Thursday, December 02, 2010

Reading is the best

Since I'm stopping by here like once a month now, I figured I should do something. Here's one I stole from various spots.

I'm at 51. Really, they think most people will have only read six of these? Do people not go to school? I'm pretty sure at least half of those in bold were read before I was in tenth grade.

Granted, I read A LOT when I was in school, and still do. Reading is awesome. But still, only six?


Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Bold those books you've read in their entirety; italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt.

1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

6 The Bible - Author/s in Debate

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13. Catch 22- Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong – Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

19 The Time Travellers Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch – George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchel

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House – Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath- Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina –Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis

34 Emma – Jane Austen

35 Persuasion – Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe – CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Berniere

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Willaim Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne

41 Animal Farm – George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meany – John Irving

45 The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery

47 Far from the Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies – William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martell

52 Dune – Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon

60 Love in the time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas

66 On the Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding

69 Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick – Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72. Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson

74 Notes from a Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal – Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - Charles Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet – William Shakespeare

99 Charlie & the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

Monday, November 01, 2010

(sort of) Live Blogging the end of a season

(Don't forget to check Chris Goes Hoggin' and Bare Knuckle Writers for more [frequent] entertaining posts)

It's a sad time for me. The baseball season is nearing its end. (I'm writing during the 5th game, a damn great pitching match up so far, so this post could take a turn at any moment.) I think I'm going for the Giants, I love the city of San Francisco, and was there more recently than Arlington. I usually go for the American League when I don't have a dog in the fight, but in this one, I'm actually alright either way.

3-run shot by Edgar Renteria in the top of the 7th, this game is over.

I'm not ready for the baseball season to end. I remember watching the Yankees and Red Sox play the first game of the season back in April. While I only made it to a handful of Royals games, I watched many, many more on TV, and followed along in the office when I could.

I went to Opening Day at Kauffman Stadium, watched no-hitters, perfect games, an imperfect game, saw the National League win the All Star Game for the first time in almost 15 years and...

Solo home run by Nelson Cruz, maybe this isn't quite done.

Anyways. Royals didn't surprise anyone. Zack Greinke had a slight letdown from last season, but still showed brilliance. Billy Butler is still one of the best young hitters in the game, if he can keep maturing he'll be a freaking stallion. There's hope in the future. Moustakas, Hosmer, Montgomery, Duffy, et al. There were times when frustration came over me, and I was ready to give up on the team. Who was I kidding? I've been a fan of theirs for over 25 years. Mostly painful years, but still, I can't quit them. I've said it before, and I'll say it again here: I think the Royals can be in contention in 2012. They might not necessarily win the division, but they'll be close. Stuff like that gives me hope.

Going to the bottom of the 8th, still 3-1 Giants.

This will be the first season in probably close to a decade that I didn't go to a game anywhere other than Kansas City. And the first season in a few years that I didn't see the World Series champion play. Ah well, streaks are meant to end, I suppose.

I'm a sucker for those "look back" or "year in review" montages they always do. "One Shining Moment" always gets me, even when Iowa isn't anywhere near the NCAA tournament. I'm a sap like that sometimes.

Lincecum plows through the Rangers in the bottom of the 8th, heading to the 9th now.

It might be kind of obvious by now, I have no real direction to go for this. Didn't exactly want to do a live blog of the game, and didn't really want to make it a swan song for baseball. I know it'll be back, pitchers and catchers report in just over 3 months. It's sounding like I might be going to Spring Training. It'll be my first trip, I'm so so pumped for it.

Going to the bottom of the 9th. Rangers down 3-1. This has been a pretty excellent game (maybe helped by Dogfish Head's World Wide Stout).

One out left in the bottom of the 9th.... Nelson Cruz up to bat, I'm not sure there's anyone the Rangers would rather have up. Oh wait, Josh Hamilton struck out looking a couple of batters ago. They had the batters up, it just wasn't their night.

One strike away now for the Giants.

Full count, bottom of the 9th.

Strike out, game over, World Series over, season over. Congratulations to the Giants!

