Tuesday, January 30, 2007

You look more like a Tad than a Chad

The other day a random question popped into my mind about twins and names. I know that parents (mom's especially) are usually really good about knowing which twin is which. But the question I have is when the babies are first born, how do they decide which twin gets which of the two names they've picked out (assuming they have names picked out). I mean, essentially, they look the same. Maybe one's a little bigger, but not by much. Is there a special bond between mothers and children that lets them know which one gets to be Tanner and which will be Taylor? which will be Danny and which will be Manny? which one will be Mike and which one will be Ike? which will be Jin and which will be Tonik?

Friday, January 26, 2007

Albums That I Love #9: Sueños Liquidos

Sueños Liquidos

Sueños Liquidos by the Mexican rock group Maná is another of my favorite Spanish language albums. As a missionary, I'd heard a little bit about Mana and was familiar with one of their songs, but didn't really thing much about them. One of my roommates had some of their CDs and I asked to borrow this one from him, as I remembered hearing about it before. I soon found that it was a great rock album with upbeat songs and slow songs and while it does have a Latin feel to it, its certainly not mariachi music by any stretch. Much of the album has a consistent feel to it, and there aren't tons of songs that stand out to me, but I love the vibe of the entire album. I'll add some comments on the tracks that I think are the very best.

1. Hechicera
2. Un Lobo Por Tu Amor
3. Como Dueles En Los Labios
A slow song about how it hurts when one we love is gone.

4. Chaman
My favorite song on the album. It talks about journeying into the jungle and meeting a Shaman ("Chaman") who tells them that "Never stop loving...love is everything".

5. Tu Tienes Lo Que Quiero
A great latin soft rock song. Love the "ah-ah, hooh" and "Dale nina!" in between verses.

6. Clavado En Un Bar
7. Robame El Alma
8. En El Muelle De San Blas
A classic song about a woman who bids farewell to her husband who is going out to sea. When he never returns, she continues to go to the harbor everyday for years and years, until she is old.

9. La Sirena
10. Me Voy A Convertir En Un Ave
11. Como Te Extrano Corazon
12. Amame Hasta Que Me Muera

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Weekend Update

This past weekend I went snowshoeing for the first time and ever since then I've been wondering if its really spelled 'snowshoeing'. Something just doesn't seem right about that.

I had always imagined that snowshoes would let you walk on top of snow, and that's not really the case. Your feet actually sink down into the snow (when its powder at least) quite a ways. Also, they don't look like big tennis rackets any more. Maybe that's why you sink in a little. Those tennis racket shoes looked pretty amazing.

Anyway, turns out its a lot like hiking, just in the snow. Which isn't to say it was a terrible experience. I actually enjoyed it as least as much as hiking. For one, you don't have to pay as much attention to the trail, since its all pretty flat and there aren't any holes or rocks to sprain your ankle on. This meant I was free to look around while I hiked and enjoy the scenery. And secondly, it was a good excuse to get out and play in the snow, and take some nice winter pictures, which I will now share with you.

Snowshoeing Jan 2007 020

Snowshoeing Jan 2007 023

Snowshoeing Jan 2007 025

Friday, January 19, 2007

Albums That I Love # 8: The Rising Tied

Rising Tied

The Rising Tied by Fort Minor is the first solo-project album from Linkin Park's keyboardist/rapper Mike Shinoda. It, of course, features some guest performances, but the real star of this album is the sound. Shinoda has done a great job with the music of this album, and I think that's where it really stands out. Its not another run-of-the-mill rap album. The sound quality of the music and the beats is a step above average.

I've been a little bit hesitant to include an album that I just discovered this year on this list, given that its yet to stand the test of time like the other album's I've reviewed to date have. But I just really like so many of the songs on this album and I think that it deserves a little more recognition than its gotten.

You might be familiar with songs like "Remember the Name" that was featured prominently in TNT's NBA playoff coverage last year or "Where'd You Go" that got a lot of radio airplay, at least here in Salt Lake. Aside from those two singles, other standout tracks include "In Stereo", "Right Now", "Believe Me", "Get Me Gone", "High Road", and "Kenji". That said, the album is great for listening to straight through.

