“There will be no zombie apocalypse. That’s not going to happen. Based on my research the only things that will be coming back to life during the apocalypse will be taxidermied animals, and they will not get very far due to their being nailed down to boards.”—John Hodgman - Excerpt taken from his podcast.
About a year ago I started doing something I called, Get Smarter Mornings. Freshly home from tour and only working a few night-shifts a week at a bar, I was growing increasingly frustrated with just how thoroughly I was wasting all of my free hours. The culprit was a diet of internet that was heavy on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter and all their videos and links that, though funny or interesting, were educationally empty calories. In an effort to balance that out with something of substance, I decided that I would not allow myself to look at any sort of social media site until I had completed the following:
It worked. Really well. I was especially surprised by how having a time limit on reading helped me focus. I normally get antsy when I have a book in my hands, but knowing that I would be finished reading at a precise time helped me to temporarily put aside all the little distractions popping into my head.
Unfortunately, Get Smarter Mornings went the way of a lot of my well intentioned ambitions. I got a second job a month later and started working 50 to 60 hour weeks in order to save up for the next tour. On days when I’d start at 10am and not get off until 4 the following morning, it didn’t make sense to ban myself from social media, so I bent the rule. But that reasonable exception was the crack in the dam, and soon Get Smarter Mornings collapsed entirely.
Lately I’ve been working to revive Get Smarter Mornings. For version 2.0 the enforcement has been a bit more lenient and I’ve mostly been focused on the Khan Academy and song writing. The plan is to re-learn the basics of chemistry and write a record without succumbing to the debilitating addiction that is Breaking Bad on Netflix. (Coincidentally, today I learned a bit about Heisenberg.)
I start most days by drinking a fruit and spinach smoothie because I know at some point later there will likely be bacon, butter, and beer, and I figure it’s a good idea to take as many steps forward before inevitably reversing course.
It makes sense to treat the mind at least as well as the gut.
I highly recommend you drink a smoothie first. Then, by all means, allow yourself some bacon.
Tonight I made the mistake of letting myself get suckered into an argument about the Occupy ______ movement. It was by far the worst argument I’ve been a part of in recent memory. Like Ricki Lake bad. I was actually called a “hater.” With the amount of doublespeak and ad hominem being lobbed at me, I felt like I may as well have been debating Bill O’Rielly.
The whole drive home all I could do was shake my head and laugh/sigh while thinking about this song and Flannery O’Connor’s, The Barber.
It just so happens that I consider David Bazan to be the Flannery O’Connor of musicians, and so it’s reassuring that at least one thing tonight made sense.
A month ago I flew 27 hours from Prague to the town I grew up in, Kingsburg, CA, for my grandfather’s 90th birthday party. The party itself was a great time and a wonderful occasion to catch up with members of my extended family who I don’t get to see very often (read: once or twice a decade).
Happy birthday Grandpa!
A few days after the party my mom and I went for a walk with the dog. Because the backyard of my parents’ home opens up to acres and acres of farmland, our version of walking the dog doesn’t include leashes or bags, just opening the gate and walking around in the country while the dog digs for gophers and smells/pees on stuff. Having grown up with this system of dog ownership, to this day I mostly just feel really bad for dogs that live confined in sterile city homes, and even worse for their plastic bag poop scooping owners.
On this particular day we walked the usual route from the house (A) behind the neighbor’s yards and along a shallow irrigation ditch. The Central Valley’s scorching summers are entirely rain-free and so the fields are fed with reserved reservoir water via a vast network of canals and ditches. It being early November the year’s crop had been entirely harvested and, with water no longer diverted from the river, the ditches were beginning to dry out for the winter. As I walked along the cement bank of our neighborhood ditch I noticed that one particular muddy puddle was rife with movement.
In a scene reminiscent of an sub-Saharan nature show, about twenty stranded perch had followed the water’s decent to its lowest point and were congregated around a boulder with their backs exposed to the encroaching air. Though I’m a remorseless eater of fish, and quite capable of watching even the most manipulative of late night Sarah McLachlan scored sad animal commercials without expending the slightest excess of emotion, it seemed like a waste for these fish to just dry up and die, and I, well, felt pity for Darwin’s losers. Also, once I pointed the scene out to my mom, she got pretty insistent we do something to help.
I walked back to the house, grabbed a couple five gallon buckets and a pool skimmer and drove back in our family’s truck to the stranded fish. Then I offered my now shoeless mom hearty moral support as she literally did the dirty work.
With the fish all scooped up, I slowly drove them a mile to the nearby Kings River.
A few of the fish stupidly jumped out of the buckets during the drive, but I saved them anyway, probably because my boundless empathy and compassion.
Swim free little fish! I hope you provide a larger fish or predatory bird with a magnificent meal!
The lyrics of this song are simply superb. Samson’s ability to skirt the ever popular vague and pretentious for precise and deep is something I admire him greatly for. And good god are these words devastatingly relevant to my own personal life.
"But no sign to show you when you go away. / And our demolitions punctuate / all we mean to say, then leave too late."
