Thursday, July 27, 2006

Shout Out: The Sound

I used to do shout outs - Zach and Archie, Nathan, Papa K, Mark - but have not done any such thing for a while now. Well, here's the latest. And it's not to a person. It's to a sound.
A chorus of male voices; a symbol's crash; electric guitar rising to a sharp crescendo; a steady beat of a war drum leads the ensemble forward. It instills fear and dread into women - wives and girlfriends are especially haunted by it. Men either smile or become giddy with excitement and anticipation; those familiar only by name simply shrug. This sound has ushered in hours and hours of therapeutic male-bonding; it brings men together to compete ferociously in a controlled environment.
Arch, Zach, Nerf, Crozz, Chris, T-Boz, Bean, T-Rav, F-Rock, Butcher, Shields, Andy, Muncie, Grover, Kyle, Brandon, Greg, Travis's roommate who liked pink, Brennan, Reed, Kevin, Mitch, Bryce...and any other fella's I've fought with, laugh at, sworn at, gotten mad at and flat our worked over: For all about to defend the universe - I salute you. Play on. Play on.

And here's a bonus track.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Paula and I are in the midst of a 10 day house-sitting stint for a family from church. It is a bit of an upgrade from El Bajos known as Eagles Pointe, the place we call home. Being part of an interracial/multicultural marriage, I’m trying to embrace my Hispanic-in-law roots by picking the language. For those of you who don’t “Hablar EspaƱol”, El Bajos is Spanish for “The Bajos”. Seriously. Not joking.
I understand many are under the impression we live in a posh place due to the ‘e’ on the end of Eagles Pointe. The misapplied vowel can be a bit misleading; a more correct spelling to give the correct impression of our apartment complex would be Beagles Poop as opposed to Eagles Pointe, or even Eagles Point. Besides the street address, there really isn’t much difference between the apartment and the house. Well, maybe just litte:

  • In the apartment is a 27” screen television from Wal-Mart featuring the 6 channels our antenna provides; in the house there are three big screen televisions which enjoy premium DirecTV service. Oh, and a regular one in the workout room.
  • At the house, we can order a pizza from Pizza Hut and they’ll deliver whenever we want; at the apartment we cannot get the closest Pizza Hut to deliver at all. The bajos-friendly Pizza Hut 2.5 miles away won't deliver after 5pm.
  • At the house, mail is delivered; at the apartment, the US Postal Service will no longer deliver due to the management’s failure to secure the postal boxes.
  • Our apartment in total is the size of the master bedroom and master bathroom at the house; our kitchen is the size of one of the two walk-in closets
  • The apartment has no personal computer so we use the work issued laptops (Oh wait, we are down to one since Paula’s was stolen in the burglary) and access the net via some neighbors wireless network; the house has four PC’s, high speed internet and wireless for the laptop.
  • When we're hungry at the apartment, we open the fridge; at the house, we explore the three refrigerators spaced throughout and peruse the walk-in pantry.
  • At the apartment, the ’94 Le Sabre blends in if not outdoes many of the neighbors; at the house, it’s a violation of several zoning laws and is feared by the neighbors.
  • At the apartment I can’t hide from my wife; at the house, I could hide for days. And survive by raiding one of the three refrigerators.

These differences could be depressing, were it not for one thing about house-sitting in this luxurious neighborhood which is reminiscent of Eagles Pointe: people still look at us like we don’t belong there. It’s comforting. Really.

Monday, July 17, 2006

My Top 10...

As eluded to in the last post, here is my Top Ten Songs During My High School Years (Fall of 94 to Spring 98). This wasn’t easy. At first I had 10 and was pretty confident in them; then another would come to my mind and I had a list of 12…then 13…then 14. I've designated a couple of back ups I elaborated on, then some honorable mentions. I did a little research to try to find out how these songs did nationally and have editorialized a bit on each song. (BT 100: Billboard Top 100; MR: Modern Rock 50)
My criteria for the ranking consisted three parts: Enjoyment level then; Enjoyment level now; Sentimental value. For those who experienced the music of this period, feel free to give me your Top Ten or tell me how I’m wrong. (I won’t be wrong, but whatever the delusions of your mind want to think. Ha ha ha.)

10b. Santa Monica – Everclear (#5 MR, 1996)
Let’s be honest: can anyone name another song from Everclear’s first album? Not me. But this song I know. There were a couple more songs that were big before I graduated, but none really stuck out more than this one. Probably because all the songs Everclear does sound pretty much the same, so the first will always be the best.

