Friday, February 27, 2009

Bands to See in the 90s

I'm reading a book that takes place in the 90s, and I was very jealous when I heard that the narrator and his son got to attend a Nirvana concert at their height in the late nineties. I would have LOVED to see Kurt Cobain perform, but I was too young to be listening to that kind of music.

But it made me think... and I love to think in the hypothetical world.

If you could go back to the 90s and see bands perform live, which ones would you choose?

Think of a good top ten. I'm considering bands who would be killer to see at their height in the 90s, especially after a release of an increidble, classic album (such as Pearl Jam's Ten). Bands that are still together, bands that have separated, bands that have members who are deceased: consider them all.

Here is my top ten:

1. Nirvana
2. Pearl Jam
3. Soundgarden
4. Alice in Chains
5. Rage Against the Machine
6. Sublime
7. Radiohead
8. Red Hot Chili Peppers
9. Dave Matthews Band
10. Stone Temple Pilots

Honorable mentions:

Smashing Pumpkins
Rusted Root
Blind Melon
Elliott Smith
Spin Doctors
Natalie Merchant/10,000 Maniacs
The Cranberries
Third Eye Blind
The Pixies
No Doubt
Janes Addiction
Hootie and the Blowfish
Counting Crows

Who would be on your top ten list?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Waiting and Finding

I came across a pretty cool poem in the latest issue of the New Yorker by Jack Gilbert. It's innocent and youthful and explorative. Check it out.

Waiting and Finding

by Jack Gilbert

While he was in kindergarten, everybody wanted to play
the tomtoms when it came time for that. You had to
run in order to get there first, and he would not.
So he always had a triangle. He does not remember
how they played the tomtoms, but he sees clearly
their Chinese look. Red with dragons front and back
and gold studs around that held the drumhead tight.
If you had a triangle, you didn't really make music.
You mostly waited while the tambourines and tomtoms
went on a long time. Until there was a signal for all
traingle people to hit them the right way. Usually once.
Then it was tomtoms and waiting some more. But what
he remembers is the sound of the triangle. A perfect,
shimmering sound that has lasted all his long life.
Fading out and coming again after a while. Getting lost
and the waiting for it to come again. Waiting meaning
without things. Meaning love sometimes dying out,
sometimes being taken away. Meaning that he often lives
silent in the middle of the world's music. Waiting
for the best to come again. Beginning to hear the silence
as he waits. Beginning to like the silence maybe too much.

This poem goes through a lot. It starts with a boy in kindergarten who doesn't follow the same path as his peers. He likes different things and has different interests, the focus of those interests being musical. It's interesting to analyze that differnce through music, the distinctly different sound of an insignificant instrument (yet which is so crucial to a song at times).

It goes through this boy playing the triangle in the class's song, but he didn't really have to make music, he just bangs the shit out of the instrument, and that does something for him. It seems theraputic.

Waiting, to play his instrument, means to him without things, love dying out, being taken away, being silent amidst the music, waiting for the best to come. It seems like most of the excitement and thrill comes from the waiting, and then when the waiting is over and the time comes, then is where he begins "finding," referencing the name of the poem. His playing seems to help him find things about himself, but he must be patient in the waiting to get there.

Maybe I'm reading too deep into it, or maybe I'm missing a lot.

What do you think of "Waiting and Finding?"

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

When You Are Engulfed in Flames

I just finished David Sedaris' sixth book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames, a book of true essays from his life. His books are very bizarre and comical, yet they appeal to a lot of people. Sedaris is a very popular writer of our generation, and this book will show it.

You never really know where Sedaris is going whenever he starts one of his essays. This is one area that I would criticize in terms of his writing. They don't always follow a trajectory that has a solid storyline. He can start with one story, and then it branches off into something completely new and different. Then you end on a completely different note, all of these random stories somehow connecting into one essay. I do enjoy some/most of the stories, but sometimes their connections are very far off and distracting.

I read this book through an audio tape where Sedaris actually reads his book aloud. I've read a lot of his books this way, and it's really cool to hear the author actually experiencing his own book. He really gets into the characters and acts them out, which is pretty amusing, and he puts a lot of emotion into reading it. Some of the tracks were recorded from a live reading he did which was really cool to hear the audience's reaction to his writing. It is very funny when read aloud.

Here are the chapters included in the book (read on tape) and a little bit about what they're about:

"Keeping Up" - Sedaris tries to keep up with Hugh, his boyfriend, who walks too fast. They live in Europe and he always gets lost in his tracks.

"The Understudy" - Sedaris tells of a bad white trash babysitter he had when his parents went out of town on vacation and the terror of being under her rule.

"This Old House" - Sedaris' experiences when he moves into a boarding house.

"Buddy, Can You Spare a Tie?" - Sedaris talks about various "accessories."

"Road Trips" - On Sedaris' homosexuality, specifically a hitch-hiking experience when he was given the opportunity for his first experience with a truck driver.

"What I Learned" - The prestige about going to Princeton and how that effected him after he left and couldn't get a job.

"That's Amore" - An essay on an obnoxious neighbor named Helen who bugged them like crazy in Europe.

"The Monster Mash" - Sedaris becomes fascinated with dead bodies.

"In the Waiting Room" - Sedaris talks of his language barriers in Europe and the consequences with that, specifically when he misinterprets taking his clothes off in a waiting room instead of putting on the robe.

"Solution to Saturday's Puzzle" - Sedaris has a tet-a-tet with a woman sitting next to him on a plane. He thinks she is trashy, and it escalates when his throat lozenge falls onto her lap.

"Adult Figures Charging Toward a Concrete Toadstool" - Sedaris recollects his parents bad taste in art and how his appreciation and interest grew.

"Memento Mori" - Sedaris buys a human skeleton for Hugh and it starts to talk to him, foreboding death.

"Town and Country" - Sedaris listens to a trashy conversation when a couples swears every other word, and then he hops into a cab where the cabdriver in New York talks about his sex life. Then he goes to his sister's and looks at an animal sex book. He realizes that they're all trashy and obsessed with sex.

"Aerial" - Sedaris uses album covers to scare away birds when they rap at his windows in France.

"The Man in the Hut" - Sedaris befriends a neighbor in France who was sent to jail for molesting his wife's grandchildren. He debates whether he should be his friend or not, especially when the man wants to become very close to him.

"Of Mice and Men" - About icebreaker conversations. How to start conversations with people. Sedaris uses newspaper articles, really weird stories, and his stories backfire on him when they cause controversy and people do not believe they are real.

"April in Paris" - Sedaris's recollections of a spider and how he took care of the spider almost as a pet.

"Crybaby" - Sedaris sits next to a grieving man in an airplane and thinks that he's overdoing it a little bit. He also talks about how we experience death and how that somehow makes us special.

"Old Faithful" - Hugh lances a boil off of Sedaris's backside.

"The Smoking Section" - Sedaris documents all of his experiences with smoking, leading upt o him quitting in Japan.

The final essay is really the meat of the book. This is where the title occurs. The title was found in a hotel in Japan when Sedaris opened up a book and the title of one of the chapters was "When You Are Engulfed in Flames." He cleverly titled his book this, and surprisingly enough, many themes from the book are mirrored from this title. I thought that the story with the flying burning mouse was about the title, but nope, it comes later.

