Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I'm Boycotting Christmas

Actually, I'm not, but I wanted to be sure you were paying attention.

I like Christmas, second only to my birthday. I like any holiday where I get stuff for doing nothing, but I think we should rename it and just call it either Jesusmas, for the people who actually care about Jesus, or Capitalistmas, for the rest.

But, I have a new tactic for Christmas, which I started this year. I don't care about it anymore. That is, I don't care about what I get.

I'm an only child, so Christmas was all about me when I was a kid. Parents, beware, it creates really absurdist behavior. Everything that arrives is greeted with "Is that for me?" When the Wife gets me something, and makes the mistake of telling me about it before Christmas, I follow her around asking what it is. It's bad.

So, naturally, I used to, up until this year, make really elaborate lists of what I wanted. I even forced it upon the Wife's family, who took it like the sports that they are and made hay with my idiotic methods.

Then, this year, as I was assembling my list, I realized that there wasn't a single thing on it I couldn't live without. I didn't need any of it. It was all just excess stuff that I, like the good American citizen I am, already have too much of. So I emotionally divested. Told everyone that I didn't care what they got me and that they should spend as little as possible. Or, alternatively, do nothing at all, or give the money to a charity, or something that would be a better use of the energy and lucre.

And then I scored huge this year. Talk about a Christmas miracle. Art, books, shirts, socks, all sorts of football stuff, an arsenal of awesome cufflinks, glow in the dark shoelaces, a headlamp that lights up two colors, some really sweet pens just when my pen had died. It just kept getting better. It was nuts.

So, from here on out, I'm not even gonna get concerned.

Kids, the best way to get exactly what you want for Christmas is to not care at all what you get.


Back in the Saddle

Yes, it's true. I'm not as consistent at this as, say, Peyton Manning's forehead is at being huge. But, much to my shockification, I have noticed that people are still reading this even when I am not writing. So I thought I'd get to some achievement and actually write something.

And, since I've just finished the brain-melting, boredom-inducing, tree-killing experience of assembling my advancement packet, I've got some reason for taking a break from the real labor. For those of you outside of the weird world of academia, advancement is when someone changes rank. Assistant Professor is the first rank, then Associate, then Full. For all you college kids and English people out there that have no idea what our titles mean. What you have to do for this advancement thing is work your ass off for about six years and then make a giant binder with all of the things you've done inside of it. Then a committee (presumably) reads it all and decides if you're any good at it. If you are, you are advanced. If you aren't, you're (presumably) supposed to lose your job. But my institution of higher learning believes in advanced complexity, so our system works a little different. Either way, if you have access to the art history gods, ask them to favor me. I like my job.

I also like beets, which is the first thing that I think I should address today. Consider it an appendix to The Duran Diet, or whatever I called that craziness I tried to pass off as a health plan. By some odd coincidence, I've been eating a bunch of beets this break. Had some with the family at Jesusmas, then we decided to make some at home, then we had some at some friends of ours's house. That's the New Jersey possessive for all you grammar nerds. First of all, beets are awesome colors. There's even yellow beets, which are less common that the purple-red ones that we all know. Both are amazing and, to boot, both can be used to dye clothes, which is why you have to be careful when you eat them. At any rate, I've done some research, the veracity of which I refuse to verify, and it turns out that beets are both anti-inflammatory and detoxifying, which means that they will cure more than one property of a mean hangover. That's a plus, right? And, in a recent study from Italy, which, after all, started the Renaissance and is thus totally credible in all things scientific, beets may actually be better for your eyes than carrots. Of course, they're harder to feed to horses, so you've got to pick your battles. But, hell with the horses cause beets are also known to lessen tumor cell growth. That's bad, meaning good. Go beets. Also, in case you are wondering, the leaves are awesome to eat. You can do to them the same thing you do to greens and they're just as tasty. Or, look here for other ideas. And the best thing about beets is that their scientific name is Beta vulgaris, which means that they're especially healthy for New Jersey people like me.

In heavy metal news, I think I need to quit bitching about how metal has been a total pile since Vulgar Display of Power. As I'm sure you all do, I've been scouring the interwebs for those awesome Best of... lists so as to learn about things that I never hear about, or only hear about a decade after they happen. Most recent example being why it took me so damn long to get a copy of Dio's Holy Diver. More like holy shit. That's a great album. And who knew a guy named Vivian could play metal like that. Awesome.

