29 January 2007

An improvement

Arcade Fire. "Intervention." From Neon Bible, to be released in March. In a fucking high school.

Blows away the NPR version I've been gathering inspiration from for the last few weeks.

15 January 2007

Whenever the weather gets better

I'm 23 as of yesterday (or earlier today, if you too are up at 3:30 am trying to write).


Two years and 24 hours ago, I was shutting down my first bar as a legal, drinking-aged adult in New York City. The bar was Irish-themed, though shit-pop music-ed--men in expensive suits and women in sophisticated bar fashion looking condescendingly down on our young adult table while they were jamming out to Britney Spears. Luckily, I was drinking gifted $8 scotches, $5 draws and whatever the hell else was in front of me; I, in turn, enlightened the bar-elite with my thoughts: louder-than-necessary judgment on the irony of creepy bar-trawlers listening to music aimed at people half my--and probably their kids'--age. Plus, the bartender gave me a free drink at three in the morning because he found out it was my birthday.

Tough to live up to, right?

One year ago I slept in for the first time in a long time, though the early mornings of the previous two weeks had been welcomed. At around noon, I showered and dressed, left the room, walked outside and found myself in Paris. I took a train to a different part of the city, got off, chose a direction and got lost (on purpose). The other members of my group had gone in different directions--some to a sprawling manshion, others to EuroDisney. I just wanted to see as much of the city as possible. For the middle of January, it was perfect outside. I found several of the landmarks from the movie Amelie. I ate at a French McDonalds--mostly to save money, though the food was surprisingly good (as opposed to the grease being surprisingly food-like). I walked for hours and somehow found the Red Wheelbarrow (an amazing English-speaking bookstore in the middle of Paris). And I saw the Opera House, and was asked to be drawn by a street artist.

An' then I got to see where the Moulin Rouge is, an' then the Sacre Coer with the group, an' then a few of the bars of Paris, an' then Euchre in the hotel, an' then a seven Euro beer. Plus all the stuff I did the two weeks previous and the week after--kind of like a three week birthday.

Today was kind of like that, except without all the fun but more of the work and opposite-of's.

12 January 2007

Something good to fill the time between car commericals

At the beginning of the current television season, I judged NBC's two new--though inexplicably related--sketch-parodies by the teasers. From those alone, I started watching "Studio 60" while trying to ignore "30 Rock." I didn't see a show based on SNL being funny with members of recent SNLs. Just didn't see it.

Luckily, I've been saved from my rushed judgment. I've caught up on every "30 Rock," and can honestly say it's the second best comedy on NBC on Thursday nights--"Scrubs" has fallen off this season (though not "The Office"). Theres something about Alec Baldwin in this clip, and most of the show that makes it not suck--perhaps its all the funny. And the Kenneth character is bound to be a pretty iconic attitude if the show survives for a few seasons.

This also makes "Studio 60" seem unnecessarily dramatic and pretentious. Un-"Sports Night"-like, even.

11 January 2007

Yeah, toast

I'm attempting to do something completely fucking stupid--allowing the health and well-being of my grad school portfolio depend a lit bit (if not more than usual) on my night-before-deadline skills.

So right now I've started a story--which, in my head is already written and fucking genius--about toast, and the toasters that toast it. Don't worry: it probably will be as fucking dumb as it sounds.
But I've run into a motivation issue (surprise!). Instead of banging my head against the wall (and taking my frustration out with some psychotic Freecelling), I've drawn a picture. It's my thing lately, as writing doesn't seem to be.
Also, if any of you can think of anything impressive about me to include in a well-worded personal essay, let me know.

09 January 2007

Something special

This is in no way news, which still gives me the credibility to be anti-establishment enough (fuck you, CNN!) to post a consumer-product ad without hesitation.

I've loved this never-aired commercial for awhile now; the fact that everybody freaks out because of the simple fact that he bites into the bar (without chewing or swallowing) gives Nutrigrain an aura of magical possibilities.

05 January 2007

Munich, coincidentally, has delicious beer

I think I've found a new hobby. I really wasn't in need of something new to do--there's a few things left neglected with this new pursuit, I can assure you--but I stumbled upon a way to shit out creativity without really creating anything original.

Remember back a few days, when I posted my favorite pictures of last year? Well I got an idea, worked far too long and made a few adjustments for the sake of a nice looking desktop (and that personal feeling of achievement):

I'm honestly proud of the fact that I can use the eye-dropper tool and natural-textured paint brush of my photo editing software; it almost looks like I knew what I was doing--and that I was purposefully going for the ragged, random-textures look.

But honestly, it really is just paint-by-number of a picture-by-pointing.

