Saturday, January 28, 2006

Teenagers with Automatic Weapons and Boundless Love

So I handled my first machine gun the other day. Where? In the church, of course. (Don’t worry, it wasn’t loaded.) We learned about law enforcement at our monthly career night at scouts. Aaron’s dad talked to the boys about his job as a tax fraud investigator. In addition to strapping the boys into bulletproof vests, he let them shoot pepper spray, check out his tazer and handcuffs, and even put one kid into manacles.

Then came the weapons. He passed around the arsenal used in a typical raid: a machine gun to “spray” the place; a semi-automatic sniper rifle for hitting folks from long range; and then the shotgun. Any questions? I raised my hand. I understood why you would start with a machine gun, and the sniper rifle also made sense. But why was the shotgun really necessary at that point? Answer: for psychological effect, mostly. How would you feel if someone was pointing a shotgun at you from short-range? Point well taken.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Downfall of Jake the Snake

Jake Plummer at the grocery store

Not even my lucky Denver Broncos track pants were enough to keep my favorite team from self destructing on their home field today. Another year of cheering down the drain.

This has been a strange year in many ways, not the least of which being that I have watched football every single week this season. I haven’t actively followed the NFL since my heart was broken by the Broncos in the Superbowl three times in the late 80s and early 90s. Sure, I cheered Elway on as he won the two rings at the end of his career, but I probably wouldn’t have shed tears like I did as 10-year-old if they would have lost.

Watching an outrageous amount of sports in the last few months has lead to me think a lot about sports. I’m not thinking about stats or key match ups or MVP candidates, but more about what sports are really about. (Don’t worry, I’m not listening to sports talk on the radio or anything like that.)

People love to have something to root for. Even if you are a Phoenix Cardinals fan (is there such thing?) there is a 50/50 chance that your team might win any particular game. The thing that’s crazy about being a fan is that when your team wins, you win. Just by rooting for a team (internally or externally) you earn the right to feel happy if your team comes out victorious. Though you really did nothing, you are rewarded with a sense of accomplishment. Conversely, you also have to bare the brunt of criticism if you are on the losing end, like somehow your inferior support led to poor ball handling or special teams coverage.

Sports are really just the original reality TV. People get hooked on American Idol for the same reason that they get addicted to sports. When Rubbard Studdard wins the competition, so do all the people who voted 30,000 times for him. People have been cheering for athletes for centuries, so it only makes sense that we would do the same for a girl on The Bachelor, a fatty on The Biggest Loser or an idiot on Joe Millionaire. It’s really amazing that no one thought of it sooner.

Another thing that I find so interesting about sports is its infatuation with heroism. When an injured player decides to take a cortisone injection so he can play on a broken leg or misses his own father’s funeral so he can make it to the playoffs, commentators use words like “brave,” “unselfish,” and “hero" -- as opposed to real life and real jobs, where coworkers would describe those same acts as “reckless,” “insensitive” and “stupid.”

We must be lacking in heroes these days. I am guessing that there used to be heroes at some point because it’s a pretty common word. I think there used to be “war heroes,” though I don’t think we have those any more. But apparently, we have a need to have heroes around. Since they don’t seem to be apparent in daily life - we don’t generally say, “Charlie could have called in sick to work today, but he didn’t. He’s a real hero.” – sports seems to be a logical place to find them. “Even after appearing in court today on sexual assault charges, he was still able to score 45 points and hit a jumper at the buzzer. What a heroic performance!”

So what does all of this deep analysis of sports mean to me? Well, I’m 25 years old and the Broncos just lost the big game. I’m bummed out about it. We really didn’t come to play. However, you’ve got to hand it to Pittsburgh Steelers. As the 6th seed in the playoffs, it took heroic efforts to overcome the challenges of beating three great teams on the road.

I will have to settle for cheering for seven layer dip at the Superbowl party.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Friday, January 06, 2006

January Consumption


Boys Night Out - Make Yourself Sick
The Concretes - S/T
Plain White T's - All That We Needed
Hellogoodbye - S/T EP
Michale Graves - Punk Rock is Dead
Spoon—Gimme Fiction
Andrew Bird & the Mysterious Production of Eggs
Dub Pistols—Point Blank
Reggie & the Full Effect—Songs Not to Get Married To
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A – Girls Names EP
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A – Internet EP
Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A – S/T EP
Strokes—First Impressions of Earth
Army of Freshmen—Beg, Borrow, Steal
Feist—Let it Die


Bait and Switch by Barbara Ehrenreich

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Pedro the Lion Breaks Up?!

According to Pedro the Lion and Headphones drummer TW Walsh, Pedro the Lion is breaking up due to his decision to leave the bands. "Breaking up" isn't really the right word, since Pedro the Lion and Headphones are, for all intents and purposes, a one-man band. So "breaking up" means that David Bazan will no longer perform under the name Pedro the Lion. It's all a bit weird, since TW was only in the band for two years and one album.

Though there is no official news on Pedro's site, TW's site explains the whole thing. It is very interesting, and gives a lot of insight into what it's like to be a touring musician who is not making a lot of money.

If the news is true, my heart is partially breaking. I am sure there will be more David Bazan music in the future, but I sense he is trying to get a way from the Pedro stuff. I love Pedro. [Insert frowny emoticon here.]

Here's the blurb from Alternative Press: is reporting that Pedro The Lion, the indie-rock vehicle of songwriter David Bazan, have broken up. While neither the band nor their label, Jade Tree, have released any official statement regarding the group's demise, the explanation given on was as follows:
The main motiviation for the split is due to [band member] TW Walsh's reluctance to maintain the 100+ day per year touring schedule that the band demands. Consequently, Bazan has said that he will not continue to work under the name without Walsh and will be writing, recording and touring under his own name, and also on his electronic-tinged side project, Headphones."
Bazan will record the second Headphones album this Spring for a late 2006 release on an unspecified label; this will be the follow-up to the electronic band's self-titled effort, which came out this past May. He also plans on recording his solo debut for a Jade Tree release in 2007.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another Year of the Manifesto

I just registered for another year. So all you suckers out there who were just waiting for the domain name to open up so you could benefit from the outrageous popularity of the name, you'll just have to keep waiting. Word.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Best Music of 2005

In 2005 I tried to keep a record of every album that I seriously listened to. As I look back over the list, I know there is a ton of stuff that I left out. Nevertheless, I feel it was a valiant effort.

Thanks to mp3 blogs and sitting in front of a computer 8 hours a day, I listened to more new music this past year than in my whole life combined. I would imagine that I listened to songs by at least 5 new artists each week - that's 260 new artists over a year. Looking at my top ten of 2005, 5 of them are bands that I have been listening to for a while now. That means out of 260 new bands I only ended up putting 5 of them into heavy rotation. There certainly is a lot of crap out there.

Anyhoo, 2005 wasn't spectacular, but here are 10 albums that found a happy home in my iPod.

10. Low - The Great Destroyer

9. Whole Wheat Bread - Minority Rules

8. MXPX - Panic

7. Imogen Heap - Speak for Yourself

6. The Bruce Lee Band - Beautiful World

5. Alkaline Trio - Crimson

4. Iron & Wine - Woman King EP

3. Bloc Party - Silent Alarm

2. Millencolin - Kingwood

1. Death Cab for Cutie - Plans