Saturday, March 28, 2009

Magnificent Seven: 7 Players that have impressed me in the NCAA Tournament

Welcome to the first edition of a new recurring feature on my blog: The Magnificent Seven. This will be a feature where I list seven people or things that have impressed me. It's not a top seven list, it's merely a, "These things/people are currently magnificent in this category" kind of list. Why did I choose to go with seven? Two reasons, 1. Magnificent Nine doesn't sound right at all, and 2. This guy...
















Now keep in mind, I am a college basketball fan for about one month of every year. My fanship begins with conference tournament week, reaches it's height during the NCAA tournament, and disappears immediately after the national title game. So with that said, understand that I did not watch a single college basketball game from November through February, so all of my insight comes from the games I have watched and followed since the tournament began. I am far from a college roundball expert, but here in no particular order is my magnificent seven list of college basketball players that have impressed me this month.

The Magnificent Seven:

Hasheem Thabeet - Center - University of Connecticut: At 7'3" at 263 pounds, he is quite a monster. He affects every shot on the inside even if he isn't around the bucket. He has perhaps the coolest name in college basketball, and he has gotten his team to the Final Four, so there's a lot to like. Although he plays for a team that is easy to dislike, he is compelling to watch. Although something has to be done about those dirty dishwater UConn uniforms, those are painful to watch they are so ugly.

DeJuan Blair - Forward - University of Pittsburgh: This guy has been my favorite player to watch in the tournament. His motor is amazing, he just keeps on trying and making plays even when they seem impossible. There were some rebounds he made and shots he got to go down in the sweet sixteen game against Xavier that were created with strength, power and will. I was impressed.

Cole Aldrich - Center - University of Kansas: I actually hadn't watched Kansas until they played against Michigan State in the sweet sixteen, but I had heard of Aldrich's triple double against Dayton in the second round. Thirteen points, twenty rebounds, and ten blocks is very impressive for any college player, but then when I was watching KU take on the Spartans, I realized for the first time that he was white. I know that shouldn't matter, but I would have bet any amount of money that he was a black guy when I heard people talk about him over the past week. That shocking revelation was enough to get me to put him in my magnificent seven.

Eric Maynor - Guard - Virginia Commonwealth University: This may seem like an odd choice. His team lost in the first round, and he missed the shot at the buzzer that would have won the game against UCLA. The way he led his team and the way he almost made it happen for VCU against a team that had been to the Final Four in each of the past three seasons stuck with me for some reason. I really liked him, and hoped he would win. His last second miss remains one of the most exciting moments of this tournament to me.

Blake Griffin - Forward - University of Oklahoma: Duh. This guy is the consensus choice for the number one overall pick in this year's NBA draft. There is a reason for that. This guy is ridiculous. He is averaging over 30 points a game, and he made an in air adjustment on a lob pass in the game against Michigan that was one of the most athletic things I have ever seen. He made it look easy. I love this guy, and I believe that some lucky NBA team is going to have something pretty special next year.

Lavance Fields - Guard - University of Pittsburgh: This guy is the perfect summary of the Pitt Panthers, he doesn't look quite right all the time, and yet somehow he gets the job done in the end. He is one of the chubbiest point guards I have ever seen in my life, which immediately makes me like him. That huge three he hit from way behind the line in the final minute against Xavier and then the steal at the end to salt away the game were impressive.

Leo Lyons - Forward - University of Missouri: This guy just seemed to epitomize the scrapiness of the Missouri Tigers. Their intense high pressure defense and the way that they play is so entertaining, and I thought this guy was the most entertaining player on a very fun team. Plus his name is freaking Leo Lyons yet he plays for the Tigers? That tidbit combined with the way he helped take down Memphis. (One of the teams I predicted to be in my Final Four) earn Leo the final spot in the magnificent seven.

Ways to prove you're not quite right.

Perhaps you've been forwarded this email that lists things you can do to spice up a boring day and prove that you're a little bit not right in the head, here are some of my favorites from the list...

-Write "For sensual massage" in the subject line of all your checks.

-While making presentations, occasionally bob your head like a parakeet.

-At the laundromat, use one dryer for each of your socks.

-Erect an elaborate network of ropes in your backyard, and tell the neighbors you are a "spider person."

-Follow a few paces behind someone, spraying everything they touch with Lysol.

-Mow your lawn with scissors.

-Sit in your front yard pointing a hair dryer at passing cars to see if they slow down.

Yes, all of these things are juvenile and stupid, however they also amuse me greatly. In this same vein I present this video that shares the same inane spirit. Enjoy.



video


I really need to get my hands on an extra steering wheel. I can totally see my buddy Doug and I doing this.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Madison Avenue thinks you're pretty stupid.

The Glamourous World of Advertising, as invisioned via the television show Mad Men


I've always thought that working in advertising would be kind of a fun job. From the movies and TV shows I've seen that show the ad world, it always appears to be a difficult job for very intelligent and creative people, a world unaccessable to us average Joes. However, in the past few years, I've begun to think that any schmo can do this job, as several ad campaigns that have been unleashed upon the consumer public recently seem to fall somewhere on the scale between uninspired and stupid. I guess in defense of the advertising agencies, think of the average American, and then remember that HALF of all Americans are actually DUMBER than that guy, so perhaps they are actually on to something. Here are a few of the most confounding examples which make me wonder why people are paying any sum on money to Madison Avenue to come up with these uninspired and intellectually bankrupt campaigns.


