Wednesday, December 30, 2009

this year i... (return of)

...buried my father. The last five months have been rough.

Really, I'd just like to thank all of you. For distracting me, listening to me, picking me up. Sometimes literally.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

this year i ... (strikes back)

(photo via Roxie)
...grew a ragged beard (and smiled at least once).

...shaved, except for the mustache (thanks, Abby).

(photo via Louisa)
...realized I was better off without the mustache (but with the beard at a more manageable level).

Yes, I learned a lot about facial hair in 2009. And about looking creepy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

this year i...

...bought a bike. It's orange with blue tires. Like a can of Fat Cat. I named it Oscar. I rode it all over MPLS and wore striped socks. It was a good summer. Aside from the Joose.

This was Sam's idea. You should do it too.

Friday, September 18, 2009

megan inghram

So I don't know Megan Inghram, but her illustrations are rad. She did the Franny and Zooey cover redesign I posted yesterday (which I just realized she sold on etsy back in April. Sad.) I found some more of her work today. Peep her blog.

Perhaps I should commission a Gatsby cover redesign...

Also, does the second image remind anybody else of one of my favorite Roxie creations?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

i like to ride in trains too much. you never get to sit next to the window anymore when you're married.

I stumbled across this image today. It's fantastic. I needed it and I didn't even know.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

let the wild rumpus begin!

Then he stopped. His father had explained that the journal was for positive wants, not negative wants. When you wanted something negative, it didn’t count, he said. A want should improve your life while improving the world, even if just a little bit.

So Max began again:

I WANT to get out of here.
I WANT to go to the moon or some other planet.
I WANT to find some unicorn DNA and then grow a bunch of them and teach them to impale Claire’s friends with their horns.

Oh, well. He could erase it later. Just writing it felt good. But now he was sick of writing. He wanted to do something. But what did he want to do? This was the central question of this day and most days.

You know you want to read (what I assume to be) an excerpt from Dave Eggers' Wild Things called Max at Sea.

Source: The New Yorker.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

good morning

I was slightly concerned I might lose a finger, but the Monster Mug kept his teeth to himself.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

post-game appreciation

I didn’t really get to know my father until pretty late in the game.

It was like watching Paul Molitor get his three-thousandth hit in a Minnesota uniform. People cheered, but it wasn’t how they would remember him.

The metaphor is appropriate, I think, because even when we had nothing to talk about, we could talk about sports. My Dad and I stuck to the locals, mostly: Twins, Timberwolves, trade rumors.

When I’d visit his clean, unadorned room at the care home, he’d run through the usual series of questions. How’s the job? How’s the car running? Have any girlfriends? He liked that last one best—especially when I had a story to tell. How’d you meet this one? he’d ask. And when they’d change, or I’d go weeks (months) without a new name to share, he didn’t mind. He’d just suggest I try the bars around town.

My Dad was consistent, like a sideline reporter interviewing a key player after a win. There was a script, an expected call and response, and we nailed it. We had it down. We could have worked for ESPN. Okay. Fox Sports.

There was a time when I didn’t think I could handle it, hearing those same questions again and again. When it depressed me to run through the same answers, recount the same basic facts. But eventually, I realized how much they mattered. The questions. Because even if he forgot the answers a week or an hour later, he wanted to know. He wanted to know enough to ask every time. And he always listened.

Once we exhausted the interview portion of my visits, my Dad and I would settle in for some Monday Night Football or a Sunday afternoon snoozer between the Yankees and the Angels. We even watched golf. Sure, we didn’t always watch sports. There’s a reason I consider myself a Wheel Watcher.

But in the end, it came down to sports, even though I’m not entirely certain how much we each even liked them. Sure, he was a high school and college athlete, and I have a deep appreciation for Joe Mauer’s swing. But I don’t feel about Kevin Garnett quite the way I do about F Scott Fitzgerald. And my Dad? I’m not sure what his dreams were, what he aspired to be, to do.

That’s the thing about knowing my Dad. I don’t, really. I’ve heard stories of his humor, his kindness, his easygoing nature. And in the past few years, I’ve seen flashes of those things, hints of a person that I never got to meet.

Parents aren’t people when you’re a kid. They’re heroes, villains, legends. They’re Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio. They make the rules, feed you, pick you up when you fall. But it’s not until you’re older and on the way to becoming some kind of grownup that you really get it. That they stumble. That they are not always right. That they might not be around forever like you always thought they would be. That they’re human. Like you.

