December 1, 2013

The idealistic things I believed, the optimist died inside of me.


I'll spare you the whiny "what's up with Rayke?" type post this time. And I apologize (yet again) for not posting here, or on anyone elses blog for a while.

In less than two weeks from now, I'll be standing in Chicago.

In the meantime, here's the review of the new Death Cab album that I have been slowly writing over the last few days:

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Final verdict up front: This album is pretty damn amazing. It can also cause you to need therapy if you indulge yourself in it for too long.

I will admit, I’m an instant gratification type of person. I do one hour photo, microwave popcorn, and I downloaded the new Death Cab For Cutie album early. The fact that they're my favorite band on the planet probably had something to do with it as well.

(EDIT-- This was written before May 13th. And now that album has ACTUALLY come out, I gave iTunes my $13.99 for the "deluxe edition". Just clarifying. Had it been any other band, I couldn't have cared less. But I could never rip these dudes off.)

Anyway…the album has gotten some great reviews from the music press and fans, so I fully expected to enjoy the album. What I really didn’t expect was to be so moved, so influenced by it.

I have a 50 minute commute on my way to school and back.

This is MY time. And I usually spend it absorbing my latest music love, replaying the songs that catch my ear over and over and over. This was my time to meditate with Ben Gibbard’s lyrics and over the past 10 days.

My favorite songs have shifted, my interpretation of the songs was enhanced, my love for this album was cemented.

I didn’t want to go song by song, but I just couldn’t help it. So stop reading now if you don’t want to hear what I think, at least briefly. But each song demanded its own moment, good or bad...

The first song on the album is the one that speaks the clearest to me. "Bixby Canyon Bridge" chronicles Ben’s attempt to channel Jack Kerouac's spirit, looking for insight into his future, while those around him settle down. He seems to fear that he’s “missing a dream”.

And then the music soars into a reverb heavy, almost shoe-gazey sound, before Ben returns to his car, “no closer to any kind of truth, as I must assume was the case with you”. A song that can cause angst in the most confident of people.

Chances are that by now you’ve all heard the 9 minute menacing bass line of the stalker anthem, "I Will Possess Your Heart". I love it. Creepiness at it’s best. Also, the best bass line that DCFC has ever put down, in my opinion.

The next song, "No Sunlight", has Ben’s inner optimist dying, set to a happy poppy back beat. The song is fantastic, but I don't think I agree with this song immediately following the epic that was "I Will Possess..."

The 4th tune seems (to me, at least) to return to the subject of the song "Company Calls Epilogue" (from the album 'We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes'). A loved woman, marrying the wrong man. But the pain in that song seems dulled and the revisit to the wedding is more a view of pity than sorrow. It’s like its 10 years later and the lyrics are from a more mature perspective. Still sad, just not so full of anguish and loss.

It also sounds like something that was borrowed from a Band Of Horses album. Very guitar driven.

