Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Greatest Songs Ever--In No Particular Order

Let's say you were forced onto a deserted island. All you could bring with you is an Ipod Teeny, which holds five songs. You'd have to choose which songs you wanted to bring with you. That analogy is terrible. It is cliched, and I generally feel pretty stupid having typed it. You'd get so sick of those songs if that was all you had to do, regardless of how good the songs were.

So.... songs I couldn't live without....

A little preface: First, these songs are in no particular order. They will be occassionally posted and discussed when I remember them. And that isn't to say that these songs aren't memorable, but I've got alot of shit to do every day. I can't spend time sitting around thinking about the greatest songs ever.

Second, these songs are different from the "Music" segment I've been using in all my other posts. Those songs are the songs I like that day. This series is about pretty much the best songs that humans have ever conceived. Hopefully that distinction is clear.

Greatest Songs Ever: The Verve, "Bittersweet Symphony"

I recently mentioned this song, but I felt it would be a good time to mention it again. Because it is really good.

The strings are perfect. The manner in which they are used creates the entire mood and tone for the song. Contrary to popular belief, the main violin "hook" was not the part The Verve stole from the Rolling Stones.

The lyrics are beautiful, and I'm not sure there's a song that can make you really ponder--just sit and ponder shit--like this song. I'm not sure there's another song that you can change your perspective without really knowing what hit you. Actually, there might be a similar song, but I won't reveal it today.

'Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, this life
Trying to make ends meet
Trying to find some money then you die
I'll take you down the only road I've ever been down
You know the one that takes you to the places
where all the veins meet yeah

Richard Ashcroft is, according to some people who know a thing or two about music, one of the best songwriters ever. I guess it makes sense that he wrote one of the best songs ever. It's a shame he isn't bigger here because he is damn good. His solo album "Alone With Everybody" is a great disc as well.

So there it is--one of the Greatest Songs Ever. I guess if I think of more to write about it later, I will. Since I can't really do the actual song justice with words, I'll probably just listen to it again.

Off to school. Eight straight hours of class, including a night class from six to nine PM. Ugh.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Cities 97 Makes Me Want to Punch Things

Music: Billy Talent, "Line and Sinker"

What you see is what you get
Fishing for the answer with a line and sinker
Look at me and don't forget
Hard to get a grip with all these broken fingers

This song is a screamer and a rocker (like almost every song on Billy Talent's self-titled first album). It's great on the treadmill when I turn up the speed above 9 mph. I just imagine that this angry asshole is screaming these lyrics at me. So I run.

A buddy of mine told me that he thought I was going through an early midlife crisis. When most people get my age, the reach for their radio tuners and listen to Cities 97. They find the mellow, unoffensive tones of adult contemporary soothing. I find them obnoxious and pretentious. It reminds me of the South Park episode where everyone bought hybrid vehicles and started enjoying the smell of their own farts. That's a Cities 97 listener--a pretentious fart lover.

So maybe it is a midlife crisis. Or maybe it's because my major contact with the outside world (outside of marriage and law school) is my 19 year old brother (who I have decided to start addressing with "Heyyy Little Brother" like JD's brother on Scrubs). Or maybe its because this music is less pretentious and isn't afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve. It's probably a combination of the three.

Riding the Bus

I've been going to school here for over two years. I started riding the bus after my first year. It was a result of two factors. First, I was sick of riding my bike in the winter. Second, my bike got its back wheel stolen and was hit by a plow. I wasn't on it at the time, but it was pretty hard to ride after that.

So I started riding public transportation. At first, I had a romantic attitude about it. I was on my own in the city, riding the bus. I liked being among other people who were just trying to make it. I liked going through the city on the bus; you can look around through the big windows.

Now I hate riding the bus, and I'll do just about anything to avoid it. To make matters worse, I moved about a mile further away from school (which equates to about 8 minutes on a bus--which feels like 37 hours). Now I realize that I am merely trapped on a stinky, crowded bus for way too long. I hate the people on the bus. They sit by me, and occassionally they smell. I can't see a damn thing because I never get a window seat. The bus manages to hit every red light on the route. It's late, I'm hungry, and the bus driver bitches at me if I don't ask for a transfer quickly enough. I'm reminded that I'm not wealthy or established enough to be able to drive my own damn vehicle to a real job. I'm just part of the huddled masses--something I used to relish.

