the best of 08 the music edition

Well, here it is. What everyone has been on the edge of their seats waiting for, my top eight music picks for Ought 8. I was surprised by how many sophomore albums ended up on my list, 'cause usually the second albums out tend to suck it. I also had a pretty tough time narrowing it down to only eight—there were a lot of great albums that came out this year.

8) Port O'Brien | All We Could Do Was Sing: And sing really, really well. Continuing in the tradition of their debut, this Bay Area band sings whale songs and modern day sea shanties while rocking it pretty hard. The lead singer, Van Pierszalowski, spends every summer working on his dad's fishing boat in Alaska and so the ocean has had a big influence on his music. You can hear it in every warble, strum and hand clap this quartet produces. And it makes you want to sing along.

7) Right Away Great Captain | The Eventually Home:
I discovered this guy's debut album, The Bitter End, about a month before he put out his sophomore effort and had a hard time choosing which of the two I thought was better. Eventually I settled on this one because it was a little less, well, bitter than the first which was all about a break up from a former lover. In this side project, the lead singer from Manchester Orchestra, Andy Hull, brings a stripped down, mellower sound with beautiful lyrics and a melancholy aesthetic.

6) Carolina Chocolate Drops | Dona Got a Ramblin' Mind:
There's a lot that can be said about this debut from this trio from North Carolina. And 'meh' is not one of them. For this album is awesome. Awesome in that banjo pickin', harmonica playin', blues singin' way that music from the Appalachian states is awesome. These kids are young too, in their late teens and early 20s, but sound like they lived during the Great Depression. Some of that may be due to the one old guy in their midst, Sule Greg Wilson. Wilson, 'A dancer, multi-percussionist, string player and author who learned to play the bones on his daddy’s knee, Wilson first picked up a banjo in the early 1980s.' *

5) Frightened Rabbit | Midnight Organ Fight:
Straight up rock from some dudes in Scotland. This album, in my opinion, far surpassed their debut, The Greys. Plus, did I mention they're from Scotland? And therefore have Scottish accents? Enough said.

4) Wolf Parade | At Mount Zoomer: Fans of Spencer Krug and Co. waited a long time and two Sunset Rubdown (his side project which was apparently more important over the past few years than his main project) albums to finally, finally get Wolf Parade's sophomore effort. And I, for one, found it well worth the wait. This album rocked. Full of epic songs, this is one of the few albums produced in the last few years that is meant to be listened to in its entirety. It's no wonder these kids from Montreal are indie rocks new kings.

3) The Rural Alberta Advantage | Homelands: Another Canadian band brings the sounds of the windswept lands caught between the Great Lakes and the Rocky Mountains that give TRAA a seat at the table with bands like Neutral Milk Hotel.

2) Elliott Brood | Mountain Meadows: There's no one in this trio named Elliott, Brood, or Elliott Brood, but somehow the name conjures up everything their music sounds like. Somebody else said it and I agree, country music is still alive and well, it's just coming from Canada these days. This album is a follow up to their debut, Ambassador, and is surprisingly another rare exception to the sophomore album rule. For this one is way more outstanding than their first.

1) Bon Iver | For Emma, Forever Ago: If you've talked to me about music at all this year, then my number one pick for the year won't come as any surprise. No other album even came close to Justin Vernon's homage to Wisconsin winters and broken hearts. Never has one man's experience of love lost so touched just about every part of my soul.

Honorable Mentions go out to: Blitzen Trapper | Furr, Thao | We Brave Bee Stings and All, Centromatic and South San Gabriel | Dual Hawks, Fleet Foxes | Fleet Foxes and The Uglysuit | The Uglysuit

* from their website

in which we bake cookies and don't burn down the house

A decided that he wanted to give people cookies for Christmas and since he doesn't have a kitchen, he decided that he would kidnap mine and use it for what God originally intended kitchens are used for—baking.

After going round and round about what kind to try to make (there are a TON of cookie recipes out there people), I finally convinced him that since neither one of us were bakers, we needed to keep it simple. So, we landed on chocolate chip and rum balls. But they ended up being bourbon balls because I didn't have any rum. Nor did I want any.

I was really expecting unmitigated disaster and maybe a small fire or two, but we ended up with fairly edible cookies and did not cause the oven to explode without even having to break out the fire extinguisher. I was honestly surprised by how easy it was. But don't think this means I'm gonna suddenly become a baker or anything, ok?


the best of 08 - the movie edition

I didn't find very much out of Hollywood this year to be all that worthy of my time or money, but there were a few that I enjoyed quite a bit. Again, some of these may not have come out in '08, but that's when I discovered them, so that's when they count.

8. Burn After Reading | The Cohen Brothers: These guys can do no wrong. Everything they do is at the worst mildly entertaining, and at the best provides a pretty fantastic movie-going experience. Continuing with their theme of comic, bumbling criminals who should've just left well enough alone, Burn After Reading deals with the needs of one aging woman who will do anything to get the plastic surgery she wants in order to keep bringing the men to her doorstep. I usually don't laugh out loud at movies but this one had me almost in tears. Despite the mild bits of overacting by Clooney and Pitt, the rest of the cast was outstanding.

7. Iron Man | Jon Favreau: I'm kind of a sucker for comic-book-turned-into-motion-picture movies, and my bar is pretty low on what I think makes a good one. However, I would have to say that this has to be one of the best of the bunch. The set-up was a little overly long, but they didn't stray too far from the original story line and Robert Downey, Jr was fantastic as millionaire playboy turned savior of the world. He had the perfect mixture of charm and sleaziness in portraying a man whose motivations were originally based on money, but became solely based on redemption.

6. There Will be Blood | Paul Thomas Anderson: Anderson has a lot of stellar movies on his CV, Magnolia, Boogie Nights, Punch Drunk Love, but this one knocks him out of the ballpark by a long shot. Daniel Day Lewis performs perfectly as a man who uses the appearance of having a strong religious faith in order to make his fortune and ends up killing the one man who could've possibly saved him from himself. It's also a pretty excellent documentary on the Dust Bowl era and the struggles of a nation to save itself from destruction.

