Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, September 08, 2006

Stay classy, San Diego!

From The Capital Times:

A former Madison alderman who is now an investigative reporter in San Diego was attacked by a woman and her husband, who punched and tackled him as a cameraman videotaped the incident.

Fox 6 News reporter John Mattes said he was treated for cracked ribs, bite wounds and cuts to his face after the confrontation Tuesday. He was investigating a suspected real-estate scam.

The couple, identified by authorities as Assad "Sam" Suleiman, 36, and his wife, Rosa Amelia Barraza, 33, were arrested. "He had his fingers in my eye socket, he was ripping my face apart, he was pulling my ears, he was biting," Mattes told NBC's "Today" show this morning. "It was horrifying and it felt pretty bad."

Mattes was a Madison political activist and downtown alderman in the mid-1970s when he was attending the University of Wisconsin.

The best song about science fiction and horses ever

The knock on British space rock band Muse is that it sounds too much like Radiohead. This is an irrelevant criticism because (1) aside from the vocalist, who admittedly sounds exactly like Thom Yorke, it’s not true and (2) most of you have never heard of Muse.

Regarding the second point, Muse is an extremely dorky power trio from Teignmouth, England that has been making albums since 1999. Like most extremely dorky power trios from Teignmouth, Muse is, at best, a cult act in the United States. Judging from Muse’s latest album “Black Holes & Revelations,” the main thing preventing the band from selling more records here is (not to beat a dead horse) its extreme dorkiness.

Take “Knights of Cydonia,” perhaps the most noteworthy track from “Black Holes & Revelations.” This song perfectly sums up Muse’s aesthetic. Which is to say “Knights of Cydonia” sounds like it was written on a notebook cover by an over-anxious 13-year-old far more interested in Rush and the SciFi Channel than the opposite sex.

“Knights of Cydonia” includes, in no particular order: sounds of blasting lasers and galloping horses; a soaring choir borrowed from a spaghetti western soundtrack; an extended surf guitar solo; mariachi horns; and 1,200 aliens lathering up in green goo for an interstellar mating ritual. My ears could be fooling me on that last one, but give me a break, that’s a lot to absorb in just 120 seconds. Still, it sounds amazing.

“Take a Bow” nearly matches “Knights of Cydonia” for wedgie-worthy rockingness. Singer Matthew Bellamy does his best Yorke croon over a pulsating synth riff before the bombastic guitars and drums blow it away like Alderaan in the shadow of the Death Star. You can almost hearing Bellamy snorting through his bifocals when he multi-tracks his voice and bellows: “YOU WILL PAY FOR ALL YOUR CRIMES AGAINST THE EARTH!” Heh, heh, cool, heh, heh.

Which should be lost in all this is the Radiohead comparison. Radiohead is a dorky band, sure, but it’s a different brand of dorkiness. Radiohead is “2001” while Muse is Lorne Greene era “Battlestar Galactica” with a touch (very light) of self-awareness. “Black Holes & Revelations” is a crazy fun album. And I don’t care if I get stuffed in my locker for saying that.

More Pack: Where to dull the pain this year

In Wisconsin, there is no such thing as a Packers bar. Every bar is a Packers bar. Finding a watering hole that is showing the game is like looking for a liquor store that sells Miller Lite. Take your pick.

In states where a brat and sauerkraut is considered an exotic delicacy, the concept of a Packers bar has real meaning. In the days before NFL cable packages, a green-and-gold friendly tavern was the only place to catch the Pack if you lived outside Wisconsin.

Now that Brett Favre and company can be beamed into the comfort of home no matter where home is, Wisconsin expatriates still seek out Packers bars to be part of the football-based community they had back home.

Aaron Olson is on the hunt for a good Packers bar in Columbia, S.C., where he recently moved with his girlfriend Lauren. Olson, a 28-year-old Appleton native, hasn’t lived in Wisconsin for 10 years. But he found bars that showed Packers games when he lived in Minnesota and Indiana.