Please be aware that the unedited version of this album does contain explicit lyrics. If you are looking for clean versions, try Wal-Mart or the iTunes Music Store.

Track Listing:

1. Introduction
Just a quick sound bite of someone (Jay-Z?) talking about how it has "big sound".

2. Remember the Name

A great song about getting respect in the rap game, not for spending money, but for making great songs.

3. Right Now
A song that paints the picture of a city scene, jumping from one person to the next, giving a one- or two-line glimpse into the lives of the people we see there.

4. Petrified
5. Feel Like Home

6. Where'd You Go
A song about being on the road, told from the perspective of those left behind at home. Love the piano playing under the beats. If you haven't heard it, you definitely need to check it out.

7. In Stereo
This song about trying out new beats out on the street has some hot beats.

8. Back Home
9. Cigarettes

10. Believe Me

One of my most favorite songs on this album, it just sounds incredible. I've heard the beats used on the Dan Patrick radio show. Not just electronic beats though, its got good string instruments playing along.

11. Get Me Gone
A brief (one verse) song talking about how when Linkin Park was first signed, their producer tried to convince Mike to just play the keyboard, and the rumor that ghostwriters wrote their songs for them.

12. High Road
Another of my most favorite songs. This one builds a lot on "Get Me Gone" theme of being disrespected. Features some the piano stylings of John Legend and they really make the song sound great.

13. Kenji
This song tells the story of Mike's grandfather and the Japanese internment camps during WWII, something we don't hear much about, especially in rap songs. This one features sound recordings from actual internees.

14. Red to Black

15. Battle
A quick sample from a rap battle. Honestly, I know that the rapper in the clip, Celph Titled, is on the Machine Shop label, but I'm not sure what this track is doing here.

16. Slip Out the Back

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Random Thoughts on the English Language #11

So, inside of our bodies we have many organs, right? And if you had to say which one of them is most important to us living, you'd probably pick the heart or the brain, right? Any idea why neither one of those is called the 'liver'?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Albums...er...Songs that I Love #7: Best of 2006

When it comes to albums you can listen to straight through, a large portion of them are Greatest Hits albums. Back when you pretty much had to buy a whole album to get even one song, Greatest Hits albums were like musical goldmines. In that vein, I give you this week's Album that I Love: My Greatest Hits of 2006. You might recall I gave a list of my 2005 faves here. For the most part, I'm using the same rules as last year. With one exception, they are songs released in 2006 or maybe late 2005.

Here's the list:

1. Dream Big - Ryan Shupe and the Rubber Band
Talking about Dreaming Big. Ryan Shupe used to play at the LDS Institute during lunch when I was a freshman at the U, and maybe even after I got back from the mission. I've heard this song has been chosen to be the theme song for a TV Show. Even if it wasn't, its still a great song about dreaming big.

2. S.O.S. - Rihanna
Great high-energy pop song set to the beat of Tainted Love in the background.

3. Tell Me When to Go - E-40 ft. Keak Da Sneak
This song took the "hyphy" movement from the Bay Area and made it a national phenomenon. My friend Cameron's been talking about hyphy for a couple years now, and this song brought it all to the table from "going dumb" to "ghost ridin' the whip" to "put your stunna shades on".

4. Such Great Heights - Postal Service
I realize this song was released in 2003, but I'd never heard until recently. And I love it. So it gets to go on this list. Such Great Heights is a great song to listen to on your ipod while you walk across campus. Its a great soundtrack-to-life song. I love the way it starts out and how it builds and grows, and especially how it makes me feel like I'm doing something supercool regardless of what I'm doing.

5. Temperature - Sean Paul
Like S.O.S., a great song to dance and stomp your feet to.

6. Waiting on the World to Change - John Mayer
John Mayer has a TV Show totally changed my opinion of John Mayer, although I still thought the way he "jammed out" for 5 minutes after every song when I saw him in concert (he was with Counting Crows) was pretty lame. I like the bells in this song. It makes it feel like a Christmas song.