NCAA - "There are over three hundred thousand NCAA college athletes and almost all of them are going pro in something other than sports." You mean to say that there aren't three hundred thousand professional sports positions that open up each and every year? People are forced to find real jobs after they finish college and they aren't able to go pro in swimming or field hockey? People who enjoy playing sports might want to make something of themselves with a career? How is this an important message that the NCAA spends a ton of money putting forth each year? Does anyone think that every college athlete is going on to pro sports? Can I ever stop asking questions?


Dr. Pepper - The crux of this ad campaign is that Dr. Pepper has 23 different flavors. Apparently this supposed to be impressive. If you include more flavors does that make it better? I am not sure that my tongue can actually distinguish 23 different flavors all at once, and even if it could, so what? I would like for Dr. Pepper to break down what each different flavor is, perhaps include a checklist sheet with each 12 pack that allows me to make a note when I taste each flavor. What are all these flavors? Perhaps most importantly, how come when I drink Dr. Pepper it doesn't taste like 23 different flavors, it tastes like Dr. Pepper? I don't understand the message, and I don't understand how the 23 flavors message is supposed to sell Dr. Pepper.


Bud Light - One of the dumbest concepts ever used to sell beer, and that's really saying something. The entire concept is one word: Drinkability. This one kills me. Drink our beer because, um, well, I guess because it is drinkable. Our beer comes in liquid form and therefore is pourable down your throat. Don't buy Bud Light because it tastes good, or because it's reasonably priced, or because it has high quality, nope. Drink it because it contains the ability to be drank.


Plastic - First of all, I'm not sure why they even feel the need to advertise plastic. I have a hard time imagining that plastic use rises and falls with it's brand awareness. I can't imagine that there are many manufacturers sitting in their factories saying, "If only I had some type of flexible yet firm material that I could use for this product." Then remembering the previous evening while they were watching "Family Guy" and suddenly think, "Oh yeah, Plastics make it possible!" However, every now and then you see a commercial about plastic. This seems like a poor use of money on behalf of the industry, but maybe there is an actual reason to advertise it that escapes me.


Coors Light - This one is a few years old, but is perhaps the golden standard of stupidity when applied to commercials. SURPISE, it's a beer commercial! Coors Light actually had the audacity to make their tag line, "The Coldest tasting beer in America." Look advertising executives, we get it that you think we are remarkably stupid, even dumb enough to spend our money on Coors Light. However, but can you do us a favor hide your condescension towards us a little bit better than this? Only the basest of single celled organisms could be made to believe that the taste of a beer influences it's temperature. If I have this idea straight, they want you to believe that a Coors Light at room temperature will seem as cold as a chilled beer of some other variety due to it's taste? So basically having a refridgerator or ice chest is useless as long as you can engineer your beer's taste to be colder? Does this concept work for heat as well? Will Village Inn start advertising that they have the hottest tasting pancakes in town? I guess if you're searching for a beer, and you are satisfied settling for a Coors Light that it is conceivable that you lack the intellectual fortitude to see through this commercial.


One of the sad truths in life that keeps these advertising executives in business is that every time you think they've finally made something idiot proof, someone comes along and builds a better idiot.



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Where the bailout money is really going...


Not a whole lot of substance to this post, but this just cracked me up too much, and I had to share.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Brave New World: www.VerticallyStripedSocks.com

This photo is from one of the first ever clashes between the Broncos and Raiders


Perhaps I am way behind the internet curve here, but I've finally purchased my very own domain name. I've been giving this some serious thought, and I've just decided that having your own domain for your blog is superior to using socnorb777.blogspot.com as my blog's web home. First of all, having your own website is just a bit cooler than having blogspot in your name, and I've been thinking about verticallystripedsocks.com for some time now. I finally decided to just go ahead and drop the ten bucks to do it. Plus, trying to tell people the web address for my old site was cumbersome. I had to explain socnorb777 (Broncos spelled backwards plus Elway's number three times. Plus 777 is also a cool number that is also kinda lucky if you're in Vegas.)


I kind of miss the elephant at the top of the page, but I really like the new look overall. I tried to incorporate the old name of the blog with the subtitle, and I'm rather pleased with it. The old subtitle of "Because the universe won't explain itself" is still true, but you'll have to just figure that out for yourself now.

If you're not a diehard Broncos fan, and even if you are, you may be wondering how exactly I've come up with this weird website name. Well, wonder no further. In 1960, the Broncos were born into the American Football League, a rival league to the NFL. At that time, there wasn't a ton of money in the AFL, so for the first two seasons the Broncos wore some of the ugliest uniforms in sports history. Their colors were Seal Brown and Mustard yellow, and from the few photos I have been able to find, the uniforms were just as ugly as they sound. Their helmets were actually sorta cool, though. They were brown with a single white stripe and the players number in white. The most remembered and easily the oddest part of their uniform were the socks. They were vertically striped with brown and yellow colors. Ugly? You bet! Kinda retro cool in a "So ugly they're awesome" way? Absolutely!!! Hence the new name of this blog.

Here are some pictures that I could find of the original Broncos uniforms and their crazy vertically striped socks. Enjoy!



Frank Tripucka leads the Broncos against the Houston Oilers in the Broncos inagural season.




