Archive for June, 2003

4th of July

Saturday, June 28th, 2003

Well, the show went superbly. We had fun, I only screwed up a few times, and by the end of our set sweat was getting my brow wet. And into my eyes.

Up with hope, down with dope!


Monday, June 23rd, 2003

Sorry loyal readers, but I’ve been busy today. I worked 9-5 and five minutes after I got home Shawn called me. We worked on vocals. The station wagon got a flat, so I have to go in to Les Scwab before work and get the damn thing fixed. Oh, boy! I get to be stressed out while the fix my tire, fearing it’ll make me late! So please excuse me, but I need to write a poem for the KidsFirst Poetry Slam before bed. Current listening: REM, “Nightswimming”: “Nightswimming deserves a quiet night. / The photograph on the dashboard, taken years ago, / turned around backwards so the windshield shows. / Every streetlight reveals the picture in reverse.” Peace.


Sunday, June 22nd, 2003
Hot and Not

Lay’s Chicago Steakhouse Loaded Baked Potato Potato Chips
“Paradise Hotel” on Fox

There’s no better idicator of the health of free enterprise than a business hiring the homeless to advertise for it: Pizza Company Hires Homeless to Advertise. By the way, be doing this weird thing, they also get free coverage from major news sources like CNN and crummy online diaries like this one! What a bunch of friggin’ geniuses.

Last night I watched Big Trouble, the movie based on the novel by the funniest man in America, former Iraqui information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf. No, sorry, I mean Dave Barry (who also has a blog). It was quite funny. One of those fast-paced, cram-as-many-jokes-into-an-hour-and-a-half movies. And the hallucinagenic-squirting toad (a great name for a rock band, zing! Dave Barryism) was classic.

I would like to point out the new feature on the blog for Sundays, the icon “Hot and Not.” Every week, I’ll pick something I find so freakin’ awesome that it blows my mind, and something so freakin’ lame it’ll make the Backstreet Boys look cool in comparison. I drew the icons myself, aren’t they pretty?

Well, today I did some work. Paid work. I had a hell of a time finding the place, though. It seems that Mapquest (I am not linking to protest) told me to turn onto Main Street in Hamilton, then left on Ricketts. For those of you familiar with Hamiltonian geography, Ricketts obviously does not go past Main Street; it stops at the graveyard. So I drove around up by Schneeb’s house for close to a friggin’ hour trying to find the damn place. I finally stopped at this bed and breakfast thingie and called the guy. Maybe I should have chosen Mapquest for my “Not” pick of the week.

Current Listening:
Bad Religion: “Change of Ideas”
So many theories, so many prophecies
What we do need is a change of ideas
When we are scared we can hide in our reveries
But what we need is a change of ideas
Change of ideas, change of ideas
What we do need is a change of ideas

Remember the mouse? The dead on that scared my sister half to death? This guy’s daughter, who is about Maggie’s age, found some live mice in their animal food bucket thingie. A mommy mouse and a baby mouse. Maybe the mummified one my sister found was their daddy, huh? Zing!

I have written three songs for the record NWI is supposed to be recording. We might learn one. They are: “I Really Do Have a Girlfriend”, one of those joke songs about a guy who makes up his girlfriend, “Someday”, a song about living in a boring, tiny, dead town, and “United We Stand”, a song about Americans standing together in ignorance. The highlight of that tune is the a capella break that describes the flag as John Ashcroft’s “stained shit rag.” It’s harmonized! I bought a special T-shirt for our next show; it’s so awesome! It’s an American flag, and below it are the words “UNITED WE STAND” in block letters. And it was only $5.99! Imagine that; patriotism can be bought so cheaply. With that digression over, I’d like to finsih by saying that I’ve also written a couple of songs that have lyrics that are too emotional or aren’t fast enough to be punk, so those go on the next solo record, which I will probably record before the end of the summer.


Saturday, June 21st, 2003

What Kind of Girlfriend Am I?

