Clean-up on aisle four.

Let's get somethings straightened out from the weekend.

I thought I could overcome the shame that accompanied my blatantly ripping off a good idea on Friday, but sadly I cannot. I have felt so unoriginal since then. That's not good for someone who derives their very livelihood from creativity and originality. Not good at all. I need absolution.

The NFL draft went pretty well for my Vikings. I'm almost excited about next year. When Brady Quinn was available for the Vikes at #7, I felt quite conflicted. In the end I'm glad we picked up Adrian Peterson instead. Between him and Taylor we've got a great running force. Rookie of the year, I call it now. And I'm also still psyched about Tarvaris Jackson. I hope they hand him the keys. With Chad Greenway coming back from injury, it almost seems like we had an extra first-round draft pick this year. Solid.

So here's my predicament: I spent most of the last year wishing I could buy some new music. The budget's tight so I've had to put it all off. Then for my birthday last week I got like three iTunes gift cards, so much that I couldn't spend it all. I now have about $35 to hold onto and wait for new music to come out that I'd like to jump on. The problem is that THIS BLOWS. Is there really that little good music that's come out in the past year? Am I too afraid of blowing it to take a chance on something? Argh! My plan right now is to keep a close eye on metacritic for the next few months. I'm tempted to get Neon Bible.

That's it for now. Enjoy your Monday and remember: Daniel Craig couldn't hold Roger Moore's bellbottoms.


Joe Mauer.

Always one to overcome the shame of ripping off a good idea, I'm going to... well... rip off a good idea, then subsequently overcome the inevitable shame. This one comes from a recent post by Gordon in which he compares and contrasts himself with Lance Armstrong. I recently read an article about Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer, and that seems like as good an idea as any. Long live the compulsion for constant material!

1. Joe Mauer was a 3-sport star at Cretin Durham High School, where he led an already fabled sports program to even further glory. I had a laminated hall pass at Rosemount High School for school newspaper, where I successfully filed 2, maybe 3 articles my entire senior year.

2. Joe Mauer owns a townhome in Fort Myers, Florida, which provides him with offseason access to the Twins training facilities so that he can pump iron from November through March. I rent a one bedroom apartment here which provides me year-round access to an indoor pool and hot tub (that don't always smell like urine) so that I can choke on my own bile any month I choose.

3. Joe Mauer was honored last August with the "Joe Mauer Sideburns Night" promotion at the Metrodome, which allowed people to don the facial hair for which he is quickly becoming more and more well-known. If I were to ever be honored with such an occasion, it would probably be "Nick Lee Exaggerated Sigh of Frustration Day" here at the office, which would allow people to try out my signature default reaction for which I am becoming more and more infamous.

4. Joe Mauer won the American League batting title last year, batting .347 and often flirting with .400 throughout the season. I won the office football pool one week two years ago, and last year flirted with picking more than half of the games correctly throughout the season.

5. Joe Mauer can't go into grocery stores around Minnesota anymore without being hounded by fans and media. I can't go into the malls around Colorado Springs anymore without being hounded by people trying to sell me a cell phone plan.

As you can plainly see, our lives are quite different. I hope you enjoyed this fascinating look at one of today's up-and-coming young stars. (I was talking about Joe Mauer, not myself. Just clarifying.) Enjoy your weekend, and remember: Bone Thugs-N-Harmony gotsta eat, too.


I am the healthiest man alive!

Killing yourself jogging before killing yourself at work, not such a great idea. Especially when there are stairs involved at the office. Nonetheless, I resolved to drag myself into my jogging outfit at 5:45 am. You know that running route I said I would run by July 10th? Yeah, I ran it today. Jan was right, it wouldn't take me nearly that long. With slight revisions the route lasted a total of 2.1477 miles. That's easily the longest I've ever run in my life.

Gmaps Pedometer is the best. I think I'm doing much better because I always know how far I've gone and how far I need to go. If I was running without knowing these things, I'd probably give up a lot sooner. Check it out for any kind of outdoor activity.

