Thursday, July 31, 2008

Newton Faulkner

I have an awesome new music artist to check out: Newton Faulkner.

This guy is super-talented. If you really like acoustic guitar and a really unique sound, he's your guy. I saw Newton play at Bonnaroo--he was the first act I saw--and he blew me away. He was one of the best performances I saw that day.

He is so unique because he is his own band. What I mean is this: when he is up there, he plays guitar, sings, and uses his hands to also keep the beat as an artificial drum on his guitar. He slaps the side of the guitar to make this funky beat that acts as an awesome self-created percussion system. I've never seen anything like it before! I can't believe he can pull it off so well too. He's doing so many things at once and it sounds incredible. He also has incredible skills on guitar. He plays very intricate notes and chords. Very talented. This guy is genius.

Look at how he's playing the guitar here!

So, if you want to get into this guy (which I highly recommend), check out these songs:

"People Should Smile More"
"Gone in the Morning"
"Dream Catch Me"
"I Need Something"
"To the Light Again"
"Feels like Home"

This guy played the BEST cover of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," and he played it all by himself! It was astonishing. The crowd was so into it, probably because he did such a fabulous job. I could just see this guy as being incredible talent that is overlooked, and he has such a funny personality! So, do check him out. You won't be disappointed.

So what do you think of Newton Faulkner?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Virgin Mobile Festival

For those of you who LOVE music and enjoy music festivals, one that is coming to the northern region of the US is Virgin Mobile Festival. It is going to be AMAZING. I don't think it will top Bonnaroo, but it has some fantastic artists that are coming which will fill this two-day session with lots of great performances.

VirginFest is August 9 and 10 in Baltimore Maryland. Check out this website for more details. It cost over $200 with tax for both days. You can just buy a one-day pass if that interests you too. This is a great festival! Check out the artists that are going to be there:

Bob Dylan
Foo Fighters
Jack Johnson
Kanye West
Stone Temple Pilots
Nine Inch Nails
Citizen Cope
Chuck Berry
The Black Keys
The Offspring
Taking Back Sunday
KT Tunstall
The Swell Season
Lil Wayne
Iggy and the Stooges
Cat Power
Gogol Bordello
Bloc Party
Lupe Fiasco
Andrew Bird
Shudder to Think
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
The Go! Team
She & Him
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings
and more rap artists and DJs

You've got two weeks (less actually!) so get your tickets soon!

What do you think of the line-up? Has anyone got to this before? What should I expect? What do you think of VirginFest?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


When do you know when reality TV has gone too far, or that they have just been running out of ideas?

Answer: Wipeout, the new reality television gameshow on ABC. Honestly, sad to say, I enjoyed this show, but I enjoyed it because it was so terrible. It's a crazy mix of a bad Japanese gameshow--like MXC but with not-as-funny hosts. These hosts actually almost ruin the show; their jokes are way too corny and over-the-top. And, they make these poor contestants perform the WEIRDEST tasks. It is insane to watch. It's almost as bad as their other new show, I Survived a Japanese Gameshow. ABC saw that MXC is popular, and they exploited it.

On Wipeout, these people have to do the strangest tasks. The creators purposely make these stunts to see these people wipeout, hence the name of the show, which is ultimately funny. It's just kind of sad to watch these poor people fall over and over again, in various ways.

First, they have them try to cross rolling pins over water. Now, who can honestly do that? Then they had a giant wall with boxing gloves punching them so they could fall into a shallow pool of mud. Then they had to bounce on GIANT balls over water, and then swing onto a board and stay. None of the competetors could successfully do each one. They just slam into things, flip into the water, and fall in the craziest of ways. Other stunts include jumping over a moving stick that makes people fall off of small platforms; running on a moving treadmill wearing flippers as they send blow-up toys down the line before you fall into a pit of white foam; and the final event where they tube down a big slide into the water, jump over hurdling barrels, jump onto a spinning top with giant padded tubes sticking out of them, land on a platform from there, and then jump onto different sized trampolines to the finish.

Now, the winner gets $50,000. They start with 25 and narrow down to one. Now, in the process of winning this money, each contestant goes through a severe amount of humiliation. It really goes to show how far people will go for money. All of these stunts I just listed are humiliating and impossible. Why would they want to do these things? The show is incredibly stupid! I can't even imagine the session where the creators sit down to pick these courses. They just sound so insane. How do they pass and get on air? These poor people... And I want to know is this too: Where does this tape? Does anyone know?

So, has anyone seen this show before? What do you think of it?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Does anyone ever get bored and want to play something online that actually stimulates the brain and activates prior knowledge with trivia?

Sporcle is your place to go. is a website with cool games that ask you to list as many "things" as you can under a category in a limited amount of time. For example, you can list US Presidents, NFL teams, Monopoly spaces, Disney villains, Shakespeare plays, MLB teams, Pixar Movies, Disney movies, Tom Hanks movies, James Bond movies, etc. The lists go on! They give you slight hints and you have to figure them out. It's really intriguing. Check it out here.

If you have been there, what do you think of it? Which ones stump you and which ones are a breeze?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Baseball Pitchers as MVPs

Is it just me, or can it be pretty lame to always give the MVP role to the pitcher in baseball games?

Look, I understand that the pitcher works really hard, harder than most players. He/she is involved in every single play and can make or break the game. I just think that the pitcher gets the MVP role too much and that other players do not get it enough.

I would be content with a pitcher receiving a game MVP if they pitched a no-hitter, had a lot of strike outs, got out of many tough situations, had a perfect game, etc. But, the other night with the Yankee game, they gave Chamberlain the MVP, and he almost banged Yukilis right in the head! He had a pretty decent game, but so did the offense that scored the winning run! I just hate when the pitchers are the ones to most likely receive these awards when the others players contribute substantially to the winning effort as well.

There is a time and place for them winning the MVP, but not as frequently as it is now! It just seems easy to give it to the pitcher, and that I think, is lame.

