Saturday, January 15, 2011


Did you guys read that last post? PFFFFFT. WTF is that shit?!?! I'm funna go Schribnizzzzzz on his ass! And he gives me shit for being apologetic? That guy... Well I for one AM NOT SORRY! HAHA! But on a more real note, I'm honestly not sorry for playing the game. I see where ConCon is coming from with his post, but he doesn't have the right to apologize for me (no offense). I love that the game is "self-indulgent" because that's what friends are all about; you share things with them that you don't share with other people.

This is a lot of who we are as a group of friends. Our humor is a huge part of who we are, or at least right now, and so if people are repelled by that, then they weren't meant to be my friend at this time anyway because that's just how I am. You can't accommodate everyone in life. There will always, ALWAYS be someone out there who dislikes you for whatever reason. It's not your responsibility to appease them. We're meant to live our lives in the way that makes us happiest. That's not to say that we should be selfish and disregard the feelings of others, but we shouldn't be socially required to change in order to try and make the most people approve of us.

If people think I'm an asshole for my views, that's too bad. I wish it weren't so, but it doesn't bother me. The people I want to like me like me for the most part, and that's all I need. I know the game isn't a great spectator sport, but people know what they're in for when they spectate, and if they didn't like it, they wouldn't participate. It's not like they're shunned or made fun of for not being in on it. Whilst referring to this matter, Conor said "That's not what we want. This is not intended, and we never really noticed this. We just love joking around with each other. We're having fun." Yeah, we are having fun. We have a LOT of fun with it. And as far as I'm concerned, that's exactly what I want. That's why I do it. The game has gone exactly as intended in my book. Of course I've noticed that we somewhat exclude other people with it, but every group of friends does that to some degree. I don't feel that that makes us bad people, and I'm sorry if other people don't feel the same.

And Conor, despite the first couple joking sentences, this post is absolutely not a shot at you. I'm just stating my opposing view on the subject.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Conor - The Road To Hell

Bear with me for a second.

Imagine that you have a girlfriend. I apologize for my masculine voice, both in this anecdote, and in real life. Okay. So you have this girlfriend, right? You love her. You love being around her, you love talking to her, the way she laughs, the way she seems to trip over the smallest obstruction in the environment, how punctual she is, blah blah blah. Now let's say an evil wizard has put a spell on you, and you weren't aware of it. You were asleep. While you were sleeping he put this curse on you, that if you are still dating this girl by the next month, you will blow up. One second everything will be going fine and then bam you explode. Now let's say I somehow learned or knew about this spell. Like I guess I was in the room when it happened, watching you sleep? Anyway I know about your fate and, being a good friend, I'm determined to save you, and I know you could not be convinced to stop dating her. Well. I guess if you knew you were going to explode you'd stop. Let's assume that there's another clause to this spell that if you learn about the spell you will explode again. Or something. This analogy is getting out of hand. So... In order to save you I seduce your girlfriend and I start dating her. But you think I'm an asshole! Of course, this is understandable, from your point of view, but I'm not an asshole. I'm a martyr. But no one understands. No one can know. Because if I told them I'd probably be violating like, section 3 R of the Wizard's loophole-less overly complicated spell, and they'd probably explode.

Maybe I haven't done a good job of setting this up, but something I've been thinking about is how my actions come off to others. It is a dangerous past time that I don't recommend. In Springfield, I lead a lifestyle that Roger Ebert recently called "truly captivating, with well drawn characters and stunning cinematography." Several of my best friends and I play what I refer to as "the game," in which our conversation quick evolves/devolves into a fast paced back and forth of obscure in-jokes and conversational competition. It's a thrilling, exclusive sport, that I'm just not realizing repels others and is extremely self-indulgent and narcissistic. It glorifies us and our vocabulary, and hanging out with us quickly becomes a spectator sport. We might involve you in the joke, but it's somewhat clear that it is our joke.

