happy christmas

My folks and I celebrated by going on a short hike in the rain the other day.

I hope all of you out there in blogland have a merry, merry.


visiting our neighbors to the north

Awhile ago, M invited me to accompany him on his trip to Toronto. He got to spend the week working and I got to spend it wandering around a pretty big city. There aren't a lot of touristy things to do in Toronto, but we ate a lot of good food and I got a lot of walking in.

For the most part the weather held out. It was gray and kind of cold, but not too wet. Except for Wednesday. That day was Deluge Day, so I decided to spend it indoors at the Art Gallery of Ontario which has a pretty decent collection of both contemporary and not so contemporary stuff. There's a whole room dedicated to Henry Moore sculptures which I spent a lot of time in as he's one of my favorites. As far as I could tell, most of the Canadian artists spend a lot of time painting landscapes which don't really do much for me, so I pretty much skipped that whole gallery.

On Friday, M took the day off of work and we went up the CN Tower. It is ostensibly a broadcast tower which seems a dull reason to build a tower, but it's supposedly the largest one of those in the world and the second largest man-made structure. We spent enough time up top to see the city in both the daylight and the night time. You know, to get both perspectives. It's always interesting to see cities from 'up above'. Everything looks so much closer together than it feels when you're on the ground walking around the bases of all of those tall buildings and it gives you a better feel for the layout of everything.

Saturday we were blessed with the one day of sunshine we had the entire week, which was good as we had plans to visit Niagara Falls. We rented a car and drove about an hour and a half south of the city to see a lot of water fall off a cliff. The Maid of the Mist boat tours were dry docked, so we just walked around up top. Everything was pretty iced over because it was so cold outside, but that added to the appeal in my mind and made the Falls a much cooler experience than it might have been otherwise. Plus, the cold weather kept the crowds to a minimum. We fantasized about pushing one of the kids over the edge just to see what would happen, but figured we might get in trouble if we actually followed through, so we kept our hands to ourselves.

Apparently people throw money into the falls for some reason. I guess to make wishes? Is any body of water considered a wishing well? After we saw the falling water, we wandered around the town of Niagara Falls a bit. It might be the gaudiest place on Earth (besides Las Vegas). I guess it would be a good distraction for any kids you might have in tow, but other than that, it seemed really random and weird.

M likes to wander around cities as much as I do, so Sunday we took the subway up north and wandered around the University of Toronto, which weirdly seemed closed for winter break already. So, all in all, I feel like I got a pretty good tour of Toronto and a decent feel for what it has to offer. I still don't really understand Canadians' fascination with the Queen though.

If you're in the know, you can see other pics on my Flickr. If you're not in the know and want to be, give me a shout.



- Somehow, over the past year or so, I've developed an allergy to tomatoes (I think). Which saddens me very greatly because I love tomatoes—in all of the forms they come in—but will probably make M5K (I can't find the posts, but he had this whole thing about trying to learn how to like tomatoes) secretly happy.

- M and I are going to Toronto next week. I'm pretty excited to visit our northern colonies and see what life is like amongst the savages. I hope there aren't too many language barriers. I'll probably come back with a toque and an inordinate love of donuts.

- I really, really like living close to a major metropolitan library. I've virtually stopped spending money on books because the DPL has so many things I want to read readily available. Unfortunately, I may've gotten a tad bit punch drunk—the other day I put about 10 things on my holds list and 7 of them came in at the same time. I don't know how I can possible get through 7 books in the next 3 weeks. I guess I should stop spending so much time online, huh?

- I have been playing way too much Scrabble® online I think. The other night I had a dream that featured lettered tiles pretty prominently. And money. That's all I can really remember.


bird day weekend ought nine

This year, instead of going to Chicago like I have the past few years, I decided to go down and see A and D in Santa Fe. A little over a year ago, D decided that he wanted to try a vegan lifestyle. Despite all of the constant ribbing from his friends, he's stuck with it and claims that he feels better and actually likes the food choices. All of this to say, I was nervous about what Thanksgiving would mean with a vegan in the mix. And, I have to say, it wasn't that bad, and, in fact, I hate to say it, but the food was pretty good. It did help that A grilled up some turkey legs for us so we wouldn't be completely without some dead flesh to munch on.

On Friday we got some climbing in near The Gallows (the place we went the last time I went down) which is on the banks of The Rio Grande. Which is pretty fricking cool.

To top off the long weekend, a bunch of us went to see The Swell Season last night. What a great show. They played for almost three hours, so it definitely made the high ticket price more than worth it. Lots of energy and good chemistry between the two lead singers, despite their personal turmoil, and Glen Hansard clearly enjoys what he does for a living. He's one of those performers that likes to talk a lot between songs and give little anecdotes about where the songs come from. In my experience, this is kind of a crap shoot—some artists are great story tellers and some can't talk their way out of a parking ticket given to them by their grandma. Luckily, Mr Hansard is one of the good ones. Most possibly, the greatest part of the night was the audience. Which was made up mostly of older people and since it was a school night...the crowd thinned out before the show was even two-thirds done. Plus, there weren't as many d-bags as there normally are at most live shows, so no beer was dumped on me, I didn't have to suffer through anyone making out through the whole thing and nobody flailed their limbs around obnoxiously to every single song despite the tempo. Which all adds up to a whole lot of awesome.

