20 June 2005


I'm a firm believer that you only get so many exclamation points in your lifetime. If you're careless and use them excessively, odds are you're gonna die young. But Sufjan (soo-faan) Stevens' new album, Illinois, deserves every superlative I can muster.

Thanks to D. (the full-blown rock critic), I got my sweaty li'l hands on an advance copy of Illinois and I haven't been able to keep it outta my ears. I'm becoming a li'l obsessed and I may or may not have asked D. to work his connections to arrange a one-on-one meeting. Embarrassing, I know. But after reading Sufjan's fantastic Pitchfork interview, I'd like to buy the guy a sandwich and some kettle chips.

If you're not familiar with Sufjan's work, check it out. Suf's a tale-weaving musical mastermind and Illinois is nothing short of spectacular. I'm sure I'll have more to say about the album in coming weeks. I may even attempt a real-live album review, with scaled stars, directional thumbs, percentage points and everything. For now, lemme just say that I've already pre-ordered my official copy of the album and it'd better include some serious liner notes.

With Michigan already under his belt, Illinois gives Sufjan #2 in his quest to craft an album for each of the 50 states. It's an ambitious project, but I've no doubt that he's capable. The only question is whether Utah will merit full LP status or will be hopelessly relegated to a four-song EP.

Just Call Me Big Papa

In response to the last posting, C. advised me that I should get L. (my son) to call me "Big Poppa (Papa)" a la Notorious B.I.G. I really have no idea what this means. I understand the Biggie Smalls reference, but does this mean my "weight problem" is now a full-blow catastrophe? Is it time for drastic measures? No more late night ice cream? No more Double Stuf Oreos? Time to count calories and carbs like a neurotic diet freak? All I know is that I went to the gym this morning and I'm doing my best to avoid any more comparisons to dead overweight rappers.

19 June 2005


I'm not sure how it happened but my son has always called me "papa." So to hear him say (in the garbled pronunciation of a 2-year-old), "happy father's day!" is kind of funny. He should probably say "happy papa's day," but I'm not complaining.

It's going to be easy for this post to slip into cliché and sentiment, so I'll try and keep things straight for all 7 of you who read this. Today, this is my thought: Dads have never been more important. In no way does this statement discount the role of a mother, but fathers provide an intangible stability to a family. Or at least they should. I'm working at it as best I can, and I can only hope to one day equal the power of my dad. I'm fully convinced that any and every success of my life is a direct result of my father's commitment to our family. His sacrifice (continual) and strength (superhuman) provide an essential blueprint as I try to figure things out for my own li'l familial unit. Before I let this turn into some sort of essay, I'll just say this: I love my dad, and I have always known that he loves me…and my life has been wonderful because of it.

15 June 2005

for the record…

I saw my mom this weekend and she kindly corrected my Mother's Day blog. She demanded--okay, it was a mild suggestion--that I issue one small clarification: My mother is not, nor never has been crazy. Furthermore, she has never stated that having eight kids was a crazy thing to do. Call it hyperbole or just plain b.s., but I thought my version of things was much more entertaining. After all, most moms have gotta be a li'l crazy to put up with the likes of each of us.

Anyway. Just another quick note: I may have a lead on an early copy of Sufjan Stevens' new Illinois album. And, no, I couldn't be more excited about this. I love the Sufjan and I may even have found a definitive pronunciation of his name (soo-faan; thanks D), which makes my enjoyment all the more complete.

08 June 2005

A Cautionary Tale

Saturday night I caught about 40 minutes of a Shakira video retrospective on Galavision (don't ask…the spanish-language channels always seem to suck me in). The production value was horrible and I only understood about 65% of what was going on--which is terrible considering I lived in Guatemala for two years and used to speak and understand Spanish without much trouble at all. Still, the program was fascinating. Showcasing interview clips and relying primarily on music videos from Shakira's early albums, the program shocked me.

I used to enjoy Shakira. In her Spanish-only days, she was intriguing for a number of reasons: 1) she's from Colombia, but her father is American-born and her mother is Lebanese; 2) her music is best classified as electro-acoustic-dance-pop-rock with Middle Eastern flair and TexMex influence; 3) her hips move in an unlawful manner; and 4) her voice. For the most part, her first major label albums (Pies Descalzos and Donde Estan Los Ladrones) were mashups of the above mentioned styles. A li'l chaotic, but all sorts of fun. And her MTV Unplugged set is a borderline buy-it-for-all-your-friends album--heavy on the horns and chock full of Shakira goodness.

Alas, Shakira had more on her mind than a conquest of Latin America. She wanted the adoration of millions of moronic U.S. fans. So she did the only logical thing. She wrote and recorded horrible songs in English, and she started wearing less clothing. I guess it's inevitable, but that doesn't make it less tragic. Shakira's Laundry Service sold a bazillion copies and now she's releasing a Spanish-language album this month, to be followed by another English bomb this fall. I'm sure you'll be seeing a barely-clothed Shakira shaking everything she's got across every channel in your TV Guide. So brace yourself. But if you're feeling brave and you'd like to know how truly disturbing Shakira's fall (or ascension, if you're her manager or accountant) really is…snoop around and find some of her old videos. They're fabulous and they hint at everything Shakira could have become, but rejected.

03 June 2005

Puffy Shoes and Girl Pants

I recently hired an intern at my place of employment. It seems to be en vogue these days. Interns are cheap and expendable and all sorts of fun. This one's no exception and we like him enough that we might keep him around for a while. He's proven that he's less expendable than the typical part-timer and he makes everyone laugh enough that we tolerate certain things.

I'm fully aware that what I'm about to write proves that my rapid spiral toward grumpy old manhood has accelerated to frightening levels, still, I'm mystified. I'd heard recently that young fellas had taken to wearing women's pants. I guess girls' pants is probably a better description. My sister had detailed the phenomenon, but I guess I was still skeptical. Until the Intern starting looking for girl pants on his lunch break. I shouldn't exaggerate. He's only looked once during lunch that I'm aware of. Today, in fact. We had some tasty sandwiches at Quizno's and then we saw a li'l Tent Sale in the parking lot. We skipped over and soon the Intern was spinning through a couple racks of size 2s (he's a slim cat). It should've stopped there, but soon we were headed into the adjoining retail space of the tent-saling shop to check out their on-hand selection of super-slim jeans.

I won't pretend to understand what's happening here. I find it amusing and a li'l strange. Kinda like the disturbingly puffy skate shoes that somehow match up with the feminine pantalones. It takes all my strength to maintain some sense of hip. I'm just a pair of man-capris away from some sort of "I'd like to round them all up and give them a haircut" diatribe. It's pathetic. I'm 29 and I act like I'm 63. As long as the local Denny's doesn't change the early bird specials, I might have a chance at surviving the future.