I won’t have a father to help finish the basement of that future home in South Minneapolis. I won’t have a father to phone for financial advice and support, both solicited and not. I won’t have a father to say, don’t worry, son, I have a good feeling about this one, while I’m nervously adjusting my tux.

I won’t have those things, but that’s okay. My Dad left me something else: he left me his sloppy, beaming, ear-to-ear grin. He left the smile that spilled across his face every time I popped my head through the door to his room. The smile I can’t deny every time I see my reflection in the mirror. The smile that was like a late-inning catch at the wall, the kind that Kirby Puckett made again and again to rob the opposing team of a go-ahead home run. It was the kind of smile that made you think, sure, maybe things have been bad, but we have a chance. We can do this. It’s gonna be all right.

That much I know.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


My mustache loves clouds, so how could I not sit in a window seat?

Paula looks pretty at Yaffa Cafe.

Jesse expresses his appreciation for the server's suggestion.

I discover something interesting at the HiFi.

We are the only people on the train.

Right where we belong.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

my dear child, this is NOT a birthday party.

Am I more excited about any other movie right now than I am about Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland?

No. No, I am not.

Peep more photos at's first look at the 2010 film. And for good measure, watch this trippy remix video constructed from snippets from the 1951 Disney film.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Gosh, she's pretty.

Jenny Lewis was in town last night, and she stopped by The Current studios to play a few songs. The new tune "Just Like Zeus" is pretty rad, and Johnathan Rice did an admirable job filling in on Elvis Costello's part during "Carpetbaggers". But the interview portion with Mark Wheat is real reason to check it out. Listen on the Current website. My good friend Lindsay Kimball produced. Well done, I say.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

i don't seem to remember ever owning a droid...

...well now you can.

But does it have a special spring-loaded lightsaber compartment? That's the real question.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

hugging used to mean something

Sometimes, The New York Times Style Section, I'm just not sure about you.

Here are some of best lines from the Sarah Kershaw's article, For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’.

But now there is also the bear claw, when a boy embraces a girl awkwardly with his elbows poking out.
(Yes! These are best with glaze.)

There’s the shake and lean; the hug from behind; and, the newest addition, the triple — any combination of three girls and boys hugging at once.
(I kept expecting Ms Kershaw to throw some teenager triple stats at me.)

“If somebody were to not hug someone, to never hug anybody, people might be just a little wary of them and think they are weird or peculiar,” said Gabrielle Brown, a freshman at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School in Manhattan.
(What about that kid with no arms?)

But pro-hugging students say it is not a romantic or sexual gesture, simply the “hello” of their generation.
(As opposed to, oh, I don't know, 'Hello'?)

She added: “I hug people I’m close to. But now you’re hugging people you don’t even know. Hugging used to mean something.”
(Is this article really about something else? Maybe I still have Bonk on the mind.)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

we the lions you the cheetahs

As if they somehow knew I've been listening to Black Star nonstop for the past couple months, Talib Kweli and Mos Def are back together again. For two shows. In New York. Of course.

And this shirt, via Hypebeast:

Dope is the only word.

enough, bub

Dear Hollywood blockbuster screenwriters,

Please stop writing pivotal emotional scenes during which our hero lets loose a howl of anguish that echoes across the landscape.


p.s. Tell your director buddies that pulling the camera up and away from the bellowing protagonist is over. No more. Please.

p.p.s. Also, please write stories that A) have some meaning, however slight, and B) function under some internal logic.

p.p.p.s. What a waste of Deadpool (and Ryan Reynolds). And Weapon XI? Seriously? That ending was weaker than the special effects they used for Wolverine's claws. Snikt. Argh.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

please please please make these happen. throw me a bone. or a sock.

These fantastic Harry Potter redesigns are the work of M.S. Corley.

I found this while checking out a sick Wu-Tang redesign project by Logan Walters via rcrdlbl. Yeah, I said "sick".

Anybody want to do a We Became Actors poster like this? Seriously.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

the best nine-year-old frontman ever. ever.

