Monday, December 28, 2009

The Best and Worst of 2009

2009 was an interesting year for music. Please note I didn't say a good year. The theme of the year for me was disappointment. It seemed like there were lots of big projects and ideas that ultimately let me down.

A perfect example is Monsters of Folk. Monsters of Folk is a supergroup that should have been the highlight of 2009. Take three giants of modern rock and put them together and you would expect them to produce something earth-shaking. Sadly that wasn't the case. What you have are three dudes who are allegedly pretty talented on their own putting out an average album. Granted I'm only familiar with Conor Oberst's previous work, but I expected to walk away wanting to hear more by Jim James and M. Ward, and that
wasn't the case at all.

I w
as also apprehensive, but excited when I heard the news of The Decemberists epic Hazards of Love. Even though it remains one of my favorites of the year, it still didn't live up to what it could have been.

There were a handful of great albums though. Here is my top ten, in no particular order. I tried to recommend a track for each album for those that want to explore the picks a bit more.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros - Fun, chanty, hippy bohemian music. I'll be shocked if you're not whistling and tapping your foot when it comes to an end. The best song on the album is Home. Go download it. Now.

Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest When hearing Grizzly Bear's first single off this album, Two Weeks, you might think this track was left off the Breakfast Club soundtrack. While it doesn't necessarily live up to all the hype it's been getting, Veckatimest is definitely a great album.

Dead Man's Bones
- Possibly my favorite album of the year. Actor Ryan Gosling and his friend Zach Shields join with a children's choir to create an dark and eerie album. The Dead Man's Bones debut looks like a Halloween album on paper, but you'll be listening to it year round. My favorite track is probably My Body's a Zombie for You.

Hockey - Mind Chaos
- A friend passed this album to me and it was a few listens before I finally got it. I don't know exactly how to describe Hockey; probably as updated '80s rock. Check out Work.

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love - I don't know if I would like this album as much as I do had we not seen the songs performed live. It can be a bit to take in. Read my review of the album from earlier this year. The highlight of the record is The Rake Song.

Dananananaykroyd - Hey Everyone - I'm not going to lie to you, part of the reason I love this band is their crazy name. Bizarre name or not, this band knows how to rock. Fun and poppy meets fast and heavy. You have got to hear Pink Sabbath.

Passion Pit - Manners - This is the follow-up to the bands successful EP. Sweet and poppy electronica. Perfect for driving on a sunny day with the windows rolled down. I recommend The Reeling.

Neko Case - Middle Cyclone
- Case is my favorite female artist of 2009. At times this album is a bit soft, but her heartfelt lyrics will have you begging for more. T
he opening track, This Tornado Loves You, is my favorite on the album.

Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
- This musical genius combines whistling and violin to make one of the most unique sounds in music today. We managed to catch him live and he is nothing short of a virtuoso. The best track on the album is Fitz and Dizzyspells.

K'naan - Troubadour - K'naan (pronounced kay-non) is a Somalian born rapper that came to America at a very young age. He rhymes are fresh and clever and he's beats are strong. I recommend Wavin' Flag.

Other honorable mentions include the releases from Kid Cudi, Avett Brothers, Girls, Raekwon, xx, NOFX, Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band, MC Chris Part 6 Parts 1-3, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Dead Weather, I Fight Dragons, Lonely Island, Matt & Kim, A Fine Frenzy and Felice Brothers.

Most overrated album of the year - Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. I love pop music. Critics give Phoenix points for being minimalists when the truth is they're just an average band.

The 'hide the razor blades while I listen to this' album of the year - The Antlers - Hospice. Lead singer Peter Silberman
tells the story of watching a loved one slowly die in this dark and moody album. This dark and emotional album is quite a feat, but make sure it's a sunny day when you put it on.

The album I wish I loved as everyone else album of th
e year - Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion. I like Animal Collective, I really do. And I would never say that this album is not worthy of all the praise it gets. The truth is that it just doesn't do that much for me. And that bums me out, because I loved Animal Collective's last album, Strawberry Jam.

Most listened to track of the year according to iTunes play count: MC Chris - Neville - This year MC Chris released three EPs, Part 6 Parts 1-3. While each EP did include a new Star Wars bounty hunter track, following the tradition of Fett's Vette, Neville was the stand-out track of the year from my favorite 'nerdcore' rapper. Neville, is of course about Neville Longbottom of the Harry Potter books. In the story MC Chris explores the untold story of Neville and the success he finds as a drug dealer at Hogwarts.

And since I've already been all whiny about this year's music, here are my top disappointments of the year in no particular order:

Monsters of Folk - Monsters of Folk
Wilco - Wilco (the album)
Volcano Choir - Unmap
Discovery - LP
Swell Season - Strict Joy
Weezer - Raditude
Cursive - Mamma I'm Swollen
Regina Spektor - Far

While there were a few good offerings, overall 2009 was a bummer. With releases from both Vampire Weekend and Los Campesinos! lined up in the next few months, things are already looking up in 2010.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dunny Project 1.0

If you know me then you probably know that I'm obsessed with Dunnys, the popular designer toys from KidRobot. It has become commonplace amongst Dunny collectors to make their own custom Dunnys. Feeling inspired by some of the success I've seen other fans have, I decided to take a shot at designing a Dunny.

To design your own Dunny you start with a Dunny you no longer want.You then remove all the paint from the Dunny, prime it, and paint it up.

