Fly, Baby, Fly

A place for music and media reviews from an overly passionate observer. Let's fly, baby.

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To Impatient Shoppers

Here is to you, impatient shoppers, who flock to Walgreen’s and other pharmacies, grocery stores, and malls across the country. I can’t even grab a quick bottle of wine before someone is nearly cupping my butt,  impatiently waiting to check out. 

Here is one rule of thumb. If you can smell me, take a step back. There is no need for you to stand so close behind someone unless you were planning on lifting their wallet.

What’s even worse are those of you who, with an armful of chips, toiletries, and frozen dinners, are completely ignorant of the fact that when you shift impatiently you are rubbing against my backpack. Shift left, shift right… I can feel every bit of it, and it’s annoying as hell. Probably just as annoying as me refusing to walk up when you’re being a non-space-having freak. You like the look of that 5 foot space between me and the next customer? Yeah, take it.

What is it with people and needing to be in a freakin’ rush all the time? Don’t go to the store in a busy area unless you’re ready to devote a little bit of time waiting. There is no way around it, no matter how badly you want to push up against someone to expedite the process.

Your arms are getting tired holding onto all the stuff you have? Then put it in a basket. If you weren’t such a weirdo you would have noticed that they’re placed in the front by the doors for your freakin’ convenience.

You have an important date to get to? Well, it’s too bad you needed to refill your Glade plug-in, huh? Can’t do that literally any other time of the day or week. Let’s just spoon a complete stranger to see if the clerks will ring people out faster.

Here’s all I have to say: There is so much time in this world that we waste because we’re in a rush. Enjoy those moments when we’re allowed to pause and think. Take in the sights and sounds and just relax for the extra minute it takes for you to purchase your products. I promise you that wherever you’re going will still be there; whatever you’re going to do will still take place; and whoever you may be meeting will not materialize into outer space. (“If only you were here a minute sooner!”)

You know who you are; you deliberately try to impose your will upon people by invading their personal space, and seriously it is the most useless waste of your time and effort. Chill out or I swear I will fart on you when your mouth is open and you’re least expecting it.

Filed under impatient Walgreen's customers

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The “why” by which I write.

Writing to me is no small matter. I find a musical satisfaction with well composed pieces of writing, a kind of relief that can be experienced in no other way. I believe so strongly in the influence of words that I have chosen to make it my career. But this reasoning is general, almost cliche. On a long El ride home this evening, I amused myself by thinking of the real reasons that I write. 

Novels are a truth serum in a mild sense. It has the ability to expose an intimate layer of ourselves, our society, our lives and beyond if a reader has the desire to go searching for it. The same goes for the act of writing. 

I find that real life, unlike the extravagant stories we share in all types of media, is a rather bland landscape. A life’s sole purpose is to keep on living, plain and simple. There is no higher cause beyond what we as creative and imaginative humans have formulated in our fully-developed frontal lobes than simply breathing, eating, reproducing, and dying. That being said, I do not condone the pursuit of happiness. I find that an attempt to carve something beautiful out of the drab, coarse stone that is life is a honorable endeavor. In fact, I sometimes covet people who have found that gem of understanding that allows them to ignore what life has truly prescribed for us all.

I write because, like an insatiable itch, I yearn to satisfyingly discover that simple understanding. In my delusional perspective I have been chartered for this task. I feel a duty, to myself and to others, to try and withdraw the Excalibur of truth from the stone of deprivation and sadness I’ve discovered in life. I do believe that happiness and peace exists out there in some small form; I have sampled its honey in some of the beautiful words I’ve read. But to tap into the reservoir will be a life-long enterprise for me. One forged in the words I read and write.

So, in the briefest of sense, this is why I write. The drive to discover, the push of intrigue. I wish to share my inspirations and realizations, uncensored and genuine, in my study of life as we know it. I want to know how people interact, where they find pleasure and sadness, why they do what they do. And I know that this pursuit may change as I get older, but as of now I think it has provided me with enough fodder to last for a while. I am thrilled to see where it takes me and how it will develop over the years.

Each writer has a point or a drive or a goal for their works. Others just listen to the sounds. I respect any and all reasons; my curiosity does not stop at the boundaries of my own disposition. So to all you writers out there, I encourage you to take a few moments to think introspectively about what your calling is. You may be surprised.