I can't wait for the Royals to return to the playoffs. I'll be there. I don't care where I am in the country/world, I'll be at the next playoff game to be played in Kansas City.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Easy like a Sunday morning (I think I finally know what that means)

(For some more frequent updates from me, be sure to keep an eye on Chris Goes Hoggin', and check out this newer blog from a group of miscreants, the Bare Knuckle Writers. I know I've said this plenty of times, but I'm going to try to do a better job around these parts.)

Football is here. Baseball playoffs are about a month away. Cooler weather is starting to creep in. I love it all. This is my time of the year. Soon Woodyard Bar-B-Que will have their burnt ends chili. Pumpkin flavors will be appearing everywhere. The stout beers are going to sound more appealing (really, you can't drink one on a hot night). What's not to love?

My last few weeks have been, eh, uneventful. I did go to Vegas for a weekend, for a buddy's bachelor party. It was awesome, but the Friday-Monday I spent there was probably enough. My liver couldn't take much more, neither could my wallet. I actually didn't lose much in the casinos, but everything else added up. We did all of the usual Vegas stuff, short of seeing a show. Bellagio fountains? Check. Downtown/old strip? Check. $4.99 steak and eggs at 5 am? Check. Strip club? Check. What more do you need? Oh yeah, I could have cashed in the chips that were in my pocket. So if anyone's heading out that way, I have $22 between the Monte Carlo and the Fremont, I'll sell it to you for $20. You're already up for your trip! One of my favorite parts of the whole weekend? No open container laws. Getting a gin and tonic to go was exhilarating. Oh yeah, and I drank beer out of a boot.

The boot adds a second chin. I swear.

So that was a good time. Since then, I've been taking it easy, saving money, and playing video games. Yeah, I'm basically awesome. I really wish I could come back here with tales of exciting nights out on the town, or to tell you about the romance of the century, anything! I'm not saying that I haven't had awesome nights, because I have, they just don't make for good blog posts. "Hey, went out, had some drinks, did a little dancing, went to some apartment and drank some more!" Yeah. One thing that has been consistently excellent, however, has been brunch.

Sunday mornings are brunch mornings. Some friends and I have been trying to go to as many brunch places around town as we can. It's a nice little tradition we have. Our meal is usually followed by a movie and/or drinks, sometimes just strolling around the Plaza or hitting a park (occasionally with some wine). Sundays have become nearly perfect days. This last Sunday was one of the best. (having Monday off for Labor Day might have swayed this, but still, Sunday was DAMN good.)

I met up with my friends Blake and Maggie at a newer place in town, Westport Cafe and Bar. I'm pretty sure it became my favorite place to go in Westport. Sure, it's a little pricey, but holy cow. I got a couple brunch cocktails (a pink peppercorn and a Tom Collins - both FANTASTIC), and the Eggs Norwegian - english muffins, 2 poached eggs, smoked salmon, hollandaise. OH. MY. Unbelievable. My total was just over $20, not too bad. Worth it, for sure. Maybe not a place for every day, but wow.

Next, we headed to the Plaza to catch an early showing of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. Yes, it was my third time seeing it. Yes, I still loved it. I'll try to write something up about it soon. But go see it now. SO GOOD. Anyways, we had a little time before the show, so Blake and I stopped at Blanc Burgers + Bottles to get another drink, while Maggie shopped. An excellent deal. Another excellent deal - after the movie, Maggie did a little more shopping, so Blake and I headed to another bar, and got a few $2 gin and tonics. Oh me oh my. That is how you spend a Sunday afternoon.

But wait, it got even better. Some other friends o' mine were having a little get together at their place, for some drinking and board games. Yes, I needed to have some more gin, it was the middle of a long weekend! So we played a few games, had a few drinks, and had an awesome night.

Good gaming, good drinks, good food, and excellent friends? Really, do I need anything better?

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Freelance Whales, Tokyo Police Club in concert? Yes, don't mind if I do

My last post gave the details of a weekend that had happened a few weeks prior. This time, it's only slipping back a few days (OK, maybe more than a few, but within a week). I may actually get to the point where I'm actually timely with these things, posting right when everything's still fresh in my mind, right after they happen. And who knows, maybe I'll get to a point where I'm posting before stuff happens. (Sorry, that was a terrible attempt at a joke, in what is turning out to be a terrible attempt at a blog post.)