"The Smoking Section" is a really interesting piece on smoking. It occurs in three parts, and it really documents how he gets over smoking, what he misses, how people withdraw, how ex-smokers think about smoking and once they've quit, etc. It would be a really great pairing with an Augusten Burroughs essay on quitting smoking as well. They're very similar. They both compare cigarettes to the people that smoke them (what does it say about them). They both try different methods to quit and are both very funny about discussing it.

The cover is also a great choice too. It shows the skeleton he bought Hugh (which reflects the theme of death ever-present in the book) and it is smoking, which leads to death (and also alludes to the theme of smoking which appears at the end). Clever cover.

If you enjoy the bizarre writings of David Sedaris, then you will enjoy this book, When You Are Engulged in Flames. If you like to read humor, then this book is for you, especially if you really enjoy memoir and nonfiction.

So, what did you think of When You Are Engulfed in Flames?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Eustace Tilley Contest

Every year, The New Yorker hosts a contest for artists to depict Eustace Tilley, the magazine's mascot. Contestants send in pictures and images of the mascot, and The New Yorker selects finalists.

If you go to this website at The New Yorker's website, you can browse this year's finalists in the Eustace Tilley contest. They are very unique, creative, and inventive. And they're all different too.

If you were going to depict The New Yorker in a mascot, what would it be? How would you represent the magazine in 2009? Would it be different than a different year?

Let's see what some new ones from this year and other depictions look like:

2009 finalists

And last year's entries...

So what do you think of the entries? Which are your favorites or favorite?

Monday, February 23, 2009


I just read a fascinating book: Crank by Ellen Hopkins. This book is truly unique because it tells a story through poetry. Every page is a poem that is basically a narrative of a teenage girl who slips through the cracks and into a deep drug addiction.

This book looks very thick and big, but it only took me a couple of hours to read it. Since it's written all in poetry, it's quick to get through. Her style is very cool--her messages are so strong with the way she lays out her words on the pages. It's a truly unique idea that I've never seen before.

Basically, Crank is based on the author's real experiences of her daughter's drug addiction to methamphetamines. The author's note at the beginning of the book attest to this. The characters are adaptations of real people they knew (or the daughter knew) and real experiences of the family. This must be a way for the family (especially the mother) to vent and heal.

The protagonist, sixteen year-old Kristina, goes to visit her father (her parents are divorced), and on this summer trip, she gets her first taste of sexuality and drugs. She has a lack of supervision because her father is going down the same path. She learns how to make out with a neighbor named Adam who also introduces her to drugs: mostly pot and meth. She even does meth with her dad. She comes back home as a completely different kid. Her parents note a change, but they don't do anything about it.

One element I truly enjoyed about the book is that the character battles between two identities: Kristina and Bree. Kristina is the innocent version of herself, the person she used to be before she started drugs. Bree is the addict part of herself that bends the rules, gets attention, says hurtful things, and walks on the wild side. It's a very smart connection to make about drug addicts. They really do have this other persona, and when you see them acting in this crazy way, it's hard to believe that it's the same person you know and love who's committing all of these foul acts. This duality was very cool to explore in the book.

(Spoiler coming...)

When Kristina/Bree returns home, she gets herself mixed up with guys and drugs again right as school begins. Her parents can't do anything to control her. She sneaks out. She snorts meth. She smokes meth. She shoots meth. She parties with an older guy named Brandon and he eventually rapes her when they're high. She eventually becomes pregnant with his baby. (This did happen with the author's family as well, and they're taking care of him as a family despite the damages).

Kristina/Bree does meet a decent guy who does drugs with her. He sticks by her even after she is pregnant from the rape. He works to try to pay off many of the bills of her baby.

The ending doesn't really have much closure, more of a result than an understanding or complete turn around. But I don't think that addiction always has that happy ending. It must be hard to turn it all around, especially when you throw a baby into the mix. I didn't think it was a bad ending; it was just abrupt.

(Spoiler ended)

I enjoyed looking at the parts where the protagonist was speaking about her mother. That must have been intense to write about what you think your daughter felt about you. The way that her daughter perceives her. It seemed like the author was openly honest and blunt about her flaws and did assign partial blame for the whole situation on herself. The whole book basically looked like they took steps back to analyze the whole problem and learn/grow from it. It is apparent in the construction of the book.

I also really enjoy the way they call crank "the monster." It almost has its own persona that lulls her and lures over her to drive her to this madness, like she has no control. Good use of symbolism.

This book also deserves a second read with a closer reading. The construction of poetry can definitely be further analyzed. The way that she structured each poem holds importance. There is a lot of depth to this book even though it can be read in a matter of hours. For those who enjoy poetry, go at this book for a while...

This book would be great for a YA audience; I could see some teenagers who would eat up this book. But, it has very mature themes and situations, which I would precaution some teenagers to get into this. It does teach the negative ways of drugs and sex, but it depends if you want certain teenagers to hear that message. Depends on ages and maturity levels. Still, for those who can handle it, it does send great messages to forewarn about the dangers of this very scary and very dangerous drug.

Apparently Hopkins has other books: Glass , Burned, Impulse, Identical, and Tricks. The books all look pretty similar, but they're all written in verse, just like Crank. They're all fictional accounts about some pretty serious topics: sexual abuse, prostitution, etc. Check out her website for more info here.

So, what do you think of Crank?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Step Brothers

Being a Will Ferrell fan, it's hard for me to dislike his work. I recently watched a new movie of his, Step Brothers, starring his good friend John C. Reilly, and for the most part, I enjoyed it. I thought it was very funny.

I was surprised to see that 55% of people who viewed it did not like the movie. I know it was a little bizarre, but it definitely had its funny points. The writing was hilarious. Sometimes the jokes were a little gross or out there, but I think that overall it was hilarious.

A lot of Will Ferrell movies have been borderline lately. I think Will Ferrell is in a tough position because he has done so many incredible movies, so it's hard to live up to the hype of his humor. And, he likes to play the same kinds of roles and play on his physical humor. He's done a lot of sports movies (Kicking and Screaming, Talladega Nights, Semi-Pro, Blades of Glory). He also uses his physical humor in a lot of his other movies (Anchorman, Austin Powers, Superstar, Wedding Crashers, Old School, Zoolander, and now Step Brothers).

He's very talented; he just has a lot to live up to. That said, I thought that Step Brothers wasn't bad at all. He co-wrote the screenplay with his friend Adam McKay who directed the movie. They must work on his comedy website, because the two of them produced The Landlord, an online video that was extremely popular and hilarious. If you haven't seen it, you should watch it.

What I love about Will Ferrell movies is that you are always in for some guest appearances (as with Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler movies). They're so connected with Hollywood that they can get just about anyone to show up in their films. In Step Brothers, you see a couple cameos from Seth Rogen and Horatio Sanz, and others starring in the film do a great job.

I thought the premise of the movie was a funny idea: Two 40-year-old men who are enabled by their single parents, never get jobs, and still live in their homes as bums, basically teenagers in spirit and mind. It's so funny and so accurate how much these two portray two young adolescents who become friends quickly and have sleepovers. It's hilarious. In terms of messages, I liked that they enforced to stay true to yourself and to always keep that spirit alive--don't lose too much of yourself in that grown-up world. Have some responsibility and don't depend on others too much, but still be yourself.

