Tuesday, June 30, 2009

we need to build coalitions!

As news started building this morning that Norm Coleman would be conceding and that Al Franken would finally be seated as Minnesota's second Senator, I was overwhelmed with happiness. I know there's a lot else going on in the world, with the SCOTUS, with Afghanistan, and he myriad sex scandals that will always serve to distract people, but with this news, and Arlen Specter's recent refusal of the Republicans, if not the right wing in general, we would finally have our oh-so-coveted 60. The legendary filibuster-proof number. The number that so many Republicans refer to in their fear-mongering campaigns. The number that would allow us to do great things.

And yet...

There's something wrong with the picture. To imagine that obtaining the (not-so anymore) mythical number of 60 left-leaning Senators in the Senate would enable us to do whatever we want is foolhardy at best and downright naive at least. To imagine such a thing would require from us an effort that Democrats have almost never exhibited: we would need to build a coalition, a single organization with one mind and one will, focused on pushing through certain legislation.

The simple fact is that this will never happen.

Whereas Republicans have settled on their message (or at least they had, until major news organizations declared their party dead, and the survivors starting battling for the crown) and moved forward with that message with a Borg-like certainty, Democrats have never had that laser-like precision. There are too many disparate factions within the larger tent pole of quote-unquote Democrats. This is actually kind of a point of pride for many left-leaners and something I tend to agree with them on: we shouldn't need (or even want) a hive-mind when our party is supposed to be about the individual and celebrating diversity and tolerating all kinds of differences.

However, when it comes to the dirty business of politics, sometimes that kind of group think is not only advantageous, but every once in a while, it can be seen as necessary. And even when it's not necessary, there's a reason we have sides. If the pitcher for the Pirates suddenly started playing for whatever team they were playing against, it would be very hard for the Pirates to win any games. (Granted, the pitcher is super important in baseball and there's no one person in the House of Reps or the Senate who has that much power, but the analogy can be [hopefully obviously] extended to any player, in any position, on any team.) Even the least important member of your team can be incredibly damning to the end results if he or she starts playing for the other team. (Plus, to further the sports analogy, this dependence on 60 relies on Joe Lieberman, who has a less than stellar record when it comes to supporting the Democrats. He's a bad team player.)

For some perspective, let's look at the recently celebrated passage of H.R. 2454 (also known as ACES) through the House of Representatives. While Democrats control about 59% of the House, with 255 members in total, Republicans have a mere 178 members, for 41% control. Based on those numbers, the total number of Reps is 433, which means if every member votes on any given bill, a simple majority can be had with 217 votes. Since the Republicans have only 178 Reps, that means if they hope to affect any vote, they have to peel off a minimum of 39 Democrats. With such an overwhelming majority, we'd be expected to lose a grand total of zero votes, right? Well, let's take a look at the breakdown for ACES. Disgustingly, 44 Democrats voted against the bill! Since the Republicans only need to peel 39, they would have won this vote, had we not peeled 8 from their side, for a slim margin of victory of 219-212, with three voters not present. (Just as a sidenote, I'd be very interested in finding out where Jeff Flake, Alcee Hastings and John Sullivan were on the day of this vote. Were they there and abstained? Were they elsewhere? I hope their constituents know. It's also worth noting that amongst those three, two are Republicans and one is a Democrat. This vote could have been even closer.) Given the fact that we control more of the territory of the House than do the Republicans, it can be expected that more of us would defect than would they. (Just like, since there's more white people in the United States, we would expect more of them to be in jail than any other ethnic grouping. Except that's not true as well.) However, more than five times as many Democrats voted against their side than did the Republicans.

For this reason, and many more, I am not hopeful about the status of ACES when it gets to the Senate. If you are interested in getting this bill passed when it gets there, I'd urge you to follow Al Gore's Twitter account or do a good job monitoring Thomas.gov which is a great resource. Write not just an email but a snail mail letter to your Senator when it gets time to vote. If you live in Minnesota, this is tremendously important, as Mr. Franken certainly has a lot of ground to make up. (Not that his delay is, in any way, his own fault.)

