What IS going on?

So I came to the realization that my blog, while full of fairly entertaining observations on Chicago and pop culture, was orginally created so that people could keep up with my adventures. In this regard, it has done fairly poorly. So, for once, here's what I've been up to.

My big accomplishment this week was my show. That's right kids, for the first time in a while, Tim Ryder took to the stage. Since my 8-week improv class was complete, the only thing left for us to do was a student showcase for our friends and family. And let me tell you, it was awesome.

It was on the ComedySportz stage, with sound and lights and music and a referee, just like a real CSz show. I loved it because it made me feel like a real pro, even though I'm just starting out. So technically, it was amazing. But all the student shows were technically amazing.

However, ours was amazing all the way around. The people in my class are very talented and incredibly fun, which was reflected in the show. Everything went really well and the crowd loved it. I felt pretty good about how I did. Some highlights of mine include being the 7-year-old tester of Highlights on a panel of experts and the guy behind the counter at The Peach Pit. (You know, from 90210. The Peach Pit was suggested as a location. I don't usually pull 90210 references out of my back pocket. Seriously, I don't.)

So everything went great and our teacher had really nice things to say. She said it was probably one of the best student shows she's ever seen (which is pretty stinking good, considering we're only in Level 101.) What sucks is that I'm one of only two people in the class not continuing to the next level. Stupid college. Stupid senior year. I'm going to really miss playing with those guys. But don't worry, Chicago. I'll be back. That was just a taste of what's to come. When you get the full course, you won't know what hit you.

Well, that was the cockiest I've been for a while. I'm going to go watch some real improvisors now to deflate my ego.


I need a life.

I think I'm getting way too involved in VH1's clip shows. It's to the point where I think the commentors are my friends and I worry about them. For example, take the guys from The Modern Humorist. They were always a team, bantering back and forth. Well, on last week's "Best Week Ever" they did some commentary individually. What's the matter? Are they fighting? Is there a rift in the Modern Humorist camp? I'm worried...

I need a life.


The first post I see may not be a post...

100 cool points to those of you who get the reference made in the title to perhaps one of the greatest songs ever written.

One of the hot new VJs on MTV calls herself "La La". Do you think she knows that there's a Teletubbie with that name? La La the Teletubbie has been around a couple years and, in my opinion, has legal rights to that name. Plus I think the Teletubbie is less annoying.

(By the way, my opinion holds a great deal of sway in our nation's legal system.)

Today on the bus, I saw a middle-aged Asian woman with a faux hawk. Well, that's the end of that trend.

Other hairstyle mistakes observed today: sticking with dreadlocks despite a fairly prevalent bald spot. I'll just let you picture it.

I love street performers whose main talent is staying extremely still for long periods of time. Those people have a gift for stillness and I'm glad they've decided to share it with the world. Such talent should not be kept private.

I screwed up the order of the months today. I was doing the old "count the months on your knuckles to figure out which ones have 31 days" trick and honestly went January, February, May, then got concerned when I finished many knuckles too soon. This does not bode well.

Finally, go see Napoleon Dynamite. It's a cinematic experience.


Hope doth dangle from yonder string

Dashboard Confessional played "Vindicated" on The Tonight Show this evening.  Man, I don't care that they're on the radio and really popular or even that they're a full band now.  Chris Carrabba still rocks my face off.
And it's nice to see that he's gone back to his old hairstyle, the emo pompadour. 


I bet Mona Lisa hated her portrait.

Seriously, I bet she did.  Everyone hates pictures of themselves.  I bet it was like a school picture to her.  There are probably 100 wallet-sized pictures of her laying around in an old drawer somewhere.
Anyway, I watched Mona Lisa Smile tonight.  And I can honestly say that the best part about it was listening to a 1950's men's glee club perform a cover of They Might Be Giants' "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)". 
And I am not making that up.
Allyn - There, I watched a romantic chick flick.  How's that for well-rounded?  I hope you're happy.
Josh - "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" is a song title that uses parentheses.


God bless the Brothers Chaps

Dead as a doornail!

The folks at Homestar Runner have been especially prolific the last couple weeks. It's worth checking out, especially if you haven't for a while. I can't wait for Peasant's Quest...

Seriously, I should be making these decisions.

