Monday, January 31, 2011

Dystopian Novel Anyone?

So this seems to be a popular genre now-a-days. "The Dystopian Novel!" You want a definition? FINE!

The utopia and its offshoot, the dystopia, are genres of literature that explore social and political structures. Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal world, or utopia, as the setting for a novel. Dystopian fiction is the opposite: creation of a nightmare world, or dystopia. Many novels combine both, often as a metaphor for the different directions humanity can take in its choices, ending up with one of two possible futures. Both utopias and dystopias are commonly found in science fiction and other speculative fiction genres, and arguably are by definition a type of speculative fiction.

So yeah, like "The Giver" "The Hunger Games" and other novels where there is some weird twist that makes us examine our humanity and current issues. I think it'd be fun to write one. But what would the Dystopian twist be?

1. Every 5 years an exam is given to the inhabitants of the earth. If you are found to have either a stagnant or declining IQ, they kill you...or make you all live together on a single continent.

2. A world where children rule. From the ages of 4-7, children are the world's leaders. Things go as they say. Only one 8 year old has plans for the regime.

3. There is no cheese. I'm talking NOWHERE. There are only hamburgers and nachos come covered in mayo. There is only one man who knows the secrets for cheese making and the catch is...he's a deaf mute!

4. Hamsters rule the world. Humans run around in little wheels to generate electricity for the hamster raves. We have to get our water out of those little pet water bottle things with the marble in it spout. The human resistance mounts an attack.

5. Emotions have been banned...again...and somebody learns to use emotion...again.

6. There is a massive water shortage. People fight in the desert world for what little moisture they can find. Instead of rain, there is doughnut glaze that falls from the sky and makes things STICKY!

7. All celebrities are attending the Academy Awards and are killed by tourists. Suddenly regular shmoes like you and I have to star in the movies/tv. DUN DUN DUN!

8. Instead of marrying the person of our choice, we are forced to create a robot bride or groom. They have USB ports in their under arms and they have wi-fi too. At the age of 21 you marry. At the age of 26 you get to decide if you want to keep the robot bride (perfect robot bride that you created) or marry some random girl who may or may not have cold sores all over her face.

9. Oprah dances wearing only the bottom half of a chicken suit in the rain...not sure how that is Dystopian, but there it is.

So yeah. The future is all messed up, people survive, and it somehow makes a Newbury award winner for kids. English Teachers have heart attacks from excitement at the chance to point out humanity's flaws, and some rich. BADA BING BADA BOOM!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I feel like airing out all of my COMPLAINTS!

Arby's is too expensive!

Taco Bell is delicious but their food causes intestinal remorse!

Playstations and X-Box are too expensive!

Cereal doesn't have cool prizes any more!

The rent is TOO DAMN HIGH!

Ben Roethlesburger is going to the Super Bowl AGAIN!

My pants keep getting holes in the knees and my wife throws them out!

My students at night school are gassy and I'm in a small room with no ventilation!

The Jazz are playing like CHUMPS!

My stomach hair keeps getting caught on my belt...and it HURTS!

Cartoons now-a-days are freaking LAME! Where the Loony Tunes at?

My dishwasher is SKETCHY!

Movie theaters are getting too Expensive!

I didn't realize how much I'd want my original Star Wars toys when I was a little kid and now I only have a handful of them LEFT!

Betty White is just a name, she was on like ONE show about old ladies and now she's super FAMOUS! WHY NOT ME?! I'M STILL YOUNG! TAP INTO THIS TALENT NOW, NOT WHEN I'M 85!!!

Gas is too PRICEY!

They keep pushing the remake of RED DAWN back!

Possums aren't as cute as DISNEY makes them out to be! They are freaking CREEPY!
In the movies they play banjos and smile a lot. Have you ever actually SEEN one of these things? They're like those nasty creatures from the Critters movies!

I-15 still has a bunch of stupid POT HOLES!

Jodie Sweetin that played Stephanie Tanner on Full House never responded to MY LOVE LETTER that I wrote in 3rd GRADE!

