Friday, December 29, 2006

My Favorite Videos of the Year

Best Motivating Moment That Should Be Made Into a Disney Movie

Worst Sportsmanship, Best SportsCenter Clip

Best Tom Cruise Moment: Appearance on Today Show

I love awkward situations! They are so fun to revisit! Especially when they involve Crazy Cruise!

Favorite Music Video: Mates of State, "Fraud in the 80's"

Also a killer song from a talented duo...

The Office: The Initiation

Dwight: "Just as you have planted your seat in the ground, I am going to plant my seed in you."

The Office: Future Dwight

Best. Prank. Ever. If John Krasinski is anything like his character Jim Halpert, I want to invite him to Thanksgiving next year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

R.I.P. President Ford

Well, I will never get to enjoy that pint with President Ford, who died last night at the age of 93.

Given the topic of my last blog post, I was a bit freaked out to hear the news this morning, especially since I'd told Carlyn about my dream. Whenever Carlyn and I get together to talk about a celebrity or public figure, strange things seem to happen. In fact, Carlyn takes responsibility for killing Anne Bancroft. (Go to the July 06, 2005 entry).

Way to go, Carlyn. Yes indeed, Anne and the President are probably cursing you in the afterlife...

On a serious note, if you are interested in presidents or politics or leadership, I highly recommend "Eyewitness to Power" by David Gergen, who worked as an advisor for four presidents -- Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. He paints a nice portrait of Ford as a man of great integrity and strong character.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Brick Store, Brickskeller, and President Ford, too.

Since leaving Atlanta, arriving in DC, and preparing to visit NYC, I've been having some weird dreams. Last night was a good one... here is the abridged and relevant version:

Some Atlanta friends -- Lauren, Andy, Patrick -- and I went to see Brick Store Pub open a new branch in some big city. The new place was much more dungeon-like than the original Brick Store, but same staff, same vibe. While we there, I thought I saw Barack Obama walk in with some members of the press. But it was really President Ford and his wife (an easy mistake to make, right?). Well, I couldn't remember the First Lady's name (Betty... as in the Betty Ford Center...) and kept calling her Rosalynn (as in Carter). My friends asked the ex-Prez to join us for a pint, and he did; it was the most awkward conversation of my life, especially when I offended Betty by calling her Rosalynn and Andy asked, "Well, do you know Barack Obama?" Lauren added: "We're reading his book for the book club." The End.

After recovering from the crazy dream, I went down to DC and had lunch with Flax, then hit the National Gallery. The Gallery had two interesting special exhibits -- Rembrandt's sketches and prints, and photographs from NYC 1938 - 1958. Since it is a weekday, the museum was pretty empty, and at one point I found myself alone in one of the interior gallery rooms (not even a security guard to watch me).

After the Gallery I visited the Cafritz Foundation, where Carlyn works and two Warhols are housed. Then... deja vu... we went down to Brickskeller near Dupont. It was like walking into the new Brick Store I dreamt about!!! And if Barack Obama was going to be anywhere, why not DC's version of the Brick Store??? I really expected to see him there.

But Obama wasn't there... or President Ford... or Betty/Rosalynn... and the bar was out of Saison Dupont... but for a moment, I felt like I'd been to Brickskeller before.

(Only 6 days since I left Atlanta, and already I'm dreaming of Brick Store... if Brick Store were a man, I think we'd be having the "DTR" talk right about now.)

The Brick Store...


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

White House Holidays and Barney Cam

Last year at Christmas, my family was lucky to get a private tour of the White House. Beautiful when it's decorated for the holidays, and SO much goes on behind the scenes... the amount of flower arrangements, meals, etc, that are made in the tiny basement? Amazing. (Plus, it has a bowling alley... who knew...)

In 2005, the theme was "All Things Bright and Beautiful," with fresh flowers on all the trees. In 2006, it is "Deck the Halls and Welcome All."

As part of the theme, the Executive Residence staff produced this video, which means 1) You get to see the White House, including off-limits areas, all decorated for the holidays; 2) Hard to believe, but Karl Rove tries to be silly and act like an American Idol contestant; 3) The President has an Oval Office meeting with Barney; and 4) It stars the Presidential Pups and "Kitty."

Watch Barney Cam V: Barney's Holiday Extravanganza

Monday, December 18, 2006

Breaking News in Fantasy Football

No prizes for these Trophy Wives
Buckhead loses to East Atlanta; Playoffs continue into Round 2

ATLANTA, GA - Tuesday December 18, 2006 – The Buckhead Trophy Wives held a press conference at ESPN Zone late Monday night, following a Round 1 playoff loss to East Atlanta Scallywags in the Texas Sucks Championship Bracket.

“It’s a tough loss, no doubt about it,” said Trophy Wives’ triple-threat coach/owner/manager “CK," who kept a low profile most of the season. “Scallywags are tough. We were ready for whatever happened.”

The Trophy Wives led the league early into the season, opening with a 4-0 record. But the second half of the season was plagued by injuries and inconsistent performances from key offensive players. “When Adam [Vinateri] got hurt, and Donovan [McNabb] went out with a torn ACL, we knew we were in trouble,” said CK. That same week, wide receiver Antonio Bryant was arrested and backup quarterback Mark Brunell ended his NFL career, leaving the Trophy Wives without many options. They did, however, pick up Brunell’s replacement, Jason Campbell, who stepped it up for the last games of the season. “It was a band aid when we really needed some stitches,” CK added.

Many teams in Texas Sucks questioned the Trophy Wives’ staying power, citing luck as their strategy. Two consecutive losses to Mancha La Manchas added fuel to the fire. “We tried not to pay attention to that crazy talk,” said Campbell. “I think [Texas Sucks] was just frustrated they were losing to a girl."

With their playoff loss to the Scallywags, the Trophy Wives move into the consolation bracket, where they will face the Peachtree Platypuses. “We’re not scared,” said running back Julius Jones. “They’re called the Platypuses. That says it all.”

