Wednesday, February 28, 2007


i've been thinking about all the attention the news media has been giving to stories formerly only of interest to tabloid rags. after some deliberation, i think i've conjured a theory as to why this is happening. maybe i'm right. maybe i'm wrong. as i said, its just a theory.

since birth, we're raised in a society of competition. competing for parental attention. competing in organized sports. competing in the classroom. competing for jobs. competing for lovers. even if there isn't a designated winner and loser, in a capitalist democracy, almost everything is still a competition of one shade or another. essentially, we're taught that in order to get what we want, we must be better than the others who also want the same thing. nowadays, Americans are pushed to achieve highly in three areas: beauty, wealth and success.

we can't always be the best. in fact, in most cases, we're not. whether acknowledged or not, it stings to lose. the damage is to the self esteem.

enter the celebrities of America. the famous people that everyone knows. they're beautiful and ridiculously wealthy and famous (usually) for their success. because of these things, they've reached the pinnacles in all three branches of achievement that we're all supposedly striving for. thus, they are revered. at the same time, they are resented with envy and ridiculed without mercy. its the competitor in us lashing out.

when one of these celebrities flounders, we feel better about ourselves. say a child star turns to porn or a pop singing princess shaves her head in the midst of a drug binge. they may still have wealth and beauty and success, but somehow, we feel at least equal to or superior to them. instead of the feelings of bitterness and jealousy, we're brimming with pride. you and i would never stoop so low as to marry our talentless back up dancer. we'd surely never spout out an anti-Semitic rant in the middle of our D.U.I arrest. none of us would sleep with a 90 year old solely for their hundreds of millions of dollars. well, maybe not.

its like finding out that your biggest role model wets the bed. suddenly, the person who was always better than you isn't as flawless as you believed. if you aren't looking up to someone, you don't feel so small.

...but its just a theory.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


i don't like to brag, but i'm a bit of an athlete.

i am a tee-ball all star. give me a stationary baseball and a shortened aluminum bat and back up. i can knock the hardball past second base, no problem. where i really shine is in my ability to run a straight line and stop abruptly on a base. in the field, i can pull a fly ball into my glove 50% of the time.

i briefly entertained the idea of taking my sledding skills to the next level. many of my peers believed i had the goods to go professional, and it was a hard case to fight. on a runner sled, i could bob and weave through the woods like a bunny rabbit on meth and rarely knocked myself out as a result of a tree trunk collision. on a tube or a disc, the men are separated from the boys by measure of grip strength. i don't let go. brick wall, 6 ft. drop off, creek. my fists stay clenched until i come to a full an complete stop. off the sled, i can pack and ice up a jump like nobody's business.

my wrist bones are perfectly crafted for volleyball. my fingertips are like gentle canons. i can also look upwards with ease and do so repeatedly. bumping. setting. spiking. whatever you need, i'm your man. my rag tag high school intra-mural volleyball team placed second, losing only one game in overtime points to a team of varsity volleyball players. i suspect we were robbed, but as there weren't mandatory drug tests at the time, i couldn't prove anything.

ping pong? forget about it. i'll confess to having an up and down record, but when i get hot, i'm like a frickin' laser beam. my trademark serve, the whiplash, defied physics. additionally, due to my left handedness, i make for an excellent doubles partner.

one year in high school, i won the shuffle board championship. there wasn't a trophy to put on the mantle. no ribbon to pin on. the reward was purely bragging rights. where i come from, when conflict arose, we took it to the shuffle board court. there, i am a titan.

i am a gladiator in the coliseum of bar room games. i can contort my hand into a nearly perfect bridge on the pool table. i can beat most billiards loud-mouths and tavern regulars, and if i don't at first, i possess the athletic patience to wait until they get really drunk before challenging a rematch. in the spotlighted glow of the dart board, you'll find me hitting within the big circle 9 times out of 10. sometimes, i even hit the bulls eye. some say it can't be done. give me an hour and i'll prove you wrong.

Saturday, February 24, 2007


i've had a fairly addictive personality my whole life. nail biting. caffeine. fresh breath. nicotine. my biggest vice of all has been my own sense of intrigue. when i come across something that interests me, i truly invest myself in it. it isn't to the point of an obsessive compulsive disorder, nor do i think its escalating in that direction. i've never started any insane collections of Norwegian thimbles. i've never felt compelled to count floor tiles or be overly orderly. its not automatic behavior. i've always had my reasons as back-up. if need be, i'm prepared to justify.

it started early, i suppose. when i was little, i loved puppets, muppets and actual ventriloquism. i had quite a collection and would often hone my voice throwing skills in private. i can still do a mean kermit impression. i'll make no apologies for my dorkiness, i've come to terms with it, but i'd forced my family's attendance at many a puppet show. to them, i say "sorry". then, i became obsessed with transformers. i liked the idea of something being more than meets the eye.

