Monday, October 31, 2005
It's Halloween, and I've just been given a slight scare... after months of hearing how sick he is of the Army and that he's anxiously awaiting his return to the U.S. so that he can start a normal civilian life, I get this e-mail from my friend stationed in Iraq:
First off, sorry for being out of touch for so long, however circumstances were out of my control. Secondly, for all those who sent packages, thank you. I understand that blanket thank you’s are less flattering than personal responses, but I’m limited by time. At any rate, the guys and I have enjoyed all the food and supplies sent over. Life of army chow and MREs grows old, so it’s nice to mix things up every now and again.
As for our current situation, Ramadi is a tough town. We’ve had some difficult losses and are stretched thin on both manpower and vehicle strength. Right now it’s just a waiting game until the units in Kuwait come to relieve us. Rumors as always circulate as to when that might happen, but Jan 26th sounds like a common date for flights home.
I’m doing fine though my motivation rollercoasters daily. Like I said, Ramadi is a tough town and it gets to all of us. I don’t know what the army plans to achieve here, but they need to Fallujah this place and restore some sense of balance. There are neighborhoods here we just cede to the insurgents because we get our asses handed to us every time we roll through. So it’s become a standoff game, we’ve circled the wagons and are waiting for the cavalry to arrive. I’m not sure how the rest of Iraq is faring, from the Stars and Stripes one would think it’s all according to plan. I guess that’s why they don’t send journalists to our town. Some of the "headlines" we read on CNN make us laugh, they should send some dudes here for a month. We’ve figured out that once the cameras appear then nothing’s happening in that area anymore. Has anybody seen any pictures of al Qaim, Haditha, Habaniya, or good ole’ Ramadi lately…thought not.
Anyway, sorry to get you all down with my venting, but that’s news around here. We can’t wait to see this city destroyed and get the hell out.
As to my personal plans, I’m waiting for leave when I return to decide for certain. I will spend a couple weeks in California with my best bud Jon to see what opportunities are lying in wait. However, I still have the Army bug. In spite of all the BS (and there’s a lot), I enjoy the work. If I could eliminate the dress right dress junk and just boil it down to the job, I’d stay for another tour. But then again, who knows? The civilian life is mighty tempting…I’ll just wait and see.
Ok, enough for now. Take care and I hope contact you all again soon.
ps here's a recent pic...enjoy
While I'm thrilled to hear he could be headed home in January, this prospect of re-enlisting is not a pleasant one. I don't understand how he can constantly bitch and moan about his surroundings and experiences but still have the "Army bug." I guess I never will understand unless I've done what he's done. And I hope that will never happen.
Posted by Brian at 1:46 PM
Friday, October 28, 2005
The concept behind these Yacht Rock shorts is genius: fictional backstories of some of the most popular late-70s/early-80s soft rock hits from artists like Kenny Loggins, Hall & Oates, and Michael McDonald. The execution, however, is only intermittently successful. But worth at least a watch or two.
Posted by Brian at 2:23 PM
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Last night's South Park episode featured a hilarious storyline in which the boys think that the girls have a device that actually predicts the future and form a plot to steal it from them. The device is in fact one of those paper things elementary school kids fold and put on their fingers, then say colors and numbers to flip them until they eventually uncover their fortune. I had no idea what these things were called when I discussed the show with a co-worker, but according to this website on how to design them, they're called Cootie Catchers. Which does not sound right at all. Anyone know it's real name?
By the way, the Google search used to find this website: Paper future predict.
Posted by Brian at 6:19 PM
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Giving Brians (er, Brions) a Good Name
Last night's Jon Brion concert at Canal Room (the 10:30 show) was, in a word, fuckingamazing. After a late start (11:15-ish), he played an hour-and-a-half set filled with original tunes, jams, and covers (everything from Beatles to Kanye West to Psychedelic Furs to Fats Waller). Some songs were played just on guitar, some just on piano, but the amazing moments were when he would turn into a one-man band. He starts at the drum kit, playing anywhere from 4 to 32 bars, then looping it. As the drums continue to play, he heads to the piano and plays a sequence, looping that as well. Then on to the electric guitar, which he modifies into a bass to loop a bass line. Then maybe he'll loop a guitar part or 3 before playing the lead guitar line in real time while singing. You've never seen anything like it.
Around 1am, he ended his official set but invited people to stick around for some fun. He came back out 30 minutes later to play another full set made up solely of requests. He can play almost anything the crowd shouted out ("Life on Mars," "Sail Away," "Hook Line & Sinker")… his wealth of musical knowledge is staggering. Just to know all the lyrics is an accomplishment, let alone to be able to play the songs, on multiple instruments, simultaneously.