As much as I love clip shows, sometimes they infuriate me.  What is the worst decision a clip show producer could make, you ask?  Good question.  The answer is to talk about things that you HAVE NO CLIPS OF!!  I just watched a special on ESPN about the top 25 sports bloopers of all time, which is great because everyone likes sports bloopers.  They transcend all barriers and cultures.  They are, perhaps, the universal language.  But you wouldn't know it from the special because they didn't have footage of half of the things on the list!!  Just photographs!   
I don't know if it's because the footage is owned by other networks, but there's no excuse for that.  Just pick something you do have footage of.  For something like that, no one cares what order they're in.  They just want to see funny mishaps in the world of sports.  Get a clue, guys.  We're talking about saving the world here.
In other news, Reese Roper agrees with my review of the movie Saved!  And his opinion should carry some weight, because he was in Five Iron Frenzy.  How do you like that?
From the FIF message board:
"I did see saved. I wish to God that every youth leader in this country would watch it, along with every other Christian. But mostly youth leaders. I thought it hurt pretty bad to watch, but it was so true, and strangely edifying."
Take that, youth leaders.

You stay classy, Chicago

I think the Method style of acting should be applied to other professions.  Actually, I take that back, because I think the Method style of acting is ridonkulous.  Here's what I meant to say: I think it would be funny if the Method style of acting were applied to other professions.  Then, you would have a lawyer trying to buy smack if he were defending someone charged with buying drugs, because hey, he's a Method lawyer.
Also, I looked into the window of an apartment building as I was walking home today and I saw a cat.  The cat was just looking out the window, observing the world.  So I stared it down, because I appreciate the eye contact.  The cat returned my stare and then, and I am not making this up, gave me the "What's up" head nod.  You know, that little upwards motion of the chin that just says, "What's up?"  The cat gave me one.  It was at the same time the most hilarious and most disturbing thing I've seen for a while.
Here's some quick film reviews:
Anchorman - hilarious.  I had been building it up in my mind for months, quoting the trailer and other footage (Andy: The arsonist had oddly-shaped feet.), so I don't think anything could have lived up to my expectations, but it came close.  If you see it, be sure to stay for the bonus footage during the credits - it's some of the best stuff in the film.  Yay for improv.
Fahrenheit 9/11 - Very powerful film.  Should you just accept everything in it as truth?  No, of course not.  It's a political viewpoint expressed through film and, as such, is biased.  But I think you should see it even, perhaps especially, if you disagree with that viewpoint.  Anyway, it made me cry and made me very angry.
The Corporation - Wow.  Lots of great documentaries out right now and this one is a killer.  Did you know that a corporation is recognized by our government as a living entity?  Did you also know that if you were to examine the institution of the corporation from a psychological standpoint, it would be considered psychopathic?  Man, I was anti-big business before, but now I want to make some giant puppets and protest outside the WTO meetings. 
Speaking of documentaries, Control Room and Outfoxed! are next on my list.  They're both on the media, one of my favorite topics.  I can't wait to graduate so I can become part of the vast liberal media conspiracy. 
Dad will be so proud.


Hey, look at my new font!

It's huge!

I forgot something again.

Oh yeah, there was one more Switchfoot encounter that I wanted to mention.  Their song "More Than Fine" was played in its entirety in the final closing montage of the season finale of "Blow Out" on Bravo, which was lovely.  Again, it worked really well and was cool to hear, especially because so much of it was used, but just really weird.

And I don't watch "Blow Out".  I was flipping channels during a break of "Last Comic Standing", I swear.  Okay fine, sometimes I watch "Blow Out".  In fact, I watch a lot of things on Bravo.  It's not just for gay guys anymore, people!


Ha ha! Now the hat is on the other foot!

I'd like to take just a moment, if I may, to talk about Switchfoot. Many of you may know Switchfoot as a popular band of the moment. Their hit single "Meant To Live" has been played ad nauseum for much of the last year. Okay, let's discuss.

Now, to frame this discussion, you need to understand where I'm coming from. Switchfoot is one of the few bands I can actually claim to have been a fan of long before they "hit it big". I have a habit of latching onto a band right before they lose their indie status. It happened with Jimmy Eat World and again with Dashboard Confessional, among others. It's terribly annoying and wrecks my indie street cred, which is why I'm latching onto Alone Together now. (As you all should. Also, I heard The Pawn's Gambit is the next big thing.) But I've been a Switchfoot fan forever, so I can claim "bitter old-school fan" status.