You're a Motherly little Girlfriend
-Motherly- You’re the motherly type. You love to
take care of the one you love, and generally
you can be a bit overprotective and possessive,
but you know, that isn’t always such a bad
thing. At least you’ll be a good mom in the

What Kind of Girlfriend Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Review: R.E.M – Up

Saturday, June 21st, 2003

Record Review: R.E.M. : Up

This is one of those records that took me a while to appreciate. I got it back when it came out, during my freshman year of high school. Back then I was a huge Nirvana fan, and I read somewhere that REM was an influence on their sound. So I blindly picked up the most recent REM disc. Needless to say, I hated it. It was so mellow, so acoustic, and above all so weak. Or so I thought.

This record was released after REM’s longtime drummer Bill Berry left the band, and it shows. Yes, there are some live (sounding) drums, but drum machines pepper the record. Not that this is a bad thing; they really add to some tracks, like the halcyon “Airportman”, a track drive more by Michael Stipe’s tranquil lyrics and by looped windchimes than by drums.

My only real quibble with this album is that the guitar is kind of buried. It’s still there — the striking lead on “Lotus” proves that. But it could have been louder. Maybe that’s just my latent headbanger emerging from his slumber. Standing

Current Listening:
Screeching Weasel: “A New Tomorrow”
We don’t need protection against anything anybody might say
We know the government can’t improve our lives anyway
We don’t need to drug ourselves anymore to keep the boredom away
We don’t need anything except relying on ourselves for a change
I can see a new tomorrow

in for the guitar on most of this record are innumerable keyboards: from epic synths on the uplifting closer “Falls to Climb” to organ on several songs to piano on the Beach Boys-influenced “At My Most Beautiful.”

The standout track on the album is the blissfully concise “Why Not Smile.” This one has harpsichord among other things, but it works. Beautifully. Stipe’s melody resolves to the tonic on each line, reinforcing the track’s otherwise staid “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” theme.

There are one or two sleeper tracks that have not, and perhaps will not, grow on me. The song “Diminished”, no standout itself, segues into a sparse acoustic number, “I’m Not Over You.” This vignette doesn’t work. The guitar is a little too sparse, sounding like it was recorded on a boom box. The song sounds incomplete and unfinished — an isolated island in a sea of creativity — almost as if it were an afterthought. The only other song that doesn’t really do it for me is “You’re in the Air”, a trip into falsetto that is best left to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.

But these are merely good tracks on what is a fantastic album. Staunch headbangers like my fourteen year-old self will be disappointed, but grown music aficionados will find it strangely appealing. This record is the perfect one to fall asleep to. Not because it’s boring, but because it’s soothing. A wonderful melody and a drum loop can be strangely soporific.


Friday, June 20th, 2003

Kind of like this, but less terrifying

A dead mouse. That was why I was awakened this morning (after — thank you!– having been up very late) earlier than usual. Because my sister was feeding the cat (Boo) and dog (Cisco). She dug down into our outdoor ‘food container’ (just a black garbage bin-type thing with a lid). She says she thought she saw some duct tape and picked it up. And it was a dead and mummifying mouse! She screamed, I woke up, and was grumpy. Guess who had to dispose of it too, me being the only ‘man’ in the house?

So I chilled at Kyle’s again last night. Lots of people there at the height of the night. Shawn picked up a bottle of rum for me, so I wasn’t without my spirits! I saw Loren and Chase and Keith — basically all the guys from my class who went to UM this year. Shawn played Waterfall with six girls and of course all the rules he made up involved people licking him. Needless to say, when your only booze is rum you don’t play Waterfall unless you really hate your liver.

Current Listening:
Radiohead: “Backdrifts”
We’re rotten fruit
We’re damaged goods
What the hell
We got nothing left to lose

But that was not the only substance abuse to partake in! Kyle had some big fat Cuban cigars, and Shawn and I shared one on the porch. I’m not much of a tobacco fan, but the lure of puffing on a stoagie was too much. I eventually got to the point where it didn’t feel like every puff was a semi slamming into my chest. I do not, however, think I will start smoking. It’s expensive and, well, pretty gross.