I am obsessed with
glow in the dark stuff, so I knew I had to incorporate that into my design. I wanted it to be a surprise though, and not a known aspect of the toy. The basic idea I had for my Dunny was going to be an electrician bunny and I would use the glow in the dark paint to make it appear as if he was being electrocuted.

So I primed my Dunny, painted it with a bit of acrylic paint, and used a Sharpie to do the finer details. I taped off where I wanted the Dunnys skeleton to be and hit it with the glow in the dark spray paint. That was one of the most difficult parts because I wanted there to be enough paint to give it a good glowing effect, but not so much that it would show up in the light and give away its hidden feature. The head and arms came out pretty decent but the chest was way too prominent. I decided I wanted to give the Dunny a nice matte finish so I picked up some satin gloss spray paint. Little did I know that the gloss would make all of the Sharpie on the Dunny run like it was wet.

It seemed like every time I made it to the next step I realized I had to go to the art store again. This made the project take the better part of a month to complete. By the time I came to end I was so frustrated and bored with it I just wanted it to be done and over with. I had also planned to put a "KR Electrical" logo on the back and I wanted to give him a little name badge patch on his chest that said "Sparky". They would have added some much needed character to the design, and taken up some of the negative space on his back, but I was ready to move on so I left it the way it was.

Here are photos of the finished product...

The glow in the dark paint job didn't come out as great as I had hoped, but Leslie managed to make it look really great in photo. I wish it only looked that bright in person!

I'm disappointed in the finished product, but I think it came out pretty well considering this was my first attempt at doing this. I think I was a bit overly ambitious. I took a couple chances and I don't think they paid off. Next I'm going to try to design a mini Munny since it's a bit of a larger piece.

This is all part of my mission to create more, and so far I have to admit I'm pleased with myself.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Drawing Bored

I decided to get some business cards printed over at The site is pretty sweet and lets you add your own art to the cards. Because the kids like them so much right now I thought I'd draw up some zombies to put on the cards. And here they are:

Friday, November 6, 2009

Jabber Jaw

I like to talk. At great length. To whomever about whatever. The art of conversation is not dead, it's just that some people are lousy artists.

Rarely do I find myself without the words to say. I can have a conversation with a complete stranger just as easily as an old friend. I also take great pleasure in throwing out words and phrases that people haven't heard before. I'm obsessed with sounding like I have the vernacular of a cool character in a movie. I say what's on my mind and sometimes I'm a bit too honest for my own good. I think this throws people off and sometimes they think I'm trying to be funny when the truth is I just don't care. I hate being back into a corner by a string of little white lies, so I come out with the truth up front so people always now where I'm coming from.

I think of talking to a new person as a challenge. It's not like I'm a remarkable person. My job is only mildly interesting and my hobbies are a bit too nerdy to appeal to most audiences. I think I know just a little bit about enough things that I can keep a conversation afloat and not look like a complete idiot. Some people mistake my chatterbox ways for cockiness or confidence. I think the truth is I just enjoy hearing myself talk.

Most great conversationalists will agree an important strength is to know when to stop talking. I'm pretty good at it. Usually. I'll admit, there are times when I'm on a roll at a social gathering where it can be hard to shut me up. I yammer on thinking I'm the life of the party, thinking everyone's hanging on my every word. I like to think people think I'm interesting, but I think sometimes they're just too polite to tell me to shut up.

It should go without saying that listening is one of the most important parts to the conversation. All participants should be equally involved. Otherwise you can practice the art of talking to yourself since you won't be invited to any more parties. You can't just be waiting for the other person to finish just so you can say whatever is on your mind. And timing is everything! Sometimes I will have something funny to say and I'll wait for the chance to slip it in, but if the moment passes I've learned to just let it go. You can't force it in! And if you say it and people didn't hear it, don't repeat yourself a few times hoping to get the laugh you think you deserve.

I've also learned that sometimes the most intelligent and kind thing you can say is nothing at all. Sometimes it is better to think than talk. People expect me to comment on everything, so sometimes it's best just to let it go. For instance, if I see someone at school who's got a new haircut; chances are they've heard a million and one questions and comments about it, so I might just opt to leave it alone. It's not that I don't like paying people compliments, but you can sense when someone's talked enough about something. At least I know when I have.

Obviously all this babble stems from my constant need to be the center of attention. Just the act of writing a blog proves I've convinced myself I have something to say and there is people out there that will listen.

Now go out there and talk, people! And now I will practice knowing when to shut up.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

with teeth.

I haven't written in anything in a while.

The fever that is Summer has finally broke and the cool weather is slowly seeping in. There's a chill in the air that sneaks up your shorts and makes you tingle in your gentleman parts.

I had a brief dentist appointment this morning. In and out. It wasn't the kind where they leave you in the chair for an hour while you sit there wondering if the dentist and hygienist are in the other room discussing how best to tell you all of your teeth are going to fall out. As much as I'm not pleased with my station in life, as much as I get discouraged about being overweight, as much as I'm disappointed I'm not back in school, I can always count on receiving a heaping handful of compliments at the dentist office. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but I have some pretty good teeth; and the dentists remind me every chance they get. Granted this is the South, and I'm sure they are accustomed to patients with all manner of jagged and missing teeth. If every other patient comes in looking like Shane McGowan it's probably a relief to occasionally get a guy that at least owns a roll of floss, let alone knows how to use it.