Filed under writing essay

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South Park

The newest episode of one of my favorite television shows aired last night and it did not fail to please. The the final few episodes of their 15th season may be their last and then the show will be put to rest, but not without an impressive rap sheet. The show is one of the longest running American animated television series and has kept an unwavering fan interest through to the end. Four Emmy awards, 10 Emmy nominations, and a Peabody award among others has laid down the precipice that most television shows are unable to scale, much less with clever puns, revolting content, and plenty of fart jokes.

This latest episode, “Ass Burgers”, made me laugh so hard—and so consistently—that the slight pangs of doubt I felt with the season opener “HUMANCENTiPAD” (I just could not get into it) were entirely quelled. However, despite the hilarity, there is a darker parallel hidden between the lines. Stan’s character was no more a character but a looking glass into the sentiment of Parker and Stone and their blatant opinion of their own show as being quite similar to those who have Aspergers. They explain quite blatantly in the show that Stan, and metaphorically the entire show itself, has “an inability to distinguish from what is socially acceptable and what is not”.

Nothing seems to make Stan happy anymore; the things that once made him laugh now are all shit. (And would we expect anything less of Parker and Stone but to actually portray things as giant piles of sputtering fecal matter?) It seems that the insanely quick and clever South Park creators have reached their limit with the animated show, and they are portraying this not only through Stan’s disinterest and depression, but through random other happenings such as a newscast that starts off with “This is breaking news from CNN. …or Fox. Or whatever, f*** you.”

Of course, it’d be a hard sell if someone were to tell me that Parker and Stone had become annoyed or disgruntled with their work on the show. I don’t think their ubiquitous use of negative metaphors such as the endless shit and fart noises, or comments like Kyle’s “It’s like being around a black hole that sucks the life out of everything” are truly representative of their feelings toward their work. Instead, it feels like an episode of “Louie” where Louie C.K. realizes just how crappy life usually is, but there are ways of dealing and getting around it, mostly by just accepting it as the way things are. Think also of the redeeming ending where everything goes back to normal for Stan after he saw life as an endless pile of shit. The end scene mirrored the beginning of the episode where he wakes up to an annoying radio broadcast, eyes half closed, clearly not excited for the new day. But the second time around the broadcast is not just a bunch of terrible farting noises but instead just an overall shitty radio show. It doesn’t hurt that this refreshed view of life is aided by a shot of Jameson at the close, either. But the point is that the luster of the program and the silly jokes they make are wearing off for Parker and Stone. They are aware of their own versions of Aspergers and make light of it as their contractual obligations are soon to be fulfilled.

What a great episode to lead the final sprint to the end. I for one will miss new episodes of South Park, but with the successful premier of their 9 Tony award winning musical “The Book of Mormon”, I know that they will continue to make quality, gut-wrenching, slightly revolting but uproariously hilarious programs in who-knows what media. This I can live with.

At the culmination of the series, a documentary about the making of South Park entitled “6 Days to Air” will broadcast. It will give us an inside look into the stresses of the production and will shed light on what an accomplishment the series actually was. Being a television major, I look forward to seeing it with every fiber of my being.

Filed under South Park

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Mumford and Sons on Palladia

The small band from West London performed live on Palladia’s “Unplugged” with all of the raucous yet melancholy, andante yet foot-stomping songs that launched them into the musical-world’s eye in the past couple of years. Their old-time acoustic sound is coupled by their old-fashioned garb of muted-colored jackets or woolen vests, reminiscent of a humble peasantry. No doubt the religious influences that mark their passionate lyrics is reflected in their humility. 

Mumford and Sons is skilled in voicing the inspiration they gain through their religion through music, for they have in a way translated an indescribable emotion into an understandable adaptation. I am not very religious myself but I surely respect such unadulterated passion. Should someone be so moved by their faith as to create a musical transcription, I have all the support in the world for your efforts. Mumford and Sons surely have this inspiration and it is definitely powerful.

It isn’t often that I get goosebumps from music, but when I do I know that it is quite a moving composition. Usually it is the works of Brahms or Bach or Beethoven that move in such a way, powerful in their bowed instruments and their intricate lines of music. But Mumford and Sons influence these goosebumps of mine in a much different way. They speak to a lower-standard of musicality. A music created through a passion and not an assemblage of notes and chordal runs. Surely this is a more genuine expression of pure soul.

