Wednesday, April 20, 2011

11 Best Albums of My Life

(In no particular order)

1:Dummy-Portishead (triphop)
2:Illmatic-Nas ('90s gangsta/conscious rap) side note: most white kids say this genre is the only "real" rap. I disagree, but I just think it was fantastic and speaks of real experience. Plus, he raps about beepers!
3:Transatlanticism-Death Cab for Cutie (indie)
4:Either/Or-Elliot Smith (folk)
5:The Hazards of Love-The Decemberists (rock opera/folk rock)
6:Badmotorfinger-Soundgarden (grunge)
7:The Art of Drowning-AFI (horror punk)
8:Catching Tales-Jamie Cullum (jazz)
9:Whatever and Ever, Amen-Ben Folds Five ('90s adult contemporary)
10:Bang Bang-Dispatch (indie jam band)
11:The Places That You've Come to Fear the Most-Dashboard Confessional (emo)

Each album has significant meaning to who I am today. Musically, I am diverse (like everyone is) and I have strong examples from most represented genres. But these, these each have a time period of my life, a feeling, a relationship, an experience, or a thought change associated with it. I picked 11 because after much debate, I figured I'd be honest and admit that I loved Dashboard in the early '00s. I never had bangs or tried to become emo, but I loved the lyrics at the time and I know the songs played a major roll. I still believe that beatnik became hippie which became intellectual which became emo and then became hipster. Hipsters love Dashboard, they just will never admit it. If I picked songs, it would probably be a list like 50 deep. That's probably what I'll write next. Top 50 songs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Sh*t My Grandma Says

    Talking with my grandmother is hard work. She's great and all, but it's quite a task. Her need for Political Correction and ideals has become slightly hypocritical and convoluted. She'll bring up points in an argument that are either invalid or out of left field. Regardless, she will make herself look more accepting than you and try and make you feel like you're dumb for not thinking in her infallibly correct ideals. Black people are all nice, upstanding citizens and none of them are gangsters because that's racist. All illegal immigrants are here to work for their children's future, and to suggest a portion are here to run drugs is horrendous. Yet smokers are the evil people, and republicans are dimwits who have zero intelligence (I hope you see some inconsistency here). To sum it all up, she is full of White Guilt.

    "What did you see at the zoo today?" She asked my little cousin Jackson.
    "Mexicans." We had just finished remarking how it was Mexican day at the zoo. She huffed as if she had just heard someone throw 'nigger' at her face.
    "Whose child is this?"
    "Jefferey's." My uncle answers, some what condescendingly.
    "Yeah...exactly" She retorts. At this point, I don't know if I felt the need to defend my absent father or just be a little shit.
    "What is the problem? I stated the fact that there were Mexicans at the zoo today. Why are you turning 'Mexican'  into a negative connotation, grandma?"

    Holy fuck, her eyes said as she realized she was losing ground. Quick, what is she to do? How can she reply to make herself the better person? She could take the obvious route and point out that I was being racist for humor; she could say how I am just being annoying and watch my tone; she could also say something completely random. Well I wouldn't be writing this if she hadn't chose the third route. Be warned: rationality will be lost here.
    She holds up her finger to prove physically that her studious and well learned point will rock my face off.
    "Why didn't you say you saw a bunch of Catholics?"
    Wow, grandma. I don't know how to even respond to this. Thank god I've taken some logic class at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, or else I wouldn't be able to answer your thought out and deeply insightful reply.
    "Because not all Mexicans are Catholics. Again with the stereotypes, Grandma . . ." (if you can read my sarcasm here, then you are better at reading it than she is face to face)
    "No, because they're mostly Mormon." Says the matriarch of the family.
    "How. . . wha. . . I don't even know how that relates to saying they saw some Mexicans at the zoo. It's Arizona." At this point, I've turned my back to her to continue cleaning the lime build up on the pool. I am trying my best to not laugh at her, but everyone stops caring as soon as Jackson (the baby) starts to dip my uncle's putter into the water.

    If you've seen The Office, you may recognize a similar interchange between Michael Scott and Oscar. Michael tells his subordinate not to call Oscar Mexican because it is racist. Oscar asks why, since he is actually Mexican. In Michael's Political Correctness, he outs his own prejudices; hilariously. I wish I could find the clip to show you. Arguing with her is fun for me. I try to do everything possible sometimes to point out logical errors in her ideas, but she keeps on coming (she's a pescatarian, by choice of morals-not health, for Christ's sake, this is for another blog post about vegetarianism). It is made more fun by my Grandma's incredible ability to be critical of everyone else's life choices. Seriously, debating her is as fun as watching To Catch A Predator.

PS: I love my grandmother very much. She is wonderful and has done numerous things for me without hesitation. Despite my writings about her, she is a very smart woman. You cannot teach an old dog new tricks, I guess. It is purely a game I play with myself to see how she thinks and operates. She is a study all her own. Really, I cannot put into words how amazing my grandma is to me and our family. We'd have been lost long ago without her leadership.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I have some weird habits

I (like everyone) have some odd habits. Some of you know them and some don't. But I figured I'd put some down for lack of a better topic.

