! I yell at the chimps to get back to work.
The Onion continues to impress:
Onlookers stated that, upon being woken up from his drunken stupor, the still-inebriated Kilborn asked to be shown to his "regular dressing room." The gangly, 6'5" former anchor then eluded security for long enough to stumble down the studio halls and blurt out random catchphrases from his broadcasting days at SportsCenter, including but not limited to "Gettin' giddy in the zone," "If it feels good, do it," and "The low angle spank!"

"Craiggers is back, people," said Kilborn, whose signature gelled blond hair was described in a later police report as dank and lice-ridden. "Nothing to be afraid of, folks. This is just Kilby simply being Kilby. Release. Rotation. Splash."
The book Matt claims "doesn't entirely suck ass":
Herded out of the subway and into the harried steam of suited men and women that flowed along the early morning canyons of the business district, Julius held himself upright and strove to maneuver with his usual grace.
Shawn sends an important text message:
The TV Guide description of "Big & Hairy", a Hallmark Channel original: "A sasquatch joins a youth basketball team. Awesome.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hey Joe

Hey. Joe Montana. You played professional football for 16 years. I'm guessing you've got a little more in the bank than I do. So you know what? YOU save Ellis Island yourself, you old bastard.

p.s. - Where's my Kansas City Chiefs playoff win? Dick.

Monday, November 26, 2007

House Rules

I stayed at Matt's while he was in Barcelona for the holiday. I arrived in his home to find the following note:
There are a few things, just simple tasks, I would like you to take care of while you stay in my home. I have prepared a short list. Please put a checkmark next to items you have finished so I can inspect when I return.

1. Don't fucking order any movies. I will find out about them when I receive my bill.

2. Please put the mail on the blue chair in the living room. Don't fucking read my mail.

3. You can eat anything you want, but I would stay away from any dairy products you might find in my fridge.

4. You can use my bed, the sheets are clean. When I say use I mean it is a place in which you can sleep, NOT fuck. Or anything that might lead to fucking in other parts of my house. If you want to fuck, do it on the porch or in the garage like the thousands of cats that roam my neighborhood. It is OK to fuck in the shower.

5. NO fucking parties. A few friends only, you motherfucker.

6. If you see a mouse, fucking kill it.

7. My computer is not for porn. Got it, freak. Do not fucking masturbate to images you might see on my computer.

8. My pistol is in the nightstand next to the bed. Don't fucking touch it. I don't want to come home to find your or someone else's fucking brains all over the wall. There are exceptions to this rule all of which I am certain you can figure out on your own. I trust your judgement.

9. The rifle by the front door is for raccoons and those fucking Seventh Day Adventists. Watch your fucking back because they are all over the place. It is basically silenced so don't worry about attracting any attention. All corpses should be put in the crawl space in the basement next to the hookers I have murdered.

10. Don't turn on the fan in the computer room. It will knock my fucking house down.

11. HAVE FUCKING FUN. I'll be in Barcelona. How's that feel?
He sent some text messages while he was away, while I was wondering why he had an HDTV but no HDTV channels:

11/21 7:24 pm

I'm in Minnesota. Not a single person here remembers you.

11/22 5:47 am

I'm in Amsterdam. I want to use the restroom. I walk in. There are 15 or so dudes in also. I notice a woman with a mop cleaning between occupied urinals. Weird.

11/23 8:11 pm

It's after three. Just getting in. Too much fish.

11/24 3:09 pm

You need to come to Barcelona. Saturday night is fucking crazy. If I never see another Japanese person it would be fine with me.

11/24 3:19 pm

Why do blind people wear sunglasses? Seriously, why. I am not being an asshole. Just noticed that every blind person I have ever seen was wearing sunglasses

11/25 5:45 pm

So I got into an argument in the customs line. This guy called me an asshole because I passed him getting off the plane while he was putting his two coats on.

I simply stated that only a stupid piece of shit would spend five minutes putting on two coats when everybody was leaving the plane after we all stood there for twenty minutes.

And also it's not as if we were going outside and also he was just going to have to take them off to go through security. The girl next to me said, "Game, set, match," and we all laughed and I called him a stupid ass. Did I mention I was tired?

11/25 6:46 pm

I met a girl from Uruguay. I told her you would bone her sans condom.

11/26 8:52 am

...I came home to a dead mouse in the kitchen. I gave it the finger.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Amazing Racists

For the second consecutive Thanksgiving season, Tornado slide will be the premier a destinaton for holiday-weary souls to relate embarrassing, awful situations involving their racist relatives.

My readers are few, but the competition should prove tremendous. I believe three -- THREE! -- readers will be spending part of their holiday in Oklahoma, the home of casual racism. (That should be on the OK license plate: "The Home of Casual Racism".) A previous winning story originated in Oklahoma: years back, before the blog, Jack Serpentine heard an Oklahoman's describe Donovan McNabb as "a humble Negro"... and the Oklahoman MEANT IT AS A COMPLIMENT.

Post your horrific tales in the comments. Prizes will be awarded for both direct and latent racism.

Early Favorites

[NOTE: Shawn would be higher, but I'm not sure if he will be visiting his racist grandpa.]