when i see a movie that i really enjoy, i research the hell out of it to discover more about those responsible. same for music. same for books. actually, the same goes for anything. its like an unquenchable thirst for knowledge that has little to no substantial benefit other than making for a great trivial pursuit rival or game show contestant.

when getting artistic, if i'm into whatever it is i'm working on, i won't stop. there's a painting i did that's 4 ft X 5 ft.. i started and finished it in a 54 hour, almost non-stop haze. i have plenty of patience but when i'm in that zone, i just can't stop and walk away.

its always something.

comic books. girls. coffee. instruments. photography. cooking. Kandinsky. bridges. color theory. psychology. vinyl records. patterns. Beethoven. rhyming words. space. cycles. mythology. world cultures. computers. mechanics. art. design. physics. it seems whatever compels me, consumes me, until its been exhausted.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007


"metronome river"

pound out a metronome river.
follow a cloud that rests soft.
capture the coy glance,
fulfillment fed,

hide in the gaps


words that were said.

crush in the folds of creation.
beauty of luminous light.
questionless answers,
on tabletops,

planets will spin,


everything pops.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


since i was little, i've had migraine headaches. light blinds like cold heat. my stomach turns in on itself. sounds pierce like knifes in clamps. they disable me. if it hits at home, you'll find me locked away in darkened silence. anywhere else and i'm the guy curled into a ball with his head buried between his knees.

my mom took me to see a doctor when i was young. she was concerned over the possibility of it being a more serious condition, especially since it wasn't an affliction shared in my family. after so many missed days of school, the hospital was the answer. the medically informed assessed my aches and decided upon my triggers. lack of sleep. caffeine. cheese. chocolate. in order to avoid future migraines, i should avoid these triggers. they also gave me a prescription for migraine killers. sometimes they worked. sometimes they didn't.

whether these things were the beginnings of the throbbings in my skull is up for debate. i'm a big coffee connoisseur. i love chocolate and cheese. on average, i get 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night. still, over the years, the frequency of the headaches has declined.

recently, though, i've been getting them again. i've had three in the past few weeks. i have Excedrin migraine and if taken at the very beginning, it can sometimes dull it to just tension headache pain. usually, i just have to endure. i spent most of saturday curled in fetal position under a blanket. my skull shrinking under my scalp. cutting the world out until i could handle it again.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Mosquito repellents don't repel. They hide you.
(i just wear camo from head to toe. its easier on the wallet)

The liquid in baby coconuts can be used as substitute for blood plasma.
(all the pacifist vampires move to Hawaii)

Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.
(i suspected that after years and years of being called jackasses, it was only a matter of time before we felt their vengeance)

A Boeing 747's wingspan is longer than the Wright brother's first flight.
(in yo face, orville and wilbur!)

Most dust particles in your house are made from dead skin.
(most of that dead skin comes from donkey related homicides)

Barbie's full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.
(tribute to my mom)

There is no single word given to describe the back of the knee.
(too bad bacne is already taken)

A 'Jiffy' is actually a unit of time for 1/100th of a second.
(jiffy lube should change its name to 180,000 Jiffies Lube)

Five Jell-O flavors that flopped: celery, coffee, cola, apple, and chocolate.
(there's always room for J-E-L-L-Ew)

The earth is moving l8.5 miles a second.
(i can run over a thousand miles and hour. impressed?)

Polar bears are left handed.
(biologist noticed them using green handled scissors)

The youngest pope was 11 years old.
(his famous quote: "The devil is a poop face")

Pilgrims ate popcorn at the first Thanksgiving.
(they called it pop-mais)

One of the reasons marijuana is illegal today is because cotton growers in the 30s lobbied against hemp farmers -- they saw it as competition.
(the hemp farmers napped through the town hall meeting)

Pound for pound, hamburgers can cost more than a new car.
(Wendy's now offers financing with 0 down, 0 payments for 12 months!)

Hershey's Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it's kissing the conveyor belt.
(they required less equipment and sold a lot better then the short lived "Hershey's Gang Bangs")

Nutmeg is extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
(at least your corpse will smell like Christmas)

The fingerprints of koala bears & humans are virtually indistinguishable.
(O.J has a new "koala theory")

Peanuts are one of the ingredients of dynamite.
(last week a peanut butter and jelly sandwich blew my jaw off)

The national anthem of Greece has 158 verses.
(154 of which are about baklava and gyros)

The average person's left hand does 56% of the typing.
(most of the letters in curses are on that side)

There are more chickens than people in the world.
(lets hope they don't team up with the donkeys)

Most of the clocks in the movie "Pulp Fiction" are stuck on 4:20.
(how mysterious? what could it mean?)

Almonds are a member of the peach family.
(there's a nut in every family)

Mr. Rogers was an ordained minister.
(his civil unions were only recognized in the land of make believe)

It is impossible to lick your elbow.
(i think i could lick your elbow)

A crocodile can't stick out its tongue.
(they just give you the finger)

100% of all lottery winners gain weight.
(especially when take their winnings in "rolls of pennies" form)

A kiss stimulates 29 muscles and chemicals causing relaxation.
(yeah for dopamine!)

