Sunday, December 28, 2008

We Four Kings

Well, in about six and a half hours, I'll be experiencing my first ever surgery. Intravenous stuff goin' all up in my arm, electrodes stuck on my trunk, reciting up to "E", maybe "F" before I pass out. An then they're gonna cut my head open and pluck out all four of my crookedy wisdom teeth. Funny that wisdom teeth should try to come in sideways. I gotta say it; I'm a little noivuss about this whole scalpel and pliers business. When they start going over all the possible flubs, bloopers, and too-hot-for-TV accidents that might happen as I lie oxygen-drunk under a towering pavilion of dental enthusiasts, it's starting to sound less and less like the Vicodin-motivated skip across the park I'd been hoping it would be. They could puncture through to my sinus, they tell me, and I could have snot dripping out of a hole in my mouth. They could puree my nerve-endings, and I could lose all the sensation in my jaw and lip. Excuse me, but Mister Philip Jones Hart has some out-making to do before those crooks take his feelings away. And then there's always the risk of cardiac arrest and death.
My surgeon is a hairy Republican. I ask him how long till I can smoke and he says "oh, about fifty years". Ha-ha-ha very clever, but really now, how long I says to him. "Oh, about fifty years." This wiseguy thinks he's gonna lord his homefield advantage and his little plaque that says he's certified to put holes in people's skulls over me; like I need a doctor to tell me smoking's bad, you should quit. So now, because this jokester won't gimme an answer all straight and hippocratic-like, I gotta turn to a less scholarly pool of knowledge on the subject: my friends. I guess I could smoke through my nostrils?
I gotta eat a lotta mashed potaters and applesauce in the next coupla days, and after that I can't drive till I'm off the opiates. Not that I'd wanna drive anywhere lookin' like a big pink chipmunk with a cigarette hangin' out of his nose. I dunno if I should go back up to Minneapolis, where hardly anybody knows me, where I don't gotta impress anyone, and I don't hafta leave the house for days, or if I should stick around be bored with my mom and be a swollen, drugged-up chump in front of my friends. Some of 'em I don't know if I'll ever see 'em again, and I don't want this to by their last impression of the old codger. Of course, I could die this morning and not have to worry about any of that. If that's the case, well color me deceased. N' if I don't make it, all you folks mourn me real good, hear? In the likely event I do pull through, though, I'll likely be back and eager to write under the influence of prescription cures.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

All the Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise

And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: "How could it be so?"
"It came without ribbons! It came without tags!"
"It came without packages, boxes or bags!"
And he puzzled and puzzed, `till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store."
"Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"

And what happened then...? Who-ville they say,
That the Grinch's small heart,
Grew three sizes that day!
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
And the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!

And now that his heart didn't feel quite so tight,
He whizzed with his load through the bright morning light
With a smile in his soul he descended Mount Crumpet
Cheerily blowing "WHO WHO!" on his trumpet,
He rode into Whoville, he brought back their toys,
He brought back their floof for the who girls and boys,
The brought back their snoof and their tringlers and fuzzles,
Brought back their pantookers and dasslers and wuzzles.
He brought everything back, all the food for the feast!
And he...
The Grinch carved the roast beast!

Welcome Christmas, bring your cheer,
Cheer to all Whos, far and near,
Christmas day is in our grasp,
So long as we have hands to clasp,
Christmas day will always be,
Just as long as we have we,
Welcome Christmas while we stand,
Heart to heart, and hand in hand.

Merry Christmas, all, and a soon to be well-enjoyed New Year.

Friday, December 12, 2008

We'll Meet Again

Last night, I was told that Bettie Page, one of my great idols and celebrity heartthrobs, was dead. It's difficult to explain her importance to me. Given my history of unreasonable jealousy toward the beautiful and famous, it doesn't make very much sense that I should idolize one of the beautifulest and famousest of them all. But for me, Bettie Page was always somewhere outside the boundaries of consideration for the so-called Cult of Beauty. She was always too curvy, too naughty, and too brunette for that patently Aryan affair. She was always somewhere outside the boundaries of social acceptance, and yet she remains one of the most photographed people in history. Everyone wanted to see her, to soak in her surprised glances and to ogle her lusty proportions. But she was the kind of girl most of us prefer to keep buried in a shoe box at the back of the closet. She was the world's guilty pleasure, chattered scandalously about in select company, stared at by countless shamefaced but bewitched men and women of every demographic, and used for the pretty face she undoubtedly was.