What do you think of this phenomenon?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Summer Food Calories

Yahoo normally catches my eye with a lead story on their website. Today, they ran a special on fattening and less fattening summer foods. I think it's interesting to look at because, when I am at a barbeque, I wonder sometimes how many calories I would be eating if I ate one dish over the other.

Check out the original article here. The following lists offer good suggestion, bad suggestion, etc. Well, here are the results:

Hot Dog with onions, relish, ketchup and mustard
270 calories
12 g fat

Cheeseburger with lettuce, tomatoes, onion, ketchup and mustard
600 calories
28 g fat

Chips and Guacamole
175 calories
12 g fat

Veggies and ranch
200 calories
14 g fat

Baked Beans
150 calories
2 g fat

Potato Salad
220 calories
12 g fat

175 calories
15 g sugars

500 calories
35 g sugars

Ice Cream Sandwich
180 calories
7 g fat
13 g sugars

Apple Pie
400 calories
15 g fat
29 g sugar

So what do you think? Does this deter you, or just eat whatever--it's a barbeque!?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Dark Knight

So, I have seen the heavily-talked-about new release, The Dark Knight, last night. And I have to say, there was a lot of hype about the movie before I even went into it. People were raving about how brilliant it is, yadda yadda yadda. I do think it was a good movie--I just don't think it was the BEST movie, as some are saying.

I was very impressed with Heath Ledger's role. I thought that he really got into his character, maybe even to drive him to the state he was in before he died. The costume was even more intense than others--very disturbed. It spoke a lot about his character.

Going off of this topic, I was worried that The Dark Knight only received so many viewers in its weekend debut because of Heath Ledger's tragic death. Now, I am not saying the movie is not good enough to break the record alone; I am just wondering if there is any correlation. But, I do think he did a great job; I was just hesitant going in to the movie.

I do not want to say too much about the movie for those who have not seen it, I just wanted to throw out some comments, especially to see how people reacted to the film. So I have a few questions.

What do we think of Christian Bale as Batman?

Who do we think portrayed the best Joker, Jack Nicholson or Heath Ledger?

How do the Batman stories correlate or intertwine, or don't they at all?

So what did you think of The Dark Knight?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


I am curious to see how Smashing Pumpkins fans take to the new album, Zeitgeist. It has taken me a while to get to it, but I have finally been able to sit down and listen to it extensively. What a different record.

If you just listened to the first 20 seconds of "Doomsday Clock" without the artist in mind, I don't know if I would come to the conclusion that the band is Smashing Pumpkins. I would think more of a pop-ish rock group, like Finger Eleven. Their sound is a harsher guitar, very mainstream. But, when I checked out Wikipedia, the introduction explained that Billy Corgan's intentions for the album was to make a mainstream rock album, comment on the US's political climate, and strengthen his relationship with Chamberlain. Well, that makes sense.

Chamberlain states what he thinks the band's intention was for the album: "The mindset of the record was to put our best foot forward and not get too artsy. We wanted to try to create a body of work that was concentrated enough to bring back a fan base and invigorate a new fan base. We kept it pretty close to the chest, and we didn't branch out too deep into art zone while we were writing the record."

I guess I can understand it's heavier sound if that's also the message they are trying to convey. I have a slight problem with it just because this is a mixed up band; it's not 100% of the original Smashing Pumpkins members--it's only half. The direction this new band takes interests me, especially since, I think, it went in a different direction.

I also have mixed feelings about Billy Corgan. I mean, I like Smashing Pumpkins, but I have a problem with loving him as a lead singer. I don't have this problem with other bands. I don't think he's an amazing lyricist or even has a strong voice, but he is unique. He does have talent to help compose some of these beautiful songs. Is it possible to be too weird? I don't know what it is about him, but it's hard for me to devote a strong positive feeling towards him. What is it that blocks me from it?

What I also want to look at is their political commentary, especially with the title Zeitgeist for their album. The strong image of the Statue of Liberty drowning is also powerful in itself. The song titles, even looking at them alone, have different messages about the state of the country (i.e. "Doomsday Clock," "7 Shades of Black," "Bleeding the Orchid," "Never Lost," "Bring the Light," "(Come On) Let's Go!," For God and Country," and "Pomp and Circumstances.")

But, to me, it seems their aim or what they would deem their "masterpiece" on the album, so to speak, is their over nine minute song that they called "United States." It seems that, when listening to the song, they really attempt to make that song strong and memorable. When I went back to check the lyrics, I wasn't extremely impressed, but look at what they are:

Tired eyes closed for days
there's no regret, 'cause there's no place
I don't know what I believe
but if I feel safe, what do I need

Revolution! Revolution! Revolution blues
What will they do?
Revolution! Revolution! Revolution blues
What will they do to me?

Dulcet tongues whisper fast
The future yearns, right now's the past
Rouse me soon, the end draws nigh
Whose side are you on?
Your blood you cannot buy

Revolution! Revolution! Revolution blues
What will they do?
Revolution! Revolution! Revolution blues
What will they do to you?

We're alive, I feel alright, so tonight
I got to ask you why?
Why tonight?
It's no surprise
I’ve got to survive!

Freedom shines a light ahead,
I'll lead the last charge from bed
They said my last rites
I don't have to run scared no more

Fight! I wanna fight! I wanna fight!
A revolution tonight!
I wanna fight! I wanna fight!
A revolution tonight!

Acolyte, acolyte
do you wanna watch me die!???

Let me do something good
Let me prove something real like I should
Let me embrace every single living thing
Let me be every single moment I ever misunderstood

The song does a good job of sounding like war, to try to convey that similar feeling. What do you think of these lyrics?

For all the criticism I'm giving, I don't think that it's such a bad album. I enjoy it. I've listened to it a few times. But, I like to question and I like to see what others say. I do have some slight queries with it, but it's not a terrible piece of art. Let's see what you think.

So what do you think of this album? What do you think of Smashing Pumpkins coming back, and then putting out their album? Messages? Music?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

de Rosier Political Cartoons

A friend of mine turned me on to a local political cartoonist for The Times Union, John de Rosier. His cartoons are really good and creative, and they have pretty big messages within them.