10a. Good Riddance – Green Day (#2 MR, 1998)
Why not anything from the groups first album? It came out prior to my entering the ranks of high school, that’s why. But this song – way overplayed but equal to the task – was a great acoustic number by the alternative rock group. Since this time I have grown increasingly disenchanted with the group (political views at opposite poles) but this was a great song.

10. Name – Goo Goo Dolls (#1 MR, 1995; #5 BT 100, 1996)
This track comes from the debut album called “A Boy Named Goo” and was one of the earlier CD’s I owned; it is one you could stick in the player and not skip one song…well, maybe just one song. Anyway, this song and album kicked off the Goo Goo Dolls. Some might argue Iris is better than name…but they’d be wrong. (Do I need to elaborate more? It loses points for being on the City of Angels soundtrack; that movie was stupid. Aside from the fallen angel thing, how could Meg Ryan not hear a big diesel truck coming towards her on a quite country road?)

9. What I Got – Sublime (#1 MR, 1996)
The radio edit, of course, but there’s just something catchy about this tune. ‘Got to find a reason, reason things went wrong; got to find a reason why my money’s all gone.’ Considering the lead sing died from a heroin overdose, I think we all could answer that question. The bitter irony is that he died before the album was released. Lesson: Just Say No.

8. One Headlight – Wallflowers (#1 MR, 1997)
This was a great song and came from a double-platinum album. One Headlight, 6th Avenue Heartache, The Difference and Three Marlenas all were from “Bringing Down the Horse” and all made appearances on the Billboard Top 100. But One Headlight was the only one I knew all the words to.

7. Better Man – Pearl Jam (#2 MR, 1995)
This one barely makes the cut, not because of quality but because of timing. The album was released in December of 1994, the midpoint of my freshman year of high school. I don’t own any Pearl Jam and I highly doubt I could listen to an entire album over and over, but this song is a definite Top Ten.

6. Lightning Crashes – Live (#1 MR, 1995)
The olive green jacket and the oddly drawn minister walking along while people scoffed at him…it was a unique album cover. Of the several songs on ‘Throwing Copper’, this song was my favorite and is still as good today as it was then. And we can only be thankful these guys cut their hair. When I saw them perform with Chris Daughtrey from American Idol, all I could do was draw an Austin Powers correlation: Live and Mini-live.

5. Undone (Sweater Song) – Weezer (#57 BT 100, 1994; #6 MR)
The line is blurred here; this hit the shelves during the lame duck period between 8th and 9th grade. But, since this is my list, I’m allowing it. I don’t know of anything preceding Weezer that sounded remotely like Weezer. And this song was weird and cool all at the same time: the talking at the beginning, the mellow lyrics, the 80’s guitar riff in the middle, the singing in a round. Totally unique sound; and afterwards if anyone mentioned the word ‘sweater’ some clown tried to tie it into this song. (I may have been that clown once or twice.)

4. Good – Better Than Ezra (#30 BT 100, 1995; #1 MR)
From the album Deluxe, the one with a purple curtain and some gold hands, comes this classic alternative track. It was one of those where it was hard to figure out exactly what was being said, (is it Waha, Uhu, Walk-on, or Aha) so you had to listen to it a lot to figure it out. “Maybe I’ll call or write you a letter, maybe we’ll speak on the 4th of July…” One has to ask why the 4th? Why not Christmas or Thanksgiving? I’m not too sure and I’m not to proud to say…I don’t know. (It’s ‘Aha’, bytheway)

3. Breakfast at Tiffany’s – Deep Blue Something (#5 BT 100, 1996; MR #30)
A one-hit wonder, who doesn’t remember trying to figure out the line in the chorus: “She said I think I remember the film and as I recall…” before seeing the lyrics on that show VH1 had where the lyrics scrolled across the bottom of the page. I remember where I was when I first heard this song: taking a shower before school. For the next couple of weeks I had a blank tape in the player waiting for the song to come on again so I could record it. 93.3 FM out of Billings, MT.

2. Semi-charmed Life – Third Eye Blind (#4 BT 100, 1997; #1 MR)
From the self-titled album, this little tune was prelude to one of those CD’s you could just pop in and enjoy the whole thing. Though the follow-up album “Blue” was okay, they haven’t been able to even touch the original. And there were two jackets: a green and a red; in the jacket the words to this song were in a square-spiraling pattern. This is one of the rare songs where the radio edit cripples the original; remember, you couldn’t hear the ‘and when the plane came in she said she was crashin’…One; and you hold me, and I’m broken’.

