Sunday, December 26, 2010

Top Ten Songs of 2010 - Gorillaz: On Melancholy Hill

I like this because it has pep AND melancholia!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Top Ten Songs of 2010 - Future Islands: Inch of Dust

Joy Division with synthesizers if the singer was a mad wizard.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top Ten Songs of 2010 - Menomena: Dirty Cartoons

You know, I have half a mind to turn this entirely into a music blog. I love writing about music. I also like listening to it and seeing it performed, in-person, by musicians.

Anyway I might as well countdown my top ten favorite songs of 2010 because an awful lot of good music came out this year and dopes like me like to make lists. Also I need to update this blog every once in a while or some squatter will move in like a hermit crab.

These are in no particular order. Here's Menomena with "Dirty Cartoons."

The first couple of times I listened to this album it didn't really click with me, but I'm glad I gave it another shot. When I make my Top Ten Albums list this will be #2. They played a show a while back but I didn't go, choosing instead to watch MacGruber and drink chocolate milk wine while playing ball with a dog.

Friday, October 8, 2010

interlude: the true story of saint ricky

Taking a break from the Seattle adventure to talk about this most interesting gentleman I met at the comic book store on Friday.

Odds are you don't spend a lot of time at your local comic shop (LCS if you want to use the parlance) so it may surprise you to know that such an establishment can sometimes attract an unusual sort of fellow, a free-thinker, a march-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer.

I was at my favorite store on Friday, picking up my weekly funnybooks and joking around with the owner Greg. The store was empty but for us when a guy walked in and stood at attention in front of the cash register. His hair was oiled back and he sported a fuzzy mustache and a denimy shirt. I'm going to call him Saint Ricky.

"Can I help you find something?" Greg asked.

"Two things," Ricky said. "The movie theater [across the way] wanted me to give you this."

He handed over a roll of posters for the movie Salt (ask me about that movie sometime. There's a part where Angelina Jolie disguises herself as a man. It's ridiculous).

"Cool, thanks," Greg said.

Ricky took a deep breath. "Also, more importantly, I have a question..."

I thought he was going to ask for a donation or try to sell some cologne or preach some weird religion. Instead he asked Greg how much a certain comic might be worth. This kind of thing happens all the time. From his description I knew it was this one issue from the '90s, which is pretty much worthless. In the '90s comics were marketed not for their stories but as "collectibles." People bought them by the sackful thinking they were going to be investments. But of course nothing that's contrived and designed to be an investment (er, except for maybe stocks and Roth IRAs) is actually going to pay off. Comics in the '90s were overprinted and issues that were much sought after in 1991 are now worth less than the cover price. Literally less than the paper they're printed on.

Greg was diplomatic, said he'd have to see it before being able to determine it's so-called worth, but implied that Ricky shouldn't get his hopes up. These moments always feel awkward to me but you know, whatever.

"I have another question," Ricky said. "What did you guys think of the girl in the Ghost Rider movie?"

Neither Greg nor I had seen it.

"Well whoever she is, she's a stone cold fox! I have another question. What do you guys think of Lucy Liu? I think she's a stone cold fox. What about Drew Barrymore? Isn't she annoying when she talks? When she keeps her mouth shut though, she's a stone cold fox."

"You know what movie you would like?" I said. "Charlie's Angels."

"Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle. Lucy Liu fits into a tiny box. It's only this big. I thought Halle Berry was great as Catwoman."

When he said that about Halle Berry, Greg and I shared a startled glance as we knew that Ricky was a different kind of cat.

"Yeah. I used to own a comic-book shop. They were making pornos in there. I had security cameras, and they were screwing on the counter, screwing on the back issue bin, screwing everywhere."

"You were the owner? Where were you when this was going on?" I asked.

"I was watching at home."

Of course.

I wasn't trying to goad him on, and in fact I was trying to engage him as minimally as possible, but I didn't want to leave either.
I don't remember how but Facebook was brought up.

