All of the Ska that Your Money Can Buy

Tomorrow night I’m going to my last Five Iron Frenzy concert ever. It’s the first of two shows in Minneapolis, on their farewell Winners Never Quit tour, which winds up in Denver on Nov. 22.

For those of you who don’t know, I have fond memories of Five Iron. I saw them live for the first time on January 1, 1997, braving a snow storm and a last minute change of venue. Since then I’ve seen them more times than I can remember.

I have two favorite concert memories, including yo-yoing at an outdoor festival in Michigan and a hot, sweaty concert in Minneapolis. At the festival I was in a full-on yo-yo frenzy when I realized a photographer was taking my picture. I tried to play it cool and pretend I didn’t see him, but then my string broke, sending the yo-yo 30 feet through the air. Thankfully, no one was killed. The Minneapolis show stands out because a bunch of my friends went, including my Mission Control co-host Josh Lewis, my self-proclaimed best man ever Tim Yenter, and my soon-to-be-wife-but-not-even-girlfriend-yet. If I remember, this was one of the many crowded and unbearably hot New Union shows where Jeff the Girl twisted her ankle while lunging for the door to get some cold winter air (assumably prompting the line in “Superpowers”: “Everyone in the band can’t stand me / just because I fell off the stage / and kind of by accident, I broke the / promoters legs.”

Ah, the memories.

Before the show I’ll be interviewing the band one more time (I’ve also interviewed them more times than I can remember), and hopefully writing a sappy retrospective piece for (or anywhere that will give me some cold, hard cash for my troubles). I’m trying to develop some killer questions for this final interview. Let me know if you have any brilliant ideas. My best question right now is what songs would you include on a FIF greatest hits collection, should such an album ever be compiled. I’d have a hard time answering that one myself.


I watched Matrix Revolutions. My comment walking out was, “I can’t get no.” As in satisfaction.

The movie just didn’t deliver. It didn’t hold together, it didn’t answer any questions, it didn’t work. It lived up to the hype (or lack thereof).

I’m still trying to pull my thoughts together, so you’ll probably have to listen to more of this over the next few days, but I’m amazed at how such an amazing beginning completely fell apart. When I saw the original Matrix, I was floored. I didn’t expect the sequels to deliver the same jaw-dropping, mind-blowing experience, but I expected something more. What I saw was much, much less.

If Reloaded felt like a video game, Revolutions felt like several different movies, as one of the folks I watched it with commented. It jumped around all over the place, following new characters no one cared about, the dialogue was worthy of George Lucas, and all the loose strings were left flapping in the breeze.

In the end there’s still an intriguing gospel parallel, but it wasn’t worth three movies and a whole wad of cash.

Aside from the plot let-down, the visual effects were overwhelming. The fight scenes that worked in the first two flicks needed the addition of strobe light effects to be cool in the third movie. The result made my eyes hurt. There was simply too much action. I wanted things to tone down a bit so my eyes and brain could catch up. It wasn’t an enjoyable action flick experience.

Maybe I’m getting old, but all the kung-fu, gun-blazing action didn’t do it for me. I wanted Neo to turn the other cheek.

(Nov. 10 Update – You have to check out this Matrix spoof/anti-corporate farming flash movie: The Meatrix. [link via Steve])

There will be bigger boards with bigger nails

A fly. Photo by Kevin D. Hendricks

This fly spent nearly an hour buzzing at my office window this morning, desperately trying to escape. Oddly, if the fly did escape, I have my doubts about whether it would have survived the unseasonably cold 20 degree weather.

Though I suppose it doesn’t matter. Later in the afternoon the fly became the victim of afternoon boredom and irritation. It became target practice for my Nerf gun.

I think he’s talking to you.

Tonight I also stumbled across 50 Things You’re Not Supposed to Know, a compact little book full factual conspiracy theory-type info that’s shocking but true. Things like:

-Both the U.S. and the Soviet Union considered plans to detonate an atomic bomb on the moon simply as a show of power.

-Two atomic bombs fell on North Carolina when the plane carrying them exploded. One bomb’s parachute opened and it fell safely to earth and was recovered. The other bomb crashed into the earth and was buried 150 feet deep. Part of the bomb was recovered, but to this day the land is tested for traces of radiation.

-Adolf Hitler’s blood relatives are alive and well in New York.

Stuff like that. It’s kind of an appetizer to suck you into a real history book, but still incredibly interesting.

The Two Income Trap? Doh!

Tonight in Barnes & Noble I picked up the book The Two Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke. I only got through the first few chapters, but it was eye-opening reading.

Every year more people file for bankrupcy than have heart attacks, get divorced, or graduate from college. It’s amazing that we mobilize around tragedies like divorce or heart attacks, but we don’t mobilize to help families in financial trouble.

The premise of the book is that two income families with children are more susceptible to financial ruin than single income families or two income families with no children. Not exactly an encouraging fact for this two income family that would like to have kids some day. I only got through the first few chapters, but it seems the primary reason for this is because that second income is becoming less and less about providing for extras and more and more about securing the elusive home in a good neighborhood with good schools. More than over-spending or affluent living, the search for safe neighborhoods and safe schools has caused two-income families to leverage that second income on a mortgage, removing the safety net and inviting financial ruin in times of crisis.

I’ll have to go back to Barnes & Noble to keep reading the book (or just break down and buy it), but it was a fascinating read. Basically the thought of getting ahead and sending a second parent into the workforce put more and more families behind. Part of it is keeping up with the Jones’, but much of it has to do with over-reaching to provide basic needs for children.

It’s kind of sobering. We’re a two income family, but mainly to stave off school debt. While our financial crisis has been difficult, we’ve been able to survive on one income and unemployment. That can’t continue forever, but it’s kind of scary to be riding that financial edge with a minimal safety net.

I’m also so surprised that very little of it has to do with affluent living. While we do buy more clothes, appliances, and goodies today, most of those goods have gotten cheaper, so everything balances out. We buy more appliances like dishwashers and dryers, but they cost less and last longer. We eat out more, but we spend less on groceries by buying in bulk and buying off-brands. Apparently it’s not all Affluenza.