The Trophy Wives extended good wishes towards the Scallywags at the press conference before heading into the ESPN Zone game room. “Someone has to beat the [computerized] Space Taker,” said Vinateri in between rounds of skee ball. “Our reputation as living, breathing, intelligent human beings is at stake.”

As for the future, the Trophy Wives are optimistic and ready for the next challenge. “We’ll focus on this next set of playoff games, then start regrouping for next year,” said CK for the Trophy Wives. “In the meantime, there’s always gold digging to do. And we’re pretty good at that.”

(Note: In case its not obvious and I get complaints from news sources or publicists, no, those NFL stars didn't really comment... cK)

Stupid Presents for Your Favorite People

Need a not-so-ordinary gift for a not-so-ordinary friend? Go to for a wide array of things you don't need but want just so you can say, "Hey, look! I have Mr. T in my pocket!"

One of my favorite gifts to give? A pair of Freudian Slippers -- perfect for the psych major, sex therapist, or super-ego in your life.

Other choice selections:

Holy Toast, Batman!
Retro Cell Phone Handset (a giant leap backwards for technology)
Tattoo Sleeves (perfect for your next trip to Little 5)
Darth Tater

Friday, December 15, 2006

East Coast Tour: "Day 1", or "I Hate You Airlines," or "I Should Never Visit Penn State By Plane Again"

Well, you saw thegreat little plan I drew out for my travels to Penn State. This year I was not going to be taken for a fool by Delta. But alas, the powers that be looked at me today and said "Ha ha, SUCKAAA!"

It stared okay. Sheila at the Delta counter was very nice and helpful... security lines were short... but then my flight got delayed because Philly had some fog. (Miraculously) I made my connecting flight with US Air... luggage did not. No one seems to know where it is. Not Delta, not US Air... I fear it lost and gone forever. And now...

A Haiku for My Suitcase:

Luggage lost on route
To the middle of nowhere.
Au revoir, mi habits.

Correction: At 1:30am, my bag arrived at the hotel. It included a note from the TSA to tell me they'd inspected it. Naturally. In the meantime, I also realized that time that my French is awful and I don't know how to match possessives and nouns. That makes for bad haikus.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

East Coast Tour, Part 2; Where Not to Fly

Tomorrow I will set off for the second round of my East Coast Tour 2006. This time I'll be heading to Philadelphia (for 15 minutes), Penn State (to see my lovely sister give her recital!), DC, and good ol' Maryland.

I am nervous about this tour, actually. The last time I flew into State College, PA, home to Penn State, was a bit of a disaster a la Delta.

When I booked the trip online, my itinerary showed just one stop in Cincinnati. No big deal. So I boarded my 8:00am flight in Atlanta and took off for Cincinnati... or should I say, "Cincinnati."

I fell asleep on the plane and woke up 2 hours later to hear the flight attendant say, "Welcome to Shreveport Regional Airport, where the local time is 9:05am."

Shreveport? Where is Shreveport? Wait, I studied this in my Southern politics class... Louisiana... that's not Ohio!

I asked the gentleman sitting next to me to confirm where we were. "Shreveport," he said. Duh. I pulled out the Delta Sky Magazine and flipped to the map. I was almost in Dallas!

Delta made me exit the plane so they could clean it. "But I'm continuing onto Cincinnati," I said.

"Please exit the plane, ma'am."

I'm a pretty patient person, but this -- not okay. I marched through the tiny terminal and approached the Delta ticketing counter. The line was too long, so I headed back towards the gate, not realizing that (in this tiny airport) I had walked out of the "Safe Zone." I had to go back through security, where I was subjected to the most tedious screening of my life. Shoes went through the XRay three times... belt went through twice... then, trouble....

"You don't have a ticket, ma'am. You can't come through here."

"Yes I do -- I was on that flight to Cincinnati and they made me get off the plane."

"Your ticket is for Cincinnati from Atlanta. You can't come through." I tried my Southern manners, and when that didn't work, my Yankee bitch attitude. That worked, after some phone calls were made. Finally got through and arrived in State College (via Cincinnati via Shreveport) at 5:00pm.

This time, I'm flying into Philly. Maybe the City of Brotherly Love will be more kind to me, even if I am a Redskins fan...

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My Apocalypto Dream, staring Christopher Guest & Britney Spears

Ever since I was little, I’ve had crazy dreams. I can remember vivid details for days afterwards. For example, when I was eight years old I dreamt that I a totem pole came to life and attacked my family in my grandmother’s house. I escaped by hiding in the cabinet under the bathroom sink.

Here is my latest dream, which Steve LaBate suggested I document:

I moved back into my childhood bedroom in Maryland – the one with the aqua colored walls. In my dream, the previous owners had started to knock out a wall to make a closet, but stopped midway through. They did a bad job repairing and left a two-inch hole in the wall. Curious Caren looked through it and discovered that on the other side of the wall was the ancient Mayan empire! That’s right, the civilization didn’t vanish – it relocated to my closet!

So I called together some coworkers for an expedition. We were going to figure out what happened behind my wall. But first, we needed a leader. That leader was actor and director, Christopher Guest, subject of Paste Magazine’s most recent cover story. “Topher” (as he liked to be called in my dream) was curt, but boy oh boy did he like expeditions! So we set off for an adventure, leaving behind a coworker who was in a cast. “You’ll slow us up,” I said.

Topher led the five of us to a small cliff overlooking a rocky ocean. It was very Laguna Beach at first – sunny day, great waves. There on the cliff I saw a long lost sorority sister.

“What are you doing here?” I asked her. “You’re married now – you can’t go on an expedition!!”

“I’m waiting for Britney Spears!” she said. “I hear she’s making an appearance here today for a photoshoot.”

“Britney Spears is not coming,” I countered. “Why would she be on a cliff?”

