Saturday, September 8, 2012

Writing exercise

So the football season starts tomorrow(although... technically it started Wednesday), and I am obviously excited.  Although that might be mostly because the Vikings are facing the Jaguars, and thus they're going to get my hopes way up by winning their first game.  

But in any case, I got bored recently... and I decided to go through the NFL slate game by game, determine the winner, and report back my predictions for the overall year.  Warning: I like to be bold--so I am going to make a couple surprising choices.  But I predicted that the two 15 seeds in the NCAA tournament would beat the number 2s this year... as well as VCU making the Final Four the year before--so obviously these predictions are probably going to pan out.


I see this division being close throughout the year, with everyone trading wins within their division.  But I think the Eagles win it this year, just because last year seemed to be a case of everything going wrong… and still they finished 8-8.  Not that 9-7 is much better, but it’s good enough to win in a tough division… as long as Vick stays healthy, I see this as a no-brainer.  Cowboys also emerge with a playoff spot—they have the talent obviously… and they’re always in the mix for the playoffs, so I have them as the 5 seed.  Giants I waffled between winning the division and finishing under .500—obviously chose the latter.  They’re always a tough out, but it seems that they lay an egg every time they’re expected to do well.


This might not make much sense to people—other than—you know, I’m a homer.  But I see the Vikings shocking the NFL this year.  Every year there’s a team that finishes with a record that’s much worse than they actually are, and they usually tend to rebound the following year.  Ponder hopefully will progress to “average”, our horrendous secondary has been improved a bit, and hopefully Peterson stays healthy enough to take this team to the playoffs.  The Packers finishing last—also a huge homer pick.  But again—everything went well for them last year (outside of the playoffs, of course), so I’m expecting them to fall back to Earth.  Also, concerns about Rodgers’ health and their poor defense make me feel a little better about this obvious reach of a prediction.  Similarly with the Lions, concerns about Stafford’s health—and somewhat expecting a flat response to their first playoff appearance in ever.


I like the Falcons pretty much because no one else steps up to the plate in this division, but they’ve also seemed on the cusp of becoming this elite offensive team, and I think this is the year they do it.  The Saints have the talent to contend for the division as well… but to be honest, I’m expecting the toll of the offseason to show plenty here.  I like the Panthers as well, but their defense is just enough to keep them out of the playoffs.


The 49ers are another team that I expect to fall back to Earth, but I still have them making the playoffs as the 6 seed—just because they still have a great defense, and they did add a bit of talent to their offense to hopefully make up for Alex Smith.  But I expect a worse record from them now that they have a 1st place schedule this year.  I do like the Cardinals as a sleeper—they put it together towards the end of the season (winning 7 of their last 9), and they’re really not that far removed from the Kurt Warner Super Bowl contending days.  Skelton seems to be the starter, and his arrival in the starting spot last year seemed to trigger the turnaround, and so coupled with the fact that I can’t find anyone giving them a chance to do anything this year… I’m going with a surprise division winner.  Seahawks are in last because I hate their jerseys and I hate Nike.


This might be another “what the hell are you thinking” division—and really, the entire slate of predictions might be that as well.  But for some reason, I’m expecting a meltdown coming from the Patriots (instead of the meltdown everyone’s predicting from the Jets)—if only because Brady’s getting up there in age, their defense still isn’t that great—and while Gronk was great for my fantasy teams, I don’t know if he’s going to be even close to replicating that output.  And they’ve been on top for so long… at some point, they’re going to make a surprising tumble down the standings.  As for the Jets—I have them taking this division, because all Tebow does is win.  Not that I assume he’ll take over as the starter… but you know, he’ll win by proxy.  Also, it seems like the sort of thing that will happen just to piss off people who watch ESPN and are tired of Jets coverage.

(Bills I can see making the playoffs, but their status as the de facto sleeper scares me off… because none of the de facto sleepers ever do well.  Dolphins I’m not sure about—they had a decent little team last year, but I don’t think Tannehill’s going to amount to much right away, and I can’t trust a coach named “Joe Philbin.”  But I have them going 8-8… I guess as a way to get the Patriots in last.)


The Ravens  are still a formidable team—probably should have made the Super Bowl last year, and I can’t see any reason why they don’t make the playoffs this year.  But I also like the Bengals—if only because everyone seems to be writing them off despite the fact they made the playoffs last year.  I have them in as the 6 seed again.  As for the Browns and Steelers—the Browns might be a bit of a rosy outlook for them (I might be biased towards them—they’re sort of developing into my 2nd favorite team, just by being just as pathetic as the Vikings), but I feel somewhat confident in having the Steelers not make the playoffs.  They lost to a team in the playoffs whose only redeeming quality was having God on their side.  Plus, they seemed perpetually banged up, and that’s going to catch up at some point.


In terms of reasonable predictions in this category, I think I nailed about 3/4ths of the division.  The Texans are going to dominate and contend for a Super Bowl (as long as they have a functioning QB), the Titans are going to be OK but struggle a little with Locker under center for his first year, and the Jaguars are going to completely irrelevant, as they should be every year.  Somehow I managed to have the Colts go 12-4 though.  I like them as a sleeper team—and now that they have a guy that won’t miss the entire season/won’t be playing professionally in an obscure semi-pro German league the following season at QB—I feel like they can put together the pieces to surprise some folks this year.  I don’t know how they ended up at 12-4… I guessed I just got used to picking them as an upset while going through each game this season.  But at the same time—Manning went something like 3-13 his first year only to improve to 13-3 his second year.  Luck will just expedite that process as the next franchise QB.


The Broncos managed to win the division with Tebow—and although Manning might be a literal sneeze away from not playing again, I think he can pull off a similar result this year.  I do have the Raiders challenging them… and if I wasn’t picking the games one by one, I might have been tempted to have them win the division.  But Carson Palmer—ehh, little iffy.

