Friday, January 7, 2011

Let's Talk Fruits and Vegetables

A true story about redemption and unrequited love by Brendan Cavanagh

Since coming home for a month away from school, I've learned that change is much more apparent when you've been away for a while. For instance, the intersection of Monroe/Old Jacksonville and Veterans Parkway now boasts a staggering nine hundred and seventy five lanes, the curtains in my living room have been replaced for the first time in my memory and a Cranberries' Greatest Hits CD sits in my car. I first paid little attention to the album, assuming it was an impulse buy of my sister's or my parents'. I knew of the Cranberries- that they were a popular Irish rock band with a female lead vocalist in the 90s- and could name at least two of their songs, but I did not really feel any obligation to give the CD a listen as I commandeered the family minivan for the duration of my break. For one thing, I've grown to distance myself from purchasing greatest hits CDs like I did in grade school because there's just something inherently wrong about it. Every time I see that 20th Century Masters logo, I cringe.

Anyway, one night I was driving myself and a buddy to our friend's house, and on the way he pointed out the Cranberries CD in the car and suggested we listen to the first track, "Dreams." I reluctantly assented, but after about two seconds of hearing the lovely Dolores O'Reirdan's voice again for the first time in years, I was sold. Over the last week and a half or so, I've played the first three tracks of that CD every time I've driven the car. I don't know what it is! I've fallen in love with the music, maybe more with Dolores O'Reirdan herself.

O'Reirdan is probably the best example of a dichotomy there is. Her voice is smoother than Dove chocolate, sort of swimming across the vibes provided by the backing band and flitting into my ears. She sounds like one of those ideal charming lasses from the Old Country, like Janet Munro's character in Darby O'Gill and the Little People. I can see her serenading me from under a tree in a green field while Sean Connery plows and hoes in the garden and Darby gets drunk and makes deals with his leprechaun friends.

But then you look at pictures of her and she's this edgy, punk-rock type chick with piercings and Cons and a Pixies-style haircut. I can imagine getting all spiffed-up and taking her out for a drink, where she'd subsequently cream me in a drinking contest- for money- and brazenly, yet somehow sexily, exhaling a plume of cigarette smoke into my face while she tells me what a bitch I am. I think I would be simultaneously confused and turned on.

Basically, I've only listened to the first three tracks, "Dreams," "Linger" and "Zombie" because they're the top three singles, they're incredible and I'm just too apathetic to give the rest of the compilation a chance. I'm okay with my fear of the unknown, though, because I know what I like, and I really like the first three songs. "Dreams" has O'Reirdan softly crooning verses about love and all that, but honestly, it's not about the lyrics to me, it's the delivery. She sounds so damn cute and anguished, and then she comes in for a powerful, wordless chorus of musically guttural Irish moans. Linger has the opposite effect on me, though. The verses are nice and quiet, but they build up to a crescendo where in the chorus, O'Reirdan soulfully sings about trying to get over this guy who left her for another woman, but she still has such strong feelings towards him no matter how hard she tries to move on. I want her to give up on that loser and sing to me like that! If I had a cute Irish girl tell me, "You know I'm such a fool FER youuuuu" I would melt into her arms. Ladies, take note. "Zombie" is cool, it's nice and loud and political and nicely referenced by Ed Helms of The Office, but I prefer the romantic aspect of the first two tracks.

All in all, the Cranberries are a talented band, but Dolores O'Reirdan has seen my heart- AND IT IS HERS.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why our generation is smarter and overall better than everyone else's

What defines our generation? Touch screen cell phones, 3-D movies, motion gaming, the ubiquity of laptop computers, web chat, and Facebook are all technological advances that we will look back on as the things that came to power during the rise of our generation.

But, like, fuck all that.

The most important and by far most under-appreciated invention that has come to pass over the last ten years is Wikipedia.

We use Facebook about a tenth as much as we use Wikipedia. Think about how dumb that is, kinda. Not that Facebook is a waste of time. But Wikipedia is a knowledge universe unparalleled by any other knowledge source ever attempted in the history of mankind. It is an always accessible encyclopedia that not only branches out in terms of the width of what it covers but also it updates with time so that there is no need to, I don't know, purchase a whole other set of 24-28 volumes of encyclopedias costing several hundred dollars whenever a technological generation passes.

