Strength and Vision

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New & Old

Just saw The Thin Red Line for the first time. Slapping myself for not watching it earlier. That's partly due to the fact that when it came out all my friends were like "man, that was way boring." Fools. But such is often the case with youth when a film is on that next level. Great use of narration, focusing on a mind's philosophical meanderings rather than explaining everything to lazy viewers. Need to get my hands on the special edition so I can see the massive amount of footage that got cut from the theatrical release.


Actually, I have another Malick flick on deck: Days of Heaven. If you don't think wheat fields are pretty to look at, you should after watching this one. And it also allows you the chance to hear me utter a very rare sequence of words: "Richard Gere is in it and it's really good."


Played softball last week. Mixed feelings. Can still hit the ball - went about 7 for 8. But it's slow pitch so everyone should be stroking it. My problems were in the field. I played second base and lost count of how many errors I made. Apparently, I cannot field ground balls anymore. I mean, the field was a mess and I wasn't wearing a cup and was a little tentative playing the ball. Still...I don't know. I expected more out of myself.


Fourth of July was eventful. Hiked Mount Si with good friend Chelsea. We did the smaller of the two trails. I honestly found it to be less intense than Tiger Mountain. But that might be because at the time I hiked Tiger Mountain I had yet to start running on a regular basis. Inept cardio may render any comparison erroneous. After hiking, stopped off at Twede's - the infamous North Bend cafe to be featured in Twin Peaks (there known as the Double R Diner). And yes, they had a damn fine cup of coffee. Finished the day off with a PBS documentary on the Jonestown Massacre. Sort of a bumout way to close the holiday.


Let's fire up that jukebox. Excuse me while I give it a swift kick...

Fell in love with these guys when I first heard Dead Reckoning about nine years ago. Reminded me of a slightly more indie version of Hot Water Music. Has that perfect balance of catchy melodies and raw energy. This one is off their recent comeback record, Fell & Found, which isn't quite as stellar as some of their past work. Though that's probably just my 18-year old self speaking. Either way, it's good to have Small Brown Bike back doing their thing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Less Pomp, More Circumstance

Graduated on Saturday. Received Alpha Beta Kappa Honors - not too shabby. Later that evening went to a graduation party at a fellow student's house (more like a mini-mansion). Good food. Legitimate dudes - they will be missed. Decided to get culinary for this celebratory soiree, whipping up a Spinach Artichoke Dip and a batch of some Mexican Hot Chocolate Snickerdoodles (big respect to Isa and the Post Punk Kitchen). Both were pretty popular - especially the snickerdoodles - despite the fact that a few traditional ingredients were MIA. This did, of course, lead to some curious inquiries about my diet. Most were respectful, merely wondering what it is I eat. One individual, however, blurred the line between ignorance and insolence. I can deal with the misinformed. It comes with the territory. But disrespect is not so easily digested. Recalling the exchange I had with this individual in detail is something I don't care to do here; allow me to say that even after politely fending off a barrage of common untruths with the facts, there was still a sense of mockery about the line of questioning. Cool was kept, though. And in what was perhaps my greatest rebuttal, I let the food do the talking, as the sipper of haterade proceeded to walk a subsequent line between irony and hypocrisy amidst mouthfuls of snickerdoodle. Beef squashed.


Been pretty lazy with reading lately. Before I was busy finishing up school. Now I'm busy looking/applying for jobs. But I'm trying to at least pick up Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates at least once a day. Josh, it needs to get back to you before the Chicago move. I will make it happen.


I always like to post music on here. But am I being delusional in doing so? Does it ever get listened to? Well, that's not going to stop me from posting it. I'll just make it completely random, shuffling my iTunes library and seeing what happens. Here we go...

What comes up but only one of the classics. Top 5 band from the Pacific Northwest. Greatest (or maybe second greatest) metalcore album of all time. The definition of innovation in heavy music. That definition is Botch. Reunion time, guys. Show the newjacks how to harness the power of the angular riff.

Friday, June 10, 2011




I'm secure enough in my masculinity to post cute cat pictures. I'll even own up to frequenting this great blog about cats (and where they do not belong). Really though, The Murph just needed to be shown some more love on here. Because he is one of the dopest cats of all time.