Sunday, February 18, 2007


when we were 4, everyone we knew that was approximately our age were our friends. our parents' friends had kids our age and there were always children all over our neighborhoods. our only requirement for friendship was a desire to play.

when we started school, our classes became friends. we shared teachers and recess time. that's all we needed. it was all new to all of us at the same time. its bonding to go through something for the first time together.

we entered middle school. our friends consisted of every child we knew. around 5th or 6th grade, things began to change. popularity and its pursuit was born. cliques formed. rich kids teased poor kids. athletes teased brainiacs. boys teased girls. girls teased boys. we may have fought to stay clear of the entrapments of peer groups, but friends still left our pools of relationships. the cliques multiplied through high school. our groups kept getting smaller and smaller. people picked sides. we now required similar interests and opinions.

college started like kindergarten. we left our comfortable hometowns to higher learning. again, we were brand new. though our arms were no longer open to just anybody, we had an eagerness to build relationships. it was a simple task. we all shared a passion. we were all fish out of water. as we moved from the dormitories, as we chose our majors, we saw less and less of the people we'd once seen everyday. shared experiences were becoming memories. we may still have kept a lot of friends, only about a dozen or so could stay close. then we graduated and everyone went different directions. we got jobs. some of us moved far away. some got married. some had kids. we started again on our own.

in the working world, we've all grown up. we know what to look for in other people. we have a better understanding of our needs. our criteria is much more specific... but now, we share common experiences with far fewer people. common ground is harder to find.

as we get older, it takes more and more effort to meet new, interesting people. people to share and grow with. to build social networks. people who you want to let in, and will open the door in return.

Friday, February 16, 2007


American news looks more and more like the tabloids everyday. headlining stories are all the same. mostly fear mongering and celebrity gossip. the blame spreads out far. the broadcasting companies are looking for the highest ratings, so they pursue stories that will garner the most interest amongst viewers. the journalists concede a bit of dignity to keep in their boss' good graces. it is 'we the people' that are the most responsible. we provide those ratings. we tune in night after night for the news we demand - endless stories of brangelina and tomkat.

why are we obsessed with celebrities? if someone notable does something remarkable or a long standing icon passes away, i'll agree that it needs to be covered. what's disturbing is when every news channel reports endlessly for days on the inconsequential garbage. paris hilton and anna nicole smith have become stars for being little more than talentless bimbos. famous only for their fame. apparently, people can't hear enough about american idol. it took a movie for millions of Americans to learn about global warming. Madonna's African adoption fiasco. who's wearing what on the red carpet. who they're dating. when they have babies. their political views. none of this is information that poses any real effect. Americans are far too consumed in their own entertainment.

its not hard to understand why we, as a nation, are so disliked. we're stereotypically seen as self absorbed, lazy and ignorant. as pompous, domineering, cocky and power hungry. more people voted for their favorite american idol finalist than in the the last presidential election. we're slaves to advertising. we watch more television than anyone. our role models are actors. professional liars. TV Guide, People Magazine and Us Weekly are some of our top selling magazines. these are all facts that should disgust you.

last week, Anna Nicole Smith died. it should have been, at best, a 10 second blurb. a footnote. instead, every major station followed this "news" for days. its not so much what the television producers choose to report on that bothers me, its what they allow to slip through the cracks. i listen to public radio fairly regularly and heard some leads during that time span that were not being reported on the 6 o'clock news. these are all things that most people didn't hear about due to the media onslaught of Ms. Smith's untimely death.

*in an attempt to stop an outbreak of avian bird flu in Great Britain, the British were forced to slaughter thousand of turkeys.

*researchers have just managed to stop light, hold it trapped in a cloud of chilled atoms called Bose Einstein condensate, and then release it in a second cloud a short distance away.

*the pentagon released a report last friday which suggests that the undersecretary of the department of defense manipulated pre-war intelligence to heighten fears of a connection between Iraq and Al-Qaida.

*another U.S. helicopter was shot down last weekend in Iraq. it was the 5th in a series of recent "crashes".

i stopped watching the news a long time ago. i turn to NPR, PBS or the New York Times. i shouldn't have to. we need to realize that important events happen outside of Hollywood. more importantly, we need to start caring about it.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


last night, i had a dream that i was walking through a clearing from some wooded area. with me was a guide in gray cover-alls. he was talking but i didn't hear much of what he said. mostly pointing. we came to a short wall and just beyond it, i could see a single row of trees. as i looked at them, i noticed they were full of sloths. the leaves were actually little furry animals.

he kept warning me to keep from drawing their attention. i didn't understand why but he seemed fairly frightened, talking really close and in whispers. they weren't moving. harmless, dangling balls of fur was all i saw. he kept saying that they hunt in gangs. i thought it was hilarious, picturing sloths in street gangs. awkwardly flashing signs with 3 toes. wearing their bandannas. packing heat.