5. The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford | Andrew Dominik: This movie was simply breathtaking. Beautifully shot and directed, it brought to life the inner workings of one of the most brilliant criminal gangs in American history and the man who ended it for all time. Even at such a young age, Casey Affleck has to be one of the best actors on the planet. Here, he does a stunning performance of sycophant turned destroyer. The only thing that ruined it for me, just a little, was the always annoying Brad Pitt.

4. Gone Baby Gone | Ben Affleck: Surprisingly, Ben Affleck is a great director. Better than he is in front of the camera anyway. He does a stellar job with this gripping tale of a low life, drug dealing mother trying to find her kidnapped child. And Casey Affleck gives another great performance as the private director struggling to find the truth amid the people of his hometown neighborhood who curse him for making their problems public.

3. Persepolis | Marjane Satrapi: The autobiographical graphic novel that this movie was based on deals with one woman's childhood in 1970's Iran, the revolution that occurred then and the havoc it wreaked in everyone's lives. Somehow the less-than-sophisticated, black and white drawing style gives the perfect voice to Satrapi's irreverent sense of humor in chronicling her country's struggles with a very horrific ordeal. It's a heartbreaking and touching story that leaves you with a strong belief in the ability for humans to not only endure, but overcome. And it translated surprisingly well to the big screen.

2. Wristcutters, A Love Story | Goran Dukic: In this strange, magical tale, people who commit suicide end up in a sort of way station (or purgatory if you lean that way) where they suffer through lives much like the ones they tried to escape on Earth. They have jobs, shitty apartments and toll through the boring days trying to survive the crushing loneliness. One kid refuses to take it lying down and goes on a quest to find the woman he loved (who's dumping him for another guy caused him to kill himself in the first place) when he learns from a recent immigrant that she might have committed suicide shortly after he did. Gorgeous and brilliant.

1. The Dark Knight | Christopher Nolan: In the history of Hollywood, it's a well-known fact that the sequel is rarely anywhere near as good as the debut—the first trio of Batman movies is a concrete testament to this fact—but The Dark Knight is a rare exception to the rule where not only is the follow-up as good, it far outshines it. This is due in large part to an excellent script that pulls no punches and offers lots of fast-paced, exploding action, but, if we're being honest, most of the credit should go to Heath Ledger's awe-inspiring performance as psycho criminal, The Joker. Usually, there is a strong willing suspension of disbelief that is necessary in order to watch the make-believe comic book worlds come to life on the big screen, but that was not the case here. Nolan and Ledger made it entirely believable that a man would go crazy and try to destroy the world. Maybe that's one of the after effects of 9/11 (that we can believe more easily terrorist actions on American soil), or maybe it was just a really well-told story, whichever, together the two made this an awesome movie-going experience.

Honorable mentions:
Rocket Science, Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, 3:10 to Yuma, The Darjeeling Limited and Howl's Moving Castle


it's that f@&king cold

One of the cans of Coke I had in the garage got so cold it exploded through the package and burst its top. I'd heard of this happening, but have never witnessed it. I'm just glad that no one died because of my addiction.


the best of ought eight - the words edition

It's that time of year again when everyone and their dog starts compiling their year-end best-of lists. Since I hate to be left out of the fun, I've decided to do the same. This year, I'm doing the top eight in three different categories, books, movies and music. Some of the chosen ones may have been published/produced/released in years other than '08, but since this is the year I happened to find them, this is when they get counted. I know, it's very solipsistic of me. Deal.

First up are the top 8 books that I read this year. See if you can figure out was unwittingly a theme.

Best Books of 08

8. Freakangels | Warren Ellis:
I'm a huge fan of the graphic novel (or comic book if you must), especially well written and well drawn ones. I'm also a huge fan of Warren Ellis. He's a brilliant man. In this series, he tells the story of 12 kids who were born at the exact same time on the exact same date and possess uncanny abilities that the rest of the human race don't. When the kids were 17 they got together and ended the world in some way not yet explained, and now they're trying to make good.

7. Ender's Game | Orson Scott Card: This series has been out for a very long time and for some reason, despite its popularity, I completely missed it. In a world where people have to petition the government to have a third child, the human race finds itself fighting an alien race for its very survival. Will it find salvation in a twelve-year-old boy who was born a Third?

6. World War Z | Max Brooks: Zombies! I love me some zombies. Mr Brooks uses a journalistic documentary approach to tell the story of the last war (hopefully) that humans will ever fight. Against zombies. It's much more brilliant than it sounds. Well written and highly imaginative.

5. The Hours | Michael Cunningham: I had to wait a long, long time before I read this book so that the movie would vacate my brain. Not that I didn't like the movie, because I did, very much, but I wanted to make sure my brain could be as untainted as it possibly could be. I'm happy with my decision as I think I fell in love with the characters reading this as I did watching it.

4. The Pesthouse | Jim Crace: In an America that is slowly dying from some unexplained disease, its citizens have reverted back to the ways of simpler times as the knowledge of technological things has also disappeared they are left to fend to themselves without the benefit of hospitals, computers, cars or even super markets. Rumors have spread far and wide about life being better in Europe so many of the people undertake the arduous journey to the east coast to buy passage on one of the many fabled ships arriving every spring. This is the story of two such travelers who meet on the road, fall in love and try to make a stand together.

3. The Yiddish Policeman's Union | Michael Chabon: In a fictional America of the not-so-distant-past, the Jewish citizens have been exiled to The Last Frontier where they have established an uneasy peace with the natives of that land. On the surface, this is a story of one tired, lonely, alcoholic police detective who is just trying to solve a murder of one of the community's most famous denizens. Beneath that are political, socio-economic, religous undertones that give this tale a very biting edge.

2. A Thousand Splendid Suns | Khaled Hosseini: Hosseini shines again in this follow-up to his brilliant debut, The Kite Runner. Here he continues his history of his homeland, Afghanistan, but this time it's through the eyes of two very disparate women who come to find their lives and fates entertwined. It was terrifying and hopeful, heartbreaking and joyful all at the same time. He has a way of showing the basest of human beings and their horrible actions against members of their own species and shining a light so brightly through their victims that it makes you almost willing to forgive everything we've ever done to each other.

