Thursday, December 30, 2010

Favorite Songs of 2010

Mine's gonna be a little different. I don't listen to the radio and rarely search for under-the-radar music, so I'm not very up-to-date on things. If it wasn't for Schneweis and a couple of other people, I'd be even worse. So my favorite song list of 2010 isn't going to be of songs that came out this year, but songs that I heard for the first time this year. Don't expect to find a whole lot of hidden gems in this list.

Listed in order of when I first heard them, starting with January:

Eminence Front- The Who. After Keith Moon overdosed, the number of great songs The Who released could probably be counted on one hand. This one would be the middle finger, assuming the first two you counted were 'Who Are You' and 'You Better You Bet.' Which obviously they would have been.

Peacebone- Animal Collective. I've never been a huge pot smoker. Dabbled, but never sat in a smoke-filled dorm room and tried to sync up Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz or anything. Ipso facto, I'm not a huge expert on what bands are amazing to listen to while you're high as shit. But still....Animal Collective would be amazing to listen to while you're high as shit.

Bang Pop- Free Energy. As mentioned before, I rarely discover new music on my own. So when I loved this song upon my first listen early this year, then later this summer heard it on the radio, I was pumped up (as Gangel can attest to, he was there.) I can't remember the last time I correctly predicted a hit single before it was released. I'm sure MC Hammer was involved though.

It's Only Me (The Wizard of MagicLand)- Barenaked Ladies. In NHL 2002 for PS2, they play little clips of songs while your team is warming up before the game. You can skip through it at any time, but not before about 3 seconds goes by. That 3-second stretch was enough for me to be intrigued enough about this song to google the lyrics, find the song, download it and enjoy it....but yet I always still skip it when I'm about to play a game.

Warm Heart of Africa- The Very Best. Takes home the award for song I've listened to the most in 2010. Although The Very Best opened for Vampire Weekend in Kansas City a couple months ago, and they were terrrrrrible. They reminded me of the Red Stripe commercial...."Red Stripe Beer, Red Stripe Light Beer, Red Stripe Beer, Red Stripe Light Beer."

Ragoo- Kings of Leon. I'm a little bit late to the Kings of Leon party. Is the keg dry? The cops haven't been called yet, have they? Where should I put my jacket?

That's the Joint- Funky Four + One. One of my favorite random genres of music is the hip-hop/dance of the early 1980's. Seven-to-ten minutes long, not a curse word to be found, extended dance beats in between verses, one section devoted entirely to introducing every member of the group to the listener-- all awesome. One of my favorite playlists to rock while road-tripping or summer boozing. (Also, the only link I could find for this song is only like 2 minutes long and crappy quality, but it confirmed even more how much I love that style of music. I would so fit in as an early 1980's black guy in an ensemble like that. At least until the cocaine era really took off.)

Pastime Paradise- Stevie Wonder. I am a huge Stevie Wonder fan, and I also pride myself in knowing which songs or artists are being sampled in rap songs. Yet I had NO clue that Coolio's 'Gangsta Paradise' was stolen from this song until this year. Color me embarrassed.

Just Breathe- Pearl Jam. Emotions everywhere in this song. Floors. Ceiling. Walls. Emotions.

Stand- Blues Traveler. Probably falls into the category of "How the hell didn't I hear this song until 2010?" It's a tragedyyyyyyy! (see what I did there?)

The Frug- Rilo Kiley. Jenny Lewis has one of those voices (not to mention one of those pairs of boobies) that makes me fall completely and totally in love with the lead singer, and it's on display in this song. Other examples: Alicia Keys, Vanessa Carlton, Neko Case, Steve Perry.

Tighten Up- The Black Keys. One of the only songs on this list that was actually released in 2010. And I only heard it because they were constantly playing a clip of it in between episodes during a gigantic marathon of The Hills. Say what you will about Lauren Conrad and Spencer and Heidi and the gang, but there are few things I enjoy more on lazy hungover Sundays than a good ol' fashioned Hills marathon.

Change- Blind Melon. I thought these guys were supposed to be one-hit wonders? Or maybe this was a hit too and I just don't remember it? I think I like this song more than 'No Rain.'

Friend of the Devil- The Grateful Dead. Every once in a while I think to myself, "Hey. I've never really tried to be a fan of ______, I bet I'd really like them though." So I'll totally immerse myself in that band for a few days, just listening to song after song after song. I did that with the Grateful Dead a few months ago, and it didn't work out so well. But I do love this song.