At least it isn't complete divulgence into elementary slop mixed with random ideas. Oh, wait. It's that too:

So here's where my life-accomplishment list stands:

-Struggling writer

-Amateur photographer

-Novice website developer

-Kick-ass Minesweepist

-Bonus track prodigy


-Salesman of the fuckin sofas.

-Ranging from Not-applicable to Slightly Impressive at everything else.

A million points to whoever names the place in the first picture. Three-and-a-half million if you name the place in the second.

"Nice web, Mr Crack Spider"

I fucking hate spiders. But tonight, I'm in a laughing mood. I've giggled and cried through this three or four times now.

02 January 2007

The first round of the Bowl Playoff Series

The last two minutes of regulation, plus overtime, with every down left in and everything else cut out of this year's Fiesta Bowl.

Probably the second best game I've ever seen; I was pissed off and jubilant within a five minute span, and I don't really give a shit about either team.

The picture would have been one of champagne, and in no way appropriate

I have no idea how actual reviewers rate albums on scales of one to ten. I think I thought I knew for awhile, but I honestly don’t have a clue. How I rate albums (and, on a more relevant level, songs) begins with how well my brain picks up on the general sound of the song. For this reason, TV on the Radio was tough to listen to at first; I haven’t read a bad review of their album yet, though. I think “Wolf like me” was my favorite 2006 song for about a month (August). Lyrical wit has a lot to do with my preferences, too—Jens Lekman, Mountain Goats, Decemberists.

The albums listed below, though, are in descending order of how well I reacted to the first listen (and, though diminishing as it drops, subsequent listenings). Joanna Newsom raced up the list over the last month; who knows where some of these will stand with me in a year’s time, though? Belle and Sebastian released the perfect live version of [possibly] my favorite album ever; if it weren’t for unnerving gypsy sounds performed by a non-gypsy teenager, it would be alone at the top. But Beirut’s first album hit me at one of the most important times in my life, so far. Hit square, in fact; converging the experiences of (or faux allusions to) my creative culmination—Europe—with the disappointment of so many events. Those events, big and serious and important at the time, could have no lasting impact on my life. Maybe they were the crest of a moderate wave.

I take music quite seriously; just don’t ask me to define what the “bridge” of a song is. I assume it’s just the pretty part that the singer runs out of things to say, so instead hums and ooohs for awhile.

2006, Immediate, meaningful decisions:

Beirut- Gulag Orkestar
Belle And Sebastian- If You’re Feeling Sinister Live At The Barbican
Joanna Newsom- Y
Mates Of State- Bring It Back
Regina Spektor- Begin To Hope
Peter, Bjorn And John- Writer’s Block
Tv On The Radio- Return To Cookie Mountain
Danielson- Ships
Destroyer- Rubies
Sunset Rubdown- Shut Up, I Am Dreaming
Bonnie “Prince” Billy- The Letting Go
Final Fantasy- He Poos Clouds
Oxford Collapse- Remember The Night Parties

A few songs here and there; not the entire album yet:

Guillemots- Through The Window Pane
I’m From Barcelona- Let Me Introduce My Friends
Grizzly Bear- Yellow House
Figurines- Skeleton
Belle And Sebastian- The Life Pursuit
Band Of Horses- Everything All The Time

Give me a few months; check back at the end of 2007 for a better verdict:

Islands- Return To The Sea
Swan Lake- Beast Moans
Decemberists- The Crane Wife
The Mountain Goats- Get Lonely

Honestly, deadlines are far less important than regression and sentimentalism

Maybe things were better exactly one year ago; they were more interesting--I was in Europe--but I hesitate with saying they were definitely better. But I've been in a depressive's "exactly one year ago today, I was in Amsterdam celebrating New Year's" mood. Because, a year ago at this exactly moment (3:51 am Iowa time, January 2nd=10:51 am Munich time) I was nine minutes away from seeing an underwhelming glockenspiel performance (or whatever the hell it's called when hundred-year-old figurines spin slowly below a clock while an out-of-tune mechanical bell chorus chimes for ten minutes).

Thinking back, I found I enjoyed taking pictures with my amateur camera in my progressively amateur style. Drunken arm-length portraits aside, every worthy picture I took was on my paint-by-numbers tour of Europe. Every sight I saw was in a guidebook, somewhere, and I had to travel with 24 other people. But the pictures became memorable, if slightly out-of-focus and shaky. Fear not, fans of the fanatical sneak-portraits: I still hold the technique dear, but they don't work quite as well on postcards [unless it's me holding two Hofbrauhaus mugs].

Do not hesitate in donating to the "Send Joe Thiele to Europe for, like, permanent-sies" fund. I'll give you back a receipt for your tax write-off. Happy New Year.