It was Jordan’s good-bye party. We’re gonna miss him. It seems like everybody is leaving (imagine that!). Jordan. Carl went already. At least most of my good friends are heading up to Missoula next year.


Thursday, June 19th, 2003

Owwww my hands hurt! I spent yesterday morning digging a ditch. Then pulling apart this wooden insulation box thingie… with a crowbar! Anyway, I was wearing gloves when I was using my shovel and the gloves took off a fair chunk of the skin on my thumb… now it hurts to play guitar… me so sad!

A (Strange) Dream

Tuesday, June 17th, 2003
Current Listening:
REM: “Why Not Smile?”
You’ve been so sad
It makes me worried
Why not smile?
You’ve been sad for a while
Why not smile?

I’m typing this thing on an original iMac keyboard, which means that ever seven or so characters I hit a wrong key because the damn thing is so small.

I believe that last night I had the weirdest dream I’ve ever had. It actually had some sort of plot for a while, until the Dream Randomizerâ„¢ in my brain decided to throw all that crap out the window.

It starts out on a desert island country with an opressive dictator. When I say desert, I mean desert. As far as I can remember, there is no water on the island whatsoever. So maybe its inhabitants collected rain water or something. And when I say dictator, I mean dictator. People who oppose his will are thrown into prison or are torched with gasoline. Seriously.

Surprisingly, I was not a character in this dream. It was a little short guy who, upon reflection, reminds me of Ziggy. So we’ll call him ‘Ziggy.’ All the people on the island were short and vaguely cartoon-character proportioned: you know, their heads were twice the size of normal heads.

Now Ziggy was a model citizen. But he was always thirsty. So he started digging in the sand one day. Pretty much randomly, since the entire island was basically a sandbox with houses on it. And an Exxon gas station. I remember that it was an Exxon station acutely. Anyway, after days of digging, he found a hose with running water. Yes! A hose. Just like that. Buried in the sand.

The protagonist of my Dali-esque dream

Now, for some strange reason, Ziggy had to be clandestine about his discovery. I’m guessin it’s because the dictator would have taken the water for himself. So Ziggy showed one or two of his friends and gave them drinks. He kept the hose secret and kept it safe.

Rumors began to spread about the water hose, and the dictator sent out guards to find the person who was so selfishly quenching the thirst of the populace. Ziggy decided to compose a Jack the Ripper-style letter to taunt the king, so he did so on one of those pieces of paper with the lines on which kidnergarteners learn to write. I am not making this up.

This is where the dream gets weird.

While he was going into the ocean to deliver it (apparently, it was a message in a bottle), he ran into a mermaid. Kind of like Ariel, but lacking the sea-shells, if you catch my drift (ooo! nice pun). She had black hair. She gave him a letter, then went off. This is a paraphrase of the letter:

Dear Desert Island Kingdom,

We are writing this to laugh at you. We live on the island across the ocean [how could they inhabit an island if they’re mermaids for God’s sake?!]. We don’t wear any clothes and have plenty of water and eat fruit all day long. So there!

Disheartened by this letter, Ziggy dropped it back into the ocean and went home.

The next day, the soldiers came and arrested him. Surprisingly, it was not for being the “Hose Bandit.” They pulled an Al Capone on him and got him for theft, building sand castles, and ‘eating cheese.’ I swear to God I am not making this up. To punish him, the dictator made him work in a gas station.

The last part of the dream, the only part I was in, was me coming in while the dictator (who I guess now was only the Exxon station’s manager) berated Ziggy. I asked if they had any custard doughnuts (a favorite of mine), and Ziggy pointed to one which was huge and covered with black frosting. The dream ended there. Sadly, I didn’t get to eat the doughnut in the dream.