Jack Serpentine / V (Oklahoma) - 3:2

My Cousin Brian (Oklahoma) - 1:2

Bag / Sarah (Oklahoma) - 1:3

Shawn (Grandpa) - 1:5

Corinne (Bumper-sticker-conservative father) - 1:20

Barbara (German father) - 1:25

Heavy Underdogs

Matt (in Spain, alone) - 1:1000

Dougal (in Britain, being British) - 1:5000

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dr Jarvik Reflects

LIPITOR and Dr. Jarvik
A personal commitment

Having watched his father succumb to heart disease, Dr. Robert Jarvik dedicated his life to studying the heart.

Hi. You may have recognized me from the television. I endorse Lipitor. My name is Robert Jarvik.

The good people at Pfizer called me up some time back, and they asked if I would be interested in appearing in some Lipitor advertisements.

I immediately jumped at the chance, because I knew all about Lipitor. See, I'm a heart doctor. And I don't if it's rude to say this, but I'm very famous. Well, not Shaq famous or anything, but as far as heart doctors go, I'm really famous. I'm the Shaq of cardiologists. Instead of dominating the painted area of the National Basketball Association, I dominate the chestal area of the torso. The heart. It's inside the ribcage. A lot of people assume it's just to the right of center, but I assure you that the heart is smack flush in the center of your chest. If you made a line between your nipples -- if your nipples aren't crooked -- the midpoint of that line is where your heart is.

Gosh, I'm rambling about the heart now, aren't I? I apologize. I get excited when I start talking about the heart -- the whole circulatory system, really. My fascination with this area of medicine is linked to a critical time in my life. My father died of heart disease.

I'd like to tell you that his battle with cholesterol inspired me to study medicine and Syracuse and NYU, but that's only a half-truth.

I was a suspect in my father's death. Dad was a real fatty, but the authorities couldn't dismiss the possibility of foul play. The cops never considered my mother to be a "person of interest" in his death. Who could ever think that about Mom? Everyone in town loved her so much -- they still do! She's a sweetheart.

As a cardiologist, I should clarify that the previous statement is not a literal one. "Sweetheart" just happens to be a term of endearment that, coincidentally, includes the organ that I love so much. I love hearts, and I love my mom. Do you want a literal statement? Here it is: My mother has a good heart -- worn a bit from age, but a decent physical specimen. Her heart health is good. She doesn't even have to take Lipitor! She'll probably die as a result of her brittle bones.

But back to my dad, and back to the circumstances of his murder investigation. The police believed that I killed my father. Why? I'm not an expert on criminal investigation -- as I stated before, my specialty is the heart, and veins and ateries and so forth -- but I do know that detective work all boils down to motive. Motive and alibis. Opportunity. Motive, alibi, opportunity, and profiling. A lot of people would throw in "CSI", but in truth, that is just a means to an end. In heart surgery, the "CSI" would be, like, a scalpel. A scalpel is a special knife thing that we doctors use. For cutting. No, "cutting" isn't the right word. Slicing. That sounds brutal, doesn't it? But it's true! Like Shaq, slicing through the lane, I slice into ribcages. I am famous for it.

The detectives didn't like me from the start. They didn't trust me. Nowadays, people place a lot of trust in me. "Dr. Jarvik!" they say, "You invented the artificial heart! I trust you to operate on my blocked aorta!" Back then, no one would have said that -- and not just because I hadn't invented the artificial heart back then. No, the main reason why I was disfavorably looked upon was because I look like John Malkovich. They thought that was creepy.

Was it because people thought John Malkovich was a creep, and I was therefore a creep, too? No. In those days, the majority of Americans did not find Mr. Malkovich creepy. He wasn't in the public eye back then. His first major role came in the 1984 Oscar-winner "The Killing Fields". You will note that this was two full years AFTER I had invented the world's first permanently implanted artificial heart.

It's simple: teenagers that resemble John Malkovich look menacing, even if you have no knowledge of the acclaimed actor. Adults that look like him, I mean, fair game. Fair enough. I have to say, life as an adult, hearing people say, "Wow! Aren't you John Malkovich?". It's pretty cool. And yes, I have, on very few occcasions, just WENT FOR IT. I say, "Yeah, man, John Malkovich! Good to meet you? Are you a fan? Uh huh, yeah -- I've got to say, we all had a BLAST making 'The Man in the Iron Mask'. The crew was awesome, and it was REALLY REWARDING." I'm paraphrasing, but I have said things like that on occasion.

The cops thought I looked like a killer, and they had to follow their lead. My alibi was nonexistent -- on the morning in question, I was walking to school, alone. No classmate could vouch for my whereabouts. Even though my walk to school was through a crowded neighborhood full of stay-at-home moms (we just called them "Moms" back then), no witness came forward to say they saw me on the sidewalk that day. In those days, a lot of people would avert their eyes when I was in the vicinity, so this really wasn't a surprise.

They pushed me on the motive. "You always said you like his car," they'd say. "'Daddy, I wanna drive this vroom-vroom car real fast!' Were those or were those NOT your words, Robbie? We know you liked that car. Would you KILL for that car? DID you KILL for that vroom-vroom, Robbie?"