Anyway, I've come upon some really great stuff recently that I think you need to know about. Intronaut's Valley of Smoke is sweet. Really smart, proggy, but heavy. Imagine sort of if Helmet and Rush made a baby while listening to Call of Ktulu or Orion and you're sort of in the area. The interwebxperts say that they are the inheritors to what Isis was up to. They're worth your time as well. Oddly, it's the clean stuff that I find the most compelling. If you're into the epic, classical vein of metal, Agalloch might be up your alley. It's really not the heaviest stuff in the world, so you should go back to High on Fire if you want to get pounded (Check this out. Best metal track I've heard in forever. Shout out to Stephen Deusner for hipping me to them.). But it's really awesome nonetheless. Has great momentum and texture, and is way more interesting IMHO than what a band like Opeth is doing. No offense to Opeth, they're just not my thing.

OK, last two. Tryptikon's new album Eparistera Daimones is what I'm listening to right now. Actually, I'm listening to that High on Fire video cause it rules, but I'm going right back to Tryptikon. Listening to a video? What the cow? Welcome to our post-media state. But, this Tryptikon stuff is great. It's a Tom Warrior project, so that's got lots of cred. Nice and sludgy, heavy as an anvil with gout, and doused in all the right kinds of Satan. Seriously, kids, if you're afraid of the devil, steer clear of this. And, last but not least, there is this awesome band I just came across called Christian Mistress. Best name ever, number one, but you'll also get crazy on this if you're into NWOBHM stuff. You should also listen to the Nachtmystium stuff that I've mentioned before. And we should all reconsider the greatness of Slayer's Hell Awaits.

A moment of silence for the Eagles.

So, now that I'm only half invested in the NFL playoffs (I'm wacco for Flacco!), I can reflect on 10 things I've learned from this year in pigskin.
  1. Rex Ryan is still the funniest man in football. He and Belichick should go on the road as a comedy team. Belichick is hilarious when he's trying to ignore Rex. Hi-larious!
  2. I was right about Michael Vick. Don't even start talking to me about dogs. I've already addressed that, and I'm talking about football. He was great this year. And, in the greatest maneuver in my brief career as a Fantasy Football GM, picking up Vick put me Sly Stallone over the top in my league and I went from worst to first in a single year. Yep, that's right, what I learned this year is that I freaking rule at Fantasy Football. Going for a repeat next year.
  3. Congratulations Kansas City. You actually have a team. Todd Haley needs a haircut bad, but the man can coach. Speaking of haircuts, I'm comfortable enough in my excess manliness to say that I think Tom Brady's haircut is cool. With that helmet on, it's awesomely retro. Reminds me of the 70s, when football was supermega.
  4. Chad Ochocinco, who I really do think is great, needs to shut up and play some ball. His production and his mouth exist in inverse proportion. Let's just say that the former needs more attention.
  5. This Tim Tebow thing is great. I know lots of people want to hate, and I too am glad that damn scripture-on-the-eye-black crap is over with, but I want to see if this guy can last. He's improving, has the aura of something exciting, and I'm learning a lot about throwing motions, too. Let's all support this for a while and see what happens. I'm not buying no damn jersey, and I'm certainly not expecting much, but I think this is interesting.
  7. On that note, my vote, entirely emotional is: The Bus, Cris Carter, Andre Reed, Ed Sabol, Richard Dent, and Prime. I don't actually even know how many votes I get.
  8. I love what Jerry Jones is doing with the Cowboys. By which I mean I love that they suck.
  9. Keeping Tom Coughlin is brilliant and should be commended. That kind of patience and recognition of the fickle and accidental nature of the league is why the Mara family is as esteemed as it is. My Philly friends are going to kill me on this one. Speaking of such things, Bud Adams made the right choice.
  10. The people at the NFL Network need to check their game. Jerry Rice is an indisputable #1, but Otto Graham not holding the top position? 4 AAFC Championships, 3 NFL Championships, 5 Pro Bowls, 105-17-4 record in an 11 year career in which he appeared in 11 championship games, winning 8? C'mon son!
One last addition to The Duran Diet. Sierra Mist Natural is great stuff. I decided that getting high fructose corn syrup out of my diet would be worth my time. It's hard, that crap is in everything. But I saw a commercial for Sierra Mist Natural, with natural sugar, like Mexican Cokes, and decided to try it. It's awesome. All it is is lemon-lime flavored fizzy sugar water. What's not to like? And, after drinking it for a while, you begin to realize that regular American corn lobby Coke makes your teeth feel hairy. It's nasty.

And, because I'm an edumacator, I need to recommend a great series of books. If you haven't already heard of the 33 1/3 series, you better get with it. Each one is about a single album, and they're unbelievably good. I'd read the ones about Slayer's Reign in Blood and Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's Facing Future, both of which are freaking amazing albums. And the books are just as good. And then I got two more for Christmas, Led Zeppelin IV and The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society. Finished the first. It ruled. And their blog is totally awesome, too.

Ok, that's it for now. I hope this gets my momentum back. Thanks for being patient. And for reading.