Monday, December 29, 2008

Bella's Adventures in Snowland

For those not in the Chicagoland area, feel comfortable in knowing that we got hammered with snow for a few weeks this month. We had probably 4 or 5 pretty good sized snow storms, probably totaling something like 12 or 15 inches of snow overall.

I'm being a cheap bastard and am refusing to get a snowblower, passing it off on the excuse that I need the exercise in getting myself close to a heart attack while shoveling 3 or 4 inches of snow at a time.

Of course this has been great news for Bella, she's had many chances to throw on her snow suit and ride her sled and throw lots of snowballs outside. We had enough snowfall that I was able to make a pretty good sized snow mountain for her to play on right in front of our house. I would guess it was probably 5 feet tall at its max.

Then, out of the blue starting on Friday, we had two days of 50+ degree weather, and all of the snow went bye-bye, leaving a giant water stream in our front yard. I'm pretty confident Bella will have another good foot of snow to play in soon enough, and for me to break my back shoveling.

And yes, we're working on getting Bella to learn how to shovel. Gotta love child labor.

Lots of Pictures to Catch Up On

I'll be having a photo bonanza over the next few days to catch up on alot of the pics we've taken over the holidays. We've pretty much had 4 christmases at this point, the first with my friends from the high school years (yes, the people that actually knew me when I had short hair that somehow became an afro), then with my sister's family, then the real christmas with just us and Bella, and lastly with a bunch of friends from Michele's work.

First up are our shots from our family christmas with my sister's family and our mom. Bella was very psyched to spend most of the day with her cousins Jenna and Megan, including a planned sleepover (which basically meant trying to get Bella and Megan to actually fall asleep in the same room).

The girls had a lot of fun, and Bella actually did a decent job of sharing her toys and everything. They were of course all very psyched to open presents, when they weren't begging to play the Wii that is.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Favorite Albums of 2008 - Numbers 20 to 1

After a slight delay, I present to you, my top 20 favorite albums of 2008:

20. Phantom Planet – Raise the Dead – The band that started as a outlet for Jason Schwartzman to moonlight from acting to play the drums has consistently been putting out great alterna-rock, with the latest showing that they’ve spent a lot of quality time listening to The Bends-era Radiohead.

19. Terrible Twos – Jersey the Giant - The second album from the New Amsterdam offshoot was another great chunk of music for kids that the parents can love as well. And they have the distinct honor of being the only band to have a song called “Great Big Poop” on their album this year. (well, the only band THIS year anyways)

18. The Mars Volta – The Bedlam In Goliath – One of alternative rock’s most adventurous bands once again put together a great album with amazing instrumental performances and bizarre near-inscrutable lyrics, sounding like Santana trying to jam with a punk progressive rock band.

17. Nine Inch Nails – The Slip – One of the two albums on my top 20 list for the year that could be downloaded for free, this was once again a solid, focused effort by Trent Reznor and his cohorts.

16. Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend – The album that easily wins the award for the most heavily debated and hyped release of the year, it proved to be one of the few times that the hype was pretty justified. Mixing punk, African rhythms and the influence (and shout-out) of Peter Gabriel, the band proved to be a perfect soundtrack to sunset on a lawn on a beautiful summer afternoon.

15. Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust – Another release from early in the year, the Raveonettes again fused their Jesus & Mary Chain meet a 50’s girl group sound into an exhilarating set, with great track like “Dead Sound” and “Aly, Walk With Me” throwing their girl/guy vocals into massive walls of guitars.

14. The Kooks – Konk – This is one of the times when seeing a band live took some love out of an album for me unfortunately. Konk is a very solid set of Brit-flavored power-pop, but their bland run-through of half the album live took some of the love out of the album for me. Oh well.

13. The Gaslight Anthem – The ’59 Sound - One of the three best debut albums of the year, this was a pretty lucky find for me. I pretty much picked this one up since it was very cheap at Best Buy, and it turned into one of my favorite albums of the year. The band is very young, heavy on the histrionics a la Dashboard Confessional, with much more of a worship of the early Bruce Springsteen albums. A very solid album, I expect good things from them in 2009.