Anyway, I think it's worth watching. I guess I'm in the minority for liking it, but I'm a loyal Ferrell fan. Even if his movies are mediocre, he still puts on an amazing performance. Even if he's trying to be serious, he makes me laugh. Very few people have that quality. That is why I believe he is a gem. He has a lot up against him, but he can't lose that quality of being hilarious.

And watching Will Ferrell try to sing and entertain is just incredible. Even when he sings a slow song dramatically, at the end of the film, it will just win you over. Very funny.

So what did you think of Step Brothers?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Hunger Games

A friend recommended The Hunger Games to me by Suzanne Collins. It's a YA sci-fi book that is a series (I found out at the end of the book). This book would definitely appeal to males, especially young males.

This is the premise of the book: This book takes place in the future in a post-apocolyptic world where a dictatorship has risen. The government, called the Capitol, divides the country into 12 divisions. In order to maintain order and to stop a rebellion in the future, the Capitol issues the Hunger Games every year. Adolescents ages 12-18 are all put into a drawing for their division. One male and one female are drawn. These two individuals represent their division and will HAVE to go play the Hunger Games.

In the Hunger Games, contestants are put into an arena where they are forced to kill one another. Only one winner will remain and will be able to live. The Hunger Games are televised for all to watch. Contestants can get sponsors, but the Capitol really makes it into a television show. When it gets too dull, they can alter weather in the arena or can add animals or other elements to make them interesting. In the arena, the Capitol leaves weapons and some food. Otherwise, contestants must live off the land and fight to the death.

It's good to note that most of the country is in extreme poverty, especially from the point of view of Katniss, the protagonist female who is drawn to play in the Hunger Games. They can hardly eat day to day. They live in district 12 where they specialize in coal mining. (Each district has its own specialty from crops to fishing). Katniss lives with her mother and sister and must find food for them. Her father has already died. Katniss hunts in the woods with her older friend Gale, a young male who requests to live in the woods with her to survive, but they can't because they must help their families survive.

Katniss becomes involved in this love triangle with Peeta, the male drawn from district 12 to join her in the Hunger Games. He is in love with her, and during the Hunger Games, the Capitol plays on it. Anyway, Katniss doesn't know who to care for. She is torn between Peeta and their struggle through the Games and Gale, her friend from home. It's a weird triangle.

The Hunger Games is really action-packed. There is always something going on, and for those who love action, this is full of it. It's adventurous, but you need to have an open mind to read this book. If you like survival and science fiction plots, you'll enjoy this. It's a little out there, the whole concept, but if you buy into it, it can sweep you up. It only took me a couple days to read it.

I was a bit angry with the ending. It was building up to some closure, and then it ended right when you wanted to find out about the ending. Then it kindly announced END OF BOOK ONE, signaling to the next book soon to come.

Of course. I was livid. I didn't know it was a series. She wants to connect you to the next book to buy it and get hooked. I can see how people WOULD get hooked, but I'm not THAT drawn into this series. It's no Twilight, let's put it that way.

The next book, Catching Fire, is due out in September 2009 and the third and final book in the trilogy is supposed to be out in 2010. How much farther can this go? Where will she take it?

It seems evil that the Capitol would go back on its promises to keep them together (SPOILER SO DON'T READ BEYOND IF YOU HAVEN'T READ IT YET). I know they were setting that up at the end of the book, but what else could they possibly do to them? The Games are over. How can they go back on their word now that they're home?

I can see that Collins is trying to show the corrupt government situation. It would make sense for them to be tyrannical and evil, going back on their word and being unjust, but it seems a little out there, a little too much. But I guess that's fiction and the imagination. You can do whatever you want. I'm just surprised this is a trilogy. I could see it being one single book (which I thought it was). Maybe a trilogy will be too much? I guess we'll see in September.

Check out Stephen King's review of the book here. I agree with him on two things: I'm not sure if readers will stick around for the series, and Katniss is definitely a lame name.

So what did you think of The Hunger Games?

Friday, February 20, 2009

Man + Machine

Rolling Stone just put out an article in their latest issue on a man named Ray Kurzweil called "When Man and Machine Merge." Kurzweil is a technological prophet. He has some radical futuristic ideas that I needed to expose here because I'm trying to wrap my head around it.

First, here is what he is credited for doing: He taught machines to classify and learn data. He created the first program where computers began to read text (scanning). He also created the first program to translate text into speech. Kurzweil also created a synthesizer that revolutionized the music industry, working specifically with Stevie Wonder. He has also worked with figuring out artificial intelligence but has been in and out of the White House, eventually receiving the highest honor, the National Medal of Technology.

Now, he's making some outlandish predictions that are causing a little bit of a stir.

Here is what he believes is going to happen:

"In our lifetime, Kurzweil believes, machines will not only surpass humans in intelligence--they will irrevocably alter what it means to be human. Cell-size photos will zap disease from our bloodstream. Superintelligent nanotechnology, operating on a molecular scale, will scrub pollution from our atmosphere. Our minds, our skills, our memories, our very consciousness will be backed up on computers--allowing us, in essence, to live forever, all our data saved by supersmart machines."

In others words, "By 2045, computers will surpass us in intelligence, the universe itself will become conscious, and humans will live forever."


Kurzweil's father has also been dead for a few years now. He is scientifically preserving his body because he believes he can bring him back to life with his technology. He supplies himself with pills to make him as young as possible. He wants to live long enough to see these changes, and he wants to live long enough so he can sustain his life forever. He really does believe that he can live forever, and he is working his hardest to do so.

This all does seem a bit radical. That's why I'm posting on it. I want to see how other people react to this sort of thing.

I think his accomplishments give him some credit. This opinion isn't just coming from some Joe down the street. I think that's why it makes me raise an eyebrow. I wonder how true some of this stuff MIGHT be, not all the way. Sometimes predictions can even be fabrics of the truth to come, but who knows? I just don't see how machines could really be more capable of thought, something so special and significant of the human mind. The human mind is a work of God. (And I'm not all that religious). How could something manmade trump a natural wonder of the world, human beings?

It's just a bizarre idea I'm throwing out there. The idea that we might become obsolete is kind of weird too. That's just strange.

Anyway, the article was pretty interesting if you want to read it. I didn't put down everything here, just the major points. Do with it what you will.

So what do you think of Kurzweil's predicitions?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Lonely Island

Digital shorts are sweeping the nation. Andy Samberg and his group of friends, Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone (aka the Dudes) are starting a new fad on Saturday Night Live. Samberg is the cast member that performs these skits, gaining most public recognition, and the three of them write them.

The three of them met in junior high school in California, parted ways for college, and reunited afterwards. They formed the Lonely Island, made some videos that impressed folks at SNL, and all landed writing gigs. They have transformed SNL with their digital shorts. It's such a creative idea, and what they come up with is brilliant. Sometimes, the digital shorts are quite lacking, but lately they have been gold.

Could you imagine such a sweet gig? Working on SNL with your two best friends and making hilarious videos with major superstars who come every week? It's just insane to think about. And they're all so young! They've got a sick gig over there in New York.