I'm really impressed with how fast my body is getting into shape. It was a mere 3 or 4 weeks ago when I couldn't even go a mile. My heart and lungs are becoming much more efficient with every run, and my mental endurance is coming along right with it. Won't be long before I'll be able to run for an hour. Maybe.

The downside is that now my legs are absolutely killing me. It took me about twice as long to shower this morning on account of I had absolutely nothing left in the tank. And they keep the good coffee on the second floor. Dang. Guess I'm taking the elevator.

The route is here. Enjoy Tie Thursday!



I don't know if it was because of my birthday or what, but 22 visitors in one day?! That's more than double my previous high. Nice work people. Take five.

I've been listening to a lot of Less Than Jake this past week or so, particularly Anthem. It's pretty good, but it definitely falls into the "we gotta get out of this place" vein they've become known for. And I started to think about a time when I felt the same way.

It's odd because by any count I've made it out. Cool. The thing is I don't really think there was any point to making it out of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. That's actually a really good place to be. I can't really sympathize with LTJ on a very personal level because I never felt like it was going to get a lot better. But I have been around people in that situation. My peeps on the Iron Range definitely had LTJ syndrome. They wanted so badly to make it out and found it really difficult to do so. I guess I caught a second-hand buzz off of them and so every time I hear LTJ now, even this album that I've never heard before, it sends me back to my time on the Range.

I really miss feeling like my life was oppressed, even if it was totally phony and stolen from somebody else. It gave my actions a meaning that they don't seem to have from a mid-major city in Colorado. Not that I feel like I'm wasting my time here, but things become very clear-cut when you're looking from small town to big city. I think in some way a lot of people my age have that same urge. They want to feel a little oppressed so that they don't have to face the by-and-large meaninglessness of most of their actions. Most of us don't really actually know what true oppression feels like so it doesn't seem ironic or offensive in any way, it just feels natural. I don't know, I'm kind of making this up on the fly, but does it at all make sense?


The birthday post.

Here's a recap of my weekend:

Friday: Golfing at Cherokee Ridge's par-3 course. Had a couple pars, shot 39 (it was my first time out this year, lay off). That is a rinky-dink course though. It boasted holes of 88 and 92 yards. Monsters. Went out to Saltgrass Steak House for dinner. Had the 12-ounce prime rib, steak fries, and chicken tortilla soup. The soup didn't hold a candle to Marcia's recipe, but the steak was pretty good. Bumped into Kate and Thom there. They're our "bumping into in restaurants" buddies.

Saturday: Breakfast at IHOP, eggs benedict which were wonderful. Marcia kept pointing out every cute little kid in the restaurant. I think my parents will start to suspect things. Visited Golden. If you enjoy photography or biking, that's your town. Headed up Lookout Mountain to see the Buffalo Bill museum and gravesite. Managed not to run down any bicyclists on the way up, there were at least 50. Went to Blackhawk and Central City looking for gold mine tours, settled for a casino buffet instead (I think it was the Isle of Capri). Got back to Colorado Springs and schooled my parents in 500, 3 games to 2.

Sunday: Danny Oertli led worship at church. That guy's everywhere. Hardest working man in Front Range Evangelical show business? Brunch at the Broadmoor, my first 5-star dining experience ever. Felt extra-compelled to cram as much down my gullet as possible. It was all very very delicious. Weirdly, a girl from Marcia's Bible study was our waitress. Watched "Stranger Than Fiction" (birthday present, LOVE that movie), went to Bear Creek dog park. Marcia made an apple pie from scratch. I love that woman. Bless her soul. More 500, won again 3 games to 2.

I ate so much. I'm still full. Help.


Tidings for the weekend.

First: Mega huge birthday propers to Jan! It really is too bad you have to share your birthday with Hitler and Columbine. It would be sooooo much better if you were a pothead, today being 4/20 and all. Strike up some Sublime for me.

Second: I ran 1.5 miles last night. It was sweet. Mental toughness, that's what it's all about. The ability to tell your body to keep going when it feels like you have nothing left in the tank. So my distances for the first three runs of the year (go ahead, have a chuckle) are .87, 1.12, and 1.50. I like this direction. Pretty soon I'll be jogging so many miles I'll need nipple tape.