But for me, she was and will always remain the most beautiful woman in history. Her perfect face, her bold hips, and her exquisite breasts all aid in this opinion, of course; but it is her fragility, her subjugation by the sexually hypocritical world she was forced to live in, and her place as a proud outsider which cause me to feel an honest warmth whenever I am witness to her image. She wanted only to give herself, in all her splendid glory, to a society which wanted only to cast her down with one hand and to grope her with the other. Nothing could make me love or respect her more than her ability to retain a flirty, playful smile throughout.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008





Saturday, December 6, 2008

Remember That Tent You Used to Have that Fit Right over Your Bed?

I can’t say I fancy myself a music pundit (evidenced by the fact that I write this while listening to a playlist that was made for me by iTunes, consisting mostly of Radiohead and Coldplay songs (sigh)). Or really an anything pundit. I know people who are way more into everything I’m into than I am. So perhaps concert reviews don’t come as easily to me as they do to my seasoned colleague and former teacher. But I went to a show last night that I think deserves noting.
Never mind that I know the namesake of Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps from one of my art classes. This band is hot, but not in a Megan Fox kind of way; no, more of an Emily Mortimer sorta hot; more sincere, shy, and judicious in her career choices than other women who share this label. Yes, Emily Mortimer is the best kind of hot—she’s the kind of woman who clearly enjoys the pleasures of life, but who also doesn’t make it her only selling point. She’s the whole package, she is.
Like I was saying, the show, at the University’s hip-for-its-booking-choices but lame-for-its-lack-of-a-wet-bar proprietary venue, The Whole, had a couple of openers who were actually pretty darn good. The surprise of the night was The All Rights, a little trio out of Duluth who, judging from the singer/frontman’s beard, is no stranger to the music scene in this part of the country. They were a little Andrew Bird-esque, but in a good way. My apologies to any big Bird fans out there who might have been angered by that last comment. My opinion of his music was summed up well by my roommate: “he’s tepid and unlistenable”. If you want a conflicting stance on him, read last month’s Esquire.
Like I was saying, The All Rights were, for me at least, better than all right (mhmmhmm, you see I made a joke there?). They were pretty darn good. Their stage presence didn’t lack for a moment and the aforementioned, bearded frontman was never at a loss for a cheeky quip or two. The slightly odd chord progressions, staccato piano jivings, and notsomuch silly as cozy lyrics made me feel warm inside.
But even among such worthy peers, the headliners (again, my acquaintanceship with the band’s singer/songwriter notwithstanding) showed, that they deserved their position at the top of the marquee. Where do I start on Caroline Smith and the Sleeps? The first thing I’ve heard upon talking to friends about the illustrious Ms. Smith, and I agree wholeheartedly with this, is that she’s just so fucking adorable. I mean, really; the babydoll voice, the mane of sort-of-messy-but-not-really hair, the button nose, and the way she sort of dances around with her guitar is just too much to resist (I hope I’m not embarrassing you too much, Caroline). The other bandmembers, however, manage to hold their own pretty well (especially the sassy-ass keyboardist), so rather than falling into the trap so many big groups do, where you’ve got one famous person and a studio band anonymously backing him or her up (see every R&B singer ever), it really feels like there’s a family up on stage. Honestly, the whole time I kept expecting to turn around and see a warm hearth and a besweatered clan cozied up to the fireplace, roasting Jet-Puffs and reading aloud from leather-bound books. The songs themselves, a blend of folky and rocky sort of sounds, arcing from wistful to a bit angry to snarky to gleeful, are pretty much all heart-melters. They speak significantly and with care about childhood memories and lost loves; they’re peculiar, rear-facing little things, always reminiscing about the past with a present wonder. And that’s all I ever really look for in music, now that I think about it.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's All Go to the Lobby

This is the trailer for a little movie I'm making for school. It's far from complete, but I'll put the whole darn thing up here when I reach that emerald city. Forgive my bad acting and please know that the titles I used are meant to be a bit silly (and the title of the film is a working one).

Anyways, here it is.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Few Postables of Note from a Few Whiffens Past

In the last few minutes, I’ve recalled that I had a short-lived, hare-brained blog on my university’s website. After re-reading all four entries I’ve realized that I was in a very promise-making mood when I wrote them. To my memory, the titles of the entries were designed with the sole purpose of being either confusing or patently offensive. I thought it might be a neat thingy to copy-paste those entries here for you, my darling reader(s), to see for yourself(ves). And in case anyone was wondering, the “Funny Paper” never panned out, nor did the summer band between my little friends and me.


