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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Kristy Lee Cook should have been kicked off American Idol last week JUST for choosing this song

"I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free."
- God Bless the USA

Does anyone notice anything amiss with those lyrics? Anything at all? Anything grammatically awry?

What if they were to instead say:

"I'm proud to be an American, 'cause at least I know I'm free."

Or:

"I'm proud to be in America, where at least I know I'm free."?

Would that be better? 'Cause let me ask you, looking again at the original version of the lyrics at the top, what the hell, grammatically speaking, is "where" referring to? "An American"? Is that a place? No!

There are certain bad lyrics that can be forgiven, but these are not among them.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Things I Don't Understand

1) Misspelled tattoos

You hear on occasion funny stories about poor suckers who got a word tattoo only to find out later that it's misspelled. My Legal Lunacies day calendar recently told the story of a man who sued his tattoo artist because both of them couldn't figure out how to spell "villain" (they settled on "villian", and the tattoo artist was not found liable for this misspelling).

It's wise to think long and hard about tattoos -- the design, coloring, placement, and, of course, spelling, because tattoos are forever. How hard is it to find a dictionary, or open a spell-checking word processor on a nearby computer, or ask someone who isn't dumb as dirt about the spelling before getting inked? Idiots with misspelled tattoos get what they deserve, in my book.

Incidentally, I dreamt last night that I was in a spelling bee, and my word was "cacciatore" (which I just spelled correctly the first time, even though I couldn't come up with it to save my life in my dream). I tried to object to the word on the grounds that it is Italian, and this was an English spelling bee, but the judges wouldn't hear of it. They used my own argument against me saying that since this word is indeed used in English, it is indeed an English word, despite its etymological roots. (I once argued this point in the UofU's Daily Chronicle, in response to some PC-loving idiot who declared that "Entrepreneur Week" was sexist, and that the feminine form of Entrepreneusse ought to be used as well (I probably misspelled the feminine form, because [1] it's French [not English, like Entrepreneur], and [2] French spelling is completely illogical).


(2) People who insist upon walking around naked in the locker room

Call me a prude, go ahead, call me one, but I don't want to see your naked body walking around in the locker room. How hard is it to put a towel around you? How hard? Seriously, is it hard? Does it inconvenience you so? Your flabby pear-shaped body and furry nether regions inconvenience me by making me have to wash my eyes out with soap.

I'm reminded of a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry sits across from a fat naked man on the subway. The naked man asks Jerry, "Do you have a problem with the naked body?" and Jerry answers, "I have a problem with yours!" That's me. I have no problem with the general naked human form. Bring on Venus in a half shell and the mighty David. I'd gladly walk into a locker room full of the entire naked cast of the movie 300, especially if hot blue-eyed Scottish king Leonidas is full frontal and center. I'm ok with that. But, let's face it, let's be completely honest: most human bodies ought never to be seen naked outside the privacy of home.

It's one thing if you're standing by your locker and getting dressed. Then your naked parts are going to be showing to one extent or another. But when you're walking around the halls in the locker room, or when you're walking to or from the showers or sauna, then you ought to put a GD towel around you! Please, for the love of my ability to see, wear a towel! Do it for me before I have to burn your image off my retinas by staring into the sun.


(3) The saying "by and large"

"By and large"... what the hell is that supposed to mean? Well, I understand that it means "on the whole", but where the hell did that saying come from? It doesn't even make any sense.

First of all, let's look at the construction:

by - a preposition
and - a conjunction
large - an adjective

Now the job of a conjunction is to join two like elements -- say, two nouns, two verbs, two adjectives, two sentences even. But a preposition and an adjective? What are those two non-like elements doing in a conjunctive relationship? Doesn't make sense. My language parser simply can't handle that construction.

I've also heard people say "by in large". But that doesn't make any more sense than the first form. Now, instead of a preposition and an adjective being joined by a conjunction, you have a preposition and an adjective being joined by... another preposition. That makes even less sense than the first form. I think this form only exists because people often say "and" as "n", and that could be misheard as "in".

If anyone has knowledge about the roots of this inane saying, please enlighten me. Otherwise, I vote we kick it out of English.


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Monday, March 24, 2008

HealthQuest2008: March - Walking ain't just for gettin' places


Victoria's Secret has announced an exciting new shoe that actually helps you get in shape -- get this -- just by walking around!

That's right, all you do is slip on the FitFlop, and you will automatically burn calories and get firmer legs just by walking. This is the miracle product we've all been waiting for!

Wait... what's that? Walking burns calories and tones muscles regardless of the shoe you're wearing or whether you're even wearing shoes at all? Even shoes that recreate the gait of barefoot walking?

You don't say...

So, just to be clear, I don't have to buy the FitFlop in order for walking to benefit my body? Man, that was close, I was just about ready to put down $49.95 for these babies.