“She wants to be on the expedition, too,” said my sorority sister.

“No, Topher doesn’t like Britney Spears,” I said. “She can’t be here.”

But my sorority sister didn’t care to listen to me. She dove into the water, barely missing some rocks, and said “I’ll just wait here for her. You’ll see.”

While I was talking to my sorority sister, the rest of the expedition went off into the woods. Suddenly the beach was the rainforest, and the ocean was the Amazon river.

Then all of a sudden Britney Spears was there, sans babies and sans shoes. Before my sorority sister could say, “Told you so!,” I thought – Whoa! Britney Spears and Christopher Guest… on an expedition together?! This is crazy! This is the reality TV show idea I’ve been waiting for! Like the Amazing Race, but better!

The members of the expedition reappeared, covered in black soil and mud. “It’s an exfoliating treatment,” said one of my coworkers. “We have to wash it in the river now.” They all walked into the river, but I realized Topher was missing. No one seemed to mind that Britney Spears was there, so I went to grab a videocamera.

I turned my back on my team and I heard the screams. The Mayans had appeared. They were warriors, chasing everyone into the water where piranhas waited anxiously. I climbed a tree to hide. I couldn’t watch it… Britney Spears screamed like a banshee. No one stood a chance.

The Mayans retreated. No one was left. All this, and for what? Exfoliating treatments and a massacre? And where was that Topher Guest! I climbed out of the tree and saw a leaf blow away near my feet. Something was sticking out of the sand. I bent down and realized it was a nose – the nose of Mr. Guest. I dug up the sand quickly and unearthed Topher, who had buried himself in the sand for protection, leaving only his nose above ground so he could breathe.

"You coward!" I yelled. “You led us into a death trap and had time to hide!”

But Topher didn’t have time for this. Echoing words he told Jason Killingsworth, he said, “Well, I hope you have something to work with. Bye now.”

This dream should serve as a warning to children: Do not watch Mel Gibson interviews before you go to bed.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

2007: Year of the Deer (Peace Out, Wolves)

2006 brought a ton of wolves into our lives via music...

- Wolfmother (Best New Wolf Band)
- "Wolf Like Me," TV on the Radio
- "Wolves at Night," Manchester Orchestra
- "The Wolf Is Loose," Mastadon
- "Wolves," Josh Ritter
- "House of Wolves," My Chemical Romance

(Some bands, like Wolf Parade and Voxtrot, with their Raised by Wolves EP, led the way in 2005...)

But wolves are out. I predict that 2007 will be the Year of the Deer... among the bands leading the way...

- Deerhunter
- Deerhoof
- The Dears
- Midlake, "Chasing After Deer"

Wolves losing popularity...

... but Neko Case loves deer!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Remembering John Lennon

I am a Beatlemaniac, but sadly, I was born after John Lennon died. As a result, I've discovered all of his music (and the history surrounding it) as a second generation fan. However, that did allow me the freedom to hear it out of order -- "Happy XMas", Please, Please Me, "Imagine," Sgt Pepper, Revolver -- and experience it differently.

Sometimes I wonder how the music and John Lennon's activistm would have affected me if I lived during his lifetime, back when every teen was a Beatles fan and when churches held protests against him. I would probably have taken the music for granted in the post-Beatles years, assuming that Lennon would be around to make music for years to come. Tragic that he wasn't.

Since last week was the 26th anniversary of his death, Brent (fellow Beatles fan) shared this video from YouTube, set to Lennon's cover of "(Just Like) Starting Over."

And here is a playlist of my favorite Lennon songs, plus the Beatles songs primarily composed by him...

- Imagine
- Give Peace a Chance
- Because
- Two of Us (still debated whether he or McCartney penned it)
- Real Love
- A Hard Day's Night
- And Your Bird Can Sing
- Julia
- Across the Universe
- Happiness is a Warm Gun
- Look at Me
- Revolution 1


Thursday, December 07, 2006

"I Still Remember," Bloc Party

This week I've been listening to the upcoming Bloc Party release, "A Weekend In the City" (due out Feb 6 in the US).

I loved "Silent Alarm" so much that I was frightened for the follow-up in case Bloc Party tried to either replicate that album or abandon it. But so far I've not been disappointed by Bloc Party or The Shins new one ("Wincing the Night Away" also due out Jan 23).

"A Weekend In the City" has whispers of "Silent Alarm" throughout it, including the heavily built up crescendos I love, but it much more varied. Not so much ROCK HANDS! as (baby rock hands).

Here are the lyrics to my favorite song, which I won't and can't post (go buy the album when it comes out, ok?)

"I Still Remember"

I still remember
How you looked that afternoon
There was only you

You said "it's just like a full moon"
Blood beats faster in our veins
We left our trousers by the canal
And our fingers, they almost touched

You should have asked me for it
I would have been brave
You should have asked me for it
How could I say no?

And our love could have soared
Over playgrounds and rooftops
Every park bench screams your name
I kept your tie

I've gone wherever you wanted

(I still remember)

And on that teachers' training day
We wrote our names on every train
Laughed at the people off to work
So monochrome and so lukewarm

And I can see our days are becoming nights
I could feel your heartbeat across the grass
We should have run
I would go with you anywhere
I should have kissed you by the water

You should have asked me for it…

And our love could have soared…

I would let you if you asked me

I still remember...

Monday, December 04, 2006

At the sound of the beep...

For the past two days, I've been tormented by two obnoxious sounds: the beep from my smoke detector, and the beep from my cell phone. After a sleepless night, I pity all new parents tending to wailing babies...

The smoke detector started up on Sunday and was so loud that even my neighbors upstairs could hear it. I tried to take off the cover and get to the battery. But my apartment property management team has it locked in place to prevent tampering. What good is that??? Almost as good as the fire extinguisher tied tightly to the pipes under the sink.... Had to wait until today to get it fixed... a good 30+ hours of beeping, once every minute. It was especially wonderful when complimented by the high pitched squeal coming out of my new cellphone.