Shalom and Aloha

So, well, I found out the U has a blogging service the same way I find most things on the internet, by clicking on a funny picture. Whoever does the layout for the U of M homepage has a sense of humor. As a new student, I've been desperate to find something to officiate my entrance into undergraduate school. Since I'm a writer anyway, this looks to be a promising outlet. I already have a personal journal and a blog on another site (from which I may occasionally copy paste to this one), so I'll try to balance out all of my gay little diaries and make sure they're all substantial. I'll also try and keep this particular weblog dedicated to school-related odds and ends so as to make it coherent.

My plans for this week include blasting my remix of Milkshake with my door open some afternoon. Hopefully I'll make some friends who are into simpletext mashups. AND my boots should come this week. They're Beatle boots. Not the real kind, but the Giorgio Brutini kind. I'm pretty excited to wear them to Funk at the Fred this Friday. Black, 6" kidskins with a 3/4" heel. Fuck.

Well anyway, my only class tomorrow is Time and Interactivity, which is supposed to be some kind of digital art and video shit. Judkins said he took it and hated it. Hmm. We'll see, supplemental diary of mine.


So I've been to all of my classes now. Time and Interactivity was yesterday. I think it's going to be my favorite class by far; the teacher is great, the content sounds awesome, and I get to learn how to use Final Cut Pro. Then today I had my seminar, Arts and Culture in the Twin Cities; it was nice, and the teacher reminds me of my history teacher from high school. And I didn't mean to, but I think I stared at this pretty girl who sat across from me for a good portion of the class. After that, I had my Intro to Film Studies class, which wasn't as cool as maybe I'd hoped. I don't know, I guess maybe it will be better once we start watching movies instead of listening to the professor talk.

Then, last, I had my creative writing class, which ended up being a debate forum about the U of M workers' strike. There were some real dumb cunts in there who didn't understand what the strike was about and who could only think of themselves. The main issue discussed was whether or not, in support of the strike, we would move our class off campus to honor the picket-lines. The main argument against doing this was "I'm a selfish little bitch and I can't figure out how to change my schedule or walk two extra blocks to allow a bunch of underpaid and largely unnoticed service industry to get the money they've been promised by the government." My argument for the strike was "if you don't support this strike, you do support an unaccountable school administration and you're a selfish little bitch." Fucking people.

I actually have homework now, so I should probably get on that here pretty soon.

Poop Mouth/Corn Ass

Gaterud, Paul and I had a jam session and we came up with lots of great ideas for stories. I think The Funny Paper will be a big success.

Apparently-and you'll think this is funny, Diary-my Time and Interactivity class is using this same blogging service for the class blog. So I'll have two Uthink accounts...But I shan't forget you. Maybe I'll write in you more later.

Oatmeal Chug

I finally got Microsoft Office on my computer yesterday. This was in response to the paper I stayed up until five in the morning writing on Sunday/Monday night. It was supposed to be five pages exactly (with about a quarter of a page leeway allowed in either direction). So, I thought to myself: this will be easy. I could do five pages in a couple of hours.

So I didn't start writing the actual paper until about 8:45 that night. Anyway, I didn't have class until 11:15 the next day.

But I didn't have Word on my computer, which I didn't think was a big deal. If Textedit is good enough for Stephen Hawking, it oughta be good enough for me. But as I was writing, it seemed like progress was going AWFUL slow. Every time I looked at the print preview, it seemed like that fifth page was epochs away.

Finally, after eight hours of working, writing notes, drinking coffee, I was finished. But my printer was (and is) also on the fritz, so I had arranged with Gaterud to have him print it out for me and meet me before class. He informs me that the paper in printed out form is TEN pages. I explain that that's not possible, because Textedit told me it was five pages, and given that there is a standardized system of fonts and character sizes for all computers, and that I had met the required criteria therein when typing this paper of five pages. He handed me the paper. Sure enough I had nine and a half pages of text in my grasp. What the fuck? I explained to my TA what happened, and she said it would be ok if I just cut off half of the paper and handed it in tomorrow. But that's a work-intensive task in and of itself.

Fucking Textedit.

