Friday, December 30, 2011

Looking into the FUTURE ... FUture ... future...

Photo by NASA
2012 is going to be alright.And not just because the world will keep on spinning with us all (mostly) safely upon her. It's going to be alright because things are looking up in general.

Personally I had a really good 2011. There were a few bumps and few moments of extreme stress but it all lead to good places and results for me personally. But I'm aware many, many people had a lousy 2011 and I was just one of the luckier ones. Our world is going through a rough moment in time. But it has the ability to be a moment of transformation for our civilization as a whole. the dark times in general are not behind us, and I predict a few more waves of great cultural turbulence, but I can't help but feel optimistic about our future as a whole. Humanity's been through some rough times and in the end we always (eventually) end up in a better place.

So here's to you, and you, and you, and me, and you and you and you all coming together to do what we can to improve things and make 2012 a year that more people look back on as a positive moment in their own timeline.

Because I know it can be done.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Continuing the trend.

While Betty the Beagle hates having her picture taken, Pickle the Kitten seems to really enjoy it. I'm going to attribute it to her ego and her thorough belief that she is the most awesome cat on the planet.

Yes, I do believe I will have some pie.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

This photo pretty much made my month.

My only regret is that Pickle the Kitten doesn't have pie in front of her as well.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Not gonna lie, this made me happy.

Some parts of me remain ever the fanboy. However what I said wasn't driven by my enjoyment of much of Kevin Smith's past work. Outside the great ear for dialogue--and admittedly the tendency to overindulge character's soliloquies a bit--there is little to identify this as a Kevin Smith film. It's a horror movie. And it's a horror movie that depends on looking into the deepest and most twisted reaches of people's souls instead of simply relying on gallons of blood and severed limbs. I really did enjoy it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I am still my father's son.

I have my dad's strengths and I have his weaknesses. Luckily GalPal is there to help bolster my strengths and help me fight those weaknesses. I am so lucky to have a partner like that.

Who helps bring out the best in you?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Get live!

Taken from the balcony at Metro. Obviously Grohl saw me hanging over trying to catch the shot, huh?
Today some of the music writers for Chicagoist remembered their top live music moments of 2011. What were yours?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Movies to see before Christmas.

A Christmas Story
Bowie / Crosby Holiday Special
Stephen Colbert's The Greatest Gift of All!
Love Actually
Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas

Almost done!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Talkin' 'bout the year in music.

I was on local Chicago radio station Vocalo 89.5 last Friday to chat about the tear in music with host of The Music Vox Jesse Menendez and fellow panelists Brent Discrencsenzo of Time Out Chicago and Andrew Morgan of The Billions Corporation. We covered a bunch of topics and gave shout-outs to some of our favorite releases from the past year.We also discovered one of the panelists was secretly a member of the one percent! If you missed it the first time around, the segment is now available for download. Give a listen and pipe in with your own thoughts in the comments!

DOWNLOAD: The Music Vox 2011 Year In Review

Friday, December 16, 2011


Perhaps you have notcied I seem distracted lately. In fact it's not so much distraction as it's intense focus on the 9-to-5. But yea, the holidays they approacheth and the deadlines they are met-eth.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and I don't think it's a train so I may actually have time to write something of, erm, substance here in the near future. But to give you some idea of my mental state lately I've had this incredible itch to either start re-reading a bunch of Edgar Rich Burroughs or the shorter Heinlein book while pumping in a steady diet of Bowie, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and The Who into my cranial cavity via earbuds. For an intellectual (HAH!) such as myself I'm going to view this as reacclimation / recalibration and not a step backward. Land ho! Nay! Instead this is a huge step forward towards unlocking the Pandora's Box at the base of my neck to flood my cerebrospinal fluid with inspiartion that will eventually unhinge that mass floating within and reveal new ideas and driections of thinking.

Something like that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Uh oh.

GalPal and I made with the hot feet to the opening day of Christkindlmarket to make sure we got our little souvenir boot mugs filled with warm wine, but they were nothing compared to what I encountered (and consumed) earlier...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One day...

...I'll find a few seconds to write for myself. More than a few lines here. More than a few tweets there. More than a response to a status message. More than a brief couple paragraphs about a new song or a show that you should see.

I'm hungering to do more. But tonight is not when it's gonna happen. Maybe tomorrow?

We'll see. Keeping my daily commitment to writing SOMETHING for myself, no matter what, has gone s long way to keeping me sane, though.

What's your secret?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Hey, what's that?!

Pickle the Kitten seems pretty happy I'm finally home!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Happy birthday to GalPal!

My most favorite-est of people turns another year old today!

Photo by Lizz Kannenberg

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Twitter refresh!

Overall I dig it, though I wish the Twitter stream was still to the left. I know they moved it so your eye hits whatever it is their promoting but it's still annoying. I really like this feature though!

Took 'em long enough to finally roll out embeddable Tweets, huh?

What happens in Vegas...

