Thursday, February 26, 2009

Top 5 Celebrities Who's Ass I Want To Kick

Hello true believers. It’s that time again for another top 5. So this week I’m doing something a little sweet and sour. There are a lot of people that grace our TV sets, radio waves, and web sites. Some of them make us laugh, some inform us, and some just plain piss us off. So this week’s top 5 is dedicated to those people that if you saw on the street your main instinct would be to grab the nearest blunt object to put them out of our misery. So here are my top 5 celebrities whose ass I would like to kick.

Before we kick it old school I just want to say that in no way do I endorse violence, I’m just not in denial that our base instinct is to smite thine enemy when they rear their ugly head. So I wouldn’t really ever attempt to hurt these morons, but I will enjoy a little fantasy about it (probably something in slow motion where they fly ten feet in the air from an upper cut like in Mortal Kombat). So not only will I say why they should have their ass handed to them I will also give the scenario that I would like to see them be destroyed in. So here we go.

5. Paris Hilton

Yes, I’ll start off with a safe one. Who seriously likes her? Other than the fact that she’s our favorite celebretard there’s really nothing redeemable about her. She can’t sing or act. The best performance she ever gave was in night vision. She does nothing but embarrass herself and I think our country as a whole. I honestly think she does more damage to the American image then George W Bush (who won’t be making the list. I just feel sorry for him and he’s too easy of a target).

Only in America could someone be her. She proves that in Hollywood you can fail upwards. If all it took to be successful was to be a royal fuck up then we should have no homeless problem. In fact I’m sure most homeless people are better mentally equipped then she is. When I heard that she started a film career I cringed. I’ve now seen her in two flicks and I know she’s now been in many more. How could this happen? She’s not very attractive, no talent can be seen (unless you count being completely oblivious), and her voice and mannerisms grind on my very soul. I have a lot of friends that are pretty good actors that deserve to be in her shoes but sadly never will. If only I could convince them to make a sex tape.

So how would I like to see her go? Well it would have to be her leaving one of the stupid clubs she gets paid thousands of dollars to go to (yes, people think she’s good for publicity and they pay her to go). She would get into her limo…but it’s not her limo. It would be stripped down on the inside with no seat belts and I would be dressed up just like Kurt Russell in Death Proof. What would then follow would be me driving that limo like it was a stunt car in The Dukes of Hazard with her in the back with no protection what so ever. I’d watch her through the rear view mirror fly like a rag doll with every turn. Unlike Death Proof I would leave her alive. Odds are she’d be so high she’d have no idea what happened, but I think it would be fun to possibly knock a little sense into that lazy eyed reject. That’s hot.

4. Michael Jackson

This has nothing to do with the molestation charges brought against him. I take it back, it does, but also a lot more. Have we ever seen a celebrity get crazier then him? I mean celebrities are known for doing stupid ass stuff, but c’mon. He holds his baby out a window. His best friend is a chimp. His house is an amusement park. He brings his wife on stage to give her an awkward kiss to prove they have a normal relationship. He wears a bandana over his face in public as if being the most pale person on the planet isn’t a dead give away. He caught his jerry curl on fire in a concert. He’s the only person in history to successfully change ethnicity. He’s proof of extra terrestrials. He robed the Beatles of the rights to some of their music. He’s done all this stuff, and then he allegedly diddles little boys. He’s in major need of an ass kicking.

Now I realize he comes from a screwed up child hood, but so did the rest of the damn world. I’m sure most of us have some therapist bills somewhere, but you don’t see us grabbing our crotches and screaming. Sure, the guy wrote Thriller. Sure, the Jackson 5 rules. Sure, I beat it (wait?). He’s done some great musical things but I firmly believe Billy Jean was not his lover. Who would be crazy enough to go to sleep in his hyperbaric chamber? What’s small, white, and needs to be examined by a doctor? That’s right, Wacko Jacko.

So my Michael Jackson ass kicking scenario would have to be straight from his video for Thriller. I’ve been watching a lot of zombie movies lately and I’ve been studying up on my zombie survival guide. I think that if Michael Jackson were to be rolling with the undead I’d not only be mentally prepared, but I’m confident I have the melee arsenal to do away with him. Now in the Michael Jackson zombie apocalypse, zombies move in very well timed choreographed patterns. So it’s just a matter of timing when going for his legs. I’m sure once on the ground he’ll give out a few, “Whoos,” or some, “Sham ons.” When I look into his undead eyes before his curb stomping I’ll know that if this isn’t a mercy killing, nothing else is. My only fear is that he’ll catch a falling star and turn into a robot to kick my ass (anyone seen Moonwalker?).

3. Ben Affleck

Don’t get me wrong. I love Ben Affleck. I mean love in the kind of way where I would run away with him and be his good Will Hunting. So many of his movies are up there on my favorites list. I mentioned last episode that Dogma is my second favorite movie of all time, but Glory Daze, Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone, Hollywood Land, Changing Lanes, Shakespeare in Love and Jersey Girl are highly regarded by me as well. The reason he needs his ass kicked is because he seems hell bent on career suicide. If you’ve ever listened to his commentary on some of the Kevin Smith movies or seen any interviews with the guy you know he’s funny and talented, but this former MTV VJ constantly brings to our attention that he does stupid things as well.

