Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Boys

Hope everyone had a good holiday. I spent last night writing up a eulogy to James Brown. I can imagine what rock would have been like without Elvis or even Bob Dylan, but I could never imagine what rock would have been like without James Brown.

While I was writing, I had TBS's series My Boys playing in the background. I'm not a big fan of voice-over narration and the narration for this show is a definite momentum killer. Still, I laughed out loud at a conversation the characters had about the "What are you doing this weekend?" question.

The characters lamented that the "What are you doing this weekend?" question is a loaded question because if you respond "nothing" - you inevitably back yourself into whatever the person who asked you the question wants you to do - from helping them move to seeing a movie you may not want to see or go to a party you may not want to go to. But, at the same time, you really can't take that question out of discourse.

I guess the topic, for me, came up in regards to New Years Eve. I make it a policy not to make plans until about 4 p.m. that evening. The result will either be a laid back meeting at home or an impromptu gathering - which is usually more fun than a structured "days in the making" party. My sister already asked me the "what are you doing New Years Eve" question and I mistakenly said "I'm not too sure yet." As a result, I now am dogsitting two hyperactive dogs - putting a nice six-hour window to any of my plans.

I've seen the desperation of some people as this prom-like holiday approaches. "I have to find a date before New Year's - otherwise I'm going to have to spend it alone." That puts a ton of pressure on both the person and the 'date to be' to not make New Year's Eve a bust.

God, I hate New Year's Eve...

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Last Whitey (iPod name) list for awhile...

Have a great holiday folks!
"Kimberly" - Patti Smith ****
"Eraser" - NIN **** (nearly *****)
"Shake Your Rump" - The Beastie Boys *****
"Blue Mattie" - R.L. Burnside (R.I.P.) ****
"Peace in Mind" - Neneh Cherry ****
"Blazing Arrow" - Blackalicious *****
"We'll Meet Again" - Johnny Cash ***
"Pictures of Me" - Elliott Smith *****
"Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head" - Gorillaz ****
"On Your Own" - Blur **** (appropriate transition) ****
"Afro Connections at a Hi 5 (In the Eyes of the Hoodlum)" - De La Soul ****
"Just One of those Things (Brazilian Girls Remix)" ***
"The Nurse" - The White Stripes ****
"What Goes On (live)" - The Velvet Underground *****
"Helicopter (Whitey Version)" - Bloc Party ***
"Roots Radicals" - Rancid ****
"My Heart and the Real World" - Minutemen ****
"The Stars are Projectors" - Modest Mouse *****
"Bad Luck City" - R.L. Burnside ****
"Beginning to See the Light" - The Velvet Underground ****
"Spare Parts" - Bruce Springsteen ****

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Last list - Best albums of 2006

Saw Chris Mundy at the Omaha Press Club. He currently writes for CBS's Criminal Minds, but he used to be writer for Rolling Stone, interviewing everyone from the likes of Sean Penn to Liz Phair. It was a great conversation. I sat next to a guy I went to college with. He was an intimidator when it came to writing. Not that he meant it, it was just he was that good and he was a person whose presence pushed you to be a better writer. He's out of the journalism game now. He looked at me and shrugged "I have absolutely no desire to go back." He writes 300-word summaries of company profiles. He makes a comfortable living. I look at Mundy - a person who moved to New York from Omaha . He got an internship, 'stumbled' into a Rolling Stone job. And as glad and energized as I was, I can't help but think of his situation as the rarity and other situations as the norm. I'm not making excuses, but currently, I like paying rent and possibly making a car payment eventually. With an entry level reporting job at 33...I'm not too sure if that's the route for me. But I have the first few months of next year to figure that out. Anyway - on to the really important issue...

The best albums of '06...

10. Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards – Tom Waits

Some of the music on this disc was even too weird to land on an actual Tom Waits CD. Still, this is not a ‘cleaning out the cupboard’ CD collection. Instead, listeners get a remarkably solid collection of three CDs worth of seedy bar ballads, lovelorn howlers and even some corn thrown in for good measure.

9. Welcome to the Black Parade – My Chemical Romance

My “If you were to tell me this band would have landed on my top ten this year, I would have either said this entire year had to have sucked all ass or asked that person when I had the lobotomy” award for 2006. Taking some pointers from touring with Green Day, MCR recruited producer Rob Cavallo to create a miserably fun album about death, cancer and vampires. Darken your clothes and dust off those Queen albums, Welcome to the Black Parade brought a much-needed pomp to the music world this year.