Raped in Half

Dear Diary,
I'm sorry I haven't written in you for so long. Time flies when you have absolutely nothing to do, I guess. Lots of things have happened since you and I last met. The love of my life became tangibly the distant, futile dream I knew deep down she always had been, and I got a job. I work at the TV studio on campus, to which I first came for the art class on which my other UThink blog resides. Funny how things work out.

Since this year is the 25th anniversary of Koyaanisqatsi, I am once again obsessed with it. Right now I'm listening to the soundtrack through the studio monitor at work. I've been on the lookout for cinematographically pleasing things to shoot lately, with some loose, insane idea that I might make something like a Qatsi film. I shot a time-lapse of the lunar eclipse last Thursday, but a bunch of emo kids came and sat at the table I was shooting on, so the tripod moved around a lot. Thanks again, emo kids.

The title of a new song I've recently devised is "Raped in Half." I think it's funny and to the point. Gaterud, Ben, Broc and I have all been preparing to play in a band together this summer. We're all going to write one original song before our first band practice and try to see which direction we want to take musically. I'll even upload the song I write on an upcoming entry so if anybody ever reads this they can hear it.

It's been great talking with you, Diary. I hope you can forgive my for abandoning you so long. From now on, you will be my dedicated work journal. Anything having to do with my profession as an infotech at the TV studio, my music, or my movies, will be relayed directly to you, for realsies.


PS-I’m going to try to make this little corner of internets more topical from now on. I can’t imagine anyone finds my balls-to-the-wall-boring life interesting.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I’m Gonna Cack Ya

I’m in that goldilocks zone of boredom where I’m too bored to thumb through my DVD library for something to watch, but not bored enough to do schoolwork. That’s Blog Country right there. These moments do not come often, as is demonstrated so clearly by my spotty attendance record with this here journal, and when they do come, it’s not guaranteed that I’ll have anything interesting to say.

I was at a bookstore with my sister last weekend and in their vinyl LP section they had five or six records with titles to the effect of “Songs of the Third Reich”. I guess they, along with all the other records at the shop, came from the same gentleman’s collection. He also had copies of “MacArthur Park” and “Purple Rain”, so I imagine, to his credit, that the Nazi records were more a reflection of his interest in history than his preferences in music or racial purity.

I finally brought myself to walk into American Apparel this week. Since I am not a tall, stringbean-like man with a wall-eyed expression or a swan-like woman with grandma glasses and a Pocahontas headband, I felt more than a little out of place. But I had assumed this would happen going in. What I hadn’t assumed was that the dressing rooms would consist of a series of voting booths at the back of the store, made just barely private by thin white curtains. In my little booth, I couldn’t help but hear the lady employees, all dressed like Peter Pan, talking about making their boyfriends cry as they folded clothes. Another thing I hadn’t assumed about American Apparel was that the employees would be so nice. I guess they must not ship them in by crate from L.A. along with the clothes, huh? Ha-ha; Minnesota is clearly better.

My mother sends me letters every week। She mentioned in her last message that she felt bad that she hadn’t been keeping up in her weekly writing. This made me feel awful, because I have never in my entire life written a letter to her. It would be too picture-perfect, too functional of me to write her a response telling her she’s the most important person in my life, or how grateful I am for everything she’s given me (which is almost everything I have), or that when I think of home I mostly think of her.

I don’t like Joanna Newsom. It’s not that I don’t respect her abilities as an artist, or that I don’t like harp music, or that I’m jealous that she’s only twenty-six and already way more hip than I could ever hope to be (although that is troubling to me). It’s that I feel she goes out of her way to sound like a muppet that bothers me.

I’ll try to put some interesting content up in the coming few weeks। I have some neat projects I have to do for school, and they ought to be pertinent enough blog material

As Captain James Tiberius Kirk and Commander William Thomas Riker begin to slash their way through the dense, alien jungle, they barely have time to wonder why they are appearing together on the same television series before they are AMBUSHED by SAVAGE, BACKWARDS MONGREL-MEN (and a dinosaur)! ALL IN NEXT WEEK’S EPISODE: PLANET OF THE MONGREL-MEN.*

*“TWOK Captain Kirk™” and “Commander Riker™” action figures intellectual property of Gene Roddenberry. “Mongrel-Man™” action figure property of LucasArts™. “TYRANNOSAURUS RES™” figure provided by China™. Foreground scenery provided by Nerf™. Background scenery created with Crayola™.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Review of Robert Redford's "Ordinary People"

I know it's been awhile since I've posted, but I have a good excuse. My computer is broken and I'm forced to use the one at work for my trifles. Anyway, I've just finished watching and writing a very mean review for Robert Redford's 1980 puke-fest, "Ordinary People." Here it is:


It's hard to know where to start on this piece of cinema garbage. I met Judith Guest once (she's from my home state), and you might think that that encounter would have sweetened my attitude going into this viewing. But when I see a film that's so bad on nearly every level, like "Ordinary People" is, no amount of charm on the part of the writer can sway me.