As a student at the University of Minnesota, Olson frequented a Packer-friendly establishment just down the road from the Metrodome, home to the hated Vikings. “It was interesting sitting in the lion’s den,” Olson said. “You’re sitting in the shadow of the Metrodome, literally.”

Do a quick Google search and you will find hundreds of Packers bars located in practically every major city in America. On the Packers fan site www.southendzone.com, more than 60 bars are listed for California alone. Every state has at least one bar listed.

What exactly constitutes a Packers bar? Definitions vary, but it has to be a place that gives the Packers game precedence (that means putting the sucker on a big screen TV) and lures cheesehead-sporting fans with curds, sausage and Wisconsin beer.

Watching the game at a Packers bar outside of Wisconsin puts a different spin on the game day ritual. For one thing, “when you’re in Wisconsin, you’re not in a bar,” Olson said. “You’re at home with friends and family.” (Local bar owners would disagree.) The Packers cheering section also is more diverse than the crowd at a typical small-town Wisco bar.

“It’s not just fat guys in mustaches,” said Nick Prueher, a filmmaker from Stoughton living in New York City. “Occasionally you’ll get someone from Pakistan.”

Sounds cool. Here are four unlikely but fun places to see the Packers away from home.

Will’s Northwoods Inn, 3030 N. Racine, Chicago

Wrigley Field is only three blocks away, but Will’s Northwoods Inn is a refuge for Wisconsinites looking for a Packers fix. UW and Marquette fans are welcome, too. Just look for the bar with a Packers flag out front. It sticks out in the middle of Chicago like a loss to the Bears at Lambeau Field.

Owned by La Crosse native Jon Bunge, Will’s Northwoods Inn celebrates its 15th anniversary as “a little bit of God’s country” in the middle of Bearsville this season. Setting up a Packers embassy in the most hostile anti-Packers territory may seem like a risky proposition, but Will’s dairyland atmosphere makes it a favored hangout for Wisconsinites stranded in Illinois.

“Being from La Crosse, he saw an opportunity to hang some dead animals on the wall and he went from there,” said manager Julie Breen, who makes special weekly trips up to Kenosha to buy authentic Wisconsin cheese curds for game day.

Over the years “Packers fans have definitely run Bears fans out of the bar,” Breen said, though there’s still a group of 10 Bears backers who engage in good-natured ribbing with their rivals.

Along with free cheese curds, Will’s rolls out complimentary cheese and summer sausage platters as well as Wisconsin-style Bloody Marys “served with a pickle rather than celery or some other fou-fou concoction,” according to the bar’s Web site (www.willsnorthwoodsinn.com). Oh, and you can yell “The Bears still suck” and be cheered instead of beaten.

Read the rest here.

Shameless self-promotion: Under 30's Packers preview

The Packers are going to be bad this year. So bad that I'm struggling to come up with an analogy to describe the impending debacle.

Does "Lindy Infante bad" appropriately conjure up the stench? How about "Randy Wright handing off to Brent Fullwood bad"? "Smells like Najeh Davenport's friend's closet bad"?

Yeah, that's it.

I was going to write a column where I picked the winners for each Packers game this season, but I don't want to put you or me through that. (For posterity's sake I'm saying 6-10. And that's assuming we can beat the Buffalo Bills on the road. I'm not ready to believe that we're "Beat by J.P. Losman bad" quite yet.)

However, I am going to write a column where I predict how the season will unfold and curl up like a Styrofoam plate tossed in the campfire. (Coincidentally, Styrofoam is my new nickname for Robert Ferguson. Because he's both weak and impossible to get rid of. I really, really hope that catches on, by the way.)

I barely consider these predictions. "I am going to die some day," for instance, is not a prediction. It is a statement of inevitable fact that just hasn't come true yet. Unfortunately, unlike death, you will be fully conscious when these predictions come true.