On the highway on the way home I saw an 18 wheeler in which someone had scrawled on the back door, "Jesus loves me," and "Jesus saves." I couldn't help but wonder if either of these statements were true then I'm sure Jesus would prefer it not be written in the dirt and soot on the back of a truck. And more importantly, the person who wrote it must have been in a sad state if they found themselves writing messages to people on the back of an 18 wheeler. Maybe Jesus does save, just not that person apparently.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that this weekend is Dragon Con. We managed to get press passes courtesy of Broken Frontier. There are a ton of celebrities and comic artist. There is also going to be a big Kid Robot event called Dunny Fest. Oh, and MC Chris will be there as well. This could end up being the biggest con I've ever gone to.

And so that's it. Nothing enlightening or important to say. Just a bunch of rambling that will no doubt be labeled as "stream of consciousness writing" by my co-worker, Foxy. We have a dermatologist appointment later so I took the day off for that and the dentist. Guess I'll clean the house a little.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going Down

A lot of people get killed in elevators in the movies. I began to muse about why this might be. I can only imagine it's because there is a universal feeling of claustrophobia in elevators. Here you are, trapped in this 8' by 8' steel cube and there really isn't much you can do other then hope it's functioning properly. If you were in there and someone came at you with a gun, knife, tentacle, whatever, there is no place to run.

Or perhaps there have been too many screen writers riding elevators to some movie exec's office only to find their script was rejected or trashed.

Eh. Just be careful in the elevator I guess.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Watch one of my heroes, Shepard Fairey, do his thing:

Shepard Fairey from Arkitip on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Letter to the President

NBC recently aired a special called Inside the Obama White House. Leslie and I caught it and I was surprised at how interesting it was. I knew I liked our president, but I gained even more respect for him after seeing the inner workings of his administration. At one point in the special they talked about the letters that President Obama receives. It then occurred to me that I should write a letter to the president.

What follows is that letter:

Dear Mr. President,

Let me begin by saying good job. In my 29 years I have never before been so proud to be an American. This is a feeling that I am shamed to say is a bit foreign to me. I followed your campaign very closely and my wife and counted the days we would have the honor to vote you into office. I've been extremely impressed with what you've done with the giant mess that was waiting on your desk when you showed up. Keep up the good work.

Now that I'm done buttering you up, here's my plea: I need a job. Full disclosure, I'm not unemployed. I have a pretty good job for someone with just an AA. In fact, between my job and my wife's we live quite comfortably. I am not another unfortunate American who lost there job as a result of the recession.

I work for a wholesale company and I purchase large quantities of cheese in the South East. You're probably asking yourself how I could apply these skills at in your administration, and the truth is I don't know. However, I think it is the interests in my personal life that might be of use.

It is for that reason that I think you should create a new position: Secretary of Pop Culture. I am a connoisseur of all forms of pop culture. I have a vast knowledge of comics, I am very well acquainted with film both domestic and foreign, I love art (I was a fan of Shepard Fairey well before he created your iconic poster) and I read a lot of books. I also have a great interest in the internet and technology, which I know is a growing focus of your administration. I use facebook, twitter, I write a blog, and I worship Apple products.

As the Secretary of Pop Culture I will keep the administration abreast of all of the important going ons in pop culture. This can include trends in movies or how many times you are mentioned in comics. I will also find a way to catalog the information in a way that will be helpful to the administration.

I'm not looking for fame or fortune and I know the members of your administration have to put in long hard hours. I'm willing to put in my time and do what I must to help you help the country.

I know this is a tall order, and I understand if you cannot accommodate this request at this time. All I ask is that you consider it...and maybe sign my copy of Amazing Spider-man that you appeared in.

Yours truly,
Jean-Paul Dorigo

Of course I do not actually expect a response from President Obama. He's a very busy guy, and to be frank, my letter is pretty ridiculous. I decided to submit it anyway, on the off chance it might make its way to him and give him a chuckle. Of course I'd be lying if I didn't entertain the notion of him responding, if for no other reason then to call me an idiot. Would I ever work for President Obama if offered? In a heartbeat. For now I'll just focus on buying more cheese.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Unknown Soldier

Life has a funny way of showing you things sometimes. It's not always at a key moment in your life either. Sometimes it's as if fate is telling you, "Remember this moment. You're going to need it later." Or maybe you won't. Who can really say. This mortal coil is nothing if not a mystery.

I should have known something bad was going to happen when Leslie called me on Thursday. She inform me she made vet appointments for two of our cats and the dog all at the same time. Perhaps I'm not making myself clear. She didn't call the vet and simultaneously make three pet appointments. She called the vet, and made one appointment. For three pets. Visions of ripped t-shirts and fur-covered car seats flooded my mind. I don't know why she got the idea to do such a thing, but the pets needed it so I agreed.

Herding all of the animals into the car wasn't as difficult as I feared. Friday was allowed to roam around as she liked. We only own one cat carrier, so we had to determine which cat was most troublesome and needed to be contained. We decided to let Prickers go free range, and stick Ninja in the box.

Everyone was loaded in the car and we were pulling out of the driveway when I noticed a small tan lump at the end of our front yard. I pointed it out to Leslie and she stopped the car and thought we should get a closer look. Before I had even opened the door I had a sneaking suspicion what it was. I wanted to get a closer look to prove to myself it wasn't what I feared. Unfortunately it was exactly what I was afraid of: a small tan-colored cat. As we approached I saw the telltale swarm of flies it and I knew what to expect.