I haven't been to Disneyland for 12 YEARS!

The RENT is still TOO DAMN HIGH!

I hate RE-RUNS!

I hate that there is some kind of GLUE or WAX on the toilet at my school and every time I go to use it I have to move my head to different angles to see if it's pee or wax/glue STUFF!

Hot dogs come in packs of 10 and buns come in a STUPID PACK OF 8! I have to buy 4 packs of dogs and 5 packs of buns to make it all work out and I can't eat 40 hot dogs before the BUNS go BAD!

Like my students LIKE say LIKE after LIKE everything they like say when they like raise their like hands! LIKE!

The shirt I'm wearing keeps coming UN-TUCKED!

The other day I tried to make ramen noodles by draining the water out of the pan and then stirring in the FLAVOR PACKETS! It tasted TERRIBLE!

I still don't own a DARTH VADER/STORMTROOPER/ or BOBA FETT Costume!


I live an hour away from Sundance and I've never GONE!

I hate when you eat OREOS and then you have no milk to WASH IT DOWN! THAT IS THE WORST!

I don't like BOLOGNA anymore! I used to LOVE IT! WHAT HAPPENED!?

I hate when I get a shrimp that still has the turd VEINY THING IN IT!

People still think Mullets are LEGIT!

I can't speak SPANISH!

and finally,


(even though I don't pay rent, I pay a mortgage, and it is reasonably priced...)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top Ten Song Intro's

My good friend Chad likes to make top ten lists. Movies, soundtracks, etc etc. I used to watch those VH1 top 100: Rock songs, Pop songs, Bands, etc etc and often found their choices to be of poor quality. I almost went balistic when Blender Magazine had the top 50 worst bands and they included The Doors and Oingo Boingo... (Seriously? Are you nuts?) They did however redeem themseleves JUST SLIGHTLY by including The Insane Clown Posse and Creed.

I thought tonight that I'd float out a top ten list which I've been building in my mind for years.


You know how sometimes the first 20 seconds or so of a song are just wicked cool and pull you in to the tune like a cowboy roping a steer? I'll start at 10 and work to one though I'm blogging on the seat of my pants here so not a lot of thought to the order.

10. Sound of Silence- Simon and Garfunkle
If you've seen the Graduate you know that this song is debuted as Ben is floating dumbly down the walkway at the airport. This song (as with many songs) sounds really cool if you listen to it at night. A few creepy notes followed by a perfectly harmonized: "Hello darkness my old friend, I've come to talk to you again...." So beautiful. Top 5 songs I've ever seen performed live.

9. What's the Frequency Kenneth- R.E.M.
All I can do is sing the first bar to you.. DA NA NA NA NA NA NA NAAAAAAAAA NA NAAAAAAAA NAAAA NAAAAAAAA BOOOM CHING What's the frequency Kenneth...
There is no better way to start a Saturday morning than with this song blazing in your car as you go off to do errands. Trick is that you must be alone. Having other people in the car is awkward cause let's face it, I don't know the rest of the lyrics so I just sing whatever comes to mind.

8. My Name is Jonas- Weezer
This was the first rock album I owned. I'll never forget the first time I fired up the huge stereo speakers in my brother's room and heard the cool little accoustic picking accelerate into an explosion of MY NAME IS JONAS DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN! I can't think of anyone who doesn't like Weezer. And if you don't like them, you at least love the Blue album.

7. People of the Sun- Rage Against the Machine
I saw this song performed live. Tom Morello is a crazy good guitarist, and he plays this riff with an Alan Wrench (sp?) After a few times of the "Dana na na NA NA Dana na na NA NA" the drums come in super strong beat and Zach de la Rocha hits the "yeah people COME ON!" What a great intro to a great song. I used to really like Rage, but then I got into politics and realized that though the music was great, they are way out in left field politically.

6. Welcome to the Jungle- Guns and Roses
Wish I knew how to post song intros, but I don't have to because you all KNOW this one. The guitar starts...and stops....STARTS...and stops...but then we finish the whole riff, Axel howls, and then DA NA NA NA NA NA SHA! We're into the main riff and we get "Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and games..." I actually started answering the phone like that for a while.

