Archive for January 2005

January 31st, 2005

Easy on the ’Eyes

There’s this album I really want to listen to right now, but I can’t. Arcade Fire’s Funeral. Man is it good. I can’t understand a word the guy is singing, and I still love it. It’s gotten the “Album of the Year” award from just about every pretentious, elitist indy publication and website out there, so I really don’t want to like it. But I can’t help it. It truly is the album of the year… I hate it when the hipsters are right.

Now that you know this, let me tell you all about last week. First I got the sickest I’ve been in years. Some kind of stomach bug. I won’t go into the sordid details. Let’s just day I set a new personal record for the number of times I’ve thrown up in a single day (6).

Then I went to sleep.

I woke up two days later, bleary-eyed and disoriented, and stumbled into work. While at the computer, I checked my email. Hmm, interesting…. Evidently Smitty had spent the first part of the week trying to get a “posse” together to go to the Arcade Fire show in “Asheville.” It was the only Arcade Fire show in North Carolina that hadn’t sold out. Tickets for the Chapel Hill show had disappeared from the box office faster than anything I ate had disappeared from my stomach…. In other words, a lot of people never even had a chance to get one.

Then there was also a follow-up email from Smitty, saying the Asheville show was also sold out. I was staring at the screen blankly, trying to process this information, when Smitty showed up and told me he’d managed to get tickets to the Asheville show for himself, his girlfriend Nancy, and his friend Matt. Only now Matt couldn’t go, so he had an extra ticket. He asked me if I wanted it. I looked up from the computer, continuing to stare blankly. Fortunately he ignored me; determined that, yes, I did want this ticket; and told me where and when we were leaving.

So I went to Asheville to see The Arcade Fire play this past Thursday. Man was it good. Among the best shows I’ve ever seen.

Yesterday I shaved my beard into a handle-bar mustache. (I don’t know why I’m mentioning this, other than it’s the only other big event from last week. I think it’s a great new look. Steph says it makes me look like a sleazy redneck, but what does she know? She doesn’t even have a website.)

Anyway, you can see why I want to hear Arcade Fire’s Funeral now, right? But, every opportunity I have to listen to something I’m putting on Bright Eyes.

Why? Because Steph is dragging me, kicking and screaming, to a Bright Eyes show. There I will be surrounded by a mob of people who love Bright Eyes. People hysterical with joy because Bright Eyes is about to come onstage. People I consider certifiably insane at the moment. Then he will come out and everyone will go nuts and I’ll hardly be able to stand it. “How can all these people think he is so great?” But then he and his band will start to play, and it won’t be as bad as I thought. Slowly I’ll start to feel bad for thinking there was something wrong with all the people around me. Then I’ll start to feel bad because I don’t know any of the songs. Songs that are causing people to get very emotional and hold hands as they sing along. Magical songs that are bringing everyone together…except for me, because I don’t know them.

When it’s all over, I will walk out into the night, saying “That was a really good show.” And I’ll mean it.

It happened with Smashing Pumpkins at Cat’s Cradle in 2000. See also Belle & Sebastian, Carolina Theater, 2003.

What occurred after both of these shows was I asked Steph if I could borrow some CDs by those bands. And I heard songs that I had heard at the shows again. And I cultivated a fondness I never thought I’d have for both groups. It’s like I’m trying, retroactively, to be part of the group. To be really into those shows, like everyone else was.

So by listening to Bright Eyes, Bright Eyes, and more Bright Eyes, I figure I can expedite this whole ordeal. I’m determined to gain a working knowledge of his songs, and at least a partial tolerance for that warbly, atonal voice, before the show. Which, by the way, is tonight.

(Yep. Two shows in five days. I hope people who don’t know me or what I dork I am have found their way to this site and are reading this entry. Two shows in five days. I bet I sound pretty cool and “with it.” Funny, considering I don’t think I went to two shows all year in 2004. Well, unless the ballet counts…. Hmm…I also hope these new people don’t read things that are written in parentheses.)

Let’s all say our farewells to the part of me that can’t stand Bright Eyes. Tomorrow I’ll be forever changed.