Tripucka back to pass.





In game action of the Broncos versus the Boston Patriots




This is a photo of one of the actual game used socks.


Here is a great in game shot of the wonderful socks.



The Broncos versus the Chargers, a great clear picture of the socks and helmets on the left.


A replica of the original Denver Broncos helmet




Saturday, March 21, 2009

NBA Action, the Cheap Seats and Small Children: Surprisingly Fantastic!


The Nuggets and the "Sonics" engaged in battle.




Luke was really into the game...for about four minutes.



A year ago, my brother discovered a little known and very good secret. The Denver Nuggets will sell seats to their games for a severely discounted price on the day of the game rather than let those seats go empty. If you show up at noon to the Pepsi Center box office, they have a program called "Rocky's Den" that allows you to buy cheap seats for even cheaper. Usually tickets in the nosebleed section cost ten bucks each, which is hardly prohibitive, but if you show up at noon, the Nuggets will sell you that seat for only five bucks. Yes, you're sitting in the worst seats in the house, but that's where I sit more often than not anyway as I can't afford to drop several hundred bucks to sit court side. Kids under two don't need a ticket at all, so I was able to get my whole family in for last week's Nuggets vs. Sonics game for only fifteen bucks. (Yes, I am aware that the Sonics technically don't exist anymore and that they have moved to Hijack City, but I am following the Sports Guy's lead and am also unwilling to recognize the new team name due to the criminal way in which they were yanked from Seattle. He refers to them as "The Team That Shall Not Be Named," but I prefer to just call them the Sonics.)


Anyway, fifteen bucks is a price I could live with in case it turned out that my kids wanted to bolt after ten minutes and we couldn't get them to stay. I was pleased with how well they took to the NBA. Luke spent the first several minutes just staring at the game in disbelief as if he couldn't believe that the same game that Daddy watches on TV all the time was happening right before his eyes. Plus, if you've never been to an NBA game, they have a lot of superfluous action going on in addition to the game. Usually I despise all this excess, but that evening I was pleased that my kids were transfixed with something, so I was okay with it.

Going to an NBA game with two kids under age five definitely makes the experience different than going with the guys. I brought my camera to take pictures, and my daughter Ellie decided that it would be very fun to take pictures of her hands and feet. I took several pictures of her appendages before I decided that she no longer needed pictures of her extremities at an NBA game. I've never had a discussion with one of my buddies at a basketball game trying to persuade him that it would be best if I could stop taking pictures of his feet. This is a conversation that one only undertakes with a small child. Just to validate the taking all those pictures, here are a few for your enjoyment.


Yup, that's Ellie's foot.





You really haven't lived until you've had your appendages photographed at an NBA game.





Apparently, I was not the only person with small children who figured that the cheap seats were a good way to bring their little ones to an NBA game. I appeared to be sitting in the toddler zone, as there were little ones all over our section. This was another thing that might annoy me if I were there with my friends, but when you are there with your kiddos those children aren't potential annoyances, they are new friends. We shared our row with one other family who was attending with their little girl who was probably around two years old. Luke found her to be extremely interesting, and she was interested in Ellie. The three of them spent a good chunk of the second quarter walking up and down our aisle playing.



This is our aisle, and the tiny pink blur in the background is our new friend.




Ellie, Daddy, and another of our young, previously unknown friends behind us.



The evening actually went about as well as I could have hoped. My kids were angels pretty much the whole night. Ellie had a brief period in the third quarter where she started saying that she wanted to go home, but she responded very well to a little soothing, "The game isn't over yet," accompanied by an offer from Daddy to buy her Dippin Dots Ice Cream. Then once she saw Rocky the Mountain Lion (The Nuggets mascot) and heard his theme music, she was back into it, although, sadly he did not sink his traditional standing backwards half-court shot.
The Nuggets played very well for the most part and they beat the "Sonics" 112-99. I have included a brief Zapruder-quality video I took of a tiny portion of the game, and I am using it without any express written consent from the NBA (in fact, I don't even have implied oral consent), but I am feeling a bit saucy so I'm posting my video anyway. If the NBA's legal team comes after me, I will gladly take down my video as that would be kind of cool to be contacted by the NBA's lawyers regarding content on my humble little blog.

video

Anyway, I must say that I highly recommend the NBA to parents of small children. My kids loved the Nuggets game, and my wife and I even had a pretty good time ourselves. I'm not sure I'm ready to replace my buddies with my kids as my preferred game partners, but they handled themselves very well, and we had a great time. Ellie is even saying, "Go Nuggets!" So clearly I am raising them right.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baby Alive: The Worst Toy Ever

Do not let this toy into your home!




One thing that I always believed to be true, but never could confirm was that boys toys were infinitely superior to girls toys. I always had this suspicion lurking in the back of my head, but due to the composition of my family as I was growing up, I could never confirm that I was correct in this notion. I was raised in a testosterone dominated family with my Brother, my Dad, and me. My mom was the only girl, and even she wasn’t a girly girl, so my history with all things pink is rather short. I never really felt like I was missing out on anything by not having girl toys in my life. I have come to discover that I was right.