So my playoffs look a little something like this:
1.       Texans--12-4
2.       Broncos—11-5
3.       Ravens—10-6
4.       Jets—10-6
5.       Colts—12-4
6.       Bengals—10-6

1.       Falcons—12-4
2.       Vikings—10-6
3.       Cardinals—10-6
4.       Eagles—9-7
5.       Cowboys—9-7
6.       49ers—9-7

Ravens over Bengals, Jets over Colts: Sorry Colts, but Tebow overrides Luck, even from the sidelines.  And the Ravens have been in bigger games than the Bengals have.
49ers over Cardinals, Eagles over Cowboys: Well, I have the Cards winning the division, but the 49ers are much stronger on defense, and that’s what prevails.  And I just can’t trust Tony Romo in the playoffs that much.

Broncos over Ravens, Texans over Jets: As much as I like the Ravens, and as close as they got to the Super Bowl last year—not sure if I can trust them to get over the hump.  And the Texans are a much more solid bet than the Jets are… even with Timothy Tebow.
Eagles over Vikings, Falcons over 49ers: As much as I would like to pick the Vikings to go all the way… I mean, I am stretching my credibility quite a bit already getting them into the playoffs, much less as a two seed.  Also, we’re 0-3 in the playoffs against the Eagles.  As for 49ers/Falcons—I guess I just trust Matt Ryan more than Alex Smith.


Texans over Broncos: A great run for Manning, but the Texans were a team that probably should have been in the Super Bowl last year.  And  although I have the Broncos improving under Manning… I can’t put him in the Super Bowl.
Eagles over Falcons: In the end, although the Falcons will make some strides in becoming an elite team, I doubt their ability to get finish the job and get to the Super Bowl at this point.  Andy Reid has had more championship game experience than Mike Smith, and the Eagles offense is explosive enough to get to the big game.


Eagles over Texans: A difficult pick.  But I’m going with the Eagles.  If Vick stays healthy throughout this entire year, I expect that the season is going to look like it was supposed to a year ago, which many thought would end with a Super Bowl victory.  As much as I love the Texans—and they have a stronger defense than the Eagles—I just think this is the year of the Eagles, and they get their first Super Bowl victory.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ba deep ba deep ba deep.

That's the sound me and my brothers make when we're watching something on the DVR, and the person in charge of the remote neglects to fast forward through the commercials.  That's the sound that the DVR makes, you see.


It's been a couple months. 

And it might be time to call it with this page anyway.  Instead, I'm thinking about starting up a new one--one that'll hopefully be more focused, one that I actually devote time towards.  Not that I didn't with this one... but most of the time I just churned out whatever was at the top of my head.  Hoping to not do that this go round.  Although who knows... maybe coming up with things off the top of my head is my specialty. 

Maybe I'll keep this around as a more personal thing.  Maybe not.  The problem is that I use my other Gmail account way more than the one I use this for, so it's a bit of a pain to log in and out between the two accounts.  (This would be the point in which I would "#firstworldproblems," but I'm not going to do that... because I don't want to sound like a person from the internet.)

Anyway, a lot of stuff happened since I last wrote.  Mainly the Olympics.  And Romney betrayed T-Paw by giving the VP spot to someone else, thereby conceding the election.  (You might say that T-Paw wouldn't have made a difference either.  My response to that: you don't know what a beacon of charisma T-Paw can be.)  I moved... and got a new laptop.  And helped someone else move.  Mainly, my mind has been elsewhere. 

Did you know that the year is already half over?  And that we're about to make it to 2013, provided we don't blow up, or whatever the hell nutjobs expect to happen once the Mayan calendar ends?  I'm going to be 26 next year.  What happened?

I don't know.

Anyway, this is my funny way of saying that I'm going to try to start writing again.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy Flag Day!

Guess what I'm doing to celebrate this glorious day?  Yep, I'm going to deliver to you my top ten favorite country flags in existence.  You know, in honor of flags.

(Note: maybe it would make more sense to do state flags, since it is USA's Flag Day.  But I choose to honor all flags today, and so I'm going to include the entire world in the proceedings.  Also, country flags are more interesting.  And Minnesota's flag is terrible, so why bother?)

The criteria is as follows: the flag has to be the official flag of a country (not including states or small overseas territories, for example) and it has to stand out in some way.  May just be an iconic symbol, have a pleasing set of colors, or just look cool... there's actually no formula for this thing.  I just admire the flags, and pick my favorites. 

First, here are some honorable mentions, which didn't make the cut for various reasons.  And those reasons are: being a boring flag despite having a cool set of colors, not representing an actual country, and being so awesome that it's a shame that the empire it represented went kaput 100+ years ago.

(For the record, in order... Germany, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Isle of Man, and the Benin Empire.  Also a fan of Turkey, Qatar, Georgia, and Bhutan--but they are not pictured here because... well, come on.  That's too many flags.)

Now to the top ten.

10. Mozambique

I almost disqualified this one--for as great as it is, I just happened to stumble upon an older flag for the country that happens to be BETTER.  Check it out.

Isn't that sexy?  Not only does the descending rays look much cooler than the triangle-over-stripes design, but it also features a cogwheel... albeit one that is much less badass than another cogwheel we'll come in contact with.  Anyway, if this flag was still around, you might be looking at a top 5 ranking.  The current flag, however... can only muster a #10 spot... and that's after I couldn't decide on anything else to place here.  So the actual flag--little unimpressive. 

But it features a rifle, a hoe, and a book overlapped with each other.  You probably couldn't think of three more diametrically opposed objects--and yet, here they are, together at last. 

9. Marshall Islands

I'm a big fan of the rising stripe.  Also really like the color scheme--not too flashy, but not overdone (and I'm pretty sure the blue-white-orange(??) combination is not in use on any other flag), and it just looks good.  This would be higher were it not for the star.  It's not a huge dealbreaker--still like it a lot, and it might even be higher on one of my better days--but it draws a little too much attention to itself.  I think I'd be happier with a simpler star--or none at all.

8. Greenland

(I really don't know if this should count, since I think it's both considered to be a country as well as part of the Kingdom of Denmark.  But since no one knows that... we'll just ignore this.)

This flag beats out other circle based designs such as Japan for being a little more creative than the others.  It's supposed to represent the sun reflecting off a sheet of ice, which seems to fit Greenland well.  It also fits Greenland in its reversal of colors in the circle--mirroring the sort of "nothing is what it seems" name of the country itself.