Jump!- John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. I've talked about this song already. It's still lodged in my brain pretty well; nothing can lift me out of a bad mood quicker than this little ditty. So controversial, too. There is a pretty heavy divide amongst my friends on whether or not this song is any good. Probably my overall favorite of 2010.

Happy Early New Year.....let's keep it real while keepin' it safe tomorrow night.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas And Stuff

Christmas week was solid. Ate a lot of Red Pepper. Drank a lot at Bonzer's. Lost more money in under 10 minutes of blackjack at Charlie Brown's than I paid for in drinks the whole week (this is more a statement on how much Bonzer's hooks us up than on how much I lost in blackjack. But still, not even two shoes? C'mon, man.)

Saw plenty of people I wanted to, saw a couple people unexpectedly that were a very pleasant surprise, saw a couple more unexpectedly that I could've gone without seeing, got blatantly hit on by a female that I DEFINITELY didn't need to be solicited by, yada yada yada. Strikes and gutters, my man. Too much happened over too long a span of time to get into detail. Also, I'd never taken that much time off of work before, all my trips are usually little wham-bam-thank you ma'am weekend trips, or maybe a Thursday-Sunday, so now I'm slammed at work like never before.

Possibly the highlight of the whole week: when the KU/California game came on Wednesday night, and my boy Brady Morningstar was sporting his baggy undershirt again. My phone immediately blew up like it was my birthday. Lots of high fives and laughter in the bar. As Jim Nantz would say, "What a moment!" Bigs up to the Brady Morningstar Undershirt Brigade. The power of the internet, people. It's a very real thing.

On a serious note, a couple awful things happened over break as well. The big car accident at the airport in Grand Forks that killed two small children-- their father (who was driving and survived, along with one other son) is a friend of the family. Also, my family and I don't do Christmas presents for each other anymore, we take that money and donate it to one of my mom's friends, since her 14-year-old daughter is very sick, and medical bills are literally crushing her family's finances. Anyway, they found out on Christmas Eve that there isn't anything else the doctors can do now except ease the pain until she passes. Tragedies obviously suck no matter when they happen, but it seems like it's just a little bit worse when they happen around Christmas. So thoughts and prayers to both of those families.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ok, I Believe You...But My Tommy Gun Don't

Tonight I start my voyage to the Great White North for a nice long Christmas break. Tonight will either be Omaha or Minneapolis, and tomorrow either Fargo or Grand Forks, I'm still weighing my options, and trying to make as many people happy as possible. I'm a nice guy like that. Either way, I already gave up my ticket to the KU game tomorrow morning, which happens to be Josh Selby's much-anticipated debut. Word on the street is it will be one of the rowdiest games in Fieldhouse history. So basically I chose extra time with friends over Josh Selby. I regret it already. My friends are pricks, mostly.

Things I am most excited for:

Charitable gaming: Goes without saying. My blackjack shakes aren't as bad as they usually are, since I've had a couple of casino trips in the last couple months....but still.

Noonball: Gonna run some games on the ol' Orange Top at Hyslop for the first time in over three years. Every other time I've been back home since I moved away, I'm usually busy seeing people or golfing during the day, but I'm finally making noonball a priority this time. I'm a very nostalgic person, so it might be tough to play with tears of joy running down my face. Then one of the black guys who hated me back in the day will throw an elbow or a punch, and I'll be ready to play again. The smart money is on either JJ or Joe, if you're gambling at home.

Red Pepper: The other day, I came across some sort of coconut body wash with little black specks in it, and I practically started drooling, thinking about Red Pepper's legendary white sauce. I was dangerously close to pouring some in my mouth, just for a little sample, but then your mom told me to hurry up in the shower because she was going to be late for work.

Christmas movies: the ones I watch every year: Elf (already watched that one while decorating the Christmas tree, hey remember when Paul watched it every single day for 24 days in a row?); National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation; Home Alone (when will that movie stop being awesome? Never?); Garfield's Christmas; A Christmas Carol; and my personal favorite, A Muppet Family Christmas, which I watch on Christmas Day every year. It's pretty much the only reason why there is still a VHS player hooked up at my parents' house (thanks Mom!) Even at 28 years old, it brings me great joy. Damn I love Muppets. And if you don't, then you hate Christmas and I'm sorry.