then, poof, i was in some restaurant surrounded by waiters and the whole subconscious roller coaster took another direction entirely.

all day long, i've had sloths on the brain. i want some sloth friends. they seem pretty mellow. i just hope their isn't an initiation to get into the posse. i googled these little tree huggers and found this video from saturday night live.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007


shortly after my 16th birthday, i went to take my driving test. excited about the liberation that being a licensed driver brings, i quickly aced the written exam. the following week i made the driving test look like child's play. after exiting my vehicle and entering the DMV to fill out the paperwork, i realized there was one simple test left. the eye exam. i failed.

i'd never had any inclination that my vision was any different from any other pair of normal functioning eyeballs. turns out i was slightly near sighted. enough so that i'd require glassed before i could be issued a license. i felt thoroughly beaten, but went out anyway, got glasses and returned the next week for my little laminated card.

my glasses only survived about a week. a few days after getting them, i dropped them, then accidentally stepped on them. as a result, the right lens kept popping out of the frame. it only took me a couple days to get sick of constantly repairing them so i just kept them in my jacket pocket. a week passed. i had a headache one night and my mom suggested it could be caused from squinting. thinking i'd immediately be cured if i wore my corrective lenses i sifted through my pockets for them. gone. no where to be found. they must have fallen out. never to be seen again.

i never got new glasses. my parents tried to take me back to the optometrist a few times but i insisted that i had no troubles seeing. i weaseled my way out of it.

years went by.

in 1999, i got a summer job while in college that required i pass a department of transportation physical. no sweat, or so i thought, until i was led to an eye chart. the standard rotated letter E type. somehow, i passed without any apparent complications. "strange", thought me to myself.

then in 2005, after a series of headaches, i started to think that maybe i should get my eyes checked out again. finally get a new pair of spectacles. after getting the works it was determined that not only did i not need glasses, but my eyes were better than 20/20. the doctor then told me a story about Elton John. he said that Elton never needed them, but started sporting funky glasses during performances. this became a habit. eventually, his eyes became dependant and changed to the point that he now requires them all the time. though he was surprised to say it, its possible that my eyes warped and fixed themselves.

in conclusion: i'm pretty sure i have super powers. though i'm not about to attempt it in the off chance that i'm wrong, it's more than likely that if part of me were injured, say my arm was severed clean off, a new one would grow back in its place. also, as i write this, my eyes are probably getting even better. probably at too a slow rate for me to easily notice (you can see through stone too, right?). eventually, i'll probably be able to see the space time continuum. that or heat ray vision. maybe, if i concentrate hard enough, i can shape any part of myself into whatever i want. like the wonder twins.


i'll work on it and keep you posted.

Monday, February 12, 2007


if my car had a face, i'd give it a black eye.

for the past couple months, my car has had power issues. i've come out to a dead battery about a half dozen times since thanksgiving. it seems as though something is pulling power when its not running so if i don't drive it for an extended period of time, its drained dead. it happens at random times so its hard to predict and no one seems to be able to pinpoint the voltage gobbler.

due to this situation, this morning found me standing in the cold of winter hoping for a hand from a stranger. after opening the door and realizing the interior light didn't illuminate, i popped the trunk and grabbed my jumper cables. i bought a jump start battery pack about a month ago but it never worked (at least not on my hog. on other's cars, it never fails). with the hood open, i stood beside my car, a few feet out into the street, cables under arm or tossed over my shoulder. i mustered the most pathetic facial expression possible and held it as each car came down my street. i tried to visually convey how cold it was. the more guilt the better.

car after car after car passed by. many times, once they saw me and realized the situation they were approaching, they gunned it. more cars and still no one stops. i couldn't have expressed in any clearer way that i was in distress. i stood there hoping. another car. a half hour went by. that turned into an hour. 90 minutes elapsed and nothing. i was on the verge of throwing money at motorists to get them to stop when finally i met a good samaritan. it wasn't until an hour and 40 after i lifted the hood that someone pulled over and asked if i needed help.

"yes! thanks so, so, so much! you're really helping me out of a jam! really, thanks! i didn't think anyone would help me out! thank you! i didn't know how much longer i could handle this wind. thanks again! bless you!"

me, of all people, said "bless you", and she didn't even sneeze.

i went on about good karma. how it all comes around. that her kindness will be rewarded.

as joyous as i was for five miutes, it wasn't long before i remembered the morning that preceded it. we all want peace on earth but what happened to good will towards men? i finally got the juice i needed to get where i had to go, but it took almost two hours. 30 some odds drivers whizzed past, turning their heads away. shielding their eyes behind their warm hands as if they didn't notice me. it's a good deed that wouldn't be more than a 4 or 5 minute sacrifice of time. its not as though i appeared threatening. i've never ran for my life from a guy in a sports coat wielding yellow rubber wires. especially not at 9:00 in the morning in 10 degree weather. actually, they don't even have to get out of the comfort and heat of the cars. lock the doors as i approach. i wouldn't mind. but why turn an apathetic cheek?