1. The Whole World Over | Julia Glass:
Glass is one of those rare authors who can make the lives of ordinary people seem somehow extraordinary and beautiful. In this go-round she once again details the lives of a New York family and their struggles to co-exist through life's ordinary trials as well as its extraordinary ones.

Honorable mention shout outs go to:

Complete Stories | Flannery O'Connor
Man Gone Down | Michael Thomas
Daughters of the North | Sarah Hall


the baby jesus is weeping

This is what it looks like when Christmas suffers from a terrible, debilitating case of morning sickness.

In other news I supported the economy today. Old Navy, Target and the art supply store.

And, there may be evidence that life on other planets is possible. Because of sugar no less.


teal gallery opening

Ann and Dylan drove all the way up to Breckenridge from Santa Fe on Friday to help me celebrate the first ever gallery opening where some of my art work was being featured.

This was a VIP pre-opening where only the artists and special guests were invited to come see the new space, so not everything was quite...finished. As you can see, my paintings were still sitting on the floor. But that's ok. The gallery is pretty great, located on highly visible Main Street and has a really nice, open layout. The official opening is on the 20th, so I might go back up and see if things got put in their proper places.

The other good thing to see is that the owner has a really good eye for what makes good art. There wasn't really an uninteresting piece in the bunch and she's also chosen a wide variety of styles that should appeal to a pretty diverse crowd.

We only stayed for about an hour and a half before we were all ready to escape the need to engage in small talk with a bunch of people we didn't know, nor were really all that interested in meeting. I really suck at parties and small talk situations so I was extra glad to have Ann and Dylan along, otherwise I would've just stood in a corner, shivering with fear.

It was really great of my two friends to make such a long trek for just me. I can't say how much that meant.

Thanks to Dylan also for bringing his camera along as I left mine in the car. Without it, there'd be no actual photographic evidence. Other pics are up here.


schuba's chicago il 11 28 08

I cheated a little bit this week and used a picture that I took while on T-giving break in Chicago. Forgive me, it's cold here in northern Colorado. I used a pencil this time and my camera is refusing to take a clear pic, but other than those minor issues...


As you can see from the pic, I love to read. I would typically rather buy a book than check it out from the library, mostly because if it's any good there are pretty good odds that I'm going to want to read it again and again. I've lost count of how many times I've read The Lord of the Rings since my dad first gave it to me 26 years ago and most of the other books on my shelves I've read at least twice if not more. Occasionally, I get a book that I just don't really care for and I never really know what to do with it. I absolutely refuse to throw a book away, I don't care how much I hate it. Donating it to the library is always a pretty good option if it's still in good shape, but I can be pretty hard on books as I tend to carry them with me wherever I go until I'm done with them. Lately, I've had a really bad track record at picking good reads and so I've stopped buying new ones, figuring I should stop wasting money. Then, a few months ago, I discovered BookMooch, an online service where users trade books by mail, which allows you to get rid of books you don't want to keep and get ones that hopefully you might. At any rate, I almost never leave the house without a book in tow and I'll never really be able to understand people who say they don't like to read.

This is all a really long intro to say that Kate tagged me with a meme today and I figured I'd better get on it before I completely forget to do it. I copied her idea for a photo also (sorry Kate, I'm feeling wholly unoriginal today).

Here are the rules:
Go to your nearest bookshelf. On the top shelf (or highest shelf with books) what book is fifth from the right and why did you love it? Now go to the bottom shelf (or lowest shelf with books). Tell us about the fifth book from the left.

1. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close | Jonathan Safran Foer
This is one of the first books that I read that dealt with the aftermath of the tragedies of 9/11 in a way that wasn't cheesy or fraught with overdone emotions. This is also the only book in my memory that I've ever read once and then went straight back to the first page and read it again. It sounds really trite to say, but this book made me laugh and it made me cry and I honestly loved every second of it. Foer has a way with words and the ability to tell a story unlike anyone else on the planet. Truly life changing.

2. Kansas Impressions, Photographs and Words | Wes Lyle and James Fisher
A friend found this at a flea market and gave it to me as a parting gift when I left home. Published in 1972, it contains a plethora of great black and white shots of Kansas in all of its glory. Whenever I'm feeling particularly homesick for the wide open spaces of the Great Plains, I crack open this book and let it soothe me. Most people find it hard to believe that I could ever miss one of the flyover states, but it's true, I miss it greatly and often.

As part of the whole meme thing, you're supposed to tag others to do the same thing, but I'm not so good at following the rules, so if you read this and want to play along, feel free.


becoming sasquatch

In response to some minimal pressure from M5K, I've decided to start Winter Beard '08. I've also started a new blog that will chart the growth in all of its splendor and glory.

Come. Join in on the fun. Beginning Dec 7th. The day that lives in infamy. For many reasons.


the rest of chicago

After gorging ourselves silly on Bird Day, we decided it would be a good idea to get out, walk some, and see some of the things that Chicago has to offer. Whenever I head to a big city, I always feel like I should make it a point to do something cultural, since there's not a ton of that in my small town. To scratch my itch, T and E agreed to go visit the Museum of Contemporary Art since none of us were feeling up to tackling the Art Institute.

The thing I always love about contemporary art museums is you never really know whether you're gonna be crushed by the most disappointing, idiotic exhibits you've ever seen in your life, or shocked and amazed by the genius that some people are able to express through myriad art mediums. Thankfully, we got some of both at the Chicago MCA. There was one room full of duct taped walls that was amazingly dumb and I didn't really care for the main exhibit that used enlarged autopsy reports from the Iraq war silkscreened on canvas to make some comment about the atrocity of violence (I guess). But thankfully, there were plenty of good exhibits to make up for the few bad ones. One guy, who was born deaf, kept the scraps of paper that he used to communicate with people and arranged them in displays that became more and more interesting as you read the notes. Another woman used cut paper silhouettes to explore the history of race in America and yet another woman built a pretty awesome sculpture out of string and other regular household items, like measuring tapes and styrofoam cups.

