BRR Mixxes 2010:


01.10 - The Year We Make Contact / It's a new year & I'm glad to be here
02.10 - Interested In Things / I'm not a real doctor, but I am a real worm.
03.10 - The Howling Dogs / Fangs & growling
04.10 - Parking Lot Cure / Lots of fun
05.10 - Dr. Spaceman / 310 over 290! We have a winner!
06.10 - Naked In the Sun / A suntan for your ears.
07.10 - Flip Flops / Hammock rock.
08.10 - Baby C'mon / Frenching a sexy lady ape.
09.10 - A Beginner's Guide To Levitation / Flying high again.
10.10 - Oh, Sweetheart / Lovers in love.
11.10 - L8R H8R / Wanna tell you all about it.
12.10 - More Christmas Mixes!

BRR Mixxes 2009


01.09 - Electric Freak Out / Psychedelic debris
02.09 - 20/32 / 20 hits from a lifetime (thus far)
03.09 - Zoom / Toe-tapping tracks
04.09 - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack / Movie-themed tunes
05.09 - American Music / Mutant Americana
06.09 - In the Sky / Rock for UFO-spotting
07.09 - Warm Soundz / Summer songs
08.09 - Flyin' Lion / Head in the clouds, feet in the grass
09.09 - 10000 Year Increments / Head keeps on ringing like a bell
10.09 - They Try To Tear Me Down / Music is my girlfriend
11.09 - Purple Fates / Red plus blue makes…
12.09 - BRR Favorites 2009 / It's that time of year

BRR Mixxes 2008


01.08 - Bed Is For Sleeping / When you don't wanna get outta bed
02.08 - It's All Fuss / Old, new, borrowed, blue
03.08 - Like a Love Affair / Walls of sound
04.08 - No Cars Go / Roll the windows down and sing loud
05.08 - Folk Star / Troubadours and troublemakers
06.08 - Needles In the Camel's Eye / Eclectica
07.08 - High Five! / Up high, down low, too slow
08.08 - A Knife Through the Night / Driving in the dark
09.08 - Hot Dog / Nobody knows what's in them, we just know they taste good
10.08 - Under the Leaves / Autumnal tumble
11.08 - I Was A Teenage Headcase / Teenage wasteland
12.08 - Alphabitz / An ABCmix, by song title

BRR Monthly Mixtape Brigade Mixxes


03.09 - Rainy Days
04.09 - Solar Power!!

04.09 - MeatBrain
05.09 - Struttin'
06.09 - When the Crazies Come Out
07.09 - As Above, So Below
08.09 - Bas@$$ Boss Battles
09.09 - These Guys
10.09 - Sauntering About
11.09 - Sufficient For Our Needs
12.09 - Nukes & Good News
01.10 - Muck
02.10 - The Air In Meager Valley
03.10 - Oh, My My My
04.10 - Slightly Embellished For Dramatic Effect
05.10 - Drudgery
06.10 - Under the Entry Roar
07.10 - Phaseplane DIfferential
08.10 - Grandpa Makes Noises
09.10 - All the Happy Accidents

03.09 - Spruce Goose
05.09 - Instrumenting Around

04.09 - Whoooa-man

09.08 - September Blogmail Mix
10.08 - October Blogmail Mix
10.08 - Halloween Blogmail Mix
11.08 - Novembeard Blogmail Mix
12.08 - Decemburr Blogmail Mix
01.09 - January Blogmail Mix
02.09 - February Blogmail Mix
03.09 - March Blogmail Mix
04.09 - April Blogmail Mix
05.09 - May Blogmail Mix
06.09 - June Blogmail Mix
07.09 - July Blogmail Mix
08.09 - August Blogmail Mix
09.09 - September Blogmail Mix
10.09 - Halloween Blogmail Mix
10.09 - October Blogmail Mix
11.09 - November Blogmail Mix
12.09 - December Blogmail Mix
01.10 - January Blogmail Mix
02.10 - February Blogmail Mix
03.10 - March Blogmail Mix
04.10 - April Blogmail Mix
05.10 - May Blogmail Mix
06.10 - June Blogmail Mix
07.10 - July Blogmail Mix
08.10 - August Blogmail Mix

BRR Bonus Mixes


BRR Favorites 2008
BRR Honorable Mentions 2008

Alphabet Town A / Rockin' from A to Z, by song title
Alphabet Town B / A to Z again, this time by artist
Cozy Up (Candace's Mix) / Like a nice warm blanket
Dance, White People, Dance! / Shake what your momma gave you
Halloweenie / Skeleton's skankin'
It Came From ... THE GARAGE!!! / Soundtrack to a knife fight
Mixtape / The first BRR mix
N E O N / New wave dancefloor sweat
Photos of Freckles / Mix for an fellow albino
Radio On / Classics for the new golden age
Ripp Offf / Technicolor machismo
Songs For A Golden Summer - Summer Days / Warmth of the sun
Songs For A Golden Summer - Summer Nights! / Breezes and sweat
Spooky Scary / Halloween mix for the boys and ghouls
We've Been Had / Don't believe the hype
(We Can't Stand Your) Modern Music / For hip cavemen

Ping-Pong Mixes With Chris Haley


Ping 1: Ping Of Pong / Back & forth
Ping 2: Return Of the Ping / Dueling rock nerds
Ping 3: The Man Who Would Be Ping / You again? Back for more?
Ping 4: & Away We Go / Flying away
Ping 5: Fourth World Blues / The antidote to Anti-Life
Ping 6: Dance Fighter 2: Electric Punch-A-Yoo! / The breaks.
Ping 7: All Your Song Are Belong To Us / Covering the covers.
Ping 8: Hard Rockers Juice Panel / V.O.A.

Ping-O-Ween / Razor blades in candied apples.
Bride of Ping-O-Ween / I remember Halloween
Ghost of Ping-O-Ween / I need your skull

Ping-Pong Mixes With Chris Haley


Ping 1: Ping Of Pong / Back & forth
Ping 2: Return Of the Ping / Dueling rock nerds
Ping 3: The Man Who Would Be Ping / You again? Back for more?
Ping 4: & Away We Go / Flying away
Ping 5: Fourth World Blues / The antidote to Anti-Life
Ping-O-Ween / Razor blades in candied apples.