GalPal and I were in Las Vegas on vacation last week and stayed at The Cosmopolitan for free through a voucher I got after playing kickball at Lollapalooza a few years ago. We will definitely be staying there again. It's custom built for us and while it's a bit pricey it doesn't seem to attract the same herds that lumber about The Bellagio or The Mirage so it's a couple extra bucks well spent.

It was my second time to Vegas and GalPal used to have friends who lived there so she's vacationed there a number of times and neither of us were huge fans of the town, but we approached this trip with the mindset that it was first and foremost a vacation with no additional expectations. It was wonderful. We paid an unbelievable amount of money to see Cirque du Soleil's LOVE but walked away having so thoroughly enjoyed it's numerous WTF?! moments that it was totally worth it. We sat at blackjack tables in the middle of the afternoon while helpful dealers and pit bosses taught GalPal just how to actually play blackjack. We didn't walk out with our pockets stuffed with cash but we did win enough during the time we were in town to pay for a nice meal. I ate a $13 steak and a $16 hamburger. The hamburger was way better.

We did a buffet that was subpar and we ate at a swanky joint that actually looked more like a retirement home that also had food that was, amazingly, worse than the subpar buffet. We saw a hardcore band that I enjoyed but GalPal hated. We took a limo because we couldn't catch a cab.

We drank under a chandelier. We watched two hookers vie for one old dude's attention and tried not to laugh out loud when one of them bought a grilled cheese sandwich with fries and then tried to eat it in an alluring manner. She failed in that but did emerge victorious in snagging the man and his money and escorting him back to his room. I ordered two-for-one drinks based on a Foursquare check-in only to discover that the offer had expired, but the bar started serving two-for-one drinks at midnight just a few minutes later to everyone as the night's special. I did not realize it was the night's special and ended up with two beers and a tumbler full of bourbon.

Best of all, GalPal and I had time to reconnect. In Chicago we both lead incredibly full but extremely busy lives, so we don't always have time to just focus on the two of us. This trip gave us that time. It was grey and windy and rainy the whole time we were in Vegas but I flew back to Chicago with sunshine in my heart. It was a good vacation.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Roadrunner, roadrunner.

So I'm running a million miles an hour and juggling a dozen things and it's thrilling but breathtaking and by breathtaking I mean in the sense that it's hard to catch your breath but also wondrous because who knew you could be so engaged and plugged in and in touch with so many things at once and that's the point that you realize you are really good at what you do and that there aren't many people out there that can focus on so many different things all at the same time but then you realize one reason you have this ability (aside from it being a natural inclination which you can accept but you're also old enough to realize there's way more to it than your own personal abilities) is because you have some pretty awesome support groups and systems in place both personally and professionally and for once you feel like a real, live, grown up adult and it's a good feeling.

So, thanks.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

I have lots to say!

I really do. Just not today. Tomorrow! I promise! Until then ... show me your paws!

Yeah, I went there. GaGa might be GoneGone and kinda predictable now but I still like SOME of what she does. And it fight the photo so well!

Monday, December 05, 2011

Late night questions.

WHAT IF you were a monster named Marbles and you were going crackers OR you were a monster named Crackers and you were losing your marbles?!

Deep thoughts, people.

Friday, December 02, 2011


If you're in Vegas, this show is ridiculously expensive but so worth it.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A slightly winding path leading to an honest query for you.

Photo of GalPal and me by Ryan Mitchell
The wind is howling—HOWLING—outside my window, and I can't wait to get out of town on vacation soon. The 9-to-5 has been KEE-razy, all of my own making since I quite literally asked for it and I'm actually happy to be in this situation (and, as an aside, this is not one of those times when someone says they're happy that they're busy at work when in fact they're miserable but are afraid someone they work with might read what they're saying and think less of them; no sir, you should know me better than that and figure out if I was miserable I'd tell you right off the bat), but that doesn't for one second mean I'm not looking forward to getting the heck outta Dodge for a few days of R-N-R with GalPal so we can properly and very belatedly celebrate our three year anniversary.

We should have celebrated that anniversary back in August, though we have a hard time figuring out exactly when we should mark our anniversary since there's a particular day in July that we met and it, truth be told, might be the best way to mark the beginning of our relationship.

Now I'm not going to get all mushy here. You all know I like GalPal an awful lot and she likes me. She must, since I'm not the easiest guy in the world to date, and I am extremely lucky she has been a patient and understanding partner. OK, that was a little mushy, so let's move on.

So where did we decide to celebrate this very belated anniversary? Vegas, baby! I got a free stay for a couple nights at a hotel in Vegas when I played Lolla kickball a few years ago, and the voucher runs out at the end of December, so we decided to take advantage of it and treat ourselves to a couple days of doing nothing. Well, doing nothing together. Well, probably something but nothing we don't wanna do together.

So now to the point of this post (well, not the point, but an underlying motivation for the preceding set-up)*: Give me your recommendations on what we should do over a few days in Las Vegas when the weather will be less than stellar but not exactly freezing? Off-the-beaten-path ideas are welcome! Tell me, tell me, tell me, please!

