Archive for June, 2009



June 28, 2009

While I don’t necessarily dislike silence, I strongly prefer non-silence. And while I don’t absolutely need to talk all the time, I strongly dislike silence when I think there should be conversation. This is probably why I hate people who can’t hold up their end of the conversation. It results in me needing to fill the gaps.

Of course, filling in the gaps means I need something to say. Most of the time, because I don’t really have anything important things to say, I’ll end up talking about anything that comes to mind. My strategy tends to be to jump from topic to topic until I hit something that you’ll also talk about. Unfortunately, this results in very random and disjointed conversation. Overall, it’s a good amount of effort to always have something to say.



June 26, 2009

I’m not obsessed with his music. I don’t follow every detail of his life. In fact, I consider the King of Pop a little bit before my time (given that I don’t actually have memories from the 80’s). That being said, Michael Jackson is without a doubt a phenomenal icon – for his music, for his eccentricity, for his celebrity, for his genius. And no pop star today, not Britney with her comeback, Lady Gaga with her craziness or even Madonna with her longevity, will ever match his influence. However, my generation will also remember him for his unusual personality and troubles that undoubtedly came with his fame. The L.A. Times hints at what everyone is thinking:

How does one eulogize a superstar who, even without the various accusations of pedophilia, was something of a freak? Or was, as several talking heads put it, “a troubled individual.” In recent years, Jackson has been more infamous than famous, known for his increasingly alarming appearance, the charges of child molestation and his subsequent business-arrangement marriage that led to his single fatherhood.

But by the time I read this article, I had already seen so much love pouring out from the Internet. It seems that despite the more unappealing aspects of his character, people have chosen to remember the best – the music. That was his contribution and his legacy. His appearance, his marriage, his baby-dangling probably shouldn’t have been anyone else’s business anyway. He will forever have that tragic hero quality.

I’ll end with Andrew Sullivan’s post as I have nothing to say after these paragraphs:

There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age – and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life.

But he had no compass to find one; no real friends to support and advise him; and money and fame imprisoned him in the delusions of narcissism and self-indulgence. Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.



June 23, 2009

The youngest brother graduated last weekend. He’s the last kid in my family to go through our school system. He’s easily outdone all three of his siblings (we all saw it coming) – and we all did pretty good. It’s a bit sad that I hardly recognize any of the teachers in the high school anymore, let alone the elementary and middle school.

Graduation itself was extremely uninteresting, except when one of the speakers fell backwards off his chair on stage. The choir sang a rendition of Viva la Vida (bad) and the band played Lion King (pretty good). The orchestra played too, but I don’t differentiate classical music on any level. The speeches were generic, as expected. In all honesty, it’s been a week and I can’t recall anything except the diversity speech that definitely shouldn’t have been about diversity.

But sitting for two hours leads to a good number of thoughts that don’t really fit together.

  • High school kids look super young. Or I’m getting old – and I know that can’t be the case.
  • It’s pretty amazing how easy it is to notice shoes when everyone’s wearing the same bright blue caps and gowns. All girls should note that bare feet are inappropriate for any occasion where you are the center of attention. In fact, they are almost always inappropriate for anything you would call an occasion.
  • People get fat when they go to college. They’re not joking about the Freshmen Fifteen.
  • Some guys can pull off the messy, unshaven look; others never should. Guys should figure out very fast which one they are.
  • I think it’s pretty awesome when families are super excited about graduations.


June 21, 2009

I guess summer has finally hit the frozen tundra, and I’ve been harshly reminded how much I hate hot weather. But given that the entire city of Madison comes out of hibernation when it’s sunny and warm, I had to take advantage of the weather. This meant a bike ride downtown and an afternoon at the park. It was a hot day, and the humidity wasn’t really helping. Pretty much I stepped outside and automatically sticky and sweaty.

After the first time I overestimated my biking skills, I’ve been hesitant to try anything on my own. But my second trip downtown got significantly easier and nicer. I’ve determined it’s a long enough ride (approximately 8.5 miles one way) that I can bike leisurely and it still counts as working out. Having a lot of cars on the road still makes me extremely nervous, but once I get on the path, it’s a piece of cake.

The park was a great idea. Given the heat, all I was willing to do was laze about, so at least being outside meant I got a little bit of sun without getting burned. Granted, sitting in the sun meant more sweating – something which I could easily do without. But I could relax and watch the people in the park throwing frisbees and taking wedding pictures. And then I biked home once it had cooled down. Quite a nice day.



June 18, 2009

Born and raised in the great state of Wisconsin, I never really thought about Midwest culture as different from anywhere else. And then I went to college in New York, where I didn’t realize how much I missed Wisconsin until I came back. Turns out there’s a big difference that I can’t quite put my finger on still. So what exactly do I love?

