Thursday, October 31, 2013

Three things that are #theworst right now.

The Nissan Dealership.

I'm sitting in the saddest cafe in America. It's the "Caribbean cafe-wifi-hotspot-free coffee dirt drink" holding area in the Nissan dealership. There are four plain tables, it's silent, and there is an empty fridge with the sign "Free complimentary water bottles, take one!" behind me. The cafe is selling Costco muffins, fruit, fun-sized bags of Cheetos and canned soda like some kind of church fundraiser.
I brought in my wife's Nissan Murano for new wiper blades, a tire rotation and an oil change. Please don't bring to my attention fourteen other things that you see wrong with the car. I have a $100 bill and a coupon, I do not look like the type of person who is going to pay for a new something-pump on a whim. You could have said the car would explode any day now, and I would give you a $100 and a blank stare.
I've come up front 3 times now to see if the car was ready. You keep telling me "just have a seat sir, we'll come get you when it's ready"... The problem is you told me it would take an hour and a half, and it's been over two hours now. I know you don't give two shits about me and my general disheveled look, but I promise I do have to be somewhere at somepoint. Also, why does it take over two hours to change wiper blades, oil and rotate the tires? I could have watched a bootlegged copy of "Gravity" front to back before you ever hand me my keys. 
Also, stop wearing your class ring. You're 45 years old. It makes no sense. Or does it? If I had to guess the career of a middle-aged guy whose only jewelry consisted of a gold chain necklace and class ring, I would probably guess that he works at a Nissan dealership. Regardless, you are #theworst


My Restaurant Manager.

If you are a chef, and that is your life's work, take pride in it. I get that. If that is your passion, then be passionate about it. If you are the owner of a restaurant and are crazy, then seriously love the shit out of that restaurant. Please do not expect the same from your employees. The guy deep frying those sweet potato fries doesn't care. The hostess doesn't care. 
There are two types of people in shitty job scenarios, the people that fight for what they believe in, while making roughly 20k a year, and the people who just spend every day trying not to get fired.
I get it, you're 30, didn't make it as a musician, recently married and looking to flex a little muscle. Why not become a restaurant manager? It's perfect! You get to tell the people below you to shove it, and you get business cards! With that kind of power, who needs dreams!
If I or any employee shows up on time, does what's asked of them, and says yes to every unnecessary task then please don't punish them if they seem less than enthusiastic when getting that table more ranch dressing. 
You are a manager at a semi-upscale family restaurant. You didn't invent the recipes for the menu and you aren't the owner. You order the toilet paper and eat snacks in the office. Occasionally you hire and fire people. Stop pretending like that is a big deal. You also have a ponytail. While I assume that may actually be in the job description for "restaurant manager" it still looks stupid. I can't say I never sported a ponytail, but I can say I've never been a GM of a burger joint, and I would consider that a win in my court.
I am not saying you shouldn't work hard in a job. But there is a difference between working hard and being an idiot. When you go to a gas station or Taco Bell, and the person assisting you is overly enthused to the point of excitement, it's just as annoying as the kid who refuses to help you find a firewire cable at Best Buy. BOTH are bad. If your job is a "job" and not a career then just show up and work it, fake a smile and occasionally tell the boss that you are having a good time. I should not be expected to do anything more than the absolute minimum when I made a total of seven thousand dollars last year.
Ponytail-snack-boss,.... you are #theworst.

Loan Website.

