Thursday, December 29, 2005

There's a freak-out brewing at my house, my hoooouuuuussse

Tonight Joe, Janna, and I were talking about our New Years party. I'm excited / nervous / excited again about it. It's going to be pretty big (we're expecting about fifty people). Which is a big deal because none of us really know anyone in Chicago. Most of the people coming are flying in from out of state. But that's okay, it's going to be fun!

Joe's friend apparently is bringing two mangnums of Cristal champagne. I'm dubious about this, only because, honestly, what post-graduate kids have Cristal at a party? I mean, I was planning to buy a handle of the store-brand tequila because it was five dollars cheaper than Jose Cuervo. Also, Cristal kind of makes me think of cocaine in a way. Whenever I think of one of the other, I also think of a lot of bling and potential shootings. I guess I'll just keep on my toes.

[The bling/shootings comment was not intended to be a racist statement. Look at Kevin Federline. He's two coke lines away from a dead entourage member.]

I didn't really do much today. I still have a sore throat, which sucks. I DID get an email back from the library HR department letting me know that my resume was received (hmm, I sent it four weeks ago?) and that it was being forwarded to the hiring manager. Since I usually get no word back at all, I'm taking this as a good sign.

Seriously, Chicago. Give me a job already. If there happens to be anyone reading this and would like to work with me, then shoot me an email. Seriously! I can be entertaining in person, too! I tell great stories!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

a few thoughts:

I got back to Chicago around 6:45 tonight. It's good to be back.

I had a good time at home, though. I enjoyed being with my family. We didn't get into any fights - I think because I was only home for five days.

I got my mom to watch Arrested Development (I got both seasons on DVD for Christmas) and she enjoyed it! Success!

My brother has a lot of angst. Hopefully he doesn't read this, because he wouldn't be happy that I said that.

I got to see Christina in Charlottesville. She got lost a couple of times (hey, it's Charlottesville - they may have really smart people at their "university" but they can't design their roads for SHIT). We had a good lunch though. When we parted I had her follow me to her exit so she could get home. Then I got lost and ended up having to drive home through Richmond instead of Fredericksburg. Stupid Charlottesville. You lose.

Somehow over the course of the last two weeks I gained ten pounds and I now weigh more than I ever have in my life. That's good and also bad. The good thing is that I'm now only about ten pounds underweight (considering my height). The bad news is that: a. I'm the only one who notices I've gained weight, and b. because I'm lazy and unathletic, the weight-gain resulted in a slight pudge around my stomach. Oh, how I wish those cheeks would fill out!

The one disappointing thing about being home is that I didn't have any awkward run-ins with high school classmates. I usually have to quickly duck behind store displays or into random Food Lion aisles to avoid someone. I only saw two people I went to high school with: a kid named Jimmy-Jam (who pretty much looks exactly how someone named "Jimmy-Jam" would look) and a girl named Hillary. I saw Hillary today in the airport and it was the first time I'd seen her since freshman year of college, and it wasn't awkward at all. Dammit. I live for those encounters!

When my plane landed at O'Hare tonight, I talked to the other two people sitting near me. One was a girl from Toronto (I liked her accent!) and the other was a guy from Richmond who has lived in Chicago for five years and is in a band that had a song played on The OC. I think the band's name was Manshevitz. I can't remember.

Seriously, do yourself a favor and watch The Happiness of the Katakuris. It's a Japanese musical with claymation monsters, murders, and zombies. It was pretty amazing.

Here's another picture of my cat:

He's a fattie.

My cat is a snob.


"I liked Franny and Zooey better."


"Overrated!"


"What a perv!"


"Get that Oprah shit out of my face!"


[This will never get old.]

Friday, December 23, 2005

True story.

I couldn't make this up. My mother and I actually had this exchange tonight after we got home from my father's family's Christmas celebration.

Mom: "Your father is mad at me."
Me: "Well, he's a big A."
Mom: "Well, you know, it's always my fault."
Me: "Yeah, that's true, you are a pretty big B."
Mom: "Yeah. And you're a C."
(long pause)
Me: "Excuse me?"
Mom: "I'm still thinking about what a C could be... I thought of a couple - just forget I said that."

Merry Christmas to me!