My note on Mumford and Sons is going to be limited. I haven’t much to say about a band that is meant to be felt, but I leave with this last point. Mumford and Sons, its band members Marcus Mumford, Country Winston, Ben Lovett, and Ted Dwane, have a message they wish to deliver and an emotion they want to instill and they produce an encompassing voice to such an indescribable phenomenon. For that, I find great inspiration. It’s been a pleasure.

Filed under Mumford and Sons Mumford & Sons music

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Gogol Bordello

A necessary installment for my music/tv/media blog. This band is by far my favorite, with musical creativity I rarely hear from musical groups anymore. It’s so energetic, chaotic; that kind of jam that makes you want to jump around during some of the most inappropriate times, like when you’re walking down the street or in the pasta aisle of the grocery store. Any time I listen to Gogol I want to dance, no matter which song it is or how many millions of times I’ve heard it. And no matter how many other bands I’ve liked to the extent I do Gogol Bordello, I have never had such unwavering delight in listening to their songs for so many months/years straight. 

There is a reason for liking this band so much. It isn’t a fluke; the band members of this group not only have a righteous purpose behind their music but they play for the sake of music itself. When Eugene Hütz traveled to the USA as a refugee with his family, he wanted to spread his support of the universality of man as demonstrated by gypsy lifestyles—no matter religion, race, or nationality we are all the same— and he planned on accomplishing this through music, the language that all people can understand. The members view music as a life in itself, one that is not bastardized by income or marketability like most of the music you hear on the radio. Gogol Bordello caters simply to the joy of celebration and the brotherhood of music, not to materialistic success or record sales.

This is probably why they have attracted such an extensive following, not only in number but in diversity. Everyone at their concerts or listening to their CD’s are there to dance and to be a part of a whole, and this can be demonstrated by the band-members’ non-segregated position to their fans. It isn’t an uncommon sight to see Eugene leaping into the welcoming hands of concert-goers and surfing through the crowd. Even sometimes with his guitar Eugene surfs to the back of the crowd while the rest of the band is rolling out an addictive groove on stage, and his trusty instrument follows, bobbing on ready and helpful hands, in his wake. 

What is probably most satisfying about Gogol Bordello is the rest of the band whose creativity and skill really create an experience like no other. They are just as thrilled to be playing and soloing as the crowd is excited to listen to them. Who doesn’t want to cheer when Sergey is chomping on his lip in an aggressive solo, playing a slew of notes fluidly and sharply like spiked honey? Or when Yuri is chunking out a disjointed chord on his accordion, eyes closed and brow furrowed, completely letting himself be lost in his music, how can people not feel the notes welling in their hearts just the same? Surely this band would be severely lacking if all members weren’t there for the same reasons as Eugene: to celebrate, to unite, to let drift away all miseries and struggles on the tendrils of the melodies they play. 

Excitement is the name of the game. Even the slowest songs Gogol Bordello plays almost without fail accelerate into a delightful cacophony of powerful, full-bodied sounds. “When Universes Collide”, “Sun Is On My Side”, “Mussolini Vs. Stalin”, and “Mishto” are a great examples of this growing, musical power that the band is so talented in creating.

I could go on and on about this band, to the point that I will lose even the most determined reader. This next weekend I am seeing them play live at North Coast Music Festival in Chicago and I cannot express my excitement enough. There is no other experience like it; they really know how to put on a show. When music is created for joy of music, there is no goal that can’t be reached. So I applaud you, Gogol Bordello. In regard to your immense following, your popular world-wide tour, and of course the crowd of crazy, dancing, euphoric people attending all your shows… You’ve made it. And the celebration continues…

Filed under Eugene Hutz Gogol Bordello Gypsy music

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Eugene Rousseau

To all unfamiliar, Eugene Rousseau is one hell of a saxophone player. Sure that description is opinion based and not very convincing, but let me prove it to you.

I had the privilege this past spring to listen to him play at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City, IA when I was finishing my second year as a student at the University of Iowa. Almost 3 years before that performance, in June 2008, Iowa City (and much of the eastern part of the state for that matter) was struck with devastating floods that knocked out private homes, businesses, and several of the buildings that belonged to the University of Iowa. One of which was the music building.

So, three years later, Eugene Rousseau came to the city to be a part of a UI School of Music benefit concert in order to raise money for the construction of a new building. And this is where I first heard Eugene Rousseau perform.