With the above in mind, know that I don't have a lot of money. I throw parties and give people more free booze and swag than an awards show, yet sometimes people think my wife and I are rich. While that $5 you paid to drink keg beer all night is much appreciated, it doesn't really go directly to my 401k. I'm not complaining, I just want to get the facts straight.
Also, my wife and I can't stop picking up furry creatures near dumpsters. Something about the smell of trash in the air makes the eyes of a kitten look that much more adorable.
I love my life, I have an amazing wife and an extremely fun household. All our dogs and cats and bird get along and there's a lot of love. The only problem with a lot of love is that you can't pay rent with a lot of love.
Thus, I was looking to get a loan to consolidate my debt. My credit is okay, and by okay I mean that in college I used credit cards to buy most things instead of using money that you earn. Student loans really meant "a few textbooks but mostly not" and I was generally just really bad with money.
I'm trying to improve, and working as earnestly as possible to better my situation. That's when I came across a website that promised me a loan up to $2500 guaranteed regardless of my credit situation. I've seen ads and commercials like this before, but this one was so convincing in it's "seriously! Fuck credit scores! Here's money for you!" approach.
I entered in the necessary information, including how much I made last year (I put more than $7,000...I figured five figures look a little better on paper) and waited for my response.
First off, they could not approve me. This website claimed they approved EVERYONE! I'm not even hobo, I'm a pretty normal citizen and I couldn't get approved. Secondly, they said it was because my credit score was too low. I checked my score recently and I was definitely average. Being average is pretty acceptable in most areas of life, and you would think this included small short term loans. 

But I guess that just like in the burger business, average just doesn't cut it if you wanna get ahead. 

That loan website is full of false promises and is #theworst.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Band: Oh No No. The Status: Sexytown.

I really only have one thing to say about the Nashville Indie-Blues-Rock band Oh No No, They are freaking insane live and really nice guys. I would say they have the most potential of any band this side of the Mississippi to make it big.

These guys make my pants tighter,...the reason being that I have a boner.

-jared

Friday, March 19, 2010

MUSIC, DIET, PHOTO #8

MUSIC:
MATT AND KIM - GRAND

Quickly being heard on just about every media from commercials to t.v. shows to video games, Matt and Kim are fast becoming the indie-scene darlings with their quirky, fast paced, indie-dance-punk style. "Grand" is their second album, and unlike some artists in the indie scene, Matt and Kim don't try to go outside the box they are comfortable with. They stick to the sound and style they are good at, which makes this album truly awesome.

Grand opens with the song Daylight. You may have heard it on a Bacardi commercial, or the show Community. But the song is more than just a catchy jingle. It's the bombastic, grand opening that sets the stage for the rest of the album. It's the kind of first track where you could buy the album, never knowing any of their music, and after this track know that the album is going to be good. The piano initially hooks you in, and the drums are so full and  punchy, you can't help but tap your toes to it. Where the music is full and spacey, singer Matt Johnsons vocals are thin and nasely. Normally this would be a bad thing, but the contrast is actually more embraced and welcomed.

The album mixes between serious and melancholic tones, but manages to keep the same dancey feel, never really getting too deep for it's own good. Grand was produced really well, and even though there are only two players, it never feels empty. There are times where you could swear there was a full band playing.

One of the highlights of the album is "Good Ol' Fashion Nightmare", a very straight forward melody, but with a pulse pounding rhythm section that sounds straight out of a step-competition. "I Wanna", in which Matt sings about sleeping through the weekend as well as other things before he dies, is so strict in its drums and piano, and so robotic in its sound, it's almost as if they had a drum machine playing.

I suppose with the popular two piece groups that are coming out now, i.e. The White Stripes and The Black Keys  the idea is less is more. Matt and Kim are no different in this approach. They never stray too far from the steady  tempo drums and simple chorded melodies. While this approach is a bit by-the-book, "Grand" never looses its fun, and ability to make you want to dance.

DIET:
Doing good, less than a week to go. I am in home stretch.

PHOTO:
There are too many Jared's in here...


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MUSIC, DIET, PHOTO #7

MUSIC
SUN KIL MOON - TINY CITIES

Like my blog previous, Sun Kil Moon is primarily one person. This is the side-project of Matt Kozelek, who gained some indie recognition with his main band "Red House Painters". Also like my last blog (about "Iron and Wine") "Tiny Cities" is an eclectic mix of folk-style intimates that reflect a solace and loneliness in Kozelek. And finally, like Iron and Wine, the music of Sun Kil Moon is oftentimes dark and depressing, and is good for long drives in cold weather while feeling alone...jesus, maybe I'm getting to depressing. Tomorrow I need to spice it up with some "Matt and Kim".