*I'm being disingenuous here. This post started with no point outside the sudden howling of the wind outside. Then I got slightly mushy and realized I had better wrap things up so how better to do that than an engaging question on a topic I would actually like your opinion on! But there was no master plan from the outset, I just, at that second, liked pretending there was. Isn't that kind of what we all do every day? A-ha! Another question!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wait, what?

Oh my oh my oh my but buying a Blu-ray player that streams and then immediately subscribing to Netflix has completely changed my viewing habits because even though 97% of the movies / shows available for immediate viewing are kinda bunk the other 3% are totally rad and, FINALLY, it looks like I have no excuse to catch up with and watch every episode of the critically lauded series so I can finally judge for myself whether it is truly "all that" or not.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Watching Thor.

ME: Wow, he's in really good shape. I need to step it up at the gym.
SHE: Mm-hm.
ME: I reckon it'll take a week or two.
SHE: Riiiight.
ME: OK, maybe three weeks. He is pretty big.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This evening I shall jump into the fire.

In the States tonight is a night where everyone goes out and gets shitfaced. In the old days it was because all your high school chums and family you never spoke to were in town but in modern times that's no longer really the case since we're all pretty much in constant contact with who we want to be in contact with anymore. So it's just an excuse to get drunk. And the cats in the video below were FAMOUS for getting drunk.

This is also an elaborate excuse to post a video of Keith Moon behind a drum kit.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Juggling waterspouts.

I'm looking forward to December! Right now I'm in the middle of the yearly "let's get all this done before the holidays" madness at the 9-to-5. On one hand I'm thankful because the craziness makes time rush by drawing the holidays ever closer at great speed. On the other hand, the deadlines are also rushing my way!

It's cool, I can totally handle it! But it does tend to restrict my non-9-to-5 output since so much of my attention is heading towards a single resource.

How're you holding up pre-holiday season?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Travel along this "Suburban Dream," maaaaaaaan.

I dunno what it is about The Stepkids that compels me to keep writing about them. Oh yeah, now I remember, it's because I dig their music. I keep going back to their live set from CMJ (which you can own FOR FREE) and now I'm digging this totally tripped out new video from the band for their song "Suburban Dream."

As The Stepkids themselves might say, dig it, man.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Livin' in the '80s.

I almost forgot to tell you! I'm DJing tomorrow at Beauty Bar! At an '80s night! SUPER EARLY. I'm on from 9-10:15 p.m. so you gotta get there early to hear my set, but it'll be totally worth it because if you RSVP ahead of time there'll be free champagne flowing from 9-10 p.m. BALLER.

Leg warmers not required.

You guys are a bunch of comedians.

We had the Chicagoist reader meet-up last night at The Owl and it went incredibly well. So many people came out and I actually do love meeting the readers, even the ones who leave the snarkiest of comments. Listen, if you write for a widely read site you should never lose sight of the fact that the readers are the ones making you widely read. So I always try and give them my best and don't take it personally when they don't like what I write.

Anyway, it was loads of fun.  mean, look!

Good times, people. Good times.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My knight in shining armor.

Thank god for our tamale guy!

What's another name for pirate treasure?

I had intended to get you up on the right overly sampled old school spliced together with tape and a razor blade foot by sharing a download of Paul's Boutique: The Instrumentals, but the site I originally stumbled across the finest version of that never-released collection seems to no longer exist.


It does appear as if the link to the actual collection DOES still exist though! However I'm not going to run the risk of sharing it with you because, well, copyright is a weird thing -- and it gets even weirder when you're talking about a collection of music cobbled together by a few dudes in the shadowy years before sample clearances became codified and set in unwieldy legal stone -- and I certainly don't want to do anything considered shadowy by the Internets Police. I will however share with you the fact that the site I originally found this collection housed upon was fittingly called The Unheard Music and that enterprising sleuths may find a way to track down this bountiful booty of twenty-five most excellent beats.

And let's all hope the next reissue of this album, because you just know the label's gonna find an excuse to reissue this album any chance they can, let's hope this stuff finds it's way into the world via bonus tracks (or even better a bonus disc or EVEN BETTER bonus vinyl!).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Been a week. Wait, it ain't over yet?!

My life has been even more go go GO GO lately than usual. There's a whole bunch of reasons for this, all of them positive ones, but that still doesn't mean it's 100% fun for me. Let's call it 89% fun, 10% stress and a 1% mixture of coffee and endorphins triggered by trips to the gym.

Anyway, we're mere hours from the Chicagoist meet-up (tomorrow, Thursday November 17) so prepare for my excitement /anticipation of that glorious event to throw the percentages above into serious flux because I'm 100% excited to meet readers, enjoy complimentary booze and give away a complete Pink Floyd catalog at The Owl from 8 p.m. onward!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weird coincidence?

