Wednesday, September 16, 2009

White House, New House / Red House, Blue House

Yeah, I know it's been a while. Work has been quite busy lately (surprising for this time of year) and Kristen and I have been house hunting. Most of you know already that we had an offer on a house and got about half way through the process before it fell through (they had the house listed improperly which affected how we could finance). Anyway, so we're back at the house hunting and have an offer on another house. I hope I'm not jinxing it by mentioning it. I'll knock on some wood. Anyway, everything looks a lot more straightforward with this one so we think it will go through and we'll have a house!!! More to come.

So, changing the subject entirely - I don't get what the big deal is about the President calling Kanye West a "jackass." Seriously, this is a big deal?? He thought he was off the record and called it as he saw it. Honestly, I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone he didn't agree that Kanye West was a bit of a . . . well, jackass. I actually love that the President is not a stuffy old man but a pretty normal guy.

Some of you well know that my kids and food dyes do not mix well. I know that some people kind of find it interesting while others just think we're nuts. Trea is starting to be less affected but Adia will wake up wake up screaming and basically inconsolable in the middle of the night if she's had food dye in the evening. I found that there are a number of groups that are seeking to get a number of food dyes banned in the US because they are linked to hyperactivity and affected children's behavior. The British government has already banned many of these food dyes.Check this out: and this
So, if your kids act kind of strange sometimes, try experimenting to see if the culprit might be food dyes. I'm actually starting to notice that dyes affect me as well - especially Reds and Blues. This especially sucks because I'm trying to get off of soda and was switching to Crystal Light powder when I really started noticing it. Nearly all of their flavors have food dyes -- doesn't add anything of value - just color. Anyway, I'll step down from my soapbox now.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

No Line on the Horizon

All right I know you've all been dying to hear my unbiased thoughts about the new U2 album. Well, tax season has finally ended and I have a moment to sit down and type. This isn't as polished as I would like but I'm going to post it anyway.

No Line on the Horizon

When a band like U2 goes off the radar and into the studio after two smashing albums let's just say expectations are high. When that band takes three years or more - expections are really high. Unlike a lot of acts, taking time is one luxury that U2 has. I mean, they're aren't going away after as long and big as they've been. Fans will wait for U2.

So to open the door to their new album the band released the first single, "Get on Your Boots" in January. My first listen was catching the last half of the song on the radio while driving. I've got to admit - it wasn't really what I had hoped for/expected. After powerful openers like "Beautiful Day" and "Vertigo" from their most recent albums Boots just didn't seem to measure up. For the first time I started getting really nervous about where the new album could be headed. "Is this really the best song from the album?" I thought. Come on, you've got to figure a band that's been out of the scene for a few years is going to want to bring their best on the opening single - right? Fortunately, the answer in this case is no. I've got to think that they picked Boots based on its mainstream appeal. Most of the album, though wonderful, doesn't quite say "mainstream" as much as Boots does. With a few more listens the song grew on me but still lacked depth and remains one of the albums more forgettable songs.

Now - on to the album:

As most of you likely know, the album was leaked on the internet a few weeks before its official release date. Leaks are starting to be the norm it seems these days. With the leak, the band made the decision to go ahead and begin streaming the full album on MySpace. As such, my first listen to the album was streaming over the internet. I believe I was working late and listened at work - big mistake. No, I didn't get in trouble. I've since realized that this album is not an album for a casual listen - you have to sit down and really listen to it to appreciate it. Its like a good symphony - when you sit down and really listen, it comes alive.

I thought about putting together a little bit about each of the tracks on the album - but as I've working on this post for over two weeks now I'll just highlight a few.

1. The album opens with the title track No Line on the Horizon. A powerful but subtle song. A lot of the work on the album was recorded in Morocco. The Moroccan influence is immediately recognizable with Edge's bending notes and Bono's fluctuating falseto on the title track. Unlike the previous two opening tracks (Beautiful Day and Vertigo) this song is not a blast to the face - it's powerful but subtle. Beautiful Day was a right hook that knocked you down and dragged you into "All That You Can't Leave Behind" whereas No Line on the Horizon is an outstretched hand inviting you to take the journey that is the album.

2. Magnificent: You've likely heard this track on the radio as it's the album's second single. This really should have been the first single instead of Boots. The bass line that opens this song is awesome. The music video for this song is transcendant. It comepletely captures the song's mood and beauty. If you haven't seen it go to (or Youtube) and check it out. You will not be disappointed. Unrelated: the video for Get on Your Boots was aweful.