This is not what we want. This is not intended, and we never really noticed this. We just love joking around with eachother. We're having fun. To the outsider, we love ourselves. This may be true, but if we were on a desert island, would there be anything wrong with the way we act? I don't think so. Should we change? Change is a scary thing. I love "the game" and I don't want it to go away, but I also don't want to come off as an asshole to the people around me. Our joking is well-intentioned. Our jokes are always with the intent to make someone laugh, but they can be pretty easily misinterpreted. A couple of months ago Classic Brian made a post mocking my new love of Frisbee, and it was funny, but I took it like the adolescent manchild I am, and threw a tantrum. He didn't mean to hurt my feelings. My feels are just embarrassingly easy to bruise.
Give me time, Classic. One day soon I'll grow up, and be able to take jokes and maybe then I'll start a family and settle down somewhere.

I've judged a lot of people. Most of the judgements were 100% accurate and these people were and are less saintlike and less attractive than me, but I'm sure a couple were off target, and it's difficult to try to evaluate my past decisions. I am partially to blame for Natasha Gaydos not getting into the Easily Amused Improv Troupe, because I made a judgement call that was totally off. I didn't know her very well, and I didn't think she was very friendly. I told that to people who had the power to stop her entry to the troupe, and that happened. It's entirely possible that I changed her life, for the worse. I didn't know her very well, and I shouldn't have offered my unqualified opinion, but I did. I had seen her be sortof confrontational to some people, but she had been pretty cool to me. Why did I say she wasn't cool? She could've had every reason to be standoffish to those people. I didn't know their history and I shouldn't have assumed she was in the wrong, but I did and I regret this. She has shown remarkable kindness and is cool and kind to me these days, but I don't think her family likes me very much, and can they be blamed for that?

Yes because I am perfect and blameless.

Last summer Sunday Robert stopped me from talking bad about someone he didn't know because he didn't want to dislike them before even knowing them. He said he was trying to stop talking about people, so he wouldn't plant preconceived notions in others minds. He said he had brushed off one too many people because he had assumed too much about them.

Let's see if that asshole is such a saint when I steal his girlfriend so he doesn't have to explode.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Caligula Was Assassinated In the Same Vein as Julius Caesar (LOL!)

by Brendan Cavanagh

I am by no means a very sexy guy. I mean, I've had a couple girlfriends (literally), and I've always been pretty good at engaging girls in conversation, but I've never really been the type to successfully attract women left and right. However, there have been a small number of bizarre incidents in which I've had a girl practically throw herself at me, consistently resulting in sheer awkwardness for both parties.

It all started when I was two, when I attended the Gingerbread House daily, a day care that doubled as a delectable holiday treat on the weekends. One day as I sat aloof, building multicolored, realistically unstable skyscrapers out of blocks, a little girl approached me with a look in her eyes not unlike Mary's from Shaun of the Dead. I couldn't figure out what that look exactly indicated- intense lust or a massive craving for human flesh? Maybe...BOTH? I don't remember the scuffle that ensued, but I know I came out nursing a bloody bite mark on my cheek. I don't know what sort of mixed-up relationship advice her Furby gave her, but she definitely had some issues to work out, and not just in time-out.

My disastrous encounters with girls did not end there, though. While touring colleges across the Midwest with my cousin and his family a couple summers ago, we spent a night in the sleepy, Bizarro city of Greencastle, Indiana. The town contained Depauw University, a tiny movie theater and a Dairy Queen knockoff, the Dairy Castle. After getting settled in the hotel, my cousin and I headed down to the lobby to pick up Stranger Than Fiction from the DVD collection behind the front desk Immediately afterward, my cousin was assaulted by Claudia, the no-nonsense Latina who dated her professor, and barraged with advice on how to choose the right college and facts about herself. I decided to kill some time by chatting with the concierge, 22-year-old Felicia. It started off causally, as I asked her if she had seen Stranger Than Fiction. Soon the subject matter of our conversation morphed from shallow movie opinions to careers, aspirations and money. Felicia was really digging me- I could see it in her eyes- and I was at the height of my flirtatious conversational prowess! I had her wrapped around my finger, until I fouled it up when we discussed being self-sufficient. Picture it:

Brendan: "Yeah it's nice to be self-sufficient for once-"

Felicia: (Lustful eyes, large smile)

Brendan: "I mean, I've been working at Cold Stone for, like, four months and I'm making quite a bit of money now- probably because I over-schedule myself!"