The interrogations went on for weeks before the coroner's report was finally released. Immediate cause of death: acute myocardial infarction. Back then, I couldn't understand those words. Now, as famous physician and inventor of the Jarvik-7 and the Jarvik 2000, I can say without hesitation that an "acute myocardial infarction" is, simply, a heart attack.

Of course, none of the police back home were cardiologists. Or famous. I can't help but think the police department should have consulted a heart doctor -- famous or not -- during that murder investigation, because it really is simple terminology for a physician to comprehend. One phone call, and they could have wrapped up that case and put a bow on it. Instead, with no additional evidence, the investigation went "cold". I was still a suspect, but they couldn't prove it. The distrust in the community was overwhelming. I was desperate to find a way to clear my name.

It hit me: reanimate Dad. Bring his rotting corpse back to life. Get Dad to clear your name.

Failing that: reanimate Dad. Bring his rotting corpse back to life. Distract the community with this unholy resurrection, and skip off to the Greyhound station with nothing more than the shirt on your back and a three-piece luggage set, packed to the seams with other clothes, food, and keepsakes. Take up residence on Easy Street in Baltimore.

Elementary School. Junior High. High School. College. Post-graduate work. Finally, I had created a device that could replace the heart, and I was ready to bring my father back to life, to once and for all clear my good name.

It was a long, terrible night at the cemetery. It took all of my strength to extract dad's cadaver from the cold ground. I lifted the lid of the ornate coffin. My heart was racing. My real heart, in my own chest, not the contraption in my knapsack that I planned to install in my father. And then, the body.

The body was not a body. It was a skeleton. All bones -- just like the ones you see in a biology classroom. No shit! The body had decomposed -- that egghead advisor at Syracuse was right after all. Without tissue to surround and sustain the heart, there was no way to bring Dad back to life. Not even with the Jarvik-7. I was disheartened. Not literally, though. That distinction belonged to my father.

But all isn't lost. My inventions have brought better health to others, garnered me fame, and restored my good name. Plus, I look a little like John Malkovich (see above). There's this Lipitor gig, for which I am handsomely paid. Yes, Mr. Robert Jarvik is doing just fine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I just noticed that this photo from last month...

...owes a great debt to Mr. Jack Serpentine...

...all that's missing is some mild assault. Next time.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Weather Channel Has Sound FX Now

Thanks, gang. The forecast never made much sense before I could HEAR the rainfall.

Monday, November 05, 2007

He Don't Use Magazines

"I don't like getting books as gifts. It always creates this weird pressure: You suddenly have to read some weird novel, because you know the person who gave it to you will ask what you thought of it. I don't want any gift that dictates my behavior."

--Chuck Klosterman
This is precisely why I don't subscribe to any magazines. They're like finding homework in your mailbox.

Coincidentally (if I were a writer for the Topeka Capital-Journal, I just would have misused the word "ironically", and would misuse it again before this post was over), the last book I received as a gift was authored by Mr. Klosterman.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Bottom Line

Last Saturday I watched some television. Like most Saturdays, I took in a little college football before it grew stale, and proceeded to flip around. I settled on some reruns of "American Gladiators" on ESPN Classic.

I tried to focus on the challengers' efforts to breakthrough and conquer the gladiators, but my eye was drawn away from the athletic feats, toward the bottom of the screen, where college football scores scrolled on ESPN's "Bottom Line".

The Bottom Line used to be present only on ESPN2. It was a handy tool to have available in the burgeoning internet age, a device you could count on when you desperately needed a score update. Over time, it became more prevalent. First, it was added to Sportscenter. Then, it was added to all ESPN programming. When Disney bought ABC, ESPN and ABC's pooled their sports broadcasting efforts, and the Bottom Line came along for the ride.

I don't enjoy the Bottom Line. I see it as an unnecessary distraction from the game I'm trying to watch. I also see it as a covert attempt to make me work -- I'm reading and calculating spreads instead of doing absolutely nothing. Still, I do see how some college football fans prefer to be constantly updated while they watch the big game.

I do not, however, see why a channel devoted to the past would bother its viewers with up-to-the-minute scoreboard notifications. Take it from me, ESPN Classic -- if I'm watching a former high school football star aim a crossbow above a 'roided male named Turbo, I don't need a flashing alert to tell me that Wake Forest just kicked a field goal.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Ted Has A Blog

I'm usually reluctant to mention startups before they've established a commitment to blogging (cough Gav cough Opedog cough), but Ted writes for a "living", so we should be OK.
Playing in a real band is, at the best of times, a million times funner than playing Guitar Hero. Even playing in a really crappy band that goes nowhere is much more fun. And, it is extremely easy to play in a real life band. You know that band, The Killers? With the exact same amount of effort that most casual players of Guitar Hero 3 put into the game, anyone could learn to play a real instrument as well, if not better than anyone in that band does in real life.
I tried to learn some guitar. I could play U2's "One". I got those little fingertip calluses -- kind of cool. Ultimately, my hands didn't like it much. I couldn't make all of the necessary formations. I failed.

