Friday, July 27, 2007

The World's Greatest Compliment

Do you know when you have become a truly influential writer? When some BYU fan links to your article about the 2007 Economic Outlook on a BYU sports message board. Random.

Thanks, Mike Neider, for the headsup. I myself am not a regular visitor to said message board.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Ultimate Fighter

On the way home from work the other day, I realized I now live very close to an Ultimate Combat Training Center. Plus I live really close to Americans. What more could I ask for?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Dissent Begins...

A few months ago, Paige learned how to respond to questions. Any time anyone asked her anything (or if a question was asked in her vicinity) she would turn and say, "Yip." Though it wasn't always helpful that she only answered in the affirmative, at least it was positive.

Earlier this week she learned "no." "Yip" is no longer in her vocabulary and all responses are now "no." But it's not the monosyllabic "no" - it's more dramatic, like "n'yo." She says no to everything, whether she actually means it or not. But she has learned that it can express a lack of desire or unhappiness. Like when a kid takes her toy away in nursery. "N'yo!" Or when I ask her to not push the chair up to the table and then climb on the table. "N'yo!"

Monday, July 16, 2007


I shouldn't have let myself get sucked in. I just couldn't help. I had planned to simply avoid the Smashing Pumpkins "reunion" (it's hard to be a reunion when it's just Billy and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain), but Tarantula was just too awesome of a first single. I got so excited that I actually started thinking that if anyone could recreate the feel of a bygone era it would be Billy Corgan. I was wrong.

At its best, Smashing Pumpkins were blend metal brutality with soft beauty and atmospheric layers of sound. At its worst, the songs were bloated, overbearing and self-important. On Zeitgeist, the metal remains but all thoughts of melody or hooks have vanished.

What's most disappointing is that Billy Corgan, who fashions himself both a grand orchestrator and a perfectionist, has made an album that lacks any sort of direction. The production sucks. Songs sound muddy and out of balance. A good producer would have told Billy that he had missed the mark (about half the songs are Billy produced).

Tarantula is the only hit on the album. About half of the songs are listenable, but only (Come On) Let's Go really invites a repeat listen. That's the Way (My Love Is) is the one nod toward the softer sound, but sounds more like a track from Corgan's solo album than Pumpkins. With the possibile addition of Doomsday Clock, these are the only three tracks that have a chance of making it to my iPod.

Though the new record may have got me down, I won't forget the good times - as seen in the following clip:

Though I'm a little sad, I'm not as sad as this guy. He does make some good points.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Songs About Girls Mostly

My introduction into punk rock went thusly. Flashback to 1994. My sister Sarah took my friend Brock and I to Provo to see Stretsch Armstronng, the Aquabats, Skankin' Pickle , Dancehall Crashers and Let's Go Bowling. It was cooler than anything I had ever experienced up to that point. (Way cooler than Nine Inch Nails at the Delta Center, that's for sure.)

I was playing in a Nirvana cover band with Chris Wilson at the time - which later became the grunge-inspired Twelfth of Never - but that brief encounter with ska was one of two big turning points for the band and for my musical world.

The next was when we really discovered punk. Though Chris and I listened to punk-ish stuff like The Offspring and Green Day, we'd never really heard the real stuff. That changed the day we got invited to play at local show at a pavilion in Draper Park in the summer of 1997. After Chris and I chugged through our Local H-style two man-band-set we saw something that totally blew us away. Local bands - kids just like us - playing ska and punk. With horns and everything. They sounded lousy, but they were doing it. And then we saw Homesick.

Homesick looked and sounded like early Green Day. Snarly, poppy punk played really fast. It changed everything for us. We went back home and started playing all of songs in double time.

Even cooler than Homesick's music was that they had actually gone on tour. They had booked all the shows themselves and played such exotic locales as Reno and Evanston. These guys were freakin' rock stars! (Looking back, I bet they were only 18 or 19.) They were everything we wanted to be.

Needless to say, my copy of their 8 song cassette EP was one of my prized possessions. And now the point of this post. (Finally, I know.)

Somewhere around 1999 I lost the tape . I think I left it in my dad's truck or something. Every time I pack up my stuff and see all of my old cassettes, I see that empty Homesick case and feel really sad. Oh, but all was not lost.

A few months ago, I happened to be reading SLUG magazine. As part of its 18 year anniversary celebration, the magazine invited a bunch of local bands from years past to play a reunion show at the Urban Lounge. On the list was a band called The Corleones, featuring guitarist Paul Burke, formerly of Homesick. I had never heard The Corleones but considered going to the show just in case Paul happened to have some old Homesick tapes in his car. Realizing this was stupid, I stayed home.