Take that, liberal conspiracy! We're on to you!

Fourth: The parentals are in town for the weekend. I'm really actually pretty excited. If anyone knows something fun to do in the central Colorado area, I'm all ears. I'm getting my first golfing of the year in this afternoon. It's been so long, I'm just trying not to get beat by my parents. It's their first time on a course ever. I better be freaking amazing. Wish me horrible luck.


To the kindly people of Asia...

It has come to my attention that a surprisingly large segment of my fan base hails from the Far East. China, Taiwan, Malaysia, I'm huge over there. So in an effort to better serve these nice folk, I submit this open note to the kindly people of Asia:

Dude, we love you guys! And not just your food either. (Although, in my opinion, it's a toss up between Thai and Chinese for best food in the whole world. Mexican can't hold a candle to you all.) I'm so excited that you found your way to my blog. I'd love to hear what you think. You should comment to me. Got any questions for me? Any concerns with American culture or government (be honest, you know you have a few)? I would really welcome the opportunity to open this space up as a forum for intercultural dialogue about important world issues. The floor is yours.

Oh and by the way, Banzai was hands down the funniest TV show I've ever seen. Good work.


New glasses (follow-up).

It seems I've hit a chord with my post on new glasses. Allow me a moment of indulgence to comment on the comments:

"Anonymous": I knew you'd be pleased. I really wish I had the motivation to post to your I Heart Glasses group. If you could make an animation of your happy dance, I would gladly post it for all to enjoy.

Jan: Of COURSE you went for the Converse frames. Not that you're predictable or I'm pigeon-holing you or anything, but I wouldn't expect anything other than eyewear that fit exactly into your persona. Good selection.

Gordon: Don't worry, you pull off that look without the glasses.

Let me state here and now that I will never ever ever own a pair of aviator glasses. Here's why:

Don't ask me what he's doing in Rio, I don't know.


Old friends.

Finding things about old friends from high school online is an interesting experience. The particular situation of which I speak is probably unique to a range of only a few years. Those high school classes that graduated before the ubiquitousness of email addresses and blog sites but are still young enough to employ these tools with the proper amount of aptitude are probably pretty few (?). So when I find stuff online about people I haven't spoken to in years, it seems both foreign and familiar all at once.

And everyone seems really exciting at first. Websites that try to round up 600 students for an eventual class reunion provide at best a couple paragraphs for you to summarize the last nine years of your life. When you're running through the highlights, it's great. Some people turn out exactly like you thought they would, others not so much. But either way you're getting only the very highest lights of their lives. It's a trip.

I bet if we knew exactly what their lives were like, we'd yawn and move on. Not to say anyone's really boring, but particulars don't excite in the same way. My situation in life is really exciting, my day today is not. Blogs do a good job of filtering the minutae and bringing (hopefully) just the interesting stuff.

I see lots of summaries from past friends and acquaintences. I want to contact them all, see how things are going. But deep down I think it would get boring in a hurry and then I'd feel obligated to keep the communication going past any significant point. It's a bummer too. I bet they're all really great. They should all have blogs I guess.

New glasses.

I love getting new glasses. It's a certain feeling of intelligence and invincibility that makes me want to reinvent myself. It ranks second to new socks. Here's my new eyewear.

The picture doesn't really convey the angularness of these, especially in comparison to my old frames. But let's just say I look no less than 25% smarter now, with an equal boost in aerodynamics. Gunmetal is claaaaaaaaaassy.

Here's the gimmick site of the day, in a related story. And my results. I'm a classic. They reccomend I rock some metal Ray Bans. Um, thanks Lenscrafters. Way ahead of you.


A foray into illustration...

Whoever knows where this is (who isn't named Gordon) wins some respect. Kind of comic bookish, but it's a start.


In your face, grim spectre of death!