New Series: How to Avoid Looking Gay

Over the past few weeks, I've seen two dudes using the "abductor-adductor" machine in the weight room. That is two more dudes than I had ever previously seen. There's good reason why I've never seen a dude using this machine: it's not for dudes. It's for chicks who think that if they do about 50 reps, they will slim their fat, cottage cheesy thighs.

My point? If you are dude, don't use the "abductor-adductor" machine. It's not for you. Do an effing squat if you want to work your legs.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Batting .500

Music: Motion City Soundtrack, "Perfect Teeth"

It's been a long week. Since Monday, I've spent roughly 10 hours driving, about 20 hours working, about 15 hours in class, and another 15 studying. The only thing that has kept me going on the long road trips to work twice a week is a medium light roast Caribou coffee with cream and sugar and rock and roll music. "Perfect Teeth" has the best "rock out" moment I know right now. I play it really loud while traveling north at 77 mph, and I rock out.

It's Kinda Hit and Miss

Wednesday was a great day at work. I dominated some lawyering. I got a problem and helped find an answer within that day. I was into it. I was smart. I didn't waste any time.

Today, I suck at work. I got a problem, and seven hours later, I've got no answers. I've run out of places to look for answers. $100 grand and can't find an effing case. Law school has failed me. The resources that that law has provided have failed me. So on this day, I'm left with more anxiety and anger about my chosen profession.

I wanna go home and watch 24. Four more episodes of Season One. I'd also like to order some Broadway Pizza and eat the shit out of it.

I guess my blogging is also pretty hit and miss. At 4:13 PM on a Friday, I have about as much desire to create this post as I do to continue to work. My mind is totally void of anything meaningful or remotely smart to type in this space. Instead, I'll continue to post random crap that none of my devoted readers really care to hear. Sorry guys. Er. Guy.

I wore a sweater today. I wore an Oxford shirt underneath the sweater. It is something I never thought I'd do. However, it is very cozy, and it doesn't make me look that gay. Maybe because I'm too manly and grizzled looking to appear gay to anyone.

Maybe I'll be smarter tomorrow.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

People Better Than Me

Music: Regina Spektor, "Fidelity"

I hear in my mind all these voices
I hear in my mind all of these words
I hear in my mind all this music
And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
And it breaks my heart
It breaks my heart

Sometimes I hear a song, and I get it. I first heard "Fidelity" roughly 26 minutes ago. I KNOW what Regina Spektor is saying. There are experiences in life that are so good they hurt. More specifically, songs break my heart--in a good way. Unlike Spektor, I only hear the music that other people's minds have created. People smarter than me. People better than me. It guess it isn't so much that I get it, but rather Regina Spektor gets it. She makes it easy for someone like me who doesn't have his own music in his head to get it.

"Fidelity" would be a good song to take your Ipod out into the world and just walk with it. Watch the world, and listen to the music. You're in a movie. You could be the lead or an extra. Doesn't really matter. This soundtrack works the same for both. The music streams in like atmosphere. The sound comes from the leaves or the snowbanks. The sounds of wheels and feet and voices and exhaust and the afternoon are replaced by the alternate reality of the song.

Some songs just have that quality about them. Something in its richness or sound. Not a hook, but something deeper and real. Not something that just makes you shuffle your toes a little. "Fergalicious" is really catchy, but that is not quite what I am talking about. I paused the song to the answer the phone, and I felt bad. It's that good. The last time I really remember a song like this was The Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony." Maybe Coldplay's "Clocks."

We're all greedy. We all wanna be better than we are. I suppose Regina Spektor probably wishes she was better at math, or something. I get so damn frustrated because I can't do things I want to. I can't express myself in ways I'd like to--bits and pieces of something good or unique that I can visualize but am not physically or metally capable of creating with my mind or my fingers or my voice. I want to make something beautiful. I'd even settle for creating something that was merely good or satisfactory, by my standards but also by other people's standards. Something enjoyable. Maybe I already have, or maybe I will. Maybe I won't. But it makes me mad and jealous that I don't have great ideas in my head. I don't have songs in my head, and even when I do, they never sound as good as they did in my head. And even if they sound good in my head, they never have the capacity to break my heart. "Fidelity" has only made me realize the same things I already knew, that I am frustrated and restless. That my desire to create is almost always stifled by my pure lack of time, effort, and creativity.