In other uber-masculine endeavors, I've elevated my game to that of 99% vegan warrior. It's been about a week or two - can't remember the exact day. Besides the slice of toast that (for whatever unnecessary reason) contains a minute bit of milk, I'm doing the thing. Maybe it's because I've been on this path for the past nine years, but I'm not finding it to be that hard. My only concern is the whole omega-3 deficiency; LNA (or ALA) not being the problem, but having to rely on inefficient conversion for EPA and DHA. If the algae DHA/EPA pills weren't so expensive, this wouldn't even be an issue. So for the time being I'm relying on the conversion, consuming about 4-6 tablespoons of ground flaxseed daily (it's rich in LNA needed for conversion and is pretty inexpensive if you buy it in bulk, grinding it yourself). After doing some math, I think I've got my omega-3 bases covered. And while flaxseed is high in fat like most nuts in seeds, the rest of my diet is so low in it that I don't have to worry about exceeding recommended intakes. Plus, I exercise often enough to put me well outside the average 2,000 - 2,500 calorie diet plan, allowing me a few extra grams. Long story short, I'm almost there. Babes won't dig it (What do you mean you can't take me to Wendy's?). But that was never the point.

If all that talk about omega-3's made no sense, I'd suggest looking it up. Even if you eat meat, you most likely aren't consuming enough fish to get the recommended levels. Your brain health depends on it.


Watched Sling Blade for the first time in a number of years. It's an old favorite. Sort of ridiculous. But therein lies the charm. I can imagine Billy Bob Thorton seeing Forest Gump and thinking, "...what if he wasn't a wuss and had a homicidal past?" Thorton is great in the role, too. I almost forget it's him there at times. Total character immersion. No way he was breaking between takes.


Recently discovered The Replacements. A little after-the-fact on that one. Better late than never, though. Josh, I sent you one of their albums and I haven't heard anything back yet, which means you probably aren't feeling it. You probably think they sound the Goo Goo Dolls. Whatever, dude.

Great song? I agree.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Running with the lions

It was time to get a new pair of running shoes. And since normal running shoes that are non-leather don't really exist - unless you are fine with Saucony's (after straining a tendon(s) in my foot that took a month to heal, I am not) - trail runners are the way to go. So this evening at REI, I snagged those beasts above: La Sportiva's Wildcat. Since I'm normally something of minimalist with my Chucks, I'm still getting used to the gaudy appearance; there's a bit of NASCAR typography going on down the side and the tread is so aggro it looks like they scaled Godzilla. But all that is irrelevant. Running is no fashion show. These babies have the best support I've ever experienced in a shoe. Will be trying them out tomorrow for a 5 mile rage.

So when was the last time I talked about Converge on here? A few months ago? Well, that's quite a hiatus. I'll keep it short this time, letting the following Facebook post by the band and accompanying picture tell most of the story.

A cop moshed and a pregnant girl did a backflip!!! CT was straight up animalistic!!!
Thank you thank you thank you!!!

Accompanying caption read, "Moshcop buying Converge merchandise after slaying kids in the pit."

The things that don't happen at a Bright Eyes show. Just another example of what makes punk/hardcore so unique. And why it certainly isn't "dead". (Okay. I see Jane Doe on vinyl in the picture and am about to have a coronary. Please stay in print. A record player is coming down the pipe.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Phantoms of the hardwood and the injured reserve

I was the last person on the planet to get a cellphone, a debit card, as well as try sushi (and I'm referring to the vegetable rolls). So it makes sense that I only just now watched Sonicsgate. If there is an individual who lives under larger rock than I do, it's a documentary about how the city of Seattle lost the SuperSonics. Between the years of 2004 and 2008, I did not have cable and lost touch with what was happening with the team. During the latter of those years, I lived with a now ex-girlfriend who harbored a deep-seeded hatred for any sort of athletic competition besides horse racing (if that even qualifies). Combining the factors of estrangement from broadcast media and exposure to a significant other's contagion of negativity, I simply stopped caring about the Sonics. I remember being on campus at WWU, hearing the rumors of the team moving and thinking with indifference, "business is business."

But after watching the documentary, I've realized how deep the roots run. Seeing vintage footage of Payton, Kemp and Schrempf, along with some of the other more historically underappreciated players like Sam Perkins and Hersey Hawkins, it's pure nostalgia. It made me realize how big a Sonics fan I was when I was young. The Seahawks were annual disasters and the Mariners only had a few memorable years (which both the organization and city still try to unsuccessfully cling to). The Sonics were the real deal and regularly contended in the playoffs. So they were easy for a kid to get into. And those games in May and June were intense; I'd be cursing Karl Malone and the rest of the Utah Jazz in my mind for all four quarters.