BRR Mixxes Master List

Below is a master list of all BRR Mixxes. Download them by clicking the little dots. Share them. Enjoy them.


01.11 - Year's Not Long / So this is the new year?
02.11 - Fight or Flight / Grimy psychedelia
03.11 - Challengers of the Unknown / Moonlight miles
04.11 - Alright / Sunshine in the solar plexus
05.11 - Now That Bigfoot Has Been Captured / Child stars with their sex & drugs & rock & roll
06.11 - Handclaps & Lint Traps / On the roof of your car
07.11 - Perfectly Ordinary People / Faintly faint-making
08.11 - Revenge of the Nerds / So, like, join us, okay?
09.11 - What Goes On / I think that am falling down
10.11 - Mister October / We've got an eye for what's romance
11.11 - I Was Born In A Laundromat / We're the kings of the trash
12.11 - TRUESTORIES / Martian disco on fire








01. Maximum Excitebike / I want to ride my bicycle.


Busy Doin' Nothing

So I've been off of work since Christmas Eve Eve and it has been fantastic. We stayed here in the Cleve for Christmas and had a great holiday here with our little family. Candace already blogged about it here, so I'll just say that it was great. Candace got me a cavernous new external hard drive, so look out, Internet. I am coming for you.

It's been great being home. We've been relaxing, hanging out with friends, eating disgusting amounts of ham and watching lots and lots of Star Wars. (Big thanks to my parents who bought us the Original Trilogy set on DVD, which - for all you Star Wars nerds out there - includes the original, non-Special Edition versions on the bonus disc. Which is awesome. No wussy screaming for Luke as he throws himself down the air chute in Empire! Yay! Also, big thanks to Philippe for a VHS set of the OT. Nice find, my friend. And another shout out to Aunt Lilia who rocked the house for our girls. She made this Princess Leia dress and bun set for Sadie's Barbie dolls that is just amazing. I will post pictures soon. Unless I forget. Which is very likely.)

We've also been keeping remarkably busy. We did some pretty unbelievable cleaning/organizing, most especially in the "middle room" (our craft/computer room) which has been the shame of my existence for a while now. We whipped that room into shape like a mamma jamma. It looks freaking amazing now.

So today was "Do Some Arty Projects, Dylan" Day, apparently. I did not have it marked on my calendar, so it sort of snuck up on me. But it was loads of fun. Once I got started, I was thinking to myself, "Dang! I should do this type of stuff for a living!" And then I remembered that I do, so yeah, I've got that going for me.

It kicked off this morning when I finished this poster I'd started a few weeks ago. It's available in the shop if you're interested. We'll be listing a few other color options for it as well over the next few days. Here's pictures:

Then I whipped up a "Don't Eat Pete!" board for a little family game night. Candace has rules posted here, and you can download your own board here and play. Just grab some kids from somewhere (please make sure to ask permission first if they're not yours/if you don't have custody of them) and get playing. M&M's not included.

After that, I started working on a couple of upcoming BRR Mixxes that need artwork for them. The first one was another Ping Pong mix I had made with the Bryan Hitch of webcomics, the Chris Haley. It's titled & Away We Go! Here's the inked artwork I sent to Chris to work his color mojo on:

That's me with the balloons and Chris with the cape. If you haven't done so already, go check out his & Curt's webcomic Let's Be Friends Again. It's funny stuff.

Finally, I finished off a huge stonerish collage for January's mix, Electric Freak Out, made from a buttload of late-70's National Geographic magazines and a warped, overactive imagination. And tape. It's 100% analog, ballerz. No digitalism involved. Well, except for the scanning part. Click for biggification:

So anyway, I'm going to bed. Just thought I'd hip you cats to what I've been up to. Happy New Year if I don't post again before then. 2009's gonna rule.



All I Want For Christmas

I'm not sure if anybody else saw this, but this is probably my favorite SNL sketch in a while:

"I'm gonna need ... freak out control." Brilliant.


Questions For Myself

What follows is a list of questions I find myself asking, um ... myself.

"Could I care less about anything related to American Idol?"

"Are there a more loathsome and irritating group of people than mainstream superhero comics fans?"

"Why in the world did George Lucas think it was an even remotely good idea to have that two-headed podrace announcer in The Phantom Menace?"

"Where can I find a decent, pre-owned disco ball around here?"

"How do h-h-human beings survive in this c-c-c-coldness?"

"Why did nobody tell me that Gouda cheese was so amazing? Why am I almost 32 years old and I'm just now finding this out? Seriously, people, how is this happening?!"

"Is 'Gouda' capitalized?"

"Does anybody listen to the mixes I post?"

"Why does the Chris Haley hate Garfield so much?"

"Why do my girls love to destroy everything in their path?"

"What am I getting for Christmas? Is it a pony? Two ponies?"


Haiku Friday: From Shon

My old chum Shon submitted this haiku for our enrichment. It is the best haiku ever. See for yourself:

Hey! Haiku Friday!
I finally remembered . . .
. . . now what do I do?


"Greatest Hits Albums Are For Housewives & Little Girls."

So, my homie and everybody's favorite Frenchipino, Philippe recently disclosed over on one of his like millions of blogs that he is now an admitted Beach Boys fan. If this is true, I weep for him.

It is a heavy burden.

You start off all innocent with something like Endless Summer (which is a "Best Of," by the way, not a "real" album, Philippe.) and before you know it, you have tracked down every release that you physically can and you're still looking for more. You're like a crack addict, only they stopped making crack along time ago so now you hope they find more crack in a vault somewhere or at least give you some remastered crack with bonus cracks or some boxed sets of crack recording sessions or something. Wait. Did my metaphor fall apart halfway through again?


If I could, I would reach through the series of tubes that is the Internets, and test my friend Philippe's commitment to the Beach Boys. See if he's ready, physically and mentally, for the commitment it entails. If he was serious about becoming a Beach Boys fan, well, then I would give him the following set of instructions:

Take this eight-track tape of Sunflower and tell him to listen to it until that pretty crappy Al Jardine song comes on (the one about the bird the flew in his window or something like that) and once it does, get out, ask the first old lady he sees: "Which way to Hawthorne?" Do the exact opposite of what she says. Exact opposite.