5. When the Levee Breaks- Led Zeppelin
What? not Stairway? Nope, I think Stairway is nice and all, but the drums that start this song off are incredibly eerie. They recorded this song in an old haunted house. They put the drums in the hallway and put the microphones all around the house to get the effect. This one might not come to your memory quickly. If not, it's worth the download or the sampling. Point is, the first 20 or so seconds of this song are bad A!
4. Blind- Korn
Yeah I don't have to say anything more than what I just typed.

3. Personal Jesus- Depeche Mode
Ding Ding.....(echo builds slowly with Dave Gahan's voice) RRRRRRRREACH OUT AND TOUCH FAITH! And then that guitar riff pops in there with possibly the best guitar riff ever invented. Like all great Depeche Mode songs, this one just builds and builds and adds heavier beats and sounds until your head is just exploding with trying to comprehend what is going on. This is also top 5 songs ever performed live for me. It is an experience.

2 1/2. Dead Man's Party (best of Boingo Version) Oingo Boingo
I finished my list and realized that one of my favorite songs of all time is not on the list. There are two versions of this song. One is the original release which started with a cool guitar riff, the other, which I enjoy only slightly more, starts with the blaring Oingo Boingo horn section. DA NA NA DA NA NA NA.....Dun dun dun dun dun...da na na na. Then the guitar comes in....some odd drumb beats...and, "All dressed up with nowhere to go, walking with a dead man over my shoulder...and it just breaks into the dead coming to life and getting down like nobodies business. So amzaing. Great song to blast as loud as possible.

2. Today/Bullet with Butterfly wings/Zero- Smashing Pumpkins
K as you can see, this top ten list is skewed cause I'm a huge Pumpkins fan and these may not make other lists...well actually there is no denying that the opening of "Today" doesn't belong on everyone's list. The first 9 notes ring in like a beautiful chime and then crescendo (sp?) into a thunderous wall of "Boston-esque" guitars that forge that chime into an ocean of power and....
And I'm going to leave it at that. Let's just say that starting a song with, "The World is a Vampire" followed by scary bass and drums is perfection and the screeching melodious wrenching of the opening to Zero are a thing of beauty to disenchanted teens.

1. Break on Through- The Doors
This has been my number one pick in my head for years. Starts with the cool blues/jazzy symbols...moves seamlessly into the organ playing the killer riff of "Da na NA na NA nana NA na" The guitar hops in and then Morrison appears out of nowhere with, "You know the day destroys the night....Night divides the day...try to run...try to hide....BREAK ON THROUGH TO THE OTHER SIDE. And the song just goes freaking NUTS! I LOVE this opening. You'd be hard pressed to find a song to equal this one.

These are my top ten...I know I missed literally HUNDREDS of possibilities for this list. Usher's "YEAH"---- Metallica's "Sad But True"---- and so many more. But I had to get these down on paper...errr blog so that I could at least get a feel for it. Anyone else wanna chime in? Seriously which songs did I miss here. Baby got back? Beautiful day? Dig it- Reeves

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I had a wicked cool dream last night!

Hiiiiighway to the danger zone!
Last night I had this wicked cool dream that faded from memory and then abruptly returned with MUSIC and images flooding back into my conscience.

So there I was, in my F-15 WOOOOOOSH!
Suddenly the foreign powers (no idea which country they were from) arrived with all of their "migs" and machine guns-a-blazing.

Highway to the danger zone starts playing and as I look to my left I see Val Kilmer (Iceman) and to my right I see Maverick (Tom Cruise).

I was launching missiles, going into precision dives, and lighting up the migs with my machine guns.

Now THAT's what I'm talking about brain. See sometimes my brain thinks, "hmmm I'll give Justin a stupid dream that's boring, lame, or stressfull." Not this time. This time I was flying a fighter jet and blowing things up. I dig that. I dig them dreams when I get to blow things up with Maverick and Iceman.

