Sunday, March 30, 2008
Things really haven't changed too much. I'll be getting my first paycheck tomorrow, which will be very welcome. The baseball season starts in full over the next few days, so all will be well. On April 10, WHY? is going to be in Lawrence, later on in the month the Kids in the Hall will be performing in KC, then sometime next month They Might Be Giants are going to be in town. I'm kind of impressed with the amount of shows that are coming through here. I just found out that Matt Pond PA was here last night, not that I really would've been able to afford it, but who knows. The Appleseed Cast played here last night, too. Ingrid Michaelson will be here on Tuesday, and The Walkmen will be playing with Spoon on Wednesday. RJD2 is on Wednesday, the 16th. Then the first weekend in May could be an Iowa musician weekend for me. William Elliot Whitmore is playing on the 3rd, Greg Brown will be playing, along with his daughter Pieta.
You know what? I will make the artists of Iowa my recommendation for the week or so.
Here's Whitmore's Daytrotter Session.
Here's a link to Greg Brown's site with some mp3's you can listen to. Check them both out!
I think there may be something that I'm looking forward to even more. At work, a few guys and I have talked about it, and decided to make the 5th month of the year Mutton May. We're going to try to get all of the guys in the Overland Park location to grow mutton chops during the month. Not just normal chops, though. No. We're going for the friendly mutton. I'm not sure how it came about, but a couple of guys were talking about Civil War-era facial hair, and it all just came together. So, at least the men on the 3rd floor have decided to do it, and we're going to try to get the girls to be judges for the best chop. And most of us have decided to start now. I'm going to need the month-long head start to have any chance, but you can be assured that I'll keep a photographic log of how things progress.
A couple of last items. First off, apologies to those up north. From the sounds of it, there's going to be some nasty weather for the next day or two. Secondly, I've been watching the movie Stardust while I've been watching it, and enjoying it very very much. It's an action/adventure movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, has a good-looking Claire Danes, and an enjoyable plot. This, and the surprisingly good Simpson movie that Charczuk and I watched last night, and it's been a good weekend for watching movies.
I hope everyone else's weekend has been as productive and fun and delicious!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
I was thinking of channeling my inner Bill Simmons and doing a running diary throughout the game, but decided against it, mostly because it's 5 in the morning, and I don't feel like typing constantly. I'm not going to miss the game, though. It's probably been almost 20 years since I've missed the very first pitch of the season, including the two times the season started overseas (Yankees/[Devil] Rays in 2004, Cubs/Mets in I think 2001?).
So get, grab a hot dog, root, root, root for the A's, and play ball!
5:20 AM Central - Eh, screw it, I'll do a running diary for a little while. Dice-K was off to a good start, his very first pitch was an out. The next three: ball, ball, the first home run of the season by Mark Ellis. Then, 6 of the next 7 pitches have been balls. (Right after Steve Phillips said Matsuzaka can throw 7 pitches for strikes at any time. And he wonders why he hasn't managed in 4 or 5 years.) All this after the Sox got a leadoff hit, then the next three went down in order. Awesome.
5:25 - Former Kansas City Royal Emil Brown is up to bat, after Jack Cust is hit by pitch, and surprise, surprise, first pitch ball. Now a wild pitch, advancing runners to second and third. Is it too early for ESPN to run stories about what's wrong with the Red Sox? Probably not.
Now is a good time, I guess to mention that another former Royal, Mike Sweeney, is now on the A's. Good for him, I hope he has a great season. I appreciate the time he spent in Kansas City, and wish things could've worked out better the last few years, but still, I will cheer him on all season.
Meanwhile, Dice-K walks Brown to load the bases.
5:35 - Brandon Moss gets the start because JD Drew has a "stiff back." Which I'm pretty sure is code for "he hit a grand slam in the post-season so he feels like he's made good on his contract and only has to show up when he wants." If you can't tell, I'm not a fan of his. As I'm typing, he grounds into a fielder's choice at second, and Jason Veritek grounded into a double play. I'm sure Dice-K is happy that he got about 4 minutes to rest after he got out of the bases loaded jam only giving up one run.
5:40 - I'm kicking myself, I thought I had some hot dogs, but apparently I don't. What the hell am I supposed to eat while watching the game?? I guess I'll have to settle for Waffle Crisp.