Yeah that's right, I'm still young and strapping enough to run a mile. 1.1207, in fact. Despite the blizzard-like conditions (Mike Daniels is full of it), I braved the elements and jogged this path, counterclockwise. The blue sections are where I walked. My running distance in total was 1.6702 out of the 2.2032 mile circuit. Livin the dream!

It's officially my stated goal to be able to run this route completely by July 10.

Unrelated, here's an awesome link I stole from Bill Simmons. Enjoy its awesomeness.


A great album.

Thanks to Gordon, I saw this comic yesterday. It's a pretty funny strip if you ask me. Then again, it seems like Cat and Girl always brings it. One of my top two favorite online comics, behind Dinosaur Comics. Anyway, because of this I totally had a hankering to hear some Belle and Sebastian.

They rule. I absolutely love them. In a blog post from last summer, I had Dear Catastrophe Waitress ranked as my 14th most favorite album of all time. I think that's in the ballpark, but I might even move it back up to ten. There are only one or two songs all the way through that I don't love.

Why is this relevant? It fits into my whole "album vs. shuffle" debate. This was probably the last album that I listen to all the way through, repeatedly, for an extended period of time. In fact, most of my top twenty albums (if not all) have been treated that way. I'm tired of not having more albums to rank in my top fifty all time. I'm never going to rank songs. Only albums. So there.

In addendum/response to a comment the other day, yes I won a Cherry Coke. Someone at lunch tried to argue that River Phoenix died of AIDS. I called him on it, then someone found this online and that was that. Conveniently, that was the very same afternoon the vending machine died here at work, and I never did see my Cherry Coke. Reward pending, I guess. Everyone enjoy their Thursday.


Long day yesterday, I tell you what.

Here's a nightmare scenario: You hop out of the shower in the morning, ready to tackle a new work week fresh off a three-day weekend. You hear a siren off in the distance and think to yourself, "Man, sucks to be them." Then you hear the beep on your answering machine letting you know you have a message. You stop cold.

Nobody should be calling you before 7 am.

The message is from your wife. She says she's been in an accident and needs you to come quick. You throw on yesterday's clothes from the closet floor, frantically scrape your windshield. You wonder if she's ok. She didn't say she was hurt, and THANK GOD it wasn't the hospital calling you, but you wonder about the car and if she maybe doesn't seem hurt because of adrenaline but really she's in bad shape.

You get there and the car's front end is smashed to bits. Your wife is keeping warm in a squad car. You breathe a sigh of relief, then dive into the endless stream of paperwork and insurance claims. An interesting wrinkle is that the cops spend an awful long time talking to the other driver, which ends in him being driven off in the back of a black & white.

That whole scenario made my day pretty long yesterday. My wife is fine, the nightmare Pontiac will soon be destroyed, and I don't know what happened to the other driver (other than that he also filed a claim, despite being completely at fault).

Today has to go better.


Easter eggs.

Like any graphic designer worth his salt, I spent the weekend coloring Easter eggs. It's a wonderful design exercise that should be done any time, and often. Here are the highlights:

Kind of a webbish looking primary color thing. Crayons are the bombdiggety. You know it to be true.

Salt is also pretty cool. I wanted this to look like a watermelon but I abandoned it halfway through. If only every project at work could be like that.

This one was sort of a tiger stripe number. I like it, although you probably can't get the full effect through a hastily-taken picture. And finally, time to get patriotic:

A clarification on this one: Yes, I'm mocking America's fetish with ribbons. No, I'm not disrespecting our troops. Yes, I'm adamantly pro-egg.


On Weezer.

I bought Weezer's Pinkerton on September 27, 1996, the Friday after it was released. I played it in the Goat Ride a lot over the next few months (Jan can probably attest to this), and it was good. When college come in 1998, suddenly all my friends were going gaga over this album. They all claimed that they had the album for a long time. They're liars. I didn't ever hear anyone even mention the second album from my second-favorite band for at least a year after its release. It's not that I'm trying to play the "I'm so much cooler than them" card, but it really annoyed me at the time and I had to get it off my chest.