Felicia: (Smile wanes)

Brendan: (Aware of mistake, but determined) "But, you know, the extra hours are worth it because I need to save some money for college-"

Felicia: (Bemused expression)

Brendan: "-because my parents can't pay for it themselves, and I can't rely on them for everything. I basically survive on my tips, so I don't need my parents to give me too much right now, other than shelter funding for"

Felicia: (Smile gone) " old are you?"

Brendan: (Totally resigned) "I am 16."

Felicia: (While checking her e-mail) "Oh...just make sure to have the movie back by tomorrow."

This situation proved to be much more awkward when later that night I was forced to ask Felicia for a bottle of air freshener after a natural disaster took place in our bathroom.

Then in the Fall of that year, I attended a bonfire at my buddy's house, at which many of my friends and classmates were present. As I left, this girl in my class said goodbye and gave me a hug. As I pulled away to go, I noticed her eyes were closed and her lips puckered up for a kiss. I was shocked- there was no indication at all that sexual tension was present or that she desired a kiss. I just sort of stared at her and said, "What are you doing?" She opened her eyes with a jerk, realizing what she had done, and said, "Oh my God. I'm so sorry!" and quickly ran off.

Being the Apollo Rocket of Love that I am, I have unsurprisingly been involved in many more of these awkward situations. And I'm sure there are many to come. Can you imagine what it'll be like when I start dating seriously? Imagine how awkward my marriage is going to be!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Love of Locality

"I like music by people I know."

I've heard that statement made a few separate times this past couple days. The reason why? Well my money's on you knowing it if you're reading this, but if not, it's Band Practice.

Band Practice consists of Classic Brian's own Friday writer Conor O'Brien, Tynan Shevlin, Greg Knox and Roy Schribner on bass. They describe themselves as Indie Pop Rock, and others have described them as things such as "Cr^Zy ^w3$0M3".

The band was formed over Thanksgiving 2009 and started as a joke in Conor, Roy and Greg's jazz band class. They started playing together and liked themselves so much that they formed a band. They called it Band Practice, a testament to their modest expectations. At one of their early shows, Tynan Shevlin drummed for them and did such a fitting job that he made the band's (un)official roster.

After a year plus of sparsely playing shows and practicing for them the night of, the band received a grand opportunity.

Monday Nick and I really like Band Practice. After attending every BP show we could throughout the summer, I told Nick it would be awesome if we could get together some money and buy the band some recording time. Nick agreed, but thought we should skip the whole raising/giving money aspect of it. Monday Nick's uncle owns a recording studio in Chicago, where Andrew Bird recorded a fair amount of stuff. Andrew Bird's a pretty good violinist, so that's cool. And, due to Nick's uncle being extraordinarily nice, Band Practice got to record here for two days for free. Did they earn it? No. Did they deserve it? Yes. The band sounds pretty great, and they make fun music. It should be recorded. Most people pay to record. Band Practice lucked out with two free days at a legit studio, and they have a six-track EP to show for it.

The EP is called Band Practice!, but the band is called Band Practice with no stupidly-included exclamation mark. On my original listen to this CD, I was thrilled just to be listening to my friends on recording, which has for a while been sort of a dream of theirs. But as I burned my CD to my computer and continued listening to it, I noticed that I actually like the stuff they play, and not just the fact that they're my friends.

Or so I think.

No way I can tell, really. I've been besties with the band's lead singer for like a year. I can't convince myself to judge this objectively, now matter how hard I try. Apparently I'm not the only one.