I wanna get high. I think I'll have a chew.

Friday, January 19, 2007

The Future Freaks Me Out

Music: Motion City Soundtrack, "Hold Me Down"

In an album full of super-catchy, uptempo rockers, this song kindof sticks out to me. The album seems light-hearted, and many of the songs deal with serious stuff in a light-hearted tone. The reason this song stand out for me is that it deals with a break-up in a somber tone. As a result, it comes off as possibly the most reflective song on the album. The writer has to tell someone he loves that she holds him down, and he doesn't know how to say it. Lead singer Justin Pierre's voice is key. There is a sincerity about his tone and delivery that is very evident in this song, but it is part of the reason that Motion City transcends other bands of the genre. It's that sincerity in lyric and in tone that really make the band unique.

I'll have my brother stop by this Saturday to pick up my things,
Just make sure you're not there.
This may sound bad, and don't take it the wrong way.
I love you, however, you hold me down.

Taking a Piss

At school, the mens bathroom has four urinals. I find them too close for comfort. The worst is when you walk in and see two dudes each one urinal apart. That way, you're going to be rubbing toes and knees with another dude while he is urinating. Such was the case when I walked in the other day. I chose to wait. If I wasn't for peripheral vision, it would be so bad. To make matters worse, my peripheral vision seems to be exemplary, or at least it is waaaay too good for such circumstances. If they are going to put the urinals so close together without any sort of divider, they should provide blinders. It's almost as bad as if they didn't provide stalls for the toilets. It's that bad.

On a more serious note, reading this would scare the crap out of my wife.

I had to get that thing off my mind. I could write daily for at least a month about stuff that pisses me off about the law school, but that's not in my personality. Even thought I've bitched in two straight posts, I promise it's not a trend. And last time, my bitching was serious, not a pithy commentary.

I've spent almost the past seven years now figuring out what I want to do with my life. I figured out that going to law school would be a good idea in the fall of my fourth year of college. It was more a product of wanting to do something else, something more challenging. I was also a product of wanting to get out of the small college town I had been in for three-and-a-half years. Finishing my education degree would have taken another year, and it was a year I could not mentally and emotionally afford in that place. So I decided to go to law school. It is still the right decision.

Now I'm almost done with law school. It feels great to be done, and I have a great job lined up. It is great in that it should allow me to be a lawyer at work, then go home at a reasonable time and resume the real life that most other people get to experience--things like a wife and kids and beers and sports and golf and free time. But I'm not a Lawyer, and it is not my life's passion. I recently told my wife that I didn't know if I would be a lawyer forever. She got nervous. She listed alot of the reasons why working will be different than school and why I have to give it a shot. And I agreed with her. Being a lawyer will be different--and hopefully better than--being a law student.

However, I explained to her that it is not me taking a negative approach to my career choice. Up to this point, getting my JD at the U of M is the best thing I could've done. It's a great degree, it's interesting work, and I'll make a decent salary. But it's certainly not my passion, and I don't know if 5 or 10 or 15 years down the road, I'll be looking for something different. She thought I was quitting before I started, and I'm glad she tried to reassure me. However, really what I was doing was admitting that I wasn't sure. I was also admitting that I wouldn't be scare to try something else.

However, I've been thinking lately, and I think that would scare my wife. The good news for her is that I would never do anything stupid or chase a pipe dream that would make our lives miserable. Unless she let me, but I wouldn't do it without asking. Probably. Lately I've thinking I wouldn't mind working in a university setting. I'd still like to teach, but I'm not going to ever be a law professor. First off, I'm not smart enough. Second, I'd rather be a lawyer if I'm still going to work in law. I wouldn't mind teaching something else though, like law to undergrads or history. I wouldn't mind working in an admissions department. I'd really like to work in the athletics department. I think those types of career changes would be easy transitions and also very possible.

I guess I don't know if I actually have the guts to try to do something else, something that I could be passionate about.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Let's Try This Again

Music: AFI, "The Celluloid Dream"

I don't know what that means. I can't really understand the words, but I have been meaning to look them up. It's a really good song though.