On Saturday, after a delicious b-fast in Andersonville, we spent the day on a wander, which was a perfect way to end the trip. We hit a comic book store where I spent way too much money, a record store where I spent a shocking not-one-single-cent, and tried to find a hipster t-shirt store, but didn't really succeed. One of my favorite local landmarks was landing at Schuba's for a late lunch. If you're at all even interested in the indie music scene, you've likely heard of Schuba's. It's a pretty famous Chicago venue where they record a lot of pretty great live shows. Sadly, T and I did not get to see anyone play because we were there too early, but it did look like a nice place to witness history in the making.

The travel gods were not as kind to me on the return trip as they were on the one out, but the plane didn't crash and I got home the same day I left so I guess I should count myself fortunate.

Now that Bird Day is over, it's time to hunker down and try to survive winter. Hopefully becoming a Nordic Ranger will help me not hate it so much. If anyone has any other ideas how to make it to spring, feel free to holler.

If you're on the list and you want to see my other pics, they're here. If you're not, and you want to, send me your handle and I'll get you added.


bird is the word

This year, C got a brand new carving set that was 100 times better than the hacksaw and table fork I used to carve last year's bird. This bird was just as delicious. As was the stuffing, green bean casserole, mashed Japanese sweet potatoes and zwiebach rolls that accompanied. Oh. And let's not forget the shortbread apple tart a la mode with homemade caramel topping that finished Gorgefest '08 off on the right note. Pair all of that with really good company and you have a Thanksgiving celebration worthy of American kings.

Usually, I absolutely refuse to celebrate Black Friday and its unabashed endorsement of Consumerism, but this year, I wouldn't mind acquiring a new digital camera. As you can see from the above that my current one takes really shitty indoor shots. And, I am in one of the largest cities in the country. Surely I can find a pretty good deal on one, right?

Hope everyone is surviving their Carb Comas.


the gods are smiling on me

The shuttle to the airport left 5 minutes early.

There was no one getting on at the third stop, so we left there ten minutes early.

We arrived at my terminal on time.

There was no one in the security line and I got through in ten minutes. Only getting stopped because I hadn't used the proper size of baggie for my liquids.

I always, always get stuck in a middle seat. It doesn't matter when I buy my ticket. It doesn't matter if I try to reserve an aisle seat online, they always switch me to a middle seat. They must know I'm kinda skinny and won't bitch too much about it. On a whim, I decided to see if they had any aisle seats available once I got to the gate. I'm sure you can guess what happened. And in an exit row no less. Ah. Extra leg room.

Here's hoping all this good luck doesn't cause the plane to explode half way to Chicago.

Happy Bird Day everyone.


urban sketchers

I recently ran across a pretty cool blog called Urban Sketchers where contributors sketch locations in the cities they live in and then post them. It has inspired me to do the same here in good ol' northern Colorado. Today, while out doing errands I stopped and had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants, La Luz, which is conveniently located right across the street from one of my favorite buildings in town, The Northern Hotel.

This is as far as I got before my food came. It's almost impossible for me to draw and eat at the same time. Even a burrito.

As you can see, I have a long way to go before I get good at sketching urbanly. Hopefully it's just a matter of practice. So, I'm gonna set the goal of once a week, heading out on my bike, picking a spot and sketching it.


my new theme song

If Neutral Milk Hotel and The Avett Brothers got really drunk one night and had sloppy, unforgettable sex, The Rural Alberta Advantage would be the result of that holy union.

The lead singer, Nils Edenloff sounds uncannily like Jeff Magnum and there're plenty of trumpets and violins to give TRAA at least a seat at the table of bands like NMH. But there's also a bluegrass-y, country-esque vibe that can only have come from the windswept prairies of the much forgotten Canadian Great Plains. You know that space between The Rockies and the Great Lakes that is rural no man's land.

After listening to this album roughly 2,000 times over the past week or so, I've decided that this song pretty much sums up my life. I mean, what if I am more satisfied when I'm alone? As an added bonus, it's got a pretty good beat.

Edmonton - The Rural Alberta Advantage

and i thought MY house was small

This month it's the International Space Station's 10th birthday. And, it's still not completely built. It's got two more years to go. Why is this important, you might ask? If we're ever gonna leave our solar system, this is where we're gonna learn how to do it. And, if we keep treating the Earth like we have been, we'll probably need to do that sooner than we thought. Happy birthday ISS. Don't explode.


some stuff happened this weekend. i guess.

1) A and I went to see 'The Changeling' on Friday night. All I have to say about it is the story was really interesting. Ok. That's not all. I also have to say—this movie totally sucked it. The writing was terrible. The acting was even worse. And the direction sucked it most of all. This was not the Eastwood of 'Million Dollar Baby'. I don't know what this was, but it was truly awful and an utter waste of time.

2) Saturday, A and I took a hike up Grey Rock. Every year since I moved to Colorado, I've gone up this mountain frequently. At least 4 times a year. Then, this year, for some reason that I still can't fathom, I didn't hike it once. So, it seemed like it was time. Sadly, I forgot to bring my camera with, so here's a picture I took last year on a trip that Ann and I took up old baldy. On weirdly almost the same date. It was cold and foggy then, but this weekend's trip was cool and sunny. A nice change.

Looking at all of my pictures from last year, I realized that back then R-dog was still hiking with. Now, she can barely make it through our daily treks through the open space near my house. That's sad-making y'all. At any rate, it was nice to see that Grey Rock hasn't changed any, even though I've neglected it this year.

3) Today I drove down to Westminster to attend Leadership 101, a course given by the Sierra Club that gets potential leaders ready to start leading hikes. It was pretty interesting and I got a free binder full of very detailed info on the matter that I should probably read at some point. Now I just need a mentor to follow me on a couple of hikes and then I'll be able to lead people to their deaths in Colorado's back country all by myself. You've been warned.

Now I'm doing laundry, surfing the web and trying really hard not to fall asleep. For I am exhausted.


the duke spirits

I know absolutely nothing about these guys, but doing a Google image search netted this really great photo of the lead singer really belting one out. I love how much emotion is apparent on her face. Not sure, yet, though if I should send this to Daytrotter. What do you think? Send it or redo it with one that's a little more friendly?


the nordic rangers

Last night, I went to an informational meeting on what it takes to be a volunteer Larimer County Nordic Ranger. Besides the fact that it took them an hour and a half to really tell us nothing more than what's on their website, it sounds like it's a pretty easy gig. Plus, you get to wear a really dorky armband. And maybe save someone's life.

hippie chick

Hippie Chick, 40 x 30

I finally finished one more painting for the gallery show that's coming up in two weeks. Yikes. I'm not sure how I feel about it though, so I may not give it to her.