12. Kings of Leon – Only by the Night – Pretty shocking that this is already KOL’s fourth album, the band is still drifting away from their dirty southern rock that launched them and favoring the anthem heavy arena sound of their previous album. Works very well, especially with “Sex on Fire,” one of 2008’s best songs.

11. Fleet Foxes – Fleet Foxes – Another of the best debuts of the year, this Seattle based band showed a heavy love of the harmonies of the Beach Boys at their best, while giving us a good reminder of how good the new My Morning Jacket album should have been. “Oliver James” has the most amazing vocal performance of the year, sounding like the nearly solo vocal song could have rattled the walls of the studio during the recording.

10. The Whigs – Mission Control – The last of a solid set of debut albums for 2008, this Atlanta trio brought back the power trio, with hints of Buffalo Tom and Ryan Adams breaking through in spots. The band also features one of the best new performers of the year, drummer Julian Dorio, whose kick drum forms the backbone of “Right Hand of My Heart,” another of my favorites from 2008.

9. The Stills – Oceans Will Rise – Yet another great Canadian band, the Stills put together another great album’s worth of songs giving us evidence of what The Band might sound like circa 2008.

8. Flight of the Conchords – Flight of the Conchords – By far the best intentionally funny cd of the year (and thus bypassing Scarlet Johannson and her unintentionally hilarious debut cd), the HBO comedy duo’s debut cd featured songs that weren’t just hilarious, but were also able to stand up to many, many listens throughout the year. And more importantly, you will learn the true reason why they are called “business socks” thanks to this cd.

7. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs – For a while, this was looking like it was going to be my favorite cd of the year somehow. Not DCFC’s best cd by far (see: Transatlanticism), but it was still very strong in many spots, especially the gorgeous “Grapevine Fires” and the entrancing 8-minute-plus single “I Will Possess Your Heart.”

6. The Hold Steady – Stay Positive – This is the first confirmed case of my daughter picking out a band and liking them before me, and getting me to like them because of that. I had heard some of the Hold Steady’s music before the Pitchfork festival this year, and was underwhelmed by what I heard, despite the mounds of glowing reviews by critics. While the band was playing at the festival, Bella had me pick her up and pointed toward the stage so that she could see and hear them better.

I bought Stay Positive shortly after that, and after a couple of listens, was completely hooked. The band definitely gives off a Springsteen vibe, much like The Gaslight Anthem, except with more of a dark side and an emphasis on the darker side of town. The band somehow turned “Subpoena’d in Texas/Sequestered in Memphis” into one of the best choruses of the year, and didn’t stop there. They live up to their reputation as the best bar band in the world with fist-pumping anthems like “Yeah Sapphire” and the title track,

5. Girl Talk – Feed the Animals – I never would have guessed that this was going to be one of my favorite albums of the year. When mash-ups started becoming popular, along with dj’s in general, I laughed it off since it wasn’t “real” music played by people with actual instruments. One listen to Feed the Animals (which, as I have mentioned several times before, is still available here completely for free), and that completely blew that opinion out of the water.

Gregg Gillis, aka Girl Talk, does an absolutely incredible job of pulling together songs that have absolutely nothing in common and making incredibly catchy and hilarious dance tracks from them. I will never be able to hear songs like Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl,” Big Country’s “In a Big Country” or NIN’s “Wish” thanks to what he has done with them on this album. It’s an absolutely amazing re-imagination of songs we have been hearing for the past 30+ years.

4. Sigur Ros – Med Sud I Eyrum Vid Spilum Endalaust – I’ve made it no secret that Sigur Ros is one of my favorite bands in the world, so I was a tad bit biased going into this one. I always treat their albums with an open mind, since you never know if it will be exceptional as usual or something more middle of the road.