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January 21st, 2005

I Got the Idea from

  1. “Blizzard of ’77”-Nada Surf
  2. “Scared Straight”-The Long Winters
  3. “Ice Heavy Branches”-The Appleseed Cast
  4. “The Scientist”-Coldplay
  5. “Chocolate”-Snow Patrol
  6. “New Hampshire”-Matt Pond PA
  7. “The Upper Peninsula”-Sufjan Stevens
  8. “Sing Another Song For The Winterlong”-Goldenboy
  9. “Polar Opposites”-Modest Mouse
  10. “Valley Winter Song”-Fountains of Wayne
  11. “Of Montreal”-The Stills
  12. “Snow Crush Killing Song”-The Mountain Goats
  13. “Snow Flakes”-Grant-Lee Philips
  14. “Wonder If The Snow Will Settle”-Clearlake
  15. “The Gloaming (Softly Open Our Mouths To The Cold)”-Radiohead
  16. “The Winter Song”-Eisley
  17. “Frontier Psychiatrist”-The Avalanches
  18. “NY Snow Globe”-Rachel’s

I call it the “Wintry Mix.”

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January 17th, 2005

Smile Like You Mean It

Man, I’ve got to finish my mid-term paper. That professor I have sure is hard. You know, the professor I have at the college I go to.

’Cause I’m still in college.

At least that’s what a whole lot of ticket salespeople all over the country think. Movies, museums, plays, concerts: all of them offer discounts with a student ID. I still have mine from my ECU days. And I still use it to get the discounts.

Dishonest? Maybe. But the nearest I can tell, because I went to college, I’m going to be making monthly payments until I’m 35. This is my way of getting something back. Ideally, I could keep this going until I’ve at least made up for the interest on my student loans.

It would have been nice of East Carolina to a provide me with a quality ID that would last that long. The printing on my OneCard is starting is fading, fast. Soon it will just be a piece of yellow plastic.

I have a back-up: an international student ID from my study abroad. It’s in better shape, but I’d rather not use it if I didn’t have to. This is because the picture is, hands-down, the worst photo ever taken of me. Quite possibly the worst photo ever taken of anyone (for ID purposes, anyway).

I know, a lot people think their ID photos are bad. “My license picture is, like, the ugliest one in history,” they say. And everyone takes turns looking at it. Maybe their hair looks funny or they’re not smiling. Still it’s never that bad.

“I have the worst ID photo ever,” I usually interject. (I’m strangely proud of how awful this photo is.)

“Oh, you should see my work ID. It’s even worse than my license…” everyone begins chiming in.

Then I get out my wallet and slide it out. Eventually, the group humors me and looks. They can hardly believe it. “Wow…um…that’s…really, really bad.” They search my face for permission to burst into laughter, which I always give them. And they always do.

For an international student ID they use an alternate version of your passport photo, so I had an extra one taken at Kinko’s. (Lesson I learned the hard way: Do not go to Kinko’s and pay $12 to get your passport photo taken. You can use any photo that meets the size requirements the government has posted online. I did my sister’s with a digital camera and an inkjet printer.) The Kinko’s guy takes these photos all day long, so you know he’s seen some bad ones, and yet, from the minute my Polaroid finished developing, he could not stop laughing. Before he showed it to me he made sure he’d taken it around to everyone else working behind the counter and showed them. Then he came back, handed it across the register and said: “When they see this, they’ll re-route you to Amsterdam.” There I was, eyes half-way closed; big, goofy grin. I could not have imitated the expression of someone who had three functioning brain cells more perfectly if I was trying. Of course, I wasn’t trying. I was trying to make the expression an upstanding young man — one who would never be involved in smuggling or terrorism or espionage of any kind — would make. I missed by a mile.

This, and the fact that I didn’t make a habit of shaving, showering, brushing my hair, sleeping, or eating back then (these days I see pictures of myself from college and wonder why I did not get spare change from people who thought I was homeless) and the fact that whatever lens Kinko’s uses puts a slight fishbowl-type distortion on its photos, making all of my features even bigger and rounder, combined to create the “perfect storm” of bad ID photos.

Being a poor college student, I did not have another $12 to try it again, so I swallowed my pride, took it, and sent it off. The workers at international student ID headquarters then mounted it, copied it for their records, and laminated it, so it would be preserved for all eternity…laughing their asses off the whole time, I’m certain.

I’m probably not doing this justice with my description. I should just post my awful ID photo here for all to see, shouldn’t I?

Maybe another day. Right now I’m heading out to play some frisbee on the quad.

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