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Frustrations

July 3, 2015

I don’t write because it’s easier to stand still and look at the past than it is to do something once and regret not doing it a second time.

I’m still really excited to own this URL though. I just need to spend more time during the week reading and writing than I am.

A Look Back on the 2013-2014 Chargers season

January 12, 2014

The 2013-2014 San Diego Chargers season was a wild ride. As a fan it’s been tough to see a handful of last minute losses to start off the season (Houston, Tennessee, Washington) with some highlights along the way (Indy, KC part 1, NYG). With the completion of their loss against the Denver Broncos today, it’s hard to not look at the game as a microcosm for the season. At one point in the game, the Chargers trailed 17-0 and things looked hopeless. Likewise, here’s a progression of the Chargers regular season:

  • Week 6: 3-3
  • Week 13: 5-7
  • Week 17: 9-7

The Chargers were written off by just about everyone at the end of the 2012-2013 season. The firing of AJ Smith and Norv Turner gave hope to the fanbase, but expectations were low going into this season. Tom Telesco would replace AJ Smith as GM with Mike McCoy replacing Norv Turner. Their 2013 draft was considered a mixed bag. Fluker would help with the line issues. Most expected Te’o to be a bust, and Keenan Allen who?

Like most NFL teams, the Chargers faced numerous injuries losing their number 1 and number 2 wide receivers before the season was underway.  Throughout the pre-season the bad reviews kept coming. I remember reading articles and listening to reports discussing how the Chargers would be a 6-10 team at best. One article said the Chargers would be either 13-3 or 3-13, depending on how the new management handled things. Most articles described a Chargers’ team that could replicate last season’s 7-9 as being a successful first campaign for the new regime. I looked for awhile but couldn’t find anyone predicting a winning season for the Chargers.

So the regular season got underway with more injuries. The offensive line turned into a revolving door. The linebacker corps turned into a bunch of players that Chargers’ fans had never heard of and along the way they added this guy to the down three. In a way, the team reminded me a lot of the 2010 team that went 9-7 while using a record-tying number of players. Of course, the 2010 Chargers missed the playoffs. The 2013 Chargers squeezed in.

The 2013-2014 team hopefully shows a turnaround in Chargers football. Ryan Mathews set a personal record for total rushing yardage. Philip Rivers showed a return to expectations finishing 5th in the NFL in passing yards and 4th in QB Rating. Keenan Allen finished with over 1,000 receiving yards as a rookie and is a serious contender for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

At the end of the day, it’s easy to be hard on the Chargers. It’s easy to be a fairweather fan. It’s easy to say, “well, they choked in the playoffs again.” But let’s not forget that this is a team that many NFL pundits wrote off at the beginning of the season. This was a team that finished the 2012 season in a decline that most didn’t expect to turnaround until at least 2015. This is a team where a 7-9 record would’ve been considered a success.

Taking a rookie GM and a rookie head coach a game away from the AFC Championship is something that this year’s Chargers team can be proud of. Did they bring home the Lombardi? No. Did they take a huge step in the right direction? Absolutely.

The George Zimmerman Verdict

July 13, 2013

Two years ago I wrote this piece on the Casey Anthony verdict:

Two years later, not much has changed. Something that is ultimately a non-story for 300+ million people has saturated our FB newsfeeds, our 24/7 media outlets, Twitter, whatever.

What I didn’t think about with the Casey Anthony verdict that crossed my mind this time around is the irony of the timing. Here we are, nine days past celebrating the 4th of July, the day when so many people are posting on their social networks about how awesome “‘Murrica” is and how great of a nation we are and whatever, only now our social networks are all about how the system is unjust, and how clearly this was a prime example of how racist Americans still are. One comment I read amounted to basically claiming that the outcome of the case just means that non-blacks are free to kill blacks, because the judicial system will let them off the hook.

Now, I realize that in a sense, the fact that we can bitch and moan about the injustice (perceived or otherwise) of this verdict is part of the American way. It’s “free speech”. It’s our right. Okay, sure.