I was pleasantly shocked after hearing the spirited openers “Gobbledigook” and “Inni mer syngur vitleysingur” that the band actually sounded HAPPY! Well, as always, the lyrics were sung in the Icelandic band’s made-up language Hopelandish, so for all I know he could have been singing about beating baby seals with his starving family’s last piece of bread, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t peppy and happy sounding otherwise!

The band was up to their old tricks later in the cd, with the sprawling, crawling beauty of songs like “Festival” slowly revealing themselves. The band also gets the award for Best Sneaking of Photos of Naked Asses Into Most American Major Retailers with the cd’s cover, although most stores used a very strategically placed sticker.

3. Bloc Party – Intimacy – With Bloc Party, you pretty much know what you are going to get with a cd, much like Sigur Ros, but in a completely different way. This was probably the cd I was most likely to busy a speaker with in my car this year, with their jittery and propulsive dance-rock hybrid pouring out at a spastic pace.

The opening tracks “Ares” and “Mercury” get things off to a great, breathless start, and the music only lets up in a few weaker points throughout the rest of the way. My other favorite track is “Ion Square,” which starts slowly off a synthesizer riff and builds slowly with a disco beat into a massive roar, surrounding some of frontman Kele Okereke’s most personal and revealing lyrics yet.

2. Local H – 12 Angry Months - After DCFC, this was looking to be my favorite album of 2008. I’ve been a fan on and off of Local H ever since their debut album back when I was in college, especially around their previous best album, Pack Up the Cats. 12 Angry Months takes a place in the hall of Great Breakup Albums, being fueled by the breakup of frontman Scott Lucas with his longtime girlfriend.

Lucas’s venom is apparent on humorous tracks like “February: Michelle (Again)” and “March: BMW Man,” and hits a high-point mid-album with “May: The Summer of Boats.” Lucas’s songwriting is definitely strengthened in this emotional and pain-filled year long assessment of the breakup, near reunion and eventual acceptance of moving on. A definite can’t miss album.

DRUM ROLL PLEASE: My pick for the best album of 2008:

1. TV on the Radio – Dear Science – I was completely shocked and baffled to see that the two publications whose music reviews I laugh at the most, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly, both agreed with me on the pick for the best album of 2008. I’m not sure if that means that I am losing my edge, or that they are finally coming around and getting some sense, we’ll see. I’m hoping it’s the later.

I can basically say with the latest album by TV on the Radio, Dear Science, that it was a case of love at first listen. I knew from the first time I heard the cd that it was definitely something special, and that it was definitely going to make my list of the best of the year. I’ve praised their past albums, but had a problem with the very dense nature of their compositions, since they seemed to be making a very dense mass when they could have opened things up a bit and let it breathe. Thankfully, they must have been reading my suggestions all along (I have no doubt that is the case), and the result is this spectacular album that is absolutely incredible.

Bringing to mind everyone from R.E.M. (with the speedy verses of their single “Dancing Choose” bringing to mind “It’s the End of the World as We Know It”) to Prince (with the falsetto vocals on “Crying” and the funky riffs of “Golden Age”), the band once again swirled their influences of doo wop, alternative rock, rap, and just about everything else into a mesmerizing collection of 11 tracks. The other highlights are the gorgeous and patient “Family Tree,” and the spirited closer “Lover’s Day,” which I thought at first sounded like a fantastic marching call-to-arms that would have made the perfect soundtrack to the next president’s inauguration, but just turned out to be a great song about f-cking.

This cd is an instant classic and should not be missed. Every acclaim they have received is earned, and they deserve many more for such a great work of art.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Favorite Albums of 2008 - Numbers 43 to 21

These are the runners up to my top 20 favorite albums of 2008, in no particular order, I present numbers 43 to 21 on my list:

Ben Folds – Way to Normal – Not his best album, but pretty amusing in spots. Plus the title track will now be my theme song for every car ride to visit my sister in Normal, IL.

Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line

We Are Scientists – Brain Thrust Majesty

The Ting Tings – We Started Nothing – An album of power-pop that was so infectious, the guy/girl duo got Rage Against the Machine fans who were willing to spend 8 hours baking in the sun to dance and clap along to their set at noon at Lollapalooza.