"I have to keep my Facebook account private because I can't let anyone see who I'm friends with. Zac Effron, Vanessa Hudgens..." He listed a bunch of other names I'd never heard of. "I'm friends with all of them because I wrote the music for High School Musical, High School Musical 2, and High School Musical 3. Let me ask you something. How do you think I know all the music when I don't even own the DVDs? It's because I wrote all the songs. Disney wants you to think that Miley Cyrus wrote them but do you think she's ever picked up a guitar? My girlfriend doesn't even watch those movies. I'm a third-degree Shaolin black-belt. My girlfriend is a fourth-degree. She can kick my ass."

"Well," I said, "She's only one degree higher than you so she can only barely kick your ass right?"

"No. I never hit a woman. THAT's where I draw the line. Last night we got in a fight and she broke my toe. Hey, do you mind if I ask how you got those scars? I could show you some scars. I'm covered in needle scars. All over my body. Feel my muscles."

He held out his arm, flexing as hard as he could. I declined.

"I was born with these muscles. See my calf?" he lifted his pant leg and flexed. "I was born with these calves. I am a result of genetic experiments conducted by the government."

I asked when that happened. He said "I don't know, my memory has been wiped. But my uncle, he's a colonel at a military base in Nevada. And that's all I'm allowed to say about that."

"Is it Area 51?" I asked.

"We have to stop talking about this right now. But did you know that you could hit me with a baseball bat as hard as you could, right to the head, and it wouldn't even affect me? I wouldn't be allowed to hit you back though. I'd go straight to jail. My body is registered with the government as a lethal weapon. If I even touched you I'd go to jail for attempted murder. If I killed you, I'd go to jail for murder. Can I have this pen? Can I have any of these pens? Do you have any pens that I can have? Do YOU have a pen I could have?"

We tried to ignore him.

"I'm fluent in nine different languages. Hola, que pasa? Bonjour, je m'appelle Francais. Sprechen sie deutch? Hey, how do you drown a Puerto Rican?"

"I really don't want to know the answer to this one."

"Tape a bag of crack to the bottom of the toilet."

"Not cool man, my wife is Puerto Rican." I don't have any kind of wife but he doesn't know that. That's why you don't tell racist jokes to strangers or ever.

Then he took his shirt off. Just unbuttoned it and took it right off. He had a bunch of weird tattoos that looked like they weren't done by a professional. He pointed out a small scar near his shoulder.

"My ex-wife was Puerto Rican. She did that to me. Stabbed me right there. All I did was ask what was for dinner and she stabbed me. So I know all about Puerto Rican women, buddy."

Somehow he started talking about drums and casually mentioned "My coven just bought me a new drum kit."


"Yeah I'm wickan," he said with a "duh" kind of attitude. After an hour of just the three of us in the store a nice girl walked in, of Asian-American persuasion. She was carrying a brown paper bag having walked over from the nearby liquor store.

"What are you?" he said to her.


"What are you?"

"What do you mean?"

"What. country. are. you. from?"

"Um... America?"

"No I mean where are you from."

"West Valley."

"No I mean your parents."


"Your heritage! What is your heritage?!"

"I guess uh.. Taiwanese."

"Oh cool. So you're buying some anime comics then?"

"I'm buying Spider-man!"

Poor girl had no idea what she walked into.

"You came from the liquor store? Let me ask you, does that liquor store carry sauvignon blanc?" he pronounced it "sauweeyah blaaaanh" like a real Frenchman. "It's a type of wine. I was just wondering if they carried it. Not because I'm gay though."

Then it was time for more jokes.

"What do Michael Jackson and Wal-Mart have in common? Boys clothes half off. What do Michael Jackson, a Catholic Priest, and Wal-Mart have in common? Boys clothes half off."

He mentioned that he was going to go see a movie. In his hometown in Arizona they don't have a movie theater, so he comes up here to see movies then goes back and tells everyone about them. I love this. That the closest movie theater to this town in Arizona is in Salt Lake City. I picture him riding in and every citizen gathering round the dusty town square while he tells tales of distant lands, where city-folk gather together and eat of popped corn and gaze upon the giant screen where the pictures move, where a handsome man named Leo has dreams within dreams within dreams.

The reason he mentioned this is because he could do the same thing for us. He could come back after his movie ended to tell us all about the film Vampires Suck. We all said we'd seen it.