You have no idea how many times this past year I’ve exhaled those lines and then followed them with a breathy expletive.
“We are the first generation to see the clouds from both sides. What a privilege! First people dreamed upward. Now they dream both upward and downward. This is bound to change something, somewhere.”— Saul Bellow, Henderson the Rain King
This is the chain-link fence that stands between Stonehenge and the road that passes nearby. It serves as a useful line of demarcation dividing the generous and respectful supporters of a wonder of ancient civilization from the cheapskates eager to snap a quick picture before returning to their vehicles and, with one greasy hand already in a bad of chips, deftly updating their Facebook statuses with the other.
I bet you’ll never guess which side of the fence I stood on.
Not sure how long the above link will be active, so click it soon. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but from what I’ve seen, Louie has to be the one of the best, most creative and daring shows I’ve watched. This particular episode is a perfect example of that. I’ve watched it three times already.
“When you’re young, you look at television and think, There’s a conspiracy. The networks have conspired to dumb us down. But when you get a little older, you realize that’s not true. The networks are in business to give people exactly what they want. That’s a far more…
All I can think about when I read Marisa’s response is: “Austin is getting a Formula 1 racetrack!?! Goddamn that’s awesome!! I wonder how much plane tickets to Austin are?”
I think I may be part of the problem.
Fuck it! As long as cars are going really fast and I get to see it, I don’t give a shit how dumb your TV is. TV is dumb anyway. Racing, on the other hand…
We’re going on tour next week! I just posted the dates over on our appropriately named “tour dates” page, and I tried to include a link to either the venue page or whatever Facebook event has been created for the show.
Pitchfork: All of that is so obvious, but we don’t even see it. Do you want people to take away a message like that from your stand-up or your show?
Louis C.K.: I find that when people laugh really hard, it’s usually because they’re connecting and identifying in a way that they hadn’t considered. That’s my payoff. I’m not interested in other people thinking differently. I don’t care. I’m not even educated; it’s something that I’m not qualified to do. I’m just like yeast— I eat sugar and I shit alcohol. And there’s a huge culture that goes with that. Alcohol creates massive shifts in world history, and it changes people’s lives. People get pregnant because of alcohol. But the yeast doesn’t give a fuck. The yeast isn’t going, “I really want to help people loosen up and bring passion into Irish people’s lives.”
I don’t know a lot about the world comedy, like it’s underground and whatnot. I don’t know all the up and coming comedians that are really truly funny and innovative but are still only playing to like 9 people in a dirty club somewhere unremarkable. In a lot of ways I know about comedy like how I knew about music when I was 13. I know the major radio comedians. And if that’s the case, then I think Louis C.K. is like a Nirvana or Flaming Lips type of comedian. He’s pretty much everywhere, has large resources at his disposal for his work, truly famous, and yet artistically is still completely on point. Maybe more than he’s ever been. That has to be near impossibly hard to maintain.
It’s rare to, as a lazy consumer, get something this good without really working for it. Like, I know about this guy from a viral video. I didn’t have to go to a club night after night and watch a hundred comedians before one was really good. I clicked on a link that millions had already clicked on. I imagine that’s a lot like turning the radio on and hearing the end of a Poison song, then Smells Like Teen Spirit starts.
“I am a glow-in-the-dark translucently white guy who prefers the troglodyte life and avoids the sun like the plague it is.”—
Couldn’t have said it better myself. Also, Dave Arnold just may be my new favorite person. His blog and podcast are a must. I listened to the latter in solid 5 hour segments during long drives on my last tour. Oh, and if you’re like me and have always been suspect about the claims made by raw food diet advocates, definitely click on the link to the blog. Really interesting stuff. Now if you need me, I’ll be cooking things well past 120F.
I read Jonathan Franzen’s novel, The Corrections, on tour last fall and loved it. It was refreshingly easy to read while managing to still be dense with ideas and insights. Franzen has an admirable ability to marry simplicity with substance while skirting the dangers of pretense entirely. I’ve had his most recent novel, Freedom, on deck in a very short stack of books I’ve been intending to read for an embarrassingly long time. Linked above, his wonderful commencement speech at Kenyon College (same place his friend David Foster Wallace gave his incredible speech) has motivated me to get to reading a bit faster.
It’s 4:19 in the morning, I just got home from work, and here’s what’s on my mind:
Ok, so easily. Like the word, easily. You take the word ease, you add, more or less, an ly, and then you end up with a word that means pretty much the same thing. If something is done easily then it’s done with ease, right? Right!
Same thing for short. Add an ly and it totally makes sense, the definition of shortly stemming from its root.
Quickly too. That one totally falls in line.
This is true for pretty much every ly word I can think of at 4…well now it’s :23 in the morning.
Hard. Add an ly and hardly has, well, hardly nothing to do with its root. Right? Am I wrong here? Why does adding an ly to hard all of a sudden turn the word into it’s opposite? I need answers, English Language!!
And that’s what is going through my head after work at 4:25 in the morning.