I think the music in the film is a good place to start. Pachelbel's tedious, boring "Canon in D Major," placed like heavy stone bookends at the beginning and conclusion of the movie, exemplifies the rhythmic, repetitious, gag-worthy melodrama of the story, and its association with high society fits the well-worn pants of the "rich people with problems" scenario from which this film can't seem to get away.

The cinematography is serviceable, but by no means is it innovative or even especially beautiful. Neither is the sound used in any new or meaningful way.

One might argue that camerawork and audio engineering were made simple with the intent of focusing attention on the story or the performances. But what story? The whiny, self-indulgent, tennis sweater-donning tragedy of a well-to-do family on the rocks? Or maybe director Robert Redford wanted us to concentrate on the high school-level psychology the film throws at us like an afternoon PSA.

To be kind, the performances, save for that of the always austere and dignified Donald Sutherland, are flaccid and contrived at best. Mary Tyler Moore is especially bad as she begins to pack her suitcase and breaks down crying, and it's clear that she is being coached by someone offscreen as her face twitches around and her eyes keep focusing on an unidentified point.

The fact that "Ordinary People" stole the Academy's "Best Picture" award in 1980 from both "Raging Bull" and "The Elephant Man"--undoubtedly two of the best films in Hollywood history--will go down as one of the all-time greatest crimes against cinema, not only because those two films are better than this one, but because this one is so very bad.


I should also note, if only for personal recording, that today is my 20th birthday. I have work for six hours and then class for six hours. Happy birthday, uh-huh.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Songs that Defined My Summer

In the past, I've always been of the opinion that lists like this one were simply pretentious attempts both to impress the reader with the writer's impeccable taste in music and also to instill in the writer a certain sense of smuggadocio. But now that I'm a hot-shit college sophomore with a taste for Canadian Club and a painful awareness of whose sleeves are rolled up Italian-style (thanks, GQ), I think I've scored enough undeserved self-satisfaction to make my own list. It's also been the first summer of my life where something very embarrassing (like Coldplay or Death Cab, both music taste death sentences but also guilty pleasures of mine) hasn't marred my seasonal score. I've only bought three new albums this year, one of which was, I admit, Viva la Vida; but the other two, Beck's Modern Guilt and Nine Inch Nails' The Slip (which I guess I didn't technically buy). Everything else on the list was either something less new of which I hadn't previously been aware or something from my own library that hadn't previously caught my ear. I tend to discover new music I already own all the time, I guess as a result of my bad habit of not listening to albums all the way through when I buy them. Anyway, enough about my sensibilities as an audience. Here you go:

Sonic Youth: Incinerate
I know, I know. This is about as accessible a song as you'll find in the Sonic Youth catalog. And I suppose it could be counted against me that the first time I heard it was at a Youth concert when they played with the Flaming Lips. I couldn't get around the observation that all their fans in the general admission crowd seemed so adamant about slam-dancing (even during breaks between songs) to grasp how awesome this track really is. It took a surprise listen on one of my most deliberately ignored radio stations, The Current, to get me into it. It's starting to be just un-cool enough to like Sonic Youth that I can allow myself to listen to them without feeling like a douchebag. Fleet Foxes will have to wait, though.

Beck: Round the Bend
Sea Change, which in general is probably Beck's most hated album of all time will probably be etched in as one of my top five albums of all time. I'd go so far as to say that this eerie, sinisterly melodic engineering masterpiece has had as much of an impact on my love of the American West (or at least my glamorized idea of it) as did my aunt who bought me embroidered boots, spurs and a six-shooter when I was visiting her in Oregon about a decade and a half ago. The album itself has been a mainstay of my collection for a couple of years now, but the song in question has only made me drool for the last few months, coinciding directly with my sudden infatuation with well-loved killer Charles Starkweather. The bleakness of the song matches my vision of the stark landscapes of Nebraska and Wyoming, black and white highways, classic cars, non-filtered cigarettes, blah blah blah.