About a month ago, the company switched us all to Verizon Wireless (I was already "IN") and Motorola Q phones (thanks, boss!). Wired magazine loved the Q and said it was the best phone out there, so I was pretty stoked.

But I've had two problems with my Q so far. First, the addicting game called Bubble Breaker. It's like Snood for the phone. So far I've logged 568 games. At approximately 3 minutes per game, I've wasted 1,704 minues of my life trying to beat my boss' high score in MegaShift mode. I wonder if there are support groups for this...

Second problem: the beeping. When it first started I would run to my phone anticipating a new message. Hopes deflated, I went back to my business. Until the beeping got more and more regular (it's already beeped twice since I started writing this).

By now I've read every manual that came with the phone (even the French version, just in case it read "Haha, stupid Americans! BEEP BEEP BEEP!"). But all I've figured out so far is that the beeping is a "WARNING." No clue what the warning is since it doesn't flash an alert on the screen. Everything looks fine to me -- no text messages, no voicemail, no new email.

As a last resort I turned off all sounds, including my homemade ringtone, "Consolation Prizes" by Phoenix (listen courtesy of Sandwich Club). But that cheeky phone has a mind of its own... now it's giving me both vibrating warnings and nosie warnings. How is that possible when the sound is off??

Having this Q is like babysitting a Tamagotchi! "What's wrong Q? Are you hungry? Do you need your battery changed?" I can't take it anymore! I want to throw it against a wall until it breaks into a thousand pieces!! Even then, I bet it would beep!!

... but then I realize I'd miss Bubble Breaker and need to get my fix from a coworker's phone. Damn you, Q, and your pretty features.

Sorry, Kip -- I do not love technology... try me again tomorrow...

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Death Cab, free download of "Photobooth"

Friz got us awesome seats for the Death Cab show a few weeks ago -- better than I could've gotten from a publicist (thanks, Friz). Great performance, as usual, from the Seattle outfit. They played one of my fav songs, "Photobooth," too, which first appeared on the Forbidden Love EP (2000).

You can download a live version for free from Largehearted Boy (hooray free music!). Lyrics below. (Ben Gibbard is a genius songwriter and I am still mad that he didn't make Paste's 100 Greatest Living Songwriters list.)


I remember when the days were long,
And the nights when the living room was on the lawn.
Constant quarreling, the childish fits, and our clothes in a pile on the ottoman.
All the slander and double-speak,
Were only foolish attempts to show you did not mean.
Anything but the blatant proof
Was your lips touching mine in the photobooth.

And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will put your hard heart away.
You were so condescending.
And this is all that's left:
Scraping paper to document.
I've packed a change of clothes and it's time to move on.

Cup your mouth to compress the sound,
Skinny dipping with the kids from a nearby town.
And everything that I said was true,
As the flashes blinded us in the photobooth.
Well, I lost track, and then those words were said.
You took the wheel and you steered us into my bed.
Soon we woke and I walked you home,
And it was pretty clear that it was hardly love.

And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will rush your hard heart away.
You were so condescending.
And this is all that's left:
Scraping paper to document.
I've packed a change of clothes and it's time to move on.
And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will rush your hard heart away.

You were so condescending,
As the alcohol drained the days.
And as the summer's ending,
The cool air will rush your hard heart away.
You were so condescending.
And this is all that's left:
The empty bottles, spent cigarettes.
So pack a change of clothes, 'cause it's time to move on.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Gillian Welch vs. Lady Sovereign

This week I caught two very different concerts put on by two very different women: Gillian Welch and Lady Sovereign.

I can't think of two more different artists to compare. The soft-spoken and sensible Gillian, with her banjo and cowboy boots; the foul-mouthed and lively Lady Sov, sporting a baggy t-shirt and cornrows.

Welch's show was on Thursday in the vibrant college town of Athens, GA, home to REM, Of Montreal, B-52s, Drive-By Truckers, and more. I drove up with Katie to see this folk singer/songwriter who, along with partner David Rawlings, has heavily influenced the Americana music scene and the works of other artists like Ryan Adams and Mark Knopfler.

I have to admit that prior to Thursday, I'd only listened to a few Gillian Welch songs. Kate and Katie both threatened to drown me in her music if I didn't right my wrongs, so I delved into "Time (The Revelator)," her third album.

During the show I realized I knew a lot more of Welch's work than I thought I did, and was struck by the honesty of her songs and how devestating they are. Hearing "Revelator" and "Wrecking Ball" felt like having my heart ripped out but wanting to immediately fall in love again. Rawlings was on hand to wow the crowd with his musicianship and intricate solos. He even played "To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)," a Ryan Adams song that Rawlings co-wrote. Welch told a funny story about how that song almost didn't happen because Adams didn't remember writing it (luckily for all of us, Rawlings did). For their finale, Welch and Rawlings performed "Jackson," doing justice to Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. Fantastic show.

Fast forward to Lady Sovereign show at The Loft, less than 24 hours later in downtown Atlanta, just blocks from some of the hottest nightclubs around. It was suddenly in the low 40s outside, and after some trouble getting in, Leila and I made our way into the packed club. As the stage was getting set up we were entertained with some 2 Step Garage music from the UK (which British Leila pointed out is a stupid name for it; agreed). Lady Sov's band took the stage and played for a while before she got out. The guy working the decks was spinning some great stuff -- I could've watched that for awhile.

Then she arrived -- all 52 cms of her. Lady Sovereign. The first non-American female to be signed to Def Jam Records. The audience started chanting "S-O-Veeeee!" and she ripped into her set. With her speed and accent it was hard to hear what she was even saying. Sov explained that she added this tour date in (the last of her US engagements) because it was requested by her MySpace friends. Then the 20 year old introduced everyone in her band, including her personal assistant and tour manager, stopped to have a drink, and then played on everyone else's instruments. She looked like a fun chick you'd want to cause trouble with.