7. United Kingdom

The Union Jack is pretty great.  It's the best combination of the red, white and blue colors (suck it, US), and it combines the individual flags of England, Scotland and Ireland into one iconic design.  The only problem with it is--well, on a list of the Top 20 worst country flags, the Union Jack is probably featured on about 20 of them.

6. Switzerland

Simple, iconic, square.  You don't need any other explanation.

5. Saudi Arabia

Green, white--good and simple.  The top inscription I'm assuming actually says something in Arabic, which I feel I would dislike if I could actually read or understand Arabic.  But I can't-- what I can understand, however, is that big old sword pointing to the left.  And paired with that big old sword, that indecipherable text suddenly becomes amazingly clear: "don't f*** with Saudi Arabia."

4. Angola

As badass as Saudi Arabia's flag happens to be, it can't match Angola throwing in a damn machete.  It seems like an update to the hammer and sickle symbol--the hammer being replaced with a cogwheel that thankfully brings us up-to-date with the industrial age.  Sara says that she gets a steampunk communist Star Wars vibe from this guy--and I really can't argue with that. Also, it just out-badasses Saudi Arabia... which I didn't think could be possible.

(Also, apparently this flag is in danger of being replaced--by this one.)

(I cannot state how catastrophic this would be.  It would be catastrophic.)

3. Canada

When you think of Canada, I can't imagine you thinking of anything but this, the very definition of iconic.  (I mean, I guess you could think of something like hockey... but that's more boring.)  It's simple, striking, all with the famous maple leaf centered in the middle.  Other countries have tried the plant based design in their flags, and it never comes off as clean as this.  This is near ideal for a flag.  It's so great, I can only imagine that hockey's Toronto Maple Leafs named themselves after this flag.  They *didn't*, since this flag was adopted in the 60's--decades after the team started play.  But it sounds like a cool story.

2. Sweden

I love the Nordic cross.  Not just the design of it, but how essentially an entire region of people decided to adopt similar flags as a sign of unity.  That's pretty cool, if you ask me.  And also... Scandinavia is just plain awesome, so obviously their flags have to be pretty damn cool.  Only want to include one on the list here, though... and I'm going to give the nod to Sweden, just because the color scheme is (in my eyes) wonderful, and very identifiably Swedish. 

(Or maybe I just identify these colors with Sweden--back when those Human Rights Campaign stickers first started coming out, I thought it was advocating for Swedish equality and wondered why so many people would be concerned with it/why it was even a thing.  I was wrong, apparently.) 

1. Macedonia

It's another slight variation of the circle design, with a lot of similarities to the Japanese War Flag (without the baggage that Japan's controversial variation brings).  It's IMMENSELY striking, with the red and yellow complementing each other perfectly in this design (as opposed to say... the red and yellow colors of China, which don't work as well), and the design is simple yet effective.  I don't know what else to say--I feel like this would be a world-famous design if Macedonia was a bigger player in the world.  Really, the country's kind of slacking in living up to the greatness of its flag.  Not sure what they could do in order to step it up and become world renown--maybe stage a civil war or something. 

No wait!  The Olympics are near.  Macedonia is scheduled to at least send one Olympic athlete... most likely more.  They need each and every one of their athletes to not only win the Gold Medal--but break world records--and break said world records in half the previous time.  Or less.

It can be done.


(Technically, it's Flag Day in the US, and I believe it's meant to celebrate the US flag.  So here I am celebrating other countries' flags left and right while I am blatantly ignoring the one we salute.  Which is not right.  So, in the spirit of Flag Day, I am going to also pay tribute to Old Glory and properly describe what a beaut it really is.)



Nope, can't do it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

It is super hot in my room and I slept about 3 hours last night.

I had a dream in which I was back in college.  I've been having a lot of these lately.  I always take the same class--I don't remember what it is, but I think it's the same class because my dreams tell me it's the same class as before. 

I am failing the class, which I need to graduate, because I keep skipping classes.  Not that I actively go out of my way to skip them, but they always happen to slip my mind and I dig myself deeper and deeper.

This dream's unique details had me trying to find my teacher/adviser in order to somehow make up for the fact that I didn't know what the hell was going on in class... and somehow find a way to graduate anyway.  It failed because I couldn't find the person.  I was resigning myself to the idea that it wasn't going to work out.  I think suicide was on the table, mainly because I watched an episode of a television show that featured a pretty gruesome suicide right before going to bed.  But then, some lady appeared.  I don't know who she was, but I did in the dream--and she came running up to me, holding in her hand a diploma.  She said that she couldn't stand the sight of me heading off to who knows where without graduating, so she took it upon herself to forge a diploma for me.  Not that a forged diploma means that I actually graduate, but it seemed like a grand gesture in the dream.  And I was convinced I had graduated.

No idea what any of this means.  It sure woke me up at 6 AM, though... and I've been slogging through this entire day since.  Tried to take a nap, and then right when I was about to doze off, I received a phone call from work.  Sigh.

What a miserable day.


I believe I used to be accused of listening to mostly depressing music.  I always used to dispute it, because I wasn't really listening to it because of its depressing quality, or to become depressed or whatever.  It's just that those songs tend to have stronger emotional resonance than songs that are purely about joy and optimism and happiness (of course, there are great songs that I'd describe in those terms, but still), and I tend to drift more towards songs that have that impact on me. 

All that said, everything I've been listening to as of late has been totally depressing.

I don't think it's on purpose.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


The band in my title above apparently broke up this week.  Now, I would probably say on occasion that Ween happens to be my favorite band (other occasions I would say I have none), but to be perfectly honest... I'm not too broken up about it. This is for a number of reasons:

1) I'm kind of working under the assumption that they'll get back together, or that Aaron Freeman will come out as saying his words were taken out of context. Because it seems a little weird that Mickey Melchiondo (the other half of the band) was not included in the deliberations of this important band business and said that he knew nothing about it and was (apparently) on good terms with Freeman.  But even then, with Aaron Freeman newly sober--I'd assume he'd want to disassociate himself with things that probably encouraged his old habits for now.  And with them seemingly remaining good friends--perhaps he will eventually become comfortable with the idea of getting Ween back together.