Well, since the FitFlop plan has fallen through, I'll have to stick with my original plan of stepping up the number of days I go to the gym each week. For HealthQuest in March I've added another day at the gym to my week, but my yoga class ended, so I'm still only doing three days a week of exercise total. That's all going to change starting this week, however, as I am going to add a fourth day at the gym to my regimen. The plan now will be to go to the Fieldhouse Mondays-Thursdays after work. Eventually, I'd like to add a fifth day, and that's where I'll stop. I think exercising 5/7 days is optimal. I'll probably add a little yoga to my weekend as well, so effectively, I'll be getting some exercise every day.

I'm having a much easier time with the exercising bit than I ever imagined I would, based on past experience of not being able to stick with the gym. This time, I actually really enjoy going to the gym, and I'm looking forward to continuing to improve my muscle tone, strength, and endurance.

The eating part is kicking my ass though. Whereas I was 6 pounds down after the death flu last month, I'm pretty sure I've gained all that back. I don't seem to be making much progress on the fat burning front. Clearly the problem is all the Easter candy. That will run out soon enough, and Ian has strict instructions to ration out my remaining Cadbury's Cream Eggs so I don't go hog wild on them, so hopefully the sugar addiction will abate soon. But I'm still not very disciplined with controlling what and how much I eat.

I was discussing this with Ian last night, and it occurred to me that it may have a lot to do with the attitude of plenty. Here's what I mean: When I was poor (making about $300 per month, and paying half of that for rent), I would pay very close attention to how much money I spent on groceries, and I would try to make sure I ate all my food before it rotted and had to be tossed out. But I would still allow myself certain indulgences. For instance, I would buy a package of ELFudge cookies, and I'd allow myself about one a day, so the package would pretty much last all month. And let me tell you, I really appreciated each cookie more that way.

My control wasn't so much discipline as it was knowing that if I ate the cookies all at once, I couldn't afford to buy more for quite awhile. So I respected all my food more.

Now that I'm richer, I know that I can have as much as I want, because I don't have the same financial constraints. Want to eat the whole box of powdered sugar jelly filled Hostess donuts in one go? Sure, go ahead! If you want more later, you can get more later. Obviously this is a destructive mindset.

So Ian suggested a tactic of artificially creating that financial constraint by putting most of my money from each paycheck in savings. I think it's a fine idea. For one thing, I'm trying to save money for a potential move next year, and for the day when my '91 Buick Park Ave decides to finally bite the dust. So increasing my percentage of monthly savings would help me two-fold.

And then maybe I would appreciate the food I put into my body more, and think more carefully about my choices.

I will apply this strategy for April and see how it goes.



Finally, I've heard a lot of people say that they simply can't break a sweat on the bikes at the gym, and I've been next to plenty of people carrying on completely un-winded conversations while biking. So, I'd like to tell everyone who feels like exercise bikes aren't real exercise that YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG, AND THAT'S WHY IT ISN'T WORKING FOR YOU!

Steps for correctly using the bikes:

(1) Find your Base.
To do this, get on the bike (and obviously adjust the seat height so your legs are mostly extended when the pedal is compressed), put the bike in manual mode, press start, and start pedaling. Slowing increase the resistance level on the bike until you get to the point where you just barely have to expend a little effort to get the pedals to revolve. You want to feel like you are in control of the rotation, and inertia isn't playing much role. It should still be pretty easy to pedal. Note this resistance level: it is your base. My base is 10, but this number probably depends on the type of bike you are using. Your base is the easiest resistance level that your bike will be on during your routine.

(2) Exercise!
You can either keep the bike in manual mode, but then you will have to control your exercise by manually increasing the resistance and employing various types of routines yourself, or you can pick a program -- the better choice for a beginner. The programs are usually categorized as Fat-Burning, Strength, and Endurance. Once you select one, press start, and then manually bring the resistance level up to your base. This step is key. The computer automatically raises the resistance during the program relative to your base number. If you don't bring the resistance up to your correct base, then the computer will assume your base is 1 (or 0, depending on the bike) and your routine will be too easy for you, and that is why you will not break a sweat or lose your breath or get your heart to beat any faster than it does when that hot gym guy gets on the treadmill in front of you.

There you go, exercise biking 101.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

T-Mobile: Another Company Makes My Shit-List

Update: Complaining pays off sometimes! The sales associate who sold me my phone and plan called me up to apologize and to let me know that T-Mobile has credited my account with $50! This shows that T-Mobile is at least somewhat concerned with customer relations. So I have forgiven this trespass and will continue on with T-Mobile once my contract expires unless I am otherwise motivated to move on.


My $50 mail-in rebate for my T-Mobile phone was just REJECTED:






So I wrote T-Mobile a nasty gram:

March 23, 2008

Dear T-Mobile and T-Mobile Rebate Officers:

On February 2, 2008, I walked into the above-listed T-Mobile store with the intention of switching my phone service from Sprint to T-Mobile. I had been having a few issues with Sprint and was shopping around for a new cell provider. Everyone I ever talked to who had a T-Mobile account was quite pleased with it, so I decided to switch over.

