Thursday, November 29, 2007

At Last, I Felt Like I Was Sitting at the Cool Table

Sometimes I eat lunch at the Indiana Memorial Union. A few times I have noticed that in the cafeteria by the Pizza Hut there is sometimes someone playing guitar and singing on a very small stage while everyone is eating lunch. There's just a guy, playing guitar and singing, and they pump the songs over the speakers over by Burger King and also all the way over by Sugar and Spice. When I have seen these dudes playing, it always kind of reminded me of what my version of hell might be like. Playing acoustic songs in a noisy cafeteria where pretty much nobody is paying attention and in the distance a woman with a Christmas tree hat works the register, ringing people up for Pizza Hut, sandwiches, and $1.69 bottles of Diet Coke. The song ends, nobody cares. It invokes a horror that many musicians are familiar with: insignificance coupled with total embarrassment.

Last night Mike Adams informed us that he was going to be that guy, the guy who plays at the Union during lunch time. He said that he was getting paid $50 to do it. I said that although $50 was a lot of money for less than an hour's work, I didn't think it was not enough for me to put myself through that kind of torture. I commended him on his bravery, especially since he knew what he was getting into, having experienced previous Dude With Guitar at the Union Lunch Concert Series (yes, apparently it is a series) concerts, and expounding to the uninitiated on how horrible it is for those involved. Sucks for the person playing, and also seems to suck for the people who accidentally sit near the "stage" when they get their burrito. It's just an odd, awkward clash of two worlds, the world of the singer-songwriter and the world of College Lunch.

So I went to see him play. When I first got there, the stage was set up, but there was nobody on it. I went somewhere and came back. When I came back, Mike Adams was there, looking like a lamb at the slaughter. There were a lot of people in front of the stage, but they were not there because of the stage, they were there because they wanted a place where they could sit down and eat their lunch.

I told him I was going to go do something and then come back when he was set up. The torture in the air was tangible. I fled like that pudgy white neighbor kid on The Cosby Show. What was that kid's name? Tobey or something?

On the way back to check and see how things were going, I apparently walked right past Jared Cheek as he was calling my name. Eventually I heard him, and he let me cut in line at Burger King. We got our food and walked over by Pizza hut where Mike was now playing. There were a bunch of my friends and cool people who had come out to see him, and we all sat down near each other and talked. We clapped when Mike's songs were over, which felt like a small triumph because every time I had seen someone play there before, there was nothing but awkward pain and the dull roar of college lunch when the songs ended.

It was weird. As I sat there, I felt like I was in high school and that I was sitting at the cool table or something. It didn't feel as crushingly awful as it had when I had seen other people play there before. When we clapped, it felt like it meant something. Mike's music was the backdrop to these funny conversations that people were having. Yes, we were eating lunch, but we were also brought together by a common friend, a friend who was about to be $50 richer. Justin Vollmar even said that he was thinking he might like to play there as well. I mean, after all, it is $50, and if you close your eyes, most of the sorostitutes actually do disappear. Sure, there was a young black fellow who yelled "Play Soulja Boy!" twice. Sure, there were people right in front of the stage who were facing the complete opposite direction, probably wondering to themselves why there's never enough marinara that comes with the breadsticks. All I know is that for me, it ended up being a good lunch experience.



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Last Christmas, 1997

Just a minute ago I heard a non-Wham! version of "Last Christmas" at the grocery store, and it reminded me of the first time I heard this song:

It was December of 1997, I was in Hofu, Japan. It was my second Christmas away from the United States and away from my family, although I had been away for just a few months over a year. Me and Aaron "Kubiak" Anderson (dude I hope you Google yourself and find this, I love you man!) were at the church before English conversation club, and we found a videotape labeled "Christmas Videos" in one of the closets. Being starved for entertainment, and being in the Christmas spirit as much as one possibly can be in Japan, we totally popped it into the VHS machine. Lo and behold, it was a videotape that contained only one video, the video for "Last Christmas" by Wham! I had never actually heard this song before, but the christmassy vibe that this video brought upon our poor little gaijin souls was simply phenomenal. We just kept watching this video over and over again. Rewinding, watching, rewinding, watching. Turns out "Christmas Videos" was a bit of a misnomer because there was only one video on it. You do have to keep in mind, however, that the person who wrote that's native language doesn't even have plurals, so it's kind of like whatever, ya know.