Oh. And if you're interested, the gallery owner has a website up finally. You know, to show it's all for real. The actual design of the site is kinda terrible, but look! My stuff is on there!


fat meet spare tire

I just had a full-sized Twix® bar and It. Was. Awesome.



KU barely defeated UMKC on Sunday in their season opener. UMKC. UMF$#@KC, people. Maybe our low ranking in the AP polls is warranted. You will be hearing the words, 'It's a rebuilding year, kids, it's ok' coming out of my mouth a lot this season. I may just ignore this year altogether and watch videos of last year's games instead.


a couple of observations

1) It is impossible for me to work while shoveling peanut butter slathered crackers into my gaping maw.

2) Most of you won't care about this, but I have finally, finally returned to the climbing wall to boulder. Most of my scrapes and bruises from my bike accident finally healed about a week ago—now the only evidence of former bodily injury is pink, new baby skin.

I am mostly surprised that after a month's long absence from the Wall, I haven't lost many of the hard earned skills I've developed over the past year. I figured they'd just all evaporate with that long of an absence, but no. I worked on three fairly hard problems today and eventually made it up all of them. The only thing that has evaporated, from what I can tell, is my endurance—before my accident, I pretty much always lasted for about an hour and a half, but today I only lasted about 45 minutes. Hopefully my staying power will return in due time.


it's 1980!

I drove by a gas station today on my way home from the gym and prices were posted at $1.91 a gallon. 'Holy crap!' I thought. 'That's low.' Then my next thought was that if this continues, alternative energy is dead on the vine.


stats and stuff

I feel really discombobulated now that the election is over and I don't need to obsess about politics any longer. Luckily, the start of college basketball season is right around the corner, so I've been filling up all that lost time with a lot of start-of-the-year stats and worrying about who's gonna win the Big 12 Championship.

One thing I have to say is, there is NO WAY that KU deserves the 31 rank that the AP poll just gave us yesterday. 31!? We're the defending champs you a-holes. Sure, all of our starters are gone and the new line-up includes more freshmen than is probably advisable for a winning season, but c'mon. Not even in the top 25? Bah. We still have the same most awesomest coach in all the land that is Bill Self.

Oh, and I never really thought I'd see the day when Lute Olsen retired. I figured he'd find some way to coach from the grave. I hope it's not because he's sick with some terminal disease and more just that he's really sick of dealing with sweaty, obnoxious, punk-ass college kids.


a new dawn

I woke up this morning and as I lay there thinking about what happened last night, not unwelcome tears sprang into my eyes as I thought about what this means. Will everything immediately change for the better? No. As is evidenced by all of the anti-gay measures that passed in California, Florida, Arkansas and Arizona, we still have a long way to go before we as a nation start treating every citizen as equal human beings. But last night was a large step in the right direction. W's Reign of Idiocy is almost at an end. It's the hope that we can change that shines a blinding light on everything from now on. It's the faith in the American people that we can learn from our mistakes and correct our path that makes everything we struggle for worthwhile. It's the knowledge that as a country we aren't so stubborn and ignorant to recognize the best person for the job despite their unusual name and color of their skin that makes me truly believe that we are still a great nation and it's a blessing to live here, now.

And I'm thoroughly relieved that I don't have to move to New Zealand and become a shepherd.


my favorite things that happened tonight

10) Kay Hagan defeated Elizabeth Dole for one of North Carolina's Senate seats. That means that Jesse Helm's former seat is now owned by a Democrat. Eat it, Jesse Helms, you bigoted a-hole.

9) Coloradoans said no to Amendment 48. Handily.

8) Young people showed up in droves. Finally.

7) Women proved that they're smarter than John McCain gave them credit for. May we never hear from Sarah Palin again.

6) Obama won Montana. Thanks to my friend Laura Quirk who singlehandedly called every single person in the state to encourage them to vote. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but seriously, on Election Night, two hours before the polls were to close there, she was driving people to the voting booth.

5) The record number of people who showed up at the polls this year. Our votes affect not only our country but the rest of the world. It's great when we show the world that we care.

4) Markey defeated Musgrave!

3) I live in a blue state!

2) This story from The Daily Dish:

I voted here in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood about two hours ago. It took about an hour to get through the line, and while standing there I was chatting with the 75-year-old retired cop in front of me, and the young 30-something gay couple in front of him, who had their two little girls in tow.

Everyone was in good spirits as the conversation moved from the Obama-McCain contest to the farce that is Sarah Palin, and then on to non-political matters, like the road work being done on the next block. The conversation between the cop and the couple started to get animated toward the end of our hour in line as the three men began to discuss the current football season, wagering bets for this weekend's games and making predictions for the Super Bowl.

And then, as we entered the firehouse that doubled as our polling place, as the couple and their daughters stepped out of line and up to the table to receive their ballots, I observed the cop in front of me. He opened his sample ballot, took out his pen, scribbled out his "yes" vote on Proposition 8, and filled in the ballot line for "no."

I don't think he knew that I observed him. And since it was such a private moment I held back my tears of joy and my overwhelming desire to pat him on the back and say "thank you, sir." Instead, I left the polling place muttering to myself those two words you have repeated over and over during this election cycle, Andrew:



1) We just voted an African-American man into office, people. This changes everything. It changes how the world views us. It changes race relations in this country forever. It doesn't erase our tarnished past, but it sets us on the right path for a brilliant future. We just screamed at the top of our lungs to the universe that we're sick of fear and hate and tyranny. This changes the war on terror. This changes our economic woes. This changes our environmental policies. This changes our foreign policy. This. Changes. Ev.Ery.Thing.

I am speechless. Heart very full. In love with America.

an historic day

It's here. Finally. And, not surprisingly, I'm anxious. Will we take the path less traveled and fight for change and newly found hope? Or will we settle once again for the status quo—for fear and hate and anger? Will we, as Americans, finally let it be known that there is more to a person than the texture of their hair, the shape of their eyes or the color of their skin? Will we say, 'Yes we can,' or let the straight talk express grind our bones into the gritty, hot asphalt of conservative theocracy?