"Tiny Cities" is an odd entity. It's blurs the line between original art and cover songs. The entire album is somewhat of a conceptual piece. Every song on the album is a cover of a song by the popular indie rockers Modest Mouse. But other than the lyrics, you would not be able to tell. Kozelek slows down the songs and churns out his own styling, using acoustic guitars, soft polyphonic-esque finger pickings, splashy drums, bells, strings and lots of reverb. Kozelek's voice was made for this project; Red House Painters, his primary band, is very similar sound with a little more full band instrumentation, and his voice is so folky and innocent, never trying too hard or pushing for anything bigger than what it will allow.

Sun Kil Moon had released other albums too, including one with covers of all AC/DC songs called "What's next to the moon?" and some original stuff as well. But in "Cities" we have the jolting task of making acoustic-folk tunes out of Modest Mouse songs...and not their newest work, but Modest Mouse songs from previous territory. Albums like "The Moon and Antartica" that are laden with distortion, fast moving drums and high pitch squeals. In "Tiny Cities", Matt Kozelek gives musical ritalin to Modest Mouses' child.

Every song on this album is unique, not just because Kozelek has a knack for beautiful instrumentation and arrangement, but because every Modest Mouse song is different too, and Sun Kil Moon translates that idea very clearly.

The standout songs on this album are "Neverending Math Equation", one of the only tracks that has drums come immediately in the song. By the time the electric guitars bend their way in, one might not be sure if the song could get any better. The fast-picking tag at the end of the song is a perfect wrap to this early track.

Another great track is the popular cover from the Modest Mouse album "Good News for People who love Band News" called "Ocean Breathes Salty". It's the last song on the album, and is fitting, because the simple, unchanging melody is so soft and subtle that is does little more than fade away. One may look at the lyrics a completely different way after listening to this version of "Ocean Breathes Salty".

The only song on the album that seems to drag is "Jesus Christ was an Only Child". Kozelek's harmonies and guitar arrangements sound too thrown together. It's almost as if he added the song last minute. The vocals go in a melodic line that is a little unnerving. However, the string arrangement and bells are a nice touch.

DIET
DAY 7
I kept up with the diet today. I am learning that gum helps keep my mind off eating, especially at work. Also, I cut back on carbonated beverages, just because they would upset my empty stomach. I made a chicken, sweet potato fries and veggie dinner that was under 200 calories. Today should be interesting, it's St. Patricks Day, so I will probably intake some alchohol. But I will probably drink Michelob Ultra, because not only does it have under a hundred calories a bottle, but the billboard signs for it have people running on it, so obviously it's healthy, right?

PHOTO
My mom liked to dress me up in really obnoxious clothes and do silly poses for a photographer when I was a child. I hated it, and still to this day never understand why anyone would wear a turtleneck.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

MUSIC, DIET, PHOTO #6

MUSIC:
IRON AND WINE - WOMAN KING EP

Iron and Wine consists primarily of Samuel Beam, singer-songwriter from Florida who has hit it big with such hits as "Naked as we came" and the Postal Service original "Such Great Heights". His big break came when two films: "Twilight" and "Garden State" released his  songs on their soundtracks. He has since become an indie-folk favorite, touring with the Swell Season and Calexico; a southwestern rock band from my home state of Arizona.

But "Woman King" has non of the songs that made Beam famous. This EP consists of six songs that are often overlooked in his discography of music. It's a shame, because it just might be his finest work to date. "Woman King", while short, has a unique sound for each song. There is distinct rhythm on this EP not found on Iron and Wine's previous and in my opinion, current albums. Beam utilizes the sounds of electric guitars for the first time in ways not heard on his originally folky singular guitar sound. It's almost as if he is learning how to write music for drums and electric guitars for the first time, giving him an innocence and genuine sound.

"Woman King", the opening track, plays off a continuous guitar riff, and elaborates with slide and percussion. The vocal harmonies are brilliant, and the upbeat tempo sets the mood and prepares you for the intimate, stripped down second track; "Jezebel", about the Phoenician princess in the bible who considered evil on the throne and also portrayed as a prostitute. The contrast in the songs undertone is brilliant, here we have a number about something as lavish as an evil princess who oversaw thousands, and Beam gives us this lonesome feel, a song of solace. When the banjo solo kicks in, you can't help but feel as though Beam is writing this song on his porch swing, not a soul around to hear.

