Thursday, December 29, 2011

ChrisMix: Dark

ChrisMix 2011: Dark
Madder, Sadder, Friskier.

1. T.O.R.N.A.D.O. – The Go! Team

If I ever become a boxer, or have to run a marathon, or really do anything in which I need to be pumped up, this is the song I’ll pick.



2. One Foot Before The Other – Frank Turner

I dig the way Frank says capillaries. Also, I dig how he takes a simple human desire, wanting attention, and then manages to extrapolate it onto all of the human race.

3. Colours – Grouplove

I thought this was a pleasant enough song at first, then really listened to the lyrics. Which isn’t to say the lyrics are negative. They’re not clear to me, but there is definitely frustration, confusion, resentment and a bit of suicide in there. But at the same time there is acceptance.



4. Get Some – Lykke Li


This song sounds grungy and grimy before Lykke starts singing about prostitutes and shotguns. A lot of these tracks depict people in nonideal situations, but surviving. The darkness allows them to show their strength and determination in a way the light never could.

5. Virgin – Manchester Orchestra

I really like the video for Simple Math, but I don’t love the song. I love this song. It’s one of the ones that I’m sure many others won’t enjoy, but it’s my mix not theirs. The plodding beats and children’s choir paint a haunted house filled with the unsavory and macabre. Perfect Christmas music.



6. Buy My Love – Wynter Gordon

As with her track on Bright, this is a pretty fluffy piece. I can’t tell whether she is being ironic about materialism and exploitation, or reveling in it. But in either case she’s fully aware of it, and enjoying the power that comes from this knowledge.

7. Hold It In – Jukebox the Ghost

Is the quality of a band's name enough to get them into the ChrisMix?
Not quite. But it certainly helps. They also have a good pedigree,
having toured with Moldy Peaches, Barenaked Ladies, Jack's Mannequin
etc. Also the song is great.



8. When the Night Kills the Day – Lauren Pritchard

The asyncopation of the chorus is a powerful engine propelling this song forward, and that momentum it builds make the conclusions seem inevitable. It’s a great album all around and Painkillers or It’s Not the Drinking could also have made it. They also seem to indicate Lauren has some substance abuse issues.

9 L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. – Noah and the Whale

Here we are, back in the gutter. Just as Grouplove told us that we call this life because we can’t call it hell, here Noah paint various depressing pictures of failure, but comes to the same conclusion, spelled out no less. Life goes on. It’s dark, but somehow still motivating.



10 How Can I Say I Love You – Girls

As a perennial single person, I love the songs of unrequited love. Less common are the songs of lingering love, the affection that has outstayed its welcome. You want what you don’t want what you want. It’s painful for both parties but one usually gets the brunt. The boys from Girls know this well.

11 Sun of a Gun – Oh Land

I have a hard time imaging Oh Land ever getting too angry. What could a beautiful Nordic songstress get too mad about, other that the inevitable Gaga and Bjork comparisons? But she does her best to give a brush-off here to some Viking lover.



12 My Fault Your Mistake – Lex Land

Oh’s little sister Lex knows a thing or two about regret. She’s not actually related to Oh (to the best of my knowledge) and in fact her style is quite the opposite: simple melodies, little accompaniment, wailing rather than chirping. But beautiful is beautiful.

13 Poison & Wine – The Civil Wars


I'd say this dark ChrisMix has more straight forward lyrics than most
mixes. A lot of the tracks are almost too repetitious for my taste. But in tracks like this one, you really need the repeated refrains to help strengthen the message. The words seem like a series of paradoxes (paradice?) but by the end of the umpteenth you know what “I don’t love you but I always will” means.



14 Skinny Love – Birdy

Bon Iver didn’t qualify for ChrisMix since he’s been on my radar for a few years, so I’ll sneak some in using this cover. Honestly I prefer Birdy’s version, which I know is blasphemy to the Iver faithful. And while it’s true that I doubt her 15 year old mind can comprehend the song as well as Iver (especially considering he wrote it) but her young voice makes it all the more poignant.



15 Poor in Love – Destroyer

This song makes the list just for it’s opening line. “I was poor in love, I was poor in wealth, I was ok in everything else.” Certainly a sentiment people in their 20s may relate to well.

16 Blue Jeans – Lana Del Ray

People went crazy over Lana’s song Video Games, but I just wasn’t feeling it. But this song I feel. Also Diet Mt. Dew and the previously mentioned Kinda Outta Luck, but mostly this one. I don’t know if Lana is going to explode in 2012 like people predict she will, but if it gives us more of these tracks, I’ll be ok with it.



17 Manners – Icona Pop

I love everything about this song. I love the beats, the chorus, the lyrics, the bitter tone in her voice, the video, everything. I don’t want to tell you what to do, but you should too.



18 Someboy That I Used to Know – Gotye

I loved the whole of the Gotye album, partially because the songs showed some nice range. But this was definitely the standout. It starts so mellow, but then crashes down into the anger of a failed relationship. He’s not ranting and raving, just in pain and angry about that pain. And rather than have it be a one-sided argument, then Kimbra comes in with her brief verse. But she too conveys the pain, and you see it’s just a bad situation for everybody.



19 Suicide Policeman – Yuck

Generally I try to include songs where I like the whole album. So if you like a track, you can go out and get the whole thing and have yourself a new favorite artist. But I really tried to like this Yuck album, because lots of other music savvy people did, and I wasn’t able to. But you might. I like this particular song a lot though.

20 Breakfast – EMA

I don’t have much to say about this one. I like it. I’m not sure what it means, but it manages to be both soothing and vibrant simultaneously. See what you think.

21 Hurt – 2cellos

I’d say it’s a toss-up as to who is more famous for this song: Nine Inch Nails or Johnny Cash. I know, you probably don’t think of them together too often. But Cash covered this NIN tune, and did so magnificently. This cello version brings Cash’s version to my mind more than the original, though all 3 bring the melancholy pretty effectively.

That’s it for this year. Hope your year had more Bright days than Dark. And if not, there’s always next year.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Movies (not really, just 11)

I'll get back to the ChrisMix: Dark shortly. But here's a brief palette cleanser.

Somehow my movie patronage dropped considerably this year. I would've guessed I'd only seen a handful of movies, though in the end the total was 11 which I'd guess is pretty typical. But it's low for me. But I'm sure that if you, or myself for that matter, were to guess which 11, you'd be wrong. The movies are almost all obscure, cultish, non-starter affairs. But I'd have to say it was a 100% success rating for me. So while I'll now rank those 11 films, they're all winners.

The time of the year when I rank all the movies I saw in the theater in 2011.

11. Sherlock Holmes 2.

I don't care what the actual title was. Friends were seeing it, so I went with. If nothing else it has Stephen Fry, so that makes it worth seeing. It's fun and forgettable.

10. The Adjustment Bureau

Again, friends. It was an interesting concept that never quite congealed as I hoped.

9. Horrible Bosses

It's only goal was being funny, and it succeeded. It was the first time I didn't hate Jennifer Aniston, so that's an accomplishment.

8. Fright Night

Fun, funny, creepy at times. It might have scored higher if I hadn't had to leave the theater several times to answer pages.

7. Tabloid

Very interesting, though uncomfortable at times. Uncomfortable is fine, but it felt needlessly so.

6. Tree of Life

A great film experience (that I probably won't ever watch again.)

5. Hanna

We need more indie action flicks dagnabbit.

4. Melancholia

Beautiful, sad (duh), too painfully slow to be riveting but the painful slowness was intentional. I think.

3. The Muppets

It has been a long long time since I've enjoyed a non-R comedy this much. I'm not saying the R is necessary for something to be funny, I just find the two things tend to go together. In any case, this movie showed me I'm not completely jaded to family fun.

2. Trollhunter

This movie was so fun. It probably could have been a bit shorter, but I enjoyed every minute.