Also, I hated The Killers before it was cool to hate The Killers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nary A More Merry Itinerary

Matt drafted a schedule for our upcoming vacation:

2/2/2008....Kansas City / Montevideo
fly like the wind/maybe sexy time

beach day/fucking/mass

city/more beach/sex/booze

2/5/2008....Montevideo / Bueno Aires
ferry/sex/not getting stabbed/inebriation

2/6/2008....Buenos Aires
soccer?/sex/not getting stabbed/beer

2/7/2008....Buenos Aires / Iguazu Falls
fly/not crashing/boning/drunk

2/8/2008....Iguazu Falls
falls/sex/drinking/not getting eaten by pumas

2/9/2008....Iguazu Falls / Ascuncion
bus/sex/not getting shot/fun city

2/10/2008...Ascuncion / Santiago
fly/boom boom/nice dinner and cocktails/mass

2/11/2008...Santiago / Valparaiso
bus/cocking/ball shaving/spooning

drinking/kayaking/sex/sex on a kayak

2/13/2008...Valparaiso / Santiago

hiking/bang screw/drinking


2/16/2008...Santiago / Kansas City

Saturday, October 20, 2007

All Feldmans Are Douchebags

Saturday morning's revelations:
  • Snapple's cold, sweetened Earl Grey is delicious.
  • I would like to murder the host of NPR's "Whad'Ya Know?". Fact: this show airs for every moment of the goddamned morning. I spend so much time avoiding it that I usually miss the good NPR programs. Michael Feldman is about as funny as his name. As overcooked rice. As palsy. Fuck that guy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On "The Road"

He thought each memory recalled must do some violence to its origins. As in a party game. Say the word and pass it on. So be sparing. What you alter in the remembering has yet a reality, known or not.
--Cormac McCarthy, "The Road"
I'm enjoying it immensely, despite the glaring holes it has exposed in my vocabulary. A non-exhaustive list:


I think about how good of a writer Cormac McCarthy is, and wonder how or if his writing has evolved. Did even his first manuscript shun punctuation? How does he decide to leave the apostrophe out of "wont" and "dont", but add it to "they'll"?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Who Fucked Out The Feeling?

I keep a notepad on the end table next to my bed, so that I can quickly document any overnight revelations. At 5 a.m. Tuesday, only seconds after waking and still chuckling to myself, I scratched out a short phrase in the darkness: "fucked out face".

In my dream, Shawn used this terminology to describe a young woman's facial expression. He thought that she looked "fucked-out", as in, she was exhausted from all the fucking.

I make this distinction because one may easily interpret "fucked out face" as something far more vulgar or misogynistic. Indeed, I expect that many will find this post while searching Google for examples of this other interpretation.

* * *


Jeff Johnson provides the definition of a great 2.0-era blog post.

The Onion is still great.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This One's For The Ladies In The House

My mettle was tested when I was asked to decided to burn a road trip CD for a handful of sorority alumni. I will take you through my thought process for each track. I've provided a link to Hype Machine for some selections, should you want to find and download those tracks. [Actually, Hype Machine won't load at the moment, so you'll have to figure it out yourself...]

Regina Spektor - On the Radio

"Let's ease into this with a pretty song by a strong female vocalist."

Hot Chip - Shake a Fist

"Oh, snap! You thought this was going to be Lilith Fair? You thought this was going to be easy?! I'm no chump! Strap yourself in for some experimental dance riffs!"

The Fiery Furnaces - Tropical Iceland

"I put this at the #3 slot, so please please please love this song like I do.

Tegan and Sara - Back in Your Head

"Let's get back to some basic pop..."

Beck - Sexx Laws

"...and some funky modern classics."

Lisa Loeb - Do You Sleep?

"Wait, how old are these girls again? Weren't they in 4th grade when this song came out? I don't care if this does push us back to Lilith Fair territory -- the Loeb anthology must not be overlooked."

Eve feat. Gwen Stefani - Let Me Blow Your Mind

"As a reward for relearning 'Do You Sleep', here is some hip-hop that I know you kids are so fond of nowadays."

Liz Phair - Fuck and Run

"Post-collegiate girls up to no good!"

Beastie Boys - Sure Shot

"I want to say a little something that's long overdue: the disrespect to women has got to be through. To all the mothers and the sisters and the wives and friends, I want to offer my love and respect to the end."

Prototypes - Tir aux Pigeons

"Chicks love French stuff."

Le Tigre - Deceptacon

"Let's put two really weird songs back to back..."

The Beatles - Got to Get You Into My Life

"...and cleanse the palate with a swinging ode to pot that was once performed by Joe Pesci."

Destiny's Child - Say My Name

"This song will spark a discussion of previous instances during which men have attempted to 'run game', or when they 'acted kinda shady' with each of the ladies."

Feist - Mushaboom

"It's probably time to play a modern song again."

The Rentals - Friends of P

"Again, I'm showing my age here, but who wouldn't like this song?"

Madonna - Don't Tell Me

"I'm sorry, but I don't own 'Like A Prayer'. This is the best I can do for you."

Franz Ferdinand - Do You Want To

"A little Scottish rock never hurt anyone."

Sheryl Crow - Can't Cry Anymore

"Women must find this empowering, because I find it empowering."

Rilo Kiley - Portions for Foxes

"I think this was used in an episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' once."

