Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Ghost of Tin Tin Can

Start All Hallow's Eve off right with this treat from Tin Tin Can:

video

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My 10 Favorite Records of 2010

I know what you're saying: "But, Dustin, it's not even Halloween yet.  There're two more months of possibly great music to come!"  It's true there may be something huge out there, waiting in the wings, some ghost mammoth of a record that will ruin me and this blogpost and throw the rest of the music world to its knees.  But I doubt it.  I've looked at the upcoming releases for the rest of the year and, unless Radiohead or Panda Bear put a date on their releases, it's unlikely any of the up-and-comers are going to take the place of these top 10, but if that happens, I'll gladly revise this list.

When the year began, I haughtily decreed it was the Return of the 90s (with ominous organ music).  While I still believe there is a lot of music that sounds like the music of my teenage years (no Nirvana ripoffs this year or, thank god, Creed wannabes though), the eighties had a big year again.  As a matter of fact, so did the seventies and  the sixties and the fifties.  What can I say about 2010 musically?  It's been an eclectic year: no scene is The Scene; or All Scenes are the scene (I don't condone scene-hopping anyway...) - what I'm getting at is: nothing stood out above the other as in previous years.  Chillwave, lo-fi, singer/songwriter, rock, techno, retro?  It's all equally supported.

Perhaps because of this mishmashing of sorts, I've discovered my top 10 records revolves mostly around my old standards - bands I've loved records from before - because, truthfully, not a whole lot surprised me this year.  That doesn't mean there wasn't great music, though.

A numbering system where I decide what record my favorite and/or most listened to record of the year seems crass.  So I haven't numbered them.  I won't decide which record is my 10 and which is my 1.  I can't.  Here they are, in no particular order:

MY TOP 10 RECORDS

The Walkmen - Lisbon
Talk about a record about production values!  I was slain.  Listen to the drums, to the guitars.  And the songs themselves are The Walkmen's finest to date.  Key Tracks: "Juveniles," "Angela Surf City," "Stranded."

The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
Okay, so this record did surprise me.  After the heavy-handed, melodramatic Neon Bible, I was wary of anything Arcade Fiery.  This record still has some heavy moments, but even those seem light as air and full of nostalgia and hope.  Key Tracks: "The Suburbs," "Suburban War," "Sprawl II," "Modern Man."

Tame Impala - Innerspeaker
Dude sounds like George Harrison when he sings.  Imagine if George Harrison wrote this kind of psychedelia.  Maybe he did.  I don't know.  It's awesome.  Key Tracks: "It Is Not Meant To Be," Runaway, Houses, City, Clouds," Alter Ego," "I Don't Really Mind."

Surfer Blood - Astro Coast
High school music at its best.  Thes guys might be one-album wonders, but who cares.  This record was full of summer and lots of beers.  Key Tracks: "Swim," "Catholic Pagans," "Slow Jabroni."

Kissing Club - Hooks EP
Jake Miller is a chameleon.  His voice can get dry as a tumbleweed or smooth as a glass of milk.  No matter what form he's taken, this buddy of mine has released one of the best EPs of the year.  Key Tracks: "Bury Me," "Dirty Feet," "Water in the Pipes."

LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening
The first track scares you awake and the rest have you dancing for 50 minutes.  James Murphy is still having fun.  Key Tracks: "I Can Change, "You Wanted a Hit," "All I Want."

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
A Deerhunter record steeped in fifties throwback and nineties love?  Who woulda thunk?  Still, these guys make some of the best stuff around.  Bradford Cox and crew just seem to get it, you know?  Key Tracks: "Don't Cry," "Sailing, "He Would Have Laughed, "Helicopter, "Coronado."

The National - High Violet
I will admit this one took awhile to really get into.  It's always that way with The National for me.  But I like a challenge.  When you get down to the basics, this is The National's most fully formed songs, not to mention their most heartbreaking.  Key Tracks: "Terrible Love, "Anyon's Ghost, "Bloodbuzz Ohio."

Beach House - Teen Dream
Same as Deerhunter and The National, who woulda thunk it: another sad, dreamy-eyed set of broken-hearted songs from this duo?  And yet...And yet...It's their best record! Let me paraphrase my drummer, Pierce: walking around wintertime in Chicago, snow on the ground, city lights, well, there's no better time for Beach House.  Which is ironic, considering...  Key Tracks: "Zebra," "Real Love," "Norway."

James Blake - CMYK
Blake uses empty space to great effect.  The samples and dance beats aren't half-bad either.  Key Tracks: "CMYK," "Postpone."

There you have it.  These records have been in my car for weeks, months, some almost a year.  Here are some honorable mentions, records that, for whatever reasons, I listen to every now and again but just haven't gotten fully into.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
The Fresh & Onlys - Play It Strange
The Love Language - Libraries
Woods - At Echo Lake
The Morning Benders - Big Echo

And some records slip through the cracks.  These are records I'm only just getting into:

Wild Nothing - Gemini
Twin Shadow - Forget
Owen Pallett - Heartland
Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

What else have I missed?  What are you listening to?