"Talking Bird" is my least favored song on the album. Maybe it’s too analogous for me…I mean, I like a metaphor as much as the next person, but come on. The song itself is about a guy (Gibbard?) who seems to have no respect for his little pet “talking bird”, and he thinks she’s stupid to stick around. He’s just daring her to fly.
"You Can Do Better than Me", coming in at just under 2 minutes, is short but not very sweet. The final line says it all: "There’s times I think of leaving, but it’s something I’ll never do. Cause you can do better than me, but I can’t do better than you” Rough.
"Grapevine Fires" is perhaps the best song on the album, and it's definitely my personal favorite. It's also the only song that alludes to any hope for the future, with a positive thread woven through the dark beauty of fire, graves and prayers. Fantastic visual lyrics that show Gibbard at his best, in my opinion.
"Twin Sized Bed" is sad. There's no other way to put it-- “You look so defeated lying there in your new twin sized bed, your single pillow underneath your single head.”
The melody here is definitely a standout, with haunting guitar hooks that my 9-year-old niece really digs. She wants to bring this song to her guitar lessons as one of the next songs to learn. I’m not quite sure what her teacher will think of the lyrics, but, oh well.
"Long Division" is quickly becoming one of my favorites on this album, although it did take several listenings for it to do so. It's about a relationship that just isn’t working, that keeps having to carry the remainder in a long division equation that never comes out with an even solution. This is the good use of analogy. I mean, long division is hard (Ha). I love the song as much as I hated math in middle school.
"Pity and Fear" seems to be about the same guy from "Tiny Vessels" (A great song off of their 2003 album "Transatlanticism"). Still feeling bad for not feeling worse when he uses a lover but doesn’t love them. An emotional void where affection and regret should be. The song starts with an AWESOME "tribal" beat, and then builds into a saddening pop song from there. Top 3, for me.
And then the last song, "The Ice is Getting Thinner"...
Maybe because it’s such a slow song, or maybe because it hasn’t got the playtime the rest of the album has because of it’s bringing up the rear...but even though the words are melancholy magic, the song leaves me tired. So I start all over with "Bixby".
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So. There’s the album recap. From my ears to your eyes, for what it’s worth. You listen and you may get a whole different take. And you should definitely try it, as I bet you’ll like it.
The critics kept saying that this is a make or break album, and that fans of 2005’s "Plans" might not like "Narrow Stairs". And they might not. I don’t know if the younger fans will really get the uncertainty the songs display.
These songs aren’t about college parties, or being afraid of making your move on the girl of your dreams, or making drunken phone calls trying to win back your lost love.
These songs are about weather you’re making a mistake. Not taking the road most traveled. Settling for a relationship that isn’t mind blowing, but is merely comfortable. About being a loser in the game of love.
I’m not sure I’m ready to face these things and I think that I fall into the category/age range of "typical Death Cab fan"...
However, someone I go to school with told me he thinks this is the album Death Cab was meant to write and record. The album that was hinted at with "Tiny Vessels" and "We Looked Like Giants" (both tracks from "Transatlanticism")...and I think that is perfectly put. I don’t think they have reached their ultimate potential, but have climbed another rung on the ladder toward it.
Right now, this album is sitting pretty at the #2 spot for my "favorite albums of the year", falling slightly behind Sia's album ("Some People Have Real Problems") which barely made the cut by being released on January 8th. But it also sits in front of albums by Phantom Planet, Tokyo Police Club, Madonna, and The Teenagers...who have all put out great albums so far this year.
The only thing about this album that bothers me is probably the greatest compliment I can give it: the music is powerful enough to taint your emotions with a generalized sense of discontent and disillusionment. It really forces you to think.
Damn you, Ben Gibbard.
DOWNLOAD:
Death Cab For Cutie - Grapevine Fires
Death Cab For Cutie - Long Division
(If you happen to listen to the album, please feel free to share your thoughts.)

Wordweaving

If you’re talking to an idiot and she makes some stupid fucking statement that’s totally jacked up, and she’s really starting to piss you off...it may be best to think before you speak or you may end up accidentally yelling, "You're jacking me off!".

Unless that’s what you meant to say, in which case I think it's an excellent way to end an argument

little black sandals

All I know is that I tried. I really did nothing wrong and I didn't deserve what she gave me. So I'd just look up the sky and tell myself..."as if"...and feel better because I knew, forever until the day I die, that I really did nothing wrong.

I'll eventually get over it.

Theres always a future, it's just uncertain. And I know that although I may not make good decisions, I definitely make the "right" ones. It's hard to explain what that means. But I get it. I had one choice and I followed through with it until I had to back out. And she had her own choices. Her own reasons.

People still ask me if I'm angry with her.

"Nope. Just really disappointed."

"And why's that?"

Because, I believed she was a changed person. I didn't expect her to be acting so low. And I didn't expect to see that she's as non-caring and backstabbing as her friends, or as cruel and immoral as her family. She knew what she was acting like.

The funny part is, she hated both her family and her friends. Not to mention all the blood, sweat, money, and time spent. It kinda meant nothing aside from feeling used and betrayed. We both lost a lot.

In the end, I can only feel sorry for us that the relationship didn't work out. I mean, there was potential for so much more. But she gave up. She didn't give up on me. She gave up on us.

The whole time, I had been fighting to keep the relationship alive for the both of us because we both knew there was a future. I was burning bridges with my own friends just to try and make things right with the two of us. But if that's her choice, then alright. I just wish that she would have had the patience I asked for. Too bad she didn't. Her life would have been so much different and probably so much better.

I, on the other hand, thank my family and friends for shaping me as I am now. As much of an asshole as I may seem to some, I am morally brought-up and ethically sound. And I'm confident in myself that I am good person, regardless of what she may think.

Because of that, I am able to look back at my past relationship and say, "It was a good run. It's just too bad you were the first one who gave up"...

Even though this entry may make me seem like I'm self-centred, selfish, boasting, defamatory, whiny, and immoral (effectively destroying the point of this whole thing), this is my truth. My paradigm.

Now I think, what a life it could have been between us. I can only speculate. But I know it would have a been good one. And I know that innately, she knows that as well.

March 16, 2008

Dick Terror would be a great superhero.