Now, I do think the Zimmerman trial tells us a lot about ourselves and the way we perceive each other. I’m sure there are people who think that anyone who could believe Zimmerman was innocent of his charges is clearly racist. I know I’ve read plenty of comments by people who still think Trayvon Martin was a 12 or 13 year old kid, not a 17 year old high schooler. Some of this is because of what we buy in from the media. Some of this is because ultimately we are selective believers. As a whole, people do not want to process information that doesn’t align with their own belief systems (political, religious, whatever). Everything we take in (reading, listening, seeing) goes through that belief filter if you will.

Of course, at the end of the day, I still believe what I wrote about Casey Anthony holds true here. That the only reason we know about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman is because national media outlets decided it would be a good story to run. It boosted ratings and distracted us from our own lives. It was on TV so it was easy to pay attention to. At least one (probably more) media outlet was live streaming the trial.

but, at the end of the day, when someone a few blocks away dies tragically, or is murdered (justly or unjustly), we will look at ourselves and say, “man, I need to get out of this neighborhood”, and a week later we will have moved on with our lives.

Tax exemptions and the church

July 9, 2013

I rarely give stuff from Breitbart the time of day, but this piece piqued my curiosity. Am I alone in thinking that churches losing non-profit status over the ability to perform state-sanctioned marriages isn’t a huge deal?

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/06/26/IRS-could-revoke-non-profit-for-religious-institutions

On the one hand, the idea of “we’re going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married” seems ingrained in the American psyche. On the other hand, I personally have no issue with holding a ceremony in a church to be married before God, family and friends then going to the county clerk’s office to get a piece of paper signed by a judge so I can get my IRS approved marriage status. I’m sure some churches would be affected as the general public won’t be beating the doors down to get a non-state-approved marriage from some random pastor at the pretty church building down the street, but as a matter of principle I have trouble justifying the idea that churches and pastors should bow down to the government in order to balance their power to marry (in the state’s eyes) and their tax-exempt status.

Anyway, I’d love to hear some feedback on this, either from WP readers or from those of you that know me on FB. It’s always been interesting to me that the concept of “separation of church and state” is used to justify the church’s tax-exempt status (I realize it also has to do with supposed public benefit, just like charities and non-profit hospitals) while pastors have the power (granted by the state) to effectively regulate marriage.

Scarlett Avenue – Creekside EP

July 6, 2013

2005.

I’ve been going through my mental musical catalog to try to come up with a pop-punk album I own that came out later than 2005.

and I’m stumped.

I went through a pop-punk phase when I was in high school and skating was all the rage. I own the first six MxPx albums and this unfortunate Relient K release. I grew older, expanded my musical horizons and moved on, but mid/late 90s pop-punk and the early 00s transition into a more mainstream friendly sound (The Starting Line, Yellowcard, etc.) hold a memory of time in my musical mind.

Scarlett Avenue‘s Creekside EP was released in late 2012, but it scratches that teenage itch that crops up from time to time. I can’t compare it to anything that’s come out in the last 6 or 7 years.

Scarlett Avenue brings a fresh take on a decade-old pop-punk sound. The Creekside EP sounds like something I would’ve picked up in 2003 and listened to on repeat for days at a time…which is what I did with the EP when I picked it up a few months ago. Still, there’s nothing old about the EP. The songs and music are well produced while conveying a positive take on that familiar teenage angst brought about by lost love and that wandering feeling of not really knowing your place in the world. These themes appealed to a pop-punk scene ten years ago as much as they apply to the scene now.

So maybe at 29 I’m way too old to enjoy this stuff. I saw Scarlett Avenue live a few weeks ago and they put on a great show, though I did feel a bit out of place (I swear I was ten years older than everyone else there). The live show was as expected for a pop-punk show…a high energy, crowd interactive, riff heavy half hour that was just enough to leave you wanting more.

You can follow Scarlett Avenue in the following social media locations or listen to the Creekside EP at the following links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scarlettavenue
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/scarlettaveca
Bandcamp: http://scarlettavenueca.bandcamp.com/

Obama tells delegation, “We will become an African Nation”

July 6, 2013

Obama in Africa, I made this article up

In a recent stop on his trip to Africa, President Barack Obama was heard describing his admiration for the rich cultural heritage of East Africa and his desire to increase “Africanization” in the United States.