I'm home in Montross, Virginia right now and happy to report that a. I got a little tipsy today when I visited the winery where I used to work because my old co-worker gave me a free glass of wine, and b. it's sixty degrees here and not windy. Suck it, Chicagoans!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I just figured something out:


Daniel Franco looks a lot like k. d. lang.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

A few things:

I've watched three of the six DVDs of Gilmore Girls season three. It's just not as good as season two because a. Rory still sucks, b. Jess still sucks, c. Adam Brody is now on it and he sucks.

I saw King Kong tonight and, despite stereotypical characters, it was really really good. It made me sad. Also, I think I haven't reacted to creepy / intense things in a movie since the zombies in 28 Days Later. The three-dinosaurs-against-Kong-while-holding-Naomi-Watts was particularly thrilling. Also, there was a long sequence where Adrien Brody and the other men are attacked by really big bugs and that creeped the shit out of me.

I saw it at 3 Penny Cinema, which is a whopping two dollars cheaper than Loew's. I realized why when my seat was kind of broken and the film stopped for twenty minutes in the middle of the Brontosaurus stampede sequence. Also, I sat next to probably the dumbest older person ever. The woman announced after the film broke that they were "probably just switching the reels." Even she doubted her theory, saying, "I figured they'd just put it all on DVD now."

Also, Jack Black sucks even more when he's playing serious roles.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do tomorrow. I hope I don't sleep all day because I'm working at the Chicago Children's Museum again on Monday and I'd like to get some sleep before. I worked in the mail room there on Friday and I was running on about an hour of sleep. I didn't really do much; I sat at a desk in a random employees-only hallway in Navy Pier, occasionally delivering packages to people in the office upstairs. It was the first time I'd been to Navy Pier, and I picked up on how much it sucks very quickly when I waited in line at the McDonalds with about seven thousand eighth-grade-aged kids on field trips and their three chaperones who bumped me out of their way.

I realized last night that I've been generally happy for the last week. Maybe it's because I've gotten some work and I'm practically hired at Urban and don't have to freak out about not having money to live here come the February deadline that my mother set. Temping does suck, but it also gives me something to write about here. (You're welcome!!!) I just hope I can have a real job soon so I can start stressing over the fact that I haven't made any real Chicago friends on my own.

Ah, well. One problem at a time, please.

Friday, December 16, 2005

I'm gross sometimes.

I just got home from work and I guess I was just out of it and happy to be in my very warm room. I was surfing the internet, reading my email, what have you, and I guess I was just not really paying attention to how I was breathing. I assume I was breathing through my mouth, which would explain why it was just hanging open.

And I drooled. I came this close to seriously screwing up my laptop.






Unemployed and single, folks. Unemployed and single.

Confession.

Shopping at AmericanApparel.net makes me feel dirty.

I can't wait until I'm grown-up and mature.

I drank four Cokes and I think that's where I went wrong.

I'm supposed to be awake in four hours so I can go to work. Shit.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Elaboration.

So Lindsay and I decide to go to our temp agency's holiday party downtown. I was expecting the worst. One can just imagine how awkward office parties can be (I've seen The Office). Now imagine about fifty temps who don't know each other interacting over free alcohol.

We got there about an hour before the party was supposed to end because we decided to drive instead of take the train. By the time we found a parking space and walked about seven blocks to the bar, we had less than an hour to pound down as many free drinks as possible. Plus, I had no idea if all drinks would be free or if it'd be cheap beer.

I should also mention that we parked at a meter and we didn't have enough quarters for the full two hours. Lindsay turns to the first person who walks by: a frail, bundled black woman. She said she didn't have any quarters, and then there was a short pause, and she says, "I haven't eaten all day!" Yes, Lindsay asked a homeless woman for spare change. After starting on her speech about being hungry and being refused from a restaurant because they didn't have any seats, Lindsay searched her car and found a bag of Fritos for her.

We get to the bar, finally, and we found the recruiter who interviewed both of us. We talked with her while I drank a bottled Budweiser (I felt like such a man). I'm definitely attracted to her, and of course I was awkward, forgetting how to pronouce "Wrigleyville" when she asked where I live. I was also surprised that she's just a year older than me and she has a grown-up job. It's weird.