(Coming Soon: Top 10 Books I've read in 2010...)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Guest Blog: John Dwyer on Red & White Scrimmage - Bradley Basketball

From our friends at:
http://basketballbeerworld.blogspot.com/


Just got back from my first Bradley event of the 2010-2011 season: the Red/White Scrimmage.  It's an event intrasquad scrimmages for both the guys and the girls.  My first time at the new arena was nice.  It's a good looking facility with good sightlines.  Crowd was kind of disappointing, place was maybe 2/5 full.  Sound system was troublesome with the voices sounding tinny with too much echo.  I think that's something they'll work out over time.

The girls looked pretty good tonight.  It's actually been a long time since I've seen them play since I never managed to get to one of the games they played at area high schools/ICC while the new arena was being built.  I hope to be able to go see a few games this year.  Raisa Taylor is the only player I even recognize, she had a nice night.  Some of the players I'm not familiar with looked pretty good.  Maybe Paula's finally going to turn in a big season.  We'll see, I guess.

As for the guys, it was a little sloppy but I thought showed some promise.  Sam Maniscalco, Taylor Brown, Will Egolf, and walk-on Jordan Brown all sat out with injuries.  None are reported to be serious.  The men's scrimmage started off as a "conventional" twenty minute game with two halves.  As it is, they changed things up in the second half, by putting most of the better players in red and giving them a 10-pt disadvantage.  I think it was an attempt at a kind of situational set up.  Didn't work out well as the white team with walk-ons and reserves increased their lead to 18 or so by the end of the 10-minute period.  Didn't matter much, I don't think as some players were changing which squad they were on fairly frequently.

As for the players, I'll start off with the "bigs" I guess.  I thought Anthony Thompson looked a bit bigger, especially in the arms, while Jordan Prosser looked absolutely huge. Thought freshman Andrew Davis showed some nice skills, and also if you watched them dunking in the warmups he looks to be pretty athletic and a good leaper. He also looks like Hayden Christiansen (the guy who played Anakin Skywalker in the prequel Star Wars movies), so until further notice he's to be known as Darth Andy (and he doesn't like Sand People, okay?).  Thompson showed some good ups with a couple of nice putbacks and a big block (that I think was actually probably a goal tend).  He was still having trouble with leverage/strength though as the new and improved Jordan Prosser was really able to muscle him around.  Prosser looked fine out there-- hoping he'll be good for at least 15 minutes a night.  Be interesting which of those two becomes the key reserve or takes a starting role if the Braves go big and move Taylor Brown to the 3.

Now I'll move on to the guards and wings.  I missed the three guys who sat out, but I figure there's no point whatsoever playing a guy who's less than 98% in something like the Red/White, so I'm fine with them sitting. With those guys out, the only returning players who saw a lot of time were Andrew Warren, Dyricus Simms-Edwards, Dodie Dunson, Milos Knezevic, and Jake Eastman.  AW looked okay, made a couple, missed a couple.  Looked good on defense and came up with at least one big rebound.  Dyricus looked strong.  He was playing point a lot and looked good, but didn't do anything spectacular.  A part of that was Dodie's (and Walt Lemon's for that matter) defense.  It was a fun one-on-one matchup to watch... And it's nice to see Dodie back on the court after last year's season ender.  Dodie played well; good defense, and I think 1/2 shooting from 3.  Milos didn't have a good night, not much else to say.  Eastman played a lot of minutes and made a couple of shots.  He gets to the basket well, and over all I'd say he looked fine.  I'm nervous they had him matching up with forwards a lot of the time.  I have to think his best chance to contribute comes as a guard and not a forward (too small)... So I hope he'll see less/no time in the front court.  He also dunked it once during the warmups.  So, uh, he can dunk.

Freshman Walter Lemon, Jr. looks good to me. Played good D and looks like a great athlete. Nasty first step. Been hearing positive reports about him from practice, and am hoping he'll get some chances to develop against live opponents this season.

The two healthy walkons got a lot of floor time and this is probably the only chance I'll get to comment on them, so here goes.  The kid from Geneseo has a nice shot, but he's tiny and I can't imagine him seeing the floor... Hope we don't get into that situation. That being said, Charonn Woods looked decent to me. He's very strong looking and has average quickness. He played decent defense against guys who were definitely much quicker. Hope we never need him, but I'm thinking he wouldn't be a disaster for a few minutes.

Speaking of defense, with as much stoutness on the defensive end, regardless of who was playing, I'm hoping that means the team is buying into whatever it is that Platt is selling.

I don't read much into a scrimmage like this, but I felt like it was an okay result and a nice way to kick off my Bradley season.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

News of the Day: Recording

Saturday, Tin Tin Can recorded lots of bass and some vocals. The bass was recorded in our old practice space - empty now and it kind of looks like a prison cell without our equipment taking up the space. The room was still hot and smelled like stale beer. Oh, the memories...
Justin's song, "Helena, Helena" is nearly complete, except for some basic mixing. "Bandwagon (Abducted by Aliens)" is getting close: a few more instruments to add and then overdubs. We've got a couple others in the bag as well. Scratch tracks to some new Justin songs and some news of my own have been laid down too.