8. Rather Ripped – Sonic Youth

Sonic Youth’s discography of could fill up half a CD tower (including compilations) – and the godfathers (and godmother) of modern alternative music have yet to settle into complacency. Rather Ripped comes just about a year before their near-certain induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For the curious, Rather Ripped may be the best CD to introduce yourself to Sonic Youth. For die-hard fans, it’s a perfect companion to their late-era classic Murray Street.

7. The Greatest – Cat Power

Released the same say as Jenny Lewis’s Rabbit Fur Coat, January 24, 2006 was arguably one of the best days for music releases, kicking 2006 off on a very good note. Chan Marshall hunkered down in Memphis to record an album that won her a ton of new fans (an probably a few thousand more once “Could We” gets national exposure via a movie or TV plug) and probably a few hundred calls of “sellout” from her dedicated fan base. When you are in the middle of listening to “Living Proof,” you swear you are listening to an album at its creative climax, and then you realize you are only on the second song.

6. Game Theory – The Roots

Yes, recall notices should be mailed out to everyone who purchased The Tipping Point, the much-maligned last full-length album from The Roots. But Jay-Z saw a band that deserved the freedom to take a few creative falls. For from those falls can come greatness, which is exactly what Game Theory is. The album starts off shaky with “False Media,” which is basically Public Enemy’s “Don’t Believe The Hype” on repeat, but after that, the band is unstoppable. Each angry indictment of social injustice is followed by some of the catchiest, head-bobbing melodies The Roots has ever created. Don’t let the subject matter and cover fool you, Game Theory is as fun as it is provocative.

5. Destroyer’s Rubies - Destroyer

It’s about 50 minutes in length, but Destroyer’s Rubies is so dense, it feels like you’ve listened to a Tool album by the end. It doesn’t help that the first song clocks in at about ten minutes. Dan Bejar’s vocals may take some getting used to, but his rapid-fire lyrics and layered guitar work will have you revisiting Destroyer’s Rubies to catch what you missed on the first listen. After an additional 30 listens, you’ll still think you’ve only absorbed a little less than half the album.

4. Modern Times – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is cool enough to sing about being a horny old man and not come off as creepy. Some thought Modern Times was Dylan’s third straight masterpiece or even the best of an unprecedented winning streak began by 1997’s Time Out of Mind. Others thought it was Dylan doing a victory lap for his Love and Theft triumph. I was in the latter category. Still, listen to the album front to back and you’ll hear at least five or six songs that stand toe-to-toe with the best of Time or Theft. “Some young lazy slut has charmed away my brains” may not exactly be “The answer my friends is blowing in the wind,” but songs like “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” and “Someday Baby” capture Dylan at his cantankerous best. “The Levee’s Gonna Break” may be an obvious nod to Hurricane Katrina, but Dylan’s cover is mercifully devoid of exploitation. It may not be a classic, but it continues one of the most enduring comebacks in pop music history.

3. Fishscale – Ghostface Killah

If Game Theory wasn’t enough, Def Jam added a second classic to their collection this year with Ghostface Killah’s Fishscale. With age wrecking havoc on Public Enemy and even Eminem’s output, it seemed like rap was a young person’s game. Many critics have even overpraised De La Soul’s last few albums just on the basis that they didn’t suck. But Fishscale proved detractors dead wrong with perhaps the best concept album ever written about … cocaine. Like most albums with skits, Fishscale could have cut out a few skits, but the storytelling on Fishscale will have you going to a printer to print off the lyrics. Anyone who was too young to catch the Wu Tang Clan during their first go around need only to listen to “9 Milli Bros.” to find out what all the hype was about.

2. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood - Neko Case

It could have been 70 minutes and still felt too short of a listen. Fox Confessor Brings the Flood has Neko Case singing about animal mythology, losing faith and packing up and leaving everything. The first half of the album contains some stunning highlights, such as the “you are there” descriptions on “Star Witness,” a song about an auto wreck whose victims are so unnoticed that the cops don’t even turn on the siren or the opening class divide song “Margaret vs. Pauline.” But the album truly gains momentum smack in the middle with the title track. Out of all the CDs released this year, this has yet to leave my CD player.