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Cheated Hearts

"This would be a good song to play during their 'Thelma and Louise'-like end to their trip."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Shouting With Fire In A Crowded Theater

10/7 UPDATE: I had the setlist wrong. Another website lists it as:

1. Black Mirror
2. Keep The Car Running
3. Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)
4. No Cars Go
5. Haïti
6. In The Backseat
7. Born On A Train
8. Intervention
9. (Antichrist Television Blues)
10. The Well And The Lighthouse
11. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
12. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
13. Rebellion (lies)

14. Crown Of Love
15. Wake Up

* * *

Surprises from the Arcade Fire's September 28 show at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City:

Funeral songs outnumbered those from the more recent Neon Bible!

In addition to one cover (The Magnetic Field's "Born on a Train"), seven selections were taken from Funeral (Tunnels, Laika, Crown of Love, Wake Up, Haiti, Rebellion (Lies), In the Backseat), while only 6 from Neon Bible were performed (Black Mirror, Keep the Car Running, Intervention, Well & the Lighthouse, Antichrist Television Blues, No Cars Go). I thought the whole point of releasing a second album is so that you don't have to play the songs you got sick of performing during the first round of touring. Not that I mind -- I was quite pleased with the setlist.

[photo taken from Flickr, as mine were uberblurry]

They played some sad shit!

"In the Backseat" might be the saddest song I've ever seen performed live. It seemed like terribly heavy material for 10 p.m. on a Friday night. They led off the encore with "Crown of Love", which is far more lyrically abstract, but I suspect just as melancholy. Oh, and despite its bounce, "Haiti" is pretty grim: "In the forest, we are hiding / Unmarked graves where flowers grow". Would you expect anything less from an album titled "Funeral"? I guess when 3/4 of your material is sad, you're going to play some sad shit. I could delete this whole paragraph, now pointless, but then what would you have to read? The last post in which I mentioned "In the Backseat"?

A friend of a friend got up to use the restroom as the anthemic "Intervention" began!

Who does that?!

I saw three black guys!

What's more surprising? A black youth attending the show in an Andrew W.K. T-shirt, accessorized by dogtags, a tilted Yankees cap, and a tiny white bluetooth earpiece? Or the elderly couple attending the show, seated near the top of the amphitheater, trying to comprehend the modern world that created an audience for LCD Soundsystem?

Singing backup Arcade Fire lyrics en masse isn't really satisfying!

It was a good show, hampered by two things. First, the location. It's always a little awkward to rock out in a location designed for a seated public. Standing next to your seat is only slightly more exciting than sitting on top of it. I like my rock shows to feel a little more dangerous, and a little more communal.

That leads me to the second point. While I'm sometimes angered by fan singing along with the lyrics, an exception is always made for singing backup. The Polyphonic Spree show was made great when all the fans shouted along with the Spree choir. One would imagine that the all of the oohs and OOO-OOO-OOO-OOOHs and LIES! LIES! peppered throughout the Arcade Fire catalog would produce a similarly inspired swell from the crowd, but it never materialized. Have you ever tried to sing a falsetto LIES! LIES! with any significant volume? It doesn't work. Such efforts are best suited to the Spree's bah dah dup dah dahs -- which I'll be experiencing again in a few short weeks. Good times.

Monday, October 01, 2007


I'm rooting for the Rockies and everything (I used to own their black and purple hat, like, 14 years ago!), but it's hard to get seriously excited about a team that trots out Josh Fogg to start the tiebreaker, AND relies on a Jeremy Affeldt / LaTroy Hawkins combo for big relief moments.

"Hey! It's me, Josh Fogg! I'm super average! Sometimes folks will pick me up if they're desperate for a win in their fantasy league*, but then I get immediately dropped! See you at the big game!"

*At least, that's how things were 3 years ago, before I retired from fantasy baseball.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Not Alarmed, Very Surprised

Don't bother asking how or why I found this, but...

You probably don't HAVE to watch the whole thing, but you SHOULD.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Not Alarmed

I woke up a few minutes before my alarm on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning.

I coined a term for this phenomenon: Oh God Fucking Damn Fucking Shit.

Immediately after attaining consciousness, I recite it as a mantra.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Agape Over A Gap

I bought some new boxers a while back, noting the main selling point on the packaging.

"Improved design prevents gapping!"

I'd never read or heard the term "gapping" before -- not as it applied to underwear, at least. Still, I immediately understood what "gapping" must be, and immediately wished to eliminate "gapping" from my life, via these new boxers.

So, given the effectiveness of this marketing, is it possible that the term "gapping" was actually coined by advertising wizards? Perhaps these executives chose this word after rejecting others, such as "flopping"?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Chessy LaRue

For reasons I cannot recall, my seventh grade classmates competed against one another in a chess tournament.