I’ll admit that although I have been an avid saxophone player for ten years I am embarrassingly ignorant of some of the saxophone greats, one of which was Dr. Rousseau. So when I say I first heard him playing, that is no mark of his prowess, but rather a black smudge against my own lacking pursuit of knowledge. Regardless, Eugene blew me away. I was enthralled with everything he played which included both classical and jazz music. Not only was he a magnificent, confident, and well disciplined player, but he felt the music inside—he knew and understood not only the mechanics but the artistry—and he performed it in a way that literally made your jaw hang open. 

In classical music, he was phenomenal. In jazz music he was equally talented but his playing tended to be too clean and articulated to the point of rigidity. I’m not saying such rigidity is a bad thing but I have always enjoyed the slightly sloppier playing of some other jazz artists like Paul Desmond or Charlie Parker. The grittiness of a few mistaken notes always made the music more real to me, and Eugene was, in a word, too perfect. But I say this ironically since, as I’m sitting here typing away at 2 in the morning, I am quietly listening to his jazz CD “Mr. Mellow” and am thoroughly enjoying it. Suffice it to say, Eugene Rousseau is a man who wears many hats when it comes to music. I find that a great deal of respect needs to go his way for all he does. And the man actually wrote an altissimo book that I can actually learn from! After three years of trying, I just recently played a high, high A on my alto and that, my friends, is no small matter.

Here is his website for those who wish to read more into him if you haven’t known about him already. (http://www.erousseau.com/) He truly is an amazing player and a terrific man and warrants a few moments of your time to any aspiring saxophone players or even anyone interested in music at all. He is a music critic with a heart for the artistry, and I feel that is a great way to be.

As Dr. Rousseau said regarding not only the fund-raising atmosphere that chilly, spring evening but also, I like to believe, music and artistic expression itself: ”And the celebration continues…”

Filed under music Eugene Rousseau jazz saxophone

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A New Start

Alright, here it is. Perhaps being in the city has inspired more cultural curiosity, and perhaps I just have a lot to say, but I have decided I am going to make a fresh start for my more than lack-luster blog spot by creating a purpose and a reason for it being there. And what better use of un-regulated speaking space than to use it for me to blabber on about the stuff I love: Music, Television and the Media.

So let the metaphorical ribbon cutting commence. A new place, a new start, and a chance for me to expand my critical mind while also, hopefully, inciting comments and criticisms of your own.

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This Place

The green paint I always liked

reminds me of weeds.

Plastic dishes in the sink

and a towel with stains

trapped on the oven.

An alcoholic dehydrated in the kitchen

tries to reach the facet,

but slips to the floor

and takes the hint.

Drafts come from the cracks

where the cabinets touch

but everything’s warm

as Jack spits frost

outside the window.

Goodness, health, laughter, a cover up.

But no worries here, not on the floor

or in the air a-draft.

Adrift? This is no time for 

anxiety. Besides,

All is forgiven.

This is healing place

not a crucible.

The walls are green,

the slate is clean

and the happiness is genuine.

Pour another and tell me of the time

you saw Hulk Hogan in line

for Space Mountain.

People drop rhymes off the beats

pounding my ears, games rattle

around the room.

This place, a place of communion.

Our goblets are cheap

and our drinks unholy

but there’s plenty to eat

and salvation is ours

no matter how lowly

we are.

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I am a Warrior

I am a warrior. 

I fight these battles everyday,

and I don’t sleep that often.

I make fried rice because I’m poor

and ride my bike for miles,

burning thighs and freezing wind,

and although I thought I saw the end,

I was mistaken again.

I am a warrior.

I work until I break, 

five subjects, two jobs, 

four bills, one grade.

They call it luck, I think not.

I call it strength.

I am a warrior.

My veins bleed caffeine 

a little sugar, little cream;

I am worth a lot because

I run on black gold.

Turn it in, throw it out,

the process grows old,

but you can’t complain.

I am a warrior.

With my pen I scribe

and write my way to success

This water, this soap,

a quick soak then again

I am back to work.

So many choices

It’s your Future, not a Game!

To work hard

means to sacrifice,

and I know this because

I am a warrior.

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The wonders of Hubblecast

With the completion of my Stars and Galaxies class almost here, a new spark of interest in astronomy brought me to the Hubblecast website, a series of short video clips explaining some of the interesting images viewed by the Hubble telescope. If you have any interest in the cosmos, take a look! I guarantee you will find something to peak your interest, satisfy your intrigue, prompt spontaneous musings.