Also, it's not just an Encyclopedia. Since the content is limitless, there is just exponentially more made available that isn't necessary but is nice to know. You can creep on your favorite celebrities and put an honest effort into trying to find out why the Kardashians are famous. You can look up your favorite sports team to gain a solid background on them. Nick Dietrich could follow on the great joke I thought up to become a gigantic Lakers fan but continue to know nothing else about popular culture or sports. Wikipedia could aid that effort.


Random things I've decided I want to know for the purpose of this post:

How many home runs Kevin Millar hit in 2002.
How much money that shitty Batman movie with Arnold Schwarzenegger made.
Who lost the election to Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and what year he was elected.
Who had the most decisive Presidential victory in the history of America (other than George Washington)
Whether Friends or Seinfeld had more episodes.
On what day did Britney Spears shave her head?
When did Stephen Colbert's show first air?
What year the Sears tower was built.
Something crazy I never knew about the Lion King.


Now I head over to Wikipedia, if I can't answer one of those, I can't answer that. I'm just puttin' this juggernaut to the test.

...not on there. Good start.
107.3 M North America, 130.9 M internationally, (238.2 M)
Closest candidate, Democrat Cruz Bustamante (31% of vote)
James Monroe in 1820 (231 to 1 over John Quincy Adams)
Friends had 236, Seinfeld had 180.
February 17, 2007.
October 17, 2005
The same guy who did the score for The Lion King also did the score for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer)

That took like ten minutes in total.

And Kevin Millar hit 16 home runs in 2002. I just had to look on ESPN. That cost me another 50 seconds.

The point is, I can know anything I damn well please. All I have to do is look it up. It's on the internet somewhere, probably on Wikipedia, maybe somewhere slightly more specific. I feel like the kind of instantaneous knowledge is something completely new that we have yet to fully appreciate. That's why the internet is so great. But if Wikipedia didn't work out, we would be just not as intelligent. If the apocalypse happens, and ten people survive, they will be alright rebuilding humanity if they can access Wikipedia. It has everything on it. Everything. It will have everything on it until everything ceases to exist. I think it is arguably the greatest creation of all time. OF ALL TIME. It sounds absurd, at first we liked Facebook more, but now we don't. We realize Wikipedia is great. But of all time? Think about it, a single website that contains about 80% of all known things in the world. It's in one place. You can get there instantly. You search by typing in six letters as opposed to wandering around the Dewey Decimal System. You can seamlessly hop from page to page for hours because of the hyperlinks. Nothing has ever done what Wikipedia has done as well as Wikipedia has done it.

That is this generation. Instant knowledge, superior literacy, and constant change that only saps like us could handle. Facebook is a good proprietor of what we're about. But damn, Wikipedia is such a bigger deal.

And what do people say about Wikipedia? "Anybody can put anything they want on there, so it's not a legitimate resource."


For funsies, I, about one paragraph into this post, went onto Wikipedia and searched the word blanket. There's quite a bit of information about blankets there, you should check it out. I picked a paragraph and inserted a quip that I can't remember but involved defecating on blankets by the shitscums who vandalize Wikipedia. The rest of this post later, IT'S ALREADY BEEN CORRECTED. Some guy got mad at me. He told me not to do it again. It's fixed. Presto.

That took like ten minutes. Don't act like Wikipedia doesn't have the best security *blanket* around.

Wikipedia is celebrating it's tenth birthday this year. It's a ten year old project that is the end-all be-all source for useless and non-useless information alike. I don't think there was a single concept that was in my Psychology class this semester that I couldn't have found on Wikipedia. But it's still growing, though it's relatively set in its ways. You won't see Wikipedia with a new layout. Wikipedia doesn't have to appeal to you. You just have to understand that it's important and helpful and so you use it. It's not going to fail, because people will always need to know stuff.