When you reach the end of Sunflower, destroy the eight-track and put on the Pet Sounds Sessions boxed set, starting with disc one. When Brian says "Roll it." for the 17th time, roll down your window and yell out your favorite track from Smiley Smile. Mine is "Fall Breaks and Back To Winter (Woody Woodpecker Symphony)".

Then close your eyes and slam down on the gas until you wreck your car. Once you crawl out from the flaming wreckage, stumble into the first building you see. Wait for three days. A man in full SCUBA gear will walk in at 2:17 on the third day. He will be dripping wet and smell vaguely of French Onion Sun Chips. His name is Frederick, not Fred. He will ask you three riddles. Answer them incorrectly. He will give you a scroll. On that scroll is a map written in Sanskrit. It will lead you to a secret door that will take you deep beneath the sea. Then The Trials begin. Don't scream and do not look the Headmasters in the eye. Be strong.

Then - and only then, my Frenchipino friend - will you be a Beach Boys fan.

And yeah, I lifted this from that Kids In the Hall "Doors Fan" sketch (watch out for the f-bomb at around 2:45. Earmuffs!). So what?


It's Like A Tweedy Pleathery Wool Velour. With Straps. And A Buttload Of Zippers.

Oh, Fashion World. You're so dumb.

But seriously though, I want one of these. In green, maybe.



Sorry. Had some technical difficulties with the links for the mixxes. Because I'm sort of a moron. But I'm much better now, thanks. How are you?

Anyway, here's the proper links. They're fixed in the post now, too:

BRR Favorites 2008
BRR Honorable Mentions 2008
(Pssssst! Click the little dot things!)



My Year In Lists

So, here it is. My 2008 music post. It's not nearly as insane as last years monstrosity, so that's good. My Honorable Mentions list is still a little out of control (but trust me, that list was twice the size it is now), but I think it's a good smattering of a decent portion of the worthwhile music from last year. As usual, you can call "B.S." on any of it in the comment section.

I've heard a few complaints that this year "just wasn't that good" for music. This is complete horsecrap. There were a lot of really good albums released this year. Like, a ton of them. So shut up, you freaking babies. Shut up and just rock out.

Honorable Mentions (or) A Still Pretty Long Short List:
Beck / Modern Guilt
Brian Wilson / That Lucky Old Sun
Death Cab For Cutie / Narrow Stairs
Dr. Dog / Fate
Fleet Foxes / Fleet Foxes
Gnarls Barkley / The Odd Couple
Islands / Arm's Way
Jonathan Richman / Because Her Beauty is Raw and Wild
Langhorne Slim / Langhorne Slim
Los Campesinos! / Hold On Now, Youngster... / We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
MGMT / Oracular Spectacular
The Mountain Goats / Heretic Pride
Plants and Animals / Parc Avenue
Ryan Adams & The Cardinals / Cardinology
Santogold / Santogold
The Sea and Cake / Car Alarm
Silver Jews / Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea
Times New Viking / Rip It Off
Tokyo Police Club / Elephant Shell
Travis Morrison Hellfighters / Hellfighters
Utah Rangers / Breaking Your Heart Takes Training
Vampire Weekend / Vampire Weekend
The Walkmen / You & Me
White Denim / Workout Holiday
Wolf Parade / At Mount Zoomer

Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2009 (or) The Shorter List:

Born Ruffians / Red Yellow & Blue
I read a review somewhere that summed these guys up as Vampire Weekend without the white guilt/cultural pilfering perpetrated by preppy Ive Leaguers, and yeah, that sort of fits. It's a joyous, bouncy album full of great hooks, layered vocals and shouts. It deserves to be on the list for "Hummingbird," if nothing else.

David Byrne and Brian Eno / Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
If you were expecting a sequel to My Life In the Bush Of Ghosts, this collection of laid-back, poppy tunes probably knocked you for a loop. As a rock record, it more than satisfies. It's hopeful, interesting and beautiful. And come on, it's David Byrne and Brian Eno; did you really think it wasn't going to be on my list?

Herman Dune / Next Year In Zion
If you can find me a happier record from this year, I will eat my hat. Listen to it if you're having a particularly rough day.

Hot Chip / Made In The Dark
I swear, everybody forgot about this just absolutely slamming record. Music to get your white @$$es shaking and fists pumping.

Mates Of State / Re-Arrange Us
A song cycle about making love and family work as rock and rollers, it's the most polished effort from this husband-wife duo. At their best, Mates Of State remind you just how much joyous, beautiful, noise two people can make. And this is them at their best.

No Kids / Come Into My House
If Sufjan Stevens and Hot Chip made a weekend party record, this would be it. Excellent debut.

R.E.M. / Accelerate
After the unforgivable (and unlistenable) abortion that was Around the Sun, the Southern boys just like you and me turn in an album that rocks like a band 25 years younger, putting all those pretty little posers (that's aimed at you, Killers) to shame. Just a solid album from a band that refuses to become irrelevant. Well played, boys. Well played.

Sam Amidon / All Is Well
A haunting collection of traditional folk songs reworked with all their weirdness and weariness intact. Just a stunning album, this.

Stephen Malkmus / Real Emotional Trash
A jammy, raucous set from a guy who just gets better with age.

TV on the Radio / Dear Science
TVOTR - like Radiohead - is one of those bands that, while I know they're great, I never really connected with their work the way I felt I should. Until now. So yeah, believe the hype; Dear Science is fantastic.

Click here for the BRR Honorable Mentions 2008 Mix.

And click here for the BRR Favorites 2008 Mix.

And leave me a comment to tell me if I've totally lost my mind of if I neglected something you loved or just to say "hello." Enjoy.



Haiku Friday: Winter Walk

Found this in my notebook and then remembered writing it on my walk home from the train:

Snow melts on my nose
As soon as it makes contact;
Like time-displaced rain.


Rock Talk

Okay, so the Best Of 2008 music lists are starting to trickle in, which makes me say to myself, "Self, you really need to listen to a lot of music to get caught up, man. You're slipping."