After another hour (and many pints of Guinness), he finally thanked the crowd and stumbled offstage. It's a concert I won't soon forget.
For all you New Yorkers, he has added another show tonight at Canal Room… and West Coast readers, he plays every Friday night at Largo.
Posted by Brian at 1:38 PM
Monday, October 24, 2005
The epic Green Day video for "Jesus of Suburbia" (at least the 9-minute version, not the 14-minute one) is up on MySpace (you may have to be a registered user to see it). And based on the amount of sex, drinking, and coke-snorting in the first 30 seconds, I'm guessing we won't be showing it too soon on TRL.
(note: if the link doesn't work, go to the music section, then click on videos and search by either band or song)
Posted by Brian at 6:32 PM
Things I Learned from Watching Mr. T's Be Somebody or Be Somebody's Fool
- If you're going to create a new word, it's hard to come up with a better one than "absoludicrous."
- Fergie had not yet had her first face-lift at age 9 (see photo), although she might still have been in her pants-wetting phase. She also wanted to be a baseball player when she grew up, even though she swings like crap.
- If you cannot afford a gym membership, you can get a damn fine workout by repeatedly lifting a boom box and by doing squats with a bag of popcorn on your head.
- If you're a fat kid, Mr. T will make fun of you.
- To prevent yourself from looking foolish when you trip, pretend to breakdance when you hit the floor. Then people will applaud you instead of laugh at you.
- Treat your mother right.
- If you're being pressured to drink or smoke when you're underage, having New Edition around to sing a motivational song will help you just say no.
Thank you for the lessons, Mr. T!
Posted by Brian at 1:43 PM
Friday, October 21, 2005
TRL Moment of the Week
Two big musical legends dropped by this week: Madonna on Monday and Stevie Wonder on Tuesday. Madonna looked much smaller, frailer, and less curvaceous in person, but she was also incredibly nice and easy-going (although she still manages to drive certain people out of their minds). Stevie Wonder was much bigger and more curvaceous than I expected, but was just as nice and easy-going, if a little overwhelmed by the TRL experience.
I did wonder whether Stevie realized that his sunglasses had the abbreviation for his new album written on the side (sorry you can't really see it in the picture). If not, that's about the most offensive product placement I've ever come across.
Posted by Brian at 3:21 PM
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I'm amazed that Jon Brion's concerts at the Canal Room have not sold out. My friend convinced me to buy a ticket, and the closer we get to the show, the more I excited I've become. Here's what NY Magazine has to say about it:
One-Night Stand: A California songster comes east, and may bring friends.
The Los Angeles singer-songwriter and producer—he’s worked on everything from Fiona Apple’s great new Extraordinary Machine to the soundtrack of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—plays a rare set of shows at the intimate Canal Room this week. His longtime residency at the Hollywood club Largo regularly draws surprise guest appearances from the likes of Michael Stipe, Elvis Costello, and Kanye West, and there’s no reason to expect less on this coast.
Posted by Brian at 6:22 PM
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
There is a fairly lengthy criticism of the current season of Curb Your Enthusiasm in New York Observer, and after an amusing first episode, I have to agree that the show has lost its way. The fun of the show used to be in the way Larry (mis)handled everyday situations. Now the show is pushing his experiences out of the realm of reality. It is also lingering way too long on jokes (pharmacist / doctor... oh, and if Larry does his questioning stare one more time, I may turn the show off for good) and unnecessarily tying all storylines together at the end (Did we really need the tooth fairy to visit Larry? Did we really need Cofey to carve his name on a door at the retirement home?). Between that and the disaster that is Extras, I'm thoroughly disappointed in HBO's Sunday night line-up. Here's hoping the eventual return of The Sopranos can turn things around.
Posted by Brian at 2:28 PM
Monday, October 17, 2005
Yes, Elizabethtown sucks, and the end road-trip montage is interminable... but enter this contest for a chance to meet Cameron Crowe on VH1 Classic (and discuss his good movies like Say Anything). Oh, and it's a tough challenge that makes you list your 12 favorite songs. Marinate on that for a while...
Posted by Brian at 6:21 PM
Friday, October 14, 2005
Saw the Loser's Lounge Tribute to Stevie Wonder last night. This was my 2nd LL show, and it didn't stack up to the Queen tribute, but it was still a fantastic show. Their posse of NYC musicians is top-of-the-line. Of particular note were Tiffany Randol (lead singer of Valeze), who rocked out to "Superstition," Carlton Smith, who had the crowd eating out of his hand during "Livin' for the City," Julia Greenberg, whose "I Believe When I Fall in Love" was beautiful despite terrible tech problems, and Sean Altman's "Tears of a Clown." You have 2 chances to see them tonight and 2 tomorrow, and I highly recommend it.