(We wasted a lot of time that year. For example, 80% of the 7th and 8th grades was on the track team. When there was a track meet, the remaining 20% of students would remain in school, but couldn't be taught. ("You don't want to run sprints? Then you have to double up on American History." That strategy would have crippled our track team or caused a riot in the classroom.) Instead of learning, the blessed, blessed teachers somehow convinced the school to allow us to go for "nature walks". The two teachers and their remaining students would just up and leave the school. We'd wander down the local, rural roads, talking and singing. I have a distinct memory of a few older girls, including my only neighbor, singing Ugly Kid Joe's "Everything About You", even humming the music to the ending -- but they got it wrong, because "Everything About You" fakes a traditional, jazzy ending, and instead ends totally punk! -- while we strolled along the dirt road. Everyone behaved, because everyone was happy to be out of the classroom for hours at a time. The most notable rebellion came from Bobby, who attempted a Tarzan swing, presumably to impress the girls. Running toward a large, low-hanging branch, Bobby jumped forward and grabbed on; the branch snapped and the pendulum fell to the ditch. He was fine. Everyone laughed. The teachers had to love it, too, because Bobby was a spaz.)

I won the chess tournament. This was likely less a function of my chess talent than a credit to my experience -- my brother and I had been playing chess ever since my parents, in a brilliant move, bought a board and convinced us that it was fun. (Rereading that sentence, I can see that it gives you little clue when I first learned chess. I guess I don't know, but it must have been before the other kids.)

After my victory, I refused to play another game. I didn't want to lose. I didn't want to tarnish my legacy. I quit while I was on top, before Barry Sanders or Jerry Seinfeld or Kurt Cobain made it fashionable.

One day the 7th grade teacher, Mrs. Brown, a remarkable human being, noticed that I refused to accept a challenge from Ryan, whose ability had risen exponentially since he first began to focus on chess instead of the amazing pile of NES cartridges in his home. Mrs. Brown asked to see me outside the classroom for a moment.

"You can't refuse to play anyone just because you are afraid you'll be beaten. You have to keep trying."

Actually, I can't remember her exact words, or even her approximate words. It's a tragedy, because I do remember that conversation meaning a lot to me. Her counselling, however phrased, was excellent. She didn't have to take me aside -- I was a good student, and I wasn't breaking any rules. But I was her student, and I wasn't working to my potential. She expected more.

And that's how I lost the title of Chess Champion to Ryan.

Years later, Ryan and I found ourselves at the same college, on the same rec center basketball court. We fell on different teams, and decided to guard each other. I dominated the first few possessions. Ryan became so frustrated that he punched the padded wall beneath the south basket. The padding was too thin, however, and Ryan broke his hand. I was the Count of Monte Cristo crossed with Thunder Dan Majerle. My revenge was complete.

These days I've been playing online against Nathan. As in grade school, I could have retired a winner after the first triad of matches. But now we're in game 4, and ol' Porkchop seems to have the upper hand.

I will break his hand soon enough.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

After Mirth

Fun times in Wichita last night:

ME: I can't believe I have to type "afterbirth" in a text message.

MATT: See if T9 will pick it up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sad Woman, Take It Slow

I'm out of town for a few days. It gets worse: when I get back, I'll probably just write about chess.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Life On A Chang

The subject of the "upscale" Chinese restaurant chain P.F. Chang's came up at work yesterday.

Whenever P.F. Chang's is mentioned, I think about two things.

First, I think about eating at the P.F. Chang's in a casino in Atlantic City, and how utterly terrible the food was.

Second, I think about this South Park clip:

I was so disappointed when I sat down in P.F. Chang's and discovered that the waiter didn't ask me about Chang sauce, it probably wouldn't have mattered how the food tasted -- the experience had already been ruined.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Remember, Remember, The 5th Of September

[The title of this post comes from the subject line of the email I received from Matt this morning. Nearly all of that email is pasted below.]

The following story is true. I have written out what happened so all feelings and emotions (anger, grief, sense of nothingness, fuck it, let's call in what it is, utter despair) would not be lost to that inevitable ebbing of pain that time brings...

... on Wed Sep. 5th... I got on a bus headed for Vilnius, Lithuania. The events that occurred on this bus have forever changed my life.

My specified seat number, 51, was occupied by a stinky asshole and his band of equally stinky pals. Well, through a series of grunts and hand gestures, the stinky asshole appeared to say, "Look, there are many seats available, please choose another." So I, in my own unique grunting and sign language, said "Fine, fuck you. I didn't want to sit next to you anyway." I selected a seat closer to the front of the bus and for some time it seemed I would have the two seats to myself, for which I was extremely thankful. Until a blonde haired Lithuanian woman, who seemed to be in her late forties said what could only be "Is this seat taken?" "Goddamnit, no." And she sat. She kept getting into her bag and I kept to myself, minding my own business.

At this point in the story it is important to remind the reader that every time I travel, something ridiculous happens. Whether it is arguing with a Mongolian cab driver, accidentally eating seahorse or meeting the girl of my dreams, it happens. So the woman starts poking me in the arm and saying things in Russian or something. She finally gets out her passport and points to her name, Natalja. Why she didn't just say her name and point to herself is beyond me. I would like to think I would have caught on to that.

So, in an act of diplomacy, I showed her my passport. She edged closer and kept saying her name until I repeated it. She handed me her passport. Not knowing what the fuck was going on I perused her various stamps and visas. I looked at her picture. She used to be kind of hot. Upon closer inspection I realized her birthdate. 1974. She is only four years older than I. "Why the hell does she look so old?" I thought. I looked over at her and it hit me. I saw her take a four second tug on a bottle of vodka. She said, "Ahh!" As in "Yummy."