Jennifer Lopez, Gigli, Reindeer Games, Paycheck, Daredevil (although the directors cut rules), Bounce, Armageddon, Forces of Nature, Pearl Harbor, and Phantoms are just a few of the stupid things attached to him. Now I’m glad he’s in a recovery period. He married Jennifer Garner, had a kid, wrote and directed Gone Baby Gone, and after a three year hiatus from acting he’s starting to make a come back in movies. One would say he’s learned his lesson and he’s more mature and responsible about the roles he chooses. Me? I want to make sure he knows he fucked up and never does it again because I’m sick of defending him to people who refuse to acknowledge the amazing things he’s done and his brilliant contribution to American cinema.

Ben, I’m doing this because I love you. I swear it hurts me more than it hurts you. My ass kicking to you will be to strap you down in a chair with your eyes forced open like in Clockwork Orange. I will then proceed to make you watch Surviving Christmas over and over again so that when the thought of doing something that shitty comes into your mind, you will become violently ill and unable to follow through. It’s for your own good. I need to go cry now.

2. Ralph Nader

Yes, I will pick on him. He’s single handedly responsible for the last eight years of our country. Sure, I think the reres that voted for him need to be smacked too, but anytime someone says they hate George Bush, I think of Ralph Nader. Sure, he’s done some great things and I do think he’s got a few good ideas, but how could he not see the cluster fuck that he’d create? He knew he had no shot at winning the election and that the people that voted for him would have voted for Gore or Kerry had he not been there. It doesn’t stop there. He can’t seem to learn his lesson. He keeps running every election. Sure, the American people learned their lesson and stopped voting for him, but he just doesn’t seem to get it. It’s for that reason that I think he’s by far the worst politician out there. A lot of his funding in the 2004 election came from Republican sources in hopes that the same thing would happen again. Of course with a candidate like Kerry, Bush didn’t even need Nader.

So now every time I see something horrible that Bush is responsible for, I think of Nader. Every vacation day Bush spent fishing and mending fences instead of doing something to prevent the crisis’ that have been predicated for many years now, I think of Nader. Sometimes I wish that he claimed he invented the internet so I could hate him more.

So what will his punishment be? Well his most notable contribution to the world has been his activism towards the automotive industry for producing unsafe cars. Because of him a lot of the regulations and innovations for auto safety exist to keep us safe. So I feel that it’s only appropriate that we use him as crash test dummy until realizes that running for president is a terrible idea. After he comes to the realization we keep doing it anyway.

1. Bill O’Reilly

I really want to kick this guy’s ass (sorry dad). For those of you who don’t know, studying a degree in communication includes as part of the curriculum a study of the media and journalism. What this former (and arguably current) tabloid writer does is not journalism. Part of being a journalist is being unbiased. Something that he and fox news has never been. Part of being a journalist is not making up statistics and facts. Part of being a journalist is not yelling over your guests to prove your right. It’s about who’s right, not who’s louder. Did we seriously forget that he hosted Inside Edition for years? His bread and butter was reporting shit that no one cares about and embellishing on details to make an uneducated audience think it was something important. Wait…he still does that. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him report on issues that were actually issues. He’s just an angry man picking fights to boost his ratings. He’s basically Jerry Springer without the bitch slapping.

I’ve watched a few episodes of his show from time to time, especially when I know that something I like will be featured. I look forward to seeing what he’ll make up. It’s like Mister Roger’s Neighborhood when he goes to the land of make believe. He’s conducting his own little witch hunt. His arguments revolve around more false information then the war in Iraq. He’s developed a persona and catch phrases so he can appeal to a broad conservative audience. All he’s doing is developing his brand and selling his books. He has more plugs then a porn shop. It’s his kind of childish sensationalism that fuels hatred and intolerance. You can’t do a You Tube search without finding a video of him being a complete jackass. At first it’s funny, but then you remind yourself that people actually like this guy and think that what he’s doing is news.

I can’t even think of a punishment that would be fitting for him. The only thing that comes to mind would involve me having magic powers. I would magically create a double of him to be a guest on the O’Reilly Factor. The catch is that the double would be liberal. I theorize that after an hour of them yelling at each other about useless topics, their heads would have to explode. I hate extremists on both sides of the spectrum, so what we would witness would have to be an argument of biblical proportions. Two mighty demons going head to head like two first graders fighting over building blocks. Once they’ve disposed of him my only rear is that Jerry Falwell will take his place.

So that’s my top five celebrity ass kicking’s. Whose ass would you like to see get kicked? Comment and spread the word. Join me next week for my top 5 favorite comic books.


Top 5 Favorite Movies

So this week’s episode is going to be on another topic very close to me. One that I would also say makes up the tri force of my life. If music was my body then movies would be my mind. I’ve been called many things, movie geek, film buff, and any other silly name you can think of about movie fan boys. I love the art of story telling. It can be comedy, drama, action, romance. As long as we’re dealing with a good story, fair acting, and a real direction then I’m basically hooked. So this week we’re going to look at my top 5 favorite movies.