The friendly sales associate assisted me in picking out the Samsung Blast and a phone plan that suits my needs. I purchased the 300 minutes per month plan for $30, and tacked on an unlimited texting plan for $15, for a total of $45, pre-tax. I paid $140 for my Samsung Blast, and the sales associate provided me with a $50 mail-in rebate form, and pointed out the various UPCs and receipt copies which I would need to submit in order for my rebate to be accepted.

I carefully read the rebate form to make sure I was sending in everything necessary to obtain my rebate and then I mailed it in. I saw no mention of a required minimum phone plan purchase.

On March 21, 2008, I received the attached rejection letter regarding my rebate submission. On the one hand, I’m not really surprised, since everyone regards mail-in rebates as a scam anyway. For instance, until I received my $25 mail-in rebate from Sprint when I originally signed up with them, I had not once in my life received a rebate I had submitted. On the other hand, I am deeply disappointed at the lack of business ethics and concern for customer relations being exhibited by T-Mobile in this matter.

My sales associate did not mention that I would need to have purchased a more expensive phone plan in order to even qualify for the rebate in the first place. And if that truly is the case, she should never have given me a rebate form, or she should have explained that I could get a rebate if I purchased a more expensive plan. But in any case, I hardly see how a rebate on a PHONE purchase is at all relevant to the purchase of a PLAN. A phone, I might add, that T-Mobile is now GIVING AWAY FOR FREE (see second attached sheet). Well, free except for the $50 mail-in rebate, which it appears customers will be hard pressed to receive, because of T-Mobile’s shady fine-print loophole requirements.

I’m not writing this letter to coerce my rightfully deserved $50 rebate out of you. You can keep it. And in two years, when my contract with T-Mobile is up, you can ask yourselves whether keeping my $50 was worth losing my loyalty as a customer.

Sincerely shopping for my next cell provider,

Sra



Business ethics -- HAH!

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Attack of the Giant Cadbury's Creme Egg

Calling all Cadbury's Creme Egg enthusiasts!

Check out my boyfriend Ian's blog post,Death Cab for Cadbury, which includes a link with instructions for making your very own giant Cadbury's Creme Egg! Oh heaven!




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Friday, March 21, 2008

Stem Cells and the Smell of Radiation

My brother is going into the hospital today to begin his three-week stem cell transplant. Hopefully by the end of those three weeks, he'll emerge having beaten the cancer he's been battling for about a year now.

I wasn't going to write about this subject on my blog, on the one hand because I don't want to showcase my family too much, and on the other hand because I want to be brave for my brother. But on the third hand, I kind of need to be able to talk about it, and Bunsnip is my sounding board, not only for general issues that I'm interested in discussing, but for personal issues that I need to deal with. Maybe I'll finally start sleeping better after I just open up about it.

Zac (but I usually call him Broy) was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease (a type of lymphoma) last year. After several months of chemo, Broy went into remission last November, only to relapse in January. Already the cancer had returned to an advanced stage. So the doctors proposed a more aggressive treatment this time, comprised of more intense chemo followed by a complete stem cell transplant.

He's gone through the chemo now, and is entering the part where they basically kill off his entire immune system and then transplant his own stem cells, which they've already collected, back into his body so his immune system can rebuild. He has to stay in the hospital during this process and try to keep away from infection, since his own body won't be equipped to fight it anymore.

It's a really scary procedure, when you think about it. And yet, it's also a very miraculous one, and one that has improved over the past twenty years so that many lives have been saved in this manner.

The process of collecting stem cells used to be rather invasive and painful. They had to go right into your bone marrow to retrieve them. These days, they can cause your stem cells to jump out of your bones and into your blood stream by giving you shots. Then they just filter your blood through a machine to collect the stem cells. Much less invasive. And that's good, because cancer patients already have to deal with enough misery.

Something interesting: Broy says radiation smells like metal. There was a recent story about how a former astronaut identified the smell of space to also be like metal. And that makes sense, when you think about it, because up in space, you are not protected from radiation by any atmosphere. After all, space is a vacuum. It is nothingness housing balls of gas spewing forth radiation. So I bet the astronaut was actually smelling radiation, because how can nothingness have a smell?

A godless thought: if there were a god, I couldn't believe that sheit (a new word I'm creating for she/he/it) would be omni-benevolent, because if sheit were, people who didn't deserve to suffer wouldn't have to. But life seems to deal out its hands irrespective of what people deserve. People like my sweet brother, only 27 years old, and so kind, intelligent, and gentle, don't deserve this lot in life.

There is no cosmic justice.


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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Marriage: What's it good for?

I'm not a huge fan of marriage. Love, yes. But love and marriage are not the same thing (and they certainly are not guaranteed to go together like a horse and carriage). Likewise, religion and spirituality are not the same thing, but that's another matter for another post.

So Ian and I have been together for two years now, and I suppose culturally speaking, that's about the time you would expect two young love birds to get engaged (or, as I like to say, engagged). But luckily, Ian and I see eye to eye on the whole marriage issue.