Week 1: The Packers play the Bears at home, and during the pre-game show Fox airs the same footage we've all seen a million times of Vince Lombardi hollering and breathing hard on the sidelines, followed by a clip of George Halas doing his hollering and breathing act. And there's a lot of talk of "tradition" and "storied rivalries" and other meaningless stuff in the age of free agency. Look, most of our team was born in the mid '80s. "The Super Bowl Shuffle" is like Mitch Miller to these kids. Lombardi and Halas might as well be Washington and Lincoln.

Week 3: After picking up the annual garbage win against the Saints, the Pack loses big to the Lions in Detroit.

Favre throws three picks and fumbles twice, and speculation over whether Mike McCarthy has the stones to end the consecutive start streak officially begins. I love Favre more than any other NFL player ever, but at this point I'm screaming for Aaron Rodgers. Did anybody else love the 'stache he had for "Monday Night Football"? He looked like a character from "Reno 911."

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

iPod Journal for August 2006

A few years ago I started making mix CDs of songs I was listening to a lot during a particular month. It was an idea I stole from Cameron Crowe, who kept monthly mix tapes as a sort of musical journal. I like it because music is my best memory jogger, and I can listen to a disc I made in Sept. 2003 and remember exactly what I was doing that month.

Here is my iPod journal for August 2006

1. Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Someday Never Comes"
2. The Snowbirds, "Grips"
3. The Mountain Goats, "In Corolla"
4. The Raconteurs, "Together"
5. Pete Yorn, "For Us"
6. Billy Joel, "Only the Good Die Young"
7. Peter Gabriel, "Digging in the Dirt"
8. Howlin Wolf, "Littly Baby"
9. Muse, "Take a Bow"
10. The Sadies, "Lonely Guy"
11. Hellogoodbye, "Here (In Your Arms)"
12. Film School, "Deep Lake"
13. M. Ward, "Chinese Translation"
14. Sting, "If I Ever Lose My Faith"
15. The Dandy Warhols, "Faithless"
16. Todd Snider, "You Got Away With It"
17. Living Colour, "Desperate People"
18. The Bangles, "Eternal Flame"
19. Rick Springfield, "Love is Alright Tonite"
20. Neko Case and The Sadies, "Hold On, Hold On"
21. Cracker, "Take Me Down to the Infirmary"
22. Michael Jackson, "The Way You Make Me Feel"
23. Bob Dylan, "Someday Baby"
24. Kris Kristofferson, "The Pilgrim: Chapter 33"
25. Queen, "Sweet Lady"
26. Elliott Smith, "Kiwi Maddog 20/20"
27. Mew, "The Zookeeper's Boy"
28. The Championship, "Liar, Liar"
29. The Secret Machines, "The Road Leads Where Its Led"
30. John Prine, "Sam Stone"
31. Radiohead, "Packt Like Sardines in a Crushed Can"
32. The Faces, "Had Me a Real Good Time"
33. Apollo 100, "Joy"

Is the Croc Hunter's death funny?

Shut up. I had to ask the question because there's a part of you wondering the same thing, right? I normally don't think the death of a father and husband is funny. But when I first heard news that Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray, I gotta say I found it just a teensy, weensy bit humorous. Actually, "humorous" is the wrong word. Or maybe it's not. I could say "ironic" or "inevitable," but I would really mean humorous.

Look, the guy acted like a moron around wild animals all the time. That was his claim to fame. And when a loudmouth Australian sneaks up on a wild creature, the wild creature is bound to get upset at least once. Then again, I guess stingrays aren't supposed to be that deadly. Which is strange because, you know, the name stingray sounds kind of badass.

Anyway, I thought for a minute about writing about the Croc Hunter thing before realizing my stones aren't big enough . This dude, however, doesn't have the same problem.

What do you guys think? Croc Hunter death a teensy, weensy bit funny or not?