So my Interpunk stickers came today: Screeching Weasel, The Riverdales, The Queers, and the Ramones. My guitar was also finished up today. I think I’m going to name it “Gwen”, after Peter Parker’s first love. It was, after all, my first guitar. Electric. My first guitar, my Yamaha acoustic, should be called “Liz” after Parker’s high school crush. Yes. I am a geek. For those readers who don’t know, my newest guitar, an Epiphone SG, is named “Mary Jane” after Spider-Man’s wife. Anyway, my guitar has tuners again so I can tune it without trouble. I also picked up Radiohead’s new album, Hail to the Thief, and a new set of strings. Know how much this cost me? $32, and with my $10 gift certificate from the Battle of the Bands that NWI won, it was only $22. I was afraid I’d plonk down over fifty bucks. Now I might even go to the Warped Tour. I need to call my buddy John and see what he’s doing; he usually goes.

Marry Me, Sabrina Lloyd!

Sunday, June 15th, 2003

Marry me, Sabrina Lloyd, and we can celebrate our shared birthday together

So ends another weekend. I’m watching the Dilbert cartoon right now on Comedy Central. They’re like K-Mart for expired TV shows which have only six episodes: The Critic, the aforementioned Dilbert, Clerks, Undergrads. Plus, Sports Night is on later tonight. As we all should know, Sports Night features the fabulously pretty Sabrina Lloyd as Natalie. Coincidentally, the actress has the same birthday as me — November 20. That show was really, really good; I think it’s the only comedy ever to not have a laugh track. Too bad it got canned.

I went to K-Mart to get my Father’s Day present today: a 50-pack of CD-R’s. I also picked up the deal of the century. It was a greatest hits compilation from Little Richard. Only $5.00! “Keep a Knockin'” is an awesome song, as is “Rip It Up” — a tune The Queers cover. I also got some CD-R’s for myself, since I ran out last month. The final purchase I made was a new portable CD player for the car. For those readers who do not know, here is a history of music and my driving:

November 1999 I get my license. For my birthday my parents give me a personal CD player.

March 2000 I hook my CD player up to a device which broadcasts to the radio in the car. The sound is okay, but crummy — Nellie’s speakers are tinny at best. This almost exactly coincides with my purchase of No Substance by Bad Religion.

October 2000 I hook up a power amp to the line output of the CD player and the radio broadcast thingie to the headphone output. I connect a speaker box to the power amp.

Current Listening:
Screeching Weasel: “Falling Apart”
If I smile outside and roll back my eyes
And shake hands do you know what?
I can’t even tell that I’m
Not even welcome in the town where I grew up
‘Cause I’m in my own world
And you’re not a part of it
I’m in my own world
And it’s falling apart

The system sounds better, but is jury-rigged and prone to falling apart.

July 2001 In a freak accident, I put a guy’s trailer hitch through my radiator grille (but not the radiator) on Main Street in Hamilton. This happened, by the way, because I was fidgiting with the sound system and the brakes in Nellie suck.

November 2001 My parents give me an in-dash CD player for my birthday, as well as new speakers for Nellie. For the first time, music in the car is easy and sounds good.

November 2002 The CD player starts going on the fritz.

May 2003 I hook up the previous portable Discman to the line input on my dashboard CD player. It sounds good, but my music listening is once again battery powered.

May 25 2003 Tiny Gremlins or demons infiltrate the CD player and it refuses to play CD-R’s.

June 5 2003 All CDs, regardless of their origin, stop working in the portable player except The Queers’ Pleasant Screams.

So I got a new one for $25. It plays CD-R’s!

Top Ten Albums of 2002: No Use For a Name – Hard Rock Bottom

Friday, June 13th, 2003

The Top Ten Albums of 2002

#9 No Use For A Name – Hard Rock Bottom

Hard Rock Bottom is a poppy CD with a fresh aftertaste, kind of like Colgate compared to Western Family brand toothpaste. Sure, the Western Family cleans your teeth, but it also makes your mouth feel like you’ve been sucking on an eighty-year old mint from grandma’s candy dish. NUFAN does the pop-punk thing, but they do it right.