Now these are some touchy subjects, a lot of which are controversial, and my point to put them here is to display, not to cause any ruckus of any kind. To be quite frank, I couldn't imaging being a political cartoonist because I would fear such a backlack and uproar from those who saw my work. I just want to show how effective he is. I think he's good at what he does.

Check more of his cartoons out here.

Here are some that I really enjoyed:

So what do you think of these, or any in particular?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Barbie Doll

Did anyone know this fun fact? If Barbie was a real person, she would be 5 foot 9 and would have a 36 inch chest, 18 inch waist, and 33 inch hips. She would topple over due to these measurements. It is just physically impossible for women.

With these measurements, Barbie would she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. In 1965, Slumber Party Barbie came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight which advised: "Don't eat." The doll also came with pink bathroom scales reading 110lb, which would be around 35lbs underweight for a woman 5 feet 9 inches tall. (All information from a University Central Hospital study posted in Wikipedia.)

Weird huh?

Barbies are ever-so-popular too, even though they can create an unrealistic body image for children, their target audience. Three Barbie dolls are sold every three seconds. Woa! They are sold to over 150 countries too. Talk about exposure to a wide audience.

For some more fun facts, her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. She is from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin. More information from Wikipedia: "Barbie has been said to attend Willows High School and Manhattan International High School in New York City, based on the real-life Stuyvesant High School. She has an on-off romantic relationship with her beau Ken (Ken Carson), who first appeared in 1961. Like Barbie, Ken shares his name with one of Ruth Handler's children. A news release from Mattel in February 2004 announced that Barbie and Ken had decided to split up, but in February 2006 they were back together again.

Barbie has had over forty pets including cats and dogs, horses, a panda, a lion cub, and a zebra. She has owned a wide range of vehicles, including pink convertibles, trailers and jeeps. She also holds a pilot's license, and operates commercial airliners in addition to serving as a flight attendant. Barbie's careers are designed to show that women can take on a variety of roles in life, and the doll has been sold with a wide range of titles including Miss Astronaut Barbie, Doctor Barbie and Nascar Barbie."

Do you think Barbie Dolls are cop-outs for girls who have poor self images? Or do you think they really attribute to female image problems?

And, what do you think of these statistics?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Obama on Rolling Stone

When I saw the new Rolling Stone cover, I picked it up with both hands and shook it in the air. "That's right!" I was yelling. My family members possibly think I'm crazy.

In the past six months, this is the second time Obama has appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with a feature article on his campaign. To me, this issue was more interesting because we finally get to hear from the man himself. The interviewer got 50 solid minutes with him, and his responses are revealing and encouraging to hear.

Just from reading Obama's responses, I can tell that he has put much thought into his direction, and his ideas come from the American people. He listens to us and responds. He is very clear and wise in how he speaks--he is very careful at wording himself so the appropriate message comes across. I am just impressed with how he speaks and what he thinks--I am in full support.

I want to post some of his responses here which I think are important for anyone who calls himself/herself an Obama supporter, or just anyone in America in general:

QUESTION: Is there a marker you would lay down at the end of your first term where you say, "If this has happened or not happened, I would consider it a negative mark on my governance?"

OBAMA: "If I haven't gotten combat troops out of Iraq, passed universal health care and created a new energy policy that speaks to our dependence on foreign oil and deals seriously with global warming, then we've missed the boat. Those are three big jobs, so it's going to require a lot of attention and imagination, and it's going to require the American people feeling inspired enough that they're prepared to take on these big challenges."

QUESTION: On global warming:

OBAMA: "Every scientist that is serious about looking at this question will tell you that, at a minimum, we've got to reduce carbon emissions by about 80%..."

"Here's my point: Whenever you transition to a new technology, or a new way of thinking about structuring our economy, the old is going to resist the new. The key is to make the new profitable, job-generating, and appealing enough that more and more people embrace the new and let go of the old. That's where government can play a role. If we institute a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, that's going to generate billions of dollars. Now, that's also going to mean higher electricity prices for consumers, so a huge chunk of that has to go back to consumers in the form of rebates, so they don't feel the pinch as badly. That's the number one."

"Point number two is we'll put $15 billion a year into alternative energy. We want to give encouragement to exisiting utilities, existing energy companies, to invest in solar and wind and biodeisel..."

QUESTION: What is the difference between [interracial marriage] and the current bans on gay marriage?

OBAMA: "Well, I'm always careful not to draw easy equivalents between groups, because then you start getting into a contest about victimization or who has been discriminated against more. What I'll say is that I'm a strong believer in civil unions that would provide all the federal rights under federal law that a marriage contract would provide to people. I think that the country is still working through the idea of same-sex marriage and its entanglement, historically, with religious beliefs.

My sense is that a consensus has already been established itself that when it comes to hospital visitation, the ability to pass on benefits like Social Security, that people shouldn't be discriminated against, everyone should be treated equally. I think that's the starting point--the consensus is what will grow over time."

Otherwise, Obama has great things (positive and supporting) to say about pop culture, the youth, and music. The beginning of the interview deals a lot with asking Obama on his iPod selection and music choices. Here are his favorites: "Maggie's Farm" by Bob Dylan, "The Rising" by Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Elton John, The Rolling Stones and "Gimme Shelter," Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Jay-Z, Sheyl Crow, Howlin' Wolf, and Yo-Yo Mama. He notes books that inspired him as well: Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, Shakespearean tragedies, and Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls.

So what do you think of these comments or ideas? Anything to note?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Blown Away

I'm sure you've all seen this image before, "Blown Away." I just feel it's such a true statement of this generation, the Instant Gratification Generation. We are bombarded by media and technology that it has this kind of effect. This especially applies to the younger generation. Even though the picture is older, it is still true today.

Also, music has this same power. So many musicians have created recent music that is anti-Bush, AKA Nine Inch Nails, Pearl Jam, etc. Music can do just what the title says, and more.

What do you think of the picture? What music blows you away and why?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Living in the 90s

Random inspiration: Did anyone have or listen to the Living in the 90s CD during the 90s? Am I the only one?