I highly recommend both of their albums if you don't have them.

the best $12 i'll ever spend

I had a great 'city day' today. I had to run to Boulder for a client meeting and then on the way back home, I stopped downtown to get a bunch of errands crossed off my ever-growing to-do list. I had some trouble finding a parking spot, which is almost always a concern when driving downtown, but after driving around a couple of blocks, I pulled into an open metered space and as I as getting out, a woman walked up to me and said, 'If you want to back up, I'm getting ready to leave and I have about 20 minutes left on my meter.' I smiled and thanked her and thought, 'See? Not every person in the big city is cold and ensconced in their urban bubble.'

About an hour later, I was on my last errand of the day—getting my two watches fixed [finally, dang] and I stopped at this little kiosk in the middle of the 16th Street Mall that M had told me about. I walk up to the window and tell the guy behind the glass that I need a new battery in one watch and some links taken out of the band on the other, so he invites me to come around back and sit inside while he works. His name is Papa (not entirely sure of the spelling) and he's been in Denver for about 8 years. He grew up in Senegal and went to school in Lille, France because Senegal was originally a French colony, so most people from there go to France for University. He speaks three (!) languages fluently—French, English and Spanish and he came to Denver because he had friends here. He loves the winters here because he never saw snow as a kid.

Now, if you know me even a little bit, you know that I am the least likely person to have long, in-depth conversations with complete strangers, but holy crap, in this instance, I'm so glad I did. The cash I gave him to fix my watches seemed a small price to pay for what he gave me in return.* This is what it means to take care of your customers. I will recommend him to everyone I know and will go back every time I need a watch fixed, no matter how far away I am.

* Sorry for the hippy, dippy, feel-good, claptrap, but I just can't help it, it was a really great experience.


mr mandela

Here's another in the 'People I've Never Met' series. This one is also for a little art swap that a friend started on Facebook. Some woman I've never met named, Mim, will soon get this in the post.


it's been a while

I haven't been drawing much lately, I blame it on a creative malaise, but the other day I was reading about a current contest titled 'People I Have Never Met and Conversations I Have Never Had' which got me to thinking about the endless list of people I have never met and it inspired a portrait of ol' Einstein. What do you think?


bergen peak

Yesterday was quite possibly the last nice day we will see here in Colorado for awhile, so M and I decided to take advantage and go for a hike.

We got a late start so we chose something not very strenuous and somewhat close by - Bergen Peak in the Jefferson County Open Space right outside of Evergreen. Which is about a 30 minute drive from Denver.

It was a nice walk in the woods. We ran into quite a bit of snow and mud, but other than that it was really enjoyable. Mostly shady without too many steep climbs, even though the guide book said we'd gain 1500'. It didn't feel too bad. We passed four different people running up the damn thing too, so that probably says a lot about how difficult of a hike it is. Just goes to show that no matter how 'active' you think you are, there's always someone out there to put you in your place.

I didn't have my camera with, and my iPhone wasn't really up to the task, but hopefully you can kind of get an idea of the really nice views from this pretty terrible photo.


in my inbox - social studies

Social Studies is a fairly-newly-formed pop outfit from San Francisco who are getting ready to tour on their newest album, Wind-up Wooden Heart.

From their site:
Social Studies tempers the Fiery Furnaces with a love of unadulterated pop songwriting and arms the Decemberists with Casiotones instead of accordions, dropping pop gems that aren’t afraid to be raw and gentle all at the same time.
Honestly, the Fiery Furnaces reference almost made me turn away without even listening as they're quite possibly the most overrated indie pop band of The Oughts, but since I love The Decemberists, I decided to go ahead and give Social Studies a chance. I'm pretty happy I did, they had me tapping my thumb on my steering wheel the entire drive back from Boulder yesterday. Mostly, I would agree with their synopsis of their sound, but throw Rilo Kiley in there also for themes and style of singing.

They're offering up 'The Hourglass', a 'double' off of their new album, as a free download.
“The Hourglass” shows Social Studies maturing, turning more personal and insightful. It is an anthem for the modern world, encouraging you to grab hold of your neighbor’s hand, jump up and down, and let life wash over you.
You can download 'The Hourglass' from their site here.

Or just wait for the album to come out. Whichever.


away we go

I don't care that none of the critics really cared for this movie, I thought it was pretty great. It was funny and poignant, the writing was good and the acting was pretty spot on. It was directed by the guy who did American Beauty and written by Dave Eggers and his wife, so there's no way it could be terrible. Despite what the critics say. Maybe their expectations were just too high?

Plot: A couple, that is expecting a baby in about three months, find that they will suddenly have no family nearby, and, terrified that they might be 'fuck ups' they set off in search of a better place to live and a strong desire to right themselves before they become responsible for another human being. Along the way they learn how not to be parents by seeing the pretty outlandish and glorious 'fuck-ups' that comprise their friends and family.