It was a small house cat, about the size or Prickers. There were no signs of what caused its death. I felt my eyes begin to get that familiar tingle where I might start sobbing at any second. I asked Leslie if she was okay, waiting to see if she was going to cry and I'd take that as a cue I could stop holding back. She never cried, so I didn't either.

Should we bury it? Is there someone we could call? We knew we had to do something, but with a car full of animals and an appointment steadily approaching, it would have to wait.

While at the vet we told them what we found and asked what was the best thing to do. He told us we should call animal control and they would come and remove it. That seemed like the logical thing to do because if someone was looking for it they could call the the city and possibly identify their missing pet. I called on the way home and the woman informed me in a very cold and unloving manner that we would have to wrap the animal in two trash bags and leave it on the curb to be picked up on Monday. Leslie and I agreed that wasn't the right thing to do. They would pick it up and cart it off to some landfill where it would never be seen or heard from again. Its parent would have no chance of having it identified. The decision was made to take matters into our own hands.

We unloaded all of the animals out of the car and before I had given it much thought Leslie was in the backyard digging a hole. I went out and helped her get it to an appropriate depth. We then wrapped the cat as the animal control person had suggested and gently placed it in the hole and covered it up. I kept wondering if I should say something, but my atheist ideals reminded me there was no point.

We began to wonder what may have happen to the cat. It wasn't emaciated so it didn't starve. Since we live in front of a pretty busy road Leslie's guess was that it got hit and made it into our yard. It didn't have any tags, but then again neither do our cats. How do we know this wasn't a cat that was primarily indoors and somehow snuck out? The only thing I can take comfort in is knowing that if it was owned by someone, or even if it was a simply a stray that walked the streets, it was given a proper and respectful burial.

I wish I could say this is the first time I had found a dead cat outside a house we lived in. The other story is too sad to retell and did end with me crying. I can't help but wonder if one day I'll need the memory of what occurred on Friday. Maybe it was just a hackneyed 'all life is precious moment.' What I do know is that all life is important to someone somewhere, and I cherish the time spent with my pets. And maybe this will help me forgive them for the attrocities they commit in their litter box.

Monday, May 25, 2009

MC Chris owns!

On May 13th I had the distinct honor of seeing MC Chris do his thing at the Drunken Unicorn here in Atlanta. Needless to say, it was amazing.

I've been a fan of MC Chris for a few years now. I wish I could say I wasn't turned on to him by Fett's Vette like everyone else in the universe, but unfortunately that's the case. I'm proud to say I bought both Dungeon Masters of Ceremony and MC Chris is Dead at the record store shortly after their respective releases (I don't typically feel the need to be one of those, 'I wasn't the last person to show up to this party' type of people, but this is a guy who's target audience is nerds, and stuff like that matters to them).

Between Atlanta and Orlando I have missed a handful of MC Chris shows, so when I heard he was coming to town again I vowed to make sure I saw him. Leslie was out of town so I coerced my friend Amelia into going. She only knew a few of his songs, but she's a good kid so she agreed to go.

After seemed like hours in the smoky dive MC Chris took the stage. He played a ton of favorites and even a few songs I hadn't heard yet. I had a feeling he would be a good performer, what I didn't expect was for him to be so funny. He was engaging and told genuinely funny stories. He even did a Q&A. Unfortunately he didn't call on me so didn't get to ask my nerdy comic question. Even Amelia thought he was great, which was a relief because I was worried she wouldn't have a good time.

At the end of the show he told the crowd he would be at the merch table signing stuff and taking photos with fans. I began to jump around like a retarded kid at snack time. I asked Amelia if we could stay, but she pointed to her watch and I saw it was almost one o'clock. We both had to work the next day so there was no way I was going to try to convince her to stay longer. She suggested maybe I could drop her off and come back, but it was just too late.

I was passing the venue after dropping Amelia off at her place, and being that I was still wired from the show I thought, "What the hell?" and I went back. I walked right in and sure enough, there was MC Chris at the merch booth. I thought he would be swarmed with fans, but I was able to walk right up and talk to him. I got to ask him my nerdy comic question and I got a CD signed. During the show he mentioned my record/comic shop Criminal Records. I asked what he thought of their new location and he told me he might be doing an in-store performance there in November.

All in all it was an amazing night. The cherry on top was getting to meet MC Chris. And the news of a possible future performance is awesome. Oh, and I forgot to mention I got a fan at the merch booth to take a photo of MC Chris and I:

Yeah, I found the only person in Atlanta under 60 that can't operate a digital camera.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Waking up is hard to do

Sometimes when I wake up in the morning I am so tired and so confused I have to run through a step by step process to keep my head from exploding. It typically goes like this:

Okay stand up.
There's an alarm going off.

Okay, someone stopped it.

Where am I?

Okay, there's a photo of me.
This must be my room.
Who's that in the bed?
Oh, okay, that's my wife.
I know her, it's cool.

Do I have to work today?

Is that why the alarm went off?
Is it a weekend and my wife forgot to turn the alarm off before bed?
I'll worry about that later.

First I need to get to the backyard and figure out what planet this is.