For whatever reason, my cable channel offers diverse music channels, and I have been tuning into the 90s channel. They play the craziest pop music from the 90s that brings back some crazy memories of rollerskating or dancing as a child. A lot of these songs came off of this amazing double disc CD I used to have that I had my mom order from a TV ad. I lost this CD, and I can't tell you how depressed I was. Maybe you can understand when you see the track listings. Check them out:

1. Right Here, Right Now - Jesus Jones
2. Unbelievable - EMF
3. I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - Proclaimers
4. U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
5. Jump Around - House Of Pain
6. Tennessee - Arrested Development
7. Ice, Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice
8. How Do You Talk To An Angel ? - Heights
9. I Touch Myself - Divinyls
10. I'm Too Sexy - Right Said Fred
11. To Be With You - Mr. Big
12. Joyride - Roxette
13. One More Try - Timmy T.
14. Hold On - Wilson Phillips
15. Cantaloop (Flip Fantasy) - Us3
16. Summertime - DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh...
17. Sex Me - R. Kelly

There was another CD but I can't find the other track listings. Does anyone know where I can find them? Crazy songs right?

They just need a little La Bouche in there, maybe some Ace of Base. If anyone remembers any good crazy songs like these, let me know. I am curious and in need of them!

So what do you think of these songs or just 90s insane pop songs in general? What are your favorites?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nick Swardson

Another comedian to check out: Nick Swardson. He's absolutely hilarious. His comedy is so natural, kind of like you're listening to a good friend talk about real stuff that is really funny. His impressions are great too.

You've probably seen him in recent movies since he's growing in popularity. He works a lot with Adam Sandler, being in movies such as Don't Mess with the Zohan, The Benchwarmers, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Blades of Glory, and Click. He is amazing at being a great cameo--the small role that is memorable and gets a quick laugh.

Besides these movies, check out his stand-up. Watch him perform here.

One bit I really like of his is when he compares babies to drunk people. They really do have a lot of similarities. He says that you talk to a baby the same way you would talk to your drunk friend: "What do you need? Why are you crying? What are you trying to say? I can't understand him. Do you have to go to the bathroom? Why are you taking off your clothes? Oh no, he just threw up on himself." Funny stuff.

For those of you who have seen him, what do you think of him?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Obama on The New Yorker

Has anyone seen this recent cover of The New Yorker?

This picture is questionable, some wondering if it is a satire or not. I was informed that it is supposed to be a depiction of how Republicans view Obama, but upon first looking at it, that might not have been my initial reaction. But, this is a dramatic stance to take anyway for such a literary magazine.

I am not going to comment much because this is such a hot and controversial topic, but there is an excellent blog on the LA Times website that addresses this issue. Read it here. It has great information.

Wow, it's just so powerful. These types of images will really get people started, but I can't believe this picture actually made it to the cover. If they're looking to sell a lot of magazines, I think they've done their job. Wow. Speechless.

What do you think of this cover?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Mike Birbiglia

So, I've found a new comedian that I love: Mike Birbiglia.

I was first introduced to him at Bonnaroo where he followed Janeane Garofolo. After she performed, a big chunk of the audience got up and left, and he made a bunch of jokes during that to call attention to and make fun of those who were leaving. Honestly, I was surprised he followed up Garofolo since she's such a well-known name, but, in my opinion, he's a much better comedian than she is. I can see why he was the big act.

Garofolo is great when she's acting. Her dry, sarcastic humor can be hilarious. I've seen her live and watched a special she had once on TV, and she's so scripted. She needs to follow her notes when she performs. That really takes away from the show. Mike Birbiglia, on the other hand, flows from joke to joke, and his jokes are so REAL. They happen to the average guy, and he just tells them in such a way that you can't help but laugh.

I know that when I saw him live, I was so impressed. He dazzled me with a bit on bullet phones, saying that he doesn't understand how to use cell phones now because they come with so many features and gadgets that he doesn't know how to use. One of these days he's going to just shoot someone with it, and say "I didn't know my phone had that feature!" It's a real funny idea. Then he does into this huge bit on how he tried to shake the hand of a blind man while on stage at a baseball hall of fame show. He totally mocked the guy (because he didn't know he was blind), and then realized it afterwards. Totally hilarious.

If you're looking to check out a funny comedian, he's your man. Watch some videos of him performing on YouTube.

Check out some of his quotes from Wikiquote:

"I have a habit of making awkward situations even more awkward. I was moving a new bed into my apartment, and a women opened the door for me with her key. And she said, "I'm not worried because I know a rapist wouldn't have a bed like that." Now what I should have said was nothing... but what I did say was "You'd be surprised."

"My family isn't really Italian. We're more like Olive Garden Italian."

"Sometimes when I do a joke and it doesn't get a lot of laughs, it kind of feels like I'm doing jazz. That's kinda cool because jazz is cool, but sometimes jazz sucks ... Maybe I'm the Kenny G of comedy."

"I went to a funeral recently, and they handed out Kleenex before the funeral. Which I thought was cocky."

"I find that a sympathy card is kind of an underwhelming gesture, in a way. It's like saying, 'I know you're going through the deepest loneliness of your entire life, so here's a picture of a daffodil, I hope that works out for ya.' That's why I wanna make my own line of sympathy cards. Like on the cover I'd put a picture of a duckbill platypus playing checkers with a rhinoceros and in the background there's like a hot dog with arms holding up a lemonade stand at gunpoint, and you open it up and it says 'The world is messed up man.'"