Spiritualized – Songs in A & E – I didn’t expect to like this one much, but it’s impressive. Kind of like Pink Floyd, if they all made an album after spending a year recovering from a near-death experience in the hospital.

Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell - Almost all of the songs sound identical on this, but it doesn’t matter, they all sound great

Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger – The first album back for mainman Andrew McMahon after recovering from leukemia, still manages to be relentlessly sunny and upbeat through much of the album

Fujiya & Miyagi – Lightbulbs - "Vanilla, strawberry/Knickerbocker glory." How can you argue with lyrics like that?

The Gutter Twins – Saturnalia – A very welcome return to form for Greg Dulli, with great assistance from Mark Lannegan

The Futureheads – This is Not the World – Somehow this was ragged on by their former champs at Pitchfork, but I like this one more than their previous albums. Moves at a breakneck speed and barely lets up throughout.

Rise Against – Appeal to Reason – Another solid set, but getting a little repetetive

The Wombats – A Guide to Love, Loss & Desperation - “Let’s Dance to Joy Division” is the best tongue-in-cheek dance song of the year (ignoring all of the Girl Talk cd anyways)

Snow Patrol – A Hundred Million Suns – Not quite up to par with their two previous albums, but still pretty good in spots.

The Tossers – On a Fine Spring Evening

Albert Hammond Jr. – Como Te Llama?

Kanye West – 808’s & Heartbreak – It’s really like listening to one half of a couple venting after their breakup, but the passion keeps it interesting.

MGMT – Oracular Spectacular – Sadly their set at Lollapalooza proved that about 75% of the credit for the quality of this album belonged to producer Dave Fridmann. Still a solid album.

Lykke Li – Youth Novels

Ladytron - Velocifero

M83 – Saturdays = Youth – This was a case where my appreciation for the album was much greater after seeing the band live. “Graveyard Girl” was one of my favorite songs of the year.

She & Him – Volume One – My girlfriend Zooey had to make it on the list somewhere. I’m sure she’ll be very flattered.

1969 – Maya – It’s a shame that Butch Walker doesn’t put out his best material under his own name anymore. The opening track “Wreck Me” is better than anything on his last two solo albums

R.E.M. – Accelerate – A good reminder that when they want to rock, R.E.M. can still make a very solid album

Soon to follow: my favorite albums of 2008, numbers 1 to 20

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jingle Bells a la Bella

Hello all,

I'm finally free from my classes for a while, so I'll be posting plenty in the next week.

To start it all off, here is Bella's version of Jingle Bells for your holiday enjoyment!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Happy December

I've fallen behind on my blogness as predicted, so here's a quick update:

We had a very good Thanksgiving, we were mainly thrilled to be able to stay home and not go to work for once, but the turkey and all that good stuff helped too. We went to Grandma P's house for turkey day, let Bella run around like a maniac for a few hours, then chowed down on plenty of food. Good stuff.
The next night, we decided to get the first Madagascar movie from Netflix for Bella to see how she'd like it, in the hopes that we could make our second attempt at getting her in to the $2 theater near us once the sequel is there. (Our first attempt taking her to Wall-E, failed miserably).

Little did we know what a hit it would turn out to be. (See the photo for one of her laughing fits) Bella basically laughed as hard as we've ever heard her laugh for the ENTIRE MOVIE. She did not stop laughing the whole time. So we sent that back to Netflix, and went and bought it at Target for a while $6 the next day.

My semester is nearly over at school, if all goes as planned, I'll be done next Saturday, which will be fantastic. Next semester is thankfully not looking nearly as bad, and hopefully I should have everything wrapped up by next summer.

We put up our christmas tree in record time this year, thanks to Bella helping out mommy greatly. I got our outside lights and snowmen up thankfully before we got our first 3 inch snowfall of the year, so that was very good timing. Looks like we're getting another dose of snow in the next hour or so, so it's going to be a fun drive home for us.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

M83 at the Bottom Lounge - Nov 21

Last Friday I went to the Bottom Lounge on the near west side to see two bands, M83 and School of Seven Bells. It turned out to be a pretty good night, so it ended up being worth standing outside in the 20 degree weather for it.