The weekend started off right, playing Guitar Hero and drinking with some friends. The songs got a little hazy, but I know I sang to a Santogold song, "Why Bother" by Weezer, Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People," and "ABC" by the Jackson 5, among others. The hostess made blueberry muffins, the host mixed drinks, and I brought the rest of the party. Right.

Saturday started off at an easy pace. Got up, got some lunch at Danny Edward's Boulevard Barbecue, and hung out around town. I stopped at Rainy Day Books, hoping to pick up a new Wodehouse and A Fan's Notes by Frederick Exley. Sadly, they had neither (though they are getting in some more copies of the Exley, should be in this week!). I'm sure you all wanted to know that. It was a lazy day. Had to save up my energy for the night, for I was going to see Arkells, Freelance Whales, and Tokyo Police Club!

I was most excited about Freelance Whales, a group out of Brooklyn, NY. A few months ago, some friends and I decided sort of last minute to go catch their show in Lawrence, KS, when they were playing at the Replay Lounge with Bear in Heaven and Cymbals Eat Guitars (for $3. Seriously). Obviously we needed to stop for drinks before getting to the show, so after a Tom Collins or two at Bourgeois Pig (if you're in Lawrence and like cocktails, this is the place to go), we walked to the venue. FW was already playing. Rats. We were able to see a few songs, but sadly, we missed most of it. We stuck around for Bear in Heaven (good live show), and since it was getting a little late and we're pretty much old and lame, we left before Cymbals Eat Guitars going. Yeah, we were those people, but for $3, we still got our money's worth. I did have a chance to buy a shirt and talk with Freelance Whales' front dude Judah Dadone. Super, super nice guy, seemed genuinely grateful, very friendly, and just a pleasure to talk to as a fan.

Once I saw they were going to be playing in Kansas City, at recordBar, about a mile from my place, I got excited, and knew I'd have my chance at redemption. I was going to get my ticket at my first opportunity.

I forgot. Not a problem, how many people are going to be going?

A lot.

I had a long story here, but for the sake of brevity, I deleted it. Basically, I was the last person without a ticket admitted, and it was awesome. I loaned the guy in front of me $2 because he didn't realize it was a cash-only thing, and once inside, he bought me a drink. I WIN! But, I had run into my bff Paul Shirley (another story for another time. Maybe?), and had told him I'd buy him a drink if I saw him at the show, so really, I BREAK EVEN.

The openers, Arkells, were impressive. I hadn't heard their stuff, so I didn't know what to expect, but they were kind of a power pop group, but Canadian. Not sure what the exchange rate is with them, but. . . I have nowhere to go with that one. They're good though. Very charismatic.

Up next - Freelance Whales! They played stuff from their debut album, Weathervanes, set list as follows:
  • Hannah
  • Location
  • Starring
  • Generator ^1st Floor
  • Ghosting
  • Kilojoules
  • Generator ^ 2nd Floor
It was a good set, not too long, not too short. For me, Generator ^ 1st Floor was the highlight, with a great balance of voices on one of my favorite songs. Splendid! Hearing a new song or two would have been nice, but I'm not going to complain too much. At least I got to hear them at all. I took a second to talk to Judah again, mentioned that even though their album just came out a couple months ago, I want more stuff. He said they may record an EP this year, possibly out by November. AWESOME.

Here's the only picture I got that actually looked semi-decent. Hooray for cellphone cameras.

Yeah, not that great. But oh well.

Tokyo Police Club was up next to close down the show. I'd only really heard a few of their songs, and while I liked what I knew, I didn't know much. The boys were good at their instruments, though, and played a set of really clean, well-polished songs. I enjoyed it. They had lighting effects and everything! Lead singer Dave Monks was personable, and introduced a new song, called "Top Five," saying it was the first time they've ever performed it live. Then he added, "look for it on Youtube tomorrow." My fellow concert goers did not disappoint -

I like it. Going to have to pay closer attention to their songs, and maybe try to catch them live again. They had a tight sound, and I'm not bitter at all that these kids are all 5-6 years younger than me. Not at all.