1. Return to Cookie Mountain - TV on the Radio

Even with the quality and diversity of the crop of music in 2006, TV on the Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain was one of the only albums that could make a listener say “I have never heard anything like this before.” That said, there was plenty of stuff on Return to Cookie Mountain to lure in shy listeners (namely a cameo by David Bowie in “Province”). Tunde Adebimpe’s vocals seem like a cross between Prince and Corey Glover of Living Colour. His vocals, along with Dave Sitek’s guitar work created slow burners like “A Method” and “I Was a Lover,” but could also unleash a hurricane-like fury on tracks like “Wolf Like Me” and “Province.” Return to Cookie Mountain was a fiercely original as it was instantly appealing.
Honorable mentions - a ton of them...
The Crane Wife - The Decemberists
Boys and Girls in America - The Hold Steady
Rabbit Fur Coat - Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins
We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions - Bruce Springsteen
I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass - Yo La Tengo
Post-War - M. Ward


List IV - The Movies

Going to see Chris Mundy deliver a talk at the Omaha Press Club tonight. He worked at Rolling Stone during most of the '90s, doing anything from reviewing Uncle Tupelo albums to interviewing Conan O'Brien in 1996 (when people were still speculating whether Conan was too obscure to flourish in Letterman's absence). I'm hoping to talk to him one-on-one - talk about some of his work, but not seem whorish (imagining him nodding politely and thinking "that's nice, now when are you going to say "can I give you my resume?).

Not much changed from my summer list. But before I'll kick off this list, here's a few movies that I have not seen that I'm absolutely positive will bump off a few entries on my list:
The Queen, Inside Man, Letters From Iwo Jima, Babel and Pan Labyrnth.

10. A Prairie Home Companion - Based almost entirely on sentimental reasons. Still, Robert Altman deserves to be recognized for his mastery.

9. Stranger Than Fiction- It seems that the newer SNL grads have their beloved 'indie' films. For Adam Sandler, it was Punch Drunk Love. For Will Ferrell, it's going to be this movie. Emma Thompson has shown she could do comedy, but this movie has her at her prickly best. Top notch soundtrack by Spoon to boot.

8. V For Vendetta - The past few years have supplied a much-needed blast of escapism in of all places, the dumping ground for movies: the spring. Last year, it was Sin City. Next year it's probably going to be 300.

7. Wordplay - A great, warm movie not necessarily about Will Shortz, but about the communities that form around the solitude practice of the crossword puzzle. Not a crossword fan myself, I picked up three crossword puzzle books after I saw this movie and have since made the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle a Sunday ritual.

6. Casino Royale - Hear that hush? It's the sound of Daniel Craig's critics from the James Bond fandom community. A no-bulls*it, exhilarating return to form for Bond. I left the theater with an almost addict-like jonesin' for a sequel.

5. Shortbus - One of my friends and I go back and forth on this movie. She absolutely hates it. She said it was shallow and poorly acted. That said, she still keeps talking about it and about how she loved the depressed lover and how she identified with the conflicted emotions of the dominatrix. Not a word was said about the rampant sex (those first five minutes...yowza), however. A few months after the movie ended its run, the clusters of people I know who have seen it still talk about the characters. If that isn't the mark of good moviemaking, I don't know what is.

4. Borat - A bit down on my list because I didn't think it was nearly as funny as some of his HBO skits. Still, it was a glorious blast of thought-provoking vulgarity.

3. Little Miss Sunshine - Alan Arkin gave a performance that will hopefully be remembered come Academy Award season. I thought no director could mine something new out of the dysfunctional family road trip movie. I was wrong.

2. The Departed - After Gangs of New York and The Avaitor, I was worried about Scorsese. The Departed may not be Goodfellas, but it was at least better than Casino. Leonardo DiCaprio officially buries his pretty boy image in his portrayal of a cop that has no chance of promotion within the ranks didn't have an inauthentic moment in the entire movie. The only thing that slightly tarnished this movie was Jack Nicholson's inexplicable turn from compelling villain to Joker-like hamminess toward the end of the movie. Still, it looks like Scorsese is back on track.