Posted by Brian at 4:39 PM
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
I read IMDB's news sections every day, but this story from today is by far my favorite of all time:
Prinze Jr.'s "Cracked Rib" Is Pain From Over-Eating
Freddie Prinze Jr. has stepped forward to sheepishly disclose that the pain he recently described as a "cracked rib" is actually just discomfort from eating too much Chinese food. Last week, the actor, married to his Scooby-Doo co-star Sarah Michelle Gellar, claimed he got out of bed in New York City with a mysteriously cracked rib. But he now admits that over-indulgence at one of his favorite restaurants is more likely the cause of his pain. He says, "(My rib) is not cracked. It's officially torn muscles between two ribs. I ate a lot and my stomach was a little upset and I went to bed and I woke up the next day and I felt like I broke a rib. (I ate) a lot of Chinese food. My favorite little place in New York is a place called Chun Lee and they have a lot of food and I ate all of it. It hurts really bad. They gave me Vicodin, but I can't take too much of that because I have to work. So they gave me these anti-inflammatories, but they make me throw up, which tears the muscle more, so it's not really that helpful."
Posted by Brian at 2:11 PM
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Monday, October 10, 2005
Is anyone else annoyed that Ashlee Simpson performed on this weekend's Saturday Night Live? Didn't it used to be an honor to perform on SNL as opposed to a publicity stunt? And what happened Lorne Michaels' outrage that Ashlee used a backing track last season, supposedly the first time that's ever happened on the show? There are plenty of worthy, talented musicians who are much more deserving of the slot than this two-bit hack who couldn't even finish her current single before running out of breath.
And while I'm on the subject, this past episode was one of the worst I've ever seen. Forgetting the basic lack of funny material, it was simply sloppy from a technical standpoint. The cast (especially in the first scene) appeared to have never read the material before, as they couldn't take their eyes off the cue cards. A commercial parody was interrupted with an establishing shot from an upcoming scene. The director would choose shots of characters who weren't speaking. The cast kept blowing their lines.
On second thought, maybe Ashlee Simpson is the only artist who would stoop low enough to appear on the show.
Posted by Brian at 12:53 PM
Friday, October 07, 2005
TRL Moment of the Week
On Monday, Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette were here to promote In Her Shoes. In the middle of the stunt (called "These Shoes Are Made For Talkin'"... clever, eh?), a guy in the audience suddenly gets up, walks over to Cameron, and puts his hand on her shoulder. Cameron barely had time to react to the kid (actually he was 23-years old) before he was tackled by one of our stage managers and removed from the studio.
Afterwards, our audience coordinator could be heard bellowing at him, "I hope you know you're getting arrested. You're gonna go to jail. I hope it was worth it, cause you're fucking going to jail. Was it? Was it worth it?" When the guy's response was too calm for her, she got the guy's phone number and called his house to make sure that he wasn't on medication. The guy's very apologetic sister explained that no, he is not on any meds... he's just "abnormal and doesn't have a lot of friends. But he was real excited to come to TRL so he could meet the celebrities!"
Posted by Brian at 2:47 PM
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Sorry for my lack of posting, but most of my blog energy has been devoted to the A-Rod / Ortiz debate I started. My bad.
On a positive note, how can Arrested Development possibly get any better (especially after the Bob Loblaw / Analrapist episode)? Why, add a touch of The Office (UK version).
Posted by Brian at 6:19 PM
Monday, October 03, 2005
Reasons Why A-Rod Should Win the MVP Over Ortiz
1) Ortiz is a DH. People have been arguing that this shouldn’t prevent him from winning the award, and they are right, if his stats had been so head-and-shoulders above anyone else’s. But they’re not (more on that later). And even if they were, which they’re not, baseball isn’t only about scoring runs… it’s about preventing them, too. And Ortiz didn’t contribute to that at all, while A-Rod was one of the best at arguably the toughest position in baseball.
2) A-Rod had a better season statistically. Sure, Ortiz had more RBI’s. But A-Rod led in batting average (by 20 points!), homers, runs, hits, stolen bases, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. In fact, A-Rod led the league in 4 statistical categories, and was top 2 in 2 others. Ortiz only led in RBI and was top 2 in 3 others. The numbers don’t lie.
3) A-Rod often batted 2nd in the Yankee line-up, which limited his RBI opportunities. Meanwhile, Ortiz batted almost exclusively in the 3 or 4 hole. More RBI chances = more RBI's.
4) The Yanks won their division. The Red Sox came in second. The MVP should follow suit.
5) I hate the Red Sox and love the Yanks.
Posted by Brian at 11:44 AM