Now that I've seen how everything went down, it depresses me. Mismanagement of players, poor draft picks, bumbling local ownership and politicking, deceitful buyers...and a plethora of other things the film does a good job of outlining/explaining. I don't know man, it bums a dude out. (And you know who else got bummed out? Ex-season ticked holder, Sherman Alexie. That's who.) The worst part has to be that the Oklahoma City Thunder, the team that the Sonics became, is right now playing in the Western Conference finals. Good game.


Think I screwed up my elbow. Too much working out. Took the week off. No lifting. Don't want tendinitis. But I think I'm going to lose my mind if I don't engage with some iron soon.


To capture the essence of this post, I give you Harvey Milk. The album the song below is off of is A Small Turn of Human Kindness. (It came out last year and really should have made my "best of" list.) Most artists just front with the "you guys, I am really sad and I need to sing these songs" and end up sounding too catchy to actually be sad about anything. Harvey Milk, on the other hand, don't sugarcoat despair. While on past releases they've definitely played around with some blues rock and have been known to cover an entire R.E.M. album live, nothing of the sort exists here. Crushing sludge and doom. Exclusively. I don't think I've ever heard anything that so poignantly characterizes the sense of completely bottoming out. Makes Elliott Smith sound like he just needed a Xanax.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tong Po vs. Billy Pilgrim vs. Goblin-esque beats

Spending my Saturday evening watching Kickboxer and getting stoked. It reminds me of how when my brother and I were kids we used to put on snow gloves, go out to the backyard and box. And I do mean box. Full contact. Just no face hits. Kicks may or may not have been thrown. I believe a few other dudes from the neighborhood got in on the action too. How my parents allowed this to go on, in their own backyard of all places, I cannot explain. It's not like we were inconspicuous about it. We were out there yelling and screaming and beating the shit out of each other. Granted, we were between the ages of 7 and 11; the worst damage we could do was knocking the wind out of the other guy. Still, we had a sort of "fight club" a good three years before that Palahniuk guy had anything to say about it. A curious memory, for sure. One I haven't recalled in years and which is at odds with much of my childhood. Thanks be to Jean-Claude Van Damme for the memento.

My mom gave me quite a surprise this week when she walked past me carrying my copy of Slaughterhouse-Five in her hand. I didn't really know how to react. I said something like, "Are you sure? He's pretty weird." Better that than Breakfast of Champions, though; she wouldn't have gotten past Vonnegut's illustrations. Well, I hope she sticks with it.

Been jamming a lot of Zombi lately. For those not in the know, they are an instrumental two-piece consisting solely of drums and synths. They play in the progressive vein a la Rush and Yes, but are clearly influenced by the scores of classic 70's/80's B-horror films of the Italian persuasion. Their new album, Escape Velocity, is way rad. Now if you listen to the track below and think, "this one's for the nerds," you would be correct. I am a nerd. And I see/hear no shame in it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Bueno

Indie singer-songwriters. What's really all that "independent" about most of them? Acoustic guitar, hooky folk songs, Beatles melodies thrown in to feign diversity. These are the necessary elements for the cardigan crew to get bout it, bout it. I'm not trying to be overly cynical here; I've just described a handful of artists that I enjoy listening to. I won't go so far as to claim that every songwriter has to sound completely different from one another to attain originality or merit. But there is definite irony in the generally formulaic nature of this music, causing me to roll my eyes and shake my head at the "independent" minstrel show of songwriting.

Then I hear The Grime and The Glow by Chelsea Wolfe. It has little to nothing to do with what I described in the paragraph. So I'm rightfully captivated by what I hear. That is not to say she isn't without comparison; PJ Harvey comes to mind. But it feels fresh. There's incredible variance in the material: subdued poppy post-punk, end-time folk, discordant funeral blues, something that sounds like a whale song filtered through a guitar, etc. And it'd probably be a lo-fi mess of an album if it weren't tied together by Wolfe's hauntingly beautiful vocals, which - with somber bewitchment - create harmony amongst the discordant. 2011 may not be half over yet, but this is my current AOTY.

EDIT: This album actually came out at the end of last year. Whoops. She does have a new one, Ἀποκάλυψις ("Apokalypsis"). Will be checking it out shortly.