The album sways between the up and down. "Grey Stables" and "My Lady's House" calm the mood, while "Freedom Hangs like Heaven" sounds like a song you would hear in the getaway scene of a caper flick.

"Woman King" revolves around biblical undertones. He talks about walking on water, and gentle hands. In "Evening on the Ground (Lilliths Song)" Beam sings "We were born to fuck each other one way or another". This line remains one of my favorite in any of Iron and Wine's lineup of music. Samuel Beam can be so telling, so forward in his thinking, and still maintain a sense of musicianship  and mythicism in his writing.

DIET
DAY 6
Back on track, I reduced my calorie intake and ate healthy all day. For dinner, I went to one of my favorite sushi spots in Nashville, called "Ru'sans". Their sushi is just okay, but their portions are large and inexpensive and great on a budget. Then I had some diet ginger ale with gin, which has under 100 calories a drink. I can't drink like I used to though, on a diet I seem to get a buzz alot sooner than back in college. Or maybe I'm just a lightweight.

PHOTO
I was in Ireland two summers ago. We went to a castle one day where they actually filmed part of Braveheart. Anyways, we found this writing etched onto the gate next to the bridge. It said "This way to the Rape Cave"...I guess what happens in Ireland...

Monday, March 15, 2010

MUSIC, DIET, PHOTO #5

MUSIC:
THE FEATURES - SOME KIND OF SALVATION

I love nothing more than to put in an album of an artist I've never heard, and being so drawn in immediately due to its catchy, easy-to-follow, familiar melodies that I am not obliged to track jump. That is how I feel about "Some Kind of Salvation", the second full-length album from Tennessee natives The Features. While they are well known around the Nashville stages, they have yet to really break it big in the rest of the country, which doesn't completely make sense seeing as how their album has a similar feel and sound to "Kings of Leon", who are living what seems to be the indie rock dream right now. The Features have opened for "Kings" in the past, and are now signed to their label, Imprint Records...and while Kings of Leon may be on top, with a grammy award in the pocket, several number one singles and selling out stadiums, The Features contain a more mature sound.

The second (but first full-length) song of "Salvation" is "The Drawing Board". It's a big, bombastic piece with a complete horn section, staccato starts and stops and plenty of group vocals for everyone to sing along. When singing solo, lead singer Matt Pelham's voice is shaky and unsure (reminiscent of a subtler Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse). It is such a stark contrast to the straight forward, confident music of the track...and it's very good.

The album has some other great outfits to try on as well. "Temporary Blues", a song about giving up your dreams to start a normal job, is more than anything a story that speaks to the post-grad demographic about an issue that most of us are faced with at one point or another in our life, success versus happiness. "Now You Know", what would be a typical love song, is given fresh breath by the soft guitars and driving rhythm...It's typical indie rock, but typical indie rock at its best.

The album does have a few rough patches."The Gates of Hell", a slower tune on the album, gets too caught up in its tedious chorus. They strip their sound down in this track, but just a bit too much. And at over four and a half minutes, they could afford to cut the song down a bit. It just feels a little dragged through the mud (which is exactly how I would direct the music video for this song, which actually would make the song better). "Mosis Tosis" is the exact opposite, feeling too pushed and rushed, especially for a song that ends an album this great. The minor 1-2-3 scale progression works, but the tempo is just too fast and feels like the type of song The Features threw down in the studio last minute for an extra spot on the album.

"Some Kind of Salvation" is great for those listeners who have worn out their Kings of Leon albums, have heard "Use Somebody" too many times, and are ready for a fresh but relatively familiar sound. You will not be disappointed in "The Features".

DIET
DAY 5
Back on track after a day of eating pizza and junk was good. Still went a little over my limit, but kept it to mostly healthy food. I can start to see a small change in my size and feel like I have more energy lately than I have been. Making a routine out of healthy eating is tough, and breaking bad habits is as well, but I feel like I am on the right track. I sometimes overdo it with calories and snacks, but now that I am reducing my daily limit, my "overdone" days aren't so bad.

PHOTO

This was my old band "Greenwich". We were a folk-indie-acoustic duo, but you wouldn't think so from this picture...

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