1. Attack the Block

I didn't walk out of the movie thinking it was the movie of the year, but I can't say I enjoyed any movie more. They made a great action comedy, with aliens, with plenty of Britishness thrown in for good measure. What more can I expect?

Monday, December 26, 2011

ChrisMix 2011: Bright

It was kind of an interesting year. My resolution was to listen to less music, mostly so I could do some more thinking. Sometimes this thinking lead me to a negative place. I’ve always had a predilection for some dark, melancholy music, and I certainly found some this year. But on the whole I don’t feel like these tunes represented my year. So while I wanted to share them, I didn’t want them to be THE ChrisMix.

At the same time, I found that a lot of my favorite albums this year contained both feel good tracks as well as some bummers. Beautiful, but bummers. So I decided I could have both too. I made two mixes, each adhering to the rules of ChrisMix. But about half of each mix are the same artists from the other, just different in tone.



ChrisMix 2011: Bright

1. Don’t Say Oh Well – Grouplove

I think this song is actually pretty autobiographical, about the band’s first year together. But the sentiments of the song can be universally applied. “This year has been a big one . . . following what we don’t plan . . . Will you follow your heart’s plan? Oh, why not jump in to that ocean, and run your fingers through your hair? Don’t say oh well.”

2. If Ever I Stray – Frank Turner

Another song about counting to 4 and jumping in the ocean. What can I say, I love both of those things. I really like Fran’s mix of melody and growl, as well as his insistence on mentioning England in every song. He’s British and don’t you forget it! I also like that the song is a motivational speech, but it’s not overly cloy. Pick yourself up, get on with it, don’t feel entitled. Now start.



3. Blue Eyes – Destroyer

The first lines of the song sound like gibberish, but at the same time do seem evocative. He then states “I write poetry for myself” and you get the sense that he’s definitely saying something, it just wasn’t aimed at you. The whole song, and indeed album are that way, and constantly leave you wondering, but listening all the closer for it. Because it’s something you’re pretty sure you want to know.

4. Hope It’s You – Lauren Pritchard

Although this is the bright mix, the songs aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. This song is definitely not a rosy picture, but it feels empowered and confident to me. It doesn’t hurt that the drums, piano and handclaps provide a driving beat that propels the whole thing into a groove party.

5. We Turn It Up – Oh Land

The first of our numerous Scandinavian acts this year, Oh Land was a challenge. I liked every song on the album, so which to pick? Clearly, in the end it was this one. It’s a bit light lyrically, but to be honest, so are most of her songs. But the jangly happiness of it compensates for this.

6. Magic – Girls


Often the track I pick to represent a band is their single. After all, that’s why singles are selected, because they seem to be the standout track. But I didn’t like the first single from Girls, nor the second. But it turns out, I love a lot of the tracks that aren’t “single-worthy.” Such as this one. I am starting to rebel against my own apparent predilection for retro, but I can’t deny the charm of this track.

7. Ready to Go Steady – The Go! Team

What to say about The Go! Team? They have an exclamation point in the middle of their name. They work with bands like Best Coast, Deerhoof and Soko. They have 2 tambourine players, one of which is named Ninja. They list the inspirations as blaxploitation, Bollywood and double dutch chants. They’re fun.



8. Waiting for My Chance to Come – Noah and the Whale

I didn’t want every track on this album to sound like a pep talk, but lots of them do. This one does. But so far every song on this album has a mirror track on the Dark album, which I think validates the pep talks. If they never admitted to the darkness in other songs and were relentlessly positive, I wouldn’t trust their pep talk.



9. Tonight – Atoi

Another proud contribution from Denmark. Their citizenship was enough to get them on the mix. Well, that and this track is pretty great..

10. Barton Hollow – The Civil Wars

I maintain that I hate country music. So the fact that this song/album/band has been nominated for multiple country music awards, and they just released a song with Taylor Swift, and they kind of sound like country will all be ignored. It’s not country. It’s folk, and folk I can live with.



11. Be Brave – Love Inks

I have no idea how I came across this band, as they don’t have much of a web presence. So clearly they must have hacked my iPod and put this track in there so I’d promote it on my blog. I see no other possible explanation.

12. Go Outside – The Cults

If nothing else, this song made me research the Jonestown Massacre, something on which I was sadly uninformed. And while I can’t say that I completely understand or agree with the sampling of various cult leader’s speeches in the album, the contrast with the music can be striking. The reminder of the darkness doesn’t really mar the cheery veneer of the song, but certainly grounds it. I think some might find the imagery of the video exploitive and insensitive, but I think it lends some earnestness to the sentiment of the song.



13. Baby, We’re Refugees! – Jon Fratelli

This is a bit of a cheat. The Fratellis were a favorite debut from a few years back, and here is Jon doing a bit of solo work. I considered doing a track from Codeine Velvet Club, Jons other band, since it would be more of a departure. But this is my favorite song from either the latest Fratellis album, CVC or Jon, so why not go with the best. The song starts catchy, and continues to add layer after layer of catchy hooks as it progresses. It won’t change your life, but it will get you humming pretty darn quick.

14. Mexico – The Staves

The Staves are 3 British sisters singing American harmonies. Hopefully you don’t like the song too much, as you’ll only be able to find a handful of Staves tracks anywhere. But they recently started touring with The Civil Wars, so hopefully they get their act together and put out a full album. Women.



15. Drunk On Your Love – Wynter Gordon

There was an Onion piece a while back satirizing pop nothingness with a new song called Booty Wave. They released the .mp3 of the track on their website, and it got so many downloads that the question arose whether it was really satire or just an actual pop song. I can’t say Wynter Gordon is any “better” that a typical Spears or Perry. But she puts together fun pop that’s at least as good and much less ubiquitous.

16. Ungirthed – Purity Ring

I’m going to be honest, I’ve never listened to the lyrics of any Purity Ring track. They may be singing about stepping on kittens. The only part I know of this song is “Ears ringing and teeth clicking and ears ringing and teeth clicking.” I just like the sound of the whole jumble of notes, words, tones, beeps, clicking and ringing.

17. Revolution Girl – Marsmobil

A lot of these songs have already been shared on my blog over the course of the year. But this one never was, primarily because the album cover has a topless woman on it. You’d think there would be a way around that, but I haven’t figured it out. In any case, click through with caution. But the song is great.

18. Good Intent – Kimbra

Kimbra is featured on Dark, and nearly got a third nod for a contribution to a Miami Horror track. She’s been all over the place this year. She also has a number of videos out, and I’d say both the Settle Down and Cameo Lover videos are more interesting than this one. But ChrisMix isn’t about videos. This is my favorite track. But now you know that there are plenty of other ones to look into if your interest is piqued.



19. Tesselate – ∆

Yes, the name of the band is a triangle. They’re also known as Alt-J, which in case you’re not a huge huge huge nerd, is how you type triangle on a mac. But I’ll overlook the stupidity of their name (though they also single about triangles in the song, so it must be near and dear to their hearts) and also that the song sounds a bit too Radioheady, because I like it.

20. Jubilation Day – Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers

The first thing I noticed about Steve Martin’s 2nd bluegrass album is how it’s not a joke. Yes, a couple of the songs are amusing, such as this one. But most aren’t, they’re just bluegrass. But if you like bluegrass, or the fact that Steve Martin is a stud, that should be fine with you. It’s fine with me. Though I’d be happy if he did release a comedy bluegrass album.



21. Don’t Stop Me Now – Sandra Bae

It’s my favorite Queen song, receiving a quality reimagination. I don’t know if I have more commentary for you than that. Enjoy.

22. White Winter Hymnal – Birdy

All my favorite Birdy tracks are covers. Indeed, half her debut album consists of covers. Which would be more of a problem if they weren’t so good. Here she covers Fleet Foxes, who had a great album this year, but sadly didn’t qualify for this mix since they’ve been around a couple years. I’m also counting it as my Christmas track, even though it’s just winter-related. Close enough.