And I am. Every year, I swear I get less and less cool, which is unfortunate, because I wasn't all that cool to begin with. This means that soon, I will be in cool debt and then in cool default. My remaining cool will be repossessed and I will be left cool-less, destitute, like one of those people you see wearing a Billy Ray Cyrus t-shirt unironically. And I'm sure I'm not the only one. There are millions of fading hipsters out there who may default on their allotment of cool. And onc ethat happens, you can expect a crash of the cool market, forcing such venerable institutions of hipsterism like Pitchfork to find ethemselves pleading with the Federal government for a cool bailout.

And it will all be my fault.

So, in order to avert a catastrophe of biblical proportions, I am going to do a public service and try and boost some cool. I'm gonna take a few of the Best Of 2008 lists I've seen and boil them down to the stuff you (and I) should probably try and listen to by the end of the year (if we haven't already) before we look like total fools at our office Christmas parties when approached by some snobby hipster who asks us, "So, what have you been listening to?"

A lot of these on this list have been represented on this years' BRR Monthly Mixxes, so if you've been keeping up, you may be safe.

For now.

So yeah, here's my "short list" of stuff I need to listen to - whether it's again, more closely, or for the first time - before the end of the year. So I can make an informed Best Of list. Because this "trying to look like a hipster" stuff serious business:

Beck Modern Guilt
The Black Keys Attack & Release
Blind Pilot 3 Rounds and a Sound
Blitzen Trapper Furr
Bob Dylan Tell Tale Signs — The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
Bon Iver For Emma, Forever Ago
Brian Wilson That Lucky Old Sun
Chad VanGaalen Soft Airplane
Coldplay Viva la Vida
Crystal Castles Crystal Castles
David Byrne and Brian Eno Everything That Happens Will Happen Today
Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs
Department Of Eagles In Ear Park
Elbow The Seldom Seen Kid
Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
Forest Fire Survival
Gnarls Barkley The Odd Couple
The Hold Steady Stay Positive
Hot Chip Made in the Dark
Kings of Leon Only by the Night
Mates of State Re-Arrange Us
MGMT Oracular Spectacular
M83 Saturdays=Youth
My Morning Jacket Evil Urges
Neon Neon Stainless Style
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Of Montreal Skeletal Lamping
Plants and Animals Parc Avenue
Ra Ra Riot The Rhumb Line
The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely
The Rural Alberta Advantage Hometowns
Ryan Adams and the Cardinals Cardinology
Santogold Santogold
Stephen Malkmus Real Emotional Trash
TV on the Radio Dear Science
Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend

Anything I'm missing?


I Could Easily Beat Up Larry King But I Refuse To Hit A Man That Old Who Isn't Named "Dracula"

I recently issued an invitation to all of you out there (including you lurkers; hello there! Nice shirt!) in cyberspace to join me as I interview you, all professional-like and whatnot. And I got a lot of great responses. Seriously, I'm pumped to interview every single name on this list. I'm like flipping out over here. I literally just threw my chair across the room, through a window and down three stories to the street below where it hit some old lady who is now crying out for help, that's how excited I am. I am freaking stoked.

I should probably have skipped that fourth Red Bull after lunch.

Anyway, so far I have the following as future interviewees:
Patti (Are you in or what? Come on, it'll be rad.)
The Chris Haley
Shon (no, seriously, that's how his name is spelled)

Am I forgetting anybody? Anybody else want it? Come on, it will rule. It will be like you're a celebrity only you won't want to punch yourself (which I just accidentally typed as "punch your elf," which is hilarious) when you open your mouth. You'll be like Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, that femme-y kid from High School Musical, TomCat (which is my shortened version of superstar couple Tom Arnold and his cat named, uh, Cat), Bennifer (you know, the Belgian disco queen and children's television show host who is also an astronaut in Belgium's space program) and Jermaine Jackson all rolled into one mammoth Frankencelebrity. You will be some sort of mega-Voltron-celebrity.

This could be you!:

Doesn't that look like fun? See that creepy old guy in the background? He's the Internet! See what a great time he's having because you agreed to be interviewed by yours truly? He looks positively electrified to be listening to our witty rapport. It's entertainment! Showbizzz! Don't worry though, you can wear a shirt when I interview you.

But I will be wearing a dress. You have been warned.

Stepping Out

We're doing loads better. Thank you to all of you who left comments, called, sent e-mails, brought food, said prayers on our behalf, watched the kids, sent Batman cartoons, made delicious green cakes or even wanted to but didn't want to disturb us while we were in such a fragile state. It's been a real blessing to know that we're loved so much. All y'all are the best. Many tanks:

Get it?!

I'll post more soon. Thanks again.



It's A Good TIme For Superman To Lift the Sun Into the Sky

So we've been dealing with some heavy stuff here at BRRHQ. Sad, heartbreaking stuff. I'll just link to Candace's post because it says what we're going through as well or better than I could. And I'll embed a video that's helping me cope. Regular posting will start back up ... sometime. Sorry if this bums you out and thanks for your concern. Love all y'all.



All Hands On the Bad One


If you're a regular reader (or even an irregular one, we don't discriminate based on your ... uh, frequency ... here) and would be interested in subjecting yourself to the interview-y stylings of yours truly, please e-mail me (my contact info's in my profile). I've been wanting to do this for a while, but forgot. But then I remembered. I promise it will be (mostly) fun, though I must warn you that I am hardcore. No softball questions here. I'm gonna be in-depth and hard-hitting and all up in your face and whatnot. I'm gonna be like Larry King, only if he had the stones to ask the hard questions and roughly 175 years younger and a billion times handsomer.

Basically, I'm gonna be the John Shaft of blog reader interviewing.

I'm a complicated man, and no one understands me but my woman.

Shoot me an e-mail or leave a comment if you want in. It's gonna be a party.


A ! B ! C !

Here's an alphabetical mix to kick off December. It's pretty excellent. But don't take my word for it, download it here and leave a comment, por favor.



Thanksgiving Is Great ... Unless Yr A Turkey

I am sick. Actually, both Candace and I are sick. It sucks. We're pulling out of it, but it's been a crappy few days for us here in Todd Land. But hey, it's Thanksgiving, so I'm not going to be all whiny. I'm gonna be thankful. Because my life is excellent. I'm not bragging. It just is.