So yeah. It was an awesome concert, I'm glad I went. I'm REALLY glad it worked out to be on a weekend night, shows starting after 10 don't really fit well into my work life.

Friday, July 30, 2010

The return of the best thing I've ever done

(note: I started writing this oh, almost two weeks ago. It's been sitting for a while, waiting for me to finish. Sorry for the delay. For a look at one of the things I was working on in the interim, check this out - I ate at Jack Stack Barbecue - The Staff)

Yesterday, wanting to get out of the house, I decided to make it a Flenker day. Just about everyone was out of town, so instead of my usual brunch with my usual people, I headed to Chez Elle on my own, one of my favorite places in town in one of my favorite areas of town. Seriously, if I stay in Kansas City, I'm going to move over to the west side. There are some amazing eateries (Chez Elle, Blue Bird Bistro, and Fresher Than Fresh Snow Cones, in addition to a few places I haven't tried like Westside Local, Los Alamos Market y Cocina, Lil's on 17th, and the list probably goes on and on, all within a couple blocks), and just a nice neighborhood. Come on and visit, I'll show you around the area.

After polishing off my Jambon crepe (ham, spinach, pesto, mozzarella, so so delicious, and devoured before I could snap a crappy cellphone picture), I needed a cool place to kill a hot afternoon. Since it was still a little early to hit the bar, I decided to catch a $4 showing of Inception. (who am I kidding? I would've gone to the bar, but I really wanted to see the movie. I know nothing of this "too early" excuse I've given.)

Inception had been getting a lot of press, and a lot of praise. I wanted to be sure to see it before A) it got too built up in my head and then failed to live up to expectations and B) I had it spoiled. So what am I going to do here now? Hype it up and possibly spoil it for you. If there are any blatant spoilers, I'll try to preface them with a warning. Just be wary if you haven't seen it. Actually, stop reading this, and go see it. If you go right now you'll probably get the matinee price still.

So. Inception. It's about dreams, stealing ideas from dreams, folding Paris in half, planting ideas in dreams, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt kicking ass. I don't know if there's much I can say about it that hasn't been said (that's what I get for waiting to publish something about a movie that came out two weeks ago), but I side on the "WOW THAT WAS AWESOME" side of things. People who don't agree probably didn't get it. OK, I don't really think that way for the most part, though I'm sure that's part of the criticisms out there. Some want a movie to be nicely wrapped up with a little bow on top, with everything explained to them. Honestly, there are many times when I want that, too, I'm not saying there's no merit in them. But, you know, sometimes it's not so bad to leave something up to your interpretation, or for you to continue to think about the movie after you leave the theater. This is what Inception does. I walked out thinking one thing about the ending/whole thing, but after letting it sit for a while, came up with a different feeling towards it. I've read a few reviews of it, some theories about what happened, and talked with friends. That's what a good "thinker's" movie should do. Lead to discussion.

That being said, I'm going to have to whole-heartedly agree with the sentiment of one Drew Magary, from his Deadspin post Inception Was Great, Now Please Stop Talking About It, Assholes:

If you saw Inception and liked it, just do yourself a favor and never read about it. Ever. Because, like "Lost" or the finale of "The Sopranos", you'll be just be drawn into this long and annoying debate full of questions that don't have any answer because the person writing the movie or show purposefully didn't want to supply them. The movie rocks. The bullshit factory it's generating? Not so much.

So there you go. Now, before I get grouped in with the "Lost" fanboys and girls, I'll just go right to the money shot -

That's right 5 Flenker Thumbs Up. It's a pretty excellent movie.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Innovation strikes

Not sure this song exactly fits with this post, but screw that, it's awesome. A new song from Stars - "Fixed" (Live on KCRW)

Exciting times ahead, for both me and all of you. Well, I should say the one of you reading. Some new projects, some personal goals have been set, and the release of NCAA '11.