If there's more interest in finding out the specifics of ACES, we can get into that, but I figure you're all way more than capable Googlers at this point in the 21st century.

The important thing to remember is that we have the numbers to push through important legislation, and we're not going to have these numbers forever! It would be a fool's errand to waste the opportunities we have, when we know that they didn't in the past and they won't in the future. They are an organized front, they move with precision in the direction they want to go, and we must be unafraid to match them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

mock drafts are for chumps.

The NBA Draft occurred last night. There's been a lot of talk about this draft as being the worst since the infamous 2000 Draft (which was immortalized in the FreeDarko book) and I can't help but think at this point that all that talk was right.

Blake Griffin was taken number one by the LA Clippers. I'm not sure that I need to say anything about the Clippers, but suffice it to say that Blake Griffin will not be happy there, the Clippers will not improve (beyond marginally) and that Blake Griffin might do amazing things in the NBA...once he leaves the Clippers. The Clippers are where All-Stars go to die. A rookie is not going to be able to save them.

Hasheem Thabeet went second to the Grizzlies, whom I believe are building a young team, with an emphasis on young. With OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay (and since their trade last night, Quentin Richardson) they've got some athletic guys. Marc Gasol shows promise and I think Thabeet is going to be a winner in the league, even if he's never going to be a dominant center on both ends.

The Thunder took James Harden, but since I'm still boycotting the non-Sonics, I'm not going to talk about this, other than to say: Kevin Durant deserves better than to play in not-Seattle.

The Kings took Tyreke Evans, whom I'm not sure why everyone's hating on. (Other than, you know...the obvious stuff...) I think he'll make a fine addition to the Kings, playing alongside Kevin Martin. However, the fact of the matter is Sacramento needed a pure point guard! Which Evans is not. Look for trades to occur with the Kings. (Also, upon looking at their roster, it was revealed to me that Kenny Thomas is still [only technically?] on the team. Who knew?)

At long last, the kid everyone was talking about, both positively and negatively, Ricky Rubio, was taken by the Minnesota Timberwolves. TrueHoop had written about how Minny was in sore need of some guards and Ricky's got tons of potential, so this kind of made sense. However, there was tons of talk, almost immediately, about how this might be a pick for a trade (with New York) and then a little while after, about how Ricky might not come to America just to play for Minnesota. I'm not sold on Rubio either way - I think it's clear that he's got potential, and he's going to be fun to watch, but he's only a kid. He'll need time to learn the American game (I know he's been playing in Europe since ages ago) and he needs some more bulk.

However...the rest of the draft contained some very weird things. Minnesota also had the sixth pick (the very next one) as well as the 18th and they took two more point guards. They traded one to Denver, but still. Three picks in the 1st round and they're all point guards? Kevin Love was freaking out. Very strange. Curry at seven to the Warriors is baffling to me, until I read about the Amare trade rumors. Makes sense for Golden State, but the Suns are losing a lot of their fun. Cycles are a drag.

The big news was Brandon Jennings at 10 to the Bucks. I'm not as gaga over him but I know that a lot of serious-minded basketball folks think that he's going to be the one. He showed up late, which was weird, but totally his style. The Bucks, at this point, are in an odd spot, though. They have some undeniable talent, but they haven't been able to put it together, at any point, during the course of last year. They were significantly under 500, and only managed to string together two three-win streaks. They play in the Central division, so it's not like they're going to get over the Cavs, but the Bulls had their mini-implosion last year, and the Pacers are falling off, and Detroit, well, who knows about Detroit. I'm just worried that this move with Jennings is going to merely make them stand pat as opposed to growing.

Next, I'm skipping a lot of picks to shout out my man from Gonzaga, Austin Daye. He went to the Pistons with the 15th pick, and I'm happy for him. I honestly didn't think he'd be picked this high, and with Detroit, as I mentioned above, in a crazy transition phase, I hope that he'll get some minutes as a part of a second unit.