So a little background about myself on this topic. When I minored in creative writing, half the classes I took were on film and television writing. I learned a lot about story structure and had practice writing a few short dramas in the screenplay format. I also took many classes on film studies ranging from Hollywood stardom to film renaissance. So not only am I a nerd for flicks in my spare time, but I actually have a little bit of education in the area. A little known fact about me is that I actually was a postage stamp away from applying for the Vancouver Film School and dropping out of college my senior year. Part of me still really wants to do it too.

So I’m going to be touching on all different types of movies in this list. The main requirement to be on my list is that the movie really needs to connect with a characteristic of myself that really defines who I am. So none of these movies will fit in the same genre, but they should hopefully seem clear as to why I picked them. So give me your top 5, comment on mine or see these movies if you haven’t yet.

So here we go:

5. High Fidelity

Well I said in my first blog that I’m basing this whole project on the reoccurring top 5 lists in High Fidelity. This movie changed my life in a lot of ways in high school. First off the main character, Rob (Played by John Cusack), is one of the most relatable characters for me ever. His self loathing, obsession with pop culture, love of music and film, cool and thoughtful personality, and his ability to over think everything to a flaw has made this character a mirror in many ways to myself. Now I’m in no way just like him, but I feel that I get him and if we were to meet he’d really meet me. He’s so cool and so deeply flawed that you can feel for him and hate him at times. It’s also rare to see an insightful male character in film. Guys I think are played by more demeaning stereotypes in film today then women are. This is one of the first times I’ve really seen an honest portrayal of a sensitive male in a movie. He didn’t fall into the cute, hunky guy caste, or the nerdy smart guy with the heart of gold caste. He was just a depressed dude in love. Yes, it’s emo, but it feels real.

“What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music?” I’m just throwing this in here because I think it’s a great quote. The character of Rob and Cusack’s performance led me to look more into his other movies, and discover just how lovable of an actor he really is.

This movie was also the first real mainstream debut of the now uber famous, Jack Black. His on camera personality caught on like wild fire, but before it did we were witness to an incredibly fresh and funny new face with the power of a sonic boom. This kick started his career and made him a household name. Even after all the movies he’s done I still think he’s at his best and most believable in this film.

I also discovered Nick Hornby through this movie. He’s the novelist who wrote the book that the film is based on. There are many differences between the two stories but the soul of the story is the same. I’ve now read a hand full of his books and I do have to say he’s basically a pop version of Chuck Palahniuk. Very witty with great ideas only he doesn’t try to scare the shit out of you or make you want to burn your work down. About A Boy is another film based on his work.

This flick has one of the best soundtracks too. There are all kinds of special goodness on it.

4. Serenity

Take one of the best writers ever in television, the best ensemble cast ever, and a ship that just won’t die and you have my all time favorite science fiction film. Serenity is the product of Fox being a bunch of idiots and canceling one of the best shows to ever see television (Firefly). Like the phoenix, Serenity rose from the ashes with a theatrical release that strengthened an already huge fan base to an army of Browncoats (independents to the lay person).

From a technical aspect this film is beautiful. Shot with a hand held camera that feels strangely like a documentary. The plot is intriguing, dramatic, action packed, touching, and hilarious. I think it’s impossible for someone to not like this movie, even if you haven’t seen the show. The special effects were done by Weta (same chaps that worked on Lord of the Rings. They make ILM look like amateurs). It’s just an amazing movie which is a lot to say for Joss Whedon’s film direction debut.

The weakness of this movie is that it’s a continuation of the television series so there’s a few things that won’t make sense or have as much relevance unless you have seen Firefly. It’s doesn’t by any means kill the story, just weakens it. The way I describe the setting is if the Millennium Falcon were to be stuck in a western. It has old west tones but in a sci-fi environment. The good guys are driven by morality, not law. They’re heroes in every sense of the word, but there’s no doubt they’re outlaws.

Each character is beautifully developed and amazingly charming in their own way. Every one of them has a great and unique sense of humor and quirks. I’ve seriously never met anyone who hasn’t at least liked this movie, and most people go straight to watching the series after being exposed to this movie. You will see Firefly again on my top 5 favorite television shows.

3. Unbreakable

I don’t care if you don’t like this movie. To a comic book fan it’s one of the best movies ever made. This is the second major release from M. Night Shyamalan (Sixth Sense, Signs, The Happening, Lady in the Water, The Village). It’s his lowest grossing movie so far, but I think it’s his most unique. First off it’s a super hero movie. The only super hero movie to make my list, which says a lot about me that I would put this over any real comic book movie. Second, he doesn’t stick to the same suspenseful story telling that has more twists then a cork screw. Sure there is suspense and a twist or two, but compared to his other flicks it’s pretty mild.