just stop and help a brother out.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


"sight unseen"

the camouflage of scattered light

can blind it all away,
the sight is hard to hold onto
when memories decay,
connect unspoken dialogues
upon less traveled streets,
the lights can burn out when it counts,
some history repeats

trees hold hands between the clouds,
eyelashes interlace,
a portrait hangs on crooked nail,
abstraction hides the face.
the street has felt feet standing here,
a thousand steps before.
eyes will keep from opening
if you always lock the door

the grief is for a missing song,
but hope can find new beats.
some lights can burn holes through the dark,
some history repeats.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


being left handed in a world dominated by righties is a little awkward. so many things are designed specifically for people with right hand dominance. if you're part of the 85% of right handers, you probably haven't even noticed, but us "sinister" folk have. we have to resist the urge of what feels most comfortable to us just to survive. we want to do just about everything backwards. we're freaks like that.

we're disadvantaged all over the place. for instance, we can't see anything we write without hooking our hand around and if we use a spiral notebook, it digs into our wrist. i can only barely operate a can opener. scissors cut on the wrong side. school desks have arm rests for the righties while we were left to dangle. the buttons on the mouse. manual transmission cars. the list goes on...

...and on.

...and on.

we've been forced to adapt.
i've withstood the persecution. i think i'm stronger for it. i kind of like being part of a minority. i'm ready to march on washington with my left fist pumping into the sky if the occassion arose. i bet i could think up some clever slogans to chant. i've also become interested in my left heritage (i have to make up for my mish mash of national origins somehow). i share the honor with some greats.

Leonardo, Michelangelo, Picasso - all lefties.

Method Man, Bill Clinton, John McEnroe - card carrying members.

and maybe it means i use the right hemisphere of my brain more than most. i like that side better anyway. its way cooler than the stupid left hemisphere. and research has shown that lefties think faster due to quicker communication between the halves of the brain.

eventually, though, everyone draws a line in the sand. the handshake. my greeting. the first impression. without a second thought, the majority extends the right hand. the shake says a lot. the grip. duration. it all can mean something about who you are if you look into it. in this encounter, i'm staying true. to deny my left handedness is like denying who i am. so no more. i don't care if it results in awkward pauses, sissy finger squeezing or backing out of the shake entirely. i'm even willing to compromise with pounds. maybe a high five. just remember, it'll be coming from the left. i just wanted it to be known. if you see me, be prepared.

if someone you love is disabled with this affliction, show your support. offer the left. let them know you're there for them.

touch a heart today.

Friday, February 9, 2007


rusted root was one of those bands i kept almost seeing during my high school days. where i grew up, tours didn't often come very close to where i laid my head at night, so concerts became events. we'd drive a few hours without much hesitation if we could acquire tickets to see one of our favorite bands. rusted root definitely fit into the category, yet on two occasions when my friends and i were planning out the trek, for one reason or another, i had to withdraw my participation.

at long last, 10 years and 4 albums later, i finally made it to a show. the venue was small. fairly intimate. we stood maybe 30 feet from the stage. they opened with a few songs from When I Woke, including my favorite song, "Back To The Earth". in fact, they played the majority of the tracks off that album. about halfway through the performance, they pulled the plugs and played about a half dozen songs sans electricity. it was definitely groovy but since most of the songs are essentially acoustic anyway, it wasn't much of a departure from the versions i was accustomed to. after jacking back into their amps, they debuted a few new songs they've been working on, then began warning of the impending "Ecstasy". i think they knew the crowd would riot without it. they left only to return quickly with two encores, the first of which was only Mike Glabicki and a guitar, playing a song from his yet unreleased solo album. in the end, they all gathered into a chorus line, front and center, and thanked the crowd with a series of stage bows. they tossed their respective picks and drum sticks into the crowd and hopped off to the merchandise table.

even though they haven't put forth an album of new material in 5 years, the group still exceeds the energy only hinted at on any one of their albums. they played hard for a few hours, extending almost every song to at least double-length with jamming drum freak outs and improvised acoustic guitar strumming. they even went off into Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and Dylan's "All Along The Watch Tower" as bridges for gaps between songs. Glabicki undoubtedly knows his way around the fret board and his vocals are tremendously complimented by the soulful wails of Liz Berlin. they have two percussionists (at least) on nearly every song. added to that is the random cabassas, bongos, flutes, whistles, tambourines, and shakers used to keep rhythm by the ladies on either side of the stage. dancing was irresistible. there was nary a body in the house not at least swaying to the beat. its just fervent music that hits you in the guts. especially during "Drum Trip/Ecstasy". the masses exploded within the first few notes of their most popular songs. though i didn't see any bras or panties flying towards the stage, the swooning gestures of the girls in close proximity to me kept no secrets hidden of their fondness for the band.

climactically, i can scratch that off my list of regrets.