1: When in private, I have a need to vocally announce to no one in particular that I have farted.
2: Unless I am in Oregon, I cannot drink the tap water anywhere. Well, Scotland had good water.
3: I have to touch things an even amount of times. This requires more explanation. If I accidentally tap my right elbow against a wall, I have to touch my left elbow against a wall. you can replace "wall" with another object and you can also replace "elbow" with any other part of me.
4: Sometimes, I feel the need to explain things out loud when I'm alone. I've been told this isn't anything big, it's just an over active social complex when I'm alone (as in I want to be around other people, so I just create some. Typical of only children).
5: I never step on cracks or lines on the sidewalk.
6: I speed up to stop at red lights.
7: I use far too much toilet paper.
8: I do not have one best friend, but I have many great friends. (in years to come it will be hard to pick a best man)
9: I used to never do homework and just get drunk in high school. Now that I'm in college, people who don't do their homework annoy me extremely-I think it's because it costs money now, so it seems pointless.
10: Speaking of college, I hold no stock in the perceived importance of going to a University. I'm only doing it because it's free for me right now.
11: I'm super proud of what I've done in the Marines and what my unit (314) did in Iraq, but I really hate other veterans my age almost wholeheartedly.
12: I seem to be the only person in my family that puts their silverware face down in the dishwasher. I do not understand this.
13: If I'm wearing tube socks at home, sometimes I will pull them halfway off my feet and let them dangle, like a Dr. Seuss shoe.
14: My dad and I discovered the genius of Wheat Thins and Philadelphia Cream Cheese by accident when I was 14. I still eat this combo constantly. This is one of my favorite things my dad taught me.
15: I love dips. With bread, chips, other assorted foods, I just love dip. It is my favorite thing to eat. especially 7 layered-dip.
16: If I don't swallow a pill fully or if I brush my tongue too far back, I will almost assuredly vomit. My gag reflex is turrible, just turrible.
17: When I was younger, my mom told me you were only ticklish until you lost your virginity. I believed it, but remained ticklish after I lost it. I am still very ticklish.
18: I literally kicked my girlfriend in the face and then called her a whore in the span of three minutes. We're still together.
19: I played with my plastic army men until I was like, 13. Way too old to be that immature.
20: I have a problem of buying the top notch thing of whatever I want. Even though I cannot afford it sometimes. It must be the best.

What odd/strange things do you do?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Tourists in a Music Video

    Death Cab for Cutie has been known to be innovators in the music scene for many years. A significant number of people have at least one song of the iconic underground band. Now the successfully experimental band has done it again-with a streamed live, scripted, one take (as in no chances to re-shoot on mistakes) music video for their first single, “You Are A Tourist” off of their new album Codes and Keys.
    To put it into proper perspective, this has never been done before. Previously, artists have made live videos but they were recorded at a live show. One other artist, Michael Jackson, has made a video that was sung and performed live, but the video wasn't one take. The song was called “Rock With You” and it has since been redubbed. It gave a greater appreciation to Death Cab's video to have known about it because, littered throughout the performance were allusions to this. Director Tim Nikashi put together a phenomenal video that he would be proud to stamp his name on.
     It started out with a countdown. The house lights dimmed and the only thing visible were 9 green triangles in the background that would play a part later. Through a wall of smoke, Ben Gibbard (lead singer) walked towards the camera. He couldn't help but grin as he knew the importance of the art they had just begun. The first line came slightly off sync as Gibbard tried to catch it right at the exact moment of entry but was back on track-and remained that way-for the rest of the performance. There were camera pans and switches that made it more apparent, oddly enough, that it wasn't a completely reworked piece. Soon into it, Nick Harmer (bassist) strutted his stuff hilariously across a raised platform in front of three separately colored rooms where actors did something that no one paid attention to, surely. Harmer stole the show with his antics, exaggerated movements and humorous faces. Chris Walla (lead guitar) was almost non-existent and kicked off the next phase of the video by playing the keys.
      The entire time watching the video you couldn't help but think about how magical it was when they were starting out. The video, in its simple ways was endearing of the times that went. It was great to see the band stick to its roots when it has still grown musically out of the trappings of hipsterdom and into creative sounds. They used christmas lights to line the stages and their instruments. They had light up suits that the writer found awesome and want one extremely bad. One hopes that the rest of Death Cab's videos are done this way because it was a subtle reminder that they still knew what audience they had. Bohemia wouldn't be upset by this aspect and you knew watching that you were witness to a possibly exciting trend in music videos.
Symbolism was apparent throughout. In the section of the song that talks about leaving home, the camera hovered over a large intersection where one man turned away from the path. There was a large area of shaped lights that looked like a kaleidoscope only when women danced and rolled around to mimic the motion. It was a really neat trick they used to make the video more complex in its choreography (which made it all the more impressive when they actually pulled it off without any mistakes). When it was over, and confetti was all over the performers, they all got together stage front to say thank you a la Saturday Night Live. It was touching as the band cared more to thank the people behind the scenes and the dancers more than talk about how hard it was for them.
       It was a fantastic video and will be talked about for a long time. Certainly good press for Death Cab's latest album.

The video for “You Are A Tourist” is now on YouTube in Death Cab For Cutie's official page. The single is currently available for purchase on the iTunes store and the Android app store for mobile downloads. The album, “Codes and Keys” hits stores May 31st.