Shyamalan did extensive research on the comic book super hero mythology and it shows. He breaks down archetypes, subliminal messages, origin stories, and weaknesses to create an original hero for a more contemporary age. David Dunn (played by Bruce Willis) possesses all the iconic features of a super hero but he’s held down by a lot of common issues such as apathy, a troubled marriage, and relating to his child. He’s more of a human, every man character. This combines the reality with the fantasy beautifully.

The main antagonist (in a good and bad way), Mr. Glass, is played by the amazing and always classic, Samuel L. Jackson. His character is unique and is obsessed with comics and mythology and feels it’s his destiny to guide David on the path to be a hero. He’s mysterious, creepy, and corrupt, but at the same time a hero in his own right. I don’t want to give anything away for those who haven’t seen this, but it’s definitely a great character to watch.

There’s not one scene is this movie that doesn’t have some kind of comic undertone or subliminal message. I’ve actually written an extremely detailed paper on this movie breaking down a lot of the key scenes (in some cases line by line). There’s not one arbitrary line or shot in this movie. Everything has its purpose. I honestly think this is the best directed movie I’ve ever seen. I would honestly say it’s the closest thing Shyamalan has to a masterpiece and probably will ever have. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s why it’s on my top 5.

2. Dogma

I can’t have a top 5 favorite movie list without having a Kevin Smith movie. The question is which one? So many of his movies have made me laugh like nothing else, and also made me think about life in a completely different way. Over all I had to do with Dogma because it delves heavily in religion. I was raised in the church but as I got older and more conscious to what was going on I quickly came to the realization that it just didn’t seem right and there were a lot of important questions to me that no one could help me answer.

Now Dogma didn’t provide the answers, but it sure gave me an insight to faith that very few people could help me see. At the same time they had enough dick and fart jokes spread through the flick to keep you laughing. There’re not a lot of people that can get you thinking about Jesus and not try to make you depressed by everything (*cough* The Passion *Cough*). Smith reminds us that Jesus came down here to save us, not give us the willies. We should celebrate our faith instead of mourning it.

Now I don’t subscribe to any doctrine of belief. I’m happily agnostic and don’t feel a hole in my soul for not having God in my life. This movie helped me realize that no one’s right when it comes to religion. Everyone gets to mixed up in all the bullshit dogma. What matters is that you have faith. That you believe that whoever or whatever is watching over you or is driving your life is something you can actually trust in. I have faith that if there’s a heaven I’m going to get in. Now I’m on the fence about the whole Heaven and Hell thing, but I live a good and honest life. I’m pretty sure I’d be a good person to keep around the afterlife. I would like to think that God has a sense of humor and isn’t a dick who’ll kick someone out of house just because they don’t kiss his ass. I’m sorry if I offend some people with this, but what I’m saying is I think God’s probably cool and isn’t going to be judgmental towards the confused.

On a lighter note this film has some of the best performances I’ve seen from its cast. Chris Rock is hilarious, Matt Damon can turn coat on a dime, and Ben Affleck has one of the most demented and intense scenes I’ve ever seen. Of course Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith revise their classic roles of Jay and Silent Bob to remind us that it’s okay to laugh. All in all it’s a highly offensive movie that has a bit of message.

1. The Lord of the Rings

That’s right. I’m cheating and putting a trilogy down. I think it’s okay because it’s all one story. Now I have a lot of reasons for putting this down but first I want to touch on something. These movies have a lot of flaws. Over all they have the story down, but the movies cut out a lot of the magic behind the books. Tolkien had fleshed out his world with more detail then most history books. He made a lot of social commentary that gets lost in the film. A lot of key characters (and frankly badass characters) were cut to make the film move faster and more appealing to mass audiences. There is no way you could ever make a film adaptation of LOTR that is accurate and able to fully honor the greatness off middle earth, but Peter Jackson and his crew did the best job imaginable and I applaud their efforts.

LOTR is very close to me. My middle name is Elessar which is Aragorn’s Elfish name. I grew up watching The Hobbit and LOTR cartoons, and the first full book series I read was LOTR, (which I’ve now read through four times). Usually I get pissed when something I love gets smeared into the mainstream. You put something in a movie and suddenly everyone thinks they’re an expert. But I love everything LOTR and I want nothing more then to talk about it with people. I’ll play any LOTR games. I own a replica of Gimli’s Axe, Aragorn’s sword, Anduril, and a replica of Sting, Frodo’s sword. There is just nothing more amazing to me then this story. The movie could have hobbits that are seven feet tall playing basketball and I would still think that this is the greatest movie ever made.

I mentioned earlier the brilliance for Weta as a special effects company. They use an awesome technique of filming models which makes things look so much more real. It sounds cheap, but it’s why LOTR looks way better then the 100% digital crap we see in the new Star Wars movies. Just because we have the technology doesn’t mean we should use it. I think this comes from Peter Jackson’s background in horror and I think we were blessed that he got the project and not some action movie director like Michael Bay.

I’m eagerly awaiting The Hobbit which will be directed By Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy 1 and 2, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Devils Backbone, Blade 2). Peter Jackson is still a writer and producer so there should still be a strong consistency in the look and quality. I seriously feel lucky to be an audience member at these theatrical events. It’s amazing things like LOTR that make me feel like a fortunate human being.