You could become so smart, if you just used your time wisely on there. Wikipedia is an easy sidetrack in addition to being a clever informational source. You could spend hours poring over bands and discographies, trying to figure out whether your favorite pop-star writes her own lyrics. There's a lot of stupid shit on Wikipedia. Matt Millen has a page. Matt Millen isn't important. You know what else isn't important? This blog. Let's keep doin' this shit until we find ourselves on Wikipedia.

So here's to Classic Brian, the pursuit of recognition, and being part of the greatest and smartest generation of all time. You may know more than me right now, but I know everything that Wikipedia knows. The only thing separating me is one little click.

--Eliot Sill

These are some really badass pictures

You're welcome

Monday, January 3, 2011

Nick - Protector of the Weak!

You know Gyarados, right? If you don't, bear with me, I'll stop talking about Pokemon in a sec.

Anyway, Gyarados makes Pokemon games easy. He has monstrous attack power, solid defenses on all counts, and only really fears the electric type. To top it all off, you can get him relatively early in the game because he evolves at level 20. After that, he's a machine. He crushes anything in your path.

And that is why he is boring.

Because every time I'm too good at something, I get bored of it. My favorite pokemon is always the one that is cool, but not that good. This way, I accomplish two things:
1. I am challenged.
And 2. I feel like I'm doing things in my own style. (ie, like I'm better than other people.)

This principle of preferring weakness rather than strength comes back to haunt me in every video game I play, but it carries over to other stuff too.

In Golden Sun 2, I didn't care that I had super strong characters I could use; I wanted to use Ivan, because I like him. He died quickly all the time, but for some reason my attachment to him only grew stronger as it became clear things weren't going to work out. Fire Emblem was a similar story, but infinitely more painful because of how frustrating that game is.

This isn't just a trait that flairs up in video games, though that seems to be where it's most prominent. If I'm at the gym in Champaign and there's a guy who doesn't know what he's doing, I feel an immediate attachment to him. By being uncomfortable and out of his element, he has shown his weakness. And this leads me to believe we are destined to be friends.

I can only conclude that nature done screwed up and gave me a maternal instinct. Curse you, nature, and all of your doings!

Basically the point is that I choose to surround myself with weakness. I guess that explains my friends!



Sunday, January 2, 2011

Robert - Why Celebrities Shouldn't Play Sports

Because they don't love what they do as much as I love what they do. In not doing so, they're all pretty eager to betray my dreams and shatter my perceptions of sporty worship. Johnny Damon playing for the Yankees? Yeah right! He and Jason Giambi cutting their hair?? Hahaha!!! Brett Favre playing for the Vikings? GTFO. Question: what do these things all have in common? All of them actually happened.

Everybody knows I'm a Red Sox fan, or maybe that I'm a Packers fan, or that I don't like haircuts. I look to athletes as beacons of excellence, as role models for what I should do with my own life. When John Gruden is fired, I quit my job. When When Tiger Woods sleeps with ten women, I sleep with ten women. When Alex Rodriguez signs for $126 million, I think about what I would do with $126 million. I spent my childhood growing up with pixelated Brett Favres and Johnny Damons. Just when I held them the very closest to my heart, closer than my parents and almost as close as Garden Salsa Sun Chips, they defected to their rival teams for bigger contracts. It's sort of like being in heaven, and then God telling you he's transferring you to hell because it's cheaper for him to house you there.

It's all a money game these days. Nobody cares about what team they're playing for when they can drive a different $100 million car to the stadium every day of the week. Why players don't let my dreams dictate their personal lives is beyond me. Nonetheless, they don't see their roles as bloodthirsty rivals anymore. They see them as jobs. All I can really do is continue trying to fool myself into thinking that there are some rare athletes, like Albert Pujols or Kevin Youkilis or Steve Nash, who actually care about the sports they're playing. Seems to be the only way to back these bastards up.

I'm getting at something here; I'm not just complaining. I want to start a new, hit professional sport based on the purity of competition. That sport is Lollaball. It will be the solution to the corrupt ideals of real sports. A new beginning for sports idol worship. No salaries, no contracts. Just love for the game and dislike for the speedwalking bitches. And no switching teams. Ever.

I want Johnny Damon back.