I think the guitarist might be more talented than I am too. OK, just watched the guitar solo. He's definitely better than I am.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Orange Schwinn Varsity from sometime in the 70s. Blue tires. From the fine folks at Capital Deals.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

we will get these swimming pools

We Became Actors wrote a new song, and this is a video of us playing it for the first time. At a bowling alley. It's kind of awesome.

Highlights include Mike breaking a stick and nearly hitting Paula with it at 1:19; the bowling ball flying by at 1:25 (setting up a spare, I think); my glasses disappearing (falling off) off-camera sometime around 1:40; and Jesse pointing to the ceiling at :21, :36, :42, 1:17, 2:14, 2:34 (almost), 2:43 and 3:18.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

why girl talk (especially feed the animals) matters more than your favorite band (or favorite album)

I'm trying to blog while I update Facebook, listen to my iPod ("Smash Your Head" by Girl Talk, unsurprisingly), and monitor work email. I also have a meeting in 20 minutes. Make that 16.

I've had a lot of sugar today. A lot. It's treat day. Red velvet cake, cookies, puppy dog tails. Coffee as well. Dark roast.

Oh, and a cheeseburger and fries for lunch. Probably should have had chicken nuggets.

This is the magic of Girl Talk represented by my day (Happy 200th BDay Messrs Lincoln and Darwin, as well as happy 29th, Ms Ricci).

You see, Lincoln and Darwin could have never had a day like the day I'm having. Sugar was expensive back in 1809. Wasn't it? Better check Wikipedia.


Girl Talk is the most modern of music. Postmodern, actually. You know Girl Talk, right? He's the Michelangelo of mash-ups. Perhaps prior to his creation of the aforementioned "Smash Your Head", specifically minute one, second thirty-six of the fifth track on Night Ripper, Greg Gillis (Mr Girl Talk himself) was just another laptop-wielding cube jockey who treated pop music like a chemistry set. But at 1:36, everything changed. Yes, at 1:36 of the best Girl Talk track (11:40 of the album as a whole), The Notorious B.I.G. makes an appearance.

Take the best Biggie verse and drop it on top of a sped-up section of Elton John's finest, and you get modern pop music's Creation of Adam.

What's important about this particular moment in "Smash Your Head" is that unlike, say, the opening of the song, which featured X-Ray Spex, or "Minute by Minute", which sampled Neutral Milk Hotel, or even the KRS-One rip in "Too Deep", Gillis took the absolute high points of two genre classics and let them rip for not quite a minute. Sublime. Pop. Genius.

Feed the Animals (number one on my Top 10 of 2008) is Gillis' attempt to replicate the glory of Biggie riding Sir Elton. On every song. For nearly an hour. He never quite makes it, but the overall effect blows away Night Ripper.

And what's important about this aspect of Feed the Animals is why Girl Talk matters more than your favorite band. As my friend Jeff Kamin said once, "Sometimes I get goosebumps from a song. I call these chill songs because a chorus or verse or bridge can give me the chills." That's what Gillis is trying (and mostly succeeding) to accomplish throughout Feed the Animals.

Every track is like the bit of a song that Toyota or Target or Apple uses in an ad campaign. It's the hook. It's the selling point. It's the reason you love that song. We live in a society that values advertisements as entertainment, so why not string as many of these together as possible? Feed the Animals is 53 minutes, 53 seconds of treat days.

We also live at a time when many of the things we crave and consume subscribe to the concepts posed in Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and Simulation. Chicken nuggets. Reality television. Girl Talk. How much more third-order simulacra can you get than a song made entirely of recycled bits of other songs, some of which themselves sample other compositions? There is no original Girl Talk song. And even the basic formula Gillis follows for Feed the Animals is a copy of one of his previous works, which itself is not original.

Of course, while we're enjoying those fine fried bits of processed chicken, we might be driving, chatting with our passenger and texting (or blogging, eating, working and Facebooking). This is the hypertasking instant-gratification generation. And Girl Talk is its soundtrack. Don't like the first lines of "Int'l Players Anthem (I Choose You)" (but how could you not)? Not to worry, Birdman and Lil Wayne will be here before you know it.

Oh did I mention that Gillis gets all his samples illegally? But such is the nature of the modern media consumer. We download things from the Internet, pick and choose and delete rather than dropping $15 on piece of plastic on the chance that more than one song is any good.