So that’s my top 5 favorite movies. Again, I’d love to hear everyone’s top 5 and of course comments on mine. Next week I’m going to do my top 5 celebrities I would like to fight. So join me next week and feel free to tell your friends about this. Hopefully it’s fun for everyone.


Top 5 Reasons Not To Go To College

So time for my second top 5 blog. Sorry that this one is a week late. I just moved last weekend and didn't have internet until Tuesday. I also was super exhausted and really only wanted to sleep. Now I'm going to pull an all nighter and make sure that this actually gets out there.

Thanks for all the feed back that I received through comments and emails. I hope that my next topic will inspire more conversation about the educational system, and of course your own top 5.
So first off let me offer a disclaimer. For every 5 reasons not to go to college I'm sure that there's 100 good reasons to go. My four years of college were by far the best years of my life. I learned more about myself and accomplished everything that I'm proud of from NW Punks to my internship at Dark Horse. I loved everything I learned and wouldn't trade my degree for anything.

I currently work as an admissions advisor for a college. Although I don't appreciate the pressure I do feel good about helping people better themselves and setting them on a path that will more likely help them succeed. It really does feel great when someone thanks you for taking the time to help them complete their goals. With that being said there are some pretty fucked up things about education right now. They all don't fall under the category of school, but really with the expectations of society with the kinds of students that it wants produced. Some of the things listed might be exclusive to my generation, but I feel that they're still relevant to the main problem. So here we go.

5. Cost

Lets get this bitch out of the way first. School is fraking expensive. Even less expensive schools can still be impossible for someone to pay for out of pocket. The only real way for someone to go to school is to either go part time which can drag the length of your program to over 8 years, or you need to take out loans.
"What about scholarships or grants," you say? We live in a time where more people are going to go school then ever before. Grants and scholarships are hard to get even if you have immaculate grades. Your best chance of getting funding is to get subsidized loans that are also getting harder to come by. Every loan I got for school was unsubsidized and my mother and step-father have a low-middle class income. This leads me to my point.
Student loans are a scam to put you in debt with lenders so you have to pay out to them with interest over a 10-15 year plan. You can't get a grant or a scholarship but you can sure as fuck get a loan. I wouldn't be surprised if that is part of the reason that school tuition inflates so quickly. Schools can charge more because students can take out loans to cover the cost. This might sound more like a conspiracy theory but you'd have to be naive to believe that someone's not going to try to make a lot of money out of this. I went to a pretty cheap school and I'm still $30,000 in debt. Now the question is it really worth it?
4. Outcomes

Are you more likely going to get a higher paying job if you go to college? I believe so. Are you going to eventually receive a return on your investment? Sure, I can go with that. Or can I? I've been a graduate for almost 3 years now. Every job I've had since I've been out of school has definitely shown an increase in salary, but is the job better? Hell no. I've been pretty miserable with every job I've had. I never had any aspirations of making a lot of money in life, just finding a job I could actually enjoy. The only jobs that seem to be in demand are either retail/sales or something else that is completely uninteresting to me. I went to college to be what I wanted to be, not just get a better paying shitty job.
I really don't think I'm the only one here. I haven't really talked to many people in my generation that have college degrees that are happy with where they're at or the path that they're on. In fact I've found that people without degrees tend to be happier doing what they're doing. Now I know that this is a combination of a lot of things. Bad economy, degree choice, geographic location, etc. But the truth is that things have been on a steady decline, and the idea of being able to find that dream job with just a bachelors degree is basically gone. I wouldn't be surprised if a masters degree will be sub par in the near future as well. If I continue to work in retail/sales it's going to have to be what I'm stuck with for the rest of my life because I won't have work experience in other areas. Entry level jobs even look for people with experience and a degree. The only way to break the cycle is to take out more loans to go back to school. More debt. With all these lending crisis' going on I feel like a bank is just about as bad cancer from a social stand point.
In a philosophy class we had a discussion about the social responsibility of universities. Is school about creating educated and rounded individuals, or is it about job training? Are we going to school just so we can get a great job like I mentioned above, or are we going for a love of learning? I'm sure that the love of learning plays a part but I don't think it's not the main motivation in people's minds. I don't really have a point here, I think it's just sad.
3. Selling a social, enlightening experience