After talking to her, we sit down at this table with a group of people who looked young and inviting. Honestly, there was a table of three hipster-looking types that we would have rather sat with, but they didn't have any room for us. The group we sit with consists of a bleach-blond, doe-eyed girl wearing a sequined Led Zeppelin t-shirt, her smiley friend with the biggest hair I've seen since being in Chicago, some gay guy, and some dude who with no personality. I ended up talking to the chatty Led Zeppelin girl. She almost moved to Charlottesville once and knew where JMU is. Whoop whoop.

The gay guy mentioned something about being from the south, so I asked him where he was from. We had a brief conversation about Texas and Virginia, and it ended quickly because it wasn't very interesting. As Led Zeppelin girl gets my attention again to talk about some guy she's in love with, I noticed that big hair guy, who is sitting next to me, motions for gay guy to switch him seats. Now, I'm usually paranoid anyway, and it was kind of awkward, but gay guy and I didn't even talk again, so I felt silly for thinking that there was some plan to have him sit next to me.

Blah blah blah. I drink more beer and a gin and tonic. I talked to my recruiter some more about my resume and the whole disheartening job-search. I'm getting drunker and deciding that I like her, even though she's not my type. (I watched The Baxter earlier and really loved the part where the Zak Orth character sees a girl he doesn't know at a friend's apartment, and rushes over to introduce himself when he realizes she doesn't have a boyfriend. I am a Baxter.) The temp agency's owner comes by with an order of several shot-glasses of Goldschlager. He even takes a picture of all the agency's recruiters, and though I step back because I don't work there, they motion for me to be in the picture.

I talked to another recruiter about my temp position this week and how much it sucked. (I decided not to write an entry about it because I wanted to block it from my memory, but the job involved me putting employee Christmas presents into gift boxes...about five hundred nylon windbreakers.) She asked me what I was looking for, and I told her that ideally, something in publishing. She kind of winced, which is not a good sign. Then I told her that at this point I just want a real job because temping, well, sucks.

Anyway, the actual party wasn't awkward at all. I had fun and got really drunk. Also, just showing up and talking to the recruiters will make them remember me and what I'm looking for. Also, the receptionist knew who I was because when I said that my name was Tyler, she yelled, "JOHN TYLER C0ATES!"

The only downside about the party was that I left by myself (Lindsay had to work today so she left early). Which means I had to drunkenly wander around downtown Chicago alone, searching for the red line subway. Oh, and the other downside: I mixed beer and liquor again. Stupid stupid stupid.

The agency called me today about a job for tomorrow and Monday, so I'm glad I'll have more work before going home. The girl sounded pretty rough on the phone - maybe I wasn't the only one having a bad morning.

Oh, I almost forgot the best part, which definitely WAS awkward. Lindsay, who is dying to go dancing at a gay bar in Boystown, exchaned numbers with the gay guy we sat with. At the end of the night, when he was leaving, he said, "Are you going to come out dancing with us?" I told him that I'd think about it, and he said, "You should. We can make out." I didn't know how to respond to that, so I just laughed awkwardly. Then he asked, "Don't you want to make out with me?" "That might be awkward," I said. And this is his response: "Well, it won't be awkward when I put my tongue in your mouth."

I don't know if that line works that often, but I was definitely a little creeped out. I think I would have felt weird if the hot recruiter said that to me.

I've reached a new low.

I got drunk at my temp agency's Christmas party.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Generic.

I can't sleep so I'm googling myself. I read the article my mom told me about - it said that it's so easy for employers to Google potential employees, so I'm trying to find what kind of dirt the Internet has on me. So far, the only stuff I found that is actually about me (and not some kid in Colorado who plays a lot of sports) is that I leave comments for my friends on MySpace. BO-ring!

On Saturday night a bunch of us went to Guthrie's on Addison and had drinks and played board games. The music selection was top notch. After a few Christmas songs, the following albums played: the soundtrack to The Commitments, Bonnie Raitt's Nick of Time, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreaker's greatest hits. I felt like I was in my parents' basement back in 1993.

I'm going back home in a little more than a week, and I'm excited. I'm kind of sad that I won't be around for too long and I doubt I'll be able to get out of Montross. I wish I was getting a real Christmas break, but I have to come back and not have a job in Chicago. Blah.

This was a pretty uneventful entry. I apologize; I'll try to do something noteworthy in the next few days. Maybe I'll see a homeless man who yells funny things. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Oh, "Tyler."