I feel like I'm really only scratching the surface here. It's hard to convey how bizarre this encounter really was and surely I didn't do it justice. After he left Greg and I sat in silence, trying to comprehend what had just happened, unable to put the words together. Probably you had to be there. You had to see his icy stare. You had to see the karate moves he was busting out all over the store, knocking things over and fumbling with found objects. Still. It was a day to remember.

If it sounds like I'm making fun of this guy... well I am. I hope I don't sound mean though. Obviously the fellow is mentally ill in some way. I don't feel bad though because really, he's way happier with his life than I am with mine.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Forked: Part 2 - Dazzled (by Twilight)

It's time we address the elephant in the room. Stephanie Meyer. She is the elephant in any room, at any time. Now I'm not saying she's particularly elephantine, but just that she looms over us all, whether we realize it or not. She is part of the fabric of existence. She's out there, right now, and there's nothing we can do about it.

I have a strange relationship with the Twilight books. I first became aware of them on August 4th, 2007. I know this because I wrote a blog about it here. Well, I wrote a blog about going to a bookstore to buy a copy of Trainspotting (in which their personal brand of heroin is actually heroin). I remember walking into that bookstore and seeing a huge display for the Twilight books, and thinking "what the crap is this?" I gathered that they were written by a local author of some sort and that the books were a publishing sensation. (research tells me that this happened only days before the release of the third book, hence the display).

I used to have co-workers, back when I had a job. Middle-aged ladies mostly. I remember overhearing them talk about Twilight and debating the casting choices for the movie. It was still barely on my radar. Then someone, probably Elin, had the bright idea to get a group of funsters together to go see the movie. So on Tuesday, November 25, 2008 I saw it and it was the most fun I've ever had in a movie theater (in the top three anyway, along with Wanted and Godzilla).

That movie is ridiculous. If you haven't seen it, you really need to, with a group of your finest smartasses. It was 2008, Lolcats were all the rage, so I whipped this up, and it got some polite chuckles from my friends and a few blog strangers who happened upon it.


A year later the next movie came out, so I did a Lolcat re-enactment for the sequel too.

New Moon.

It was up for about a week, and then it started to grow in popularity. One day my blog got over 300 hits! Then the next day it got 6,000. Then 13,000. Then over 125,000 in one day. It was all over Facebook and Twitter and comedy blogs and Twilight message boards. Currently it stands at about 800,000 unique views, and comments still come in and I still get letters from strangers telling me how funny it was. Wild! I went viral.

Here's the third movie if you need it.


There's a point to all of this. The Twilight books take place in a real-life town called Forks, about a two hour drive from the Seattle area. Stephanie Meyer set the books there because a google search revealed it to be the rainiest city in the country. I like driving around, I like small towns, and I like doing ridiculous things, so a day trip to Forks seems like the best idea anyone has ever had (again, I think it was Elin's idea).

The drive up there is pretty.

Cars were lined up behind us to get a picture of the sign.

Bear in mind, none of the movies are even filmed here. But upon entering the town we discovered that the economy is almost completely Twilight based. There are four stores on one corner that all deal exclusively in Twilight merchandise, and they were all packed.

Of course everyone knows that the best of these stores is Dazzled by Twilight.

The inside has astroturf on the ground and is made up to look like the woods!

And Taylor Lautner just hangs out there all the time!

I bought this.

A comic-book biography of Stephanie Meyer. You can listen to my review of it here! Go to the 14:05 mark. "I'm still sore from all the brooding..." ha!

We walked around a bit. Here's Forks High School WHERE BELLA AND EDWARD TOTALLY WENT!

I don't know if Bella ever went bowling but this was a neat bowling alley and I would have loved to rolled a few lines there.

Outside of town is the Indian Reservation which sports a sign reading "No Vampires Beyond This Point" and a vacation rental property done up to look like Jacob's house.

First Beach at La Push. Great beach.

Such a striking image, that ocean knob there.

I love throwing rocks into bodies of water, and Nathaniel got in on the action too.

The beach is covered in Twilight graffito.

I marveled at all the Twilight messages written into the sand, but then discovered Elin was behind them all.

There was an enormous piece of driftwood on the beach.

So naturally Amy just up and climbed the thing.

She disappeared and I worried that she had perished but then she just came walking up like it was no big deal.

Here's all of us, just so you get a sense of the size of that thing.

Ah, the beach.