We're getting there, slow and sure, but there. Looks like we may have a 7" split with Kissing Club soon too. Jake's heading to Chicago in November to record a new song. If you haven't heard yet, you should go to www.prosperorecords.com to get his new EP, Hooks.
For your viewing pleasure, here's a taste of Chris working on some synth:

video


LOOK AT ALL THOSE KEYS!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor - A Review

Post-apocalyptic stories don't get much better than this.  You've got vast deserts, some dusty broken-down computers, strange spirits, white metallic spiders, genocide, and, for many of the male characters, a misogynist world view.  This is the story of Onyesonwu; the literal translation is, "Who fears death"  She was born from rape.  Her mother, an Okeke woman, was raped by a Nuru general when her village was brutally attacked.  She escaped and wandered the desert, pregnant, eventually giving birth to her daughter.

The story itself is pretty simple: Onyesonwu grows to be a headstrong child, not only because she is a woman with powerful sorcery who is refused the teachings of the Mystic Points because she is a woman; but also, she is Ewu - a half-breed, sand-colored, part Nuru and Okeke, a child born of violence who, it is believed, will bring more violence.  Onyesonwu doesn't want to believe that she is violent - she who sings desert songs and brings owls and other animals to her shoulder, she who can shapeshift into vultures - but it was prophesied the Great Book would be rewritten.  Only Onyesonwu knows if she is the bringer of this change.  But she is haunted by her evil biological father who is trying to kill her.

It's what's going on underneath the story that makes it compelling.  Usually, that's case, I suppose, but in Who Fears Death there's just so much of it!  There's the plight of women, who - except in rare instances - have been relegated to the sidelines of society, taught that a man is her owner.  Onyesonwu must overcome the prejudices and ignorance of a male-dominated world if she is to stand any chance of defeating her biological father and rewriting the Great Book.

Genocide is rampant.  Nurus are killing Okekes by the thousands and Okeke rebels are fighting back, those that can.  The story also deals with how inhumane humans can be to each other, based on the color of their skin, or the teachings from a book written hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years ago. 

Let's not forget technology.  Everywhere: rusty computers, static cell phones, the remnants of a technological society gone wrong.  Who Fears Death is not afraid of talking about what happens when technology gets the better of us, and what becomes of us after.

It can be frightening to look at the world Okorafor has created because it isn't so different from our own.  In fact, there were times I questioned if this was set in a post-apocalyptic world or in modern day Somalia.  That the kind of things happening in Okorafor's story are happening in the real world - now - is heartbreaking and moving.  Okorafor wrote a powerful novel that stands as a centerpiece for the problems of the world without sacrificing its own story.  That takes guts.  And love - because this is also a love story, of the cruelest, fullest kind. It doesn't get more Highly Recommended.

-Dustin J Monk

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

II of Jackanapes: An Experiment in Ridiculousness

Over the weekend, I traveled south of Chicago, way way south, to the Carbondale area, my old stomping grounds, to make a spontaneous record with my good friend and old music chum, Josh Murphy.  Josh has a house in West Frankfort.  The front door sticks.  After you kick it in, you're greeted with wood floors and a vintage red sofa (which, as it happens, is very comfortable), an old chair, and several beat-up suitcases.  I felt like I had come to an old place, the kind place you want to listen to vinyl or create a series of watercolor paintings in, a great place to make a record.  Josh mentioned his place lacked a kitchen and I told him it was no matter: I was bringing scotch and soda.

It started a bit rocky.  Neither Josh nor I knew exactly where or what to begin.  We tuned the guitars and bass to the piano - which was approximately a fourth of a step out of tune, giving its sound a slight warbling effect.  Very pleasing.  Then I stumbled around a bit with some chords on the piano.  Josh picked a beat on the drums.  We tried different instruments.  Josh squawked on a clarinet.  I hit a djembe.

This frightened improvisation went on for a couple of hours and then Carly Lappin and her cousin, Marcuss, showed up.  We found the spark we'd been circling around all night.  We recorded five of the eight songs that would end up as the record that night.
It began with the jam, "Cheeseburger Cosmos."  We needed a tribalesque piece and out came "Sakajaweeuh Cheetah."  Spontaneity or inspiration - whatever you want to call it - really hit with "Kid Cudi Died in a Coma," so much so, in fact, that the next morning Josh, Carly, and I awoke with the song stuck in our heads.  Carly declared, "It's a hit!"

We drank more whiskey.  More beer.  Josh and I recorded a song the next afternoon called "The Heat" because it was so intense.  We also re-recorded "Kid Cudi..."  Somehow, we'd gotten serious about the whole thing.  We wanted it to sound, gasp, pretty good.

More whiskey.  More beer.

Josh and Carly's actual band, The Black Fortys, played at Tres Hombres later that second night.  It was a really surreal show.  First, because the band lineup was so strange: one man acoustic band to nightclub DJ to dark indie rock.  We returned to Josh's house in the near-woods late that night and recoded until dawn.  A big group vocal to the gospel song "Going to Heaven (Legless)."