Luckily I wasn't treated to a lame dream sequence where we all played volleyball with our shirts off. That would have ruined my night. And now I bid thee farewell and leave you with the lyrics that had my sleep disheveled mind feeling the need....the need for SPEED!

Danger Zone
By Kenny Loggins

Revvin' up your engine
Listen to her howlin' roar
Metal under tension
Beggin' you to touch and go

Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone

Headin' into twilight
Spreadin' out her wings tonight
She got you jumpin' off the track
And shovin' into overdrive

Highway to the Danger Zone
I'll take you
Right into the Danger Zone

You'll never say hello to you
Until you get it on the red line overload
You'll never know what you can do
Until you get it up as high as you can go

Out along the edges
Always where I burn to be
The further on the edge
The hotter the intensity

Highway to the Danger Zone
Gonna take you
Right into the Danger Zone

Highway to the Danger Zone

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Dream Jobs

I'm a teacher. I freaking love being a teacher, but the paycheck, she aint so generous ya know what I mean? I'm taking steps to further my education, and in so doing, further my pay check, but what would my dream jobs be if I could suddenly break into another profession and rock that thing?

1- Writer for SNL, or some other comedy show.
I watch Saturday Night Live pretty much every week, but I don't watch it for the same reason as most people. Sure I wanna laugh, but I also want to improve my method of writing. I think that the genius writers on that show must have the most kickin job in the history of the world. Andy Sandberg sits down, writes a weird song for his digital short, then he gets to act like a total fool on tv and he gets paid big bucks to do it. I want to write for SNL. I think that if you gave me the week's headlines and 3 days in an office, I could make a great "Weekend Update" skit. Who were the geniuses behind that skit with the weird girl on the Lawrence Welk Show? In fact I once had this great idea to do a Twilight parody where instead of a vampire it was a Frankenstein... I should have submitted it somewhere cause SNL was there a few months after I had the idea. Dang it all.

2- Sports Radio Personality
I love sports, and I really love sports radio. I love the analytical approach that each radio/tv personality brings to the table. I love listening to Jim Rome. The guy is hilarious. I've laughed harder at his show than every Adam Sandler/ Jim Carey movie combined. There is a culture within the program where the clones (listeners) get into inside jokes and language that the casual listener just doesn't get. Jim's take on Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka being a coward had me in tears. "It's not your ticket old man, it's Chuck's. He pulled the ticket out, not you, you coward, you just sat in bed watching the Price is Right for 20 years and suddenly you are up dancing." I love talking the NBA and I really love talking the NFL. I think i'd do a pretty good job at this gig, however I'd have to start off at the 2-6 a.m. time slot and build a following of over caffeinated truckers.

3- Photographer
I've been taking pictures for years and feel like I'm a pretty good shot, but I want more. I want to have all the lights and equipment that I desire. I want to do photo shoots for Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone. I want to come back from my Yellowstone trips with really incredible pieces of art, not snapshots that I think look good but pale in comparison to the professional stuff. I want to sit under the basket of the NBA finals and get a picture of Lebron James dunking over Chris Mullen. (Chris Mullen? That's a heck of a reference there Reeves). I want to be the man with the golden eye!

4- Trailer maker
This came to me the other day. I've seen some movie trailers (previews) this year that were better than actual full length films. I think it would be AWESOME to get a film a year before the release, watch it, love it, and then make notes as to where to cut and what to use. I get to select the music, the shots, and everything inbetween. This my friends would be a heck of a job. Plus I could offer my own voice as the "movie guy" voice. "(gruffly) In a land where no man can find peace. In a station wagon with no A.C. One desire....the 5 dollar box at Taco Bell..."

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why so serious?

My aim in life is to put smiles on the faces of others while I try to make my way through the world. If I can make another's day easier, then I feel happy. I think that my cheerful light-heartedness can sometimes come off as "I'm all goofy all the time." Not so.

I had a meeting today with my English department. We learned a great way to teach writing where we read an article and then tried to emulate a certain portion of it using our own voice and words.