You see, I now have a little girl. I am crazy about my little girl, and love her to pieces, but the thing is…she’s a girly girl. She loves princesses, sparkly things, getting her nails painted, and the color pink. Any clothing suggestion that alters the plan from a pink dress is met with a lengthy discussion and a healthy dose of four year old skepticism. Being a father of a child like this is somewhat like landing in a foreign country and discovering new customs and traditions that seem other worldly and bizarre. “You guys really eat that? You even eat the head? Eeeewwwww!!!!”

So I find myself adrift in this cross cultural sea of little girl-hood with nary a paddle, I’m grabbing at driftwood and trying to see how I can steer my life raft with little experience and no map. One thing I have discovered is that the color pink is my guide. Pink was never a major force in my life until my little girl entered the scene, now it is like a homing beacon to help find the items that will tickle her fancy. Did you know that there is an entire aisle in the toy store that is pink? I had no idea, or rather, I must have blocked out any such remembrances from my memory as a survival mechanism of being a boy. I am here to tell you as a father, that you do not need to fear the pink aisle. If you have a little girl, the pink aisle can be your friend. Don’t get me wrong, girl toys are mostly lame, but at least the pink aisle serves as a guide to help you find the right items for that just right Christmas or Birthday gift. However, I am writing to day to speak of the bane of the pink aisle. This is an item to avoid at all costs, you must discourage your own little girl from ever discovering this item for herself. The item of which I speak is (Cue ominous music) THE POTTY DOLL!!!!

I stumbled across this abomination innocently enough; my daughter and I were watching Spongebob and the commercial came on for the Baby Alive “Learns to Potty” doll. These people who market things to small children are evil geniuses; all it took was watching one commercial and my daughter was hooked. Her girl toy radar alerted her to the fact that she desperately needed a doll that poops and pees. Actually, thanks to the marketing people who put commercials on Nickelodeon, she can be convinced that she needs any number of obnoxious toys. I usually throw a wet blanket on her enthusiasm, as many of the toys they are peddling are absolute crap, but alas, I could not dissuade her from the potty doll. It was meant to be.

I thought I’d try to wait it out to make sure that it was actually something that she really wanted and not just a flavor of the day. Weeks passed, and she continued to press for her potty doll. I figured by this time that she had already been pretty thoroughly potty trained herself, and that a doll that reinforced this concept wouldn’t be the worst thing ever. We told her during the holiday season that she would be getting some Christmas money from various family members, and that if she decided that she really wanted to spend some of it on a potty doll she could do so with our blessing.

Do not make this mistake! The potty doll is pure evil! First of all, it retails for forty bucks, which seemed excessive to me, but that isn’t even close to the worst part of it. The doll needs batteries which bring it to life when you press a button on it’s wrist. It has those creepy doll eyes that open and close, and it talks to you. It tells you that it is hungry or thirsty, and it is up to you to take care of your doll. The potty doll comes with a few packets of “food.” You mix that “food” powder (which they warn you is not for human consumption) with water to create a brownish green goo which you then feed to a creepy plastic doll who sucks it down along with water from her little baby bottle. A minute or two later it begins to say things like, “Uh oh, I have to go potty!” and if you don’t heed it’s warnings it starts to get urgent saying, “Hurry, Mommy, Hurry!!” The doll has some manner of mysterious sensor which knows when it is sitting on it’s potty, and if you get it to the potty on time, it gets all excited and poops the nasty green goo into the mini toilet and the celebrates like it just won the World Series. If you don’t get to the potty in time, the little shoot in the doll’s butt opens and green goo drops into the baby’s diaper and it says, “Uh Oh, I had an accident.” Of course, if you have the diaper off, but the baby is not yet on the tiny plastic toilet, the green goo will dispense it's disgusting load with no concern that it might be hovering over fine furnature or clean carpets. Yes, as a parent of two small kids, I need this drama in my life.

The doll is quite creepy, but to be fair, I find pretty much all dolls to be creepy. After you use up the few packets of “food” the Baby Alive company conveniently sells packages of “food” in separate packages. They also sell more of these toy disposable diapers, because it would be silly to have a reusable diaper. We are stuffing landfills with one time use diapers for dolls, America is truly brilliant.


Then of course, you have to keep feeding this monstrosity with batteries so that it can continue to eat fake uneatable “food” and then poop that fake food into a fake diaper. There is nothing about this process that I like. Feeding the doll is just as annoying as feeding an actual baby without the benefit of it being an actual child that you care about and that needs to be fed. After feeding the doll, you need to clean her face because she gets “food” all over her face, then a minute or two after the feeding is done, the doll starts to freak out, and you have to get her to the potty pronto to avoid having green goo soil a tiny non-reusable doll diaper or drop a mess on your clean carpet. The best case scenario is that the poop drops into a doll potty which you then have to clean up. Ladies and Gentlemen, I rest my case that boys toys are superior to girls toys. Not all girl toys are this annoying, but if I didn’t love my daughter as much as I do, I would gladly drop Baby Alive into a wood chipper without a hint of remorse.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Attack of the Spider Monkey on Mountain Dew or Beware of the "Reply All" Button.


"I don't know about you, Connie. but I'd like to stick a Spider Monkey on Mountain Dew on this Jody."


This one line email was recieved by a woman in my company today. Problem is that the woman who recieved it is the Jody being spoken about in the email as the target of a Mountain Dew enhanced spider monkey attack.