2) Even if that potential reunion never occurs, I'd rather have two Weens working on separate projects than the two Weens working together while one is a complete wreck.

3) They had a good run nonetheless.  SpongeBob appearance or two, a prominent role in the SNL spinoff film "It's Pat"--and some damn good records to boot.

So right now I'm just going to go through all the studio releases and pick one song that either represents the album well--or, you know, is just the one I like the best.

GodWeenSatan: The Oneness (1990)-You Fucked Up

Some might consider this song to be extremely misogynistic.  Others might consider it to be a great deconstruction of the essence of half of classic rock radio.  I guess you could consider it both, too... but it kicks off the album in an extremely juvenile yet almost slightly genius manner. 

The Pod (1991)-Doctor Rock

Legend has it that this album was recorded under the influence of either Scotchgard or mononucleosis.  In any case, this song sounds like the rest of the album--murky, lethargic, demented.

Pure Guava (1992)-Push Th' Little Daisies

This marks their major label debut, to which they responded by making perhaps their weirdest album yet.  This happened to be the single... which means that to the general populous, the word "Ween" only brings to mind this song...

Chocolate & Cheese (1994)-What Deaner Was Talkin' About

Of course, after having proven their non-sellout status by providing a big f*** you to their new studio overlords in Pure Guava, they follow it up with their most polished and commercial effort yet.  It's their best yet, and proof that they're more than just a joke and can... you know, write good songs.

12 Golden Country Greats (1996)-Pretty Girl

I guess the assumption would be that the decision to make their next recording full of original country songs would be interpreted as just the band being weird again.  Funny thing is that the album is just as straightforward as can be, and tightly written and performed to boot.

The Mollusk (1997)-The Mollusk

Perhaps their high point, a nautical/progressive rock concept powers this one through lovely tunes like the one above, through drunk Irish sea shanties like The Blarney Stone, and through bombastic multi-part epics like Buckingham Green.

White Pepper (2000)-Exactly Where I'm At

Sort of a return to the sound of Chocolate & Cheese, except even more polished and perhaps even mature.  It does sound as if they were making a last grab for chart success, though... and so the typical weirdness gets cut down a bit.  But, still... pretty good, as represented by the track above.

Quebec (2003)-Happy Colored Marbles

This one, however recalls The Pod in that it seems to have been recorded in a dark state--except the ailment this time is depression, with clear references to drugs as a means to alleviate the pain (one song is simply called Zoloft).  This song sort of tracks the descent into madness.

Shinola Vol. 1 (2005)-Did You See Me?

Technically not a true studio release, but the quality of these leftovers are a testament to the quality of the rest of their albums.  Somehow this trippy Pink Floyd-esque gem didn't make the cut (on either The Mollusk or Quebec... I can't remember.)

La Cucaracha (2007)-Your Party

And in what may be their last album, the band follows their formula of tackling as many genres as possible.  Unfortunately, the album lacks the inventiveness and excitement that their better efforts possess.  But before they finished, they gave us this guy--which nails the sleaziness/banality of smooth jazz.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Haven't updated in a while, blah blah blah, excuse excuse excuse...

Well, I've got time to do it now, considering that I unexpectedly have the weekend off from work.  Which would be great under any other circumstances... since this also happens to be my birthday weekend and everything... but considering the fact that:

1) I'm already taking next weekend off.

I'm a little bit annoyed.

I don't even really have anything to write about.  It's my birthday this weekend, though! 

I *was* going to work for the first 12 hours of my birthday, since I was going to let Sara work in order that she could then go home for Memorial Day Weekend (which is where I'll be next week as well), but now that's free and I'm not really sure what to do.

It'll probably end up being used to watch Nicolas Cage movies, since that's what I decided I'd do for my birthday weekend.

Just watched one tonight: Honeymoon In Vegas.  It's a solid 6/10.  Felt kind of like a production line Hollywood release for a while, but then the plot (and Nic Cage) becomes more absurd and ludicrous, and the film becomes all the better for it.  Would have the title of "most absurd skydiving scene" if Point Break didn't exist.

Also watched Deadfall... which was really bad.  Well... I watched the first half of it, until Nicolas Cage's character dies and I lost interest (yeah, spoilers, but... it's really bad, so you'd only want to watch the first half to see his performance.  So really I'm doing you a favor.) and fell asleep.  But the plot is really rote and uninteresting.  And really, the only thing worth it is Nicolas Cage, for better or worse.

I believe his brother directed this movie, and that Nic was appearing in this as essentially a favor.  Also he apparently got free reign to do whatever he pleased.  Which meant that he appeared in the worst wig possible... and for his portrayal as a lunatic coke-head, he turned up to eleven.  No, that's a lie.  He literally turned it up to about twenty-six.

I'm guessing most probably wouldn't appreciate this as much as I do... and describe it as over-the-top and hammy.  Which it is.  But there's this magnetism to him that I can't properly describe in words.  It's if he exists on a different planet and has a completely different understanding of what being an actor means.  Sometimes his Nic Cage-ness is contained--and it results in legitimately great performances such as the ones in Adaptation, Leaving Las Vegas.  But then that full Nic Cage-ness is sometimes completely unleashed, and it's a sight to behold.  It makes bad films eminently watchable, and routine scenes suddenly acquiesce to the will and stylings of this singular man.

So in any case, I'm going to watch a lot of his movies this weekend.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's May!

Which I've always considered to be the 2nd best month behind December... mainly because my birthday falls within this month.  But now that I'm getting older, the whole May thing might be wearing a little thin.  And now I'm sort of half anticipating/half weirded out by my upcoming birthday, which is an entirely new feeling.  So I'm probably going to have to reevaluate my rankings of favorite months.

Not that I've ever given it any consideration other than right now.  But still.

I'm going to review some recent-ish songs for the hell of it.

Gaslight Anthem--45 (poor sound quality, but I couldn't post the Soundcloud that's been floating around.)