First off, a note to all of the Chicago venues out there: If you have the start time of your show marked as 9 pm on your website, on the tickets, and pretty much anywhere else that the info is available, THEN START THE SHOW AT 9 PM!!!! That does not mean don't open the doors until 9 pm, especially during the winter when people are freezing their asses off outside. Obviously, the Bottom Lounge was guilty of that last night, as the Metro has been many times before as well.

So this was actually my first trip to the Bottom Lounge. I believe it opened early this year or late last year, so it' still relatively new. They've been booking alot of really good shows there, so I'm sure I'll be back there soon enough. Thankfully it's a three block walk from a Green line stop, so that is always good news to me. I would guess it holds maybe 500 people or so inside, so it's not a huge place, which is always good.

I do have one big complaint about the interior setup of the venue. The stage is set up so that the left and right 1/3 of the stage have the PA speakers hanging from the ceiling. The problem is, that they have a speaker box that hangs almost all the way down to the stage, and I can tell you that the lowest point is about 6 feet, 1 inch from the ground. How do I know this exact height? Because I'm 6' 2", and my head was right against the bottom of the speaker cabinet the whole night. As you can guess, this cut off a chunk of my view of the stage, so I can only imagine how bad it is for anyone behind me, or even further to my side right on the stage.

So anyways, on to the music. As you can guess from me being stuck outside a lot longer than I planned, the show started at 10 pm instead of 9. First up was the band School of Seven Bells, who I was actually looking forward to seeing. The band has only three people, one of them being Benjamin Curtis, formerly of the band Secret Machines, the other two being sisters from some other band I've never heard of.

The only time I've seen Secret Machines was at Lolapallooza 2006 (the original full lineup anyways, not the current version of the band touring). They were great at that show, and Curtis's bombastic guitar was a key portion of their sound. Sadly, not much of that was seen at the School of Seven Bells set. Curtis was the only interesting thing about the band, as he spent his time tapping around on various footpedals while his fellow band members stood almost perfectly still and droned on.

The few enjoyable moments of their set came when the band made attempts to sound more like one of their influences, My Bloody Valentine. There was no drummer, they were only playing with recordings of bass and drums, but when they went more towards MBV's massive, swirling sound, it went better. They've got ways to go as a band, they'll need to come up with something a little more interesting from here on out.

M83 took the stage thankfully quickly after a quick set up. The band is from France, and the best way most people describe them is that they sound like the lost band on the soundtrack to every John Hughes 1980's movie. They'd fit perfectly between whatever Psychedlic Furs song is on the soundtrack, and right before the big hit song rolling over the credits. They have a very dreamy sound at many points, which gives way to massives washes of walls of guitars.

The band is basically one guy, Anthony Gonzalez, but the touring version was a four piece. They did a great job of recreating the dreamy sound of the songs live, thanks in part to Gonzalez's equipment, which looked half like a Moog and half like a computer of some sort. They jumped around between his last two cd's, and things dragged a bit at some points since some of the songs went on for a minute or two too long in some cases.

Midway through the set, they played their two "hit" songs, "Graveyard Girl" (from his new album) and "Teen Angst" from his previous album. I thought they might have peaked early because of that, but shortly after that, the set somehow morphed into a dance party once again, much like a live version of the Girl Talk show from a few weeks before.

It ended up being a very good time, and luckilly it wasn't a sweaty mess in the Bottom Lounge during the sets before the freezing walk back to the train station.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Battle of the English Majors

The lovely Mrs. MookieDaddy and I have had a long standing disagreement over a certain word. Yes, when you have two English majors in a couple, this is the kind of thing that happens...

We've long debated the spelling of the word "meh," as in:
Person: "Hey Scott, what do you think of the new Butch Walker cd?"
Scott: "Meh."