1) Cheese. This one might be purely Wisconsin rather than the whole Midwest, but cheese is better here and it’s everywhere and it’s ok to eat it any time. And everyone loves it as much as I do.

2) Pride. Maybe it’s because Wisconsin has a Big Ten school; maybe it’s just because I recently discovered how much I missed Wisconsin, but there seems to be so much more pride in being and living here. This is why we get excited when even though Wisconsin is where Loki and Bartleby are banished to in Dogma, it’s still Wisconsin! New Yorkers have a similar love for their city.

3) Beer. It’s a lot like cheese. It’s everywhere, all the time. But it seems Midwesterners have less shame (or guilt) about having a drink (or multiple drinks) at any time. This is why it’s ok to have coffee shop/wine stores and drinking on the Capitol Square at the summer concerts.

4) Friendliness. It’s really true that people will say hello as they pass you on the street. Even if you’re in the middle of a conversation with someone else! And they have no problem starting up a conversation if you’re waiting in line, at the Farmer’s Market, or in the airport. I’ve heard Midwest friendly isn’t sincere, that we say a lot of things “just to be nice”. Lies.

Extra: What a coincidence! My cousin, who will be headed to Madison for graduate school, has just started compiling a list of things she’ll miss about New England.



June 16, 2009

During my most recent trip to Philadelphia, I stayed at the Hyatt Regency at Penn’s Landing. It happened to be my first time at a Hyatt, as we usually stay at the Marriott in Center City. And it was pretty fantastic. The hotel itself was very nice. Right on the water, so it had beautiful views. But what really sealed the deal was the way they treated me and my team.

When I first checked in, they offered us coupons for drinks and breakfast. It came with a nice welcome letter and a packet of all the restaurants near by. After dinner on the first night, I came back to my room to find a phone message left by the manager. He was making sure everything in my room was ok. Later that night, the hotel sent everyone in my team a sampler dish (crab cake, shrimp, steak thing) and a snack dish (pretzels, soda, tastycakes).  It was a very nice touch. Although, if it didn’t come at 11:30pm, after I had gotten into bed, it would have been even nicer. The next day, the manager caught my team before we left for dinner. Very friendly man – and from Wisconsin! Then, when we were at dinner at one of our favorite restaurants – El Vez – he called them to order us dessert for my team member’s birthday. A bit stalker-esque, but still impressive. And not only the manager was friendly to us. The entire staff made a great effort at using our names (which were on our coupons). Now, everyone always pronounces my name wrong, but it’s a gesture and effort I still appreciate.

There were only three negatives to my hotel stay, none of which are dealbreakers. First, no obvious computer to print my boarding pass in the lobby. I’m almost positive they would have a business center where I could do this if I had looked earlier. Second, no receipt under the door on the morning you check out. Definitely not a big deal, as I always check out at the counter anyway. And last, I don’t like how the shampoo/soap smells. I guess it’s suppose to be a ginger smell, but I was definitely not a fan.

Obviously the negatives don’t outweigh the positives, so I’m hoping to be back at the Hyatt very soon.



June 14, 2009

A while back, I mentioned that I heard of a band, Locksley, half of which lived in my small suburb of Milwaukee for several years. This past weekend, they played a small show at the Majestic in Madison. And it now is at the top of my list for recent concerts, beating out Okkervil River/The Walkmen.

First, the opener for the opening act was pretty good. Unfortunately, don’t know who they were as I couldn’t understand a thing the lead singer said. Second, the opening act – Fever Marlene – was great (even better since they appear to be a WI band too). Having a good opening act, especially if they’re relatively unknown is a huge positive for any concert. Fever Marlene got points automatically for being just two guys, and their music was pretty upbeat. They also didn’t spend too much time talking and introducing themselves. Just got up there and did their thing. I was a bit worried since the crowd hardly moved during both these acts. I thought it was going to be a dead audience; plus the fact that it was an all ages show, a good chunk of the crowd was definitely quite a bit younger than I would have liked.

But when Locksley got on stage, the energy in the theater really took off. People were dancing, jumping around, singing along, everything you would expect from a concert. The band put on a great show. Very energetic, just enough talking, and lots of audience participation (clapping and chorus sing-alongs). I thought it was pretty cool that most of the members of the band get to sing and they interact a lot with the drummer too. And for their encore, they invited a bunch of the crowd up on stage to sing the song with them. They also get lots of points for being dressed well and overall being a very good-looking group of guys. What girl wouldn’t love these guys, especially those Laz brothers?

Locksley – Why Not Me

left to right: Sam Bair, Kai Kennedy, Jordan Laz, Jesse Laz

left to right: Sam Bair, Kai Kennedy, Jordan Laz, Jesse Laz