It really makes me sad that the only song to feature my name in the title is about rape.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

SIDS isn't funny, but British slang is!

Here is a perfect example of why Google should not put British news on their news site. The article's headline, "Dummies reduce cot death risk" intrigued me. I figured "cot death" was the British term for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and even though I don't have a baby, I was really interested in how a dummy would prevent it.

Here's a quote from the BBC News article:
...if all babies used a dummy, they calculate the risk would be one in 20,000. They say the key may be the fact that dummies usually have a bulky external handle. This may help to prevent a child from cutting off its air supply by burying its face into soft bedding, or an overlaying object such as a blanket."

Now, I read this imagining a dummy resting next to a sleeping child in its crib. And I had NO IDEA how the hell that would prevent SIDS.

Then I happened to see another news article headline, this time reading, "Pacifiers lower risk of SIDS, study says." Whew! That makes much more sense, and it's waaaay less creepy.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Story of my life.

Siigh.

I temped today at the Merchandise Mart attaching invoices to contracts. Or something like that. I dunno, I just did as I was told. The first project took me two and a half hours. It was easy, it shouldn't have taken longer, but the guy who I was temping for was surprised at how fast I was. Then I stuffed envelopes. Then I checked off business names when I found them in a directory. Uhh. I don't really know what I did, but I did it really quickly while everyone in the office kinda chatted and didn't work much. Which makes sense, because I had no one to talk to, so I couldn't really procrastinate like everyone else could. So I finished my work in seven hours, and I was supposed to temp there for two days.

So, I don't get to work tomorrow like I thought.

What the fuck? I work really really hard and now I'm out of work again! Grr. I wish I could explain this to potential employers. I wish I could tell them, "Hey, I'll kick the shit out of my job!"

This wouldn't be so frustrating if it wasn't the SECOND time this happened. The temp job I had before only lasted six hours when I was expecting it to last two days. Maybe people who order temps deliberately overshoot how long the positions will last because they expect temps to be, I don't know...functionally retarded? But I'm not retarded, so I can file papers pretty quickly because I know the alphabet.

It's frustrating. Especially since the people in that office were just a little dumb. I'm not just saying this, either. I could have done their jobs. They were any smarter or more qualified than I was. Also, one of the girls went crazy over gummy bears, brilliantly summing up their existence with the following line: "Mmmm, I love gummy bears. They're like flavored rubber, they're SOOO GOOOOD."

But there's good news. Project Runway is back on and there are already a few people whose faces I want to kick in. I'm talking to you, Daniel Franco. Stop whining. If you spent as much time on your designs as you did on your stupid rockstar hair, you wouldn't have to remind everyone how you were cut from last season and made it back on.

Also, I want Tim Gunn to be my life coach.


Also, Heidi Klum is the hottest pregnant lady ever.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mish mash mix 'em up!

I have good news: I pretty much have a job at Urban Outfitters. Here's the bad news: I don't have a job until Januaryish. Hmm.

When Kristin and I went into Urban Outfitters, there was a homeless man standing outside, who said, "Merry Christmas to the supermodel and her male-model brother." Why, thank you, Mr. Homeless Man!

My mom told me that she was reading "Dear Abbey" (?!?!) the other day, and someone wrote in urging job hunters to watch what they write in their blogs because they can easily search for them. It's author stated that employers don't want political activists, evangelicals, or perverts. The letter was signed "Chicago Employer."

Dear Chicago Employer,

Please hire me because I'm not a political activist, an evangelical Christian, or a pervert. I can also promise to never use your real name in my blog.


Today on the train I overheard the DUMBEST comment I've ever heard. I mean, this really is up there. This honestly could be number one if I was ever to rank the statements I've heard through eavesdropping*. There was this couple of young theater majors standing next to Kristin and me. The guy was talking about how he was going to open a theater in Miami and his strategies and stuff, blah blah blah. After a short silence between him and his female friend, he goes, "Hey, have you heard of this book series called 'The Chronicles of Narnia'?" When the girl said, "Yeeeah...I used to read them when I was little," he said, "Oh, I just heard about them last week."

WHAT?! Seriously, how does that happen? He didn't speak with an accent; I could have forgiven him - maybe - if he was foreign. But he had no excuse. He was just really dumb.