For those not familiar with the word and its usage, it's about one rung below "eh" and one higher than "nah." There's a very distinct difference there I'm sure you can appreciate.

Michele, for the longest time, has insisted that the spelling of the word is "mech." I've insisted that this is incorrect, since when I think of "mech," I think of this. I've insisted all these years that the correct spelling is "meh," as proven by an episode of the Simpsons when the kids are asked what they though of something, and their reply was "meh," which Lisa even spells out specifically as "m-e-h, meh."

Well, I'm proud to say that I received official vindication this week, when this story appeared in the Chicago Tribune (story is also here through Yahoo if the Trib article is blocked).

It was a very proud moment for me, one I will savor for some time.

Scott: 1, Michele: 0

Monday, November 17, 2008

Big Bird in Dora Underwear

Well, I'm sure that probably got your attention...

Home early from class tonight for once, so I have some time to write for once. Things are good for us once again, just crazy busy as always. Can't wait for Turkey day next week to head over to Grandma P's house and stuff ourselves silly with food. I think Bella is actually going to give me a run for my money in terms of the amount of food we'll be eating though.

Grandma G came to town for a little visit last weekend, it was a good time, Bella was extremely happy to spends lots of QT with Grandma, which doesn't happen enough. Bella even got to have a "sleepover" with Grandma and shared her big girl bed with her, and actually did not try kicking her out of bed throughout the whole night.

We're also working hard on potty training Bella at this point. She's responding pretty well so far, we're taking it slow though and not pressuring her too hard or anything. Michele bought her some Dora undies to encourage her to try it, and Bella decided to put them on her Big Bird doll with Grandma.

I'll be going to see a couple of bands I've never seen before at a newer bar in the city, the Bottom Lounge, on Friday night. I'll report after that one. Only about 5 more weeks left for me in this round of classes, I'll be ecstatic once that is done.

We'll hopefully post more soon...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Girl Talk at the Congress Theater 11/8

On Saturday night, I did one thing I didn't think I'd ever be typing about on this blog or pretty much anywhere else: I danced for nearly two hours straight.

Good god, the thought of that still frightens me. There was a good reason for it though, the set by Girl Talk at the Congress Theater. I wrote a few months back about Girl Talk (and if you still have not downloaded Feed The Animals for free, shame on you!), and already saw him once at Lollapalooza this year, but it was just not right seeing him do his thing outside in Grant Park midday in 90 degree weather. The perfect spot for him was in a club at night, so I was very optimistic about this one.

I believe the Congress holds somewhere around 2000 people, and for the first hour or so, it looks like barely a quarter of that was there. And to top that off, about 99% of those were under the age of 18. I was officially going to be in Dirty Old Man status at that point, I was avoiding looking around too much because a) I didn't want to give the authorities any reason to come after me, and b) I didn't want to be remnded that I was driving a car before most of those in the audience were born.

As my friend Brian wrote on his blog, I sent him and Michele (she was at home with Bella and Grandma G) a text that only said effectively "I am f-cking old." We picked out a spot at the back of the venue next to the soundboard to stay away from the kids, and to have a less embarassing spot in case we did decide to bust a move during Girl Talk's set.

There were three opening "bands" unfortunately, so it was going to be a long haul til we got to Girl Talk. The first was a rapper and dj named Hollywood Holt. They were mildly entertaining, they put on a pretty energetic set that was pretty stereotypical for a rap set (a song about butts, put your hands in the air, when I say "this," you say "that," etc.). Little did I know that was going to be the brightest spot for a while.

Next up was a rap duo whose name I have to track down again, but it really won't be worth the effort to do that. You pretty much know what you are in for when a rap duo's opening song is "Krak Attack," and it sounds just about as good as you expect. The duo went on for about 40 minutes, and their set was so bad that Brian and I had more fun laughing at it than anything else. It was also sadly the second time this year I had to see the Krak Monster perform, since he did the same thing before Girl Talk at Lollapalooza this year. It's a very sad thing when I see the Krak Monster perform more times than Radiohead in one year.