Went to Port Angeles in search of food and stumbled upon this restaurant, which claims to be the restaurant that Bella and Edward (two fictional characters) went on their first date.

Nothing suited us in Port Angeles so we skipped. I caught some neon on the way out.

Finally landed in Sequim (pronounced "skwim"), the driest city in Washington. Went to a Mexican place where this watches you eat...

and this watches you pee...

Here's the restaurant from the outside. I think that's a burrito tower?

Yeah. Forks.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Forked: Part 1


Why would I be nine miles outside of Twin Falls at midnight, standing at the edge of a truck stop with one foot on the pavement and one foot in the weeds, watching the cars pass by on the highway, gazing at the moon?

Because I was on my way to Seattle, obviously. In what has become an annual tradition, every summer I go on a road trip to Seattle.

Last year I went to Seattle to visit Nathaniel, who lived up there. He lives in Salt Lake now so me and he and a couple of nice young ladies went back to pick up his stuff or see his sister or steal t-shirts or something. Tip: any good road trip, especially a fourteen hour trip, should begin as late in the day as possible. We left at about 730pm, driving through the twilight hours, our truck like a stake through the heart of the night.

We brought a book along and took turns reading it out loud. Except for Nathaniel who was usually driving. Kept us busy for much of the drive. Though now we're three months past and we still haven't quite finished the book. That will soon be rectified I hope.

Nine miles out of Twin Falls and five outta Kimberly is a truck stop called Garden of Eden.

It's not just a name, it's a theme.

I think we had three more dead of night truck stop stops on the drive north. It's an interesting feeling, miles away from what you know at an unreasonable hour, roused from a bad sleep and feeling like your soul is on a three-second delay from the rest of your body. You inspect each aisle of the food section meticulously, as though this is your last meal and you can't miss the treasure that you've somehow overlooked. You can't even comprehend the array of oranges and yellows, reds and browns, cool-ranch flavors and 25% more peanuts. You couldn't wait to get out of the car and now you can't wait to get back in and the truck on the left has a Mexican Cowboy DH-ing his lady and the truck on the right is full of white supremacists.

Um, anyway truck stops.

I didn't sleep much and what sleep did come was poor, five seconds off and five seconds on. I had the Stars - The Five Ghosts on a loop in my ears for about three hours and now I can't even listen to it anymore because it is imprinted with the memories of this trip and I know no other memory will ever be able to eclipse that.

We finally came into town a few hours after the breaking of dawn and just in time for breakfast at the 5 Spot, whose french toast is one of the top five foods I've ever eaten. The restaurant has a rotating theme. Last time I was there it was Cannery Row, but this time the theme was Seattle, and they really nailed it.

I love that someone with artistic training and talent painted a portrait of Frasier.

I particularly enjoyed this sculpture of Ken Griffey Jr. inside of a shell of some sort. What is that, a geoduck shell?

Oh man I wish I hadn't just Googled "geoduck." Man. Ken Griffey Jr. One of the most tragic figures of our time. He could have saved us all, and instead he suffered injury after injury until his career ended one day when he didn't bother showing up for work.

We hung out around the water and the Pike Place Market and stuff. Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe, home of the zombie.

The Lusty Lady is a beloved landmark, closed forever this summer because the internet took away all its business.

Is there anything the internet can't ruin?

I like Pike Place Market, even when it's humid. It's so colorful.

I got some avocado flavored bubble tea and it was yummy. Then later I had a cheese lunch. Happytimes.

We walked up to go to the Underground tour and on the way some lady pushed Nathaniel aside and then charged headlong into a busy street. Somehow she didn't get run over, but she did bash her head directly into a light pole while walking full speed.

Oh here's Chief Seattle.

A sculpture of him anyway. Loitering in this square we had a nice chat with a homeless sportsfan santa. He was talking about the Mariners and how great they're going to be once Matt Wieters comes up. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Matt Wieters plays for Baltimore. Then he went crazy talking about snacks. See me in person sometime, I'll tell you about it.

The Underground Tour takes you through the subterranean ruins of old Seattle. I was really interested in it at first but I'll say right off the bat that it's not quite worth it. Unless you like awkward puns delivered by college student-tour guides, who try to make everyone feel guilty for not laughing at their awkward puns.