And finally, the Lakers had the 29th pick in the first round, but it was clear from the moment that we won the Larry O'Brien trophy that we'd be doing nothing with that pick. We sold the rights to Toney Douglas to the Knicks, whom I'm sure will be happy with their new shooting guard.

The draft this year was weird. I'm not sure if we'll look back and say, "Oh, how could so-and-so fall to such-and-such position?! I can't believe Team X didn't draft him when they could have!" as much as we'll look back and say, "Damn. That was a pretty weak class." Not that this is a revelation. Plenty of people knew this coming into the draft. But what is a revelation is that it's useless to try to prognosticate what's going to happen on the night of the draft. With all the trades that occurred in the days leading up to the draft and the seemingly-incomprehensible actions of the Wolves, I hope that next year, we won't have to listen to the so-called experts trotting out mock draft after mock draft trying to tell us what's going to happen; I'd much rather just have some seriously solid post-draft analysis.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

demanding the right to burn books.

A long time ago, when I would have hung such a poster up in my room with tacks, instead of preferring to have framed art hanging around my house, I thought this was the best print I'd ever seen in my entire life:

I don't know why censorship has always been such a big deal to me. (I mean, aside from the obvious left-leaning mother who raised me.) I've never been censored in an extravagant manner, as far as I can remember. I'm sure there were times in high school when I felt like the teachers who were lording over me, or even just society in general, were censoring me to an unbearable degree, but years removed from those situations, I can't even remember what my complaints would have been which, to me, means they were probably not extraordinary.

I remember learning about Tienanmen Square and that having a big effect, as it should, clearly, but I do think the thing that got my goat the most, and continues to do so today, was the censorship of books. The idea that someone would find a book offensive and thus, through their personal discomfort, think that book should be removed from everyone's viewpoint...this, to me, was unbearable. As though people cannot possibly fathom that the world is slightly larger than just them! (I seriously have to stop with this paragraph now or else this will just turn into another rant of a blog entry that can never be taken seriously. But really, I think people who understand already do and those who don't probably never will. Which is super unfortunate.)

Regardless, when I read about Robert C. Braun seeking the right to publicly burn a book that he finds offensive (and also demanding $30,000 per plaintiff "for being exposed to the book in a library display") it makes me alternately nauseous and aggressively angry.

I'm worried a lot of times about preaching to the choir here. It's not like there's a lot of need to convince anyone who actually reads this of much of what I'm saying, but I think it's worth echoing once again. The strength of a democracy, in my opinion, can be determined by how we treat our weakest links. A library is one of the tangible signs of that treatment. A place where knowledge (which truly is power) is free for all. There has to be a cornucopia of options for all people at all times in order for a society to be truly free. Otherwise, what's the point?

Recommended listening for this entry: Kleptones - Question.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

touring pittsburgh.

Finally got a video made. I know it's crazy choppy and that I could have done a better job editing some parts, but I'm mainly getting this up to encourage Johnny to get his ass in gear and give us a Tiger video.

I'm falling into the paradigm of lazy blogging - 2 paragraphs and YouTube embedding, but there's too much sunshine here for me to be posting online all day every day. I gotta go exploring.

Monday, June 22, 2009

on words without names.

As an English teacher, and someone who's fond of the written word in general, I find that I think about words a lot. I listen to music a lot of times for the lyrics, and my brothers and I are all pretty fanatical about quoting dialogue from movies back and forth. However, I don't think any of that is weird. I don't even think that Boggle being my favorite board game is weird, nor that I downloaded Scramble for my iPhone and that it's definitely my most-used app.

There are, though, things about my obsession with words that I do think of as strange. Maybe strange isn't the right word, because it's not like I think these thoughts are worrisome, I just wonder if many people think about these things like I do.

As a kid, I flipped when I learned about palindromes and, admittedly, I still think they're very cool. (There used to be this code that you could stick in your AOL profile and one of the options was to have a randomly generated palindrome. I remember Do geese see God? but there were ones that were huge!)

I learned about ambigrams when Grant Morrison made them redesign the logo for X-Men, which became New X-Men. I thought that was pretty cool, and now I guess ambigrams are back in the pop culture sphere with the new Angels&Demons flick.