The crowd was crazy -- people fighting and pushing, one lady trying to get an autograph by yelling "Louise!" (Sov's given name). That sent Sov into a round of fake hurling. She made disgusting sounds into the mic and said, "Louise! Louise! Yuck!"

After about an hour, she instructed the audience to split in half down the middle. One half had to make heart shapes with their hands. The other side were instucted to put up a middle finger. Then she broke into her US hit, "Love Me or Hate Me." Everytime she sang "If you hate me, fuck you," the middle fingers were flying in the air. The finale was "Public Warning," which prompted moshing in the crowd. Suddenly the whole Sov crew took the stage and brought insanity -- roadies dangling from lighting rigs, managers throwing drumsticks into the audience, band members crowd surfing...

Think Gillian's show was my favorite because it allowed me personal space, though dancing to Sov was a welcomed release. Don't know how I'll top this pair of shows. Maybe Mastadon and Paul Simon? Ideas welcomed.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hipster Haikus: Blogs, etc.

On Stereogum...

Where I go to read
About Lindsay Lohan and
K-Fed. Popozoa.

On Pitchfork...

Reviews that read like
Doctoral disertations.
Quite Promethean.

On Bloggers Destroying Bands They Love...

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah,
Cold War Kids. Fallen heroes.
Watch out for the dogs.

Baltimore: Bar Fights, Bad Manners and Beatles

Went to Baltimore last week to visit Matt and Allison. Reminded me why I miss my Maryland driver's license.

Highlights include...

Getting stuck in the middle of a BigTen fight at ESPN Zone, when a Penn State fan and Michigan fan went at it during the Ohio State/Michigan game. Two opposing fans on both sides of me and Matt. It kinda played out like this:

Michigan Fan: "Why are you wearing Penn State gear? Your team SUCKS."
Penn State Fan: "Talk to me when your team wins. Did you even go to Michigan?"
M: "I don't have to go there to be a fan."
P: "Did you even go to college?"
M: "No, I'm a fan -- fuck off."
P: "Did you even play football?"
M: "In high school."
P: "High school... ha. Whatever."
M: "Did you?"
P: "Yes."
M: "Where at?"
P: "The Naval Academy."
M: "Then... shut the fuck up -- you, and your girl too."
P: "That girl happens to be my wife. Wanna take this outside?"
M: (drunk pause)
P: (gets up and stands behind M) "Let's go outside and settle this, punk."

Luckily, Michigan Fan had a (more) sober friend who realized that fighting a Naval Academy graduate was probably a lost cause. Especially when he is a Penn State fan (I'm biased). And especially since Michigan was losing the game.

Perhaps the most uncomfortable moment of recent times. That is, until 2 hours later when we went to dinner in Little Italy...

A bunch of Ravens fans and their wives were treating the place like a bar... getting their own drinks and bypassing the waitress... singing "New York, New York" at the top of their lungs... the host told them they were too drunk for a nice restaurant and that they were ruining the experience of other customers. The Chief Ravens Fan then tried to kick the crap out of the owner and his buddies. The valet worker called the cops on them when Chief Ravens Fan tried to beat him up (he refused to give them their car keys). The valet worker came in to see the owner, who was sitting at a table with two attractive women. "Cops gave him a nice pair of bracelets" (read: "Haha, he's in the back of the squadcar!").

Meanwhile, as fights broke out left and right, the sweet piano man was coming around asking for requests. I told him I liked the Beatles and he played "Here Comes the Sun," "Michelle," "Hey Jude," "Something," and "Let It Be" -- just for me.

There's something about harbor towns like Baltimore... they have a different kind of character and composition than other towns... nice to pay a visit once in awhile and get away from the landlocked city of Atlanta.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Nothing Short of Thankful

Here are the things I am thankful for this (day after) Thanksgiving 2006:

1) My supportive family
2) My friends, coworkers, church community & roommate
3) Good health
4) Blessings I do not deserve but nonetheless receive
5) Having a (cool) job
6) Flying Biscuits
7) Our troops
8) The neighbor who sold me all of her art supplies valued at $580 for just $50
9) Beautiful weather
10) The people who kept breaking into my car but never stole it (thanks)
11) Music, especially The Shins' new album and how awesome it is
12) My college education, which I come to appreciate more and more each day
13) The performance of my fantasy football team, Buckhead Trophy Wives
14) "The Office," especially John Krasinski aka Jim
15) Theme nights and Lauren's kitty (which she lets me play with)

So many other things to be thankful for, but that's a good start. Hope you all enjoyed the day and have plenty of things to be thankful for, too.


A Lyfe Less Ordinary

I'm currently back in the DC area, doing vacation-like things: running, working on a number of writing projects and catching up on movies (today's selections: "Pretty in Pink," "Prime," "Happy Gilmore," and "Scent of a Woman").

My family is a small unit -- just four of us -- and my mother has Thanksgiving dinner preparations down pat. That made for a errand-filled Thursday. With most of the work was done ahead of time, my sister went clothes shopping and my dad went to work down in the District.

I haven't been answering my phone much since I got back, so when my dad came home later in the day, he asked "Did you get my message?"

"No, my phone was on silent."

"I wondered if you'd heard of this guy visiting my building." Dad explained that it was a rapper or musician. He arrived with his crew in a tour bus that said "SEX" across it. "Can't remember his name. Listen to the message."

Hmm. A rapper/musician singing about sex... that narrows the field... who could it be???

In the message Dad said there was a website listed on the bus --

"Oh, Lyfe Jennings," I said. Sure enough, he was playing at DAR Constitution Hall the next day.

Understandably, Dad was worried about his company hosting a group of men driving around the country in a bus that advertises "SEX" (Jenning's single). "He isn't a criminal or anything is he?"