The Lonely Island just put out a CD called Incredibad, another name they sometimes go by. The CD features songs from their digital shorts on SNL:

1. Who Said We're Wack?
2. Santana, DVX
3. Jizz in My Pants
4. I'm on a Boat
5. Sax Man
6. Lazy Sunday
7. Normal Guy
8. Boombox
9. Shrooms
10. Like a Boss
11. We Like Sportz
12. Dreamgirl
13. Ras Trent
14. Dick in a Box
15. The Old Saloon
16. Punch You in the Jeans
17. Space Olympics
18. Natalie's Rap
19. Incredibad

It also features a DVD with many of those songs on it along with a few others ("Just 2 Guyz" and "Bing Bong Brothers.")

Many of those songs were digital shorts first, many with some great cameo appearances such as Natalie Portman, Justin Timberlake, T Payne, Jack Black, Chris Parnell, and Norah Jones. They're absolutely hilarious, but it might be funnier if you watch them first as digital shorts.

Watch their digital shorts at this website.

I would recommend watching Extreme Challenge, the Laser Cats episodes, the Japanese Office, Jizz in My Pants, Body Fuzion, Peyote, Pep Talk, or Doppelganger. Most of them are amazing; some of them can be a little outrageous or strange.

Or, watch some of their videos and check out the latest with The Lonely Island at their new website here.

They really are absolutely hilarious. This trio has a lot of talent, and they need to be watched. They came out with their first full length movie, Hot Rod, a few years ago. That movie was pretty funny, and I know that that movie will be their start to make more movies in the future. For a first movie, they did incredible.

Even though they have flopped in the past, two failed attempts at television pilots for their own shows both with MTV and Fox (called Awesometown), they are still on top and successful. Definitely keep an eye on these guys; they aren't going anywhere and they are in the spotlight for the comedic eye.

So, what do you think of The Lonely Island?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Pineapple Express

Finally, I saw the Pineapple Express. I wanted to see it over the summer, but I never had time to go see a movie. Anyway, it was pretty much everything I was expecting which isn't a bad thing to say.

Seth Rogen really is becoming a movie giant now, similar to a young Adam Sandler but with more early success. He has the ability to write successful movies and star in them, which is pretty impressive. His humor is obviously appealing to a mass audience (almost a cult audience following) but is reaching a very wide audience. He doesn't even look like he would be a movie star, but low and behold, here he is, succeeding.

Superbad really launched Rogen, but I think that Pineapple Express holds him up top to solidify his talent. He did it once, great. He did it twice, there is talent. He can do it a few more times.

He wrote this movie with Evan Goldberg, the character Evan from Superbad. The duo really are talented in writing screenplays.

What is pretty interesting is that Rogen was intiially intended to play the stoner character, Saul. When Franco came in to do the reading, Judd Apatow (the director) suggested that Franco read for Saul, and it really clicked. Then Rogen cast himself as Dale Denton which seemed to be a good fit. It's weird to think about it being the other way around, but I think either way would have worked.

Rolling Stone Magazine had an article on the movie when it was first hot, a few months ago. Rogen discussed how he came up with the movie. He wanted to combine action, comedy, and stoner movies in one. He did a pretty good job at that. The original idea came from 1993's True Romance, inspired by Brad Pitt's stoner character named Floyd. I've never seen it, but the guys say that they wondered what the movie would be like starring this guy. Well, it was a pretty successful idea.

I think it's funny that Rogen got Huey Lewis and the News to make the song for the movie, "Pineapple Express." I couldn't believe it was them when I heard it. Good for them.

The acting was pretty well done; the special effects were mediocre and a little intense/fake; the probability of any of this ever happening: never. When I was watching it, I wanted them to make so many other decisions, but then it wouldn't be a good movie if they did.

The cross joint also was an interesting idea to throw in there. In that Rolling Stone interview, apparently that is something that Rogen has tried. I don't even understand how that would be possible. Very tricky.

It really was laugh-out-loud funny though. These guys have such a funny and unique sense of humor that you can't help but laugh (especially when they're high in the woods). They really do capture the essence of being high. I'm just surprised they are so open about it. It does grant them a larger fan base, but it also does something to your reputation. I guess they don't mind so much. It's helping their success, at least at this point. I wonder how much longer they can do that and get away with it. It'd be weirder if they were like fifty and doing the same thing... Anyway.

I was really impressed with Franco's acting, especially since he's never smoked pot before. He studied by watching how people behave, so he's pretty right-on for that. After this movie, he's taking a break to study literature or some other intense major at a prestigious college. I commend that, but it must be hard to do something like that, especially when you just finished playing Saul on this movie and now you attend a college. I feel like people would be crawling all over you and would only want to talk about your acting career. Good for him though.

Maybe I missed it, but did they ever mention what happened to Rogen's girlfriend? They kind of just left that one hanging. Also, I commend the wardrobe jobs. They really were well done and captured the characters well. I like how these two writers capture what happens in a series of 1-2 days. Very unique and cool technique.

Does anyone know what Rogen is currently working on?

So, what did you think of Pineapple Express?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Donation Rant

I don't really know how to go about this rant, but I've got to start somewhere. I just had a strange encounter the other day and I want to comment on it.

Outside of Borders, where I was shopping avidly for books, a lady set up a station where people could make donations for children who are lost or who have been kidnapped. She asked every person as they went by (asking me as I entered), but I never carry cash on me so I can't normally donate unless the counter person asks me if I want to add it to my bill. In most cases, I will. It's only a dollar.

Anyway, as I left the store, she was kind of heckling me. She forced eye contact and conversation in a way that if you turned and walked away, it would be socially rude and immoral. I was with a friend, so we just kept walking, but this angered the lady. She must get this all the time. As we were walking away, I think she wanted us to feel the sting of rejecting her, so she yelled "Every 37 seconds, a child is lost!!!" Almost as if I was part of the problem now. Maybe take away another second because of my lack of donation.

Now, why even yell that at someone? I obviously wasn't going to contribute because I literally had nothing to give her, but does she think that yelling that will do either one of two things: I will turn around in embarassment and shame and give her money out of pity and sympathy; or two, I will now walk around my day and feel horrible because I didn't even empty my pockets for the cause.

I just thought it was tacky. I couldn't stop laughing, but a strange laugh, wondering why someone would yell something like that at someone (especially for a good cause). Aren't those kinds of people trying to help situations, not make them awkward or uncomfortable?

And even after she yelled that at me, as we were still walking to our cars, after a long pause she uttered, "Have a great day!"

Have a great day? She was just trying to solicit us using statistics. The whole thing is just bizarre.

And look, I know their job is hard. No one wants to give away spare cash, for any cause. People only really feel guilty when they know someone who has been inflicted bu whatever disease or tragedy. If you don't give money, it means you don't care. But is that true? It's hard to give away money in this economy, especially, when jobs are being lost left and right. This is a hard time for someone to sit on the street and ask for spare change.

This situation even reminds me of the Salvation Army santas that stand around stores on the holidays. When people hear that bell ringing, they go RUNNING. They avoid eye contact, shove their hands in their pockets, put their eyes down, and head straight for the car. And those people are the nicest. They open doors for you, they stand in the cold for HOURS, and they tolerate greedy people (like me the other day) who run away and don't want to acknowledge your presence. Those people truly have the kindest hearts.