Vashti Bunyan: Glow Worms
Here's a song I listened to and eventually learned with the intention of playing it for a certain woman in my life. I never did and probably never will, and I fear this strikes a poor precedent for the path of the rest of the relationship.

Nine Inch Nails: Right where it Belongs
I've always liked this song, but I've been listening to it more often than usual these last few months, partially in preparation for the NIN show on August 2nd (which was canceled; THANKS, TRENT). I guess I also listened to it a lot this summer because I know the lyrics to it, and I've been on a big singalong jag recently.

Brahms: Allegro con Giocoso III
I fucking LOVED There Will Be Blood, and for a little while, I actually tried to build the wardrobe of a 1920's petroleum tycoon, but I soon realized that I don't have the financial heft, even in 1920's dollars, required for such an undertaking. I did, however, have the 99 cents required for the third part of Brahms' soul-igniting violin concerto, which is the last piece of music in the film. I invariably find myself listening to this in my car, steering with one hand and vigorously conducting the orchestra on the road in front of me with the other.

Flight of the Conchords: Think About It
Here's one I memorized by placing my computer next to the shower stall and turning the speakers all the way up. I guess what I like about it, atypically brilliant melodies aside, is that it makes fun of everything I worry about in this sick world, but somehow keeps a certain reverence that tells us maybe we should care a little more.

Elton John: Tiny Dancer
Another one I listened to a lot because I knew the lyrics, but also just a really great fucking song. I think it will make a good karaoke challenge some night when I'm trashed.

Bob Dylan: Simple Twist of Fate
I've listened to this many times in the past, but it struck a new chord this summer as the aforementioned woman in my life has nested comfortably in the better part of my thoughts. I'd like to think the fact that I've been able to connect this song to my life in a meaningful way means that I'm starting to embrace a more adult (and therefore, more authentic, right?) idea of love, although I realize that Dylan probably wrote it with a wistful sense of nostalgic, youthful romance in the air.

The Seeds: Can’t Seem to Make You Mine
Take all the subtlety and smoothness out of the last song, and you've got a good picture of this song to work with. This one's a bit ornery and twangy and garage-y, but it's great. And yes, the first time I heard it was in the AXE commercial.

David Bowie: Quicksand
I won't pretend I know entirely what this song is about, but I just love it. I didn't discover it until I burned Hunky Dory for my nephew and we (I say we because, although he is one year old, he stayed in the room while it was playing) listened to it all the way through.

Elliott Smith: Christian Brothers
Elliott Smith will probably be the last bastion of my whiny folk music phase.

Frédéric Chopin – Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23
I've never been good at adapting to the very much pragmatic system of naming music used by everybody back in the good old days. These damn kids are so used to their hooks and licks and jingles. So it's understandable if the exact piece of music I'm talking about doesn't come to mind when I reference it, even with a catchy title like Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23. You might remember it better as the woeful piano music that makes up the bulk of the soundtrack for The Pianist.

Beck: Chemtrails
I guess the fact that Beck released his new album about the same time I started to really like the kind of music on it means he's a year or two ahead of me in music taste. Bravo, Beck.

MGMT: Electric Feel
The return of disco music has coincided with my bitchy, dandy popinjay phase. Blame it on a simple twist of fate.

The Knife: Heartbeats (Live)
How I find something to love in a press-hating, shrill duo of Swedes with a penchant for Black Plague-era fashion and oscillating keyboards is something of a mystery. Or maybe not.

The Rolling Stones: Wild Horses
This song is so untouchably perfect to me that I can't say I know quite how to put down my feelings about it. Even the fact that Mick Jagger sort of stole it from Keith Richards and rewrote the lyrics to change its meaning altogether doesn't soil it for me.

Bon Iver: Flume
I only put this one in because it was playing on my iPod the only time I've ever been pulled over, which was some time in June, I think. I got off with a warning, so, you know, it's something of a good luck charm.

Daniel Johnston: Grievances
Again with that gulldarned woman.

Marvin Gaye: The Star-Spangled Banner
My hearing this song was maybe the only good thing to come out of either Nike or the Olympics in a long, long time. Leave it to Marvin Gaye to put some soul into the whitest song of all time, and to produce a few tears in the crowd while doing it. I'm no patriot in the traditional sense, but I just about lit up a dozen bottle rockets with a NASCAR lighter after I heard this the first time.