"He collaborated with Lionel Richie, so I don't think so." Remembering that Lionel is Nicole's dad, though, I thought to check out the website. After reading Lyfe's PR bio, I said:

"Well, he was a criminal but 'Even while Lyfe's body was held prisoner for ten years behind steel bars and concrete, his mind and soul were free, the power of his imagination opening the gates to the world outside the penitentiary.'"

"Oh. He was wearing heart socks and camo pants," Dad said. "But we made him move the bus."

Guess it's true what they say... you can't judge a book (or bus) by its cover.

Just another day in a less-than-glamorous-but-certainly-interesting suburban town.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

My Favorite Albums of 2006, etc.

Oh boy, oh boy! I love this time of the year! I make playlists in preparation... I debate with others... I listen to albums numerous times to rank them in the appropriate order. So here you go...

My Favorite Albums of 2006:

1. Josh Ritter, The Animal Years
2. Mates of State, Bring It Back
3. The Decemberists, Crane Wife
4. Pete Yorn, Nightcrawler
5. Joseph Arthur, Nuclear Daydream

6. Anathallo, Floating World
7. Phoenix, It's Never Been Like That
8. The Rapture, Pieces of the People We Love
9. The Killers, Sam's Town
10. Snow Patrol, Eyes Open (I liked the band before Chasing Cars, I swear!)

11. John Legend, Once Again
12. Gomez, How We Operate
13. Long Winters, Putting the Days to Bed
14. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
15. Eric Bachmann, To the Races

16. Beirut, Gulag Orkestar
17. Damien Jurado, And Now That I'm In Your Shadow
18. Manchester Orchestra, I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child
19. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain
20. KT Tunstall, Eye to the Telescope

21. The Roots, Game Theory
22. Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther
23. The Weepies, Say I Am You
24. Muse, Black Holes & Revelations
25. Regina Spektor, Begin to Hope

(I also like the Kate York, Ben Kweller, and T.I. albums but don't know where to rank them)

Inevitably, I'll spend more time with some albums in 2007 and wish I'd put them on this list in 2006. Case in point:

Albums I Overlooked in 2005 and Can't Get Enough of in 2006:

Wolf Parade, Apologies to the Queen Mary
Ryan Adams & the Cardinals, Jacksonville City Nights
Andrew Bird, Mysterious Production of Eggs
Antony & the Johnsons, I Am a Bird Now
Brandi Carlile, Brandi Carlile
The Go! Team, Thunder Lightning Strike
Sigur Ros, Takk...

Hooray for music.

("I'm Just Not Into The Hold Steady") Caren

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why I Won't Watch the News Anymore

Bigger Threat: Asian Tsunami or Tom "Crazy" Cruise?

Yesterday I was at the gym and Headline News was on. The anchor announced "BREAKING NEWS" -- a 16" wave hit Japan, signaling a tsunami threat. But the anchor didn't get very far into the report. "We'll have more news as it is available."

The next story? Britney Spears' prenup and K-Fed's sex tape.
The story after that? Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' wedding.
The story after that? Parents beating each other at a pee-wee football game (complete with amateur footage).

Those things qualify as "headline news"? What about the President's trip to Asia, or the standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons program? Iraq? Or Abramoff going to jail? Lame-duck session in Congress?

Some other things that made me sad at the state of the media and people in general...

Right after Daniel Smith died in the Bahamas and Anna Nicole Smith was all over the news, a poll was televised. It asked, "Do you feel sorry for Anna Nicole Smith?" ... 50% of respondents said "Yes," and 50% of respondents said "No."

Wow. I'm shocked that 1) someone would ask that question, 2) people voted on it, and 3) that 50% of Americans don't feel sorry for the TrimSpa trainwreck who just lost her son.

I hoped things would get better when I watched ABC Evening News. Nope. They ran a whole segment on the TomKat wedding. Another station called the TomKat wedding "the biggest event the world has seen this year." Unless they're sending me an invitation, I don't care (I mean, Oprah wasn't even invited!).

Maybe the news is so bad these days that America don't want to deal with it. Maybe America wants to be distracted by K-Fed and Dancing With the Stars. As John Lennon once sang, "Living is easy with eyes closed..."

Guess I'll keep getting my news from Stewart and Colbert.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Hipster Haikus: Wes Anderson

My old roomie, Sarah, doesn't like Wes Anderson or his movies (that she's never watched). In fact, here's a conversation we once had:

Sarah: What does Karl [the krazy squirrel] have in common with wes anderson movies??--> they both bite! AHAHAHAHAHA!

CK: Whatever, dude, don't let the hipsters hear you compare Wes Anderson to a rabid squirrel... that's their hero you're talking about.

Sarah: Wes Anderson's so stupid, he thought a Quarterback was a refund! AHAHAHAHAHA!

Harsh, right? So when she read the haikus, she challenged me to write about her and Wes. So here's to you, Sarah -- go rent Rushmore.

Hipster Haiku #14:

Georgetown Law students
Know Wes Anderson movies
Like they know their torts.

Hipster Haiku #15:

The man invented
Max Fischer and Pagoda.
Creative genius!

Hipster Haiku #16:

Owen, Luke and Bill.
His preferred actors. His friends.
Can you top that, Black?

Hipster Haiku #17:

The Life Aquatic.
"Out here we call them pirates."
Rest in peace Kingsley.

Hipster Haiku #18:

"Royal Tenebaum:
Died tragically rescuing
His family." FIN.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Hipster Haikus: I Love the Nightlife

Hipster Haiku, #10:

Few bands can pull a
Bowery Ballroom trifecta.
The sign you’ve made it.

Hipster Haiku, #11:

When I was your age
“CBGB” was more than
A shirt at Urban.

