Thursday, November 20, 2008


Oh dear god! I just saw this on TV and had to find it online to share with all of you. This is the best thing I have ever seen, and if you know my history, you know why! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What the Public Wants...

It has been brought to my attention by some of my faithful fans that I need to update this puppy a bit more. I do apologize to y'all for slacking so much lately on this ole' blog. I promise it is not that I don't love you all to pieces or that I have nothing to say. I've really just been struggling a bit with the shift in workload for the new job. Instead of having the cushy single course load of a graduate student, I now have a real world full course load of teaching. I have quickly learned that one needs to alter assignments and schedules to be both appropriate for students and manageable for oneself (who knew!).

Anyway, the semester is almost over and I promise to be much better about adding new posts soon. But in the meantime, below are some fun things I've been doing and pondering the last several weeks. Enjoy!

What I'm Hearing...

While working, I've been listening to a lot of music lately. It helps keep me sane when the students don't. Anyway, here are a few of the things I've been enjoying lately.

1. The Black Keys - Okay, so I'm probably the last person on the planet to "discover" these guys. I had actually heard of them before, but just never got around to checking out any of their stuff. Well, I recently rejoined emusic and once again stumbled across their name while searching for something-or-another.

They have one of the most incredible sexy-dirty-crunch (my own term) sounds I have ever heard. When I listen to their stuff, I can't tell if I want to make out with someone because it's hot or slap someone because I'm offended. But either way, I like it! Some will probably call this group alt-country, but as someone who doesn't always love everything in that genre, I would add that they are all the good stuff and very little of the yawn stuff.

2. The New Slipknot's Disc - This has been a tough one for me. I have a long history of dislike (or at least great apprehension) for this band. They came out in my former Hot Topic days. I initially found them to be an overrated gimmicky nu-metal band amongst a heap of thousands. I saw them once back in '00 or '01 and they were pretty terrible. At the time, I also had a friend from Iowa (where they're supposedly from), who told me that there was no way the band now going by the name Slipknot was the same band that played the bar scene of Des Moines, because that band was a god-awful talentless mess. I also had a great unease over the fairly well-documented story of how Slipknot and their record label ripped off their look and story from Cleveland-natives, Mushroomhead.

Anyway as a result, I avoided the group for many years. But, I had recently been hearing really good things about their new album, All Hope is Gone. So when I came across a used copy in Boston last week, I decided to see what all the fuss was about. I must admit, I'm glad I did. While many of the bands of this era have disbanded (System of a Down), lost their edge (Korn), or simply become ridiculous (Limp Bizkit), Slipknot has hung around and, to my astonishment, gotten immensely better! All Hope is Gone is one of the tightest and more inventive albums I've heard in awhile. I also appreciate their ability to stretch their sound into other metal genres instead of beating the proverbial dead horse. I don't know who these guys really are or whether or not they really pull this off live now, but damn they know how to make some awesome s**t in the studio!

3. The White Tie Affair - J and I went to see Kill Hannah a couple months ago. They were playing at this tiny club in St. Paul called Station 4. It actually reminded us of the hallowed ground that is Howard's in BG. But anyway, the White Tie Affair was one of several opening bands for KH, and they were a super high-energy, electro-pop, funfest! The singer kept alternating between hanging from the support poles and getting the entire crowd jumping up and down in sync to their technopunk beats. Much fun to be had! I've been digging their disc ever since. It's like Mono in a college dorm during February! Fast, hard-hitting, and infectiously catchy!

4. The New Metallica Disc - Oh yeah, you read that right! I have not forgotten my previous post of doom and dread. However, remember all of those qualifications of unless the initial tracks were not indicative of the remaining album? Curiously, they were all right on. The new album is well...quite impressive. Is it the disc that should've come between Justice and the Black Album? Maybe, but I would actually say it should've been where the band went after the Black Album instead of wallowing in the "Load and Reload of Crap" era. Death Magnetic is beautifully tight and assaultingly heavy. By far, "The Day that Never Comes" and the oh-so-unfortunate "Unforgiven 3" are the only weak spots on the album. The rest is the onslaught for which I've continued to carry the Metallica torch all these years, ever hoping they still had it in them!

What I'm Watching...

To unwind after a long day of posting/grading/posting/grading/replying to whining/grading some more, I've been chilling with J and watching a lot of television in the evenings. Here are some of our favorites.

1. 30 Rock - Oh, my beloved Tina Fey! No one makes me laugh like you. It's so refreshing to laugh with my brain as well as my gut. So far the season is off to a HI-larious start. Jennifer Aniston stalking Alec Baldwin, Night Court reunion, Oprah Winfrey, and Princess Leia on jury duty! What more do I have to say? Oh and by the way, Fey also gets a tip of the hat for getting me through the election season. Of course, she had help from SNL, The Daily Show, and The Cobert Report.

2. Life - This is one of the most underrated shows on TV right now. It has been a victim of time-slot jockeying and poor promotion. It almost feels like NBC wants it to fail. But still, Damian Lewis and Sarah Shahi's perfect chemistry and offbeat humor continue to prevail. Sure, its a crime drama, but it's not exactly run of the mill. After all, where else does fruit help in the solving of crime?

3. House - This show makes my hypochondria surge into hyperdrive, but yet, I can't stop watching. Hugh Laurie's portrayal of caustic, yet strangely loveable, Gregory House is flawless. Plus, this season's tension between House and Cuddy is hot, yet sweet!

4. Life on Mars - This is my favorite new show of the season. I know this is a "reinvention" of a British series (which I haven't yet seen), but I'm still diggin' this version. Strangely, my attraction is not really for the storylines, which are often a bit weak. Instead, I'm loving the characters, especially Harvey Keitel's Lieutenant Hunt and Michael Imperioli's Detective Carling, and the beautifully shot and carefully crafted look of the series. This show recreates the 1970s so slickly, it makes you wish it really had been that way.

What I'm Learning...

Of course, my students are not the only ones learning things this semester. In the spirit of collaborative education, they have taught me much. Here are a few gems.

1. The [insert cultural issue here] is over.
2. The gays are everywhere on TV now, and the lesbians are all over films.
3. It is totally acceptable to use derogatory terms, such as queers, a queer, colored people, and hermaphrodite (especially since all that stuff doesn't matter anymore - see #1).
4. "Many singers have died trying to do anorexia."
5. It is not necessary to actually read the syllabus, but rather imagine its contents.
6. No matter how explicit you state something, it makes absolutely no sense once a student reads it.

And, my all-time favorite lesson...

7. "The closet" is not a real closet.