My apologies if this list was insufferably boring. But, as my former writing teacher (who must be thinking this blog is becoming a little him-centric by now) asked me, "if you don't like your own writing, why would you make other people read it?" I'm doing it because it took a long time to write, so someone had better well fucking appreciate it!

Friday, July 25, 2008, Pt. I

I drove one of these at work today. Well, not this exact one. But the difference to the average blog enthusiast (and frankly, to me) is negligible. I black-and-whited the shit out of the picture to make it more "me", but don't you think there's some kind of shame implied there? A tiny bulldozer is a tiny bulldozer, right? Who am I to desaturate its mustard yellow paint and crop the frame around it for better balance? I mean, fuck. What's this need to turn every image into the album cover for Nebraska? I'd like to think of myself as relatively nonpretentious, but it's hard not to feel like a pompous ass doing the job I do some days.

I work for the street department in my hometown, and it really is everything you'd expect it to be. Sun-soaked afternoons tossing hot, oily sand into a gouge in the road, punctuated intermittently by periods of shovel-leaning boredom. Diesel-fuel stains on worn-out dad jeans. A break room full of forty-something racists with chips on their shoulders. Greasy men driving big trucks and swearing at each other.

Those who know me will understand why I feel out of place in this job. I am what you might call "little", embodying the marshmallow-fed, outcast, Midwestern nerd-child stereotype we've all come to know and love since the release and runaway success of Juno. I'm like Paulie Bleeker without the track and field records. Also I'm not nice and I don't get laid. Frankly, that was a terrible comparison. What were we talking about again?

Right. Suppose Jack Black decided to put on a shirt and do manual labor for eight hours a day with a dozen or so hard-bodied, sun-leathered Aryans for a summer. Except with more pantomimed masturbation. Yeah, more.

Today, my primary task was shoveling a year's buildup worth of grease, lost bolts and nuts, dirt from truck tires, and a moldy organic buildup on top of it all out of the trench drains in the mechanic shop. The consistency of this muck is somewhere between wet sand and Jello pudding, and it smells something like a mulched, half-rotten pile of forest litter in a wet rubber bag. I have to bend much further down than is naturally all right to be able to scrape the bottom of the foot-deep concrete ditch, and then I get to take this shovelful of ashen gray, petroleum-saturated, black fluid-dripping deliciousness and dump it into the front-end bucket of the tiny bulldozer seen above.

Somewhere toward the end of my toils, by which point I must have scooped half a ton or so of this awful shit, I see something skipping around, ornery and lively, in the gutter. It's a tiny frog, covered in a brown slick. Only his eyes shine yellow through the mechanical filth. I'm reminded of countless Green Peace-funded videos showing oil-drenched pelicans being restrained and gently washed by freckled nature girls. But, barring a sponsorship from Dove Soap, I am forced simply to snatch up my amphibian partner and place him in the tiny oasis of trees near the shop.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Two-Thirty, Time for Dentist, Tooth Hurty

Today I had my third dental appointment in just over a month. I had a crown and two fillings, the first of what I'm sure will be many happy insertions in my oral biography.

First, the OK-looking dental assistant swabs the left side of my mouth out with a numbing gel that's supposed to be strawberry-flavored. The end result is somewhere south of Halls Wild Cherry Cough Drops, but not quite as foul as Nyquil.

I'm left to read an old National Geographic in the office (and if my writing teacher from last semester is reading this, he will surely get the literary reference) as I slowly begin to lose the feeling in my gums. There's an article about commercial products inspired by naturally occurring phenomena like the bristled foot-pads of geckos and the drag-reducing texture of shark skin. And yes, the article belabors the hell out of the whole cocklebur-velcro story.

The OK-looking assistant comes back with My Dentist in tow. Now it's time for novocaine. Supposedly by now, my mouth is supposed to be unable to feel anything, but when the needle pierces the inside of my cheek, I feel it sink deep into my jaw, into fleshy recesses I didn't know existed until they were penetrated by this stainless conquistador. The hypodermic Cortés strikes a nerve, sending a jolt of flicking stingers all the way up through my lips.