So, I see the good cause, but is there a time when it crosses the line? People will donate, but do you need to give them the guilt trip? Do you need to get in their face? Some people will donate just for you to leave them alone, but is that worth it in the end?

What do you think of the solicitious nature of the donating booth crowd?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Kittens Inspired by Kittens

I'm not normally a person who sits around and looks for weird or funny videos on the internet, but this one fell into my lap last night. It's pretty hilarious.

It's called Kittens Inspired by Kittens and you can watch it here.


Basically, they have a little girl narrating for a book filled with kittens. She basically narrates what she thinks the kittens would say, and that's pretty funny all in itself.

But, the video got me thinking: Is it unethical to put children in YouTube videos as the focus? I'm not that traditional of a person, but I think it's a little extreme to have your child as the center of a video that is posted for everyone to see on the internet. It may be exciting for the child, but that exposure is just weird. The child is doing what you're telling them to do to be funny. There just seems to be something off and odd about the whole thing.

However, it is a very creative and original idea, and I will give them credit for that. Very funny and worth watching.

So what do you think of the video Kittens Inspired by Kittens?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Burn After Reading

I heard so many mixed reviews about Burn After Reading, and I was wondering what the general consensus is on this film.

I watched this movie yesterday and expected something entirely different. The previews set the movie up to be a quirky comedy (in my opinion), making Brad Pitt dance around as an airhead gym fanatic and Jon Malkovich scream in a silly way that seemed over-the-top. Or maybe the previews gave away too little of what it really was going to be. Or maybe it's hard to convey this movie in a trailer.

The movie WAS kind of strange. It had all these different angles that eventually intersected (which I really liked), but it was kind of bizarre. So many different angles were opened and were left that way: Clooney's "toy" he made in his basement and that connection to his wife, the CD with information, Malkovich's memoir, Clooney's addiction to cheating, the Russians...

I do think the Coen brothers are clever, and they make good movies. I was just wondering what the purpose of this movie was. At the end, I was thinking to myself: Well, so what? What is the overall message here? What are we supposed to take from this movie?

I enjoyed how they portrayed plastic surgery. No one needs it, especially if you work at a gym. I like how they portrayed the voice messaging system where you have to respond to a computer to direct you to a phone line (say "agent"). I liked how they showed cheating and how it just can't ever end soundly. Online dating was also interesting to explore in this film.

One thing that the Coen brothers do very well is create characters. Each of the actors did a fantastic job of conveying their character, but they were created very well. The actors seemed to get a good sense of their characters, but it was through the writing that probably lead them to really encapsulate them.

It also also noteworthy to commend the actors in this film. All very well done. The beginning scene where Malkovich gets fired absolutely blew me away. He's a very flamboyent, eccentric guy, but he really impressed me with that scene. Pitt even played a character very different from his others, and a smaller role, and he did a fantastic job. Very impressive acting.

Why would the FBI (or whatever that government agency was that Juno's dad played the head cheif) cover up all of these murders? To save their asses? It just seemed out of character and not true. I know the whole plot spun out of control to something that would never really happen (which is really the beauty of film and getting lost in a fictional plot), but I didn't understand that angle. What were the trying to say about the FBI? That they're willing to break the law to save reputation?

And the purpose of the title? Someone help me out there.

So what are we supposed to make of this movie? What messages are there?

What did you think of Burn After Reading?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lollapalooza Lineup 2009?

Since I really enjoyed myself at Bonnaroo last summer, I want to check out a new festival this year. I've been browsing around to see what artists are coming to what festivals, and somehow I came across Lollapalooza.

I found this artist lineup for Lollapalooza 2009, and I don't know if it's legit. It looks like it is, but everywhere I look, it says that it hasn't been announced yet. Normally, when the lineup is set in stone, it is posted on the festival's website. Lollapalooza's website only has up 2008's lineup, not this year's.

This is the website.

I'm posting what it looks like below as well:

Does anyone know if this is made up or real?

It seems too good to be true; those artists are incredible. If it was real, I'd definitely consider that as my top choice of festivals. Bonnaroo just didn't meet last year's expectations with a sick lineup.

So, does anyone know the real deal with Lollapalooza 2009?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Elliott Smith

So, I'm officially obsessed with Elliott Smith. I listen to him every single day. I don't know what it is about him, but his sound really fits who I am right now and how I'm feeling lately. And I'm not depressed.

Smith's sound is lighter, slower, and can be a bit mellow or depressing. Even though he was extremely depressed, his music has a soft, uplifting tone to it. It's not as dark as he really was, which is kind of interesting. Maybe his music made up for the feelings he didn't have inside. Something to think about.

For those of you who don't know Elliott Smith, he used to be in a band called Heatmiser, and then he went solo. He came out with six albums from 1994 until his death in 2004, the last album coming out after his death. Smith is known for drug and alcohol addiction. Smith is also known for being extremely depressed and mellow, eventually committing suicide by stabbing himself in the heart. Someone really wants to die if they kill themselves in that manner.

I just find his music fascinating. It's so different from other stuff out there. His voice is so unique and mesmerizing... It has this pitch to it that is kind of eerie and intriguing all at the same time. You can hear some of his pain when he sings, but his music sounds much more upbeat and happy than the lyrics. Even before I saw what he looked like, I was not picturing him to the look the way he did. He looks much more like a rock star for the sound he puts out. Not that it's a bad thing, but he just looks differently than his sound.

What I didn't know was that his real name is Steven; he changed it to Elliott because Steve sounded to jock-ish and Steven sounded too bookish. He is now forever known as Elliott. I also didn't know that he had supposed abuse from his stepfather as a child. This might have caused some of this inner turmoil Elliott faced later on in life, turning to drugs, alcohol, and music as a means of escaping and coping.

Details on Elliott's death: "Elliott Smith died on October 21, 2003 at age 34 from two stab wounds to the chest. According to girlfriend Jennifer Chiba, with whom he was living at the time, the two were arguing, and she locked herself in the bathroom to take a shower. Chiba heard him scream, and upon opening the door, saw Smith standing with a kitchen knife in his chest. She pulled the knife out, after which he collapsed and she called 911. Smith died in the hospital with the time of death listed as 1:36 p.m. While Smith's death was originally reported as a suicide, the official autopsy report released in December 2003 left open the question of possible homicide. A possible suicide note, written on a Post-it, read, "I'm so sorry—love, Elliott. God forgive me."

After Elliott's death, many fans mourned. They even made a memorial wall for him in Los Angeles that is absolutely gorgeous. It's modeled after the cover of one of his albums, Figure 8. Fans come there to leave him messages. You can see an awesome video of it here.

I highly recommend his music. If you are interested in getting into Elliott, try these two albums: Figure 8 and From a Basement on the Hill.

Try these songs: "Color Bars," "Wouldn't Mama Be Proud," "Coast to Coast," "Son of Sam," "Junk Bond Trader," "Can't Make a Sound," "Pretty (Ugly Before)," "Happiness," "A Fond Farewell," "Twilight," "A Passing Feeling," "Miss Misery" (from the Good Will Hunting Soundtrack), "Tomorrow, Tomorrow," "Waltz #2," "Amity," "Say Yes."