The final day of recording started with some grilled chicken and funk bass.  Chris Wittman, former drummer of Carbondale rock legends Exhusband, came over.  Once Josh and Carly and I had heard Chris sing, it was decided he'd lay down the lead vocal track as well as drums to the James Brown song.

We mixed the record in late afternoon and drank much more whiskey: nearly finished a bottle of Jameson and a bottle of Dewar's, and ate a lot of grilled chicken.  I can't stress that enough: a lot of grilled chicken.  There was a Young Loves show that night - another band from the Carbondale area we all loved - and if we got the record finished in time (which included naming the songs and ourselves), we could hand it out to people at the Young Loves show.

Marcuss made it back from work in time to help with the mixing and, finally, the packaging.  After an intense debate, we decided to make the record one long song cycle as opposed to eight individual songs because, well, what could be more ridiculous than that?  Perhaps this: we put the record in brown lunchbags and drew the band name - II of Jackanapes - along with cheeseburgers and little green men and other absurd things on the front and back.  We went to the Young Loves show and handed out all 10 copies of the record and returned to Josh's house around 3am, feeling as though we'd sensually massaged our egos and even had a happy ending (incidentally, this was the name of the record: Sensual Ego Massage/Happy Endings).

The songs are ridiculous, of course.  The lyrics were mostly thought up on the spot or written around things we'd only just seen.  For instance, during a trip to the liquor store, Josh and I saw a man and a woman walking by a furniture store.  The couple were wearing capes.  We went home and wrote a song about it.  There's mention of chicken and charcoal.  Where the tube tops and hot doughnuts came from is anybody's guess.

What I'm getting at is: of course it's silly and not all that put-together and, hopefully, at times, hilarious.  But there's an enthusiasm in this song cycle.  We goofed around a lot, but there's also a sense of fun, of creativity in the spontaneity that shines through, something that is sometimes lacking during the recording process.  Given more time and with lyrics that actually mean something, I wonder what these songs could've really been.

Here's the website where you can go listen and download for free:

http://twoofjackanapes.bandcamp.com/


-Dustin J Monk

Friday, October 15, 2010

Guest Blog: John Dwyer on Bradley Basketball 2010-2011 Season

Dustin is traveling the south and making an avant record with a friend.  He has limited access to the internet.  Until he returns and for you sports fans, here is some college basketball!


2010-2011 Bradley Preview:

Introduction

For the program, declining an invite to a minor postseason tournament marked the end of a vaguely disappointing 2009-2010 campaign for the Bradley Braves. Fans are becoming disenfranchised with the middling conference results following a major high point in NCAA tournament four seasons before. For a fan like me, I had my morale ups and downs with team performance-- but my fandom is driven by a loyalty to my Alma Mater and a great enjoyment of the process of being a fan. I have my crew of fans I run with, we drink a million beers (more on that later), and we yell ourselves hoarse over the greatness of the product or the skullduggery of the evil refs. A summer off leaves the disappointments of a 16-15 season behind, and hope springs eternal. If I'm honest nothing really indicates a huge swing up in performance, but with a fresh new season lying ahead I'm ready to predict a chance for greatness and a surety of fun. BRING IT ON!

Roster Changes & Roster

Two scholarship players graduated from Bradley and completed their college eligibility in 2010. The first, Dr. Sam Singh, Emeritus, was at Bradley for at least 300 years (in actuality 6), honing his basketball skills and maximizing his talent. This means he averaged 14 minutes, 1.7 points, and 3.2 rebounds per game. To be perfectly honest, this was a little disappointing. It was a surprise when it was announced he'd applied for and received a medical waiver that allowed him to play a sixth season. We fans viewed it as kind of, "hmm, okay," since we were thin in the paint and it seemed like Sam would be able to improve on his 4.7 points and 3.2 rebounds a game from his fifth season. He didn't, and Bradley really struggled down low. Despite the fact that I like Sam Singh, I can't help but wonder if bringing him back didn't potentially stunt the growth of other post players without providing any particular value. I believe his departure will not affect Bradley's performance and may actually help a little.

The other graduating player was 6'4" Chris Roberts a fan favorite wing guard. Chris Roberts was an athletic monster-- the kind of guy who would occasionally leap out of the gym and electrify the fans. He's probably most famous for a 75 foot game winning jumper he hit during a postseason contest in his first (junior) season as a Brave. He was a solid contributor on offense (9.2ppg/2.2apg) and an very good on-ball defender. I thought he offered his best contribution at the 2, but almost always played at the 3 where he was a little undersized. I'm sure we'll miss Chris at times, but Bradley is pretty deep at his position so the net performance loss may not be that great.

Eddren McCain also left the program, or I suppose it should be said, was kicked off the team. He got himself into legal trouble involving drugs and a prostitute. He'd also managed to play himself out of the lineup despite a promising freshman season. It's too bad that's the way it turned out, but it should have no affect on the 2010-2011 season.

Incoming are two freshmen: Center Andrew Davis (6'10" from Oklahoma) and 6'3" athletic guard Walt Lemon, Jr. of Chicago. Andrew Davis was a late signing who'd previously committed to Army before deciding to reopen his recruitment. It's hard to say anything either way about Davis as he's relatively unknown. Post players often take a long time to develop, so I'm going to go into the season with the expectation that he's a project and we won't see him on the floor too much during the regular season.