*Christina was lucky enough to actually overhear the dumbest comment ever. It was another theater major (go figure!) say: "I thought about trying out for 'The Glass Menagerie,' but I don't do accents."

Friday, December 02, 2005

I was just some dude.

Last night I had one of my top ten most uncomfortable nights of my life.

The one business person I know in Chicago suggested I go to a networking group to make contacts to help me on my job search. He suggested this back in August, and I avoided the group idea because, frankly, it scared the hell out of me. I'm supposed to go join a club and talk to strangers and ask them for job leads and contacts? Uh, no thank you. But since I have to find a job in a little more than a month before my parents completely cut me off, I got desperate and went to one last night.

So there I was, sitting in a church meeting room with crucifixes hanging on the wall and creepy framed paintings of Jesus everywhere. There were about ten other people. Yeah. Me and ten thirty-five to forty-five year old unemployed people. Well, there was one guy with a job who was there because he'd been laid off four times in ten years and loves to network to find his "next opportunity."

I felt like such a douchebag.

There was this speaker who worked as a recruiter for some fancy place in Chicago that would never hire me. He gave a presentation called "The Ten Most Important Questions to Address in Conducting a Successful Job Search." It was more of a self-help, empowering type of bullshit lecture than anything useful. What were the ten questions, you may be asking? Well, they were pretty goddamn revolutionary:

1. "Who are you?"
2. "What do you want?"
3. "Why do you want it?"
4. "What do you really like doing?"
5. "Why do you like doing it?"
6. "Where do you want to be five years from now? Ten years from now?"
7. "Where have you been--lately?"
8. "How are you going to get where you want to go?"
9. "What is driving you?"
10. "Where is your plan to get what you want?"

Uh, hello? Hi. I ask these questions every day and I don't know the fucking answers. Who am I? I'm an unemployed, 22-year-old, post-graduate. Go to hell!

He also gave advice on resumes, but geared toward everyone else's resume. Like, for example, don't limit your resume to just one page. Um, ask ANY college student or recent graduate how long their resume should be and they would tell you one page, because that's what we're constantly told. That's like telling a high school senior, "Don't worry, you don't always get pregnant or an STD when you have unprotected sex!"

I think the highlight of the night was me sitting there, quiet as a church mouse, avoiding the speaker's stares. He kept asking for volunteers to answer these important questions, and I refused to raise my hand. Of course, then he says, "Who would like to answer a really good interview-like question? You?" I said, "Suuuurrre..." And then he asked me, "What are some one-word adjectives you'd use to describe yourself?" Imagine me there, wishing I could sink into the couch so I could hide my beet-red face, stumbling over my words, only to come up with two adjectives: "hard-working" and "driven". Perhaps I should have said what everyone else was thinking: "nervous, young, fuck-up, loser."

Blah.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Holy Sheetz!

My life is weird.

I was going to write a post about how excited I am to go home for Christmas because I really miss going to Sheetz. For those of you pitiful people not in the know, Sheetz is only the best damn gas station EVER. You just have to make a special trip out to the East Coast to experience it, really. Anyway.

So I was googling pictures of Sheetz, and I actually found MY Sheetz: the Tappahannock location. (Now, I don't live in Tappahannock. Tappahannock isn't even in my county. It's just the closest town with a Wal-Mart and a Sheetz, so we go there. A lot.) So I was redirected to the Essex County page that was dedicated to the opening of the new Sheetz. The Sheetz has been there since June 2000, so I'm not sure why the Essex County website still has a page specifically for this one store, but considering it's Tappahannock, it's something to be proud of. Seriously.

Also, these pictures are fantastic, so I'm going to share them with you.


Yup. There's the Sheetz. Opening in one days.



I went to elementary through high school with both of those girls. I think the one in the left is Lateria. I can't really remember.



What a wonderful, wonderful day for Tappahanockans!



You may recognize the cop in the middle. That's Essex County Sheriff Stanley Clarke, who was featured in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11. Michael Moore sent some people to small-town Tappahannock to interview its residents because the town's name was heard on an Al Qaeda videotape. I'm pretty sure that when asked why terrorists would choose Tappahannock as a target the sheriff said, "Well, we do have a Wal-Mart..."

(Also, the mother of my childhood best friend was also in the movie where she said, "You walk down the street and you see someone and you think, 'God - could they be a terrorist?'")