This will usually continue until I either get in front of the computer or wander into the neighbor's yard and they call the police. I'd say it's similar to being drunk, but since I never have been I can't be sure. How bad it is typically depends on how late I went to bed and if I ate a meatball sub right before falling asleep.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Jeff Smith is no stranger to comics. His comic series Bone is one of the most critically acclaimed comics to date and has earned him a ton of awards and will soon be made into a movie. Bone was an epic series that ran 55 issues from 1991 to 2004. Time Magazine listed it as one of the Top 100 All-Time Graphic Novels and said it is, "The best all-ages novel yet published in this medium." Fans waited with bated breath to see what Jeff Smith would do next, and what they got was Rasl.

Rasl is about a guy who can travel in to parallel dimensions with the use of a mysterious machine he helped create. In most comics this might lead to some superheroy type themes, but Rasl travels to other dimensions to steal goods for the highest bidder. Things begin to get hairy when Rasl notices he's not the only one who can travel between dimensions and it begins to put people he cares about in danger.

Rasl comes with a healthy dose of mystery and plenty of nuance. This comic would fit in well on the bookshelf of Lost fans. Smith's art is just as unique as his Bone days and he is proving to still be a master of the medium.

In an interview with The Pulse, Jeff Smith was asked why he would chose to follow a critically acclaimed all-ages series like Bone with a dark and gritty science fiction book, he said, "...I wanted to do something different. Something that feels quick, simple and strong… like a cup of black coffee." And that's exactly what he's done.

The quarterly release schedule for the book could be a bit painful for a comic reader that are used to getting a monthly fix. The first trade has been released collecting the first three issues for those that have given up on floppies.

You can read more about Jeff Smith and his other comics at his site:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A work in progress

I'm kind of weird about my hair. I have been since high school. Cutting it, dying it, whatever. It's the perfect place on the human body to experiment because no matter how badly you screw it up, it will always come back. Well, unless you really screw it up.

The past few years I'd had my hair pretty short. It was kind of a messy spikey deal; some would call it a fauxhawk. It was pretty simple to set up. A little gel and some fancy stuff with the hands and viola, instant hipster. Even though it takes minimal effort to set up it was too fragile. I couldn't touch it without screwing it up. I just hate being that way about my hair.

So I've decided to grow it out.

I've been at it for a couple months now. To say it's at an awkward length would be an understatement. For a while I was just letting the hair fall into its natural part. The problem is that my hair wants to part all the way on the edge of my head. So all of the hair on the top of my head is laying in the same direction. It looks almost like I'm trying to force a comb-over. Or worse yet, like the part is a hinge for my hair, and if you were to grab the lip on the opposite side you could pop open the top of my head and reveal my brain.

There really isn't much I can do with it. It's probably at a perfectly good length for a normal guy, but I'm quite abnormal. To make matters worse I don't really know what I want. In high school I had it to about my chin and the maintenance was pretty mild; much less then when it's short.

What I didn't expect was to have such an audience for endeavor. The majority of which are my co-workers. Mostly the older men, most of which are losing their hair. I didn't realize that I held the hopes and dreams of so many men in my beautiful brown hair. One of the gentlemen at work had not seen me in a week and then when he saw me he was remarked, "Wow, J.P. That hair is really growing out!" Everyday someone has a comment for my head, and being starved for attention I am there and willing to receive it. "Trying something new today?", "What kind of product do you use?", "What, did the cat attack you in your sleep?" I receive all kinds of inquiries.

I'm in a slow and steady race and I have no idea what the finish line looks like. I was reading the new issue of Paste and I noticed I have a very similarly shaped head to Colin Meloy of The Decemberists. Then I noticed that he's got a pretty good look. I mean, I'm not down for that shirt and tie deal all the time, but I can pull of a shaggy haircut as much as the next hipster. I guess that's my temporary goal. I have no idea if it will work out. Please stand by for gratuitious angst.

Things have been pretty mundane lately, so this is just something to do. A project. When people ask me about my hair I say it's a work in progress, which is my way of saying I really don't know.

I'm probably giving this too much though.

Mobile Post Test

Testis. One. Two. Three?

--end mobile transmission--

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Decemberists - The Hazards of Love

The Decemberists never shy away from a challenge, and their newest effort, The Hazards of Love is proof of that. The Hazards of Love is the riskiest album in recent memory. It's one continuous song that spans over 17 tracks, but don't you dare call it a rock opera. Originally intended for a stage performance, Decemberists front man Colin Meloy decided piece was better suited for an album. The story focuses on Margaret and William. Margaret is pregnant, and William, her baby daddy, is a shape-shifter who transforms into a fawn during the day. While they try to figure out how to make their strange relationship work William's mother, the queen of the forest, tries her best to keep the two apart. The lyric book reads like a play, with different singers singing different parts.

What's challenging about this album is that it doesn't give the listener a chance to catch their breath. Each track weaves carefully into the next. The problem with that is that the songs could might not work taken out of context of the album. How could they perform any of the songs live without doing all of them? This isn't the kind of album you could listen to on shuffle on your iPod.

Then again, maybe that's exactly what Meloy and company wanted. In an age where music is quick and cheap and reduced to snippets on commercials and ringtones, here is an album that demands to be listened to from beginning to end. Granted they're expecting a lot from their listeners, but that's what makes it so daring. It's a ballsy move to be sure.

What is missing on this album is a couple happier, less morose songs. The most cheerful sounding song on the album is about a widower murders his three children. There's no 'Sporting Life' or 'Valencia', it's all dark and dreary. Sure, a happy, flowery song might seem a bit out of place on this album, but it might provide the listener with a much needed aside.