I love this country and I love everything we stand for. As much as I am ready for this election year to be finally done, I most definitely enjoyed the crazy ride along the way. Get out there and vote people. Let your voice be heard. Nothing else is as important today as deciding the future of our country.

Another awesome beginning happens today as well—KU faces the Washburn Ichabods in their first game of the 08-09 season. If you thought you were sick of me talking about politics, just wait until about February when you'll be really sick of me talking about basketball. You'll look back on this time with fondness. Happy Election Day everyone.


an observation

Daylight Savings Time is rough on the four-legged set. Meal times do not come when expected.

not politics

Another rock show poster for Daytrotter. This one for The Subjects. A Brooklyn band made up of two high school teachers and two of their students. Oddly for such young kids, they have an 80's pop sound to them.

if the republicans win

The Republicans are running the same kind of campaign that put W in office. One based on fear and secrecy and lies. Do we really want to continue four more years with the politics of Karl Rove? Can we really put into office a woman who has withheld her medical records and has yet to hold a press conference? Do we want a hate monger in office who flip flops on all of his positions depending on who he's talking to and what he thinks people want to hear? Aren't we all tired of this? Don't we want something new? A different era in politics is needed. If McCain wins, it means that we'll see the same negative campaign tactics in play for a long time to come. If Obama wins it means that every person who runs for office from here on out will have to play in a different, more positive way. Wouldn't that be nice?

Ok. I promise. No more talk of politics today. Just promise me that you'll get out and vote.

38 hours to go

And I really can't wait for this to be over. It's really encouraging to see that the number of people who took advantage of early voting outstrips the total number of votes in 2004 already. That means that people are fired up. And they care. So, if nothing else, this election got people out there to exercise their rights. I'm really hoping that this means that I won't have to move to New Zealand and become a shepherd.

I talked with a friend last night whose parents won't vote for Obama because they think he's a socialist. Really? And why would that be a bad thing even if he were? I think we might need some socialism in this country. But the older set is really afraid of the specter of communism and they equate socialism with communism. A socialist approach to our health care system is probably going to be necessary at some point, at least.

I have another friend whose boyfriend won't vote for Obama because he thinks that Obama doesn't support the 2nd Amendment. Which isn't true. Obama just doesn't think that automatic and semi-automatic weapons should be legal.

But people vote with their hearts much more than their brains and there's nothing you can really do to persuade people once they've made up their minds. And emotions are running high this year. It's just great to see that so many people are getting out there to vote. Can you imagine what it would be like if every single person who was eligible showed up at the polls tomorrow?

Just keep this in mind, at Obama rallies there are a lot of cheers and at the McCain rallies there are a lot of boos and name calling, which I think says a lot about the campaigns each candidate is running and what kind of administration they will run.

Tomorrow is going to be crazy.


only 7 more days to go

I'm still really stoked about Obama's rally yesterday. Mainly just by the fact that that many people came out to see him. It has renewed my faith in this country enough that, even if McCain wins, I'll know that, while the idiots are in charge, there are enough other sane people here to make it worthwhile.

For any of you out there who are still undecided or are considering voting for McCain, you might check out Andrew Sullivan's article on Why Conservatives Should Vote for Obama. It's as concise a list that I've seen as to why he will make an excellent leader of our nation.

I also saw this today on Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:
"All too aware that, should he win, these cascading crises will leave Obama with no time to gain his sea legs and terrifyingly little margin for error, he and his people, to a degree few realize, have been planning their transition from campaigning to governing for months with characteristic care and rigor. Like so much about Obama's historic bid for the presidency, the first few days and weeks and months will be like nothing we have seen before -- and all of it grounded in the insight that, mind-boggling as it might sound, winning was the easy part. These are Democrats they'll be dealing with, after all."
For some reason, I highly doubt that beyond measuring the drapes, McCain is already putting into place plans to lead this country. He's the same sort of cocky as George W Bush after all, and I'm sure he believes that all he has to do to run our government is sit his ass down behind the Oval Office desk and everything will be right as rain.


yay amuricka

On a chilly, autumn day in Fort Collins, Colorado, thousands (and I mean thousands) of folks turned out to wait in line to see one Barack Obama speak on the CSU campus. Luckily, friends Doug and Liz, who had already been waiting for an hour, let me join up with them so I ended up a lot closer to the gate than I would've otherwise. They got there at 11.30a and were probably a quarter of a mile away from the beginning of the line. By the time I got there an hour later we got word that the line was at least a mile long.

And just to put it into context, Obama wasn't even supposed to start speaking until 3.30p. So people stood in line for hours just to hear a politician give pretty much the same stump speech he's been giving for the past two weeks. Friend Doug was pretty freaked out about it. For the most part everyone was friendly and considerate. Even though quite a few people cut in line once it started moving, the free cheeseburger I got made up for their bad deeds.

I have to say, his speech was totally awesome. Seriously. I got chills even though I've heard it all a billion times already. It was great to be there with that many people who all believe that this one guy can make a difference.

We were too far back in the crowd for me to get a really good picture, but here's dark, shadowy evidence that Obama and I occupied the same square mile radius on this green Earth at the same time:

And, here's one more shot of the crowd. All of these people were standing back behind us.

Updated to add: I just saw online that 45,000 people showed up. Holy crap! That's nearly half the town.


one i actually like

The Streets, for Daytrotter.


it's done

Early voting began yesterday in 'rado, so I took advantage. Unlike other places I've read about (North Carolina, Florida) there was no line and 90% of the other participants were old people. I was just dropping off my mail-in ballot, so I didn't get the full voting experience and thus, the whole event was really anticlimactic. It feels good to have it over with though and now I can move on to obsessing over polls and what everyone else is doing.

If McCain wins I don't know if I'll be able to go on. I will definitely have to seriously examine whether or not I want to live in a country that is so conservative that the residents don't care if the best man for the job is actually employed to do that job, they just want someone in office who reflects their moral values. Regardless of what damage is done. I say this because so far, no one who supports McCain can give me any solid reasons for doing so, just that he's not Obama and he's a Republican. Not good reasons in my opinion, as so far, during this year's campaign, he's shown himself to be dangerously reckless and woefully ignorant about how to fix our country.