Thursday, February 8, 2007


"paper or plastic?"
"uh, what are my other options?"

its virtually impossible not to get a bag, no matter what the purchase. its not often that i even require one. my hands and pockets do more than suffice in most cases. no matter where i go. no matter what i buy. everything comes with a complimentary carrying case of one variety or another.

this might be a localized occurrence, but it could have easily become a national trend right under our noses. it seems as though clerks are programmed to bag without question. convenience store employees seem to have the quickest draws. from the beep of the scanner straight into an open plastic sack. i wait for the opportune moment to spit out out my, "I can carry that!" but if i flounder, if i take too long counting the change in my pocket, then i lose the duel. can of pepsi. bag. pack of gum. bag. tootsie roll. bag. if i just ask for a bag, it comes in a bag. the irony is that it actually makes carrying my goods less convenient. my pack of trident wasn't originally that difficult to manage, but now i either have a wad of plastic filling my jacket pocket or i stumble out of the store in search of the proper receptacle to dispense of my newly acquired "trash". thanks.

the corporate heads of these franchises must somehow benefit by forcing bags on any customer not quick enough to deny one. that can be the only answer, and i can only theorize as to why. its possible that these same CEO's also fund third-world bag producing sweatshops. its possible that somewhere in some subterranean training facility for new hires, convenience store big wigs are twirling their pencil thin mustaches, laughing manically as they implant mind controlling microchips in the squishy brain stems of fresh faced kids. i suspect that upon seeing some trigger, like a UPC symbol, they're drown with an urge to bag. since most bags come with the corporate logo branded on the side, the corporation is paying itself for free advertising. meanwhile, i suppose, poor, malnourished, guatamalan orphans slave away under penalty of barbed whip, for hours on end, cutting handle holes in plastic bags and gluing flaps on future text book covers. we've all seen what happened to the poor juvenile bag makers in indiana jones and the temple of doom. some of them get their hearts pulled right out their chests. its true.

we must rise up and stop these barbarous acts!

think of the Guatemalan orphans.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Menomena's second full length album came out a couple weeks ago. i pre-ordered it on amazon expecting to have it in my mailbox within 3-5 business days as promised. the anticipation was bubbling up inside me like magma. the first album by the Portland, Oregon group, I Am The Fun Blame Monster (an anagram of "the first Menomena album") had me reeling for more. after 6 days of mail checking, not counting the weekend, it arrived.

first off, i need to address the album art. it was, after all, one of the reasons why i bought a tangible CD in this modern digital age. there are virtually no words anywhere in the packaging except for the on the actual disc. its equivalent to the wordless ( ) album by Sigur Ros. the booklet is a single folded piece of card stock filled with various illustrations in each of the 4 sections. this artwork was created by Craig Thompson, well known for his graphic novel, "Blankets" (the accent here on novel, as it is a 600 page book about his early life). the clever angle isn't actually the illustrations. its the cut outs. each of the sections is thematically colored. gray. blue. red. green. each has holes where mouths or eyes of little drawn creatures should be. by folding, flipping or turning the booklet and rotating the CD to line up different symbols and colors, there are virtually limitless possible variations to its appearance . you could even pop the plastic backing of the jewel case apart and flip the back over if you wanted to. i like this new "make you our CD" trend going on. Beck did something similar with "The Information" album.

all around, this band is really pushing the creativity envelope. i love that when i tell someone about these guys and they ask, "who do they sound like?", i can't really give an answer.

now, if you'll allow me to gush...

the whole album is truly astounding. the first half alone would have left me satiated. this three piece's debut, I Am The Fun Blame Monster, had spectacular drumming. hip hop meets electronica pounded out on a drum kit. the piano plinking and lullaby-esque arpeggios shouldn't have meshed, but somehow they did. heavy bass line grooves. processed sound. guitars you have to listen for. saxophone even, occasionally blaring like the horn of an oncoming mack truck. these things shouldn't work together. it should shoot out in a headache inducing mess, but it doesn't. to hear the songs without any one variable would sound lacking in some degree. and thankfully, most of that feel returns and this time out they've added even more density to the compositions.

the opening 4 tracks - "Muscle'n Flo", ""The Pelican", "Wet And Rusting" and "Air Aid" - are all phenomenal. worth the price of admission alone. "The Pelican" throbs with low notes, both on bass and piano, as the beat keeps the head bobbling. its almost trance like. "Wet and Rusting" is probably the most pop oriented song of the lot. textural. energetic. accessible. blips, reversed guitars & beautiful harmonies. things get a little more abstract as the album progresses. i say this as a good thing. "Weird", possibly the golden boy of Friend & Foe, sums up the album in one song. the drumming changes rhythm multiple times without sounding off. the rest of the band just alters to fit. it really showcases the fractured nature of their writing style, overlaying disjointed sounds and riffs, turning puzzle pieces around and around and around until they fit. the production is top notch and listening with headphones reveals something more, something subtly overlooked in every song.

this isn't an album you can hear and walk away from. you need to own it.
the day after i got it, i tossed it in the stereo at work and listened to it on repeat all day long. literally all day. i didn't tire of it. i still haven't.