In Chicago-related news, I have an interview at another temp agency tomorrow. Not one of the creative-type agencies, however; they didn't get back to me.

It's snowing and it's pretty.

I'm wearing the softest pair of underwear I own, and they're bright red.

That's all I've got!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I'm a muse!

My friend at JMU said that she needed to write some poems for her creative writing class. I told her to write a poem about her vagina, and she totally delivered:


pink, brown, white, and peach

vaginas can be soft, slimy, and sweet!



stubbly, hairy, and even bald,

some vaginas might be called



a name, like perhaps Vajay

or maybe even as simple as Lay!



The smell they make is so distinct

Too often, yes, mine seems to stink.



like an old rotten fish left in the fridge

and thats when i know i gotta clean the bitch



so girls don't forget to treat your vaginas well

for fear a penis might think its hell



rather clean it up! make it a little pink heaven.

and welcome the penises! mine has seen seven.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

This entry is not for people who don't like poop.

I've been kind of depressed since this weekend. I think it's mostly because I couldn't kick the massive hangover that lasted a day and a half. Also, my mother gave me a deadline for when she'd stop loaning me money, which means I have to support myself starting February first.

Today I applied for two jobs online, one at the Newberry Library and one at SmithBucklin. I also went to another Urban Outfitters job fair (this time at the House of Blues hotel, which was weird). The girl who interviewed me last time recognized me and found my other application, which she said meant that I'm on the list of people they are considering. Hopefully going back shows that I actually need and want the job. On the train ride home, I decided that I could be happy working there indefinitely. I'd get an awesome discount. Plus, applying to a store which asks what your music tastes are really appeals to me, especially since I know all the right answers.

I also found about two more temp agencies, and these specialize in creative types (not the Scrabble-club and people-with-babies agencies I'm currently registered with).

Today one of the cats, Sinatra, was walking around with a piece of shit dangling from her ass, and I didn't know what to do. So I did nothing. Well, I wouldn't let her sit on the furniture. And I also watched where I stepped. I dealt with enough shit yesterday. Figuratively and literally. I discovered that one of the cats had not only missed the litterbox, but also the downstairs toilet was clogged haaardcore. I don't even know who uses that toilet. I know it wasn't me. Anyways, enough of that.

I've downloaded some good music recently, including the new Cat Power, Lou Reed's Transformer, Jenny Lewis's solo album, and most of the songs from the soundtrack to The Squid and the Whale. I've been listening to them all day, so I've been much happier than I was this weekend.

Oh! Today I saw this guy who looked a lot like my gay Republican stalker and I got homesick for JMU and Carrier Library.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The microphone cut off so we're screaming at the top of our lungs.

Since my debaucherous rock-and-roll lifestyle is so exhausting, I don't really feel like writing up a complete recap of last night. I'll just write about the highlights.

Lindsay and I went to this party in Wicker Park thrown by these guys. The theme was "Daddy's Goodnight Blowjob." I swear to god. Boys were supposed to wear fake mustaches, girls have their hair in pigtails, and everyone were to be wearing pajamas. Of course I wasn't going to dress up. I was going to go, drink a bottle of cheap red wine, and dance.

I think the moment that made me happy was when I watched some barely-legal indie-rock boy try to dance to shitty house music in his tight green briefs, only to slip off of the stage and land on the floor.

I also saw people doing cocaine, which was a first.

Lindsay and I danced on the stage and some girl made a comment about my "Hey, That's My Bike" shirt. "Great shirt, terrible movie," she said. I found her later and talked to her. I made my first real friend in Chicago, even though it could only be just another MySpace buddy, but whatever. Our friendship began because of one of my cool-guy tshirts and that's all I've ever wanted in life.

Lindsay and I made friends with these two brothers who were running the coat check. One of them was wearing a gymnastic uniform (which he claimed to find in his roommate's closet). I asked him to do some moves and he wouldn't. Then I demanded that he do some moves (I think I'm pretty forceful when I'm drunk), and he DID. Fantastic.

Oh, and after drinking a bottle of Yellow Tail Cabernet, I drank two vodka and cranberries. Typical loser Tyler move. When I threw up on a gutter outside, some nice Hispanic man came up to me and said, "Are you okay, my friend?"