She tried to hand me the bottle. "No thanks. You can keep the hepatitis Q." I heard a chuckle from the seat in front of me. An Australian woman found humor in my plight. I didn't.

After a few more tugs, Natalja started getting handsy. Rubbing my arm and leg. So now I'm nervous. She leans in for a kiss and I quickly turn my head. I feel her hot, stinky drunk breath on my cheek and neck. She then violently grabs my face and turns it towards her own, showing me how she is unzipping her shirt. "Oh this is so gnarly!" I said (understandable if you've seen Grandma's Boy). Followed by, "No thank you". She took this as "Please, grab my crotch". Which she did. It took about five seconds to pry her fingers from my schmack.

Afterwards, she said something and pointed her finger at me. I took it as "Your loss". Again I hear giggles from in front.

"Hey Chuckles, I'm glad you think this is funny."
"I'm sorry. Need any help?"
"I think we're done."

We were not done. The woman started laughing and banging her head on the seat in front of her. I watched in horror. She finally rested her head on the seat and let out a belch and laughed. I was on pins and needles. One more belch and she puked all over the seat in front of her and on the floor. I gagged and said "Oh motherfucker." She looked at me, covered in vomit, and smiled.

"This is fucked up," I said. She opened a new bottle and took a few sips, puked on the floor and passed out.

"At least that is over." said Chuckles (who turned out to be Sarah). "You don't have to sit by her".

She remained in her self-induced coma for about two hours. When we crossed into Latvia, she would not wake for passport control. Because I was sitting next to her, PC thought I was with her and removed me for questioning. They checked my passport on their computers and asked me about the woman. I told them what happened and they laughed. I began to think I was the only one who did not think it was funny.

I got back on the bus and tried to get some sleep. I kept my bag on my lap, not wanting any unexpected hand jobs.

I got maybe thirty minutes of sleep before I heard a thud. The woman had fallen out of her seat and into the aisle and her own vomit. This woke her and she stumbled to the bathroom. I watched the clock. She was gone for over an hour. I feel no shame in telling you this, but I was hoping she was dead. Dead in a pool of her own piss and vomit. It is a bad thing to say, but it is the truth.

She came back and handed me her passport, apparently to hand to PC when we crossed the Lithuanian border. Then she drank some more and sang a little song. Probably about waiting in line for potatoes and bread or some shit.

Shortly after Lithuanian PC we stopped and half the bus left. I jumped over Natalja and her sick piles and into two seats that were open. I noticed Mr. Stinky Asshole stretched out across the four seats that made up the back row, one of which was 51. "What a fucking dickhead" I thought.

[Come home safe, Matt.]

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Retarded Quote Night In America

"When you can give a body part to a teammate, you're a real teammate."
--John Madden, commenting on a kidney transplant between former teammates before the start of the 3rd Quarter of tonight's Cowboys/Giants game

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Parking Lot Girl

I was upgraded from the far lot to the near lot in the spring, reducing my already low daily exercise output by 50%. The promotion also signaled the end of the Parking Lot Girl era.

I was intrigued by Parking Lot Girl because I might have been attracted to her. I say "might" because I never really got a good look at her. I would see the red Subaru Forester every day, but I would rarely see its driver. When we did cross paths, she was obscured by heavy winter coats or oversized sunglasses.

It became a little spying mission that I assigned myself to spark the workday: how was I going to figure out what she really looked like? And if I she was attractive without her accessories, what the hell could I do about it? Was I really going to approach a woman in a mostly-empty parking lot? What do you say to a woman in a parking lot? "Hey there. Now, I know that men that usually approach women like this are trying stuff them into their trunk before stealing their car, but I'm different! I saw your Douglas County plates and that impeccably clean interior and I thought, 'This is a lady that I'd like to get to know!' What do you say we hit the 'Bees and grab some chicken fingers?"

So nothing happened. Fast forward to last week, where I see her walking toward the near lot. She's finally been upgraded, and she's parked directly next to me -- but she's still wearing those huge goddamn glasses, so her attractiveness has yet to be verified.

Places you can't hit on a woman (because she will fear for her life):

NOTE: To qualify, each setting must be inappropriate despite the time of day and the size of the city. For example, picking up a woman at an urban gas station is possible during the day, but not at night; pressing the issue at any time of day at a rural gas station is not feasible. All settings are considered sparsely populated.
  • Alley
  • Parking lot / Parking garage
  • Motel hallway
  • From a front porch (as she walks by on the sidewalk)
  • Cemetery
  • Dock / Pier
  • Hiking trail
  • Cornfield

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part Four

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

If talent is not an issue, I would most like to write for Conan or Letterman. I wouldn't mind interviewing the guests, too, but the monologue and the rest of it doesn't appeal to me as much.

What profession would you not like to do?

Any job in a nursing home, especially if it has an Alzheimer's unit.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Nothing. I just want Him to shrug His shoulders.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Proud Milestone

At 12:54 p.m. today, someone typed "do you just want to fuck me" into Google, and found that Tornado Slide was the first result.

I'm sure that person was fascinated by the story where the phrase was used.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part Three

What sound or noise do you love?

When a crowd cheers in anticipation, e.g. the top of the ninth inning of a home game.

What sound or noise do you hate?