1. United 93 - A flawed choice for my number one. Script? Well, it's sort of non-existent because much of it was taken from phone transcripts from the victims. But Paul Greengrass's gave this defining moment in American history the only treatment that could make it rise above exploitation: a journalistic "you are there" account of what probably happened on that doomed flight. Using a cast of mainly unknowns as well as some people who were playing themselves (air traffic controllers), Greengrass's movie was a great tribute to the victims as well as a study of the definition of courage. No movie moved me more this year, or any year since The Sweet Hereafter came out.

Disappointments of the year...

Pirates of the Carribbean 2 was ... long. Fun? Occasionally. But like Shrek 2, I just shake my head now, thinking this is one of the highest grossing movies of all-time. Titanic, Star Wars and E.T. may have had their detractors, but at least they were memorable. Pirates... I remember a fight on a big wheel, toes on Sparrow's neck and that's about it. And Bryan Singer's Superman Returns may have been a noble nod to Christopher Reeve, but at two and a half hours, I was nodding off. I get it, Singer, Superman is alone. 90 minutes would have been plenty.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Wire

My best pick for '06

The Wire

First off, thought I'd kick this off with the FARK headline of the day yesterday for our dearly departed animation icon Joseph Barbera:

"Joseph Barbera dies. Funeral procession to pass same three buildings every two seconds."

On to my Top TV shows of the year. This was hard as hell because I barely had a top ten since I stopped subscribing to cable. Some of my picks are quality, some are stuff that qualify as really good popcorn entertainment material. That said...

My Top Picks of '06:

9. Moral Orel (Cartoon Network)

8. Heroes (NBC): I'll buy into the hype, but sometimes the dialogue strays into comic book corn. Still, if I was 15 or 16, this show would be one of those "shows that defined my youth" shows.

7. Hell's Kitchen (FOX)- Because the show actually had at least two or three talented people. Because it was great watching it after cooking a meal and kicking back with a few friends and doing vodka shots every time Gordon Ramsay yelled "Move your arse!" But seriously, those who decry reality TV over the scripted shows should take a good look at shows like "The War at Home" and "According to Jim" before generalizing this genre.

6. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (NBC) - The hoopla surrounding this show was over the top. Then the backlash came - and it unfairly panned this show for being too 'preachy.' It's one of the few ambitious shows on mainstream TV and the backlash it produced seems to have ruled this show out of several critics "Top 10" list. Each week, I try to limit myself to two TV shows to follow and that's it. This is one of the two.

5. The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central) - It's been heralded yearly for doing a better job than most news stations. Its been praised for its writing. It's won Peabody Awards. But for some reason, I rarely see this on critics' 'best of' list. It could be because the standards are set so high for this show, many critics take the show for granted. They shouldn't.

4. House (FOX)- A bit of a slip-up in quality this year. Yes, it has the predictability of a Quincy episode on Quaaludes. But I can't think of a better casting ensemble on the major networks. Hugh Laurie deserves all the praise he gets, but his supporting cast should be recognized come the next Emmy nominations.

3. 24 (FOX) - Talk about a rebound from Season 4. Jean Smart and Gregory Itzin did a great job balancing against each other's neurosis and paranoia in a season that managed to stay on the rails and not jump the shark.

2. The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) - What was once a nice follow-up to the main event with Jon Stewart has come into its own this year. "The Word" is now the new "Top 10" for this decade.

1. The Wire (HBO) - Though I've only seen one episode this season, I seriously could not put this any lower. In terms of quality, acting, writing - The Wire has eclipsed The Sopranos in terms of sustained excellance. I just hope it finds half of The Sopraons audience.

My best pic for '06.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

List 2 of 2006 - The Books

2006 was more productive than other years in terms of book reading. In addition to Harry Potter V and VI, I read Fast Food Nation, a few Eugene O'Neill plays, A Scanner Darkly and What's the Matter With Kansas? But since this list pertains to the books of 2006, here's my top - based ENTIRELY on what I read - not books I haven't read but think they should be at the top of the 'best of' list (see Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma, Douglas Brinkley's The Great Deluge and Richard Ford's The Lay of the Land) ...