"I think Bush seems like that fun guy. You know, that guy you invite to the barbecue because you know he'll start the whiffle ball game. He's like Whiffle Ball Tony! You're like, 'Yeah, Whiffle Ball Tony's here! Alright, alright. This is cool.' And then one day, somebody's like, 'We're gonna put Tony in charge of EVERYTHING.' And I'm like, 'We are? I dunno if that's such a good idea.' Because he's very competitive. He starts going to the neighbor's lawn and challenges them to Whiffle Ball. He's like, 'I heard you wanna play Whiffle Ball, bitches!' And they're like, 'We never said that!' But he starts chucking hamburgers at them. We're like, 'Tony! What are you doing, man!?' He's like, 'They were gonna chuck hamburgers at me!' Then it turns out that they don't even have hamburgers! They have hot dogs, but they only throw them at each other, so it's cool. Then people get upset and they're like, 'Well, maybe we should've gone with Bookworm Steve... but he's so boring!' Then one guy's like, 'What about Ralph? We could go with Ralph,' And everyone's like, 'Shut up, Ralph! This is no time for joking.'"

So what do you think of Mike Birbiglia?

Monday, July 14, 2008


So I went to a wedding this weekend. I did not know the couple too well, but they are a very nice, all-American couple. They're both beautiful, privileged, smart, successful, and from well-to-do families with respectable jobs. Thus, it was the standard all-American wedding that every girl dreams of. Filled with tradition.

The wedding just made me think of these traditions and rituals that we do on weddings. They seem completely normal because we have learned that these are the customs of our culture. But wouldn't another culture wonder where the hell these customs came from? Some of them just seem so arbitrary, even though I can see how some of them would stem from something more meaningful.

Here's what I mean. These are examples of customs that confuse me with weddings:

-Where does the superstition come from that when the bride tosses the bouquet backwards, the recipient will be married next?

-Why does this recipient go through the removal of the garter ceremony? What does this even mean?

-Why do the bride and groom cut the cake holding hands? And then smash it in each other's face? (That seems to be a new tack-on)

-Why does the wedding party sit facing the rest of the guests in a narrow row?

-Why do the bride and groom have to kiss when people clank their forks against their glasses?

-Why is it bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding?

Other customs in a wedding, in my opinion, have some sort of explanation, whether it makes sense or not. This includes putting the ring on the fingers, the father of the bride walking her down the aisle, the groomsmen and bridesmaids standing in the straight line, the vows of the best man and maid of honor, etc.

I can't say I was shocked, but it was strange to listen to the bible readings and recitations at the Catholic church. Specific wording hinted at the fact that the chuch doesn't accept gay marriage. Something like "man in woman were created in God's image to be together," or something similar. Basically, they were created to be together and no other way. It's just strange. But I won't go into all of that... I don't need to vocalize that here in this setting. We all should believe what we want to believe as long as we don't discriminate or hurt other people in the process.

The wedding ceremony made me think of what I would like to do for my wedding. It's easy to put yourself in a situation when you're the outsider. I don't know how crazy I would be about doing a lot of these silly traditions. I'd rather do my own thing. Create it as I may, as I want. Why not? It's my day. I can make it be as I wish. Something to think about; something for the future...

Anyway, does anyone know the originations of these customs? What do we think of weddings?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Zohan

Recently, I found some time to go to the drive-in movie theatre again, and I was able to catch Adam Sandler's new movie, You Don't Mess with the Zohan. I've heard some mixed reviews about it, but I think that overall, it was pretty good. He comes up with some very creative movie ideas--original too.

What really striked me with this movie, as with his last movie as well, is that, now that he is gaining status and popularity, his movies are taking on more controversial topics but putting a comic spin on them. For example, with I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, he chose a very controversial topic right now: homosexuality and gay marriage. That might not be someone's first choice for doing a movie because they want to draw a large audience. However, because of who he is, he can draw a large crowd to see this, and he pokes fun at how silly it is for everyone to be so anti-gay. He makes a taboo topic hilarious while making fun of the opposing side. It's genius.

Now with You Don't Mess with the Zohan, Sandler takes on two more controversial topics: Middle Easterners and jobs that males obtain that appear "girly" or feminine. Two of the hottest, most controversial topics right now (politics aside) are homosexuality and our new racism against Middle Easterners after 9/11. The US has this racist switch that occurs over generatins, and Adam Sandler has now made fun of the fact that many Americans think that all Middle Easterners are terrorists. He chooses a character that many Americans hold grudges towards and makes it funny. He also plays on the idea of men who want female jobs (being a hair dresser or selling shoes) and showing that all men who have these jobs are not necessarily gay (a common stereotype). Everyone wants to do their passion for one reason or another. People don't AlWAYS fall into those stereotypes, especially when it comes to race.

So, what I'm really trying to say is, Adam Sandler has been making excellent movie choices because he scrutinizes controversial topics in an unconscious effort to laugh at them. He makes our homophobia or racism and makes them seem ridiculous. The way he does it is so clever and well-written--I commend him for his recent efforts. Well-noted and hilarious.

And by the way, Zohan had some amazing cameos: Robert Smigel, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Dave Matthews, Kevin Nealon, Mariah Carey, and John McEnroe.

Sandler can play such diverse roles too. He even does an amazing job at playing serious roles and funny roles. Jim Carrey does an excellent job at that too. Now that's when you can tell a great actor.

So what did you think of The Zohan? What about the way he addresses these controversial topics?

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Find Your Spot

Do you ever wonder where you should live?

Well, I came across this online quiz that you can take that determines where you would want to permanently live based on a bunch of preferences and factors (country/city, sports, interests, politics, laws, etc). Or, if you're just curious to see where your personality matches up in the country, check it out anyway. It's a pretty cool survey.

Take it here.

I ended up in the New England area, basically around major cities (Boston, Raleigh, Cape Cod, and some cities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Vermont). It's pretty accurate (with wants and needs) and gives you a lot of choice. See what you think.

What areas did it suggest that you live?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


In class today, my teacher introduced this poem which I really enjoyed. There are so many more deeper levels than it seems on the surface, and it takes a closer reading to really understand all the references. Those poems, I think, are the best.'

This is Margaret Atwood's poem, "Spelling:"

My daughter plays on the floor
with plastic letters,
red, blue & hard yellow,
learning how to spell,
how to make spells.

I wonder how many women
denied themselves daughters,
closed themselves in rooms,
drew the curtains
so they could mainline words.

A child is not a poem,
a poem is not a child.
there is no either/or.