7. Remember the Name - Fort Minor
Fort Minor is Linkin Park keyboardist/rapper Mike Shinoda's side project and you can count on seeing a more in-depth review of their inaugural album, "The Rising Tied". You might remember "Remember the Name" from TNT's coverage of last year's NBA Playoffs. Great hip-hop song with a chorus that fits nicely for sports coverage and verses that talk about building your name in the rap game.

8. Over My Head (Cable Car) - The Fray
I'd heard about The Fray for awhile before I finally realized I'd been hearing them sing this song all the time on the radio. I'm still undecided about what this song is about, although I'm guessing its about everyone else knowing your girlfriend's about to break up with you.

9. I Will Follow You Into the Dark - Death Cab for Cutie
Quiet, sweet, acoustic love song.

10. Ridin' - Chamillionaire ft. Krayzie Bone
A rap song that was good enough to spawn Weird Al's "White & Nerdy" parody. A rap song from a Houston rapper that doesn't overly reek of Paul Wall's signature Chopped and Screwed production.

11. You're Beautiful - James Blunt
What can I say? I just like to listen to this song. Even if James Blunt did look strikingly like Steve Nash. Maybe that's what inspired Steve to get a haircut this year.

12. Where'd You Go - Fort Minor
Fort Minor followed up "Remember the Name" with this more mellow song about family and working on the road.

13. Precious - Depeche Mode
I just love the way this one sounds.

14. Crazy - Gnarls Barkley
Can't have a list of songs from 2006 with mentioning the ubiquitous "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, a duo made up of DJ Dangermouse and rapper Cee-Lo. In addition to being a fairly good song, they sold it doing performances that ranged from dressing in bathrobes to dressing as Star Wars characters.

15. Sure Thing Falling - Yellowcard
Yellowcard had a new album out this year, and when I first listened to it, I thought that I hated it. Luckily they came in concert to the U to personally convince me that it deserved a 2nd chance.

16. Daft Punk is Playing at My House - LCD Soundsystem
I actually found this song on a bunch of Best of 2005 lists last year and it made me check it out. It actually appears on the soundtrack of a video game I have, and its tons of fun to sing along with.

17. Dance Dance - Fall Out Boy
While Fall Out Boy was really a 2005 phenomenon if you ask me, "Dance Dance" had the kind of fun, frenzied energy that I've come to expect from emo groups when they aren't being angry.

18. Lights and Sounds - Yellowcard
The title track from the new Yellowcard album. Preceded on the album only by a brief piano solo. This one gets the album rockin'.

19. Cobrastyle - Teddybears Sthlm ft. Mad Cobra
I've been hearing this song on soundtracks and video games all year, but I've yet to hear the name of the group pronounced or to hear anything about them. Its a good upbeat pop/hip-hop song.

20. Kick, Push - Lupe Fiasco
Along with Fort Minor's "The Rising Tied", Lupe Fiasco's "Food and Liquor" was my other favorite hip-hop album this year. Lupe puts together rhymes and songs in a way that just flows. Kind of like the skateboarding he talks about on this track.

21. What You Know - T.I.
Not as upbeat and high speed as T.I.'s big hits from 2005 ("Bring 'Em Out" and "You Don't Know Me"), but this ain't no slow jam. Its just T.I. taking his time. The background beats/music are great and T.I. gets the most out of them.

22. Cake - Lloyd Banks ft. 50 Cent
While G-Unit slowly fades into irrelevance (or maybe just incompetence) Lloyd Banks new album included at least one track with a great beat and featuring his smooth delivery. And 50 Cent only shows up to hog the spotlight for one verse.

23. This is Why I'm Hot - Mims
I know the chorus of this song is extremely repetitive and generally I hate songs that sound like they took about 2 minutes to write, but I love the verses of this song (especially the samples of classic regional anthems in the first verse) and the beat and the flow of the lyrics.

24. Upside Down - Jack Johnson
From the "Curious George" soundtrack, very Jack Johnson-sounding, but in a good way. This New Year's Day as I was cooking pancakes in the cabin I had stayed at, someone put on some Jack Johnson and I thought, "Its good that someone makes music that makes great background music."