I kinda had fun, only because I was drunk and hoping that random things would happen. I don't know if I can handle another party like that, though. The scene is just too exhausting.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Remember that scene in Annie Hall where Alvy eats dinner with the Halls in Chippewa Falls and there's the split-scene sequence where Annie's parents and Alvy's parents are at their respected dinner tables? That's kind of what my Thanksgiving was like.

Since I didn't get to go home, and because her large, extended family was coming to Chicago for the holiday, Julia invited me to eat dinner with her. It's just so fascinating to watch how other families interact, especially in a way that is completely different from your own. There were a lot of family members there, and they all kinda "hung out" before Thanksgiving in one of the suites of the hotel they were staying in. And hanging out basically meant sitting around and talking about stuff that my family would never talk about. I remember Julia's aunts and uncles talk about possible Democratic presidential nominees. They tried to help Julia's brother and cousin finish the New York Times crossword ("Who was the first president of the German Republic, again?"). Julia's uncle showed off his new Blackberry.

The whole time I tried to imagine the conversation going on at my parents' house where my mother's family was celebrating together. "So, does Keith like being the assistant manager at the Food Lion?" "Did you see that episode of ER last week?" It was just so weird to not hear NASCAR brought up over dinner. Instead, we had a faily intellegient conversation on newspaper comic strips.

My favorite part of Thanksgiving was seeing Julia's brother, Alex, again, who is competely fantastic. This will give you an idea what he's like: before dinner, Eric, Julia's boyfriend, and I were talking about Saul Bellow novels because he let me borrow Henderson the Rain King, which I'm reading now. After discussing Bellow left a lull in the conversation, Alex turns to me and says, "Have you read Jim Davis's Garfield Chews the Fat? I really think it's his best work."

Thursday, November 24, 2005

You have to start somewhere.

My life goal right now is to be a talking head on a VH1 clip show within the next eight years.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Top 40 in 2005.

I listened to a lot of music this year. Also, I liked a lot of music this year. When I first thought about writing a top albums list, I was thinking I'd include maybe ten. But then when I realized how much awesome music was released this year, I first expanded it to fifteen (the top fifteen shown below). There were still so many albums, of course, that I thought deserved mention, so I threw in twenty-five others. If you haven't yet, listen to them. And thank you for humoring my idea that I can be a music critic for a day.


1. Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
This shouldn’t be a surprise, and it only needs a brief explanation. Epic in scope, Sufjan Stevens pulls from American history and literature and mixes in his own personal confessionals. Not only is this the best album of the year, it’s right up there with my favorite albums of all time.


2. Antony and the Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
There’s a reason why a band full of American residents won the top British music award, beating out Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs, and Bloc Party. Comparing Antony and the Johnsons to those bands is pretty silly. This album is beautiful, weird, and touching. It features some of the best guest appearances on one single album, including Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Devendra Banhart, and Boy George.


3. The Fiery Furnaces – Rehearsing My Choir
The Fiery Furnaces are probably the most progressive musicians in music right now. This album was a major risk, and unfortunately it has mostly been a critical and commercial failure. But seriously, you have to appreciate the balls it took to create a concept focusing around your 83-year-old grandmother. This album is absolutely haunting, and anyone who can’t appreciate that is an idiot. There. I said it.


4. Belle & Sebastian – Push Barman To Open Old Wounds
Technically not an album rather than a gathering of Belle & Sebastian’s EPs released between their debut album and their last studio recording, Dear Catastrophe Waitress. This collection has some of their best songs, including “Lazy Line Painter Jane,” “This Is Just a Modern Rock Song,” “Take Your Carriage Clock and Shove It,” and “Marx and Engels.”


5. Broken Social Scene – Broken Social Scene
It’s hard to imagine an album on the level of You Forget in People, but Broken Social Scene did it. It’s just as bizarre and ass-kicking, but also more accessible to the non-indie masses. Featured on the album, again, is Leslie Feist, who is deservedly finding a following of her own as a solo artist.


6. Devendra Banhart – Cripple Crow
While Conor Oberst and Ryan Adams receive the most comparisons to Bob Dylan, Devendra Banhart is most like Leonard Cohen. He has a fantastic voice that carries through the seventy-five minute folk epic, invoking Cohen’s smooth vocal stylings as well as his poignant and witty lyrics.