Walt Lemon, Jr., on the other hand is a little bit better known. You can see some videos from earlier in his career with mixed results. He comes from the Chicago Public League, a known source of quality talent. He's got a reputation as a point or combo guard, depending on who you ask. I normally wouldn't expect much from a freshman either way, and I've been burned but the hype machine, but... BUT, the "insider" hype on this kid has been pretty strong. Things like, "I heard Dick Versace said he was the best guard in the CPL!" and (despite being loaded with three senior guards-- two of which are all-conference candidates) "he could push the seniors for playing time." Anyway, we'll see how it all shakes out, and I can't exactly predict a major contribution from a freshman in a rotation of guards as strong as Bradley has... But, it'd sure be fun if he was awesome.

Not really newcomers here, but post man, Jordan Prosser (one of the highest rated recruits Bradley has ever had) is coming off of a freshman redshirt and Dodie Dunson returns from medical redshirt. Dodie was a strong contributor after transferring to Bradley two years ago but missed most of the last campaign due to injury. I suspect he'll be our starting shooting guard as he's returned to health and a talented defender and scorer. It's premature since he hasn't played yet, but Prosser could be the key to Bradley's season. An emergeance of another post player that could see Taylor Brown moving to his natural "3" position could be an incredible breakthrough for the Braves. Either way, it'll be nice to have both of these guys contributing this season.

Guards
1 - Dodie Dunson
4 - Jake Eastman
5 - Sam Maniscalco
24 - Andrew Warren
25 - Walt Lemon, Jr.
32 - Dyricus Simms-Edwards

Forwards
3 - Taylor Brown
34 - Milos Knezevic
44 - Jordan Prosser
54 - Will Egolf

Centers
23 - Andrew Davis
41 - Anthony Thompson

Coaching Changes

It was a busy off-season for Coach Les and newcomer-AD Michael Cross. Alvin Brooks III took a job back home in Texas creating a vacancy for the "recruiter" assistant coaching position. Also, (son of Bradley legend Chuck) Eric Buescher left or was fired. It was publically positioned that he left, but heavily suggested he was shown the door. I can't honestly say anything first-hand about if he was or wasn't qualified or if he was or wasn't contributing to the staff. It is widely believed, however, that he maybe couldn't quite handle the job and that Les was left to handle almost all tasks required of a coaching staff.

Bradley made, at least as far as I'm concerned, a couple of very good hires. They first brought in Jim Platt, hired from the staff at Army (and probably the reason why Andrew Davis is coming to Bradley), who is known as a defensive expert and is a very experienced college coach (31 years, including 9 as a head coach at Arkansas-Little Rock and Charleston Southern). Bradley has struggled with defense and rebounding, and most believe Coach Platt may help the Braves a great deal in those areas. Platt is Les's top assistant and Les has confirmed that Platt has complete responsibility on the defensive end of the floor.

Bradley also hired Willie Scott, a former Bradley point guard, and most recently the head coach at Chicago JuCo, Malcolm X College. He was successful at Malcolm X, with the program experiencing a complete reversal from perennial loser to a winning program. He's recognized also a strong recruiter with good ties into Chicago, a recruiting pipeline Bradley has long coveted but only rarely succeeded in.

Schedule

The "big deal" schedule-wise came when Bradley announced a game at Duke for the upcoming season. As far as playing the best goes, this is a great development. Bradley's also involved in an exempt tournament for this season, the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament. This thing used to be a big deal when it was the unofficial start of the basketball season and one of a very few exempt tournaments on the scene. As it happens, this year they struggled to even put the thing together with teams dropping out here and there. The way it's structured now, I don't think it's even really a tournament with a tree, but instead just a series of games. Bradley got games in Peoria against D2 Texas A&M-Kingsville and Loyola Marymount, as well as games in Springfield, MA, against USC (a big name, but a bad basketball program) and TCU. The Mountain West-MVC challenge is back this season with Utah visitng Peoria. Other than that Bradley has home games against Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Jackson State, and Detroit Mercy, and an away game at Western Carolina.

Prediction

Non-Conference (including Bracket Buster) - 11-1
Conference Record - 12-6
Overall Record - 23-7
RPI - 50s
Post-season - NCAA Invitation

I'm always optimistic, so sue me. Seriously though, I feel the Valley is up for grabs, and the non-conference schedule isn't weak, but there is only one nigh-on unwinnable game on it (@ Duke). Bradley has a trio of talented senior guards who have one last chance for glory as well as an extremely talented forward in Taylor Brown who has a bit to prove to himself and fans this season (due to discipline problems he got little respect all-conference wise despite being one of the league leaders in scoring and rebounding). Bearing usual caveats (injuries, discpline, meteor impacts), I feel like some things are aligning to position Bradley for a run this season.