Maybe it's that Ian already experienced a bad marriage, or that I watched my parents have one. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm only 25, and a few of my friends my age are already divorced, which doesn't instill much confidence in the whole institution. And Ian is 30, and a few friends his age are already on their second marriages, which, again, doesn't instill much confidence in the institution. But both of us are content with leaving marriage alone.

Other people don't quite see things our way. When Ian and I were last up in Wyoming visiting his parents (why, oh why can't they live somewhere like San Diego?), Ian's mother got me alone for a minute and asked me, in her delightful British accent, if it was indeed entirely out of the question that Ian and I get married and have children. There's proof, Ian, that we don't have a psychic connection, because if we did, you would have emerged at that moment and saved me. But I just muttered something about how you can never say never, but neither of us was into the whole marriage and children scenario. I then explained that we were both a bit alienated due to Ian's bad marriage, and my parents' bad marriage. "Oh well, Barry and I are both on our second marriages, you know." Lovely, well, I'm not exactly looking to get started on my first, you know what I mean?

Trying to mask her utter disappointment, she said, "That's alright, as long as you love each other, that's all you need, right?" That's the theory. Well, no, I'll take that back. Love is not all you need. It is the flour in the cake, yes, but without the sugar, salt, baking powder, and chocolate frosting you wouldn't very well want to eat it, would you? And of course, you need a glass of milk to wash it down. No, no, marriage is not as simple as mere love.

I have a friend whose marriage just fell apart, and I believe they really did love each other. But love wasn't enough in their case, because there was a deal-breaker thrown into the mix: religious conflict. Again, religion is another matter for another post, but I suppose it can be particularly relevant when you're talking about marriage. But the point is, you can have love, but if you don't also have respect, trust, loyalty, and compatibility in things like religious views and ideas about raising children and money issues and sexuality, among many other possible things, then love may simply just not be enough. I hate to step all over the hopeless romantics out there, but the truth is that romance is not enough. It's not even half of it.

Anyway, what is this urgency that parents feel to see their children married off? A desire to have someone to share in their own miserable state? What does marriage even have to do with anyone besides the two people involved in the bond? For instance, does anyone else find it odd that the expression of love and life commitment that is supposed to be symbolized by marriage should have anything to do with the government? Why does this have to be a legal bond? I know there's a lot of talk about gay marriage, and the denial of rights to gays because of prevailing prejudice. But I actually think gays have the better end of the deal. They can choose to make their own symbolic union that has nothing to do with the state. And frankly, I think that's how it ought to be. Because the decision to declare love and commitment for someone should be entirely personal, and not government regulated.

I would be interested to know more about the history of marriage, because I know that marriage has been around much longer than the practice of legally recording it has. I want to know why the government even got involved in the first place.

Anyway, here's the bottom line: marriage doesn't guarantee love, respect, faithfulness, or even happiness. It's my belief that two people ought to stay together so long as they both feel the relationship is loving, respectful, faithful, and fulfilling. And if it's not, and attempts to fix it are unsuccessful, then two people should be able to call it quits without having to ask the government for permission.

As for me, I plan to stay happily unmarried but together with Ian as long as we both find fulfillment in our relationship. If that lasts our lifetime, then so be it. But if things go sour somewhere down the line, then we will have the freedom to go our separate ways without asking for Uncle Sam's blessing.

And I'd appreciate it if our family and friends would set aside any vicarious wedding fantasies and just accept that that's how it's going to be with us. Besides, the whole wedding gown thing? Not really me.


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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Amazing Opening Weekend of Concert Season

Before kicking off this follow-up post to the Amazing Opening Weekend of Concert Season, I need to talk to you kids about something very important: Ear Plugs.

I'm 25 years old and deaf as a post. I'm the kind of deaf where if I'm in a room with many other people, such as a restaurant, or tonight's Art & Soup Celebration (if you missed it tonight, go tomorrow!), then I can only really hear about half of what you say to me, unless you are yelling at me. So that means the other half of the time I do that little nod that shows you that I'm acknowledging what you are saying... even though I have no clue what it is. Sometimes I retrospectively figure out what you said. But sometimes that also means I miss a really great opportunity to say something brilliant. Because I'm just brimming with brilliance, my friends, but timing can make or break that brilliance.

And all this could have been prevented if only I had taken hearing loss seriously and worn ear plugs to the many many loud concerts I had attended over the past 8 or so years. These days, I never go to a show without them, even a small acoustic show. Because most acoustic shows are actually plugged in, and sound guys are so utterly incompetent around here (and possibly everywhere else, too) that they think loud=great sound. But the truth is that they are covering up their incompetence by cranking up the volume. Cause if they actually knew what they were doing, they could achieve the right balance at a reasonable amplitude. My favorite idiocy is when sound guys think they need to mic the drum set. Yeah, cause no one's gonna hear it otherwise. And thanks to idiot sound guys, there are certain frequencies I will never hear again.

Seriously, guys, I was also one of those bratty little 18 year olds who laughed at all the old fogey 25+ year olds wearing ear plugs. I thought hearing loss was something only people in their 70's had to deal with. Surely I wouldn't lose any hearing. If only my 25 year old self could run into my 18 year old self, give her a good slap across the face and then shove some damn ear plugs in her ears. Maybe then I wouldn't have to stare at people with a stupid grin while trying to figure out what the hell they just said to me.