Needless to say, Jody is not terribly pleased with the agent who sent her this email, and I can't help but think it is going to damage their business relationship. The moral to the story is, DO NOT WRITE AN EMAIL LIKE THIS. (Or if you REALLY need to express this type of opinion, make sure that the person you are talking about is not CC'd on the email.)

That said, man am I happy that she sent the email, because it was a source of amusement around the office on an otherwise typically dull Wednesday.






Saturday, March 7, 2009

Blog on Demand: U2 - No Line on the Horizon

The New (and in my mind brilliant) U2 Album.
No Line on the Horizon

This massive post is the start of a new semi-regular feature I will be doing on the blog. I call it Blog on Demand. The basic idea is that if someone tells me that I should do a blog post on something, and I find the idea to be a good one, I will do the post and give that person credit for the idea. The first idea comes from the community pastor at my church. His name is Brian Gray, and he suggested I do a blog post on the new U2 album that was just released this week. "No Line on the Horizon." He also challenged me to find two hymns that were buried in the music. Although, I am sad to say, Brian. I could only find one bit of music that sounded like a hymn, "White as Snow" sounded a lot like "O Come O Come Emmanuel" not sure if that is one of the two that you are referring to, but it's the only one I heard.

The reason this blog post idea came up was due to Brian's enthusiastically asking how many people had bought the new album (which had just been released that day) on Tuesday night when our church met for our weekly service. Brian asked in such a way that he expected probably half of the room to shoot their hands up excitedly and perhaps even to have a few people in the room hoot and cheer at it. The rather tepid response and only a few hands being raised in the room led to two other pastors teasing him. One pastor told the congregation that everyone who buys the album this week should shoot him a quick email to say that they too have it now, so that he wouldn't feel alone. Then he gave out Brian's email address from the pulpit. The other pastor created this work of photoshop brilliance, it's a photo of Brian contemplating his place in the church community...


What follows now is a monstrously long breakdown of every song in the album and my thoughts on it. Items in italics are brilliant because they U2 lyrics, items not in italics are less brilliant because they are just my reflections on the lyrics. Items in bold are the titles of the songs in the order they appear on the album. The one item in bold and italics are words from William Carlos Williams, which you might find amazing, but I find rather overrated.


No Line on the Horizon:


Much like how they used "Vertigo" to start "How to assemble an Atomic Bomb" with a song about having a hard time finding your balance in a crazy world, U2 opens NLOTH with the title track about having trouble finding balance and a steady way in a nutty world with this song. I liked the music better to Vertigo, but I have a feeling this song will grow on me with time. My favorite line in this song is:


I’m a traffic cop, Rue du Marais.
The sirens are wailing
But it’s me that wants to get away.


I like this line. He is a cop in the heat of the action, but rather than chasing he feels like he's being chased. He can't make sense of the world, everything is topsy turvy and he can't even find the line on the horizon. Not sure it's the perfect song to open the album with, but it does a good job setting the tone for the album.

Magnificent:


Wow. Powerful worship song of love for God. This song is both lyrically and musically amazing.


I was born to be with you 

In this space and time

After that and ever after
I haven't had a clue


Knowing what and who you were made for, but not having a clue about anything else. Man, Can I relate!


I was born to sing for you 

I didn’t have a choice
But to lift you up
And sing whatever song you wanted me to
I give you back my voice
From the womb my first cry
It was a joyful noise


I don't even have the words to express how beautiful I find this song. If this isn't my favorite song on the album, it's awfully close.



Moment of Surrender:


This song has so many layers and so much depth that I am not entirely sure I get it all, but I am drawn to it. I like the basic idea of it as far as I do understand it. I hear this song as saying that love is something that you give yourself to entirely and it may spit you up a bit and it will change you, and you won't always know what's going on, but once you're there, you surrender to it.


It’s not if I believe in love
But if love believes in me
Oh, believe in me

I think if you are going to give yourself to love, whether that be to a supreme being or to another human, if it's going to work, you need to surrender yourself no matter what that means. It's both beautiful and terrifying.


At the moment of surrender
I folded to my knees
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me


When it works, you only notice what you've given yourself up for.


I was speeding on the subway
Through the stations of the cross
Every eye looking every other way
Counting down ’til the pain will stop


When you forget how it works, you forget who you are and what's important. You've forgotten to surrender and you still feel the pain without remembering why.



At the moment of surrender
Of vision of over visibility
I did not notice the passers-by
And they did not notice me



Then when you get over how stupid you are and remember what's important and begin to surrender again you may be broken again but in a good way. However, most people around you won't even notice the difference.

Again, I don't even claim to think I completely get this song, but I this is kind of how I am hearing and feeling it right now. Pretty solid. (And this is going to be the hugest blog post in history if I keep this up.) (Edit: Yup, I was right)



Unknown Caller:


I may once again be totally off on my interpretation of this song, but I see it as a guy late at night unable to sleep and uncomfortable with either his life or who he is, then in the middle of the darkest part of the night he finds the "Sunshine." He connects with God who tells him to shut up and listen



I was lost between the midnight and the dawning
In a place of no consequence or company
3:33 when the numbers fell off the clock face
Speed-dialing with no signal at all

Go, shout it out, rise up
Oh, oh
Escape yourself and gravity
Hear me, cease to speak that I may speak
Shush now


He does the smart thing and shuts up and interfaces with the almighty and reboots himself and remembers who he is and who he isn't.