Probably its biggest detriment is that, at times, it's maybe a little overly sweet. But just as it starts to become too saccharine, something hilarious happens to keep your teeth from hurting too much. It has a pretty predictable ending also, but by the time it comes you're rooting so hard for the main characters that you don't really want it to end any other way. Or at least, that's how I felt.


i have been doing stuff

• A couple of weekends ago, A and D came into town for the ostensible purpose of seeing some Russian chick play some Russian compositions with The Denver Symphony, but they managed to work in some time to go climbing out at Table Mountain in Golden. I slept in and joined them and K and M (who came up from the Springs for the day) around lunchtime. I had a really shitty climbing day, but as D says, 'Even a bad day climbing can still be a pretty good day.' Once again, I failed to take my camera, but K has a pretty good write-up and some pictures over on her corner of the bunny.

• I missed Wednesday's Boot Camp class because it was snowing and even I have to draw the line somewhere, so I ended up going on Thursday and Friday and decided that two days in a row is completely untenable. I'm still exhausted and I didn't exercise at all yesterday or today.

• D and A were still in town this past weekend, so on Saturday we went hiking. We ambled around in the White Ranch Open Space outside of Golden for a few hours and, after we were done, learned we went 6 miles. Pretty good considering none of us really felt like doing it before we began.

• P and D had their annual Pumpkin Carving Party on Saturday. I took M along which I was kind of nervous about, since my Fort Collins friends can be weird about such things. Thankfully, no one spazzed out and I'm fairly certain good impressions were made all around.

• Last night I met M's parents. Friend N is pretty freaked out about it too, since '[I] don't do things like meet the parents.' And she's right, it has been a really long time since I've had to endure such a thing. I also accidentally took a couple of sleeping pills instead of aspirin beforehand, so there was lots of opportunity for things to go seriously awry. Fortunately, dinner was short and my tendencies toward insomnia are stronger than OTC sleepy time and I made it home before I could fall face down in M's mom's homemade meal. Which was delicious by the way. And, M is still talking to me, so apparently the drugs didn't cause me to say or do anything too asinine.

Feel all caught up? I do.


the ides of october

I just looked at my archive and realized that I've only posted once this month. And the month's almost half gone. I've been neglectful I guess. Mostly because I've been really busy, but with pretty boring things, so there hasn't been much to talk about.

on work:
I got a couple of new clients, a financial group up in Fort Collins and a water bottle company in Boulder, and did a tiny little project for another possible new client based out of Vancouver, so all of that plus my regular clients added up to me having a lot of work this month. Which made me feel like it was ok to buy a new pair of jeans the other day.

on exercising:
I've been taking this Boot Camp class three times a week instead of lifting weights and at first I didn't think it was really doing anything, but this week I've had to move my belt down a notch in order to keep my pants on, so I guess something is going on and I don't think it's just because my butt has become more non-existent than it was before. I've still been getting in some bouldering at the gym too and the occasional long run here and there, so I haven't completely become one of those group class zombies you meet in the suburbs.

on having a personal life:
All I'll say is that dating is kind of expensive, but it's nice to not spend your whole life watching a bunch of television.

Basketball season officially starts (for me) on Friday with Late Night. It's really the only reason to get excited about October (for me), so I'm very much looking forward to it. Now something else can fill my time besides comic books and masturbation (not at the same time).

Although I have been getting into football this year, both college and professional. I have to admit, it feels kind of weird to like this pretty pointless activity. But, both of 'my' teams are 5 and 0, and that makes it pretty exciting.

So, that's it really. Hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving.


volcano choir's unmap

Warning: This album is not user friendly. Unless you like strange falsetto warbling, whole minutes gone by without a single vocal, whole songs gone by with many different vocal utterances (none of which are actual words) and lots and lots of odd noises.

However. If you are looking for something that's out of the ordinary or something that doesn't sound like every other album out there or if you are as in love with Justin Vernon, of Bon Iver, as I am, then you're in luck.

Husks And Shells - Volcano Choir


hush arbors release yankee reality

Musicwise, not much has been keeping my attention these days. I liked the new-to-me-but-really-old J Tillman album I downloaded last month. And the new Cave Singers effort was pretty great, but really, not much else has been able to even muster up a 'Oh. That's ok. I can listen to that.' in a good long while.

However, I may have just landed on a diamond in the middle of a pile of dog turds. Generally, I find that free music downloads sent out by labels aren't really worth the effort of hitting, 'Save file to' so most of the time, if I haven't heard of the band, I don't bother. The other day though, I got an email from Terrorbird with a promo download of an entire album. Which, thinking I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided to actually check out. I mean, free is free and an entire album? Can't pass it up.

I am pretty glad I did. Hush Arbors' latest effort, Yankee Reality is kicking some a all over my living room. He has a type of voice that I generally don't like and all in all he makes music that normally I probably wouldn't listen to, but it seems like that may be a good thing as it may get me out of my rut. Maybe I just needed to explore some boundaries or something?

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about him.

The new album comes out on Oct 6th.