I'm currently revisiting the entire Pink Floyd catalog for a longer piece I'm going to write about the current reissue series. I can't decide if it'll run on Chicagoist or Donewaiting yet, but I'm leaning towards the latter just because I have a feeling it may be kind of lengthy.

As I'm going through them I'm being reminded of so many things because this catalog is such a part of my musical DNA. Many folks fall into either being fans of early Pink Floyd or late Pink Floyd (and I don't think much of anyone counts themselves as fans of post-Waters Pink Floyd so let's just not even consider that) but I've always found I liked it all. One of my favorite albums in the band's soundtrack to La Vallée, Obscured By Clouds. It's got a few rockers, some pop and some nice weird atmospheric stuff. It's kind of the perfect bridge between the group's more experimental tendencies and the more structured approach they would adopt for the remainder of the '70s.

Only the weird thing is for some reason, in my internal history, Obscured By Clouds always felt like an album from the late '60s so I never quite realized that it was actually released in June, 1972. The month and year I was born. What are the chances that the Pink Floyd album that would have the weirdest grip on me would come out at that exact point in time? I mean, it's not my absolute favorite of the band's catalog, but considering it's definitely one of their more overlooked works it's one that I've felt myself gravitating to over and over again throughout the years.

Weird, huh? I wonder if it means anything. Probably not, but maybe...

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Crystal clear.

Some days you write tons and other days you don't wanna write at all but one thing remains certain through it all.

You gotta write.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Boy, someone sure has been busy!

It's that time of year when everything seems to get crazy -- I think folks all around are trying to get "responsibilities" taken care of before the holiday season -- so I can understand if you've missed a few of the things I've written about or aren't in the loop with everything I have going on. Hell, I can barely follow me all the places I'm active in. So, let's sum it up!
  • Google Reader killed it's awesome share function, forcing everyone through a narrow corral into the Google+ zone. So if you want to keep up with articles I share it appears the Shared Items Pages no longer update at all (though my final post it's displaying is hilarious), so you'll have to subscribe to me on Google+. All stuff I would have shared from Google Reader I mark as public so you can see it all.
  • I wrote a nice piece for the Edelman Digital blog. If you're interested in reading something I have tosay that has to do with creativity and big ideas and markety-ish stuff please head over and read it then tell me what you think. I'm going to try and write more stuff along those lines on that site and I'd like to know if any of you find it helpful!
  • Chicagoist is having a reader meet-up on November 17. RSVP for it here. But also enter our contest for your chance to win one of two sets of the ENTIRE REMASTERED REISSUED PINK FLOYD CATALOG we're giving away. Awesome, huh?
  • Speaking of making plans, keep November 19 open on your calendar since I'll be the opening DJ for the '80s night that'll be going on at Beauty Bar. And there's free champagne if you RSVP! Baller! I assume since I'm so early I'll get to spin more the indie side of the '80s, but I'm totally sneaking in some Huey Lewis, INXS and Jane's Addiction!
OK, that's enough for now. Who wants some coffee?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Photo by Joe Lukey
Soft Speaker are currently one of my favorite local bands. I've been following them for a while now and have quite enjoyed watching them grow past my initial expectations and develop into something that has surprised me as each of their releases makes the sorts of subtle shifts only evident in a band that's honestly trying to discover its true self. I say it a lot better on Chicagoist in my review of their latest album Vortrobos, so read that. And then read the band's bio to see that while their music is seriously good, they know how to not take themselves to seriously. Then go to your calendar and pen in your plans to attend their album release show at Beat Kitchen on November 19.

STREAM: Soft Speaker "Ask The Guild"

Monday, November 07, 2011

Where does one person's hair end and the other's begin?

Ah, college.

After looking through a bunch of a friend's photos from my college days I am officially feeling old. And nostalgic. And realizing what a great crew I ran with in the early '90s. But mostly old.

I'm the one of the left, by the way.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Happy birthday dad.

Some days it feels like you've been gone forever and other it feels like you're still around and I've just forgotten to call you for too long. Either way I still miss you.

Oh the irony.

Someone should tell the new Google Reader layout that its "Tips and tricks" tips and tricks no longer exist...

It's down there in the lower right. Oh, you can't see that? Here, let me blow it up for you.
Awesome, huh? Idiots.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Further insight.

In addition to seasonal malaise it's now growing more obvious another driver of my current discontent might be the fact that I am ill but too stubborn to take time off work for a variety of reasons, the primary one being I'm not contagious as far as I know so I may as well just tough it out.

It's this thinking that has led me to accumulate a virtual war chest of sick days that were I to trade them in for money could fund my overthrow of the early Roman empire. It's also led me to stay in yet another evening and self medicate with sugar free nighttime TheraFlu yet again.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Need a jolt.