So, what do you think of Elliott Smith?

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I just finished a very riveting book, Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff. For whatever reason, I find myself drawn to memoirs and true personal accounts of addiction, and this one is definitely added to my list of good reads.

This book goes through the addiction Sheff has to getting high on anything, specifically meth and heroin. However, throughout the book, he tries a multitude of drugs. He takes different kinds of pills all the time, drinks quite frequently, smokes pot, snorts and injects cocaine, does ecstasy, etc. He basically would do anything he could get his hands on to be high. This type of personality is scary because doing something recreationally or to drown out something in your life can become so addictive that it rules and destroys your life.

I enjoy when addicts come clean to tell their story to help others and spread knowledge about what it's like. Personally, I picked up the book because I wanted to learn about what people experience with meth. Meth is a growing drug in the US, spreading across the country slowly from the west, and more and more people are becoming absolutely hooked on it. It's scary.

Meth is such a nasty drug too. It contains so many different chemicals: Alcohol, Gasoline additives, Rubbing Alcohol, Ether (starting fluid), Benzene, Paint thinner, Freon, Acetone, Chloroform, Camp stove fuel, Anhydrous ammonia, White gasoline, Pheynl-2-Propane, Phenylacetone, Phenylpropanolamine, Rock, table or Epsom salt, Red Phosphorous, Toluene (found in brake cleaner), Red Devil Lye, Drain cleaner, Muraitic acid, Battery acid, Lithium from batteries, Sodium metal, Ephedrine, Cold tablets, Diet aids, Iodine, Bronchodialators, Energy boosters, Iodine crystals. Yuck. Why put all that garbage into your body? The ingredients list just screams unhealthy.


I gained a lot of insight on the drug though, and it's a good thing to understand since it's becoming so popular (God knows why). Apparently it makes you feel this incredible feeling that you're always chasing (similar to heroin). You're immediately hooked. It feels like it takes all your problems away. I can see the lure for people, but what a bad chemical (or bunch of chemicals) to keep putting into yourself, especially with needles.

Sheff has so many close calls with the drug that it's surprising he didn't get wake-up calls sooner. From shooting up so much, he developed this tumor-like mass on his arm that started to turn colors, ache, and swell. They almost had to amputate his arm. But nope, he continues. He had to prostitute himself for money for the drug. Still continues. He loses trust of friends and family, multiple times. Keeps going. His money is stolen by a drug dealer when he tries to deal. Continues. That just shows how strong the addiction can be to this or any drug.

In the book, Sheff lives in California amidst the hype of celebrities and fame. He craves becoming a writer, and revealing all of this seems to be his big break. He hooks up with a woman who dated a celebrity and is involved in that world, so he sticks with her even though she spirals with him into a relapse. He just needed to leave that California world where every drug he ever needed was available.

Sheff eventually moves to Georgia after sobering up at a rehab clinic. Sheff eventually is forced into rehab after breaking into his mother's apartment to steal a computer and other goods. He stays in there for hours (half a day) freaking out on drugs. At least something got him to go.

Tweak is definitely worth reading especially if you are unfamiliar with the drug. It can be depressing at times, but it's a very interesting lifestyle. It's interesting also to get into the head of someone with this addiction. They don't want to hurt everyone around them; they just need to fill the void with drugs. Very interesting.

Anyway, what did you think of Tweak?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Breaking Dawn

Spoiler: Don't read this if you haven't finished the Twilight series yet.

I need to put in my two cents on Stephanie Meyer's concluding book in the Twilight series, Breaking Dawn. This is the book that has the clever chess pieces on it. Not a bad choice for the final book as it really is compiled of strategy and wisdom.

I found this book to be the most interesting one. Twilight was slow to get into. After the baseball game, it picked up and got interesting. New Moon dragged a little in the beginning but it picked up after Jacob's tranformation. Eclipse was building up to this one but still was captivating. Breaking Dawn was what you wished they all were: Action and interest from start to finish.

Basically, all of the books were leading up to this book, which makes the series so enticing and hooking for readers. You really just want to see what happens to this group of people (or immortals), and all questions are answered in this one. I couldn't put this one down. So much was always happening; there was never a good place to stop!

However, this one also had a lot of corny moments. If you thought the others were corny, this is one corny times five. Reneesme "Nessie"? I get the connection but it's kind of lame. Just like her middle name combining Charlie and Carlisle. Lame. I thought her character was kind of lame too. The idea was weird. I didn't see it coming. She just seemed to perfect and all-knowing. I don't know. Maybe I'm being too harsh.

Breaking Dawn gave readers that fairy tale ending they wanted. Bella becomes a vampire. Bella and Edward have a loving child together. They even have a hut in the woods to have their family. They even get into their long awaited romance (wink wink). Peace is instilled with family and friends. It just seems too perfect, but had it not been this way, there would have been a lot of angry fans. Was there any other way to end this? (I wouldn't have involved babies, but that's just me...)

OH! And Jacob and Renesmee together? I didn't like that imprinting. Jacob totally wanted HER MOM and now he's going to hook up with her? It's just all sorts of weird that I don't like. And how is that going to work out? Jacob is mortal and Renesmee will eventually be immortal... Not going to work. Frustrating.

This point wasn't clear to me: Does Charlie know that Bella is a vampire? I know I should have picked it up, but I was reading a bit too fast and couldn't bear to go back and find it...

I'm just surprised that Meyer went with the message to kids: It's okay to start a new life and leave your family, as long as you follow love, no matter who the person is. Despite their bad history or reputation. Follow love.

I just think it's a weird message that you can abandon your family for something else (like love) especially at such a young age. Whatever, at least it's getting kids reading.

Now I have to read Jacob's take on it. We'll see how that goes.

I know that Meyer doesn't want to continue with the series, but she definitely left it open if she wanted to continue, especially from Renesmee's point of view. Does anyone know if Meyer secretly has intentions for putting out more? Or more movies? (I know New Moon is in pre-production...)

Clever name too. The dawn is breaking on their eternal lives together. The titles all have to do with night-time and how the moon is phasing. Twilight, before dusk. New Moon, a new phase or rebirth. Eclipse, a strange, rare, beautiful occurrence. And Breaking Dawn, the start of a new day. But their days are now forever.

So, what did you think of Breaking Dawn?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hypothetical Question: Where would you live in the US?

I brought up this hypothetical question to my friends a while ago, when I was in college. My brother has to have an internship and he can go wherever he wants, so I was thinking, where would you go before you settled down and were tied down to a job and family?

Say that you were going to have a paid internship. This job requires that you work at five different locations in the country, but you're essentially doing the same job. If you got to pick five different cities/states to live in to do this internship, which would you pick?

*You would live in each location for one month and one week, comprising a little over six months total. If you would like to alter this, give each one two months.

So, if you could stay for a while around the country, where would you want to park yourself and experience the culture?

(To answer personally...

1. Seattle, Washington. I would love to experience their culture and engage myself in the music scene.

2. Maui, Hawaii. I would like to see how life on an island of perfection would be, especially amidst so much tourism.

3. Chicago, Illinois. So much seems to happen here, and I'd like to be a part of it.

4. Los Angeles, California. The expensive, elite culture would be astounding. I would probably get angry at a lot of the behaviors and such, but it would be a good study. I'd need to save up my cash, but this is all hypothetical anyway.

