Monday, November 28, 2005

Christial update

So it turns out that the fella that called me about his Jesus-related court plans (see below) was actually my friend and fellow improv troupe member AJ, not my protest friend Dave (although this does seem like a thing Dave would do, just so you know the kind of people I call friends). Anyway, because nothing happens in Iowa, even in our bigger cities, his little dress up incident made the cover of the local newspaper. Check out the online version here.

One of the better gags I've ever been privy to, and one more of the many things that makes me proud to call the 29th state home.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

With friends like these" or "The Right Finally Wins"

So I get woken up this morning by an as-of-yet unidentified caller. Here is the conversation verbatim:

Caller: Hey Woz, guess who's showing up for jury duty this morning at the Blackhawk county courthouse?

Me: (very groggy and only half awake) I dunno

Caller: Jesus Christ

Me: What?

Caller: Jesus Christ!

Me: (by now extremely confused) He's come back to judge the living and the dead?

Caller: No, me in costume as Jesus Christ

Me: Alright...lemme know how that goes

Caller: I will. Gotta go, I'm getting called in now

At first I thought it all was just a beautiful dream, but I checked my cell phone when I finally got out of bed, and the call did indeed happen. I don't recognize the number, but I have a few guesses as to who it is. Regardless, it warms my heart to know that whoever it was made sure to let me know it was happening.

A great way to start off your day.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Hooray for our team!

Today is Kurt Vonnegut's birthday.

Kurt is probably the most-influential living writer, or at least living American writer. And he's a good-ol' Midwestern boy (or fresh water person, as he would put it) who even spent a good deal of time at the Iowa Writer's Workshop. As a socialist, semi-Christian, cynic, and all-around cantankerous old man, he's come to embody pretty much everything good about America. Thankfully, he broke his own promise to never write again by releasing a new book "A Man Without a Country," a semi-autobiographical work full of his musings on the state of the world.

Being a huge Vonnegut fan, I snapped it up right away, and read it cover to cover in one night. Almost. Seeing as Kurt has gotten quite old, it's extremely likely that this will be the last book he evers writes. As such, I just can't bring myself to read the last page of the book, because once I do, there will officially be no new Vonnegut books. Ever. From then on out, I'll just be re-reading classics, which is fine, but just not the same.

You see, Kurt is one of the few living legends that folks such as myself can look up to. Sure, there are other great, and possibly even better, figures in American literature (Twain, Heller, etc.) but they're all dead and gone. There just seems to be so much more urgency in reading brilliant works by those still inhabiting the earth. Probably the same feeling people used to have when a new Hednrix album would come out. Or the feeling we used to get every sunday night watching the Simpsons from seasons 4 through 8.

Anyway, go out and buy the book. It's good. Well, at least everything up to the last page.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

And then this...

As always, "I'm not making this up!™"

A bold step toward equal rights

Things have looked dismal lately. Rosa Parks, the "mother of the civil rights movement" passed away last week admist an administration and political culture that seeks to overturn most, if not all, of the gains she and others of the great Civil Rights movement fought for.

But there's a silver lining to this cloud.

Yes, for the first time ever, the Westchester Cat show (motto: we've got cats!) is going to honor...get ready...a dog. But not just any dog. A dog who was once named Cat of the Year in 1998.

Has the world gone topsy-turvy?

You bet it has!

Topsy-turvy for ending inequality.

I hope we all learn a little something from this. It doesn't matter if your skin is white or black or brown, or if your genetic make-up is feline or canine. Deep down, we're all people (or quadraped animals) and as such, we should all be treated equally.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Singing the red state...blues?

New York, New York
I Left My Heart (in San Francisco)”
My old Virginnie Home
California Dreaming
The bands Kansas, Boston, Chicago, and to some extent, Toto

The list could go on and on. So many states and locales have their own songs or bands bearing their name. Most of them (e.g. California, New York) have so many songs written about them (not even counting whiny acousitc songs that very few people, thankfully, ever hear) that you cannot even name them all.

Not Iowa.

Poor Iowa gets no love, whether it be from smart-alec big-town professors or from ironically named punk bands.

Hell, most people think we’re the potato state.