I was right there at the top of the bottom
On the edge of the known universe Where I wanted to be
I had driven to the scene of the accident
And I sat there waiting for me
Restart and re-boot yourself
You’re free to go
Oh, oh
Shout for joy if you get the chance


I like that God tells him to shout for joy if he gets the chance.



I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight:


Yet another song that I really like, I hear this one as a call to action. A call to be bold and to be bold now. We have to live, we have to love, we have to listen. We can't hold on to old ideas without embracing new ones. We have to do crazy things now to change the world. If we don't act now, we will lose out on the chance which would be more crazy than going a little crazy right now. I also like how the song acknowledges that going out on that limb isn't easy. "It's not a hill, it's a mountain."



Everybody needs to cry or needs to spit
Every sweet tooth needs just a little hit
Every beauty needs to go out with an idiot
How can you stand next to the truth and not see it
Oh, a change of heart comes slow


It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain
As you start out the climb
Do you believe me or are you doubting
We’re gonna make it all the way to the light
But I know I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight

Every generation gets a chance to change the world
Pity the nation that won’t listen to your boys and girls
‘Cos the sweetest melody is the one we haven’t heard
Is it true that perfect love drives out all fear
The right to appear ridiculous is something I hold dear
Oh, but a change of heart comes slow



Get on your Boots:


This is their first big single off of the album. I actually find it to be one of the weaker songs on the record, but it's still pretty good. Here's how I hear it.


The world is pretty screwed up, and everyone is scared and talking about the fear, but the world is more beautiful than this temporary fear only not everyone remembers or understands that. It's a return to what's important. Love and community. In this particular instance, love between the singer and his girl whom he refers to as "Sexy Boots"


Night is falling everywhere
Rockets at the fun fair
Satan loves a bomb scare
But he won’t scare you


You free me from the dark dream
Candy floss, ice cream
All our kids are screaming
But the ghosts aren’t real


Here’s where we gotta be
Love and community
Laughter is eternity
If joy is real




Stand up Comedy:


Awesome. I dig the message of this song a lot. (Again the disclaimer that I love the message as I understand it.)

I hear this song as both a call to stand up for what is right, but also as a call to realize who you are in the light of who God is. A lot of times people who are taking a stand for an issue start to think that they are bigger and more important than they actually are. It's a call to stand up for what's right, but not because you are amazing, but because what is right is what's important and because God is a God of justice and wants you to help. Don't get confused and start thinking justice is your issue, it's just God's issue and you've co-opted it. God's the big one here, not you. This song may have my favorite line in the whole album. "Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady." The title almost seems like a play on words that it's funny how self-important people get when they "Stand Up" therefore it's "Stand up Comedy."



Stand up, this is comedy
The DNA lotto may have left you smart
But can you stand up to beauty
Dictator of the heart
I can stand up for hope, faith, love
But while I’m getting over certainty
Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady


I gotta stand up to ego but my ego’s not really the enemy
It’s like a small child crossing an eight lane highway
On a voyage of discovery
Stand up to rock stars
Napolean is in high heels
Josephine, be careful
Of small men with big ideas
Oh, oh
Out from under your beds
C’mon, ye people Stand up for your love


Love love love love love
Love love love love love
God is love
And love is evolution’s very best day



FEZ-Being Born:


In High School my teacher tried to convince me that William Carlos Williams' poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow" is an amazing piece of literature that I should let wash over me and I would be overwhelmed by it's beauty and amazingness. I think to this day that she and everyone who gushes over this poem are full of crap. Here is the poem:



so much depends
upon

a red wheelbarrow
glazed with rainwater

beside the white
chickens.


Apparently this poem is a pretty big deal, as tons of literature freaks hail it as a magnum opus, I just don't see it. I didn't get it then, and I don't get it now. I bring up this random piece of history from my High School Literature class at this time because this song gives me the same "Red Wheelbarrow" feeling. I should probably appreciate it more, but I just don't get it.

It is beautiful to listen to, it mentions Africa, it uses verbal imagery, but it leaves me feeling nothing. I'll still listen to it when I peruse the album, because it does sound nice, but I don't get the message I feel that I'm supposed to get from it. This is the only song on the album that does zero for me.



White as Snow:

This song is hard for me, because it touches close to my heart. It speaks of faith and doubt coexisting. It speaks of believing when you don't feel it, and it speaks to seeking to be like the lamb in a sea of wolves. I like this song, but I also hurt when I listen to it. It speaks to me of how hard faith is, which is a struggle I face every day and fail at pretty much every day.


Once I knew there was a love divine
Then came a time I thought it knew me not
Who can forgive forgiveness where forgiveness is not
Only the lamb as white as snow


As boys we would go hunting in the woods
To sleep the night shooting out the stars
Now the wolves are every passing stranger
Every face we cannot know
If only a heart could be as white as snow



Breathe:

I really dislike salesmen. It's an irrational hatred. This song makes me happy because it equates salespeople to Satan, selling you a bag of goods, telling you to buy the lies of what is important rather than focus on what is really important. Grace. I've found the one thing I need, and I can breathe. Fantastic. I love this album.



