Patriotism

These days there are two likely scenarios in which someone would call themself a patriot: either they are running for office or are gunning for a spot in the Billboard Country Top 25. I said a couple entries back that I wouldn’t disparage our president; and disparage is a poor choice of word considering Mr. Bush has received so much criticism now that it’s hard to make a point since most everything has been said already. Nonetheless, I truly believe our head honcho is in large part responsible for our shame of being American.

But with the election in November and the chance for redemption I can feel the electricity of people, especially young people, excited to be a part of the “change”. I hope this feeling continues after the forty-fourth president takes office. This being the first election I can vote in, I am very happy to be voicing my opinion of how I believe the country can improve.

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Published in: on July 30, 2008 at 4:09 am  Leave a Comment  

Love at First Listen

I’ve always thought that, in the battle among talk show hosts, Conan reigns supreme. He can be overbearing at times and his gags are sometimes way too silly: that’s saying a lot from someone whose off the wall humor often falls on deaf ears, and for good reason.

What I do like about him is his red hair, first and foremost. Seems everyone knows about the impending extinction of bananas and bees, but what about a race of humans? Ireland is Europe’s pipsqueak and the sanguine, benevolent, and extremely down to earth strain of people it largely produced on its own* have a small chance of holding up with brunette brutes and blood-thirsty blonds roaming the streets.

So maybe I’m speaking in hyperboles, and *I have no concrete evidence that most redheads originated in Ireland, but… BUT I do think that we deserve more credit than we’re allowed. I see Conan’s promotion, which is just around the bend, as the herald of springtime in Gingerland. We’ll be the new fashion trend, with spokespeople on The View and our lavish locks will become currency. Mark my words.

But this report was not going to be about redheads when I first started typing. I’m just full of myself. Instead, it was going to be about Grizzly Bear, the highly lauded band out of Brooklyn. Like I was beginning to say, Conan usually earns my vote as best man to watch past ten for many reasons, but mainly I like him because he supports up and coming artists. What’s best is that you don’t have to put in those earplugs you got to block out your spouse’s snoring when someone like Madonna sings, because Conan respects his viewers, most of the time, and doesn’t book the lousy ones.

So I was surprised to see when I flipped to CBS that Dave’s keeping it real, too. He displayed the four-piece Grizzly Bear’s latest release, an EP entitled friend and introduced them. Man on fire, they’ve got a new song, and is it wonderful! I felt like I was in music nerd heaven when I caught it live, but when I searched for the Youtube syndication of it, I leapt into uncharted waters, past that heaven.

You may not agree with me on this one. It’s an arguably repetitive song and the members look like they’re on their way to a Bar Mitzvah, but I equate it to a bag of mini-sized Snickers. The first one tastes just as delicious as the last, and the serving size is something entirely ignored until you get that stomach ache and you check to see how much you OD’d. Then you usually laugh and finish off the bag because they’re so damn good.

See for yourself: http://stereogum.com/archives/video/grizzly-bear-bring-two-weeks-to-letterman_011270.html

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 7:10 am  Comments (1)  

Sweaty Mess

I’ve now got a goal of running at least a mile a day. I know the true runners of the world with more energy bars than friends would say, “Psh! I could do that with my legs tied behind my back,” but for now that’s all I need. I don’t want to say that the effects are immediate, but the effects are immediate. I feel like the rubber man, you know, the one who toured around with the sideshows. Yeah, I feel great!

But I have a feeling that it’s going to cut into my other routines of lying around and thinking of things to write, so I’m hoping to try out a method of writing a week’s worth of posts tomorrow when I have time and then I won’t have to worry about breaking this goal to keep another.

By the way–and when I say by the way I mean it as if I’m in Portland, Oregon, and I’m giving directions to a friend to get from San Diego to the Hoover Dam and I tell them that my house is by the way, when really I just want them to drink a cup of coffee and make sweet coffee-stained music with them–I am still waiting for more people to chime in about what makes them happy. Leaving a comment is simple, and it doesn’t have to be anything personal. I just want to make this a community effort, this happiness.

Published in: on July 29, 2008 at 5:18 am  Leave a Comment  

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

In a nation that’s finally turning its head to see the other options at our disposal in the fight for energy sources, renewable is the buzzword. It’s a magical idea, renewable energy. Just rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it? In fact, although it’s hard to believe that we’ve become so attached to oil in such a short span of time, and that our collective gullet now has an insatiable urge for black gold–going so far as to threatening to tap into some of the most beautiful and untouched land in our country–we’re all trying to think green now.

And I think it’s great. No, I won’t rant about how the president is driving our country into a downward spiral. That’s something you can decide for yourself. I just want you to realize something; that you, yes you, have renewable right at your fingertips: fingernails. Go on. Take a nibble. It’s okay; no one’s looking.

That was fun, wasn’t it? And to think, you probably just burned a couple calories, not to mention the couple more you bit off.