One of my new projects finally has some content posted. Lady and gentleman, I give you both, Chris Goes Hoggin'. This will a place where I put up some reviews of barbecue joints from around town or wherever my travels might take me. There's not much there right now, a look at Hayward's Pit Bar B Que, but keep checking back. I'll probably bet a link up somewhere here soon. If you like barbecue and me, you'll like this.

For some goals, well, there's the usual get in shape. Yeah. And play more music. The big 3-0 is just about 6 months away. Some things are floating around in my head that I'd like to get done by then. Nothing really major, but yeah. Just your typical stuff that I think most people my age feel. Good times.

Here's one goal that I accomplished tonight. My own creation (I'm claiming the invention of it until I find otherwise, I've already got people working at patenting it at Panchero's), the Quesarrito.

Step 1, make a quesadilla, using two tortillas

Steps 2-6 (repeat as necessary)

Step 3 cook up some steak, mushrooms, onions, rice, and red peppers. Place on top of quesadilla, with some salsa

Step 4 Roll into a Quesarrito

It was delicious. Of course it was. This is something I'll make, oh, once every six months. If that. But damn, it was tasty.

So mark that one off the list. I'll let everyone know more stuff as it comes up. Until then, make yourself and your friends a Quesarrito, but don't forget where you heard about it first.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Reflections on 23

I've been going back through some of my older posts, just checking stuff out, reading stuff from a time when I would somehow write kind of decently, years and years ago. I might have been funny at one point. No idea where that came from. Anyways, I realized that while I've gone over the drunkest I've ever been, I don't think that I've discussed the first time I imbibed to the point of intoxication.

It was the halcyon days in the year of 2004. I was... in college, the second time around. I was a little bit of a late bloomer, which is just a nice way of saying a loser. My 23rd birthday was approaching, and I had never had a drop of alcohol. Not for any real reason, just didn't want to. (At first I thought I was straight edge, because why not? Then I saw Ian MacKaye speak, the man usually credited with coining the term "straight edge," and he said that he didn't want it to turn into a movement, so to speak, and that he didn't consider himself "straight edge." Not that this was the reason I eventually started to have drinks, but it was something that stuck with me. ANYWAYS, that's neither here nor there, just an aside.) This all changed, as many things did, my first year in Iowa City.

So, for my birthday, I decided to go out, and break my seal, so to speak. The bar is long since gone, being shut down multiple times for serving minors. Ahh, every Iowa City bar. My first drink? A Long Island Iced Tea. I heard it was a good "bang for your buck" drink, and had it in my mind that it tasted like iced tea. Damn, was I disappointed when I found out it tasted like fucking lighter fluid. I powered through like a champ, and had others order drinks for me all night. People were too nice, I only did one shot the whole night, and it was something like "oatmeal cream pie." It was delicious, I'm sure.

Most of the night is sort of a blur, if you can imagine. But for the first time in my life, I was drunk. I can remember the moment I realized it. I was sitting at the table, had gone through a few drinks, and was sort of let down that I wasn't feeling anything. Then, I got up to use the facilities. It hit me. It was awesome.

Of the drinks I had, I can only recall a few. The Long Island. Something called "The One" (I asked the waitress if it was The One as in Keanu in the Matrix or Jet Li's The One. I am hilarious.) An amaretto sour. The oatmeal cream pie shot. And an Alabama Slammer. (There were other drinks, I swear. But, early off, I'm afraid that I was a girl drink drunk.)

Other happenings from the night that were pieced together:
  • Our waitress may have been hitting on me. She also may have been in her 40s
  • I offered to prove to my ride home that I wasn't gay. She was pregnant.
  • I made my first drunk dial ever, to Bob Ley. Outside the Lines was on at the bar, I called and left a message, saying that Dennis Erickson was going to return the 49ers to glory, and would join Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson as the only coaches to win an NCAA championship and Super Bowl (what can I say, I was drunk)
  • I blamed society for driving me to drink
  • I vomited. It was red, because of that damn Alabama Slammer. I was really theatrical about it, loud, since some roommates were watching a movie within earshot
  • I cleaned up said vomit immediately, laughing the whole time
  • Came out of the bathroom and said "Never again. Never drinking again."
  • That lasted less than 24 hours.
Obviously, it was a GREAT time. The best part was not being hungover at all the next morning, even when I had to wake up around 8 to head to my mom's and celebrate my birthday with her. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if I had been introduced to my first liquor crush that night - whiskey. But alas, that's probably another story for another day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unified Theory of Flenker, phase the third (in which I realize my dancing problems, and therefore, life)