5:43 - Cedar Rapids, IA's own Ryan Sweeney is up to bat! I wasn't aware he went to the A's, last I knew he was on the White Sox. He just skied a ball about 350 feet, both in distance from the plate, and in height. Unfortunately for him, the outfield wall is about 380 feet away.
5:47 - Trivia: first stolen base of the 2008 goes to Kurt Suzuki. Another piece of trivia: I love what these ball boys and girls are wearing. It looks like they were extras in Tron or The Running Man. I'll see if I can find a picture. . .
5:52 - I love shots of the crowd, especially when it shows Red Sox fans shaking their head after their $100+ million pitcher walks another batter. Is it too early to be sick of "Red Sox Nation?" No? Good. Feel good Red Sox fans, you have Julian Tavares warming up in the bullpen.
5:53 - Bill Simmons may have actually set himself on fire this time.
6:03 - Matsuzaka got out of the inning on a questionable strike call with bases loaded. Damn.
One thing I don't like about this early Opening Day, both of these teams still have exhibition games to play when they come back to the States. Why make the game today and tomorrow part of the regular season? Make them exhibitions, and have the normal start date here.
6:09 - David Ortiz smokes a ball, right to the the 2nd baseman playing in shallow right field, who tosses to 1st for the final out. Gotta love the shift.
6:14 - Gary Thorne just explained that Bobby Crosby has never hit a home run against Boston. Next pitch - a little dribbler to the pitcher.
6:17 - I'm feeling a home run here for Kurt Suzuki.
6:18 - or a line-out to short to end the inning.
6:20 - Commercials in this break include some retirement planning company and an erectile-dysfunction pill. I guess that probably says something about who they think is watching. They got me pegged.
6:22 - I'm pretty sure commissioner Bud Selig just asked Steve Phillips on a date
6:25 - shower time for me. I figure if I go now, and Dice-K is still pitching in the top of the inning, I'll miss about 5 batters.
6:35 - Out of the shower, and I overestimated the batters I missed. I only missed 4. I'm awesome.
I also heard Charczuk's alarm go off for the first time, meaning he'll be up in half an hour. Yes, I heard it while I was in the shower.
6:39 - Bud just told Steve he'd see him at 2 in the morning. Awkward.
6:47 - A couple of uneventful evenings. Plus, I'm a little distracted, playing Scrabulous.
6:51 - The name "Kurt Suzuki" reminds me of the baseball game we used to play on the XBox like 7 years ago, where the names for new players were generated by putting a first and last name together, based on names already in the game. Most of the time it worked out, but there was the occasional Dmitri Hasegawa or Tadahito Martinez.
6:57 - I'm pretty sure David Ortiz's face has gotten bigger. It looks like a planet, orbiting the large mass of his body. How was his name not included in the Mitchell Report? Oh, that's right. George Mitchell is in the front office of the Boston Red Sox.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox have taken the lead. Shit.
7:08 - I'm pretty sure I hate the Progressive commercials with the "shopping center" place. They just showed two in a row.
7:13 - Oakland re-takes the lead on a MAMMOTH shot by Jack Hannahan. I love home runs. I can't think of one better event in sports.
7:27 - Mark Ellis just missed his 2nd home run. Darn.
Well, I'm going to start getting ready for work, so I'll have to stop the live updates. Unfortunate. Thanks for reading this far, it's been really fun! Maybe I'll do it again for something. Like if I ever have a date, I could bring a laptop and give continuous updates. Seems like a good idea to me. Although, by the time that happens, I'm sure laptops will be very very obsolete.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
My Dearest Friends and Fans,
It is my greatest honor to present to you The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!, my new album produced by Trent Reznor and mixed by Alan Moulder. The wall of sound that we've created is tagged with such graffiti that a passerby would seek out doors and ways to ENTER. Once inside a world defined by dreams come true they'd find aligned with the simplest act of sharing what we treasure. Most people aren't aware of the world of art and commerce where exploitation strips each artist down to nigger. Each label, like apartheid, multiplies us by our divide and whips us 'til we conform to lesser figures. What falls between the cracks is a pile of records stacked to the heights of talents hidden from the sun. Yet the energy they put into popularizing smut makes a star of a shiny polished gun. The ballot or the bullet for Mohawk or the mullet is a choice between new times and dying days. And the only way to choose is to jump ship from old truths and trust dolphins as we swim through changing ways. The ways of middlemen proves to be just a passing trend. We need no priests to talk to God. No phone to call her. And when you click the link below, i think it fair that you should know that your purchase will make middlemen much poorer...