Diversity. I'm sure all us educated folk have heard that word thrown around a few times when it comes to college. What does it mean? From my college experience it means one thing. You're only smart and unique if you're ultra liberal. Is there anything wrong with liberals? No. The fact is that a strong majority of college students are democrats. I'm a communication major so I'm going to talk a bit about what happens when a whole bunch of like minded individuals get together. The minority view point becomes less likely and afraid to express themselves because of fear of being segregated against. You also run into the problem of group think. This is when a group of like minded people can over look issues or view points which leads to making huge mistakes in decision making. It's not always malicious, in fact most times it's probably unintentional. I'm sure that things like the Bush administration were victim to something like this.
The point is, as far as my college experience went, I didn't really feel like I was experiencing much in the way of diversity. A whole bunch of white democrats who all seemed to be ashamed of being white because a couple rich, wig wearing asshole thought it would be cool to be a douche bag a few hundred years ago. I just wish more people could see through color and see that everyone's an asshole. I took a few intercultural communication courses and was surprised to see that the only black person in the room was the instructor and very rarely did I see someone from another country. These were classes all about diversity and it was just a bunch of white people who voted for John Kerry.
Now I admit, I live in Portland and went to Portland State University. This is one of the most liberal cities in the country so I'm bound to be surrounded by similar people, but the fact is that most universities in the country see a democrat majority. I'm neither a republican or a democrat. I lean towards the liberal side so it's not like I felt left out (get it, left out), but I wish that I could have been in a place that did explore other view points so a real discussion about policy could be explored. The truth is I didn't start experiencing real diversity until my current job. Not just through my fellow co workers, but with the people all through the country who all have different backgrounds and motivations to go to school.
2. Activists

This doesn't so much have to do with college, but with the annoying vultures that prey on impressionable youth. I fucking hate them. On my first day at PSU I was walking across the park to get to my class and was approached by 4 different groups in one minute. I specifically remember one guy saying, "You should drop out of school and become a political revolutionist." I get a few feet away and I hear him say it again to someone else. It had to be the worst sales pitch ever. I've never felt so harassed or judged in my entire life then during activist season. Did you know that everything you do or believe is wrong? Walk down the park on a sunny day and they'll tell you all about it. There's really no point to this, I just fucking hate activists.
I feel like being Tyler Durden when I see these fucks. I just want to do the exact opposite of whatever they're trying to sell. And lets be real, they're selling something. I was talking to one guy who told me he was getting $15 an hour just to collect signatures. He told me he thought the petition he was trying to get signatures for was pretty stupid. Honestly, that's a pretty sweet gig for that kind of money. I really am starting to feel that altruism is dead.
I think the funniest protest I saw was when a bunch of activists were trying to ban military recruiters for doing exactly what they were doing. I find it funny because the military is the only group offering education and a real salary in return for protecting the ungrateful mental midgets protesting them. Seriously, the war sucks and it's complete bullshit, but these people are willing to die for your right to bitch at them. Show some respect and say thank you the next time you see someone who is serving or has served. I'm pretty sure their job sucks more then mine.
1. There's got to be something better to do with your time and money.

My number one reason for not going to college is that I found two loves that I've been forced to abandon because I need to work to pay back all my debt from going to school. Now I'm not saying I can't ever go back to these things, it's just so freaking hard to find the time and energy.

My experience planning rock shows and working in the community through NW Punks was awesome. Matt, Bucky, Julie, Jordan and myself earned respect in a community that basically hates kids and we did some real good. We sponsored a child, ran toy and food drives, put on free concerts at the convention center for kids, raised money for many different causes, sent a couple kids to summer camp, all while putting on some kick ass shows. We had fun and got to make a difference. Matt and I seriously considered kicking it up to the next step. I could be content doing that for the rest of my life if there was any real way to make a living off it. There's just not enough time in the day to take care of work and still try to put a real effort into NW Punks. I really wish I could afford to make less money. If I win the lottery, that's one thing that I'm going to make happen again.
The other love is of course comics. Comics are the whole reason I went to college. I saw the chance to educate myself in writing and editing so I could get into comics and become the next Brian Michael Bendis. Now college gave me the chance to actually taste the dream through my internship with Dark Horse, but I can't help but feel that the pressures of getting a stable job that I hate to pay the bills has sapped a lot of my energy and creativity.
The money invested in a college education could have been invested in a home or business and could possibly have seen an even greater return with me having even more freedom to explore what I really want to do. Granted the economy sucks right now, but part of me feels like I could have done better if someone just gave me $45,000 and told me to go be somebody.
Now I'll be the first to say that it sounds like I'm making excuses for mediocrity. I am. That's the whole point of these blogs is to try to revitalize that energy and move forward to something better. The truth is that everything I've listed on this top 5 needs to have some personal responsibility claimed for them. We're all products of what we do and don't do and if I'm hating something then I need to grow a spine and make a difference. I think that the college system still does possess these annoying flaws and I wish the system would change (and I honestly think it will).
Now in my position as an admissions advisor I'm able to speak to a whole assortment of people with many backgrounds. Sure, I feel most of them have an IQ lower then my show size, but at least they're trying to better themselves. Can I even say that about myself most of the time? I would like to think so, but the truth is I don't nearly as much as I should. School is great if you want to learn or improve your chances of success (however marginal that improvement seems at times). Like I said, the best years of my life happened while in college, but only because I tried everything I wanted to do. A lot of what I accomplished I could have done without school, I just happened to be in a head space where I felt alive and ready to embrace every situation.
So my challenge to everyone is to become more of an autodidact. Teach yourself something new. You don't school to do it, just motivation and the internet. Think of something that's always interested you and spend some time researching it. It's a hell of a lot cheaper and you'll feel better about yourself.

So what do you think? What's your top 5?