So to my family, friends and stalkers (and those of you that I'm stalking - Hello! That was me in your bushes! You have very nice pajamas! They fit me perfectly! Exclamation marks!!!), thanks for being who you are and allowing me to do likewise. You're great. Hope you had a great day and that you didn't eat so much that it made you wish you were dead.

Keep it classy, Internets. Peace.


Tears Of A Clone (or) How The Clone Wars Ruined My Life

So, this weekend we watched this movie:

And it pretty much ruined my life.

See, up until this weekend, my Star Wars Nerdiness had largely gone into remission. Sure, I had played the Lego video game. And Knights Of the Old Republic 2 (but sadly couldn't beat it and finally gave up and walked away). And I watched the first two films with my four-year-old recently. Oh, and I got a sort of sick glee when that same four-year-old requested she be Princess Leia for Halloween. And yeah, it was sort of my idea to dress our year-and-a-half daughter like Darth Vader.

But trust me, this is mild compared to the depths of my nerdery for the Star Wars Universe.

I can name a dozen Star Wars species off the top of my head. Same thing for planets. I have read roughly one bazillion books from the Thrawn Trilogy (where an alien mastermind Imperial Grand Admiral steps out of the shadows to terrorize the Original Trilogy heroes and the newly-formed New Republic) to all the Tales Of... anthologies (Tales of the Mos Eisley Catina, Tales Of the Bounty Hunters, and Tales Of Jabba's Palace, all containing backstories to the characters who inhabit those brief scenes in the Original Trilogy) to the entirety of the New Jedi Order series (where an extra-galactic threat - the merciless Yuzzhan Vong - challenges the Original Trilogy heroes, their kids and all the new Jedi trained by Luke Skywalker and his wife). I have bought action figures, lusted after a replica of Luke Skywalker's Bespin fatigues and hosted/played/gamemastered a Star Wars Role Playing group. I read the comics, magazines and played (pretty badly) the trading card game. I saw all three Prequels at midnight showings. I was (literally) a card-carrying member of the Star Wars Fan Club for like three years. After the age of 20. I have a copy of a copy of a bootleg video recording of the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.

I loved that universe and the limitless possibilities for fun, myth and adventure it promises. But I was done with all of that. I sold off the books, RPG materials, boxed up the toys for future generations. I don't own either Trilogy on DVD. Beyond the odd tug to write an Oceans Eleven knock-off starring Lando Calrissian, I couldn't tell you the last time I seriously thought about the Star Wars Universe; it's rules, vocabulary, mechanics and possibilities. I mean, I'm a grown-@$$ man, fer cryeye. I don't have time for this stuff.

I was (mostly) cured. Whole. Free.

And then I saw this dang movie. This cartoon that is just a glorified pilot for the Cartoon Network series. The same movie that got a whopping 19% positive reviews (ouch!) over on Rotten Tomatoes. This goofy cartoon with wisecracking battle droids, wooden CGI acting and a big gay Hutt.

But guess what? I don't care. I really liked it. Why? Because it was fun! And fun is something the Star Wars Universe has been missing since, well, since Return Of the Jedi (which is still a little ponderous at times, nowhere near as freewheeling as Empire or most of A New Hope).

The Prequels were too busy trying to be epic and mythic and the fun suffered for it. As much as the Original Trilogy was based on mythic structures (and it is, as a million high school essays on Joseph Campbell written by people like me - but not me, sadly - will attest), it merely provided the framework for adventure. The Prequels try to hint at it with banter that ultimately falls flat on its face, but Lucas is too drunk on his own Capital-"i"-Importance to allow it to really come to the fore. Remember, Empire and Jedi were both helmed and written by somebody not named "George Lucas."

And well, you can see how that worked out.

Even the previous Cartoon Network Clone Wars series by Samurai Jack guru Genndy Tartakovsky (whose name is impossible to spell without Wikipedia. And that's a scientific fact.) were a little too obsessed with their kewlness to really be "fun." They were cool, but not fun.

But this version, I dunno, I really liked it. It made me want more. Is that wrong? As I watched Obi-Wan and a bunch of Troopers jump out of those awesome drop ships, I caught myself thinking about how much fun it would be to play in an RPG campaign set in the Clone Wars. To be, like a Jedi General or something fighting off Separatist forces on Mon Calamari? Or a smuggler with a heart of gold stealing supplies from the Trade Federation and giving them to besieged communities? See? See how nerdy this gets?

I checked to see if I could watch any more episodes online (which I can, but not, um, legally). Then I cruised the Star Wars toys at Target (Okay, I always do that, but still). Then I checked out the Star Wars section at Barnes & Noble and, well, that's when things fell apart.

I saw the cover to this book and said, "Dang it. Jedi pulp? Oh man, I want to read this." I started weeping openly. In the middle of the store. Some old lady asked me if I was okay. I told her it was all Jar Jar's fault and she just backed away slowly as I writhed on the floor in agony. It was a mess.

Three hours later, I managed to pull myself together enough to made my way upstairs to the kids' section where Candace and the girls were browsing. I wiped my face clear of the tears and told Candace, "I think I want to start reading Star Wars books again." which felt like telling her, "I think I want to start snorting heroin."

To which she replied, very matter-of-factly, "Um, okay." Which is incredibly cool (she really is awesome), but at the same time unbelievably reckless. Because this could easily escalate to weekly pizza and gaming sessions in the living room again (Okay, probably not, but still). So yeah, I'm gonna read Coruscant Nights: Jedi Twilight and the other two in the series. And I'll probably read the Legacy Of the Force series because I gotta see what happens to the Solo kids.

Because I have the sickness again. And it's all The Clone Wars' fault.



Seriously, Why Didn't I Think Of This Before?

I have a few ideas for posts brewing in the old noggin, but unfortunately, I don't know which one to start with. Or which one would be worth reading, for that matter. So, I turn to you, dear reader. Cast your vote in the comments section and choose which long-form post will next grace the face of this, my little corner of the Internet.

Here's your choices on things you can hear me rattle on on and on and on about:

* Rolling Stone just released their 100 Greatest Singers list. Hear me get all whiny about it. Expect more than a little negativity to get directed toward Steve Perry.