As far as the way we’ve decided to release the album, we’re aware that it’s pretty risky, but are even more aware that we cant turn to the so-called powers that be of the industry for answers. Someone has got to be willing to take chances. I was very inspired by the recent Radiohead release and felt compelled, almost instantly, to follow my gut and expand on their concept. Obviously, independent artists have been around for years. My indie film, Slam was in fact what opened so many doors for me. yet, the stigma of being an indie artist in the music world hasn’t always been rewarding. This time I feel different. I feel like the times have conspired to make this album an important part of history.He released it in a similar manner as Radiohead's In Rainbows, online, with a lower quality 192 kbs version available for no charge, a higher quality 320 kbs version available for only $5. The free download is no longer available (it was limited to the first 10,000), but all versions can still be purchased for $5 at niggytardust.com.
Here's a promo video for a track from the album, a most excellent cover of U2's "Sunday, Bloody Sunday."
You can follow the links in the player for more info.
If nothing else, read his words, listen to his music, watch the video, and, hopefully, enjoy. His words may be brash, his sound isn't for everyone, but I dig it, and I definitely respect his message.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Really, I wish I had more stuff to talk about here, but there hasn't been too much. I work 8:20-ish to 4:30-ish, come "home," eat, watch TV (usually as much Law & Order as Charczuk and Rhiannon allow), and start falling asleep around 10. Exciting. I did go out and get my ass handed to me in poker on Thursday night, after spending a few hours after work playing some darts at happy hour. There were only 4 of us at happy hour, and we mostly watched the NCAA tournament, but it was a pretty good time.
For those of you with whom I'm playing Scrabulous, I'm sorry if I take a little while to take my turn. I'm going to avoid logging into Facebook from work, because then I'll really not get anything done, and I don't have my computer set up yet. I do have a couple of laptops to use here, but they're both Macs, so I'm trying to spend as little time as possible on them. (There's only one freaking mouse button!!!! And no task bar!!)
Geez, I thought this could be an entertaining post. But I had an epic fail there. The next one will be better, I hope.
I also hope that everyone has a good Easter, should you celebrate it. Mine's going to be spent watching basketball and umm, that's about it.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Anyways, here's a band that I've heard about a little while ago, listened to again, and didn't know why I didn't recommend it here. Here is Los Campesinos! from England. These guys are "indie pop," meaning whatever you want it to, I guess. Listening to them, I hear hints of New Pornographers, Apples in Stereo, a little Vampire Weekend, with a few other bands thrown in for good measure. So check them out!
Oh, and don't tell Charczuk that I'm posting while I'm sitting right next to him. It might weird him out.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
I really should start packing my car. I'm not taking a whole lot of stuff, just some clothes, a few books, some movies, of course my Wii, and my computer, along with an air mattress, but I should tidy things up around here before I go, get stuff situated so I can easily sort through them should I decide I want something, or when I get a place of my own and want to bring it. That was a long sentence.
Our dad is coming up to take Travis and me out to lunch, we're going to Zoey's Pizza, probably my favorite pizza in the area. I can't remember if I said that on here before, but it's delicious. Then I'm going to be hitting that dusty road. Ooh, that reminds me, I need to get some windshield wiper fluid. I'm out.
Alright, I guess it's time to start loading up junk. It's been fun, Iowa. I won't be too far away, I'll be back plenty of times. You can't get rid of me. I'm like the Terminator.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Anyways, posting might be kind of sparse over the next few days, maybe weeks. Tomorrow is my last full day in Iowa, then I'm leaving for the KC area on Saturday, hopefully around noon. I'll update things around here when I can, and hopefully soon there'll be a guest spot from my soon-to-be temporary roommate, Charczuk. So keep an eye out for that!
Well, the game is getting a little ridiculous now, I'm just hoping that the Hawks will score 40 points. Ugh.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Anyways, here's a breakdown of my recent purchases.
I've been a huge fan of this series, ever since the original came out on the N64. We would have some intense-ass battles, and spent at least one New Year's Eve up all night playing until breakfast. Then we'd play some more. And the new version? Even better than the last two.
Holy crap, this game is awesome. I've only played it for about 15 hours in the past two days. The sad thing is, I'm not sure if that is too much of an exaggeration. Yes, as I mentioned above, I am 27 years old. So what.