PS: They even keep growing after you’re dead!

Published in: on July 27, 2008 at 4:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Thanks to Al Gore (Tim Berners-Lee) We Can Make Our Eyes Go Crosseyed Deliberately and Be Fine With It

I’ll own up to the truth. I’m part of the generation whose biggest accomplishment so far is being the first to take the Internet for granted. Why wouldn’t I be able to get movies delivered to my mailbox without having to get up? Just use Netflix. Why would anyone think that they can’t find out the winner of the 1923 Tour De France? Look it up on Wikipedia. Why can’t I create a persona and use it to buy fake money? There’s such a thing called Second Life that allows me to do just that.

These questions would have seemed preposterous only decades ago. Movies were hardly portable, you would have had to lug around encyclopedias to know esoteric trivia like the winner of the 1923 Tour De France, and it’s highly possible that you could have been sent in for a mental reevaluation or incarcerated if you mentioned that you were doing something like making a new virtual you and spending money on nothing.

I’m not saying that those three examples are prime indicators of how revolutionary and invaluable the Internet is, but there are the glaring advantages of having instant access to so much knowledge that it would make my head spin if I wasn’t so jaded. Still, lying in bed tonight I thought that I needed something to extol. Starting this blog was easy and I knew that I’d find something every day that I’d appreciate, but it took me quite awhile to realize how fortunate we all are to have this limitless source at our fingertips.

When I was in Mexico on a study abroad trip earlier this summer, we visited a newspaper business that had only two delivery boys and each had to hop on their motorbikes and take four or five hours to circulate the papers. Sometimes I’m afraid that with the overwhelming ease of syndication on the Internet that jobs like those will vanish and people will eventually sequester themselves inside for most of their lives and feed off their computers.

In other words, I love what my Mac can do for me now, but I think we’re in the golden age and no one can really tell for sure if we’re headed in the right direction. What do you think?

Published in: on July 26, 2008 at 6:23 am  Leave a Comment  

Whippet

I’m a few days late, but here’s the newest indefiniton. I have no clue what this one means, but I’ll put the real meaning at the end so you can say that you learned something today. I think that days gone by without anything learned should be replayed. There are some things that prevent that from happening, like time not being able to reverse, but I’ll dedicate a few minutes every day to trying to invent a time machine.

INDEFINITION

whippet |ˈ(h)wipit|

noun

1 Indiana Jones had a name for his whip, Gary, and those who wrote the script to all the movies had to choose a more proper prop name for Gary. Being logical, they called it a whippet seeing as Indiana held it like a puppy.

2 Cooks in Brazil use this for a sacred topping on chocolate chip cookies at weddings in honor of the newlyweds’ grandparents.

DEFINITION

whippet |ˈ(h)wipit|

noun

a dog of a small slender breed originally produced as a cross between the greyhound and the terrier or spaniel, bred for racing.

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: partly from obsolete whippet [move briskly.]

Published in: on July 24, 2008 at 11:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Crying My Eyes Out

I’d like to start this post out with an apology for the break in writing. I was in Chicago with a couple great friends for, what, six days? It all went way too fast and I cherished every moment of it, even the somewhat stressful driving mishaps. I loved it so much that if you’re thinking about writing a book about vacation just talk to me: I’ll have the perfect example for you. It was simply amazing. I’ll talk about the music that we got to enjoy and fit in some anecdotes and whatever else wriggles its way in between the lines in the “Treat Your Ears Kindly, Too” section when I get all the silly technical kinks worked out.

But what sticks out in my mind most right now is my late grandmother Berneice Todd. She was and will be the most wonderful person/angel I know. You can ask any one of my cousins, aunts, uncles or most the town of Alliance, and they’d say the same thing: she was a joy to know in every way.

I had been worrying myself over the past month or two, thinking that I didn’t have the ability to cry anymore. Nothing seemed to have much of an impact on me. I felt that I was becoming incredibly disillusioned. Even the most painful things, like the growing rift between my mom and my dad in their divorce disputes, didn’t set off that very natural reaction.

But this evening, as I was packing things into a box, readying them for the big move to the new house, I came upon a booklet of printed e-mails. Grammy BC, as we fondly call her, passed away in January of 2005 and although it wasn’t sudden, the seemingly empty space she left behind was felt strongly immediately afterward by all of us in the family.

Always thoughtful, my cousin Jason orchestrated this exchange of e-mails dedicated to the memories that had stuck with us. I balled reading through everyone’s tonight. I don’t know now how I could’ve forgotten how much of an effect the loss of Grammy had had on me. There seems to be a great deal of mental haze between me now and me then.

However, I found the bridge to the center of what it means to be truly happy and to love when I was reminded of her. I’m finding myself now searching for the right words because there is no way that I can do justice describing how she influenced me. I just know that I’ll be forever grateful for having such a lovely lady as Grammy in my life, and I hope to be half the person that she was.