23. Sadness Is a Blessing – Lykke Li

As previously stated, Lykke Li is my artist of the year. And not just because her name is fun to say, though that helps. And not just because she’s Swedish, which is almost as good as being Danish. But because she’s great. This song isn’t exactly bright, but it has a brightness to it. She has problems, and they hurt, but she’s making something beautiful from it all. The line between Bright and Dark isn’t always clear.



BONUS TRACK
24. America’s Song – Air Review

The only reason this is a bonus track is because I forgot to put it on the first dozen ChrisMixes I handed out. It’s just as good as the rest of the songs, if not better. But I just love the environment and my wallet too much to go back and remake all those cds.



Stay tuned tomorrow(ish) for ChrisMix: Dark.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lazied

Who knew my Forever Lazy story would have a denouement?

So I ordered a pink Forever Lazy as a gag gift. Unfortunately when my 2 comedic pink body bags arrive, they are not medium sized bags, but instead XL blue ones. There's a note included saying in essence "We didn't have what you ordered in stock, so instead we gave you something else. Merry Christmas!" To their credit they did include a Snuggie, so I now have 3 useless things rather than 2.

It was a gag gift and the gag event has passed, so a normal person would let sleeping dogs lie. But I got out of work early and having nothing to do this afternoon so called up their customer service department. From them I received such gems as, and these are quotes not paraphrases: "Yes. Some of our customers are happy and some are not," "Our policy is that it is more important to get it to you by Christmas than to get the order 100% correct" (my order being 0% correct) and "If you hadn't opened the box you could have returned it without paying shipping and handling. (Me) Then I wouldn't have known that it contained the wrong items. (Her) Yes, that's true."

So rather than going to the post office, paying shipping and handling and waiting a 4-8 weeks for them to replenish their stock, then receiving comedic pink pjs, I got her to give me $20 back, and I'll keep these XL blue pjs. To be fair, the size of these XL versions, which according to the box will fit someone that is 6'5'' and 260 lbs, makes them fairly comedic as well.

But still, Forever Lazy, good job living up to your name.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ChrisMix Rejects

ChrisMix is complete. Most won't get it in time for Christmas, so my apologies. You'll get it before New Years.

Below are 18 songs that didn't make it. The reasons why are delineated. All songs are linked to youtube videos.

Category 1 - Band known previous to 2011

1. Rox in the Box - The Decemberists.

I quite liked this album. You'll probably like it to. Go get it!

2. Blue Spotted Tail - Fleet Foxes

On the surface this is just a pretty little ditty. Below the surface it's an interesting commentary on atheism, happiness, astronomy and Carl Sagan. Also, it's pretty.

3. Immigrant Song - Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross/Karen O

Holy hannah. Liked the original, love this cover.


4. You Make It So Hard - Ivy

I know that you needed something to wipe the dirt of the Reznor away from your synapses.

5. Second Chance - Peter Bjorn and John

Like that Youngfolks song, it's almost incomprehensibly catchy, but not as overplayed.



6. Lotus Flower - Radiohead

I didn't love love love this album at first, but I've worked my way up to 1.5 loves. I think by March when I go to the show I'll be up to 3. At the very least, Thom's dancing has "improved" over the years.



Cateogry 2 - Band known before 2011, and song is profane

7. Rocket Scientist - Teddybears

The swearing is of the tamer variety, but is fairly consistent throughout. But if you can see through that flaw, it's got some dang good beats.

8. Make Some Noise - Beastie Boys

This particular video bleeps out their hijinks, but you know they're being rowdy. But I also think it's their strongest single since Hello Nasty. And the video is a who's who of comedic cameos.



Category 3 - Just profane (suggest skipping if sensitive to such things)

9. Snapped - Jhene Aiko

One of my favorite songs of the year, hands down. But the description of romantic cruelty begs for expletives. Too bad.

10. Das Racist - Michael Jackson

I hated this song at first listen. Why did I change my mind? I couldn't tell you honestly. It just seems like some ridiculousness spouted by drunk guys at 4 in the morning, and the ridiculousness is contagious.



11. Eid Ma Clack Shaw - Bill Callahan

I love this song. Curse you one curse word! It's a simple piece about dreaming, imagination, remembrance and gibberish phrases. All great things.

12. Felicia - The Constellations

This song is dirty. Most every line is a euphemism, or at times not even a euphemism, just an outright description. So while there is no actual swearing, I couldn't help but classify it as profane. And uber-catchy.



Category 4 - Overplayed

13. Call It What You Want - Foster the People

The degree to which Pumped Up Kicks was overplayed was quite remarkable. We haven't seen the likes since, I don't know, maybe Umbrella. Especially considering it's about a school shooting, it was just an all around odd bit of zeitgeist acceptance. Which is unfortunate, as the whole album is quite good.

Category 5 - A 2nd (or 3rd) song after another was chosen for the ChrisMix

14. Love Out of Lust - Lykke Li

I was asked who my favorite artist of the year is, and I'd have to say Lykke. She has two other songs on the ChrisMix, but this one is fantastic as well, as is Youth Knows No Pain. And I Follow Rivers. And Jerome. And every other song on the album.

15. Kinda Outta Luck - Lana Del Rey

There's a surprising amount of internet contention regarding Lana, but I for one think she's da'bomb.com.



Category 6 - Just not the best

16. Keep on Trying - Lanterns On the Lake

I like the video as much as the song. They're saturated with lazy-day nostalgia of events that I never experienced.



17. Amor Fati - Washed Out

I quite liked this whole album, it just all fades into background music for me. But very good background music.

18. Normal - Ximena Sarinana

I'm sure the song isn't terribly profound, but I'm going to pretend it is.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dreaming of a White Elephant

You can’t go into a white elephant gift exchange hoping to give someone a gift they’ll really enjoy. The odds of the particular gift reaching the particular person and touching their heart are just too slim. And you can’t participate in a white elephant gift exchange hoping to actually benefit from the exchange. The chances of the gift you take home being better than what you could have bought yourself is even lower. The only reason to participate in a white elephant is for the entertainment value of the event itself.

The most popular items at our work white elephant exchanges are invariably gift cards. We have a 20 dollar limit, so people buy 20 dollar cards for Best Buy, Target etc. These are feverishly stolen back and forth until they are no longer stealable. But again, wouldn’t you rather have 20 dollars to spend wherever you wish? So if you’re going to fight over these, why even enter? Instead, contribute something ridiculous, and expect something ridiculous.

This year’s most ridiculous item: the Forever Lazy. My issue is not so much in the contraption itself, but in the name. The item is silly to be sure, but the name is just horrendous. And the commercial looks like it’s an SNL parody. But no, it’s real. And so I bought one. And since it was only economical to buy 2, I bought 2. And since it was most comedic for it to be pink, I bought 2 pink ones. And since they have poor customer service, my 2 Forever Lazies arrived the day after my white elephant gift exchange.



So I was left at the 11th hour giftless. I’d made a valiant effort to provide a comical gift, of this year’s most recent novelty item. And with this effort expended, albeit futilely, I felt justified in resorting to contributing a gift card. I’d already spent the money on my Forever Lazies, so I felt further justified in not spending money. And since I had one a Dominos gift card the year prior, that is what I was going to contribute. I’m sorry Dominos, but if I’m going to spend money on chain-quality pizza, I’m getting Papa Johns. So the 20 dollars had sat on my shelf for the last 365 days, and now I’d give it to someone else.

The white elephant exchange had few surprises. A gift contained lotto tickets that ended up paying out $40 dollars, so that was a quality win. A gift card was paired with a tube of Mandelay, which is a sexual enhancement product that you can research on your own if you so desire. I put my Dominos gift card in a Victoria’s Secret bag, which had the intended effect of making the men hesitant to open it. But the biggest surprise came when we came to the end of the white elephant with only one person left to draw, and no gifts remaining. Who participates in a gift exchange and doesn’t contribute a gift? Whoever it was did not choose to speak up when the conundrum arose.