25. The Instrumental - Lupe Fiasco ft. Jonah Matranga
It was hard to pick just two songs from Lupe's album, but I really like this one for the way the rhymes come so smoothly, overlapping almost. Its like he's using the same words over and over again, but he's not.

26. So Sick - Ne-Yo
Great R&B song about hating love songs after a breakup.

27. Fresh Azimiz - Bow Wow ft. Jermaine Dupri and J-Kwon
Along the way to slaughtering the English language, Bow Wow (he's not Lil' any more) gave us a fun track to ride to. There weren't many songs as Fresh Azthisone this year.


Same as last year, if you feel I've missed anything, feel free to comment me about it and if its one that I agree with I'll add it to the list.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Random Thoughts on the English Language #10

So the opposite of 'dark' is 'light'. And the opposite of 'darkness' is...'light'? Why not 'lightness'?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Albums that I Love #6: The Blue Album

Weezer The Blue Album

As another week has come and gone, we find ourselves again at Friday, and this Friday brings us an album with no official name, or at least no name on the cover, other than "Weezer".

My first brush with The Blue Album came in the form of "Undone (The Sweater Song)" which was heard on the radio and available on the jukebox at Netty's. That song, in combination with "Buddy Holly" inspired me to include this CD in my initial shipment of 12 free CDs. I was, of course, pleasantly surprised with the entire album and its great bunch of songs.

Later, when Weezer released their next album which I've still never heard much of it, I wrote them off as a fluke. Since then they've had some great singles, but I have yet to listen to an album of theirs that pulls it off from start to finish like The Blue Album.

Here's the rundown:

1. My Name is Jonas
Just a great rock song to kick off the album. Who knows what the lyrics are about, but that doesn't make it rock any less.

2. No One Else
"I want a girl who laughs for no one else; When I'm away she puts her make-up on the shelf." Perhaps a bit on the jealous side, but I think we can all relate to the idea at work here.

3. The World Has Turned and Left Me Here
A song about feeling left behind when love has left you.

4. Buddy Holly
A fun little ditty comparing the singer to Buddy Holly and his lady to Mary Tyler Moore. Coming in at under 3 minutes, its a quick one.

5. Undone (The Sweater Song)
As previously mentioned, the first Weezer song that I was familiar with. Great line: "If you want to destroy my sweater...pull this thread as I walk away."

6. Surf Wax America
Apparently Weezer likes surfing? Not sure.

7. Say It Ain't So
Great guitar riffs in this song. Builds to the end. Great for rocking out.

8. In The Garage
Its funny. Practically every year I figure out something more about this song. Having at one point had a Dungeon Master's guide and a 12-sided die, that part made perfect sense. Later I learned that Ace Freley and Peter Criss were members of KISS. I knew who Nightcrawler was, but just recently learned who Kitty Pride was, since she wasn't in the X-Men cartoon we used to watch.

9. Holiday
Nice rock song with a nice accapella section in the middle.

10. Only In Dreams
In contrast to "Buddy Holly", this track comes in at a whopping (by modern standards) 8 minutes. Its a laidback chill out song that closes the album nicely. Its got a few louder moments but for the most part it feels like the album is falling asleep after a long day.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

A legal way to watch movies for free

For those of you who live in Utah, or perhaps in one of the other markets where RedBox can be found, listen up. RedBox, in case you aren't aware is a machine from which a person can rent DVDs at the cost of $1 a night, and you are charged an additional $1 for each night until you bring it back (up to a maximum of $25). Often they are found at McDonalds, but also they are showing up in Smith's grocery stores.

Anyhow, my point is that there's a site called insideredbox.com where you can get promotional codes that allow you to get one free night rental of one DVD. You'll have to follow a link that says something about "Looking for RedBox codes?" or you can just click here to go straight to the codes.

The redbox machine has a button right on the front page that says "Rent with a Promo Code", so its not like you are hacking the machine or anything. I'm not sure where the codes come from, but two days ago I rented two DVDs for a night with two codes and didn't have to pay anything. Great for movies you kind of wanted to see, but don't really want to pay money to see.