-It's hard to say why exactly I got into this band of Bruce Springsteen-loving punk rockers when I don't care for The Boss and punk outside of The Ramones does nothing for me.  But I guess that small part of my brain that loves straight-up no-frills rock and roll was able to make room for these guys and their last two albums (especially The 59 Sound... which is the type of album you need to have readily available to listen to in your car).  This one comes from their upcoming "Handwritten" album, and it seems like the type of song that could catapult them into Black Keys-esque success, what with the hard riffs and the agreeably catchy refrains.  I wasn't too keen on it on first listen, as I thought the "turn the record over/see you on the flipside" was a little too obvious/stupid, but it's warmed on me to the point where it doesn't bother me anymore.  It's catchy.  That's all that is important.

RATING: 7/10

CAN--Deadly Doris

-Few things to know.  1) apparently this is a track from the upcoming "The Lost Tapes," which is (surprisingly) a compilation of unreleased material from the band.  2) This song features Malcolm Mooney on vocals, and not Damo Suzuki--who, despite being pretty much unintelligible in every song, fit the sound of the band much better.  Mooney is not as good.  3) Very few bands in the history of music can lock into a groove like Can.  BUT... 4) This song doesn't really go anywhere.

RATING: 4/10

Beach Boys--That's Why God Made The Radio

-So... the band just actually reunited/touring for the first time in about 25+ years (although Mike Love has been touring as the Beach Boys for most of that period.  Also, screw him), and lo and behold--they decided to give a go at writing/recording new music!  Good for them!  I mean... it's not good.  Sounds a little too sugary and a little too overdone on the production, and sounds like a band trying to recreate the same sunshine-y vibe from eras ago (which of course, is what they're trying to do).  But, I mean... they still nail the harmonies.  And it could have been a lot worse.

RATING: 3/10

Spiritualized--Hey Jane

-They're playing here tomorrow, which I probably won't go to since I hate going to concerts alone.  In any case, I've been giving their new album a couple spins--and it's giving their classic "Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space" a legit decent run for its money.  This is probably my favorite (probably because it's the first impression... but still.)  Starts out as a pretty decent dark Britpop tune, slowly becomes spacier and somehow becomes euphoric by the end.  And the "sweet heart, sweet light" outro gets stuck in your head.  I can attest to it.

RATING: 8/10

Flaming Lips--God Only Knows

-I love The Flaming Lips.  I love The Beach Boys.  I love this song.  But this cover isn't really all that great.  It retains that underlying sense of sadness (and maybe ramps it up a bit), but this version comes off as being kind of spacey and noisy for the sake of being spacey and noisy, whereas the original version pulls off becoming one of the most heavenly pieces of music recorded.  Perhaps it comes off better when not comparing it to the original version, but as it is... a bit of a disappointment.

RATING: 4/10

Trampled By Turtles--Rebellion (Lies)

Trampled By Turtles covers Arcade Fire
-Hey, so this just came out today.  Anyway... it's taken me a while, since The Current has me predisposed towards hating local artists by putting mediocre stuff in HEAVY rotation, but I guess I realized that I don't hate these guys.  I can't imagine being a big fan of them, but I can see putting them in rotation given the proper mood... and "Wait So Long" is a legitimately great song that could be in rotation no matter what.  But this a cover of Arcade Fire--and they do a pretty bang up job on it.  It doesn't really deviate too far from the original version, but they make it their own anyway (i.e. they include a banjo.)

RATING: 7/10

Sigur Ros--VarĂșĂ°

-Early reviews have the new album as "understated."  Which means I'm adjusting my expectations a little bit--not that I was expecting a full blown masterpiece like "Agaetis Byrjun", but saying an album is "understated" is kind of a nice way to make one hope for and expect merely a pleasant sounding album.  In any case, this still does it for me.  Takes a while to get going, but that last minute swells to that majestic climax you're hoping it achieves.  So basically, it's a Sigur Ros song.

RATING: 7/10

Friday, April 27, 2012

So I was in the ER this afternoon.

My intention was to go to an urgent care, but it was decided that I should get something checked out while out and about.  And... through the lack of internet and its ability to tell us of our nearest urgent care, and getting some faulty information... we ended up in an ER instead.

(I'm theoretically OK, for the record.  I've had issues with pains in my chest area before, and each time it wasn't heart related.  But this time I was having on-and-off chest pains combined with heartburn and tingling/numbness on my left side, specifically in my left arm.  And Google searches cited those as possible symptoms for heart attacks and strokes, so... probably a decent idea to check, even if you're reasonably sure it's not going to be that severe.)

They hooked me up to this monitor thing that kept track of my pulse and everything, which they said would allow them to track how I was doing outside the room.  Sounded good, I suppose.  The only problem is that every so often the monitor was making noises.  Loud noises.  Loud, "quick, something is going terribly wrong" noises.

I'm gonna try and duplicate it the best that I can.  They went something like this.






And then it would stop.  And start 30 seconds/1 minute/7 minutes later, varying in length each time. 

I could figure out what it was beeping for.  It was for the number that was right below my pulse, and it started beeping once it went over 2.0.  But I couldn't figure out what that number was for, or why it was beeping.  I assumed it had something to do with my pulse, but I couldn't be sure how... all I knew is that it kept beeping loudly.  And that must have meant that I was in some form of danger.

Minutes have passed by, and not a single nurse or doctor has come to check on me/help with whatever's causing that incessant beep.  I could theoretically call them and ask them to help me with the use of my bedside remote, but I can hear an echoing beep coming from outside the room as well, so they can obviously hear it as well.  Which means that either the beeping has no real significance... or they are deliberately ignoring it.  And I'm dying, I don't know why, and I have bunch of doctors who would rather watch me slowly die.  So basically, it's probably the latter.

If this were a movie, and I suddenly came to this realization... I'd probably rip everything they had hooked to my body, storm out of the room and start kicking some doctor ass.  In real life, though... I was pretty powerless.  So I just gave the monitor the good old middle finger whenever it started beeping again.  It was a little cathartic.

Eventually I was seen to, and it was decided that nothing was seriously wrong.  And I asked what the beeping was for--and was told it wasn't important.  Which I guess I could have figured... but they didn't tell me why it was beeping in the first place.

Which probably means that I'm still secretly dying, and the doctors (or maybe a secret organization in cahoots with the doctors) don't want me to know. 