And, of course, I try to show my kids examples of pangrams as well. It's fun to see them try to figure out what's special about the sentence and it gets them to think of language as a tool, which is nice. There was a great site that was updating pretty almost daily, but appears to have made the move to Twitter.

I'm sure these categories are readily cataloged, and, in fact, even a cursory glimpse over the linked Wikipedia pages reveals many such examples. However, I've started to think of another category of words and I've tried Google searching for a couple different ways of phrasing it but have thus far found nothing.

I'll try to explain, you try to help.

The basic theory is that these are words that you can spell one letter at a time. It's harder than it sounds and might best be served by an example.

1. Do. Doz. (For the purposes of these examples, I'm going to include this abbreviation, simply because it's really hard to think of many that avoid it.) Doze. Dozen. Dozens.

So, all of those words up there are actual words, with the exception of doz. which, as I've noted, is an abbreviation. But I had another example up earlier in a different draft of this post, and it was even worse! I'm super curious about this: does this pattern have a name? Are there examples that work in a much superior way?

For what it's worth, I'm not talking here about the common game wherein we make different words by simply changing one letter - rather, I'm talking about adding a letter but maintaining the structure of a word, albeit a different one. Does that clarify at all?

Help me make a list!

Friday, June 19, 2009

on the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks.

OMG. I can't believe I've only just now found this. I'm pretty sure this will effectively retire my semi-recurring category here on this blog, but just knowing that this one's out here carrying on the good mission makes me feel more at ease in this world.

Behold - idiots getting corrected. It's a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

on father's day.

So, I have a complicated relationship with my Dad, which I've written about before. But it's gotten better over the years, and I'm happy where it is. Father's Day is coming up and I've had this card saved for my Dad for a while, so I brought it with me to Pittsburgh and I mailed it off to him and I hope it makes him happy. And then I was browsing, you know, the entire Internets (or just YouTube) and I saw this video and it made me laugh to think about sending it to him. First of all because he doesn't understand really how to even turn on a computer, much less how to utilize the Internet in order to check his (non-existent) email account and get this from me. Secondly, I'm not really sure the humor is up his alley.

But as I reflected upon it even more, I realized that I now have more than one Dad in my life. Not in the literal sense, of course, since I'll only ever have one Dad who helped make me, but rather...I know someone whom I love who's a Dad! It's weird to think of him that way, but it's part of who he is now, and it's so integral to his identity now. Brother Jah-Wah! He's a daddy! His little boy, Tiger, born in October, will be getting his own YouTube video soon, or so I've heard, but in the meantime, I can think of no better Dad in my life to whom I'd like to dedicate this video. I've often told my older sisters that they're such cool parents, that their kids are going to have radically different lives, just because of how accessible they are, and how the world's changed. I think Johnny succeeds on that level even more and I'm so envious of my nephew Tiger who gets to grow up with such an awesome Dad! Here's to you. Happy Father's Day.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

on astro-zombies.

Alas, no video today, seeing as I'm apparently still computer-inept. But even while I'm out of town, I'll hold it down for my hometown: check the photos below to see the semi-new mural painted outside of Astro Zombies' new location. Although I don't shop there (my allegiances go waaaay back) a lot of my comic book geek friends do and they tell me that it's a quality shop. I am super excited to get into this new location and check out the abundance of new room they have. Do yourself a favor, go buy a comic book.

Monday, June 15, 2009

on the pittsburgh penguins.

Now, I'm sure that nearly everyone who reads this blog would have been damn sure that today I'd be writing about the Los Angeles Lakers. And normally, yes, I would. But there are some things to take into consideration other than my normal world of basketball. And first and foremost, that means the Stanley Cup!

(Seriously, though, pretty much everyone has to agree, right? The Stanley Cup is the dopest trophy in all of sports. The way that it travels, there's only one trophy for all the winners in the entire NHL – when your year is done, if you didn't defend your title, you don't get to keep it. The way each player on the team gets to spend some personal time with it. The engraving, the constant re-polishing, the stories that we've heard. The Stanley Cup rules. It's the best trophy, bar none.)