Weekend before last, I was in Iowa City for the wedding of two friends. I've known them both for a long time, it was a wonderful ceremony, on a beautiful day. Here's a picture of me and the groom from years and years ago

(That's the perfect picture, right? Yeah.)

So it was a good time. And I was looking like the money.

(I'm bringing back hats and suspenders. Trust me)

Anyways, I digress. There was drinking, and there was dancing. Of course there was, it was a wedding. Now, I'm sure many of you who actually know me know that I don't take to dancing very frequently or very well at all. I did this night, because come on, I had to. The usual slow stuff, where you just sort of transfer your weight from one leg to the other. No problem. But it got me thinking (after my head cleared a few days later), anything outside of that, I'm pretty clueless. Then, yesterday, it hit me. I know who to blame. Misters John Linnell and John Flansburgh.

Exhibit A:

In my "formative years," I was kind of dorky. To put it lightly. I flipped out at the episode of Tiny Toons that featured two They Might Be Giants songs. I didn't talk to girls, instead I played Zelda. I went to a total of 0 dances throughout high school and my rather extensive college career. Most of my friends are also inept at the art of talking to females (sorry pals, you know it's true), and few have married, so there were never many opportunities for me to dance. And so, I learned solo. Anyone who has seen me dance can attest, I look like the fellow in black in this video (appearance about 22 seconds in, then again at 1:11 [my birthday is 1/11!!!! coincidence? I'm drunk]).

Now, being a "musician," I have an excellent sense of rhythm (apparently not an excellent sense of how to spell rhythm, THANK YOU SPELL CHECK). This actually does help, to an extent. It's more of the "where" and the "why" for my extremities. I'm sure there's video evidence of this somewhere out there, and if you have any, send it my way, I swear I'll post it here. I have no shame.

So yeah. My early influence in moving my body to the music were these guys

And as much as I loved them (and really love them still), I never stood a chance.

(OK, I think I had bigger plans for this one, I think. It's a good start. But I had a bottle of Seagram's gin that was opened, so I had to finish it before it went bad!)

Also, this is post #400. What a wild trail we've blazed, friends. I'd have a little speech prepared, but feel that it would be a little cheap, since we haven't spent much time together over the last, oh, year or two. But thank you for hanging around, if indeed you are hanging around. Maybe I'll get a little retrospective put together, but just be patient with me. I'm still finding my stride.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Jernigan by David Gates

About, oh, a decade ago, give or take a few years (probably give), I finally got to reading Catcher in the Rye. I wasn't required to read it in high school, and in those days, if it wasn't Tolkien or a Dragonlance book, I wasn't doing much outside the requisite (I was a cool dude).

This was at a point in my life when I was really filling the "jaded and disillusioned late-teens-early-twenties" role quite well, changing schools, majors, thinking about moving, all that jazz (good to see I've matured so much, and have changed). So Catcher struck a particular chord with me, as it has with probably 80%+ of those who read it, and became one of my favorite books.

Why all this lead-up? Well, I'm now a nearly-30 disenchanted fellow, who has developed a taste for beer and fine liquors, especially gin. And, well, that starts the description of the narrator of Jernigan, Peter Jernigan. Sure, he's a little older, and lives with his son, his girlfriend, and her mom, he lost his job a year after his wife died, and he's MUCH more self-destructive, but, I can't help but feel some kinship there. Probably more than a little forced on my end. But still.