So... damn.

Friday, April 20, 2012

I'm still around

Going through a phase where I'm questioning whether or not I want to continue with this page, and if so... if I want to replace it with a newer/more specified blog... or just quit the whole thing all together.

I would, however, like to say that the "Vikings threatening to move" story isn't hitting me the way that I thought it would.  I thought I'd be devastated at the thought, fearing for my favorite team... that whole shebang.

Instead, I'm just resigned.  It's going to happen.  The worst part is that it's going to happen not because of a greedy owner or some outside force demanding the team to LA, like I sort of imagined... but because of politics, and two sides who'd rather blame the other side for losing the team rather than doing anything substantial to get the damn thing done.  (Of course, this is what politics is, and much more serious matters have not gotten done just because the other side wants to use the blame game into a couple more votes.)

It's kind of why I'm always torn on whether or not I should actually vote.  I know the arguments for voting and all, but then all the petty bickering gets in the way of actually getting work done--and I'd feel I'd be participating in a huge sham, which makes me feel dirty.

I don't know.  The Vikings are going to leave.  Everything revolving around Minnesota sports is miserable right now (well, I guess the Twins actually split a series with the Yankees... so they won two more games than I was expecting.)

Other things going on right now:
-Levon Helm of The Band died yesterday.  Vocalist (maybe the best singer in a group filled with a lot of them), drummer, possessor of an awesome beard... and the coolest guy in The Band, judging by The Last Waltz documentary.  I don't know why, but I always imagined myself meeting him one day, thanking him for being a cool person.  And then he'd thank me, and we'd become pen pals or something.  I don't know why I'm sharing this right now.

The worst part was that the death came two days after it was announced that he was indeed dying from cancer.  It happened with Harmon Killebrew as well (although I think in Harmon's case, he actually wrote the announcement rather than the family).  I guess it just feels like after such an announcement/farewell to the world, you should deserve a good few last weeks/months on Earth to spend time with and say goodbye to your family.  I guess it doesn't work that way.

Also, I keep saying that I hate it when I see people posting/reminiscing about recently deceased celebrities, because it always seemed phony to pretend you cared about someone like... say, Whitney Houston.  But then a celebrity I actually like passes away, I legitimately get sad.  So maybe I shouldn't be so damn judgmental.

I haven't been doing much else as of late.   Sort of in the routine of things right now... but actually enjoying the routine for a change.  Been playing a lot of games.  Not the big Mass Effect 3s of the world, but smaller ones that I find for $1-5... or sometimes free.  It's a little nice, in that it makes me feel like I'm supporting a small developer instead of the big corporate behemoths that the gaming industry is littered with... but I'm not really, because I just buy the damn games when they're at their cheapest.  But still.  It's a good feeling even if it's a lie.

I might be going to a Pokemon art exhibit tonight.  That's exciting.  Either that or go see Cabin In The Woods again.  Probably Pokemon though.

Cabin In The Woods was one of those things that I thought about writing a post for--then just let it slip away because I felt I had nothing interesting to say.  Especially with this movie--because there's already a strong desire not to reveal anything about it (cause it was apparently better knowing nothing about it--although, granted, it turned out to be 100% true)--I can't say "it's a great movie even though I can't reveal what makes it great" without feeling like a fraud of some sort.

Happy April, by the way.

Also, Joe... quite down for a Saints game at some point this summer.  (Or even the Twins...)  Let me know when you're back in the cities.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Been a while since I've written. Not on purpose, of course... but rather things I've had batting around in my head haven't seemed particularly noteworthy. Not that they usually are, but still.

I guess even now I still feel that way. Been sort of re-evaluating what exactly I want from life, and I'm not really sure where writing fits into that. So that's been a bit of a deterrent from doing anything.

But I'm gonna feel lazy if I don't make somewhat of an effort to keep flexing those muscles, so to speak, so... here goes.

Sigur Ros announced this week that they are putting out a new album. It's called "Valtari", and I believe that it comes out May 28th. Now, since they happen to be a favorite band of mine (and are responsible for my favorite album of all time as well as my favorite song), I'm going to be quite excited about this, even if their last album was more pleasant than breathtakingly monumental. It's still Sigur Ros.

So in anticipation of the record, every so often (i.e. whenever I feel like it), I'm going to post a song of theirs, and instead of writing anything in-depth about the song (since I feel like I've written about them ad nauseum), I'm just going to post a picture that sums up how I feel about the song.

First, Svefn-g-englar.


Quick things:
1) This picture could sum up a lot of Sigur Ros' music for me.
2) Sara, if you're reading this... this is the seagull song. There are no seagulls in this picture. I hope that is OK.

Friday, March 16, 2012

So everything else in my bracket was completely wrong, BUT... I accurately called Lehigh and Norfolk St slaying the Duke and Missouri dragons, respectively.

I feel like this is about as good as my calling VCU to the Final Four (which I will bring up for the rest of ever any time the tournament rolls around.) The weird thing is that Sara also called for the two 15 seeds to win, which like the VCU Final Four appearance last year--is the only substantial thing we agreed upon.

So... that means, that if we combine our prognosticating forces and find a way to agree on every single winner in the tournament--we'd probably make millions and millions of dollars in winning every tournament pool/contest we could enter.

Yeah, this is probably my calling in life...

Monday, March 12, 2012

So it's NCAA Tourney time.

Last year was my most successful year ever, as I correctly predicted VCU would make it ALL THE WAY to the Final Four. It was so successful, that I even contemplated just retiring the method of coin flipping my bracket and finding a new random/arbitrary way to choose my tourney bracket. Just because I felt that there was no way of topping what happened last year.

But then I looked at my bracket from last year. And I noticed that I actually didn't *technically* pick VCU... and rather picked the person who won the play-in game between VCU and USC, because ESPN didn't allow me to pick between the two (my coin would have totally favored VCU, though.) Not only that, but Sara actually beat me with her own arbitrary bracket predicting method(which is... basing picks on the coolness of the college name), as she predicted both VCU and the eventual winner UConn making the Final Four.