One unrelated side note: if you are thinking about putting a Smirnoff Ice in a roommate or friend's stocking, make sure the stocking is SECURELY weighted down to support the weight of the Ice- especially if you are sneaking the Ice into the stocking right before you leave for work while your roommate or friend is sleeping. If you do not complete this crucial step, the Ice may or may not drag the stocking off the mantle, and the Ice may or may not shatter on the floor and startle your roommate out of her peaceful slumber, and she may or may not have to clean up the mess on the floor while she curses your name. Just a little word of warning this holiday season.


Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, Selby is free at last!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Ouch, Ouch, You're On My Hair

I got my world rocked a couple nights ago.

My roommate and I were watching TV, on opposite couches, when my feet, dangling over the edge of my couch, grazed her head. She exclaimed "Ouch, ouch, you're on my hair!" I told her to calm down, I barely touched you, what are you talking about. She informed me that it was from Wedding Crashers, right after Vince Vaughn drops the "Just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels" line. And she was very adamant about it.

Immediately, my eyes lit up, and I knew a bet was upcoming. Allow myself to brag about....myself for a minute. I NEVER get these kind of trivial, I-don't-even-know-why-I'm-betting, nobody-really-cares-but-you type of bets wrong. I'm probably at about 97% for my life. (Not that this was a bet, per se, but the whole Billy Enforsee fiasco is one clear exception.) Most of my friends won't even bet me on this kind of stuff anymore, since I'm right so often. I've only lived with Jillian a couple months, and she has already lost a bunch of these movie trivia bets with me, enough so that even though she was 100% positive on this one, she was absolutely terrified because of how sure I was of myself. I was already calculating what I wanted to win after this was settled. A night of (heavy) drinking paid for? My laundry done for a month? A nice seafood dinner and I'll never call her again?

So we went to the tape, and I'll be goddamned if right after the just the tip line, ol' Vince Vaughn doesn't add in "or ouch, ouch, you're on my hair." My mind was officially blown. As Jillian erupted in celebration and I struggled to pick my jaw up off the floor, I reasoned that the only possible way I had NEVER, EVER heard that line was because I was always too busy LOL'ing (laughing out loud) at the "just the tip" part.

The joke is gonna be on her, though, because as her reward for winning, she requested that I cook her dinner. And yes, she is fully aware of my almost legendary kitchen impotence, so why she thinks I can cook her ANYTHING is beyond me. If she thinks she is getting anything besides a plate of different flavored hot pockets, arranged neatly on a serving platter, with perhaps a smattering of Cheez-its as garnish....she is sorely mistaken.

So I received a little lesson in humility; I guess I'm not ALWAYS right. (A lesson that I will surely never learn from. The next time a random trivia bet comes up, I'm still gonna be just as cocky and annoying as I always am. That's how I roll, son.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Real-World Applications Of The Godfather

There's a section of The Godfather book that the movie never gets into (one of the reasons why the book is so much better, not to mention the greatest book of all time) about Johnny Fontane and his troubles with women. He reaches a personal conclusion wherein he decides he will always love and cherish the women in his life, and never be angry with them, no matter what they do to him or how badly they treat him, just because it's easier for him to do that than to constantly be fighting with them. And because he makes that concession, he no longer feels guilty about anything he does on his part towards women. It's been one of my favorite parts of the book ever since reading it the very first time ten years ago. I started using this attitude in my life with various things, and it has served me well-- I call it my Johnny Fontane Breaking Point.

The point of all that: I have reached my Johnny Fontane Breaking Point with fantasy football. I will never again complain about anything fantasy football-related, I will just accept whatever crap it throws at me forever, without a word of anger. Tony Romo and Frank Gore suffer season-ending injuries? Fine. I lose a sure victory because Michael Vick drops a 50 spot on Monday night? Fair enough. Randy Moss signs with my favorite team, then drops off the face of the Earth? Cool beans. I lose my most recent game because of a Tuesday morning adjustment that awards Ike an extra point? (That one really is OK, it would've been my second tie in a row, which is gayer than a bag of dicks. How are there ties in fantasy football? We need to change that setting for next year, Commissioner, I would honestly rather lose than tie.)

But now, on the flip side of that coin....if I feel like focusing all my energy on gambling instead, or not once checking my team's score until Tuesday morning, or no longer debating for 15 minutes whether to start LeGarrette Blount against Atlanta or Jahvid Best against Chicago, or someday just walking away from fantasy football altogether.....then I do it with no guilt in my heart.