These days I'm bouncing back and forth between feeling inspired and feeling beaten down. Not beaten down by anyone in particular mind you, just sort of like I'm slogging through things in general. Part of the problem -- probably most of the problem actually -- is just the change in weather. That always gets to me this time of year. So the way I dealt with that the last few years was b scheduling a nice winter vacation to look forward to. Sadly, this year due to timing and such there is no winter vacation in my foreseeable future. So that's adding to the general feeling of that whole "no end in sight" feeling that accompanies a Chicago winter. And we haven't even hit winter yet!

So yeah, that's cheery, huh?

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

I kid you not, this is terrible music.

What do you get when you imitate Kate Bush with none of the artistry? Florence + the Machine! Seriously, we don't know how histrionic warbling like hers became so mainstream but we're obviously in the minority when it comes to hating on this band. So could someone please tell us what you see in this uninspired, overly dramatic dreck? Is it her flowing costumes? Is it because you feel Tori Amos is too serious? Is it because what this world needs is another mediocre songstress with average pipes making it safe for yuppies to get a little of their pop-goth on?

To give you an idea just how terrible this band is, I present to you the evidence below. If The Weeknd can't make a song better than there's obviously something rotten at the foundation. And a funny aside, this MP3 is sanctioned by the band yet it's not of the actual song but of a radio rip (witness the DJ's dulcet tones just before the end).

MP3: Florence + the Machine "Shake it Out (The Weeknd Remix)"

Monday, October 31, 2011

Posting about the lack of time to post today.

Some days it's just too busy for you to even spare a thought outside the arena of what is demanding your attentions in order to survive (job, relationship, Brian Williams news magazine debut) so I regret to inform you that while I maintain my habit of posting every single weekday, this particular weekday's entry is more apology than revelation.

Also, the new Google Reader layout blows. Never mind that I really dislike the blanket dismissal of a community I've grown to love and depend on for excellent content sharing, the layout is just butt-ugly. Maybe they're working through some formatting issues, but as it stands it's a really unpleasant reading experience. If I quit it'll be the general UX and not the removal of the GReader community that drives me away.

Oh, I guess I snuck in a substantive thought after all. Huh.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My relay isn't jammed, it never existed.

I am, and have always been, a reasonably decent athlete. I've played almost every sport an average guy could play. I know how rules work.

This may come as a surprise to many, especially since I am not into any sport. And doubly as a surprise to students at either high school attended since I pulled the nifty feat of getting two football teams half a nation apart both want my head on a pike in front of the school.* But I grew up in the '70s and '80s and collected baseball cards and played football and did everything I could do to fit in because that's what a guy growing up in the '70s and '80s did. I wet to the library to watch video tapes on monstrous old video tape players rehashing both the NFL's greatest moments and hilarious bloopers. I attended baseball games and waited outside the park to get players' autographs, back in the day when you could still get a players' autograph by waiting by the exit. I played motherfucking lacrosse (though this was the one sport I encountered I had no natural acumen for).

So you can't blame me for not trying to like sports.

Honestly I wish I did. I feel incredibly left out since sports is the connective thread that allows so many folks to socialize using a common language that's driven by passion. I can talk the talk but it's obvious within a few seconds that I absolutely don't care and I become ostracized. When I'm in a bar and a room grows electric with tension just before an amazing play I feel that electricity, but it's kind of as if I'm holding a live wire within a heavily insulated glove. The buzz is not immediate and doesn't penetrate into me like it does everything else.

But last night, through a conduit, I got a taste of what you all must experience. GalPal offered me a window to see into the interior world of a true sports fan, and the only reason I could even make sense of it is because I love her and what makes her happy makes me happy, and what makes her sad makes me sad, and what she wants I want for her. And she wants the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. And last night the team gave such an amazing performance at the last second it sort of blew open my own fuse box long enough for me to feel an iota of what GalPal was feeling. And it was pretty amazing.

So I get why you all like sports. I still can't rationalize it, and it will never have the effect on me that it does on 99.99% of the population and, admittedly, I'm a little sad about that since it seems like such an easy and immediate rush that' available to so many people day after day. I'll try and hold onto and remember this experience in a real way, and by writing it down I hope it will trigger that memory in the future, but the electricity is already dimming and what I thought was so crystalline last night ha already faded into a blur. And I'm even more certain that I just wasn't wired to get into sports. And I feel a little cheated by that. Even more so now.

*Freshman year, in Maryland, I don't even remember what set it off but I spent the good portion of the semester running from the football team to avoid getting the crap beat out of me. It's hazy but it might have been one of those Dazed And Confused situations where, had i just let them catch me at the outset, I would've passed the hazing phase and been accepted. But at the time I just didn't want to get my head stuck in a toilet. Also, I was the weirdest kid in school so I have a hard time believing the hazing would've ended. The second instance, when I was a senior in Illinois, was triggered by what I thought was a satirical take on football but was received as if I had burned a flag while beating a baby seal to death. The day the paper came out classes literally began with teachers talking about how fucking evil I was. To this day I don't totally get it but in hindsight I realized the editorial staff of the paper knew exactly what was going to happen and were willing to put my neck on the line to get students "talkin' about the school paper!"