I gave it a try and though I didn't take offense to it, my department thought mine was trying to be funny. I hadn't intended that, in fact I'd been deadly serious about it, but oh well. So I thought tonight I'd blog about something that's been weighing on my mind lately that's more in the serious relm.

Winners and losers...our world is full of them. While I watched my son approach his gifts on Christmas morning with a look of glee in his eye and a bounce to his step, my heart slowly began breaking. "My son is so happy right now, but all over the world there are kids waking up to absolute heartbreak," I thought.

For every child who happily got what he wanted and more, there is a child somewhere whose parents couldn't afford gifts. There are families whose presents lay unopened for weeks because of an unexpected death right before the holiday.

While watching sports, a true fan cheers for the opposing team to choke and lose the game in spectacular fashion. Well if you are on the winning side of that experience then that's awesome, however if you are on the losing side...

I watched this year as Boise State played Nevada. If Boise won, it would mean a BCS berth and literally milliions of dollars for the university. All they had to do was kick an easy fieldgoal. The kicker missed so they went to over time. In over time the kicker had another chance to hit a crucial field goal...he missed again. Nevada hit a chip shot and that was it. The Wolfpack fans stormed the field and the Boise State kicker, in tears, walked off a defeated human being. He'll probably never recover from that moment. I felt actual pain in my soul for that guy.

So remember, for every great gift you receive, every game winning shot you or your team makes, and for every great day you have with a friend or family member,
-There is someone out there who got no gift, missed the last second shot, or cried themselves to sleep because of the loss of a friend or family member.

It is for the folks who are down that I act the way I do. You may have missed a shot, but I'm there to tell a corny joke to try to make it all better. It's the best I can do.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Women are like books

So the other day in a meeting, don't ask me how cause I can't remember, my colleagues and I began discussing and extended metaphor that compares women with books. So here it goes.

Women and books-

The old saying "you can't judge a book by its cover" is supposed to be legit cause it's an "old saying." Well it's true...most of the time. On occasion though, you can look at a book's cover and judge it exactly as it is. In fact sometimes you can look at a book and say, "that looks ok" when in fact the book is incredibly bad and full of mindless garbage.

Of course it's a socially unacceptable to judge a person by their looks, but we all do anyways. Some women look hot, but are incredibly simple and annoying. Some are not as "aesthetically pleasing" but marvelous treasures may await behind their stone cold gaze. Of course there is everything inbetween as well, but this is just a small sampling.

Library books are well read and slightly worn from being passed from patron to patron. It's nice to read, but nobody wants to buy a used library book. Germs. You can always tell a library book from the big stamp on it.

Women with tramp stamps tattooed on their backs are also a sure sign that they're easy to check out, have been passed around a lot, and you probably don't want to own or settle down with one.

Books sometimes contain chapters that aren't very interesting. For example: Moby Dick had a 20+ page chapter which was basically just a discussion on whale species...I still love the book, but I just can't stand that chapter.

Women, like books, are never going to be completely perfect. Each woman/story has a "whale species chapter" that you have to endure, but regardless of the occasional flaws, Moby Dick is still one of my all time favorite novels. Women with flaws are the norm. Get over it and enjoy the book. For though the difference between a hump back whale and an orca may bore you, there's always a great harpooning action sequence at the end where Ahab figuratively goes down with a giant man eating metaphor. Sadly some men only accept the perfect book, which doesn't exist, so they die alone never having read the adventure of their lives.

Books are great to hold and be with. Reading a book can be one of the most enjoyable things to do on a Sunday afternoon. Now people are reading books on kindle...and it's not the same.

Women are great to hold and be with. Sunday afternoon with a woman is ten times better than Sunday afternoon with football (Unless the woman wants to watch football with you). Now-a-days men have stopped being with real women and are instead infatuated with electronic versions. Texting/Facebooking/etc has replaced the fun awkwardness of trying to hold on to a book with one hand while eating a snack with the other. We may say that we "read" the book, but all you did was look at an electronic wasn't real.