“My heart is in East Africa. The rich cultural heritage of African peoples is incredible. America is a great country, but we lack the diversity of culture and embrace of history that I have seen here.

Five Iron Frenzy is back!

November 23, 2011

One of Christian alternative’s biggest names announced last night that they would be returning to music and producing an album during 2012 for release in 2013. Using funding raised through their Kickstarter page, Five Iron Frenzy plans on producing and promoting an album as well as potentially launching a tour in support of the album. Starting with a goal of $30,000, the band has already surpassed this number and raised over $80,000 not even 18 hours into their campaign.

Along with this fundraising campaign, the band has released a promotional single on their website that can also be heard here:

Five Iron Frenzy was a dominant name in the Christian ska scene for much of the late 1990s and early 2000s. During this time they cranked out five studio albums, two live albums and a handful of EPs, singles and compilations. Their last studio album, The End is Near was released in June 2003 with the double-album The End is Here (live + the studio album The End is Here) following in April 2004. In April 2010 they released a long anticipated DVD chronicling their careers with insights given from members of the band.

Five Iron Frenzy’s new album announcement came on the heels of a lengthy website countdown that had many fans anticipating great news, and great news they did receive. In addition to the album announcement, the band has been able to retain almost all of it line-up, though currently original bass player Keith Hoerig is being replaced by original guitar player Scott Kerr.

If we only knew…

October 6, 2011

When I was a freshman in college I took a writing class structured around discussing the effect of technology on society. As we delve deeper into the social networking age, I felt it appropriate to post the following essay from January 2003, written by me, as a look back into what we (or at least I) thought about web technology nearly 9 years ago…

Imagine a world where people never speak, a world based on text of all colors, shapes and sizes. A world that revolves around a single sound, yes, that one, that sound that comes across your computer’s speakers when you’ve been…INSTANT MESSAGED!

In today’s fast-paced world, the Internet is quickly becoming our main source for news, entertainment, information, and increasingly for communication. The proliferation of various instant messenger programs (mainly by America Online, but also by MSN, Yahoo, and ICQ among others) has allowed people to communicate instantaneously over miles and miles of space without having to pay long distance fees. Instant messaging has single-handedly changed the way young Americans communicate with one another, but in its current form it is no replacement for more traditional communicative forms. It does have a lot of future potential however, and with this communicative power comes some serious drawbacks.

The primary drawback of instant messaging (as is with much of the “frontier” of the Internet) is that there is an inherent inhuman aspect to it. First of all, unlike normal human contact, there are no facial expressions, hand gestures or any other type of body language. All that is expressed outside of words is expressed through little faces (called “emoticons”) or other pictures made with symbols. This won’t even compare to the telephone, where, although there is no person physically standing in front of you, the inflections in the tone of the voice add an emotional depth to the conversation that is lost in the vast wastelands of text that is the instant message. Unlike the informal letter, the instant message only allows you to change fonts and colors, while actually physical correspondence allows a person to use one’s own handwriting. The scribble of a line or tears on a page will speak volumes, and there’s nothing like the scent of perfume or a lipstick kiss at the bottom of the page to perfectly accent a romantic letter. In comparison to these traditional media, the instant message is probably the least formal, and in many ways the coldest, and least human form of communication.

Still the instant message is quickly removing traditional communication from normal daily life. Behind this upcoming force is the vast realm of the Internet and all of its resources, a power that could quite possibly give the instant message the ability to surpass normal communications by advancing the technology behind it. Already in existence (and in limited use) is the ability to “voice chat” over the instant messenger using a computer’s microphone. This technology theoretically would make the telephone obsolete in the future. Eventually it can be proposed that web-cams will be integrated into messenger programs to improve on the “community” aspect of the Internet. At that point users will not only be talking to each other, but seeing each other as well. This has already been put to limited use in businesses that allow for “telecommuting” rather than actually showing up for work.