This video though, this video! What happens in this video is so awesomely strange when you compare it with what the lyrics are talking about. Here we have a bunch of (obviously fake) heterosexual European 80's couples meeting up in the mountains for some good times. They go skiing, they decorate the tree, all that stuff, but our protagonist, Mr. George Michael, and this homegirl with a sweet perm have some serious back issues/sexual tension that they need to deal with, especially since they both with other people. Is she the woman that he gave his heart to last Christmas? Kubiak and I wondered out loud. What does the bedazzled piece of jewelry at 2:40 have to do with anything? Is this a physical symbol of his heart? We see a flashback to what we can only assume is last Christmas, the two of them frolicking in the snow, being sweet. What could have gone wrong? He gave her his heart, but then what does she do? She goes and gives it away, the very next day! Unbelievable. It's kind of no wonder George Michael now gets arrested for soliciting sex from state troopers at rest stops. A diss like that might just make a man turn on women all together.

The video ends, and they both walk away with their new gf/bfs. No real resolution, no closure, just the worst kind of lingering ski lodge weirdness. Just like life, I guess.

I guess I really can't begin to describe the feeling that repeated viewings of this video brought into our missionary hearts. It was the weirdest thing. Who had made this videotape? Why was it in the church closet? Why had we found it? Was this what Christmas miracles look like in Japan?

We later found out that "Last Christmas" is like the most popular Christmas song in Japan. Not "Jingle Bells," not "Silver Bells," not "Santa Clause is Coming to Town. No. "Last Christmas" is king of the Christmas songs in Japan. I think I understand why.

Watch. Discover the true meaning of Japanese Christmas.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Arroz, A Rose

carlos quitarrez

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Teenage Woodoworking, Celebrity Divorces

There's a bunch of stuff from my childhood in my parents' basement. While I was there I went and uncovered this sweet piece of luthiery:


It's fretless electric guitar. I made it when I was 14 or 15, I think. I got a boy scout merit badge out of it. So the fretless part of it can be viewed in two ways, either as a sign of my early weirdness or my early laziness. After all, leaving off the frets is one way to make sure that you don't have to worry about measuring them correctly. But, it's also pretty weird to want a fretless guitar. It's strange to think that I was able to wire it up the pickup, the tone knob, and the toggle switch and all that back in the day. I feel like it is a strange coincidence that this thing has re-appeared in my life right now. I guess it's time to make some wicked tracks with fretless guitar or something.

In other, more important news, I woke up to find this:


Does anyone else find this to be kind of surreal? What about Brooke's career? Hulk! You're too old to be wresting anymore! You guys can't let this happen. Linda, what would you do without Hulk? What? What?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Give Thanks

It has been a very pleasant Thanksgiving here with the family. I have been thinking a lot about hometowns lately, partly because I've been writing some words for this Prayer Breakfast demo thing, and most of the songs have parts about a hometown. There is something really nice about being away and then coming back to the place where your family is, where you hang out with people who knew you a long time ago, be it family or old friends. It's nice. My family is wonderful, I really am blessed to such wonderful people so close to me. I guess this leads into the mandatory Thanksgiving thanks list. Here goes!

I am thankful for:

  • good health
  • a wonderful, loving family
  • interesting, talented, and kind friends
  • a life that is fulfilling and meaningful and full of options
  • the freedom to do what I want (most of the time, and even when it's not something I want to be doing, it is usually something that is good to be doing nonetheless)
  • still feeling thirsty for knowledge (for example, sometimes I feel so happy when I have to go to the bathroom, because I know that I will be able to sit down and read)
  • having enough free time to feel like I am in control of my life
  • having the ability to sit down and do something with music every day
  • knowing that I'll finish my doctorate soon enough
  • not really having to worry about money
  • opportunities
  • feeling full of faith
  • not feeling tired all the time
  • feeling less nervous
  • having lots of people who I know will really listen to me
  • not making car payments anymore
  • not having to buy a new computer anytime soon
  • sometimes having some good ideas
  • the talents I've been given
  • the challenges I have faced
  • the ability to better understand my weaknesses
  • good food and the time to prepare it
  • a nice place to live
  • the surprises that keep happening
  • the ability to learn from life's experiences
  • the ability to see the good in people
  • the ability to think positively
  • knowing that I don't understand it all
  • travel
  • the many opportunities and experiences that I have had that have shaped my life
  • being here
It has really been a nice day. It's been kind of strange, when I am home here and there are kids running around, it kind of reminds me of those scenes they sometimes have in movies where people get these visions of joy, like at the end of Raising Arizona, when H.I. McDunnough has just given back Nathan Jr. and he is having a vision of his future family and that weird music is playing in the background. It's been kind of like that, to see that maybe this is what it's really all about, about sharing and coming together, the young and old, telling some jokes, playing some music, eating some food, and feeling love in a way that is easily understood.