The last person to draw was of course myself. At this moment I felt especially glad that I had not contributed the awesome Forever Lazy I had originally intended. I was doubly glad that I had contributed a gift card that I had won and not wanted the year before. There was some brief discussion as to what I could receive, but my repeated statements that I didn’t care were ignored. One resident gave me the tube of Mandelay, despite my earnest efforts to refuse it. Then another gave me his gift, which he assured me he wasn’t going to use. It was a Dominos gift card.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Look who's talking now

I gave a talk yesterday. Like most people, I’m not enthralled with the concept of public speaking. Seinfeld famously noted that more people list public speaking as a fear than death, so people would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy. If you were to ask me “Hey, do you want to talk to a large group of people?” my answer would be not particularly. But if you were to ask me “Hey, do you want to talk to a person?” my answer would also be not particularly. My desire to communicate is conditional on the person, or in this case, the group of people. But my ward is a group of people that I’m generally interested in communicating with/at/for.

I don’t think giving a talk is very hard. Ten minutes is not really that much time to fill. Certainly giving a worthwhile talk isn’t about filling ten minutes of time with anything that comes to mind, but the fact remains that you only need two or three points to express and then you’ve run out of time. So here is a quick guide of what I generally try to include in a talk:

1. I don’t start with “I was assigned to talk about”
2. I generally start with some sort of obvious joke. This is a general practice many will follow, but I do it specifically for my own reasons. Some people can’t tell when I’m joking, so I start with a more obvious joke so they’ll pick up that there will be jokes along the way and that I’m not being entirely serious throughout.
3. I like to have an actual thesis.
4. I try to include a scripture not from the main section I’m referencing.
5. I try not to read more than 2 scriptures verbatim.
6. I don’t quote scripture mastery scriptures, or other commonly referenced verses. I may reference them, but not quote them.
7. I’ve learned not to get too abstract. I initially wanted to talk about how we each had our own personal “wicked traditions of our fathers/selves” but scrapped it for being too nebulous.
8. I try to quote a general authority. Extra points for Bruce R.
9. I try to quote a non general authority, but never CS Lewis or Dr Seuss. This week it was Rasputin.
10. I try to throw in bit of medicine or psychology. This week I had comments regarding scorpion induced pancreatitis, behavioral replacement and decreasing drug resistance to antibiotics, but sadly had to cut them due to time constraints.
11. I tell a personal story, 2 if they’re short. I generally try to avoid mission stories (as they are more things that happened to me, rather than things I have intentionally done.)
12. I like to throw in references to the other talks given, if applicable.
13. I try to incorporate testimony into the message of the talk rather than have a whole mini-talk at the end of my talk for my testimony.

If I do all those things, I’ll run over. Which is itself a problem, but it means I’ll have a serviceable talk that just needs some winnowing.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sleepy Carl is too clever for me

Blanket non-blogging apology. With that out of the way, and speaking of blankets:

Sleep.

I love sleep. If you're someone who doesn't, I'm sorry for you. I also don't really understand where you're coming from. I guess you like being awake, which is fine and all, but just isn't my thing.

Mike Birbiglia has a bit about Sleepy Carl, which goes something approximately (exactly) like this:



I actually haven't remembered my dreams with any frequency since my mission (the last time I got as much sleep as I was supposed to), so Sleepy Carl has to be more devious with me. He doesn't tempt me with dreams, but he makes up reasons why it's a bad idea for me to get out of bed.

Most often he says I'm sleep deprived, which is true. The trickiest tricksters throw those truths out there to snag you. But in my early morning thinking I should always go back to sleep, because some time in the next few days I'm going to have to be on call and could potentially be awake for 30 hours. Stockpiling sleep has no physiological evidence, but Sleepy Carl doesn't rely on evidence based research for his arguments.

Even though I live in Arizona, the hottest state in the union (maybe, I have no proof of that) Sleepy Carl always convinces me it's cold outside. So of course it makes sense to stay under my covers for as long as possible. I have been entirely convinced that it's freezing outside of my bed, only to step outside into 90 degree weather. Now currently my heat isn't working and it is actually 50 degrees outside of my bed at night, and unfortunately Carl is able to keep this memory in my head all year long.

Sleepy Carl sometimes convinces me that I have a headache, and the best way to deal with a headache is to not be conscious. It's relatively rare for me to actually have a headache in the morning, but I can't reliably tell if my headache is in my mind, or just in my head, until I'm in the car on the way to work. Only then will Carl give up and admit that my head hasn't been aching all morning, it's just been a ploy to keep me asleep.

I'm sure Sleepy Carl has other tricks up sleeve, but for now I'm on to him.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Music Monday, er 2011 / ChrisMix



Lauren Pritchard - Not the Drinking. Seemed like a good choice to end my addiction medicine rotation.

I've narrowed my ChrisMix selections down to 365 songs. In case you were wondering, I'm significantly behind schedule. But I'm confident I'll get it down to 20 by Christmas. Whether I get it down to 20 in time to mail it to you by Christmas remains to be seen.

Caveats: my New Year's Resolution was to listen to less music, and I was moderately successful. Also, if you've been reading this blog all year, I've posted 50 or so songs, and many of those will likely make it into the final 20. But if you want a copy of ChrisMix 2011, just send me some manner of communique.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful for too much television

A friend asked me the other day how many tv shows I watched. I didn’t know, but answered about a dozen. Which is more or less correct. Last week’s Funny Rumble includes the following 10:

1. New Girl
2. The League
3. How I Met Your Mother
4. The Big Bang Theory
5. Community
6. Modern Family
7. Parks and Recreation
8. The Office
9. Whitney
10. It’s Always Sunny

That is the order of their funniness by the way. I don’t want The New Girl to win every week, but it was hilarious. The League was inconsistent, but gut-busting when it was funny. It has an excellent cast, which was bolstered by guest stars Sarah Silverman and Jeff Goldblum.

But those are just the 30 minute sitcoms I watch. Add in Dexter, X-Factor, Chuck, Supernatural, Psych, Castle, House, Doctor Who, QI, Fringe etc I go well over a dozen.

There’s a good chance that I should feel guilty about this, but I don’t. I watch what I consider to be either entertaining, educational, important or worthwhile. Some shows I watch only while working out, others only while emailing. Some I watch only with friends. Some I save up for months until there’s a day I’m post-call or otherwise too tired to do anything other than watch tv. Also there’s the fact that I rarely feel guilty.

In any case, I’m thankful for television. It’s not only a past-time for me, but a hobby. It is something I enjoy, and while I can’t say it’s important, my life would be more bland without it.

Some other lists for you:

Shows I’ve given up on:
1. 2 Broke Girls – I liked the different tone, but the laughs are too few and plot too dumb.
2. Up All Night – I love Will Arnett and like much of the rest of the cast, but they forgot to put jokes in this comedy.
3. Whitney – Again, liked the different humor, but I feel like they have used up their best jokes in the first couple episodes. The characters are all ridiculously 2D.
4. Burn Notice – It took too many seasons, but the formulaic nature of the show finally got to be too much for me.

Shows I haven’t watched yet, but will at some point
1. Terra Nova – at this point I’ll likely wait until the summer, and see if it is renewed.
2. Ringer – bad reviews, but we’ll see.
3. Homeland – I’ll probably wait and have a marathon.
4. Person of Interest – looks interesting, I’m just busy.
5. Walking Dead – Yes, I still haven’t watched season 1.
6. American Horror Story – even if it gets cancelled I’ll still watch it, but not right now.
7. Bedlam – Maybe I’m just stockpiling horror shows.
8. Luther – looks so good.
9. Grimm – I’ll watch this one. I likely won’t watch Once Upon a Time.
10. Boardwalk Empire – once I’m rich probably.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The VA

Now if I were to guess I'd say the following 3 events had more to do with the part of town I was in than the fact that I was working in the VA. But still, it was weird.