* An essay entitled Mike Allred, Madman and Mormonism, wherein I look at how the cartoonist's faith has informed his work. And if it's a good idea for it to.

* A Random Record Review from my iTunes library. Or should this be a recurring thing?

* A post about Fringe, although it might just be better to do a wrap-up once the season ends.

* A post wherein I talk about the Spice Girls, alien abduction, Stan Lee's hairpiece and the Code Of Hammurabi while simultaneously dropping nuggets about my adolescence and deep-seated desire in the mid-80's to be a professional breakdancer but couldn't because I was living in rural Utah and didn't really know how to breakdance. It would be like Footloose only with more tractor chicken-racing, a lot less dancing, and a scene where I vaporize the alien intruders with Bootsy Collins' Bop Gun. Also, bologna appears somehow. Maybe as a overarching theme.

* Pie.

* Um, anything else that you really want me to blab about. Seriously, I could use the incentive to come up with something to write about. But make it sort of easy. I'm pretty lazy. Actually, if you choose this option, give me one word to start with and I can go from there. Sort of like Miss Litt's class in high school, right Ryan? That would be awesome. Thanks.

And When I Do This

So Chris is doing this thing over on his blog. and it's pretty funny. So I did some.

First one's political, seeing as HR just got re-elected Senate Majority Leader, which is pretty bad@$$, right?

Then this baby popped up:

Then 70's Stan Lee joined the party:

Followed by Stan Lee in his 70's (well, 80's):

And finally, the most bad@$$ of them all:

"Where's Axl?"

I really need to get ready for work, but I just had to share Chuck Klosterman's review of Guns N Roses' long-awaited Chinese Democracy album, courtesy of the Onion's A/V Club. Because sharing is caring.

Just so you know what your getting, it contains the following sentence, which made me giggle: "A song like 'Shackler's Revenge' is initially average, until you get to the solo — then it becomes the sonic equivalent of a Russian robot wrestling a reticulating python."

And I must point out that by posting this, I am in no way saying that I like Guns N Roses. Just so we're clear on that. Anyway, here's the article. Enjoy.




This Is Excellent:

Modern Fred's Flickr Photostream has a set of Kaiju stuff, including these radical awesome medical charts. How freaking rad is that?

Found via Pink Tentacle.


We Are Bringing Sexy Even More Back

So, this last summer, Candace asked me to come up with some posters for her Etsy shop, Sparkle Power! So I came up with four designs and five color variations for each design. They're 11" by 17" and digitally printed on archival presentation paper. They're fun. Here's one of each:

Cute, right? You can see the whole set here, if you're interested.

Anyway, so the shop has been getting some buzz in the "modern crafters" subsection of the Internet, which is cool. But today, we broke through to a whole other level of Internet fame: we are now sexy famous. The "La La Love You" and "You & I Are BFF" posters were both featured on Glamour magazine's Smitten: Sex, Love & Life blog alongside love tips and whatnot. So, if you click the link, just know it's gonna get a little PG-13. You have been warned.

Weird, right?


Bragging Party

I just wanted to rub it in your face that I am surrounded by the cutest girls on the planet. Seriously, look at those faces. How lucky am I?


Photo from the booth at Big Fun, from our visit this last weekend. That place is ten kinds of rad. I would try and describe it, but words fail me. It's like trying to describe what Cap'n Crunch tastes like or what Heaven will smell like (though I imagine the latter will have a definite bacon-y musk to it).

Imagine every toy you ever had or wanted as a kid in one place. Then multiply that by ten and you're getting close. I mean, they have the G.I. Joe aircraft carrier on display and like this whole epic diorama built around it! And a Mego Thing doll! In fact, they have three of the Fantastic Four (no Invisible Woman). And their Star Wars figure collection ... oh man. It's like the back of the boxes up in that place.

And all of it is for sale, which is great because you're an adult now and theoretically, you can buy this stuff. All of it if you want to. It's nine-year-old Dylan's wildest fantasy come true.

Needless to say, Me = freaking out. If you ever come to Cleveland we will so skip the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame (which is sort of like the Hard Rock Hotel only without the slot machines and the d-baggs in tank tops yelling "VEGAS, BABY!!!" at the top of their lungs) and just go there, deal? Until then, peace, my Internet homies.

Civics Lesson

This Is Excellent:

As Is This:

Both are from Andrew Sloat. Very cool stuff and the kind of thing I really wish I had thought up and would have if only I weren't so frickin' lame.


Possible Titles For Future Projects

* Let's Explode the Pyramids, Baby
* That One Time
* Prestidigitation
* It Sleeps Underneath
* What The Don't Tell You About Being President
* Nursery Rhymes For the Coming Apocalypse
* Teethmouth
* I Can't Believe You Believed Me When I Told You I Believed You (Can You Believe That?)
* The Beast With A Million Elbows
* 101 Uses For Twine
* Broccoli Breath
* The Wolfman's Daughter
* I Want To Cover Everything I See In Christmas Lights; Is That So Wrong?
* The Band Played All Your Favorite Hits, Only They Played Them All Wrong
* Hepcat Shuffle
* They Breathe
* Up the Tower Of Tears
* Bloodwater
* I Killed Elvis Presley: The Barry Manilow Story
* Teenage Trees
* Unforgiveable Radness
* You Told Me Eleven
* Octopus Rock
* Lessons Learned From Drying Paint
* Toss Out Two-Thirds; The Rest Can Be Salvaged
* Horses In Haunted Hotels
* Sawed-In-Half-Girl
* Cactus Crime
* The Only Thing You Can Remember About That Thing You Forgot Is That It's Very Important
* Troubadours Of Venus, Lend Me Your Ears
* P O O F !


Fishing For Kilgore Trout

As long as I'm reposting content, I may as well repost this, which I StumbleUpon-ed. It appears in Palm Sunday, a collection of essays and miscellany from Kurt Vonnegut, AKA: My Favorite Writer Ever. As I am thinking of embarking on a piece of fiction of some sort, it was nice to run across this while tripping across the Internet. Let me know what you think:


How to Write With Style
by Kurt Vonnegut

Newspaper reporters and technical writers are trained to reveal almost nothing about themselves in their writings. This makes them freaks in the world of writers, since almost all of the other ink-stained wretches in that world reveal a lot about themselves to readers. We call these revelations, accidental and intentional, elements of style.