These are going to be the longest two weeks of my life.


the sinking ship (fingers crossed)

I've long had a soft spot in my heart for Colin Powell. It was strengthened when he stood up to Bush and his cronies in 2004 (?) by telling Americans that Bush had lied about the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. Today, it was solidified when he stood up to his party yet again by endorsing Obama. Instead of just toeing the party line he stated his opinion of who will be better able to lead this country out of the trouble we're in with his usual understated dignity and eloquence.

And, of course, the right wing nutjobs are calling him unpatriotic and unAmerican and every other 'un' you can think of. General Colin Powell unpatriotic? Whatever. This is why politics make me crazy.


it's really happening

I met with Gallery Owner Lady yesterday. Get this. She's 23 years old. Which makes me feel really...old. But despite that she seems to know what she's doing. At least from my side of the fence.

1) Breckenridge seems like a pretty good place to sell art—there are a lot of rich people there.
2) She has eight other artists lined up so far.
3) She went to high school in England.
4) She has an art degree and an international business degree.
5) While in college, she worked at various galleries in Denver.
6) Eventually she wants to open up galleries on all of the sundry continents.
7) Most importantly, she seems really, really excited about making it work.

Regardless, if I decide I want out, I just have to give her two weeks notice and then we're done, so it really seems like I can't lose.

She's planning on holding opening night festivities on Dec 5. If anyone wants to come, let me know and I'll put you on the list.*

*I've always wanted to be able to say that. It's so rock star.


my rant for the day

When did liberal + progressive = unpatriotic + unAmerican?

Most of the liberal minded folk I know actually believe more strongly in the tenets of the Constitution (i.e. freedom and equality for all) than the conservative folk I've come across.

Just sayin'.


i may actually, finally live in a blue state

For the most part, the current Electoral College Map put out by FiveThirtyEight.com makes me extremely happy—especially to see states like Virginia and Missouri leaning towards Obama—part of me is still dismayed to see that many states who still think McPalin is going to put this country on the right track. I realize that quite a few of those people are voting against Obama, rather than for McCain, but still.

I read the other day that Betsey Markey, who is running against the Marilyn Musgrave, is about to run out of money and may not be able to place any more advertising, so if you care at all about getting one of the worst Congresspeople out of power, maybe consider giving Markey some of your scarce dollars, or volunteer for her phone bank or canvassing efforts. You can do so here.

I cannot believe that we still have three more weeks of this. I need a break, so tonight, instead of watching the final debate—mostly because I know it will make me very, very angry, I am going to see Fleet Foxes live in Denver. It think that's a better use of my time, right?


am i a dork?

I'm just not really sure.

In high school, I most definitely was. Skinny, gawky, braces and glasses at the same time (until my parents took pity on me and got me contact lenses), not good at sports, in drama and band, on the National Honors Society, eighth in my class. The list goes on.

Sometime after I graduated from high school though, some sort of transformation occurred somewhere along the line unnoticed by me, and now I'm not so sure that I fit the definition any longer.

1) I'm a lot more stupid than I was in high school.
2) I'm fairly athletic now and most of my hobbies include some sort of outdoor activity.
3) I still read fairly obsessively, but mostly fiction.
4) My obsessions include politics, college basketball, rock climbing, art, music and movies.
5) I don't consider myself a hipster, but I do know more about the indie music scene than I care to admit.
6) I make my living in what I think is a pretty solidly non-dorky industry: graphic design. I can be kind of a typography dork—often naming which typefaces are used on things like menus and such and then telling the folks I'm with why they chose either correctly or incorrectly, but I'm not sure that qualifies.

Why am I wondering about this you might ask? Well, it's time for the second annual Dorkfest hosted by Michael5000, and today's assignment is to tell everyone why you're a dork.

And, I'm just not sure that I am. Dangit.


the face series

Camouflage, 40 x 30

I've decided that I'm going to do a Face Series. So, counting the cowboy, this would be number 2. I like the monochromatic-ness of this one, but not too sure about the purple.


stop freaking out

'Hello. This is [my financial planner].'
'Sell it. Sell it all. I'm freaking out. Sell it.'
'Ok. We can do that. Do you want me to tell you why you shouldn't?'
Long pause.
'Yes, please.'

Thankfully, she talked me down off the ledge.

Things I'm currently, actively trying not to think/freak out about before my brain explodes: voter registration fraud, Obama being assassinated by some right wing nutjob, not being able to afford food in a couple of weeks, the scab on my foot from my bike accident a week and half ago maybe not healing correctly, McPalin being elected despite what the polls say, the Bradley Effect, the fact that they still don't know what to do with the $700b bailout money and, first and foremost, obviously, the stock market and the next Great Depression.


this is heartening

Fort Collins has had the misfortune (and bad judgment) to put one of the worst Congresspeople in office for not just one, but two terms and she's currently trying for her third. This year, though, it seems like we might finally be able to get rid of Satan's wife, Marilyn Musgrave:

If you live in FtC, get out there and vote for Markey—put an end to Musgrave's reign of terror. Also, there's a debate between the two Thursday night which is being aired on C-Span.

On the national side of things, I've been reading a lot about The Bradley Effect, which is named after some dude who tried to run for governor (?) in California sometime in the 80's. Basically it says that people will say they're comfortable voting for a black candidate when talking face-to-face with a pollster, but then when in the voting booth do the opposite. My dad, who's pretty cynical about politics, thinks this will hold true in this year's Presidential election and that ultimately the polls are false. I want to believe that as a country we've moved beyond discriminating against someone based solely on the color of their skin, but in my heart of hearts I'm not sure we have.

I want this to be over!


i'm not sure how i feel about this one

Vaquero, 30 x 40

But I'll put it aside for now and work on some others. Maybe when it's not so fresh I'll feel differently. Or I may just erase it and start over.


Friend Nikki dropped off some home grown tomatoes today. They're delicious.

it's funny 'cause it's true


two down

I was a painting machine this weekend, finally finishing this one that I started last week, and getting a whole 'nother one completed this afternoon.