After having the album for a little over two weeks I'm still conflicted on my opinion of it, and the reviewers certainly aren't helping. Rolling Stone gave the album four out of five stars and called it, "an old–fashioned prog concept record." Entertainment Weekly gave it a D+ and said it, "drowns in convoluted plots, blustery guest vocalists, and comically out-of-place guitar shredding." Pitchfork gave it a 5.7, but they hate everything so that's not too surprising.

I had listened to the ablum about a dozen times I and I still couldn't decide if I liked it or if I thought it was too heavy. So today I decided to sit down and listen to the album in its entirey with the lyrics book handy for the intended effect.

After having listened more carefully and read along with the lyrics it is safe to say that this albums fits in nicely with the Decemberists library. While it might require a bit more effort to enjoy, it is definitely an achivement. It's not going to be your favorite Decemberists album to be sure, but it might go down as the most impressive. B

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Red Cortez - Hands to the Wall

Sometimes I feel like I have to struggle to appreciate some indie rock. It might not grab me the first time around, but after a bit more effort and patience I might eventually fall in love with a band. The problem is that I go through so much music that sometimes if it doesn't grab me after the first listen it might not make it to a second or third. That's why I was excited when after hearing one track from Red Cortez I was instantly hooked.

I was introduced to Red Cortez via the IndieFeed podcast. The first offering from this new indie band is their EP Hands to the Wall. The first track has an large epic sound, and just when you think you know what to expect from this band, you make it to the second track and find you've got then all wrong. This EP has a pop-rock sound that will have you tapping your foot in your cubical through every track. I look forward to seeing what this band does next.

If you're curious to hear what Red Cortez sounds like check out their MySpace page. If you dig it you can purchase their EP for a measly $3.99 from their website. B-

Monday, March 23, 2009

Moving on up

I like to think people look up to me. I mean, I'm a funny guy, and I can be resourceful when its necessary. Yet when it comes to promotions and rising above my ranks I never seem to do well. Moving up usually comes down to two things: working well with others and leading the people beneath you. I am inexperienced in the ladder. Outside leading a boyscout troop back before I was even a teenager, I've never been in charge of supervising anyone. I was a magazine supervisor once, but supervisor an unruly periodical department is hardly the same as a bunch of disgruntled employees.

When it comes to moving up I guess people don't take me seriously. I've felt this way for many years. I think I've been typecast as the funny sidekick rather then the kind of guy that could lead a group. I like that I can make people laugh. It sometimes makes me feel like I have a bit of control over them. And typically I'm known as one of the few office clowns. That's never stopped me from applying for a job posting at work though, so when I saw they were accepting applications for an assistant buyer position in my office of course I put in for it. I know in my heart I don't have much of a shot, but putting in for these things shows initiative and will hopefully one day lead to a promotion. If I don't get it I won't be surprised, nor will I will disappointed. Sure it would be nice, but I've come to live with rejection in one form or another, and promotions are no exception.

Reflecting upon my moments of great rejection brought me back to middle school, to the one time I tried out for a promotion from average student to popular student. When I was in middle school something had been birthed that I could never have dreamed of: a gang. This gang included all of the problem kids; kids who had been held back a grade, kids who made noise in class, and I was a told a few kids had actually smoked pot. I'm sure some of them are legitimate criminals now, but at that time it was mostly a sham, and I knew no better. The notoriety was coming from so and so's cousin who was friends with someone who lived near the Latin Kings! How much more legitimate could a middle school gang get?

In middle school as was much as I am now: a pudgy, nerdy kid. This meant I was bullied and made fun of periodically. It didn't mean I wasn't popular or had no friends, I just had a bigger target on me then other kids. I decided I would somehow gain admittance to the gang in an effort to get what I thought would be protection, and popularity. And besides, at that period in my schooling, the bad kids and the cool kids were typically one in the same. I was made fun of by the gang members for trying to join, and needless to say, my application didn't make it very far into their ranks.
They decided to forgo the interview process and move right on to mockery. This was worse than a square peg in a round hole scenario. A square peg, when given enough pressure could be forced into a round hole. I was a octagon peg that couldn't even find a hole of any shape or size.

It's been a week since my interview for the assistant buyer position. I think the interview went pretty well. Rumors are circulating over who the position is being given to, but nothing official has been said yet. No surprises really. No matter where I am it always feels like there is a secretive group of decision makers that I have no access to. I'll be called into the office, thanked for my application and they'll explain what I could do to improve myself for the next time a position comes up. I'll act out the part of the grateful employee and say the stuff they want to hear and dutifully return to my desk and do the same thing I've been doing for the past three years.

This is beginning to sound more and more like disappointment. Sure, I'd be lying if I said I didn't want it. It would have been nice to have people look to me for answers, and getting a bigger paycheck would be nice too. Really, I'm okay with not getting it though. One day I'll have my chance. Hopefully. Until then, ever kingdom needs a good jester.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

My Long Winded Bitch and Moan Fest about Watchmen

It finally happened. Someone in Hollywood had the cajones to adapt Watchmen into a movie. The question that begs to be answered is: Should Watchmen be a movie?

For those that don't know, Watchmen is one of the most important comics ever written. It's not the best comic ever, but this was the first time a superhero comic was intended for adults. Politics, sex, these weren't topics that were typically addressed in comics. Watchmen changed all of that. Watchmen showed the world that comics could be a legitimate form of literature. Stories have been written since that do the same thing except better, but Watchmen was the first.

