Monday, May 31, 2010


Adapations of the word 'bro':







and what I, for some unexplainable reason, found unbelievably hysterical today...


And we move on...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

That PB Is So Good, Right?

When you’re young, it’s the cookie jar. Steal when you’re not supposed to, and fear being castigated.

That’s what the age old children’s song tells us, at least.

And when you’re old (or a hungry young adult too preoccupied to make an actual meal), it’s the peanut butter jar. Dip into it when you shouldn’t and, well, the jar will be empty in no time and you’ll soon feel like an unhealthy, overweight glutton.

But that PB is sooooo good, right?

Yeah, just when I thought the habit was a thing of the past, I just grabbed a spoon and full jar of the creamy goodness only to finish half of it in a sitting. Bad, but not close to the obscenity of inhaling wholesale sized portions of Skippy the way I did even four years ago. As if I didn’t already have a portion control problem with the majority of food I consume, peanut butter always seems to grab me at my weakest. It’s my culinary Achilles heel, as I’m sure it is to countless others.

For ages now, I’ve said I’m actually going to watch what I eat…if for any other reason, to be healthy. You’d think with a set of newly inked ribs, I would have already started. But alas, I haven’t…and chances are, unless I suddenly catch myself gaining 30 pounds and developing a set of cankles, I probably won’t.

I love food. This country loves food. So when the politicos speak of an epidemic plaguing our children, and once you’ve acknowledged the truth of their case, toast to the one commonality we all share. It’s something politics, race, and religion will never accomplish.

C’mon everybody, glass half full.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

NASCARolina Raise Up

There’s coffee in my bloodstream

Ribs are sore

Unbelievably gorgeous day in Charlotte

They say Switchfoot brings the rock

I bet I’ll see mullets tonight

NASCARolina raise up

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Gem In White Crosses

Against Me! has never been hard to embrace. As a consummate sucker for fiery, driving, honest material, their early work was a fitting anthem to my formative teenage years. Unlike a number of other bare-bones acts whose sound and message grew stale following that phase, each Against Me! record captivated me enough to follow them through the next. If it wasn't their evolving sound, which up until 2007's New Wave remained largely consistent, it was something else: a new label, a lineup change, and most certainly, their unparalleled live show.

I have to admit, I was concerned following the release of their aforementioned major label debut. Behind all the hype and public praise, what I heard was the sound of a band at odds with the newfound demands of mainstream exposure. Writing for the masses was not in their blood, and they (or the powers that be) weren't yet ready to part with their angsty, anti-establishment identity. Not by a long shot.

Enter White Crosses, the band's fifth full length studio release and second for the Warner imprint, Sire. Though my initial impressions of the lead single, "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", weren't approving, neither arrangement-wise nor lyrically, I have since been floored by the album in its entirety. In White Crosses, we have a bloody gem on our hands.

Let me be clear. This is not an album for the elitist street scene who failed to accept the band beyond their unadulterated, rebel rousing anthems of Axl Rose and Cowboy. This is not the mere product of four fire starters in their teens and early twenties with a blue collar ethic and a few power chords to their credit.

This is a thematically forward and unapologetic ode to growth, wrapped in familiar Against Me! cadences and Tom Gabel's most wholesome songwriting to date. This is a lean, 10-song effort that, opposite of New Wave, spares filler. With White Crosses, the band has largely ditched the man to touch on personal politics - love, loss, courage, etc; a natural result, one might argue, of their time in the commercial limelight, ascent to 30, and for some, fatherhood. With alternative mastermind Butch Vig on the boards for a second go around, they're favoring big choruses and big harmonies to minimalist production. Look no further than the emotionally moving "Because of the Shame" and album-closer "Bamboo Bones" as stellar examples. On melody and storytelling alone, I'd push the former as one of their best works to date.

Sure, White Crosses isn't groundbreaking. I wasn't expecting it to be. But it sure is a necessary, and even more so, worthy, next step for a band striving to push themselves and their careers forward. I'm telling you now, you'd be silly not to pick this up.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There Are Footprints On My Ceiling

The mighty Social D just signed to Epitaph. Wow. Monster news from one of my all time favorite rock bands/frontmen in Mike Ness.

Not that this strikes me completely out of left field. If anything, it's exciting to know that after three decades and six years sans new material, the band is resurging with a vengeance. Very, very cool.

I could write pages about Social Distortion's general relevance to modern rock n' roll (and the southern california punk rock movement of the 80's/90's), their signifiance to me personally, why the new label partnership makes sense, blah blah blah. But I'm at a show. And I won't. And you should invest the time to understand Mike Ness and company anyhow.

Suffice it to say this news reinforces Epitaph's business character as much as it speaks to Social D's fabric as an iconic west coast rock unit. Your melding two of the most respected names in the alternative/independent music landscape, while bolstering the label with a source of revenue in these times of mega financial hardship (especially for this industry). Contrary to some of their indie contemporaries hopping onto every short-lived trend for a quick buck, Epitaph's been adding some formidable, proven names to their roster for the past two years. To sign Social Distortion is to fortify both their business strategy AND the identity they've maintained since day one.