Which means that stupid methods of predicting sports can pay off more than I had imagined. And that my coin flipping could produce two Final Four teams... or even three, or even four if I'm a little lucky. I just need to keep at it. And I need to believe.

So here we go. Everything that you'll read below you can most likely take to the bank:

I'm assuming that Kentucky is going to be the favorite to win it all in a lot of people's minds. Yeah, well... they lose in the 2nd round to #9 UConn. Who then lost to #13 New Mexico St. Who then lost to #6 UNLV, who are our representatives in the Final Four. Other highlights: #2 Duke losing to #15 Lehigh. Also, Duke losing in general.

Another #2 seed went down, as Missouri lost to the #15 powerhouse Norfolk St. But the main upsets belonged to #13 Davidson and #10 Virginia mowed down the competition to finally meet each other in the West final. Fortunately Davidson won... because double digit seeds seem disingenuous when they're from power conferences.

Our first upset of the tourney as a #16 goes over #1... as UNC-Asheville beats Syracuse. And really... I might as well put this in an actual bracket, because it seems like Syracuse could be the weakest #1 seed in the field right now. (Or at least this simulator says they are... I simulated the tourney 100 times, and they made the Final Four the least amount of times out of the #1 seeds by a large margin... also, never let me near a sports playoff simulator.) Other highlights include #13 Montana over #4 Wisconsin... and #10 West Virginia making it all the way to the Final Four.

#1 UNC goes down to the #16 seed... which is either Lamar or Vermont. Again, ESPN doesn't let me predict the game, because they apparently put little stock in these types of games. Nothing else interesting happens, though. #2 Kansas wins the region... which is probably going to happen in real life.

In the battle of mid-major teams, #13 Davidson totally rolls over #6 UNLV. On the other side, #10 West Virginia goes over #2 Kansas.

So the championship is #13 Davidson over #10 West Virginia. If you had to ask me who I would have preferred to win, it would be Davidson. I'd think that God would also prefer them winning.

So the coin came up heads, and it was decreed that Davidson will be your 2012 NCAA champions. Congratulations, Davidson fans... if you're out there.

Let me see if I can link to my bracket or not...


This is Sara's bracket, which is actually more interesting to talk/write about, but it's not mine... so I feel like most of my attention should be devoted to my own.

Here's the link to it in case it works...

SOUTH: Some interesting things happen here: one, last year's runner-up in UConn ended up somehow losing to Wichita St. I'm thinking that it was more of a matter of Sara not wanting to completely replicating last year's bracket... because usually teams with "State" in its name bow out pretty early. Also, Lehigh wins over Xavier, which is another perennial contender. Which is less controversial in my opinion, because it's a better name. And rightly, it goes to the Final Four.

WEST: This was a relatively straightforward bracket, as the most riveting contest happened in the first round, with Marquette facing off against Iona. Which the upstart Iona ended up winning. Again, this may have been a case of a name that has had multiple opportunities to win over the years in Marquette losing to the name that seems newer and fresher. Which I probably would have done anyway... but you know. Just trying to analyze this a little bit, as any reporter of best-name-based brackets should. Iona demolishes everyone else. It beat Memphis in the final. It was no contest.

EAST: This was the most interesting bracket. Last year's Final Four entrant Syracuse almost repeated... but lost in the Elite Eight. Also, another favorite in Gonzaga lost in the 2nd round to Loyola... which is a pretty great name. But technically, it's showing up as Loyola Maryland everywhere I go (I guess to differentiate between the other Loyolas), but I didn't report the "Maryland" part when reciting the bracket to Sara yesterday... and I'm wondering if that omission meant that Gonzaga lost a contest that it wasn't supposed to. Even then though, it produced the MOST INTENSE matchup of them all, in Loyola versus the behemoth in St. Bonaventure. It was so intense that Sara asked for more time for deliberation.

St. Bonaventure won. It was a good decision. It's in the Final Four.

MIDWEST: This was a terrible bracket. Vermont and Kansas were in the Elite Eight through sheer terribleness in the other teams' names. Vermont won. I'm pretty sure I clicked St. Bonaventure to defeat it before I even allowed Sara to make her decision.

For the record, the highest seed in the remaining teams is 14. Two 14 seeds, one 15 and one 16. So if Sara replicates her success from last year and gets two teams into the Final Four, it'll probably be the greatest tournament of all time.


I believe this lasted in the second longest deliberation. I remember her stating that both had a nice lyrical quality to them that made it difficult to choose between the two. But eventually Lehigh won. I should note that I pronounce it as LEE-high... and I'm not 100% certain that it's pronounced that way (although it should be.)




It had some really good competition this year, but obviously the tournament belonged to St. Bonaventure. I mean... he's a saint... and his name is Bonaventure. You can't really beat that. Ever. I might name my kid that, and it'd be the coolest kid in every room it would ever walk into. I think that's how it works.

That's all for now. Will report back in a week when Davidson and St. Bonaventure continue their crash course towards each other in the championship.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

One of the highlights at my job is that I get to sit around and do a whole lot of nothing on Saturday nights. Which means that left to my own devices, I'll either find a movie to watch, or watch Saturday Night Live--since for some reason there's not much else to watch past 10 PM on Saturdays.

It's actually kind of fun, because it reminds me of the time I grew up watching SNLs during the Will Ferrell years (which is why I'm probably more forgiving than most people are towards his movies), taping all of them then rewatching the good parts whenever I had the chance. I miss my old VCR.

Most of the time it's not nearly as great as I remember it being during the late 90's-early 00's (although that's just because I obviously have fond memories for those years). But every once in a while something's legitimately funny, and then I find it on the internet and rewatch it that way. Not as charming as the old VCR, but still.

None of last night's sketches were that great.

But The Shins were on, and they played this song.

And... wouldn't you know it, I find myself excited for a Shins album.

My opinion on the band has been varied during the years. I remember really loving "So Says I" back in the day, then always meant to explore them more fully but never got around to them. Then I realized that the film Garden State existed, and they became quite overrated through the sheer willpower of Zach Braff. Then they settled into "OK" territory for a long while.