Sun Shall - Hush Arbors


fall is here

M and R and I drove up to Kenosha Pass today (along with 5,000 other people) to look at the aspens shed their casual, summer clothes and put on their fall splendor. It was purty. And we got in a 5-mile hike. Which we nullified with hot dogs and cheeseburgers and french fries and R made a couple of new girlfriends in the line at a restaurant called Coney Island Dogs.


the last summer weekend

I was sorely remiss this summer. I did not go climbing outside even once. I had a good excuse for June and July - moving and a long vacation, but for August I think the only thing I can say is I was lazy. So when Doug invited me to go up to Vedauwoo this weekend, I sighed heavily and packed up my gear.

Seems the climbing gods were kind of pissed at me though, as the weather was pretty cold and cloudy and we had to compete for routes with both the Colorado Mountain College and the Boy Scouts. So, I only got a couple of routes in.

None of us took a camera either, so you'll just have to imagine it all for yourself.


even punks fall in love

I just finished a new painting. In a completely different style than I've been working in recently. I'm not sure it entirely works. It's kind of hard to see it exactly from these crappy pictures, but critique and comments welcome.

labor(less) day

To honor the proletariat all across the world. M and I headed up close by Mt. Audubon in Indian Peaks Wilderness. It's one of the 13-footers, so up towards the top it got a little hard to breathe. The trail was a little crowded, but not nearly as badly as one of the close-by 14-footers I'm sure. Which is sort of why we chose it. The views were still pretty breathtaking and the annoyance factor was pretty low.

Of course I forgot to put sunblock on my legs so now I look like a lobster from the knees down.


another thing to check off the list

I had my first bike wreck in Denver yesterday. Because I am a klutzy moron and tried to go up over a curb that I didn't know was a curb. It's a long story. Anyway, I didn't get too banged up:

Just one pretty good scrape on my elbow, one on my hand, one on my shoulder and my left leg is a giant bruise from hip to knee. All in all I feel pretty lucky. Trust me, it could've been much, much worse.

Luckily, it was Sunday and there weren't too many people out, so I avoided getting run over in the process of looking like a retard who doesn't know how to ride a bike.

And, yes, Mom, I was wearing my helmet.

The big question of the day is this: I'm almost 39 years old, when do I get to stop wrecking on my bike?



I finally got pics up on Flickr. Fair warning: I was apparently really excited about seeing the prairie.


what's that smell?

10 states + 4,311 miles + 14 days + 5 games of Scrabble + 3 hikes + 6 friends + 2 parents + 1 grandparent + 120 gallons of gas + 3 nights in a hotel + 1 museum visit + ~4 million clouds + 10 ticks + 2 client meetings + 2 old dogs and 1 not so old one + ~2,000 mutant chiggers + 1 really great show + 54 hours in the car = one really freaking awesome vacation.

It's cold in Denver. And my apartment smelled like old mustard when I walked in the door. I had a great drive through western Kansas today and I'm a little sad that my vacation is done, but I'm ready to get back to real life and a more normal schedule.


…jiggity, jig

I have done a piss-poor job of updating this with travel news. So this will be a brief recap. Mostly because I really don't feel like typing all that much. The Chicago leg of the trip was full of booze and beef and bars and (art). On Friday we hung out in Millenium Park, saw the new Modern Wing of the Art Institute (It was so fricking cool. They have so many great pieces in their collection and the traveling exhibit they currently have on display—Cy Twombley—is one of the best things I've ever put my eyeballs on.) and then got to see what I imagine will be the best show I see all year at a venerable institution in the indie music hipster scene—The Wrens at Schuba's. There's not a bad place to stand in the whole venue. It's so tiny, I imagine you feel like you're pretty much right up there on stage with the band no matter where you are, but we were pretty close.

On Saturday we slept in, walked around Andersonville and generally just hung out. Then T and I left and headed south to Kansas City. I've never driven through Iowa before and I have to say that there's some purty country. And they have really fancy rest stops. Man, I really miss the prairie. Especially the skies. I mean, just look at that.

At home, we played a lot of Scrabble and got in some walks, some runs and one very bug-infested hike. Now, it's time to head back to Denver. I think I'm mostly ready to go back. I think. I've really enjoyed my time with my folks, and I certainly wouldn't mind just staying here for a good long while (until they got sick of me and kicked me out), but I guess I need to get back to reality. I do have quite a few projects waiting for me upon my return, plus a brand new city to explore.

I'll get the rest of the pics up on Flickr soonish. I don't have enough want to right now.


jesus saves, i spend*

I really do enjoy driving through this great country of ours, especially if I'm seeing new things. Even if just in passing on the highway. But. I'm happy to be out of the car for a few days.

Every time I come to Chicago, to see my friend T, we walk through downtown Andersonville and I take a picture of this sign.

This particular trip to Chicago will be mostly just hanging out I think and not doing too much touristy stuff. Which is totally fine with me. I've done most of it before.

Oh and I went for a run this morning and discovered that what they say about running at sea level after spending a long time 'training' in the mountains is totally true. I felt like I was going pretty slowly, but if the RunTracker app on my iPhone is to be believed, I ran 6.31 miles in 32:06. Which is completely ridiculous. And totally awesome.