3. Moment of Surrender: Pretty lengthy clocking in at over seven minutes but it doesn't seem like a seven minute song.

4. Unknown Caller: Interesting Greek chorus.

5. I'll Go Crazy if I Don't Go Crazy Tonight: Kind of a long, lame sounding title but this track is one of my favorites from the album. Not exactly sure why as the lyrics aren't all that profound. "Everybody needs to cry or needs to spit / Every sweet tooth needs just a little hit" or the Bono-esque "The right to be ridiculous is something I hold dear." I guess it's the classic U2 optimism that gets me on this one:


It’s not a hill, it’s a mountain
As you start out the climb
Do you believe me or are you doubting?
We’re gonna make it all the way to light
But I know I’ll go crazy if I don’t go crazy tonight

6. Get on Your Boots

7. Stand Up Comedy

8. Fez-Being Born: The intro to this song is a bit strange but the emotion in this song is real. Bono doesn’t actually start singing lyrics until nearly two minutes into the song.

A speeding head, a speeding heart
I'm being born, a bleeding start

9. White As Snow

10. Breathe: This was the first song the band played live on their week with David Letterman. The band really knocked it out of the park with their performance and let everyone know that they could still bring it in a live performance.

11. Cedars of Lebanon: This song too takes a number of listens to really appreciate. U2 has a way of creating a feel for a city. It’s kind of an interesting phrase but most people have been to a city that has a feel – Memphis, Paris, Tokyo, Barcelona, New Orleans. U2 captured the feel of the city with songs like Miami and New York. On a similar thread, by the time Cedars of Lebanon wraps up you can feel what Beirut is like.

Overall impression:

I'd have to say that "No Line on the Horizon" when compared to the previous two albums is lyrically weaker but musically stronger. Not to say that the lyrics are bad but they pale in comparison to songs like, Beautiful Day, Walk On, Peace on Earth, Grace, Miracle Drug, Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own, and One Step Closer; to name a few. Of course, if you've never really paid attention to the magnitude of the lyrics of these songs you might not notice. My claim for musical superiority is this: "All That You Can't Leave Behind" and "How to Dismantle and Atomic Bomb" had all the musical parts perfectly meshed for a quality sound. However, each piece doesn't really have the footing to stand on its own. That's where "No Line on the Horizon" is different; every piece of this masterwork is itself a fully fleshed out solo that can stand on its own is merit.

I'm interested to see how the tour goes. Seems like the last two albums were put together with a mindset on being able to play them live. "No Line on the Horizon" seems to be a departure from that mindset. As mentioned, Breathe sounded great on Letterman but a lot of the songs really stretch Bono's range and that may not translate to the best live vocal performances. Musically, however, the band will sound amazing live on these songs.

Go listen to the album (again) - do it for me.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Here we go again

What to say, what to say. Seems like it's been ages since my last post but it's been just over a month -- not bad for me. Well, busy season has officially begun. Back to getting in early and leaving late at night again :-). Actually, I'm in the office as I write this - not on the clock but still here. Things are getting interesting though. A few days after my last post one of my bosses was laid off along with a few other people in the office. Actually, the girl who sat right across from me, whose held the same position as I do with more time at the company was let go as well. Stupid economic downturn!! So, things have been on and off stressful. Then, another one of my supervisors tells me that I need to be more proactive and stop keeping to myself so much. Ouch! Yeah I was kind of hurt when she told me but really, she had a point. I've made a point of being more upbeat and social. I don't know if she's noticed but I feel a lot happier at work. This past week I had my midyear review and people had good things to say about me. As of two weeks ago I got shuffled around a bit - taken off a larger engagement and put on to two smaller ones. I miss the team that I worked with but I always like a fresh start and new challenges. I realize I just wrote a whole lot of stuff about work. I guess, when you're at work so much that's where you focus kind of is.

Kristen and I are seriously thinking about purchasing a home this year. We've actually done some looking with an agent and even put an offer on a house - don't figure it will be accepted but hey can't hurt. Although there are plenty of things that suck about the economy right now one good thing is that it's pretty ideal if you are trying to buy a home (not so much for people trying to sell - just ask Zimm).

I'm really, really, really starting to feel all grown up - a car payment, maybe a house, a real job, kids, etc. I'll be 30 next month. Wow! I don't feel old - just grown up. It's actually kind of cool. Too bad I don't act grown up -- just ask my wife. She's says I still act like I'm 12!!

As you might have guessed I'm extremely excited about the new U2 album coming out next month. I know that the new single (Get on Your Boots) isn't exactly their best work ever but I like it. It actually took me a few listens before I liked it. So if you don't like it you need to give it a few more listens. The single they put out for Christmas was fabulous though. Anyway, I'm sure there will be some awesome tracks on the album.

You may also be interested to know that I am the Eco Care Champion for our office. My former supervisor (the one who was let go) actually asked me if I would do it. That's right -- me! I'm actually really enjoying it. Some of Kristen's hippie-Commie views have rubbed off on me. (I'm just kidding sweetheart). Together we've been trying to do little things here and there to be more green.