1. Push – Matchbox 20 (#1 MR, 1997)
Who can argue with this pick? Obviously America did because this song didn’t even rank on the BT 100. Ridiculous. Great song, great album, great sound. I’m cool with Rob Thomas and the solo effort; still, I miss the alternative, guitar and drums sound of the band as opposed to the pop thing. Released in 1996, the album spun off chart toppers through 1999 (Back 2 Good, #24 BT 100); it went platinum 10 times by 2000. It still lives in my CD collection. And even though Push is the classic track, it barely edges out track 12, ‘Hang’, an awesome song that got too little PT; it’s better than 3am, Real World, Long Day and Back 2 Good (these all landed on top charts).

Honorable mention (in no particular order): Hootie and the Blowfish (anything from Cracked Rear View); Alanis Morisette (Ironic); Offspring (Self-Esteem); Dishwalla (Counting Blue Cars) Will Smith (Getting’ Jiggy); Coolio (Gangsta’s Paradise); Sugar Ray (Fly); Tonic (If You Could Only See).

Friday, July 14, 2006

One Headlight

A caveat or two:
First, I don't really care for Bruce Springsteen or his political views. Not even a little; the Boss and I are on totally opposite ends of the spectrum in regards to our moral, ethical and political viewpoints.
Second, I don't really like seeing songs I like performed live; there's something about seeing some musicians sing that makes me want to hurl or drop the curtain so they stop embarressing themselves. It can be ridiculous and ludicrous.
Thus being said, this video I pulled from features the Boss and The Wallflowers performing at the VMA's in the late 90's. This song makes my "Top Ten Songs That Came Out When I Was In High School" list...I'll have to create a post with that info...and I think it sounds really good live. And I'll give Bruce this - he played a sweet guitar solo in this song.

More Alphabet Soup

Another week has come and gone and I have failed to post anything. That means it’s time for another version of Alphabet Soup.
Don’t mess with Israel
Basically, if you kidnap an Israeli soldier, expect a beat-down. Ask Hamas (the Palestinian based group sworn to destroy Israel) and Hezbollah (the Lebanese based group sworn to destroy Israel: they went into Israeli territory, killed some soldiers and kidnapped others; now they are experiencing a barrage of rockets and missiles and complaining about it, like they didn’t know it would happen. Lesson…don’t kidnap Israeli soldiers.
Thin Mints
This might be false advertising – I eat them and I get fat. Call them ‘Fat Mints’. Anyway, I was walking through the halls of ING, waiting for my computer to reboot after a Microsoft Patch. And what did I find? An unopened box of Girl Scout Cookies (Thin Mints) with a sticky note that said “Free to a good Home”. I can’t guarantee they’ll make it to my home, but they are good. ING has been good to me…and my waistline.
New Ride
My parents recently purchased a new vehicle, a 2004 Mitsubishi Gallant. It has 170,000 less miles than the Oldsmobile (210,000). I think this car will work out well for them, as it seems with their luck to get a good car about every-other attempt. The original Oldsmobile ran for nearly 200,000; the Yugo era (dad bought 2) was dismal; the Buick was a gem (they sold it to me with 166,000 miles and I still drive it with 233,000); the recent Oldsmobile has been so-so. The Gallant should be a good one…but I think my LeSabre will outrun it.
Paula and I in March, Ty and Abby in August, Ben and Ryanne in November…By the time we get back from Phoenix, Paula and I will have spent over $2400 in flights/rentals/hotels in a 12 months. I’m all for supporting family, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t glad there won’t be any weddings of family for 1-3 years. If there is one in prior to that one-year minimum…Hallmark card.
I was chastised by 'my smoking hot wife' (watch the trailer for the movie below) for not having a link to the page she maintains on my blog. Merely an oversight, I assured her. So, if you want to see what's going on with Paula, check out the new link on the right side of the page. It's titled "Paula's Page". I've atoned for my more sleepin' on the couch.
In conclusion…
I can honestly say this is the most attention I've paid to NASCAR, and it's not even real. Maybe that's why I like it so much. Anywa, just two more weeks until the movie of the summer comes out: Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. Go to the web page and check it out. You can even create your own racing nickname as I did.
"Thanks for my sons, Walker and Texas Ranger...."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Story Time