*completely, unabashedly stolen from St. Vincent.


america the weird

Yesterday morning, before getting back on the road, I stopped and saw the portraits of dead leaders carved into rock. And all I could think of was how I could put a rope on Lincoln's head and climb up his nose. It is a pretty impressive thing they did there, especially considering all they used was dynamite and compressed air.

Last night I only made it to La Crosse, Wisconsin. Minnesota foiled me with countless miles of road construction and one really terrific storm that made me pull over to the side of the road to wait it out. So, today will be fairly leisurely since I have all day to get to Chicago and it will only take me about four hours.

For a lot more pics of the Presidents go here.


wyoming had this to say about it

Two days of action packed fun in Montana ended today. I have learned to loathe driving through Wyoming, but this afternoon, the little northeast corner wasn't all that bad. I had hoped to make it a little further today, but I landed in Rapid City so I can get up kind of early and go see the dead Presidents that are carved into the rock. And maybe the Badlands. If I have time. Then. On to the Windy City.


i'm in missoula

So, Thursday morning I woke up and decided to go try and fix the whole license plate situation. Mostly because the police officer I spoke with the night before scared me about officers 'approaching me at gunpoint' if I happened to get pulled over. Another reason to love Denver, I got that shit done in 10 minutes and for only $5.50. That's pretty sweet. I was imagining 5 hrs and about 5 times that much.

At any rate, the upshot was I was able to leave on my trip at the time planned.

The only negative so far is that it took me 11 HOURS to get through Wyoming. There is something evil about Wyoming that I can't put my finger on. Some really negative energy or something that causes mayhem and misdeeds every time I try to get through it. Thankfully, it was all washed away once I hit the beautiful state of Idaho and I made it to Missoula today in no time flat.

p.s. I know that I am an uber Apple® geek anyway, but I just want everyone to know that I absolutely love my iPhone. Like love, love it. For someone as obsessed with 'being in touch' as I am, it is the perfect gadget. This morning, I answered email and checked Google Reader while I was eating breakfast. In a diner. That didn't have WiFi. AWESOME.


one positive, one negative

Last night I met a friend at The Hi-Dive on Broadway to see the makers of my favorite album last year, The Rural Alberta Advantage. I decided I wanted to walk down there just so I could see more of my 'hood, he thought this was crazy and told me he was going to drive. But it was not crazy. I learned about a lot of things that are located on Broadway. Things that I'd heard tell of, but didn't know where they were. Things like The Mayan—an independent movie theater that everyone raves about. They're currently playing a movie I really want to see also, Moon, so it appears that I'll be walking back down that way in the near future. If it's still there when I get back from vacation. Anyway, The RAA had two opening bands, Sandusky and some really, truly terrible emo/punk band who deserve to have their fingers chopped off for the really awful lyrics they write:
I am the wind / separating on your skin
I complained loudly and often during their set.

Then the RAA came out and all was forgotten. The show was awesome. They are one of those bands who, live, sound exactly like they do recorded. Only better. Richer. More tingly-inducing. Or something. As they only have one album out, their set was pretty short, but for only $10 it felt like a pretty good deal. If you don't have it yet, you really should get their debut, Hometowns. It originally released in 2008, but then in June they signed to Saddle Creek, so it got re-released this month. They're from Alberta, Canada and thanked us for coming out to see them between every song. I still can't believe that I live so close to so many cool things to do.

Today, I went out to my car to throw my camping stuff in the trunk because I'm headed out on the Great American Road Trip tomorrow (Montana > Chicago > Kansas City > Anderson, Mo > Denver) and saw a ticket on my car. This after getting two tickets last week for being in the way of the street sweeper. At first I got all indignant because I'd paid attention to the street sweeping signs this time. I opened up the ticket to see what the violation was and it said, 'missing front license plate.' I thought, 'What the hell?...' and went and looked. Sure enough it's gone. So I filed a police report online and have no idea what happens now. Plus, I'm going to be gone for two weeks. Hopefully, I won't get stopped by every cop in America before I get back to town and can deal with it. Who steals only one license plate? What good will it possibly do them?


i've been a busy bee

Thursday: I met a somewhat new friend for dinner at a vegetarian restaurant in my new 'hood. Despite my attempts to limit the amount of carbs I stuff into my body, I decided to have this really good pasta with portabella mushrooms and broccoli on top. I swear it tasted like it had bacon in it. So, either they're lying about being vegetarian or they've discovered a way to make tofu taste like bacon. If the latter is the case, I will buy tofu by the boatload.

Friday: Another dinner out with another brand-new friend. And a complete opposite restaurant in all regards. Deep fried Polish food soaked in butter and all sorts of sauce and then deep fried again. I think. I ran a lot on Saturday.

Saturday: A third old friend invited me to go to a different library branch than the main one. Weirdly it is only a few blocks from the main branch, so I'm not sure who decided they needed another one right there, but oh well. So, I am now the proud owner of a Denver Library card. Oh the power. I did come out of there with 7 cds, so that's pretty awesome.