Sunday, February 4, 2007


get out your foam fingers and beer helmets. its super bowl sunday.
later on, millions of americans will be glued to their sets, cheering on their favorite team as they struggle to push, pass, tackle and rush their way to victory. if your favorite team didn't make it to the championships, pick a new one for the day and stick with your guns. if you're not much of a football enthusiast and feel clueless as to how to handle these events, fear not, for i'm here to help.

whether or not the sport is for you, going to a gathering or party tonight and whining about it is just a bad path to travel. no one likes a wet blanket. you may not be interested in football, but you'll likely get some free beer and meat just for being in attendance. so to keep spirits high, its much better to feign interest. get in touch with that masculine, competitive, testosterone-fueled beast within you. you'll have a better time. they'll have a better time. you don't need to know any players, or stats or the teams' performance histories. you simply need to learn a few tricks.

first and foremost, you need to choose a team. either one is fine. today's game pits the bears against the colts. since they are arguably the two best teams in the league this year, you can't choose wrong. you'll need to decide this first and remember your choice. a mid-game flip flop will outcast you in a second. also, try to learn the last name of your teams quarterback. the sportscasters talk about them frequently so this is an easy bit of information to acquire. knowing the names of the star pass receiver and rusher is a big plus too, though not entirely necessary. never refer to any player by their number. its a dead give-away.

next, to show you're "part of the club", slip in a few well timed remarks. watch a few plays when your team has the ball. if they try and run the ball and fail to make much progress, say with a frustrated tone, "they're rushing it? they need to keep their eyes in the back field." if they try to pass the ball but it isn't caught, belt out a "pass interference!". basically, as a rule of thumb, if your team isn't making much movement down the field, be really disappointed, as if they've personally let you down. statements like, "c'mon", "what are you doing?", or "get up, pansy" may be appropriate. and if they are advancing, be overly excited, as if they're playing exactly like you think they should be playing. as if they are finally taking your advice because you know exactly how to win.

listen to your fellow spectators. it helps to know who is routing with you and who is routing against you. establish a camaraderie with your allies. when your team scores, tackles the other team's quarterback, recovers the ball when the other team fumbles, or intercepts the other team's pass, look for a high five. someone will always be ready to hook it up. if the excitement level is high enough, though rare, a chest bump may be in order. be prepared. an extra sweater may not be a bad idea. additionally, feel free to clap at any time during the game. literally whenever. its also important that you talk about your team as if you're on it. use the pronouns "we", "us" and "our". if your team is losing, maintain a borderline cockiness that "we'll" turn it around. if your team is winning, be sure to rub it in the face of anyone cheering against you. just do so with a smile. if you go around hurting feelings, they may try to expose your fraudulent fanhood.

finally, though its rarely watched, feel free to make fun of the half-time show. the half-time shows tend to be something to win viewers not interested in football. unless its a classic rock band, mock the bajesus out of it. if you can't come up with a clever quip, there's always the lip-syncing option. maybe try to tie in a comment about janet jackson's nipple. i think people still remember that.

...and if no one buys into your rouse, at least there are cool commercials.

Saturday, February 3, 2007


my thoughts on graffiti can go either way. much like my thoughts on art in general. any simpleton with a can a spray paint can scrawl his illegible tag wherever he or she wants. its not about creativity, its about rebellion. for that reason, this sort of thing is usually found in dark places. under bridges or on dumpsters in dark alleys. to be categorized as art, there are requirements. something needs to be expressed. an idea needs to be present. it needs to be about more than breaking the law.

there are two artist really taking advantage of the form:
Banksy and Alexandre Orion.

Banksy (a pseudonym) has been making stenciled graffiti for sometime, mostly in Britain, his native country, but his footprints can be seen in parts of L.A., New York, Palestine, & Mexico as well. his images deal with political, ethical and cultural issues, often doing so with a twist of humor. usually anti-war, anti-capitalist, anti-establishment, pro-freedom. he has gained a bit of notoriety with his many "art stunts". for instance: he has broken into the penguin enclosure at the London zoo and wrote "WE"RE BORED OF FISH" in letters seven feet tall. then, in the elephant pen in the zoo in Bristol, he wrote "I WANT OUT. THIS PLACE IS TOO COLD. KEEPER SMELLS. BORING, BORING, BORING." he's painted 9 images on the Israeli west bank wall separating Israel and Palestine, such as a ladder going up and over and kids digging a hole though it. In 2006, Banksy secretly replaced approximately 500 copies of paris hilton's debut CD in UK record stores with his own version, including new album art and remixes by Danger Mouse. titles such as "why am i famous?", "what have i done?" and "what am i for?". The art depicted paris topless, with a dog's head, and stepping out of a luxury car, edited to include a group of homeless people, which included the caption "90% of success is just showing up". i have a copy of the music. its really only one song, 40 minutes long. a repetitive, simple beat with paris saying "that's hot" every so often. people bought a lot of them. he's also made "subverted" paintings, or re-imaginings of classic works of art. he then covertly added these to walls in the MET, the MoMA, the Tate, and the Brooklyn Museum of fine art without them knowing.