Some books are exciting and thrill the reader. Life and limb is risked, guns are fired, space-ships are blown up etc etc. While some books are written by British people, and nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING happens. People talk, and talk and talk and in the end, someone dies of natural causes and people drink tea.

Some women are exciting and you wake up thinking, "boy oh boy I get to be with that woman today." Other women are boring and make you want not call them for a few weeks. You take them about because they are a girl, but they are as boring as C-span.

That's about all I have tonight. I'll probably get a lot of feminist slams because this may be degrading to women, however I'm only writing this because I was told to by my colleagues. I could just as easily write one about men. In fact, why don't you leave a comment with your own, "Men are like books" lines.
Here I'll get you started.
Men are like books because the older they get, the more they sit around and do nothing but gather dust and look handsome when displayed.

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Top 5 flicks of 2010

It's that time of year again when the critics throw out their top ten lists for the year. Some people trust the critics, others are skeptical, but what it all comes down to is recommendations from friends right? I'm your me on these

In no particular order:

1. True Grit
From the time that I saw the preview in...must have been September...til I sat down in my seat on my birthday on Dec. 22nd, I was extremeley pumped for this film. Maybe it was the awesome trailer that included Johnny Cash singing "cut ya down." Maybe it was desire to see Jeff Bridges continue to rain dominance on the title of actor. Whatever it was, the film straight up rocked. The girl who played "Maddie Ross" was insanely good for her age. For a tough gritty western, it sure had quite a few scenes packed with comedy and really well crafted dialogue. The Coen brothers are geniuses when it comes to making movies. See also "Oh Brother Where art Thou?"

2. Inception
Wow...a dream within a dream within a...I have no idea how someone came up with the concept of Inception, but I'd love to take a tour of their brain. The acting was flawless, and though DeCaprio was headliner, I felt that Joseph Gordon-Levitt of "500 Days of Summer" fame, stole the show. Yes the visuals were awesome, yes the action was epic, but the best part of the movie was the mental journey it took you through. The "what if's" of dreaming took front seat to the rest of the film. Christopher Nolan is a great director, and it's a joy to join him in the world of inception that makes no sense and all the sense in the world at the same time.

3. 127 Hours
Even though I said, "in no particular order," this may be the number 1 pick for me this year for a variety of reasons. 127 hours tells the story of Aron Ralston, an experienced outdoorsman who becomes trapped in one of Utah's slot canyons when a boulder dislodges and pins his arm to the narrow canyon wall. 127 hours later, after exhausting his meager water reserves and turning to drinking his own urine, he sees a vision of his future son playing with him on the couch. Aron wakes up, breaks his own arm and then uses a dull weatherman multi tool to amputate his arm. He then repels down a 40 foot wall with only his left hand, and walks nearly 8 miles to safety... the film and book have been a life changer for me. It's directed by Danny Boyle of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame. It is one of the most beautiful films I've ever seen.

4. The Social Network
I went to see this one at midnight of opening weekend. I figured, "a movie about legal issues in the computer programming world...I'll be asleep in 10 minutes." However, when the credits started to roll I found myself literally at the edge of my seat. The dialogue in this film was action enough. It was witty and delivered with precision. It's the story of Facebook, and as boring as that just rocks your world. The soundtrack written by Trent Reznor was a great choice and will probably be up for score of the year. If you are online, you are on Facebook, and should probably see this film. I'm guessing it will be a major contender for best picture of the year.

5. Scott Pilgrim vs the World
So this would be where I add the fun "movie" to the mix instead of a more serious "film." Scott Pilgrim engulfs both "movie" and "film." Part of what makes a film great is the originality or the fresh approach. Like the critics said, "It's a game changer." The film did awful at the box office yet was critically acclaimed by every review that I read. It's like watching a video game comic book in real life. The pop culture references coupled with hilarious jokes and visually stunning battle scenes makes Scott Pilgrim a can't miss.

6. Honorable Mentions for movies that were just plain fun and though not super artsy and impressive, were a joy to behold on the big screen: Iron Man 2, Predators, Tron Legacy, and Knight and Day.