Athlete: Tim Brewster, TE, University of Illinois

New Gopher coach. I am very excited. Nothing is guaranteed, but I really like the hire so far. He's a recruiter. He's enthusiastic. He actually mentioned the words "Rose Bowl" in public. Here's to you Tim Brewster.

Never Enough Time in the Day

I get really good ideas. All the time. I think of all the things I want to do, all the things I love to do. Like blog, or just write. Or play guitar, learn a song or write a song. Or read books. Or write a book. Or become the next general manager of a baseball team. Or read my Bible. These are all very important things to me, all things that I want to do. They are meaningful activities, and they are fulfilling activites.

I used to play guitar all the time. I used to write lots of songs. I cringe when I think of most of my music now. It is very 19-year-oldish. It's incredibly cliched and simple. At some point, I stopped writing songs because I hated almost everything I wrote. It was just BAD, and it was the same songs I had been writing years before. In part is because I hadn't progressed much as a guitarist. But mostly it was, I think, because I knew I had pretty much reached the extent of my capabilities, which was not THAT far.

I started law school two and a half years ago. I pretty much stopped doing anything remotely ambitious or creative. Law schools sucks the creativity out of you, along with the life sometimes. I stopped playing guitar almost completely. It's been really hard to get back into it.

I've recently realized two things. The first is that slaving away for one-and-a-half years in law school wasn't worth it. I'm glad I worked hard, I guess, because it should make me a better lawyer. However, I'm not sure I really care all that much about being a great lawyer. I guess that's why I gave a half-hearted attempt at working for a big, prestigious law firm in downtown Minneapolis. I tell myself that it is because I prefer to have a life and a wife and less stress than money, and to extent that is totally true. But, without question, there is something else going on. I'd work really hard somewhere, but it would have to be something I was passionate about. The law is not that thing. In fact, if someone said to me that they were passionate about the law, I'm pretty sure I would laugh out loud. Well, because I'm a pretty polite guy, I would probably just smirk. But I digress.

The second thing I realized is that I actually do have time to do alot of the stuff I want to do. But, like an idiot, I waste a lot of time. I don't have a ton of free time, but neither do most working, mature almost-25-year-olds. I have to work out or I'll get really fat. I spend time with my wife. I cook supper sometimes. I do the dishes. That stuff takes up alot of time, but when I get time to myself, I spend alot of time sitting on my ass wasting time, thinking about doing one of the above-mentioned things. But not actually doing anything. I post stupid crap on message boards filled with complete idiots (which is like trying to reason with Koko the Gorilla pre-communication abilities). I watch stupid shows. I browse wikipedia. These are the times I should be writing or reading or playing. Something productive. Something creative.

Today is another attempt at an old trick. Hopefully I can mix it up in this space with alot of first person stuff and observations and feelings. Maybe a little third person stuff or some dialogue for the musical my brother and I are planning to write. If we have time.

The Law Student that Died

I'm going to try to be as respectful as possible with this one. A law student named Christopher Oster died last weekend. It got him a mass email that I suppose a few people read. I didn't know him at all. I don't know how he died. But he did. And he got a mass email. At least it had the title "Sad News," so we could make sure we were sad when we read it. Or were at least prepared to be saddened.

There are around 750 law students. That's not very big. The kid deserved more than an a mass email from the assistant dean of students. I've always felt like I was just a very small, wholly insignificant cog in the machine that is the University of Minnesota Law School. I've never felt that way more than yesterday when I received the email. If I died, around 17 total people would notice I was missing, and roughly three might genuinely care. I'm not sure if that is an indictment against me for my complete lack of involvement or against the law school for being a detached farm system for the big defense firms. Either way, it is a fact. I'm not connected to the law school at all. It's their loss. Lots of people outside the law school really like me. Whatever cog I am in the machine, it's not a very important one. If the law school is a car, then I guess I'm like the rear cupholder. The car will certainly run without it, but... Hell, I'm not a cupholder, but despite the above woe-is-me, I got over it long ago. "The law" will never define me, and I will arrogantly smirk at those who think it defines them.

My heart goes out to Chris Oster's family. May he rest in peace.