After that painful experience, the room was pretty full, and we next had to watch the "punk" band Dead End. I'm being generous calling them a punk band, since they pretty much played the same song (and were the only ones to use instruments all night) that all sounded exactly the same for another 30 or 40 minutes. They may have played a song per minute or something, I don't even know, I was pretty numb by the end of it.

The crowd was pretty stoked by the time Girl Talk was ready to take the stage, which was right around 10 pm. So yes, I thought most of the kids would have to go home soon after that for the curfew, but they instead ended up being among the 40 or 50 people up on stage dancing throughout Girl Talk's 2 hour set.

Since pretty much all of you haven't heard Girl Talk (aka dj Greg Gillis) yet, again, it's only one guy who has hundreds of samples on a laptop, and he puts together songs that you would never guess in a million years would go together well, and makes fantastic dance music out of it. One way I can describe it is that he takes hundreds of puzzles, takes bits and pieces from each puzzle, jams them all together and makes a brilliant new puzzle, and continues to do this non-stop for 2 hours straight.

The crowd ate up every moment of it, from where I could see, the whole room was dancing almost throughout the entire set. The best way I can describe it is to think of when you see a person going to a concert or dance club in a movie, and everyone in the club is dancing around like crazy, it's one of the few times a concert is actually like that, except that it's not some annoying bass beat repeating constantly for an hour.

Thankfully the crowd that surrounded us by this point was the old farts (you know, 25 year olds), so I didn't feel as bad at that point. It's one of the few times I've seen a crowd that was genuinely into a performance from beginning to end. It's also one of the few times I've ever seen people bring cameras into a show, and had 95% of the pictures taken of the crowd themselves, not everyone taking pics of the performers on the stage. It was honstely one of the best concert crowd experiences I've had, it was people thrilled to be living in the moment and actually loving being a part of this thing at that point in time.

The crowd was in Girl Talk's hands from beginning to end, roaring any time there was a mild dip in the music, and saving one of the biggest roars of the night when a Time magazine cover with Barack Obama on the front rolled on to the screen. Call it a rollover of the thrill of Tuesday night, it worked either way.

There was a brief time during the middle of the set when somehow the sound in the venue dipped to about 50% of the volume from the rest of the set, and the crowd almost all stopped dancing at that time. Gillis noticed this after a minute or two, and once he and the people working the soundboard figured out the problem, the sound was back at full volume, and the crowd roared and danced along again. Gillis also took a moment or two during the show to note that despite playing to several thousand people at Lollapalooza and various other festivals through the year, this was his biggest show ever as a headliner, and he was ecstatic and extremely appreciative to the crowd for that.

After nearly two hours of insanely great music, Gillis, now stripped down to only his boxer shorts, jumped on to the crowd and crowd surfed his way all the way to the sound board right behind us. It was a great end to the night as he stood triumphantly on the soundboard while greatfully thanking the crowd for the night once again.

I could only think that seeing Girl Talk on New Year's Eve would be one of the greatest parties on Earth (aside from seeing the Flaming Lips on NYE 2001 as I did), but assuming that word will spread about shows like this, that will be tough to get in to see. Download Feed the Animals if you haven't already, and if you ever get the opprotunity, go and see him live.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Good times

As you all can probably guess, we're pretty happy over here at la casa de Pacyna tonight.

It's going to be a very tough 4 years ahead for our country, but for the first time in a long time, I've got great confidence in the man who will be running the show. We'll just have to hope that it all works out the way they have talked about it to this point.

We couldn't have asked for a better gift on our 8 year anniversary. Even Bella decided to stay awake til 10:30, even though she wasn't watching her new President "Obamba" making his speech, she was saying "mommy" about 20 times into her wireless receiver. Oh well, I'm sure she just knew we should have been downtown in Grant Park celebrating as well.

We'll see how it all goes from here, but for the first time in a long time, I've got a great deal of hope for our country's future.

Good night everybody.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Bella had two costumes for Halloween this week. We brought the skunk costume (or as Bella says, "stunk") back from last year for the first part of Halloween at her daycare. She then was a princess butterfly for the actual day of trick or treating around our house.