Published in: on July 24, 2008 at 1:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Word to Your Mother

This is the first in a series of posts on these bricks of the English house, if you will. Will you? You will? Good. I’ve always had a place in my heart for words that are neglected, innately weird, or schizophrenic. I love them so much that I try and fit them into the worst spots in conversations with almost 100% failure rate. For example, I know that I don’t make a lot of sense to people when I say, “He is a raconteur and has a penchant for beguilement,” when I really mean, “He tells great stories.”

It can be discouraging when your point doesn’t come across, but when it backs up and heads for a dark closet, “discouraging” doesn’t quite describe the longing for simpler language, the aching for a southern drawl, a bucketload of “reckon’s”, and a wicked mustache to top it off. Sure, I wish I could be less misunderstood, but I think of these words as orphans. Would you have taken in Annie if you had the chance?

So as an offshoot of this, I’m going to give an indefinition of a word or phrase of the week, meaning that it will be straight from the gut. Sometimes I’ll have no idea what it means and only know that it looks cool, and sometimes it’ll be something simple and easy to understand. Either way I’m going to use the tried and true Dr. Foy* method of writing whatever comes out, and will not consult that dictionary. All due respect to Webster (Merriam, you were just a pawn. You couldn’t hold a pencil in your non-writing hand.) but I think words are great fodder… I hate that word… for creativity.

Some of it will be shit, some will be rank farts, and some will be that magical stuff that comes when your recipe is just right. This week’s is going to be pretty short since I have to get up and help frost a couple hundred cookies and because the aforementioned teacher isn’t staring me down with a stopwatch.

A quick note before the word indefinition. I’d like you to write what the word means to you in the comments. I’m really waiting for the flood gates to open, because I know that you’re dying to tell me that I’m saying too much nonsense and need to get to the point faster or that your favorite chocolate from a box of chocolates is the kind with cherry filling inside. Whatever you want to say, please don’t hesitate. Now, umm, how about… a double feature today? Rough hewn.

Rough Hewn

A layer of dust on some cowboy boots that have been sitting in the closet of a long-lost Confederate’s shack somewhere in the middle of Georgia.
A crazy infidel that never had a direction in life.
An accent that speaks louder than the words that are being spoken.

Broken pavement.
Broken hearts.
Broken sentences.

*Soon to be in Merriam and Webster’s Dictionary, 436th Edition, not under any definition but rather paid in homage by coffee stains on the page containing dichotomous.

Published in: on July 15, 2008 at 5:08 am  Leave a Comment  

My Sister Andrea

I’ll be bringing up Andrea a lot here because, even after a lot of pestering to vacuum, take the trash out, and do other vile things, she’s nothing short of the light of my life. It’s getting late, so I’ll keep this one short, but I’ll brag about having such a wonderful sister later. You can count on that.

Published in: on July 14, 2008 at 5:32 am  Leave a Comment  

Where is My Volvo, NPR?

According to the… according to… umm…

(You’d better not be out at the beach again, Google. I know, I know. You need some color. But I need a reputable source for my write-up on why I like public radio. I don’t want to appear to be a bad journalist, because I’m not, you see? What’s that? You think blogging is as far away from journalism as Newt Gingrich is from Beyonce Knowles because of that restraining order that was kept secret until now? Why I oughta knock both those o’s right outcha name! But I’ll just put a restraining order on myself. I’ve still got some hope for you yet. So I’ll wait for you. Do-to-do-to-do. Just waiting patiently, here with my real newspapers and magazines. 0.14 seconds later: Well, well, well. You’re back already? What can you give me?)

According to “The Listeners of National Public Radio” by Brooke Gladstone, [public radio listeners] are 173 percent more likely to buy a Volvo and 310 percent more likely to read The Sunday Times. I am planning on doing neither. First of all, I don’t have enough money to buy a 1971 Ford Pinto, and secondly, the Alliance Times doesn’t have enough money to print a Sunday paper.

I do share some of the other typical traits possessed by someone obsessed with Peter Segal or Carl Kasell of “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me”. I’m on the fence when it comes to choosing between those two, but this next couple of sentences describes me to a T. “[Public radio listeners] are more curious than average, more eager to spend time in other countries. Thirty percent of NPR News listeners are more likely to want to, quote, ‘understand how the world works.'”

So as you can tell by now, I’m not the least bit ashamed when some friends and I are greeted by Ira Glass from “This American Life” mid-sentence and on high volume when I turn the key in the ignition. I love to keep up on the news and am a firm believer in those studies that claim that classical music makes you smarter.

If you have been searching for clerical errors in this post, sipping on white wine, or remotely starting that Volvo from your office, you’re 100% more likely to enjoy public radio if you don’t already. So set your radio preset, tune in, and relax to the mellifluous voices of Robert Siegel, Terri Gross, Scott Simon, or anyone else for that matter. You’ll be calling in to donate in no time.

Published in: on July 13, 2008 at 2:28 am  Leave a Comment