So Switchfoot is huge right now. They've played MTV and Leno and all those shows, even Ryan Seacrest, the Holy Grail of talk shows. All of this is kind of cool for an old-schooler because Switchfoot is a fantastic band and the guys in the band are really cool, so you're happy for good things to be happening to them. But at the same time, it kind of tears you apart to see all the teenyboppers singing along and jumping on the bandwagon when they can't even sing "Chem 6A", let alone "Learning to Breathe". Oh, and it really ticks me off when they play "Only Hope" and all the girls squeal because they're playing "the Mandy Moore song". NO! It's a Switchfoot song that Mandy Moore covered in "A Walk to Remember"! Get it right, teenyboppers!

As you can see, I get upset about these seemingly insignificant things. Well, a couple things happened this week that sent me over the edge. One, "Meant to Live" was used in a teen drinking prevention PSA, but not in a cool way. No, you could hear the guitar intro being played in the car as the drunk teenager stumbled out. Just the fact that Switchfoot could now be considered a band that drunk teenagers listened to kind of ticked me off. Finally, "Meant to Live" is included on the latest edition of "NOW That's What I Call Music" or as I call it, "The Devil's Comp." Seriously, they're up to NOW 16. That's 16 comps of really crappy pop music. And now Switchfoot is on it. Man...

So am I glad that Switchfoot is getting so popular and good things are happening to them? Yes. They deserve it. But does it make me die a little inside? Yes. That's why I'm latching on to the FOR-SURE next big indie band: Signal for No One. Now I just have to go start it.


How could I forget?

Okay, one more. This is perhaps the most important.

Indie band most deserving of being immediately signed: Attagirl. Seriously, someone give these girls a three-album deal. The music is great, and girls need role models. And they HAVE to be better role models than Barlow Girl. Those huge tramps of Barlow Girl.


Macky's back in town...

Well, I'm back in Chicago after an amazing time in Cornerstone. I will now attempt to summarize my experience in a series of awards.

- Best performance: Tie - Sleeping at Last and Anathallo. Sleeping at Last turned in one of the most musically beautiful performances I've heard in a while. I can't believe they sound like they do with only three musicians and a backup track or two. Amazing. And Anathallo is quite simply the most fiercely creative band I've ever seen. Gotta give props to a band that has a horn section with three trombones and a flugelhorn. Especially when that horn section randomly does percussion, either by beating on huge drums or simply clapping and stomping. My favorite part was when a song ended with all 8 or so members shouting Psalms 123 in Japanese.

- Biggest disappointment: What's the opposite of passing with flying colors? Is it failing with crawling monochromes? If so, then Jon Bunch, formerly of the band Sensefield, now the new vocalist of Futher Seems Forever, failed with crawling monochromes. No stage presence, zero energy, and vocals that just didn't merit support. Very sad that it's the first time FsF played main stage and they were so bad. The audience around me actually applauded when Jon announced the last song.

- Most sentimental performance: Bleach. Last time they'll ever play Cornerstone and they rocked just as hard as ever. I might get to see them once more, but I already miss them.

- Most pointless band: The Insyderz. Hey, good for them for mounting a comeback and all, but I think I liked them better the first time. When they were called The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

- Best merch deal: Anathallo - all three CDs and a T-shirt for $25. Can't beat it.

- Biggest downgrade: The O.C. Supertones. You'd think their popularity would be soaring because of the hit TV show "The O.C." But no, they were downgraded to Encore 1 after playing the main stage for years. Even worse, Relient K and Switchfoot, two bands that opened for the 'Tones on the same tour, played the main stage to huge crowds the same night.

- Funniest sight: Hardcore dancing - perhaps the funniest thing I have ever seen, which is appropriate because hardcore is the silliest genre ever. I will now be going to hardcore shows just for the dancing, which, if you've never seen, is a crazy mix of gymnastics, martial arts, and cartharsis.

I suppose that's enough. Anyway, it was a great festival and we only got rained on a couple times. Props to my yellow poncho.