Every day I die again, and again I’m reborn
Every day I have to find the courage
To walk out into the street
With arms out
Got a love you can’t defeat
Neither down nor out
There’s nothing you have that I need
I can breathe
Breathe now


We are people borne of sound
The songs are in our eyes
Gonna wear them like a crown


Walk out, into the sunburst street
Sing your heart out, sing my heart out
I’ve found grace inside a sound
I found grace, it’s all that I found
And I can breathe
Breathe now


Cedars of Lebanon:

This is kind of a haunting song. I feels like a song of regret. Missing a girl from his past, possibly present, but he's too tied up in the dreary life he's leading in a war torn area. He feels like he fighting and wants to get back to when things were simpler, but he still believes in the cause too much. He wonders if he regrets beginning the fight, he wonders if he's chosen his battle wisely. He thinks so, but isn't sure, and regrets that he doesn't have certainty. This is a haunting song that is perfect to sum up the album, lack of certainty but faith in belief.


Choose your enemies carefully ‘cos they will define you
Make them interesting ‘cos in some ways they will mind you
They’re not there in the beginning but when your story ends
Gonna last with you longer than your friends

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

From the Denver Sports Czar: State of the City Address

I have annointed myself the Denver Sports Czar, and as such I feel a certain duty to deliver my State of the City Address.




The newest unit of measurement of panic: The Blue Bear




Good Evening, My fellow Denverites,

I come to you as we are facing a low point in our city’s sports history, but I am not without hope. The hits have been plentiful and painful of late, however I am not ready to give in to despair and the bottom of the standings. I will continue to cheer. Here is a quick rundown of our teams and the panic level on a scale of one to ten Big Blue Convention Center Bears.

Yes, it is true, the Broncos are somewhat in disarray. After three seasons of .500 football, our great leader Mr. Shanahan was surprisingly dismissed from his post and replaced with a young man who may or may not be of legal drinking age, Josh McDaniels. Then, as his first major move, Coach McD alienated his best player and got into a bit of a war of words through the newspaper. I say to you, though, that it could have been worse. Jay Cutler could have been traded and we could be entering the Matt Cassell era. Not that Cassell is a terrible quarterback, but I don’t believe his ceiling is anywhere near as high as Cutler’s. I believe that the Broncos will rise again, and one day they will be great again. (Of course, I think we are looking at a 6-10 season ahead, but I'm thinking long term. I also hope (but don’t necessarily believe) that McDaniels was the right man for the job. Of course, when you have a coach that has won two Super Bowls but you have a chance to get a 32 year old unproven assistant, you have to make that move.




For you conspiracy theorists out there, is it entirely nuts to think that Bill Belichick initiated trade talks with the Broncos for a Cutler-Cassell trade and then leaked it to the media that Cutler was being discussed in order to cause problems for one of his former assistants and now his competition in the AFC? I say no, it's not nuts. If for no other reason than it makes it easier for me to dislike an already very dislikable Belichick.




I remain a Broncos fan, although dark days may be ahead, I believe that we will make it through this time as stronger, better fans. (And with fewer bandwagon jumpers than ever amongst our ranks.)



Panic Level - 7 of 10 Big Blue Convention Center Bears








Let us move to our strongest team, the Nuggets. True they are (barely) in first place in the Northwest division, but there are definitely cracks in the foundation. Melo was just suspended for refusing to leave a game when George Karl told him to come out, and it’s never a good thing when your coach and best player are playing the feud. Plus, they have hit a cold stretch losing five of their last seven games. That said, every NBA team goes through bad stretches during the course of the season. I’m not ready to completely panic, although it would be nice if Carmelo would stop adding to his considerable baggage. I love the guy, but he definitely has trouble staying out of trouble. This season will be defined by how the Nuggets do in the first round of the playoffs, if they can get to the second round, I consider this season a success. I’m not sure they can do it, but it’s definitely not time to panic.



Panic Level - 2 of 10 Big Blue Convention Center Bears










Spring training has started, but apparently the Rockies have not. As I write this, they are yet to win a spring training game. That’s no big deal, as spring training games are about as meaningless as figure skating results, but it is symptomatic of something that I worry about with the Rockies. After losing Matt Holliday over the offseason, it appears that the Rockies are returning to their losing and not caring about it tradition. After a brief season of glory that amazingly launched them into the 2007 World Series, they seemingly haven’t made a good move since, and the talk is that Clint Hurdle is on his last legs as Rockies manager. No one around these parts seems to feel the Rockies have much hope at all, which is sad since it was only a year and a half ago that they were four wins away from a championship.



Panic Level - 5 of 10 Big Blue Convention Center Bears












Now for the saddest of the sad, The 2009 Colorado Avalanche; The Avs are having their most pathetic season in Denver. They have dropped their last five games, and not even a matchup with the Red Wings can drum up interest. It’s not even anger that people in Denver feel towards this team, It’s even worse, it’s complete apathy. They aren’t any good, but no one around town even cares right now. What a precipitous drop for a team that has been the best run team in town for most of the past decade and a half. We are finding out how well the NHL will do in this market when the team stinks, and the answer is…not very well.



Panic Level - 9 of 10 Big Blue Convention Center Bears



Sunday, March 1, 2009

Valentines Day Massacre: My attempt at painting pottery.

The Ceramics in the City studio, where all the magic happened.