Bella had a lot of fun trick or treating, we almost hit every single house on our block, which is a pretty long block, so our candy stash is pretty well filled for the next few months.

The first two shots are Bella trick or treating at Grandma's house, the others are on Halloween.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Best Way to Waste Time Today

Seems as though the people at MTV have finally come to their senses and realized that they have a treasure trove of great material on their hands. No, I'm not talking about the first two seasons of The Hills.

They're finally putting up the videos they have amassed over 25 years online on a new website, I'm assuming that this is definitely a work in progress, since I can't find some of my favorite videos of all time, such as U2's "All I Want Is You," or lesser known bands from the 90's that did get a song or two played on MTV, like the Chicago greats Fig Dish.

I was at least able to find two of my favorite videos ever so far, Sigur Ros' "Glossoli," and Nine Inch Nails' "Wish." Not the best audio or video quality, but hey, at least it's out there. I'll be wasting plenty of time tracking down some old videos on here for sure.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The eels on Nova

I completely blanked, I meant to post that the documentary (Parallel Worlds, Parallel Lives) on Mark Oliver Everett from the band the eels and his father, which I mentioned a few months back, was playing last night on Nova on PBS. Crap.

The good news is that they are repeating it a couple of times this week, at least according to the TV Guide online. I believe it should be on Saturday night at 9 pm, so set your DVR's (or VCR's if you have one of those old fashioned things), it is definitely worth seeing.

The hour long documentary follows Everett, better known simply as E, as he heads to the college where his father formulated theories that became the basis of the idea of parallel universes. It contrasts the academic brilliance of his father against the life at home for the family, which has helped E to cathartically write some incredible albums.

Also, if you go to this website, you can download 4 songs from the eels acoustic tour completely for free, but the download is only available until next Tuesday, Oct. 28th, so download it now!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Catching Up

Have a few minutes to breathe finally, so might as well post...

Pretty much finished with my mid-terms in my classes at this point. Finished my first project for the semester, it's a lovely, incredibly useful crystal radio. Basically, in theory, it's supposed to pick up AM radio signals, without the use of any AC or battery power at all. Sounds good in theory, doesn't seem to work out that way though. Oh well, my teacher gave me an A anyways.

It was a good but pretty busy 3 day weekend for us. We took off Friday to take Bella to go and see the Disney tour thing going on right now, since it has people "performing" 3 of Bella's favorite shows: Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny. Sadly, I say "performing" because every single moment was pre-recorded, and the "actors" couldn't even perform any of their actual lines.

Okay, I get it that you wouldn't want the guy in the Pooh costume trying to read his lines, but come on, you can't have the people playing the Einsteins and Handy Manny actually saying their own lines? Sad. (Oh, and if Bella or someone else her age is reading this, I'm completely wrong, they really were talking and singing their own lines, ignore me!).

Bella helped me out with raking a bunch of the leaves in our front yard, that was pretty fun. She dove into the pile of leaves about 20 times, and was trying to use the rake and put leaves in the bags the rest of the time, so that was a lot of fun.

I even got to go and vote on Friday while Michele took a nap at home. Of course I say Michele was the only one taking a nap, seeing as Bella has decided she won't nap at home on the weekends anymore. What fun. But Bella did help me out with the voting, she was the most popular person at the polling place near us that day. She was very happy to cast her vote for our future president "Obamba" as she says it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Some new pics

I've been neglecting to put some new pics up in a bit, so here you go. With Bella and mommy sick on and off the last two weeks, we haven't had a lot of chances to take new shots...

We did head back to the little farm near us on Sunday to pick out Bella's pumpkin for this year. Bella had fun as usual during that, they added a slide for her to play on this year. Plus, she got to do her (probably) last pony ride of the year, which she enjoyed again.

The first shot is her current favorite thing to do in the car, she just got a new plastic bucket, and decided to put it on her head and say "helloooo, buckethead!" to us while we're driving.