A story: Miriam had four children and no daughters after a decade of marriage. She wanted a little girl to dress up and go shopping with and stuff that girls do. Then Rachell was born and Miriam had a daugther; after a few years of incessant screaming (For NO apparent reason; her brothers never provoked her. She was just a screamer.) and a monopoly on the photo album worthy of an anti-trust suit, us boys embraced Rachell as family and there's been mostly peace and contentment ever since.
After a quarter century of marriage, Miriam still had only one daughter to go with five boys. Then in August of 2004, a miracle happened: Nathan got married! No one really saw it coming and it was a testament to the virtues of fasting and prayer. Now Miriam had two daughters - Rachell and Lindsay - and she loved them both. Then, like manna from heaven, another miracle more astounding than the first happened: Logan got married! Pegged as the brother who would be the favorite uncle with all the toys as a perrenial bachelor, the common comment was: "Has anyone actually met this girl? He's not making this up, right?" Now Miriam had three daughters - Rachell, Lindsay and Paula - and she loved them all.
Now, for the third time in just over two years, Miriam will have four daughters: Benjamin is getting married! Not sure whether Ben even liked girls, everyone is thrilled (and relieved). Now Miriam will have four daughters - Rachell, Lindsay, Paula and Ryanne - and she'll love them all. The End.

(Ladies of the Roberts clan, L-R: Ryanne, Rachell, Lindsay, Paula)
But seriously, congrats to Ben and Ryanne on their engagement! They are going to be married on November 24, 2006 in Mesa, Arizona for time and all eternity.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The American Way

Well, just wanted to give a shout out to our country, the United States of America, and share some thoughts and feelings I have concerning this day. (Readers be warned: there probably won't be a lot of humor in this post; I'm going to attempt to be serious, so read at your own peril.)
Will and I recently saw the new Superman movie. I really enjoyed the movie and recommended it; but there was one part that bothered me just a little. In the other Superman movies, the man of steel stood 'truth, justice and the American way.' In this newest one, the screenwriters played to the sentiment of the day and changed the wording of the phrase to 'truth, justice and that other stuff.'
It seems in the world today, the 'American Way' is mocked and ridiculed by people both foreign and domestic; those who espouse such a mind set are deemed at 'radical' or 'old-fashioned' in their thinking. The George Clooney's, Natalie Maines', Howard Dean's, Alec Baldwin's and Susan Sarandon's of the world would have us believe that America is the tyrant of the world, pushing around the world to accept our way of government. They would have us believe those who fight for our peace and safety are murderers, thugs and rapists. This is a hasty generalization, an unfounded assertion based on the actions of a minute contingent of immoral military men. Yet we would be led to believe it is common occurence.
I love this country; I love the precepts upon which it was founded. The wording of the Declaration of Independence, written my Thomas Jefferson and championed in the First Continental Congress by John Adams, strengthens my belief in the goodness of this cause called Independence. Below are some excerpts of the Declaration.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that
they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among
these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness...That whenever any Form of
Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to
alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation
on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem
most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness...But when a long train of
abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to
reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to
throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future
security...We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America,
in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for
the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good
People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United
Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States...And for the
support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine
Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our
sacred Honor."

There should be little doubt the Founding Fathers of our country were men of deep faith in a Supreme Being, who were courageous and honorable me. It has been said they were the best the Lord had on the earth at the time. And of the 56 men who signed the document, the oldest was Benjamin Franklin, age 71; the youngest, Edward Rutledge at 26. As a result of their conviction to the cause of independence, these men were forced to make terrible sacrifice. Five of the signers were captured as traitors and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes ransacked and burned. Two lost their sons in the Revolutionary War; another had two sons captured. Nine died from wounds or from the hardships of the war.
Yet these were men who did not back down, who did not yield to the enemy of freedom. Liberty was the cause and they championed it until their deaths. I believe these men were inspired by God to set up a nation where religion was a right to be had by all, where the truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ could be brought forth and prosper.
While I've mostly just rambled incoherently, I'll conclude with this. I love this country; I admire the men who pledge their lives, fortune and sacred honor for the establishment of a place where the individual is master; I pray that responsible citizens, men and women of good judgement and sound understanding, will step up to the task at hand and protect our freedoms from wicked and conspiring individuals. As J. Reuben Clark stated: "...the price of liberty is and always has been blood, human blood, and if our liberties are lost, we shall never regain them except at the price of blood. They must not be lost!"
So, as we spend today with family and friends, as we go to parks and lakes, as we spend time in the city or the mountains, as we watch fireworks and see the flag, let us remember those who went before us, who sacrificed all they had that we might enjoy such things.
Happy 4th.