I return to the story
of the woman caught in the war
& in labour, her thighs tied
together by the enemy
so she could not give birth.

Ancestress: the burning witch,
her mouth covered by leather
to strangle words.

A word after a word
after a word is power.

At the point where language falls away
from the hot bones, at the point
where the rock breaks open and darkness
flows out of it like blood, at
the melting point of granite
when the bones know
they are hollow & the word
splits & doubles & speaks
the truth & the body
itself becomes a mouth.

This is a metaphor.

How do you learn to spell?
Blood, sky & the sun,
your own name first,
your first naming, your first name,
your first word.

I don't want to ruin this poem for anyone or give away any meanings, so I would just think of these couple of things: Why the title? What does "spelling" imply? The images throughout can help expose a possible meaning for "spelling." Even think about how the word changes in the first stanza. That's all I'll say.

I really do enjoy Margaret Atwood; I've only read a couple of her poems and The Handmaid's Tale, and today I was told that she wrote the book version of The Princess Bride. Her works can be kind of creepy or super-fem, but I really like her. I like the oddity and the crazy comparisons. She's a smart lady.

So what do you think of the poem? of Margaret Atwood?

Monday, July 7, 2008


There's just something so calming, so alluring about incense. But why?

I burn these all the time, and they smell absolutely wonderful. I love going into a delightful-smelling shop and picking out a handful of incense for only a couple bucks. They offer such a variety for such a low cost! And the incense burners are just as unqiue and original.

Incense have been around for centuries, burning specifically in India, China, and Japan for many purposes: religious, aesthetic, and healing/medical. They were one of the objects of trade even used on the Silk Road. Those in North and South American used them later on for the same purposes as well.

I found a website that offers a list of benefits for using incense:

-Smell is a sense that is heavily connected to memory: "Most human senses have very complicated nerve processes that send information to the brain. Unlike the others, the sense of smell is "directly wired" to the brain. The left half of your brain controls your right hand, but your left nostril is connected to the left side of your brain. The sense of smell is an ancient trait and incense provides a quick connection to your brain. Memory and smell are heavily intertwined. Certain smells can transport us back in time to a memorable place or event."

-It is a powerful meditation tool: "The gentle scents of sandalwood and cinnamon can bring greater depth to your meditation with the wonderful aftereffects of the lingering scent. In fact, many types of high-quality (and quite expensive) Japanese incense are an integral part of the meditation habits of people worldwide. This incense may actually create a biochemical reaction, which impacts the meditation experience."

-Incense can help with spiritual practicies and rituals, as it was in earlier years: "Incense is used to cleanse and create sacred space, as an offering both on and off the altar, a way to create a magickal atmosphere, and a way to help the practitioner achieve specific mental states."

-They mask other odors or just add a delightful smell to your enviornment.

From Wikipedia:

-They repel insects: "Incense made from materials such as citronella can repel mosquitoes and other aggravating, distracting or pestilential insects."

-To mask unpleasing odors: "This utility led to the use of incense in funerary ceremonies because the incense could smother the scent of decay. Another example of this use, as well as of religious use is the Botafumeiro, which, according to tradition, was installed to hide the scent of the many tired, unwashed pilgrims huddled together in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela."

So for those of you who don't burn incense, try it! If you like the smell of candles, incense are just as good, but cheaper and more unique in appearance! Even watching the trail of smoke that emits from the top is entertaining. Coiling smoke looks very cool and can be very mesmerizing.

A while back, a good friend of mine who lived in China for a few months gave me a big bundle of incense. They look so much more sophisticated than the simple ones we buy back home. I haven't burned them yet just because they seem like a pricey souvenier! But I bet if I did burn them, they'd smell amazing, and maybe they'd inspire some deeper thought. Who knows?

If you do burn incense, why do you like it? What are your favorite smells? Overall, do we like/dislike incense and why?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Rolling Stone's Top 100 Guitar Songs

Rolling Stone recently put out a top 100 guitar songs of all time list. It is very interesting to look at, to see how they ranked songs, which songs are on there, which are highly rated, poorly rated, and which ones did not make the list. Visit their website to see the list yourself here. They have music clips to listen to, as well as some other stats on the songs. Check it out here for yourself and see what you think:

1. "Johnny B. Good" -Chuck Berry
2. "Purple Haze" -The Jimi Hendrix Experience
3. "Crossroads" -Cream
4. "You Really Got Me" -The Kinks
5. "Brown Sugar" -The Rolling Stones
6. "Eruption" -Van Halen
7. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" -The Beatles
8. "Stairway to Heaven" -Led Zeppelin
9. "Statesboro Blues" -The Allman Brothers Band
10. "Smells like Teen Spirit" -Nirvana
11. "Whole Lotta Love" -Led Zeppelin
12. "Voodoo Child" -The Jimi Hendrix Experience
13. "Layla" -Derek and the Dominos
14. "Born to Run" -Bruce Springsteen
15. "My Generation" -The Who
16. "Cowgirl in the Sand" -Neil Young and Crazyhorse
17. "Black Sabbath" by Black Sabbath
18. "Blitzkrieg Bop" -Ramones
19. "Purple Rain" -Prince and the Revolution
20. "People Get Ready" -The Impressions
21. "Seven Nation Army" -The White Stripes
22. "A Hard Day's Night" -The Beatles
23. "Over Under Sideways Down" -The Yardbirds
24. "Killing in the Name" -Rage against the Machine
25. "Can't You Hear Me Knocking" -The Rolling Stones
26. "How Blue Can You Get" -BB King
27. "Look Over Yonders Wall" -The Paul Butterfield Blues Band
28. "Where the Streets Have No Name" -U2
29. "Back in Black" -AC/DC
30. "(We're Gonna) Rock around the Clock" -Bill Haley and his Comets
31. "Keep Yourself Alive" -Queen
32. "Sultans of Swing" -Dire Straits
33. "Master of Puppets" -Metallica
34. "Walk this Way" -Aerosmith
35. "1969" -The Stooges
36. "Interstellar Overdrive" -Pink Floyd
37. "That's All Right" -Elvis Presley
38. "Stay with Me" -The Faces
39. "Black Magic Woman" -Santana
40. "I Can See for Miles" -The Who
41. "Marquee Moon" -Television
42. "Hideaway" -John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
43. "Holidays in the Sun" -Sex Pistols
44. "Dig Me Out" -Sleater-Kinney
45. "I Saw Her Standing There" -The Beatles
46. "Miserlou" -Dick Dale and the Del-Tones
47. "Panama" -Van Halen
48. "London Calling" -The Clash
49. "Machine Gun" -Jimi Hendrix
50. "Debaser" -Pixies
51. "Crazy Train" -Ozzy Ozborne
52. "My Iron Lung" -Radiohead
53. "Born on the Bayou" -CCR
54. "Little Wing" -Stevie Ray Vaughn
55. "White Room" -Cream
56. "Eight Miles High" -The Byrds
57. "Dark Star" -Grateful Dead
58. "Rumble" -Link Wray
59. "Freeway Jam" -Jeff Beck
60. "Maggotbrain" -Funkadelic
61. "Soul Man" -Sam and Dave
62. "Born under a Bad Sign" -Albert King
63. "Sweet Child O' Mine" -Guns n' Roses
64. "Freebird" -Lynyrd Skynyrd
65. "Message in a Bottle" -The Police
66. "Texas Flood" -Stevie Ray Vaughn
67. "Adam Raised a Cain" -Bruce Springsteen
68. "The Thrill Is Gone" -BB King
69. "Money" -Pink Floyd
70. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings" -Smashing Pumpkins
71. "Take It Or Leave It" -The Strokes
72. "Say It Ain't So" -Weezer
73. "Summertime Blues" -Blue Cheer
74. "La Grange" -ZZ Top
75. "Willie the Pimp" -Frank Zappa
76. "American Girl" -Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
77. "Even Flow" -Pearl Jam
78. "Stone Crazy" -Buddy Guy
79. "Silver Rocket" -Sonic Youth
80. "Kid Charlemagne" -Steely Dan
81. "Beat It" -Michael Jackson
82. "Walk--Don't Run" -The Ventures
83. "What I Got" -Sublime
84. "Gravity" -John Mayer
85. "You Enjoy Myself" -Phish
86. "I Ain't Superstitious" -Jeff Beck
87. "Red" -King Crimson
88. "Mona" -Quicksilver Messenger Service
89. "I Love Rock and Roll" -Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
90. "How Soon Is Now?" -The Smiths
91. "Drunkship of Lanterns" -The Mars Volta
92. "Memo from Turner" -Mick Jagger
93. "Only Shallow" -My Bloody Valentine
94. "Money for Nothing" -Dire Straits
95. "Omaha" -Moby Grape
96. "New Day Rising" -Hu sker Du
97. "No One Knows" -Queens of the Stone Age
98. "Under the Bridge" -Red Hot Chili Peppers
99. "Run Thru" -My Morning Jacket
100. "Vicarious" -Tool

As I was writing this, I was wondering: Who puts this list together? How are these decided?

I thought they did a good job of varying the genres and years that all the songs came out. To tell you the truth, I am unfamiliar with a lot of the bands or artists. But, I kind of like that. It gives me something to explore. I was surprised at how many artists appeared twice, and some that didn't appear at all. I think John Frusciante is amazing--perhaps more than just one song for him. "Freebird" was a bit low on the list for me. I was surprised that Nirvana came in at the top ten. I like them, but I was surprised that they got such a high rating. One for Pearl Jam? Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles are well-represented. Same with Pink Floyd.

I know with any list, someone is going to have complaints. There can't be a "best list" because everyone's likes and dislikes come into play. So, overall, I think this was well put-together, well-thought out. I wish that this was my job, even though I bet it was stressful to put together at Rolling Stone. Good job though, list makers.

So what did you think of the list? Who's missing? What songs do you like? Anything at all?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Fourth of July

So we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence on the fourth of July. So how does that equate with fireworks? Does anyone know why they connect?

Fireworks are crazy to begin with. Who even thought of inventing that? I bet that was one of those inventions created by accident. Bright explosions in the sky... isn't that too similar to warfare, something we try to avoid (or try to avoid, for the most part...)?

Wikipedia has given me some insight on fireworks, however. They were first used in China to ward off evil spirits with their loud sound. They made their way over to America with the early settlers. They were used for celebrations and after battles. When America first celebrated Independence Day in 1777, they had a fireworks display. So maybe it's just tradition to always have fireworks on July 4th. Even George Washington's inaugeration had fireworks. Interesting huh? I wonder how simple they were back then compared to the elaborate display today.

Anyway, enough of history. I was curious about pyrotechnics and those who are in charge of fireworks shows. Is that someone's full-time job? I wouldn't even know where to hire someone to put off a fireworks show. They must earn a certain permit to perform (since fireworks are illegal in New York State), so how does one get this permit? Does one need any schooling or training? And how would one get that? Is this enough to support someone with a job? Or is it part-time?

And, are these harmful in any way to the environment? I mean, they're giant explosions in the air. They have to be harming something, right?

The shows all seem very organized. I bet each firework is called a different name that gives away the kind of explosion it will give off after it explodes. I'm just amazed at the technicality, even though it seems like simple explosions, one after the other. They're exciting shows, and you want them to go on forever. I could watch fireworks every night, but they're good treats. When I watched a psychological study on the History Channel (or Discovery Channel, but same difference), the study showed that brain stimulation jumps to an insane amount when we watch fireworks. The needles skyrocketed. So fireworks really are exciting to the human mind!

My favorite ones have to be the gold ones that explode and hang down like willow trees. Last night, they had a firework that erupted into little parachutes that sailed down the sky until they hit the water. They were lit up at the top and flashing. It was so creative. The fireworks with the bonus follow-up fireworks are awesome too. It's a surprise when you don't expect it!