7. Art Brut – Bang Bang Rock and Roll
The best garage-rock album of the year is also the most hilarious. Art Brut satirizes the hell out of a classic, yet repetitive, genre. “No more songs about sex, drugs, and rock and roll: it’s boring,” shouts lead vocalist (I just can’t call him a singer, just can’t!) Eddie Argos on the title track. This band might be the best British import of the year; I just hope their follow-up is as good.


8. The New Pornographers – Twin Cinema
The New Pornographers have always been good, but this album seems a little more mature and fine-tuned, especially with the inclusion of “The Bleeding Heart Show.” Plus, if put against Fleetwood Mac in a battle royale, Neko Case would totally kick Stevie Nicks’s ass.


10. The White Stripes – Get Behind Me Satan
The best thing about The White Stripes is that they are constantly evolving without discarding their sound. Their follow-up to Elephant is just as dark and bluesy, adding in more piano for good measure. Have a listen to “Passive Manipulation”; you’ll wish Meg White, who sounds like a modern-day Dusty Springfield, would pick up the microphone more often.


11. Junior Senior – Hey Hey My My Yo Yo
Technically, this album doesn’t appear in the United States until next year, but it’s one of my favorites of 2005 nonetheless. This record is going to prove that Junior Senior wasn’t a one hit wonder. It’s more of the same upbeat, disco-inspired craziness that was featured on their first album, only this time Le Tigre helps out on five separate songs. It’s lighthearted and a lot of fun.


12. Bright Eyes – I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
Oh, Conor, why did you waste our time with that electronic shit when everyone knows you should stick to the folksy stuff? And hey, tell Emmylou and Maria I said hi.


13. Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
I didn’t even know I liked Fiona Apple (well, other than “Criminal” and her cover of “Across the Universe”) until this album. This may have been the most talked-about mainstream album this year, with stories flying about how the record company snubbed her Jon Brion-produced cuts (or maybe they didn’t?). Anyway, the studio version is not bad, but it’s the Jon Brion version, leaked on the internet thanks to some Fiona-fan, that really shines. Just have a listen to “Not About Love”; Apple’s furious lyrics mixed with Brion’s string arrangements are absolutely beautiful, and it’s enough to make any Liz Phair fan wish that she’d come to her senses and work with Brion herself.


14. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Jacksonville City Nights
Whew. Ryan Adams is one prolific motherfucker. Jacksonville City Nights is the second collaboration with The Cardinals this year, and easily the better of the two albums. He’s also the Madonna of alt-country / indie rock, and while Madonna is going back to her dance-hall roots with her new album, Jacksonville City Nights is very reminiscent of Adams’s early work with Whiskeytown.


15. Liz Phair – Somebody’s Miracle
Give Liz Phair a break. Sure, she’s still got some kinks to work out with her choice of producers, but anyone who criticizes her recent career evolution is missing the point. Sure, she’s not making anything reminiscent of Exile in Guyville, but should she? She at least deserves kudos for making an album that is honest and, yes, enjoyable. Anything in the vein of Guyville would be completely dishonest and would (deservedly) earn her just as much negative press as 2003’s self-titled debacle(?) and the unfortunately titled Somebody’s Miracle. As soon as you get past the production and listen to the lyrics and vocals (especially on the opener, “Leap of Innocence”), you’ll realize it’s the same blow-job queen, just a little classier.

Honorable Mention:

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - Cold Roses


Babyshambles – Down in Albion


Brendan Benson – The Alternative To Love


Black Lipstick – Sincerely, Black Lipstick


Black Mountain – Black Mountain


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Howl


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah


Death Cab For Cutie – Plans


Dressy Bessy – Electrified


Dungen – Ta Det Lungt


Feist - Let It Die


The Fiery Furnaces – EP


The Go! Team – Thunder Lightning Strike


Iron & Wine – Woman King [EP]


Iron & Wine and Calexico – In The Reins [EP]


Ben Lee – Awake Is The New Sleep


Magnolia Electric Co. – What Comes After the Blues


Aimee Mann – The Forgotten Arm


Matt Pond PA – Several Arrows Later


Matt Pond PA – Winter Songs [EP]


Sigur Ros – Takk


The Spinto Band – Nice and Nicely Done


Spoon – Gimme Fiction


Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run [Reissue]


Maria Taylor – 11:11


Voxtrot – Raised By Wolves [EP]