For those of you not familiar with the game, it's basically a bunch of different Nintendo characters in one game, fighting. It's for up to 4 players at once, in a good old fashioned rumble. And this iteration has online capabilities, so one can play against anyone else in the world. Awesome. You can save replays of great fights, snap photos and save them, even play trial versions of the original games that the characters are in. Super awesome. If you haven't already done so, go buy a Wii, if you can find one (seriously, mine's been worth every penny), and get this game. I know I've said that about a few things before, but this time, I'm dead serious. You'll already be set up with some of the best party games available. SSBB, and Wii Sports. I dare you to not have fun with Wii Bolwing or Tennis. It's not possible.
You already know this is awesome. No more details needed.
This was released today, I did a deal online through a comic store in MA - preorder the album, and get a free autographed booklet. I was worried that it wouldn't get here in time, that it would be shipped some slow-ass way, but I figured it was worth the shot. Lo and behold, a package showed up in my mailbox today! Not only did I get the autographed booklet, but it was on a separate booklet, not the one included with the CD. So I can frame it, and still have one to look at! (I should make some sort of display with the autographed stuff I have. I could have a sports one and a music one. Music with the entirety of Weezer, M. Doughty, WHY?, the lead singer of Reel Big Fish, and more. hmm. . .)
The album is incredible. I had heard most of the songs already on their myspace page, but still, that did not lessen my enthusiasm. It felt good to cruise around and listen to it. I can't wait for the warmer weather, I'll feel like a badass driving around in my Grand Am, listening to this album with my windows down. Yeah. I don't know if there's one bad track. And that's saying something, it spans a few different styles, and does them all well. Give it a listen.
This one was released on February 19th, but I somehow missed it. I'm glad that I noticed it and picked it up, though. It's awesome. This might be my favorite Mountain Goats album since John Darnielle started recording in an actual studio instead of on his boombox, my favorite full-band album, although Sunset Tree comes in a close second. Want to listen to Heretic Pride, but not sure if you want to buy the album? Well, you can (legally!) listen to the whole album online, and even see a video of the first track, "Sax Rohmer #1," here. Check it out. Not just for my sake, but for your own as well.
All told, I'm extremely pleased with each and every one of my purchases. Considering that in the next few weeks/months I'll be saving every penny I can, I think I needed one last splurge to satisfy myself, and to give myself a present for getting a job. I can do that. Right? Right.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
For a weekend music suggestion, I'll recommend Acid House Kings! They have a similar kind of feel to Vampire Weekend, a little more mellow, and more Swedish, but I can kind of hear a resemblance. Maybe to Belle and Sebastien, too.
As for my prediction for another band that's going to be huge someday soon, I'm going to go with Bell X1. Now they're already getting some decent airplay, so this might be a little to late for any cred points, but I'll stick with them. I like them, and I think they have a sound that's going to catch on big time. Just you wait!
Until next time, enjoy stuff. Stuff is fun!
Thursday, March 06, 2008
It started in the morning, as days usually do. I've been battling a cold for the past few days (quick aside: something like that happens every time when I hang out with the Minneapolis crew; regardless of where we meet up [Ames, Iowa City, Minneapolis, Cedar Rapids], someone gets sick. Last time Jimbo ended up with mono. H has had her fair share of sickness, alcohol related or no, Bill's felt under the weather once or twice, and last St. Patty's day I was a party pooper because I was coming down with a cold), but I woke up feeling better. Seeing the snow falling made me feel very relaxed, enough to fall asleep again. That was nice. I've never really been one to sleep in, I usually am up and ready to go around 9 every day. Yesterday, I slept all the way until 10:30! Very nice.
After a lunch at McDonald's (I can't resist those Shamrock Shakes. They're too good.), I had decided to read for the rest of the afternoon. But I hadn't even turned a page when my phone rang, a call from Kansas City. With a job offer. Awesome. I start the 17th, so I'll be heading west soon. I had been told that I was going to get the job offer, but didn't want to mention anything here until things had been more cemented. Now I feel like I can talk about it and not jinx it or whatever. So yeah, I'm basically rockin' out.
Later that night, my bro and I went to a friend's place and played Guitar Hero. Any time I can showoff my excellence at video games, I just at the occasion. It makes me feel like the last 20-odd years of my life weren't a total wash. It was a good time, with some good home-brewed beer. Something I need to get into, once I have the money to do so.