An album by Isis or Radiohead or even Grammy-dominating Robert Plant and Allison Krauss can never come as close to representing the modern music listener as does Girl Talk. Raising Sand, Krauss and Plant's Album of the Year-winning collaboration, is actually pretty much as far from Girl Talk as is possible. No surprise, coming from the aging Academy.

So, Girl Talk's Feed the Animals: the defining music of the Hypertasking Instant Gratification Generation.

And it makes for a pretty damn good dance party.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

that sure means a lot, mr banana

One of my coworkers apparently thinks I need more potassium in my life.

Monday, January 12, 2009

los diez mejores de 2008

10. O, Tilly & the Wall
I love tap dancing. Throw lots of gorgeous girl-girl harmonies, mid-80s pop melodies and fat synths on top of Jamie Pressnall's wicked feet, and you've got 11 awesome tracks. If only "Beat Control" had made it onto the U.S. release.

9. Saturdays=Youth, M83
Anthony Gonzalez and co.'s latest offering smacks of the Cocteau Twins, Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. They probably could have put "Kim & Jessie" on a 12-inch half a dozen times and I'd have been happy. Saturdays=Youth is huge, darkly hopeful and fuzzy. And it makes me feel like wearing nothing but black and a smile. All good things.

8. Conor Oberst, Conor Oberst
This is not a Bright Eyes album, and Mr Oberst went all the way to Mexico to prove it to you. Instead, the former wunderkind/next Dylan/reviled emo poster boy embraces twang and taps a pre-CMT inspiration that's not quite alt-country. And it works. Bright Eyes' last record, Cassadaga, floundered under poor production and a lyrical thread that felt forced. Not so with this self-titled release, which finds Oberst escaping... from what, I'm not entirely sure. Regardless, I appreciate the sentiment.

7. Sun Giant EP/Fleet Foxes, Fleet Foxes
Uplifting and radiant and perfect for Monday morning. Or any morning, really.

6. Vampire Weekend, Vampire Weekend
Yes, they might be the Whitest Band and the object of backlash for their look and sudden success. And yes, they sound exactly like Graceland-era Paul Simon. But what's wrong with that? I say the world needs more bands that could call you Al.

5. Hold On Now, Youngster..., Los Campesinos!
OK, tiny confession: Although "Death to Los Campesinos!" was the first song that really hooked me off this record, it was a mind-blowing mash-up by The Hood Internet that sold me on this band. See, Usher can do beautiful things. Without him, I'd have never fallen in love with the unabashed joy of "My Year in Lists," "We Are All Accelerated Readers" and "You! Me! Dancing!" Thank you, Usher. Thank you.

4. The Silver City, Jeremy Messersmith
Think Elliott Smith without the drugs fronting Fountains of Wayne without "Stacy's Mom." High praise, I know. But Messersmith's songwriting and voice, equal parts ache and hope, deserve it. Genius production from Dan Wilson (Semisonic) helps too.

3. Tha Carter III, Lil Wayne
iTunes tells me I listened to "Got Money" 77 times in the past six months. And that's not even one of the good songs. Tha Carter III sprawls, showcasing Dwayne Carter's lack of restraint. This would be a bad thing were it not for the truth to his claim: "They don't make em like me no more/ Matter of fact, they never made it like me before/ I'm rare like Mr. Clean with hair/ No brake lights on my car-rare." Best Rapper Alive, indeed.

2. 808s and Heartbreak, Kanye West
Sometimes I think 808s and Heartbreak is the finest Phil Collins record ever made by a rapper, and sometimes I think Kanye was just trying to murder Auto-Tune. Regardless, this album might be the best thing he's ever made. It's not a hip-hop album, it's not a rock album, it's not a pop album. No, 808s and Heartbreak is the self-portrait of an artist falling apart, nearly perfect in its imperfection. ART WINS!!!!!! ART WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ART WINS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! BUT SERIOUSLY, THE DRUMS ON HEARTLESS ARE DOPE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

1. Feed the Animals, Girl Talk
Yeah, yeah, yeah. He wrote none of the music and probably stole it all from the Internet. I don't care. This is not a party album; this is the party album, a sonic distillation of a multitasking, instant-gratification generation with a collective short attention span. Somehow, in trying and failing for 53 minutes to top "Juicy" riding "Tiny Dancer", Gregg Gillis constructed an entire album whose sum is better than his single greatest moment. Andre3000 rapping over Journey ain't bad, either.