And, so many people are proud to hang up American flags. It's not a bad thing. There is a lot of patriotism in this country, especially after 9/11. I saw a couple people dressed in military uniform too. This country is proud of their Independence Day. It is one of the most ignored holidays (meaning not celebrated by its citizens), in my opinion anyway, but a lot of people DO take it seriously and celebrate it. What do you think? I'm just throwing out ideas here.

So, for whatever reason celebrating independence has to do with fireworks, it's still cool by me. It's an excuse to have a summer party to drink beer and grill hamburgers and hot dogs and watch a cool fireworks display. Especially when they're set off over the water, as I watched last night in Lake George, they're incredible. And if you live near Lake George, don't go to their fourth of July celebration. The traffic is just not worth it. Repeat: don't go. Not worth it. Seek fireworks elsewhere.

So what do you think of this celebration? And what do you think of fireworks? Which are your favorites?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Radiohead's "Just"

I'm a big fan of Fuse's TV show called Loaded where they play five back-to-back videos of a single artist. I've seen many of these, and they're pretty good.

So I was watching Radiohead's version the other day, and the last video they played was "Just." I'm a little behind the times; I've never seen it before. So, for those of you who have seen it, and seen it a while ago, the video builds up and builds up to the secret that this man laying on the street possesses. And right when you think he'll tell you at the end, he doesn't. He moves his lips in a way that no viewer could read or interpret, and the ending is overtly dramatic.

What does he say? What is the meaning of this video?

Watch the video here.

Now, I read some forums where people guess what he said. The best response I read basically said that it doesn't matter what he says. The point is that we don't know. We don't need to know. We can make up our own story and arguments.

"All the director of the video will say is 'To tell you would deaden the impact, and it would probably make you want to lie down in the road, too.'"

Others said things like, "If you lie this way, you can hear Radiohead." Or "I've seen the way." It's a rip off to Monty Python's deadly joke.

Look at the last stanza of the lyrics:

you do it to yourself you do
and that's what really hurts is
you do it to yourself just you,
you and no-one else
you do it to yourself.

That must have some connection, and if not, then we're doing this to ourselves. We're thinking too much over this, and maybe some things just shouldn't be analyzed and scrutinized to the degree they are. Just another idea.

What do you think he says? Or does it not matter? What do you think of the video anyway?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Kan Jam

Who is familiar with this new Kan Jam phenomenon?

To be quite honest, my first introduction with this new casual outdoor sport was during a high school physical education class. When I was substitute teaching, the students were engaged in a unit on outdoor recreational sports--other activities including horseshoes, bocce, and Texas horeshoes. I had to have one of the gym teachers explain to me the sport--I had never seen it before!

After that, the sport seemed to be popping up everywhere. My brother instantly became obsessed with it. He bought the cheap thing online for $60 or so (includes shipping). But all the game is is two cans (made of hard plastic) with a frisbee hole in the front. Two teams of two stand at opposite cans and have the opportunity to frisbee over the frisbee, duh (but what other verb is there?), and get it into the can. The teammate CAN slam down or assist the frisbee into the top of the can, but if the teammate gets the frisbee in the intended slot in the front of the can, the game is over. That team has immediately won. I believe they play until 21 exactly.

Above are the creators of Kan Jam. From their website: "Kan-Jam originated as a garbage can disk game around 1990. For the next 10 years, the tournaments held would be played using garbage cans and large disks. There was no Instant Win slot in the front either. In 1999, the game expanded to more people and the garbage cans were changed to heavy-duty plastic cans with smaller disks. This made it possible for newcomers to join the fun by getting their own set. In 2003, the smaller disks were replaced with larger ones, and proved to be better in the wind. The cans were also upgraded with the newer Kan-Jam logo on the front." Interesting, huh?

But, this is becoming a drinking game as well (not necessarily like other drinking games where the object is just to drink as much as possible), but I mean by having a beer at a picnic or barbeque and playing socially. It was a big deal at a graduation party I went to--even the adults played! It's growing and becoming more popular. It's quite a recent phenomenon! And anyone can make the game themselves. Just use some trash cans and a frisbee. Cut a hole in the front if you're really serious about it. It's relaxing and a lot of fun.

So what do you think of Kan Jam?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

STP Reunion

Maybe this blog is a bit late, but I still want to ask and comment on Stone Temple Pilot's recent reunion. They will be going on tour this summer (actually hitting the Capital region and some festivals as well) which is a big deal since they haven't played in a very long time.

STP is one of those bands that I was too young to go see when I was younger, and they're on my list for bands I would LOVE to see before I die (realistically). So this is a fantasy that I can live! I went to see Velvet Revolver last summer thinking that they were my closest shot to STP, and they did play some STP songs. They didn't cure my fix though.

However, even though it's cool that they're coming back (since they play amazing music), Scott Weiland is being a downer for me. He's so messed up that it makes things awkward. I know that he's the rock star and has access to so many addictive substances, and addiction is strong once it grabs hold of you, but I have read that it's hindering the band, just as it had with Velvet Revolver.

I read in Rolling Stone that, at a Velvet Revolver concert, Scott announced during a song that it was their last concert they'd ever be playing. Now, mind you, the band was just as surprised as the audience. Slash commented in the article saying that he was so surprised that the band just looked at each other in astonishment. He went on to say that, in a way, it was their last performance. It's their last performance with him.

Now Scott's back with STP, and the first week back, he gets a DUI. Stop getting your bad habits in the way of good music! Velvet Revolver band members also complained about his tendencies to come way late, not show up, or just be drugged up to begin with. And these are ex-drug addicts and perhaps casual users themselves. Come on Scott. Get it together. It's lame.

And, I am still in denial that he's not gay. Not like it's a problem. Now, I obviously have nothing against homosexuals, but I felt that I really sensed my gay-dar on him. He is so flamboyant in performance, dress, and mannerisms, that it seemed too easy to pick out. But apparently he's married. Not that this is a bad thing, and not that this is abnormal with major rock stars (even when they're not), I just thought it made sense with him. Maybe not. Just rambling.

So, what do you think of Stone Temple Pilots reuniting? What do you think of Scott Weiland as of late? What are some favorite songs?