Being in India

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The car accident was actually the perfect welcome to India. About ten or fifteen of us, fresh off the plane and jetlagged from twenty hours of travel, boarded a bus for a ninety minute ride from the Kochi Airport to the hotel in Thrissur. It was inescapable to not quickly notice that we would experience an eventful ride. Continue reading

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Best of 2013*: The List

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So every December, for the last couple years anyway, I’ve been compiling a list of my favorite songs from the previous 12 months: My year-end mixtape, so to say.

Now before we go forward, my list is a little different. And the ground rules are pretty simple. The list is not limited to songs from 2013 (or whatever year it happens to be). They can come from any year … with the following caveat: This list is songs I listened to A LOT in the past year. Some were old, most were new, but all meant something to me. And when I hear these songs in the future, I’ll probably think about 2013.

I’ve been passing out the mixtape for the last couple years, and this time, I’m sharing the track listing here. So enjoy.

1. “Providence” — Fourth of July

Year it was released: 2010

2. “Running If You Call My Name” — Haim

Year: 2013

2. “Afterlife”— Arcade Fire

Year: 2013

4. “Shadow People” — Dr. Dog

Year: 2010

5. “Hold On, We’re Going Home” — Drake

Year: 2013

6. “Letter From An Occupant” — New Pornographers

Year: 2000

7. “Cannons” — Youth Lagoon

Year: 2011

8. “Further On Up The Road” — Bruce Springsteen

Year: 2002

9. “French Navy” — Camera Obscura

Year: 2009

10. “Byegone” — Volcano Choir

Year: 2013

11. “Sunday” — Earl Sweatshirt, Ft. Frank Ocean

Year: 2013

12. “Then He Kissed Me” — The Crystals

Year: 2013

13. “Friend of a Friend — Fourth of July

Year: 2010

14. “Another Is Waiting” — Avett Brothers

Year: 2013

15. “Man” — Neko Case

Year: 2013

16. “Everlasting Arms” — Vampire Weekend

Year: 2013

17. “Elephant King” — Yellow Ostrich

Year: 2012

18. “My Face” — ACBs

Year: 2011

19. “Love” — Dr. Dog

Year: 2013

20. “Young Fathers” Typhoon

Year: 2013

Stuff…and not having any of it

For two weeks this summer I had to be a drifter. This transformation of lifestyle was driven not by choice but rather inconvenience as the lease at my old place ended on July 31, a full two weeks before the lease at my new place began. This is a common problem in State College, where I live as a writer, aka a conscientious objector of the real world.  Unlike in most cities, where I suspect these two weeks would be viewed as an obvious nuisance, State College has the perfect can-do attitude that turns any obstacle into an opportunity. This city, after all, ranks among the places leading this country in intelligence, as well as among the places leading this country in arrests for drunkenly stumbling into the wrong house at 4 a.m. (Ed’s note: The mayor would not confirm this last detail for me.) One of my friends opined, in fact, that bumming around on couches is a Hajj-ian experience for college town residents, an action that must be undertaken at least once. Over these two weeks I easily found refuge at two friends’ apartments and was even able to sleep on a mattress. There was no need for an extended stay motel or to browse AirBNB. Problem solved.

So the hard part wasn’t securing a free bed; it was figuring out what to do with my bed. WTF was I going to do with all my stuff? Continue reading

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The last match of James Blake

Source: AOL

I bought so many headbands in the fall of 2005. Not the 90s fashionable kind for women, mind you, the athletic kind. I bought a black headband and a Carolina blue headband with the white Nike swoosh, a red headband with the black Jordan jump-man logo and, knowing my taste in tropical colors, probably something neon yellow.

I bought all of these headbands because of James Blake. He had become my favorite athlete. Continue reading

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Coming to the (late) realization that “Garden State” really sucked

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In the summer of 2004, a few months before I entered my senior year of high school, I saw the movie Garden State for the first time.

This is almost 10 years ago now. Dubya was still in the process of running for a second term, the Iraq war was in its second year,  and the iPhone was still three years away.

And along came Garden State, a little indie flick that seemed predisposed to capture the morose and whiny nature of a generation of 20-something dudes in a post-9/11 America . It was also, depending on whom you asked, the “it” movie of the summer. And it reached this status for a number of reasons. It had a trendy soundtrack (more on The Shins in a minute), a young director (Hey that’s Zach Braff from Scrubs!), and it came onto the scene as an emerging internet culture greased the skids for a more friendly atmosphere for independent movies.