In celebration of this news, I'll be spinning my Social D records nonstop this week. I suggest you follow suit. And for those unfamiliar with these OC juggernauts, here's some intro tunes to wet your appetite:

When The Angels Sing
Reach For The Sky
Dear Lover
Angel's Wings
Cold Feelings

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Punk Rock and Other Shenanigans

About a week ago, I took my computer in to get fixed. It was the third episode in as many years that it had failed me (this time with a busted USB drive and cracked screen), and time was winding down to cash in on my all-coverage warranty. Needless to say, the piece was on its last legs.

Yesterday, I received an email from the good folks at Geek Squad requesting more information regarding the damages. Immediately, I couldn't help but think i'd be paying out-of-pocket for repairs. Tight. So tight.

In actuality, what they meant to say was I'd be getting a new laptop, free of charge. It simply wouldn't be cost effective to fix the old one. So in I go to Best Buy half an hour later, the PC world my playground. Their message upfront: pick any computer you want, except a Mac. Slight bummer, considering I was planning to get a Mac next, but I can't argue with free. I walked out after twenty minutes with a Sony.

Now the bad news is I lost my old hard drive. The good news is everything I actually need is readily available in some form or another. Having recently lost all 800 or so pictures on my iPhone (which I was unable to save due to aforementioned USB drive) and almost losing all my contacts (all recovered), I suppose I'd been conditioned for this sort of experience.

So today, as we down tequila in celebration of my Mexican brethren's victory over the French at Puebla, I find myself restoring my music library onto iTunes. And in the process, I've surfaced some old school gems of records that defined my formative teen years and have me in a massive state of 90's punk rock nostalgia. Here's a sampling:

Strike Anywhere - Change Is A Sound
The Nerve Agents - Self Titled/Days of the White Owl
Guttermouth - Friendly People
Alkaline Trio - Goddamnit
Good Riddance - A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Rebellion
No Use For A Name - Live in a Dive
The Distillers - Sing Sing Death House
Against Me! - The Disco Before the Breakdown EP
Dropkick Murphy's - Do or Die
Everclear - So Much For the Afterglow (unrelated, but stellar throwback)
Coolio - Gangsters Paradise (unrelated, but too awesome not to mention)

On that note, I need new music recommendations. Otherwise, I'll have Manchester Orchestra on repeat for the next five years.

Lastly, my thoughts and prayers go out to the Love Family and UVA community right now. Go hug a loved one, say hey to a stranger, and smile like you mean it.

Monday, May 3, 2010

I Ran. I Ran So Far Away

Count it - another marathon in the books. By what I can only explain through divine intervention, I logged a three hour and twenty seven minute time in what turned out to be my most enjoyable, albeit physically punishing, race to date. Some highlights:

- Nonstop rain from mile four onwards. I had heard about the possibility of thunder showers the day prior, but as with the aches I was feeling in my knees then, I didn't think twice about it. If it were to happen, it'd happen, and I'd find a way to deal. Fortunately, it was a mega blessing in disguise. As humid as it was, we were kept cool by the constant downpour, which probably spared a good chunk of runners from throwing in the towel. At some point late in the race, the rain stopped temporarily, making those few minutes some of the most excruciating of the trek.

- Stretches upon stretches of mammoth-like hills starting at mile 11. Yeah, I thought I knew what a hilly course felt like before. I was wrong. Fittingly enough, I was midway through a long one at mile 15 when I passed a band covering Bohemian Rhapsody, appropriately belting "I don't want to die, sometimes wish I'd never been born at all".

- Gatorade, water, gu packs, power bars, oranges, bananas, icy hot, vasoline!!! Major major major kudos to the race's organizers for offering all these products in abundance throughout the course. This is the first marathon I've completed where I didn't once worry (even slightly) that there may not be a source of energy or hydration if I needed it. And I needed it more frequently in this race than in any other. Generally speaking, an A+ job from these people not just in this effort, but in streamlining the event altogether.

- The finish line. The staff here was more concerned with putting water in my hands and carbs in my mouth than taking my picture against a finishers wall....all good things. As depleted as I was, my immediate priority upon crossing the line was to replenish...and replenish I did. If my memory serves me correctly, I had six cups of gatorade, three cups of water, 20 ounces of a a new muscle restoration drink, a power bar, half a bagel, a banana, a giant cookie, and a handful of pretzels, within 10 minutes of finishing.

- The wall, also known as the occurrence in your last six miles where your body says "STOP!" and your mind decides whether or not to obey. I tend to brand these moments more vividly in my memory than any other in-race experience. Why? Two reasons. One - they're typically the only time in a race where I question my ability to finish strong. Two - they're what define running in my book; that's to say, if you want to feel the truest sense of accomplishment doing this, you have to win the mind game and fight through those moments of hell. Running is mental. Period. For me, I hit the wall at mile 23 this time. We were in a residential area, my right quad cramped and for five minutes, I was convinced I'd have to walk. But I didn't, and eventually my mind took flight as my legs trucked on...and on and on and on and on and on...

I owe Pittsburgh an apology for my not-so-kind words last week. Sure, it has a grit and rugged feel to it in various areas, but that also means it carries personality. As with Chicago, Boston, and countless other cities, I respect that. It's what this melting pot I call home lacks.

I also want to publicly congratulate Alexis McDowell for PRing at this race and send an ENORMOUS thanks to Krystal and Ryan Brooks for making this possible and putting me up. Quality people, those two.

I'm out.