5. New Orleans, Louisiana. The culture is astounding. I'd like to get taken over by the food, the music, the festivities.

Honorable mention: New York City. I'd like to feel the cramped atmosphere and the bond people have when they become true New Yorkers.)

What is your top 5?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Ajira Airways

For Lost fans out there, check out this website: Ajira Airways.

As of last week's episode, a new clue was dropped to help us slowly pick away at the underlying mysteries of the island. Those still remaining on the island (Sawyer, Juliet, Myles, Daniel, Charlotte, Locke) found a water bottle from an airline, Ajira Airways, in a boat which they then took and used to try to swim around the island.

Another flight? What could this mean? It's not Oceanic, but another company altogether...

Anyway, another Lost geek found this website created by ABC that is on the airline. If you go through each of the pages, it has everything to do with the island. What is this company then?

It references polar bears, Australian walkabouts, island adventures, swimming with sharks (from Sawyer and Michael's voyage early in the season on a raft), and excavations (perhaps some clues to the strange artifacts and monuments left on the island). We still haven't figured out what that giant statue with four toes means.

I wonder what the purpose of this airline is. Why would ABC and the Lost staff go through the trouble of creating this from such a small plot detail? Perhaps it is going to be bigger than we know; perhaps they are cluing us into something important. Check it out then to help further yourself along towards figuring out the Lost formula.

So what do you think of the website?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Conan O'Brien: Inside the Actors Studio

I was so excited when I saw that one of my favorite shows, Inside the Actors Studio, was hosting one of my favorite comedians, Conan O'Brien. As James Lipton and Conan have such a close relationship on air, it seemed only fitting that he was invited as a guest, especially with Conan's big Tonight Show debut soon.

I learned so much about Conan that I hadn't known before. You can only get to know so much about the guy from watching his show, but he is extremely talented. He has this unusual, raw sense of humor that is unmatched by other comedians. He is ALWAYS on and ALWAYS hilarious--now that's a gift.

Honestly, I am a bit nervous for his transition to the Tonight Show soon. I hope that the same elements and writing that I love about Late Night continues on in his new show. I don't want them to lose a lot of that flame, hilarity, and excitement when they move venues and time slots. The cheapness, the stupidness, the silliness is everything that makes the show. When you change some of those elements, you lose some of the genius and the show.

On Inside the Actors Studio, Conan was so revved up. He was making jokes left and right which made me wonder if he felt a bit uncomfortable and under pressure. HE is normally the one conducting the interviews, not the other way around. At one point, he chugged two glasses of water straight. He danced on stage. He continuously made jokes with Lipton on his stack of cards, even asking to hold some after a period of time. He must feel in control when he makes jokes like that. Either that or he craves the audience, their laughter, and being the center.

I found out a lot of very cool information about Conan's life through watching this episode (which I must admit was one of my favorites). Here is some information I learned:

His career:

-Conan has received an Emmy for writing on Saturday Night Live and 1 for Late Night with Conan O'Brien.

-He has received 13 Emmy nominations for Late Night.

-He has won 6 Writers Guild Awards.

-He was a writer and producer on The Simpsons.

-He has spent 16 years on Late Night before he will go to the Tonight Show.

His background:

-Conan is the middle of six siblings, as he said, even though it's impossible to be in the middle of an odd number.

-Conan is 100% Irish and grew up in Massachusetts.

-He was the valedictorian of his high school and learned quickly that he was not meant for sports.

-He knew from a young age that he wanted to be in show business despite his appearance. So, his parents sent him immediately to tap dancing lessons.

Conan's younger life:

-Conan attended Harvard where his father also teaches.

-At Harvard, he discovered his love for comedy, calling his parents and telling him that he wanted to be in this business even if it didn't make him that much money. It was his passion.

-After college, Conan goes out to LA with a friend to make it big. He takes acting lessons and was taught not to think too much. He loved improv and being funny with others.

-While in LA, Conan is called to NYC to audition as a writer for SNL in 1986/87. He was given a 3 week tryout and eventually made it.

-Conan left SNL because he was burnt out and needed a change. Shortly after, he was called by The Simpsons and soon started working on that television show.

-Conan is shortly called in to audition for Late Night, a suggestion by Lorne Michaels. When Conan got the call that he received the job, he was not ecstatic and did not celebrate. He was so nervous, the same feeling as his upcoming job.

-Conan compares going to Late Night like going up to space in an expiremental rocket. Glory, girls, and potential death.

Conan ideas:

-Comedy is a job. He loves his job and wouldn't do anything else, but it's always on his mind and is never perfected until the last minute. You always have to work for comedy.

-Whatever works on Late Night works for 2 year old children. Take his jumping off of camera sequence for instance.

And lastly, here is Conan's answer to the end questionairre:

Favorite word: chambers
Least favorite word: bowel
What turns him on? enthusiasm
What turns him off? snobbery
What sound does he love? egg dropping in milk
What sound does he hate? ringing phone in 70s TV
Favorite curse word: mother fucker
A profession other than his that he would like to attempt: rockabilly singer with a band for a year
A profession he would not like to attempt: pornography
What would God say to him at the pearly gates: Conan, how DID you do it? then a high five would cause a tsunami.

At the end of the show, James Lipton wrote a song for Conan and had his students sing it to him on stage (with Lipton singing to him of course). This also might have been tribute to the fact that Conan's show surged Lipton's acting career back in action. It was really touching and nice.

So, what do you think of Conan O'Brien?

Flying Dog

I always enjoy trying new beers, but I found a very interesting one that appeals to my literary interests. What? Literature and beer in one? Oh yes.

Flying Dog Brewery was inspired by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Gonzo, himself. The creator, George Stranahan, was a good friend of Hunter before he passed away. After his death, he opened a brewery in Aspen, Colorodo (close to his Owl Ranch and near Woody Creek Tavern--his bar).

As the website states, "Long time friend, neighbor and co-conspirator of Flying Dog owner George Stranahan, Hunter was a large influence on George's life and subsequently on the creation of the Flying Dog brand; whether it was riding motorcycles, blowing shit up, or just getting a good, old-fashioned drunk on at the Woody Creek Tavern."

One brew is designed specifically for Hunter as well, the Gonzo Imperial Porter.

Another interesting fact is that Ralph Steadman, famous illustrator and good friend of Hunter, illustrates the beer's labels. They are pretty cool and eerie all at the same time. Steadman is so talented; he can really get an emotion and feeling across in his artwork. He is also so unique to develop a style that anyone could pinpoint his name when they saw it. Pretty impressive.

I discovered this beer in a large beverage center when I was looking for something new. It was hard for me to pass up this new kind of beer when it has to do with Hunter and Steadman, good friends of the creator. As the beer case I bought says (by Hunter), "I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but it's always worked for me." Sold.

It's pretty good beer too. It was a strong, unique taste to it. What I liked as well is that they have a barometer for how light or dark the beer is. I like that scale because I like drinking lighter beers. They helped me make the right choice.

Good artwork, good product, clear labels... It works for me.

Check out the website here. It's pretty cool. They have apparel, contests, poetry, stories, information about them, etc. Pretty cool to navigate around.