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are you ready for some "Sweet Salvation?"

Photo & Visual Direction by Matt Bologna and Jesse Mann
I wrote about The Stepkids in general here a while ago and reviewed their debut yesterday, but if you missed both of those (or if I've already convinced you to check 'em out and you dug 'em) you are in for a real treat! I like the trio's album but after seeing them live felt it lacked a little of the oomph they bring to a room when they're on stage. Luckily one of their CMJ shows this year was recorded and it sounds TERRIFIC.

If you dig '60 soul / funk / psych / pop / groove / kitchen sink / awesome harmonies / falsetto then download the below EP (which is basically their whole album performed live plus one awesome new tune) RIGHT NOW.

I know, I know. When am I this overly effusive? Shouldn't that be enough reason to check it out? It's free!

DOWNLOAD: The Stepkids - The Stepkids Live At Rubber Tracks

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Feline similarities.

It's funny how much like our pets we can be. One of my favorite quotes from GalPal was when she summed up my cat perfectly by saying "Pickle wants to love, she just doesn't know how."

I'll let you take from that what you will.

Ha! No, I'm not leaving that there. I know how to love! Jeez, how emo did you think I was gonna be there?! However I like to equate Pickle's difficulty with showing her love in a way other than swiping at your nose with her paw full of razorblades with my own in still trying to figure out how to "fit in" in average social situations. When I was younger I struggled with what I considered normal or mainstream social situations. I judged people, as only a self-centered snob could. But as I've gotten older I've grown to discover I actually do like people. And I have for quite a while. This must be another positive side effect of that whole maturity thing, huh?

Add to that the fact that I've spent many, many years surrounded by folks who are all vying to be the center of attention so that's certainly honed my sharp wit and conversational ability but it's also dulled my ability to just chill out with folks.

And now I'm getting older, and most folks, honestly, just want to "chill out," and while I've certainly learned the art of conversation I am much, much less fluent in the language of small talk. Isn't there a book or something out there that can help me out? Should I just Google that?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

There's a right way and a wrong way to do something, so let's allow the former to correct the latter.

I had the misfortune of hearing the latest William Shatner album and it spreads snippets of the song below amongst its (what feels like 1,860) tracks. So let's clear my aural palate while tickling my and your ocular intake.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Halloween is exactly one week away but the costume parties already began over the last weekend. I know the holiday is basically the "adult sexy Christmas at this point," and I enjoy it and all, but stretching it out to over a week seems excessive, no?

However, since 'tis the season to be spooky peep this photo I took over the weekend. Boo!

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Rally Squirrel.

So, in case you didn't know, GalPal is St. Louis born and bred. She bleeds Cardinal blood. I have no idea how I ended up dating such a sports fan (or how she puts up with me) but hoo boy does she love her home team. Right down to wearing Cards underwear when she thinks they might need an extra boost.

So because of her I'm obviously paying attention to the MLB right now. i even went to a playoff game in STL (that's St. Lois to those of you not in the know of that region's gegraphical shorthand) last weekend. And it's because of her I have learned of THE RALLY SQUIRREL.

Cards fans are nuts (seriously, I just typed that and meant no pun bit there it is) for this squirrel. So much so I serioulsy thought it was some time honored tradition. But it's not! It's ike three weeks old! A squirrel ran onto the field and since then the cards have done well so everyone is giving this squirrel all the credit! Not the batters. Not the pitchers. Not the seemingly inexhaustible bullpen (see, I don't watch sports, I don't like sports, but I have to admit I do know how they all work and am more than familiar with 97% of sports terminology though I will NEVER understand the American League's reliance on the wuss out position of the designated hitter). No, it's this squirrel. Which, if you ask for my vote on mascots, I'm gonna say a squirrel is pretty cute.

Here, however, is an example of someone who doesn't quite get the rally squirrel.

And here is someone in Busch Stadium wearing a t-shirt with a picture of his teammate on it, thus totaly fucking up that whole "you don't wear a band's t-shirt to the show" rule. Oh, and hey offer some background to at least help explain the point La Russa (the unsmiling gentleman in the video above) is trying to make:

And there you have it. The rally squirrel. And now, for the first time ever in print in this space, please peep the following:


Thursday, October 20, 2011


Fripp's guitar line in this song remains (and may possibly never be unseated) one of the most unwittingly epic sounds ever layered onto a pop record.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Oh, the early '90s...

I am not gonna lie, I owned EMF's debut on cassette AND compact disc (once I could afford one of those fancy newfangled CD players). Any time I want to delude myself into thinking I was cool for wearing big jeans and stripe-y, baggy shirts with hoods all I have to do is take a gander at this.

E. Ecstacy. M. Motherfucker, motherfucker. F. From Us to you. Indeed.

FUN FACT: The band's website, est. 1996, is actually kept up to date?!