So, of course, I saw the movie that summer, and to put it one way, I was down with Comrade Braff and the movement. Garden State was cool. But it was cool in a way that the bands “Grizzly Bear” or “Sufjan Stevens” are cool. It was sardonic and darkly funny and sort of depressing and also greatly ambitious. But it was all these things … while still also maintaining a level of authenticity. Maybe it was cool because Braff was just a young kid that wanted to make a movie. And he did it. Or maybe Garden State was cool, because you saw it, and the rest of your high school hadn’t. Or something like that.

Continue reading

Kansas City in the Summertime

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I was in the Crossroads on Thursday night. Drove down there from Johnson County with my dad.  Thunder clouds hung overhead, gray but not entirely threatening, and summer’s humidity snuck through the windows, which were cracked open an inch or two as the air conditioner blasted.

I love the Crossroads. Set a few blocks from downtown, this area has a Wild West feel. There’s enough grit and wide openness to imagine yourself in a self-sustaining enclave isolated from the glitz and rush of a city, but the tall buildings touching the sky in the distance assure you that everything you need is right here. Continue reading

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So exactly which KU football game is Clark Kent watching in Man of Steel?

I saw “Man of Steel” last night. It was an OK movie by regular standards. By “holy shit they mention Kansas like 13 times” standards, it was spectacular. As many people have noted since Friday, Clark Kent watches a Kansas football game  on TV during the movie, and it no doubt has taken super powers beyond those endowed to regular mortals to watch KU football the last three years.

But what game was Clark actually watching? Continue reading

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Subway or No Way

All Subway “sandwich artists” employ one of two very precise techniques for slathering mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip) on their god-awful sandwiches. Their choice is dependent on the utensils available at the respective restaurants. Some Subways carry the plastic spatula. The artists at these establishments dip this rectangular piece of plastic into a square-ish receptacle – also made of plastic – twirl the spatula until it is sufficiently coated in mayo and then splotch the mayo back and forth on the sandwich in a motion almost entirely unlike one used by Monet as he applied a final touch to his canvas, searching for a perfect measure of abstraction.

Other Subway restaurants store the mayonnaise in a canister similar to the type used for ketchup and mustard. These canisters are opaque, the better to prevent customers from seeing the yellow, solidified state the mayonnaise has reached while it has lingered away from refrigeration for several hours. The artists squeeze the mayonnaise out and in a fluid motion they zig-zag it over and over and over again atop the cold cuts. Though the strategies involve markedly different skill sets, each leads to the same frustrating, invariable conclusion, which is a mayonnaise-soaking so deep and thick that a small rodent could drown on that piece of nine-grain honey oat bread.

I imagine the sandwich artists are trained how to spread mayonnaise during orientation when they are newly hired. Some middle-manager on a video tutorial probably says, “Remember kid. You can never give someone enough mayonnaise.” After taking a few minutes to display a good mayonnaise-drenching, the middle-manager, I suspect, must also train the newbie employees to accept the look on the face they are bound to see from the customer whose sandwich has been dampened, which is, invariably, a look of resignation.

I haven’t been to Subway in a long time. Continue reading

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DeShawn Stevenson was (sort of) KU’s first Andrew Wiggins

I wonder if Andrew Wiggins will be as good for KU as I hoped DeShawn Stevenson would be. That sentence should not make any sense to sane individuals, even sane individuals who followed Kansas basketball with ritualistic intensity in the late 90s,  which, I guess, might actually make them insane, thus placing me squarely into that camp. Oh well.

But back in the late 90s, DeShawn Stevenson was the shit, which also makes little sense. Stevenson these days conjures up two distinct, incredibly awesome images.

 1. His tattoo of Abraham Lincoln

Continue reading

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Boston, sorrow and leisure

Thomas McDermott won the first Boston Marathon, back in 1897. He suffered from cramps and blisters most of the way and by the end could peel some of the skin off the soles of his feet. He vowed to never run a marathon again but by the next year was back in Boston, finishing a  minute faster. I suspect he must have experienced the same tortuous emotions, the grueling pain that is in fact pleasure of the highest so many marathon runners have experienced at Boston for over a century and hoped to again on Monday. Continue reading

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