But there have been a few brave souls who’ve stood up and showed their pride in the home of quite possibly the nation’s worst president (take that, Texas!).

Of course, outside of Slipknot, you’ve never heard of any band from Iowa, much less anyone singing about Iowa. So I’ve compiled for you an entirely unthorough review of all songs about Iowa that can be downloaded conveniently off of limewire and their relevance to the Hawkeye state.

1) Iowa Nice--Meredith Wilson

Following the golden rule of artistic life, if you’re form the middle of nowhere, you have to make sure your opus is about the place you're from. And Meredith Wilson did not skip out on this obligation in the slightest, making an entire musical (Music Man, for those of you who haven’t caught on yet) about the 29th state.

Relevance to Iowa:

Excellently captures Iowans and our ability to be both nice and easily fooled by slick out-of-towners. Except now they sell meth instead of band uniforms.

2) Iowa--John Linnell

John is not from Iowa. Rather, he is from the annoying pop duo (and assumedly also soem sort of geographic region that's not Iowa), They Might be Giants. For those of you not familiar with TMBG, they’re the group that the semi-popular girl in your high school who’s bent on proving she’s different, but not too different, listens to.

Relevance to Iowa:

While the song does posit the entirely plausible notion that the state of Iowa is a witch, it incorrectly holds that as a state-witch we would cast spells on Vermont. We would do no such thing. All of our spells would be focused on New Hampshire, to add insult to injury. Think about it.

3) Iowa--Dar Williams

Soulful acoustic chick that somehow avoids the seemingly painfully obvious comparisons to Ani. Except she’s talented.

Relevance to Iowa:

Though it’s more of a love song, huge props to the fact that it could be set anywhere, but it’s set in Iowa. Also, successfully captures the fact that we’re modest folk out here.

4) The Truth About Iowa--Stretch Armstrong

Iowa is actually home to a surprisingly large amount of hardcore music (take it from a fella who knows), despite our humble and reserved ways, so this fits in well. Again, not from Iowa, but I love them for giving us love.

Relevance to Iowa:

Hard to the song about an incident that happened in Iowa? Possibly. But it doesn’t take 18 hours to cross Iowa by car. It’s more like 4-5. But we do all treat each other like family, so it at least gets that right.

5) Iowa Waltz--Greg Brown

A song about a man who was born in Iowa, plans on staying there for life, and prominently features every country/bluegrass instrument possible. Never heard of Greg Brown before this experiment (turns out he's pretty cool...the shit you find on the information super highway, eh?), but he clearly has a high opinion of Iowa, so he can’t be all that bad. Or sane.

Relevance to Iowa:

The opening line “out there in the corn, in the middle of the U.S.A.” not only captures our greatest export, but also our geographical and political centrality. That, and the fact that we’re backward people who never want to leave, because we’re afraid of the outside world. Possibly the most relevant Iowa-related song ever recorded.

6) Iowa Fight Song

The rousing tune that always gets Kinnick stadium and/or Carver-Hawkeye Arena going. And the only words on this track are “Iowa, Iowa, Iowa.”

Relevance to Iowa:

Seems pretty damn relevant, but for the fact that it only covers Hawk fans. No love for Cyclone fans. And especially no love for Panther fans, but there’s only about of those anyway.

There you have it. Probably the most comprehensive list of Iowa-related music ever compiled, with a little something for everyone. And a bit surprising, really. I didn't think I'd find anything, but here I find myself opened to a multitude of new, pro-Iowa musicians.

California, New're on notice. Iowa's a comin'. Musically, that is.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Team member of the month?!?

My roomate Gutter has finally acheived the dream, and bested the inanimate carbon rod (pictured), as he has been named Menard's Team Member of the Month. We're still unsure as to what this means, but what we do know is that you get a call at home that wakes you up in morning to inform you of the fact you've been selected for such an honor. But now we're left to wonder: what sorts of amazing rights and responsibilities come with such an honor? An executive parking space? Free tile grout? A ham and a bronze plaque? A date with the sexy, sexy Menards lady who replaced the Menard's guy for a short period when he was out with health problems, but for some reason wore his glasses?

Only the good Lord above knows, but I, for one, am waiting with baited breath to see what wonders await him. Check back for updates.