I actually started my new fantasy football attitude a couple weeks ago, right after the Michael Vick game, when Lane came up and asked me, eyes aglow and shit-eating grin plastered on his face, if I had any thoughts on that game the previous night, expecting a typical fantasy football "I got soooo screwed" rant. My response: a zen-like "No, not really. It's over with."

Johnny Fontane, bitches.


Also, you may be a Godfather fan, and right about now you may be thinking to yourself about the part in the movie where Johnny Fontane goes to Vito Corleone and complains to him, and Vito slaps him in the face and tells him "You can ACT LIKE A MAN!!!" And you may be thinking about pointing out to me that that lesson involving Johnny Fontane is equally, or perhaps even moreso, applicable in this particular situation. But save your time; I'm aware of the possibility.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Take It To The Bridge

I've alluded to the fateful night when KU lost to Bucknell in the NCAA tournament and I drank myself into a stupor and passed out on a bridge in Indianapolis many times over the years, but never actually told the whole story. It's provided constant fodder for my friends to rip on me, and is usually good for being the final stake in a back-and-forth, kind of like the old "Well that may be, but at least I didn't sleep with Lumberg" comment that finishes it.

So now I'm gonna tell it. Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story: The Tale of Bucknell & The Bridge


Paul, Fundy, Noles, Schne, JV and I were in Indianapolis for spring break, attending first and second round games at the RCA Dome after stops in Chicago and Louisville. (Aside: this was the only spring break trip I took in college. Why? Because the first and second rounds of March Madness always fall during spring break, and I didn't ever want to miss them. When we were 19, Paul, Russell and Fundy went to Cancun, and I declined to go with, not because I couldn't afford it, not because it didn't sound like fun....because it was Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison's senior year, and I didn't want to miss any of their final tournament games. So it's fitting that the only time I went anywhere during spring break, it was to attend games in person. I am a weirdo.)

So we're in the hotel room, eating a combined 700 buffalo wings and having some beers and watching games. The KU game wasn't televised, but I wasn't too concerned. I mean, it was Bucknell, right? As the game went on, though, and KU was failing to pull away, I started to mini-panic, and at halftime Fundy and I headed to a bar to watch it, while Paul and Noles stayed behind to rest their vaginas.

Blah blah blah, I get progressively drunker and angrier as KU fails to pull away. When Wayne Simien missed his best Christian Laettner impression (how did that shot not go in?) I literally crumple to the floor of the packed bar and lay there for a solid ten minutes-- my second most embarrassing moment as a sports fan, #1 being when Aaron Boone hit the walk-off in 2003 against the Red Sox and, fueled by a case of beer in my belly, I destroyed our parking lot with a hammer as terrified bystanders looked on.

After I got up and sat wordlessly at the bar for a few more minutes (Fundy knew not to say a word the whole time; he didn't even attempt to get me up off the floor) some drunk guy saw my KU shirt and started heckling me. I ignored him for a while, then turned to him and said something like "Look. I know you're bigger than me, and I've only thrown 3/4 of a punch in my entire life, and you'll probably kick my ass, but if you say one more word to me, we're going outside and settling this." He looked extremely confused and his friends dragged him off-- we learned later that it was his 21st birthday and was so drunk he pretty much didn't know where he was.

So a couple of his friends, some pretty attractive girls from Wisconsin, came over to apologize and buy Fundy and I a round of shots. I was still in "get the fuck away from me, I'm not capable of interacting with humans" mode, but they wouldn't be denied, and soon they were buying round after round of patron for everyone while they talked me off the ledge. I don't think I paid for a drink in this bar.

Fast forward a couple hours, and this Wisconsin group (three girls, one regular guy, and the original drunk heckler, who is pretty much my best friend by this point) has talked Fundy and I into going dancing. I've kinda latched onto one girl in particular (I remember only two things about her: she was Hawaiian and her name started with a K. To use a famous quote from Dunph: I couldn't pick her out of a lineup of two. For purposes of the story, we'll call her Kahlua) and we are tearing up the dance floor. All of a sudden, Fundy comes sprinting through crowd, literally elbowing people out of the way. They're bumping 50 Cent pretty loud, but I can still hear him coming from a distance: "Jaaaaames! James! Ron Artest just walked in! Jaaaaaaames!"