Sure, you can ask someone to repeat themselves. But when you still don't know what they said after the second time, you just start faking it, and pretty soon, faking it is the norm.

So please, wear earplugs. It may be too late for the six year old standing in front of me at Linkin Park, but it might not be too late for you. Trust me, your future self will thank you.

Now back to our regularly scheduled post...


Three exhausting nights in a row, three $9 beers, six earplugs, and a couple hundred bucks later...

and I can conclude a few things:


  • Tally Hall is perhaps the most amazing band I have ever seen live. I mean, I knew they were good after the first time I saw them open for Guster, but this show was ten times more incredible. Every member of the band contributes to the band's sound. You don't ask yourself, "Why do they have two guitar players?" or "Why even bother with a keyboardist?" Everyone is important. I wouldn't be surprised if they were a bunch of band geek music majors who decided to start up a band out of college. Their performance is tight and together, as if they actually know about keeping time rather than just playing what feels right, which is all the more impressive since the songs themselves are intricate, often flowing from one style seemlessly into another.

    The highlight of the amazing show was when they unplugged their instruments and came to sit in the middle of the audience to perform a two-song encore. Here's a picture taken from my shitty camera phone. I put little white arrows to show where the members of Tally Hall are, since it otherwise just looks like an ugly mass of people.


    This pretty much made my night, oh but wait, it gets better! If you've been reading Bunsnip for a while, you'll know that I absolutely hate the whole tradition of encores. I think it's a pretentious waste of time. With one caveat, however: if the encore is a true encore, meaning that the audience was blown away and simply NEEDED to hear more, and weren't just clapping for the sake of the encore tradition, then THAT is something special. And that's what happened at Tally Hall. In fact, for their original acoustic "encore", they never even went backstage, they just told us they were playing a two song encore, and then after the set, they climbed down into the audience. But after that, the audience willed them out for another song! A true encore at last! Pure bliss.



  • Coheed & Cambria is a studio band. Their albums are awesome (although I admit the latest one seriously had to grow on me, and I still don't consider it as good as the earlier three), but they struggle live. At least they have a difficult time when they play an electric show in a large venue. Maybe it's an issue with bad monitors, or maybe they just seriously need to take their asses out to the woodshed and drill their songs under their fingers.

    As a nice surprise, Claudio and Co. appeared at Graywhale in the afternoon for a short, slightly acoustic set. Ian and I made the trek out there an hour or two early to make sure we got a good view of the stage. And that we did:
    There's Claudio no more than 15 feet away from us, rocking our socks off.

    But for the evening show, Claudio let his great hair down and also let me down with his lackluster performance. I'm starting to think the first time I ever saw them was a complete and utter fluke in how amazing it was. Maybe the whole band had been kissed by faeries in the night, and the magic made them bring down the Great SaltAir. In any case, I keep going to these shows because I want so desperately to recapture that night. But I just keep on being disappointed.

    And, I didn't know you had to get a stupid wrist band in order to guarantee that Claudio would autograph your CD. So I didn't even get him to rub his John Hancock all over my Prize Fighter Inferno Justice Card. And that makes me very sad :(



  • Linkin Park kicks ass live! Who knew, right? I certainly didn't. This was the band I was least interested in seeing out of the whole weekend, and they ended up being my second favorite act. I mean, I've always had a passive appreciation for Linkin Park, but I didn't think it worthwhile to pay $60 to see them in concert. (So it's a damn good thing they put on an awesome show, because if I had blown that $60 on another lackluster CoCa performance, I'd have had to assign a conservator over my concert fund.)

    This was the first show of the entire weekend in which I actually felt like I could get up and dance(and it was the last show, btw, so thank god for the danceability). I had a great time, and I think I would see them again if they came back.

    Here's the Linkin Park duo rockin it on the convenient projector screen:



  • Matchbox 20's new stuff hearkens back to their first album (yay!), and Rob Thomas is actually a really good performer. He has stage presence and charisma, much like Billy Corgan, but obviously in a completely different style.

    The great thing about MB20's set was that I experienced the one thing that keeps me shelling out money to go to concerts: a spiritual connection to the music. That's when you are so tuned in to the music that you sort of forget about everything else for the duration of the song. Your feelings are intensified, and the whole experience is like a high. I achieved that during one of the songs from the first album -- an album I still consider a classic as far as 90's alternative goes. But it was surprisingly not one of my favorite songs from the album, and unfortunately I can't remember its name. But anyway, as with all things ephemeral, the moment is gone.


  • Alanis Morrisette met my every expectation, but in the future I would like to be closer to the stage. Sovknight and I were up in the stratosphere section, and Alanis looked like a little GI Joe from our perspective. And that's why I don't have any pictures from the Alanis/MB20 show.