Top 5 Favorite Bands

So I’m deciding to write this blog because I’ve found it very hard to be happy these days. I also haven’t really been much in the mood to write, or even have anything to write about. This used to be one of my biggest passions that I even went to school for. I used to work on my comic, write blogs, and write short stories all the time, but lately all I’ve wanted to do was watch movies and read comics. I needed to find a way to manufacture inspirato.

During my day I’ve noticed that the thing that makes me happy is when I’m doing something that makes someone smile. I’ve also realized that I’m very passionate and knowledgeable about the things that I love. In the words of Harvey Danger, “When you like something, it’s an opinion, but when I like something it’s a manifesto.” So I thought I’d try to combine the two. In the tradition of High Fidelity, I’m going to comprise a weekly top 5 list on subjects ranging from things that I love to things that piss me off.

So what I want from people who read this is to comment back with your own top 5’s on the subject, or just your opinion on the matter. I think it’s great to learn from other people so I would love to hear what everyone has to say on the matter.

Oh, and just a warning. I tend to curse like a sailor so if it offends, I’m sorry.

So this week’s episode is going to be Mikey’s top 5 favorite bands. Now I have a strict guideline for judging this (that I will coincidently break for one of the entries). The rules are this. The band has to have at least 3 full albums released. All music must be composed by the band (meaning cover songs are allowed. This also means no country music can make my list because almost none of those red necks write their own music). The third rule is that all of these bands had to have in some way changed my life or the way that I think about music. The last rule is that it has to actually be a band, not one person who has a band (an example would be Ozzy Osbourne). I don’t like the idea of a front man taking credit for all the people who actually play their music but aren’t good enough to be recognized.

So a little background here. Music has been part of the tri-force that comprises my life. My dad was a huge influence in that area by buying everything from the Beach Boys to Pink Floyd. He also wrote and recorded his own music. In middle school and high school I was involved with every choir and musical, and attended state elite choirs on multiple occasions. During college I got involved heavily in my local music scene and along with friends planned dozens of shows that brought in a great outlet for the youth of our little county. On top of that I have over 11,000 songs on my Itunes. So I do actually feel like I have a legitimate opinion on the subject of music. So let’s get this started.

5. Brand New

Every album by this band has been completely different. Their debut, “Your Favorite Weapon,” is typical for starting bands. It’s full of angst over being young and dealing with broken hearts. Original? No. While the album is great and very articulate in not only lyrics, but with musical precision, it lacks one element that is needed to make a great band. That is wisdom. The only people in history that have made careers off of being pissed off are Hitler and Bill O’Reilly.

After the exposure Brand New received from their debut I honestly expected their next album to be a carbon copy of their frosh efforts. Not so. “DeJa Entendu,” was released 2 years after “Your Favorite Weapon.” This album was all about reflection on what has happened to the band over the last two years. Songs about missing home, hating the music industry, sex, and self acknowledgement of flaws. The music had become more mellow and experimental and seemed to give a general feeling of confusion as to what the future will really hold. The band had showed that they weren’t another pop-punk band hell bent on just making noise.

Brand New’s third release, “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me,” was released in late 2006 after a hiatus where the band seemed to have almost dropped off the face of the Earth. Rumors that they recorded multiple albums worth of songs only to completely scrap them surfaced as well as reported long breaks in the recording process left this fan worried for what might come next. Thankfully their third release did just what its predecessor did and found a way to reinvent itself. This time they released an album that I describe as a bi-polar experience. In a single song you will experience your highest highs and your lowest lows. This album touches on the subject of spirituality where their previous works barely saw that angle. While not as much of a rock album as their earlier work, “The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me,” deserves to be recognized for it’s brilliant composition. After hearing this album I understood why they spent so long crafting this piece of art and not just churning out another manufactured album like most bands.

-Your Favorite Weapon
-Deja Entendu
-The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

4. Coheed and Cambria

Only one word can be used when describing Coheed and Cambria. Epic. There are a lot of bands out there that have concept albums. Coheed and Cambria is a concept band. Every album is a continuation of a story about a boy named Claudio Killgannon and his journey where he discoveries he is part of a conspiracy trying to cover up the fact that he’s a Christ like savior called, The Crowing. This evolves into an intergalactic fantasy/sci-fi epic that includes everything from space battles to super powered assassins.

Not only is the idea really fucking cool, but the music is more then top notch. Many reviewers have compared them to Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Now my analysis is that Floyd and Zep had a baby. Then J.R.R. Tolkien and Phillip K Dick had a baby. Those two babies met and had another baby that they named Coheed and Cambria. Like I said, fucking epic.

4 albums have been released so far as well as a Claudio Sanchez’s side project, “The Prize Fighter Inferno,” which tells the story of the main characters uncle, Jesse. Their final album which is supposed to be the first part of the story in currently being written with great anticipation. They also have a comic book series written by Claudio Sanchez called, “The Amory Wars,” which tells the same story only in a graphic narrative form.

Coheed and Cambria showed me that it’s okay to do something that no one’s ever done before.