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to time a trip into France to see Lance Armstrong win his seventh Tour de France. While this, honestly, pales in comparison, I do feel like I've lucked into another great event via my travels: The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup last Friday, and I was able to see the whole thing inside a very Pittsburgh-y bar: Gators. The crowd was great, cheering on the action, and the TVs were spectacular (is hockey the sport that benefits the most from HDTV?) but there were a couple things that made me nervous. Well, maybe not nervous, that might be the wrong word, but I was certainly taken aback.

In the second period, one of the Pittsburgh players ran into the goalie for the Detroit team (whom the crowd seemed to hate more than anyone else on his team) and there was a cheer. Someone in the back yelled, “Hell yeah, I hope he tears his ACL and has to retire!” while another person, probably emboldened by this, and thinking that he'd go ahead and take it a step farther, did so by shouting, “Get AIDS and die!” Wow. I mean, I come from a healthy hate of the Boston Celtics, which extends to really disliking pretty much all Boston sports (except, of course, when I think they'll win me some money) but that was ballsy, even to me. Fortunately, most of the people in the bar were drunk and truly seemed not to care, so the comment passed over without anyone having to pay for it.

This was not the case when many of the fans in the bar started booing the Red Wings fans, whom we saw on TV cheering their team on (because, you know...the game was in Detroit). Lots of bad insults were hurled their way, very little of which made sense to me (again, I'll contrast it with the term Masshole, which I throw around at Celtics fans - that's kind of an accepted epithet for the people from the Northeast, whereas this one guy in particular in the bar seemed to be psyched that people in Detroit were apparently unemployed) but I was content to simply sit back and observe.

When the final countdown started, many people were nervous, but I was filming, so I didn't get a good look at the game itself. It wasn't until I started reading the recaps of the game that I realized the Pens had narrowly averted a tie in the last second of the game. When that last second did tick off, though, the place exploded in joy, which promptly flooded out to the streets.

Here then, is my video of congratulations to the Pittsburgh Penguins. I know next to nothing about hockey, but I do know that the national media gave you very little chance to win this title, and I do know that watching a town win a championship in a major sporting event is a very revealing look at the people of that city; something that my fair city of Albuquerque will, unfortunately, never ever ever get a chance to experience. So I was psyched to get to take part in this while I'm here.

Edited to add: I'm apparently semi-ignorant when it comes to making videos, so I have no idea how to get them all together. I'll get mine up tomorrow, that's a promise.

Friday, June 12, 2009

on "hockey mom."

I have many sad things to say about the return of one of my favorite categories today. First of all, I took this picture at Hobby Lobby while trying to find some leather to repair my necklace, which is broken. Second of all, obviously, it presents some inappropriate quotation marks, which is something worth making fun of in and of itself. When quoting inside a quote, we should only use single marks (also called scare quotes). But most importantly, it represents the sad reality that many people in America now seee Sarah Palin as a quotable source. Which she is, don't get me wrong; but only as someone worth mocking.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

on traveling.

(This was typed at the ATL airport, but I was unable to post it from there, because their wi-fi networks operate through various pay-to-play services. Boo. Edited again because now I've apparently forgotten my power cord. I know this trip is mainly to relax, but my two secondary goals are running and writing! What the hell is the matter with me?)

Traveling is a crazy different experience now than it was a mere ten years ago. And that's aside from the obvious differences like 9/11 affecting how Americans (although I'd imagine many countries already dealt with some of these difficulties that we think are so unique to us) have to go through security in a vastly different way. I've talked with many of my friends in the past about how flying was no long the romanticized notion that it was in the 60s and 70s, which I think is a rather obvious notion, but it's worth expanding (if briefly) upon:

The first time I flew after 9/11, I was going from Gonzaga to Georgia to protest the School of the Americas. (Sure, it's got a different name now but that doesn't mean it's a different place.) There was nothing romantic about the trip or the flight, but it was an important one for me to go on, because it put the next one I went on in such contrast. When I came home for Christmas break from GU after that trip, I was more excited than I'd ever been before to see my family at the airport, to have them pick me up and to have that wonderful reunion scene, immortalized in so many movies.