In its current state though, the bulk of messenger services and their users are forming a new Internet sub-culture. This group lacks the formality of the letter writers of the past, and is quickly reducing the English language to free-form Internet shorthand that serves relatively no purpose in the outside world. In an instant message it isn’t so uncommon to see phrases like “lol” (laugh out loud), “brb” (be right back) or “rofl” (rolling on the floor laughing), but no where in normal communications would such phrasing be found. Another anomaly of messaging is the format of talking. Whereas in face to face or telephone communication an individual may speak for minutes without the other person getting a word in edgewise, but the bulk of messaging consists of two people going back and forth in conversation in alternating lines. Sometimes information is shared directly, but more often, information is only determined through what is implied, not what is directly given. In our groups, the only things I really learned about the other members is that one is handy with computers (something I implied from hi use of FlashMX) and the other is in a fraternity (known because he said he was). I enjoyed all of these conversations, but still learned relatively little about my team members.

This brings up another topic for questioning regarding instant messaging technology: Is it good/bad to be able to enjoy a conversation with someone and not learn anything about him or her? In a normal face-to-face conversation you can learn things about a person by their facial expressions, body language and voice tones. One might not learn anything from what they say, but from how they say it. In instant messaging this avenue of communication is lost. If a person is shy, nervous, or twitchy it is quickly noticed in person, but the instant messenger does not discriminate by race, religion or social disposition. I believe that this is actually the greatest virtue of instant messaging services. Currently I have 126 people on my AOL Instant Messenger program, the bulk of which I have little if any contact with outside of the Internet. Many of these people I’ve never seen pictures of nor will I ever meet some of them in my lifetime, yet this does not stop our conversation. I have “friends” in Alaska, British Columbia and New York and in theory could meet a person in Europe, Asia or anywhere that has an Internet provider. It is this same ability to meet people miles apart that helps maintain the popularity of messaging, especially among college student who have friends from high school who have gone to colleges out of state or in other parts of the state. With long distance telephone fees eliminated, communication becomes a “whenever you’re available” issue, and availability (of time) really is the only thing that stops communication from occurring.

The content of the communication leaves something to be desired. So much of the time the typed words contain relatively meaningless “fluff”. Because of the non-discriminatory nature of instant messaging, words of love and hate are spread with equal ease. This is due to the fact that we cannot see or hear the consequence of our actions, and the fact that the mask of a new screen name gives anonymity to a user that doesn’t exist in normal physical life. This causes some people to say things online that they otherwise wouldn’t say (which can be good or bad) but also increases the amount of deceit (50 year old men posing as 16 year old girls) that exists on the Internet. Furthermore, the recipient of the message, not the sender, determines the value accents placed on words. This reality begs for miscommunication and misunderstanding to take place, and often results in confusion for both parties. Even if the communication is proper, the designation of the importance of statements is still determined by the recipients. Because of the ”free-space” ideology of the Internet, so much is left to the users of the technology, and thus it is difficult to accurately group all instant messaging encounters into a single concept.

On the whole, instant messaging technology is the leading force in Internet communications, and it is the way businesses and corporations will soon begin to communicate. Its popularity among general Internet users is slowly degrading our traditional communications infrastructure and guides much of the communication in the younger (15-24 years) age bracket. If it is not controlled, instant messaging could become the bane of the educational system as more and more of the English language is becoming reduced to shorthand. Still, under proper restraint instant messenger programs are like any other technology: it is neutral, the user determining whether its purpose is for good or evil.

Thrice – Major/Minor

September 27, 2011

Earlier this week I picked up Thrice‘s new album Major/Minor off of iTunes. Over the last several years I’ve been able to listen to Thrice’s musical evolution from album to album (with the exception of Artist in the Ambulance…which I should remedy soon), and have enjoyed their course from high speed, metal infused punk rock into their current space on the forward edge of rock music.