It really is surprising it took this long to make it to the big screen. There have been talks about making it into a film for years now. I read once that Terry Gilliam was approached and he said to make it would cost a million dollars per page of the comic. Maybe what he meant was 'to do it right'.

I don't want to be one of those fanboys that shouts "That's not how it happened in the comic!" over and over, but they really changed more then they lead fans to believe when hyping the film. When the Sin City movie was made, it was heralded as a translation rather than an adaptation. That's what I was hoping for with Watchmen, but sadly that wasn't what we got. Instead what fans were handed was a similar plot with more violence, less backstory, a gratuitous sex scene, and a completely different ending. It felt like they wanted to make the story more Hollywood and inject the kind of stuff you find in your run of the mill R rated blockbuster. I'm no prude, I love sex and violence, but the liberties they took with them in this film fit about as much as Steven Hawkins being casting on Dancing with the Stars.

Like most adaptations, there were a handful of minor changes that I could look past. In the comic, there is an on-going story where a young man is reading a comic called Tales of the Black Freighter. The story is about a sailor trying to find his way back home and has to overcome lots of obstacles. Rather than have the character reading the comic in the film, which would have added an hour to the movie, they released it as an animated film, which is due out on DVD later this month.

Minor tweaks to the characters' origins and added sex and violence aside, I think the biggest affront to this story was the dramatic change of the ending. Please keep in mind that if you haven't read the book or seen the movie I'm about to ruin both for you, so if you don't want to ruin the surprise stop reading now.

In the book there is a subplot about a group of people that are considered leaders in their fields; an artist, a writer, scientists, et cetera. We see that they are on an island working on a secret project. It is later revealed that what they're working on would unkowingly be used as Doomsday device for Veidt, only to have their ship home blow up with everyone on it. Veidt puts their plan into motion at the end of the story which includes placing a giant alien squid thinggie in the center of New York City which kills half of the population with it's psychic brain (I'm really oversimplifying it; just go read the damn book already). The idea that the planet was attacked by an alien force convinces the nations to set their differences aside and combine their efforts. Veidt essentially unites the world in one common goal. It's human nature to be at war, but perhaps they could all finally join together to fight the same enemy, even if it wasn't real. And that's exactly what Veidt accomplishes.

The film is similar in the respect that Veidt has scientists working to unwittedly attack New York. He murders them to ensure that no one could reveal his secret. Instead of sending a giant alien squid thinggie to the city, he fabricates an attack and makes it look like it came from Dr. Manhattan. In framing Manhattan (the guy, not the city), he has effectively convinced the world to unite to defend itself from the now crazy Dr. Mantattan and his blue dick of doom.

How retarded. Like any other country wouldn't just say, "Well that sucks for the US, but let's just make sure we're ready in case he comes here!" An alien attack is something that would be a threat to the planet as a whole, and since the attack was partially psychic in the book it effected people all over the globe.

I guess I was expecting too much from the film. It had so much potential. I will admit that it looks gorgeous on the big screen. They really did make the characters come to life. The best part of the film is Rorschach, who despite having one of the most brutal scenes in the film, is the character kept most true to the comic.

I was just hoping that in an industry where a comic book film could be made into art, which is what Christopher Nolan achieved with The Dark Knight, Zack Snyder would take the holiest of comic stories and keep it a bit more true to the book. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Watchmen creator Alan Moore said, "I increasingly fear that nothing good can come of almost any adaptation, and obviously that's sweeping. There are a couple of adaptations that are perhaps as good or better than the original work. But the vast majority of them are pointless." Some would call that statement a bit glib, but after seeing this movie, I'm beginning to agree.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dead babies

I'm so tired of seeing that stupid see-you-next-Tuesday with all the babies on the news. I mean, does ANYONE like this woman? Finally the country has something they can all rally behind. Conservatives and liberals alike hate this lady. Bless you Nadya Suleman for uniting the nation!

There's only one fair way to handle this issue. Once all the kids have got their teeth in there should be a steel cage match. Only the strongest baby gets to live. The corpses of the remaining seven will be sold on eBay to earn money for the winner's college fun (or more plastic surgery for the mother). Who will survive the Octagon?! Coming soon to pay-per-view.

Seriously, this is such a non-issue. Just let the woman quietly ruin the lives of her children in peace and don't pay any more attention to her.

-- Post From My iPhone

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mailbox V. Car

Last night Leslie and I were at the home, minding our own business when all of the sudden Leslie heard a loud bang outside. She didn't think anything of it.

Today when I was getting home from work I noticed a strangely shaped object in the street in front of our mailbox. I was surprised to see when I got closer it was a car's side view mirror.

You see, Leslie and I have a landlord who's not afraid to drop some cash on a top of the line mailbox. Our box, by Fort Know Mailboxes is made of a 1/4 inch of adamantium (okay, steel) and has a post that is buried deep into the Earth's core (okay, just a foot or so). It could probably could withstand a head-on collision with a '87 Honda Accord. Or at least the side view mirror of one random white car.

The scene of the crime

Close up of where the mirror hit

I turned the mirror over and you can see where it hit the mailbox

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Leslie and are are in Orlando for the weekend for her cousin's wedding shower. It's a brief trip; just Friday to Sunday.