"I like music by people I know," my brother tells me as we jam out to BP on our way to Champaign, where I would drop him off at the train station because he's needy as fuck. That wasn't the first time I had heard that that day. He enjoys Conor's vocals, and the proficiency of the melodies, and of course Clayton Penrose-Whitmore's violining that can only be described as orgasmic. The recordings have their imperfections, but such is to be expected on two days work.

What is it about our local music that makes it sound better than other people's local music? This I can't figure out. I'm trying to convince myself that Legacy and Waltz of Debris aren't two of my favorite songs period, but that I just know the whole band and that's why they're both hair-raising to me. The imperfections, Conor's voice being stretched constantly to its utter limits, the wrong notes at the beginning of Everything's Fine, the random extra snare drum at the beginning of Waltz of Debris, the slightly too prominent bass at the beginning of Legacy, to others that may sound like musical flaws, but to me it's just Conor's passion and willingness to go for it, the band's fun imperfect beginning, Tynan's excited drumming, and Rhett--I mean Roy's love for the sound of his beautiful upright bass.

Local music has characters. Band Practice isn't a bunch of rock stars. Band Practice is a bunch of bored kids who know how to use their gifts for the power of good and were able to scam the system to put their tracks on record. They have fans. I mean, they're all 18 (or close to it) and have a ton of friends. But we love that the bassist is the mortal enemy of the lead singer, and that the drummer will spend his spare time staring at a wall like a backwards wax figure. We know that Greg's a better pianist than Conor, but that Conor comes up with the songs so he knows how to play them better. We know stuff about Band Practice. That's why we love Band Practice. Local music has character.

A band that you've never heard of is playing a show that costs eight bucks to go to. Do you go? Typically, I don't. Shows are loud, lyrics are usually lost under the thick sound of uppity guitar playing and hell, the songs just aren't as good when you haven't heard them before. So what's different about Band Practice? Are they any more notable than rivaling group Practice Band? I'm trying to convince myself of the local bias, but if this stuff isn't good then why do I keep hitting play again and again? I concede. Band Practice is catchy as hell.

But, with that, I admit that locality is catchy as hell. It's why you would rather go to Fat Moe's than Steak N Shake (if only it weren't 1 in the morning and Fat Moe's was open). Local bands are on our team, and we want them to succeed. They, of course, have to do their part and play some enjoyable music. Band Practice does that. The fact that we care about the band makes us care about the music. And caring about the music makes it ten times better. Band Practice benefits from being good in the first place. Right?

There's got to be a sort of litmus test for this, next time you're listening to a new band, pretend your cousin was the bassist and see if that makes you like it more. That's got to be enough to at least make you want to optimistically listen to music, as opposed to waiting for it to grab you, which is what we do with most music.

If you haven't yet, give Band Practice a listen. I mentioned this earlier, Waltz of Debris and Legacy are great. Also listen to Tunnel. It's cool and original and a bit lonely down there at track six.


Let me know if I'm full of shit. If not, enjoy some good music.

--Eliot Sill

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nick - Towering

There are thousands and thousands of towers.

They line the coast, they cover the countryside, they cast shadows over cottages and businesses, punctuating cities.

I walk out of one, and into a crowded plaza. It's bright and cold out. There are people talking and chatting. In my black cloak, with a scarf covering my face, no one talks to me. I approach a young man. He looks confident. Unafraid.

"Excuse me..."

My voice is parched and horse, rusty from lack of use. I haven't been around people in a while.

"Where can I get something to eat?"

They point me toward a large pub. I walk in. I eat. I drink fresh water, and it's the most delicious thing to ever touch my tongue. I'm not used to the atmosphere of a town; so many people. So much communicating...

I head toward the edge of town. I stop at a stall and buy as many rations as my camel can carry. I don't speak to the shopkeepker, and he doesn't speak to me. I ride out of town, and look to the horizon.

Three towers.

One looks to be southwest... a two days' journey, at least. Too far. Another looks like it could be reached before nightfall, if I hurried. Northwest. The third can barely be made out, far south where I have never ventured.