I do readily admit that I haven’t followed Thrice as closely over the last year or so as I have in the past. When I was told that they had a new album out my reaction was a bit confused. Had it been that long since they had put out Beggars? Turns out the gap between the two albums is a little over 2 years. I have been out of the loop…

Anyway, more thoughts about Major/Minor. On the album’s wiki page it’s mentioned that this album was designed to be bigger than Beggars and it certainly achieved that goal. Musically I feel like it really follows the trend towards indie rock circa 2004. More than a couple of the tracks remind me of musical ideas that Denison Marrs used on their last two albums, released in 2002 and 2004. That being said, I don’t think that Thrice’s sound is so much a musical regression as it is reinvention. While the sound is familiar, these songs are certainly Thrice tracks.

Throughout the years, Thrice’s sound has always been set apart from the rest of whatever scene they were part of by Dustin Kensrue’s vocals and Teppei Teranishi’s guitar riffs. Back in 2007 I had the privilege of seeing Dustin’s live set at Uprising Fest in Irvine and was pleasantly surprised to find that what you got in the live show was exactly what you heard on album. Where a lot of rock acts fall flat vocally (literally), Kensrue maintains pitch and conveys a sincere range of emotions. With Thrice, the musical backing provided by Teranishi, and brothers Eddie and Riley Breckenridge only adds to the depth of the musical quality. This album isn’t any different in that regard. Here’s a live performance of the album’s opener, “Yellow Belly”.

I hate to make it sound like Major/Minor is more of the same, because it’s definitely an expansion on Thrice’s previous work. I think the biggest problem I run into with this album is trying to describe where it sits on the musical landscape. A friend of mine told me the album was Thrice’s take on early 90s grunge. Personally I feel like this album is too complex to fit into your typical alt-rock box, but accessible enough that it’s hard to put anywhere else. Still, it’s a very solid album that I’m sure will continue to grow on me in the coming weeks.

Adams and Eves – Dear Professor

September 5, 2011

Adams and Eves debut album Dear Professor was released April 23rd, 2011 at San Diego’s Park Gallery. I was lucky enough to be able to attend this album release and do photography for the event.  If I was a better person, I would have had this written before the end of April. Instead I’m here at the beginning of September trying to figure out what words I want published. I suppose the biggest benefit of this period of procrastination is that it’s given me more time to reflect, read other reviews of the album, and really try to put together some sort of opinion.

I’m sure a person who was into the genre (whatever genre this album falls into) could rattle off a dozen artists that Dear Professor brings to mind, but I’m not that person. Instead I’m stuck with somewhat of an outsider’s perspective trying to describe an album that covers a few genres and creates an eclectic mix of indie-folk, bluegrass and country. The opening track begins with a soft vibraphone piece and the ending track finishes with a lo-fi acoustic piece reminiscent of an old record you pulled out of your parent’s collection and played on their wobbly 30-year-old phonograph. In between, Adam Powell and his band (composed of two musical families) take us on a journey into his pocket, across West Texas, underwater and to the doctor. All along they keep the listener engaged and grounded. These songs are playful without pushing the listener into feeling disconnected by maintaining a level of musical authority and lyrical precision that demands attention.

I really enjoy this album. Everyone I’ve talked to who has listened to this album loves it. I won’t say that this album is flawless. There are a couple of songs I’m tempted to skip when I listen through, but the quality of the other 9 tracks easily makes up for it. The only other complaint that I’ve made to anyone about this album is this: I really think Adams and Eves shines as a live band. All of the emotion poured into this album and given off on every track is amplified in the live setting as the chaos that is live music can only do. I have always been impressed with the level of precision that this band achieves live when I’ve seen so many major label bands fail to meet the expectations their albums produce.

If I was handing out stars they’d be gold and this album would get five out of five. If it were a movie, Rotten Tomatoes would certify it fresh. Siskel, Ebert, and Roeper would give it three thumbs up (was Roeper allowed to give a thumbs up?). Unfortunately (for my pocketbook) or perhaps fortunately (for my own sanity) I’m not any of these things. Instead I’m just going to say that this album is genius, and if you like good music you should check it out.

Adams and Eves are playing on Monday, September 5th at the Park Gallery. As it goes for all Park Gallery events, this is a free show. You can pick up a copy of the record on vinyl at a show or through their webstore. If vinyl won’t work for you, download their digital album from bandcamp.