Projected starting lineup:

PG - Sam Maniscalco
SG - Dodie Dunson
SF - Andrew Warren
PF - Taylor Brown
C - Will Egolf

Significant contributors - Dyricus, Prosser, Thompson

This is my safe prediction for starting lineup, based on our recent history with Coach Les as well as the known quantities on the roster. As for reserves, Dyricus is in there over Eastman because I think DSE showed a great deal more in his freshman season. Thompson and Prosser get minutes just based on the need for play in the paint. What I'd really like to see (which requires an unknown conversion of talent into performance) is Taylor Brown at the 3, and two "bigs" muscling in.

Starting lineup I'd love to see:

PG - Sam Maniscalco
SG - Andrew Warren
SF - Taylor Brown
PF - Will Egolf
C - Thompson or Prosser

Significant Contributors - Dodie, Dyricus, Milos, plus whoever isn't starting between Thompson and Prosser.

Such a lineup would give us great depth at all positions, and get rid of our traditional size disadvantage. In fact, that lineup, would be well above average size wise. It does absolutely rely, however, upon Thompson or Prosser proving they can provide a good 20 minutes in the paint, something that hasn't happened yet.

Winning and the Beer Consumption Model

When asked how I thought the season would go, I've often answered well, they're going to win or lose and as a result I will drink more beer one way or the other. Taken in those terms it becomes interesting to ask does winning or losing lead to more consumption of beer? I've spent many years gathering data and pondering this important question. After years of painstaking research my foundation is ready to share their results:



I was surprised that neither result seems to indicate increased beer consumption. While a bad game drives you to drink early, the depression and desire to return quickly home eliminates post-game fesitivies (other than a beer or two to cry into). Contrast this with a good game that shows you paying great attention (requiring less consumption) to the stellar play of your favored team, this temporary situation is replaced by extensive post-game festivities with your friends and fellow fans. Granted there can be outliers, such as a great game lost inexplicably, or a game you think you're going to lose that you managed to pull out in over time. Other factors such as Brave Club backed pre-game parties rife with free beer or huge games like the historic Michigan State game can also skew results, however over time results normalize and you get this result.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tin Tin Can Lyrics Redux

Lyrics to a couple of Justin's songs. We're working on recording both of these songs for the new record and, though "Marie Antoinette" has a video, "Bandwagon (Wrecking Ball)" is fairly new to the live setting. Enjoy!


"Bandwagon (Wrecking Ball)"

I was standing in the hall when that wrecking ball crashed through the wall and took Coraline out. Though she was dead upon arrival, we toasted our survival and gargled champaign in our mouths. And Anthony was grooming his moustache in the dining room when shrapnel hit the notches of his spine. And the blood down his back, it wasn't red, no, it was black and I sure got a kick out of that.

Wait until I get my hands around your neck.

The minister was sitting in the kitchen sucking lemons when we all lined up to watch him perform an exorcism. Then a hipster apparition, a girl from West Virginia, stood up, undressed and then kissed him. Oh, his retinas went white. The minister was blind so we danced around like assholes kicking shrapnel in his eyes until our temples turned to horns; our feet they were transformed into hemlocks and hoofs: it was awful, it was good.

Wait until I get my hands around your neck.

Well, if hell is a condition, we were certainly born with it, so we might as well start digging up dirt.  And if we happen to strike oil we'll be millionaires by morning.  How about that?
Then Ryan he showed up in his beat up pickup truck and he drew an 8.6 upon the door as he came in. Then he asked for our attention; religiously, we listened to all of his opinions on the state of rock n roll bands. And then right there on the scene, the Tastemaker became our king. We'd always come to him before we ever started singing - if you follow in his likeness, bow down to your highness, he will give you life. Just ask Coraline, she's fine.

Wait until I get my hands around your neck.

Well, if hell is a condition, we were certainly born with it, so we might as well start digging up dirt.  And if we happen to strik oil we'll be millionaires by morning.  How about that?  If the devil wants commission, we could cut him ten percent as long as everything we touch keeps turning gold.  If it don't I guess it don't but we still got you by the throat and we're going to hold you there until you choke.






"Marie Antoinette"

You were like Marie Antoinette: you held good taste above all else. We were driving down the interstate when you said, "Eat cake." And like a knife held to my neck you touched my leg and then undressed. The highway trees bent low and wept and then they sang, "Let it rain, let it rain."If I made you god, if I showed you love, you'd have it rain on everyone.

The storm clouds rolled up over us; the windshield wipers wouldn't work. I ran the car off of the road and into the woods. The songbirds scattered as we crashed through broken branches. Broken glass danced off your skin and you looked scared, but I just laughed. Let it rain, let it rain. If I made you god, if I showed you love, you'd have it rain on everyone.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Everything Matters! by Ron Currie, Jr: A Review



Imagine you were a pretty normal kid, albeit a little morose and serious, with a pretty average American family - mom who likes her vodka, quiet but stern father, ball-playing brother - and a pretty smart girlfriend who sees through the bullshit; imagine the regular things in life like church on Sundays, baseball, cold autumnal nights, TVs full of static - it's not so remarkable is it? Now imagine if strange, disembodied voices told you exactly when and how the world was going to end - in exactly 36 years.