Tourists are alright though. These two are better than any of us.

I'm not making fun of them, I really admire them.

Not underground?

We kept going from Underground to Not and I was getting so confused as to what was what. Elin had to keep explaining it too me. As a general rule of thumb, darkness: underground, trees: not. But there are exceptions!

This freaky monster of a pig truck reminded us that it was dinner time.

We went to uh, a Senegalese? restaurant. Wow, it was good. I'd recommend it if I knew the name or where it was.

In this picture it may look like Nathaniel is wincing and crying, but really this is an advanced Krav Maga technique.

Ferry to Bremerton, where we would be staying and hopefully getting some good sleep for the first time in thirty-six hours.

Nathaniel and Amy tried to have a private chat on the stern while I stood a few feet away and took pictures of them.

Seattle skyline, beautiful sight from the water.

Moon over the water, still days away from being new.

So that was Day 1. What does Day 2 have in store? Well...

"We brought a book along and took turns reading it out loud."

That book?

Oh no.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

where we're going we don't need-

I can't sleep so I'm making a list of celebrated thoroughfares. Did I miss any?

Route 66
The Autobahn
Champs Ellysees
Sunset Blvd
Carnaby St.
The Crooked One in San Francisco
Haight-Ashbury (disqualified since it's a corner of two streets)
Wall St.
Sesame Street
Picabo Street
The Pacific Coast Highway
Rodeo Drive
Las Vegas Blvd
Abbey Road
The E Street Band
Bourbon Street
The Appian Way
The Road to Damascus
Baker Street (saxophone part only)
The Long and Winding Road
Mike Skinner
The Trail of Tears
The Ho Chi Minh Trail
Madison Avenue
Pennsylvania Avenue
Cormac McCarthy's The Road
The Road Less Traveled
Holiday Road
8 Mile


Park Avenue (love Green Acres. Could probably come up with five more just from NYC)
Mulholland Drive
The Silk Road
Oregon Trail (texted to my e-mail from a Vegas number? Who sent that? Either way, good one)
Hiiiiiighway to the Dangah Zone

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beehived: Part 2

Oh no get them away from me I don't like it I don't like it I don't like it!!!

I'm talking about all those bats up there. That's too many bats. I think the girl at the zoo told me there were 150 of them? Horrible creatures. I hate any kind of creature that likes to be bunched up like that. It's too weird.

So I took that picture during a fun day at the Zoo. See how fun?

Children of all ages love the Zoo. I've written about the Zoo many times here. You should find those entries and read them. Especially if you like apes. No apes today, but maybe an elephant.

And these gossipy old ladies.

You can see the giraffe in the middle, but there are actually two giraffes in this picture. Can you find the other one?

Give up? Okay I was lying there's only one giraffe.

I like this handsome Saharan cat. He seems so non-plussed by the parade of humanity before him.

The Month of May has been covered already, so I'll jump the end, Memorial Day. I discovered this.

It's a Monastery hidden near Huntsville. It seems like it should be easy enough to find but then suddenly you get bombarded with conflicting arrows.

The monastery is called the Abbey of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity. It's nice. Very peaceful and green up there.

There's a shortage of monks. No one wants to be a monk anymore. Honestly, I can't say I blame them. I don't want to be a monk. Maybe if monk-life was all hanging out with Robin Hood and acting like a rapscallion that would be one thing, but it seems like it's just singing a dozen times a day and doing minor household repairs.

Anyway where is that church...

Here's the inside. We watched the monks do their chant. They filtered in one by one, slowly and reverently. There are seats for many a monk but I think I only counted seven of them. That made me sad.

The gift shop has some cool stuff and this guy runs it. He really likes to chat.

They sell a delicious honey there made by the monks. It's how they stay in business. It's some fine honey. Mighty fine. Also if you buy any 25-cent Saint cards he's going to ask you why you chose them. The correct answer is that they chose you. Just a little tip for ya.

Oh hey a baby!

My dear friends Lee and Lisa got one for themselves. I like Olive and she seems to like baseball and might like AC/DC (test results inconclusive). However here she is at two days old, seeming a little suspicious of me.

Her suspicion continues to this day, but I'll win her over. Babies just don't know the facts yet.