currently, graffiti artist seem to be getting awfully clever. there are a few artists emerging in the street art underground who are making their mark on signs, tunnels and walls. anywhere that's dirty enough. reverse graffiti. instead of adding paint to create their image, they're removing dirt. authorities are confounded as to how to deal with the burgeoning new wave of cleaning vandals. one such artist is Alexandre Orion. he is a brazilian painter and photographer, usually integrating the two. he first creates his image, then photographs the interaction with it and passers-by. the picture is his final goal. it wasn't until recently that he replaced his paint with soap. armed with only a scrub brush, some rags and detergents, he'd clean dirt and soot away from surfaces to create an image. the inspiration was originally the finger inscribed "wash me" on dirty car windows. his biggest and most well known of these was a highway tunnel. there he made a vast mural of skulls spanning the length of one side by wiping away layers of exhaust. police arrived but as he wasn't actually breaking any laws, they couldn't do anything. their response: they dispatched sanitation workers to clean the wall. a victory in his eyes, so Orion returned later to do the other side.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone!"

when i was a boy, i loved the twilight zone. it may be why i have a place in my heart for irony. every so often, if i happened to be lucky enough, i'd catch a marathon. it came on a few times a year, on some random channel. 24 hours straight. my dad made me a fan. he and i would try to take in as many as we could. what we missed, we archived. i learned how to operate the VCR thanks to Rod Serling. the opening music put a smile across my cheeks. my little blue eyes grew enormous. i laid across the carpet on my stomach, ready to be shocked and amazed, always trying to figure out how it would end. even if i came close with my guesses, there was always an extra twist i'd never have foreseen. if my mom happened to stumble upon us, she'd always tell us how she'd loved the show as a kid. that when it came on, my grandma would make a plate of saltine crackers with jelly on top for her as a snack as she did what we were doing. sometimes she'd even be so inspired as to go make us crackers with jelly. i'd take raspberry jam on my saltines.

the show really pushed the limits of television. not just in the science fiction elements, but in its thinly veiled social commentary. censors wouldn't allow much in the late 1950's, but in Serling's writing, the big picture was overlooked because it was deemed "fantasy". subjects like nuclear war, mass hysteria and bigotry touched too many nerves to be allowed in a prime time drama, but in the twilight zone, it could slide through the side door. also, women were often cast as smart, quick-thinking, and independent characters. that wasn't something one saw much of in the boob tube those days.

my point?
i've recently come across a marvelous find. comparable to the archaeological king tut digs. there is a website that has a small library of twilight zone episodes. approximately 50 and growing (nearly a third of the total 156 episodes). they're all free for the streaming. each episode is about 25 minutes (though there are some from the fifth and final season, which were hour long shows). all the gems are there. William Shatner, with his best talk-pause-talk as he warns of a gremlin on the wing of the plane. The Eye of The Beholder. Burgess Meredith happy to have some time to read. "I'm Talky Tina, and I'm going to kill you". To Serve Man.
here's a link:

(type "twilight zone" into the search bar)

Now for my rant on the state of television today.

i was but a glimmer in my mothers eyes when the original twilight zones were being aired, but my generation has seen a steady decline in broadcasting quality since. i think television has been incredibly dumbed down as the years turn over. the technology was still new and exciting in the 50's and 60's. everyone watched it. lots of it. its not as exciting anymore. if you look at programming now, there is very little offered by way of intelligent writing, clever humor or thought provoking ideas. other than PBS, there aren't any non-children's, non-cable shows that provide any real information. its all celebrity worship, fear inducing news, trite sitcoms and "reality" TV.

saturday morning cartoons are painfully bad. its mostly japanese fighting with decks of cards and pokemon. neither of which makes sense to me. actually, there aren't many cartoons left anymore. i happened to catch the saturday morning line-up a few weeks ago. most of the shows were live action sitcoms targeting kids. the worst was they were either about rich kids living in penthouses, vain movie stars' kids or competition. what happened to "and knowing is half the battle"?

game shows ask easy questions. the highest rated game show on TV is currently "deal or no deal". the only beneficial skills for a contestant would be the ability to speak and recognize the numbers 1-30. they may as well roll dice.

MTV doesn't even play music anymore. they don't really have anything to do with music anymore. time for a name change. maybe then a young entrepreneur who actually wants to show videos and music news can turn "music television" into a good thing again.