Then some friends from FtC came down and we went to something that I've been waiting for for a very long time: Bon Iver live. All I will say is it was magical and awesome and I am extremely happy that I got the opportunity to see him perform. I was so enamored that not only did I not mind the group singalong at the end (which I normally abhor), but I almost even enjoyed it. One of the reasons that I chose this neighborhood in particular when looking for a new home is that it's fairly close (within walking or biking) distance to a ton of live music venues that all play music I like to listen to. So this will hopefully only be the start of a lot of great shows.

Sunday: On Friday I had to break up with expensive gym lady. I don't think she was all that pleased, but I say, 'Suck it expensive gym lady. Your shit is too pricey for not very much in return.' So today I went and checked out the local Y. Better. But still more than what I want to pay for a gym membership. I may just have to suck it up and deal.

This week's urban lesson. Always carry a bag with you, with the following items in it: a rain jacket, a hat, a bottle of water, your wallet, phone, keys and iPod, a book, a map and maybe if you remember to go buy one, an umbrella.


things i learned along the way

1) Today I didn't have a ton of work to do, so I decided to walk downtown to do two things: buy an iPhone (ohmygodi'msoexcited) and get a library card. It took less time to get there than I thought it would, which was awesome because now I know that I can easily walk downtown if I want to—I don't have to automatically get on my bike.

2) I always think of Denver as not being a real city. I think of it as being a gathering of people who wanted to be close to the mountains, but not have the troubles of living in The Bumps. So it always surprises me when I see things in Denver that you would find in nearly any big city. Things like shoeshine stands, convenience stores that don't have gas pumps and people who've clearly never gone on a hike a day in their lives.

3) I have officially learned this lesson: always, always, always check online first. I stopped in at the library on my way back (whoa! the downtown branch is HUGE!) and discovered that I needed a driver's license and some piece of mail with my address on it in order to get a card. So, no library card for d today. Sad can't check out any free books or music face.

4) This morning I ran down to the really large park that's about 7 blocks away to run some laps around it and then come back. This was my second time doing this. Both times I say good morning to everyone I pass both coming and going. I'm pretty sure people think I'm weird 'cause I only get a couple of responses back. Most people just ignore me. But in FtC nearly everyone would say, 'Hi,' or 'Good morning,' in return. Sometimes they'd even say it first. I've been in big cities enough in my life to know that most people exist within their urban bubbles, but I'm sorry, I don't want to live that way. So, I'm going to keep saying 'hi' and 'good morning' to folks and they can just deal.


god, that was a really good wknd

Saturday: A friend and I got up fairly early and drove to Boulder and then hiked up Mt Sanitas. Which isn't so much a 'Mount' really, but still a pretty steep climb. As, you can see from the pic, a thousand other people thought this might also be a good way to start off the day—which, unlike a lot of people out here, I don't mind at all. I think it's great to see the trails getting so much use as long as everyone is respectful both of Mama Nature and the other folks trying to enjoy her. Which most people out here seem to be.

I came back home and finished unpacking (mostly), took a little nap and then drove up to Ft C to see some friends and eat some grilled meat. It was a great night full of cheap beer, failed prank tricks involving the densest cake known to man and some kind of dangerous sparklers.

Oh. And some pretty great City Park fireworks courtesy of good ol' Ft C herself.

Today, instead of the Noah's Ark-level flooding rains predicted we got sunshine and cool temps so I decided to walk over to the grocery store (instead of drive) to see my neighborhood and also see if this particular way of hunting and gathering would be worth it in the future. Also, I got a really great parking spot right in front of my building last night and I'm gonna hold onto that baby as long as possible.

On my morning excursion I saw two men walking back from church holding hands (awesome), got attacked by not one, but two different pigeons (this is why birds freak me out people—they sense my fear and try to perpetuate the reasons for the phobia) and I swear that a man sitting outside the grocery store asked me, 'Would you like to find love today?' Luckily I had my headphones in and could pretend that I had not heard him.

The sum total of my city experience today was that I need to either quit drinking diet coke or get really, really strong. Because even though it only took me ten minutes to walk back from the store, that is still a long way to carry a 12-pack.

Today, right this second, I am so fucking happy I moved here and I am totally in love with my apartment, my neighborhood and my life. This could change at any minute, but for now I am just going to enjoy it.


i will not be a shut-in

I rode my bike through downtown Denver today for the first time and didnotdie. So stop worrying, Mom. I'll be ok. I went the wrong way down several one-way streets, ran through some stop lights that I didn't notice because I was trying to look at the map in my hand and got honked at exactly once when I didn't even think I was doing anything wrong. BUT. I did not die.

I also met a friend for lunch today, stopped by my bank where I learned that I didn't need to transfer my accounts down here (which is kinda weird), and started a trial membership at a gym that is sooooooo not my speed. Machines instead of free weights, an attached spa for chrissakes and pilates classes. All for the low, low (high, high) price of $79/mo (!!!!!!!!!!!! - living in a city is more expensive than Bumpkinville). I did sit in the steam room though, which was pretty frickin' awesome.