So begins Everything Matters!, the debut novel by Ron Currie, Jr. We follow Junior through the ups and downs of everyday life, though it's not exactly normal for him, having the secret knowledge of the world's destruction, everything a constant reminder that whatever anyone does, no matter what happens to any of us, nothing actually matters.

The narrative of the story is told in a fascinating if, at times, slightly boggling fashion, giving the reader glimpses of the end of the world, from the 70s to the present. Many chapters are dedicated to the disembodied voices who see and know everything, not just about Junior, but about his family and his girlfriend's family and the world at large. This broad canvas narrative almost gets the better of Currie, leading onto some extreme tangents (interesting and funny though they may be), but the matter-of-fact delivery of the voices most often saves it.

The other chapters are broken up into the first person narratives of Junior and members of his family and his girlfriend. This is jarring sometimes because these voices are more finely-tuned to the characters' personalities; in particular, Junior's mother and father. However, the characters are interesting enough to follow. Their unhappinessess and Junior's own tragic sense of the doom of the world are made real through their speeches.

But the heart of the tale is, of course, exploring that fundamental question: does anything I do make a difference? Junior and the disembodied voices in Junior's head seem at odds for most of the book, the narrators believing that everything does make a difference and Junior, naturally, sticking to the other side of the argument.

Though a big revelation occurs later in the book and its last fifty pages are its finest, it is bogged by a near-ridiculous middle section involving a terrorist plot and a cigarette in an airplane lavatory. Currie was trying to show us how our lives continue on regardless of the end of the world and the incredibly strange situations we can find ourselves in, but I didn't believe this happening to the character, nor did I believe the outcome.

Other reviewers have compared Everything Matters! to Kurt Vonnegut or Margaret Atwood and, though I can't entirely disagree because of the book's Vonnegutian humor and Atwood cool, I don't think Currie, Jr. has reached the level yet. If anything, though, Everything Matters!'s big world view is a step in the right direction and I'm on board for his next trip. Recommended.

-Dustin J Monk

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

News of the Day

First, a little Tin Tin Can news:

Recording is going well.  "Bandwagon (Abducted by Aliens)" is nearing the final touches.  We've got a song of Justin's, tentatively titled, "Helena, Helena," that needs some drums, maybe a horn or two, and bass.  "My Red Ant" is coming along nicely.  A few songs we're working on, but are in early stages so far: "What Fireworks," "City Lights," "Brand New Blue Jeans," and the as-yet-untitled Ghost Song.

The band is planning a big recording session during the penultimate weekend of October.  Lots of bass, lots of vocals, some of those fancy licks Chris is known for, maybe some drums.  Pierce demands recording his drums on the rooftop of his flat, so who knows with that guy...

We hope to have the album finished and pressed by December, but we're not making promises.  And yes, contrary to popular belief, this will be a full-length, 9 to 12 songs or thereabouts.

In the meantime:

The next week I'll be off to Carbondale, IL to spend some time with a good friend of mine, Mr. Josh Murphy.  We'll be drinking cheap wine into the late hours, I'm sure, and recording our own little spoken word/absurd record.  Extremely looking forward to this; and, if time allows, seeing a few other friends down south.

Also:

Most of my Clarionite buddies and I have joined NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, http://www.nanowrimo.org/), in which the goal is to write 50,000 words from Nov. 1st to midnight Nov.30th.  Roughly, that's 1667 words a day, without a break.  That's a lot of damn words.  Some people go into this with a complete plan for a novel, plot mapped out, characters of depth, etc.  I don't want to do that.  Firstly, because I've been reading a lot of stream-of-consciousness books lately (see: The Orange Eats Creeps, by Grace Krilanovich) and I want to give this a whirl - not that I'm saying stream-of-consciousness books aren't mapped out beforehand; I'm saying I don't want to overthink it.  All I know about what I want to write about is this: it's going to be vaguely Young Adult, the main character is named Moo, there is a circus involved, and something very absurd happens.

The point of NaNoWriMo, of course, is not to hash out a brilliant novel in a month.  Very, very few people can actually do this successfully anyway.  The point is to write like a fool and see what happens and then, if it's worth keeping, revise it later.

I'm hoping to finish one or two more short stories before November because I'd like to get about 7 or 8 in circulation before I disappear for a month into my "novel."

NOTEWORTHY FINALE:

What are you guys dressing up as for Halloween?  I'm going as the Headless Snuggie.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Galena, Dubuque & the "Goddamned Dutch"

Most every year my dad's side of the family convenes in a place far from anyone's home for an early Christmas and a general gathering of the siblings.  For a long time it was St. Louis, in a holodome where one of the cleaning ladies claimed to have known Ozzie Smith; then it was a resort in the Ozarks during down-time so that the only place still open in the tourist town was a strip mall with an awful record store and OshKosh B'Gosh.  This year, after having not met for several years, the Brothers Monk decided Dubuque, IA, was the place to be. 