I've started to realize how much of a dork I am. I really enjoy playing around with Excel and teaching myself new things. Using internet forums and trial-and-error I've taught myself quite a bit about Excel VBA and have put together some pretty sweet (and time saving) macros for work. If you've got something you want put together let me know as I would love the challenge of figuring out how to do it. Just wait until after April 15 though.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Random Thoughts

Well, the fact of the matter is that I need to blog more often. I know that someone's gotta enjoy reading what I have to say. I mean I really enjoy it when my friends post. Joel you are an inspiration. Obviously I'm awful at following through but you do inspire me to want to post more. Despite the lack of posting I have had a lot going on the past few months. I'll just give you some highlights along with some other random thoughts for you to enjoy.

The curse has been broken!!! For those of you who don't know -- our car was cursed. It's had numerous mechanical problems since last November when we bought it for $4,000. In less than a year we put nearly $4,000 into repairs and that was just engine stuff. The auto locks didn't work and as such we were really bad at locking it at night (stupid). Consequently, the radio was stolen and on a separate occasion someone rifled through the glovebox but took nothing (as there was nothing in the car worth taking). Now, did we learn from these experiences? -- no! Our car was broken into again and this time stolen last month. If you want more details you can read about it on Kristen's blog. Anyway, we got it back about 24 hrs. after it was taken with no damage -- only our carseats were gone. Things seemed to be going back to normal. We had an enjoyable Christmas. We drove to my parents house Christmas Eve and spent the night. Christmas with small kids is so much fun. Adia had opened two gifts and decided that she was done with opening presents. I don't know why we got her more but we did. Anyway, back to the car -- I totalled it the day after Christmas. It snowed a ton on Christmas day and I had to go in to work the day after. The car I crashed into didn't have a ton of damage but our piece of junk was done for. When the collision center called with the estimate it was $8,000 and the mechanic emphasized that it was by no means final as there were areas of the engine he couldn't even access. I hope you aren't bored to tears; I realized I'm kind of rambling. So, we spent the weekend after Christmas car shopping. We bought a 2005 charcoal Toyota Camry and are loving it. We decided to bite the bullet and get a newer car that will hopefully have a lot of life left in it before we have to start doing a lot of repairs. I love driving it. It's nice to have "luxuries" like a stereo and automatic locks that work. Doesn't feel like it cursed yet - but it's probably too early to tell.


The Utah-Alabama game was awesome. I can't even begin to describe how awesome that game was. Utah didn't just beat Alabama but totally dominated them. I always love to see the underdog win especially when everyone pretty much writes them off.

Wall-E.: I know a lot of people didn't care for this movie but I LOVED IT!! I think it's actually my favorite Pixar movie. I know I'm going to take some heat for this but whatever. Had I watched it prior to Christmas I probably would have asked for it. I thought it was amazing how they could take a movie about two robots falling in love with hardly any dialogue and make it so universal.

Welcome 2009!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

A bed to call my own.

Yeah, so I've set a goal to blog once a month. No, I'm not off to a great start for November but meant to do so in October (although I didn't really make the goal until about the 20th). I know, once a month sounds really bad but considering that I'm currently doing much less than that it is an improvement. Work is going well, although with the current economic situation things are getting tighter at the firm. Overtime is restricted unless approved by a partner. I'm not worried about losing my job yet, but things are getting different. I'm on the Christmas Party planning committee and we haven't panned the party or had to cut back too much so that's good. I'm still really enjoying my job.
This week was a pretty good one although I had a dentist appointment Wednesday morning and completely forgot about it until I got to the office - such an idiot! The rest of that day was kind of more of the same. Friday Kristen brought the kids to my office for our office Halloween activity and then they got to go trick-or-treating.
This morning I had an interview with a member of the Stake Presidency and . . . I'm now the assistant ward clerk (financial). I think it will be a good fit for me - pretty much only Sundays, doesn't require a whole lot of time, or being extremely outgoing. Looks like it might interfere with us going down to my parents' place on Sundays. Hopefully, we'll still be able to going some. Our meeting time will change in January and I think that we should be able to go down then.
Sports - Most of you know that I love to watch sports but I rarely blog about it. I've got to say that the Texas-Texas Tech game yesterday was one heck of a game!
I almost forgot to mention one of the greatest things about the week. Trea has slept in her own bed in her room for the past two nights (tonight will be the third)!!! The most surprising thing is that when Trea has woken up in the middle of the night and come into our room instead of asking to crawl into bed with us, she asks one of us to come in and lay by her. -- Awesome! So, so far it's been going well and I am loving having my bedroom back and being able to sleep next to my wife again. Hopefully, she'll get used to it and we won't have a big fight.