I have, for some time now, not trusted my penis. It has that look. Nervous. Shifty. From a very young age, I sensed that it was up to something sinister. Now, my suspicions are beginning to grow (so to speak).


I have flown to Chicago and Orlando over the course of the last four months. And, I dutifully took my penis with me. I am nothing if not loyal. Until recently, my penis has been rather quiet, choosing to forego the sightseeing and fancy restaurants. And I respected that.


On my latest trip to Chicago, however, my penis was up every morning before I was, doing God-knows-what. Also, I believe it may have been stealing money. Cannot confirm.


I sense that you believe me to be paranoid. But there is more…


On my way through security at O'Hare International, I was…sullied.


Allow me to first say that, having passed through security stations in a post-9/11 world, I have learned to streamline myself for an easy checkpoint transition. I have laceless shoes, a fashionably unresponsive belt buckle, a note for the metal plate in my head, and all the lint in my pockets has been shaken free of potential iron filing. I’d shave my body if I thought it would help (possibly even if it wouldn’t). I’ve never had an issue.


So, after I removed my Macbook from its case and had taken off my coat and had placed all my things securely on the special conveyor belt, I maintained my characteristic level of smug arrogance as a traveling professional.


“Hold on Mr. Security Man! I shall enter your gates of judgment momentarily!” I thought to myself, secure in the knowledge of the smooth, lead-free skin beneath my cotton fiber clothing. "Ah yes! I am a modern day Marco Polo! Scanning the globe in search of new and amazing conquests! All hail and bow at the feet of the…"


Beep.


“Sir, could you step over to the side here, please?” said the vibrantly dull security denizen. Then, over his shoulder, “I NEED A MALE BODY SEARCH OVER HERE!”


Well, who doesn’t?


“Sir, could you please have a seat over there?”


Well, certainly. I am Marco Polo. My card.


“Please hold your feet straight out in front of you sir.” A new security expert now. I glance his name badge. Carl. Of course. I suspect he may be a foot fetishist.


“I need to wand your feet here…” Carl gestured.


Wand. Must…restrain…giggle…fit…


Right foot first. Down over the knee, past the shin, rounding the top of the shoes, whip past the toes there, underneath…


Beep.


Well, shit.


“Sir, I’m gonna need you to remove your shoes,” sighed Carl in a supremely indifferent fashion.


This is a problem. Believe me when I tell you that when I have to take off my shoes in a public place, the terrorists have won. Yet, off they go.


“Please stand up, sir,” he, again, sighed. Completely bored with terrorists, Carl is. “I just need to wand you here…”


We’ve done this joke Carl.


“Please put your arms out to your sides, sir.”


Jesus Christ Pose. I’m feeling outshined.


Down the arms and back again. Rings…Beep. Watch…Beep.


“That was yer watch,” states Carl.


Well, no shit, Carl. If it had been a dildo, we all could’ve had a good laugh.


Down the back. Quick brush down the front.


Beep.


“Sir, I’m gonna need for you to unbuckle your belt completely and hold the ends to the sides.”


Uhhhh-huuuuh. I have received upwards of $50 for this service in the past, so I make another quick check of his badge at this point to verify his credentials. Seems real. It’s goldish, anyway.


“All right…there ya go,” I say graciously.


“Thank you, sir,” says Carl, still blasé. “I need to wand down the front of you again.”


Okay, everyone sure as fuck better stop using “wand” as a verb around me, already.


Beep.


“That’s the button on my jeans,” I say to Carl, by way of explanation.


“Do they button all the way down, then?” Carl asks, cocking an eyebrow, wanding me up and down the length of my zipper.


Beep. Beep. Beep-beep. It’s a fucking Roadrunner cartoon down there.


“Well, no,” I answer.


Wand. Beep. Wand-wand. Beep-beep.


“Sir, I’m gonna need to feel this area,” he says.


Can you blow in my ear first, Carl?


“You need to do what, now?” I ask.


“I need to check this area,” he says calmly.


That “area”, Carl, is my penis. Can we stop calling it my “area” and show it the respect that it deserves, please?


Although…“area” does kind of make it sound large...


“Area” it is, then.


I desperately wanted to squeal or turn my head and cough or say, “a little to the left, please, and faster” as he began feeling my “area”, but I know how airport security people have such a mild sense of humor about such things. So I stay silent and think of football.


“Okay, thank you sir,” Carl said, sated.


No, thank you, Carl. At least he didn’t look up and declare, “Nope! Nothing here!”


So I buckle my belt and look down at the charming sweat stains that my size 12 feet have stamped upon the black security mat. Quick scan for comely flight attendants in the area. None in sight. Off I go to gather my shoes. They lay motionless and lonely on the security conveyor. Sharing in my humiliation, no doubt.