For Valentines Day this year I took Jen to Ceramics in the City, a paint your own pottery store near downtown Denver. Valentines day has always been my least favorite holiday, but as far as V-Days go, this was a pretty good one. If you're looking for a good idea of something to do for a romantic evening with your girl, you can do worse than going to a pottery place and painting something. It's actually a lot of fun, and you can unleash your inner creative genius, which is always interesting. Another plus is that you'll have some pottery when all is said and done, and unless you're extremely klutzy, the pottery should last longer than flowers or chocolates.

As soon as I told Jen that we were going to be painting pottery, she knew exactly what she wanted to paint. She had designed some awesome looking bowls there in 2005, and I clumsily broke one a few months back, so she was going to create two new bowls to replace the one that I broke. I was less certain of what I wanted to do, but I figured that I would decide once I got there.

Little did I realize that they have ten kajillion different things that you could paint, from little ceramic figurines like elephants and turtles to platters to bowls to plates. For a brief moment I considered trying to paint a race car onto a plate so that I could claim that it was a NASCAR commemorative plate, but the humor of that one probably would amuse only me, and everyone else would think I was off my rocker. (Perhaps everyone already thinks this.) I finally settled on a mug, which I surmised I could put on my desk at work to hold pens or something.
The pottery place was doing a Valentines special, and the place was packed with couples enjoying the same romantic activity as Jen and me. I had never painted pottery, and didn't know the rules or the steps, but thankfully I had my wife who knew the program and shortly had me selecting paint colors and wiping dust off of my unpainted mug. They were playing some decent music, and before long we were off creating our masterpieces.
I had selected my colors of orange and navy blue (I later decided to also throw in some lighter blue as well as not to make my mug appear entirely Broncos related.) I was told that in order for the paint to look right, we would need to apply three coats to our pottery. I drew a design on my mug with a pencil which was a zig zag design because I thought it would look kind of cool. Jen got to work on her mugs with the efficiency of someone who knew exactly what she wanted and also knew how to get there.
I started with the orange, because the instructions said that you should do light colors first. The initial step of painting over my lines with the orange was rather simple, and I was beginning to get cocky, thinking that my mug was going to be amazing and that my design would become the basis of a whole new fad in mugware. This was going to be a monumental step forward in the art world, perhaps a new trend of mug painting would sweep the nation based on my inspired work in the field. I was excited at how well it was going to look, and barely even noticed how my design was beginning to look like lightning bolts going down my mug. Jen was hard at work placing even coats of paint with no design on her bowls. Other than having a different color on the inside of the bowl and the outside of the bowl, no other artistic flair was obvious, and figured that she would create some nice little items, but with less artistic integrity than my masterpiece.

The three coats of orange were already applied and I was ready to move forward with the light blue. That initial step had me feeling cocky that I would be done soon, and would perhaps need to paint a second item with my newfound talent. I moved forward to the light blue which I was going to place alongside my orange zigzags. This proved to be slightly more difficult, as I had to align the paint against a different color of paint and try not to cover over the orange with the light blue but still get an even coat of color on the mug. It was harder, and took a bit longer to get the three coats down, but I eventually got there. There were a few smudges and my lines were less refined that I hoped, but it was getting there. My design wasn't quite as crisp as I had hoped when I started, but I was still hopeful. Jen was pretty much finished by now with her two bowls and was putting the finishing touches on them, I figured I was two colors down, and one to go, so I was over halfway done, I thought.

Navy blue was when it really started to go wrong. Navy blue was the darkest color, so one wrong brush stroke could seriously alter my artistic vision. Plus, I failed to take into account as I was applying my first two colors that I was holding onto the mug handle while I painted which gave me more control to get the design painted smoothly and evenly, now I needed to paint the rest of the entire mug...including the handle. My smooth even strokes were turning into wild and crazy mug altering splatters. My ability to control my brushstrokes was waning and I felt as if I had broken my right arm and was trying to write a caligraphy love letter with my left hand, perhaps a noble idea, but the excecution left a little something to be desired.

Precision began to give way to a more base urge to get it done before the shop closed and they kicked me out. I did my best to get the first coat down and maintain my artistic vision. The second coat was when I noticed that I should see if my wife would be willing to paint the inside of my mug, which I just realized should be painted or my mug would look pretty weird. I was still sort of trying to not totally obscure my lines with the second coat, and by the time I was applying the third coat I just wanted it to end. I was moderately crushed that what had started out so well now most closely resembled a third grade art project. Perhaps there was some hope that I would avert complete disaster, but the masterpiece ship had clearly sailed.

Jen did a fantastic job with the interior of the mug, and I muddled through finishing up the exterior. It was something of a lightning bolt travesty, but the woman who worked there said it would look fine once it was fired. I was skeptical, but hoped she was right. Jen's two bowls were painted, but the colors wouldn't come in until they were fired, so we would just have to wait for the finished produce to see how they would end up.


A week later, we were able to pick up our finished product. Here were the final results.
Jen's pottery, simple yet elegant. Very nice.

My crazy mug.


Okay, so the final result was better than I expected for my mug. It doesn't look entirely terrible, and Jen's bowls came out amazing. I thought it was funny how similar our pottery matched our general styles.

Jen: She went simple but classy. Very attractive, very usable, didn't get too fancy with her scheme, just a solid execution of a solid idea.


Craig: Wild and flashy and a bit messy, at times hopeless, but in the end it turns out slightly better than my horrible fears, but far short of the glorious idea I have in my head.