Hipster Haiku, #12:

To find MJQ
Look for a spray-painted shed.
(Reads: Cool Kids Only)

Hipster Haiku, #13:

Wake up the next day
Smelling like a cigarette
I like it that way.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Hipster Haikus: Odes to the Subway

Hipster Haiku #7:

Saw you on the 4
But didn't hear me say "Hey"
Your earbuds were in.

Hipster Haiku #8:

I'd bike to see you
But, you know -- New York drivers...
Subway suits me fine.

Hipster Haiku #9:

No seats left today.
Might as well make out with you
We're standing so close.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hipster Haikus

Elizabeth at work showed me a book of Hipster Haikus. So I thought I'd write some of my own. This could be a fun project.

Hipster Haiku #1:

Make eyes at me through
Black rectangular glasses.
Cue Mates of State song.

Hipster Haiku #2:

Liberal arts degree
Helps me understand lyrics
Of Colin Meloy

Hipster Haiku #3:

Found him on MySpace;
Influences: Nick Drake, Low.
Meet me in Brooklyn.

Hipster Haiuk #4:

That Sufjan Stevens
Promised us fifty albums
Feel the Illinoise.

Hipster Haiku: #5

Made you a playlist.
Why use words when Morrissey
Knows just how I feel?

Hipster Haiku #6:

Can of PBR
And Parliament cigarettes.
You only live once.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Party x 2

I'm home sick today from massive amounts of planning, petitioning and, well, partying for the first Paste Issue Release Parties.

Went over to The Loft yesterday afternoon to catch the DAVE-FM Circle of Friends show with Robert Randolph & the Family Band. The Loft just got a facelift and looks awesome so far -- much better layout. Minus the crazy lighting at the show (neon, logos) it was unique to see Randolph in a smaller space with only 100ish people... not like the larger shows and festivals he usually plays.

Stuck around afterwards for our release party downstairs at Vinyl, one of my fav venues in town. Paste's business team and a few editors were on hand to host the VIP party before performances by Manchester Orchestra and What Made Milwaukee Famous. Meanwhile, up in NYC, Paste's senior team was hosting our release party concert with Beck, HEM, Hymns, and ?uestlove from The Roots (spinning between sets).

Atlanta was an early night... lots of other things going on across town (Criminal Records 15th Anniversary Party, Alejandro Escovedo, Robert Randolph's large show, etc) but there was a good turnout. Some folks from Turner, Coke and Delta came out to enjoy the night. Always fun to hear what our Atlanta business friends are working on.

Happy to see good shows from both the bands in Atlanta. If you haven't heard Manchester Orchestra or What Made Milwaukee Famous, you're missing out. I can't stress enough how good both debut CDs are. Was bummed that a lot of the crowd left after Manchester -- lesson learned, put local acts on last... wish more people'd seen the WMMF set.

Here's a good photo illustrating a marketing technique we'd never used before... not long til we have interns walking around Peachtree Street with sandwich boards...

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Release Parties in NY and Atlanta - FREE concerts!

On Thursday Oct 26nd Paste Magazine will host release parties for Issue #26 in Atlanta and New York. Each party includes a FREE concert with awesome bands... New York will have a handful of surprise guests (wish I could be there)... Atlanta will feature What Made Milwaukee Famous and Manchester Orchestra, bands that made two of my favorite albums this year (glad I will be there).

Don't miss out on free tickets, which are going fast... if you want to go (and who wouldn't want to see bands for free?) visit

Worthy Pursuits & Playlists: Scissors for Lefty, Manchester Orchestra, Damien Jurado

New music you should look (and listen) for:

Scissors for Lefty - San Francisco, CA - Indie Electronica - New Release: Underhanded Romance

Electronica... of the indie rock variety. This band met up in San Luis Obispo and then headed for San Francisco, where they've been building up their street cred. I just heard the EP, which apparently is a teaser of the full length release (?), and it's pretty cool. When I went to Philly recently I heard the folks at World Cafe Live ( talking about them, too, so word is traveling fast. My favorite is "Mama Yer Boys Will Find A Home" and "Ghetto Ways." Hear both at

Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, going dancing in Buckhead but wish the club was more like The Earl.

Manchester Orchestra - Atlanta, GA - Experimental Pop Rock - New Release: I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child

It's finally here!! A full length from Manchester Orchestra! Don't let the name fool you... these are young guys (ages 19 to 23) from the Atlanta suburbs and they play experimental pop rock that is gritty and gut-wrenching and sometimes emo. I had the pleasure of seeing their first real show last summer at Smith's Olde Bar. Since then they've performed at SXSW and Lollapalooza, and caught the attention of Jay Harren, formerly of 99X (now Columbia Records talent scout), who calls them his favorite band. I feel the same way. The lyrics are amazing when you consider they were written by 19 year old frontman Andy Hull. I highly recommend buying "Wolves at Night" as a single, if you can't splurg on the whole album (but you should). More info at, where you can get free video podcasts tracking the making of the album.

Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: Pedro the Lion, Smashing Pumpkins, softer songs with solid lyrics between lots of loud rock

Damien Jurado - Seattle, WA - Urban Folk - New Release: And Now That I'm In Your Shadow

Damien Jurado is a pretty important player in the Seattle music scene. He started his career by playing with Seattle punk bands back in the late 80s, including Coolidge, with David Bazan of Pedro the Lion. Jurado was signed to Sub Pop Records and put out a series of solo albums, but later split ways with the label and spent more time with his family and on his day job as a preschool teacher (I met him recently and he has a pirate flag tattooed on his arm, which is cool for a preschool teacher). He's since signed to a new label and just released a striking record with his band named Damien Jurado (how confusing). The record is full of haunting songs like "Denton, TX" and "What Were The Chances" (despite an intro that sounds like it belongs in a 1986 Genesis song). That's a great song. You can actually download that one for free (yay free music) from MySpace at

Good Chance You'll Like This Artist If You Like: Neil Young, Nick Drake, Elliott Smith

And a playlist...