This was about four months after the infamous melee in Detroit, so after a few minutes of us making the obligatory "I'll give you 100 bucks to lob a beer at him and see if he starts another brawl" jokes, we attempt to talk to him. We're quickly pushed aside by his giant entourage, and while we're regrouping, Artest notices "my" girl and beckons her over. I say "my" girl because while I was pseudo-dating a girl at the time, and wasn't about to bring Kahlua back to our hotel or anything, it was pretty clear that she was down for some just the tip, just for a second, just to see how it feels.

Kahlua is terrified to talk to the craziest player in the NBA, in the middle of about ten massive bodyguards to boot (weird right?) but we eventually convince her to go, hoping that she is our ticket into partying with Ron Artest and his posse the rest the night. Alas, it has the opposite effect, and we don't see Kahlua again, and eventually leave the bar to walk back to the hotel.

Here's where my personal plane crashed. The memories of dancing with my Hawaiian beauty and the thrill of seeing Ron Artest start fading, and the memories of KU losing to Bucknell seep back in. I get more and more depressed the longer we walk, and the last conscious memory I have is changing into a hooded sweatshirt, loading as many beers as my pockets will possibly hold, and leaving the hotel again.

The next morning I wake up on a bridge near our hotel, a pile of empties around my body, some more floating in the canal below (sorry city of Indianapolis) and absolutely freezing my balls off.

Why am I telling this story now: I was creeping around Facebook a while ago and found this picture belonging to JV's sister, who was visting Indianapolis:

That's right friends. To the right is the hotel we stayed at, in the foreground is the glorious Indianapolis Canal, and off there in the distance is my sleeping bridge. I know, you have to squint a bit (Enhance. Enhance. Enhance.) but I promise that is it. I laughed for like half an hour when I first saw this picture. No word on whether or not it's been renamed after me. One can only hope.

I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society....closed.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I've been 28 years old for around 15 hours now and I already hate it. Mentally I still feel like I'm 13 or 14. Will I EVER stop playing Super Nintendo and Sega? How long until it's officially creepy that I think Selena Gomez and other Disney stars are hot? And physically I feel like I'm around 60. Don't let anyone ever tell you that back injuries are easy to recover from. I played pickup basketball last night for the first time in a while, and when games were done I just collapsed and laid there like Eight Belles.

I don't care about my birthday at all, and I never really have. I don't like having presents given to me, or special things done for me, or being the center of attention. I don't hate my birthday, I'm not the Grinch stealing Christmas or anything, I think it's just another day. I scheduled a dentist appointment for this morning, nobody could understand that. Plus I just don't like announcing it to everyone. Word got out around the office today, and then I was taking crap for not telling anyone it was my bday, but what am I gonna do, stroll in with a t-shirt that says it's my birthday, everyone come look at me? Plus I'm just feeling especially old today. Only two more years until 30? No thanks.

A bunch of the kids in the two-year-old classroom made me a birthday card (our offices are in a schoolhouse that is part of the organization.) Within three minutes, I had dropped it behind a giant file cabinet/shelf thing in my office. It is now gone forever, there's no way I'm moving that monstrosity. Hopefully the kids forgot they even made it for me.

The only two birthdays I've ever anticipated and properly enjoyed were 18 (I think I spent my first six weekends after turning 18 in the Shooting Star Casino) and 21 (no more running from the cops or pouring booze down the drain at parties.) One of my favorite games in college was Paul and I would try and get drunker than the birthday boy on each other's birthdays. It was an impressive feat, what with all the free shots the actual birthday boy would be taking. I'm happy to say that almost every year, we both succeeded. I miss college.

It works out nicely now because my friend CK's birthday is the 4th, so she has the official party for herself, and I slip under the radar and manage to squeak by with only a few unwanted shots. Here's what we were discussing the other night: when was the last time, if ever, you were excited to take a shot? Like someone walked up to you and handed you a shot and you were like "Yayyyyyyy, this is just what I felt like drinking right now! This beer was getting gross, I totally wanted to mix in some tequila right about now!" I think I've been grimacing at every shot that's been handed to me since about 2004.

Really, the only thing I want for my birthday is Brady Morningstar to bring back the baggy undershirt look tonight for the UCLA game. That would make my whole year.

I just wrote this stream-of-consciousness style and it took like three minutes. Nice. Might have to keep banging them out quick like that. That's what she said.