As of this writing, I am still on the airplane and have not gotten a chance to check my “area” more closely, so I have no idea what my penis is smuggling down there. Toenail clippers? Stiletto? Brass knuckle? Difficult to say.


I only know this: I will be keeping an eye out (poor choice of words there) for suspicious activity from my penis.


I suggest you do the same.

March 9, 2008

Springsteen would be proud

This past weekend, I experienced America on many levels.

I spent time with friends and played volleyball in the sun. I attended a sporting event with a pin-drop quiet crowd during the playing of our national anthem. I went to a party in Norman where a homeless man was allowed to come in and drink with us, simply because he was wearing a "USA" shirt.

I went and saw "Semi-Pro", which is all about one of America's greatest heroes, Jackie Moon. And I watched several episodes of Band Of Brothers in order to remind me of how great of an American actor Ron Livingston really is.

And, on at least one occasion, I sipped margaritas on an open patio. (Thank you, Magic Bullet!)

It’s good to be free.

But there are different kinds of freedom.

This is the story of one of them.

I went to Subway for lunch on Saturday. On the surface, this would seem to be a relatively benign endeavor. But no.

As I entered, I saw a nice older couple at a little booth to my right and a lone man at a table to my left. In front of me stood the Subway Sandwich Processing Assembly Line™.

There were two women in line. The second woman looked annoyed.

I quickly found out why.

The first woman in line was insane.

This woman, we’ll call her "Funt" (for short), was having troubles.

Family troubles.

Menu troubles.

IQ troubles.

Her husband, let’s call him "Whip", was sitting at the table that was opposite the SSPAL™ and he had a look on his face that clearly told me that he’d been plotting her accidental drowning death for years. Along with Whip were "Alexis" and "Troy", who likely burst forth from The Funt six and seven years ago after some sort of Immaculate Conception. They flew about, and sounded like, the crows of hell.

“Whip, what should we get? If we get the Chicken wrap, do we get the whole or the half? Should the kids split one? What are you going to get?” Funt harped, flashing her dull gaze between the vast menu and her husband’s plotting eyes.

Never give stupid people choices.

It paralyzes them.

“I don’t care, honey, get whatever you want…”

Whip tried.

“But what are you going to get? I need you to decide!” Funt insisted.

Whip quickly searched the table for spare plastic knives. None were in sight.

“I really don’t care. Just order something! I don’t want anything,” Whip said through clenched teeth.

“You don’t want anything? Well, Jesus…You need to pick…KIDS! Sit down and BE QUIET!” Funt shouted.

At this point, I had visions of bouncing her forehead off of the SSPAL™ sneeze guard.

My hands clenched.

“Sweetie, you need to order,” Whip said reluctantly as he glanced the four people now in line behind Funt.

“Well, I just don’t know what to get though…” she said, gazing at the menu as if it were a four panel long calculus equation. “I mean, a whole wrap is over five dollars, but if the kids split it, then you could get whatever you want (said accusingly) and maybe I’ll just get a half a chicken sub (said with a sigh).”

I felt a scream building in my throat. I literally looked around to see who I would be offending should I decide to go off on this woman right here in the middle of Subway. The older man at the table in the front returned my stare with what looked like approval in his eyes.

“Are we curing fucking cancer in here or making a goddamned Chipotle Southwest Cheese Steak?!! Motherfucker! It's ten goddamn - Whip, shut those fucking kids up now!! - it's ten goddamn dollars! You don't need to take out a second mortgage for this fucking lunch!

Funt, get your ample ass out of line before the rest of us starve to fucking death or I swear to Christ I’ll grab this footlong Parmesan/Oregano loaf and beat the absolute shit out of you, until the only way you’ll be able to eat anything on this goddamned menu is through a very small fucking straw!”


Is what I thought to myself.

In reality, I let out a tiny sigh that said as much.

Whip shot his wife a look and with another sigh, she finally ordered.

But then, the Subway technicians made the mistake of asking what she wanted on the subs. You would’ve thought they asked for her opinion on the Democratic nomination. The children squawked. Whip’s head dropped to his chest.

As soon as she got done with the order and began paying, Whip stood up and got in line behind us.

Funt looked over at him with slackened jaw.

“What are you doing?!?” she asked, incredulous.

“I want to get a wrap,” Whip said, quite calmly.

“Well, why didn’t you just tell me what you wanted when I asked you?!” Funt huffed.

“I just decided,” he answered with the slightest trace of a smile.

There are different kinds of freedom.

You have no idea what some people have to go through to earn it.