There's a great blog called Tiny Mix Tapes ( where you can submit a feeling or situation and they'll generate a playlist for you. Pretty cool, right?

Hear is a good new one they just posted... appropriate since it's a big wedding/football/fall festival weekend...

"I'm hungover. Soft songs that won't hurt my head."

01. Velvet Underground - "Sunday Morning" (The Velvet Underground and Nico)
02. Andrew Bird & Nora O'Connor - "Oh, Sister" (Dylan Covered)
03. Beck - "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes" - (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind soundtrack)
04. Elliott Smith - "Pitseleh" (XO)
05. Nick Drake - "Man in the Shed" (Five Leaves Left)
06. Old Crow Medicine Show - "We're All In This Together" (O.C.M.S.)
07. Regina Spektor - "Braille" (11:11)
08. Ryan Adams - "Damn, Sam (I Love A Woman That Rains)" (Heartbreaker)
09. M. Ward - "The Undertaker" (Transfiguration of Vincent)
10. Bob Dylan - "Shelter From the Storm" (Blood on the Tracks)
11. Nouvelle Vague - "Friday Night and Saturday Morning" (Bande A Part)
12. Iron and Wine - "Sunset Soon Forgotten" (Our Endless Numbered Days)
13. Rolling Stones - "Factory Girl" (Beggars Banquet)
14. N.Lannon - "Spy" (Chemical Friends)
15. Kings of Convenience - "Homesick" (Riot On An Empty Street)
16. Otis Redding - "Cigarettes and Coffee" (The Soul Album)
17. Caetano Veloso - "London, London" (Caetano Veloso, 1971)

(Repost of my weekly email; reposted again to

Saturday, October 14, 2006

East Coast Tour Report - NYC

On Monday morning I returned from my East Coast Tour 2006. I think I picked up the flu somewhere along the way (perhaps on one of the planes, trains, automobiles, metro cars, subway cars, or cabs I used to get around).

I like to think I'm pretty worldly, but sometimes I feel like a foreign tourist even in my own country. I love that. I'd also like to think that, given the chance, I would travel around full-time, but that would take the fun out of it.

The point of my trip to NY was to attended a fantastic Internet advertising seminar on Wednesday at the NY Friars Club. I'm pretty certain I saw Cher and John McEnroe there. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking from the East Side to West Side, which took a heckuva long time, especially with a 20lb laptop bag (I have an old heavy computer, alright?).

When I lived in NY, I hardly ever ventured to the West Side, but that's where I was staying this time and I really liked it alot. I hadn't spent a lot of time in The Village either, so I met up with my Aunt Judy (my mom's cousin) at a jazz club on Christopher St, which was a lot of fun. The People Watching was fantastic, as I'm sure you can imagine.

Spent the next day doing whatever I wanted -- wandering down through Soho, Tribeca and the like. For the past 6 years I've been writing a novel that I can't seem to finish. It's set in the NYU area so I went down there and had coffee while I did some writing -- good inspiration, you know? The Starbucks had a great playlist going -- Josh Ritter, Guillemots, Devotchka, and some other stuff I didn't recognize. I ran into an old boss there from my internship days, and thought what a small world.

Had some time before my train so I went to the newly renevated and reopened MoMA. I only had about 45 minutes in there, but it was enough time to be thoroughly stunned by the collection. "The Starry Night" by Van Gogh, "Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon" by Picasso... some Pollock and Kandinsky pieces... Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein pop art (which fascinates me)... and "The Sleeping Gypsy" by Henry Rousseau.

When I was a kid I took art classes after school with a great teacher named Elise Harrison. She used that painting, "The Sleeping Gypsy" as an example in one lesson, and had us come up with our own Rousseau-inspired painting. The only condition was that our painting had to have each of the elements in "The Sleeping Gypsy" -- an animal, an instrument, a drinking container, a landscape and someone sleeping, completly unphased by the situation. I painted a zookeeper sleeping on top of an elephant, as the elephant carried a bucket of water through the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. He wore bells on his tail. So seeing that particular Rousseau painting brought back some happy memories and made me laugh to myself.

Took the Amtrak train to Philly, which is always an adventure. More to come later.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Coke, Nestle product... burns calories?!

I love Coke, but sometimes, you gotta know when to stop...

If Diet Coke isn't good enough for your calorie-conscious diet, you're in luck -- enter Enviga, the new carbonated calorie-buster that speeds up your metabolism and claims to be the "negative calorie" drink. Enviga uses a blend of green-tea extracts known for boosting metabolism called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) -- two times that of competing brands!

Are we really that screwed up in the head that we need a negative calorie drink??

Here's what I'm thinking for an ad campaign...

Active, pretty people... climbing rocks near a waterfall... friendly voiceover explains the drink... lots of laughing, bare stomachs showing off the negative calorie impact. Lots of product placement -- maybe they grab the drink out of trees as if it fruit?

Then a friendly health reminder: "Enviga is not for everyone. Symptoms may include rapid weight loss, heart failure, high blood pressure, Dysentery, Type II Diabetes, sores, caffeine headaches, spontaneous combustion and increased irritability. Enviga should not be taken as a meal replacement or if you are pregnant or nursing. Ask your doctor before you drink Enviga."

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

East Coast Tour Announcement

I'm currently sitting in a comfy apartment on the Upper East Side with my friend Alyssa, preparing for a busy week of business, travel, and wedding extravanganza. If you are an old friend currently in MoCo -- I'm sorry, I won't have the chance to see you this trip since I'll be in MoCo for all of 3 hours. But I'll be back again real soon. Yup, you better believe it...

East Coast Tour Soundtrack

Here are some songs I was listening to on the way to New York:

Marching Bands of Manhattan, Death Cab for Cutie
New York Song, Modern Skirts
Chemicals, Of Montreal
Cold December, Matt Costa
Postcards from Italy, Beirut
City Song, Matt Pond PA

Off to a conference tomorrow... stories and pictures to come.