But when I got out of the tunnel (is there a word for that? The taxi tunnel thing that leads from plane to airport?), I was shocked to see no one there. I was one of the last out of the plane (I didn't care, I wasn't in a rush, I'd be home for a while, so I let the other travelers herd out before me) so I figured there wouldn't be much of a crowd still around, blocking my view of my mom and brothers. Boy was I right. There was no one there.

Now, of course, this seems normal. This is just how it is. You have to go outside of security to have your reunion. And yeah, there's still the reunion, so it's not like it's fundamentally changed, but it has in so many ways, really. It's just different. Now we get off the planes, we go through reverse-security and we all have our reunions there. Or we get picked up curbside. (What's the point of coming in, some people say?) Whatever it is. But it's not this anymore.

And that's disappointing.

But not my main focus here.

Obviously, I'm traveling now, and it's the first time that I've done so in a while. I used to go traveling quite often, either up to Spokane, for return trips to see my friends, a couple times over to Europe, etc. But when I left Albuquerque, I was shocked to think about how different it is. I mean, cell phones have been pretty ubiquitous for the last decade or so, at this point, but the prevalence of laptops, of smartphones, of iPods, etc... Wow. It was a lot to take in.

(When I got to Atlanta for my layover, another thought struck me: I love Albuquerque and I will defend it to my dying breath, but it really is a step below major cities in a lot of ways. Man, the ATL airport is huge! In fact, my BFF told me that it's the most trafficked airport in the world, by volume.)

But just think about the proliferation of technology and what it's done to aid travel. This isn't jut necessarily limited to flight, either. I mean, I make fun of those SUVs with the TVs in the headrests, but I'll bet the mom who takes her kids camping loves those TVs so damn much, it's hard to articulate. And yeah, we can look at things like that, and we can say that it's a bad sign for our culture, that we expect to be entertained at every instant, that we're losing some intangible things that previous generations had that we will never even comprehend, but I'd rather take the opposite tack: I know those aforementioned things are true, and I mourn those losses, even while accepting that I probably don't even know what exactly it is that I've lost, but I'm not sure that it's such a bad thing – think about all that we've gained. The world is a lot more convenient, sure. That's a good thing. But there's so much more available, too. I mean, if you're letting your kids zone out on video games 24 hours a day, you're definitely hurting them. But what about the possibility of putting on Sesame Street, like the President used to watch in his youth on newly burned DVDs? What about all the great things that we can do now? Previously, if someone liked the CD I was playing on my Walkman, I'd tell them to buy a copy. (Unless it was a local band, in which case they'd be screwed.) Now, if I have my computer and a flash drive (or if they have one – even better!) I can copy that song and encourage them to buy the files directly from the artist.

Travel is but one indicator of the world that we're living in now, but I will continue to say, as I have already: the future is a damn cool place.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

on the rapid ride after dark.

Good news for people who like to hit the downtown scene in Albuquerque, but don't relish the idea of either driving drunk, having to deal with all the cars, or walking/biking amongst the infamous cruise line: The Rapid Ride After Dark will begin its annual service tomorrow! This year (have they done this before in the past and I've just missed it?) the city is offering a pass for the RAD (I know, it's a lame acronym) that's only 15 dollars. The passes, obviously, are good only for the After Dark service, which runs from 8 PM to 2:30 AM, Friday and Saturday only. The buses will run this route, though, until September 5, which gives you plenty of time to use that pass. Very cool idea. The only drag is, I went down to buy mine today, and the lady at the Alvarado Transportation Center told me that they didn't go on sale until tomorrow. She was polite about it, no doubt, but I think it's probably a little counter-intuitive to run this program, advertise the passes, and then not put them on sale until the service actually starts. We've never heard of pre-sale, or what? (While I'm complaining, it's a little odd that the service doesn't start until June 5...kids at UNM have been out of school nearly a month! Let's get this started earlier! But I digress.) The Rapid Ride After Dark is a great alternative method of transportation for heading downtown, even if you're not going to drink: save gas, see some interesting people, and you won't have to deal with the hassles of traffic and finding a place to park. Go pick up a pass and I'll see you on the bus.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

on explore the sky too.