[via The Subversive Sounds]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


So I have shared this in various other online outposts, but I'm also sharing it with you here on the off chance you haven't seen it yet. Last night I was taking a picture of Pickle the Kitten because she was looking exceptionally cute. When I framed the photo she was the only one in it. Once I snapped the shot and looked at the result, this is what I saw...

Tell me that's not awesome. Way to go, Betty the Beagle!

Monday, October 17, 2011


We have no agenda today as we wind our way north through Illinois on our way home, so here's what we saw on our first random detour...

Friday, October 14, 2011

Mister sports!

Let's see, this weekend I'm attending a Major League Baseball playoff game AND a college homecoming football game (including tailgating)! I predict this will be similar to what astronauts will eventually feel like upon encountering their first alien life forms. But who, in that analogy, will be the alien life form this weekend?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Slow start.

Since GalPal and I don't work tomorrow I kinda expected to be at a show or something by now, but since the Cards (her hometown team) lost tonight she went straight to bed and, thus far, the below is as nutso crazy as I've gotten. Blerg.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My friends all love this band, see...

Photo by PhotographicKris
 Judging by the various social media channels my friends use it would appear almost everyone I know is either at the Portishead show tonight or really wishes they were at the Portishead show tonight (and two friends are apparently at some private Weezer show here in Chicago I knew nothing about (what?!)).

So I get that Portishead never tours and that they have no problem making fans wait near Chinese Democracy lengths of time between releasing new music and both those things have created a mystique around the duo.And I dig their music and respect that in that whole "trip hop" thing they were at least the most consistent when it came to output (though I still think Tricky's highs beat Portishead's for sheer ambition though his output is far more uneven). But judging by the near orgiastic responses I've gotten in even casual conversation about Portishead since it was announced the band would not only be touring but had deigned to include Chicago as one of its stops I am missing some basic chemical in my brain necessary to trigger off the mixture of adulation and spiritual awe that has my friends in its grip.

So I hope y'all enjoyed the show but stop asking me if I'm jealous / bummed that I missed it because -- to be absolutely honest -- I probably would have been really, really bored. I'm sure they were awesome, but that's under the domain of individual experience and I simply don't think I'm wired to appreciate Portishead as a superfan.

Then again, what do I know? I'm the guy who got all teary-eyed watching Weezer play last Sunday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When a network trieds to get you to tone it down, THIS is how you should start a season.

I was just reading a nice little piece about Parks & Recreation's recent sad mainstreaming and at the end it contrasted it with the end result of a (possibly) similar request from the network to Community's showrunner to also try and make things a little more, um, accesible. So I present to you the season three opening , wherein Community says "fuck you" to NBC.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Rocktober. In full effect.

If I survive this weekend it'll be a miracle. Wish me luck!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Conan O'Fallon? Jimmy O'Brien

The absolute best bit is when Conan O'Brien says hi to "Max." Dig it.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Did you know every college has a party street?

I was in Tucson last week, getting directions from one big box retail store to another big box retail store in order to pick up some last minute gear I needed for a video shoot, and I realized that familiarity can breed a certain kind of blindness. The clerk helping me could not for the life of him remember the names of the streets I needed to take and ended up having to stand next to me and draw out the map of the right while verbally describing the route. And I'll tell you, he was dead on and as I drove through the stretches and turns laid out for me on that piece of paper I could almost feel the clerk's muscle memory deep within my tissues helping me to follow the route as if I'd driven it for years.

It made me think though. If the story that clerk told me -- the directions -- was so realistic and compelling when he was simply sketching it out and narrating it as best he could, how much more powerful and precise could it have been if he'd drawn me a detailed map outlining each and every minute step on that piece of paper? My guess? Maybe not as powerful. His words filled in the picture, so the storytelling was there, so he didn't have to waste my time or distract me with a complicated visual. I wish more people that put PowerPoint presentations together would learn that simple lesson.

Tell me a great story, pare down the distractions while doing so, and your point will be indelibly made.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

It's all in how you interpret it.

My uncle got this hand carved out of wood during his travels as a merchant marine. When he bought it from a local vendor in a far off locale they assured him that the gesture being displayed was how people wished each other good luck in their particular culture.

To this day I don't know if that's true. Was some dude having fun at my uncle's expense? Maybe. Does this particular little wood carving actually mean "good luck?" Possibly. Above, is Pickle the Kitten wishing me luck? I highly doubt it!

Monday, October 03, 2011


Three shows just this week and I've already turned down invites to two more. Part of me is STOKED, and part of me is SUPER tuckered. Spoof mich going on...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Brief respite.

This trip has kept all of us SUPER busy, but at least we've had a few seconds here and there to briefly appreciate something pretty.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's a dry heat.

I'm in Tucson for work and palm trees abound. They always remind me of my south Texas childhood. Oddly, the terrain here -- palm trees, mountains, lots and lots of space -- also reminds me of mainland China outside of Hong Kong. Go figure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Talkin' bout the tunes of today.