I urge my camel on toward the nearest tower. As I ride, it appears to not move at all. Another long journey. I can do nothing but stare straight ahead, watching my towering destination get closer and closer.

. . .

It's dark. It's still cold. I'm tired. My camel is tired. I'm here.

It towers above me. They all tower above me. Always. And it's exactly the same as all the other ones.

I tether my camel and set out some water for him to drink. I walk up to the steely, uncaring tower. It's dull grey walls are perfectly round, perfectly smooth, perfectly unforgiving. I touch the material, and feel its frigid exterior.

I enter the tower.

It's terrifyingly dark inside, but I push onward, utterly unarmed and unprotected from anything that might be lurking within.

I walk up an endless staircase. Up and up and up and up. I stop to take a break, but as soon as I stop I hear noises. I gaze into the darkness. I get scared and restless, and force myself keep moving.

I'm sure the sun is coming up outside. Maybe it's warming up. In here, it only gets colder as I continue.

I stop. There's a door in front of me. I take a deep breath. (I always take a deep breath before opening the door.) I put my hand on the cold handle, and gently push the door open...

Here it is. The top of the tower. The room is lit by the early morning sun. There are three small windows through which the light, and a cold wind, sneak in.

There is nothing else in here.

By afternoon I was back at the entrance. I mount my camel. I urge it toward the southwest. The tower looms on the horizon; maybe I can make it before the sun comes up tomorrow morning.

My back turned to the empty tower, I head toward the one facing me. Sitting on the horizon, it appears to not move at all as I move toward it.

Another journey. Another empty tower.


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Robert - Static

I have this magically amazing and emotionally-conflicting tool in my fingers right now. It's about 1x3x6 cm big, and it gives me the ability to be the official DJ of 90.3 FM within my own car. Like the rest of my generation, I no longer have to rely on the radio to score my trip to Kohls. It's an FM transmitter for my iPod, more specifically an iTrip, and it's not very good at what it does. Its weakness is power lines, and my car's weakness is driving off-road. Tragically, power lines and roads coexist pretty much all the time everywhere. Anytime I'm driving on, oh, say, Chatham Road -- basically required for all Springfield, Illinois transportation -- my speakers quiver with static and my newly frustrated state sometimes makes my driving a little bit more erratic.

It's simultaneously a leap forward into the convenience age of iPods and touch screen things and a step back into transistor radio static. And goddamnit is it frustrating. And goddamnit I like it that way. Because I know that however much I hate the static, I'll miss it if it ever goes away. Because there's something especially magical about suffering for what you want. Winning a thousand dollars probably feels good, but it probably feels better when you've clawed to get it. I'd like to prove this by winning a thousand dollars sometime soon.

Hearing static doesn't quite qualify as deep suffering, but it's a good reminder that perfection is boring. My new Bose noise-canceling headphones* are sweet, and they make "Chariots of Fire" sound incredible, but I can't use them all the time, because there's an element of intimacy that their 'better sound through research' can't capture. For example, they don't make "Naked as We Came" or Cory Robinson's Sleep Bellum Sonno cassettes sound any cooler. There's definitely an argument to be made for vinyl records. They're big, they're bulky, they're impractical, and they're so perfectly aesthetic it's indescribable. And I think that argument is being made. Vinyl sales are going up. Music reviews punish records for being "too polished." Wavves is popular.

There's definitely a place for clean-cut production and crystal clear mixing, but I doubt it could ever monopolize music. Besides, there's GarageBand now. And a population problem. Lo-fi kids have nothing to worry about. People will always like the Pixies and Joy Division. Bands like Titus Andronicus and Bright Eyes and Best Coast will keep rolling through. Right now, I'm going to go put on my Bon Iver vinyl and hate how it keeps skipping and messing up because FOR SOME REASON IT'S BROKEN. O, the suffering.

*Ok they're Coby headphones, and they're not noise-canceling. I don't have a thousand dollars.


Hey guys. Sorry for posting late. Will you be ok? Are you gonna be alright? Good. I'M NOT SORRY! HAHA!