So, what do you think of Flying Dog?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Obviously, I am a huge fan of Augusten Burroughs. I might say that he is my favorite writer, although it is hard for me to put such a solid stamp on that. I find him amusing and honest about life which is oftentimes refreshing.

If you do like Burroughs or enjoy his work, visit his website at

On his website, you can read his BLOB which is basically like a blog where he posts thoughts and comments about his life. You can check out his six books and see what readers think. You can become updated on future projects of his: a new holiday book coming out in October called You Better Not Cry and A Wolf at the Table and Sellevision will soon become major motion pictures). The site lists events (where he'll be touring), news, about his life, photo galleries, merchandise, links, top tens, and it even has a link to his MySpace page which is also very interesting to look at.

You can even contact him, and he writes back to some of his fans.

You could navigate this site for hours and never get bored, especially if you consider yourself a Burroughs fan.

If you aren't convinced to visit the website, to read one of his books, or become a fan, check out the following segment. I HAD to include it in this post because I find it very interesting and wise. The following is a post that Burroughs wrote back to someone who admitted to once being homophobic but being opened up after reading Burroughs' works.

You can read the post on his website here.

Being Gay

a post by Augusten Burroughs

"Recently, a reader posted a note on my Facebook page that stunned me with its honesty. The reader confessed to having always been a bit "homophobic" and went on to say that reading my books had "opened [their] eyes." At the end of the note the reader said this: "I just wanted to say...thank you. I see people differently now and feel as maybe I just might be starting to crawl out from under the rock I've obviously sheltered myself under for so long. Just from what you've written, you share the same feelings, commitment, love...that I thought could only be truly shared between a man and a woman.”

Far from being offended, I was honored to receive such a note. Honesty is always a relief. What's more, I could relate to what she said because I had experienced similar feelings myself. So I posted my reply.

The other day, Drew The Website Guy came across this exchange and said I should post it to the blog. Whatever Drew The Website Guy says to do, I do. So here it is:

Thank you for the huge compliment. Or -ments, really.

And most of all, thanks for sharing something so personal and for being so honest, even though it might not be politically correct here in circa 2008.

I think many -probably most- people in America feel the same way. Maybe some of this majority have grown “tolerant” of “the gays” but even they probably don't know any gay people and really wouldn't want to. They might be “fine” with the idea of the gays being allowed to have jobs and apartments, aside from any involving children, but they certainly don't want them to “advertise” their lifestyle choices to the world.

This is why gay marriage is disallowed by most states and is being repealed in others. To moral, ethical everyday folks, allowing the gays to marry would almost be like allowing dogs to marry; it makes a parody of something we hold nearly sacred. It violates the sanctity of marriage. It perverts, even, the very tradition and all that it stands for. Two men? A girl and a girl? It's a frank insult. (See my upcoming BLOB feature on this very subject)

I can understand this mindset because it is one that I have held myself. For many years, I had only contempt for Christians. All seemed intellectually diseased, an actual cancer upon the growing bones of evolution itself. But then, of course they were -they didn't even believe in evolution. Their scientific explanation for everything was that a man lived in the sky and made everything in a week. “It says so right here,” they added, pointing to the best-selling back-list title in the history of publishing.

I saw these millions of Americans as little more than viruses that could operate parking meters and speak a hobbled form of English.

The Christians I saw on television all seemed unnaturally obsessed with sex -specifically, homosexuality. Angry, even furious people on some sort of mission to cleanse society from what they described as “an evil.”

Which, to me, was exactly like starting a war with the Right Handed.

At a certain point in my life, if the United States government had announced that all the Christians needed to be rounded up and placed into transport vehicles so they could be brought to processing stations where they would be sorted -some used for labor, others simply exterminated- I would have been like, “Great!.”

Now, when I say this, I do not say it as a joke. I would have said, “Great!”

Even though technically? I didn't know any Christians. But I had seen “them” on television and I had read a little about their Corn-God beliefs, their disapproval of my innate right-handedness and enough of them had been caught in a financial or sex scandal for me to know that the entire lot of them was fundamentally corrupt; ruined. Better, then, to dispose of them.

Then I wrote a book. It was a memoir about my vile childhood. And we all knew -my agent, publisher and I myself- that like twenty people would read it: ten in Manhattan, another ten in California.

But that isn't what happened. And before I knew it, I was checking into a hotel room with a Magnolia tree out the window and three churches across the street. I was near the buckle of the bible belt and I was here to meet my readers.

Many were excited to tell me they'd never met an actual gay before and certainly never read a book written by one.

The next year, it would be straight guys. They would come in massive numbers for DRY. They would tell me they had no idea the book had been written by a gay guy. They thought it was a book only about alcoholism. Had they known, many said, they wouldn't have read it.

Over and over I heard the same thing you have said to me here: “(Y)ou share the same feelings, commitment, love...that I thought could only be truly shared between a man and a woman...”

I will tell you that this was not my plan. I have given less thought to my sexual orientation than I have to my right-handedness. In fact, as a child I tried to become a leftie.

But I never tried to become straight.

In later years, I would tour America -when it was divided into two colors -red and blue- during the most heated and potentially derailing election in American history. This is where I learned that republicans and democrats are exactly like Christians and Mormons; impossible to categorize.

Make no mistake: I continue to loathe people right and left. But I tend not to loathe entire populations.

They key was getting to know just one of “them.”

Something pretty awful happened a couple of years ago and it was a local Christian woman who came to our rescue. Never mind that it was early morning and she had family and work responsibilities; she tossed her coffee and came running to help us.

It wasn't even all she did for us; it was how she did what she did. The way she acted as though she had been born, just for this moment. Almost like she had trained for it. I wish I could go into all the details but it's a very long story. Suffice it to say that she brought me more than just her best help that day; she brought grace into our home and she left it with us.

I tried and tried to thank her. She insisted that she had done nothing special, indeed, nothing at all. She would not accept “thanks” for something that to her should be as freely given as water -that something being her best self.

She had simply treated us the way she hoped somebody would would treat her. As a Christian woman with very strong beliefs, what other choice did she have? It was who she was to make herself so freely available and so selfless.

As a remedial “thank you” I went shopping at Tiffany for the most beautiful cross I could find and I bought it for her. It seemed a cheap excuse for what I wanted to say, which was inexpressible.

So now I know: Always have a Christian friend.

We are, all of us, very different. But mathematically we are the same.
Virtually identical.

When you are sitting on the sofa at eleven PM rolling your eyes at the absurd show this person you allegedly love has insisted on watching -when any reasonable person knows the only good show is seventeen channels to the right- does it truly and deeply matter that this person also has hairy arms? Or that you both wear the same sized bra?

It really doesn't matter. Not to the couple sitting on the sofa. They have forgotten they are “gay.”

Do you , after all, watch television or drive your car or take a shower, 'as a woman'?

No. You just. You take a shower. You drive your car. Only if somebody were to say, “But you are a woman driving a car,” would you pause and say, “I suppose that's true. I am a woman driving a car.”

That somebody could find this interesting, even remarkable or contemptible will always be -to you- one of the great mysteries of the universe.

Thanks again, Jodi.


So what do you think of Burroughs' website or his work?