Event 1 - Because I have no badge, I can't get any free food from the cafeteria. This may seem like no big deal, but to me the free food the hospital provides is essentially half of my wage. In any case, no food means I have to walk across the street to Jack in the Box, but it's not like I'm going to start buying food to keep in my home so I can make lunches to bring to work. That's crazy-talk. I digress. I exit the hospital to go to the nearest purveyor of fast food. As soon as I get to the street I see two young guys yelling at each other. One then stabs the other. HE STABS HIM. To be honest it looked like he punched him, but then the guy yells "I've been stabbed!" and I gather that he's been stabbed. On the plus side, it was relatively kind of the attacker to stab someone right in front of the hospital. I'm doubting the stabbed fellow was a veteran, but I guided him into the Emergency Department anyway.

Event 2 - As I walked back into the hospital after getting some tacos (no, watching someone get stabbed doesn't keep me from eating lunch. He wasn't bleeding significantly and it's unlikely any organs were punctured) a gentleman in a Rascal yells out to me. He uses the exact same tone as the guy that had been stabbed. But rather than say "I've been stabbed!" he says "Doctor, I have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving!" I'm not sure if he was making smalltalk, or wanted me to invite him over. But since I'm not having Thanksgiving, and because I'm not a good enough person to invite strangers into my home, and even if I were I have no way of getting him to my 2nd story apartment, I didn't. But I did help him find the number of a steakhouse in the phonebook that he thinks is open on Thanksgiving.

Event 3 - As I was leaving work, I hear a honk. I don't think anything of it as I don't think it was directed at me, and I was rocking out to my new lesbian blues CD. A minute later, sitting waiting for a green light, someone walks past my car and knocks on the driver side window of the car in front of me. I have my music on so don't hear what he says. But the driver has foolishly lowered his window to talk, and the other fellow uses this to his advantage as he punches the guy full force in the head. He then walks away. The light turns green.

Also, I saw the mentally ill during my normal office hours.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Same old

This weekend:

I ate at an exclusive/famous/infamous/pretty good pizza place.
I ate at an unknown/homey/pretty good coffee shop.
I tried New Mexican food.
I pretended to dance.
I pretended to know about teapots.
I watched When Harry Met Sally for the first time.
I watched Tremors for the 132nd time.
I bought a giant cookie (who does that?)
I gave away the giant cookie.
I got Radiohead tickets.
I set up an hypothetical boxing tournament.
I got 2 new roommates.
I decided I don't want roommates.
I was accused of being a lawyer (I wore a suit to work.)
And most importantly, I got hooked on lesbian blues.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Funny Thing Happened

I remember the first joke I wrote.

Knock Knock.
Who's there?
Dragon Boss?
Dragon Boss Who?
You're fired.

I don't remember how old I was, but I'm going to be generous and say I was 5.

I attended a lecture at BYU where the speaker expressed his view that a joke is when your mind connects two previously unconnected points of data forming a new synapse. To be honest, I'm not sure I can get behind his neurobiology, but I like the idea. My attempt as a child to connect office procedure and mythical creatures failed in that it wasn't funny, but it followed the basic formula of a joke.

I don't think I was funny until I was about 16. Obviously some would argue that I never became funny, but I think I did. Before that I tried connecting these data points and only produced weirdness. I remember having a running joke about mutant mice with my friend Jeremy, which just consisted of drawing deformed mice on each other's papers. I had a joke with another Chris where we'd chant "WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE WHY HOW" during dodgeball games. Why did I do those things? I don't know. As I said, I only succeeded in being weird.

But in late highschool I figured out ways to connect things that other people found humorous, not just disconcerting. I started testing myself by seeing how many different variations on a theme I could make, such as different campaign posters, or different answering machine messages in college. I started understanding what I thought was funny, and how this material wasn't the same as what most people thought was funny, and started to be able to decide which type of joke I wanted to make.

I told a joke this morning at a breakfast gathering and a friend asked me how I could tell the joke without laughing at it myself. My answer was that I had told the joke in my head a few seconds before, so had already heard it by the time I told it. This is true, but also I think it was just a joke that wasn't one of MY type of jokes, just one I knew other people would connect with.

I want to be funnier. Some people are born funny, but most are made funny by their life. Some become funny instinctually, others as a concentrated effort. I think I am funny, but I need more variety. Some people don't react to witty or droll or sarcastic, and I don't have a lot of range beyond that. And if humor is just a skill, it's one that I haven't spent much time practicing in recent years. And it's one I'm going to start practicing.

Bonus Post:

Funny Rumble

Contenders:
1. Always Sunny
2. The League
3. New Girl
4. Community
5. The Office
6. Parks and Rec
7. Whitney

Winner: New Girl (with a close 2nd to Always Sunny.) Schmidt is hilarious. He's not believable as a person, but as a character he has a lot of opportunities to amuse. Having Zoey step back and become the secondary story was a good choice. Always Sunny was also very funny, with an in medias res approach. If you hadn't seen the show before it would be confusing, but if you have, you can clearly understand each characters dysfunctional thinking. Worth noting, Parks and Rec had some great Denmark bits, as well as Model UN jabs, so is worth watching as well.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Alt November

Things that people do in November:

They eat a lot.
They are thankful for things.
They watch football.
They write novels.
They grow mustaches.
They shop for Christmas.
They are cold.

I'm not going to do any of these things.

I'm going to grow strong enough to wrestle a bear.
I'm going to be proud of my bear-wrestling strength.
I'm not going to watch any football that doesn't involve flags, people I know and questionable half-time shows.
I am going to write a novel, but only after my next movie is finished, so maybe in March. Maybe.
I just shaved off my stach, and while I'm having some phantom beard syndrome, I'm not missing the soup strainer.
I've finished my Christmas shopping.
And being cold is for non-Vikings and people not living in Arizona.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Music Monday: Halloween Edition

Choose how dark and creepy you want your Halloween.

Option 1: Not at all dark

Air Review - America's Son



Option 2: Creepy video, non-creepy song.

The Cool Kids - Sour Apples



Option 3: Dark video, dark song. But so so good.

Grouplove - Colours

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What I Was

I have some costume philosophies, for Halloween in particular, but also just in general. I don't generally like wearing a costume that you've seen before. IE apart from thinking that dressing like Steve Jobs is a bit tacky, I wouldn't do it because you'll see other Steve Jobses at the party. My costume should be something you won't see from anyone else.

Preferably, it would also be something people would recognize. If I dressed as Soren Kiekegaard that would be kind of cool, but no one would get it. I don't care if most people don't get it, but at least my target audience should get it. I don't have a lot of philosopher friends, so Soren is out.

I don't like spending a lot. I don't mind spending a bit, for instance my welder goggles for Dr. Horrible weren't inexpensive. But I don't think would makes the costume special is the cost. It's the thought of the costume, which may translate into cost or time, but it's nicer if it doesn't. My costume cost 3 dollars this year.

I don't intentionally do so, but the majority of my costumes come from pop culture. In the last few years I've been Zach Galifianakis, Robin Sparkles, Dr. Horrible and Jemaine Clement. All are from recent film and television, but that's nearly happenstance. Nearly, but given the amount of time I devote to following such things, it's not surprising that the costumes end up coming from there.

This year I was Ron Swanson. Chances are, you don't know who Ron Swanson is, and that's fine. That indicates you probably have more of a life than I do. But if you want to understand the various bits and wonder of my costume, you can watch the following clips:











Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tv, racism and more Tv

X Factor ran for 2.5 hours last night. I watched it in about 45 minutes while writing emails. I love the internet.

My horses all made it through. I'm not going to link to videos, as they're not too tricky to find. But Josh did well, Canty similarly, and Drew dominated her competition. Simone, Tiah and Dexter all crashed, burned and were eliminated. It really annoys me that they didn't fall out sooner, but the universe caught up with them I guess. If the universe is fair Rene and InTENsity will be the next to go. I'm going to re-pickup LeRoy Bell, as he's a champ, and am going to pickup Lakoda Rayne, because they sang Come On Eileen and are the least annoying group.