My dad asked me to say the blessing on the Thanksgiving meal. At first I was a little nervous because, you know, it's like public speaking. But then I remembered that it's more than just public speaking, it's me talking to God, speaking for all of us at the table (and the adjacent kids' table), giving thanks, and that I certainly had more than a few things to be thankful for. I opened my mouth, and what came out was pretty alright.

Yesterday, I started learning about cellular automata. Although I'm just kind of messing around with it, I feel like this is something that better helps me understand life, because it takes very simple rules and through those rules complex systems are generated and interact with each other and seem to teem with life, just like when Mr. Wizard put a drop of pond water under a microscope. Here's a video of some of my cellular automata creations. Although some kind of blippy techno-pop at first seemed like a more appropriate soundtrack choice, I think that I did the right thing by going with Xuxa.

Sometimes when I squint at this, I can just see a million swimming swimmies.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


pointing like guns

I don't remember the details, but someone, at some point in my life told me they went to a school where they were told this. I found this written on a sheet of paper in my Mormon purse the other day. My answer to this question? Hell no, I'd pull 'em, that's just stupid. I mean, come on. Come on.


unknown liquid

Sunday, November 18, 2007

After Life

the after life

Thursday, November 15, 2007

When I Go To Get My Shoes Shined, I Gotta Take Their Word*

I mean, having one of those plastic Wal-Mart chairs break under your weight is one thing, but this must have been pretty embarrassing. This bench is like cement or limestone or something.


*Title taken from the brilliant Weird Al song "Fat" of course.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

USA Today vs. New York Times

Let's see. One has good writing and relatively little sports coverage. The other has a funny graph every day.

*As part of IU's Student Newspaper Readership Program, every student can get a free copy of these newspapers by swiping their ID at these boxes dispersed around campus. After a couple months of careful review, this is my comparison of the two newspapers.

**One thing that is interesting about the NY Times is that I find myself actually enjoying the articles in the business section. Am I getting boringer, or am I just reading a better newspaper?


Monday, November 12, 2007

Weirdly Irrelevant

I have written before about weird Google results, and back when I was bloggin' on the 'Space, I was pretty amped to find out that somehow my profile was on the first page of results for searches for "stuffed animal pants." Well, you'd think that if you searched for "Fuller, go easy on the Pepsi" on Google you would get a rich list of hits relating to this wonderful moment in movie history, but instead you get a YTMND featuring Fuller as hit #1 (I guess I can understand that one) and what is #2? This very weblog that you are reading here. As much as I love attention, something isn't right about that. Underneath hit #2, the powers that be have deemed that my post comparing the YouTube guitar stylings of two Steve Vai devotees to be especially relevant to searches about Fuller going easy on the Pepsi. Huh? Doesn't that seem a like kind of a waste? Besides the name, this blog has nothing at all to do with the classic line that it takes its name from. Shame on you, Google! What about all the people looking for a discussion forum where they can talk about their favorite Home Alone quotes? Somethin' ain't right.

IMPORTANT update: My MySpace profile through some strange twist of fate is now hit #2 for searches for "stuffed animal pants." Can you believe this crap? It would be a dream come true if you could just click here and then on my hit. I really think we can make this happen. Sorry I am such a loser. LOL.

"Bad for Families"

At the store on Saturday egg nog was on sale for 50 cents, and it reminded me of another time when egg nog was on sale, and how it led to me meeting Birch Miller. It was the winter in either 2000 or 2001, probably 2001, since eggnog season had ended and it had gone one sale for good. I was at the big Kroger on College Mall road with Brigid Hendricks and we were near the checkout and she said "Oh, there's my friend Birch" and she pointed to this guy who had a whole bunch of eggnog. He said it was on sale so he was stocking up. We talked for a minute, and the conversation invariably turned to the topic of the new U-Scan self checkout system. Birch said "Don't use those, they're bad for families." I said "What?" and he said "They're bad for working families."

I don't really know why, but this phrase "bad for families" really left an impression in my mind. Whenever I saw Birch after that, I had to bring up the "bad for families" thing. If he was locking up his bike outside the Secret Sailor, I said to him "Don't do that, that's bad for families." Didn't really matter what it was, I would always bring it up. After a while I got the feeling that he didn't like me. But now we are pretty good friends, and I pretty much never bring up the "bad for families" thing.

U-Scan checkouts are everywhere. I still think they're kind of annoying.

Here is a picture of Birch's burning misspelled UITS ID badge.

Burning Birtch

I have no idea why egg nog is on sale, or why it is even available yet. Next to the regular eggnog, there was some pumpkin eggnog, obviously for Halloween I guess, but I'm not sure how that would taste. Has anyone out there tried it? Is it any good? It might go on sale soon. If it went to waste that would be bad for working families.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Double Caveman Movie Review!