4. jPod - Douglas Coupland
As a summer diversion while recovering from surgery, it did the trick. But then I picked up Microserfs, and it paled in comparison in terms of both heart and craft. Still, for bubblegum, you could hardly do worse. And hell, who doesn't get an ego boost when they can say they blew through 50 pages in less than two minutes? (the notorious reprinting of the strands of Pi)

3. Cobra II - Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor
Oh Jesus, this was an exhaustive read. Tons of military alphabet soup going on. But I would also say that this was one of the most balanced books you will probably ever read about Iraq War II.
2. The Quitter - Harvey Pekar
Stunningly illustrated by Dean Haspiel, Harvey Pekar's "story of my life" captured unplaced teen angst/anger/class resentment in just a few panels what other books may take chapters to accomplish. Pekar's love of jazz comes through this book and the love is infectious. I dare anyone who reads this book to restrain themselves from wanting to spin a few John Coltrane albums while buzzing through this quick, but sharply-written read.

1. Everyman - Philip Roth
Short - yes. But Philip Roth doesn't waste a word, detailing the slow decline of an everyman. His usual muses of sex, religion and family are all there. His The Plot Against America may have overshadowed this one, but for anyone wanting to get a sample of Roth's genius, give Everyman a quick three-day read.

"Small Stakes" - Spoon *****
"You've Been a Friend" - The Jesus and Mary Chain ***
"Blowin' in the Wind (live)" - Bob Dylan ***
"Take the Veil Cerpin Taxt" - The Mars Volta ***
"Back in the Village" - Iron Maiden *** (up the Irons!)
"Iron Of it All" - The Streets *****
"Wish I Could" - The Jesus and Mary Chain ****
"Time For Livin'" - The Beastie Boys ****
"All For Swinging You Around" - The New Pornographers *****
"Is it Live" - Run D.M.C. ****
"Misti Blu" - Amillonsons **
"Clang Boom Steam" - Tom Waits ***
"Modern Girl" - Sleater-Kinney *****
"9th & Hennepin" - Tom Waits ****
"Bigmouth Strikes Again" - The Smiths ****
"Underwear" - The Magnetic Fields *****
"When Your Number Isn't Up" - Mark Lanegan ***
"The Union Forever" - The White Stripes ****
"I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man" - Prince *****


Sunday, December 17, 2006

Year End List - Part 1 - my life

I thought I would kick off my 'year end' list with the most uneventful part - meaning my life.
The important stuff - the 'best flicks of 2006' and the obvious 'best music' will come later in the week. That said...

Top 5 Personal Events of 2006

5. Foot surgery. Finally the persistent ingrown toenail problem is gone. Was nice to finally put on a sock again without doubling over in agony if I nudged my big toe against my shoe.
4. Got a freelance job - which is good. But the general nature of the job (another desk job) put me away from the gym and as a result, I've gotten soft. Now with that freelance job gone, I'm trying to get back into triathlon shape (I mean, half-triathlon).
3. Adjusted to my roommate/best friend moving away to another country. Going from seeing each other on an almost annoyingly daily basis to no contact at all.
2. The weimaraner situation. Got him from a pound. Fell in love. Tried to make things work in an apartment. He had to be kenneled. He hated kenneling. He woke up the entire complex whenever I had to go to work. I called the rescue services to see what could be done. Rescue service helped, but then told me about a family who has a stay at home mom, a ranch and three kids. I forced myself to shed a tear at my grandmother's funeral (she had Alzheimer's for more than a decade, so, to me, it was a relief to see her finally be relieved of the pain) - but I pretty much was a wreck for a solid two weeks after I surrendered him. Jesus, I still miss him. But I know he's in a loving family and tearing after squirrels.
1. Left my post-college job for a far better job with a far better staff with a far better company for a few grand less. I'm praying my car makes it another two years, but for the peace of mind, it's worth it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Happyness and Bright Eyes

Someone just gave me their tickets to go see Bright Eyes and Simon Joyner. He's playing a sold-out show tonight at Sokol. I've seen him about five times, but I'm not about to turn down a free concert ticket, especially for a benefit concert for the Bemis Center. I'm seeing The Pursuit of Happyness before catching the concert. I know exactly what I'm getting in to when I'm seeing this movie. That said, I am sort of in need of seeing an inspirational movie about following my dreams. CokeMachineGlow rejected my resume.

I came up with my 'best of' last night and in a haze, I totally forgot about Johnny Cash's American V and Sonic Youth's Rather Ripped, so I absolutely have to send a revised copy out. Can't believe I forgot those two...