Properly anesthetized, it's time to take out my temporary, plastic crown, seated on my rearmost molar, and replace it with a permanent, porcelain one. My Dentist mercilessly thrusts in and yanks out the new crown, stopping at short intervals to file away bits of doll-face replacement tooth until it fits. When she is satisfied, she squirts some kind of godawful fluid that tastes something like salty poop, which will "make the area achy for awhile but will really help me out in the long run". It hurts. The assistant then begins brutally flossing the area "to get rid of excess adhesive", and the nylon filament comes out covered in blood. "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" by Aerosmith is playing over the intercom. I am comforted by this, because it means that Stephen Tyler and Company have now been relegated to the dreaded queue of "muzak". In any case, the overhead observation light I've been staring into throughout the exam begins to resemble a bottom view of the firing thrusters of some asteroid-killing space rocket carrying no fewer than five famous actors.

Not skipping a beat, My Dentist begins digging holes in two of my other teeth, noting that her wild drillstrokes are shredding the fuck out of my gums, so those'll probably be sore for awhile, too. Switching randomly between the two teeth with that fucking drill, I feel as though My Dentist is having a really bad game of "Operation". It's not water on the knee, butterflies in the stomach, or a charley horse, goddammit. Every time that diamond-tipped bit sinks into my teef, it's like someone's running a live wire down into my jaw and shocking the shit out of it. Now my mouth is like an unevenly moist, bloody salty poopy cesspool.

My Dentist begins filling in the strip mines she's made of my bicuspid and first molar, telling me that the filler "smells bad, sorry".

"Well, at least it tastes great," I think. The filling filler smells like burnt garlic-rubber. My Dentist is no liar. Then a little more drilling and picking to smooth things out.

Then, suddenly, we're finished. My mouth is still wide open, and My Dentist begins tilting my chair up. The OK-looking assistant asks if I'd like a mouth-rinse, and although I'm thoroughly enjoying having an unwashed, sweaty orgy in my mouth, I nod my head obligingly. Then I'm expected to get up and leave the office. I feel like I'm missing something. I'm stumbling around in the lobby and then out to the parking lot, but nothing happens. I feel oddly used after this relatively short but excruciating appointment, but not necessarily upset. It's as if I've been taken advantage of by someone I sort of like anyway, you know? I don't know what, if anything, I could have expected. It's not like I have a fuck-on-the-third-date rule.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Where's the Poop?

It's been a long time, but I don't know where else to turn. While this was meant primarily to be a video blog, I refuse to further update my old blog, which, while occupying a very cached-away place of love in my soul has proven too embarrassing and misunderstandishable for further use.

I only write now because I have realized that to write is a commitment tantamount to that which one must give a child or a lover, and although I don't actually know what I'm talking about, it must be that this is true because someone else's blog says so. I expect that what I have to say will rarely be of any consequence or relevance to anyone but myself, but perhaps time and a yet-unexposed group of similarly world-weary, pretentious young bastards will prove me wrong.

Now then; today I'd like to talk about Mickey Dee's, and more specifically about the meat of the matter. WacArnold's has launched a campaign, emblazoned on the sandwich boxes grabbed at by our corpulent children, bragging that their burgers are made with 100% Pure Beef. Rather than taking a more reassuring "This is what isn't in our food" route with a title like "FDA Allowable 2% Animal Feces," the Golden Arches has called into question the content of all of the Quarter Pounders, Double Quarter Pounder with Cheeses, and Big 'n Tasties made and served before these ads were printed. Am I supposed to assume that my suspicions have always been correct; that the hamburgers of my childhood were not only assembled and served with beef and a smile, but also with a dash of medical waste?

Maybe I'm being unrealistic. Maybe it's just that, before this campaign, McDreamy's put the meat from other animals into their sandwiches. That wouldn't be so bad, would it? Christ knows we've all had hotdogs that probably had a few bits of pigeon or saltwater iguana in them, and the worst that ever came of that was violent, effervescent diarrhea, right?

I know, I know. I'm being very hard on America's most popular eatery. I apologize. After all, they're just saying what they are. Certainly that must be better than the wily pitches of snakeoil salesmen Billy Mays and Ron Popeil. But something about McDuck's' sudden decision to advertise the contents of their meat smacks of the same kind of false sincerity observable in the "About Me" sections of countless MySpace rapists and in the smile of Ronald Reagan. Haven't Ray Kroc and company had something like fifty years to make their burgers with 100% Pure Beef, or at least to say so? Why now? Is it because of that ambiguously motivated but brilliantly cast Richard Linklater film? I want answers, McDonald's Chairman Andrew J. McKenna, Sr.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

God DAMN You Are One Suave FUCKER

This is my first ever video blog post. Enjoy.

Jeffrey Beaumont