A documentary about a guy who tries to visit every single Starbucks.
Dude is crazy.
Constantly jumping out of car, running into the middle of traffic.
I thought to myself, "He reminds me of one of the characters in Word Wars."
Then in the special features they show him at a Scrabble tournament.
For him, it's not about Starbucks, "It's about doing something different."
Still, he didn't look healthy.
Caffeine overload?
I loved pretty much every minute of this movie.

The Darjeeling Limited:

Jason Schwartzman always plays the same character.
But I guess so does Owen Wilson.
This was fun to watch though.
Wes Anderson is like pizza, even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.
I felt hate for all of the characters, every brother was a different brand of asshole.
Even their mom kinda bugged me.
But I guess we're all human.
And that's kind W.A.'s thing, lovable neurotics, jerks, etc.
Could have done without the heavy-handed baggage metaphor.
The funeral part was really cool though.
The part about their mom was kind of pointless.
But I guess that's why they went to India.
So they had to put it in or something.
Would watch again. But not pay for it.

My Book Report on Ben Stein's Lecture at IU

I never really had much of an opinion either way about Ben Stein, but the other day I saw a little card on my table when I was eating lunch that said that Ben Stein would be speaking for free at IU. The card said "yes, the guy from Ferris Bueller" and I thought that it sounded kind of fun but I realized that it was at the same time that I had band practice, so I wouldn't be able to go. Well, I found out that band practice was canceled while enjoying the rare treat of riding as a passenger in Torlando's car, and there was like 20 minutes before the lecture was supposed to start, so I had him drop me off at the auditorium and went in to see what it was all about. As I was sitting there, I remembered that I really don't know anything about Ben Stein, except that I kind of remember him being either really boring (as in Ferris Bueller) or a condescending a-hole (like on Win Ben Stein's money, or more recently, what I consider to possibly be the worst show in TV, America's Most Smartest Model [I do watch it]). I got a program, and it said that the event was sponsored by the College Republicans. Uh-oh! What had I gotten myself into? There was a bio of Mr. Stein, and I guess there is where things started to get a little more interesting for me. I didn't know that he holds a law degree, used to be a speech writer for Nixon, worked as an analyst on Wall Street, all of these things, before getting into show business.

Aside from kind of being a kiss-ass about how beautiful IU's campus is (I mean, yes, it is, but he went a little overboard in his praises), as soon as he started talking I was kind of into it. He's not nearly as monotone as he is on TV, that was the first thing I noticed. He seemed genuinely into talking about life.

He read off a long list of good ways that a person with otherwise plenty of opportunities can screw up their life. Here are some of the ones I can remember:
Blame other people for the bad things in your life.
Don't work hard, just wait for opportunities to fall into your lap.
Spend all your money as soon as you get it. No need to save.
Get drunk and be high a lot.
Don't be grateful for what you have. Complain instead.
Get into a relationship with someone with lots of problems and think that you will be the one who can change them.
Spend your time watching TV instead of doing productive things.
Treat those who are important to you badly.
Be jealous of people who have things that you don't.

Those are the only ones I can remember. What was most memorable about what he said was that through college and Columbia and law school at Yale, he felt that the place where he learned the most about the world was at the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. He alluded to being high throughout most of his education, and during the Q&A session when a student suggested that he run for president, he said that his history with drugs and women pretty much immediately disqualified him from serving in that capacity. He also said that being president seemed like too much work, and that he has trouble getting up before 10AM in the morning. Awesome!

Although he said that he was a republican, he talked a lot about how much he didn't like what the party had become, and said that he related more with the republican party of the past, the one that can maybe still be found in small towns. To this, I thought "why not just not be a republican if it's not what you want it to be?" Oh well.

During Q&A nobody got tazed, which was good, and this one older woman got up, and she said "Will you, you know, do it for us Ben? Will you do the thing?" You ask, what thing? Ben Stein knew what she was talking about, and obliged: "Adams.... Adamowsky... Bueller..... Bueller.... Bueller?" The crowd went nuts. I thought that was kind of weird because I always thought of that as being "my generation"'s movie, although most of the audience seemed to be undergrads, therefore about ten years younger than I am, and they were totally feelin it.

Someone also asked if the models on America's Most Smartest Model are really as dumb as they seem on TV, his reply was something like "waaaaay dumber, trust me" and he proceeded to tell a story about how one of them could not name a single country that we fought against in WWII.

All in all, it was a pretty quality lecture, although it never ceases to amaze me how incompetent people sound when they get up at the mic to ask a question at Q&A time. Not to say that I wouldn't, because I would, pretty sure. But the anxiety and blundering in people's speech just seems to be so painfully universal. It's interesting.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Some Countries Pay a Lot of Taxes


Just something to think about.