I reviewed the new Wilco album today and mostly dig it. I also reviewed the latest disc from The Rapture ahead of their show tomorrow night at Metro. Incidentally this is a show I've been looking forward to because if the band can harness even half of the jubilance they stuffed onto their new album the show should be an out-and-out dance party to remember.

Just remembered the Foo Fighters are backing Roger Waters on Jimmy Fallon tonight too. I wonder what they'll play?

UPDATE: Wow, Foos + Waters played "In The Flesh!" I was honestly expecting "Have A Cigar," but I'll settle for this, no problem! Also, I bet Dave Grohl was happy to do something NOT related to a certain anniversary being celebrated by his old band.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Unexpected pleasures abound!

Photo of The Stepkids by by Jesse Mann and Matthew Bologna

Twice this weekend I was reminded why it's important to get to shows early; it's one of the best ways to discover new music! On Friday I discovered I really liked this group call The Noise FM (think DFA1979 but catchier) and immediately bought both their CDs. They're local so I'll write about them further at a later point.

Last night I went to Lincoln Hall to catch The Horrors (who ended up being kind of hollow and disappointing despite just releasing one of the better albums of this year) and was shocked by how good the opening band The Stepkids was. They were simple guitar / bass / drums and all three shared vocal duties. The music was super classic rock psych with a healthy dose of soul thrown in there. It's kind of hard to describe without it coming off a cliche, an even more so when I tell you the band wore all white and performed with trippy visuals and light show projected over them, but believe me when I say it was vibrant and fresh and new despite sounding like the '60s exploded onto the stage. I wish The Horrors had opened for them because then I would have left the show in a much better mood.

The Stepkids debut album is out tomorrow but you can buy it today. It seems well worth it!

Here are two tunes from the band to whet your appetite. Dig it and tell me what you think!

MP3: The Stepkids "Shadows On Behalf"
MP3: The Stepkids “Legend In My Own Mind”

Friday, September 23, 2011

Group sing-along.

I shared my own thoughts on R.E.M. finally leaving the stage for good the other day. But when I saw this yesterday I realized it summed up just how terrific a band they were in a way words could never do justice.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Breaking Bad gab.

Jesse Pinkman season 2 vs. season 4. What a change! [via Hell Yeah Aaron Paul]
 If you haven't started watching Breaking Bad yet, why not?!* I've been watching it since episode number and GalPal joined in very soon after that. It's one the, if not THE, best show on television right now. Even better than Mad Men, I kid you not (though many are now screaming, "Blasphemy!").


If you are already a fan, the show's leads recently gave two great interviews you should snag ASAP. Aaron Paul** sat down with Fresh Air (with a brief bonus chat with show creator Vince Gilligan at the end) to chat about his personal background and the development of the character of Jesse Pinkman. And Brian Cranston sat down with The Nerdist to talk about his career, his humble approach to acting, Walter White and ... Brain Cranston's Dick Grapes™.

IN OTHER NEWS: The Flaming Lips' six-hour song is out. Give it a listen. That should help most of your workday move along, right?

*The irony here is that I have never watched The Wire, which usually elicits exactly the same response from friends who are fans of that show. I will watch The Wire sometime, I promise!
**Who I've now played kickball with two years in a row and seems to be a really nice fellow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Things I recently learned...

I was out of town for a really beautiful wedding and between that and my return to the lovely city that is Chicago, I learned some rather interesting facts over the last few days.
  • People, despite Mad Men's popularity, still think a copywriter just sits around writing words. We come up with concepts too, people. Our job is so much more than simply creating copy to fit in a given design space.
  • I still have the capability to act like a petulant 22-year-old.
  • Certain Illinois wineries are basically tasting rooms with a vineyard nowhere nearby.
  • Despite the previous observation, sometimes it's just good to get out of town, even if for just an afternoon.
  • Everyone hates every design change Facebook ever makes ... for three days or so before they just get used to it and stop grousing. SEE ALSO: Apple's method of dealing with criticism.
  • When at a sushi restaurant if you order a roll with only crab and that you're willing to pay extra and they respond with "All crab? That's actually cheaper!" then you're probably about to get something that looks nothing like a roll with nothing but crab, seaweed and rice.
  • I really want every single CD involved in the masive Pink Floyd re-issue campaign, thus proving I am indeed an old man since such physical packages can still get my muth watering as I try to justify spending close to a grand on a coupe CDs. Of course I can't afford it but that doesn't make me want it any less.
  • R.E.M. broke up.
Thus endeth today's lesson.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Keeping up with the Tankboys...

Hi all, if you just can't get enough of me here, don't forget you can keep up with me all over the place!
I'm active in other "social media spaces" as well, but these are probably the most interesting options for 99.9% of you. Where else can I follow you?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Getting back to nature, in the big city.

Today was a day to recharge so I dropped by Garfield Park Conservatory to take in some of its rejuvenating powers (while spending some cash to help rejuvenate the old girl herself).