When I returned home and checked my email, I had a message from Lee Klein, author of the Flenky-winning "All Aboard the Bloated Boat." I was excited. He pointed out that his piece was more of an essay than a short story, which I had meant to mention, but just plain forgot. So thanks again, Lee, your prize will be on its way shortly! And, as I mentioned here before, I'll do a bigger write-up of the essay. I'll just say it was incredible. And getting that email was a good way to end my day.
Now it's time to play a little catch-up with a few things. First off, Bill's Countdown to Opening day!
From two days ago, here's a special salute to those going after foul balls.
Real Men of Genius
In a slightly related story, one time, years ago, Bill and I were at an Iowa Cubs game with some friends. They have this "hot dog cannon" that comes out once or twice a game, shooting hot dogs into the stands. Well, Bill must have really wanted a hot dog, he sprinted after one that was probably 3 sections away, I swear he pushed a few kids out of the way, and grabbed it. He may have been jealous of me- I was thrown a ball by right fielder Angel Echevarria. To this very day, I think he throws his hot dogs in the air, just to get that "airborne" taste.
Here's yesterday's update, ten reasons why baseball is better than sex:
- It is legal to play professionally.
- You can count on it at least four times a week.
- You have a coach to tell you when to advance.
- When you are tired, you always get relieved.
- When you strike out once, you always have two more chances for a hit.
- Up to four people can score at once.
- Pop-ups are frequent.
- 30,000 people cheer when you score.
- After seven innings, you get to stretch.
- You can get a home run without any foreplay.
Now for a quick music recommendation, I'll present to you Bishop Allen (site | myspace), with the song "Click, Click, Click, Click."
I really liked the song "Rain" when I first heard it, and was pleased to hear that the other songs are just as good. A fun band, they released a 4-song EP at the end of each month of 2006, each put out by themselves. That's productive, and a great idea.
Monday, March 03, 2008
While I wait for Bill to send today's baseball video along, I'll give you all something to listen to. This one is for Captain Crab! Here's Alela Diane with "The Pirate's Gospel."
I'll figure out how to play it, then the next time you have some piratin' to do in Eastern Iowa, Cap'n, we'll have some rum and sing this song.
In other music-related blog postings, Bad Wims has found himself the perfect song to have as his theme. I'm jealous. It works so well. I have one that I've thought up for myself, and will try to get it posted soon. But it just pales in comparison. Check it out.
Alright, and Bill just sent out the video, right in the nick of being 5 minutes late!
I got a batting practice ball hit by Derek Jeter at the World Baseball Classic a few years ago, and a couple in some AAA games, a handful of A-League balls, and had a BP ball hit by Prince Fielder bounce off of my hands, but that's about it. Maybe some day that will change!
So I'm playing with the idea of starting a new blog, one for baseball specifically. If I get the initiative to do it, I'll have it going in the next couple of days. Stay tuned for more announcements on this front (I'm sure everyone cares!). And let me know what you think! I know there are a few readers out there who probably don't care as much about the baseball aspects of some of the posts, so I thought this could be a good way to clear up some posts, and maybe attract a different crowd, those looking for some baseball insight from some dude who really likes the Royals.
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Well, I'm tired and don't have too much more to say at this moment, but here is Bill's video for the Countdown to Opening Day!
Fare thee well, Irish
Saturday, March 01, 2008
It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.-Roger Angell in his piece "Agincourt and After"
Spring training has started, the Royals won yesterday, beating the Padres 13-9 (I'm starting my "Hideo Nomo for Cy Young" campaign soon), after they lost their "spring opener" to the Rangers. Just seeing a baseball field on TV is enough to get me in better spirits, and almost bring a tear to my eye. My friend Bill is adding his own touch to the excitement and anticipation of Opening Day by sending out emails each day, leading up to the hallowed event, with baseball-related videos. I decided that more people need to get pumped up for this, and, with his permission, am going to share his videos. Now he's a couple of days into it, so I'll play catch-up today.
First was from 2 days ago
And here's today's
I'm optimistic this year about the Royals. Of course, I am every year. But the young players are a year older, there's a new manager , Jose Guillen is a pretty big signing for them (even if he has to serve a 15-game suspension for steroid-related stuff), Luke Hochevar, a first-round pick from a few season ago, pitched two perfect innings the other day against some big-time hitters in the Rangers' lineup, and, as a Royals fan, I have to have hope. But it's not always a blind hope, this year, I have a good feeling about it!