Reading a bit through internet commentary last week after the people I liked best were all sent home I came across something interesting. Racism. I find racism very interesting. Clearly I'm not a proponent, but it's interesting. Turns out some of the crazy internet trolls think this show is racist. It is interesting to note that 17 people/groups made it into the most recent round, and 11 were African American (or in the case of groups, contained African Americans.) Has race played a role in who gets into this competition? Is this balancing out American Idol? I don't watch Idol, but it seems like most of the people I've seen it turn out have been white. Is 65% African American representative of the acts currently in the music industry? If not, is it good that this bucks the trend of the current music business? Anyway, I'm new to the talent show tv thing, so I'll let you know what my research shows.

As predicted, Funny Rumble didn't make it 2 consecutive weeks. But HA, it will. Last week's contestants were:
1. How I Met Your Mother
2. The League
3. Always Sunny in Philadelphia
4. The Big Bang Theory
5. Modern Family

The winner is: The Big Bang Theory. Honestly, it wasn't an amazing episode, but everyone seemed to be having a down week, so it ended up winning out. A default victory is still a victory.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Music Monday

State of the Art - Gotye


What a weird weird weird song. Good luck getting it out of your head.

The following song contains swearing. And phat beats.

Rocket Scientist - Teddybears



If you're tired of vocoders, here's another Gotye that eschews technology.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Thailand from your Living Room

I have a journal of notes which I intended to use to write a travelogue. But chances are high that this will never happen. So in place, in lieu and instead of that, here are the sum of my pictures.

Thailand: Getting There
Thailand: Bang Pa and the Emo Temple
Thailand: Sex, Violence, Food and Fire
Thailand: Water for Elephants
Thailand: Something Clever
Thailand: Bring on the Opium!
Cambodia: Another place in Asia
Cambodia: My Favorite Place on Earth

With all the pictures posted, I need to start planning my next trip in earnest.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Not today

Most days I think the guitar is a highly overrated.

Not today.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Spelunking




When a particular friend of mine became frustrated with the unfair struggle with the fairer sex, he’d say he was going “into the cave” for a while. Ultimately he was full of crap, because he’d always spring from the cave almost immediately when a new girl piqued his interest. It was more like he was standing in the cave’s entrance, ready to flee it at the first possible opportunity.

I don’t know whether he knew it or not, but the cave is a concept most famously used in Men Are From Mars, Women are from Venus. To quote Wikipedia, paraphrasing the book (which is a fairly silly book in my opinion, but it does have an interesting point here and there)

Another major idea in Gray's books are the differences he believes operate in terms of the way the genders react under stress. He believes that many men withdraw until they find a solution to the problem. He refers to this as "retreating into their cave". In some cases they may literally retreat, for example, to the garage or spend time with friends. The point of retreating is to take time to determine a solution. In these "caves", men (writes Gray) are not necessarily focused on the problem at hand; many times this is a "time-out" of sorts to allow them to distance themselves from the problems so their brains can focus on something else. Gray posits that this allows them to revisit the problem later with a fresh perspective.

Gray holds that this retreat into the cave has historically been hard for women to understand because when they are stressed their natural reaction is to talk about issues (even if talking does not solve the problem). This leads to a natural dynamic of the man retreating as the woman tries to grow closer. According to Gray this becomes a major source of conflict between women and men.


I am currently in the cave. I have been for the last couple of weeks, and being a cave-dweller has treated me well. After a series of unfortunate events (ie girls turning me down) I decided to throw in the towel. Or at least throw in the towel to pick up at some point in the future, most likely December. If a girl were to pick up the towel and return it to me before then, I’d be hard pressed to refuse the gesture, but I have no intention of picking it up until then.

I don’t like being unsuccessful. Few people do. Maybe unwilling suicide bombers. And this last decade or so I’ve been largely unsuccessful in the dating arena. It’s not my poor stats that bother me, because I only need to be ultimately successful once. It’s just tiring. I imagine the feeling of powerlessness of being a girl and not being asked out would be frustrating. But the male problem of being an active participant in your rejection particularly annoys me. Getting punched in the face hurts (or so I’ve heard, I’m far too endearing to have been punched) but how much worse is it to have to walk up to people and ask them to punch you in the face.

So I’m just living in my cave for a while. I’ve always been an introvert, and I’m just promoting some super introversion. Actively dating and being unsuccessful has filled me with dissatisfaction these last 8 years, and I’m tired of being dissatisfied. In my cave, everything on my to-do list is actually in my power to complete. I don’t have to define myself as failure, and ultimately am not defining myself as much of anything. This cave is very zen. It’s a cave of wonders. And it might take a bit of prodding to get myself out of it come December.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blarg

I understand now why people get so impassioned watching American Idol. The judges are infuriatingly inept. The producers have an exceedingly low expectation of their viewer’s intelligence. And contestants are more repetitious than professional athletes in their analysis of their performance. What I don’t understand is why people are impassioned in a positive way towards these shows. My brief foray into reality television may be at an end.

When I picked my favorite performers previously, I mentioned 11 out of the 32 currently in the running. I wasn’t exactly dead set on one person who NEEDED to be the winner of the contest. But it turns out that the judges read my blog (Hi Paula!) and let almost none of these 11 through. They also looked down at my list of 5 people I hated (as performers, not personally) and let all 5 of them through.

The biggest mistakes were cutting Caitlin Koch and Tora Woloshin. These two actually had some personality, quite a bit of talent, were gorgeous and had what I would call “The X Factor.” I almost turned the show off when they were cut.

Brennin Hunt was a douchebag, but I’m positive he would make a lot of money as a professional douchebag, so cutting him was a mistake. Jazzlyn Little was the oldest of the little girls, and seems much more marketable to me than the younger bunch.

I picked up Christa last week, after a great Radiohead cover, only to have her cut. Sorry Christa, it was my fault for liking you. Anser was the least annoying of the groups so I thought about adding them, so again, they were cut.

I understand Dexter making it. He’s a sob story, so people will like to watch him. Problem is, no one is going to listen to a Dexter Haygood album. He’s not very good, but the judges don’t seem to mind that. Simone FORGOT HER LYRICS in the last round and is still going through. Brian Bradley can’t sing, only rap, and is going through. Hopefully they won’t ask him to sing, dance or not be conceited, because he doesn’t have any of those skills.

Blarg. Anyway, I do still have horses in the race, but they’re not my favorite horses.

Girls category – Drew.

Boys category – Marcus Canty and Chris Rene. I’m dropping Chris Rene due to his sob story, and I now refuse to support anyone with a sob story thanks to Dexter. So Marcus is my pick.

Old category – Josh Krajcik, LeRoy Bell and Stacy Francis. I’m going with Josh as he is the least sobby of the three.

Groups – No one cares about this category.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My problem

My problem is not this video. I think it is catchy, colorful, and if the blacklight isn't flattering on Ms. Minaj, well I don't think it's flattering on anyone.



My problem is not this video. Children doing/saying inappropriate things is pretty funny. See The Landlord.



My problem is not this video. I don't understand where the random stay in school plug came from (seriously Nicki, do you think she's going to go professional with the tutu thing?)