I have their last album, Making Friends, but I wasn’t really too impressed with it. The drumming was monotonous (it was waaaay too fast; the bass drum sounded like the ticking of a hyperactive clock) and none of the songs really stuck in my head, except for the Celtic ballad “Fields of Athenry.” I pretty much gave up on NUFAN until I heard their song on Fat Music 5, “Let Me Down.” That song was awesome: the hooks, the harmonies, everything. Seeing them live at the Warped Tour this year convinced me to give NUFAN another go.

So when I heard about their new disc I decided to give it a whirl. Pleasantly, Hard Rock Bottom more than made up for the shortcomings of Making Friends. Yes, there are still some songs that have super-fast kick drum parts, but they share time with slower, more thoughtful songs, like the opening track, ‘Feels Like Home,’ which lacks percussio althogether. That first track is bare minimalism: just frontman Tony Sly’s voice and a clean electric guitar. It seagues into ‘International You Day,’ a somewhat cheesy song with poppy lyrics: “Without you my life is incomplete / My thoughs are absolutely gray.” Right, Tony Sly.

And therin lies my only real complaint about the album: the lyrics. Usually, NUFAN has some awesome lyrical lines behind their music, but there were some real stinkers on this album. For example, in ‘International You Day:’ “Nothing that I’ve tried is as simple as this line.” C’mon, a meta-reference in a love song? Another example, in “Pre-Medicated Murder”: “More times than five, I’ve been right here by your side.” Yuck. What does the number five have to do with anything? I have no extreme problem with the poppy songs, which dominate on this release, but some of those lines make me want to bang my head against a wall, and not in that ‘fuck society’ type of way.

But, aside from that minor quibble, this album rocks. The band was even brave enough to include an orchestra on the introduction to the aforementioned ‘Pre-Medicated Murder’, and an organ on the intro to ‘Any Number Can Play.’ That song seems to be a thinly-veiled attack on Top Forty Radio, which I’m all for. I could seriously see No Use next to Sum-41 or Blink 182, and I mean nothing bad by that. These guys have talent. They’d have to add a number to their name, though (maybe “No Use For A 412?”).

The standout track is definately the duet ‘This is a Rebel Song”, which is a cover of a Sinead O’Connor tune. Why didn’t Tony have the guts to sing this himself, though? Too shy to croon ‘I love you my hard Englishman,’ Mr. Sly? I’m being facetious, though. It’s a lovely number, replete with awesome harmonies.

Then there is ‘Insecurity Alert,’ one of those songs that reeks of post-9/11 sympathy. Those songs suck; I think America needs to get over what happened to those planes, instead of wallowing in musical sympathy. I actually like this song, though. It’s not whiny, nor is it filled with accusations of conspiracy. It asks us to question what happened — in a good way — and to question America’s reaction, especially toward the Islamic: “Set up the guillotine and televise the execution, we have to ask ourselves, ‘Can we feel safe?'”. That song is the only overtly political tune on the disc, and I’m glad for it. If I want a number of political songs, I’ll put in my copy of Underground Network.

This disc could definately become one of my favorites. Sure, some of the lyrics could have been written in a high-school creative-writing class, but others are purely brilliant (“And all the happy pills make her look like a cardboard cutout of someone I used to learn from”). The musicianship, although at times a little too fast, is interesting and a nice alternative to the all-too-happy sounding pop-punk camp. The harmones rival those of Bad Religion or Reel Big Fish, and the CD is exactly the right length: a little over half an hour. Just enough time to ride my bike around the neighborhood and harmonize with all the songs, to the bewilderment of passersby. And to me that’s the ultimate test of a band: do their songs make me want to sing along?