The other task I accomplished today was doing laundry in the building's communal laundry room. What is proper etiquette here? Can I take up both of the washing machines and dryers at the same time? Or is that bad form? It did allow me to get my laundry done in an hour and a half though, which was pretty frickin' great. Plus, I got no nasty notes scrawled on my laundry basket and as far as I know, no one stole my underwear, so it didn't seem like I'd done anything too terrible.

Awesome things about Denver's tv channels? - FOUR Spanish channels. FOUR. Thatissoawesome. I love Spanish television.

So, see? I left the house today and survived. Tomorrow I might even go on a hike.


it's been a rollercoaster

One morning I'll wake up and think this is the best thing since automatic hand towel dispensers were imagined by whatever genius had that idea, the next day I'll wake up and think this was possibly the worst decision I've ever made, including that time I bought orange pants.

I've got all my stuff here. Most of it is unpacked. I still need to hang pictures. And find the bolts that attach the headboard to the bed frame. I got rid of a lot of stuff before I moved, but seeing it all in this little space makes me think I need to get rid of more.

I found the grocery store on Tuesday and still need to find a coffee shop, a pharmacy and a gym. I saw several homeless people on my run this morning, but even in a big city it was possible for me to run in the street (I hate running on the sidewalk) without any fear of getting run over. It was 5.30 in the morning, but I still expected a lot of people to be out and about.

I feel a little like I'm back in college, living in the dorm again. But that's not entirely a bad feeling. I've also decided that I need to think of this new domicile as less of a home and more of a home base. Even though a very, very small part of me feels like I took a step backward, I really like not being a home owner. Life feels freer and more simple. Plus, I really like not having to mow the lawn. God how I hated that chore.


those darlins / red light love

I've actually heard of/read about Those Darlins before on other music blogs that I read, I'd just never really tried all that hard to find one of their albums. They sounded like something I'd be ok with listening to—bluegrass-y/alternative country, but there's something about an all female band that just has never done a lot for me. I know this sounds really, really sexist, and it pretty much is, and I have no excuse, just that every other all-girl band that I've ever heard of was sort of douchey and pretentious and maybe tried to hard to prove things. e.g. 4 Non Blondes.

Anyway, I got this in my mailbox the other day and didn't really have time to give it a listen until this morning. And, honestly, I wasn't really that motivated to, but listen I finally did and I have to say, that it's actually pretty good. Sort of 50's Rockabilly if there is such a thing.

Apparently they're going on tour this summer also. And they're on facebook.

Red Light Love - Those Darlins


just call me benjamin button

Most people in life follow similar paths: get born > grow up > move out of parents' house > get married > buy house of their own > have kids > grow old > die. This happens because it's a fairly logical progression. For whatever reasons though, my life has not necessarily gone by The Plan. Honestly, I used to worry about this. A lot. And I still do to a certain extent: what am I missing out on? Why have I not sought out what is the normal way of getting things done? Will I die before seeing the pyramids? But mostly, I'm totally cool with it. I think things happen certain ways for a reason, and we usually don't learn the reason until much after the fact.

So, recently, when I finally decided that home ownership was just not for me, no matter how much I wanted it to be, and how much I felt like it was what I was Supposed To Do, I gave in and decided it was time to just sell the damn thing. About a month ago, some lucky couple snatched it up and I am finally going to be a freer man. And I've decided to move to the booming metropolis of Denver. For me, this is a big move. Despite one very brief stint, I've never lived in a city as big as Denver and frankly, I'm not a small amount of nervous about it. It has me thinking that once again I'm doing things backwards. Whereas most people move to large urban areas when they're young and full of energy and move to the suburbs when they're old and tired, I'm doing it the other way around. I've always been a late bloomer though and this is just another instance where I'm about twenty years late.

Part of me kind of wishes I could back out of it and just stay put, but the larger part knows that this will end up being a good thing. I'll have more access to work and hopefully a larger social circle to choose from. Plus, hopefully, I'll be able to save a lot of money and finally be able to travel to all of the places I've always wanted to see. Which are many and varied.

At any rate, regardless of what happens, I'm once again, packing up the moving truck and hitting the road. Wish me luck.


i'm officially a sheeple

Yeah. I'm on Twitter now, dammit. Sorry. It is pretty addictive though.


be a mother lover

Ad Camp (my business) has decided to start offering up t-shirt designs. We've partnered with Zoo City Apparel in Missoula, Montana who will handle the printing and shipping for us.

Go here to order yours.

patterson hood / murdering oscar

In what is a first for this here blog, a music rep emailed me an mp3* and suggested that I might want to post it and pimp it. Maybe she thinks I'm a music blog. What she doesn't realize is that almost no one reads it, so her effort was maybe wasted. Joke's on her I guess.

I neither hate nor love what she sent along, but for some reason I feel compelled to do as she requested and post the darn thing. For the sheer novelty of the experience I guess.