    I would like to be close enough to see her face when she sings, because she pulls some really great facial expressions. I'd also like to be close enough to feel the mesmerizing effect of her compulsive pacing from one corner of the stage to the other.



All in all, it was a great weekend that I'd gladly repeat. Though probably no more than once a month. My wallet and body couldn't take that much heat.

There are already some great shows on my Calendar for April and May:

Palomino @ Velour Apr 12
Mike Doughty @ Urban Apr 24
The Swell Season @ Depot May 2

Oh yes, this concert season is definitely off to a great start!




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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Art & Soup this week! Don't miss this event!



Twentieth Anniversary Celebration of Art & Soup
March 19-20-21, 2008
Sheraton City Centre
500 South 300 West, Salt Lake City, Utah


It's that time of year again already -- the time of the annual Art & Soup Celebration to benefit Community Nursing Services.

You get to see (and bid on, if you'd like) tons of great art by local artists, eat as much soup from local restaurants as you can stomach, and listen to some great music provided by local jazz musicians Phil & Pep.





<---Click the CD cover to listen to Phil & Pep at CD Baby! This year, the event has been moved back to the Sheraton Hotel (500 S 300 W, just before the I-15 entrance), which is a much better venue than the cramped Wells Fargo building. Art & Soup is open to the public Wed. 19th and Thurs. 20th for either lunch (11:AM-2:PM) or dinner (5:PM-9:PM) for about $10 per ticket. It is also open on Fri. 21st as a black tie affair for a very expensive ticket price of $150. If you've never been before, come out and try it this year, you won't regret it. And if you have been, I don't need to convince you that you need to come back. Ian and I will be hanging out on Wednesday evening this year. So say hello if you see us!

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Help me find a new Digicam!

I've decided it's high time I purchase myself a new digital camera, since mine, lovely though it may be, is just not adequate at 3 MegaPixels anymore. :( So my current digicam is a Pentax, and I've been very pleased with that brand, so that's what I've been looking at.

Here are the two cameras I've narrowed my search down to:


The Pentax Optio A30

  • 10 MegaPixels

  • 3x Optical Zoom

  • Divx Movie Mode!

  • 2.5 inch LCD

  • Shake Reduction

  • $200-ish
This camera is small enough to fit in my pocket and has very good features, like the large LCD, the Divx movies, the 10 MP, and the option for using manual settings. The shake reduction is very appealing to me, because I have a fun little tremor that seems to run in the family (thanks dad), and it's not too bad at $200. Overall, this seems like the most practical choice.




The Pentax Optio 750z



  • 7 MegaPix

  • 5x Optical Zoom (4x Digital Zoom)

  • 1.8 inch LCD

  • Swivel LCD!

  • $650-ish(!!!)

But look at this sexy little demon! So retro cool! This still beats my current model with 7 MP vs. my current 3 MP, and, most deliciously, it has a swivel LCD -- something my current camera has, and that I absolutely love! It's perfect for taking self portraits. Cause, you know, it's awkward asking strangers if they'd snap your picture for you. It's a little on the large side, but not any bigger than my current camera, so I could tuck it in my purse or jacket pocket just fine. But it's an older model, and fairly well regarded, so my god is the price high! Honestly, if these cameras were the same price, I'd get the 750z. I just feel like I'd be happier with it, and 7 MP is not shabby at all. Unfortunately, since I don't feel good about blowing my entire $600 "economy stimulus rebate" on a not-so-top-of-the-line camera, I'll probably hang my head in sorrow and go for the updated model. Sigh.

But I'd like to know if anyone can suggest a good camera for me to consider before I make this purchase. Do you own a 7-12 MegaPixel camera that you love and would recommend?

I'm not looking to get a DSLR or anything so big that it won't fit in my pocket, but I don't need an ultra compact, either. I just want a good camera that I'm not going to regret buying and that I hopefully won't need to replace for 5 or so years.

So please, if you have any suggestions, I'd be grateful.



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Friday, March 14, 2008

Must-Read Blog #2: Local Girl's Day in Pictures

This is the second post in a new series featuring blogs that are on my daily Must-Read list. Some of them are from people I know personally, and others are from random people I found on the internet in one way or another, but all of them are worthwhile reading.




Local Girl is a (more or less) daily cartoon diary written by a British girl named Caroline. I discovered Local Girl when it was featured on the popular blog Boing Boing. It seems lots of people found her that way, as her stats jumped dramatically over night. The popularity of Local Girl has since leveled out a bit, which is probably the natural way of things, but it surprises me, because I think LG is hilarious. See for yourself in some excerpts from my favorite posts (click the pictures to visit the full posts at Local Girl):

LG on Drugs and Duvets:




LG on Bicycle Jargon:




LG on Buying Houses:




LG on her Parents (the first is from my absolute favorite post!):












And finally, a little local humor from Local Girl:




Well, if that's not enough to convince you that you need to add Local Girl's RSS Feed, then I don't know what is.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Must-Read Blog #1: Sovknight.com

This is the first post in a new series featuring blogs that are on my daily Must-Read list. Some of them are from people I know personally, and others are from random people I found on the internet in one way or another, but all of them are worthwhile reading.