I picked up the magazine a few months later and decided not to give up on the matter. The article said that Paul was living in Portland. I emailed the girl who wrote the article to see if she had an address for him. Surprisingly, she emailed me right back with a phone number. It took me a few days to get the courage, but I called him on the phone. I think the conversation went like this:

PAUL: Hello?
SPENCER: Uh, hi. My name is Spencer. I'm calling from Salt Lake. Did you used to play in Homesick?
PAUL: Yeah.
SPENCER: I know this sounds weird, but I like loved your band and I left the tape in my dad's truck and I really wanted to get it but I doubted you'd have one at Urban Lounge and do you haveonenowcuzI'dgiveyoumoneyandstuffandstuff.

I was sure this was the point where he'd hang up, but he was really cool and even seemed flattered. He said that the tapes were all long gone, except for his own copy, but he'd been looking for an excuse to get around to digitizing them. He said he would put something together and mail me out a CD. A few days later he sent me an email, gushing about his feelings toward the band and that time period. Very cool.

A month or so went by and no CD. I figured I wasn't really going to get it, but I was grateful for the interaction nevertheless. After about 6 weeks, Paul sent me another email saying that the CD really was forthcoming. Then more waiting. Last week I finally got a package from Portland. It was worth the wait.

He sent me both their EP as well as their full-length, Songs About Girls Mostly. The songs, which I think were all recorded in a basement, are not quite as revolutionary as I remembered, but are just as awesome. Even more awesome is Paul for going to the trouble.

So, kids, follow your dreams. Get people's phone numbers and call and ask them for ridiculous favorites. You too could be working in health insurance, sitting in your cubicle, listening to Homesick quietly.

Homesick - Grandma and death 'n stuff [MP3]

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Danger! Danger! "Emos" Alert

I've been meaning to post this for a long time, but just barely got around to it. Our friends in the local Utah media recently unveiled the secret society of "emos." So parents, you best go throw away all of your kids My Chemical Romance CDs (and even their Death Cab albums) because unlike no music ever made in the history of the world, they make reference to death. Holy crap! The media is really going to crazy when they find out that kids also listen to rap music.

While you watch this, keep in mind that Reed Cowen applied for my job at the Community College when I left.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Moving, part I

After zillions of hours and packing and then just a couple of hours of moving, Traci, Paige and I now live in a new house.

I have been paranoid for weeks about the big move. I helped a lot of people move when I was in the Elders Quorum and it was basically always miserable. We'd usually show up and the people's stuff would still be lying on the floor, unboxed. One lady didn't even have boxes. She thought she'd just put everything in her car. We got her some and by the time we had finished the move, her whole apartment was filled from floor to ceiling with boxes.

Not wanting to be an awful movee, I had grand ambitions of not only having ever single item boxed, but having the boxes moved as well. We did pretty good on moving all of the boxes out - I took a truckload every time I went to the new house - but at midnight the night before moving day, there was still stuff lying around the house everywhere. Luckily, it all worked out okay. We had tons of help from family and the ward and it ended up only taking a few hours.

I rented the giganticest U-haul in the world. The biggest size (26') was only $39 so I figured I just go for it. When they pulled it around for me, and it was the size of my entire house, I got a little nervous about driving it. I also regretted not having paid for the insurance. As I drove the two blocks to my house very, very slowly, I thought that this was probably another one of those rites of passage to manhood. (I don't think I got full credit toward since my dad drove the U-haul from the old house to the new house.)

U-haul is a racket, I tell ya. They charge $39 for the truck, plus $.79 per mile, and then you still have to fill it up with gas. To make sure you have to put as much gas in as possible, they give it to you at half full and then make you bring it back half full. That way, you have to guess if you are putting in the right amount of gas, you can't just know it's full when it stops pumping. This worked to our advantage because the last person had filled it up to 5/8ths. We only drove 12 miles round trip so that extra 1/8th was all we needed. (We drove home with the air conditioning turned off to be extra careful.) I couldn't image trying to pull that monster into a gas station just to put a gallon of gas in it. If you don't fill it up to halfway they charge you $40 up front and then still charge you for the gas they put in. And the ripoff continues. They charge $25 if you forget to fold up your moving blankets.

The truck was so big that we probably had five extra feet in the back. I guess we need more stuff.