Geek Love, Part 1, 24 x 36

Geek Love, Part 2, 24 x 36

These two are based on a couple of digital illustrations that I did which were inspired by the novel, 'Geek Love' by Katherine Dunn.

Feedback is welcome.

oh yeah

I didn't get a chance to watch the game today, but h-o-l-y c-r-a-p!

The come from behind victory tied the third biggest comeback in school history behind only a 26-point deficit at Iowa State in 1992 and a 21-point deficit vs. Colorado in 1950.

Kansas improved to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12, while Iowa State fell to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in the league.

So, maybe last year wasn't a fluke after all. This was only Iowa State, but still, to come back from that far behind? Amazing.


let the rationalizing begin

I like how this is the new standard for doing well in a vice presidential debate:

Yes, she wins high marks for emerging from the debate still standing and still smiling.

- Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
I chose this quote because it was the latest one I'd read today, but I've seen it several other places. So, Sarah Palin deserves credit for 'still standing'? If it were anyone else, everyone would be saying, today, that she lost hands down. They would be talking about how she didn't directly answer any of the questions and how ill prepared and uninformed she was. Instead, they talk about her flag pin and how 'real' she seemed.


When did our standards get so low? Is it because she's a woman? Is it because everyone feels sorry for her?

She cannot do the job, people. She is incapable. She is inexperienced. She is the worst choice for a vice presidential candidate since America became a country 3 million years ago. Why should we lower our standards just to make the choice seem not like the slap in the face that it is?


well, at least it's over

Biden knocked it out of the park, I thought. He didn't patronize and he obviously knows what the hell he's talking about. I'm really glad he didn't say anything stupid.

Palin didn't totally blow it, but she didn't answer any of the questions. She stuck to the talking points and didn't inject any of her own ideas or thoughts. Probably because she doesn't have any. I'm already tired of the folksy schtick.

So, overall I don't think this debate is gonna change anything poll wise, but Palin definitely saved her own skin.

a summation

I am generally not an optimistic person, especially when it comes to what passes for politics in this country. Therefore, I have been a nervous wreck all day today. I'm anxious. I want Biden to do really well, because I think (probably erroneously) that this will cement the election in Obama's favor. What I don't want is for Palin to do well, because then we will have to deal with her for two more weeks. If she tanks tonight, I suspect that McLiar will replace her on the ticket.

Needless to say, I've been obsessively reading all of the political stuff I can get my hands on today, to see if there's any consolation anywhere in the world.

There's not really, but Christopher Orr from The Plank offers probably the most coherent prediction of what needs to happen in tonight's debate of everything I've read today:

Now, I think it's still true that Palin's performance tonight is likely to be the more crucial--if she craters, she's done; if she does even marginally okay, she'll stop the bleeding. But there may again be a difference between elite and voter expectations similar to the one that prevailed last week. Among other factors, I suspect many undecided voters feel they know more about Sarah Palin at this point than they do about Joe Biden.

Could Biden screw the debate up badly with a series of gaffes or a bout of senatorial bloviating? Sure. But if he's as funny and approachable and casually hyperfluent on policy as he's been at his best, it's possible he could win this thing regardless of what Palin does.

--Christopher Orr
I think he's pretty spot on. Obama, who was the new guy last week, won the debate in the minds of independents and undecideds because they really had no idea who he was and he convinced them that he was ready and able to be President.

This week, weirdly, Biden is the new guy. The press haven't talked about him that much, everyone's been too focused on Palin, and in much of the country, he has not been much of a Congressional Superstar like, say, Hilary Clinton or Ted Kennedy.

Tonight will be very interesting to say the least. I will be on the edge of my seat, ripping out my hair and chewing on my fingernails until it's over.

are you registered?

Are you absolutely 100% positive that your registration to vote is solid and good to go? Go here to see if your registration info is up to date.* 'Rado's deadline is October 6th. Get it in there.

*Thanks LSL for the link


fingers crossed, praying to that god i'm not sure exists

As we near the night of the Vice Presidential debate, I'd like to take a look at what we know about Sarah Palin.

1) She's a Young Earth Creationist. Meaning, she honestly believes that the Earth is only 7,000 years old and that dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time.
2) During her term as Mayor of Wasilia, Ak she tried to get books about homosexuality banned from the local library. When the librarian refused, she had her fired and then rehired her when the town protested. Can you say abuse of power, anyone? Reminds me of another moron who's in charge.
3) Her husband, Todd is a member of the Alaskan Secessionist Movement. Which means that he feels, strongly enough, that the values of America don't match his values and therefore, the state he lives in should secede and become its own country. Yet, his wife wants to be the Vice President of the entire country he hates so much.
4) When asked what newspapers she reads on a regular basis, her reply was, 'All of them. Whichever ones have been in front of me this whole time.' Supposedly she has a journalism degree and was a tv news anchor yet she can't name any newspapers?
5) She thinks that because Russia is visible from the western-most point of Alaska (an island she's never visited by the way), this gives her foreign policy experience.
6) She also said that Putin has invaded American air space, a statement disproved by the United States Air Force.
7) Troopergate and the Bridge to Nowhere—two more lies in her arsenal.

Do we really want this person in charge of the country? Honestly? McCain is 7 billion years old and it is probable that he could die in office, which means that Palin is literally a heartbeat away from the Presidency. All crazy beliefs aside, I used to think that she was a fairly intelligent woman who got thrust too early on the national stage, but now, I'm just not so sure. An intelligent person would be able to think of The New York Times for Pete's sake. Or The Wall Street Journal since she's a Republican. C'mon. And an intelligent person would've said no to McCain's invitation knowing that she wasn't ready for it yet. If her ticket is not nominated on Nov 4, she's pretty much committed political suicide. She'll never have another job in politics in this country after she is done being Governor of Alaska.

Biden, please, please don't say anything stupid tomorrow night. Please?

happy birthday nasa

Today celebrates 50 years of America's number one space agency. They've posted a retrospective. And, you can download any of the images you want. For free.


sometimes living green can be dangerous

I totally bit it on my bike today.

My left knee.

My left elbow.

My right hand.

Damn railroad tracks.