The first Must-Read Blog, Sovknight.com, is authored by one of my actual-life best friends, whom I will call Sov, because I have not obtained permission to use his real life name.

Sov's blog is relatively new, but he already has a fine collection of smart, witty articles on topics ranging from movie reviews to politics to rants on stupid people (my favorite). His articles are always very intelligent and well-written.

Here are some excerpts from a few of my favorite posts:

Sov ranting on stupid people: Little Things

[...]
If I’m in a restaurant enjoying a nice meal with my friends or in a shop, a movie, or just in public in general, and you’re there and have brought your young children along… control them. What I mean by controlling them is being a responsible parent. I understand young children don’t have long attention spans, that they get bored or cranky or suddenly take interest in shiny things. That’s the beauty of being a kid. You have no responsibilities.

That’s why it’s your job as a parent to teach them when they become out of line. It is not acceptable for a child to scream at the top of their lungs for no reason at all. It is not acceptable for them to walk along the isle of a store and knock off all the items on display and then giggle at it. It is not acceptable for them to lean over from behind me during the movie and touch me in any way. It’s not cute, funny, or acceptable. These children will grow up to become speed bump-stopping, cell phone-checking, coupon-using, U-scan-hogging idiots like you. Then people like me will go postal.

[...]

Sov on Politics (priceless post!): Today is Super Tuesday, and no... I didn't vote

[...]
Traditionally, the president has always been a wealthy, popular white guy. Always. Sometimes, he’s also a military figure, a successful lawyer or businessman, a congressman, or some other sort of politician. He’s always a rich and popular white guy though, so based on that tradition and that tradition alone, not racism or sexism, but purely tradition, we can safely decide who our next president will be.
  • Hillary Clinton. Rich, white, popular, but not a guy. Take a seat.
  • Barack Obama. Rich, popular, is a guy, but is only a little bit white. Mostly black. Better luck next time.
  • Mitt Romney. Rich, white, popular, and a guy. Perfect right? Nope. He’s a Mormon. So, you ask? What does religion have to do with it? Well, it shouldn’t have anything to do with it, but it does. I live in Utah, where more than half the population is Mormon. I know lots of them, and I also know lots of people who are voting for Mitt Romney specifically because he’s Mormon. They may not even know anything about him, other than some vague recollection about him having something to do with the 2002 Olympics, but that doesn’t matter. They will vote for him because he’s a Mormon. Likewise, I also know people that will NOT vote for him because he’s a Mormon. No other reason, just a prejudice against religion or even specifically Mormons, for whatever reason. Mitt Romney = not gonna win.
  • Mike Huckabee. Rich, white, is a guy, but not that popular. At least, not yet. When compared against the aforementioned candidates, his popularity is behind. That’s not a good sign. Plus, he’s got a stupid name. Can you imagine President Huckabee? What is this, the Andy Griffith show? Chances: Very long. Maybe, but not likely.
  • Ron Paul. Rich, white, is a guy, not popular. Seriously, who is this guy? I haven’t even seen any campaign signs for him. I do know exactly two people that support him though, but that’s not enough. Not a chance.

Well, that pretty much leaves John McClane.

diehard Personally, I think John McClane would make a kick-ass president. We definitely wouldn’t have any more terrorist issues. Foreign policy would be settled quickly and decisively, and the State of the Union address would be peppered with obscenities and sharp one-liners. America’s new catchphrase? “Yippeeki-yay, motherf”… wait, John McCain? McCain, not McClane?

Bummer.

Well, OK. John McCain. Rich, white, is a guy, popular, plus he’s ex-military, a current senator, and he’s old. Perfect ingredients for a president. Of course, he’s also an asshole. Still, traditionally speaking, he’s the guy. Plus, as I write this, he’s leading his party. Consensus: Good.

[...]


Sov on Hatemongers: Heath Ledger and the Westboro Baptists

[...]
I don’t know Heath Ledger. Never met him. Everyone has said since his death that he was a wonderful human being, that he was a “nice guy” and all that. Of course, people always say that when popular people die. Maybe he wasn’t. Maybe he stole candy from babies, and kicked people’s dogs when walking by on the street. I doubt it. No one is perfect, and I’m sure he had his flaws just like anyone else. I’m sure he wasn’t a saint, but then who is? Not me. Not you, and especially not these window-licking, paste-eating Jerry’s Kids religious-cult hate-monger shithead human being wannabes at the Westboro Baptist Church. [Note from Sra: These people called for picketing Ledger's funeral, because he acted as a gay cowboy... and so of course, he has no right to a funeral, right?...] They are so far removed from sainthood that I can just picture the devil right now, cracking his knuckles in anticipation with a gleeful look in his eyes just waiting for one of them to kick off so he can watch their flaming souls take a swan dive straight into Hell where a thousand gay cowboys are waiting, dicks in hand and smiles on their faces, to ass-rape them for the rest of eternity.
[...]