These revelations tell us as readers what sort of person it is with whom we are spending time. Does the writer sound ignorant or informed, stupid or bright, crooked or honest, humorless or playful? And on and on.

Why should you examine your writing style with the idea of improving it? Do so as a mark of respect for your readers, whatever you're writing. If you scribble your thoughts any which way, your readers will surely feel that you care nothing about them. They will mark you down as an egomaniac or a chowderhead - or, worse, they will stop reading you.

The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don't you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

So your own winning style must begin with ideas in your head.

1. Find a subject you care about

Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, and not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.

I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way - although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.

2. Do not ramble, though

I won't ramble on about that.

3. Keep it simple

As for your use of language: Remember that two great masters of language, William Shakespeare and James Joyce, wrote sentences which were almost childlike when their subjects were most profound. "To be or not to be?" asks Shakespeare's Hamlet. The longest word is three letters long. Joyce, when he was frisky, could put together a sentence as intricate and as glittering as a necklace for Cleopatra, but my favorite sentence in his short story "Eveline" is this one: "She was tired." At that point in the story, no other words could break the heart of a reader as those three words do.

Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."

4. Have guts to cut

It may be that you, too, are capable of making necklaces for Cleopatra, so to speak. But your eloquence should be the servant of the ideas in your head. Your rule might be this: If a sentence, no matter how excellent, does not illuminate your subject in some new and useful way, scratch it out.

5. Sound like yourself

The writing style which is most natural for you is bound to echo the speech you heard when a child. English was Conrad's third language, and much that seems piquant in his use of English was no doubt colored by his first language, which was Polish. And lucky indeed is the writer who has grown up in Ireland, for the English spoken there is so amusing and musical. I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench.

In some of the more remote hollows of Appalachia, children still grow up hearing songs and locutions of Elizabethan times. Yes, and many Americans grow up hearing a language other than English, or an English dialect a majority of Americans cannot understand.

All these varieties of speech are beautiful, just as the varieties of butterflies are beautiful. No matter what your first language, you should treasure it all your life. If it happens to not be standard English, and if it shows itself when your write standard English, the result is usually delightful, like a very pretty girl with one eye that is green and one that is blue.

I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago.

6. Say what you mean

I used to be exasperated by such teachers, but am no more. I understand now that all those antique essays and stories with which I was to compare my own work were not magnificent for their datedness or foreignness, but for saying precisely what their authors meant them to say. My teachers wished me to write accurately, always selecting the most effective words, and relating the words to one another unambiguously, rigidly, like parts of a machine. The teachers did not want to turn me into an Englishman after all. They hoped that I would become understandable - and therefore understood. And there went my dream of doing with words what Pablo Picasso did with paint or what any number of jazz idols did with music. If I broke all the rules of punctuation, had words mean whatever I wanted them to mean, and strung them together higgledy-piggledy, I would simply not be understood. So you, too, had better avoid Picasso-style or jazz-style writing, if you have something worth saying and wish to be understood.

Readers want our pages to look very much like pages they have seen before. Why? This is because they themselves have a tough job to do, and they need all the help they can get from us.

7. Pity the readers

They have to identify thousands of little marks on paper, and make sense of them immediately. They have to read, an art so difficult that most people don't really master it even after having studied it all through grade school and high school - twelve long years.

So this discussion must finally acknowledge that our stylistic options as writers are neither numerous nor glamorous, since our readers are bound to be such imperfect artists. Our audience requires us to be sympathetic and patient readers, ever willing to simplify and clarify - whereas we would rather soar high above the crowd, singing like nightingales.

That is the bad news. The good news is that we Americans are governed under a unique Constitution, which allows us to write whatever we please without fear of punishment. So the most meaningful aspect of our styles, which is what we choose to write about, is utterly unlimited.

8. For really detailed advice

For a discussion of literary style in a narrower sense, in a more technical sense, I recommend to your attention The Elements of Style, by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White. E.B. White is, of course, one of the most admirable literary stylists this country has so far produced.

You should realize, too, that no one would care how well or badly Mr. White expressed himself, if he did not have perfectly enchanting things to say.

In Sum:

1. Find a subject you care about

2. Do not ramble, though

3. Keep it simple

4. Have guts to cut

5. Sound like yourself

6. Say what you mean

7. Pity the readers

Wolf Hat

This Is Excellent:

Great piece from Travis Stearns.



Cleveland Forever

This Is Excellent:

From a series of hip-hop inspired "beef" posters from local designer Chris Sherron who was some really excellent work. There is more than one piece in his portfolio I'm envious of.

Found via It's Nice That.


Free Newspaper! ... And Also A Look At Race In the Wake Of the Obama Election

So in the train station this morning, some representing the local paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, asked me if I wanted a free paper for my commute. He then tried to sell me on a daily delivery to said paper by offering a $3/week subscription. I told him I'd have to discuss it with my wife. To which he replied "You can't make a $3 decision?!"

"Nope." I replied, and walked away.

Anyway, so I've been sort of wishing I subscribed to a newspaper for a while now (Candace & I haven't done so in our married life), but I haven't actually done it. Which is sad, you know? Journalism, especially print journalism, is a fundamental of government. As great as the Internet is, the attention constraints of the average reader (me) preclude any serious reading. It's good for short news bursts (you know, the first couple of paragraphs of a print piece), but an in-depth analysis of an issue or news story isn't it's forte'. I mean, how many of you are going to read this whole blog post? You're probably skimming it, which is fine. But online news suffers from it's medium, which is better suited for short attention spans.

And forget about TV news. They're too beholden to their corporate parents, ratings and, by extension, advertising dollars to focus on anything for more than a soundbite and even then, what you get is filtered and all surface. If you want real, in-depth news, you're left with The News Hour on PBS which is really excellent stuff, but it's borderline boring in it's focus and you have to really pay attention. You can't be cooking/eating dinner while you watch it if you want to glean anything of substance from it.