My problem is this: Nicki Minaj won't date me. But the problem here isn't me for once, it's her. According to the lyrics of the song she is looking for the following qualities in a potential partner:

They use their air conditioner when the windows are down. That's just irresponsible.
Smokes weed. No can do.
Is rich. Not yet.
Right kind of build. Probably not.
Is the following - cold, dope, real, ill, trip, sailor, pelican fly
Sells cocaine, or at least might sell cocaine.
Doesn't fly coach (I can only assume this again refers to his wealth.)
A heck of a guy. I got this one. 1/dozens.
He's shy (because there are so many rich shy coke dealers.)
He wears ties. Score, 2/dozens.
Slicker than the guy with the thing on his eye. Your guess is as good as mine. I think Nicki might not like men in glasses, or know the word for glasses.
He wears polos and fitted caps ( I don't, but I could change.)
Entrepreneur/mogul. Again, rich. I think I'm sensing a pattern in one area at least.
He can both be alone, and at times be in a group. I can do that one.
He's dolo. No idea.
He can give her the look that renders elastic useless.
In touch with his feminine side. This doesn't seem to jive with anything else in the song, but ok.
American. Ethnocentric much?
He's got the super bass.

So, probably not me.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Funny Rumble



Now for a feature that there is approximately zero chance that I will keep up regularly: The Funny Rumble.

Each week I'll tell you which television comedy was the funniest that week. You know, in case you feel like waiting until Sunday night to have me pick the funniest 22 minutes of television programming from the previous week. I'm here to help you out.

The 9 Funniest Sitcoms Aired This Week:

1. How I Met Your Mother
2. The Big Bang Theory
3. Modern Family
4. Always Sunny in Philadelphia
5. The League
6. The Office
7. Community
8. Parks and Recreation
9. Whitney

(Other shows that will be in contention on week they air, Raising Hope, Archer, Wilfred, 30 Rock, The New Girl. Eventually I'll get around to watching Up All Night and Workaholics, but I haven't seen them yet so they are not in contention.)

So who won the first Funny Rumble?

Community.

Community has been jumping the shark since halfway through the first season. Abed allows the show to be extremely meta, which they've taken full advantage of. This week they roll a die early in the episode and create 6 different time lines. Some of the repetition got old, but the different timelines created the chance to have recurring jokes that technically only happened once. The following clip really requires you to watch the episode to fully enjoy it, but it made me LOL, which is an achievement few can claim.



FYI: 2nd place would go to an above average episode of The Office, or a surprisingly well structured The League.

FYI2: Last week's winner would have been Parks and Recreation. If I'd been doing this way back then.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Soft in the head

On June 11th, 2002, I was a missionary in Idaho. A missionary in Idaho who had no appointments on his blue planner that night. So I started hitting up the regulars: recent converts, ward leadership, past investigators, whoever would listen. Turns out none of them would listen, because every single house we stopped at was watching this new television show: American Idol.

Over the years I've seen hundreds of little bits and pieces of Idol. Mostly I like the beginning of the year when half of the contestants are so horrible you wonder why anyone lets them leave the house. But I've never gotten into the show, mostly because I'm a heterosexual male. Also because Ryan Seacrest fills me with an irrational anger.

So it's difficult to explain why I've started watching The X Factor. I'd like to say that I'm doing so because of it's named after the X-Men's sister team, but I don't think anyone watching the show also reads semi-obscure comic books.

Mostly it's the fault of Viral Viral Videos. I'm a busy guy, so I don't actually have time to cull in internet for all the inane things that I post for other people's amusement. So I let VVV do the work for me. Lately they've been posting whatever X Factor contestant is trending most on the internet, and like a sucker I watch the clips. And now, I want to see who wins.

Turns out I like Simon Cowell. This isn't too surprising because I like quick witted sarcastic truth tellers, and that's what he is. Turns out I also like Paula Abdul. She's about as lovable as a raving lunatic can be. The Pussycat Doll is fine enough on the eyes and L.A. Reid serves as good foil for Simon. And generally I skip through all the intros and fluff and hugging and junk, because I like these judges better than most of the contestants. So just watching the actual songs and the judges saves a considerable amount of time.

So without further ado, here are the people I like. So I'm guessing they won't make it far.

Top X Factor picks, in no particular order.

1. Caitlin Koch. She's a rugby player from Western NY. Win.
2. Tara Woloshin. From Tucson, and she may be the hottest mechanic in the world as the clip states.
3. Josh. I'm not going to bother to learn to spell his name, I'm not that invested. But he's from Columbus and dresses like a schlub so I like him.
4. Leroy Bell. The most interesting thing about him might be his refusal to age, but that's still pretty interesting.
5. Brennin Hunt. I'm quite confident that he's a colossal douchebag, but I really want to see him explode in national tv so I don't want him eliminated yet.
6. Marcus Canty. Vanilla, but likable and talented.
7. Talented youngins. I don't imagine these three will be able to play with the big dogs, but Drew Ryniewicz, Rachel Crow and Jazzlyn Little are all pretty impressive.
8. Stacy Haygood. I'm only going to pick one sob story, and she gets my vote. Chris Rene is a close 2nd, and Dexter Haygood would be a contender except I don't like watching him.

And for good measure, the people who I want to get off my tv quickly:
Simone Battle, Tiah Tolliver, Brian Bradley, Phillip Lomax, Dexter Haygood

Sweet

Music Monday: So I don't have to actually blog

Sorry, it's been a weird week. There will be a semi-post tomorrow. But today, here are some songs I like:

Snapped - Jhene Aiko. It contains haunting melodies, dark imagery and swearing so beautifully rendered that you may not notice it. I've got it on pretty heavy repeat.



Icona Pop - Manners. Another juxtaposed set of lyrics with chirpy pop sound. The Chiddy Bang rap that samples it is ok too, but I much prefer the original.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Music Monday: The Usz

How do you spell usz, as in the abbreviated form of usual?

Not sure if I'm too late for this bandwagon, but you should check out Lana Del Rey.





If you have heard Lana Del Rey and currently furious at me for suggesting you hear something you've already heard, here's something from a band who's name I can't type. I'm guessing that fact alone will have kept you from hearing of them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Funny Girls: Part 2

As a footnote to yesterday's post:

The Time of the Week when I list Funny Female Celebrities

There are plenty of actresses that are given funny lines by funny writers. And delivery is not an unimportant element of comedy. But while Emma Stone or Kaley Cuoco do a fine job entertaining, I don't really consider them funny. And when you narrow the field of celebrities to women who are primarily comediennes, well there aren't many. And of that small number I don't think most are very funny (Sorry Chelsea Handler, Wanda Sykes, Margret Cho etc.) Here are ones that are funny, in no particular order:

1. Kristen Bell - She gets an automatic spot on every list where she remotely applies. But if you youtube any of her talk show appearances, she actually is funny.

2. Maria Bamford - I generally don't care for impressions or funny voices, but Maria is just so dang likable.



3. Jane Lynch - To be snotty, I liked her before Glee. She's great in Party Down, Role Models and A Mighty Wind. She has a pretty extensive improv background, and I hear she handled herself pretty well at the Emmys this year.

4. Ellen - Another funny lesbian. Her wife Portia is also someone who almost would have made the list despite no formal comedic training.



5. Kristen Wiig - I had a Tina Fey v Kristen Wiig debate with a friend once. Summary: Fey is the better writer, Wiig the better performer. Both are very talented.

6. Amy Poehler - I'd given up on Parks and Rec until this clip. But despite Leslie Knope not being super compelling, Poehler is. She does some of my favorite improv.



7. Mindy Kaling - She's not my favorite character on The Office, or even in my top 50%. But she's one of the writers and she writes some pretty good episodes. And she convincingly plays someone that couldn't write a good episode.

8. Sarah Silverman - I have a very high threshold for shock humor. So I certainly understand people that hate Sarah, but I think she's pretty darn funny. Being funny is hard. Being funny while saying horrible things is harder. Being funny and adorable while saying horrible things? She must be a witch.



9. Kristen Schaal - Honestly, I haven't seen a ton of Kristen Schaal, but I've liked everything I've seen. She shines on Conchords of course, but also does very well on Bob's Burgers and The Daily Show.

10. Paula Poundstone - She's a little hokey, but she's definitely got her own style, or lack thereof. I'm pretty sure she's given up her stand-up for full-time WWDTM, but I always thought her bits were good.