But NOW--well, maybe I was wrong about them all along? Or something. I mean, I don't think I'll ever consider the band important or brilliant or anything like that, but they have a couple good songs. And those songs are nice. So basically, they're still in "OK" territory... except in a more respected "OK" territory.

But I don't know about this song--it's just pushing my buttons right now. I can appreciate well crafted pop songs, especially when it has a lurking weirdness underneath. And I've played it about 20 times since hearing it yesterday... not that it's that good to warrant that many plays, but it's stuck in my head every other moment otherwise. And its appeal has yet to wear off, so that's encouraging.

And the upcoming album--well, I don't expect to enjoy it as much as I do this. But--I mean, the single did its trick, and got me interested in the full length released, so I feel it's my duty to be somewhat excited and eventually seek it out. And maybe it'll be great and the band will suddenly morph into one of my favorites.

Which won't happen, of course. And more likely, I'll forget about all of this tomorrow and move on to some other song that catches my ear. But RIGHT NOW, I'm all about this damnit.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So, if the season ended today, your Minnesota Timberwolves would be in the playoffs.

It's all very exciting.

Of course, they're going to go something like 3-7 over the next 10 games, rendering this all moot, but still. When all your other sports teams are bottoming out completely, you grab any positivity whenever you can. And being in the 8 seed for the playoffs almost 2/3rd of the way through the season... after having the worst record in the league last year... that's pretty impressive, really.

I'm gonna make this a stereotypical Alex post. I've already delved into the useless sports comment. Now here's the YouTube video.

I really wanted to post his cover of The Rolling Stones' "Dead Flowers," which appeared in the closing moments of The Big Lebowski--and also just might be the best cover of all time (if you judge your covers by whether or not it is so strong it makes you reevaluate why you even liked the original in the first place.) But I couldn't find the correct version on YouTube. So I decided to go with this song--except I wanted to post the version from the Live At The Old Quarter release. Again, no luck.

The actual studio version will suffice, I suppose. I like the live version because its mood seems ambiguous, really depending on your own mood at the time. The posted version retains a little of that ambiguity, but it sounds a little rosier in its outlook. In any case, I've repeated multiple times, and I'm not even sure why.

Been listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt, and again... I'm not really sure why. I think it comes down to his voice, which evokes a certain melancholy that's always going to rope me in. But more country needs to sound like this. Here's another song.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

*dusts self off*

I'm just going to write without rhyme or reason. I'm really bored right now.

-Been watching the No Direction Home Bob Dylan documentary (which I got at the U of M art museum gift store as a prize for winning some writing contest... and it only took me about 5 years to fully watch it) over the past few days, and it's pretty excellent... although kind of morbid knowing that a lot of the interviewees have since died (although it's explainable, since apparently the interviews were conducted up to 10 years before its 2005 release).

I don't really know if it made me appreciate his music any more, but it definitely made me like him a lot more. I mean, I'm going to like anyone who spurns his "voice of a generation" label and association with the protest music scene just because he wanted to do his own thing and explore new ideas, and that's pretty much what the documentary is about.

Also, it allowed me to come to the conclusion that the above is--in my opinion, of course--Mr. Zimmerman's best work.

I've gone back and forth trying to determine whether his version or The Byrds' version is better. A couple weeks ago it might as well been The Byrds', but now it's leaning towards Dylan's. Not that it matters much anyway, since both are transcendent in their own way. The Byrds' version is this ethereal, perfect slice of pop that also essentially invents the 12-string guitar sound. But Dylan's is this mystical, hazy ride through the unknown--with that warm guitar melody complementing Dylan's acoustic strumming perfectly, as if it's the source of comfort through this journey. It's pretty wonderful.

-So the New Orleans Saints were exposed as the dirty bounty hunters that I'm pretty sure a lot of people already assumed they were. (In all honesty, when I read the headline for this story, my first thought was "wait, they just realized this?" The 2009 NFC Championship game might turn out to hurt just as much as 1998 game.)

This story has made me realize that growing up watching professional wrestling has skewed my perception of sports for good.

Cause really, I should be thinking about how disgusting this conduct is, where a whole team has basically tossed aside all principles of good sportsmanship--all just to perhaps get a leg up on the opponent by purposefully injuring them in an already dangerous sport. And, to a degree, that has been part of my thought process. (Honestly, if Pete Rose can get banned from his sport for life for betting on his own team, then Gregg Williams should not get off any better for encouraging intent to harm (although I also believe he's not the first to do this, nor is he the only one still practicing it.))

But really, all I'm thinking about is how this'll make the Saints a threat to the Patriots as the biggest villains in the NFL, and how they essentially stole from pro wresting's playbook in order to do that.

I don't think it really happens a lot in pro wrestling nowadays, but back in the 80's putting a bounty on a wrestler's head was an easy way to make the person instituting the bounty, as well as the person collecting the bounty, instantly hated. I know that the famous Andy Kaufman/Jerry Lawler feud involved one, but the best example I can find that is also available on YouTube is the Harley Race/Ric Flair feud. And if you watch the next video, imagine that it's Gregg Williams speaking, and substitute Ric Flair's name for Brett Favre--it kind of seems like something Williams would say to fire up his players.

Of course, this occurred back when a decent amount of the fans still perceived wrestling to be legitimate, so the reason why it riled people up so was that they couldn't believe such a thing as a bounty would be allowed to occur in a "legitimate" sport. But such a thing did occur in the biggest sport in America... and now the Saints are bigger heels than even the Patriots. Well--maybe. If Gregg Williams was still part of the Saints' coaching staff, then I think the Saints would be more despised as an entity. But since he's moved on to the Rams (for the time being), it seems it has split the venom between both Williams and the Saints organization, when it would seem much stronger if the two were still connected together.

I don't remember where I was going with this. But anyway, I wouldn't be thinking about any of this were it not for pro wrestling and all of its attempts to portray itself as a sport while also engaging in over-the-top villainy.

Oh, and in terms of real life sports mimicking pro wrestling, nothing is ever going to beat LeBron James leaving the Cavs to join the Heat correlating to Hulk Hogan turning his back on all his fans after 15 years to join the NWO. There was even a video that was produced combining the two.

In any case, now you know I'm a dork.