Last FM mix for 12/15/06...
"The One You Really Love" - The Magnetic Fields ****
"Stars Go Blue" - Ryan Adams ***
"The Sound of Failure" - The Flaming Lips ** (you want the sound of failure, listen to your latest album, guys)
"Twenty Four" - Switchfoot **
"The Sun Still Shines" - Michael Lewis ** (think I stumbled upon a 'Jesus' channel...)
"I'm Not Coming Home Anymore" - Hank Williams *** (that's better)
"Next Exit" - Interpol ****
"Okkervil River" - Black Sheep Boy **
"Suck My Left One" - Bikini Kill ***
"Heavy Metal" - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah ****
"Going For One" - Yes ***
"Pull the Curtains" - Grandaddy ****

Whitey (my iPod) mix for 12/15/06...
"Living Proof" - Cat Power ***** (sooooooooooo good)
"The End of Medicine" - The New Pornographers ****
"Unhappy" - Big Boi ***"School Spirit - Skit 1" - Kanye West ***
"Life in a Glass House" - Radiohead ****
"Drunkship of Lanterns" - The Mars Volta ***
"Hat and Feet" - Fountains of Wayne ****
"November Has Come" - Gorillaz ***
"Upon Still Waters" - Cowboy Junkies ****
"Jayne's Blue Wish" - Tom Waits ****
"Ugly Truth" - Soundgarden *****
"No Wonder" - Neil Young ***
"The Fourth Man in the Fire" - Johnny Cash ***
"One Of Us Must Know" - Bob Dylan *****
"Highway Patrolman" - Bruce Springsteen *****

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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let's Take Rush Limbaugh Down a Few Notches

This is myth - but like all good myths, it has enough elements of truth in it: People who love Howard Stern listen to him for 15 minutes. People who hate Howard Stern listen to him for 45 minutes.

Right now, I think Rush Limbaugh has about 20 million listeners on an average week. That's huge. As an elected official, you can imagine how intimidating this would be: if you come out with anything that doesn't fit Limbaugh's ideal of conservatism (pay no mind to his ass-kissing of Wal-Mart, yet he is decidedly against giving illegal entrants citizenship - even though companies like Wal-Mart and McDonald's have directly or indirectly done more to encourage illegal immigration than any governmental action) - this elected official (especially presidential) will have to contend with at least 20 million politically active "Dittoheads." many listeners are like me, who treat Limbaugh like an early-morning episode of Saved By The Bell: a small hate fix to get the blood boiling? I'm not suggesting a boycott - he has every right to be on the air, but just as a curious experiment, I'm wondering what would happen if only the listeners who hated the bile he spews were to stop listening...for a month. That would distill his audience numbers down to the ones who swear by the gospel of Rush. I'm willing to bet that about a quarter to a third of his audience would disappear. It would be interesting to me and I'm sure a few others. It would be REALLY interesting to advertisers who have lost about five million listeners.

That is one thing that Rush has on Air America. That station may not be accessible to the majority of listeners, but even in markets airing Air America, none of the talent is incendiary enough to get a large amount of conservatives to listen to get their blood boiling. Al Franken is just too nice to elicit a "Ohhh...god, I'm so pissed off - did you hear what that a-hole said today?!" reaction. Most conservatives just shrug and turn it back to the "preaching to the choir" sermons of Dr. Laura and Sean Hannity.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Toxic relationships

One of my friends - I would consider a Grace to my Wil (name deliberately misspelled) - intentionally moved from Des Moines to Omaha to be closer to me. I've repeatedly told her there's no way I can be a boyfriend. She seemed to accept this. And Omaha had more job opportunities than Des Moines. So far so good.

But she hasn't found a guy in almost three years. A few dates, maybe even a few "one week" relationships. With my lease expiring in about 120 days, I'm starting to look at other cities. I haven't told my family or her yet because I don't want to be that person who says "One of these days, I'm ditching this crummy town..." - but never does, like a character in a Bruce Springsteen song. When I sign the lease in this new city, that's when I'll tell my family and her.

Anyway - I vented to my mom about my concern for her and my mom said "Well, you probably ruined her life for the past two years." My mom doesn't know about my sexuality (she only needs to know when I found that person who I'm going to spend the rest of my life with), and I've purposefully kept a lot of stuff secret because she has the ability to use lines like "you ruined her life" to reduce my confidence to rubble at a whim.