The youngest brother lives across the river in Galena, but for the rest of us it was a three hour trip - which was fine and actually pretty scenic.  A lot of old trees and hills and small towns with creepy gas stations.  In particular, one gas station on the Road to Dubuque had a white-haired man in a big blue jacket sitting at a table with a bag of Doritos and a soda.  He continued to say in a very loud voice, "Put a quarter in, take a quarter out, put a quarter in, take a quarter out."  We laughed nervously, unbeknownst to us at the time that the man was probably a prophet and ridiculing the gambling addictions of many residents this close to the Mighty Mississippi.

We drove our little red car away from the gas station and the prophet and, finally, through blinding night rain and road construction, arrived at our hotel in Dubuque.  It was late.  We gathered a bit with the family and drank some dessert wine that tasted like vinegar and sour but was supposed to taste like cherry pie before heading to bed.  The beds were fine, but as always, staying in a strange room, I woke up several times, waiting for something.  I didn't know what.

The next morning the Brothers Monk took us to the cable car in Dubuque.  It was a very old thing, pulled by rope and greased well (so well, in fact, the smell got in your nostrils).  We got to the top of a big hill and the city was spread out before us.  Uncle Kevin, the Eldest, pointed out several city sites: Diamond Joe's Casino, the steamboat, the lack of an interstate, Mystique Casino, the museum.  The most interesting of these things, for me, at least, was the barge tug.  It was an out of service tug, rusted, with two large black smokestacks.  For a moment, I imagined myself a lighterman floating down the Mississippi or some other river in some other land, carrying cargo to a strange, foreign town, one where I could make a new name for myself.  We went back down the hill in the cable car.  Dubuque was having a chili cook-off (one cook had a sign that read "My Gas Smells Better than Yours") and there were people dressed up as cowboys.  While we were at the top of the hill, my mother - who didn't accompany us - told us we'd missed a real shootout.

After the cable car, we drove to Galena where Uncle Kim the Young lives.  Galena's Main Street is one of those perfectly sculpted streets out of a movie set in the fifties.  You have this strange sense of nostalgia as you walk from quaint clothing store to vintage toy shop.  We stopped in a used bookstore full of historical books about America: the books were very expensive and very awesome.  The police shut down part of Main Street for the Fireball Run.  Classic cars filled the street until that sense of nostaglia was nearly bubbling over and you thought you might disappear into the Golden Age of America, order yourself an Old-Fashioned at the tavern on the corner of Main/Diagonal.

Eventually, we took the trolley to OctoberFest in the park.  I drank three beers quickly (two Miner's Treasures, kind of caramel, smell like vinegar, though I was beginning to think it was just my nose at this point; and an Uly's Dark, very chocolate, very thick, very good) and we watched a weiner dog race, naturally.  Uncle Kim the Young took us on a little tour of Galena that evening.  We drove along its curving, hilly streets.  There was an old brick high school converted into condominiums.  There was General Grant's house: it looked like it hadn't changed since he'd lived in it.  There was a statue of Mrs. Grant, the former first lady, who had owned slaves during the war.  In fact, Uncle Kim the Young, told us, "she not only owned a few slaves, but her wedding gift to Ulysses was a slave."  He said the general set his slave free later that evening.  He said he'd fought the city board to have this information presented to the public and lost, but he and a few of his friends bought some of the bricks used as the platform of the statue of Mrs. Grant and had the slaves' names carved in them.  He said, "Controversy is what makes historical people interesting."  Those of us that smoked, smoked a cigarette, and then returned to my uncle's house - climbing vines covering the red bricks out front, the backyard like a mad gardener had got lost in his own maze.  We opened presents at the house, and by "presents" I mean "gag gifts."  Some of these included: a device you put in your mouth to make your teeth flash like a rainbow; a toy gun with foam balls; and the coconut monkey, the traditional gift that gets passed around each year - the receiver must put a quarter inside of it and set it prominently in their house.

Then it was back to Dubuque and the German restaurant.  I ordered sauerbraten and everyone else ordered the same thing: beef rouladen.  It's bacon and a pickle wrapped in beef.  Germans.  You gotta love them.  We ordered some German beers and a scotch and soda or two.  The family was rather congenial, all of us having a good time.  The owner came out to us and sang us a disparaging tune concerning the "goddamned Dutch," and we clapped and clinked our glasses and slapped the wooden tables.

After dinner, with our German buzzes going, we were off to the casinos.  I've been to a few before and I've never liked going.  There's something strange about the atmosphere in a casino: the smoke haze, sure, but there is a lingering sadness too - as if all your troubles could be over with one lucky roll of the dice, one more spin, one more dollar bill spent searching for the thing that will make you whole again.  I lost twenty dollars on the penny slots.  Uncle Kevin, the Eldest, won two hundred at Blackjack.  There's also a taste of happiness here, like a hint of orange, and it's beatiful and fresh when you taste it.

The night ended at a Mexican place across from our hotel.  We drank frozen margaritas and discussed political comedians, ending up even more buzzed and debating the pros and cons of illegal immigration.  It was a bit raucous and perhaps a little too loud for the establishment we were in - certainly not our finest hour, but then, who would we be if all we had were fine hours?

All in all, a fine trip to a town I'd heard was different than your usual Iowa.  "Dubuque has hills," everyone says excitedly.  And it does.  A lot of hills.