Generally speaking, anything that I'm not able to turn off or turn down, especially if it repeats at irregular intervals. Snoring is a specific example.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part Two

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

I like meeting and interacting with people, especially people who put effort into entertaining me, from friends to comedians to musicians.

Also, lots and lots of attention.

What turns you off?

Interpersonal conflict.

What is your favorite curse word?

When I'm watching a favorite sports team screw up, I like to say "FUCKINGSONOFABITCHBASTARD!"

I like "assbag", but I couldn't say why.

I use "fuck" the most.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Inside The Blogger's Studio: Part One

What is your favorite word?

Intercalary (adj.)

1. Inserted in the calendar to make the calendar year correspond to the solar year. Used of a day or month.
2. Having such a day or month inserted. Used of a year.
2. Inserted between other elements or parts; interpolated.

I fell in love with it during Organismic Biology -- grasses have intercalary meristems.

What is your least favorite word?

I think a lot of people interpret this question incorrectly -- men in particular. Men tend to respond with words they hate to hear women say. "Random." "Shady." "Whatever."

There are definitely words that I can't stand to hear certain people say; there's a coworker that uses the word "sammich" instead of "sandwich", and boy do I hate that. But "sammich" isn't really a word, so I don't think that counts, either.

And I hate the way that some words are used. If I'm reading the sports page, for example, and a story notes that "the Cleveland defense was raped for over 600 yards", I cringe.

But I think what the question is REALLY getting at isn't a word's meaning or how it's used or who's saying it. Just the word itself.

In that case, I choose "pleat", a word with no appeal whatsoever.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Headline Roundup

If "Sworn Virgins" isn't the title of a Lifetime Television movie -- starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a headstrong Albain youth who vows to carry on her dead father's farming legacy -- within the next 3 years, I owe you a Coke.

This headline would have been a lot cooler if it referred to living creatures rather than carcasses: "Headless walruses alarm Alaska officials"

The Violent Femme's bassist is suing its lead singer for, among other things, licensing "Blister in the Sun" for Wendy's commercials.
The Wendy's deal was a buzz-kill for the band's fan base, the suit says, causing one fan to comment in an online blog that after hearing "Blister in the Sun" in a commercial, "My ears perked up. Then my jaw dropped. Then my heart sank."
(What KILLS me about these type of complaints is that fans are MAD when they hear a song they LIKE during a commercial. Would you rather hear a few bars of "Blister in the Sun", or be subjected to a terrible pop song? Or a terrible jingle? Listen to our local fast food chain's song about french toast sticks (scroll to the bottom to find "I love french toast" and click the "play" icon), and then decide if you'd prefer it to '90s alt rock.)

I was in Heather's Minneapolis apartment when I first witnessed that round of Wendy's advertising. Her friend Laura spent the rest of the night making shocking comments whenever the commercial would repeat. "I guess the Violent Femmes finally sold out," she'd repeat to anyone who would listen.

That was an eventful evening for amateur critics, who also complained when Win Butler smashed his acoustic guitar at the conclusion of Arcade Fire's SNL performance of "Keep the Car Running".

(It was also an eventful evening for lovers of chili and snow. Guests ate three different varieties of one, and were blanketed with 17 inches of the other -- I'll let you guess which.)

Let's be clear: neither the Violent Femmes nor Arcade Fire owe you anything. They can behave however they would like. If Win would like to destroy his guitar on live television, he's entitled. You buy it, you can break it. What's more, when he does so, his actions do not need to be interpreted as a "statement". Maybe you're a poser and maybe you're a hero, or maybe you're just a guy that felt like he could slam a piece of wood into the floor without setting off an international incident.

Similarly, if the Violent Femmes decide to sell a song to Wendy's, they are entitled, and they should not be called "sellouts" as a result. In 2007, long after their popularity and productivity have peaked, when old and new fans alike are more likely to steal their music from the internet than buy one of their albums, the Femmes still need (or want) to make some money. To do so, they did not go on camera and say, "Hi. This is Gordon from the revered band of your youth, the Violent Femmes. Let's talk about french fries: for my money, there's none better than those made by the good people at Wendy's, the fast food chain established in 1969 by an orphan. You can 'Add It Up': Wendy's fries are a great value, and a super treat!" They didn't change their band name to "Violent Frostys" or tour in a bus with "Wendy's Spicy Chicken Sandwich Presents: The Violent Femmes" plastered along its side. Instead, they allowed their hit song to be played in the background of a commercial.

If "selling out" truly exists*, one needs to look elsewhere for a good example.

*For an excellent and EXTENSIVE essay on this topic -- my opinion by way of Dave Eggers -- visit this site and scroll down to the addendum. Read everything after this paragraph:
I bought R.E.M.'s first EP, Chronic Town, when it came out and thought I had found God. I loved Murmur, Reckoning, but then watched, with greater and greater dismay, as this obscure little band's audience grew, grew beyond obsessed people like myself, grew to encompass casual fans, people who had heard a song on the radio and picked up Green and listened for the hits. Old people liked them, and stupid people, and my moron neighbor who had sex with truck drivers. I wanted these phony R.E.M.-lovers dead.
You may as well go read it all, because I won't be posting anything until Monday or so. Much love.