-The Second Stage Turbine Blade
-In Keeping Secrets of the Silent Earth 3
-Good Apollo I’m Burning Stat 4 Part 1: From Fear Through The Eyes Of Madness
-Good Apollo I’m Burning Star 4 Part 2: No World for Tomorrow
-The Prize Fighter Inferno

3. Say Anything

This bands name says it all. They will literally write a song about anything. Songs about love, sex, being institutionalized, fashion trends, spirituality, and politics. Their most popular single to date is actually about a Jewish couple surviving in WWII Germany. On top of that their style will change depending on the content of the song. Electronica beats, jazz club piano, hard rock, soft rock, it doesn’t matter. If it’s what the lyrics need then it’s what they’ll get.

A lot of you who know me know that I’ve been dealing with a lot of depression and anxiety issues over the last year or so. One of the things that’s really helped me deal with this is the honesty and integrity behind Max Bemis’ lyrics. He openly discusses how his depression and anxiety has affected his life and recounts personal experiences vividly with the precision of a surgeon. He even has a song about going to a therapist about his anxiety issues, and how the cost of therapy itself gives him anxiety. This is something that I’m currently experiencing.

Say Anything has only released two albums to date but I let them pass because both albums were a double disc release giving enough content for 4 albums. Max Bemis doesn’t stop there. In an attempt to bring about something new in the music industry, for $150 you can send him a story about yourself that he will write into a song, record it, and give it exclusively to you. Max Bemis gave his personal guarantee that it will be great because he refuses to write a bad song. I’m pretty sure that’s cool.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Say Anything will continue to pave ground and be original with every song recorded.

-Is A Real Boy
-In Defense of the Genre

2. Saves The Day

The first time I heard the song, “Sell My Old Clothes, I’m Off To Heaven,” I’ll admit, I cried. My friend Kayla let me borrow a whole bunch of CD’s of bands I had never heard of before. She introduced me to not only Saves The Day, but Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Midtown, Yellow Card (before they started sucking), Rufio, and many more before any of these bands had really carved a name for themselves. I can tell you that weekend alone changed my life. The one band that stood out the most though was Saves The Day. Chris Connelly somehow made lyrics that shouldn’t work, work. He could make metaphors that still haunt my mind and I find myself repeating them like I’m reciting Confucius.

Their style has gone from punk to emo to a brilliant mix of both that shows that there are some bands you can’t pigeon hole into a genre. They now have six full albums, a b-sides album and multiple acoustic releases. They have stood the test of time in a music industry where bands can have a few releases but then break up because they can’t make a living in a music industry dominated by Brittany Spears style crap that has made many bands (such as Yellow Card and Sum 41) conform just to break off a piece of stardom.

Saves The Day isn’t afraid to try something new. If you know the band well you’ll know what I mean when I say, what the fuck is up with In Reverie? They’re also now dabbling in the concept area with their last two releases, “Sound The Alarm,” and, “Under The Boards,” which are the first two parts of a trilogy of albums.

Members of Say Anything and Saves The Day are combing together to form a side project called, “Two Tongues,” where both Max Bemis and Chris Connelly share lead singing duties. I’m excited.

-Can’t Slow Down
-Through Being Cool
-Stay What You Are
-In Reverie
-Sound The Alarm
-Under The Boards
-Ups and Downs
-I’m Sorry I’m Leaving
-The Bug Sessions

1. Bayside

Just so you know this one came as a surprise to me until very recently. On thing that Bayside says is, “Bayside is a cult.” My god, it’s true. I first listened to this band last winter. I downloaded their third album, :The Walking Wounded.” I was so pissed at myself for not jumping on these guys when I first heard of them years prior from my friend Morgan (who’s a damn good musician in his own right. The kid is still in high school and he’s better then most professionals). I digress. This band combined face melting guitar solos with some of the most touching, relatable, and poetic lyrics I’ve ever heard. If that makes me an emo kid then I swear I will build you a boat and cry you a river leading to the nearest store to pick up just any album from these guys.

I’m not kidding when I say I want to tattoo these guys lyrics to my body to symbolize the fact that I won’t give up (just ask Shelby). In past blogs I’ve written about how hopeless I feel about the world, how frustrated I am with my position in it, and how scared of the future I am. When I feel that way I can seriously turn on any song from these guys and instantly feel better. And so far I haven’t had to feel like I’m going to run out of their magic because they’ve been releasing an album almost every year since their debut. This is one of the hardest working bands today. They’re constantly on tour and writing brilliance.

In, “Blame It On Bad Luck,” they talk about the next band that will change their life. Well for me it was them, and they changed my life. I am honestly a stronger person because of them. I never thought that I’d be one of those people that said that a band saved them, but I’m telling you right now that with all the things that have been driving me crazy over the last year, Bayside has been my anchor and has kept me alive. So if you like me being around give them a listen and see if they float your boat.

-Sirens and Condolences
-The Walking Wounded

So that’s my top 5 favorite bands. The best thing about it is that this one’s mine and everyone else’s will be different. So comment and give your top 5. You don’t have to judge by my same criteria, just be honest because there aren’t enough people in the world who are. Thanks a lot for reading this. It seriously does mean a lot to me. Join me next week for my top 5 reasons not to go to college,