While Leslie and her mother went to the shower, I went out for coffee with our friend Kevin. Kevin was the guy that married Leslie and I. He's doing great, and I had no idea how much I missed him. After Kevin and I parted ways I immediately began to to wish I was living back in Orlando. We left behind a few great friendships when we moved to Atlanta. Kevin revealed that he and his girlfriend have plans to move to Gainsville in the Fall, so even if we moved back he wouldn't be here. And who's to say if all of our Orlando friends are planning on staying here anyway?

What is it with people and their inability to stay on one place. Yes, yes, I am guilty of my fair share of moving as well.

Whenever I return someplace I haven't been in a while I start to remember all the good times and wish I could stay. This happens mostly in Orlando and in Connecticut Why is it harder to recall the miserable aspects? Like how in Orlando I would sweat profusely just from walking to the car? Or how I can't go to the mall near my hometown without bumping into half my high school graduating class.

Driving back to my in-laws house I began to get sad when I realized I don't really know where my home is any more. I mean, in all honesty, my home is wherever Leslie is, but I can't decide what specific part of the country is most dear to me. If something were to happen to me and Leslie had to bury me, where would she do it? Or where would be the best place to scatter my ashes? I guess it's more the people then the places that I miss. Maybe I should have myself dismembered and everyone can have a piece. Hmm, I wonder if I can manage to make this post a bit more morbid.

I meant what I said earlier: Leslie is my home. I don't care what happens to me when I'm gone, but while I'm here I'm going to enjoy it. And even though I don't get to see my friends and family as much as I like, the times I do see them are always special.

What is a home anyway? A place? A person? A memory? Damned if I know. I may never know. I guess part of the journey is finding out.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Ballad of Sham Wow!

The other day Leslie and I were at the store and our curiosity overtook us and we decided to purchase a Sham Wow pack. I am here to warn you all not to be duped like we were. There is more of an emphasis on the 'SHAM' then the 'WOW'.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Getting Old(er)

On Sunday I'll be turning 29. One year away from the "dirty thirty". I don't think I'm getting that "I feel old" vibe like many of my friends do. I'm okay with the number. I don't mind getting older, but I refuse to grow up. The difference between little kid J.P. and adult J.P. is the paycheck. I still buy Star Wars toys and comics, but I also buy ottoman's and electric toothbrushes. In one of my columns for Komic Sutra where I lamented about getting older and acting more mature, I compared buying a new car to a, "...more expensive addition to my collection of adult stuff." Now instead of a Darth Vader statue or a video game system, I find myself saving for a house. Adults are nerds of a different nature; you're still accumulating mostly useless items that matter to no one but yourself. My comic library is about as uninteresting to you as your new lawnmower is to me.

Leslie and I went out to Pottery Barn on New Years and dropped a bunch of cash on a new entertainment center. It houses all of our video games and our powerhouse television. It's kind of an immature adult purchase. And if I had my way I would fill the empty shelves with action figures. This is my balance between childhood and adulthood.

Sometimes I get sad when I see myself making more adult decisions. Trading in chocolate milk for Cinnamon Dolce Latte with not-fat and no whip. Being a kid was just so much easier. I didn't care about the economy or politics. My biggest concern was whatever toy was advertised on TV last and how soon could you get me to Toys R Us. Even though I'm going through the motions, I still can't help but feel like a kid playing adult. I do things not because they seem like the best choice, but because it seems like something an adult would do.

One thing I never hope to lose touch with is that sense of wonder that kids look at everything with. Every day should still hold a new adventure and new experiences.

As for having kids ourselves, the tried and true sign of adulthood, there are no plans thus far. And truthfully, that decision is totally up to Leslie. If she wants to that's fine, if she doesn't want to I'm okay with that too. Sometimes I think this world is so crappy, who would ever want to bring a child into it. And then sometimes I think that there are so many kids out there without parents if anything we should adopt. The self-loathing part of me thinks my genes don't offer anything much to an offspring. Leslie on the other hand is brilliant and would no doubt make an incredible descendant.

And please don't think I didn't notice that I differentiate the age groups solely on what purchases they make. There's obviously much more to it then that. It's no secret that I can be pretty materialistic. That's something that hasn't changed in me since I was a kid. Hopefully that is proof that I'll never fully grow up.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

My Top 10 Albums of the Year

I know, not very original. Even my mother has posted a list of her Top 10 albums of the year. What's a fanboy to do? I can't be left behind! I need to follow the trends. So without further ado, here is my list of my ten favorite albums in 2008.

10. MC Chris - MC Chris is Dead
9. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes
8. Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride
7. Does It Offend You Yeah? - You Have No Idea What You're Getting Yourself Into
6. Girl Talk - Feed the Animals
5. Born Ruffians - Red Yellow & Blue
4. Conor Oberst - Conor Oberst
3. Los Campesinos! - Hold On Now, Youngster...
2. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend
1. The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

I really thought that Vampire Weekend's album was going to take the number one spot, but I really fell head over iPod for the newest Hold Steady. It doesn't hurt that we also got to see them live twice this year. I'm also totally in love with Los Campesinos! who released two full length albums this year.

Other honorable mentions include Bon Iver - For Emma Forever Ago (even if it is a bit overrated), Titus Andronicus - The Airing of Grievances, T.I. - Paper Trail (representing the ATL), the other Los Campesinos! album, We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed.

It was a pretty good year for music. A handful of awesome debuts, and a few new albums from a few old favorites. I hope we can expect the same in 2009.