To this woman, I think we've helped each other through a lot, but like a lot of Will and Grace-like relationships, they can stunt growth just as easily as enhance it (so do all relationships/friendships, I realize). But I'm starting to feel like I'm stunting her growth. And after this weekend, hearing s**t like "You're never going to get a woman the way you dress, I mean, with those Converse shoes and unironed shirts" from family, it's becoming clear this area is toxic for me and I need to get away - soon.

My buddy from Dallas came up with his wife this weekend. He works at a paper and encouraged me to find an entry level reporting job on the West coast - any paper that would take me. It would doom me financially, but it's something that has to be done if I'm going to get serious about this profession.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Journalism, FARK and iPod playlist

My 'best of 2006' list is due in a week and I'm still stuck on what to put at the top. I'm putting the iPod away and carrying five CDs around this weekend and giving each a second, third and fourth listen before I reach my verdict. The contenders (so far)...
TV on the Radio - Return to Cookie Mountain
Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
The Decemberists - The Crane Wife
Ghostface Killah - Fishscale

A good friend of mine is coming in tonight with his wife. We're probably going to grab a few beers at Brothers and do the general "what have you been doing?" catch up. He works at a newspaper, I work at a software company. Whenever I meet up with him, I always feel regret not chasing a journalism gig. But this job has its rewards, I love the coworkers and I get to travel (a rarity for tech writers). He relays countless stories about mismanagement and thick-headed, stubborn editors not to mention stories about cutbacks. I've become less and less psyched to reenter the journalism world as I hear more and more about vanishing newspaper readership and the true-to-life stories of fellow grads taking second jobs like so many schoolteachers.

Brighter topic... The forum has started its 'best of 2006' headline threads. Some of my personal faves...

Explosion inside a Post cereal plant blows one unfortunate employee to Alphabits

Dennis Miller to join Fox News this fall. This makes about as much sense as Beowulf having sex with Robert Fulton at the first battle of Antietam

Never bring a gun to a cockfight. Or is it a knife to a gunfight? Anyway, one guy's dead

World's largest corn maze built in Nebraska. Maze is designed to be much like Nebraska in that you enter, see nothing but corn, then leave

Check out other gems at:

Anyway - here's the playlist o' the day - courtesy of LastFM and my iPod.
Late -

Last FM
"Rough Around the Edges" - Teitur ***
"Psycho Killer" - Talking Heads *****
"Hurt" - Johnny Cash ***** (almost going down to **** since it's been overplayed to death)
"We Both Go Down Together" - The Decemberists ****
"Forgiven" - Ben Harper ***
"Black Star" - Radiohead ****
"Improvise" - Jurassic ****
"The Recluse" - Cursive ***
"Hey Ya" - OutKast **** (so sick of this song)
"Vicarious" - Tool ***** (album is o.k., but this song justified the Grammy nod. Sickly good)
"Justify My Thug" - DJ DangerMouse ****
"In the Mouth a Desert" - Pavement *****
"Joanna" - Peasant ***
"Boys Don't Cry" - The Cure (yes, they do) ****
"Meat Cry" - John Lennon ****
"Unleashed the Largehearted Boy" - Guided By Voices ****
"Welcome to the Machine" - Pink Floyd ****

Whi-T (iPod) mix
"T is for Texas" - Johnny Cash ***
"Hats Off to (Roy) Harper)" - Led Zeppelin ***
"Season of the Shark" - Yo La Tengo ****
"Fall on Me" - R.E.M. *** (never been one of my favorites from the band)
"Your Children Aren't Special" - Bill Hicks *****
"Patience" - Mark Sandman ***** (one of his best non-Morphine songs)
"Of Course" - Janes Addiction *****
"Hide and Seek (live)" - Ani DiFranco ***
"When You Wake Up Feeling Old" - Wilco ***
"Leash" - Bruce Springsteen ***
"Andvari" - Sigur Ros ****
"An Attempt to Tip the Scales" - Bright Eyes ***
"Autumn Sweater" - Yo La Tengo *****
"The Gentle Rain (RJD2 mix)" - Astrud Gilberto ***
"Buddhisattva Vow" - Beastie Boys ** (meh)
"Guns Before Butter (alternative)" - Gang of Four ***


Saturday, December 02, 2006

Gimmie "Fiction"

It seems that each broad comic star of the past decade or so has an adored indie film to their resume. Jim Carrey has his Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adam Sandler has his Punch Drunk Love and now Will Ferrell has his with Stranger Than Fiction.