I won't go through too much of the plot, because really, I think each and every one of you should read it for yourself. Basically, Jernigan is floundering through life. And he doesn't care. He lives in New Jersey suburbia with a son who tolerates him as far as he has to, a woman who (minus the rabbits that she keeps and slaughters herself) these days would probably be classified as freegan, and her possibly abused, definitely drug-abusing daughter (who is dating Peter's son. Got it?). Quite the picturesque family. Throw in Peter's penchant for popping Pamprin chased with gin, and you start to get the idea. He is at once both self-righteous and self-loathing. As a friend described it, "It's the washing away of standards and expectations and walking off a cliff with a drunken smirk." I can't think of a better way to describe it. And as far as relating to the character, the same said fellow says, "It's fucking beautiful. Somehow, I feel, Peter Jernigan and I stand at a crossroads, doing doubletakes. Have we met? Oh yes, we have." Really, I should just have him write this review for me.

Told with flashbacks of Peter and his wife, or Peter's misadventures with his best friend Uncle Fred, Jernigan gives a personal, first-hand look through the "anti-hero's" eyes at how he's gotten to where he is, and gives glimpses of his bleak future. This book has been compared to Catcher in the Rye by most of the reviews I've read (including my own), for damn good reasons. Both narrators are sort of feeling their ways through life. Neither really have a "home" home, but wander aimlessly, calling on old acquaintances, looking for some cheap thrills while in New York City, avoiding their family, or what substitutes for a family. (ok, so I'm a little over generalizing here, come on, give me some slack. This is my first time "writing" in months) Had Holden Caulfield been a few decades later, would he have become Peter Jernigan? Well, probably not. Jernigan is from consequences. Holden didn't seem as self-destructive, and not nearly as pessimistic. (Holden gets upset seeing "Fuck You" scratched into a wall. Jernigan probably put it there)

As things start to spiral out of control, the last few chapters get pretty brutal, uncomfortable, and awkward, but in a beautiful, chaotic way. To say it gets wrapped up neatly is probably a bald-faced lie, but I can't think of a better ending. Makes sense? Good. Read it for yourself. It's funny, depressing, at times hopeful, and ultimately leaves you sort of numb, but in the best possible way. Promises.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Maybe this time it'll stick... and a "confession"

Yeah, I know. I said this 4 months ago. But this time, I really mean it. I want to actually get back into this thing. For whatever reason. Inspiration has struck, I suppose. Or I've become even more lonely and pathetic, and can turn to only you, my internet. Ahh, yes. My one reader out there, thank you. (I can count myself as my one reader, right?)

Actually, I think I've just been stressing myself out lately. I feel some "life decisions" must be made in the next few weeks/months, and big ones. Not quite sure what will change, if anything. But the possibility is there. I swear. It'll become clearer as I make my moves/decisions. If I do. You see, if you recall, I'm basically a big wimp. But this time, I'm going full-assed on this. I feel like I did Austin only half-assed. Chalk it up to a learning experience.

Now, for the "confession." For, oh, over a year now, I've been on Twitter. Yeah, I know. I wasn't really keeping it from you, it just never came up! I go in spurts, swear a lot, and am just generally unfunny, everything you look for, in 140 characters! So, if you're interested, here - If not, I really don't blame you. Mostly I use it for reading up on/talking about the Hawkeyes, music, and beers. So sort of like I do/did here. I'll just start being more active here, more in-depth, and more insightful? As if I've ever been that insightful.

So, there you go. I'll try to be back tomorrow, with a review of a book that was recommended to me by one of my better Twitter friends. It's a doozy. Until then, enjoy what has become a new favorite song of mine - Frightened Rabbit with "My Backwards Walk"

Friday, February 26, 2010

What I talk about when I talk on Modern Warfare 2

Things I said last time I played with the headseat on xbox live

GODDAMMIT (approx. 83 times)
FUCK (13 times)
HAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA (4 times, after knifing someone)
AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (twice, after sticking someone with a semtex)
ho ho holy shit! (once, getting the game-winning killcam by sticking someone with a semtex)
Lily, come here (once, forgot I had the mic on still)
COME ON (11 times)
*audible sip of Rye on Rye* (about 750 mL worth)
BEEYAH!!!! (lost count)

easing back into this

yeah, going to try posting more in here. And hopefully this weekend I'll have a new project up and running. I'll keep all 3 of you informed. without further ado. . .