(And I'm not even going to get into stuff like Fox News or MSNBC which are like dueling biases, although the left-leaning policies at MSNBC haven't leaked into their news organ like they have over at Fox with it's laughably right-wing editorial department. Seriously, Bill O'Reilly is like a turd in a suit and Sean hannity is something grosser than a turd in a suit. I don't know what. I'll leave that up to you. But that's what he is. I will admit, I enjoy some Olberman and Maddow and Mathews, but I know that they're giving me opinions and not necessarily the news. They're pundits. On Fox, the line between their journalists and pundits is getting thinner and thinner each day. Also, the MSNBC guys are pretty self-deprecating and, in the case of Maddow, very insightful and funny. They're a great liberal Op/Ed piece in a good newspaper as opposed to a dreadful comic section over at Fox. They're like a comics section filled with Marmaduke and Mallard Fillmore and The Lockhorns. Dreadful stuff.)

Which leaves the lowly newspaper, which is quickly becoming obsolete. Is this a tragedy? I have no idea. Besides, newspapers aren't going to go away entirely. They may shrink, but I doubt that they will disappear. Am I the only one disturbed by this? Are we going to allow our attention spans to kill off one of the oldest bastions of free speech? Am I totally rambling at this point?

Anyway, so this is a big introduction just to say that I read an Op/Ed piece on the front cover of today's PD that I thought was really interesting in the wake of President-Elect Obama's victory last Tuesday and what that could mean for race relations in America. As great as that victory was, it's by no means the end of the discussion. In fact, you could argue that it was the beginning.

Just read the piece. It's good.


America Begins Its Journey Into A Post-Racial Era
By Phillip Morris, Plain Dealer Columnist
Wednesday, November 05, 2008, 8:30 PM

As I watched tears stream down the face of a highly emotional Jesse Jackson Tuesday night, impertinent questions flooded my mind:

Why was this famous black man weeping? Why did each breath produce a fresh torrent of sobs and shudders. Did this luminary weep, like so many others, as he listened to President-elect Barack Obama, because he realized that America's most impenetrable glass ceiling had shattered?

Or did this particular son of South Carolina weep because he realized that race as a useful construct for confrontation, oppression or contemporary perspective appeared suddenly obsolete? Did he weep at the death of his quest for reparations?

Did Jesse Jackson emote so demonstrably because it was suddenly clear that America, a nation built and anchored upon the dangerous precipice of race, had suddenly lived up to it's most ambitious ideal and dealt its final race card?

In the end, it didn't matter. America had already embarked upon a long deferred dream.

Tuesday, this nation unburdened itself of the albatross of race. The United States elected to its presidency the most improbable Horatio Alger and, in the process, proved that in this nation anything remains possible.

An unprecedented coalition of Americans united to elect Obama, a man, who is being called America's first black president.

The occasion will continue to warrant celebration and sober reflection.

But it is also true that America elected Obama as its 44th white president. His mother was just as white as his African father was black. We just don't know how to talk about it. His bloodlines course through all of us. That, too, warrants deeper reflection, and some celebration, as well.

Obama gives us a new way of looking at race - or better yet, an evolving reason not to consider race at all. And that is part of the promise of his potential. That is part of his gift to America.

It remains to be seen, of course, whether the orator can lead. It remains unknown whether this gifted organizer can preside over a nation that faces daunting political challenges and threats.

But America has done its part. Without a blink of an eye, we have just boldly ushered in a new, post-racial era. Once again, we have proven ourselves a nation of leaders: A representative democracy in its truest sense.

Race will continue to matter to some, of course. But its importance is diminished.

Race haters and race apologists will continue to cling to misguided conventions and impotent pasts. But their voices have just grown smaller.

As a nation, we have suddenly grown far more "indivisible." And that's what many Americans now celebrate. We celebrate our maturity.

Two of my favorite Obama supporters went to bed early Tuesday evening, hours before Obama gave his victory speech. They went to bed hopeful. They woke up to what is now being called a "new" America.

I prefer to call it a "better" America.

My 9-year-old daughter called at 6:30, jubilant with the news of the Obama victory. Two hours later, 95-year-old Jean Capers, the first black woman ever elected to Cleveland City Council, rejoiced over breakfast that she had lived to see America's maturation.

These sorts of encounters are happening all over the nation. They will continue for some time. This victory goes far beyond politics, religion, gender, race or creed. It's bigger.

America has completed its evolution into a racial meritocracy.

Obama has been given the opportunity to fail -- or to succeed -- on his own ability, character and luck.

The son of mixed race parents has been given the opportunity to screw up the ultimate leadership opportunity just as badly as white men have. He's also been given the opportunity to soar.

That represents the culmination of the dream. That is the fulfillment of hope and promise.


You can read more of Morris' columns here.



Yay, America!

Well, it's all over. Barack Hussein Obama will be the 44th President of the United States. I seriously can't believe it. He won the popular vote, the electoral college and, by and large, we had very few shenanigans at the polls. It was a clean and clear victory. We haven't been able to say that about an election in a while. I seriously can't believe it's real. I'm so full of hope it's coming out my ears.

image courtesy LOLBama.

I hope that over the next while those of you who didn't vote for Obama can begin to see what I've been frothing at the mouth over for the last couple of years. I hope we can get this country back on track with a mixture of hard work, sacrifice and good decisions. I hope we can come together and work together to ensure a better future for our children and their children. I hope we can put biases, party affiliation or skin color behind us and face the 21st century with a renewed sense of determination, compassion and resolve. I hope we can make our country safer, our economy stronger and our world cleaner. I hope we can keep our children healthy, happy and educated and ensure a prosperous nation. I hope we can be tough when necessary and assist others when called upon. I hope we can be the America we've aspired to be. The America we've fought to protect.

But most of all, I hope that Malia and Sasha's new puppy is super awesome.


In other news, check out this hilarious electoral map from the New York Times. Now you can see which states are "Solid weirded out by Joe Biden's hair" and which are just "Leaning weirded out by Joe Biden's hair".


Vote Early. Vote Often.

You're all responsible, intelligent people, so I'm sure you have voted/are voting/will be voting, but in case you haven't - go do it. Or else you don't get to complain for the next four years. Them's the rules. I don't make them, I just enforce them.

Image via Numinous Design's Flickr stream. Found via, uh, Ffffound.