11. TIna Fey - Last but not least, comedy goddess Tina Fey. Loved and respected by all, and with reason.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Funny Girls

One of my fondest memories is making several of my friends regurgitate. One night four of us were dining at the fine establishment known as The Spaghetti Warehouse. Admittedly, the fact that it was The Spaghetti Warehouse may have contributed to the regurgitation. But over the course of the night I was successfully able to make each of the other three laugh hard enough to cause them to spit, vomit or otherwise emit their food. It was a proud day.

I’d like to claim that the sheer magnitude of my wit caused this, but this was not really the case. It’s extremely difficult to keep up a string of jokes resulting in the loss of control of body function all on your own. The group included two of my more amusing friends. And with the momentum the three of us provided, I was able to capitalize. The four of us spent the night eating mediocre food, cracking each other up, and at times losing the mediocre food, and it was glorious.

Dates often pale in comparison. I love women, and enjoy the company of men considerably less than the average bloke. My use of the term bloke may contribute to this. But how often have I laughed uncontrollably on a date? I’d have to check my archives, but without doing the research, I’d say never.

For some reason, I’ve never thought to combine the crackup with the date, or at least to attempt to combine it. By and large, it’s because I don’t find women to be as funny as men. I’ve blogged for many years now and have covered the subject before and in more depth, but I think men tend to be funnier than women. I think it’s due to societal incentives more than inherent qualities, but it’s just there. I laugh at things men say and do much more often than what women say and do. And I’m sure part of it is that I’m a guy, and it’s not entirely that women aren’t funny, but that women aren’t funny to men.

In general, I’m in the business of removing criteria from my dating standards rather than adding them. That’s horrible advice for some people, but good advice for me. But I think I may need to add a criterion to my dating checklist. It’s not that funny women don’t exist, they’re just less common than funny men. But I like laughing. And I’d like dating more if I were laughing more. And what would be better than a couple who make each other vomit every once in a while.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tales from the Vault

As a man, I generally have control over the horrendousness of my dating. Which is not to say that women don’t have control, but they are at a distinct disadvantage when they are primarily being asked out and not doing the asking. I don’t ask out girls when I have reason to believe we’d have a horrible date. But some girls feel obligated to say yes when asked out, and consequently, horrendousness may ensue.

So my repertoire of dating horror stories is less robust than I’d like it to be. But after a decade in the meat market, I’ve accrued a fair number or interesting tales. Sadly, I’m too good of a guy to immediately blog about a bad date, providing real time awkwardness to the world. But I’m not too good of a guy to relate a story that happened some time in the last ten years.

The Picture

At various times and places I’ve ventured into online dating. I have my reasons. My failure at offline dating primarily. But I feel like it’s a good medium for me as I’m far wittier with a time delay between interactions. And so long as online dating doesn’t replace my efforts in regular-type dating, I see no problem with having it as a hobby or series of social experiments.

I’m a horrible commuter, and terrible long distance friend, so I never bother to contact anyone outside of my state. And I’m doing this mostly as a hobby or Hail Mary pass, so I’m not going to actually spend money to be on a legitimate dating site. So my pool of local people on free Mormon dating sites that I don’t already know is generally pretty small.

In that pool was Becky. Her name wasn’t Becky, or at least I don’t think it was, as I don’t actually remember it. She was cute enough and local enough and so I contacted her. If I remembered what we small talked about I would tell you, but since I can’t remember it was probably quite dull. Turns out that Becky didn’t live close by me currently, as she was at college, which was at another location. But our small talk was successful enough that she wanted to exchange numbers, and we left off saying one of us would call the other one sometime, maybe, if we got bored enough.

A couple months later I got a text message with a picture attached. The picture was of Becky modeling a thong.

Now I hadn’t actually entered Becky into my phone, so it took me a while to figure out who this girl was that was sending me pictures of her in her unders. She hadn’t included this photo, nor any photo of her at this angle, in her online free Mormon dating profile. But with the grainy photo and my wit I figured out who this was from. There was no message, only the picture. A mystery.

I don’t know what your first reaction would be, but mine was to immediately go to my roommate’s room and show him the picture. It helped that it was the night before a test and thus we were both keenly excited to do approximately anything other than study. And looking at innocently obtained pictures of girls in lingerie and debating their meaning fit the bill.

Not long after showing him the picture and earning his jealousy, a flood of texts came in. To paraphrase: Oh my gosh! I didn’t mean to send that to you! So so sorry! Don’t hate me!

I’ve often wondered if this was actually an accident, or a ploy to gain my attention. If it was an accident, who was the intended recipient for such a text message of her bared buttocks? What’s the point of modeling a thong? You might as well be modeling a bookmark. So many questions, which never were answered.

To further complicate this complicated situation, I didn’t text. Up until the last year I adamantly refused to text. So here I was with an inflammatory text, a whole series of apologetic texts, and I was going to be forced to call someone I’ve never talked to before to discuss the issue of her bared behind. But my alternative was to do nothing and leave her dangling in the wind, so to speak.

So I called her and she apologized again. She didn’t want to talk about the picture, which to a large extent invalidated the apology in my eyes. Turns out that she was in town for the week, so we again left off that maybe one of us would call the other and we’d get together. I said I needed to get back to studying, which, in fact, I did.

A few minutes later I got a text: Take a walk with me? This concept of studying didn’t sink in with her. Also the fact that it was 1 AM and taking a walk with someone without other tasks to accomplish is still an odd activity. I wish that I’d blown off studying for a couple hours and had let this train wreck occur, but sadly I was responsible. I had images of her throwing me against a tree and again inappropriately displaying her various items of clothing. She was a hockey player, which somehow made this a more likely scenario in my mind. But no, studying would be my fate that night.

I still have the picture on my old phone, as a memento. We did get together later that week, but she didn’t throw me against a tree or show me anything scandalous. She did turn out to be an odd rabid Obama supporting, Jack Mormon kind of girl with limited social skills and no driving skills. But the lackluster quality of that date pales in comparison to the bizarre first text. To this day, every time I get a text with a picture attached, I wonder to myself, is Becky back? Or more importantly, is her backside back?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Suits Me Fine

A couple years back I made my mTV movie, and it occurred to me the other day that the different segments have something in common: an infatuation with suits.

Barney is of course the world's premiere suit enthusiast. And if there's anyone that I model my life after it's Barney Stinson.

Suit Song and Dance



Only slightly less enthusiastic about the suit is Gob.



Admittedly, Michael Scott is less vocal about his love for suits, hence the horribleness of this clip.



I guess this post had little point other than youtube theft, and for to say that I bought some new suits this week. I've been trying to motivate myself for several months into making this purchase. Generally I like suits, I was just hesitant for a several reasons.

1. I don't like buying expensive items.
2. I especially don't like buying expensive clothing.
3. I live in Arizona, and buying extra layers of clothing in 120 degree weather seems daffy.
4. Jos Banks is on a neverending sale cycle, so I could never be sure when it would be a good deal to buy one.
5. I've been waiting for white tuxedos to come back into style.

But Jos Banks came up with a 3 for 1 sale and I figured I wasn't going to do any better than that. I very nearly made the mistake of buying the exact same suit I already owned because it seemed so familiar, and thus appealing. The saleslady suggested I throw out my old suit and buy the new one, but since I'm not made of money I told her to shove off. I did however pick up a nice grey, brown and blue pinstripe triple threat. That's right, brown! I'm a crazy person. Here's hoping I don't get laughed out of church this week.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Music Monday: Things you won't like

Last time I highlighted some bands that I think everyone would like. Here's some tracks that I think are pretty nifty, that most of you probably won't like.

Purity Ring: Ungirthed



Bonus track: Belispeak

2Cellos: Hurt



Wynter Gordon - Buy My Love



Bonus track: Drunk on Your Love

Noir Desir: Le Vent Nous Portera



If you like all 4 artists, well, you may well be me.