It was a weird movie to sit through. Not because of the movie itself. But because I went alone and lo-and-behold one of my freelance clients (who just told me my services were no longer needed - not fired, just no work) came in with his wife. He has a framed copy of the Ten Commandments in his office, so if there was any movie I thought he was going to see, it would have been The Nativity. Yes, that's stereotyping, but some folks are total embodiments of stereotypes.

I was envisioning the way the movie was going to lay itself out. I would be laughing out loud at the funny bits while this guy would sit there blankly. But fortunately, not only was the crowd great (a crowd that laughed at the genuinely funny parts and shut up for the rest of the movie), but he and his wife really got into the movie as well.

Emma Thompson is great - she truly looked like someone who lived off of nicotine and coffee and a four-hour-a-night sleep regiment. In some movies, you see someone like a very-made-up Anne Hathaway bemoan that she hasn't slept in days, but she looks truly awake. But with Thompson's character, you see the baggy eyes, the scuffled hair, the busted capillaries on her cheeks. It's a great performance.

The ending was a bit too sweet for my taste. I won't give it a way, but it still will probably end up on my 'Top Ten' of the year.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Week in Review

I applied for a music reviewer and feature writer at PopMatters. What other profession other than acting would a grown adult devote almost three hours of their time to get an application submitted for a job that pays nothing - and fight off approximately a few hundred applicants for the position?

While I was doing some brain-dead work verifying the bullets in my resume were lined up correctly, I had Scrubs on while waiting for 30 Rock on NBC. Jesus, has a figure fallen further and faster off the indie radar than Zach Braff? Garden State was a very good film and the soundtrack was about as good as the film (both overrated, but still good). But his last movie tanked - from what I heard, justifiably. And Scrubs has pretty much turned into Night Court during its last three seasons. When the majority of players on a Transformers role-playing Web site break their role-playing routine because they can't wait to see an episode of Scrubs, offense to that crowd, but it's a telling sign that Scrubs has taken a detour from its bitter doctor humor that paved the way for House into Spaceballs-like wackiness.

Slate has an o.k. article about how newspapers are dying. I'm not supplying the link because if you're going to read one Slate article this week, check out this classic analysis of Pitchforkmedia:

It's World AIDS Day. And the disease is quickly on its way to becoming number 3 on the killer disease list. For poorer countries, it's a matter of education and lack of preventative materials. For more affluent countries, it's complacency. AIDS is no longer viewed as a death sentence, but neither is cancer - you still don't want to get it. Yes, there are more medications out there to treat AIDS, but most of these medications are beyond financial reach to the majority of the population.

Finally, I'm catching Stranger Than Fiction tonight. It's one of those movies where the buzz about the movie is coming at the end of its theatrical run with good word of mouth and a sweet soundtrack.

Pandora Playlist:
"Love on the Rocks With No Ice" - The Darkness **
"Neighborhood #3" - The Arcade Fire *****
"No. 13 Baby" - Pixies *****
"Galang" - M.I.A. ****
"Munich" - Editors ****
"Promised Call" - The Dollrots *** (makes me want to go to a roller derby match)
"The Loner" - Neil Young ****
"Numbered Days" - Eels ****
"Apple Suckling Tree" - Bob Dylan ***
"Against the Grain" - Bad Religion ***
"Backstreets" - Bruce Springsteen ****

My iPod shuffle mix o' the day:
"Fistfull of Steel" - RATM ****
"Church" - Big Boi *****
"If You Were The Woman and I Was the Man(live)" - Cowboy Junkies ** (proof positive why Margo should do all the singing)
"The Great Below" - NIN *****
"Find My Baby" - Moby ***
"Down Younder" - Willie Nelson ***
"Pow" - Beastie Boys ****
"A Thousand Hours" - The Cure ****
"Leave Home" - The Chemical Brothers ***** ("Leave Home" to Whitey is what "Austin Powers - Goldmember" is to TBS)
"Beetles" - Aphex Twin ***
"Simple Twist of Fate" - Bob Dylan ****