That being said, the blue album is so much better. I know I'll get resistance from the "Pinkerton is proto-emo" camp, but I listened to the first album yesterday and it is just so amazing. Between "My Name is Jonas", "Undone", and "Only in Dreams", that's enough to do it. But every other song on the album is very good as well. I've never heard a better collection of ten consecutive songs.

But what I've really been wondering about is the new stuff. In Septbember 2000 I was fortunate enough to see Weezer at First Ave in Minneapolis. We showed up in line before the all-ages show even started, so we got to be right up front. It was sweet. Then Weezer came out with the green album, Maladroit, and whatever since then. And let's be honest, the worst song off the blue album is better than the best song off the green album. It's no comparison. When the green album came out I heard so many excuses trying to make it seem like it wasn't that bad. It was the same garbage they were saying about Star Wars Episode 1.

So my question is: If I could truncate Weezer's career after the release of Pinkerton, would I? That would mean getting rid of one of my fondest concert memories, but it would also rid the world of some pretty uninspired stuff and leave their legacy with its mythical mystique.

I'm thinking I would. Thoughts?

Finally, let's give a big thumbs up to my new favorite painter, Brandon Bird. His work does exactly what art is supposed to do, make you react. For example, I defy you to look at this image and not feel anything. Some other good ones can be found here, here, and here. Enjoy.

I'm off tomorrow for Good Friday. Probably hit y'all upz on Average Monday. Later.


I hate TV.

I JUST GOT WORD today from this link that the Black Donnelly's is getting the boot. That's just dumb. For one, I like that show. Second, it's had about 5 weeks to prove itself, three of those with crappy Deal or No Deal in front of it. Third, the plot of the show is taking a while to develop, how can they expect it to be a smash hit right away?

I swear, these TV execs are going out of their way to make TV as stupid as possible. You know what they're replacing the Black Donnelly's with? "The Real Wedding Crashers." It was a hit movie, now it's a reality show! Totally not thrown together! Enjoy!!! And even if a show does turn into a smash hit, they go on six-week breaks twice in a stinkin' season! I'm lookin at you, Heroes!!!

I'm fed up. I hate TV.

Let's congratulate some people, shall we?

OH HOW I HAVE a few random, unconnected things to talk about.

Congrats to the Twins for overcoming a shaky Johan Santana performance to beat the Orioles last night. I didn't realize how much I missed baseball until yesterday. It provides literally endless fodder day in and day out through October. No other sport is quite like it. No American sport anyway, I'm not quite sure how cricket goes about its business.

Congrats to Billy Ray Cyrus for being the worst dancing celebrity I have ever seen. My sample pool is a little small for that kind of judgement, as last night was the first episode of Dancing With the Stars I've ever sat down and watched, but HOLY CANOLI was Cyrus bad. You would think a musician would have more natural rhythm and wouldn't have to count to themselves visibly while they dance. Oh wait, he plays country music. I guess he doesn't necessarily qualify as a "musician." Side congrats to Heather Mills, for riding her sympathy votes all the way to the top. Did you know she has a fake leg?!?!

Congrats to my wife for bringing me to new levels of shame. How? By waking up at 5 AM on her spring break. Nothing makes you feel lazier than sleeping in past your wife while she's on vacation and you're not. For an encore, my gardening exploits go unrewarded while she's got beet plants shooting up like mad. I'm not bitter.


Herb Carneal.

YOU HAVE TO BELIEVE I'm very excited about the new baseball season. Very. But it's kind of a bittersweet day to be a Twins fan. Herb Carneal passed away.

I remember so well his voice on the radio when I was a kid. He had a classic way of calling a game, letting you know what was happening on the field without any fluff. He's as big a part of my childhood obsession with baseball as Kirby Puckett or my first glove. Here's my favorite quote from the article from Ernie Harwell:

"He was smooth, laid back, down the middle and very pleasant to listen to," Harwell said Sunday. "It was like you were an old friend and sitting around with him, maybe with his shoes off and a cigar or bottle of beer and just enjoying his company and in turn enjoying the ballgame."

He will be missed.