It's been a long-ass time since the Oktober People released their last CD. But at long last, the waiting has paid off. They now have a second disc to promote, and it's even available on iTunes (although, as always, I'd recommend going through the store that debuted DRM-free).

The CD, called Explore The Sky Too is sonically similar to Oktober People's last disc and what we've come to expect from their live shows. It's a great cacophony of noise, made beautiful by the careful arrangement and the just-right vocals. People who are looking for a singer who belts out above and beyond everything else should look elsewhere because Nata Santa Maria seems to be much more interested in harnessing his voice as an instrument on par with the rest, not outdoing his bandmates.

The CD is short. It's only eight songs, and it clocks in at just about 43 minutes, but those are intense, music-jammed minutes. The Oktober People take the Nirvana formula of verse-chorus-verse mixed with soft-loud-soft and do it to an exponential factor; when the bottom drops out, there's often times when the song appears over, only to reappear via a sonic blast that re-ups where the song had been and takes it further.

The CD starts with a track called "No. 5 The Robot Head" which is a great introduction to the band for anyone who hasn't heard them yet. The second song, "Shine" really shows off their growth from the last disc. Santa Maria projects his voice in a way that he never did on the self-titled debut, and uses it in a more bombastic manner, while still keeping the focus on the group as a whole. (I could never see him, for example, splitting from this group to do solo work. It'd be too different.) "All The Narrows" starts a lot like "The Roosevelt Incident" from their previous disc (which, incidentally, is the only real valid complaint I could see anyone having about a group like this: much like Sigur Ros, many of their songs do sound similar) but stays in that soft groove until exploding in the middle and concluding rather peacefully. The CD continues on this course and reaches the album closer "Suicide Shy" where all the instruments collide in a remarkable way - the drums are kicking, Santa Maria's voice finally reaches a fever pitch, and the guitars, of course, wail back and forth over one another.

At this point, I think that the Oktober People are kind of a musicians-only insiders band for Albuquerque. I saw lots of people at their CD release party that play in other bands, and people who know the scene well speak fondly of them and their music. However, this troubles me for a couple reasons. First of all, I worry that they won't get the national attention they deserve. But secondly, and even more so, I worry that they'll feel they have to move (ahem...like our last super-pimped export) in order to make the next move. (By the way, read that linked article! Dude talks about some of the feelings of NM-natives who have an ambiguous relationship with The Shins now, and gets an awesome response from Dave Hernandez, who's one of the only remaining original members, other than James Mercer. I don't have any proof that it's really him leaving the comment, but...) I don't really know anyone in the band, so I don't know if that's an aim, but, really, I kind of just have to assume that it is. I mean, who wouldn't want to take the next step?

I don't want to lose the Oktober People, but just like the scene of Zach Braff riding the motorcycle while "Caring is Creepy" plays gave me goosebumps (no video link...stupid copyright!), I would be psyched to see the Oktober People succeed on a bigger level. One of the most important things they're going to have to do, though, is upgrade their website - it's not bad, at this point, given that it's only a placeholder, but hopefully it will be better soon, seeing as it's much different than the last time I looked at it (which was the night of their CD release party, for what it's worth). For now, I'd recommend anyone interested in the band to check their MySpace, which is a bit better or at least updated more than semi-frequently.

I don't know if this will come across as hero-worshiping fandom, but I know no other way to say it: The Oktober People are the best local band that we have and they have been for a while now. They have the potential to be the next big thing out of Albuquerque and New Mexico as a whole and, if that's what they want, I wish them the best. You'd be wise to get some of their music now so that you can say you knew them back in the day.

Monday, June 1, 2009

link of the day.

As I mentioned before, a modified version of my last post is now up over at Fittest Tweeter. Here's to hoping that my lazy week post-work is over, and I'll be back on my grind here, instead of just pumping out reviews of movies that came out five years ago.