It's Patterson Hood's (of Drive By Truckers fame) latest solo effort. I have never been able to jump on the band wagon of the DBT's. Which is odd considering their music should be right up my alley. There's just something about them that doesn't sit right. Their voices? Their kind of not so good lyrics? I don't know but every time I hear one of their songs, I just think, 'Eh.'

I Understand Now - Patterson Hood

*If this is the start of a trend, maybe I'll become a music blog after all. What do you think?


the start of something big

In the timeless activity of teenagers everywhere during every age, the four of them had been driving along that dark, dirt, country road late at night, or early in the morning (whichever way you thought of it). Outside it had been full of that kind of hovering, hungry dark that seems to fill up all the spaces and wants to molest anything possessed of light and life—to devour it. The feeble glow from the headlights strained to illuminate their way and they either uncomfortably avoided looking out the windows altogether or squinted to see what was not there. They had been laughing nervously about something stupid, the radio playing softly in the background when suddenly, surprisingly, there was a dark flutter of some flying thing, followed instantly by a loud thump. Instinctively, they all turned their heads to look out the back window, even Scott, who was driving, craned his head around just as he slammed on the brakes.
'Oh my god,' Katie whispered. 'You hit something.'
'What was that?'
'I think we hit a bird,' David, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, said. 'A fucking bird. Who hits a bird with their car? How does that fucking happen even?'
They sat in the stopped car for a bit, silent, wondering what to do next, reluctant to leave the soft dashboard glow which provided a small amount of comfort against the voracious night.
'Someone should go look.'
'I'm not going out there.'
'What good would it do? We can't do anything for it. Plus, it could be anywhere, how would we find it?'

Somehow a crazy idea spread slowly from one to the other that the hitting of the bird, the possible killing of this animal, portended something glorious. It was rare to kill a bird with a car. Not so much the furred ones, but the feathered beasts? It was unheard of. Surely it meant something shiny, right? Not something twisted and sinister. Regardless of how the darkness felt. Scott, laughing, pressed his foot down on the accelerator and they drove away from whatever possibilities were created there.


rabbit, run by john updike

Upon hearing of John Updike's departure from this mortal coil in what?, this past January?, I realized that I'd never actually sat down and read any of Updike's extensive catalog of work. Of course I'd heard of him—seemingly as the author of somewhat salacious novels about modern day witches and somesuch—but I'd never bothered to actually crack open the cover of any of them. Mostly because they were seemingly salacious novels about modern day witches and somesuch.

Well, it took me awhile to get around to it, but a couple of weeks ago, I made a trek to the library and picked up a copy of arguably his most famous novel, Rabbit, Run. I figured since he was dead and all, he didn't really need any more money, so borrowing it was better than actually owning it. Especially if I didn't like it. What I wasn't expecting was a well-written, highly entertaining, hard to put down, really great story. About a protagonist with a dilemma that nearly every single one of us can relate to—the desire to escape the mundaneness of every day life. And Updike has a command of the language that can be simply amusing or stunningly breathtaking:
He doesn't want to go down along the water anyway; his image is of himself going right down the middle, right into the broad soft belly of the land, surprising the dawn cottonfields with his northern plates.
The beginning of the story finds Rabbit impulsively getting into his car after a long day and a run-in with his increasingly unattractive wife, and heading out on the open road. Surprisingly,he ends up turning around the very second he makes a wrong turn and gets a little lost, so his desire for escape is somewhat tepid at best, but still, he yearns.

The rest of the book explores the paradox of how easy it seems on the surface to escape from the mire of one's life, but how in reality, it's extremely difficult. Every time Rabbit thinks he's making a little bit of progress, something or someone comes along and sucks him right back down to the bottom. And, really when it comes right down to it, Rabbit doesn't want to leave all that badly. He's just a wee bit bored. And full of himself. The main problem is, in the end, that Rabbit is a bit of a douche and if he had half as much backbone as he thinks he does, he'd have had absolutely no problem whatsoever leaving this life he supposedly detests. Something he says about halfway through the book sums up his story in its entirety:
'If you have the guts to be yourself, other people will pay your price.'

All in all, it was a well written, charming story full of graphic sex and middle-class suburban adventure, but I'm not all that inspired to read the rest of the series.


how big is your bladder?

Ask anyone who knows me pretty well, and they'll confirm that this is true: I'm sort of obsessed with bodily functions. I love experiencing them. I love hearing about other people's experiences with them and I especially love talking about them. I'm not shy about sharing my experiences with others either. I will happily pee, fart, burp, pick my nose, whatever, whenever. No matter who else is around. I am fascinated with the daily episodic experiment that is being a human. Therefore, when I recently ran across the website, Daytum, it's probably not much of a surprise that I decided to use it to record my daily bodily functions. As friend, t attested, 'It's like it was made with just you in mind.'

And it was.

The guy who started the website decided one year to create an annual report of his life, and he kept track of literally everything. How much money he spent, how many hours he slept, how many beers he drank. When he got done with the year, he published the results just like a company would. Then he turned to the dub dub dub to bring his vision to the rest of the world. Of course, I have neither the patience nor the time to go into that much detail, so for now, I'm just keeping track of how many times I pee (among other things). Just that number alone is extremely fascinating.