As you can see, you are in for a provocatively witty ride at Sovknight.com. So give Sov's blog a visit, and if you're already convinced by the above excerpts (as well you should be) go ahead and Subscribe to Sov's RSS Feed. You won't regret it.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Things to Come

I've been a little lax on posting lately, and it's not because I have nothing to write about. On the contrary, I have many posts in store, including the beginning of the Freakishly Bizarre Talent Contest (don't think I've forgotten about that!), a follow-up to the amazing opening weekend of Concert Season, and the introduction of a new series that highlights blogs on my Must-Read list. There are a couple other projects in store besides that. I promise to get started on those things in the next couple days.

Meanwhile, I've been trying to implement a little site-redesign, and I've started by introducing a three-column template. I have a widescreen monitor at home which the site looks great on, but now that I've seen how it looks on my work computer, I'm thinking I need to do a little tweaking yet, since I can't view the whole page on a small monitor without scrolling sidewards. And I simply hate having to scroll sidewards.

But this whole CSS thing is a learning process for me, since it was fairly new back when I was learning about HTML. So while I'm starting to understand the coding I'm looking at, it's still a rather tedious process to get things looking how I want them.

In the meantime, if you notice any functionality issues or have any suggestions, feel free to let me know by posting a comment. (I'm still working on getting the Bunsnip email up and running. Do you ever feel like you're getting old and the world of computers is quickly leaving you behind?)



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Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Free Tibet?

Apparently, Bjork has pissed off China for shouting "Tibet, Tibet!" after singing her song "Declaration of Independence" at a recent concert in the country. Here's the Boing Boing article about it, including a YouTube video of Bjork's performance. (My opinion: Bjork is a musical genius.)

It's rather popular among hippie-types, I've noticed, to talk about freeing Tibet. I've been behind many a car replete with Free Tibet bumper stickers amongst various other tree-huggerish type bumper stickers. (My opinion: Bumper stickers are lame. [And that would make an ironic bumper sticker.])

So here's my wonderment of the day, because I'm really rather uneducated about this whole issue: Why free Tibet? The Boing Boing article mentions that China views Tibet as part of their country, and sees calls for independence as divisive. Considering how many news stories have come out in recent years about lead paint in toys, poisoned dog food, and dumplings made of cardboard soaked in toxic chemicals, I can't exactly call China trustworthy. But even so, I don't know why there is this movement to free Tibet.

How does Tibet feel about this subject? I'd really like to know.

(And I'd like to know how Puerto Rico feels about belonging to the U.S., but not being able to influence policy through voting.)

If you are into World Politics more than I am, and you have an opinion about this subject, I'd really like to hear it. If I can understand what this is all about, maybe I can form my own opinion. But until then, I'm not gonna call for Tibet's freedom just because Bjork and a bumper sticker tell me to.



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Saturday, March 1, 2008

March = Concertsville!

It's concert season, it's concert season!

It's concert season!

IT'S CONCERT SEASON!


As you might have ascertained, I'm pretty excited that it's finally concert season!

Even though there are sometimes concerts worth attending in winter, the bulk of concert season usually runs from March to October, AND THE SEASON IS FINALLY HERE!

Ok, let me get ahold of my excitement for a minute so that I can proceed with this post... breathe, 1, 2, 3, in out, up down, side to side, clench... and release.

That's better. Onward:

The first week of March has three great shows, three days in a row, and I'm going to all of them:

March 6th @ E Center
Alanis Morrisette (Opening for Matchbox 20)

I know a lot of people don't quite get Alanis. In fact, it's rather popular to talk about how her song "Ironic" isn't really ironic at all. I've never understood why people say that, because all the lyrics really are ironic (and yeah, I really do think). Anyway, I've been a fan of Alanis since the Jagged Little Pill Days, and though she's still around ten years later, there's no telling how many more chances I'll have to see her live. So I've gotta see this one.

March 7th @ Club Velour Provo
Tally Hall

This group opened for Guster the last time they were in town, and they were absolutely amazing! I picked up their album at the show, which is going to be re-released on a new label, and it's quite a fun thing to listen to. Their sound goes from Queen to ELO and everywhere in between, and their live energy is palpable. I definitely recommend you make the trek for this one. This is one band that's gonna take off soon, so they probably won't play such a small venue the next time around. Go see them while it's intimate!

If you need further convincing, here's Tally Hall's first music video for the song "Good Day". They sound just like this in concert:





March 8th @ E Center
Coheed and Cambria (opening for Linkin Park -- meh)

I've seen Coheed about 3 or 4 times already. The first time was incredible -- Claudio is a fucking monster on the guitar. The next two times were disappointing because the sound at Saltair has become characteristically shitty over the years. Since this time features a much desired change of venue, I'm counting on some better sound quality and a rockin' show. Claudio!



I'm always trying to keep my fingers on the concert pulse, but if anyone hears of any good shows, feel free to leave them in the comments section. I absolutely love to talk music.

But remember, kids, friends don't let friends go to Club Sound. [Exhibit A; Exhibit B]

Happy concert season!

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